Dementia, alzheimers and healthy strategies to avoid it.

Are you putting out the Welcome mat for Alzheimer’s?

Research from the Mayo Clinic, published in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease found that diets rich in carbohydrates are associated with an 89 percent increased risk for dementia. Meanwhile, high-fat diets are associated with a 44 percent reduced risk. Dr David Perlmutter’s work as a leading natural medicine neurologist in the USA has been followed up by Dr Mercola, and together they are bringing the link between grains and the detrimental effect they have on cognitive ability to the forefront. Dr Perlmutter’s book ‘GRAIN BRAIN’ is a ground breaking study into the link between eating habits and cognitive ability in old age.

What we've crystallized it down to now, in essence, is that diets that are high in sugar and carbohydrates, and similarly diets that are low in fat are devastating to the brain.

When you have a diet that has carbohydrates in it, you are paving the way for Alzheimer's disease. I want to be super clear about that. Dietary carbohydrates lead to Alzheimer's disease. It’s a pretty profound statement, but it's empowering nonetheless when we realize that we control our diet. We control our choices, whether to favour fat or carbohydrates."

According to recent research published in the magazine ‘Neurology’, long term higher blood sugar levels have a profoundly negative influence on cognition, which the researchers believe is "possibly mediated by structural changes in learning-relevant brain areas."

One of the most important aspects of the study, however, was that these negative effects occurred even in people without type 2 diabetes, which suggests even if you're "healthy," keeping your blood sugar levels lower than what is typically considered "normal" is probably still best for your brain health. The researchers noted that “strategies aimed at lowering glucose levels even in the normal range may beneficially influence cognition in the older population."

It's becoming increasingly clear that the same pathological process that leads to insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes may also lead to dementia. As you over-indulge on sugar and grains, your brain becomes overwhelmed by the consistently high levels of insulin and eventually shuts down its insulin signaling, leading to impairments in your thinking and memory abilities, and eventually causing permanent brain damage

Dr. Perlmutter stresses that gluten sensitivity is involved in most chronic disease, including those affecting your brain, because of how gluten affects your immune system. Unfortunately, many people, physicians included, still believe that if you don't have celiac disease or digestive symptoms, gluten is fair game and you can eat as much of it as you like. Full-blown celiac disease, which is an extreme form of immune-mediated gluten sensitivity primarily affecting the small intestine, affects an estimated 1.8 percent of people in Western cultures. But non-celiac gluten sensitivity may actually affect as much as 30 to 40 percent of all people, and according to Dr. Alessio Fasano at Massachusetts General Hospital virtually all of us are affected to some degree.

This is because we create something called zonulin in the intestines in response to gluten. These difficult to digest proteins known as prolamines, found in wheat, barley, and rye, make your gut more permeable, which allows undigested proteins to get into your bloodstream that would otherwise have been excluded. That then sensitizes your immune system and promotes inflammation and autoimmunity tendencies.

According to Dr. Perlmutter, much of our current disease burden stems from the fact that we are contaminating our immune systems with proteins to which the human immune system has never, in the history of humankind, been previously exposed to.

According to Dr. Perlmutter, our dietary fat phobia "has absolutely been the cornerstone of our most common degenerative diseases of the day, including Alzheimer's." Why? Because when you cut dietary fat and keep protein about the same, you're most likely to substitute with health-harming carbohydrate foods, predominantly grains.

Beneficial health-promoting fats that your body—and your brain in particular—needs for optimal function include organic butter from raw milk, olives, organic virgin olive oil, and coconut oil, nuts like pecans and macadamia, free-range eggs, fish oil supplements about which I have written already on this web site http://www.thehealingtouchtherapy.co.uk/contentextra.asp?ContentId=91  and avocado, for example.  Moderate protein, high fat and low-carbohydrate diets are fundamental to retaining good cognitive health. Most low-carbohydrate diets advocates were very accepting of, if not promoting, high protein, and protein was, and still is, often recommended as a replacement for the carbohydrates.

However, a high-fat, low-carb diet is very different than a high-protein, low-carb diet and this is a major source of confusion by both the public and researchers when doing studies and publishing conclusions. The average amount of protein recommended for most adults is about one gram of protein per kilogram of LEAN body mass, or one-half gram of protein per pound of lean body weight. (As an example, if your body fat mass is 20 percent, your lean mass is 80 percent of your total body weight.) In short, most people consume too much low-quality protein and carbohydrates, and not enough healthy fat. The key is to eat high-quality natural fats, and a lot of them. Dr. Perlmutter expands:

“The quality of the fat that we consume is absolutely fundamental. When we're saying high-fat diet, we're not talking about prepared foods that contain modified trans-fats; hydrogenated fats that are clearly coffin nails. They're a great risk for brain disorders, heart disorders, diabetes, etc. We're talking about these beautiful, natural fats that we have been consuming for more than two million years."

Lifestyle strategies that promote neuro-genesis and re-growth of brain cells include the following

  • Reduce (non-vegetable) carbohydrate consumption, including sugars and grains.Increase healthy fat consumption.
  • Increase your omega-3 fat intake and reduce consumption of damaged omega-6 fats (think processed vegetable oils) in order to balance your omega-3 to omega-6 ratio. I recommend Igennus ethyl-EPA 90% concentration of omega 3 fatty acids to reduce the omega 6 Arachadonic Acids causing so much inflammation.
  • Exercise - Physical activity produces biochemical changes that strengthen and renew not only your body but also your brain—particularly areas associated with memory and learning.
  • Reduce overall calorie consumption, including intermittent fasting.

.All of these strategies target a specific gene pathway called BDNF or brain-derived neuro-trophic factor, which promotes brain cell growth and connectivity as demonstrated on MRI scans (as exemplified by the work of Professor Basant Puri at the Hammersmith Hospital London and now at Imperial College). So if you're looking for the most straightforward way to lower your risk of dementia, including Alzheimer's, this is the plan to follow. As you'll notice, a great deal of the plan involves modifying your diet to lower unhealthful carbohydrates and increase healthful fats