Alzheimer’s disease is a form of dementia that takes away people’s ability to think clearly, do basic everyday tasks and, most importantly, memory loss. Alzheimer’s disease can be quite overwhelming and because most treatments can’t come up with a cure, people are always looking for natural treatment options as well as news regarding the disease, or reading medical journals for breakthroughs in Alzheimer’s disease.
Even though we live in a modern era, the human brain remains a puzzle we can’t quite solve yet but progress is still being made. In 2016, some progress was made due to some Alzheimer’s breakthroughs.
Some theories exist regarding free radical damage, or, in other words, the inability for the body to use glucose properly, vitamin deficiency or environmental toxins. This disease is affecting more than half the population over the age of 85 in the U.S. alone.
The good news about this is that there are some natural treatment options for Alzheimer’s that have effectively improved this condition. More recently, scientists have uncovered some major Alzheimer’s breakthroughs that have a chance of bringing us closer to finding a cure.
7 Most Notable Alzheimer’s Breakthroughs of 2016
What and how you eat MATTERS
If you have scoured the Internet for information regarding health you should know by now that food CAN be also medicine. Even since early days, as far as 400 B.C., Hippocrates recognized the importance of food in the healing process of the body, when he gave advice to people to prevent and treat diseases by eating food that is full of nutrients. Modern science has also caught up to this.
Modern scientists have recently discovered that the Mediterranean diet seems to have some protective properties in fighting Alzheimer’s disease. A UCLA study published in the American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry found that the Mediterranean diet is one of the main factors that seem to be keeping the brain from developing toxic plaques and tangles which are associated with the development of Alzheimer’s disease.
Plaque is often recognized by deposits of the toxic protein called beta-amyloid in the space between the brain nerve cells and tangles of knotted threads of the tau protein which is found within the brain cells. Both of these are considered to be the key indicator to Alzheimer’s disease.
The UCLA study used PET imaging in order to study the brain for any changes and is the first study to demonstrate how the multiple lifestyle factors have a direct influence on the abnormal proteins in people with subtle memory loss that have not been diagnosed with dementia yet. Some healthy lifestyle factors have also shown a correlation with reduced shrinking of the brain as well as lower atrophy rates in people with Alzheimer’s.
The food staples of the Mediterranean diet include:
- fresh fruit and vegetables (to be more precise, leafy vegetables like spinach and kale, as well as non-starchy vegetables like eggplants, artichokes, cauliflower, fennel and tomatoes)
- olive oil
- legumes and beans (especially lentils and chickpeas used to make hummus)
- plenty of fresh water and some coffee or tea
- high-quality, pasture-raised poultry, eggs, cheese, goat milk, and probiotic-rich kefir or yogurt consumed in moderation
- whole grains
- nuts and seeds (like almonds and sesame seeds used to make tahini)
- eating wild-caught fish and seafood twice a week
- lots of fresh water as well as coffee and tea
- a daily glass of red wine
- herbs and spices (like oregano, rosemary and parsley)
Exercise is also a potent Alzheimer’s preventer
The UCLA study that found the link between the Mediterranean food and Alzheimer’s disease produced some results regarding the exercises’ brain protecting properties. According to the study, people that were more physically active on a regular basis have shown a lower risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
Since any kind of exercise is considered an improvement to sitting on your sofa, chair or wherever, if you have time limitations due to your professional lifestyle, high-intensity training can also be a great option. We have three high-intensity training workouts to help you get on the road.
Do keep in mind that more research is needed on how exactly high-intensity training has an impact on the brain. While it is known that it is more effective at melting fat than the traditional cardio exercises (lower BMI also lowers the risk of the tangles and brain plaques which are connected with Alzheimer’s, according to the same UCLA study). The other side of this is that while high intensity training and weight training have a better effect in body fat loss, the steady state cardio exercises create more brain neurons.
Still, as we stated before, more research is needed to confirm which exercise is better in Alzheimer’s disease prevention. For the time being, start whatever physical activity you have the time for and get into the healthy BMI range for you.
Your line of profession can also help with Alzheimer’s disease
It’s a well-known fact that certain professions can protect you from Alzheimer’s Human beings are social creatures and direct contact with other people instead of data and/or objects seems to provide protection against Alzheimer’s.
