Preventing Dementia, Alzheimer's & Optimising Brain Function with Dr John Hart | 180 Nutrition

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Preventing Dementia, Alzheimer’s & Optimising Brain Function with Dr John Hart

Watch the full interview below or listen to the full episode on your iPhone HERE.

Guy:  This week we welcome back to the show Dr John Hart. Dr Hart runs a busy functional medicine practice specialising in brain health.

His passion for brain health led to the establishment of The Hart Clinic for brain health medicine. Dr Hart and his team have completed Dr Dale Bredesen’s practitioner training at The Buck Institute for Research on Aging, and offer patients access to this groundbreaking protocol which has been shown to reverse early Alzheimer’s disease.

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downloaditunesListen to StitcherQuestions we ask in this episode:

  • Dementia – what is it?
  • How does it happen, what are the causes?
  • Can it be reversed, how?
  • Where does genetic inheritance fit into it?
  • How can we optimize brain function?

Get More Of Dr John Hart

  • http://www.hartclinic.com.au/

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Full Transcript

Guy

[00:01:00] Hey, this is Guy Lawrence at 180 Nutrition and of course welcome to another great episode of The Health Sessions, where we’re cutting through the confusion by connecting with the leading global health and wellness experts to share the best and the latest science and thinking guys to empower everyone to turn their health and lives around, including myself, because after recording this episode today it is certainly making me think about the future of where my health is going. It’s an incredible episode. We welcome back to the show today Dr. John Hart, who is a longevity expert. We had him on the show probably over a year ago and I’d highly recommend you listen to that episode, too, if you haven’t, because it really complements this one. Today we are tacking the topic of Alzheimer’s and dementia and brain cognition in general, really, and it was absolutely fascinating.

[00:02:00] If you’re not familiar with Dr. John Hart, he runs a very busy functional medicine practice specializing in brain health. His passion for brain health led to the establishment of The Hart Clinic for Brain Health Medicine, which we get to talk about today. Him and his team have completed Dr. Dale Bredesen’s practitioner training at the Buck Institute of Research of Aging and are offering patients access to this groundbreaking protocol which has been shown to reverse early Alzheimer’s disease. I can tell you what, guys, if you know anyone that is suffering with dementia or Alzheimer’s, you have to listen to this episode and start implementing some practical advice that John says today, and if you have got a lot of sugar in your diet, I promise you after this episode I’m pretty sure you’re going to be removing it – well, I hope so, anyway.

Today’s episode just really reinforces the fact about removing processed foods, getting the sugars out of your diet, giving care to yourself, and getting all the basic fundamentals right to set you up well for the long term, because you know prevention is the greatest cure of all and listening to John today is just another fantastic reminder.

[00:03:00] We get a lot of emails with people coming in and struggling and confused about their diet and that’s all we want to encourage is to bring them things back. If you are one of them people listening to this and you haven’t checked out our product range on our website, go back and check it out, because especially our token 180 Superfood and our greens formula, and there’s a couple of other key products there as well, are designed to help you eliminate bad food choices quickly and conveniently and give you all the nutrients, the fiber, the protein, the fats, the vitamins and minerals, all in one hit coming from a natural source. It’s as simple as making a smoothie in the morning and replacing those processed foods. I can’t stress it enough, and it we’ve seen it time and time and again, the moment people start doing that, start helping lower their inflammation and it can contribute to your health longer term as well.

We’ve also got dozens of recipes there, guys. Go and check them out. Lots of ideas. There’s free eBooks on there. It’s all set up to help you, along with these podcasts, to help you, empower you, so you can make better food choices as well, so make sure you go and check all that out back at 180Nutrition.com.au. Of course, they are available now in the USA and New Zealand as well. Let’s go over to John Hart.

Hey, this is Guy Lawrence. I’m joined with Stuart Cooke as always. Hey Stu!

Stu

Hello Guy.

Guy

Our awesome guest today is Dr. John Hart. John, welcome to the show.

John

Thanks Guy, thanks for having us back. Stu, how are you doing?

Stu

Very well, thank you, John. Great to have you back on the show.

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Guy

Yeah, it’s been over a year mate. Time is flying, it’s incredible. We’re very much excited to get you back on the show, John, because the last episode you did with us did incredibly well and there was a wealth of information. We’re looking forward to stuck into today’s topic, which we haven’t cover on the show either, believe it or not. It’s going to be fantastic.

Now John, just to get all our listeners up to speed, would you mind just sort of filling in a little bit about yourself and what you do?

John

Sure. The area of medicine I work in is called functional medicine, which is looking at the root cause of chronic degenerative diseases that are by far the commonest problem in society now. It used to be up til about 100 years ago that most people died and suffered from infections and trauma, but we’ve controlled the environment now to the point that infections and trauma are no longer big problems. The big problems now are the chronic degenerative diseases that do damage a little bit every day that adds up over decades and eventually ends up manifesting as the things that commonly kill us – dementia, cancer, heart attack, stroke. Functional medicine is a branch of medicine that looks at the underlying causes of those diseases. Rather than just getting symptomatic control, it’s going downstream, looking at the cause, fixing the cause, and then the symptoms go away.

[00:06:00] My particular area of interest within functional medicine is brain health. There’s a lot of information come out. The 1990s was the decade of the brain and there was billions of dollars spent on brain research around the world. It usually takes on average 17 years for information to make it from the lab to clinical practice with patients, so that’s been the last decade or so that’s been the case. There’s a lot of information now about the causes of dementia, Parkinson’s disease, cognitive decline, and what goes on in traumatic brain injury so that now we don’t just need to treat the symptoms, we can go back and remove the cause and reverse the disease.

Stu: I’m very, very keen to hear what you have to say today as well, because when you connected with us a couple of weeks ago I thought, fantastic. I’m really interested in finding so much more about this topic because not only is it a great topic to spread out to our users, but if affects me in terms of family and friends as well who are suffering in some way, shape, or form from neurodegenerative diseases. I wonder, John, today, if we could just talk a little bit about dementia and perhaps if you could just explain what that is to our listeners right now so we could understand it better.

