When someone you know is struggling with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, it is heartbreaking to watch. They slowly begin to forget or misplace things. You may find keys in the fridge, causing your heart to sink. There is a constant worry that they won’t be able to find their way home. You see the person you know and love fading away… seeming to disappear into themselves. Sadly, Alzheimer’s is now affecting people at earlier and earlier ages –even people in their 40s. This means brain degeneration isn’t just due to aging–it’s due to something else. There may be many causes. The good news is that these causes are something you do something about.
What is Alzheimer’s Disease?
The Alzheimer’s Association explains Alzheimer’s as follows:
Alzheimer’s is the most common cause of dementia, a general term for memory loss and other cognitive abilities serious enough to interfere with daily life. Alzheimer’s disease accounts for 60-80% of dementia cases. Alzheimer’s is not a normal part of aging. The greatest known risk factor is increasing age, and the majority of people with Alzheimer’s are 65 and older. Alzheimer’s disease is considered to be younger-onset Alzheimer’s if it affects a person under 65.
The Alzheimer’s Association also has this to say regarding its progression:
Alzheimer’s worsens over time. Alzheimer’s is a progressive disease, where dementia symptoms gradually worsen over several years. In its early stages, memory loss is mild, but with late-stage Alzheimer’s, individuals lose the ability to carry on a conversation and respond to their environment. On average, a person with Alzheimer’s lives 4 to 8 years after diagnosis but can live as long as 20 years, depending on other factors.
What Causes Alzheimer’s Disease?
Alzheimer’s has long been attributed to plaquing and tangles within the brain. The Alzheimer’s Association explains the plaque and tangles as follows:
Two abnormal structures called plaques and tangles are prime suspects in damaging and killing nerve cells.
- Plaques are deposits of a protein fragment called beta-amyloid (BAY-tuh AM-uh-loyd) that build up in the spaces between nerve cells.
- Tangles are twisted fibers of another protein called tau (rhymes with “wow”) that build up inside cells.
Though autopsy studies show that most people develop some plaques and tangles as they age, those with Alzheimer’s tend to develop far more and in a predictable pattern, beginning in the areas important for memory before spreading to other regions.
Scientists do not know exactly what role plaques and tangles play in Alzheimer’s disease. Most experts believe they somehow play a critical role in blocking communication among nerve cells and disrupting processes that cells need to survive.
It’s the destruction and death of nerve cells that causes memory failure, personality changes, problems carrying out daily activities, and other symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease.
Alzheimer’s, then, is a case of neurological degeneration. The part of the brain cells (neurons) that breaks down is the myelin sheath. The myelin sheath is a fat-protein covering that surrounds the neurons and helps them work fast and well. When the myelin sheath breaks down, the neurons don’t function properly.
How to Slow Alzheimer’s Disease
Treating Alzheimer’s With Medication
The Alzheimer’s Association has the following to say about treating Alzheimer’s:
Alzheimer’s has no cure, but one treatment — aducanumab — is the first therapy to demonstrate that removing amyloid, one of the hallmarks of Alzheimer’s disease, from the brain is reasonably likely to reduce cognitive and functional decline in people living with early Alzheimer’s. Other treatments can temporarily slow the worsening of dementia symptoms and improve quality of life for those with Alzheimer’s and their caregivers.
Alternative Treatments for Alzheimer’s
The Alzheimer’s Association has this to say about alternative treatments:
A growing number of herbal remedies, dietary supplements, and “medical foods” are promoted as memory enhancers or treatments to delay or prevent Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias.
They go on to give a few examples of the supplements and foods, including:
- Caprylic acid and coconut oil
- Omega-3 fatty acids
- Coenzyme Q10
- Coral calcium
- Tramiprosate (homotaurine)
- Huperzine A
- Ginkgo biloba
Many of these nutrients have solid research behind them. Supplements can be a great tool, but it’s even better if you can get your nutrients from whole foods. If you have watched Doc’s videos for a while, you’ll know that he’s a huge supporter of eating organ meats. This is because, for the body to maintain and repair itself, it needs the elements of those processes and organs. For example, eating good quality liver gives the body what it needs to maintain and heal the liver. A few of the above nutrients (omega-3s, coenzyme Q10, and phosphatidylserine) you can find in organ meats. Eating these for your brain and other organs helps keep them functioning properly.
The Wellness Way Approach
At The Wellness Way, we look at Alzheimer’s Disease from A Different Perspective. We believe your body is programmed for health, not illness. If something in the body degenerates, with the right tools, it can usually regenerate to some extent. The body is always trying to heal itself and do what it is supposed to do. Its ability to do so all depends on how we take care of it. We each have a scale–degeneration on one side, regeneration on the other. Are we doing what is needed to help the body regenerate and heal, or are we helping it deteriorate?
