January 8, 2019


We use our brain to make decisions on a daily basis. The quality of our life is based off of the decisions we make.

Sadly, we never even consider brain health when trying to improve our life, or to prevent cognitive decline as we age. My next guest, Ralph Sanchez, shares how you can improve brain function and to prevent cognitive diseases like dementia and Alzheimer's.

Discover how you can control or at least minimize mental decline as you age. If you want to improve your brain function, tune in now.

To connect with Ralph Sanchez visit:

* BONUS: Brain Defend Self-Assessment Quiz for STRONG Men Podcast listeners

​The Alzheimer's Solution​ Website

​The Diabetic Brain Podcast

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​Ep. 22 - Ralph Sanchez | Transcript


​Hello, and welcome to the strong men podcast, empowering men to thrive. I'm Anthony Treas from strongmencoaching.com where I share how men can thrive in their life in order to live a more meaningful and fulfilled life. I am very passionate about the brain. And in fact, I think the brain isn't talked about enough. And I am excited. I'm very excited for all these interviews that I get a chance to do. But this one, it's really exciting for me, because my life radically changed as a result of looking into my brain in myself dealing with PTSD, anxiety, and depression. So I'm excited for my next guest, Ralph Sanchez, and he is the author of the Diabetic Brain. Ralph, welcome to the Strong Men Podcast.

Hi, Anthony. Thanks so much for inviting me on. I'm excited to talk about the brain with you today.

Yeah, I am as well. And I know Ralph, you know a little bit about my story. You saw me live there in San Diego. And you heard about my story in dealing with PTSD and anxiety and depression. And you came to me afterwards and introduced yourself. And it was great to connect with somebody who understands the brain, right, and how important it is and how very little we talk about the brain when, when someone's trying to improve their life, you know, your brain is what's going to help you. But yet, we tried to do so many other things, and don't even consider the very thing that we need in order to operate at our fullest.

Well, I think you hit on something that's really important, Anthony, you know, with the interest as it may be, and in health most people are really kind of thinking about their physical health and, you know, train and nutrition and all of that, but they don't really, you know, they don't really cross the bridge over to how is all of this affecting my brain and whatever else they may be doing in their life, or whatever other history they may have. One of the reasons that I approached you is that I resonated about the story you were sharing about, I think it was a traumatic brain injury, right? And the, the fact that you really wanted to have a community where you shared about information that helped people like that, because I also had a severe head injury, brain trauma when I was younger, and I have suffered I'll effects from that ever since. Of course, I was in able to, because of my background in health care, able to do a lot of things that have helped, you know, in terms of stabilizing a lot of the aftermath of that brain trauma, but most people are just not aware of it.

It's actually quite sad to see what's going on in sports and people, you know, suffering these terrible ongoing concussions and, you know, there's still questions that are about what, what does this really mean in terms of your long term brain health? And really, there is no question, brain trauma is really serious. And it's going to affect you later on in life one way or another, if you are not into a healthy recovery mode around that.

Absolutely. I think actually, I know recently, I read another story about another NFL player taking his life and how he wanted his or his family wanted his brain to be donated to look further into these issues. And I know a lot of parents allow their kids to play tackle football and other sports where they're hitting their head. And often times, you know, you don't think anything about it. Because you get your head hit, you may see some stars, you recover, and then you go back, right. But we don't see how that has lasting effects in our life. Just like when we break a bone or in a certain area, or in a joint where, yeah, we may recover from that because we're young and we heal quicker. But later on in life, we're going to have those bad knees are those bad ankles because of that injury we had when we were young. And we don't think about that at all, especially when it comes to our brain. Can you share a little bit more about that incident that happened to you. Was it some sort of, you mentioned head trauma, was it some sort of concussion, what was going on or what happened?

