Untangling The Mystery of Alzhimers
By Wendy Wells, NMD.
- Defining Alzheimer's
- Early Symptoms
- Causes and Risks
- Things You Can Do
Estimates show by the year 2030, 20% of people over 65 will have dementia, or Alzheimer's Disease. 
Darker areas show higher AD rates.
- 5.4 million people in the US have Alzheimer's today
- 6th Leading Cause of Death in Americans
- 15 Million Unpaid Caregivers of Alzheimer's patients
- 1 in 3 seniors dies with Alzheimer's, dementia
- Alzheimer's is virtually non-existent in India 
Amyloid burden over time. Cortical mapping Br. J. Radiology
We don't know for sure. What we DO know is what helps prevent Alzheimer's Disease and what increases your risk. Here's a short list I've compiled from the research:
Neurofibrillary Tangles - Twisted fragments of tau protein within nerve cells, limiting cell to cell communication. 
Neuritic Plaques - Disrupts regulation of calcium channel, leads to abnormal clusters of dead and dying nerve cells, called beta-amyloid deposits. 
Senile Plaques - Areas where products of dying nerve cells have accumulated around proteins found in brain. 
Insulin resistance - Beta-amyloid proteins cause neuron to loss insulin receptors, interfering with it's signaling pathway. 
Amyloid Fibrils - Excess accumulation of amyloid fibrils are believed to be a toxic form of the protein responsible for disrupting the cell's calcium ion homeostasis, inducing programmed cell death. 
Inflammation - Inflammatory processes are general markers of tissue damage in any disease. 
- Diet with high amounts of meat, dairy, processed foods, white flour 
- Eating non-organic foods 
- Living near high power lines , 
- Having a high level of homocysteine in your blood 
- Having diabetes, consuming high amounts of sugar/carbs 
- History of head trauma 
- Being female , [16a]
- Having high blood pressure for a long time 
- Exposure to heavy metals , [18a], [18b], [18c]
- Eating artificial butter flavoring 
- Having the APOE e4 gene (can be checked with blood test) APOE ε4 is present in about 25 to 30 percent of the population and in about 40 percent of all people with late-onset Alzheimer's. 
- Regular physical activity 
- Sound sleep 
- Engaging in intellectual activities 
- More about Neurogenesis and new brain cell growth
- Playing a musical instrument,  board games, completing crossword puzzles
Early Symptoms of Alzheimer's
"Where Are My Keys?"
This question, repeated often, may be an early sign of Alzheimer's.
The first signs of Alzheimer's include:
- Depression, irritability, confusion, forgetfulness
- Difficulty performing thought tasks that used to come easily
- Getting lost on familiar routes
- Language problems; trouble finding the name of familiar objects
- Losing interest in things previously enjoyed
- Misplacing items
- Personality changes and loss of social skills
- Secondary Insomnia can be a symptom or a side-effect of Alzheimer's and Parkinson's.
How Is Alzheimer's Different From Dementia?
Often Alzheimer's onset can be as early as age 45, where Dementia onset is usually age 70+. Dementia is a symptom of Alzheimer's, and also a symptom of many other conditions including:
- Blood clots in the brain
- Drug side effect
- Head injury 
What You Can Do?
The onset of Alzheimer's disease is easily evaluated and can respond to treatments, especially if detected early. Here are some guidelines that I offer to patients wanting to prevent even the earliest signs of Alzheimer's.
Getting Tested: A Clear Way Forward
If you suspect early signs of Alzheimer's, then I recommend taking the SAGE test. It's a written exam that checks for mental acuity. See: SAGE: Mental Acuity Test.
Targeting the right tests and accurately interpreting their results are essential to providing clear steps forward for you, and your doctor. Accredited naturopath physicians are uniquely qualified to provide the right tests, helping you to make wise, timely, and affordable health decisions.
