Alzheimer’s disease and dementia – vital strategies for health and wellbeing
Almost everyone who contacts us about Continuing Care funding has an elderly relative with dementia. Thankfully we’ve been able to help many of these families access NHS funding to cover care fees. Money doesn’t take away the disease, of course, but it does alleviate some of the stress. But what the care system consistently fails to address is how to sustain the health of elderly people with dementia.
Over 800,000 people in the UK have dementia. This figure is likely to rise to over 1 million by 2021 and double over the next 20 years. One new case of dementia is diagnosed every 14 minutes, and it’s putting an ever-increasing strain on healthcare resources.
Successive governments have tried to implement healthcare strategies for people with dementia – and failed miserably. Why? Because generally speaking they don’t look at the root causes of the disease, how to reverse symptoms and how to prevent the disease emerging in the first place.
Human beings are not meant to have dementia. Our bodies and brains are designed to function well. And yet elderly people in care homes who have dementia are stuck in a system that pays little, if any, attention to the most fundamental aspect of health: nutrients, oxygen, water and mental stimulation.
Today’s article is from international health researcher, author and speaker, Phillip Day. It looks at some of the causes of dementia and at what every single one of us can do about it – right now.
Excerpted with kind permission from The ABC’s of Disease by Phillip Day, www.credence.org…
Alzheimer’s disease, senile dementia
Abram Hoffer, MD, PhD: “[Research] suggests to me that if everyone started on a good nutritional program supplemented with optimum doses of vitamins and minerals before age fifty, and remained on it, the incidence of Alzheimer’s disease would drop precipitously.”
Andrew Saul PhD: “FACT: More than half of nursing home beds are occupied by Alzheimer’s Disease patients. FACT: Alzheimer’s disease is the number 4 killer of Americans, causing over 100,000 deaths each year in the USA alone.”
Mental impairment problems are devastating our cultures today and yet this has not always been so. Clearly, nutritional, hydration and toxicity issues are at the fore. As many as a third of all hospital beds in the UK are taken up with geriatric patients suffering a host of disorders, a large proportion of them institutionalised because of senility. The cost to healthcare runs to billions. The following questions should be asked and the appropriate conditions addressed FIRST:
- Is the patient eating organic, whole, non-pesticide-laden foods?
- What percentage of the patient’s diet comprises animal products?
- Is the majority of the patient’s diet cooked?
- Is the patient nutritionally deficient?
- Is the patient drinking up to 2 litres of clean, fresh water a day?
- Is the patient vitamin-D-deficient? What is their 25(OH)D serum level?
- Does the person drink alcohol on a regular basis?
- Does the patient have chaotic blood sugar levels?
- Has the patient an elevated plasma homocysteine level?
- Is the patient on any psychiatric medication, which might be giving the appearance of senility or slow cognitive ability?
- Does the patient suffer from food allergies/lactose intolerance?
- Has the patient any evidence of yeast or fungal infections?
- Does the patient live in a toxic environment?
- Does the patient eat junk food and drink sodas?
- Has the patient been mentally unchallenged for an extended period of time?
Memory problems – potential causes
Several factors influence memory:
- Use it or lose it!
- Dehydration and lack of salt
- Impaired blood supply to the brain
- Abnormally high levels of the amino acid, homocysteine
- Fatty, cholesterol-laden blood due to heavy consumption of animal products (chicken, beef, pork, eggs, milk, butter, fish, etc.)
- Vitamin D deficiency
- Poor nutritional intake (cooked and processed foods), especially minerals such as zinc, manganese and magnesium, and vitamins, especially the ‘B’ group, and essential fatty acids
- Toxicity, specifically aluminium (1) via aluminium cookware, aluminium foil, antacids, douches, buffered aspirin and anti-perspirant deodorants (2)
- Food allergies
- Abnormal blood sugar levels (glucose intolerance)
Use it or lose it!
In my view, retirement is the single most damaging thing for a person, when they are persuaded to end their productivity and bow out of the work ethic until they die. It is in the nature of humans to produce and be mentally active. Depression, listlessness and despair often set in when brains are put in mothballs and the person vegetates in front of the TV.