Scientists from Wisconsin Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center and Wisconsin Alzheimer’s Institute took a look at 284 brain scans of middle-aged people which were at risk of Alzheimer’s disease. What they found was that people that worked closely with other people in complex work environments had a higher tolerance against brain damage than the people which worked in isolated environments. People that work in more social environments, teachers and doctors primarily, seemed to have better cognitive functions.
Researches said that these analyses underscored the importance of social interactions during the work setting in building resilience to Alzheimer’s disease. If you work in an isolated work environment and don’t have many options to change the situation, take as many steps as needed to be as social as possible after work hours in order to make your brain more resilient.
Marijuana can protect the brain from Alzheimer’s disease
Another great breakthrough in the natural treatment options for Alzheimer’s that scientists from the Salk Institute discovered is that tetrahydrocannabinol, which is a main cannabis component, as well as other compounds that are found in marijuana have the ability to block the progression of Alzheimer’s disease.
During lab conditions and research, the cannabis compounds blocked the disease by lowering cellular inflammation and removing toxic amyloid proteins on the brain cells. This is a unique study that showed that cannabinoids can affect both inflammation and accumulation of amyloid beta in the nerve cells. Now, critical test trials are needed to see if the results affect humans as well.
Avoid some prescription and over-the-counter drugs that could lower your Alzheimer’s risk
Drugs that have a relation to dementia include sleep and allergy medication. These include, but are not limited to – Benadryl, Dramamine, Advil PM and Unison. these pills have anticholinergic properties, which are increasingly being linked to dementia.
A 2016 study which was published in the JAMA Neurology used MRI and PET scans to show to which degree anticholinergic drugs lowered brain metabolism and have a higher rate of triggering brain atrophy. Anticholinergic drugs have also led to worse memory test scores.
Some antidepressants, COPD and asthma drugs, along with medication for overactive bladder issues can also fall in the anticholinergic category. If you need these medications, talk to your doctor or pharmacist to find out if there are safer alternatives.
Your stomach also plays a role in Alzheimer’s disease
Your gut is responsible for more than simple digestion. In 2016, researchers at the University of Chicago found that long-term doses of antibiotics change the gut bacteria of lab mice in a manner that seemed to have the properties of reducing amyloid-beta protein levels in mice brains.
This are preliminary results and by no means do we suggest that we should all start taking antibiotics. What is positive about this breakthrough is that it highlights the fact that the microbiome of our guts is closely related to our brains and brain-related diseases. Some future research could have the potential of looking at more natural ways of keeping our guts healthy in order to protect our brains.
A more personalized approach to the treatment
In a small 2016 study which was published in the Aging journal, researches from the Buck Institute and UCLA were successful at using personalized treatment to reverse Alzheimer’s disease in patients dealing with early stages of the disease. While using a 36-step therapeutic personalized program that involved significant changes in the subjects’ diet, brain stimulation, sleep optimization, exercise, as well as specific pharmaceuticals and vitamins which impact brain chemistry, the team was able to make some improvement in certain patients’ symptoms to the point at which they were able to return to work.
On another note, sleep positions also seem to have an effect. Side sleeping positions improves the brain’s waste-clearing processes, while lowering the risk for neurological diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.
These, and many other science-based evidences support the idea that your life style matters when it comes to natural Alzheimer’s treatment and prevention.
Top Foods to Eat and Avoid Alzheimer's
Which foods to eat
Make sure to include in your diet a plethora of “real foods” which are organic, unprocessed foods. These are foods which have no ingredient listing. Clean meats, fruits and vegetables are important foods to consume in moderation.
As far as antioxidants such as vitamins A, C, and E are concerned, there might be some connection between free radicals and Alzheimer’s disease. Foods that contain antioxidants help fight the damage caused by free radicals and colorful fruits and vegetables are packed with antioxidants and therefore, should be included in every meal.
Wild-caught fish are a great source of omega-3 fats, and specifically, DHA – which are crucial to brain health.
Since many people with Alzheimer’s are zinc deficient, foods that are high in zinc are preferable to include in your diet. Such foods include pumpkin seeds, grass-fed beef and dark chocolate.
