The bad news is rates of brain degenerative diseases — Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, dementia, ALS — are higher than ever and continuing to increase. The good news is most neurodegenerative diseases are largely preventable, but you have to start taking care of your brain well before it’s too late. Functional neurology principles and rehabilitation can address longstanding areas of brain weakness that most people have and thus prevent neurodegeneration.

Spotting early symptoms of brain degeneration diseases

Once you exhibit obvious signs and symptoms of a degenerative brain disease, whether its Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s, it is usually too late to reverse it at that point. That’s because the symptoms doctors are trained to spot only occur as the disease after it is significantly advanced.

It’s better to be aware of early warning signs and symptoms. These include a general loss of memory, thinking skills, and brain endurance. Worsening mood, gut function, and balance are other red flags.

For Parkinson’s, constipation, drooling, diminishing the sense of smell, and slow movements are early warning signs.

The arrival of anxiety and depression may be other indicators the brain is degenerating too quickly. Also, symptoms that start coming on quickly versus gradually are an important warning to heed.

An old woman was taking cared of by a nurse or doctorPreventing Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and other neurodegenerative diseases

Even if you’re not showing early warning signs, it’s important to care for your brain health so you can enjoy sharp mental function well into old age.

Here are some functional neurology tips to lower your risk of Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, ALS, and other neurodegenerative diseases:

Seek an assessment for a brain injury, even if it happened a while ago, to make sure it still isn’t causing brain inflammation. Brain inflammation does not have a built-in off switch.

Transition to an anti-inflammatory diet and uncover undiagnosed foot intolerances. For instance, the tissue most often damaged by an undiagnosed gluten intolerance is brain and nerve tissue.

Balance your blood sugar. High blood sugar (insulin resistance and diabetes) are so damaging to the brain that some researchers call Alzheimer’s “type 3 diabetes.”

Eat healthy fats. The brain is made up primarily of fats, which come from the fats you eat. Strictly avoid trans fats (hydrogenated oils). Avoid industrial oils (canola, soy, etc.) as much as possible and go with natural fats such as olive oil and coconut oil. Make sure you are getting enough omega 3 fatty acids (most people don’t) and consider supplementing with DHA, a brain-supportive omega 3.

Assess neurotransmitter function and consider amino acid supplementation if necessary for support.

Address brain inflammation, oxygen supply to the brain, and brain energy and endurance.

Get enough sleep. Sleep deprivation ravages the brain.

Exercise daily. Few things are as deeply beneficial to and protective of the brain than regular exercise, particularly high-intensity interval training.

Challenge your brain. The brain stays healthy and vital through use. The more you challenge it the healthier it can be. What is the best way to challenge your brain? By getting better at something you’re not good at. For instance, if you’re weak at math, do some math puzzles regularly. If your balance is bad, do some balance exercises (safely). If your mind is always scattered, work on meditation and focus exercises, and so on. Work at levels that you can accomplish and maintain on a regular basis and that does not exhaust you.

For more targeted and accelerated brain optimization, ask our office how a functional neurology exam and customized rehabilitation exercises can help.