embracing nutrition and functional medicine

How may Functional Medicine help with Cognitive Decline

With 850,000 UK citizens suffering from Dementia. Read below how Functional Medicine may be able to support you.

How Can Functional Medicine Support Those with Cognitive Decline?

Cognitive Decline refers to a reduction in brain cell function, affecting not only memory but also behaviour, thinking and reasoning. In short, the brain isn’t working as well as it should.

In cognitive decline, brain function deteriorates at a greater level than would have been expected taking into account your age.

Dementia is a term used for general cognitive decline affecting the ability to perform everyday tasks, with at least 850,000 sufferers in the UK. There are many types of dementia, the most common of these being Alzheimer’s disease.

Symptoms of Cognitive Decline

The symptoms of cognitive decline are due to damage to the nerve cells in the brain. Symptoms usually come on gradually and may initially be put down to natural ageing.

  • Trouble concentrating and remembering
  • Mood changes like anger, anxiety, suspicion or confusion
  • Not recognising loved ones and forgetting names
  • Inability to complete basic tasks
  • Difficulty walking or speaking
  • Getting lost in familiar places
  • Losing and misplacing items
  • Problems with balance and co-ordination

It can be heartbreaking to watch a loved one slowly develop cognitive decline, as well as it being bewildering and upsetting for the sufferer.

Causes of Cognitive Decline

Your brain contains billions of nerve cells known as neurones transmitting information to and from each other.

As you become older, your brain function naturally declines because blood flow reduces, the production of neurotransmitters is reduced, and the protective sheaths around your nerves deteriorate. In the case of cognitive decline, these processes happen more rapidly.

Proteins known as beta-amyloid occur naturally in your brain but when they accumulate they can form hard insoluble plaques, blocking the mechanism your brain cells use to communicate with each other. This can occur because the proteins are not cleared away or they’re produced in greater amounts. The build-up of plaques is thought to be a result of infection, toxins, inflammation, and oxidative stress.1

Increased inflammation is also thought to cause healthy brain cells to be destroyed. Inflammation can be due to a permeable gut lining, a pro-inflammatory diet, obesity, or because of infections such as Lyme disease, herpes virus or from dental disease.2

Gut health has a huge effect on brain health because certain gut bacteria release messenger molecules acting to increase inflammation or directly as nerve cell irritants.3

Other factors affecting brain health include insulin resistance, gluten sensitivity, nutrient deficiencies, stress, lack of sleep and a sedentary lifestyle. Your brain is very susceptible to the effects of toxins including metals like mercury and lead, environmental pollutants or mycotoxins from mould.4 5

Genes also play a role, but only in combination with other factors.6

Conventional treatment

Despite millions of pounds of research into developing a cure for Alzheimer’s, no drugs have been found to cure the disease or stop its progression, it is currently only possible to slow it down.

How may Functional Medicine help?

Research shows that diet, lifestyle and nutraceuticals used alongside conventional treatment may help to improve measures of cognitive function in those with cognitive decline.7

Functional medicine aims to work with the imbalances underlying ill-health and cognitive decline is no exception. Because of the many possible causes of cognitive decline, your consultation will involve a lot of detective work to determine what has contributed to your particular circumstances.

Functional tests can examine gut health, detect the presence of toxic metals and uncover your personal risk factors.

Our protocol will aim to rebalance inflammation by working on your gut health and removing inflammatory foods and lifestyle factors; reducing oxidative stress on brain cells by supporting your body with plenty of antioxidants; and detecting and correcting any nutritional deficiencies.8

Supporting your liver can aid your natural detoxification processes, while protocols may be adopted to help your body process any toxic metals in your body.

Lifestyle modifications include stress reduction, restoring healthy sleep patterns and exercise.9 Targeted supplements and herbs may also be suggested to support healthy brain function.

If you would like help with a decline in cognitive function then please contact us.


  1. Vicente Miranda H, Outeiro TF. The sour side of neurodegenerative disorders: the effects of protein glycation. J Pathol. 2010 May;221(1):13-25. doi: 10.1002/path.2682. PMID: 20186922.
  2. Pauwels EKJ, Boer GJ. Friends and Foes in Alzheimer’s Disease. Med Princ Pract. 2023 Oct 3. doi: 10.1159/000534400. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 37788649.
  3. Jain A, Madkan S, Patil P. The Role of Gut Microbiota in Neurodegenerative Diseases: Current Insights and Therapeutic Implications. Cureus. 2023 Oct 28;15(10):e47861. doi: 10.7759/cureus.47861. PMID: 38022117; PMCID: PMC10680305.
  4. Hölscher C. Brain insulin resistance: role in neurodegenerative disease and potential for targeting. Expert Opin Investig Drugs. 2020 Apr;29(4):333-348. doi: 10.1080/13543784.2020.1738383. Epub 2020 Mar 16. PMID: 32175781.
  5. Kola A, Nencioni F, Valensin D. Bioinorganic Chemistry of Micronutrients Related to Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s Diseases. Molecules. 2023 Jul 17;28(14):5467. doi: 10.3390/molecules28145467. PMID: 37513339; PMCID: PMC10385134.
  6. Karch CM, Goate AM. Alzheimer’s disease risk genes and mechanisms of disease pathogenesis. Biol Psychiatry. 2015 Jan 1;77(1):43-51. doi: 10.1016/j.biopsych.2014.05.006. Epub 2014 May 17. PMID: 24951455; PMCID: PMC4234692.
  7. Sandison H, Callan NGL, Rao RV, Phipps J, Bradley R. Observed Improvement in Cognition During a Personalized Lifestyle Intervention in People with Cognitive Decline. J Alzheimers Dis. 2023;94(3):993-1004. doi: 10.3233/JAD-230004. PMID: 37355891; PMCID: PMC10473097.
  8. Feng J, Zheng Y, Guo M, Ares I, Martínez M, Lopez-Torres B, Martínez-Larrañaga MR, Wang X, Anadón A, Martínez MA. Oxidative stress, the blood-brain barrier and neurodegenerative diseases: The critical beneficial role of dietary antioxidants. Acta Pharm Sin B. 2023 Oct;13(10):3988-4024. doi: 10.1016/j.apsb.2023.07.010. Epub 2023 Jul 16. PMID: 37799389; PMCID: PMC10547923.
  9. Gubert C, Kong G, Renoir T, Hannan AJ. Exercise, diet and stress as modulators of gut microbiota: Implications for neurodegenerative diseases. Neurobiol Dis. 2020 Feb;134:104621. doi: 10.1016/j.nbd.2019.104621. Epub 2019 Oct 16. PMID: 31628992.



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