Alzheimer’s disease or senile dementia is a disorder that affects memory, the ability to think, and a person’s behavior. The symptoms increase gradually until they start interfering with daily needs and tasks.
When my father first started showing signs of Alzheimer’s disease, he would forget things we just talked about or he would pronounce words in a strange way. Within just a few years, by the time he was 65 years old he didn’t recognize anyone anymore, except my mom, he couldn’t eat on his own or perform much of any daily functions.
What happens in the brain with Alzheimer’s disease?
What we know is that amyloid-beta plaque accumulates in the brain which damages synapses between nerve cells and causes neural cell death. Over time this causes cognitive impairment. What is a bit more complicated is why this happens.
The root cause to why this plaque accumulates is multifactorial, but the common denominator is inflammation. We commonly think of inflammation when it comes to painful joints but not so much when we think of Alzheimer’s disease.
The root causes of inflammation in the body and especially in the brain can be numerous. Medical doctor, author, and expert in preventing and reversing Alzheimer’s disease, Dr. Dale Bredesen has identified “36 holes in the roof” which are more primarily classified under 5 types of Alzheimer’s disease.
The 5 types of Alzheimer’s disease
These five types are thoroughly covered in his book “The end of Alzheimer’s Program”. These types are important because they highlight how crucial it is to look at the brain response to these triggers.
* Type 1 is the inflammatory or hot: this appears due to pathogens, imbalanced gut microbiome and other inflammatory issues.
* Type 2 is the atrophic or cold: this has to do with nutrients and hormones needed (such as sex hormones, insulin, vitamin D) in order to maintain 500 trillion synaptic connections in the brain.
* Type 3 is the glycotoxic type or sweet: this is focused on blood glucose issues and insulin resistance, which is a major problem in the US with 80 million Americans having unhealthy blood glucose metabolism.
* Type 4 is the vascular type or pale: this relates to having already an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.
* Type 5 is traumatic or dazed: this is associated with a history of head trauma.
3 Alzheimer’s disease prevention approaches
Since the root causes are varied, working on prevention depends on each person’s needs. However, finding ways to mitigate inflammation will not only improve your brain’s health but also your overall health.
These are the top three main ways you can start with that I commonly see needed in my patients.
- Sleep well to heal and decrease inflammation. Sleeping well is crucial because the brain cleans itself at night and clears amyloid-beta. Improving your sleep with natural solutions is important since some of the pharmaceutical solutions don’t always help your body achieve all of the necessary sleep stages. In addition, many people have undiagnosed sleep apnea so checking for oxygen saturation at night with a continuous oxygen monitor or a sleep study is highly recommended.
- Improve blood sugar balance to majorly decrease inflammation. According to Dr. Bredeson, almost every patient with Alzheimer’s disease has insulin resistance, at least to the brain tissue, if not also systemic. Blood sugar issues are one of the major sources of inflammation in the body. I encourage all of my patients to test for blood sugar issues and also to use a continuous blood sugar monitor for 28 days. These monitors have been life changing for myself and many of my patients as they track in real time how your body is reacting to what you eat. This monitor can help you modify your diet based on your blood sugar response. In addition to this, I often recommend a modified ketogenic diet or a paleo diet to heal the blood sugar response.
- Identify and remove toxins or chronic infections. Toxins and chronic infections can create long-term inflammation which is often hard to identify for many of my patients because the symptoms can be varied and vague. This is where holistic and functional medicine can bring answers and solutions. Heavy metals accumulation over the years such as mercury, toxins such as mold, or viruses from the Herpes family are issues that come up in my patients which can eventually contribute to the development of Alzheimer’s disease.
Newer research shows that Alzheimer’s disease may be autoimmune in nature. Since 70% of the immune system is located in the gut, I often treat the gut as a way to prevent developing this type of dementia. This is also important since there is a highway between the gut and the brain, so what happens in one area will affect the other.
As mentioned earlier, sleeping well is important for Alzheimer’s disease prevention. What is interesting is that many of the things I mentioned here, such as working on blood sugar balance, or eliminating toxins, or healing chronic infections, are also often at the root cause of why you can’t sleep. Indeed, everything is interrelated.
That is a beautiful thing because when we work on such major areas of health such as sleep, your entire health improves.