The past 18 months I’ve been grieving the loss of my mother.
Her journey to death’s door brought me to my knees and forced me to inhabit myself and my work in more profound and compelling ways.
Her passing represented not only the loss of the woman who nourished and created a context for my life to thrive but also the shocking reality that two out of every three Alzheimer’s patients are women. It is estimated that by the year 2050, the number of women suffering from this disease will triple. For most of you reading this, that is within your lifetime. There isn’t one among us who won’t directly or indirectly be affected by this health crisis.
Brain health is now a central concern when it comes to women’s health and wellness.
For this reason, I have added to my coaching approach a component on the brain-body and psyche connection. I am presently accepting new clients into my practice. You can contact me to learn more at [email protected].
What do we know so far?
Through his groundbreaking work The End of Alzheimers, Dr. Dale Bredesen has identified three types of Alzheimer’s: inflammatory, atrophic, and toxic that creates a chain of biochemical processes that lead to dementia. Inflammation is what results in the body by eating the Standard American Diet (SAD) that is high in sugary fats, carbohydrates, and processed foods that are low in nutrition. A consequence of this is diabetes that increases your risk by 50%. Atrophy happens when the influence of this diet and lifestyle choices compromise the body’s ability to maintain healthy levels of hormones like thyroid, estrogen, and many others. Cells and systems within the body needed to provide energy, cognition, and a balanced mood are significantly compromised. Toxic is the state we enter when infections like Lyme, HPV or exposure to mold or pollutants like the plastics in our food storage containers or mercury in our dental fillings poisons the body.
We know more every day that women must not only live functioning well in a toxic world but must make choices to optimize the health of their mind, heart, and soul.
As Carl Jung said, “so it goes on the outer, so it goes on the inner.” Alzheimer’s is a symptom of the social and geo-political crisis of our times in which the marginalized feminine in her human and environmental forms (mother earth) has fallen ill to the conditions of systemic injury and trauma. Poor nutrition (eating on the run), nightly glasses of wine, not getting enough rest, and chronic states of stress dominant the landscape of the modern feminine being.
Women are literally losing their minds.
The last conscious exchange I had with my mother was the night of the presidential election in which Hillary Clinton was favored to win. She understood my words when I said, “Mom, we have both lived long enough to see a woman become president of our country,” her eyes softened and she whispered, “that’s good honey.” And then she disappeared into the darkness. The light of her aliveness left her eyes and the stone-cold mask of dementia returned. She rarely surfaced in the year that followed as our nation spiraled into the dark night of our collective soul forcing us to re-member what has been lost to our forgetting like human decency and stewardship of the earth. Our earth bodies are the new battleground for our social illness.
You hold the power. The power to choose.
What is the science of preventing this disease? You can choose to grow a new emotional and physical body. That is how powerful the repair response is within you. To do so, a whole systems approach to healing is required. Have you noticed that the medical and psychology industries are starting to sound more aligned? Medical doctors are now talking about the significance of “negative thinking” on health and psychologists like me are talking to patients about the connection between their gut-microbiome and their mental health. What you think, eat, and how frequently you move your body can contribute to developing or preventing depression or anxiety (the top two mental health conditions for women) or dementia.
What are the steps?
Return to your ancestral roots and original ways of being that did not include the SAD and a sedentary lifestyle (sitting for hours on end). It means participating in personalized medicine with a practitioner that tests your DNA to assess genetic strengths and vulnerabilities. Healing negative beliefs and trauma through Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, EMDR, and other modalities like I offer to all of my clients. Optimizing your nutrition by eating whole organic sources of protein, vegetables and fruits, and grains just like your ancestors did. Moving your body to help with detoxification and release the brain’s miracle grow BDNF. It’s not insurmountable, rather it’s an invitation to be mind-full. Yes, full of your presence in all ways at all times. That means making your health and well-being a priority. Not so easy for you as a woman who has been conditioned to think that self-care is selfish!
Step One: Find a Practitioner
Select a practitioner who assesses for and treats the root causes of symptoms. His or her approach is to look at the whole person, all of the underlying systems in the body, that are influenced by lifestyle choices like exercise, nutrition, and stress. Consider any of these types of medical providers and click on the link below to find a practitioner in your area:
Step Two: Know How to Advocate for Your Wellness
Best-selling author, Dr. Mark Hyman offers a terrific short course “Hacking Your Healthcare” on what you need to know, the blood tests to ask for, and how to interpret some important markers that can help to reduce inflammation and help regulate blood sugars and hormones.
Mark’s podcast The Doctor’s Farmacy is hands down the go-to place for the latest and most provocative information on cutting edge treatments, conversations on confusing topics, and consumer education.
For a terrific read on women’s brain health check out best-selling author Sara Gottfried’s latest work The Brain Body Diet. She is among a handful of pioneering female doctors who are leading us into a new paradigm of women and wellness.
Step Three: Take One Small Action Today
Start with a baby step. Instead of working through lunch, go outside and soak in some natural light and boost your Vitamin D. Walk around the block and increase your BDNF. Send a gratitude email to a person you appreciate and light up your frontal lobe—the spirit mind—and savor the relaxation response in your body.
Every mini-choice you make in the direction of your health turns into a lifestyle of wellness.
In psyche and spirit,