Lifestyle Factors to Keep in Mind for Alzheimer’s Disease Prevention

Losing Brain FunctionBy Jennifer Morganti, ND, Needs Director of Education

 

As Alzheimer’s disease (AD) rates continue to rise, many of us are wondering what our own risk is of  becoming a statistic. Current data says your chances are one in nine if you are over 65 years old, and if you’re over 85, it’s one in three. With such high risks, wouldn’t it be great to better understand what we can do to prevent it? There isn’t a good treatment to reverse AD and we still are not clear what causes it. Genetics and lifestyle factors seem to play in to the scenario, but the picture is fuzzy at best.

A recent study was published in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry, which may help provide clues as to which lifestyle risk factors can be modified to help decrease the chances of developing this devastating disease.  This study was a meta-analysis of other studies that contained data about AD risks. The diligent researchers initially browsed through almost 17,000 relevant studies, then narrowed it down to 323 which were appropriate to include in the review. There were over 5,000 patients included in the 323 studies.

The review of these 5,000 patients brought to light some interesting findings. They found a strong protective effect from five dietary factors: coffee intake, light to moderate drinking (alcohol), vitamin E, vitamin C, and folic acid. They found a significantly increased risk of developing AD when homocysteine levels were high or if a person was depressed. Risk also increased in the presence of other health conditions such as obesity (in middle age), atherosclerosis, high blood pressure, and having type-2 diabetes. Interestingly, the study found a seemingly contradictory risk factor; a “low” BMI (being underweight) also is a hazard. Smoking or having a lower education level increases a person’s risk. Frailty (lacking strength and not exercising) puts a person at risk as well.

Some of the results were surprising and all in all, some were familiar. Although nothing is conclusive from this one review, the information is useful.  I think it does help point us in the right direction to make smart lifestyle choices for AD prevention, and those choices are also generally wise recommendations for overall health and wellness. 

Reference:
Xu W, Tan L, Wang H, et al: Meta-analysis of modifiable risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease. Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery & Psychiatry 2015;August 21, 2015.

Tackling Inflammation with Supplements

By Jennifer Morganti, ND178574086

You can’t feel it and you can’t see it, but inflammation has an insidious and damaging effect that can cause some serious health issues. Inflammation is at the root cause of joint pain and arthritis, atherosclerosis, Alzheimer’s Disease, autoimmune diseases, intestinal conditions, and a long list of other problems. The typical American diet, lacking omega-3 fatty acids and chockfull of sugar and bad fats, fans the fire for inflammation, along with food allergies and toxic burdens. Addressing these concerns by eliminating junk foods, identifying food allergies, and detoxing are all important steps to start dampening inflammation. There are also some key supplements you can incorporate to see a big boost in your health.

Curcumin, derived from the Indian spice turmeric, is one of the top-selling anti-inflammatory supplements, and with good reason. A variety of research has shown that it reduces key inflammatory substances, such as COX-2 and certain cytokines that cause pain, in a method similar to anti-inflammatory medications without the side effects. It crosses the blood-brain-barrier and has been shown in animal studies to aid in digestion of amyloid plaques, the offender implicated in Alzheimer’s Disease (AD). As possible proof, in India, where curry consumption is significant, there are much lower rates of AD than in the U.S.

Magnesium is another key nutrient for lowering chronic inflammation, supported by the fact that it lowers C-reactive protein (CRP). CRP is a marker for systemic inflammation, and is an important predictor for cardiovascular disease such as atherosclerosis. In a large study, people who had low magnesium intake (from food and supplements) were found to be 40% more likely to have elevated CRP levels. It is not clear how magnesium minimizes inflammation; however, scientists do know that magnesium is a co-factor critical to many biochemical pathways, so it may be that optimal functioning of metabolic pathways keeps inflammation in check.

One last, but possibly most important recommendation is omega-3 oil. The American diet is typically severely deficient in this type of fat, and overloaded with omega 6, 9, and bad fats such as saturated and trans fats. This resulting imbalance has an exponentially-damaging effect by constantly pushing a pro-inflammatory system. The only way to rebalance the system is reduce the dominant fats, and increase omega-3 intake. Fish oil is the most common source of omega-3, but there are other sources such as flax seed oil and krill. People with omega-3 deficiencies commonly experience dry skin, dry scalp, eczema, psoriasis, arthritis, or heart disease.

By addressing inflammation through diet, lifestyle, and supplementation, you could potentially be aiding in the prevention of dozens of health ailments.

The Benefits of a High-Quality Fish Oil Supplement

By The Natur-Tyme Wellness Team148266535

Fish oil. It’s no longer the foul tasting oil of your youth. Not only do high-quality fish oils smell and taste good, they provide the nutrients, thus health, the body craves—literally!

The nutrients in question are the Omega-3 fatty acids, docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). Extensive research connects DHA and EPA deficiencies to heart disease; brain disorders, such as ADHD and Alzheimer’s; diabetes; stroke; depression; arthritis; allergies; circulation problems; skin disorders; and gout just to name a few. By simply adding high quality fish oil to your health regime, you can vastly improve the health of your eyes, skin, digestive and immune systems, joints, and especially your heart and brain.

Our highly processed Western diet has drastically changed America’s nutritional landscape. The use of vegetable oils in processed foods caused an enormous increase in Omega-6 fatty acid consumption, elevating the Omega-6 to Omega-3 ratio from its ideal 2:1 to an estimated 20:1. In some cases, it’s even as high as 50:1. Omega-3s can reduce inflammation, while Omega-6s may increase inflammation. Omega-3s can prevent excessive blood clotting, while Omega-6s may promote clotting. Omega-3s can moderate immune system reactions, while Omega-6s may often make it over-react. So you can see how an imbalanced intake can create imbalance in the body, leading to disease.

A fish oil supplement can help create that needed balance. In regard to cardiovascular disease, the benefits of Omega-3s are so well understood and accepted that the American Heart Association published statements recommending increased fish intake and/or the use of fish oil supplements. One study even showed that the Omega-3s in fish oils cut your risk of sudden death from heart disease in half.

At least one epidemiologic study has shown that patients with Alzheimer’s disease have significantly lower levels of Omega-3s than healthy seniors. Researchers report that older people can reduce their risk of developing Alzheimer’s by increasing their intake of fish and fish oil (DHA).

Omega-3s from fish oil are also a great choice for optimal nutrition during pregnancy, not only for fetal development, but for the mother as well. DHA is the most abundant Omega-3 long-chain fatty acid in breast milk and studies show that breast-fed babies have IQ advantages over babies fed formula lacking DHA. Research also shows that by adding DHA to her diet, a new mother can significantly decrease the possibility and/or effects of postpartum depression.

OTHER BENEFITS INCLUDE

  • Protection against symptoms of hay fever, sinus infections, asthma, food allergies, and allergic skin conditions, such as hives and eczema
  • Inhibition of the production of the inflammatory compounds related to psoriasis and improvement of the health of skin, nails, and hair
  • Reduction in insulin resistance
  • Improvement of immune function (research links the intake of fish oil to a lowered risk of breast and prostate cancers)
  • Lowered risk of age-related macular degeneration—an eye condition which is the leading cause of severe visual loss in people over age 50
  • An anti-inflammatory effect on inflammatory bowel disease (ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease)

When selecting a supplement, choose a product that delivers a high concentration of DHA and EPA per serving. Finally, be sure to look for oils that are clean. Some brands that we recommend for their high-quality fish oils include: Nordic Naturals, Carlson Labs, and NutriNeeds.

 

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