Dementia & Nutrition. Can We Prevent The Disease Before A Cure Arrives?:
We all know that sometimes things seem beyond our control.
Sometimes people appear to get sick for no reason.
But until the new wave of AI & Machine-Learning powered medicine comes up with thousands of custom drugs,
Or Moderna cures every disease known to man,
We all have to try to do whatever we can to give ourselves the best odds at success.
And a handful of studies are pointing the way towards potentially better outcomes for the chances of avoiding Dementia…
The Short Answer:
- There is no cure for Alzheimer’s Disease yet.
- Researchers are finding ways to reduce factors related to it.
- There are several theories on how the disease happens, but nothing set-in-stone.
- A Quebec team found the presence of oxidative particles in the blood of pre-dementia sufferers up to 5 years before disease onset.
- It is possible that getting antioxidants could stave off the disease.
- The INRS team has a few targets already and is working on more specifics.
- A Japanese team found low protein intake was also associated with Dementia.
- They came up with a formulation of 7 amino acids to combat this.
- Test animals with Dementia symptoms had them reversed with the administration of this mix.
- Dr. Neal Barnard has shown & discussed reductions in subjects’ Mild Cognitive Impairment.
- He achieved this through reducing saturated fat intake and increasing antioxidant & flavonoid intake.
- He also noted that many people get saturated fat from milk.
- Another study revealed that milk fat accelerates cellular-aging.
- Fish Oil has been shown to reduce depression and Dementia.
- Columbia researchers found subjects who took 1g/day or more of Fish Oil had 20-30% less Alzheimer’s markers in their blood.
- A recent Greek study found people who ate the highest inflammatory-index diet had a 300% increased chance of getting Alzheimer’s disease.
- We don’t have a cure for Alzheimer’s & Dementia, but perhaps you can prevent it with diet, supplementation, good sleep, and cardiovascular exercise.
Read on to find out the details…
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So far, we don’t seem to know exactly why people get Dementia, Mild Cognitive Impairment, and Alzheimer’s.
But there is some new work that is getting close.
Which is great, because right now we also have no idea how to cure it either.
The cause could be special fat-based molecules, reduced kidney function, porous blood-brain barriers, less-than-stellar oral care, malfunctioning brain sewer-systems, or even bad sleep.
Maybe in the future, docs will consider it the product of a concert of many causes that include those and others.
Until the day they find the magic pill to cure it, which is hopefully coming soon,
Perhaps there is something we can do on our part of the non-doctor big-pharma end of things.
And that’s where the current work kicks-in.
Because a very clever team of researchers at the INRS in Quebec found a connection to one of our old pals: Antioxidants!
Now for some of you, I know what you’re going to say: “Antioxidants are snake-oil BS because they don’t penetrate into your cells…”
The second half is true, the first is false.
As a matter-of-fact, you can make yourself healthier by getting antioxidant-rich foods, regardless of the fact that the compounds circulate in your body but never make it into cells.
So much so that there are even 3 different dimensions of activity !SCIENCE! usually measures them on: FRAP, ORAC, and TEAC.
What the Quebec team found is that the presence of oxidative particles in the blood seems to be an early-indicator of Alzheimer’s and Dementia that can precede onset by as much as 5 years.
They’ve even come up with a few specific targets, and proposed that dietary or even pharmaceutical antioxidants could really slow progression of the disease.
And another bright-spot comes from the fact that excessive oxidation on its own may prevent the body from detoxifying itself in significant ways.
So, just because they say that oxidative species in the blood are an early indicator of Alzheimer’s doesn’t mean they aren’t implicated in the creation of the problem in the first place.
On the other side of the pond, a Japanese team took a different angle.
They started with the interesting finding that diets lower in protein tended to be correlated with Dementia.
So they then asked, “What are the building blocks of protein?” -Amino Acids, of course!
And what’s even better about their results is that they found a specific set of them that really seems to help out.
In mouse-models, they had animals that already exhibited early symptoms of dementia, which were then given a special mix of 7 different amino acids, that the team calls LP7.
And that group did at least 3 things:
1) Stopped inflammation
2) Protected brain-cells
3) Increased connectivity
And all 3 of these were accomplished even in the presence of Tau proteins, which are one of the two main markers of Alzheimer’s disease.
Amazing. No fancy, bespoke pharmaceuticals, but Amino Acids!
To include some more supporting evidence to flesh these ideas out, let’s remember Dr. Neal Barnard’s talk about superfoods for your brain.
In that post, we discussed the things he presented in his TED talk about reversing Mild Cognitive Impairment.
