Researchers have highlighted some important factors that affect our risk of developing different types of dementia. Most now believe that our risk of developing dementia depends upon a combination of genetic and environmental factors. We are all at some risk of developing dementia, but some of us are more at risk than others. However, a person who has some of the risk factors for dementia will not necessarily go on to develop the condition.
Age is the most significant known risk factor for dementia. It is possible to develop dementia early in life, but the chances of developing it increase significantly as we get older. One in 50 people between the ages of 65 and 70 has some form of dementia, compared to one in five people over the age of 80. This increased risk may be due to factors associated with ageing, such as:
- higher blood pressure
- an increased incidence of some diseases (for example, heart disease and stroke)
- changes to nerve cells, DNA and cell structure
- the weakening of natural repair systems.
Gender affects different types of dementia in different ways. Women are slightly more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease than men, even if we discount the fact that women are more likely to live longer. One factor that has been suggested in the development of Alzheimer’s disease is a lack of the hormone oestrogen in women after the menopause. However, controlled studies have suggested that hormone replacement therapy (HRT) has no beneficial effect on the development of Alzheimer’s disease, and may even increase a person’s risk of developing the condition. It is not recommended that women take HRT as a way to reduce their risk of developing dementia.
Vascular dementia, on the other hand, seems to be more common in men than women. This may be because common risk factors for vascular dementia, such as heart problems and high blood pressure, are more common in men than women.
Scientists have been aware for some time that the genes we inherit from our parents may partly determine whether we will develop specific diseases. The role of genetics in the development of dementia is still not fully understood, but researchers have made some important advances in recent years.
There are some families in which there seems to be a very clear inheritance of dementia from one generation to the next. This is usually in families where the disease appears relatively early in life. Dementia-causing diseases that may be hereditary in some cases include Huntington’s disease, Familial Alzheimer’s disease (a very rare form of Alzheimer’s) and Niemann-Pick Type C disease.
Certain genes can affect a person’s risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease, and scientists are learning more about these. For example, a gene called apolipoprotein E (ApoE) has been shown to play a part in the development of Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia. However, having a parent or other relative with later onset Alzheimer’s disease only makes your own chances of developing it a little higher than if there were no cases of dementia in the family at all.
Specific medical conditions can increase a person’s chances of developing dementia. These include multiple sclerosis, Huntington’s disease, Down’s syndrome and HIV. Conditions that affect the heart, arteries or blood circulation can particularly affect a person’s chances of developing vascular dementia. These conditions include mid-life high blood pressure and high blood cholesterol levels, stroke, diabetes, and heart problems such as a heart attack or irregular heart rhythms. Mid-life obesity can also increase a person’s risk of developing dementia in later life.
People who suffer severe or repeated head injuries are at a three-to-four-fold increased risk of developing dementia. It is possible that deposits that form in the brain as a result of the injury may be linked to the onset of dementia. Professional boxers sometimes develop a form of dementia known as ‘dementia pugilistica’.
Diet − Diet can affect a person’s risk of developing many types of illness, including dementia. A healthy and balanced diet that enables a person to maintain a normal body weight is likely to reduce the likelihood of developing high blood pressure or heart disease, both of which put a person at greater risk of developing dementia.
Too much saturated fat can cause narrowing of the arteries, making heart attack or stroke more likely − and heart attacks, stroke and vascular disease increase a person’s risk of developing vascular dementia.
Smoking − Smoking has an extremely harmful effect on the heart, lungs and vascular system, including the blood vessels in the brain. This increases the risk of developing vascular dementia. Despite early studies which suggested that smoking might cause a reduced risk for Alzheimer’s disease, more recent epidemiological research has shown that smoking is a significant risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease, with smokers almost twice as likely to develop the disease as non-smokers.
Alcohol − People who drink excessive amounts of alcohol over a long period of time increase their risk of developing a form of dementia. However, some research has suggested that moderate amounts of red wine, which contains antioxidants, might help to protect the brain against dementia and keep the heart and vascular system healthy.
