Maintaining Cognitive Health

Cognitive and neurological health refers to the health of the brain, how efficiently the brain communicates with the body while maintaining a host of other functions such as memory, judgment, language, spacial sensing, recognition, dealing with colors, images and numbers as well as the ability to learn.

Common Cognitive Symptoms

Issues with cognitive or neurological health can involve many symptoms. For example, ones that are accepted as “just part of getting older” – like brain fog or forgetting names to more serious signs of cognitive impairment and enzyme function like dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

We are now realizing through medical research that many symptoms of cognitive decline actually originate in other parts of the body, not just the brain itself – including depression and anxiety.

I also find in my practice that other neurological problems — brought on by head injuries from sports or car accidents — aren’t always given the proper treatment at the time of occurrence. This can also cause neurological issues later on in life, leading to depression, vertigo, or poor balance and change in sleep patterns.

Conventional Treatment Approaches

Severe cognitive decline is typically seen among aging adults (60+), but now we are seeing more individuals even in their 40’s starting to suffer from cognitive issues.

Most people suffer from mild cognitive impairment (MCI), including loss of memory – for example the inability to quickly remember names and numbers, which doesn’t hugely impact their ability to maintain necessary daily activities.

Conventional medicine states there is no cure for severe cognitive decline, but what they fail to recognize is the ability to treat early cognitive decline before the brain is in severe decline.

Many conventionally trained doctors still believe that memory loss is a result of the aging brain losing chemicals (like acetylcholine) that allow your brain cells to properly communicate.

While that is true in part, it’s only a very small part of the story. Typically, they prescribe medications to boost neurotransmitters (which only help marginally) but never address the other systemic insults leading to impaired brain function. If memory medications truly worked, then cognitive decline would be a manageable issue, instead of the growing problem that it is.

One of the reasons why many primary care practitioners are at a loss to treat cognitive impairments has to do with their training: They learn to treat symptoms with a prescription, while typically not getting to the root of why your brain is in decline, which is a complex equation.

While conventionally trained doctors are great at acute care, they simply don’t have the training and tools to deal with chronic disorders, including cognitive decline and dealing with issues like memory loss, brain fog, anxiety, and depression – which can sometimes be mistakenly diagnosed as emotional issues.

The Functional Medicine Approach

The Functional Medicine approach to healing cognitive decline is also a “whole body” approach to therapy.

This means we look at all the systems in the body to see how they are impacting your brain, including your gut and hormone balance, as well as deficiencies in key nutritients.

We also look at your toxic load and analyze how your environment might be impacting your brain. I see this often with my patients who have brain health issues due to  toxic mold exposure, heavy metal poisoning, or dealing with high levels of  inflammation due to gut imbalances.

We also test to see if you have undiagnosed food allergies that can cause gut issues as well as brain fog, anxiety, and insomnia.

Through advanced medical research we’ve recently discovered that nutrition plays a huge part in the health of your brain. Unfortunately, nutrition is not a current part of your standard medical school training, but it is a primary focus in functional and integrative medicine training.

We’ve also discovered that deficiencies in key brain nutrients could be to blame for many cognitive issues – which we correct with high-quality, medical grade supplementation and a functional nutrition diet.

Only with a deep understanding of the complex interplay between the gut, inflammation, hormonal health and other factors, can a functional and integrative medicine-trained practitioner assess the true causes of cognitive decline.

This protocol is wonderful for your brain, but also benefits your entire body, as we look at your whole system and help you to make the needed changes to get your health back on track.

The earlier cognitive impairments are diagnosed, the sooner you can start addressing them – so feel free to schedule a complimentary phone consultation to see what the best next steps are for you.

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Journey With Me

Perhaps you have questions you’d like to ask before you make a decision to become a patient. Set up a free 15 minute Discovery Call with Sarah Yoakam, MD to learn if we’re the right fit.