What he tried in his experiments were two main things:
1) He reduced subjects’ saturated fat intake to 13g or less/day
2) He added lots of antioxidants to their diet via blueberry juice or red grape juice
And within 3 months, his small study group was back to having improved recall.
So right there, small study or not, is evidence that dietary antioxidants, anthocyanins and flavonoids can have a protective-effect against Dementia.
Now just imagine what they could do if Science + Big Data combine to find the -exactly- right set of targets and antioxidants.
They might just be able to prevent Dementia all-together with a magic version of concentrated blueberries & grapes!
But there were a few more interesting points in Dr. Neal’s talk about diet’s impact on Dementia/MCI.
Not only did he discuss getting people’s intake of saturated fats closer to 13g/day or less,
He also mentioned that most people get the bulk of their saturated fat intake from Milk Products.
Which is very insightful in the context of his talk, because in a previous post we found out that a BYU team did a study on the harmful effects of milk fat.
And what they found showed that the more of it you get, the more it increases cellular-aging, especially in some very key areas.
For example, even subjects in that study who had 2% milk were found to have cells that were a whole 4 Years Older,
When compared to those of subjects who instead consumed 1% regularly.
Now imagine what happens to people who consume whole milk on-average, or even put half-and-half in their daily coffee.
Not only that, but these results held even after the team controlled them for 12 other lifestyle factors!
One more area you can attack in your diet to help yourself is controlling your consumption of fast-carbs and sugar!
Why? Because as we learned in the sugar and SAD post,
Not only do the products of sugar-metabolism increase our old arch-nemesis Inflammation,
They also greatly increase the amount of free-radicals in the blood in the form of Reactive Oxygen Species, or ROS.
And those are just like the oxidative-particles that the Quebec team was referring to in their work in the first citation.
So because there may be more than one factor or agent at-play, perhaps we should all listen to Dr. Robert Lustig and get as much sugar and fast-carbs out of our diets as we can.
Perhaps that change might be another weapon in fighting Dementia & Alzheimer’s before they ever get started also?
And finally, another at least mildly-contested dietary battleground.
As we’ve stated previously about Antioxidants, some people have questioned the validity of their use in the past.
Well, other people have also questioned the efficacy of Fish Oil, too.
However, it has been shown to lessen not just regular depression, but also treatment-resistant depression, too!
And this is likely due to its power to reduce (drumroll please) Inflammation! -Even the kind that makes it into your brain!
Inflammation that makes it into your brain related to depression? -Yup!
So much so that an Australian team looked into it and A/B tested high-EPA fish oil against 9-10 other contenders for helping to alleviate Depression,
And it came out on top of all of them!
So why are we concerning ourselves with Depression and Inflammation in a post about diet vs. Dementia?
Well, it turns out that the inflammation alone due to Beta-Amyloid plaques & Tau Proteins in the brain of an Alzheimer’s or Dementia sufferer may be one of the main culprits of connection-difficulties and brain-cell death!
And the cherry on top of this kick-ass dementia-fighting dietary summary?
A few years back, Columbia researchers found some pretty startling evidence that Fish Oil itself may help ward-off Alzheimer’s.
Subjects who took a minimum of 1 gram/day of the stuff had anywhere from 20-30% less of the telltale Beta-Amyloid protein from the disease circulating in their blood! -BOOM!
So to sum-up, we may not have a definite 1-shot 1-pill cure for Alzheimer’s & Dementia just yet.
But the recent 2 papers show that we just might be able to add a few more weapons to our arsenal for fighting it before that day comes.
Not only that, but the benefits of reducing oxidizers in your diet, and getting your antioxidants & magical Omega 3 systemic anti-inflammatories,
Just might mean that in the meantime you could be a whole lot slimmer, more gorgeous, happier and healthier right up until they cure it.
And as a final point, just remember in Dr. Neal’s talk -even people who had the dreaded APOE-e4 “Alzheimer’s Gene” reduced their disease-risk by 80%, bringing it back to the population-average; if they just got their saturated-fat intake down to 13g/day or less.
So if that along with a recent Greek study doesn’t convince you that diet & supplement influences can help you avoid Dementia, I don’t know what will.
• Sources: INRS | QST
• More Coverage: Nutr.J. – The total antioxidant content of more than 3100 foods, beverages, spices, herbs and supplements used worldwide
• Source Studies:
• J.Alz Assoc – Effect of APOE ε4 allele on levels of apolipoproteins E, J, and D, and redox signature in circulating extracellular vesicles from cognitively impaired with no dementia participants converted to Alzheimer’s disease
•SciAdv – Neurodegenerative processes accelerated by protein malnutrition and decelerated by essential amino acids in a tauopathy mouse model
•J.Neurology – Diet Inflammatory Index and Dementia Incidence: A Population-Based Study