Aluminium and other metals − Trace levels of many metals are present in the brain. Aluminium is the metal that has been most often studied in this context, and that has received the most publicity. Aluminium is extremely common within the environment, and exists in many different chemical forms, so exposure is very difficult to measure. However, the majority of scientists do not believe that there is a causal link between aluminium and Alzheimer’s disease. Other metals, such as copper and zinc, may be important in the way that key proteins are processed in the brain.
While the source of aluminium toxicity in the body has not yet been proven, aluminium can enter the body through inhalation (by factory workers in certain industries) and by oral ingestion. It has been suggested that aluminium ions may leach into the body from aluminium cooking utensils, cans, and foil, as well as underarm deodorants, antacid pills, and other common products, many of which contain traces of aluminium. In addition, Aluminium is commonly used by water treatment plants to brighten drinking water. This causes the excess aluminium in the water to flow from the treatment plants to the communities downstream of these plants, causing the populations there to receive a double dose of aluminium.
Mercury Post mortem examination of brain tissue from Alzheimer’s victims has also indicated the presence of high levels of mercury. Reactions to high levels of mercury in the body can range from nervousness and depression to suicidal tendencies and severe neurological diseases such as multiple sclerosis, Lou Gehrig’s disease (a syndrome marked by muscular weakness and atrophy due to degeneration of motor neurons), and Alzheimer’s. Mercury metal fillings also create low levels of constant electrical activity that is conducted directly to the brain, creating aberrant behavior. While the electrical charge created by metals in the mouth does not itself directly suppress the immune system, it enables metals to leave the fillings faster and to be absorbed into the blood.
Environmental Influences: Toxins such as chemicals in food and tap water, carbon monoxide, solvents, aerosol sprays, and industrial chemicals can cause symptoms of brain dysfunction that may lead to an inaccurate diagnosis of Alzheimer’s or senile dementia.
Hormone Imbalances: The hormone melatonin plays a role in the synchronization of brain cells and, as a potent antioxidant, helps protect brain tissue from free-radical damage. Daily concentrations of melatonin appear to decline in those who have Alzheimer’s disease.
Stress and the stress hormones, particularly cortisol, play a major role in Alzheimer’s. Although some cortisol is needed for proper brain function, chronic exposure to toxic levels of cortisol can kills brain cells. Cortisol damages the nerve cells of the hippocampus and blocks their ability to absorb blood sugar (glucose), causing sluggish responses. Brain scans of Alzheimer’s patients show that the temporal (site of the hippocampus) and frontal lobes have a decreased capacity to absorb glucose.
Caution: Studies conducted at the University of Pittsburgh and Yale University found, after conducting autopsies of Alzheimer patients, that between seven and eleven per cent of all cases were due to Mad Cow Disease.
Impaired Blood Flow to the Brain: There may be a relationship between heart disease, reduced blood flow to the brain, and the onset of Alzheimer’s. According to Dr. Khalsa, a medical doctor from Tucson, Arizona, 77% of Alzheimer’s patients have cardiovascular disease. More than 85% of people 65 and older who suffer from coronary artery disease also exhibited brain tissue plaques similar to Alzheimer’s.
Nutritional Deficiencies: Reduced levels of certain vitamins, minerals, and amino acids have been tentatively linked with Alzheimer’s, including folic acid, niacin (vitamin B3), thiamin (vitamin B1), vitamins B6, B12, C, D, and E, magnesium, selenium, zinc, and tryptophan.
The brain functions through the transmission of chemical messenger molecules (neurotransmitters). These neurotransmitters can have far-reaching effects in distant areas of the body. Effective transmission of impulses is dependent upon proper pH (acid-alkaline balance) and the presence of a variety of nutrients (vitamins, minerals, amino acids), hormones, and neurotransmitters. If any nutrients are lacking or present in imbalanced proportions, brain function will be adversely affected and a person will display various symptoms commonly associated with dementia.
If you do the Jeff McCombs Candida Protocol you will already be avoiding all of the foods that are detrimental to health. However here are the foods to avoid at all costs.
- Do not consume any artificial sweeteners, such as Splenda, NutraSweet or Aspartame
- Do not consume high fructose corn syrup or mono-sodium glutamate.
