Tag Archives: Alzheimer’s

Canola oil worsens memory, raises Alzheimer’s risk

Canola OilWe’ve long been pitched canola’s health benefits. After all, Whole Foods uses it in all their prepared foods and many vegetarian and vegan products proudly promote it as a feature ingredient. But when scientists, who had shown the brain benefits of olive oil in mice, decided to run the same studies with canola oil, they uncovered a darker truth: Canola oil worsens memory and promotes amyloid plaques, a hallmark Alzheimer’s symptom.

In the olive oil study, researchers gave mice with Alzheimer’s Disease a diet enriched with extra-virgin olive oil and found that compared to the control group, the mice experienced improvements in memory as well as a reduction in amyloid plaques and phosphorylated tau, which creates the neurofibrillary tangles that degenerate the brain in Alzheimer’s.

They replicated the study with canola oil, one of the cheapest and most widely used oils in the world, to see what effects it might have on the brain.

The control group ate a normal diet while the study group was fed the equivalent of two tablespoons a day of canola oil.

After 12 months, researchers observed the following in the canola oil mice:

  • They weighed significantly more than the control group.
  • They suffered impairments in working memory.
  • They had greatly reduced levels of a beneficial form of amyloid beta (amyloid beta 1-40). Amyloid beta 1-40 acts as a buffer to the damaging amyloid beta 1-42. When amyloid beta 1-40 goes down, it leaves the 1-42 form unchecked to degenerate the brain.
  • They showed reduced connectivity between neurons in the brain. Synapses are areas of neurons through which they communicate with one another, playing a vital role in memory formation and retrieval. The drop in amyloid beta 1-40 caused extensive synapse injury.

The scientists plan to conduct a follow-up study to determine how soon neuron damage begins to happen after regular consumption of canola oil, whether it impacts tau phosphorylation, and whether canola oil promotes other neurodegenerative diseases in addition to Alzheimer’s.

What to eat instead of canola oil

When you eat out or buy processed and packaged foods, it’s difficult to find foods that don’t contain canola oil, soybean oil, or processed vegetable oils, none of which are healthy for the brain. It’s especially important to avoid hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils, which have also been linked with memory loss.

The brain is made up primarily of fat, which means the fats you eat help determine the structure of your neurons and how well they are able to communicate with one another. For instance, hydrogenated fats have been shown to make cell membranes more rigid and less able to function properly.

Instead of industrially processed vegetable oils, use extra virgin olive oil, avocado oil, coconut oil, and ghee.

Why high blood sugar can give you deadly diseases

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It’s not easy being a healthy American. We are constantly besieged by the lure of sugary, starchy treats (salted caramel latte and a scone anyone?). Yet behind the innocent disguise of these lures is the threat of chronic disease, the leading cause of death.

Heart diseasestroke  diabetes, arthritis  and Alzheimer’s are among the most common and expensive health problems in the United States. In most cases their origins spiral back around to those small daily decisions — the fries instead of a salad, the syrupy hot drink with whipped cream instead of a simple cup of coffee or tea, or the ice cream or pie for dessert instead of a little fruit (or, gasp, no dessert).

What is it about these seemingly innocuous indulgences that add up to deadly diseases? Sugar and refined carbohydrates. (Although the hydrogenated fats, lack of fiber, industrialized salt, and artificial chemicals play their roles, too.) Continue reading

Do you have an inflamed brain? How to tell and what to do

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When most people think of inflammation they think of arthritic joints, or maybe a sprained ankle. But did you know your brain can become inflamed, too?

The problem is an inflamed brain won’t hurt. Instead you should look for other symptoms of brain inflammation. These include brain fog, slow thinking, fatigue, and depression.

Brain fog is a hallmark symptom of brain inflammation. The inflammation slows down communication between neurons. This is what causes you to feel foggy, dull, and slow.

Brain inflammation is serious because it means nerve cells in the brain are dying. In other words, brain inflammation is causing your brain to atrophy and age too fast.

What causes brain inflammation

A common cause of brain inflammation is head injury. Injuries cause immune cells to turn on in order to begin the healing process. But unlike immune cells in the body, the brain’s immune cells do not turn off. This means brain inflammation can continue to be a problem long after the injury. This is one reason football players have high rates of the chronic degenerative brain disease called chronic traumatic encephalopathy.

Other common causes of brain inflammation include chronic inflammation in the body, leaky gut, high blood sugar and diabetes, hormone imbalances, hypothyroidism  food intolerances (gluten is a notorious brain inflamer), stress, and brain autoimmunity — a disorder in which the immune system erroneously attacks and damages brain tissue. It is more common than people realize.

Depression and brain inflammation

Depression is a common symptom of brain inflammation (although different things can cause depression, depending on the person). Immune cells called cytokines that are created by inflammation impair brain function. Cytokines also hamper the activity of serotonin, the “joy and well-being” brain chemical commonly linked with depression.