- Mental status testing: Alzheimer's Reading Room.com Test Your Memory for Alzheimer's
- APOE e4 Genetic Marker Test
- Heavy Metal Urine Challenge Test
- Homocysteine Blood Test - More about Lowering Homocysteine
- Brain Imaging
- Neurological Tests
To minimize risks it's important to start early. Promising results are possible with the combination of "exercise, mental training, diet, and behavioral weight management." 
Here are some simple Alzheimer's prevention tips:
- Exercise - Practice Yoga 
- Meditation - [26a] Dhyan Vimal Masters Breath Meditation
- Get a good night's sleep 
Get Active, Stay Active
Join a group, learn a new language, play crossword puzzles, volunteer at your local shelter. Research shows that learning and engaging in activities, especially later in life, helps maintain a healthier brain. 
Nutritional Foods: Reducing Alzheimer's Risks
In India, very few people get Alzheimer's disease. Why is this?
American Journal of Epidemiology in 2006 entitled "Curry consumption and cognitive function in the elderly." In this study, they investigated the association between the curry consumption and cognitive level in 1,010 Asians between 60 and 93 years of age. The study found that those who ate curry once a month or more scored better on cognitive tests than those who ate curry rarely or never. Curry contains turmeric a potent anti-inflammatory. 
ANSWER: Low calorie, low carb diet, including super foods that are dense in nutrients.
The Mediterranean diet emphasizes high quality fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts, legumes, unrefined cereals, olive oil, fermented dairy products such as yogurt and natural cheese, and fresh fish as daily staples. Red meat is limited to about one meal a month; poultry, eggs and sweets are not daily fare - they're eaten about once a week. Moderate amounts of red wine can be part of the diet. 
- Eat whole foods, organic 
- Minimize red meat, dairy, white flour and sugar. Include (wild-caught) fish in your diet
- Include organic coconut oil (2 tbsps/day) and curry into your kitchen
- Consume high amounts of anti-oxidants daily 
- Take a high quality multi vitamin and oil supplement daily
- Eat curry
Coconut Oil Reverses Alzheimer's
One theory of AD is that it is caused by insulin resistance of the brain. The brain is not getting the fuel it needs via the standard glucose pathways. Our second way of getting glucose is via "ketone bodies" which are made by burning fat. 
Coconut oil produces ketone bodies when the fats in the oil are digested by the body. Ketone bodies serve to provide dearly needed "fuel" and energy to the brain when glucose levels are low, as in the case of Alzheimer's patients. Recommended dose is 1 tablespoon per day. Add to low heat stir-fry, smoothie, or morning hot cereal. See video: Coconut oil benefits affecting Alzheimer's disease.
In 2011 the British Journal of Nutrtition a study showed the positive affects of young coconut juice on Alzhimers disease, not just coconut oil. [32a]http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21114897
Three Key Nutrients - Supplements for Alzheimer's
1. Folate / Folic Acid High levels of this amino acid in the blood have been linked to reducing Alzheimer's disease, creating plaque that is less toxic, or inflammatory. In the Nov 2004, Journal of Neurological Science, results showed patients with low folic acid levels had abnormalities in brain in the hippocampus and amygdala. , 
Folic acid is derived exclusively from plant-based foods like green and leafy vegetables. Think leafy greens and beans.
- Black-eyed peas
- Great northern white beans and other legumes
Research studies emphasize an additional risk factor for dementia & alzheimer's: High levels of homocysteine.
"The risk of getting (Alzheimer's) was 3.3 times greater among people whose blood folic acid levels were in the lowest one-third range and 4.5 times greater when blood homocysteine levels were in the highest one-third". - Clarke, et. al. 
In the November-December 2004 issue of the American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry. It was found that those patients with the highest homocysteine levels have abnormalities, appearing on their brain MRI, known as white matter hyper-intensities, common in patients with dementia. Homocysteine increases the risk of micro and macro vascular disease. Higher homocysteine levels were related to increased strokes, cognitive impairment, and brain atrophy. Getting tested for Homocysteine levels.
