Issue: 43 2020-07-18T16:40:40-04:00

Preventing Alzheimer’s Disease with Diet and Nutritional Supplements

Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive brain disease that affects some 5.3 million Americans. Over the past 25 years, the number of patients who have Alzheimer’s disease has doubled, and the incidence is expected to increase in coming decades as the US population ages. It’s now become the sixth-leading cause of death in the United States.

Failing memory is often accompanied by a person’s declining sense of well-being, and is often described by symptoms such as a lack of mental clarity (brain fog), altered mood (as in depression), decreased mental abilities, worsening sleep patterns, and declining overall energy

It’s normal for certain kinds of memory, such as the ability to remember lists of words, to decline with normal aging. In fact, normal individuals 50 years of age will recall only about 60% as many items on some kinds of memory tests as individuals 20 years of age.

But with Alzheimer’s, as the disease advances, words are totally forgotten, and the person’s mental abilities become severely compromised. In the final stages, the person may no longer be able to dress, eat, or perform simple tasks. Loss of judgment and reasoning occurs. Delusions are common.

Risk Factors For Alzheimer’s Disease

Risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease include high blood pressure (hypertension), coronary artery disease, and diabetes. Individuals who have completed less than eight years of education also have an increased risk for Alzheimer’s disease. These factors increase the risk of Alzheimer’s disease, but by no means do they mean that Alzheimer’s disease is inevitable in persons with these factors.

There are also genetic risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease. Most patients develop Alzheimer’s disease after age 70. However, 2%-5% of patients develop the disease in the fourth or fifth decade of life (40s or 50s). At least half of these early onset patients have inherited gene mutations associated with their Alzheimer’s disease. The children of a patient with early onset Alzheimer’s disease who has one of these gene mutations has a 50% risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.

Unfortunately, conventional medicine is ineffective for those struggling with Alzheimer’s. Conventional medicine focuses on stimulating the brain chemical known as acetylcholine.

Acetylcholine is an essential chemical messenger that helps brain cells communicates with one another. Patients with Alzheimer’s suffer from reduced acetylcholine activity in their brains. For this reason, most conventional drugs for Alzheimer’s are aimed at improving acetylcholine activity in the brain by preventing its breakdown.

Drugs that support acetylcholine include cholinesterase inhibitors, which prevent the breakdown of acetylcholine by inhibiting acetylcholinesterase. However, these drugs are expensive, largely ineffective, and may cause liver toxicity/damage.

Inflammation Linked to Alzheimer’s Disease

Evidence linking inflammation and oxidative stress to Alzheimer’s disease continues to grow. Research shows that inflammatory chemicals, known as cytokines attack the brain chemicals of those with Alzheimer’s. Cytokines set-off inflammatory reactions, generating high levels of free radicals. The free radicals lead to the formation of beta-amyloid plaques. This results in more inflammation, free radicals, and more destructive beta-amyloid plaques.

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Mediterranean Diet Found Helpful

The Mediterranean diet is characterized by a high intake of vegetables, legumes, fruits, cereals; high intake of unsaturated fatty acids (mostly olive oil), but a low intake of saturated fatty acids; a moderately high intake of fish; a low to moderate intake of dairy products (mostly cheese or yogurt); a low intake of meat and poultry; and a regular but moderate intake of alcohol, primarily wine and with meals.

The Mediterranean diet, which has been linked to a lower risk for cardiovascular disease, several forms of cancer, and overall mortality, may play a role in several potential mechanisms. These include oxidative stress and inflammation, both important in the pathogenesis of Alzheimer’s, the investigators said.

A group of participants who stuck to elements of the Mediterranean diet — high in fruits, vegetables, cereals, but low in meat and dairy products — had a reduced risk for Alzheimer’s disease. None was demented at the outset.

Overall, each additional unit of the Mediterranean diet adherence score (a zero to nine-point scale) was associated with a 9% to 10% decreased risk for Alzheimer’s, reported Nikolaos Scarmeas, M.D., of Columbia University here, and colleagues, in the April issue of the Annals of Neurology and published online.

