Are you forgetful lately?
Do you “lose your words” sometimes?
Can you remember important events or must you rely on a calendar?
Are you foggy minded until noon?
Is your “immediate fact recall” as reliable as a Yugo?
Could Dory the fish beat you in Trivial Pursuit [Finding Nemo version]?
Would you like to be as quick quitted and sharp as you once were?
Do you worry about impending dementia and memory loss?
Have you ever had a relative with severe mental decline?
Scary isn’t it?
Did you know that nutrition and specifically “targeted nutrition” can help?
[Nutritional methods can even help those with significant impairment]
Are you ready to get focused and stay there?
When you “really think about it” you should be happy that you CAN.
Dementia and mental decline is one of the more disheartening conditions in our society today.
Bad News…..and it seems that “Mainstream medicine” has few treatments that are helpful.
The saying “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” comes to mind. [I think we should follow more of Benjamin Franklin’s advice.]
With TRUE Prevention – nothing happens – at least the event that was prevented :~)
Certainly, preventing Alzheimer’s and other dementias is high on my list, read on.
Prevention is barely considered in mainstream medicine.
This is because nutrition is usually an afterthought in our culture of using drugs rather than food to heal us and prevent ailments altogether.
The Good News is that your brain needs nutrition just like the rest of your body.
Let’s take a look at some stated FACTS.
[Warning! This is dry stuff, but it’s good setup]
Excerpt from http://www.alz.org/downloads/facts_figures_2011.pdf
2011 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures
An estimated 5.4 million people have Alzheimer’s disease at an estimated cost of 183 billion dollars annual cost.
Dementia: Definition and Specific Types
Dementia is caused by various diseases and conditions that result in damaged brain cells or connections between brain cells. When making a diagnosis of dementia, physicians commonly refer to the criteria given in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition (DSM-IV).(1) To meet DSM-IV criteria for dementia, the following are required:
• Symptoms must include decline in memory and in at least one of the following cognitive abilities:
1) Ability to generate coherent speech or understand spoken or written language;
2) Ability to recognize or identify objects, assuming intact sensory function;
3) Ability to execute motor activities, assuming intact motor abilities, sensory function and comprehension of the required task; and
4) Ability to think abstractly, make sound judgments and plan and carry out complex tasks.
• The decline in cognitive abilities must be severe enough to interfere with daily life.
It is important for a physician to determine the cause of memory loss or other dementia-like symptoms. Some symptoms can be reversed if they are caused by treatable conditions, such as depression, delirium, drug interaction, thyroid problems, excess use of alcohol or certain vitamin deficiencies.
When dementia is not caused by treatable conditions, a physician must conduct further assessments to identify the form of dementia that is causing symptoms.
Different types of dementia are associated with distinct symptom patterns and distinguishing microscopic brain abnormalities. Table 1 provides information about the most common types of dementia.
Most common type of dementia; accounts for an estimated 60 to 80 percent of cases.
Difficulty remembering names and recent events is often an early clinical symptom; apathy and depression are also often early symptoms. Later symptoms include impaired judgment, disorientation, confusion, behavior changes and difficulty speaking, swallowing and walking.
Hallmark abnormalities are deposits of the protein fragment beta-amyloid (plaques) and twisted strands of the protein tau (tangles).
– Vascular Dementia [aka multi infarct dementia]
Considered the second most common type of dementia.
Impairment is caused by decreased blood flow to parts of the brain, often due to a series of small strokes that block arteries.
Symptoms often overlap with those of Alzheimer’s, although memory may not be as seriously affected.
– Mixed Dementia
Characterized by the hallmark abnormalities of Alzheimer’s and another type of dementia — most commonly vascular dementia, but also other types, such as demen¬tia with Lewy bodies.
Recent studies suggest that mixed dementia is more common than previously thought.
– Dementia with Lewy bodies
Pattern of decline may be similar to Alzheimer’s, including problems with memory and judgment as well as behavior changes.
Alertness and severity of cognitive symptoms may fluctuate daily.