John

[00:07:00] Sure. Dementia is basically decreased brain function, so it’s a decreased ability to remember, memory decline, it’s a decreased ability to think, so that’s cognition, and to socialize and physically function, and it’s due to damage and death of brain cells or neurodegeneration. There are different forms of dementia caused by different factors, but the end result of all the different factors that lead to decreased brain function is sick brain cells which then progresses to death of brain cells.

Guy

Does it only happen in elderly people, John, or are you seeing it coming a younger generation?

John

[00:08:00] Certainly, it’s more common in the elderly. In fact, 10% of 65 year olds have dementia, about 25% of 75 year olds, and up to 50% of 85 year olds have dementia from various causes. Alzheimer’s disease is the commonest cause. It makes up about 70% of causes of dementia, but then vascular dementia makes up about 20% of the causes due to damaged blood vessels and poor blood supply towards the brain.

[00:09:00] It can happen at any age because you get dementia from traumatic brain injury, from a stroke, and we’ve all had trauma to our brains to varying degrees throughout our life. You might have had a traumatic birth and had your head squeezed during birth. We usually have a few falls during our childhood – learning to walk, learning to ride a bike, playing sports, being hit on the head or falling over and hurting our body, which the forces get transmitted up and shake the brain around and damage the brain. We’ve all got some degree of traumatic brain injury that would accumulate over our life and obviously some people have more than others. If you’re hitting a soccer ball for a decade or so, or boxing, or mixed martial arts, or contact sports of any sort, obviously in the military if you’re around explosions and guns and cannons, then these are all concussive forces that shake the brain within the skull and lead to microdamage. It might not be enough to make you unconscious, but it puts in play a series of reactions in the brain that over time accelerate the normal decline.

Bearing in mind that we’re all losing brain cells no matter what we do. When we finish growing we have about 85 billion brain cells and we lose an average of about 8000 a day, but you can lose more than that or less than that depending on what you do. For instance, if you have a glass of alcohol, 10 grams of alcohol, you could lose 10,000 brain cells just from that alcohol. We’re all influencing the rate of this decline.
[00:10:00] If you do the right things, which is putting in good stuff and taking out bad stuff, then you can decrease that rate of decline, but if you’re doing lots of bad things, not getting enough sleep, getting trauma to the brain, you’re putting in chemicals that are damaging to the brain, you’re not putting in nutrients that are necessary for brain function, then your brain cells will become sicker and you’re aware of that because your brain will say ouch. They way that the brain says ouch is it stops doing what it does. If you have an inflamed, damaged knee joint and you use it, then you get marked pain, swelling, tenderness, some heat on the joint, and that’s what tells you that there’s something wrong with the joint. The way the brain tells you there’s something wrong with it is it stops doing its job properly. That can lead to mood disorders, anxiety, depression, irritability, difficulty sleeping.

[00:11:00] I think people have the concept that sleep is like a switch gets turned off and everything stops, but that’s not the case at all. Sleep is a very active process. There’s lots of things that happen in your body and in your brain, all focused on regeneration from the degeneration that happened during the day. It’s a very active process. There’s a lot of energy involved, a lot of control involved, so if your brain is not working properly then you have trouble sleeping, whether it’s getting to sleep, staying to sleep, being well rested when you wake up in the morning.

Other ways the brain says ouch is just obviously decreased memory, decreased attention, these are all things the brain does. if the brain is inflamed and the cells are sick and not working properly, then you can get dysfunction in any of those areas, and if you don’t do anything about it then the dysfunction progresses to the point that the cells initially start to retract.

[00:12:00] The whole way the brain works is it’s a complicated network, and it’s the networking between cells that gives you the brain function. You want the densest possible network and the maximum number of connections between cells. The average brain cell has 1000 connections to the cells around it. You want to maintain those connections as you get older, but if you’re not putting in good stuff and you are putting in bad stuff for the health of the cells, they will retract those connections. Because those connections take up energy to maintain and if the cell is sick and not able to make enough energy, then as a survival thing it will start down-regulating the number of connections, which then you see manifesting in how well the brain works. If the dysfunction continues with not enough good stuff, too much bad stuff, then the brain cells start to die.

[00:13:00] You can do pictures of your brain – MRIs and CTs. You can have a sick brain that’s not working properly, but the brain cells are still there so on a CT or MRI it’ll look normal. There’s still the mass of the brain there, it’s just dysfunction, but you don’t see that on a structural picture. As the brain degenerates and you lose cells, then the brain starts to shrink and you can see that. In somebody with advanced dementia, they’ve got a brain that has much fewer cells and is obviously much smaller, and that’s why the person doesn’t have the cognitive processing power and they can’t think for themselves, they can’t look after themselves. That’s the condition called dementia. That can be a 50-year process going from a healthy, large-functioning brain at the end of adolescence to the onset of dementia in your 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s. It’s a slow general decline, but as I said [inaudible 00:13:11] very manipulatable by lifestyle factors.

Stu

We’re going to have lots of listeners out there right now thinking, “I enjoy a couple of glasses at wine at night and my sleep isn’t great.” Most people that we talk to on this show have issues sleeping – whether it’s getting to sleep or staying asleep, and feeling rested when they wake up in the morning is very rare. How would they test for this? If they came to you and said, “I’m mindful that I want to do everything I can to maximize my brain health for the future.” What tests would you advise they perform?

John

[00:14:00] Firstly, I agree sleep is a big problem in our society. Very few people get optimal sleep and that’s one of the major contributors to the decline in health over time. In terms of tests, I don’t think you need to go into a sleep lab, because for most people that’s quite artificial. You’re hooked up with wires, it’s a foreign environment, there’s some video camera in your face, you’re not sleeping.

