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Could the Hunt for the Cause of Alzheimer's Disease Be Over Soon?
24 July 2013 2 comments
Sugar May be Sweet, But it Can Make You Forget People You Meet
How can life be possible without your memories?
Did you watch the hit TV series Grey's Anatomy? The ninth season just ended (season finale episode last May 16, 2013), how can you miss it? Anyway, the mother of the main character, suffered from Alzheimer's disease. She had lost memories of her daughter and was unable to add new ones. She lives in a nursing home with others who are unable to take care of themselves. She rarely recognizes her own daughter and also experiences delusions from time to time. Her daughter, the main character, Meredith Grey, struggles to handle life as a doctor and at the same time, attend to her. These are just some of the few symptoms and problems one can suffer from and deal with when afflicted with Alzheimer's disease. According to the Centers for Disease Control, it's the SIXTH leading cause of death in the United States alone.
Alzheimer's disease is a progressive brain disorder which slowly impairs your thinking and memory skills. In time, even the simplest of tasks will prove to be difficult or even impossible to accomplish. The majority of people show signs and symptoms by age 60. It's the most common form of dementia. Dementia is a group of brain diseases which impair social and thinking skills.
No Direct Cause and Effect Relationship Yet Between High Carbohydrate Intake and Alzheimer's Disease
A four year study about cognitive impairment and diet including 940 senile patients (ages 70 to 89 years old) was recently concluded at the Mayo Clinic. Two hundred of those patients at the end of the four year study experienced mild cognitive impairment. The results stated those who consumed a diet high in carbohydrates are 1.9x more likely to acquire mild cognitive impairment compared to those with the least carbohydrate intake. With regards to sugar (glucose), those with greatest intake were 1.5x more likely to acquire mild cognitive impairment compared to the ones with the least sugar intake.
In addition, research subjects who were fond of eating fat and protein were 42% and 21% less likely to acquire cognitive impairment compared to those with the lowest amount of fat and protein intake. In other words, the more protein and fat they ingested the lower their chance of developing mild cognitive impairment. The presence of cognitive impairment could suggest the start of Alzheimer's disease.
The exact cause or list of causes for Alzheimer's disease isn't known. A steadily growing number of studies (like the one above) are finding out an association between a high carbohydrate intake and development of Alzheimer's disease. Your present diet may be responsible for the development of Alzheimer's disease later on in your life. This is very crucial because the food we eat can be modified. We can do something about it. In general the diet we consume today may also be responsible for the increase in the incidence of Alzheimer's disease.
What We Know Now
Majority of the studies concerning Alzheimer's disease implicate a high carbohydrate diet, specifically the ones rich in fructose. This is usually accompanied by an insufficient intake of dietary fats and cholesterol. Furthermore, the end products of glucose metabolism are attached to carrier proteins in your blood. These carrier proteins are responsible for transporting oxygen, cholesterol and fat into the neurons (nerve cells). Not enough fat, cholesterol, and oxygen impairs the ability of the neurons to function optimally. They need all of these nutrients to operate smoothly. In the end, the following happens inside the neurons:
- 1. Increased Oxidative Damage – This means the nerve cell is undergoing a lot of stress. The result of this stress is the production of reactive oxygen species or free radicals. These substances can damage all components of the nerve cell leading to its death.
- 2. Impaired Glutamate Signaling – Glutamate is an important neurotransmitter in the brain. Beta amyloid deposition brought about by the development of Alzheimer's disease significantly interferes with the glutamate signaling. In the end, the nerve cells are unable to communicate with each other. Just like humans, no nerve cell is an island.
- 3. Lysosomal Dysfunction – Lysosomes are cell organelles that contain enzymes responsible for the breakdown of by-products and cellular debris. They even digest bacteria and viruses. Their inability to function well will lead to a buildup of toxic products inside the cell. As a result the capacity of your nerve cells to combat infection is also remarkably decreased. Both roads lead to the death of the nerve cell.
- 4. Mitochondrial Dysfunction – The mitochondria is the cell organelle responsible for the production of energy required to power up everything. It's like the electric utility. Without it, no piece of appliance or equipment which requires electricity will operate. The same is true with all the biological processes that require energy.
All of the above consequences will lead to the death of your nerve cells. Dead neurons tell no tales! Alas, no more new memories! Even the most recent ones can be affected. These things happen when you begin to develop Alzheimer's disease.