To learn more, watch this video, where Dr. Flynn gives his perspective on Alzheimer’s and what you can do to avoid and even reverse the effects of this debilitating illness. One of the most crucial elements to address is inflammation.
If you’ve been reading our articles for any amount of time, you’ll notice that inflammation is a common trend. That is because every physical ailment can be tied back to inflammation. There are a few ways inflammation impacts Alzheimer’s Disease. Let’s start with how it can elevate glutamate levels.
Neurotransmitters are the chemicals in our brains that control how we feel. They are kind of like hormones for the brain. Glutamate is our most excitatory neurotransmitter. To feel happiness or excitement, you need some glutamate in your body. However, a study published in the journal Neuron shows that when you get too much glutamate, it can cause cell death—”apoptosis.”
A study published in Frontiers in Neuroscience shows there is chronic glutamate toxicity in several neurodegenerative diseases. The researchers summarize their findings:
In many neurodegenerative diseases, including HD, AD, and ALS, multilayered evidence suggests that glutamatergic dysregulation is an important contributor to disease pathology although the molecular basis for this varies widely and might be distinct for each disease and most likely does not represent the only pathway that leads to neurodegeneration.
As is the case for estrogens, glutamate is not “bad,” per se. The body makes and needs glutamate, so getting rid of it isn’t the answer. Problems arise when we have excess glutamate that isn’t being broken down or converted. What leads to too much glutamate? Most of your body’s glutamate is produced when there is excess inflammation.
Monosodium Glutamate (MSG) is a synthetic form of this neurotransmitter. Eating too much MSG (which hides under many names) or having too much inflammation in your body can cause excess glutamate in your system, which triggers the death of brain cells.
Cholesterol is often proclaimed to be a bad thing–especially elevated cholesterol. It’s more complicated than that. Your body needs cholesterol, and, statistically, the more cholesterol you have as you get older, the lower your chance of getting a neurodegenerative disease. Therefore, statin drugs–which decrease cholesterol levels–have a negative effect on the brain.
When it comes to the plaquing on the brain that most people believe is the cause of Alzheimer’s, (even though this correlation hasn’t been proven), it is no different. Plaquing, though often said to be caused by cholesterol, isn’t quite so simple. The plaquing is formed when the cholesterol in the body is oxidized–an effect of chronic inflammation.
How to Reduce Inflammation
Inflammation is part of your body’s immune response. To decrease the inflammation in the body, reduce the things that trigger the immune system. Eating food to which you are allergic causes inflammation. So does your normal daily exposure to toxins. However, one of the greatest contributors to Alzheimer’s is insulin resistance, where the body has lost its ability to handle sugar. There’s a reason Alzheimer’s is often referred to as Type 3 Diabetes!
Address Insulin Resistance by Getting Off the Sugar
Insulin resistance and high amounts of sugar have a very degenerative effect on the brain. They cause damage to the hypothalamus and hippocampus, impairing their growth. The hippocampus is known as the memory center of the brain. Cutting your sugar intake improves many aspects of health. Keeping the brain functioning properly is one of them.
Get Your Food Allergies Tested
Every time you have an immune response to food, you’re raising inflammation in your gut and your brain. Many people believe that they would know if they’ve eaten food that “disagrees” with them. Well, an immune response isn’t always noticeable like a digestive response is. You can have an immune response to food and never know it. Eating is something we do three times a day (at least!) every day of the year. If you’re causing inflammation throughout each day of the year by what you eat, no end of supplements will help. That’s why we believe so strongly in getting your food allergies tested ASAP.
Lower Your Exposure to Toxins
Here are some potential sources of toxins to consider:
- Cleaning products: Household cleaners
- Personal Care products: Hair products and dyes, Deodorants, and beauty products
- Foods: GMOs, dyes, the dirty dozen, dairy, and soy
These are all sources of synthetic chemicals that most people don’t think twice about using. Over time, they can build up in the body, leading to inflammation.
Believe it or not, getting an adjustment by a chiropractor also helps reduce inflammation. It also helps calm down the NMDA receptors that glutamate targets. Chiropractic adjustments help promote blood flow, nerve flow, a balanced immune response, and even the production of feel-good hormones and neurotransmitters.
The Wellness Way Can Help
Alzheimer’s is a cruel disease, and it’s hard to watch someone you love struggle with it. The good news is you can fight it by lowering inflammation and giving their body (and yours!) the right nutrients. To get your allergies tested, get adjusted, and find out ways to help your body function properly, contact a Wellness Way clinic, today!