Preventing Alzheimer's - Tune Up Your Brain

Did you know that between 30% - 50% of people who are diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease turn out never to have had Alzheimer’s? It is only via an autopsy that Alzheimer’s can be diagnosed with certainty. Almost half the people believed to have Alzheimer’s are, upon autopsy, discovered to have had no brain plaques. This means something else was ‘wiping out’ the brain. This blog looks at other, very treatable, potential causes for dementia which are often being missed.

 Advice for preventing alzheimer's

Remember, modern medicine focuses on treating symptoms, not the underlying disease process and that’s a lot like treating the smoke while ignoring the fire. Leading edge science today tells us that diet and lifestyle have a profound role to play in determining the destiny of a person’s health with respect to brain function.

 

Metabolism:

The Journal of the Alzheimer’s Association, 2012 March; 8: 131-168, states that there is growing evidence linking thyroid dysfunction and Alzheimer’s. According to the Framingham Study, women with low or high thyroid function had a greater than two-fold higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.[1] This study indicates that the target range for optimal TSH should be between 1.0 to 2.0. Signs of an underactive thyroid include fatigue, aching muscles, cold intolerance, weight gain, infertility/miscarriages when younger and constipation. If your thyroid TSH levels are over 2.5 it is worth considering optimizing thyroid function with a natural supplement such as Curamed (750mg, 1x2 a day). Discuss this option with a health practitioner.

In the case of men, as a man ages so his levels of testosterone can decline. While this prompts most men to worry about their virility, there is actually a greater concern of developing dementia symptoms and Alzheimer’s. The male brain depends highly on the appropriate levels of testosterone to function optimally. Low testosterone may result in a decline in brain function and increased neurodegeneration. Studies have validated the idea that men with Alzheimer’s and dementia symptoms have lower testosterone levels. A 2016 meta-analysis concluded that “low plasma testosterone level is significantly associated with increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease in the elderly men.”[2]  If you are worried about your testosterone levels, you should speak to a qualified nutritional therapist or other healthcare professional, who will be able to conduct the appropriate tests. I offer a free 30-minute phone consultation, where we can discuss any such concerns.

 

There is a lot of research suggesting that vitamins B6, B9 (folate/folic acid) and B12 may help to prevent cognitive decline and more serious dementia such as Alzheimer’s

Infections:

Today we have a greater understanding of the extent to which infection by various microbes (bacteria, viruses and parasites) may be a risk factor for the pathophysiology of Alzheimer’s or to cognitive changes.[3] Candida is a common cause of mental fogginess. Controlling these chronic infections (Lymes, candida, even bladder infections etc.) with anti-bacterial or anti-inflammatory drugs will allow the prevention of inflammation, which is a risk factor for Alzheimer’s. To ease inflammation in the brain, add curcumin to your diet or take Curamed Superior Absorption (as wonderful as curcumin is, it is poorly absorbed by the body).

 

Nutrition:

There is a lot of research suggesting that vitamins B6, B9 (folate/folic acid) and B12 may help to prevent cognitive decline and more serious dementia such as Alzheimer’s. Vitamin B12 is an important vitamin for brain health and today almost half the population have sub-optimal blood levels of this vitamin. In fact, years of a vitamin B12 deficiency can result in irreversible brain damage. “In the elderly, cognitive impairment and incidental dementia may be related to the high prevalence of inadequate B vitamin status.”[4] In addition, high homocysteine and low folic acid levels are also risk factors of Alzheimer’s.[5] High levels of homocysteine is a known brain toxin. A simple blood test with your nutritional therapist will check your homocysteine levels. B vitamins (folate, B6 and B12) have been shown to help lower homocysteine levels.

Like many degenerative diseases, Alzheimer’s is affected by not looking after your diet and lifestyle. The actual damage in the brain is often caused by inflammation linked to too many oxidants, blood sugar problems, raised cortisol, high homocysteine and exposure to toxic metals. Your diet should aim to include plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables (aim for a mix of all colours), seeds and fish such as mackerel, organic or wild Alaskan salmon, sardines, anchovies, rich in omega 3 and vitamin E. Eat wholefoods, and avoid refined foods and sugar, smoking, alcohol and fried foods.

 

too many drugs

Too many pharmaceutical drugs:

There is a dramatic increase in the number of pharmaceutical drugs people are taking today, including over the counter drugs. More and more long-term use of drugs such as heartburn medication,[6] antihistamines,[7] etc. are being recognised as possible risk factors for dementia and Alzheimer’s or for causing symptoms which mimic these illnesses. Often scaling back on medication helps clear up the mind. This must only be done under the supervision, and with the agreement, of your GP.

 

Grains:

According to renowned neurologist David Perlmutter, MD, a diet high in wheat, refined carbohydrates and sugar is detrimental to our brain. Such a diet increases inflammation and is one of the greatest risk factors for neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s.

 

Power your brain with healthy fats such as avocado, coconut oil, olive oil, fatty fish. Aim to reduce your intake of grains, refined carbs and sugar

The good news:

Since diet and lifestyle have become more and more recognised as being at the root of dementia and Alzheimer’s, along with the factors mentioned above, there is a lot that can be done to reduce your risk of becoming another statistic. Check your hormonal status. Make sure you are being treated for any infections. Get tested for vitamin and mineral deficiencies, particularly B vitamins. Know your homocysteine levels, which should be below 10mnl. Under your doctor’s supervision, consider scaling back on your medications. Power your brain with healthy fats such as avocado, coconut oil, olive oil, fatty fish. Aim to reduce your intake of grains, refined carbs and sugar. And finally, make sure you include exercise, sleep, stress reduction, sun exposure and social interaction as part of your lifestyle.

For more practical advice, check out these 8 Tips for maintaining a healthy brain.