There was a pretty severe concussion from an auto accident. I fell asleep at the wheel and my head, I didn't have a seatbelt on and I had went right into the windshield and was knocked out instantly, and woke up in the hospital a day later. But the story that I had heard after my accident was that I was rushed to the hospital and they called my parents. And they said, you better get over here, because we're not sure if he's going to make it. So it's pretty severe, I had some problems associated with that trauma for well over a year that included problems with speech. Not long after that accident when I started to get back home and started to get into my recovery mode, I would sometimes get up to walk across the room and lose complete control of my legs.

Similarly with my speech I would be talking and suddenly I just did not have the words and I had just these excruciating headaches that I had to take Naprecin for for at least a year. And then for quite some time after that I had to go to things like at the time Excedrin was very popular, and so I, you know, I had to deal with this on on a more acute level, if you will, for over a year, eventually, I was able to get to a more normal life but I just noticed.

You know moving on in life and living at that, there was this aftermath associated with that brain trauma in terms of my ability to maintain a certain level of cognitive performance. I just wasn't as sharp. I didn't retain things as well. My memory wasn't quite as good, you know, and I had physical issues related to that, too. I had more weakness on the left side of my body. And, you know, there's always a little bit of that with some people, you know, you're going to be dominant on one side or the other, but it was more pronounced for me. And so a lot of things around that, that I didn't know what to do because, you know, this was definitely way back in the, this was now, I would say, 40-50 years ago. And yeah, at the time, you know, there wasn't as much information as we have now, obviously around this problem and what to do for it. And my family certainly wasn't oriented towards anything other than conventional medical care. And we didn't have a lot of money. So, there wasn't a lot to do there other than to just try and recover naturally as much as you could.

Fortunately, I know now, and I've been able to help some people with brain trauma and their history, recommending things to do. And then talking to people that have had either family members or others who have had serious brain trauma and the nutritional aspect that's so so important.

And you mentioned kids, one of the really fascinating things that I found in my research when I decided that I was going to make Alzheimer's and dementia a focused in my research and path and my health care model, I've now developed, you know, a program that is designed to reduce the risk for dementia and Alzheimer's disease as you age. And certainly a history of brain trauma is very, very important in that history. But one of the things that I discovered there's a prime genetic marker for Alzheimer's disease called APOE4 far and it spelled like it sound a p o e four.

It's a variant of the APOE gene and that APOE4 variant, there's at least a 20 to 25% of the population that carry one or two copies. And when you carry one or two copies, it can up your risk for Alzheimer's disease through various other risk factors that converge with it as you age, and one of them is brain trauma. Children that are out there banging their head around playing soccer or football and if they happen to be an a pope he for carrier, well, they're at even more risk, then I'm non-carrier for problems associated with that genetic marker and the brain trauma and problems later on in life as they grow older.

Yeah, you bring up Alzheimer's disease. Now, you also mention that your concussion your event happened several decades ago. Now back then. We're we even was Alzheimer's, yes, it was around but not to the extent that it is today. So what's going on? Why are we seeing more of this disease?

Well, I actually explained that in the diabetic brain and Alzheimer's disease which is a pretty comprehensive overview on the prime issues related to aging and what occurs in that aging process that increases the risk for Alzheimer's disease.

Aging is considered to be the biggest risk factor for Alzheimer's disease, which means that the older you are able to move on and live, you know, the older you get the bigger risk you have for a dementia. So, it's one in 10 people by the age of 65 will be diagnosed here in the US with Alzheimer's disease. And by the time you hit at that number goes up to three to four people out of 10. So it's a huge number. And you're right, there's a lot more awareness. 20 years ago, I started my research, it was just beginning to coincidentally, I get very, very progressive into what's causing this problem, you know, what is it that you know, that converges in specific people to give rise to this disorder. And by then, the APOE4 marker had already been pretty well established as a prime risk factor for it.

It was already pretty well accepted as well to that if you had heart disease, you had an increased risk for what's called vascular dementia as you aged, because the problems associated with circulation and heart disease and cholesterol, and the inflammation that's associated with all of that actually really migrates into the brain, because, of course, the blood and migration to the brain, you need circulation as well there too. But if you don't have the circulation going on in your brain that's coming, you know, through the vascular system, and you have inflammation, all of that gets carried over into the brain and increases your risk for neurological disease as you age. But what happened and, you know, I started my research around the year 2000.