- Do not drink any carbonated beverages.
- Avoid all fast food or chain restaurants and all processed food.
- Avoid all canned food.
- Eat mostly fresh, organic vegetables and fruits.
Improving the diet can help Alzheimer’s patients and promote brain longevity. In general, maintain a diet that features a balance of proteins, complex carbohydrates (not the simple sugars of the typical fast food diet), and healthy fats. The optimal brain diet reduces the intake of: processed food (monosodium glutamate or MSG and aspartame are two food additives that are proven neurotoxins), genetically engineered or refined substances (sugars and flour), while favouring plenty of organic fruits, vegetables and purified water. Alcohol and nicotine are also not recommended, since these substances measurably decrease brainpower.
The amount of protein in the diet is important, since various brain chemical messengers, such as serotonin, dopamine, and endorphins, are manufactured from amino acids and other substances found in the diet.
A whole foods diet provides healthy amounts of fibre, antioxidants, and other nutrients essential for optimal brain function. It helps to balance pH (an acidic environment inhibits neuron function), normalize blood sugar levels, and prevent insulin resistance. This is important since hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar) triggers the body’s stress response, causing the brain to be exposed to higher levels of a cortisol.
Fresh fruit and vegetables contain many vitamins and antioxidants, which may prevent heart disease and protect the brain. A number of research studies have shown that the polyunsaturated fatty acids found in oily fish might also help to protect the heart and blood vessels and lower the risk of developing dementia.
Some research has suggested that caffeine, and various spices and herbs including curcumin, sage and lemon balm, might have a protective effect on the brain.
A Mediterranean style diet may help reduce risk and is relatively easy to follow. This will help to manage your cholesterol and blood pressure. Drink alcohol, especially red wine, in moderation, if you wish.
Acetyl-L-Carnitine (ALC): This amino acid (protein building block) enhances brain energy, helping to improve mood and reduce the effects of age-associated memory impairment. Typical dose: two divided doses of 1,000-2,000 mg each day.
B-Complex Vitamins: The B-complex vitamins are important for healthy nerve function. Women using oral contraceptives increase their utilization of the B vitamins and need to supplement their diet with B complex, as should individuals under high stress. Since the B vitamins are water-soluble, they are not stored in the body. These vitamins must be taken when you have food in the stomach; if taken on an empty stomach, pain and nausea may result.
Vitamin C: Concentrations are 15 times higher in the brain than in any other body tissue, which means this nutrient is vital for brainpower. Vitamin C extends the life of vitamin E and is needed for the production of several key brain chemicals, including acetylcholine and dopamine. It is important to take vitamin C in staggered doses throughout the day, as the body can fully absorb only 500 mg at a time. Typical dose: 1,000-5,000 mg daily or up to bowel tolerance (just short of producing diarrhoea).
Coenzyme Q10: CoQ10 is necessary for the generation of energy in all cells and has been found to improve the symptoms of Alzheimer’s in some patients. CoQ10 improves cardiovascular fitness and blood circulation to the brain. As a potent antioxidant, it helps to keep the nerve cells free of brainpower-damaging substances. Typical dose: 100 mg daily.
Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA): DHA is a long-chain fatty acid found in fish, egg yolks, and marine algae, and is the predominant omega-3 fatty acid in brain tissue. As the brain is dependent on dietary fatty acids, reductions in DHA content of the diet may contribute to degenerative changes in the nervous system. Dietary sources include fish (tuna, salmon, sardines), red meats, organ meats, and eggs. Typical dose: 500-1,500 mg daily.
Vitamin E: Vitamin E is an important fat-soluble antioxidant that promotes stable cell membranes and reduces damage to the mitochondria, the cell’s energy producer. Vitamin E traps free radicals, interrupting the chain reaction that damages brain cells. Typical dose: 400-800 IU daily.
Phosphatidyl Choline: Phosphatidyl choline is the major structural and functional component of brain-cell membranes. Without this chemical, brain cells undergo degenerative changes. The brain requires choline to produce acetylcholine, a chemical that plays a vital role in memory. Phosphatidyl choline is derived from choline and lecithin; natural sources include eggs, soybeans, cabbage, cauliflower, organ meats, spinach, nuts, and wheat germ. Typical dose: one tablespoon of lecithin provides 250 mg of choline or supplement with 1,200 mg of phosphatidyl choline, 2-3 times daily.