In Health Wars, I take a look at cultures who routinely live past 100 and remain active. If you are 70-80, start looking for another career! Think of the skills and knowledge you have amassed that could be of benefit to others. If your brain is busy and well fed, it is a happy brain, and so you will be too.
Cooked animal product diets
Heavy cooked animal-product diets produce thick, cholesterol-laden blood, increase hormone and insulin levels and create serious problems for the elderly. (3) Animal products consume enzyme resources in digestion, especially trypsin and chymotrypsin, which de-mask cancer cells. Cooking kills enzymes and wrecks the nutrition in the food. Cognitive impairment problems are a Western phenomenon. Adopting The Food For Thought Lifestyle Regimen is very effective in getting the body-chemistry changes you need, fast. 100% plant-based diets are renowned for clearing the body out (2-3 bowel movements a day if consumed raw).
Blood supply to the brain
Another source of arterial fat is lipoprotein plaque in the arteries. In Health Wars I devote two chapters to the heart and cardio-vascular system, showing that heart disease in almost all its forms may be traced back to dehydration, lack of exercise and nutritional deficiencies, including an early form of scurvy.
Scurvy occurs when collagen breaks down in the body. Collagen is a tough, fibrous material the body uses to clad arteries, veins and capillaries, as well as organs and the skin, to give them structure. Collagen is a lot like the steel girders you see when builders are erecting a new skyscraper. Each collagen fibre has been calculated to be far tougher and stronger than an iron wire of comparable width. Cooked diets destroy vitamin C – period. In the absence of adequate nutrition – specifically vitamins C, E and the amino acids lysine and proline – collagen begins to dissolve. When sailors went off to sea and eschewed their usual diet of fruits and vegetables for non-perishable foodstuffs during long voyages, scurvy set in within weeks as the collagen dissolved and the sailors literally fell apart. The cure was to recommence consumption of living, whole fruits and vegetables rich in the nutrition required to repair collagen and nourish the whole body.
With heart disease, the process is much slower, sometimes taking years to develop, since very few in the western world today suffer from vitamin C depletion. Like scurvy, a chronic vitamin C deficiency causes a weakening of the arterial walls, necessitating a healing process in the form of lipoprotein(a) fats, which the body attempts to use to bond the thousands of tiny breaches in the arterial walls.
These lipoproteins are Nature’s perfect Band-Aid. They are extremely sticky and form the majority of the atherosclerotic deposits associated with advanced forms of heart disease today. Cardiovascular medicine, unaware or willingly ignorant of the underlying nutritional deficiency causes of atherosclerosis, focuses attention on vilifying the lipoprotein’s LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol content as one of the primary causes of heart diseases, when it is in fact the healing (survival response) precursor, brought on by a chronic vitamin C deficiency and dehydration. Today the drug industry has mobilised a multi-billion-dollar business of anti-cholesterol drugs, which have wrought devastating results in cardiac patients, necessitating a further $20 billion drugs program to combat all the side-effects. (4)
Most people have accumulated Lp(a) in their arteries after age 50, bringing on the usual problems with sticky blood (dehydration), thrombosis, atherosclerosis and high blood pressure (dehydration). Strokes too are caused when Lp(a) clogs the brain artery, impairing vital blood flow to the brain. And it is here that our interest in memory loss focuses. Impaired blood flow to the brain will cause death or partial paralysis. Patrick Holford writes:
“When cells are starved of oxygen, they switch to a more primitive mode of operation called anaerobic respiration. The cells begin to divide and spread – unless they are nerve cells… Nerve cells can’t regenerate. So what happens to them? They just stop working. The result is senility.” (5)
The homocysteine angle
Raised plasma levels of the amino acid homocysteine are linked to brain shrinkage and Alzheimer’s/cognitive impairment. Formerly an obscure element of metabolic chemistry, the amino acid homocysteine has been attracting attention over the past few years as a major implicator in heart disease, problem pregnancies and cognitive problems. Medical journalist Jerome Burne comments:
“Researchers at Oxford University found that the mild memory problems suffered by healthy people stopped getting worse when they took a B vitamin supplement.
About one-and-a-half million people in the UK suffer from age-related memory loss, or ‘mild cognitive impairment’. It starts gradually — forgetting keys, wondering what you came into the shop to buy — but half of those affected will progress to Alzheimer’s and dementia within five years. Until now there has been no way to slow down memory loss.
