Hope is happening.

Right here in South Florida at a place called Rezilir Health.
Hope is not a word that one usually associates with early Alzheimer’s. It has been a dreaded condition, where physicians dutifully prescribe the few FDA-approved pharmaceuticals that have temporary improvement on short-term symptoms but no improvement on long-term outcomes.

However, insights from research have begun to accumulate up the point where there are real breakthroughs with the promise of more to come. There are 3 major new insights into Alzheimer’s that can make a tremendous difference in people’s lives today.

The first insight is that the amyloid protein involved in Alzheimer’s is actually a protective mechanism from the brain against multiple forms of injury – infection, inflammation, lack of trophic factors. It is not the root cause of the condition. This explains why the last 20 years of pharmaceutical drug development have been a failure. Drug development has been focused on decreasing production of amyloid rather than addressing the multiple root causes of Alzheimer’s.

The second insight is that healthy lifestyle factors can make a significant difference both in preventing and in treating Alzheimer’s. Exercise including 45 minutes of daily activity along with workouts to build strength and flexibility is a critical factor in creating brain derived neurotrophic factor which helps new brain cells grow and develop. Mediterranean based, high nutrient, low inflammatory, healthy fat food is an important foundation. 7-8 hours of sleep a night, ongoing stress management through yoga and meditation, and intermittent fasting in the evening can help the brain recover and mend. Finally, ongoing new learning and skill development can keep the brain challenged and encourage neuroplasticity. The prestigious Institute of Medicine issued a review this fall highlighting the rapid development of scientific evidence in this area.

The third insight is that a personalized, programmatic approach to fixing root causes and underlying metabolic factors can start to reverse symptoms in people with mild cognitive decline and early Alzheimer’s. Research based out of UCLA and the Buck Institute on the ReCode™ program has shown that multiple factors need to be fixed simultaneously for symptoms to improve. Inflammation, insulin resistance, hormones, neurotrophic factors, vascular health, biotoxins and heavy metal exposure all are factors that can contribute. This program is starting to go into clinical trials at the Cleveland Clinic and the National Health Service this year.

We got together with two of the lead physicians at Rezilir Health who are one of the few physicians in the country that are certified in the ReCode™ program to find out how they are using these principles to help patients with cognitive conditions today. Rezilir Health is a new type of medical group – a group combines the best of lifestyle medicine (emphasizing improvements in lifestyle and behaviors as a foundation for better health and wellness), precision medicine (using advances in individual genomics and proteomics to customize care) and functional medicine (getting to the root causes of conditions rather than just treating the symptoms).

Their backgrounds are unique. Dr. Karen Koffler is one of the few physicians in the country who is board certified in functional and integrative medicine and teaches on the faculty of the Institute for Functional Medicine. Dr. Craig Tanio is also certified in functional and internal medicine, teaches on the faculty at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and has two decades of operational experience in creating innovative health care groups.

Dr. Tanio emphasizes: “We need to change our mindset about brain health. Alzheimer’s is a preventable condition, just like cardiovascular disease. As people get older they have the power in their hands today to optimize their brain health just like they optimize their physical fitness. We can give patients those tools. As a result, everyone in their forties and fifties should get screened for brain health. Anyone with symptoms should come in and get a personalized program to keep their brain health at an optimum level.”

Dr. Koffler adds: “Each patient has different issues and perspectives that need to be incorporated to create a personalized plan. It can be overwhelming to make so many of the changes that are needed to create breakthroughs in brain health. However, we use a multidisciplinary team approach – integrative nurse coaches and nutritionists – to create effective coaching that can help our patients with these changes.” We are a commitment practice – we want our patients to be committed to their health and the team will be committed to supporting them.

They both add: “Usually our patients first notice that the rate of their cognitive deterioration slows or stops. Any improvement in cognitive functioning is a very promising initial response. Often it may take 3-6 months of treatment before noticing symptomatic changes. Our experience over the last year is that eligible patients who follow our program stop deteriorating and feel healthier greater than 90% of the time and improve their cognitive functioning more than 65% of the time. As a result of our experience, we are offering a money back guarantee on professional services for patients who are committed and closely follow this program for a year.”

We at Healthy magazine are excited to have these insights and tools available to the community of South Florida. As a result, we have asked the clinicians at Rezilir to write an ongoing column on ongoing insights and advances in brain health, which will be featured in issues to come.