Compared with participants who had the lowest adherence to the diet, the risk for those with the highest adherence was 39% to 40% lower, while those in the middle tertile had a decreased Alzheimer’s risk of 15% to 21%. This, the investigators said, showing a significant dose response, and sensitivity analysis did not change these findings.

Essential Therapeutics Brain Fog Formula

Reducing inflammation and resultant free radical formation is the key to reducing the risk of, and helping to reverse, the damage of Alzheimer’s disease. The Brain Fog Formula contains key nutrients for proper mental clarity along with potent antioxidants for preventing and eliminating inflammation.

Ashwagandha is a medicinal plant used in India to treat a wide range of age-related disorders. Indian researchers have demonstrated ashwagandha root extract inhibits acetylcholinesterase in much the same way as the Alzheimer’s prescription drug donepezil. Research indicates that ashwagandha extract is capable of halting and, in some cases, even reversing the damage to brain cells.

DHA and Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Fish oils contain eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), both of which are omega-3 oils. Deficiencies in DHA have been linked to cognitive decline, and human cell studies have shown that DHA reduces beta-amyloid secretion. DHA has been documented to increase phosphatidylserine, a naturally occurring component found in every cell membrane of the body. Low levels of DHA are now being linked to increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s.

Phosphatidylserine supports healthy levels of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, facilitates brain cell energy metabolism, and provides structural support for brain cell membranes. Additional studies suggest that phosphatidylserine is not only helpful in terms of treating cognitive decline, but also in avoiding its onset.

In one double blind, placebo-controlled study, patients who had Alzheimer’s disease who took phosphatidylserine performed significantly better on standardized memory tests at the end of the 12-week trial period than did the study participants who received placebo.

Glycerophosphorylcholine (GPC) is a key structural component of brain cell membranes. GPC is approved as a drug in the European Union, where physicians prescribe it to their patients who have dementia and pre-dementia. In the United States, however, GPC is available as a dietary supplement. One of GPC’s cognitive restoring mechanisms is its ability to maintain optimal levels of acetylcholine in the brain.

Research shows that GPC supplementation helps improve memory, attention, and social behavior. Many patients who receive GPC develop renewed interest in relatives and friends, became more capable of caring for themselves, and show marked improvement in degree of depression, irritability, and emotional function.

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Antioxidant Nutrients

Oxidative stress is a very important factor in the development of Alzheimer’s disease. Antioxidant supplements help reduce inflammation, free radicals, and beta-amyloid plaques.

Blueberry Extract. Research demonstrates that blueberries have some of the highest antioxidant (destroy free radicals) activity of any food.

Grape Seed Extract has demonstrated remarkable success in blocking the formation of brain plaques. One of the most potent antioxidants available, grape seed extract possesses 20 times more free radical–fighting power than vitamin E and 50 times more than vitamin C.

Ginkgo biloba is a powerful antioxidant that also improves brain circulation, reduces inflammation, helps boost mood and mental clarity. Research has found that Alzheimer’s patients who took Ginkgo biloba experienced a significant improvement in their quality of life.

Pyroglutamic acid is an amino acid that is found in small amounts in the body and also in certain foods. The brain-stimulating benefits of pyroglutamic acid have been known about for several years. As early as 1984, Italian researchers reported that pyroglutamic acid encouraged the release of the memory chemical acetylcholine in the brain. Further research carried out by Italian researchers, showed that pyroglutamic acid helps preserve acetylcholine levels in the brain, as well as protecting it from chemicals that can worsen memory.

L-Tyrosine is an amino acid found in many protein containing foods, such as meats, dairy products, fish, wheat and oats. L-tyrosine benefits include helping the brain to produce adequate amounts of the neurotransmitters L-dopa, dopamine, norepinephrine, and epinephrine. All of these are necessary to regulate moods, mental clarity, and memory recall.