Visual hallucinations, muscle rigidity and tremors are common.
Hallmarks include Lewy bodies (abnormal deposits of the protein alpha-synuclein) that form inside nerve cells in the brain.
– Parkinson’s Disease
Many people who have Parkinson’s disease (a disorder that usually involves movement problems) also develop dementia in the later stages of the disease.
The hallmark abnormality is Lewy bodies (abnormal deposits of the protein alpha-synuclein) that form inside nerve cells in the brain.
– Frontotemporal dementia
Nerve cells in the front and side regions of the brain are especially affected. Typical symptoms include changes in personality and behavior and difficulty with language.
No distinguishing microscopic abnormality is linked to all cases.
Pick’s disease, characterized by Pick’s bodies (nerve cells containing an abnormal accumulation of fibers made of the protein tau), is one type of frontotemporal dementia.
– Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease
Rapidly fatal disorder that impairs memory and coordination and causes behavior changes.
Caused by the misfolding of prion protein throughout the brain.
Variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease is believed to be caused by consumption of products from cattle affected by mad cow disease.
– Normal pressure hydrocephalus
Caused by the buildup of fluid in the brain.
Symptoms include difficulty walking, memory loss and inability to control urination. Can sometimes be corrected with surgical installation of a shunt in the brain to
drain excess fluid.
If you are still awake – I want you to notice the tendency to describe these conditions using anatomy and microscopic changes and symptoms rather than possible underlying causes.
In modern medicine, diagnosis and treatment is usually framed in the realm of medication.
And when there are no medications to use we revert to describing illnesses and categorizing them like we are collecting data for a textbook.
We are falling short by “assuming” that our nutrition is sound when is undeniably out of whack.
Let’s re-read the initial introduction where it states….
“It is important for a physician to determine the cause of memory loss or other dementia-like symptoms. Some symptoms can be reversed if they are caused by treatable conditions, such as depression, delirium, drug interaction, thyroid problems, excess use of alcohol or certain vitamin deficiencies.
When dementia is not caused by treatable conditions, a physician must conduct further assessments to identify the form of dementia that is causing symptoms.”
My assertion is this: If you are not examining nutrition closely you cannot call something “Untreatable”.
There are a number of well-done studies showing that Alzheimer’s can be prevented with dietary supplementation as well as helping those already afflicted.
Here are some examples:
On Vitamin E
Study Shows High Doses of Vitamin E May Lower Death Rate for Alzheimer’s Patients
“After a median of five years of follow-up, Pavlik’s analysis showed that those who took 2,000 international units (IU) of vitamin E daily — with or without an anti-dementia drug — were 26% less likely to die than those who did not during the study period (1990-2004).
“The study found vitamin E plus a cholinesterase inhibitor may be more beneficial than taking either agent alone,” says Pavlik.
Those who took an anti-dementia drug alone had no improved survival benefit. Pavlik acknowledges that more research needs to be done.”
[FYI: Selenium works with Vitamin E. Selenium, a trace mineral, has also been shown to reduce cognitive decline.]
Plasma Homocysteine as a Risk Factor for Dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease
From the New England Journal of Medicine
An increased plasma homocysteine level is a strong, independent risk factor for the development of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.”
[FYI: Elevated Homocysteine levels in the blood are safely reduced to normal with vitamins B6, B9 and B12.]
On Acetyl-l-carntine [a fat carrier molecule made from two amino acids, lysine and methionine]
From the International Clinical Psychopharmacology:
March 2003 – Volume 18 – Issue 2 – pp 61-71
Meta-analysis of double blind randomized controlled clinical trials of acetyl-L-carnitine versus placebo in the treatment of mild cognitive impairment and mild Alzheimer’s disease
Montgomery, Stuart A.a; Thal, L.J.b; Amrein, R.c
“The beneficial effects were seen on both the clinical scales and the psychometric tests. The advantage for Alcar was seen by the time of the first assessment at 3 months and increased over time. Alcar was well tolerated in all studies.”
