As a board-certified internist who is trained in anti-aging and restorative medicine, Chong Kim, MD, focuses on disease prevention and mental health care. While he is well-versed in traditional Western medicine, early on Dr. Kim recognized its limitations and developed an alternative style of health care using a holistic, integrative approach.
He emphasizes prevention in his practice and is trained in metabolic functional medicine. It’s no wonder he is well aware of the need for keeping the mind sharp as we age.
Here, Dr. Kim speaks about the importance of brain health.
When did you last misplace your keys or not remember an important detail? Has this been happening more frequently lately? When does simply forgetting things become a sign of early dementia?
As the command center of the body, the brain is a complex organ that must be nurtured to avoid damage and malfunction. Exercise, food and drink, stress reduction, sleep and socialization are all critically important areas we need to focus on to care for our bodies and our minds as we age.
Many of us know a friend or family member who has been affected by dementia in various levels of severity. Recent research has found a genetic marker for Alzheimer’s dementia, so the scientific community has been more active in looking for better prevention methods and treatment tools.
Causes of Dementia
Dementia can be caused by a loss of brain cells or an abnormal formation of proteins in the brain or parts of the brain that can affect memory or behavior. Simple vitamin deficiencies can also cause dementia, which sometimes can be reversible. However, most types are considered to be progressive and irreversible—the damage that has been incurred has been ongoing for many years prior to the diagnosis. Some types of dementia are caused by diseases, such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
Infections and immune disorders can also cause dementia-like symptoms. Multiple sclerosis and lupus can impact the mental status. Studies have shown that persistent and untreated testosterone deficiency can lead to early dementia in men.
There are typical cognitive and psychological changes that are observed in various stages of dementia:
- Memory loss, usually noticed by someone else—family or friends
- Difficulty communicating or finding words
- Difficulty with visual and spatial abilities, such as getting lost or forgetting the destination while driving
- Difficulty reasoning or problem solving
- Difficulty with handling complex tasks
- Difficulty with planning and organizing
- Confusion and disorientation
- Personality changes
- Difficulty with coordination and motor functions (usually seen in later-stage dementia)
- Depression and anxiety
- Inappropriate behavior
Brain Health Strategies
If you feel that you or a friend or family member are demonstrating any of these behaviors, make an appointment with your health care provider or a neurologist for an evaluation. There are many alternative and functional health professionals who can also give you resources to prevent and treat dementia, such as our practice in Torrance, Coastal Anti-Aging Medical Group.
Research shows that lifestyle choices can help us reduce the risk of cognitive decline. Surprisingly, brain games and apps only have a minimal effect on the prevention of dementia. Other more active treatments are better at reducing the risk and progression of cognitive decline.
Here are some tips that are a good idea for all of us to incorporate into our daily lives:
Stress is considered an inflammatory insult on the brain. Lowering stress can lessen brain decline and injury.
Exercise regularly Physical activity and exercise have been shown to improve brain plasticity, thus extending the protective factor. A combination of cardio and weight resistance three to four times weekly is recommended.
Cut down on alcohol consumption. Reduce the risk of heavy-metal toxicity by avoiding exposure. Treat chronic fungal or bacterial infections.
Eating a diet high in vegetables and unsaturated fats has been shown to reduce the risk of cognitive impairment and dementia.
Omega-3 fatty acids rich in DHA, melatonin and tryptophan can lower the risk of dementia by 25%. Take prebiotics and probiotics, as well as vitamins that support brain function and integrity, such as vitamins B1, B5 and B12.
Work with your practitioner to correct any hormonal imbalance.
Dr. Kim has been practicing internal and functional medicine for more than 20 years. He earned his medical degree from Drexel University and completed postgraduate training at the University of California, Irvine Medical Center. He opened Coastal Anti-Aging Medical Group in Torrance in 2007 and maintains an independent hospital practice at Providence Little Company of Mary Medical Center and Torrance Memorial Medical Center. Dr. Kim now offers Telehealth, giving patients access to high-quality medical care virtually from the comfort of home.
For the most discerning patients, Coastal Anti-Aging Medical Group offers a unique, personalized service catered specifically to your needs. Concierge medicine allows Dr. Kim to give you individualized care at your convenience—spending more time with you than a regular office visit and enhancing the doctor-patient relationship. Some of the benefits of concierge medicine are:
- Shorter wait times
- Same-day or next-day appointments
- Easier prescription renewal
- Priority access to appointments
- Comprehensive annual physical exam
- Expedited testing and reporting results
- More time to discuss your concerns with Dr. Kim—in person or over the phone
For those who are disenchanted with one-size-fits-all medical solutions and desire a more custom experience, concierge service is an excellent choice.