Acetyl-L-Carnitine (ALC) is a potent antioxidant that has been shown to correct acetylcholine deficits in animals and protect neurons from beta-amyloid. The same research group conducted a meta-analysis of 21 double blind clinical trials of ALC in cases of mild cognitive impairment and mild Alzheimer’s disease and found significant benefit versus placebo.

The amino acid glutamine is needed for production of brain chemicals that help regulate mood, mental clarity, and memory. Glutamine users often report more energy, less fatigue and better mood.

Eleuthero or Siberian ginseng helps improve mental resilience and is commonly used in China for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease-like symptoms. It’s believed to improve brain function, concentration, memory and learning.

Vinpocetine is known to protect cells from reactive oxygen species and other free radicals, as well as increase blood circulation and brain metabolism. Its protective effect has been demonstrated in laboratory studies in which cells were exposed to beta-amyloid protein.

DMAE (dimethylaminoethanol) is a substance naturally produced in small amounts in the brain and also found in anchovies and sardines. DMAE helps boost brainpower, improve memory, and slow aging. The idea that DMAE can improve memory stems from research suggesting it may increase levels of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, which is believed to play an important role in learning and memory.

“In the confrontation between the stream and the rock, the stream always wins; not through strength, but through persistence.” — Buddha

“An optimist laughs to forget, a pessimist forgets to laugh.” –Anonymous

Imagine That!

A new study by researchers at Carnegie Mellon University, published in Science, shows that when you imagine eating a certain food, it reduces your actual consumption of that food. This landmark discovery changes the decades-old assumption that thinking about something desirable increases cravings for it and its consumption.

Drawing on research that shows that perception and mental imagery engages neural machinery in a similar fashion and similarly affect emotions, response tendencies and skilled motor behavior, the CMU research team tested the effects of repeatedly imagining the consumption of a food on its actual consumption. They found that simply imagining the consumption of a food decreases ones appetite for it.

“These findings suggest that trying to suppress one’s thoughts of desired foods in order to curb cravings for those foods is a fundamentally flawed strategy,” said Carey Morewedge, an assistant professor of social and decision sciences and lead author of this study.

“Our studies found that instead, people who repeatedly imagined the consumption of a morsel of food — such as an M&M or cube of cheese — subsequently consumed less of that food than did people who imagined consuming the food a few times or performed a different but similarly engaging task. We think these findings will help develop future interventions to reduce cravings for things such as unhealthy food, drugs and cigarettes, and hope they will help us learn how to help people make healthier food choices.”

For the study, the research team, which included Young Eun Huh, Tepper School of Business Ph.D. candidate, and Joachim Vosgerau, assistant professor of marketing, ran a series of five experiments that tested whether mentally stimulating the consumption of a food reduces its subsequent actual consumption. In the first experiment, participants imagined performing 33 repetitive actions, one at a time. A control group imagined inserting 33 quarters into a laundry machine (an action similar to eating M&M’s). Another group imagined inserting 30 quarters into a laundry machine and then imagined eating 3 M&M’S, while a third group imagined inserting three quarters into a laundry machine and then imagined eating 30 M&M’S. Next, all participants ate freely from a bowl filled with M&M’S. Participants who imagined eating 30 M&M’S actually ate significantly fewer M&M’S than did participants in the other two groups.

Why Having Goals Improves Your Life

A man was traveling and stopped at an intersection. He asked an elderly man, “Where does this road take me?” The elderly person asked, “Where do you want to go?” The man replied, “I don’t know.” The elderly person said, “Then take any road. What difference does it make?”

How true. When we don’t know where we are going, any road will take us there.

Suppose you have all the football eleven players, enthusiastically ready to play the game, all charged up, and then someone took the goal post away. What would happen to the game? There is nothing left. How do you keep score? How do you know you have arrived?

Enthusiasm without direction is like wildfire and leads to frustration. Goals give a sense of direction. Would you sit in a train or a plane without knowing where it was going? The obvious answer is no. Then why do people go through life without having any goals?