Protecting Your Mind

Essential Strategies to Combat Alzheimer’s Disease

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Dr. Aaron Hartman

June 11, 2024

Protecting Your Mind

    Did you know that about 5.8 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s disease today?

    As the prevalence of Alzheimer’s continues to rise, understanding the disease and how to prevent it becomes increasingly crucial. By 2050–2060, we’re expecting to have about 14 million people with Alzheimer’s disease in our country. In this article, I’ll break down the different types of Alzheimer’s, explain how it impacts the brain, and share essential strategies you can adopt to protect your mind and enhance your cognitive well-being.

    Understanding Alzheimer’s

    What is Alzheimer’s Disease?

    Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive neurological disorder characterized by the degeneration of neurons in the brain. This condition primarily affects the hippocampus, which is crucial for memory and cognitive function. As the disease progresses, generalized atrophy of the brain occurs, leading to a rapid decline in cognitive abilities and brain mass, akin to an accelerated aging process.

    Similar to other inflammatory disorders like COPD, arthritis, and heart disease, Alzheimer’s targets a specific organ—the brain in this case—but also has systemic effects throughout the body.

    Types of Alzheimer’s Disease

    There are six identified types of Alzheimer’s disease:

    • Type 1: Inflammatory Alzheimer’s
      Characterized by elevated markers of inflammation such as homocysteine, high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (hs-CRP), erythrocyte sedimentation rate (SED), and ferritin.
    • Type 1.5: Glycotoxic Alzheimer’s
      Also known as Type 3 diabetes, this type is linked to the effects of diabetes on the brain.
    • Type 2: Atrophic Alzheimer’s
      Related to deficiencies in hormones (testosterone, estrogen, pregnenolone) and nutrients (vitamins B and D).
    • Type 3: Toxic Alzheimer’s
      Associated with heavy metal exposure (mercury, lead), infections (such as Lyme disease), and environmental toxins (pesticides, mold). One interesting study showed that up to 80% of individuals with Alzheimer’s had an infection in their brain by spirochete, which could have been either from the mouth or related to Lyme disease.
    • Type 4: Vascular Alzheimer’s
      Known as multiinfarct dementia, characterized by microclots in the brain’s small arteries.
    • Type 5: Traumatic Alzheimer’s
      Linked to brain trauma, such as chronic traumatic encephalopathy found in athletes with repeated head injuries.

    Preventing Alzheimer’s Disease

    Now that we understand the different types of Alzheimer’s, let’s explore the basic steps you can take to maintain your cognitive health and reduce your risk:

    1. Diet

    Your diet plays a crucial role in brain health. Adopting a clean, anti-inflammatory diet is essential. According to Dr. Dale Bredesen’s protocol, a ketogenic diet that resembles a paleo autoimmune/paleo ketogenic diet is highly beneficial. This diet should also incorporate intermittent fasting to improve ketone bodies, reduce liver and gut inflammation, and provide optimal brain nutrition.

    2. Movement

    Regular physical activity is vital for activating the brain. Engaging in daily exercises such as walking, gardening, or other physical activities can significantly improve cognitive function. It’s important to stay active as you age, rather than succumbing to a sedentary lifestyle.

    3. Cognitive Engagement

    Keeping your brain active through cognitive exercises is essential. Activities like learning a new language, meditating, participating in brain games, or even reading can make a significant difference. Higher education levels have been linked to less severe forms of Alzheimer’s, highlighting the importance of lifelong learning and mental stimulation.

    On a personal note, my grandfather lived to be 101, and his mental sharpness was something to behold. In his mid-80s and 90s, he was always outside doing yard work and remained mentally engaged by reading books. He often read the encyclopedia and dictionary, and when you visited him, you could always find him using his brain. This lifelong habit of cognitive engagement likely contributed to his remarkable longevity and mental clarity.

    4. Sleep & Stress Reduction

    At the risk of sounding like a broken record, you need to attend to The Triangle of Health: Gut, Stress, & Sleep. Each aspect enhances the benefits of the other and are together critical to maximize brain function and overall well-being.

    Explore the Triangle of Health.

    Different Sources of Vitamin D Dropper and Capsules

    5. Nutritional Supplements

    Basic nutritional supplements can also support brain health. Consider incorporating vitamin B, omega-3s, fish oil, vitamin D, probiotics, and fiber into your diet. Additional supplements like curcumin (an anti-inflammatory), medium-chain triglyceride (MCT) oil, vitamin E, and digestive supports can provide further benefits.

    Taking the Next Steps

    Alzheimer’s disease is a multifaceted condition that demands a comprehensive, proactive approach. By focusing on diet, movement, cognitive engagement, and overall wellness, you can take meaningful steps towards preventing this debilitating disease. Remember, early detection and preventive care are key. Stay informed, stay active, and prioritize your brain health.

    If you’re concerned about your cognitive health or that of a loved one, I would encourage you to consult with a practitioner trained in Dr. Bredesen’s protocol. In the case of RIFM, that includes both myself and Dr. Christian Jenski. Navigating the journey of Alzheimer’s disease requires understanding, compassion, and a holistic approach. Professionals trained by Dr. Bredesen’s protocol can provide the personalized guidance and support critical for this profound disorder. Together, we can work towards a future with better cognitive health and well-being.

    Further Reading

    The Lyme Solution

    A 5-Part Plan to Fight the Inflammatory Auto-Immune Response and Beat Lyme Disease
    Darin Ingels ND

    Lyme Disease is a great imitator and can be difficult to eradicate in certain individuals. This book reviews the myriad presentations of Lyme Disease and reviews the complex treatment options that can be implemented in those who do not respond to standard of care treatments.

    The End of Alzheimer’s

    The First Program to Prevent and Reverse Cognitive Decline
    Dale Bredesen, MD

    Alzheimer’s incidence is quickly rising to the point of being an epidemic. Dr. Bredesen’s life research has focused on the intricacies of Alzheimer’s Disease. To date, he has discovered over 38 different pathways and five major classifications associated with this degenerative disease. This is the first and only work of its type and is a must read for anyone with memory issues, declining memory or a family member with Alzheimer’s Disease.

    Grain Brain

    The Surprising Truth about Wheat, Carbs, and Sugar — Your Brain's Silent Killers
    David Perlmutter MD

    Dr. David Perlmutter is a thought leader in the area of functional medicine (FM) and neurology. Grain Brain precedes Brain Maker and in it, Dr. Perlmutter focuses on the negative effects on neuronal health caused by wheat. He discusses the concept of Alzheimer’s Dementia as ‘type III diabetes’ and how this neuron damage is started and propagated by wheat. This is a well-written, easy read and a good introduction to those unfamiliar with nutritional medicine, functional medicine or food-based systemic inflammation.

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