According to the Alzheimer’s Association’s 2011 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures, around 5.4 million Americans currently suffer from Alzheimer’s disease.
These figures are expected to rise to 16 million by 2050, and in the next two decades, Alzheimer’s will affect one in four Americans, becoming as prevalent as diabetes and obesity.
The treatments of this condition often fail to deliver effects, so it is of high importance to early diagnose and prevent it on time. However, it seems that you only need a tablespoon of peanut butter and a ruler to confirm a diagnosis of this disease in its early stages.
Medical News Today reports:
“Jennifer Stamps, a graduate student in the University of Florida (UF) McKnight Brain Institute Center for Smell and Taste, and her colleagues reported the findings of a small pilot study in the Journal of the Neurological Sciences.
Stamps came up with the idea of using peanut butter to test for smell sensitivity while she was working with Dr. Kenneth Heilman, one of the world’s best-known behavioral neurologists, from the UF College of Medicine’s department of neurology.
…The ability to smell is associated with the first cranial nerve and is often one of the first things to be affected in cognitive decline… She thought of peanut butter because, she said, it is a ‘pure odorant’ that is only detected by the olfactory nerve and is easy to access.”
The pilot study involved 24 patients diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment, who were asked to close their mouth and eyes and hold one nostril closed while breathing normally through the other.
The clinician used a ruler to measure the distance between the open nostril and the peanut butter and marked the distance at which the patient could detect the distinct odor.
The procedure was then repeated with the other nostril after half a minute. Researchers found that there was a great difference between the ability to detect odor between the nostrils in patients diagnosed with an early stage Alzheimer’s. Their report claimed:
“The left nostril was impaired and did not detect the smell until it was an average of 10 cm closer to the nose than the right nostril had made the detection in patients with Alzheimer’s disease.
This was not the case in patients with other kinds of dementia; instead, these patients had either no differences in odor detection between nostrils or the right nostril was worse at detecting odor than the left one.”
Yet, there is a need for further research, but Stamps claims that this test effectively confirms a diagnosis. The plan of the team is to study patients with mild cognitive impairment next, in order to see if it might help predict a future diagnosis of Alzheimer’s.
Furthermore, a team of researchers from Florida is trying to check if coconut oil can provide benefits against Alzheimer’s. Dr. Mary Newport had a theory three years ago which indicated that ketone bodies,
which act as an alternative fuel for the brain that the body makes when digesting coconut oil, can be of great help in the fight against Alzheimer’s disease.
Nowadays, this theory is used to launch one of the first clinical trials of its kind to confirm these findings, which is conducted at the USF Health Byrd Alzheimer’s Institute.
The study of Dr. Newport involves 65 patients diagnosed with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s, and it is expected that the results will be published in a year.
The husband of Dr. Newport has been battling this same disease for years, and CTV News reported:
“While there is currently no clinical data showing the benefits of coconut oil on the prevention and treatment of dementia, Newport — whose husband Steve was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s at age 51 -said she began to see improvements after starting him on four teaspoons of coconut oil per day.
‘Before the coconut oil, he could not tie his shoes. His weird slow gait… That improved. He walked normally and he was able to start running again.
He was able to start reading again, his conversation improved dramatically and then over several months we saw improvements in his memory,’ Newport said. Prior to starting him on coconut oil, Newport said none of the existing medications were working.”
Coconut Oil as an Ideal Brain Food
Our body can turn two types of fuel into energy, fat, and carbs/sugar. When fat is converted into energy, the body produces ketone bodies, whose primary source are the medium-chain triglycerides (MCT) found in coconut oil. Actually, this oil contains about 66 percent MCTs.
Medium-chain triglycerides (MCT) are fats which are processed by the body in the same way as long-chain triglycerides. The fat taken into your body should be combined with bile released from your gallbladder before it can be broken down in the digestive system.
However, medium-chain triglycerides travel directly to the liver, which naturally turns the oil into ketones, completely bypassing the bile. Then, the liver releases the ketones into the bloodstream from where they are transported to the brain and be used as fuel.
Studies show that ketone bodies can help restore and renew neurons and nerve function in the brain, even after an experienced damage.
Namely, the mechanism of their metabolism is that the body treats MCTs as a carbohydrate and not a fat, so the ketone energy hits the bloodstream without the normal insulin spike linked to carbohydrates entering the bloodstream.
This indicates that coconut oil is a fat which functions as a carbohydrate when it comes to brain fuel.
The therapeutic levels of MCTs have been studied at 20 grams on a daily basis, and Dr. Newport’s claims that only two tablespoons of coconut oil (around 35 ml) will provide the equivalent of 20 grams of MCT, which has been shown to be a preventative measure against degenerative neurological diseases, and an effective treatment for an already existing disease.