[FYI: l- Carnitine is a naturally occurring molecule made from two amino acids [lysine and methionine] that acts as a fat carrier – helping us burn fat. Acetyl l-carnitine is an activated version of l-carnitine that enters the brain easily.]
On the EFA’s help the Brain [This includes the Omega 3’s]
Essential Fatty Acids and the Brain
From the Canadian Journal of Psychiatry. Revue Canadienne de Psychiatrie [2003, 48(3):195-203]
“CONCLUSION: The ratio of membrane omega-3 to omega-6 PUFAs can be modulated by dietary intake. This ratio influences neurotransmission and prostaglandin formation, processes that are vital in the maintenance of normal brain function.”
From The journal of Neuroscience
A Diet Enriched with the Omega-3 Fatty Acid Docosahexaenoic Acid Reduces Amyloid Burden in an Aged Alzheimer Mouse Model
Giselle P. Lim, et al
“Together, these results suggest that dietary DHA could be protective against β-amyloid production, accumulation, and potential downstream toxicity.”
[FYI: The EFA’s or essential fatty acids are commonly acquired through fish and flax oil, but sadly lacking in the average American diet.]
Back to my thinking.
What other nutrients are yet unstudied but vital to our health?
Vitamins, Minerals, EFA”s and Amino acids….
I selected these studies to illustrate that each of these categories is well represented in our quest through the nutritional wilderness for sharper thinking and healthier brains.
It is easy to see that nutrition has an under-appreciated role in dementia.
Have you ever seen any of this reported on the news?
This lack of reporting exemplifies the bias against the nutritional approach to healing and prevention.
Perhaps it can be blamed on lack of promotion but the result is the same, needless suffering.
The Good news is that with targeted nutrition nearly everyone can benefit and improve their mental function.
Let me divert our attention to a parallel to human medicine for a few minutes.
When it comes to true prevention Human medicine has not kept pace with Veterinary medicine.
Prevention requires a thorough understanding of the problem at hand – we need to know the underlying reasons WHY the condition occurs.
This understanding was developed out of necessity in the “animal business” – you see, a profitable animal is a healthy animal. [The opposite is true for humans].
Animal life cycles are much shorter than ours. Farmers will see many life cycles in a decade.
During the 1950’s we began using feeds or prepared pellets that contain “everything the animal needs” with our domesticated animals. Simple enough, but this led to a bit of trial and error, AKA PROBLEMS.
One by one, farmers discovered that certain nutrients, if absent, caused illness, birth defects and a list of ailments and disease.
B9 shortages caused neural tube defects [Anencephaly, Spina bifida, etc].
Zinc deficiency in the expectant mothers led to cleft lip, club foot and chromosomal abnormalities similar to those found in Down’s syndrome.
Tin and Manganese deficiency [trace minerals] resulted in hearing loss and hair loss in sheep.
Copper deficiency was to blame for aneurysms – copper is a co-factor for the enzymes necessary to maintain elastic fibers [Hemorrhoids, varicose veins, stretch marks and crow’s feet are also examples what happens when elastic fibers fail]
A shortage of vitamin E causes Encephalomalacia or softening of the brain in poultry.
Vitamin E, Selenium and the EFA’s when lacking lead to muscular dystrophy that includes Mulberry Heart disease – a fatal cardiomyopathy – seen in pigs.
Domesticated animals do not get diabetes.
With pigs and cows, the goal is for them to gain one pound per day on their way to market. As you might imagine diabetes risk rises with such weight gain – and it does.
However, scientists figured out that Chromium prevents [and treats] insulin resistance – aka Diabetes.
Chromium is included in every animal feed that is made.
From 1958 to the current day, pigs and cows Do NOT get diabetes in domestication.
Remember we have used insulin from cows and still use pig heart valves. We share physiology and biologic parameters with these animals – including insulin metabolism.
And the list goes on and on……
There are around 60 minerals, 16 vitamins, 12 amino acids and 3 fats that we need for optimal health.
The definition of an Essential nutrient goes like this – A natural chemical compound that is necessary for normal functioning and its absence results in deficiency symptoms.
