Can Alzheimer’s be prevented? Yes, says Dale Bredesen MD, author of The End of Alzheimer’s. After 30 years studying brain mechanisms in a lab, Dr. Bredesen and team started treating people in 2012 and show that symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease can be prevented and reversed.[su_expanding_quote_without_link alignment=”full” source=”Dale Bredesen MD” full_quote=”What we call Alzheimer’s is the activation of our evolutionarily immune system. Alzheimer’s is associated with something called amyloid that was thought to be a destructive response. But amyloid plaques are actually a sign that the brain is working to protect itself, it’s a protective response to chronic inflammation from different factors such as eating too much sugar and trans fats, exposure to toxins like pesticides, air pollution, mercury exposure from fish. These factors cause our brain’s protective mechanism to produce amyloid. By incessantly activating our innate immune system, we are driving ourselves toward Alzheimer’s. ” short_quote=”By incessantly activating our innate immune system, we are driving ourselves toward Alzheimer’s.”]
I was fascinated to hear Dr. Bredesen on the Food Revolution Summit . These notes condense an hour-long interview, and I hope ignite interest in learning more about his work and the prevention of cognitive decline.
Alzheimer’s is not an “old age” disease. It should be a rare disease. Autopsies on people over 100 years old typically do not show Alzheimer’s disease. Just as the standard American diet and lifestyle contribute to cardiovascular disease, they contribute to cognitive decline.
Dr. Bredesen identified 36 biochemical combinations that contribute to Alzheimer’s and developed a program that can help prevent Alzheimers. My birds-eye view:
- Eat an optimal diet
- Reduce toxins in the body
- Meditation / stress management
- Get a cognoscopy after age 45
Eat an optimal diet
- Eliminate simple carbohydrates, gluten, and processed foods
- Primarily plant based; raw and cooked vegetables in as many colors as possible.
- Can eat meat – grass-fed beef or pastured poultry – but consider it a condiment
- Low-mercury fish: salmon, mackerel, anchovies, sardines, and herring
- If we choose to be vegetarian or a vegan, adequateB12 intake is vital. Low B12 levels are strongly associated with elevated risks for dementia. Low vitamin D levels are also associated with significant cognitive decline.
- Toxins are a common contributor to cognitive decline, and we’re exposed to literally hundreds of toxic chemicals on a daily basis, including heavy metals and endocrine disrupting agents. Dr. Bredesen identified a type 3 Alzheimer’s disease due to toxin exposure that represents about 20 percent of overall Alzheimer’s cases.
- Reduce gut inflammation and optimize microbiome function
- Regularly eat detoxifying plants such as cruciferous (cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts) and greens (kale, collards, arugula, bok choy.) to help our bodies eliminate toxins. Ancestral humans ate 100 grams per day, modern humans eat 15 grams per day. Sugar intake has increased dramatically while at the same time we’ve reduced our intake of soluble and insoluble fiber
- Go at least 12 hours between last meal at night and the first meal the next morning to enable our brain’s self-repair abilities
Sleep seven to eight hours
- Sleep is vital to cognitive support and optimization.
- During sleep there’s a change in our brain’s architecture that sweeps out damaged proteins, lipids and extracellular components. Sleep induces something called autophagy, a self-repair process (which requires this fasting period to induce) that removes damaged components from cells and tissues
- Reduce noise pollution and bright lights (includes TV, screens on digital devices) for better sleep
- Address factors that interfere with sleep: stress, poor diet, hormone imbalance
Exercise for a minimum of 30 minutes four to six days per week.
Aerobic exercise enhances neurogenesis, the growth of new brain cells that leads to a significant reduction in Alzheimer’s risk.5
This involves blood work and genetic tests and more to identify where the patient stands when it comes to Alzheimer’s 36 causes such as toxins, deficiency of micronutrients, etc.[su_expanding_quote_without_link alignment=”full” source=”Dale Bredesen MD” full_quote=”When we turn 50, we get a colonoscopy to make sure that we’re not going to die of colorectal cancer. Similarly, when we turn 45 or more, we should all get a cognoscopy. These are a set of blood tests, some baseline screening. There are simple and free online tests to get a baseline cognitive status. If there’s any question, we simply have some imaging. If we misplace our keys there’s a lot we can do today to say, “Am I in the early stages? Should I be on a prevention program?” The prevention program is going to make us healthier, improve our lipid numbers, and improve our longevity. It’s good idea is for everyone to get checked and to be on an optimal prevention program. Together we can make dementia a rare condition.” short_quote=”When we turn 50, we get a colonoscopy. Similarly we should all get a cognoscopy.”]
Good oral hygiene plays a significant role in preventing Alzheimer’s. There are bacterium that turned up repeatedly in Alzheimer’s brains, and some come from our mouths. When mouth bacteria leak into the bloodstream from damaged gums, they cause problems. When we look at the brains of patients who have Alzheimer’s disease, what we find is an increased frequency of oral bacteria.[su_expanding_quote_without_link alignment=”full” source=”Dale Bredesen” full_quote=”The program that makes Alzheimer’s rare also reduces our risk for heart disease. It reduces our risk for diabetes and obesity. It is healthy in so many ways, and I think that this is a key. While the drug companies have been spending billions of dollars looking for a drug that could just arrest Alzheimer’s symptoms, now we’re beginning to find that lifestyle programs can actually begin to reverse the symptoms.” short_quote=”We’re beginning to find that lifestyle programs can actually begin to reverse the symptoms “]
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