The number of people with cognitive and memory decline (Alzheimer’s, Dementia) globally is estimated to be 50 million. Researchers are predicting that the rate will nearly triple by 2050.

 

Scientists don’t yet fully understand what causes these cognitive conditions in most people. There is a genetic component to some cases of early-onset Alzheimer’s disease, whereas others arise from a complex series of brain changes that occur over decades. The causes probably include a combination of genetic, environmental, and lifestyle factors.

 

From the modern medicine perspective, despite its prevalence, the cause of Alzheimer’s and other cognitive disorders are still undetermined, the prognosis is poor, and treatment only provides moderate and temporary improvements.

 

The good news is that there are emerging strategies in the field of holistic medicine and Ayurveda that have the potential to prevent this brain depletion epidemic. This includes changes in diet, lifestyle routines and herbal support.

 

A Sattvic Mind


In Vedic tradition, the mind (manas) is seen as the gateway between the information gathered by sense organs (indriyas) and the greater intelligence (buddhi). The mind is described to be 1 of the following 3 qualities: sattva, rajas, or tamas. A sattvic mind has the best memory - it's clear, alert, enthusiastic, stable and shines with intelligence.

 

Rajas describes a mental state dominated by attachments and are characterised by anger, passion, greed, agitation and anxiety. The tamasic mind tends to develop delusions and is described as dull, ignorant and slow. In disorders cognitive impairment, Tamasic characteristics include slow cognition, poor memory, and difficulty performing tasks. Rajasic imbalances present during frustrated outbursts and periods of agitation. Therefore, from the Vedic perspective, to preserve, prevent and reverse cognitive decline, we need to cultivate a sattvic mind.

 

One of the most important factors for promoting a sattvic mind is diet. A sattvic diet is recommended for all conditions of cognitive impairment including dementia and Alzheimer's and incorporates the highly nutritious foods according to Ayurveda. A sattvic diet is designed to keep minds clear, happy and at peace. The Sattvic diet was traditionally devised for the development of higher consciousness. Sattvic food is vegetarian, wholesome, pure, lightly spiced and freshly prepared from in-season produce. Sattvic foods are GMO-free, ideally organic and foods that are abundant in Prana - the universal life-force that gives life to all sentient beings. Sattvic foods include whole grains, fresh sweet ripe fruit, green vegetables, ghee, cooked milk, almonds.

 

Evidence suggests that free radicals may be involved in the development of Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia; antioxidants may, therefore, play a role in its prevention, and epidemiological studies suggest that dietary intake of vitamins A, E, and C decrease the risk. Foods rich in these carotenoids and antioxidants include darkly coloured fruits and vegetables, but generally a healthy, wholesome diet. Mild seasoning is sattvic, including turmeric, cinnamon, fennel, ginger, coriander, saffron and cardamom, are considered sattvic and beneficial. Modern research suggests specific foods which support healthy peripheral circulation, such as ginger, garlic, cinnamon and chilli are likely to be beneficial in these conditions.

 

Inflammation is also a driver and foods which reduce inflammation such as good fats (omega 3 foods), ginger, turmeric and many other spices are recommended. Foods that promote rajas and tamas mind states should be significantly minimised and avoided. Foods that cause a dull state of mind have low amounts of prana (life energy). These include stale, overcooked, highly processed, frozen, and refined foods. Most fast foods and junk food fall into this category. Foods that increase rajas include meat, excessively spicy foods, caffeine, refined sugar and alcohol.

 

 

A Sattvic Lifestyle


Lifestyle and social factors have been shown to have a role in the development of Cognitive Disorders. It has been demonstrated that Alzheimer disease is more common in cultures where there is social isolation and is less common where there is a close family structure. Studies show that the presence of a pet dog increased appropriate social behaviours in Cognitive conditions and individuals who have pets also live longer, which may be owing to the unconditional love that they get from animals and the increase in activity it brings. Yoga, breathing exercises, and meditation aid in the management and prevention of these conditions.

 

They bring in prana to the body, enliven consciousness and manage stress which keeps the mind active, alert and healthy. Alternate nostril breathing (a yogic Pranayama technique) is an excellent tool to prevent Alzheimer’s Disease.

 

 

Herbs For Brain Health


There are many wonderful herbs, which assist with cognitive function, they are sattvic in nature and neuroprotective. Herbs that act as a tonic to provide strength to the brain and nervous system tissue are best to include as they have rejuvenating properties. Ayurvedic herbs that are renowned for gaining cognitive support with new research validation are; Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera), Brahmi (Bacopa monnieri) and Turmeric (Curcuma longa).

 

Ashwagandha is used extensively in Ayurveda as a nervine tonic and ‘adaptogen' which helps the body adapt to stress and is one of the best mental rejuvenators. Research is beginning to show that ashwagandha has significant protective antioxidant activity which delays deterioration of brain tissue. Brahmi is considered the most sattvic herb in Ayurveda and is used to improve memory and intelligence. With nearly 300 studies in the scientific literature, it has been shown to have cognitive and neuroprotective benefits as well as being significantly supportive of the learning process and memory.

 

A study on turmeric published in The American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry found taking a daily dose of curcumin, not only prevented memory problems from worsening over time but actually, improve them. Also, Turmeric has been shown to reduce the amount of advanced plaque deposition in the brain which is present in those with Alzheimer's Disease. A healthy mind has always been at the forefront of Ayurvedic and Yogic practices. Traditionally this was for spiritual development and enhancement of consciousness, but with the growing problems of cognitive conditions in the modern world, we can look to these tools to support clarity of mind into the future.

 

 

For more information or to book an health consultation or private yoga class, please contact our sister company based in Melbourne, Australia – Veda Wellness. 

info@vedawellness.com.au ||  www.vedawellnesss.com.au

 

Author: Tegan Wallis 

Holistic Health Practitioner at Veda Wellness.



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