The focus of Alzheimer’s research has been, so far, the molecular process which leads to a change in the brain structure, above all and first in the hippocampus. Here, an increased formation of  amyloid beta (Aß) plaques is observed in the brains of Alzheimer patients. These protein adhesions impair the communication between nerve cells. Such alterations are attributed to ageing and genetic predisposition. As a result, Alzheimer’s research has been searching for years (but without any success) for a drug therapy to eliminate or at least reduce plaque formation. A very monocausal view of the problem.

Thus there are also studies suggesting that plaque formation cannot be the only underlying problem, since there are certainly old people with strongly increased plaque formation who are mentally extremely fit. 

Dementia researcher David Snowdon at the University of Minnesota made an impressive study questioning plaque formation as a monocausal cause in the so-called nun study, in which a total of 678 nuns aged between 76 and 106 participated.

Since 1986 Snowden was allowed to test the mental abilities of the nuns and after their death to examine the brains for signs of dementia. The astonishing result: Some brains of nuns who were mentally fit and active up to old age and had an excellent memory, all had “plaques” like in a severe Alzheimer’s dementia. 

Subsequently and in parallel, other influencing factors were intensively investigated. These included viral and bacterial infections, but most of all chronic inflammations.  In addition, there is the problem of insulin resistance caused by excessive sugar consumption by the population in industrialized countries. Today, it is very likely that Alzheimer’s disease is based not only on genetic factors but also on negative lifestyle factors that promote chronic inflammation and insulin resistance of brain cells. Some doctors even refer to Alzheimer’s disease as type 3 diabetes. Amyloid-ß plaques, on the other hand, are a natural protective mechanism that intents to ensure that no more brain cells perish! They are therefore a warning signal, but not a cause.

You can find detailed considerations on the scientific basics and the cause research here….

At the same time, however, this is a bridge to meaningful Alzheimer’s prevention and treatment. A reduction and avoidance of insulin resistance as well as an anti-inflammatory diet and way of life, among other things by:

If you implement these points widely, your Alzheimer’s risk will drop drastically.

In a study conducted by the University of Leipzig, scientists have identified the potential for preventing Alzheimer’s dementia in Germany. Based on internationally available study results, seven risk factors were specifically investigated: High blood pressure, obesity in middle age, depression, physical inactivity, smoking and low education.  The result: about 50% of dementia cases could be avoided by preventive measures alone regarding these risk factors!

Conclusion: Even if the available numbers correspond to theoretical projections, the vast potential for prevention can still be presumed. Especially in the context of demographic change and the corresponding ageing of the German population, preventive measures and educational programmes on Alzheimer’s dementia such as the KsD project are becoming increasingly important.

References:

[1]  Luck, T. & Riedel-Heller, S.G. Nervenarzt (2016) 87: 1194. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00115-015-0045-1

Photo: Maria Teneva

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Curcumin is a yellow pigment contained in turmeric (Curcuma longa). The benefits of curcumin in different organ systems have been extensively documented in the past in several neurological diseases and cancer. Curcumin has received worldwide recognition for its potent antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer and antimicrobial activities. Curcumin has been successfully used to treat diabetes and arthritis, as well as liver, kidney and cardiovascular diseases. Recently, attention has focused on the use of curcumin to prevent or delay the onset of neurodegenerative diseases. A recently published review study (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/31185140) summarized the use of curcumin in different neurological diseases, including Alzheimer’s disease. Recent advances in curcumin formulations and strategies to overcome low bioavailability are discussed as well as toxicity and ongoing clinical trials.

Conclusion:

There is good evidence that turmeric consumption has various potential health benefits not only for older people. In addition to its role in treatment and prevention, curcumin acts in AD therapies as an antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, inhibitor of Aβ aggregation and chelator of metal ions. These effects are, regardless of the results of clinical studies, a good reason to include curcuminoids in our regular diet – e.g. in the form of strong curries.

Further information about the effect of curcumin on Alzheimer’s can be found at Curcumin and Alzheimer’s Dementia…

 

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Despite the significant health problem posed by the disease, only five medical treatments are approved for Alzheimer’s disease (AD), which are intended to control symptoms rather than change the course of the disease. By understanding the overlapping mechanisms of AD pathology, it is possible to get an idea of the complexity of this problem. The treatments currently available have shown frustrating results and some serious side effects that can aggravate a common problem in older people: polypharmacy – many drugs are prescribed, one to cure the side effects caused by the other. While some potential future drugs are being tested, most of them targeting directly at amyloid or tau protein, it is clear that prevention is currently the safest and most effective way to combat AD.

You can find out more about this topic on this page at KsD…

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