The New Diabetes aka Diabetes Type 3?
Some call Alzheimer's disease the new diabetes or diabetes type 3. Don't we have enough already? We can't even control and cure types 1 and 2 completely, now there's a type 3?
You see, insulin also affects glucose in your brain and not just from the neck down. Insulin resistance in non-brain tissues (your liver and muscles) messes up your body's ability to handle lipids (fats) too. Improper handling of fats in non-brain tissues can cause an accumulation of ceramides. These ceramides aren't only components of cell membranes, they can also act as signaling molecules. When they cross the gate between your body and brain (the blood-brain barrier or BBB), they disrupt the signaling of insulin in your brain. This leads to insulin resistance in brain tissues. Insulin resistance simply means the cells don't react properly to the actions of insulin.
We know that insulin promotes the entrance of glucose into the nerve cell so that it will be utilized. With insulin resistance, glucose remains in the extracellular and intravascular spaces. In some instances, excess glucose may be able to enter the nerve cell and overwhelm it. This leads to a whole lot of toxic by-products (AGE or advanced glycation end product). These AGEs are very reactive and cause apoptosis (cell death). The poor neurons never even got the chance to defend themselves.
I wish this sort of news could be as delightful as hearing there's a new version of iPad coming out. It's absolutely the opposite, we have a new type of diabetes, which can affect your brain in the form of Alzheimer's disease. Is this becoming a new silent epidemic?
You're probably asking what's the best recommended way to keep your guard up against Alzheimer's disease. We hope the formula below is simple enough.
Low Carbohydrate, Moderate Protein, High Fat Diet
Does the above formula sound Greek to you? The main goal of this formula is to push your brain cells to use ketones from the breakdown of fats instead of glucose. It's kind of funny in a weird way. Your brain cells don't “think” about themselves really. You give them ketones from fat, they will use ketones as fuel. You give them glucose, they will use glucose and store the fat, even though glucose can initiate the production of beta-amyloid plaques (brain lesions found in Alzheimer's Disease). Happening south of that, if you feed your liver fat, it will burn fat and give your brain ketones. If you feast on a high sugar, your liver will burn the sugar and store the fat. So, why not help your liver and brain out? This type of diet is also known as the ketogenic diet. It's sometimes used to treat epilepsy in children.
Low Carbohydrate. Reduce intake of sweets, breads, pastas and grains; carbohydrates should come primarily from beans, fruits, and fresh vegetables (including starchy vegetables).
Moderate protein. The recommended amount of protein is 0.7 to 1.0 gram per kilogram of body weight. This is enough to function optimally. Your sources of protein include organic eggs, nuts, dairy, seeds, fish, and organic 100% grass fed meat.
High Fat. It’s important to ensure that the fats you eat are high quality. Ideally they should be non-GMO, non-hydrogenated, cold pressed and certified organic. Plant based oils such as olive, nut and seed oils as well as algae oils. Coconut oil is becoming increasingly popular and, although a saturated fat, it is getting a lot of recognition for it’s benefits in alzheimer's and dementia, though there is no formal research to validate this yet.
Other saturated fats include animal fats (e.g. lard, butter,and other dairy products) which again are best organic and undamaged by processing, i.e in their whole form. Fish oils are OK, but ensure they are sourced from a reputable (and sustainable) source to avoid contaminants such as heavy metals (mercury) and other chemical contaminants.
Follow this simple formula and you can decrease your chances of acquiring Alzheimer's disease, not to mention other age-related diseases.
An alternative approach to avoid developing Alzheimer's disease would be to practice intermittent fasting . Click on the link to find out more about intermittent fasting here on our website. Simply put, intermittent fasting gives your pancreas a rest from secreting insulin all the time. Remember, too much insulin can lead to insulin resistance even in brain tissues.
To the Future
While a direct ‘cause and effect’ relationship is still lacking, it may be wise to keep away from high carbohydrate diets. Try to balance your meals to avoid spikes and excess insulin secretion. Whether Alzheimer's disease becomes the new diabetes, research will tell us, maybe not today, but soon.
Before that day comes, it's best to take precautions. The good news is that a high carbohydrate diet is something we can alter or do something about. That puts us back in the driver seat.
Posted in: Health Conditions