A recent study published in the Archives of Neurology demonstrated an improvement in cognitive function in older adults with mild cognitive impairment (MCI). This supports other studies that demonstrate an improvement in memory and executive function in patients who took human growth hormone. In this most recent study, patients received a Growth hormone releasing hormone analogue (tesmorelin) which increases the bodies natural production of growth hormone. Patients also experienced a 7.4% reduction in body fat which is typical in patients who take HGH.
Why is this important? Did you know that your chances of developing are 50% if you live to 80 years old? That number is quite staggering and we should be doing everything in our power to prevent this debilitating disease (or consequence of declining hormone levels). Patients are becoming more and more educated because of the internet and are searching for ways to take charge of their health. They are no longer waiting for doctors to tell them what to do or what pill to take. it is critical that they medical community, myself included, be on top of the latest and greatest research when it comes to preventing disease. Unfortunately most doctors know how to treat disease but have no clue how to prevent it.
So what should you do with this information? Certainly I think the first step is to have all your hormone levels checked. Every hormone has a health benefit and when you lose the hormone you lose the health benefit. In all my patients I check IGF-1 levels (to assess growth hormone production), testosterone (free and total), DHEA-s, thyroid (freeT3, freeT4 and TSH) and also look at estradiol, progesterone, FSH (follicle stimulating hormone) and LH (leutinizing hormone). If levels are less than optimal we simply replace them and optimize them to what you had when you were twenty. This is where the medical literature shows you feel the best, look the best and have a reduction in all cause mortality.
What else can you do after optimizing hormones?
There are a few supplements that have solid literature backing it up to maintain healthy brain function. For starters, almost every one of my patients is placed on 4-5 grams/day of a pharmaceutical grade fish oil. I recommend Xymogen’s Arctic Oils or Pure Encapsulations EPA/DHA liquid. Secondly, I recommend all my patients optimize their Vitamin D levels to over 60. Xymogen makes a 5000 IU capsule which is the standard dose for patients with sub-optimal vitamin D levels. You can find all these supplement at my online store http://store.doctorbreen.com
How about exercise? Exercise has been shown to increase something called Brain Derived Neurotropic Factor (BDNF). BDNF actually regenerates neurons in the brain and prevents atrophy. It is a very complex process but the bottom line is that people who get out and increase their heart rate have less chance of cognitive decline based on the physiologic changes that occur with aging/inactivity.
The bottom line is that dementia should be something that doctors aggressively try to prevent. The three pronged approach should include hormone optimization, nutrition and exercise.