The most important nutrients are minerals.
Plants can manufacture or make vitamins, amino acids/protein and fats.
Plants Can NOT make minerals, if minerals are not in the soil they will not be in the plant.
Our soil has been depleted of minerals for decades.
Our farming methods [using NPK fertilizer] and our flood control [levees prevent flooding, but also prevent “new” dirt’s delivery] have cause much of this mineral depletion of our farmlands.
This is why farmers and veterinary doctors supplement animal feeds with minerals.
Animals cannot get their nutrition without dietary supplementation and we cannot either.
Back to prevention –
Many studies suggest that proper nutrition can many prevent illnesses, from heart disease, diabetes, dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, high blood pressure, stroke and even cancer.
Most of the studies utilizing vitamins use doses much higher than what is available in foods.
Vitamin E – a great example of this problem:
Vitamin E, many researchers believe, prevents heart disease – the optimal dose is 400-800 I.U. per day.
This amount of Vitamin E cannot be easily gotten from foods alone[as with most of our nutrients]
The RDA is 15 IU per day [seems a bit low, does it not?]
Foods that are rich in vitamin E include vegetable oils, seeds, nuts and whole grains.
Some vitamin E is also found in asparagus, green leafy vegetables, tomatoes and berries.
But how much vitamin E do these foods contain?
[one mg of vitamin E = 0.67 I.U. or International Units of vitamin E]
Sunflower seeds [113 IU of vitamin E per pound] 36.5 mg vitamin E or 24.5 I.U. per 100 grams.
Almonds [80.5 IU of vitamin E per pound] 26.2 mg or or 17.5 I.U per 100 grams /3 ½ ounces.
Pine nuts [39 IU of vitamin E per pound] 12.6 mg or 8.4 I.U. per 3 ½ ounces.
Peanuts [21 IU vitamin E per pound] 6.9 mg or 4.6 I.U. of vitamin E per 100 grams/3 ½ ounces .
Spinach [11 IU of vitamin E per pound] 3.5mg or 2.3 i.U. of vitamin E per 100 grams.
Let me reiterate – scientists think that 400-800 IU of vitamn E per day is considered optimal
This example clearly shows that we cannot get the optimal amount of vitamin E with foods alone.
There are similar examples for the B vitamins, vitamin C, vitamin A, beta –carotene , minerals and the EFA’s.
Dietary supplementation of vitamins, minerals and EFA’s is crucial to achieve optimal health and avoid illness.
We can, however, achieve proper and even excellent levels of protein and amino acids from our diets.
Specific amino acid supplementation can be beneficial in treating a variety of conditions including Dementia, Alzheimer’s, depression, ADD, obesity, erectile dysfunction, high blood pressure and heart disease.
We must supplement our diets to get optimal nutrition.
To achieve full spectrum nutrition we all need to supplement our diets.
Supplements to consider:
1) Get a good multiple vitamin/mineral product. Versions with “Chelated” minerals are best. I also like those with some plant based vitamins.
2) Take a quality Calcium product. Look for MCHA as the calcium source and one that includes Magnesium, vitamin D and some assorted trace minerals.
3) Take Omega 3 oils. Flax oil is the best to start. Adding Krill or fish oil later [BTW – Krill oil in the container has a distinctive odor – if you place 3-4 desiccant packs in the bottle and refrigerate it, the odor is gone in 12 hours]
4) Find a good Colloidal mineral product for trace minerals. Make sure it’s from Humic shale and NOT ionic minerals. Humic shale is the “fossilized” remains of the dinosaur days. Plant based colloidal minerals are 98% absorbed.
5) Vitamin E is difficult to get in sufficient amounts from foods. I advise people to supplement with at least 400 IU per day.
Natural versions are best, look for “d-tocopherol” but avoid “d-l-tocopherol”- it’s the man-made version and is only 25% usable. Look for a vitamin E with mixed tocopherols that also contains selenium.
As always, feel free to comment or message questions or concerns.