Cognitive function tips by coach Elizabeth B

Healthy cognition is judged by your ability to remember and the speed at which you are able to solve problems. Language, imagination, perception, and planning are all cognitive functions of the brain. Any neurological degeneration will cause a decline in cognitive function, which is defined a dementia. This will also cause the loss of motor function. Alzheimer’s disease is a degenerative brain disease and the most common form of dementia.

It was originally described by german neurologist Alois Alzheimer. His papers describing presenile dementia were first recorded as Alzheimer’s in 1910.

Alzheimers is progressive and characterized by the loss of memory, language skills and cognitive impairment. Personality changes are also seen with Alzheimers’, characterized by aggression and an infantile response to stress. In contrast with Parkinson’s Disease, motor functions remain intact until the final stages of neural degeneration. Alzheimer’s is linked more to cognitive decline than Parkinson’s.

Alzheimer’s is caused by the malfunctioning of several physiological functions. 50% of dementia is considered to be caused by Alzheimer’s. It is associated with vascular degeneration in the brain, first in the capillaries, and then in the arteries of the brain. Onset is described between 40 and 90 years of age, which is a huge time span for cognitive impairment. A person who is 40 years old will spend over half of their life with brain impairment.

The brain is one of the four most vascularized organs in the human body. It needs a huge amount of oxygen, as well as energy. Vascular degeneration causes a decrease in the number of nerve cells. Only a brain biopsy or autopsy can diagnose Alzheimers. This means you have to be dead to know if you have it. For this reason, standardized testing with questions in a clinical setting and drawing puzzles is used to attempt to diagnose it. This is also a reason Alzheimer’s is often misdiagnosed or confused with vascular dementia, Parkinson’s and other disorders. Several medications can cause common Alzheimer’s symptoms. These include anticholinergics, corticosteroids, pain relievers, statins, chemotherapy drugs, and benzodiazepines prescribed for anxiety and insomnia. The side effects of these drugs not only impair cognitive function involving memory, speech, and attention while they are being taken, but also have been seen to increase the risk of cognitive impairment in some.

The brain’s ability to regenerate by forming new neural connections throughout life is called neuroplasticity. Brain tissue is healthy when it gets the right nutrients to allow neurons in the brain to heal from injury and to adjust to new situations or changes in the environment. Brain tissue is made up of 60 to 70% fat, and it is always hungry for more, so it can regenerate. A low-fat diet is associated with all kinds health issues, and neurological degeneration is one of them.

The brain is an electrical organ which fires electrical impulses across cholesterol covered nerve tissue to communicate to all parts of the body. Alzheimer’s is often called diabetes of the brain or diabetes type 3. High levels of insulin resistance will damage brain tissue. Brain tissue has to respond to insulin to lower blood glucose. If neurons in the brain become unable to respond to insulin there will be degeneration. Some researchers believe insulin deficiency is central to the cognitive decline of Alzheimer’s.

Recently there has been an association between inflammatory bowel syndrome and an autoimmune component of neurological deterioration. People with IBS have more than twice the risk of developing dementia. The vagus nerve connects the brain to the stomach and intestines.

Inflammation along this sensory route may cause the production of the abnormal proteins, also known as amyloid plaque, found in the brains of people who have had Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. Mitochondria, which are the small organelles in cells known as cellular batteries, help neurons grow and stimulate neuroplasticity.

The brain needs a huge amount of energy, making it highly dependent on mitochondria. There are hundreds to thousands of mitochondria in a single neuron.

The fact that the brain prefers fat as a nutrient is clear by the fact that newborns who breast feed are in ketosis due to the fat level in breast milk. Brain inflammation following stroke and brain trauma has been successfully treated using a low-carb high fat diet.

Ketone bodies, which are produced naturally by the human metabolism in the absence of glucose or reduced presence of glucose, have a neuroprotective impact on aging brain cells. Ketones improve mitochondrial function and reduce tissue inflammation. This reduced inflammation also improves digestion and autoimmunity, so can also maintain healthy brain tissue.

Deficiencies in essential nutrients such as iron and vitamin B12 can cause impaired cognition. Attention span, intelligence, and sensory perception, as well as behavioral and mood issues are linked to anemia.

Vitamin B12 deficiency is linked to forgetfulness, poor focus and concentration, memory decline, all indicators of decreased cognitive function. The carnivore diet is the greatest source of both iron and vitamin B12. As it is also a low-carb diet, it reduces insulin resistance. The absence or near absence of plant foods in the carnivore diet makes it a great tool for eliminating intestinal inflammation that can cause autoimmunity and inflammation along the vagal sensory route. It is also easy to eat plenty of omega-3 rich animal fat on the carnivore diet. Omega-3 fatty acids have long been associated with the evolution of the large human brain, as well as supporting and maintaining the human brain’s neuroplasticity, and therefore cognitive function.

Thyroid hormone is the first hormone produced in the human body, and is crucial for the neural development of the fetus, but it is also essential for cognitive function in the mature brain. If thyroid function is impaired it can manifest itself as depression, bipolar affective disorders, memory loss, and mood disorders. Thyroid hormone stimulates neurogenesis. Both depressed and accelerated thyroid hormone function affect the myelination process. Both insulin resistance and malnutrition damage the synthesis of thyroid hormones in the thyroid, in peripheral tissue and in the brain. The transport of thyroid hormones to their receptor targets in the brain. Hypothyroidism is fairly prevalent in the elderly, and is often confused with dementia. The carnivore diet assures the optimum quantity of nutrients necessary for thyroid function, such as iron, selenium, zinc, vitamin D, tyrosine, and vitamin B12. It also improves intestinal absorption for said nutrients and the conversion of the inactive thyroid hormone, thyroxine, to the active thyroid hormone, triiodothyronine.

DR Shawn Baker

Reviewed & approved by
Dr. Shawn Baker, MD & Carnivore.Diet team.

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