Friday, October 3, 2014

HOW TO REDUCE CHANCES OF GETTING ALZHEIMER'S DISEASE

I. Alzheimer's Prevention Strategies: Diet

Keeping your brain healthy and preventing the pathological changes that pave the way to dementia begins with optimizing your diet. Several important principles are outlined below, and more comprehensive information is provided in my free Optimized Nutrition Plan.
  • Avoid sugar and refined fructoseIdeally, you'll want to keep your sugar levels to a minimum and your total fructose below 25 grams per day, or as low as 15 grams per day if you have insulin/leptin resistance or any related disorders.
  • Avoid gluten and casein (primarily wheat and pasteurized dairy, but not dairy fat, such as butter). Research shows that your blood-brain barrier is negatively affected by gluten. Gluten also makes your gut more permeable, which allows proteins to get into your bloodstream, where they don't belong. That then sensitizes your immune system and promotes inflammation and autoimmunity, both of which play a role in the development of Alzheimer's disease For more on this topic, please listen to my 2013 interview with Dr. David Perlmutter, included above, author of New York TimesBestseller Grain Brain.
  • Optimize your gut flora by regularly eating fermented foods or taking a high-potency and high-quality probiotic supplement.
  • Increase consumption of all healthful fats, including animal-based omega-3. Health-promoting fats that your brain needs for optimal function include organic butter from raw milk, clarified butter called ghee, organic grass-fed raw butter, olives, organic virgin olive oil and coconut oil, nuts like pecans and macadamia, free-range eggs, wild Alaskan salmon, andavocado. Also make sure you're getting enough animal-based omega-3 fats, such as krill oil. (I recommend avoiding most fish because, although fish is naturally high in omega-3, most fish are now severely contaminated with mercury.) High intake of the omega-3 fats EPA and DHA help by preventing cell damage caused by Alzheimer's disease, thereby slowing down its progression, and lowering your risk of developing the disorder.
  • Reduce your overall calorie consumption, and/or intermittently fast. Ketones are mobilized when you replace carbs with coconut oil and other sources of healthy fats. Intermittent fasting is a powerful tool to jumpstart your body into remembering how to burn fat and repair the insulin/leptin resistance that is also a primary contributing factor for Alzheimer's. To learn more, please see this previous article.
  • Improve your magnesium levels. There is some exciting preliminary research strongly suggesting a decrease in Alzheimer symptoms with increased levels of magnesium in the brain. Unfortunately most magnesium supplements do not pass the blood brain levels, but a new one, magnesium threonate, appears to and holds some promise for the future for treating this condition and may be superior to other forms.
  • Eat a nutritious diet rich in folate. Vegetables, without question, are your best form of folate, and we should all eat plenty of fresh raw veggies every day.  Avoid supplements like folic acid, which is the inferior synthetic version of folate.

II. Alzheimer's Prevention Strategies: Lifestyle

Besides diet, there are a number of other lifestyle factors that can contribute to or impede neurological health. The following strategies are therefore also important for any Alzheimer's prevention plan:
  • Exercise regularly. It's been suggested that exercise can trigger a change in the way the amyloid precursor protein is metabolized,8 thus, slowing down the onset and progression of Alzheimer's. Exercise also increases levels of the protein PGC-1alpha. Research has shown that people with Alzheimer's have less PGC-1alpha in their brains9—and cells that contain more of the protein produce less of the toxic amyloid protein associated with Alzheimer's. I would strongly recommend reviewing the Peak Fitness Technique for my specific recommendations.
  • Optimize your vitamin D levels with safe sun exposure. Strong links between low levels of vitamin D in Alzheimer's patients and poor outcomes on cognitive tests have been revealed. Researchers believe that optimal vitamin D levels may enhance the amount of important chemicals in your brain and protect brain cells by increasing the effectiveness of the glial cells in nursing damaged neurons back to health. Vitamin D may also exert some of its beneficial effects on Alzheimer's through its anti-inflammatory and immune-boosting properties. Sufficient vitamin D is imperative for proper functioning of your immune system to combat inflammation that is also associated with Alzheimer's.
  • Avoid and eliminate mercury from your body. Dental amalgam fillings, which are 50 percent mercury by weight, are one of the major sources of heavy metal toxicity. However, you should be healthy prior to having them removed. Once you have adjusted to following the diet described in my optimized nutrition plan, you can follow the mercury detox protocol and then find a biological dentist to have your amalgams removed.
  • Avoid and eliminate aluminum from your body: Sources of aluminum include antiperspirants, non-stick cookware,vaccine adjuvants, etc. For tips on how to detox aluminum, please see my article, "First Case Study to Show Direct Link Between Alzheimer's and Aluminum Toxicity."
  • Avoid flu vaccinations as most contain both mercury and aluminum, well-known neurotoxic and immunotoxic agents.
  • Avoid anticholinergics and statin drugs. Drugs that block acetylcholine, a nervous system neurotransmitter, have been shown to increase your risk of dementia. These drugs include certain nighttime pain relievers, antihistamines, sleep aids, certain antidepressants, medications to control incontinence, and certain narcotic pain relievers. Statin drugs are particularly problematic because they suppress the synthesis of cholesterol, deplete your brain of coenzyme Q10 and neurotransmitter precursors, and prevent adequate delivery of essential fatty acids and fat-soluble antioxidants to your brain by inhibiting the production of the indispensable carrier biomolecule known as low-density lipoprotein.
  • Challenge your mind daily. Mental stimulation, especially learning something new, such as learning to play an instrument or a new language, is associated with a decreased risk of Alzheimer's. Researchers suspect that mental challenge helps to build up your brain, making it less susceptible to the lesions associated with Alzheimer's disease.
  • Manage stress. Recent research shows that stress may be related to the onset of Alzheimer's disease by triggering a degenerative process in your brain. Researchers found that nearly three out of four Alzheimer's patients had experienced severe emotional stress during the two years preceding their diagnosis, compared to just over one in four in the control group. One of the keys is to find a healthy emotional outlet. Many people use exercise, meditation, or relaxation techniques for this, and these are all great. But additionally, I recommend learning the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), as this an excellent tool for managing everyday stress and clearing out old emotional patterns that may not be serving you well.