Stu

I actually attended a sleep lab, John, and …

Guy

You had the worst night’s sleep ever!

Stu

… I had the worst night’s sleep I’ve ever had. I was hooked up to about 48 different wires. I was bound to the bed by so many different wires and contraptions. There were flashing lights, beeping noises. I think I got about two hours of sleep a night and I normally get about 8 so it was useless to me, so I agree.

John

[00:15:00] I think you can assess your own sleep very easily by how you feel in the morning. The basic rules for a good night’s sleep are 7 to 8 hours, maybe even more than 8 hours; a minimal in delay in getting to sleep, 5 to 10 minutes maximum; no more than one interruption during the night, and if you do wake up during the night you go straight back to sleep; and waking up in the morning feeling well rested. Now, if that’s not happening then your sleep is broken and if your sleep is broken, that’s when your body is regenerating.

[00:16:00] During the day your body and your brain degenerates, because the activity of every cell causes a tear on that cell. At night when the brain realizes it’s night because of the dark environment that it’s supposed to be in … a difficulty now … that’s one of the major problems with the light pollution that we have around us all the time and the electromagnetic fields … but when the brain believes it’s nighttime then it will tell the cells of the body and they will turn on different genes which in turn reprocesses, regenerates, and repair those cells through the night. You want to have the amount of regeneration that you get at night to be maximal because you are going to get degeneration during the day from your activities of the day. The degree to which there’s a difference between the degeneration of the day and the regeneration of the night, that excess degeneration is aging and wear and tear, and the more you have, the faster you will age and wear.

There’s some fascinating stuff that happens in your body and your brain when you’re sleeping. There’s one thing that was recently discovered is that during the night when you’re sleeping your brain cells actually shrink a little bit so there’s more space between the brain cells. Remember, the brain sits in a tank of fluid inside the skull with blood vessels flowing through the brain. When the brain cells shrink at night when you’re sleeping there’s more fluid between those cells and the blood vessels that are pumping blood through the brain day and night, they can now pump in fluid around the outside of the blood vessel between the cells and it flushes out the waste products. You get a lot of repair and basically taking out the garbage with a good night’s sleep.

[00:17:00] You know what happens when you get a bad night’s sleep. The garbage is still in there and you wake up in the morning and you’re foggy and you’re slow. You’ve got a brain that just hasn’t regenerated fully. You’re aware of that on one night. Imagine what happens if it’s less across decades. [crosstalk 00:17:10] wear and tear on your brain and sick brain cells and death of brain cells.

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Stu

I don’t think I’d be aware of anyone that I know who genuinely has a great night’s sleep and addresses all of those issues that you’ve spoken about – wakes up in the morning, spring in their step.

Guy

You forgot about me, mate. That’s me.

Stu

You must just be a naturally groggy guy. Crikey. [crosstalk 00:17:39] In terms of age, is that something that we should be expecting to experience, a good night’s sleep at any age, or are we expecting our sleep quality to decline as we get older?

Guy

[00:18:00] I think you should expect it any time, but you have to take active steps. You have to plan your sleep. It doesn’t just happen. In fact, there’s a whole lot of things that will stop it from happening properly in our environment. Just like your diet and your exercise and your stress management, you’ve got to put time aside, plan it, and use some basic principles. It’s the same thing with sleep. If you want to have optimal quality sleep, you’ve got to set up the environment to do it.

[00:19:00] There’s a list of things that are needed for optimal sleep. Things like getting rid of blue light for the hour or two before you go to bed, because it’s blue light that tells your brain it’s daytime. Ideally, when the sun goes down you remove the blue light from your environment … it’s blue-green light particularly that tells the brain it’s daytime … you take that out and you’re left with amber light. Ideally, certainly the hour or two you before you go to bed just have amber lights on. Turn off all the screens or use a device or an app or a plastic screen that you put over the screens that makes the lights amber, so you don’t have the blue light coming in. Don’t do anything stimulating. No alcohol, caffeine. Rest up. Get the environment quiet so your body’s preparing to go the sleep.

Your body evolved in an environment where the sun went down and there was either a bit of amber firelight or nothing for 12 hours, plus or minus depending on the seasons. It was very clear to the brain that when we were out during the day as a hunter-gatherer in the bright sunshine on the equator, which is where the human species evolved, there was plenty of white light with blue-green frequencies in it telling the brain it’s daytime. At night there was no white light, telling the brain it was nighttime.

[00:20:00] Now we’re in an environment where we don’t go out hunting and gathering during the day. We’re in our caves working away. We don’t get the bright light message during the day to tell the brain clearly that it’s now daytime. When the sun goes down we start turning on all our little white lights and confuse the brain further. The brain is expecting – I’ve been up for about 12 hours it should be time to start winding down but where’s the sunset? How come there’s still light around? That confuses the circadian rhythm.

[00:21:00] I suspect we’re going to find over the next 5 or 10 years that this circadian rhythm dysfunction that most people suffer with because of the light management and light pollution issues that we have, an underlying factor for many of the chronic degenerative diseases. Your body works on rhythms and at times the rhythm is to the day, and it uses the environment to tell it the time of day, because it needs to know when the seasons change and the days get a little bit longer or the days get a bit shorter. You need to adapt to that, but if you’re going to bed at a different time each day and getting up a different time and there’s white light in your room or blue light. Even street light, moonlight, any electrical equipment or the lights that you can see, that light gets through your eyelids, gets into your eyes, into your brain, telling your brain, “It’s not quite nighttime yet.” There’s still light here and you’re trying to sleep so it decreases the depth of your sleep, which decreases the regeneration you get from sleep so you get more fatigued.

Stu

Given the fact that sleep is critical to switch on our restorative and repair and detoxification process and all of the above, if I wanted to have a nice glass of wine and watch a movie before I went to bed, and I like exercising at 9:00 at night, what would be wrong with taking sleeping pills? Just to send me straight into slumber.