Since high levels of homocysteine is directly related to neural tissue damage, the author of this study indicates the lowering of high homocysteine levels should begin early in life. Homocysteine is derived primarily from animal protein, so it's best to limit the consumption of red meat, as homocysteine is derived primarily from animal protein. The following are known to reduce homocysteine levels:
- Folic Acid, B6, B12, Glycine, NAC, and SAMe
2. Vitamin E - A fat-soluble vitamin, may also help fight the formation of plaque buildup seen in Alzheimer's patients. I recommend 400-1000 IU. Taken with 1000mg of vitamin C.
- Sunflower seeds
- Sweet potatoes
- Olive oil
Vitamin E at a dose of 2000 IU/day has been shown to slow the progression of mid-stage AD primarily because it protects cell membranes from oxidative damage. 
A study published in the 2/04 issue of the Archives of Neurology involving 4,740 participants over five-years. It showed those who had been taking vitamin supplements were at a 64 percent lower risk of the disease than those who had not. 
"Our findings suggest that vitamins E and C may offer protection against Alzheimer's disease when taken together in the higher doses available from individual supplements."
A follow-up study on lowering the risk of Alzheimer's disease, published in the Jun 2012 issue of Archives of Neurology, states that a diet omega-3 fatty acids was associated with lower beta-amyloid plasma levels. 
- Cold-water fish such as salmon and sardines
- Flaxseed oil
- Nuts such as walnuts and almonds
Other Nutritional Supplements
Niacin-amide - While the niacin-amide didn't have any effect on the most common marker of Alzheimer's, beta-amyloid, it did cause a 60 percent decrease in another marker, called "tau protein" (one specifically referred to as "Thr231-phospho-tau". 
Lithium aspartate or orotate - In an article he notes "Another well-known cause of brain cell injury is over-activated N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptors. Lithium can inhibit this over activity. And lithium also increases production of a major brain protective protein called "bcl-2" in both human and animal brain cells. 
Alpha Lipoic Acid - In a recent study, people with Alzheimer's disease were given tests that measured thought and memory. They were then given ALA supplements for an average of 11 months. At the end of the study, the participants were tested again. The results showed that every person had higher scores on the thought and memory tests than they had at the beginning. 
Turmeric flower who's roots contain curcumin, studied for it's ability to slow the progression of Alzheimer's. 
Gingko biloba increases antioxidants to brain cells, increases glucose utilization - In studies of individuals with Alzheimer's disease, the results showed that ginkgo slowed down the disease in those severely afflicted and actually improved those with very mild or moderate disease. In one of these studies, ginkgo was compared to four prescription cholinesterase inhibitors, medications commonly used to treat individuals with Alzheimer's disease. Using written mental tests, the researchers found that,
"Ginkgo worked just as effectively as the prescription drugs. While those taking one of the cholinesterase inhibitors dropped out of the study because of disturbing side effects, ginkgo had no side effects and improved symptoms equally as well." , 
Extract from a club moss, Huperzia serrata that has been used for centuries in Chinese folk medicine. Huperzine increases acetylcholine. Alzheimer's disease is a condition where there's a relative shortage of acetylcholine. In China, the studies show that Huperzine works more effectively than drugs for AD.  See: RaySahelian.com
In order to make memories and to learn, our brains need Acetylcholine.
- Reservatrol (Grape seed extract) 
- Cannabinoids - In March 5, 2014 Frontiers in Pharmacology journal presented results about how cannabinoids may target several processes that play key roles in AD, aberrant neurotransmitter processing, chronic inflammatory responses, mitochondrial dysfunction, oxidative stress, and neurogenesis, among others. 
- Curcumin - Scientific World Journal in 2014 shows with how curcumin could be used as a therapeutic agent affecting Dementia. It's best used early in the dementia process, rather than in late stage. 
Always seek the help of an accredited naturopathic physician to guide your process. You may need more extensive treatment, or testing to get to the cause to find relief from your health issue.
AD rates are rising, but the good news is that this disease is preventable, but we have to start early. Right now!
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Article reviewed by Jaspreet Mundeir, ND.
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