Alzeimer’s and Your Health
Alzheimer’s and memory decline are among the scariest propositions of aging. No one wants to lose the ability to recognize their spouse or children or get lost walking around the block. Many Alzheimer’s patients spend their final years in a rest home totally incapable of caring for themselves, a very sad, but possibly preventable state of affairs.
According to The National Institute on Aging Alzheimer’s disease is an irreversible, progressive brain disorder that slowly destroys memory and thinking skills, and eventually the ability to carry out the simplest tasks. In most people with Alzheimer’s, symptoms first appear in their mid-60s. Estimates vary, but experts suggest that more than 5 million Americans may have Alzheimer’s.
Alzheimer’s disease is currently ranked as the sixth leading cause of death in the United States, but recent estimates indicate that the disorder may rank third, just behind heart disease and cancer, as a cause of death for older people.
Alzheimer’s is the most common cause of dementia among older adults. Dementia is the loss of cognitive functioning—thinking, remembering, and reasoning—and behavioral abilities to such an extent that it interferes with a person’s daily life and activities. Dementia ranges in severity from the mildest stage, when it is just beginning to affect a person’s functioning, to the most severe stage, when the person must depend completely on others for basic activities of daily living.
The causes of dementia can vary, depending on the types of brain changes that may be taking place. Other dementias include Lewy body dementia, frontotemporal disorders, and vascular dementia. It is common for people to have mixed dementia—a combination of two or more disorders, at least one of which is dementia. For example, some people have both Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia.
Alzheimer’s disease is named after Dr. Alois Alzheimer. In 1906, Dr. Alzheimer noticed changes in the brain tissue of a woman who had died of an unusual mental illness. Her symptoms included memory loss, language problems, and unpredictable behavior. After she died, he examined her brain and found many abnormal clumps (now called amyloid plaques) and tangled bundles of fibers (now called neurofibrillary, or tau tangles).
These plaques and tangles in the brain are still considered some of the main features of Alzheimer’s disease. Another feature is the loss of connections between nerve cells (neurons) in the brain. Neurons transmit messages between different parts of the brain, and from the brain to muscles and organs in the body.
Alzheimer’s disease and dementia are often used interchangeably as many people believe that one means the other. In fact, the distinction between the two diseases often causes confusion on the behalf of patients, families and caregivers. Discover how the two diagnoses, while related, are remarkably different.
What Is The Difference Between Alzheimer’s and Dementia?
Alzheimer’s and dementia are still a mystery in many ways. This is why the two similar diseases are often mixed up in every day conversation and understanding. According to the National Institute on Aging (NIA), Dementia is a brain disorder that affects communication and performance of daily activities and Alzheimer’s disease is a form of dementia that specifically affects parts of the brain that control thought, memory and language.
What is Dementia?
Dementia is an umbrella term for a set of symptoms including impaired thinking and memory. It is a term that is often associated with the cognitive decline of aging. However, issues other than Alzheimer’s can cause dementia. Other common causes of dementia are Huntington’s Disease, Parkinson’s Disease and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease.
What is Alzheimer’s Disease?
According to the Center for Disease Control, Alzheimer’s disease is a common cause of dementia causing as many as 50 to 70% of all dementia cases. In fact, Alzheimer’s is a very specific form of dementia. Symptoms of Alzheimer’s include impaired thought, impaired speech, and confusion. Doctors use a variety of screenings to determine the cause of dementia including blood tests, mental status evaluations and brain scans.
How Are They Different?
When a person is diagnosed with dementia, they are being diagnosed with a set of symptoms. This is similar to someone who has a sore throat. Their throat is sore but it is not known what is causing that particular symptom. It could be allergies, strep throat, or a common cold. Similarly, when someone has dementia they are experiencing symptoms without being told what is causing those symptoms.
Another major difference between the two is that Alzheimer’s is believed by many to be irreversible. It is degenerative and incurable at this time. Some forms of dementia, such as a drug interaction or a vitamin deficiency, are actually reversible or temporary.
- Difficulty in communicating
- Difficulty with familiar tasks]
- Withdrawal from work or social activities
- Changes in mood or personality
- Poor judgement
- Difficulty with speech or writing
- Trouble with comprehension
- Memory Problems
The Healthy Wealthy & Active Aging Podcast episode 7 is titled Alzheimer’s and your Brain You Can Listen Here!
Alzheimer’s disease, the most common cause of dementia, affects about 5.5 million Americans – a number that’s expected to balloon to 13.8 million by 2050.
Between 1999 and 2014, the rate of deaths related to Alzheimer’s in the US increased 55 percent, to 25.4 deaths per 100,000 people, according to data released Friday from the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.
The majority of deaths happened in nursing homes. And while hospital deaths declined, deaths at home increased from 13.9 percent in 1999 to 24.9 percent in 2014.
