While age is one of the most prominent risk factors of cognitive impairment and neurodegeneration, several studies indicate that stress levels, sedentary lifestyle, environment, exposure to toxins, lack of proper nutrition in diet and chronic conditions (Alzheimer’s, dementia, etc.) are equally responsible for cognitive decline and impairment. As per the CDC, a person with cognitive impairment “has trouble remembering, learning new things, concentrating, or making decisions that affect their everyday life.”
Since functional medicine tends to find the solutions for a disease/disorder by delving into the root causes of a problem, research has found that several holistic mind-body integrative approaches that Functional Medicine utilizes are extremely beneficial to reverse or prevent cognitive impairment and Neurodegeneration.
Clinical studies have shown strong evidence that acupuncture has a positive effect on reversing cognitive impairment and resist further neurodegeneration. 3 human trials with evidence levels of 1B, 2B and 4 (suggesting strong confidence level) are among the most important studies done on acupuncture. One of these studies found that, acupuncture significantly improved visual memory, word fluency, verbal memory, visual perception, visual attention, and verbal learning among their subjects. Another study ran Loewenstein Occupational Therapy Cognitive Assessment on its geriatric subjects receiving acupuncture treatments and found significant improvement in praxis, orientation, perception and attention. Another study found that short term memory significantly improved in their test subjects as a result of multiple acupuncture treatment sessions.
Several studies have demonstrated how our gut is related to our mental well-being. Functional Medicine and Functional Nutritionists hence look closely at the gut to ensure its optimal functioning. Functional nutrition also focuses on functional foods; foods that cure, vitalize and remediate. Several functional foods like Flavanoids, Carotene, Lycopene, etc. found in colored vegetables and plant based sources not only provide nutrition but also fight global inflammation within the body. Since inflammation in the brain can cause neurodegeneration and cognitive impairment, functional foods aim to resist that. In addition, they improve gut health, which holistically has a tremendous impact on physical and mental well-being. That is why, Functional Nutritionists prescribe personalized diet plans for different individuals based on their lifestyle, activity, age, environment and chronic conditions.
Exercise, Yoga and Meditation
Several animal models that study binge alcohol exposure in rats have shown that binging can cause severe neurodegeneration and cognitive impairment in animal models. However, they have also shown that regular exercise tends to reverse that and brings significant improvement in coordination, movement and cognitive recognition. In humans, studies in geriatric population and stroke recovery subjects show similar results with significant improvement in motor functions and memory. In addition, studies have also shown that aerobic exercise can improve memory function in Alzheimer’ patients. Functional medicine experts and health/exercise coaches focus on highly personalized and specific training plans to help with cognitive improvement.
Yoga is an ancient practice that focuses on healing. Regular Yoga and meditation may have a significantly positive impact on cognitive improvement and reversal of cognitive decline.
If you or anyone you know have been struggling with cognitive impairment or decline and undergoing treatments for neurodegenerative diseases, please contact The Functional Medicine Center for Personalized Care, LLC (www.FxMedCenters.com) at 201-880-8247 or Specialized Therapy Associates at 201-488-6678 for our Integrative Mind-Body Health services. Our Integrative Mind-Body Health services incorporate Acupuncture, Functional Nutrition, IV Nutrition, Health Coaching, Exercise, Yoga, and Mind-Body Psychotherapy to support holistic healing and recovery.
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