Phosphatidyl Serine (PS): Phosphatidyl serine is a large fat molecule found in trace amounts in lecithin and derived from soybeans. Although the brain normally produces PS, if the diet is deficient in essential fatty acids, folic acid, or vitamin B12, PS production may be blocked. PS plays an important role in maintaining the integrity of brain-cell membranes. Perhaps most significant is its ability to lower the level of stress hormones such as cortisol, which damage brain cells and lead to the accumulation of calcified plaques in the brain. Typical dose: 100 mg three times daily.
Prescription and non-prescription medication:
What non-prescription and prescription drugs are you taking? Your non-prescription and prescription are partially the reason that you have this illness or disease – you need to get off these medications but do so only under the guidance of a licensed health care practitioner.
We know that when the body is out of balance, energy doesn’t flow, leading blockages and eventually dis-ease. Here are some things you can do to combat stress and restore balance:
- Go to a Dr Morter BEST (Bio-Energetic Synchronisation Technique) Practitioner.
- Sign up for Energetic Re-Balancing: 2 practitioners to consider are:
Stephen Lewis, founder of the Aim Program. Find out more by clicking here.
. Find out more by clicking here.
- Dr Callahan’s Tapping Techniques – rogercallahan.com
- Consider going to Hippocrates Health Centre, Century Wellness Centre in Reno & Sierra Integrated Medical in Reno
- Consider using Mary Millers Iching System Products – http://www.ichingsystems.net/
Coconut oil and Alzheimer’s: www.anh-usa.org/coconut-oil-and-alzheimer%E2%80%99s-disease
Essential oils and Alzheimer’s: www.anandaapothecary.com/aromatherapy-essential-oils-news/2009/07/essential-oils-studied-for-treatment-of.html
How laughter changed my Alzheimer’s: www.laughteryoga.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=1926:how-laughter-yoga-changed-me-and-others-with-dementia-a-alzheimers-&catid=202:testimonials&Itemid=405
Kundalini yoga and Alzheimer’s: www.kundalini-yoga-info.com/alzheimers-and-kundalini-yoga.html
Natural cure for Alzheimer’s: video.foxnews.com/v/4337733/natural-cure-for-alzheimers-disease
Ayurvedic home remedy for Alzheimer’s: www.youtube.com/watch?v=sayjxtR4gDw
Natural treatments for Alzheimer’s: www.youtube.com/watch?v=JGwgR6AtK1M
Huperzine A and Alzheimer’s: Huperzine A and dementia: www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2684515
Ayurveda plant raises Alzheimer’s Hope: www.telegraphindia.com/1120201/jsp/frontpage/story_15077580.jsp#.UCog1j2PXMU
Juices may reduce Alzheimer’s: www.naturalnews.com/023247_disease_juice_Alzheimers.html
Drugs for Alzheimer’s patients do harm without benefits: www.naturalnews.com/023235_patients_drugs_Alzheimer%E2%80%99s.html
Red wine reduces Alzheimer’s risk: www.naturalnews.com/021044_wine_disease_red.html
Fish oils for brain health: www.naturalnews.com/016353_omega-3_fatty_acids_mental_health.html
The power of beetroot/beets: www.naturalcures.com/healthblog/get_with_the_beet_and_get_brainy.php
Further Information (links and books)
The Brain Wash: A Powerful, All-Natural Program to Protect Your Brain Against Alzheimer’s, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Depression, Parkinson’s, and Other Diseases – Michelle Schoffro Cook; Stop Alzheimer’s Now!: How to Prevent & Reverse Dementia, Parkinson’s, ALS, Multiple Sclerosis & Other Neurodegenerative Disorders – Russell L. Blaylock; Anti-Aging – Natural Ways to a Better You – Lambert Klein; The Alzheimer’s Prevention Program: Keep Your Brain Healthy for the Rest of Your Life – Gary Small