There is a need for further research in the area as well, but we strongly suggest that you incorporate coconut oil into your daily diet and enjoy its countless health benefits.
Yet, you should start slowly and gradually increase the doses, as people tolerate coconut oil differently. It is best to start with a teaspoon in the morning, taken with food, and gradually increase to 4 tablespoons, again, taken with food.
Low-Fat Craze might have caused a Dramatic Rise in Alzheimer’s
Numerous flawed nutritional guidelines have led to a few health issues, such as the low-fat craze, which made the avoidance of fat a leading cause of heart and brain diseases.
The neurologist Dr. David Perlmutter claims that the fat avoidance and carbohydrate overconsumption are at the heart of the Alzheimer’s epidemic.
His book, Grain Brain, provides a sound explanation why you should eliminate grains from the diet and prevent brain issues. Yet, not many people would fund a research of treatments using regular food items.
Amanda Smith, Medical Director at University of South Florida (USF) Health Byrd Alzheimer’s Institute told the following for CTV News:
“The pharmaceutical industry is in this — of course to make money for their companies, and of course they want to help people theoretically — but at the end of the day it is about dollars and cents, and so money gets invested in things that are new or patentable rather than things that are sitting on the shelf already.”
Intermittent Fasting can also boost the production of ketones
You can boost the production of ketone in two ways: by restricting carbohydrates, and intermittent fasting. For best effects, you should replace the lost carbs with high-quality fat, while intermittent fasting will aid the body to shift to burning fat as its primary fuel.
The body needs 6-8 hours to metabolize the glycogen stores, after which you can start producing ketone bodies and shift to burning stored fat.
Intermittent fasting includes timing the meals to let the body enter the fat-burning program. The fast should last at least 16 hours, for example, you should eat only between the hours of 11am until 7pm, or noon until 8pm.
Also, you should not eat at least 3 hours before going to sleep, and then gradually extend the time before the breakfast each day until you manage to skip breakfast and eat for at lunch for the first time.
You need to repeat this procedure for 2 weeks to 2 months. This will significantly reduce your desire to eat.
Support Healthy Brain Function and Prevent Alzheimer’s
Alzheimer’s is a disease which can be prevented, and it depends on your lifestyle choices. Therefore, you should carefully choose the foods you add to your regular diet, and this can help you prevent all chronic degenerative diseases.
Research has shown that individuals who experience very little decline in their cognitive function up until the end of their lives are free of brain lesions, which indicates that the damage can be successfully prevented. The best way to achieve this is to lead a healthy lifestyle.
The guidelines below will help you prevent brain damage:
Avoid gluten (primarily wheat) -- Studies have shown that the blood-brain barrier, which protects the brain, is negatively influenced by gluten, which makes the gut more permeable, and lets proteins enter the bloodstream.
This weakens the immune system and makes the person more susceptible to inflammation and autoimmunity, which contribute to the development of Alzheimer’s.
Avoid sugar and refined fructose -- You should maintain the sugar levels low and the total fructose below 25 grams daily, or 15 grams daily in the case of insulin resistance or any related disorders.
Raise the consumption of all healthful fats, such as animal-based omega-3 -- The brain benefits from the consumption of beneficial health-promoting fats, such as olives, coconut oil, nuts like macadamia and pecans, avocado, organic butter from raw milk, clarified butter called organic grass-fed raw butter, organic virgin olive oil, free-range eggs, and wild Alaskan salmon.
You should consume fermented foods regularly, or take a high-potency and high-quality probiotic supplement to optimize the gut flora.
Ketones are the perfect fuel for the brain and not glucose. They are produced by the body when it converts fat (as opposed to glucose) into energy.
Coconut oil contains medium-chain triglycerides (MCT) which are a rich source of ketone bodies, as coconut oil is about 66 percent MCTs. Ketones are the preferred source of brain food in the case of diabetes or Alzheimer’s.
Also, consume sufficient amounts of animal based omega-3 fats, like krill oil.
The regular intake of the omega-3 fats EPA and DHA may prevent cell damage due to Alzheimer’s disease, as it will decelerate its progression, and reduce your risk of developing the disorder.
- Your diet should be high in nutrients, especially in folate. You should consume plenty of fresh raw vegetables on a daily basis, as they are the richest source of folate.
- The fasting insulin levels should be maintained below 3, as it is linked to fructose, as it will cause an insulin resistance. Yet, other sugars, grains, and physical inactivity are also of crucial importance. The reduction of insulin levels will reduce the levels of leptin, which contributes to Alzheimer’s.
- Consume blueberries. Wild blueberries are rich in anthocyanin and antioxidants, which prevent Alzheimer’s and other neurological diseases.
- Avoid flu vaccinations as most of them have mercury, which is a well-known neurotoxic and immunotoxic agent.