John

Sleeping pills, the commonest ones used are the benzodiazepines – Valium, diazepam …

Stu

Temazepam.

John

… anything with a pam on the end. Diazepam, which is a sedative/sleeping tablet, they are pretty well the main ones that are used because they are much safer than the older sleeping tablets that we used a couple of decades ago. However, they don’t give you proper sleep. Proper sleep requires you passing through 3 stages of sleep. It’s the third stage, the deep REM sleep, that’s where you get all the regeneration and the memory consolidation and a lot of other repair happening. What the benzodiazepines do, they just keep you into the first and second stage of sleep. You’re unconscious, you’re not aware of being awake, but you’re not going into the deep regenerative sleep. You spend the time unconscious thinking that you’re asleep, but you’re not repairing and you wake up tired.

Stu

Wow, I never knew that. I think that would shock a lot of people that take sleeping pills.

Guy

You can test – I think there are phone apps to see how long you’re in that third cycle if I’m not mistaken?

John

Yeah, they’re estimations because they usually rely on the degree to which you’re moving around, so they’re not the most accurate way. There’s a easy home assessment that can give you an indication. When you’re in that deep sleep you’re not moving, so they monitor your movement levels.

Stu

I  guess if you’re using that app you probably don’t want your phone plugged into the mains and you don’t want your Wi-Fi switched on with your phone under your pillow.

John

[00:24:00] You want to put it on flight mode. Every 30 seconds it’s sending out a ping to the cell towers nearby just checking to see that it’s within range or which cell tower it needs to talk to. That electromagnetic ping … that microwave that it sends out … those microwaves when they go through your brain they stimulate channels in your nerve cell membranes called voltage-gated calcium channels. Also, any electromagnetic field can do that, so it’s not just that ping, it’s the Wi=Fi that’s on in the house, and if you’re in an apartment block all the Wi-Fis around you. You can go to your mobile phone and see the number of Wi-Fi fields that you’re sitting in. They’re constantly around you and they’re stimulating these voltage-gated calcium channels which lead to calcium flying into the nerve.

Calcium is an excitatory messenger within nerves, and if you have too much it kills nerves. That by itself is not going to be enough to kill a nerve, but there are multiple other factors that are contributing as well. It’s just another factor that contributes to overexciting nerves leading to toxicity of the nerve.

Guy

John, on top of a cracking night’s sleep, if I wanted to try and give myself dementia 20 to 30 years from now, what else would you have me doing daily?

John

There’s lots of things. I would break it down to lifestyle. I’d get you doing a bad really bad lifestyle. What is lifestyle? Let’s start off with diet, exercise, sleep, and stress management. I’d be getting you to have a lot of sugar. That’d be a really good way to accelerate Alzheimer’s disease. In fact, they are calling Alzheimer’s disease type III diabetes now. It basically damages the brain.

[00:26:00] Getting back to Alzheimer’s disease, there’s lots of ways of giving yourself Alzheimer’s disease. Everybody has multiple combinations. There’s a doctor in California, Dr. Dale Bredesen, who two years ago published a document explaining all the different causes that contribute to Alzheimer’s disease and giving case studies of where he’s reversed cognitive decline and early Alzheimer’s disease by finding out which of the 100-odd causes that we know of apply it to a particular person, correcting not even all of them, just most of them, and their Alzheimer’s disease reverses, their cognitive decline goes away, and their brain, especially the memory part of the brain, actually gets bigger. You can see the brain cells, the size of the memory center the hippocampus, enlarge on MRIs.

[00:27:00] Getting back. Brain cells need energy. If there’s not enough energy then they’re going to downsize themselves, disconnect, and then die. Glucose is one of the major sources of energy to the brain. It’s not the only source. The brain works actually better on ketones from burning fat, but it’ll use glucose if there is glucose around. You know that you need insulin to get the glucose into the brain cell. If your brain is inflamed for whatever reason, this same principle applies to the body. Insulin resistance in the body is type II diabetes, insulin resistance in the brain is type III diabetes. The insulin resistance over time if you have too much sugar in your body, and remember not too much sugar compared to what we think is normal, too much compared to what our Paleo cavemen friend think is normal because that’s what your body thinks is normal.

[00:28:00] Bearing in mind … quick diversion … 300 years ago the average sugar consumption was about 4 pounds a year. Now the average sugar consumption is about 150 pounds a year. The body is not designed to handle that amount of sugar. What happens is that you start the break the sugar control mechanism because it gets overwhelmed, and that’s called insulin resistance. If you’re getting insulin resistance, the insulin can’t pump in the sugar into the brain cells, so the brain cells are starving. They’ve got no other source of fuel. You get a double whammy with insulin because not only does it stop sugar getting into the brain cells if you’ve accumulated insulin resistance, and this is one of those things that happens over many years, the insulin also stops you breaking down your fat stores, which is your preferred fuel store. That’s why we are so good at storing fat, because we expect there to be a famine. When there’s a feast we will store it as fat that then draw down that when the famine comes.

That’s what is supposed to happen, but if you have insulin resistance, those high levels of insulin which try to compensate for the fact that the insulin is not working at getting the sugar out of the blood, that insulin stops the breakdown of fat from your fat stores, the adipose sites, the fat cells, and it also inhibits the mitochondria in your cells’ ability to use that fat. Now you’ve got a double whammy with insulin resistance. You can’t get glucose into the cell to use and you can’t access and use your fat. Now your cell is starving, even though there is plenty of energy of there. There’s plenty of sugar flowing around in the blood and there’s plenty of fat being carried around the vessels, but you can’t access them.

[00:29:00] In Alzheimer’s disease that’s one of the big triggers that causes the nerve cells to retract [the neurons 00:29:07] , the connections to the adjacent cells, and then to die off.

Guy

That makes sense. Sugar’s got a lot of [inaudible 00:29:14]?

