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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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