And what happened a few years later, is that there was a lot of research that started to pop up around the association of diabetes to dementia and increased risk for dementia. Now diabetes and heart disease go hand in hand. So it wasn't a huge leap of understanding to kind of begin to look at those associations. For example, in diabetes, well, over 50% of people with diabetes are going to go on to develop a dementia or Alzheimer's disease. It's huge and, and 2005, a study came out that was the first to coin type three diabetes, which is a diabetes like phenomenon in the brain. So there's Type 1 diabetes, Type 2 diabetes, and now we understand that there is a problem that looks like diabetes in the brain. And there's a lot of issues that, you know, lead up to that. But primarily, the reason it was coined Type three diabetes is because the brain and a lot of individuals, especially as you age, does not utilize glucose that well.

So the Type 3 diabetes like the Type 2 diabetes model incorporates the concept of insulin resistance. And that's what my book is all about explaining the relationships between Type 2 diabetes, insulin resistance, Type 3 diabetes, heart disease, and the increased risk for Alzheimer's disease or vascular dementia.

Because we now know that those are really prime areas in people's lives as they age to start to increase their risk for Alzheimer's disease. Besides the glucose problem, and not being able to utilize it in the brain. And that's really serious. And that's where ketogenesis. And the reason ketogenesis has gotten so popular, it's because you can train your brain to use fat instead of glucose, which is really important They're actually you start to burn what are called ketones. And that's really important when you have, you know, the undercurrents of the diabetes and heart disease and a risk for energy problems in the brain not being able to utilize glucose. And that's really critical. Because if you're not energizing the neurons, the brain cells then slowly they're a lot of problems are created because of that. And you have more extensive risk for neurological problems that ensued from that.

The other part of the issue related to insulin resistance in the brain is if there is an interesting phenomenon of insulin resistance there as well too that develops where insulin isn't functioning. Now, in the body Insulin is really important for glucose metabolism. And it has a role in the brain that way, but it's not the end all for brain energy, or what is called mitochondrial, mitochondrial these little energy factories of our cells in the body and the brain. And so the mitochondria need to be burning either sugars or fats, and even some proteins, amino acids in certain situations. And there's another substrate that's called lactate, which is actually utilized in the brain quite well. But the brain energy metabolism component to all of us, not only important, but the insulin resistance issue in the brain has to do with memory and learning processes at the critical junctures where the cells make connections, they're called synapses. And at the synapses, insulin and other molecules play very, very important roles and interacting with receptors.

So, insulin receptors, and because of problems that develop up in the brain, those receptors don't function that well, insulin isn't working. And it leads to lots of problems that eventually start to look like dementia and Alzheimer's disease, it's part of the problem. So that's why they call the type three diabetes because of the insulin issue, the glucose issue and it's a fascinating feel.

So in 2005, a coin that and a few years that followed that, there was an explosion of research beginning to pop up on what, what is this type three diabetes and the insulin resistance issue in the brain? And how does it all contribute to Alzheimer's disease? So that's been a huge part of the research over the last close to 10 years. And when I saw it, and started reading it, I go, Oh, my God, this is not only fascinating, but a light went off in my head, I said, this is, this is not only something that I'm going to focus on in terms of an expertise, but I'm going to create a book out of it. Because I know, that in 10 years, where we are now, that this is going to be almost mainstream, and it's becoming that way, people are recognizing the word Type 3 diabetes, and they're recognizing the fact that, you know, their brains may not be functioning well, because they're not utilizing energy or producing energy in the brain very efficiently for one reason or another. And so there's all of these problems that people are becoming aware of that are actually associated with and come out of that research.

Yeah, now, Ralph, you mentioned, yeah, Type 3 diabetes is new for me. And I'm sure for a lot of listeners that this Type 3, we hear often a lot about Type 2 diabetes, but not so much about Type 3. So it's great that you're getting this information now. Now, you mentioned insulin receptors. Now, I know from my educational background, insulin receptors, obviously, we need the insulin, what is happening in our environment. You know, a lot of men who are listening have different types of jobs, and we're being exposed to different toxins and different things in different occupations, what's going on in our environment that's increasing our risk to ultimately developing Alzheimer's?

