What Is Mild Cognitive Impairment?
Particularly after we reach a certain age, we have all asked questions like these:
- “Where did I put my car keys?”
- “What was it I was saying?”
- “What was that guy’s name, again?”
In spite of how distressing it may seem, a lapse of memory along these lines is generally normal. So are some changes to general mood. But, for some of us as we get older, forgetfulness and changes in our thought processes is a larger problem. It can be a sign of significant changes taking place in the brain. Between the typical terrain of “brain cramps” and the borderlands of dementia lies a mental landscape known as mild cognitive impairment (MCI).
MCI is marked by noticeable changes in mental status that don’t necessarily equate with dementia. It is estimated that as many as 16% to 20% of adults age sixty and older will receive a diagnosis of mild cognitive impairment sooner or later.
MCI sometimes increases a person’s risk for dementia. But are the symptoms of MCI preventable? For those who are already experiencing MCI, can those symptoms be reversed? The Alzheimer’s Association says that among the most active regions of scientific study regarding the possibilities are presently in the value of physical fitness and diet, and the reducing risk through the prevention of cardiovascular factors.
But what does any of this mean, really? The National Stem Cell Institute (NSI) has a vested interest in this question and the study of MCI, because stem cell therapies are being actively considered for chronic memory and cognitive conditions like Alzheimer’s disease. With this in mind, NSI takes a closer look at the mysteries of MCI and what they mean to you.
The Basics Of Mild Cognitive Impairment
Simply put, MCI can happen when mental function declines in some older adults. The Mayo Clinic defines mild cognitive impairment as an intermediate phase that bridges the cognitive decline typical of aging and the onset of dementia. Unlike dementia or other chronic cognitive diseases like Alzheimer’s, MCI generally doesn’t need medical treatment. Neither does it usually get in the way of daily life. Mild cognitive impairment is characterized by shifts in both memory and non-memory cognitive functions. A diagnosis for MCI typically includes the criteria below:
- The person complains of cognitive problems.
- There is decline or impairment in cognition in contrast to the patient’s earlier years.
- Objective confirmation of impaired cognitive function through sources like family or close friends.
- Functional activity is generally normal in comparison of someone with dementia.
Factors In The Risks And Causes Of MCI
So, if you’ve received a diagnosis of mild cognitive impairment does that mean that Alzheimer’s or some other form of dementia is inevitable? Though MCI does increase the risk of developing more serious neurological conditions, that doesn’t mean you will. It’s believed that 20% to 40% of seniors diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment will progress to dementia. That means the majority of MCI patients don’t worsen beyond mild cognitive impairment. In fact, over time, MCI has been known to lessen and improve in about 20% of the cases.
Those in the know believe that a variety of actions and situations contribute to the onset of mild cognitive impairment. Understanding is still growing and discoveries are still being made, so the exact reasons these factors affect the neurological changes associated with MCI has yet to be determined. But, evidence strongly points to several particular elements. These include:
- A person’s genetics
- Free radical damage
- The body’s inability to process glucose effectively
- Vitamin deficiency
- Toxins in the environment
It is believed, too, that many of the same kinds of neurological changes that contribute to Alzheimer’s disease or dementia also invite MCI. These changes include:
- A decrease in the cerebral flow and/or circulation of blood. This is a contributor to frequent, minute strokes so small that they are barely detectable.
- The brain cells do not absorb glucose properly for adequate energy
- The hippocampus shrinks. When this happens, the symptoms of mild cognitive impairment are expressed as memory and/or emotional problems, among other function involved with the hippocampus.
- Enlargement of the brain ventricles. The ventricles of the brain are a communication network of fluid filled cavities. The gradual enlargement of the ventricles puts pressure on the brain, which may promote the symptoms of mild cognitive impairment.
- Neuronal damage. Whether from a traumatic physical injury or due to disease, damage to the neurons can promote MCI.
- A decrease in cerebrospinal fluid. Cerebrospinal fluid is the clear, colorless liquid surrounding and protecting the central nervous system (CNS). The CNS is comprised of the brain and the spinal cord. Cerebrospinal fluid immerses the brain and spine in nutrients. It also eliminates waste products.
- And increase in plaque or protein deposits within the brain. The clumping of plaque and certain proteins are also associated with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.
- Small strokes or other factors that affect adequate blood flow to the brain.
Additionally, the risk factors below have been linked to the development of mild cognitive impairment.
- A family history of Alzheimer’s or dementia
- Cardiovascular disease and/or stroke
- Metabolic syndromes such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol
- Tobacco use, drug use, alcoholism
- Mental health problems, including depression, social anxiety and isolation
- A sedentary way of life, or insufficient physical exercise
- An income level that limits adequate health care and/or nutrition
- The absence of social support and strong relationships for older adults
- Inadequate sleep and/or sleep-related problems such as sleep apnea
What The Symptoms Of MCI Look Like
The telltale signs of mild cognitive impairment land midway between the typical cognitive aggravations of normal aging and those linked to Alzheimer’s and dementia. MCI symptoms include:
- Frequent, consistent memory loss. A person who has MCI might become lost, forget names or dates, or miss appointments more frequently.