Various herbal mixtures, vitamins and other supplements are widely promoted as preparations that may support cognitive health or prevent or delay Alzheimer’s. Currently, there’s no strong evidence that any of these therapies slow the progression of cognitive decline.
Some of the treatments that have been studied recently include:
Omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids in fish may help prevent cognitive decline. Studies done on fish oil supplements haven’t shown any benefit, however.
Curcumin. This herb comes from turmeric and has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that might affect chemical processes in the brain. So far, clinical trials have found no benefit for treating Alzheimer’s disease.
Ginkgo. Ginkgo is a plant extract containing several substances. A large study funded by the NIH found no effect in preventing or delaying Alzheimer’s disease.
Vitamin E. Although vitamin E isn’t effective for preventing Alzheimer’s, taking 2,000 international units daily may help delay the progression in people who already have the disease. However, study results have been mixed, with only some showing this benefit. Further research into the safety of 2,000 international units daily of Vitamin E in a dementia population will be needed before it can be routinely recommended.
Supplements promoted for cognitive health can interact with medications you’re taking for Alzheimer’s disease or other health conditions. Work closely with your health care team to create a treatment plan that’s right for you. Make sure you understand the risks and benefits of everything it includes.
The exact causes of Alzheimer’s disease are still unknown, but experts have identified a host of contributing factors: diabetes, smoking, saturated fats. Now a theory points the finger in a different direction: a variety of metals that can build up in the body over time. Look inside the brains of people with Alzheimer’s who have died and you’ll find protein clogging the brain’s signaling system, along with tiny clusters called beta-amyloid plaques. “When researchers tease those plaques apart, they find metals, including iron, copper, and aluminum,” says Neal Barnard, MD, an adjunct associate professor of medicine at the George Washington University School of Medicine. “These metals produce free radicals, which are like little sparks that damage brain cells.” And dementia isn’t the only risk; metals have been linked to everyday mental fuzziness: A study of roughly 1,450 adults in The Journal of Nutrition, Health & Aging found that women who performed highest on cognition tests had the lowest levels of copper and iron in their blood. There are a few simple things you can do to mitigate the effects of metals in your brain and protect your memory.
It’s the fuel that allows red blood cells to transport oxygen throughout the body. But when it comes to brain health, a 2011 study in the journal Neurology showed that people with high hemoglobin (an indicator of iron levels) were more than three times as likely to develop Alzheimer’s as those with levels in a healthy range.
Get smart: Go easy on meat — it’s loaded with easily absorbable heme iron, which your body can’t regulate well. Dark leafy greens can help you meet the recommended daily allowance (RDA) for iron (18 mg for women ages 19 to 50; 8 mg for women 50+). They’re also rich in antioxidants that “bind to iron so it can’t cause as much damage,” says UCLA psychiatry professor George Bartzokis, MD.
Quick fix: Swap out your cast-iron pans for stainless steel. One study found that the iron content of spaghetti sauce increased more than nine times after being cooked in a cast-iron skillet.
The aluminum-Alzheimer’s link remains hotly contested, but most experts agree that the metal can be a neurotoxin. Although our bodies don’t need aluminum to function, it seeps in through antacids (“they can deliver a hundred times more aluminum than you’d get from a day’s worth of food,” Barnard says); soda cans, which can leach aluminum; and tap water (aluminum can be introduced during purification). In one British study, people with high levels of aluminum in their tap water had a 50 percent increased risk for Alzheimer’s compared to those with the least exposure.
Get smart: Call your local water supplier and ask for the aluminum level. “If your city’s range is anything higher than undetectable, install an under-sink filter,” Barnard says.
Quick fix: Store your leftovers in glass; acidic foods like pizza or pasta sauce can absorb aluminum from foil.
Dietary copper (in foods like shellfish, nuts, and beans) is generally safe. But inorganic copper — the type in multivitamins and tap water — largely bypasses the liver’s filtration system and heads directly to the blood and brain. It’s especially dangerous when combined with saturated and trans fats: Research has found that individuals whose high-fat diets included 1.6 or more mg of copper a day experienced a loss of mental function equivalent to an extra 19 years of aging, compared with those who took in an average of 0.9 mg a day.
Get smart: Check your pipes. If you have copper plumbing, let the water run for a minute in the morning before drinking from the tap, to flush out any copper that may have built up overnight.
Quick fix: Choose a supplement with no more than 0.9 mg of copper — the average women’s multivitamin contains more than double that.
Metal Toxicity in Alzheimer’s Patients
Autopsy reports on Alzheimer’s patients found 70% more aluminum in the brain.
Aluminum is a protoplasmic poison and a deadly, persistent neurotoxin. Aluminum is toxin that can cause encephalitis, bone disease and anemia in susceptible people. Though aluminum is less toxic than mercury, arsenic, lead or cadmium, it is a persistent poison and increases the toxicity of other heavy metals.
Since 1934, aluminum hydroxide has been used as an adjuvant to boost the immune response from vaccines.