Well, it's huge, Anthony. And as a matter of fact, that was part of the reason besides the brain trauma. It was part of the reason that I started to get into an awareness of my own risk. Because early on in my life, when I started figuring out what I wanted to do, I decided I was going to go into the interior plant and landscaping business. And I was pretty young and stupid. And I didn't realize that pesticides had a serious side effects associated with them in terms of exposures, chronic exposures.

So I didn't protect myself. I was using them liberally. I was working with somebody and we were spraying or I was spraying greenhouses with plants and using pesticides and not protecting myself, for sure enough, I didn't take long before I started to feel pretty lousy and didn't understand why. I was able to get to a good holistic practitioner where I lived in Santa Monica at the time and she was able to help me a lot. But even she did not make the connection as to my work, the pesticides and why I was in such straits, as far as how I felt and what was going on with me physically. And then, you know, the years rolled by and did the best I could, in terms of all of that, was able to compensate with some therapies and nutrition.

I decided I was going to go into health care, and that's a long story. But through that journey, especially when I got into healthcare, and started immersing myself in research and science, I go, Jesus, I am, I have this amazing history, brain trauma, pesticides exposure, those are huge risk for neurological disease, you know, pesticides can, are well established as a as a link to your illogical diseases like Parkinson's and Alzheimer's. And when I was reading all that information, I said, you know, I've got to know more and I've got to take control of my own risk.

At the time, when I was using those pesticides, they were laden with mercury. And so when I read that, I go, Oh, my God, you know, mercury is another part of my problem. And I did a specialized medical test, it's called a collation, mercury collation test. And I found out that I had, you know, a huge what's called body burden, I had a lot of mercury in my system. So I did some mercury detoxification work, which took years and felt a lot better for it. Definitely helped a lot. But realize that that, you know, I had all of these risk factors associated with my history in my environment and environment you ask well, what specifically? Well, toxins, you know, toxins, like pesticides and, and petrochemicals and all the other there is more chemicals produced every year, new ones, and put out into the environment that people realize, thousands of them. And our exposures to those guys, even though they may be small exposures, they add up and they can cause lots of problems. And of course, people have run into that awareness for one reason or another, having to do with plastics, you know, and cooking ware, you know, the coating that they put on cooking ware and whatnot.

So, pesticides, mercury, heavy metals, mercury is a heavy metal, heavy metals are huge, and you can have those exposures through a number of ways through the environment, through fish, but the worst exposure from mercury that one can have on on an ongoing basis is through dental amalgams. And that's one of the things that I discovered early on in my research, and was just fascinated about that. Because there are some people out there some really bright people that have been talking about this for a long time. And, early on when they were trying to figure out what were some of the primary risk factors associated with, you know, environmental issues and whatnot, and neurological disease, they were looking at mercury very closely. And so some people started to pioneer this whole connection between mercury exposures and the risk for Alzheimer's disease.

I have several videos on a video library on my website, if people are interested in looking at that. I have a video library where I curate videos that I know are conveying really good information from really top people. And there's lots of topics there in the video library that one can look at, ranging from, you know, mercury to ketogenisis to lots of topics that are really useful and understanding a little bit more about how you can build your awareness around, you know, issues related to aging and Alzheimer's disease risk, but also what you can do about it. Because what has really emerged over the last three years that's going to just explode is the fact that we now understand what these risk factors are, that are associated with dementia, Alzheimer's disease as we age and how we can reduce that risk. So that we have a healthy aging process. so that we don't just, you know, fall into Alzheimer's disease as we age because we don't understand what that is and our doctors are not progressive enough to be looking at our health issues early on in life that increase our risk. We now know that mid-life is a critical time.

