Alzheimer’s Disease is the sixth leading cause of death in the US. One in three seniors dies from Alzheimer’s or another dementia. (Source)
Does the possibility of getting Alzheimer’s disease frighten you? Do you believe it’s an inevitable part of the aging process?
There is a difference between Alzheimer’s and dementia, so let’s clear that up first.
What is Dementia?
For the record, according to Mayo Clinic, “The term dementia refers to a set of symptoms, not the disease itself.” Symptoms may include loss of recent memory, poor judgement and cognitive impairment that may interfere with relationships and day-to-day activities. A person with dementia doesn’t necessarily have Alzheimers, but Azheimer’s is diagnosed in two-thirds of people with dementia.
Some types of dementia are progressive, such as Alzheimer’s, but some forms can be halted and even reversed. And just so you know, you can develop dementia from a vitamin deficiency – yet another reason why I’m so passionate about natural health & wellness.
What is Alzheimer’s Disease?
The statistics on Alzheimer’s are quite alarming. The risk of getting the disease after age 70 increases significantly and some say around 50% of people over the age of 85 are affected. Given the large Baby Boomer population this could be a massive healthcare crisis in a few years!
From Medicinenet.com, “Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is a slowly progressive disease of the brain that is characterized by impairment of memory and eventually by disturbances in reasoning, planning, language, and perception. Many scientist believe that Alzheimer’s disease results from an increase in the production or accumulation of a specific protein (beta-amyloid protein) in the brain that leads to nerve cell death.”
Symptoms of Alzheimer’s Disease (AD)
For more comprehensive information on this debilitating disease check out the Alzheimer’s Disease Education and Referral Center from the National Institute on Aging. Here are some common warning signs of AD from the 2012 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures:
- Memory loss that disrupts daily life.
- Challenges in planning or solving problems.
- Difficulty completing familiar tasks at home, at work or at leisure.
- Confusion with time or place.
- Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships.
- New problems with words in speaking or writing.
- Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps.
- Decreased or poor judgement.
- Withdrawal from work or social activities.
- Changes in mood and personality.
9 Risk factors for Alzheimer’s (AD)
Okay now, before you freak out like I did and worry that your forgetfulness is a sign of AD, take a deep breath and keep reading. Here are the risk factors:
Age is the greatest risk factor and “the risk of developing the disease doubles every five years after age 65.”
2. Inherited Genes
Early-onset Alzheimer’s is found in people as young as the 30’s and 40’s. Only 2-5% of individuals with AD get this familial form of the disease and it’s caused by one of three known inherited genes from your parents.
3. The APOE Gene
Late-onset AD is most common and there are a few identified “risk-factor genes.” One of them is apolipoptotein E (APOE) and it has three forms (also called alleles (ε2, ε3, ε4). About 25-30% of the population carries the APOE ε4, but if you have the gene, it doesn’t mean you’re going to get AD. The article above also states: “Genetic testing cannot predict who will or will not develop late-onset Alzheimer’s disease.
Diabetics and prediabetic have a higher risk for AD.
5. Blood Pressure
High Blood pressure (hypertension)
6. Heart Health
Coronary artery diseases increase the risk of AD.
Elevated cholesterol levels put you at higher risk of developing AD.
If you’re always depressed this may increase your risks for AD.
Are you at risk? Even if you are, there are things you can do to protect your brain.
9. Lyme Disease
Yes, you read that correctly. Autopsies have revealed that many who supposedly died from AD, actually died from Lyme disease. From LymeDisease.org, “Chronic spirochetal infection can cause slowly progressive dementia, brain atrophy and amyloid deposition in late neurosyphilis.” Here’s more from PubMed on frontal type dementia associated with Lyme disease. Since the CDC just dramatically raised the number of annual Lyme cases to 300,000, then the Lyme-Alzheimer’s connection should not be readily dismissed!
10 Ways to Slow or Reverse Alzheimer’s
I may get some flack on a few of these, but here goes….
Get your body moving. A sedentary lifestyle is bad for umpteen reasons, but according to Mayo Clinic, people who keep physically active are at lower risk for mental decline and AD.
2. Take a quality B-complex daily
3. Manage your blood sugar levels
Change your diet – if you are diabetic or pre-diabetic, get off the sugar and processed foods. People with diabetes have up to a 65% greater chance of getting AD. In this article from Mercola.com, Alzheimer’s is sometimes referred to as Type-3 Diabetes. Try cutting wheat out of your diet – it’s a huge insulin spiker! Ignore the USDA food pyramid – too much emphasis on grains! Here’s a food pyramid that will keep you healthy.
4. Stop smoking
This is no-brainer, but smokers are at greater risk.
5. Lower your blood pressure
Do this under the care of a licensed healthcare practitioner, but remember there are natural ways to do this.
6. Lose weight
Studies show overweight people are at higher risk for AD. (Source)
7. Lower your cholesterol
If you follow the steps above, it your blood pressure should come down naturally, unless you have a genetic disorder.
8. Watch your pH levels
If your body is more alkaline, you will reduce inflammation significantly and inflammation is the greatest precursor to heart disease, elevated cholesterol, etc.
9. Get to the root cause of your depression.
Depressioncan be affected by nutritional deficiencies, diet, hormones, etc. See our post on The Food on Mood Connection. Find someone who will help you get to the cause of your depression, not just your symptoms.
10. Stop getting flu shots!
They don’t work, they’re full of mercury and aluminum, a neurotoxin, and may increase your risk for AD.
What Else Can I Do to Help Delay, Prevent, or Reduce Alzheimer’s?
- Make a good coconut oil part of your daily diet. There have been some amazing studies that show the benefits of coconut oil in treating AD. It would be worth your time to watch this educational video from Mary Newport, MD. Her husband made significant improvement with the introduction of coconut oil in his diet.
- In addition to the B vitamins, cat’s claw has shown promise in the treatment of AD. Turmeric also has also been a proven supplement in the battle against AD. Here’s additional information from Dr. Mercola on the antioxidant alpha lipoic acid (ALA) and vitamin D, which have shown to dramatically lessen the progression of the disease.
I don’t know about you, but as a Baby Boomer, I think it’s time to take Alzheimer’s disease seriously, and I hope you will, too!
References and Additional Resources:
http://nccam.nih.gov/health/catclaw – Cat’s Claw: Science and Safety
http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa1215740#.Ug2f_lQJl48.facebook – Glucose Levels and Risk of Dementia