III. Other Natural Treatments for Your Anti-Alzheimer's Arsenal

Finally, there are a few other nutritional recommendations worth noting for their specific benefits in preventing and treating dementia. So, although your fundamental strategy for preventing dementia should involve a comprehensive lifestyle approach, you may want to consider adding a few of these natural dietary agents to your anti-Alzheimer's arsenal. These four natural foods/supplements have good science behind them, in terms of preventing age-related cognitive changes:
  • Astaxanthin is a natural pigment with unique properties and many clinical benefits, including some of the most potent antioxidant activity currently known. As a fat-soluble nutrient, astaxanthin readily crosses your blood-brain barrier. One study10 found it may help prevent neurodegeneration associated with oxidative stress, as well as make a potent natural "brain food."
  • The molecules of astaxanthin neutralize free radicals and other oxidants without being destroyed or becoming pro-oxidants themselves in the process. It's is a unique molecule whose shape allows it to precisely fit into a cell membrane and span its entire width. In this position, astaxanthin can intercept potentially damaging molecules before they can damage your cells. An additional benefit of astaxanthin is that it's been found to help prevent oxidative damage in those who smoke.11
    You can get some astaxanthin by taking krill oil, which is a highly absorbable animal-based omega-3 fat supplement. But you can boost your astaxanthin even MORE by adding a pure astaxanthin supplement to your nutritional regimen. For optimal absorption, make sure to take krill oil and/or astaxanthin with a fat-containing meal, since both are fat-soluble.
  • Ginkgo biloba: Many scientific studies have found that Ginkgo biloba has positive effects for dementia. Ginkgo, which is derived from a tree native to Asia, has long been used medicinally in China and other countries. A1997 study from JAMAshowed clear evidence that Ginkgo improves cognitive performance and social functioning for those suffering from dementia. Research since then has been equally promising. One study in 2006 found Ginkgo as effective as the dementia drug Aricept (donepezil) for treating mild to moderate Alzheimer's type dementia. A 2010 meta-analysis found Ginkgo biloba to be effective for a variety of types of dementia.
  • Alpha lipoic acid (ALA): ALA can stabilize cognitive functions among Alzheimer's patients and may slow the progression of the disease.
  • Vitamin B12: A small Finnish study published in the journal Neurology12 found thatpeople who consume foods rich in B12 may reduce their risk of Alzheimer's in their later years. For each unit increase in the marker of vitamin B12, the risk of developing Alzheimer's was reduced by two percent. Remember, sublingual methylcobalamin may be your best bet here.

Secrets to Success in Quitting Smoking

It's never too late to benefit from stopping smoking. I believe the "secret" is to get healthy first, which will make quitting that much easier. If you have implemented the diet and lifestyle strategies outlined above, you are well on your way! Exercise is particularly important here. Research shows that people who engage in regular exercise (specifically, strength training) are TWICE as likely to succeed in quitting smoking as those who don't exercise.13
Studies also show that two-thirds to three-quarters of ex-smokers stop unaided,14 so if you're thinking of quitting smoking, try going cold turkey. However you choose to go about it, I strongly advise against using "anti-smoking" drugs like Chantix, which have potentially serious side effects, including depression, suicidal behavior, and a multitude of other problems. Proper nutrition, regular exercise, sound sleep and good stress management are far better ways of approaching smoking cessation. EFT, which I mentioned earlier in reference to stress management, can also be a powerful tool for keeping tobacco cravings to a minimum.
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