Many researchers, with good reason, feel that the actual cause of Alzheimer’s disease is due to toxic metals that leache from mercury-silver amalgam dental fillings. Dr. Boyd Haley, Dr. Murray Vimy, a dental researcher from the University of Calgary, Canada, and member of the World Health Organization (WHO), and Dr. Fritz L. Lorscheider reasoned that because mercury vapor from amalgam fillings is absorbed into the sinuses and goes through the blood stream directly to the brain it also is a basic cause of Alzheimer’s.
In 1998 Julie Varner and two colleagues published research on the effects of aluminum-fluoride and sodium-fluoride on the nervous system of rats. They concluded, “Chronic administration of aluminum-fluoride and sodium-fluoride in the drinking water of rats resulted in distinct morphological alterations of the brain, including the effects on neurons and cerebrovasculature.” Fluoride, lead and aluminum together can be thought of as a devils triangle that act not only to reinforce each other’s toxicity but also to greatly amplify the toxicity of mercury.
What is happening with Alzheimer’s in the United States is not typical of what is going on in the rest of the world writes Lynn Landes, an investigative reporter. “Americans account for 25% of all Alzheimer’s cases, even though we represent only 4.6% of the world’s population. Europe is experiencing half our rate of the disease. For Americans over 85 years of age, 50% are thought to have Alzheimer’s. Fluoride is possibly the missing link that does greatly accelerate the progression of the disease. America’s drinking water is now over 60% fluoridated. Fluoride appears in many processed foods and beverages made with fluoridated water. Keep in mind, Europe has half our rate of Alzheimer’s. They don’t fluoridate their water supplies, but they do use fluoride supplements in dental products.”
Blood Brain Barrier and Magnesium in Alzheimer’s Patients
Normally, the brain is protected from toxic substances by a membrane, the blood-brain barrier (BBB). However, because aluminum seems to be concentrated in brain tissue of Alzheimer’s victims, it is assumed that there must be a defect in the barrier system permitting aluminum to enter.
Magnesium seems to be the culprit. In certain animal studies, a lack of magnesium was found to reduce the protection of the blood brain barrier making it easier other substances, specifically aluminum, to enter the brain. Magnesium has an important role and researchers at the BBB think this metal protects brain tissue against the effects of cerebral ischemia, brain injury and stroke through its actions as a calcium antagonist and inhibitor of excitatory amino acids.
Magnesium is essential in regulating central nervous system excitability thus magnesium-deficiency may cause aggressive behavior, depression, or suicide. Magnesium calms the brain and people do not need to become severely deficient in magnesium for the brain to become hyperactive. One study confirmed earlier reports that a marginal magnesium intake overexcites the brain’s neurons and results in less coherence–creating cacophony rather than symphony–according to electroencephalogram (EEG) measurements.
Dr. J.L. Glick in 1990 showed a significant decrease in the frequency of intracellular magnesium deposits in neurons of Alzheimer disease patients as compared with control patients. Dr. Glick suggests that Alzheimer’s disease involves a defective transport process characterized by both an abnormally low Mg incorporation and an abnormally high Al incorporation into brain neurons.
According to Dr. Axe magnesium deficiency is one of the leading nutrient deficiencies in adults with an estimated 80 percent being deficient in this vital mineral — it’s a good idea to consider taking magnesium supplements regularly and eating magnesium-rich foods.
Medical Marijuana to the Rescue?
Extremely low levels of the compound in marijuana known as delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, may slow or halt the progression of Alzheimer’s disease, a study from neuroscientists at the University of South Florida shows.
In a Feb. 2005 issue of The Journal of Neuroscience researchers discovered that many Alzheimer’s patients lose the function of important cannabinoid brain receptors, which seem to guard against cognitive decline. They further discovered in a rat study involving synthetic marijuana that when these brain receptors were working, they reduced the brain inflammation that is associated with Alzheimer’s.
Research from the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, California, reveals that THC can block the formation of brain clogging amyloid plaque in parts of the brain important for memory and cognition. Dr. Kim Janda showed that THC preserves brain levels of the key neurotransmitter acetylcholine. Janda’s group reported in the journal Molecular Pharmaceutics their experiments showing that THC prevents formation of the amyloid plaques that are a hallmark of AD and its damage to the brain.
Toxins And Our Environment
Since 1970, over 80,000 new chemicals have been introduced and are soaking our environment, our children and you. And yes! the FDA and EPA allow it. These industries are, to a great extent, unregulated. To learn more about toxins in your home and body and your children, check out The Toxic Truth. The magnitude of the problem will astound you.
Did This Help You learn about “Alzheimer’s and Your Health” If yes, I would greatly appreciate it if you commented below and shared on Facebook.
“I Teach You the Marketing, Mindset and Sales Strategies to Make More Money and Follow Your Passion!”Alzheimer's and Your Health Click To Tweet
Please feel free to connect with me and let’s explore working together.