- Avoid and eliminate mercury from the body. Namely, dental amalgam fillings are 50 percent mercury by weight and represent one of the leading causes of heavy metal toxicity. Therefore, you should eliminate them, and also try a mercury detox protocol.
- Raise the magnesium levels. Studies show that the raised levels of magnesium in the brain reduce the Alzheimer’s symptoms. Try the new supplement, magnesium threonate, as it provides the best effects.
- Safe sun exposure to raise the vitamin D levels- researchers have found a strong relation between the reduced vitamin D levels in Alzheimer’s patients and poor outcomes on cognitive tests, so they believe that the optimal levels of this vitamin will increase the number of important chemicals in the brain and protect brain cells. This will be done by boosting the effectiveness of the glial cells in nursing damaged neurons back to health. Vitamin D also has potent anti-inflammatory and immune-boosting properties, so it can strengthen the immune system and thus help you fight inflammation related to Alzheimer’s.
- Avoid aluminum, like vaccine adjuvants, antiperspirants, non-stick cookware, etc.
- You should lower the overall consumption of calories, as ketones are mobilized when carbs are replaced with coconut oil and other healthy fat sources. You only need a day of fasting to reset the body and help it burn fat instead of sugar.
- Challenge your mind- The risk of Alzheimer’s is greatly reduced by mental stimulation, such as learning something new, learning a new language, or how to play an instrument. This mental stimulation develops the brain and makes it less prone to the lesions linked to Alzheimer’s disease.
- Avoid anticholinergics and statin drugs. The risk of dementia is significantly increased by the use of drugs that block acetylcholine, which is a nervous system neurotransmitter. These drugs include sleep aids, antidepressants, certain narcotic pain relievers, nighttime pain relievers, antihistamines, and medications to control incontinence. Statin drugs deplete the brain of coenzyme Q10 and neurotransmitter precursors, suppress the synthesis of cholesterol, and prevent the proper delivery of essential fatty acids and fat-soluble antioxidants to the brain, due to the fact that they prevent the production of the indispensable carrier biomolecule, called low-density lipoprotein.
- Exercise regularly. The regular exercise can effectively change the metabolism of the amyloid precursor and decelerate the onset and progression of this disorder. Also, it raises the levels of the protein PGC-1alpha, and it has been shown that Alzheimer’s patients have less PGC-1alpha in their brains. Furthermore, it has been shown that cells which contain more of the protein produce less of the toxic amyloid protein linked to Alzheimer’s.
Other Natural Treatments
As we stated, the primary defense line against dementia and Alzheimer’s is to lead a healthy and comprehensive lifestyle. However, the following natural dietary agents will also help you prevent such disorders.
The 4 natural foods/supplements below effectively prevent age-related cognitive changes:
Ginkgo biloba: Scientists have shown that Ginkgo biloba provides benefits in the case of dementia. It is derived from a tree native to Asia, and its medicinal properties have been long used in China and other countries.
According to a 1997 study from JAMA, Ginkgo effectively enhances cognitive performance and social functioning in dementia patients.
Another 2006 study found that Ginkgo can be as effective as the dementia drug Aricept (donepezil) for treating mild to moderate Alzheimer’s type dementia. Also, a meta-analysis conducted in 2010 showed that it can provide positive effects in various dementia types.
Vitamin B12: The journal Neurology published a small Finnish study which showed that foods high in this vitamin lower the Alzheimer’s risk. What’s more, researchers found that for each unit increase in the marker of vitamin B12, the risk of developing Alzheimer’s was lowered by 2 percent.
Astaxanthin- This natural pigment has one of the most powerful antioxidant activities known. It is also a fat-soluble nutrient, which crosses the blood-brain barrier, so t is a powerful natural brain food and successfully prevents neurodegeneration linked to oxidative stress.
Its molecules prevent free radical damage, and neutralize other oxidants without being destroyed or becoming pro-oxidants.
The shape of their molecules allows them to fit into a cell membrane and span its entire width, damaging molecules before they manage to damage the cells.
You can take it by consuming krill oil, or by adding a pure astaxanthin supplement to your dietary regimen. To boost its absorption, take krill oil and/or astaxanthin with a fat-containing meal because both are fat-soluble.
Alpha lipoic acid (ALA): it stabilizes cognitive functions in the case of Alzheimer’s patients, and decelerates the progression of the disorder.
Other included sources and references linked in Mercola’s article:
Alzheimer’s Association 2011 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures
Medical News Today October 12, 2013
Journal of Neurological Sciences 15 October 2013 [Epub ahead of print]
CTV News October 9, 2013
Dr. Mary Newport, July 22, 2008 (PDF)
Journal of Neuroscience, April 27, 2005: 25(17); 4217-4221
Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, 2011: 25(1); 151-62
Forum Nutr April 2009
Neurology October 19, 2010: 75(16); 1402-3