Today is World Alzheimer’s Day!
It’s a day on which Alzheimer’s organizations around the world concentrate their efforts on raising awareness about Alzheimer’s and dementia. Events are happening in multiple cities throughout the month of September where people come together to remember a loved one or a friend who has or had died from Alzheimer’s and help raise money for the cause. A diagnosis of Alzheimer’s is not ever something someone wants to hear.
We can’t go back in time, but I sure wish I knew then what I know now. You see, we lost my husband’s sweet mother to Alzheimer’s, so we sadly know first hand more than we ever wanted to know about this insidious disease. It was terrible watching her seemingly fade away, not remember who people were, and eventually unable to ever dress herself. At the time there was no hope – nothing that could be done. That’s changed!
This blog post is longer than I usually write, but important information cannot always be covered in just a couple paragraphs and this topic is too important to gloss over. As we’ve been exploring the steps we can take to avoid Alzheimer’s, I came across important information and a book about breakthrough research that I am compelled to share with everyone!
So let’s get started!
What is Alzheimer’s?
Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia, a group of disorders that impairs mental functioning. Surveys have shown that there is something that Americans fear more than death…more than cancer. It is Alzheimer’s disease. For most of us, losing our personhood–those characteristics, which makes us who we are–is a fate worse than death.
Named after Alois Alzheimer, a German psychiatrist and neuropathologist, who discovered the pathological condition of dementia in 1906, Alzheimer’s is a disease that affects the function of the brain by causing the brain’s neurons and synapses to degenerate, resulting in cognitive decline and eventual death.
The first symptoms of the disease usually show up as forgetfulness, but as it worsens, more long-term memory loss occurs, along with other symptoms such as mood swings, irritability, the inability to function with day-to-day self-care. The progression of the disease leads to eventual death. No one should have to die from this disease.
Nothing, including the latest drugs, has been able to stop, slow, or reverse the progression. While strides have been made to cure other diseases, Alzheimer’s has been incurable. Until recently, there has been no hope for a cure. Today, there is hope: more than 200 patients have been successfully treated with a new protocol, developed by Dr. Dale E. Bredesen. [i]
Is Alzheimer’s Inevitable?
Alzheimer’s affects 5.3 million Americans, and it is predicted that by 2050, 1 in 8 Americans will be stricken with it. The Medicare system spends three times as much on Alzheimer’s treatment as it does on any other disease.
Because of the prevalence of Alzheimer’s disease in our country, many people view it as a normal and inevitable part of the aging process.
But this is not so.
In fact, in spite of it being so common in America, there are societies in which dementia and Alzheimer’s is rare, even for people in their 90’s and beyond. The elders in these cultures maintain clear thinking without the burden of dementia that we have come to associate with aging.
“Alzheimer’s disease does not arise from the brain failing to function as it evolved to.”
– Dale Bredesen, M.D.
In fact, as Dr. Bredesen’ breakthrough research proves, Alzheimer’s is a disease that is actually the result of a protective response in the brain.
Now there’s light at the end of the tunnel!
This is exciting news!
In his new book, “The End of Alzheimer’s” released just this year, Dr. Dale E. Bredesen, an internationally recognized “expert in the mechanisms of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s” shares how Alzheimer’s disease and cognitive decline can not only be prevented but, in many cases, be reversed. My husband and I are reading this book together. While we haven’t yet finished reading it, we have grasped what Dr. Bredesen’s research and protocols have proved, that Alzheimer’s is not just one condition as it is currently treated. His book goes into detail about the three causes, the biochemical markers, and explains the risks of the gene ApoE4.
The newest research of Alzheimer’s has shown that this is not a single disease but is “actually three distinguishable syndromes.” According to Dr. Bredesen and his research team, there are many different mechanisms that can result in Alzheimer’s affecting people in different ways and at different ages. Understanding where you are out of balance and how to rebalance these mechanisms by “adjusting lifestyle factors, including micronutrients, hormone levels, stress, exercise, and sleep quality, can make a huge difference – in the prevention and the reversal of Alzheimer’s!”
Following are some steps you can take right now to start protecting yourself from getting Alzheimer’s. According to Dr. Bredesen’s research and successful treatment protocol, ReCODE, “so many of the conditions that increase our risk for Alzheimer’s disease – from prediabetes and obesity to vitamin D deficiency and a sedentary lifestyle – are the result of what and how much we eat and exercise. The basics for addressing each neurothreat include: prevent and reduce inflammation; optimize hormones, trophic factors[ii], and nutrients; and, eliminate toxins.”
So what do you focus on specifically to address Alzheimer’s?
1. Eat a healthy diet
Diet also plays a crucial role. Eating a diet consisting of a variety of fresh, whole and primarily plant-based foods is key to providing your body with the nutrients it needs to thrive. Limiting or eliminating processed and artificial sugars, fast food, and processed foods will be a bonus!
