The Nutrition-Cognition Link: Our Functional Medicine Toronto Centre Explains This

For many functional medicine Toronto patients, various aspects of health can be emphasized – take healthy aging, for example. We understand why this is an area of interest because lifestyle and environmental factors can contribute to premature aging.

So, what if we told you that nutrition could play a role in age-related cognition? 

Cognitive decline in the elderly is an international issue. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), “Worldwide, around 55 million people have dementia…. As the proportion of older people in the population is increasing in nearly every country, this number is expected to rise to 78 million in 2030 and 139 million in 2050.”

Although life expectancy has increased over the decades, it appears that cognitive concerns are also on the rise – and, for many loved ones, this is alarming. The Lancet recently reported that individuals with dementia tend to have additional health concerns when compared to other people their age. “People with dementia have more hospital admissions than other older people, including for illnesses that are potentially manageable at home,” the Lancet declared.

The question begs, what can we do to prevent or delay the onset of these degenerative concerns? Well, scientists have suggested that nutritional interventions could assist with delaying or preventing dementia for long-term health.

How nutrition impacts cognitive health

Scientific evidence has supported the notion that nutrients could theoretically target cognitive improvements. Here are some examples:

  • NAD may stimulate neuroprotective actions: NAD-based clinical therapies might offer prevention for cognitive decline. Known as nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD), this coenzyme is imperative for cellular functioning and detoxifying free radicals. In a randomized, controlled study on males (published in the Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation), intravenous NAD was administered for five consecutive days. Over these days, the men completed tests involving memory, spatial processing, information processing, etc. Those given NAD infusions performed impressively in 6 out of 8 tests; the participants given saline infusions without NAD demonstrated improvements in 2 out of 8 tests. “These results combined with case reports in Parkinson’s disease patients suggest that implementation of a standardized cognitive assessment is a practical and effective way to establish efficacy of IV NAD+ treatment for clinical conditions involving cognitive impairment,” concluded the researchers.
  • Folate intake might be linked to lowering the risk for dementia: Scientists have suggested that B vitamins (principally folates) might lessen dementia-related risks. In a French study, it was shown that participants with low folate and B12 levels tended to display excessive homocysteine levels; these high levels are usually linked to dementia, confirms Ageing Research Reviews.
  • A combination of creatine and coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) might delay mild cognitive impairment: In a study on Parkinson’s patients with mild cognitive damages, participants were given oral creatine and CoQ10 for 18 months. The study – published in European Neurology – demonstrated that this blended therapy could aid in the delay of cognitive function in these patients, and it “…could lower their plasma PL levels; therefore, this combination therapy may have a neuroprotective function.”
  • Diets with anti-inflammatory function could potentially support cognition: Further studies are necessary, though it’s been suggested that anti-inflammatory diets are linked to improved cognition, mood and brain health. In a recent observational study, Greek men and women ages 65+ showed improved cognition and mood when they adhered to the Mediterranean diet. “These results reinforce the need to make public health efforts and policies to promote the adoption of [Mediterranean Diet] habits as beneficial measures for dementia. These dietary measures, in combination with other healthy lifestyle and cardiovascular risk factors interventions, should be applied in the earliest ages, as a brain protective intervention,” commented an article from Clinical Research on Nutritional Epidemiology.

Quick Fact: Poor nutritional choices also promote heart disease, which can trigger glucose intolerance and blood pressure issues. According to a review from the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, excessive calories and cholesterol, along with consuming saturated fats and salt, can contribute to hypertension.

Taking a nutritional approach to cognition

If you’re concerned about age-related cognition, making dietary improvements is a step towards optimal function. Consulting with a health care practitioner could ensure you’re moving in a suitable direction. In fact, a personalized approach to clinical care can empower you to stick to your health goals; at the Toronto Functional Medicine Centre, we offer clinical nutrition and functional medicine strategies tailored for your needs.

Our practitioners may suggest different ways to upgrade your nutrient intake. We might recommend supplements, such as vitamins, minerals, and nutraceuticals, as well as lifestyle modifications. Dietary changes may need to be considered, but we can coach you on how to make healthy lifestyle decisions with our functional medicine approach.

IV therapy (intravenous therapy/IV nutrient therapy) may be considered for your nutritional intake, too. Through lab testing, our clinic can help determine what your current health status is deficient in. Once these results have been analyzed, we can customize your IV vitamin therapy with beneficial ingredients (i.e. vitamin C, folic acid, etc). Intramuscular injections with vitamin K1, vitamin D and B12 may also be discussed.

Addressing brain health at the Toronto Functional Medicine Centre

If you’re struggling with memory loss or yearn to boost mental performance, our integrative and functional medicine programs could provide new insights.

Our integrative approach to clinical care allows you to draw from various therapies, such as Western medicine, Traditional Chinese Medicine, naturopathic medicine, acupuncture, IV therapy, and other treatment modalities. Because we adhere to functional medicine wisdom, we focus on uncovering the root cause of your health concerns; thus, we may emphasize your comprehensive health history, which may include a discussion on genetics, your current lifestyle, environmental surroundings, and more.

Along with cognitive concerns, our functional medicine practitioners can offer help with other issues related to adrenal fatigue, abdominal pain, autoimmune illness, sleep issues, body aches, hormonal health, cellular health, chronic fatigue, digestive issues, and nutritional deficiencies.

Let’s start tackling your memory issues and brain fog! Click here to contact our functional medicine Toronto clinic to become a new patient – it’s time to create a comprehensive treatment plan just for you!

Disclaimer: The information in this article is designed for educational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for informed medical advice or care. This information should not be used to diagnose or treat any health problems or illnesses without consulting a doctor. Consult with a health care practitioner before relying on any information in this article or on this website.

References:

Covarrubias, A.J., Perrone, R., Grozio, A. et al. NAD+ metabolism and its roles in cellular processes during ageing. Nat Rev Mol Cell Biol 22, 119–141 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41580-020-00313-x

Dementia” from the World Health Organization, posted September 20, 2022, viewed on November 11, 2022.

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García-Casares N, Gallego Fuentes P, Barbancho MÁ, López-Gigosos R, García-Rodríguez A, Gutiérrez-Bedmar M. Alzheimer’s Disease, Mild Cognitive Impairment and Mediterranean Diet. A Systematic Review and Dose-Response Meta-Analysis. J Clin Med. 2021 Oct 10;10(20):4642. doi: 10.3390/jcm10204642. PMID: 34682764; PMCID: PMC8537524.

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Li, Z., Wang, P., Yu, Z., Cong, Y., Sun, H., Zhang, J., Zhang, J., Sun, C., Zhang, Y., & Ju, X. (2015). The effect of creatine and coenzyme Q10 combination therapy on mild cognitive impairment in Parkinson’s disease. European Neurology, 73(3-4), 205–211. https://doi.org/10.1159/000377676

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