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John

[00:30:00] That’s right. That’s one of the best ways to give yourself Alzheimer’s disease. Obviously, putting in a lot of toxins is a good way. This can be having a chronic infection like a dental disease where you’ve got inflammation and bacteria constantly being released from your mouth into your blood floating around. We’ve known for 10 years that dental disease causes heart attacks, strokes, cancers, dementia because of that inflammatory messaging that goes out. Any chronic infection anywhere, chronic infection in your gut, and I’m sure your listeners are up with gut health, inflammation and the problems that that causes. You can have infections, chronic sinus infections, teeth, gut, chest, if you’ve got any sort of implant in your body, so whether it’s a dental implant or it’s a breast implant or hip or knee implant, you can’t have chronic low-grade infections around that implant that release chemicals. Not enough to cause it to loosen all that, but just enough to contribute to the inflammatory state in your body.

[00:31:00] Obviously, if you’re not giving your brain the good stuff in your diet, the vitamins, the minerals, the healthy oils it needs to make the cell membranes, and you’re putting in insecticides, [-cides 00:30:31] pesticides, fungicides, colorings, flavorings, preservatives, sweeteners, heavy metals, antibiotics, hormones, steroids, plasticizers … welcome to 90% of what is called food at the supermarket, but anything that’s got that stuff in it is not food. It’s edible factory products designed to have a long shelf life, taste good, smell good, look good, and make money for the people who own the factory. That’s not good for your brain, it’s not good for your body. Only about 10% of the stuff in the grocery aisle is acceptable. Even then it’s still not … unless it’s organic, chemical free. Even if it is organic it’s still going to have some stuff on it from water that’s used to cook it, produce it, or to clean it, or stuff that’s sprayed by the jets that fly overhead and their jet exhaust. It’s very tough to have a totally clean diet nowadays.

[00:32:00] That’s okay, there’s a lot you can do to minimize the chemical exposure which contributes to inflammation throughout your body as well as your brain. There’s dietary things and there’s sleep things. Having a poor night’s sleep, not waking up well rested, not having enough sleep, not having good quality with interruptions and too much light in the room. I think if you can open your eyes at any time in the night when you’re sleeping and you can see your hand in front of your face or you can see anything in the room, there’s too much light. I’m a big fan of eye masks as a cheap, safe, transportable way of giving your eyes a blackout and making it very clear to the brain that it’s now nighttime, the brain tells the body.

Another good way is to be physically inactive. I think about physical activity in two senses; one is movement and one is exercise. Movement gives you health benefits. Exercise gives you fitness benefits, and you need both but you can’t get one from the other. Movement just means not being still. I can see you guys are standing and I’m standing. That’s good. Sitting as little time as you can. Ideally, you shouldn’t sit for more than three hours a day and for more than one hour at a time.

[00:33:00] This all came about with the NASA astronauts. They went into space very fit and healthy and came back quite sick. NASA thought it was because they had stopped moving against gravity because there wasn’t any. They studied people who didn’t move and found that if you sit for more than eight hours a day it’s is as bad for your health as cigarette smoking. Even if you go to the gym and work on your fitness, the immobility between sessions is too much degeneration. Standing up, moving around as much as you can, trying to get the 10,000 steps in a day, use a standing desk at work and at home if you have to be at one place for a while. It gives you a lot of health benefits, all that not sitting and standing/moving around.

Then you’ve got the fitness benefits, which is the high-intensity, shorter-duration stuff, which has different benefits. I’m a big fan of heavy weight lifting and high-intensity interval training to stimulate a lot of adaptations in your cells which promote their resistance and tolerance of the stresses of light.

[00:34:00] That’s diet, that’s exercise, that’s sleep, and as we get older hormones are important. Hormones as you know are messengers from one part of the body to another part of the body telling it what to do. These messengers travel by the blood. That’s all they do. Hormones are not anything magical. They are just like emails from one part of the body, which is headquarters to that hormone, to the cells of the body, which is the factory floor telling the cells what to do. The cells don’t care you sends the message. They just need the message and emails, so they just need the hormone. As we get older most hormones decline, therefore the cells of the body are not getting the email messages telling them what to do, so they stop doing it. This is a slow, steady decline of most hormones.

[00:35:00] As we lose the hormones as we age, which Mother Nature is quite happy with because once we’ve reproduced in our 20s Mother Nature doesn’t want us around anymore because we’re just taking space and food for the next generation. We’re not survival for the species once we’re in our 30s, so Mother Nature is quite happy for us to degenerate and decay. If you want to do the normal thing and you just watch your hormone levels decline, watch your body degenerate and your brain degenerate and decay and maybe spend some time in a nursing home or maybe die before that.

That’s the normal thing to do, but we do have the technology now to measure these things and to replace these hormones with the hormones, not with a [patentable 00:35:22] drug that’s different, but with the hormones, biogenetical hormones, and you can keep the cells getting their messages. The cells don’t care who sends the email message. They don’t care if the email messenger is a biogenetical hormone from China or if it’s from a gland in your body. As long as it’s the same message they will do what they’re told to to, and that means maintain their function and health and contribute to the health of the whole system, which we are.

Stu

What about genetic inheritance, John? If I think I’m doing everything right but my family all seem to follow the same trend of Alzheimer’s and cognitive decline, is that just something that I have to put up with as a given?

John

[00:37:00] Good question. We used to think that the genes determined what happened to your life and [crosstalk 00:36:18] and there’s nothing you can do about it. Now we’re very clear that the genes only determine, of the chronic degenerative diseases that we die of they only determine 10 to 20% of it. Most of it’s lifestyle and environment – putting in the good stuff and not putting in the bad stuff. With dementia and even so-called inherited diseases, “My family all has it.” Yeah, but your family has the same lifestyle. You’re all physically inactive, you’re eating the same food, you’re living in the same environment, so you’re getting the same diseases. That’s not inherited. You give them to yourself. Most of the diseases that people suffer from they give to themselves via the decisions that they’ve made over their life – not enough good stuff, too much bad stuff.

