Experiencing Alzheimer’s disease first hand is both frightening both for the person and for family members. Like many other neurodegenerative diseases its incidence is on the rise. What if we could make life changes that could reverse the early symptoms of memory loss and cognitive impairment. But perhaps more importantly are there life style changes that we should all implement that can prevent our likelihood of suffering this disease.
In October 2014 a small study of 10 patients with signs of early onset Alzhiemer’s reported how a personalised therapeutic programme of lifestyle changes has improved memory loss and cognitive impairment. For 6 of the 10 patients this included them returning to work and improving work performance.
The study suggests that at least in the early onset metabolic processes in the body may drive the cognitive decline. By enhancing body metabolism they appear to have halted the decline.
Imbalance in endogenous plasticity signalling (mediated by β amyloid precursor protein). In other words there is an age-associated imbalance between the rate of developing, maintaining, repairing and remodelling nerve synapses.
So far drug development trials for Alzheimer’s have not been successful. It is likely that such an approach is not the answer for this and many other neurodegenerative diseases. I think we should all take heed of the anecdotal findings in this study and implement these changes to our own lives. I am looking forward to hearing results from larger clinical trials proposed by this research team in the future.
Below is a summary of the main therapeutic approach. Some of the interventions are easily applicable for all. Others may need blood tests to identify your own personalised levels and this can be done in conjunction with a functional nutrition practitioner.
1. Minimize inflammation and insulin resistance.
Most effectively by reducing simple carbohydrates. Low grain, low glycemic index foods and low inflammatory foods.
2. Fast 12hrs each night, including 3hrs prior to bedtime
This will reduce insulin levels.
3. Reduce Stress. Reduce cortisol stress hormone
Yoga, meditation, music etc.
4. Optimise Sleep
8 hours per night. Get out in the sun for at least ½ hour per day to boost melatonin (sleep/wake hormone).
30-60 minutes per day 4-6 times a week.
6. Brain Stimulation
7. Homocysteine levels <7
8. Vitamin B12 (serum levels >500)
9. C-Reactive Protein <0.1
Again reduce inflammation. Anti-inflammatory diet, curcumin spices. Fish oil and flaxseed oils (DHA/EPA).
10. Fasting insulin <7; HgbA1c <5.5
There exists a relationship between Type II diabetes and Alzheimer’s.
11. Hormone Balance
Optimize thyroid hormones, progesterone, pregnenolone, cortisol.
12. GI Health
Repair gut with probiotics and prebiotics. Avoid inflammation.