Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia, a general term for memory loss and other cognitive abilities serious enough to interfere with daily life. Alzheimer’s disease accounts for 60 to 80 percent of dementia cases.
It is estimated that 5.7 million Americans of all ages are living with Alzheimer’s dementia. By 2050, the number will rise to nearly 14 million. Alzheimer’s is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States and it kills more people then breast and prostate cancer combined.
Brain function is directly influenced by a number of factors. Some of these factors are diet and nutritional deficiencies, allergens, infections, toxins, stress, sleep, genetics, hormones, drugs and alcohol and early childhood environment.
Here are some of the warning signs to be aware of that indicate that your brain may not be working well.
- Poor memory: Is your memory worse than it was 10 years ago? This is one of the most important questions in diagnosing brain health and if the answer is yes then it is time to be concerned about dementia. General aging is not the reason for poor memory; in fact, symptoms of Alzheimer’s can develop in people as young as 30.
- Poor judgment/impulsivity: The quality of the decisions you make is a direct reflection of the health of your brain. When the brain is troubled, for whatever reason, decisions are often more impulsive and less thoughtful. Some reasons why you may make poor decisions are past history of brain injuries, low blood sugar, lack of sleep, early dementia, and toxic exposure from drugs, alcohol or environmental toxins, such as mold or paint fumes.
- Depression: Depression is a major risk factor for Alzheimer’s and is one of the greatest killers of our time. It affects 50 million Americans at some point in their lives. Nearly all of us have either suffered from depression or known someone who has. Depression is also a risk factor for heart disease, cancer and obesity.
- Short attention span/distractibility: Having a short attention span or being easily distracted is often a sign of brain dysfunction. This can cause problems in all areas of your life. Short attention span and distractibility are typical symptoms of attention deficit disorder (ADD), also called ADHD, which is associated with low activity in the front part of the brain.
- Overweight or obesity: Obesity is an epidemic in our country. Nearly two-thirds of Americans are overweight and one-third are obese. Being overweight increases your risk for Alzheimer’s disease, depression, heart disease, cancer and diabetes. The research is clear and studies have shown that as a person’s weight goes up, the actual physical size of his or her brain goes down. That should scare the fat off anyone.
- Low energy: Another sign of brain dysfunction is low energy. When people feel physically tired, it is often due to low brain function.
- Erectile or sexual dysfunction: As strange as it sounds, erectile or sexual dysfunction is often a sign of brain dysfunction. The brain gets 20 percent of the body’s blood flow. When your heart is healthy it will pump blood to the brain and all areas of the body.
- Chronic insomnia/sleep apnea: Another sign that your brain is in trouble is a lack of sleep or having sleep apnea. Research suggests that people who get less than seven hours of sleep at night have lower overall blood flow to the brain and poorer cognitive functioning.
Understanding the warning signs and making changes in your lifestyle can slow down the effects of dementia. The brain is neuro-plastic, which means it has the ability to change throughout a person’s life. The earlier the detection of potential problems, the better possibilities of healing. QCBN
Dr. Amy Tarquinio
Dr. Amy Tarquinio is a chiropractor in Prescott, Arizona. She has over 25 years of manual therapy experience and incorporates her knowledge into creating a unique healing session specifically for you. References for this article available upon request. For more information or to schedule an appointment please contact her office, Aligned For Life at 928-443-7717. dramyt.com