In the case of Alzheimer’s disease, the main genetic factor is a gene called APOE That’s the main genetic factor in Alzheimer’s disease, but even then only 2% of Alzheimer’s disease is caused by it. The vast majority of Alzheimer’s disease and degenerative diseases are lifestyle diseases. Which is fantastic news, because that’s all very changeable and manipulatable. That’s why Dr. Bredesen got fantastic results with his case studies. When he published that article two years ago he had done 10 people. He’s now done about 120 people [inaudible 00:37:43] the same sort of thing.
[00:38:00] As long as the Alzheimer’s disease is not advanced and there’s too many brain cells dead, the earlier you get it the better the results. Usually you don’t suddenly get Alzheimer’s disease. Usually there’s a decline in functions we’ve talked about and the categories. We say initially you become aware that your brain’s not working well, that your attention, memory, whatever, are not what they used to be. We call that subjective cognitive impairment. The tests are still normal or you’re well within the normal range, although it might be abnormal for you if you started off in the operating room. Then it progresses if the process is not addressed to mild cognitive impairment, where now the tests start becoming abnormal. We can check your memory, your attention, your processing speed, and you’re starting to fall right at the lower end of the normal range. Then if nothing’s done, then you get to the point where you don’t have the processing capacity, you don’t have the memory, the attention to look after yourself, now we say you’re demented and we call you Alzheimer’s disease.

[00:39:00] Even at that stage, with early Alzheimer’s disease where there’s not too much brain cell death, there’s a lot of sick brain cells that are not working so they might as well be dead in terms of the use they are for now, but they’re still there. You put in the good stuff, take out the bad stuff, then they start working and all those symptoms reverse.

Stu

Would that be a strategy for instance if I have a 65-year-old parent who is clearly showing signs of cognitive impairment and I sent them to you, that would be part of the strategy, would it? Looking at all of the factors that we’ve discussed [crosstalk 00:39:25]

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John

Absolutely. What we do at our Brain Health Medicine Clinic where we just focus in on brain health. There’s some people who want to optimize their brain health so they might be athletes or executives or students, or people who are noticing a decline that they want to stop/reverse, then the first thing we do is measure where you’re at. Basically to tell you where you are now, but also as a baseline for treatment. Is the treatment working or is the disease progressing?

[00:40:00] We have a bunch of measurements that we use. We do computerized neurocognitive screening, looking at attention, memory processing speed and flexibility. We look at the electricity of the brain, do a quantifiable electroencephalogram or a brain map, which looks at the amplitude of the different frequencies in the different regions of the brain. That’s kind of what you can do – neurofeedback training to retrain the electricity of the brain. Then we have the option of doing a PET scan, which is a medical imaging technology that looks at how well the cells in your brain are taking up glucose. If you’ve got cells that are damaged and not working properly, then they don’t take up glucose. You can see that and compare it other people your age.

[00:41:00] Then also obviously an MRI to look at the physical structure of the brain. Also we do 3-D volumization on the MRI. We look at over 100 different structures within the brain, look at their 3D volume and compare it with other people of the same age and sex. For instance, one of the people that Dr. Bredesen did in his case studies was a 67-year-old executive who had multiple business locations around the US but was having to close them down because he just couldn’t remember what to do. His staff were having to tell him minute to minute basically what to do next. He went on this program, the same program we do. When he went on the program his hippocampus, his memory center was at the 17th percentile, which means that if you get 100 people of his age and sex, 17 of them have smaller hippocampus than him and 83 have larger ones; the larger the better. In 10 months he went from the 17th percentile to the 75th percentile in hippocampus volume.

[00:42:00] I was told when I went to school you can’t grow new brain cells. Well, guess what? Yes, you can. Some parts of the brain more than others, but the memory center particularly you definitely can, and you can measure the fact with a relatively gross technology like an MRI that’s not microscopic at all. That’s macroscopic.

Stu

Is that neurogenesis? Is that we we’re talking about?

John

That’s what we’re talking about. Neurogenesis is new neurons, and neuroplasticity is more connections between the neurons, which is just as powerful. If you’ve got 100 connections and you can get up to 1000 connections, your whole network is way denser and everything works better even without any change in actual number of cells.

Stu

Sorry Guy, I’m rude. I keep butting in, but I got one more question. In terms of modern day medicine, so drugs. Most people are just given a whole heap of drugs. What are your thoughts on that? Are they useful as part of a tool kit including all the things that we’ve discussed as well?

John

Yes and no. There are drugs that will save your life. If you’ve got pneumonia, then you need some antibiotics, or if you’ve got severe pain and can’t breathe properly, then pain relief will enable you to breathe properly and not get pneumonia [inaudible 00:43:12]. Most people that have chronic degenerative diseases, as I said there are no chronic degenerative diseases that are caused by drug deficiency. Therefore, a drug is not a treatment for the disease. You can use it to control the symptoms, but you’ve done nothing for the disease. The disease will progress. That’s a good model for repeat business to keep people and just give them symptom control.

Stu

Yeah, it’s a wonderful model.

John

[00:44:00] If you want to reverse the disease you have to go back to what is causing the disease, bearing in mind that 80 to 90% of it is lifestyle factors. What are the lifestyle factors? The diet, exercise, stress management, sleep, and then hormones as well, and identify what are the factors in a particular person and reverse them. For many diseases if they’re not too advanced you can reverse the disease and therefore the symptoms.

