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Some Factors in Alzheimer’s Disease

Sixty years ago Alzheimer’s disease (Alz ) was rare. A few people 40 to 60 had memory loss and confusion–symptoms like the dementia of the elderly, often related to hardening of the arteries. Now, 5 million Americans have Alz. It seems to start later and some doctors say that half of those over 85 will get it. There are characteristic plaques and tangles in the cerebral cortex as well as a general shrinkage of the brain. No single cause and no cure are known. Toxic chemicals in the environment and years of poor food choices might be to blame.

Over a third of Alz patients also have type II diabetes. Insulin resistance doesn’t give the brain enough glucose and a low fat diet doesn’t let it burn fat. Dr. David Perlmutter in his book Grain Brain says 40% of 9000 subjects on high carbohydrate fast food had depression, anxiety and symptoms of early Alz. Trans-fats in margarine and manufactured food cause stiff cell walls in blood vessels in your heart and in your brain. Stress hormones and nicotine that raise your blood pressure can cause lesions in arteries and lead to atherosclerosis. Your brain cells might not get enough oxygen. Michael Downey in Life Extension, Feb, 2015, cites a study showing a 20% lower blood flow in the brains of Alz patients. He cites other studies where vinpocetine (from periwinkle) can increase blood flow to the brains of Alz patients and improve their brain functions. Vigorous exercise also brings more blood to the brain.

Dr. Glenn Rothfeld in Nutrition & Healing, July, 2015, says that Alz patients have three times the amount of mercury in their brains as do others. Most mercury comes from industries that burn coal (48 tons of mercury go into the air every year.) This is a big reason to phase out coal burning for generating electricity much sooner than 2030.

Aaron Reuben in Mother Jones, July-Aug, 2015, cites research linking the tiny particles from diesel exhaust to brain disease. These micro-particles can travel directly from the lining of the nose up nerves to the brain. Autopsies of children in Mexico City showed their brains had beta amyloid, a chemical found in Alz brains. A Harvard study of 19,000 retired US nurses noted that those exposed to particles in smog lost cognitive abilities faster than those in cleaner air.

Dr. Rothfield says in Aug.,2015, that one way to prevent Alz is getting enough sleep. He cites research by sleep biologist Dr. Nedergaard who found that toxic waste products in the brain, such as beta amyloid, were removed from the cerebrospinal fluid twice as fast in the sleeping brains as in waking brains of several animal species.

The wide-spread use of statins, anti-cholesterol drugs, might be a factor in the increase of Alz. Brain cells are constantly being replaced. Most of the brain is made of cholesterol so it’s necessary to have enough. Depression is a known side-effect of statin drugs. Dr. Dale Peterson says there’s no evidence that a low fat diet and lowered blood cholesterol can even prevent deaths from heart disease. He advises eating real food to keep both the heart and brain healthy.

Prevention is better than treatment. Aricept, a drug for Alz, is said to cost $24.6 billion per year with no guarantee it will slow its progression. We can’t all live like the Amish, with lots of exercise in clean air, natural foods like healthy animal fats, and enough sleep. However, we can avoid pollutants and not eat manufactured food and that from factory farms.

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Fewer Americans Should Use Statins

A recent report by doctors who believe in lowering cholesterol with statins said that even though 30% of adults now take statins, it should be more. Heart disease is indeed the biggest killer of both men and women but it hasn’t gone down in over 20 years of statin use. Shouldn’t doctors look at conditions that correlate better with cardiovascular disease than cholesterol does?
A high CRP (C-Reactive Protein) level is a better predictor of heart attacks. CRP can show that inflammation, a collection of certain white blood cells, is present. This may indicate micro-injuries in the walls of blood vessels. Factors that cause the cell walls to be stiff and prone to injury include trans-fats (artificially hydrogenated vegetable oils) and the formation of AGEs (Advanced Glycation End-products) when sugars attach on to the proteins in cell walls. This occurs when blood sugar gets too high after a person has too much sugar. The average American used 100 pounds per year in 1970 and now has over 150 pounds of sweeteners per year.
When blood pressure rises in these less flexible vessels after smoking or from stress, then micro-injuries occur, patched by cholesterol along with certain white blood cells. Sometimes these collections are easily oxidized and break off to lodge in the heart as a heart attack or in the brain as a stroke.
Cholesterol does not cause heart attacks. It is necessary for life and is the major substance in your brain. No wonder that depression is one of the side effects of too low cholesterol. Your body uses cholesterol to make sex hormones and vitamin D and is important in all cells. Your liver does make excess LDL-cholesterol from high-fructose corn syrup, so avoid food and drink with this sugar. Raise your good HDL-cholesterol by exercise and eating organic saturated fat.
Side effects of statins include muscle pain and weakness. They are not benign. Statins not only block the liver’s ability to make cholesterol but also co-enzyme Q10, important in many cellular reactions. Most Americans are not the rare persons with faulty genes and cholesterol levels over 600 who prefer statins to niacin to lower their cholesterol.
Be naturally healthy by eating only organic animal fats or vegetable oils and avoiding trans-fats and too many sugars.

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Information on Oils and Fats Can be Wrong

Most health advisers now recommend olive oil because it is not easily oxidized. However one Health Letter says it is inferior to corn oil soybean oil and other salad oils because it doesn’t contain omega-6 fatty acids. What?

The American diet already has way too much omega-6 oils, often twenty times as much as the omega-3 oils from fatty fish or flax seed. Ideally it would be a one to one ratio or at most three to one. You could get this from eating nuts. Excess omega-6 oils can become excess arachidonic acid which harms the immune system. Dr. Bob Arnot in his book for the breast cancer survivor advises against any omega-6 oils as well as no sugar to prevent a recurrence of the cancer

Canola oil, another mono-unsaturated oil might not be as healthy as olive oil because it is from a field crop, rape seed. This might contain insecticides. Cotton seed oil should always be avoided because of the many insecticides used in growing cotton. It was one of the first oils hydrogenated to make margarine. When the medical community finally accepted that hydrogenated oils made harmful trans-fats the oil companies kept markets by selling more salad oils. Oils and fats can absorb insecticides. Olive trees have existed for hundreds of years without insecticides.

A reader of another Health Letter asks the question: Are trans-fats from animals as bad as those from oils? Animals produce natural saturated fats, not trans-fats. Animal fats have been used by humans for millennia and caused no harm. Only in the last sixty years have they become harmful—because of their content of insecticides and other toxic substances especially when animals are raised in factory farms.

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