Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is one of those age-related diseases that some people get and others do not. We know there are some genetic aspects to the disease. We also know that lifestyle issues can play a part.
Most doctors will tell you that they do not know the cause of AD. However, medical scientists know many factors associated with the disease, its progression, and its severity.
Causes of Alzheimer’s Disease
https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0223523421001276 What is common among AD patients? We hear about plaques and maybe tangles, but what else happens in the brains of people who develop AD?
One common characteristic is the significant reduction in acetylcholine (ACh) in the hippocampus and neocortex, which are centers of brain function – memory, thinking, and learning. This is caused by cholinergic neuronal loss. The cholinergic neurons make ACh. What can be done to help keep acetylcholine levels high? https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/acetylcholine-supplement#increasing-levels. You cannot buy a supplement that provides ACh. Acetyl coenzyme A is formed when glucose (sugar molecule) combines with choline. We all know where sugar comes from in our diets. However, where do we find choline?
Foods containing choline are beef liver, eggs, soybeans, chicken breast, shiitake mushrooms, broccoli, and more. In addition, some dietary supplements can inhibit the breakdown of acetylcholine – alpha-GOC (L-alpha-glyceryl phosphorylcholine, citicoline (CDP-choline), and choline bitartrate. Alpha-GOC and CDP-choline are easily absorbed in the body. The enzymes that break down ACh can be countered with Ginkgo biloba, Bacopa monniere, or huperzine A.
We can increase choline and inhibit the breakdown and counter the enzymatic reactions that support acetylcholine breakdown. Laboratory animal studies with choline supplementation found improved memory and lower levels of amyloid-beta plaques over the lifespan of the animals. Deficiency of ACh is linked to heart and liver disease.
Oxidative stress is common for many diseases, not just AD.
https://www.intechopen.com/chapters/52065. When imbalances occur in the body, especially the brain, things can go awry. An imbalance between the generation and detoxification of reactive oxygen (ROS) and nitrogen species (RNS) causes the brain to prematurely age allowing neurodegenerative diseases.
Typically, oxidation is countered by antioxidants. Reduce the levels of antioxidants and oxidation inundates the playing field. When this happens, inflammation increases and induces many problems – cellular neuron swelling, loss of membrane integrity, and cell death over time.
What options do we have to counter the effects of oxidative stress? The simple lifestyle choices are eating balanced nutrition daily, limit sugars, exercise often, stop smoking, manage stress, and more. We can also reduce oxidative stress by lowering exposure to environmental pollutants (read labels and avoid toxins in foods and personal care products) and eating foods high in antioxidants – dark chocolate, pecans, blueberries, raspberries, kale, etc.
We must control oxidative stress in the brain to lower our risk of AD. This needs to be done long before the risk of tau protein tangles and amyloid-beta plaques form.
Amyloid-beta is a collective term for peptides of roughly 36 to 43 amino acids.
https://www.discoverypeptides.com/product-type/amyloid-peptides. The peptides form an amyloid precursor protein (APP) that contains 771 proteins. APP controls neural growth and repair. However, this precursor molecule is cut by beta-secretase and gamma-secretase and forms amyloid-beta that we see in plaques in the brains of AD patients.
During the carving up of APP, amyloid-beta aggregates form the basis for the plaques we hear so much about with AD. So what can be done to lower the risk of APP cleaving and amyloid-beta plaque formation?
Start with controllable things – your diet. https://www.alzheimers.net/foods-that-induce-memory-loss. Foods that cause spikes in insulin production (pasta, white sugar, white rice, white bread, processed meats and beers containing nitrites, smoked meats containing nitrosamines, etc.) and toxins (avoid toxins added to anything you put inside or outside your body). Choose foods that provide balanced nutrition – healthy fats, fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, etc. One common toxin found in microwave popcorn – diacetyl. It is thought to increase amyloid-beta plaques in the brain.
We cannot control our genetic code. Scientists have found at least six mutations of the APP gene that causes hereditary amyloid angiopathy. Our genes are like light switches. They can be turned on or off. Our lifestyle determines the direction of the light switch.
Can amyloid-beta plaques be removed? https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/255957#1. Studies have shown good progress with omega-3 fatty acid (DHA only) and vitamin D3 in dissolving amyloid-beta plaques. The active forms of both molecules are resolvin D1 (omega-3 DHA) and 1α,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3.
AD’s other reasonably well-known cause is the intraneuronal accumulation of hyperphosphorylated tau protein – neurofibrillary tangles (NFT). https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/neuroscience/tau-protein. Healthy neurons have a skeletal structure called microtubules – like blood vessels – that provide the pathway to get nutrients from the cells to the axon and dendrites.
Tau tangles begin to appear when the tau protein is hyperphosphorylated. This happens when many things occur – the balance of the phosphorylation process becomes disturbed, and brain glucose metabolism is impaired. We may not be able to control the balance or imbalance of phosphorylation, but we can address the levels of glucose in the brain. https://hms.harvard.edu/news-events/publications-archive/brain/sugar-brain.
The term type-3 diabetes is becoming more common. https://www.healthline.com/health/type-3-diabetes. AD is becoming known as type-3 diabetes because of the insulin resistance inside the brain, just as insulin resistance is common in the body with diabetic patients. Controlling or reversing insulin resistance is complex and does not happen overnight. However, it can happen for most people.
An active lifestyle of physical activity, weight management, a low-sugar diet, and more can shift the balance of insulin resistance to normal insulin sensitivity. There are many sources on this topic.
A Magic Pill?
https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-981-13-1123-9_25. Ferulic acid (FA) has many pharmacological properties – antioxidation, neuroprotection, amyloid-beta aggregation modulation, and anti-inflammation. FA is found in many natural sources – oranges, grapefruit, broccoli, tomatoes, coffee, barley, beer, and more.
I extended the introduction of this article to the causes of AD so that a quick wrap-up could be done with FA. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26002710/
Medical scientists strive to find a synthetic pill that can control a disease – mainly because natural options cannot be prescribed for treatments. The FDA does not approve foods, although they do approve supplements. When a molecule like FA is abundant and available and can possibly work well to treat a disease, it is difficult to find funding and clinical studies to prove it.
However, laboratory studies of FA in vitro and in vivo showed that restoration of the brain’s antioxidant defense system – superoxide dismutase (SOD, catalase (CAT), and heme oxygenase-1 (HO-1). Furthermore, FA destabilized amyloid-beta fibrils in vitro and in vivo in the laboratory. Additionally, FA modulated the expression of essential proteins (P38, Hsp 70, ERKs/2, foxo3a, and Akt) that provide neuroprotection.
FA inhibited the inflammatory response of lipopolysaccharides (LPS) and moderated the activity of beta-secretase. Additionally, FA inhibited acetylcholinesterase activity and restored mitochondrial potential. Thus, some scientists believe a diet rich in FA may reduce the development and progression of AD and may be an effective treatment for those with early-onset AD.
There is a lot known about AD. Unfortunately, a single pill, injection, or vaccine will not control all aspects of the development and progression of AD. However, I believe that focusing on nutrient balance in our food choices and healthy lifestyle choices (toxin removal, exercise, weight management, stress management, quality sleep, and more) can keep our risk of AD minimized.
Live Longer & Enjoy Life! – Red O’Laughlin – RedOLaughlin.com