The people in the Oxford University trial were taking a single pill containing three types of vitamin B (folic acid and vitamin B6 and B12) all in doses far in excess of the recommended daily amount (RDA). The pill contained 0.8 mg of folic acid (twice the RDA), 0.5 mg of B12 (250 times the RDA) and 20 mg of B6 (12 times the RDA).” (6)
It remains unclear exactly how homocysteine affects the brain in this way but researchers have found that those patients with homocysteine levels in excess of 13 ?mol/L who took the combination vitamin B supplement reduced brain shrinkage by up to 50%, while those with normal levels of the amino acid (below 9 ?mol/L) were unaffected. These B vitamins have long been known to reduce or ‘remethylate’ homocysteine into methionine. Professor Helga Refsum, co-author of the study and a leading homocysteine researcher at the University of Oslo, remarks:
‘‘Everyone agrees that a healthy balanced diet is the best way to prevent many chronic diseases like diabetes, heart attacks and Alzheimer’s. If you don’t take [in] B vitamins you are going to have a faster rate of brain atrophy.” (7)
Dr Andrew Mccaddon is a GP in Wales who uses higher levels of the B vitamins than even the Oxford study:
“It takes about three years from the time memory problems start for people to go to the doctor, so some of my patients have already progressed to Alzheimer’s when they come to see me. I find the vitamins help them.” (8)
Vitamin D deficiency
The Vitamin D Council writes:
“In a cross-sectional study, vitamin-D-sufficient Alzheimer patients had significantly higher Mini-Mental State Examination scores as compared to vitamin-D-insufficient ones, indicating a relationship between vitamin D status and cognition in patients… Vitamin D has a significant biochemistry in the brain. Nuclear receptors for vitamin D exist in the brain and vitamin D is involved in the biosynthesis of neurotrophic factors, synthesis of nitric oxide synthase, and increased glutathione levels — all suggesting an important role for vitamin D in brain function.” (9)
Of course, we know that lack of sunlight in the winter can bring on seasonal affective disorder. Less well known is that if the elderly do not get sufficient sunlight around the noon-time hours (11am-2pm), this can have serious ramifications for their mental and emotional health over the long-term. Published RDA levels are inadequate and meaningless (200-400 IU/day). Adults use around 3,000-5,000 IU a day, yet have been told the nonsense that the sun is dangerous. Those particularly vulnerable are dark-skinned races living in northern latitudes, the aged, pregnant women and those who avoid the sun or stay indoors. Physicians should suspect vitamin D deficiency in the above cases as a matter of first resort as well as in those who live above the 520 N parallel. All Alzheimer’s patients should be tested to determine their vitamin D serum level via a 25-hydroxy D test and optimised accordingly (See A Guide To Nutritional Supplements).
Dehydration and lack of salt
Estimates put the brain’s content at up to 80-83% water. Mineral salts, fats and other nutrients are indispensable to the brain’s proper functioning yet amazingly most care homes and retired adult facilities do not place any emphasis on proper water and salt intake.
In The Essential Guide to Water and Salt, Dr F Batmanghelidj points out that we lose our thirst sensation over age 65. This is compounded by the fact that most of us have been confusing the thirst sensation for hunger for decades and probably suffer overweight and blood sugar problems as a result. A person can easily enter their seventies chronically malnourished, dehydrated and severely vitamin-D-deficient, exhibiting symptoms which are interpreted by the doctor as ‘a disease of the elderly’ – i.e. constipation, slow cognitive performance, arthritis, osteoporosis, urinary tract infections, high blood pressure, asthma, and elevated triglyceride and cholesterol levels. All are also symptoms of dehydration and the consequences of the body’s drought management procedures. Here’s what happened at one care home in Suffolk, England, when management suggested some changes to residents’ water intake:
“Staff at The Martins care home in Bury St Edmunds started a ‘water club’ for their residents last summer. Residents were encouraged to drink eight to 10 glasses of water a day, water coolers were installed, and they were each given a jug for their room. They report significant improvements in health as a result — many fewer falls, fewer GP call-outs, a cut in the use of laxatives and in urinary infections, better quality of sleep, and lower rates of agitation among residents with dementia.