So in your late 40s and early 50s, if you're not looking at your risk, both on a genetic level and an environmental level, and on a lifestyle level; On a nutrition level. If you're not looking at all those risk factors, and seeing where you stand and what that might mean for you in your 60,'s, 70's, and 80's, you're going to run into some problems of one sort or another. God forbid, some people age well, but a lot of people do not, you know, it's unfortunate to see people already in their late 60s and 70s and in terrible shape and looking at a future in assisted living center.

Yeah, Ralph, what would you say to somebody who's listening who might have grown up playing football, and he's had a job where he's been exposed to maybe pesticides and herbicides and mercury, not only in his profession, but maybe around the house, you know, what can this person be doing to decrease that risk for Alzheimer's and keep his brain functioning well?

Well, there's a lot, you know, in my work, as you know, a guide for people and their health issues. I used to have an integrative medicine practice in Southern California. And now I've morphed my work into a virtual practice, where I work with people wherever they may be. We schedule our Skype or Zoom calls, and I walk them through it, just like I did in my office, you know, what is going on with them, analyzing labs, and asking them to do other labs and analyzing what's going on with their biochemistry. What's going on with their metabolism. What's going on with anything related to their history, that may be a risk for one thing or another.

So it takes a very, very careful analysis by somebody who's experienced that looking at all of those factors. And then, it's about creating a plan. And if something comes up, that's a red flag, and you have to start creating a plan, a way of approaching those issues so that they're fixed. It's about getting busy with nutrition and lifestyle. Of course, it's always been tracking your progress through labs, detoxification therapies, like I mentioned, that I had to focus on for myself, but that's huge. Everybody should be doing a detox once a year, and I have a really easy 14 or 21 day plan that is detox in a box, so to speak, that is tremendous in terms of what it can do for you, and helping you to get into a pattern where you're releasing toxicity that you have built up, because that builds up through a number of ways, not only through our environment, but just through our eating habits and issues related to our digestive system.

You know, so a lot of people have products with a toxic issues in their gut, they're not digesting well, there is a build up of bad bacteria or yeast, and there's a phenomenon related to that called leaky gut. And those are sources of a lot of toxins in the body. So there can be endogenous sources, like the gut and our diet which is more exogenesis environmental, but besides the toxic element in the environment, there's also stuff in our diet that may be causing toxic effects because of incompatibility, like gluten, you know. And then, of course, as I said, there's issues related to the gut that are really important on.

So there's lots of pretty simple detoxification therapies that anybody can do, they're available through me. And also so there are more extensive plans. The gut, you know, you can walk into, like a health food store, and you'll see all of these little kits for our gut cleanse, or a liver cleanse. And, you know, they're okay, but they don't really do the job because they're not geared towards professional use. And only in the hands of a professional can one really analyze what's needed and how to go about really doing something more comprehensive, because let's say you have a gut problem.

Those kits that you can get at the health food store, they're only going to marginally help the issue because if you're not doing an analysis, if you're not doing a comprehensive protocol. And hey, I know this extremely well, I specialized in GI stuff when I had my practice in Santa Monica because I had those problems, and I had to figure him out. So I thought, wow, this is huge, you know, and there's, there's many ways of looking at, you know, the gut related to other health issues, but for the most part, and the world of health and nutrition, and you know, how to go about getting yourself healthier, a lot of it is about, you know, just starting with your digestive system, you know, there's a saying that, you know, disease and health issues begin in your digestive tract, because of all the toxicity that can be permeated throughout your system from there.

So working with people is really a good idea. But, you know, there's lots of detoxification therapies that are important in that process that can be initiated. And if you wanted to do like a simple what's called the liver type of cleanse, which is a little bit more than that, but it gets your liver really working well. And it's married to a diet not a digestive, but a dietary component. That's very, very important. Those kits on a professional level are widely available. And like I said, I have one that I use from one of my favorite companies. It's a 14 and a 21, detoxification kit that works wonderfully for people.