- A change in language and speaking, such as “losing one’s train of thought” or repeating oneself often.
- A change in thought and judgment
- An increase in one’s concern about his/her own mental performance
- An increase in impulsivity, impatience, and/or irritability
- Mood changes, such as an increase in depression, anxiety, or apathy
Conventional And Advanced Therapies For MCI
The core situations that cause mild cognitive impairment, Alzheimer’s, and dementia are still mysterious. Presently, symptoms management is the focus of conventional medicine, but advanced medical methods such as the potential of neurological stem cell therapy are causing great excitement.
The National Stem Cell Institute cites the findings of one such study published on website of the National Center for Biotechnology Information. The study was centered on the effects of stem cells harvested from several different areas of the body, including fatty tissue known as “adipose” fat. Adipose-derived stem cells are already known for their notable performance regarding a wide array of illnesses, injuries, and chronic disorders. These stem cells can be are easily harvested from the fatty layer that lies just below the skin. Since the discovery of this potent source of stem cells, there has been an explosion in clinical research as well as the availability of stem cell therapies to the general public.
The success shown in these other areas has launched great interest in how they might be used in neurological diseases like Alzheimer’s and mild cognitive impairment. Adipose-derived stem cells are exceptionally potent stem cells that have the ability to become virtually any type of tissue needed by the body in order to repair, regenerate and boost the performance of other cells; from bone to cartilage to blood to skin and muscle. This includes the impressive potential to repair brain cells, and even grow new ones.
In clinical studies of laboratory mice, the adipose-derived stem cells differentiated into cells very much like neurons and astrocytes (an astrocyte is a type of cell found in the central nervous system). The results showed an improvement in blood vessel formation. This, in turn, caused improvement in overall brain function, including cognitive and motor functions.
What does all this mean for the development of neurological stem cell therapy? It holds great potential to bring fresh, regenerative cells directly to the brain. But it is also believed that neurological stem cell therapy may one day give us the ability to grow fresh, healthy neuron cells to replace those damaged by the ravages of dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, mild cognitive impairment, and other neurological illness and trauma.
5 Natural Ways To Practice MCI Prevention
Meanwhile, there are ways to be pro-active in helping to prevent mild cognitive impairment.
- Adopt an Anti-Inflammatory Diet
We’ve all heard the term “whole foods” by now. A whole food is defined as one that has undergone as little processing or refining as possible. Whole foods are also as free as possible from additives and other artificial matter.
Whole foods are high in antioxidants and healthy fats. These are known to support mental health, not just in older adults, but in younger people as well. In particular, certain elements of two established dietary regimens that promote whole food habits as well as other healthy eating routines have been combined to form what’s known as the “MIND diet.”
Elements of the Mediterranean Diet and the DASH Diet (an acronym standing for “dietary approaches to stop hypertension”) comprise the MIND Diet (Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay). The DASH element of the MIND Diet is a dietary regimen promoted by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, a part of the National Institutes of Health. It’s designed to prevent and control hypertension.
The Mediterranean Diet is sometimes referred to as “the world’s healthiest diet.” Research indicates that the Mediterranean Diet improves weight loss and the control of blood sugar levels, and reduces risk of depression. It has also been linked to lowered levels of inflammation, stroke, and Alzheimer’s disease.
Experts believe the MIND Diet helps in slowing cognitive decline by increasing nutrient-dense, high-fiber, and antioxidant-rich foods into one’s eating habits. Many MIND Diet foods have been shown to aid in protecting the brain from inflammation. This makes the MIND Diet a potentially strong ally in decreasing the risks of developing mild cognitive impairment.
MIND Diet foods include:
- Vegetables that are leafy and green (romaine lettuce, spinach, kale), cruciferous (broccoli, cauliflower), or orange and yellow (peppers, carrots, pumpkins, squash)
- Berries of virtually any kind
- Fish high in omega-3 fatty acids (salmon, mackerel, and sardines)
- Oils rich in healthy fats (olive oil, avocado, nuts or seed oils)
- Lean protein (eggs, legumes, beans, pasture-raised poultry)
- Grains that are 100% whole
- Wine and coffee (be mindful! Moderation is key)
It can definitely be worth your while to adopt the MIND Diet for brain health. Studies show that people who ate MIND Diet foods averaged cognitive health maintenance seven and half years longer than those eating the fewest MIND foods.
- Exercising and Remaining Active
Are you getting tired of hearing about the benefits of exercise and healthy activity? It may seem like a drum too well beaten, but the beneficial qualities are established medical facts. Exercise promotes blood circulation. It is associated with preventing memory loss and several cognitive elements related to aging. And you don’t have to be an extreme athlete to reap the health rewards.
Simple walking remains one of the best kinds of exercise to maintain, even improve, mental health. Extra benefits happen when you consistently take it outside. But whether on the trail or the treadmill, brisk walking is connected to significant improvement in cognitive health.
Still not a lover of brisk walks? There are plenty of other healthy activity options, including swimming, bicycling, yoga, or the use of an elliptical machine. In any case, your goal should be a routine of at least three to four times weekly for thirty to sixty minutes each time. Exercise briskly enough to raise your heart rate to approximately 65% of your maximum capacity. The Mayo Clinic has guidelines to determine your maximum capacity.