A good illustration of this is the fact that many patients given the anti-viral drug interferon  which increases cytokine activity, develop depression. Conversely, many people who tame inflammation relieve depression.

Brain inflammation: Autism to Alzheimer’s

Brain imaging and autopsies show brain inflammation is more common in individuals with autism.

Brain inflammation is also increasingly being linked with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. The inflammation both degenerates brain tissue and increases amyloid beta, the hallmark of Alzheimer’s.

Take brain inflammation seriously to save your brain

If you have brain fog or other symptoms that suggest brain inflammation, this means your brain is degenerating (aging) too fast. Be proactive in saving your brain health:

  • Take flavonoids. Flavonoids are plant compounds that have been shown to reduce inflammation in the brain. Ask me for more information.?Balance your blood sugar. Low blood sugar, insulin resistance (high blood sugar), and diabetes all inflame the brain. Don’t skip meals or overdo carbs.
  • Food sensitivities. Gluten is a common cause of brain inflammation. Rule out a sensitivity to gluten or other commonly inflammatory foods, such as dairy, soy, eggs, and other grains. 
  • Balance hormones. Low sex hormones (such as estrogen and testosterone) and low thyroid hormones contribute to brain inflammation. 
  • Heal your gut. The gut and the brain profoundly influence one another. An inflamed gut causes an inflamed brain.
  • Take glutathione precursors. Glutathione is the body’s master antioxidant and can help quench brain inflammation. Sufficient essential fatty acids and vitamin D are important, too.

Worried about losing your memory? Eat your greens

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Memory loss and dementia are valid concerns for everyone these days: one in three seniors dies of Alzheimer’s or dementia and Alzheimer’s is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States. Fortunately, dementia is largely preventable with many lifestyle and dietary adjustments, one of which is including plenty of greens in your diet.

New research shows eating plenty of spinach, kale, collards, and mustard greens can help slow cognitive decline. Researchers believe the high vitamin K content in these vegetables plays a role in preserving brain health.

The study tracked almost 1,000 older adults during five years and saw significantly less cognitive decline in participants who ate leafy green vegetables.

In fact, the elders who ate one to two servings a day of leafy greens had the cognitive ability of someone 11 years younger.

Researchers credited not only the vitamin K in leafy greens for slowing cognitive decline, but also lutein and beta-carotene. Other brightly colored fruits and vegetables are also high in these vitamins.

Vitamins aren’t the only brain benefits of leafy greens — greens promote healthy gut bacteria

The vitamins in leafy greens aren’t their only benefits.

For one, leafy greens are also rich in fiber, which are good for the gut. Plenty of dietary fiber not only prevents constipation, but it also supports the healthy bacteria in your gut. People who eat diets high in plant fiber show a more beneficial composition of gut bacteria compared to those who eat a typical western diet.

Scientists have increasingly been discovering how vital beneficial gut bacteria are to brain health. For instance, healthy gut bacteria promote the integrity of the blood-brain barrier, the lining that protects the brain.

Gut bacteria have also been shown to influence depression, anxiety, learning, and memory. This is because the gut and the brain communicate closely with one another through the vagus nerve, a large nerve that runs between the brain and the organs.

Eating greens is usually part of a healthy brain lifestyle

Another factor to consider with this study is that people who eat greens every day are typically more conscious of their health. Someone who is taking the time to shop for and prepare greens every day is probably eating a healthier, whole foods diet and avoiding dementia-promoting junk foods, sodas, and sugars.

Exercise is the golden bullet to lasting brain health

People who eat healthier also tend to exercise more regularly, whether it’s just taking a daily walk or hitting the gym every day. Both strength training and aerobic exercise have been shown protect neuron health, ensure better blood flow to the brain, and protect the brain from the damaging proteins that cause Alzheimer’s.

One study that followed more than 600 people ages 70 and older found those who engaged in the most physical activity showed the least amount of brain shrinkage.

Another study found that older adults who walked as little as 30 to 45 minutes three days a week increased the volume of the part of the brain responsible for learning and memory.

So although eating your greens is a great way to boost brain health (and gut health), if you eat your greens AND exercise every day, you drastically reduce your chances of developing dementia and Alzheimer’s. Considering there is no cure for dementia and Alzheimer’s — the neurons that die in these conditions cannot be recovered — the best approach is a preventive one.

Ask my office for more details on lowering your risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s.

Boost anti-aging and brain function with PQQ

PQQ

By now you’ve probably heard of CoQ10 and it’s anti-aging potential. The newest discovery in the anti-aging world is PQQ (pyrroloquinoline quinone). PQQ works inside your cells like CoQ10 by defending them from damage. But what sets PQQ apart is that it can also energize your cells so they function better. This is done by PQQ’s ability to enhance mitochondrial function.

Mitochondria are tiny compartments inside the body’s cells that are often referred to as the cell’s batteries or energy factories. Just as low battery power can cause the lights on a flashlight to slowly dim, so can poor mitochondrial function drain us of energy and function.

