What do the following people have in common?
Glenn Campbell, Rita Hayworth, Ronald Regan, Joyce Chen, Perry Como, Arlene Francis, Norman Rockwell, Estelle Getty, Charlton Heston and Meredith Burgess.
They’ve all been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease – the topic of today’s post, in honor of June, Alzheimer’s month. #gopurple #endalz
Alzheimer’s is accepted as an age related illness. However it is a not a normal part of aging Approximately 5% of cases occur in those aged 40 to 50, with the majority of cases reported in patients aged 65 or older.
Symptoms of Alzheimer’s usually start with memory loss of current events, trouble finding words when talking, general disorientation and changes to behavior and personality.
Once the disease starts, symptoms increase in severity for an average of eight years. Progressive symptoms include grunting and groaning, difficulty sleeping, loss of control of body functions and impulsive behavior.
In 2013, the New England Journal of Medicine reported a staggering $200 billion dollars per year spent on care for dementia patients.
This amount is twice the amount spent on care for heart disease patients and almost three times what is spent on care for cancer patients. It would appear not only is our aging population on the rise, but so too are the number of cases.
Seeing family and loved ones deteriorate is a tragedy that cannot be valued or measured in monetary terms.
Additionally, the same publication predicted the rate of Alzheimer’s to double by 2030 – just 15 years from now. By the law of averages, we will all be affected personally with Alzheimer’s, or know someone who has been affected.
Photo Credit – Ben Kilpatrick , BenKPhoto via Flickr
But what if your family and loved ones didn’t have to be affected this way?
The publication of “Brain Maker” by Dr David Perlmutter, is challenging current knowledge of causes and treatments for neurological disease. As a neurologist, Dr Perlmutter has collected evidence from lab and clinical trials along with undisputable results from doctors and patients around the world. This cutting edge research culminated in a breakthrough understanding of the importance of gut bacteria to heal and protect our brains for life.
The term bacteria is generally associated with negative outcomes – infections, hospital stays, prescription of drugs often with side effects as bad as the illness they’re used to treat to the extreme of amputation due to flesh eating bacteria.
Today’s focus is gut bacteria or the microbiome of our digestive tract. One of the key outcomes from the 2008 Human Microbiome Project , is the significant relationship between health and each person’s unique combination of gut bacteria.
Our gut micro biome impacts immunity, inflammation, sleep, mood, digestion, detoxification and stress.
Inflammation is a key predictor of current and future health.
An external injury to our skin presents as inflammation to heal the injury by increasing blood flow and immune boosting substances to the area. This inflammation is on an as needed basis and has been effective for millions of years.
In the context of diseases such as diabetes, arthritis, autism, depression and Alzheimer’s is deep inside your body, inflammation is constant and serves no healing purpose, only illness.
In the case of Alzheimer’s, inflammatory markers can be seen in the brain and are used to predict cognitive decline and the progression of dementia. High levels of cytokines have been directly linked to the degree of inflammation and cognitive impairment. In some cases, genetic disposition to inflammation is the cause, however, this is the minority of cases.
A key contributor to inflammation in the body is elevated blood sugar.
If unused, excess blood sugar triggers glycation and the production of advanced glycation products (AGEs). The detection of AGEs creates inflammation as our bodies fight the intruder. Inadequate blood sugar control and high levels of AGEs are causing researchers to refer to Alzheimer’s as Type 3 diabetes!!
A group of Chinese researchers confirmed the link between Alzheimer’s and type 2 Diabetes. This was also referenced in a 2012 study published in Nature.
To fully experience the benefits of decreased inflammation as a result of elevated blood sugar, dietary modifications are essential. For example eliminating processed carbohydrates, sugary drinks, and nutrient lacking substances, masquerading as food.
If someone suffers from Type 2 diabetes, their cells are often insulin resistant leading to the vicious cycle of needing more sugar to sustain life as the insulin receptors are fewer in number and less effective. As one of our key hormones, an insulin imbalance has a ripple effect across the full spectrum of hormones creating the ‘perfect storm’ with very serious consequences for our body and brain.
In addition to limiting inflammation, gut health can be improved and supported by including fermented foods in your diet. Fermented foods may include Kim Chi, Sauerkruat, Kefir, Kombucha and Yoghurt.
The act of fermentation creates a source of probiotic foods where the bacteria have consumed sugars naturally occurring in the food and created lactic acid – different to the post workout lactic acid!! When purchasing yoghurt, please read the labels carefully for added sugars, stabilizers and gums best left out of our food.
The fermentation process creates a low pH environment unable to sustain pathogenic bacteria while also often allowing nutrients to have greater availability and therefore absorption.
Fat is a necessary and essential dietary component. Not only do the right fats help keep our skin and joints supple, they are also responsible for a feeling of satiety while providing valuable nutrients. This is the exact opposite to what we’ve been told for years by doctors. In his podcast, “The Fat Burning Man”, Abel James discusses the importance of adding the right fats to your diet to support weight loss.
Whether you start with limiting sugar sources in your diet, including probiotic foods or consuming more good fats, there’s little doubt your body and your brain will thank you. While many supermarkets are carrying fermented products in their refrigerated section, please ensure any purchases are truly fermented.
The gut has been called our second brain and is the key location for the manufacture of serotonin or the feel good chemical often out of balance in those with mood disorders.
And before we part ways today, here’s the video that first inspired this post – Not Gonna Miss You by Glen Campbell. Heartfelt gratitude to my friend Mark for the inspiration and the tissues ☺
Have you noticed any difference in your health from changing your diet? I’d love to hear your comments and any tips you’d like to share.