[00:45:00] To answer your question in terms of what we do at our Brain Health Clinic, we do the assessment up front to see where your brain’s at. Then we go into the details of your lifestyle. We spend about 5000 dollars on testing, which most doctors would go, “You do what?” There are other tests. You can spend 100s of 1000s of dollars on tests if you want to. There’s plenty of tests around to choose from. We choose the tests that are important for brain health that if they’re not optimal you can change them. There are ways of changing them. If you spend that sort of money you’re going to get a lot of information. The average 40 year old, if you go spending that sort of money you’re going to find five things wrong with them that they didn’t know they had wrong with them and fixable. The average 50 year old 10 things easy, and the average 70 year old 25 things easy that are wrong that are contributing to dysfunction of their body and their brain and that are correctable.

Guy

Does the medical industry view this as reversible, John? You know, the pharmaceuticals or [crosstalk 00:45:20] …

John

[00:46:00] I think we’re just at the age of new paradigm. Functional medicine is starting to take off because we’re looking at the underlying causes of diseases. This information that Dr. Bredesen has revealed about reversing Alzheimer’s disease and early Alzheimer’s disease and cognitive decline, it’s starting to make it’s way out, but there are a lot of forces that are quite happy with the status quo and using drugs and fair enough, too, that the medical paternity are fairly conservative, they are slow to change, and that’s probably how it should be. You don’t want doctors jumping onto the latest, greatest fad only to find out a year or two later that it was a problem. We do that do a degree, anyway. I’m sure that is what going to happens with statins in the future and antipsychotics and SSRI drugs that affect brain health. That’s not a bad thing to do.

It’s slow to change, but the information is based in hard science, the biology, the physiology, how and why this all works, and the testing and the treatments – we know how and why they work and it’s been shown they do work. Where as opposed to the pharmaceuticals, with Alzheimer’s disease there’s a couple drugs that are available. The problem with drugs is that they just tend to treat one thing. When you have a chronic degenerative disease that has a 100 things causing it, you’re never going to fix it by treating one thing with the drug.

[00:47:00] In 2002 and 2012 there were 244 drug trials for Alzheimer’s disease in the US, and 243 of them were failures. We’re talking billions and billions of dollars spent looking for a drug to cure a disease, a drug that is targeted at a particular process for a disease that 100′s of processes involved in it so it’s never going to work. The drugs that are around now, the best result you can got for Alzheimer’s disease now is you can turn back your symptoms 6 months. That’s the best result, but it makes no difference to the progression of the disease. The disease will continue to progress because you haven’t addressed the 100 factors that are causing it to progress.

Guy

Another question that occurred to me, John. We have 1000s of listeners tune in every week and they’re all around the world. They could be listening to this and they might have relative close to them that might not be able to access your clinic straight away and they don’t want to go to a medical convention. Is there anything they could do initially to help?

John

Yes. The first thing you is just do the lifestyle stuff. A good naturopath – they are very well trained in lifestyle medicine, diet, exercise, stress management, sleep, herbal stuff. That would be a really path or start. Then go into the testing and hormone prescription. Then you need to see a functional medicine doctor. There are a number of organizations around the world that train functional medicine doctors. You can go on line and they have a find a practitioner page on their website. The Institute of Functional Medication is fantastic. The American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine is very good. There’s a number of other local organizations as well that train people. If you can find a doctor trained in functional/anti-aging medicine, particularly one that has an interest in brain health, that the way to go.

Guy

Brilliant. I’ve got a question outside of this kind of thing. What about for us? Like myself and Stu and people that consider ourselves healthy? When you talk neuroplasticity and the up-regulating brain cells as well, is there anything we can do to actually improve our cognition even more, or is it if you live a healthy lifestyle you’re kind of working at optimum anyway?

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John

You live a healthy lifestyle, but I bet you you’ve got heavy metals in your body.

Guy

100%, I have.

John

Especially mercury is a classic …

Guy

I was only going mention this John. I listened to a podcast with Tim Ferriss the other week and he interviewed Anthony Robbins. He openly said that he started occurring some memory loss while he was on stage and it was starting to unnerve him a little bit. It turned out he had heavy mercury poisoning.

John

From all his fish.

Guy

Yes.

John

There’s a test video, if you go to YouTube and I think it’s the University of Calgary, they put it out about 15 years ago. It shows a brain cell and what happens to that brain cell when you add a drop of mercury next to it. It’s a real eye opener. Bearing in mind that we’ve all got mercury in our bodies to some degree – if you’ve got mercury fillings or silver fillings, which are 50% mercury, in your mouth; if you eat a lot of fish, especially the big fish like tuna, swordfish, shark; and if you live near a smelting factory. There’s lots of ways of getting mercury into body that are particularly toxic to the brain.

[00:51:00] Everybody thinks they’re healthy, but I’ll bet you that if we spend 5000 dollars on tests we’ll find 10 things wrong with you that are contributing to the aging and tear of your brain, your blood vessels, your heart, your liver, your lungs, and everything that are manipulatable. That’s one example. A lot of people have chronic infections, like nose infections, sinus infections, gut infections. They’re not enough to cause them pain or make them go to the doctor, or the think the symptoms are mild for them, but they’re not, and when they’re there for decades they contribute to inflammation in the body and this inflammation causes the damage to the cells of the body.

Stu: It just comes down to data, doesn’t it really? At the end of the day, if you don’t know and you don’t run the tests and you never know, then you could be open to attacks from any number of different angles. Between us, Guy and myself have had genetic sequencing and hormonal tests, salivary tests for cortisol, blood tests, heavy metal tests …

Guy

Gut tests.

Stu

… gut tests, and you do realize that wow there is work to be done in every area here. Without it, it’s cumulative and [crosstalk 00:51:58]

John

It shows that the damage is accelerating. It’s not a linear decline. Once you get some damage then that damage damages other systems which damages other systems, and so the aging process is an accelerating downward curve, and the sooner you intervene the better the results.

Guy

It’s like a [inaudible 00:52:19].

Stu

When you go to your doctor and you’ve got these issues and your doctor says, “Well, we’re going to give you these pills. Why don’t you just start there.” Without any testing or any probing because unfortunately these days the medical system deems that we don’t have that long per patient, so you’re in and out as fast as you can.