“It’s been fantastic. The whole home buzzes now; there isn’t that period after lunch when everyone goes off to sleep.”
For Baroness Greengross, a cross-bench peer, it reinforces a conviction she has had for some time now — that many old people simply are not drinking enough, and it is harming their health. (10)
Dr Batmanghelidj states:
“The primary cause of Alzheimer’s is chronic dehydration of the body. In my opinion, brain cell dehydration is the primary cause of Alzheimer’s disease. Aluminium toxicity is a secondary complication of dehydration in areas of the world with comparatively aluminium-free water (although in the technically advanced Western societies, aluminium sulphate is used in the process of water purification for delivery into the city water supplies!). One of my medical friends took this information to heart and started treating his brother who has Alzheimer’s disease by forcing him to take more water every day. His brother has begun to recover his memory, so much so that he can now follow conversation and not frequently repeat himself. The improvement became noticeable in a matter of weeks.” (11)
Aluminium and toxic metals
Another common finding in premature senile dementia, known as Alzheimer’s disease, is an entanglement of nerve fibres. When these nerve clusters are found in the frontal and temporal regions of the brain, they are frequently saturated with aluminium. (12) Many theories abound on how this aluminium has accumulated. Aluminium can be taken into the body through the water supply, sodas (the can), cooking pots and utensils, toothpastes (the tube), aluminium foil packaging and antacids. Interestingly, a person who has unknowingly suffered dehydration for most of their life will probably have suffered oesophageal reflux (heartburn) too, for which they have taken antacids for decades – another route for aluminium into the body.
Detoxification regimens, such as those covered in this book (also in Food For Thought and Health Wars), will assist the body in ridding itself of unwanted accumulations of heavy metals. Chelators, natural substances which attach themselves to toxic elements and escort them out of the body, are used to remove aluminium. Excess amounts of the following metals are known memory disruptors and inhibitors:
Lead: leads to hyperactivity and aggression. Taken in from traffic fumes and industrial pollution. Chelated using vitamins C, B1 and zinc.
Aluminium: leads to memory loss and senility. Derived from pots, pans, cooking utensils, antacids, etc. Chelated using zinc and magnesium.
Cadmium: leads to aggression and confusion. Derived from cigarettes. Chelated with vitamin C and zinc.
Copper: leads to anxiety and phobias. Derived from water piping. Chelated with zinc.
Mercury: leads to headaches and memory loss. Derived from pesticides, some vaccinations and mercury amalgam dental fillings. Chelated with selenium.
Those with memory impairment problems may also be suffering from the effects of food sensitivities, as discussed earlier (see Allergies). These can also be a symptom of chronic, unintentional dehydration. An allergy test may determine an underlying, treatable food allergy problem, which may be contributing to the patient’s condition.
Virgin coconut oil
The health benefits of virgin coconut oil have been well covered in the nutrition press over the past five years while the mainstream media has been demonising ‘saturated fat’ as the leading killer of mankind. Yet a number of studies on Pacific Islanders, who derive 30-60% of their calorific intake from coconut oil (a fully saturated fat), reveal nearly non-existent levels of cardiovascular disease, (13) while supposedly health-promoting ‘low-fat’ hydrogenated butters marketed nightly on TV have become the problem. The salient issue is that naturally occurring plant-based saturated fats have a number of health-promoting effects going for them while artificially saturated fats, manufactured through the hydrogenation process, (14) have severe artery-clogging potential and should be avoided at all costs.