PQQ and aging

Poor mitochondrial function is a key marker of aging. Research shows people over the age of 70 have 50 percent more mitochondrial damage in the brain than those who are middle-aged. Mitochondrial dysfunction is also linked to chronic disease, such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and dementia and Alzheimer’s.

PQQ is found in the natural world, including in plants and even in stardust. Because we cannot synthesize it ourselves we depend on getting it from our diets, which makes it an essential micronutrient. Studies show that animals deprived of PQQ exhibit stunted growth, poor immunity, reproductive problems, and fewer mitochondria in their tissues. Putting PQQ back into their diets reversed these issues.

PQQ is also unique because it is a very stable antioxidant, which means it can perform it’s cellular defense duties without breaking down. It has been shown to be especially effective in the heart and the brain, the body’s two most energy-demanding organs.

PQQ and the brain

Studies of PQQ have shown it can optimize the health of the entire central nervous system, reverse cognitive impairment, improve memory, help in stroke recovery, slow the damage caused by neurodegenerative disease  and help protect the brain from toxicity, such as from mercury.

Because of its many protective roles, researchers and clinicians are looking at PQQ’s preventive role in Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. One study on aging rats showed supplementation with PQQ resulted in significantly improved memory. Studies on humans showed supplementation of 20 mg a day of PQQ improved cognition in middle-aged and elderly people. The improvements were amplified when they also took 300 mg a day of CoQ10 in addition to the PQQ.

PQQ and the heart

PQQ appears to help protect the heart after a heart attack and from oxidative stress in general thanks to its ability to support mitochondrial function.

To learn more about PQQ and how it may help you, contact me.

Dementia cases doubling–how to lower your risk

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The numbers of people with dementia are expected to more than double in 30 years and outpace both heart disease and cancer in terms of cost. Because dementia can take root in the brain years or decades before symptoms appear, you can take action now to avoid becoming part of this skyrocketing statistic.

Today, nearly 15 percent of people aged 71 or older have dementia—almost 4 million people. Experts predict that number will more than double to 9 million people by 2040, costing the country more than $500 billion.

What’s worse is these statistics do not include mild cognitive impairment (MCI), or “pre-dementia,” which accounts for another 22 percent of people over 71.

Continue reading

Control insulin resistance to prevent chronic disease

blood sugar and chronic diseaseHeart disease, stroke, diabetes, arthritis, and Alzheimer’s — chronic diseases are the most common and costly health problems in the United States. What’s worse is they are largely lifestyle diseases, meaning they often can be prevented through changes to the diet.

Many Americans today eat diets that throw their blood sugar out of balance and cause inflammation. Along with lack of exercise, these diets underpin the development of many chronic diseases today.

The body has several ways to keep blood sugar within a narrow range so it doesn’t go too high or too low. For the average American, unfortunately, the body must constantly struggle to manage overly high blood sugar.

This is because people consume diets high in sugars, sweeteners, and refined carbohydrates—pasta, white rice, breads, pastries, soda—that quickly spike blood sugar.

Continue reading

Feel sleepy after meals? This could be an Alzheimer’s risk

image17Do you feel sleepy or have intense cravings for sugar after meals? Are you a woman whose hair is thinning, yet you’re growing facial hair? Are you a man who cries at movies and has “moobs” (male breasts)? If so, you probably suffer from insulin resistance. Not only does insulin resistance gender bend your hormones, research shows it also raises your risk for dementia and Alzheimer’s.

What is insulin resistance?

Continue reading

Do you suffer from sitting disease? Frequent breaks and standing are key

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Do you eat a healthy diet and exercise regularly but sit long hours each day at work? If so, you could be undoing all your good work.

Sitting, even if you otherwise practice healthy habits, is associated with poor cardiovascular health, higher inflammation, and more belly fat, according to a 2011 Australian study. This is bad news for the millions of Americans who must work at a desk. In fact, it can feel downright insulting to learn that all our healthful efforts are being thwarted by our jobs.

Studies link prolonged sitting with compromised metabolic health, higher risk of disease, and shorter life span. Witness this cascade of ill effects:

  • Electrical activity in muscles goes silent
  • Calorie burning plummets
  • Insulin sensitivity drops, raising the risk of obesity and Type 2 diabetes
  • Enzymes responsible for clearing fat and triglycerides from the bloodstream plunge, lowering the levels of HDL (good) cholesterol

Continue reading

Is Alzheimer’s type 3 diabetes?

Question

I heard Alzheimer’s is related to diabetes. I don’t have diabetes, why should I be concerned?

Answer

The same sugary, starchy diet that increases the risk of diabetes also increases the risk of Alzheimer’s.

In fact people with diabetes have a 65 percent higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s.

Sugary, starchy diets can be the brain’s demise

The pancreas releases insulin to lower high blood sugar caused by consuming sweets, starchy foods (pasta, potatoes, rice, corn, breads, pastries, etc.) sodas, juice, and sweet coffee drinks Continue reading