What is Alzheimer's disease?
Symptoms of Alzheimer's disease
Risk factors for Alzheimer's disease
Root causes of Alzheimer's disease
Prevention / remedies / treatment / recovery from Alzheimer's disease
What is Alzheimer's disease?
Alzheimer's disease is the most common cause of dementia. It is a virus infection, bacteria infection, modern lifestyle and diet-caused disease, and it is mostly preventable if treated early.
About 34 million people around the world suffer from Alzheimer's disease. It is one of the fastest-growing degenerative diseases, and its prevalence is expected to triple over the next 40 years. Conventional medicine says that dementia is just a normal part of aging or a condition for which nothing can be done other than treating the symptoms. Conventional doctors maintain the disease worsens as it progresses, and eventually leads to death. However, with awareness of the real causes and use of appropriate treatments, you can substantially lower your risk of developing this dreadful disease.
In Australia, dementia is the second leading cause of death and Alzheimer's is the most frequent cause of dementia. 1.8% of the entire population suffer from some form of dementia, and it is growing at a rate of more than 3% each year. Similar statistics apply in other developed countries. (19)
Alzheimer's disease is most commonly diagnosed in people over the age of 65, but it can occur much earlier. The average life expectancy after diagnosis is seven years. Less than three percent of individuals live for more than fourteen years after diagnosis.
Symptoms of Alzheimer's disease
Early symptoms of Alzheimer's disease are often mistakenly thought to be manifestations of stress or aging. Early symptoms to look out for, in order of progression, are:
- Impaired olfaction (reduced sense of smell).
- Sleep disorders are a symptom of Alzheimer's disease as well as a cause. Agitation during the night may affect as many as a quarter of AD patients during some stage of their illness. (42, 43, 44)
A study (45) over a period of twelve years found that men who napped for more than an hour a day at the beginning of the study were two to three times more likely to develop Parkinson's disease within 11 years. A subsequent study (46) published by the same authors on 18 June 2019 extended those results to suggest that napping may also precede the risk of dementia and cognitive decline more broadly.
- Not recognising or mis-recognising faces that should be familiar.
- Not remembering recent events.
Dementia normally occurs between 5 to 20 years after the manifestation of the first early symptoms.
Longer term symptoms vary with each individual, and sometimes it may not be diagnosed for years. As the disease advances, symptoms can include:
- Irritability and aggression.
- Difficulty with language.
- Mood swings.
- Long-term memory loss.
- Withdrawal from family and society.
- Gradual loss of body functions, ultimately leading to death.
Risk factors for Alzheimer's disease
Risk factor 1 below is of overwhelming importance. In addition, a study showed that as many as half of Alzheimer's disease cases worldwide and in the USA are associated with risk factors 2-8, which are all modifiable. (1)
- Infection by a variety of microorganisms such as herpes simplex virus (30, 47), Chlamydia pneumoniae, several types of spirochaete bacteria (such as Borrelia of Lyme disease), fungal infections and some protozoa infections. Tooth loss, tooth decay, periodontitis and gum disease are leading causes of infection. (14, 17, 38) A study in 2015 found over a ten-fold increased occurrence of Alzheimer's disease when there is detectable evidence of spirochetal bacteria infection. (18) Another study (38) published in 2019 found the gum disease bacteria Porphyromonas gingivalis to be closely associated with Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia.
- Cognitive inactivity or low educational attainment. Basically, mental laziness. In particular, social isolation is the major risk factor. (6) Not learning new things, or not subjecting yourself to novel situations is also bad.
- Lack of sleep. (24, 25, 33, 34, 35, 37) Sleep is a detoxification process. In particular, the brain requires a sufficient and deep period of sleep every 24 hours.
Beta amyloid is a pathological protein that is strongly associated with Alzheimer's disease. High levels of beta amyloid accumulation in the brain are virtually a definition of Alzheimer's. This is clearly seen in an autopsy.
Beta amyloid builds up in the brain every day, this is a normal process. At night, these beta amyloids are flushed out of the brain. This occurs during a phase known as slow wave sleep. Slow wave sleep is a deep sleep phase which occurs early in the night. It is highly efficient at flushing out beta amyloids compared to all other phases of sleep.
However, with insufficient slow wave sleep, beta amyloid levels in the brain rapidly accumulate. A study published on 10 July 2017 (21) showed that chronically disrupted sleep promotes amyloid plaques and inflammation in the brain. This effect was specific for lack of slow wave activity, and not for sleep duration or efficiency. There is a significant buildup of B-amyloid after just one night of sleep deprivation. (37)
- Physical inactivity. (16, 28, 40, 41)
- Pollution. A 2020 study of over 18,000 American seniors found a 10% variation in the incidence of Alzheimer's depending on the level of air pollution where they lived, when all other factors were statistically accounted for. (48)
- Diabetes. Several scientists look at Alzheimer's disease as a form of diabetes, manifested in the brain. Metabolic syndrome is a strong risk factor for Alzheimer's. (22, 23, 41)
- Hypertension (high blood pressure).
- Obesity. (41)
- Under-methylation, also known as histadelia.