John

To do this sort of thing it takes hours to go into the depth you need. It’s a very complicated system. It’s like taking your 50-year-old car to the mechanic and giving him five minutes to look at it and fix it. What’s he going to do? He’s going to wipe the windows and put some air in the tires and send you on your way. That’s all he can do.

Guy

Are heavy metals hard to remove from the body, John?

John

No. It’s a process. It’s not easy, but it’s very doable and there’s a number of ways you can do it. You can use strong chelating agents like EDTA or DMPS or DMSA, or you can use milder chelating agents like garlic and acetyl cysteine and vitamin C and Vitamin E and chlorella and spirulina, and there’s milder ones as well. You also want to address, well if you do have heavy metals where do they come from? There’s no point in trying to take them out if you continue the exposure in the first place.

Guy

Do things line infrared saunas work?

John

[00:54:00] Yeah, I’m a big fan of infrared saunas, especially the full-range infrared saunas. Sunlighten is the only brand that I now of that make full-spectrum infrared saunas. They make single-person ones for the home up to commercial size ones. They’re fantastic for a whole lot of reasons. Sweat has a higher concentration of heavy metals than blood does, so by sweating you can lose heavy metals, but make sure that you wipe it off as you sweat it out so it doesn’t get reabsorbed.

Stu

That’s a good tip.

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Guy

What was the name of that brand again, John?

John

Sunlighten.

Guy

Sunlighten, okay. I’ll keep an eye on it. Now John, we’re aware of time of the show. We’re coming up to an hour. We’ve got a couple of questions that we always ask everyone on the show. The first one is what are your non-negotiable practices these days?

John

[00:55:00] These days I put a lot of attention on my sleep. In fact, last night for the first time I put a timer on the Wi-Fi router in my unit, so at 9:30 it turned off the Wi-Fi and that was it. Time to get ready to go to bed. I want to be in bed by 10:00 because as you know between 10:00 and 2:00 is the most powerful restorative period. I’m putting some attention on my sleep. I always use earplugs, I use an eye mask, get the environment right and turn the lights off for a couple of hours beforehand and just have low screens or candles going. I work on the sleep.

I get out as much as I can, get out in the sun and touch the Earth. You probably have people talking about earthing and grounding. I live near a beach so every opportunity I’m going for a walk on the beach or I do my seven-minute circuits on the beach or I get in the water and swim, earth and get sun as much as surface area of my body as I can. Not only is sun important for vitamin D, it’s important for making a thing called EZ water, or exclusion zone water, which is the form that water’s in in our body to work properly. Infrared helps make that.

[00:56:00] Also, we make energy directly from sunshine just like plants do. Our mitochondria have the ability to use the metabolite of chlorophyll to directly make energy from sun. It’s actually less free radicals the toxic exhaust used when we use sun for energy than when we use food for energy. We can’t make enough to live on, but if you can replace some of your food-derived energy with sun-derived energy then that’s less free radicals, that’s less wear and tear on your body over time. I try to get out as much as I can. If I see a sunny day I’m looking for opportunity to get out and get my shirt off and do some exercising. Even if it’s just going for a walk.

[00:57:00] Dietary things. I’m really fussy about sugar. I don’t have any grains. I don’t do dairy. I’ve invested in a Ketonix breath ketone analyzer to just look at my state of nutritional ketosis and make sure that I’ve got ketones around that I am burning fat for energy. Ketones are a bit like sunlight. They’re a very effective source of energy for your brain and your body. You make more energy burning ketones per molecule of oxygen than you do by burning sugar and there’s less free radicals developed. Being in nutritional ketosis, being a good fat burner, not drowning the system with sugar, is a great way for optimizing fueling of your body.

Guy

Do you meditate, John? Just out of curiosity? Like stress management?

John

I do on occasion. I’m not regular as I would like to be on that. I’ve just started experimenting and loving binaural beats. I use that at night to help get myself into the total wave form and relax. After the first week or two I was sold on it. That’s a good way of winding yourself down.

Guy

I’ve used them for years.

John

[00:58:00] I also use a lot with patients for heart rate variability training and I do that on myself as well. That’s a good way of getting sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems rebalanced. HeartMath in the US have been studying it for 25 years. There’s a lot of science behind how valuable that is as a stress [crosstalk 00:58:06]

Guy

The [Funger 00:58:08] is actually coming to Australia in late September. I’m going to go up and see him in Brisbane.

John

Fantastic.

Stu

I think for our listeners, if you rewind five minutes to where we ask what your non-negotiable practices are, given the fact that you’re an expert in longevity, we should probably listen to what you do a little more closely and I’m going to rewind as well after the show and just make a few notes myself. Excellent advice. Certainly something I think that if we all started to think about a little more closely it might certainly help us on the path to better health moving forward.

John

[00:59:00] Society can’t sustain the costs of the current medical system. It’s just not curing disease. It’s just maintaining disease. We spend 80% of our healthcare dollar in the last six months of people’s lives doing heroic surgery and radiotherapy and drugs when it’s too late. We’ve got this really expensive hospital at the bottom of the cliff. We should be putting a fence at the top of the cliff with some lifestyle things with a much more productive and healthy society at a much lower cost.

Stu

That’s great advice. Absolutely.

Guy

Where’s the best place for people to find out more about you John? What website can we direct them to?

John

The clinic is called The Hart Clinic and the URL is www.hartclinic.com.au. We’ve got some information on there and that’s being added too, but that gives as good of an overview of what we do.

Guy

Perfect. When this goes live we’ll send as many people as possible to this interview because there’s just a wealth of knowledge as always, John. That was brilliant.

John

Fantastic. You’re very welcome.

Stu

Thank you so much, John. We will share everything as Guy said in the show night, so all of the links will be there. I hope that this message reaches as many people as possible because I think there’s some great information there. Thanks again.

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