Coconut oil intake provides the brain with ketones which server as brain fuel instead of glucose. Some people have noticed a significant improvement to their memory after they have added coconut oil in their diet.
Which foods to avoid
Every food that contain toxins and additives should be avoided since they can possibly be neurotoxic. Also, make sure to avoid nonorganic fruits and vegetables which are coated with neurotoxic agricultural chemicals. Studies have shown that people with higher levels of organochlorine pesticides in their blood, including DDE which is a breakdown chemical of DDT are faced with a higher risk of Alzheimer’s disease. It is also crucial to avoid processed foods.
Alcohol is a toxin which can cause brain cells to die at a faster rate than normal. While there is no such thing as ‘alcohol-related dementia’, research has shown that the frontal lobe in people which have been diagnosed with alcoholism appear to be more susceptible to brain damage, with some evidence of decreased neuron density, altered glucose metabolism and perfusion, as well as volume shrinkage.
Tap water may contain toxins which are found in the environment, including but not limited to aluminum salts so make sure to test your tap water if you are drinking it (or ask for a more recent water test report if you drink your municipal water) and make steps to filter out any contaminants. Environmental Working Group has issued a great drinking water guide which can help you find the best water for your circumstance.
Alzheimer’s also might be caused by a resistance to insulin, similar to diabetes. Because of that, in order to keep your insulin levels low, you need to eliminate sugar and refined grains which is an important part of maintaining brain health.
Foods which are packaged in aluminum containers should also be avoided since aluminum is neurotoxic in high levels. Research has shown that aluminum can enter neurons in a similar manner to iron, which leads to aluminum accumulation and neurofibrillary damage which, in turn, is linked to the progression of Alzheimer’s disease. Also, keep in mind not to heat food in aluminum since the heat is known to release even more toxic compounds.
The Top 5 Alzheimer’s Natural Treatment Supplements
Along with the memory diet guide that we have included, you can also try these Alzheimer’s remedies which can be a part of your natural treatment method:
Fish Oil with DHA (1,000 mg daily)
The benefits which come with fish oil include DHA, which is a fatty acid that is critical to proper brain function. It can also help with reducing inflammation.
Vitamin D3 (5,000 IU daily)
Another risk factor contributing to Alzheimer’s is vitamin D deficiency. Research has shown that higher levels of vitamin D helps in preventing tangles and plaques from forming on the brain.
CoQ10 (200 mg daily)
As we get older, the levels of CoQ10 gradually decrease and some research has shown that adding CoQ10 supplements has a chance at slowing down the progression of Alzheimer’s disease.
Ginkgo Biloba (120 mg daily)
Ginkgo Biloba can also help in improving the brain circulation and memory retainment and can also be an effective Alzheimer’s disease natural treatment.
Phosphatidylserine (300 mg daily)
It is known that phosphatidylserine can improve brain cell communication and memory as well as having beneficial properties for early-stage Alzheimer’s disease.
Another bonus remedy for natural Alzheimer’s disease is astaxanthin, which is a carotenoid antioxidant found in wild-caught salmon that can support brain health and should be taken in dosages of 2-4 grams, two times a day.
Final Thoughts on Natural Treatment Options for Alzheimer’s
While Alzheimer’s disease is not a normal part of aging, it continues to impact the lives of a growing number of adults. While it is not curable at the moment, the disease can be characterized by toxic plaques and tangles on the brain which leads to symptoms such as memory loss, difficulties performing everyday tasks, personality changes and ultimately, death.
While scientists have had some difficulties bringing meaningful therapies for a long time, 2016 was a year of promising results and findings, which include science-backed evidence that food and exercise play an important role in preventing Alzheimer’s disease.
Researchers at UCLA have used PET scans to show that Mediterranean diet, supplemented with physical activity and a healthy BMI can greatly help people with lowering the risk of developing toxic plaques and tangles on the brain which lead to Alzheimer’s disease.
In some other scientific breakthroughs regarding Alzheimer’s researchers have found correlation between Alzheimer’s disease and certain popular medications. Some more natural treatments may include marijuana, certain foods and supplements which show promising results in reversing inflammation and memory loss caused by Alzheimer’s disease.