Root causes of Alzheimer's disease
- Intra-cellular infection with pathogenic microbes such as small spirochaete bacteria. Usually a small bacteria, and most commonly a Borrelia species that causes Lyme disease. Over time they will co-infect with other bacteria, viruses, fungi or protozoa. Borrelia and other small bacteria live inside cells, and some shed their own cellular walls to better hide from the immune system. Thousands of these microorganisms can live inside a single cell; eventually the cell walls burst and they spread to a new cellular host. Outside of cells, they also build biofilm for protection. B. garinii mostly affect the brain and central nervous system, although B. burgdorferi which are associated with Lyme disease also have a near universal association. (10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 17, 18)
There is little agreement that Lyme disease occurs in Australia, but Alzheimer's is as prevalent as it is in America. In Australia, ticks often carry Rickettsia bacteria. So it seems that a variety of other bacteria, particularly those with a spirochaete structure, affect the brain, nerves and immune system. For example, Toxoplasma gondii infection is associated with schizophrenia, epilepsy, Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, cancer, mood disorders and cognitive impairment. (3, 39) Chlamydia pneumoniae has been found in the brains of nearly all multiple sclerosis patients and the majority of Alzheimer's patients. (4, 5, 14, 17, 18)
A 2016 study (8) found a strong relationship between periodontitis (gum disease) and Alzheimer's. This was reinforced by a study (38) published in 2019 which found the gum disease bacteria Porphyromonas gingivalis to be closely associated with Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia. Gum infection is more common in the elderly, and the problem is self-reinforcing causing a reduced ability to take care of oral hygiene as the disease progresses. (17)
A 2018 study (30) found a significant connection between Alzheimer's and the herpes virus. This was confirmed by another study published in 2020. (47)
- Toxins. Accumulation of a wide variety of toxins to which the brain and nervous system are exposed.
Pharmaceutical drugs. A 2018 study examined the risk of new-onset dementia among nearly 350,000 older adults in the UK. It found that those who used certain types of anticholinergics (used to treat diseases like depression, Parkinson's disease and urinary incontinence) for a year or more, had a 30% increase in the risk of later developing dementia. (29, 32)
Research published in July 2017 (21) showed that lack of slow wave sleep, is a deep sleep phase which occurs early in the night, is strongly associated with the accumulation of beta amyloids, a pathological protein which accumulates in the brains of all those with Alzheimer's disease.
Foods are a common and major source of toxins, usually accompanied by a variety of digestive problems. Sugar and artificial sweeteners are a direct cause of Alzheimer's (20), and also feed the above spirochaete bacteria.
Air pollution. (48)
A range of estrogen-like hormones and chemicals (xenoestrogens) in the environment cause a wide variety of hormonal problems.
A huge range of other toxic pollutants in our homes, everyday environment, personal care products and water are so diverse and so unique to each person, that it is difficult to connect the dots between the toxin and the ailment.
- Brain / mental inactivity and lack of stimulation.
Prevention / remedies / treatment / recovery from Alzheimer's disease
Here are some changes that you can make to your diet and lifestyle that will substantially reduce your risk of getting Alzheimer's. As I explain in Grow Youthful, this type of lifestyle will also make you look younger, feel younger and more energised, will slow your aging, and prevent many other degenerative diseases.
- Diet. Alzheimer's is a disease of sugar overload. (2, 20, 41) A primary cause is high blood sugar and high blood insulin.
Most processed foods, take-aways and restaurant foods today have sugar added. Avoid high-sugar foods, processed foods and foods made with refined carbohydrates (particularly white flour).
Spend a little time preparing a vegetable salad. (27) Eat bananas - the potassium in bananas helps to lower your blood pressure.
Get sufficient protein from fish, poultry, meat, eggs, nuts and yogurt.
Use saturated animal and dairy fats and
Avoid polyunsaturated omega-6 vegetable oils, which are the main cause of cell membrane degeneration.
Low to moderate alcohol consumption is associated with a 34% lower risk of dementia among elderly people. (36)
- Omega-3 essential fatty acids. These should be obtained through your diet and NOT by using supplements. (31)
- Lose weight. Middle age obesity has a strong connection with Alzheimer's. Grow Youthful Tips offers many practical ways to help reduce inappropriate hunger. Eat nutrient-dense, full-fat foods. Avoid sugar, sweet fruit juice, and foods made with refined carbohydrates (breads, pastries, cookies, diet and other snacks, refined pasta and so on).
- Socialise. Isolation and lack of daily physical interaction with other people is a major risk factor for Alzheimer's disease. Our large brains have evolved for social interaction and all the complexity that comes with it. Brain scans show that when you have a conversation with someone, and pay attention to that person while talking to them, your brain lights up more than with any other activity. (6) This study shows that meaningful interaction with other people may actually reverse brain shrinkage associated with aging.
- Take a class. Higher education is linked to lower rates of Alzheimer's. Learn a new language, take a dance class, play chess or another game with someone. In particular, try to involve interaction with people in your new learning. Also, do something that is completely different to what you have done before!
- Get sufficient exercise. Even a 20 minute walk every day can make a big difference. Exercise is also a good protection against getting Alzheimer's. (7, 9, 16, 28, 40, 41) A long-term study of Swedish women found that those with high cardiovascular fitness (stamina) had an 88% lower risk of dementia than those who were moderately fit. (26)
Gardening is associated with a 36% lower risk of dementia. (36)
- Keep moving. Inactivity is strongly linked to Alzheimer's risk. Even 15 minutes walking every day is highly beneficial. Half an hour is better, and an hour can change (and save) your life. Swimming is particularly valuable. (40) Gardening, any activity is great - and better than none.
- Get sufficient natural vitamin D.
- Teeth and gums. Get tooth decay and periodontitis and gum infections treated. The mouth is a major source of microorganisms that infect the rest of the body, and can cause heart disease, dementia (including Alzheimer's), and numerous other serious ailments. (17)
- Oil pulling. An excellent daily or even weekly practice that removes pathogenic bacteria from the mouth.
- Get sufficient iodine.
- Flowers of sulphur.
- Earthing or grounding.
- Quit smoking.
- Get sufficient sleep. A lack of deep sleep and insufficient and irregular sleep is linked to Alzheimer's and many other degenerative diseases, particularly neuro-degenerative diseases.
- Coconut oil. (14)
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