Today’s episode is a really important one. We wanted to dive into all things brain health (specifically female brain health) and really unpack the difference between Alzheimer’s, Dementia, Parkinson’s, and more, plus all the things we can be doing early for prevention. We thought who better to discuss this topic with than dream team neurologist’s Dr. Kellyann Niotis and Dr. Richard Isaacson—their wait-list spans several years and they are the utmost experts in this area. We go further into how our genetics play a role (and don’t play a role) and why it’s so important to own your health and be your own advocate. If you have any family history of neurological diseases or just want to get educated, we highly recommend you take a listen.
“Taking a deep breath and just kind of realizing that while we don’t have perfect answers, there’s so much we can do. I think the test [to start with] depends on the person, the individual risk, and what the person really wants. Some people may not want to know their genetics, and that’s okay. Today, anyone can go and use 23andMe to get the health and ancestry test and can find out if they have one or two variants that may increase their risk of Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, or breast cancer. And then they can learn and feel empowered to talk their doctor and say ‘hey I have this gene, what do you suggest?’ Or they can go to Dr. Google because [they] can be a citizen scientist and learn, you know, we put out free coursework out there. And they can listen to podcasts like this.”
“Everyone should enjoy their life, so if you’re gonna have it, have it with lunch, have it with a meal, which slows absorption, and four to six hours before sleep. It’s excessive alcohol, so multiple drinks, right before bedtime, and again, we’re always thinking about the individual person, so there’s some data and evidence to suggest that, again, people with this APOE4 may be more susceptible to the toxicity of alcohol than other people, so it’s always a risk benefit. There’s something also very enjoyable about alcohol. It can be stress relieving. It can improve social engagement because you’re usually drinking with friends. So, there is a benefit to it. It’s just in moderation.”
“Well, the first test is to see a doctor on a regular basis. You know getting blood pressure taken, getting your blood sugar and minding the vascular risk factors. What happens too many times is doctors say, ‘oh, your numbers are a little high, go exercise more and eat a healthy diet,’ and then you come back six months or two years later, and the numbers are still, a little high. I think taking a more comprehensive approach and saying I don’t want to just be borderline, I want to be normal. I want to be optimal. So I think those sorts of tests such as a cholesterol panel, fasting blood sugar, fasting insulin, hemoglobin, A1C test, B12 test, etc. are key.”
“Exercise is the most powerful tool that we have in our toolbox. I truly believe that, and the reason I believe that is because it doesn’t just decrease Alzheimer’s risk, it decreases Parkinson’s risk, but it decreases risk of so many chronic conditions age related conditions that ultimately are going to impact your brain health so if there’s one thing that anyone takes away from this is do not skimp on your exercise. It’s can be intimidating for people who don’t exercise. So any bit of exercise is going to help you. It’s all about the right type of exercise in the right person, but just starting can be an obstacle for people. So whether that’s just walking as you’re beginning to exercise, that’s doing something for you.”