Excellent. Well, I want to touch just briefly on genes and how oftentimes someone say, well, this gene runs in my family. And one of the things that oftentimes people they have this idea, they have this belief that well, because my family has it, it means I'm going to get it and I know this gets into epigenetics, which we don't have to, we don't have time to get into. But what I want to or what I'd like to see is or to hear from you is, do genes determine our dementia destiny?

In some cases they do? And then most cases, they do not. Okay, so we've been talking about Alzheimer's disease, and there's actually two forms, there's early onset Alzheimer's disease, and there's late onset Alzheimer's disease. Now, the early onset form is genetically determined. If you're born with those genes, there is nothing that can be done for you, you're going to develop Alzheimer's by the age of 60. And that's pretty much that's what's called early onset, it's genetically determined.

Whereas late onset, there are many genes that play a role and terms of a risk factor. But just like environment, and lifestyle and nutrition are risk factors, those genes are only a problem if there are issues related to the other risk factors, you know, so toxins can cause an expression of a gene that will tend to have negative effects on your health as you age, you know, you refer to epigenetics, and that's a huge field. But epigenetics is actually one of the more exciting and emerging frontiers analysis, disease and other health disorders where our environment and our nutrition in there play a critical role in determining how these genes function as we age. So they don't determine the disease process. ​The genes do not, but they play a significant role along with again, diet and lifestyle and exposures to the environment of one sort or another. So now in late onset Alzheimer's disease, it's all about risk factors, a multitude of them coming together to give expression to the disease.

Well, Ralph is the author of the, Diabetic Brain. I encourage you, now, it should be coming out here soon. Correct, Ralph?

Well, it's available, right, I had it on my site. And I'm going to be doing an Amazon launch. So I closed down the access on my website, but it'll be up on Amazon, probably by the time people are listening to this, the Diabetic Brain and Alzheimer's disease. And then I have a second book, The Improved Mind Diet, which I actually talk a lot about Epigenetics in the improved mind diet and what that's all about, and how certain foods are really very important to focus on as you age. So those books are be on Amazon, the diabetic brain and Alzheimer's disease and, and they can also go to my website, the alzheimerssolution.com and actually created a page for your listeners, thealzheimerssolution.com/strongmen. And there are a couple of things there that people can read, get access to that's a bonus for just visiting the alzheimerssolution.com.

There's a self assessment form there that I created, which focuses on a lot of the risk factors that we've been talking about, and some that we did not get a chance to talk about, and that self assessment inform you're given a, you know, you're given a percentage score, and that will give you a little insight as to how well you may or may not be doing in terms of your risk factors. It includes fasting glucose and A1C, our hemoglobin A1C, and those are really critical, what are called bio-markers that people should be very aware of as they age. And then what else I have there is a complimentary discovery session with me where they can take the self-assessment form or they don't have to take the self-assessment form, but they can schedule a complimentary call with me for about 20 minutes to pick my brain on anything having to do with their concerns for Alzheimer's disease. And then, I have access to where they can get the improved mind diet and get a what I'm calling "a preview and review copy". So, if they agree to leave me a review, I will give them a copy of the book. And it's a great read. There's a lot there in terms of nutrition that's really important for people to be aware of, if they're interested in optimizing brain health as they age.

Excellent. Well, thank you, Ralph. For all those listening. All the links that Ralph has mentioned will be in the show notes. Take a look at those.

Ralph, It has been an absolute honor to have you on the show. Thank you for what you're doing and providing more information for people on how they can decrease their risk. And if they do have risks and what they can do to decrease those risks as they age and the things that they can do as they get older and keeping their brain young.

Thank you, sir. It has been an honor. For all those listening. I'm Anthony Treas from strongmencoaching.com, and until next time, stay STRONG!

Disclaimer. The content of this podcast is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice nice of your healthcare provider with any questions you have regarding a medical condition.

About the author 

Anthony Treas

Anthony is an Iraq War veteran and on a mission to radically improve men's health and mental wellbeing. He coaches men on how to step into their purpose and live a more fulfilling and happier life.

  • I have gained so much from Ralph Sanchez’s advice on how diet affects brain function. Thank you both for this informative interview.

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