Mild Cognitive Impairment
The brain is like a muscle that needs to be exercised and worked on a daily basis to avoid mental impairment. As we age it becomes increasingly difficult to keep your mind sharp as it once was when we were younger. Though it’s impossible to keep brain function at 100% as we age, monitoring changes in cognitive function at the earliest moment, can better control and impede the stages of decline.
One of the primary stages of cognitive decline is known as Mild Cognitive Impairment. Studies done by the Alzheimer’s Association have found that 15 – 20% of adults 65 or older have MCI. Unfortunately, once the brain begins to deteriorate it becomes more challenging to reverse the damage however, new research using a functional medicine approach delaying and reversing damage is now possible. Understanding the early signs of mental decline and incorporating a diet designed to support brain function before symptoms even have occurred, gives you a tremendous advantage in prolonging and preventing the onset of dementia and Alzheimer’s.
- Forgetfulness – Difficulty in recollecting important details, events, appointments or birthdates, losing your train of thought mid-conversation and frequently misplacing objects around the house.
- Following instructions – Frequently asking for clarification or deferring to someone else for assistance in order to understand.
- Anxiety – Having difficulty staying focused on one task and may begin to feel anxious about completing another, regardless of its priority.
- Loss of Focus – Inability to organize thoughts and plan your day efficiently with good judgement. You may feel as though your thoughts are scattered and feel overwhelmed executing day to day tasks.
There are currently no treatments once MCI has been detected however, a healthy diet implemented early that is tailored to maintain brain health can significantly reduce the risk the severity of cognitive impairment.
Foods for brain support:
The brain is composed of 60% fat therefore a steady diet of omega 3s and healthy fats particularly monounsaturated fats that aid in the production and release of the neurotransmitter, Acetylcholine, has been found to reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s and improve memory and learning ability.
Monounsaturated fats – Oils, Nuts and Seeds. Incorporating olive oil, sesame oil, olives, avocado, and walnuts offers a healthy dose of monounsaturated fats for your brain to soak in.
Polyunsaturated fats – Found in walnuts, pine nuts, flax seeds and chia seeds, as well as fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel, lake trout or herring provides an ample source of these healthy fats as well as omega 3 fatty acids.
Fruits and Vegetables – A hearty colorful serving of a variety of fruits and vegetables like berries, beets and dark leafy greens such as kale, spinach and swiss chard are packed with choline and antioxidants that supports energy and brain function.
Sage – Boosts memory function.
Ginko Biloba – Stimulates brain circulation. Some studies suggest that it can improve cognitive function with those who have been diagnosed with MCI.
Ashwaghanda and Curcumin – Both have been found to help clear the production of beta-amyloid, a plaque that develops in the brain which links to Alzheimer’s. Add some spice to your tea, soup or quinoa with a serving of curcumin found in turmeric and curry which also acts as an anti-inflammatory agent.
One of the best ways to protect yourself against MCI is to prepare yourself before symptoms arise. By incorporating a healthy diet along with steady exercise tailored to boost brain power, this will significantly lessen the severity of cognitive impairment in the future.
Cindy Crandell at Nuview Nutrition offers full health-assessments to detect the early signs of MCI and provides a custom nutrition plan designed to maintain brain health and to slow down the degenerative process of MCI. We can help, call to inquire at 248-625-5143.
Cindy Crandell RN, CN
Functional Medicine Nutritionist
7300 Dixie Hwy, Suite 500, Clarkston, MI 48346
Alzheimer’s Association (2016) 2016 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures. Retrieved from: https://www.alz.org/documents_custom/2016-facts-and-figures.pdf
Harvard Health (2013) Before Dementia Begins. What Helps? Retrieved from: https://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/before-dementia-begins-what-helps
Mayo Foundation of Medical Education and Research (2017) Mild Cognitive Impairment: Retrieved from: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/mild-cognitive-impairment/diagnosis- treatment/drc-20354583
Reed-Guy, Lauren (2013) Stages of Dementia. Retrieved from: https://www.healthline.com/health/dementia/stages#stages
Wenk, Gary (2012) Dietary Fats that Improve Brain Function. Retrieved from: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/your-brain-food/201205/dietary-fats-improve-brain- function