Alzheimer’s disease is a type of progressive memory loss or dementia. The number of people with dementia will double by 2030 and triple by 2050. In 2012 there were about 5 million Americans with Alzheimer’s disease. By the age of 85, the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease is 50 percent.
There are several factors that promote the development of Alzheimer’s disease and other neurodegenerative disorders such as Parkinson’s disease and multiple sclerosis.
Inflammation is a major underlying cause of most diseases including heart disease, cancer and neurodegenerative disease such as Alzheimer’s. People with Alzheimer’s disease have elevated levels of inflammatory signaling compound such as C reactive protein and tumor necrosis factor.
Although inflammation may be widespread in the body it is important to note that the brain is less able to protect itself against the damaging effects of unchecked inflammation.
From a genetic standpoint, if we look at the APOE gene, people who are carriers of APOE 4 gene have a 2-3 times increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease. If someone has two APOE 4 genes his risk increases by a factor of 12.
APOE 3 gene is the most common and gives rise to average risk, while APOE 2 is the rarest and may decrease Alzheimer’s disease risk by 40 percent.
There are multiple causes of inflammation including hormonal imbalances, poor diet, consumption of inflammatory food, nutritional deficiencies, toxins and infection. Another factor in the promotion of Alzheimer’s disease and other neurodegenerative disorders is oxidative stress or increased free radical activity. Formation of free radicals such as reactive oxygen species are a part of normal metabolism but when produced in excess or cannot be cleared rapidly enough, it becomes toxic.
Disturbances of mitochondrial function are a hallmark of many diseases. The mitochondria are the energy powerhouses of the cell and when their function becomes impaired one may develop a variety of conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome and other lifelong and debilitating diseases.
Damage to mitochondria may arise from elevated levels of glutamate (as in ingesting too much monosodium glutamate), increased homocysteine levels, metabolic disturbances, viral infections, or toxic exposures.
Diabetes is a common disorder in the United States and this disorder increases the risk of Alzheimer’s disease twofold to fourfold. Elevated blood glucose modifies proteins in the brain and these modified proteins produce about 50 times more damaging free radicals than normal brain proteins.
In summary, Alzheimer’s disease has reached epidemic proportions resulting from unabated inflammation associated with obesity, diabetes, poor diet, hormonal imbalances, stress, environmental toxins and infections.
We are not destined to become demented, we can minimize our risks. It takes time, education and a multi-disciplinary effort to inculcate better nutritional interventions, lifestyle modifications and drug therapies as needed.
We cannot wait to become middle-aged or unduly complacent before we take the necessary steps to protect our brain and the rest of our bodies. Starting in childhood, a concerted approach to healthy living taught and encouraged by educated parents and teachers will go a long way in ensuring a healthier and fruitful tomorrow.
If you are interested in nutrient therapy, consult with a specialist physician. Fiaz Jaleel, M.D., with Personalized Medicine Consultants in Jacksonville, is an expert on rehabilitation, pain management and anti-aging techniques. Personalized Medicine Consultants’ mission is to promote longevity and enhance healthier living by providing tools and strategies to prevent age-related disorders that help improve metabolic and psychosocial function. Visit Personalized Medicine Consultants online or call 904-744-7474 to set up an appointment.