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Alzheimer’s Disease, Dementia and Memory Loss

Posted by Jane Jansen on

I have been asked a few times to write about memory loss, Alzheimer’s Disease and is there anything to prevent or treat it.

Let me first say this, Alzheimer’s is a devastating and very complicated disease that medical scientists are doing ongoing research trying to understand how and why it occurs. It took a while to compile this information that only barely scratches the surface. One thing everyone agrees on is there are no quick fixes!

However, there are nutrients that can protect and improve brain cell function, but this can be different for every individual. Knowing the contributing factors impairing one’s memory is essential to successful prevention as well as treatment.

According to the National Institute on Aging, “Memory loss can happen at any age and for a number of complex reasons.” Alzheimer’s and dementia are often confused terms describing cognitive impairment.

Dementia is a general term that describes a group of symptoms-such as loss of memory, judgment, language, complex motor skills, and other intellectual function-caused by the permanent damage or death of the brain's nerve cells, or neurons.

The two most common types of dementia are Alzheimer's disease and vascular dementia.

As people age the potential for developing Alzheimer’s is very scary with just cause . More than 5 million Americans have Alzheimer’s disease and every 66 seconds someone in the USA develops the disease.  It is a disease that destroys the brain and it is one of the most common causes of dementia. One in three seniors dies with Alzheimer’s or some form of dementia.

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, “Alzheimer’s Disease is a specific type of dementia caused when high levels of certain proteins inside and outside brain cells make it hard for brain cells to stay healthy and to communicate with each other. This leads to the loss of connections between nerve cells, and eventually to the death of nerve cells and loss of brain tissue.”

Most neurologists say Alzheimer's disease is not reversible, whereas other types of dementia, such as those caused by nutritional problems or a drug interaction, can be reversed.

Vascular dementia is the hardening and narrowing of the arteries in the brain that cause decreased blood flow to brain cells. Blood flow is important as that is how oxygen and nutrients are delivered and toxins are taken away. A transient ischemic attack (TIA), also known as a mini-stroke, results from a sudden, temporary lack of blood flow to your brain. Older individuals known for having these events multiple times often result in memory loss.

Sleep Apnea is linked to forgetfulness and sometimes dementia because oxygen delivery to the brain is interrupted several hundred times during the night.

The FDA says many drugs can affect memory, including:  sleeping pills, antihistamines, anti-anxiety medications, antidepressants, pain medications, statin drugs used for lowering cholesterol, diabetes medication such as metformin and acid inhibitors such as omeprazole and prilosec.

Acid inhibitors, poor eating habits, digestive disorders and gastric bypass are leading causes of nutritional deficiency to the body and brain, which increases memory loss. Vitamin B12, and B6 are essential for normal nerve function. Lack of minerals, electrolytes, good fats like DHA and proteins can also contribute to memory problems. Even mild dehydration can alter a person's mood, energy level, and ability to think clearly, according to many studies.

THE SMELL TEST: In 2013 University of Florida researchers found the sense of smell is often the first sense to go in cognitive decline, even before memory loss. This is how it is done:  The subject closes their eyes and mouth, apply pressure to the outside of one nostril so it is closed. Then hold a container of peanut butter one foot away from your open nostril. Move the peanut butter closer by 1 centimeter upon each inhale until you can detect the odor and note the distance. Then repeat the whole procedure again using your other nostril.

The healthy elderly control subjects in the study smelled the peanut butter as soon as it came within an average of about 7 inches from either nostril. In patients with presumed Alzheimer’s distance was also roughly 7 inches from the right nostril of Alzheimer’s patients. But from their left nostril, they typically could not smell the peanut butter until it was 2 inches or less away.

Some neurologists do not feel this simple test can only be used to confirm an Alzheimer’s diagnosis, and is not a way to diagnose the disease.

Published November 16, 2016 in JAMA Neurology, researchers from the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota found older adults who had the worst smell test scores were 2.2 times more likely to begin having mild memory problems. And if they already had these memory problems, they were more likely to progress to full-blown Alzheimer's disease.

As you can see Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease is a complex individualized health problem that needs to be addressed appropriately. What can be beneficial varies from each person depending on the diagnosis and other health concerns involved. With Alzheimer’s the intention is to try and slow down the progression of the disease as much as possible. With other types of dementia improvement to varying degrees is often can be achieved. There are many nutrients that can protect and improve brain cell function, but this can be different for every individual. Knowing the contributing factors impairing one’s memory is essential to successful prevention as well as treatment. These are my top three!

Phosphatidylserine is a phospholipid (a fatty molecule) which contains both amino and fatty acids. Phosphatidylserine increases communication between cells in your brain by increasing the number of membrane receptor sites for receiving messages. Phosphatidylserine modulates the fluidity of cell membranes—essential to your brain cells' ability to send and receive chemical communication.

Scientific studies demonstrate that phosphatidylserine restores the brain’s supply and output of acetylcholine, the neurotransmitter so important to memory, and so may turn back the clock in an aging brain.

DHA is an omega-3 fatty acid most abundantly found in the brain that is thought to be crucial to its function. However, the brain does not produce DHA. The adult brain gets it through food, supplementation or DHA produced by the liver. Published in the 2012 journal Applied Physiology, Nutrition and Metabolism, researchers found that memory cells in the hippocampus could communicate better with each other and better relay messages when DHA levels in that region of the brain were higher.

REG’ACTIVE Cardio Wellness: According to a study published in the 2014 Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, oxidative stress has been attributed to decreased levels of the brain antioxidant, Glutathione (GSH)  also known as “The Mother of All Antioxidants” and “The Master of the Immune System”. According to research, glutathione is a powerful regenerator of immune cells and is easily the most important agent in keeping the body detoxified and healthy. GSH is vitally important in the synthesis of DNA and the maintenance DNA, the synthesis of protein and amino acids, so the body can utilize them effectively. In addition, it is essential in protecting cells from oxidization and activates enzymes vital for the removal of all toxic build up at the cellular level.

However taking glutathione as a supplement has been proven not effective and increasing glutathione production has been challenging. One study gave healthy people 500 milligrams twice a day for a month, however due to the digestive process they were unable to raise the glutathione level in the blood.

In 1995, award-winning microbiologist Marika Mikelsaar, MD, PhD and her team of research scientists at the University of Tartu, Estonia isolated this distinctive probiotic strain. ME-3 is considered by scientists as a "complete glutathione system" due to its ability to produce glutathione in the human body via three different mechanisms. The unique strain ME-3 in REG’ACTIVE Cardio Wellness is proven to stimulate glutathione production naturally in the human body and works as a glutathione-activating agent via three different mechanisms.

The diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia are overwhelming for family and friends.  We are here to help.

Telephone & In-Office appointments are available at the Tree of Life Wellness Center, call 508-336-4242.

Jane Jansen Naturopath Practitioner Tree of Life Wellness Center

Host Holistic Healthline Radio


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