- Taking Supplements for Cognitive Health
Consider taking recommended doses of vitamin and mineral supplements to protect your cognitive health. These include:
- Omega-3 fatty acids
- Vitamin D3
- Ginkgo Biloba and Ginseng
- B vitamins
- Vitamin E
- Maintain Social Support
Too often overlooked, there is no longer any doubt that strong, healthy relationships with family, friends, and community improve and maintain cognitive functions. Sometimes older people recede from these. Doing so can hasten a decline in both physical and mental health.
- Staying socially active can include activities like:
- Spending quality time with family
- Joining support groups that address stress
- Staying physically active through walking or exercising with companions
- Playing a musical instrument
- Reading and/or writing groups
- Becoming a volunteer
- Joining a religious institution
- Adopting interesting hobbies, especially those that include friends or family
- Playing “memory games,” particularly those that include social interaction
- Reduce Particular Medicines and Exposure to Toxins Whenever Possible
It has now been established that tobacco use, often in addition to taking certain medicines, increases risk of memory loss and dementia. So, please: stop using tobacco products.
If you are at risk for cognitive impairment, you will also want to speak with your health care provider about the impact of any medications you are taking. Additionally, over-the-counter meds may seem harmless, but you will want to discuss their effects on people who have MCI or are at risk of developing cognitive diseases or disorders. Check with your doctor if you are taking medications such as Benadryl, Dramamine, Advil PM, or Unison. The same goes for the generic equivalents.
Summing Up Mild Cognitive Impairment
Remember, MCI isn’t necessarily a precursor for more serious cognitive disorders. And there are ways to help in the prevention and progression of it. Generally speaking, those who have been diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment can care for themselves without need for 24 hour assistance.
But if the symptoms of MCI progress or worsen, intervention may be needed in order to prevent accidents or emergencies. The only true way to monitor MCI for progression is through regular visits with your health care provider. If you or a loved one is exhibiting increased confusion, becoming lost in familiar areas, or poor judgment, these can be a sign that additional aid and/or treatment is in order.
Ensuring that a loved one with mild cognitive impairment has a structured schedule, a living space that has been safety checked, keeps lists for needed items and “to-do’s,” and receives regular reminders for upcoming events and appointments will go a long way in allowing more independent, happier living.
About The National Stem Cell Institute
The National Stem Cell Institute (NSI) is a leading U.S. medical facility dedicated to the safe, effective advancement of regenerative medicine methods such as stem cell and platelet rich plasma therapies. Certain neurological stem cell therapy practices are already in effect and FDA guidelines-compliant. NSI maintains constant updating on the latest advances in regenerative medicine.
As such, NSI strongly recommends that patients interested in regenerative medicine procedures thoroughly research any clinics that purport to practice legitimate stem cell therapies. Not stem cell clinics are created equal and not all are properly licensed. Below are tips on how to determine if a clinic or facility is licensed and FDA guidelines-compliant.
What to Look for in a Stem Cell Medical Clinic
When searching for a qualified stem cell therapy center it’s important to remember that not all of them are created equal. Stem cells, when used properly, are your body’s most powerful means for healing that can repair everything from ligaments, tendons, and cartilage to organs including your liver, pancreas and lungs and even neurological tissue like your brain, nerves and spinal cord.
Unfortunately, the majority of so-called “regenerative medicine clinics” in the world aren’t trained in the latest, most technologically advanced procedures and will, therefore, provide poor results if any.
The good news is the National Stem Cell Institute (NSI) has established the most advanced stem cell and platelet rich plasma procedures on the planet which has drawn patients from all over the world as well as professional athletes and celebrities because they are recognized as the best in the world at stem cell therapy.
What makes NSI Stem Cell the top stem cell clinic in the world is demonstrated in 5 key areas:
1. Highly trained and experienced, board-certified doctors and team members who have performed stem cell procedures on thousands of patients with incredible results.
2. Cutting edge procedures utilizing all that regenerative medicine has to offer for many chronic degenerative conditions.
3. Leading scientific researchers who follow the advanced guidelines to maximize the healing potential of your stem cells and to maintain compliance and ethics
4. Use of only the most potent and viable resource of living, viable stem cells and harvested on the same day. No vial that you can purchase will contain living stem cells. If there is no harvest then there are no stem cells.
5. Post-operative guidance for supporting stem-cell growth including rehabilitation, diet and supplement protocols. NSI is a full-service healthcare center focused on patient outcomes. Stem cell therapy is only one tool used to help improve patients’ lives.
Patients have raved about their experience at NSI Stem Cell Clinics testifying that it was their unique cutting-edge procedures that helped them experience a breakthrough when nothing else worked.
If you want to learn more about NSI Stem Cell Clinics, you can set up a complimentary consultation today to see if you are a candidate. You can contact the National Stem Cell Institute at (877) 278-3623.
* Disclaimer: Individual patient results may vary. As each patient’s problem is different, each treatment must be tailored around your specific needs.