The best diet for preventing dementia is one that is very low in animal-derived foods and high in fresh plant foods. As an overview, highly beneficial foods to consume frequently in your diet, according to Dr. Bredesen’s protocol for prevention, include:
- Cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts
- Leafy green vegetables
- Resistant starches, such as sweet potatoes, rutabagas, parsnips, green bananas
- Probiotic foods like sauerkraut and kimchi
- Prebiotic foods such as jicama and leeks
- Sulfur-containing vegetables, such as onions and garlic
- Herbal teas, black tea, green tea
He suggests the following foods to avoid: Sugar and simple carbohydrates (pasta, rice, cookies, soda, etc.), grains, gluten, dairy (organic cheese, whole or raw milk, or plain yogurt is okay occasionally), processed foods (packaged with a list of ingredients), high mercury fish (tuna, shark, swordfish), fruits with high glycemic index such as pineapple.
Wait! What about coffee and wine? These are on the “eat less frequently” list! Wine is limited to a few times a week. Coffee is on Dr. Bredesen’s “yellow light” list, as are pasture-raised chicken, grassfed beef, fruits with low glycemic values, legumes, and nightshades – eat these in moderation. More information is in Dr. Bredesen’s book!
Anti-oxidants neutralize free radicals. This is important because free radicals are in part responsible for the damage that causes dementia. Avoiding Inflammation is critical as inflammation greatly affects the brains synapses. And, high insulin and high glucose are two of the most important risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease.
A healthy diet also helps you avoid other health problems such as obesity, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, and arteriosclerosis. In another study cited by Robbins, researchers found that persons who are obese in middle age are twice as likely to develop dementia in their later years as those people who had normal weights. Further, if these people also have high cholesterol and high blood pressure, their risk for dementia in old age escalates to six times higher than normal weight people!
2. Get plenty of physical exercise
Diet is not the only thing that can reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s disease. In his book, Healthy at 100: The Scientifically Proven Secrets of the World’s Healthiest and Longest-Lived Peoples, John Robbins cites study after study that demonstrate the stunning effect of exercise on the brain’s ability to function well, even at advanced ages.
In one such study, documented in the Archives of Neurology (March 2001), it was found that the people with the highest activity levels were only half as likely as inactive people to develop Alzheimer’s. Further, these active people were also substantially less likely to develop any form of dementia or impairment in mental functioning.
In another study[iii], some mice were bred to develop the type of plaque that is associated with Alzheimer’s in their brains. Some of the mice were allowed to exercise and some were not.
Two important findings emerged.
- The mice that exercised developed 50-80 percent less plaque in their brains that the non-exercising mice developed.
- The exercising mice produced more of the enzyme that prevents the buildup of plaque in the brain.
Not only does research validate the benefits of exercise, it shows that sitting is detrimental to physical/cardiovascular health, as well as cognitive health!
The takeaway? People who exercise regularly are less likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease or any other kind of dementia than people who are sedentary. Be sure to combine aerobic exercise like, walking or jogging, spinning or dancing, with weight training!
3. Avoid toxins!
Exposure to neurotoxins also play a role in Alzheimer’s since the protective response can lead to losing critical cognitive abilities. When our body is exposed to high levels of toxic substances such as metals or biotoxins (from molds), everything is at risk, especially the brain!
Avoiding toxins is just darn good for your health. There are plenty of non-toxic options…more to come on that in a future blog!
What are you waiting for?
Start now to defend yourself against health issues of all kinds: get moving, avoid toxins, and eat a truly healthy diet, consuming organics as much as possible. You will reap the benefits literally for years to come!
If you or a loved one suspects they might have symptoms of Alzheimer’s, I strongly encourage you to get a copy of Dr. Bredesen’s “The End of Alzheimer’s” to learn more. You’ll discover that unlike what was previously thought, the amyloidal response that causes plaque is a defense mechanism of the brain. It’s important to know the cause of our brain trying to defend itself so the causation factors can be removed. Dr. Bredesen’s book also goes into detail about ApoE5, the strongest known genetic factor for Alzheimer’s disease, which increases the risk for Alzheimer’s by 30-50%.
The earlier a proper evaluation is done to identify and correct the causes of synapse loss and cognitive decline, the better the chances someone has to avoid full blown Alzheimer’s. Dr. Bredesen’s book provides resources for proper evaluation and detailed understanding of the approach to the ReCODE protocol, including over 200 peer-reviewed publications. Seek medical attention if you are experiencing symptoms of cognitive decline. Even if you don’t have memory issues now, you probably know someone who does. And, I’d read it anyway – the American diet and lifestyle is the perfect recipe for many health related problems, including Alzheimer’s.
How to get started with a focus on healthy and mindful eating program!
A focus on healthy and mindful eating is the first place to start to improve and set yourself up for long-term health. Not sure how to really get started? It’s all baby steps – one step at a time. Find out more about my Focus on Healthy Eating Program. I am launching this 12-week course as a pilot program on October 24. You can find out more here www.katmaeda.com/focus-on-healthy-eating – join my special VIP list for additional details and special registration discount!
Note: If you are interested in reading The End of Alzheimer’s,” by Dale E. Bredesen, M.D., it’s available at local bookstores and Amazon.com. I am promoting this book for educational purposes as it may save someone from suffering or dying from Alzheimer’s; I do not make any affiliate fees or commission on the sale of this book.
[i] “The End of Alzheimer’s” by Dale E. Bredesen, M.D, copyright 2017
[ii] Helper molecules that allow a neuron to develop and maintain connections with its neighbors are called trophic factors
This article is for information and educational purposes only and is not meant to diagnose, treat, or cure illness. If you have concerns about your cognitive or physical health, seek medical attention from a licensed medical practitioner.