Virgin coconut oil has an important part to play in human health, especially with the sick and elderly. Coconut oil is comprised 50% lauric acid, a naturally occurring saturated fat which the body converts to monolaurin, a potent antibiotic, antifungal and anti-protozoal. The only other prolific source of lauric acid on Earth is breast milk. Two-thirds of coconut oil is comprised of medium chain triglycerides, a highly available source of immediate energy to the body without inducing excess production of insulin. Dr Joseph Mercola reports that coconut oil stimulates metabolic rates, accelerates healing and assists in weight loss and physical performance – something the athletic world has known about for years. Coconut oil stimulates the thyroid gland, also assisting in weight loss. Dr Mercola has a word to say on coconut oil safety too:
“The medium-chain fats in coconut oil are considered so nutritious that they are used in baby formulas, in hospitals to feed the critically ill, those on tube feeding, and those with digestive problems. Coconut oil has even been used successfully by doctors in treating aluminum poisoning. (15)
Coconut oil is exceptionally helpful for pregnant women, nursing moms, the elderly, those concerned about digestive health, athletes (even weekend warriors), and those of you who just want to enhance your overall health.” (16)
“A doctor’s husband made a remarkable reversal of his serious Alzheimer’s problem by ingesting coconut oil daily. Dr. Mary Newport had her husband Steve get off the pharmaceutical Alzheimer’s drugs as his condition just kept worsening with them, along with added negative side effects… Steve’s condition has improved greatly since coconut oil was included in his diet.” (17)
Metabolising medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) via the liver produces ketones, now known to help protect against Alzheimer’s disease and even reverse symptoms. (18) Dr Mary Newport’s husband applied to be included in an Alzheimer’s drug trial but was too late to participate. Instead his doctor wife, Mary, researched the drug and discovered it contained a synthetic version of medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs). (19) The only problem is, the pharmaceutical version was only active for three hours in the body compared to coconut oil’s eight. Two to three tablespoons of coconut oil taken during the day provides the required intake of MCTs. Dr Mary Newport has a comprehensive website containing all the information at www.coconutketones.com/. Naturally, none of this will be found on the Alzheimer’s Association website for obvious reasons.
As discussed in the section on Schizophrenia, an old nutritional problem called pellagra is haunting us still. Pellagra is a niacin (B3) deficiency which will result in the five ‘D’s – dizziness, diarrhoea, dementia, dermatitis and death. Vitamin B3 is essential for oxygen utilisation in the body. It is incorporated into the coenzyme NAD (nicotinamide adenosine dinucleotide). Low amounts of B3 will invariably bring on symptoms that can be interpreted as dementia, Alzheimer’s, etc.
Boosting the memory
So those suffering memory impairment have a veritable arsenal of nutritional weapons at their disposal. (20) The neurotransmitter acetylcholine is the brain hormone responsible for memory retention. Experiments done at Palo Alto Hospital in California showed that drugs which boost production of acetylcholine produced ‘super-memories’. Natural nutrients however can effectively boost acetylcholine production. These are choline, glutamine, DMAE (a nutrient found in fish), and its salt, Deanol. Pyroglutamate is also excellent, and many ‘memory’ supplements on the market today contain a mix of these nutrients, which work better when used synergistically with a great improvement in diet.
- DIET: COMMENCE THE FOOD FOR THOUGHT DIETARY REGIMEN, ensuring that 80%-plus of food consumed is organic high-fibre plant dietary, 80%-plus eaten raw. The more plant foods and the more raw, the better. Remove grains where possible from the diet.
- DIET: Small meals, consumed often.
- DIET: Reduce meat and eliminate dairy intake. Avoid pork.
- DIET: Cut out ingestion of sucrose and refined, high-glycaemic carbohydrate foods. Add 2-4 tablespoons of virgin coconut oil/day to the diet.
- HYDRATION: Commence hydrating the body to the extent of half the patient’s bodyweight in ounces of water per day (viz: a 160 lb male can drink 80 oz of water a day, which is approximately 10 glasses).
- HYDRATION: Half a teaspoon (tsp) of Himalayan salt is recommended per 10 glasses of water. Maintain over the long-term.
- DETOXIFICATION: Remove all toxins and damage triggers from environment and lifestyle (harmful personal and household products, chemicals, smoking, drugs, SUGAR)
- DETOXIFICATION: Detoxify the body and kill overgrowths of fungi, yeasts and parasites
- RESTORE NUTRIENT BALANCE: COMMENCE THE BASIC SUPPLEMENT PROGRAM, ensuring:
- Test homocysteine plasma levels via your GP. If above 13 ?mol/L, take a high potency vitamin B supplement comprising at least 0.8mg of folic acid, 0.5mg of B12 and 20mg of B6. This supplement is good insurance as you age in any case.
- Optimise vitamin D levels to 150–200 nmol/L (60–80 ng/ml). A 25-hydroxy D test via your GP can be obtained at the same time as the above test for homocysteine (see A Guide to Nutritional Supplements for more information on vitamin D)
- Vitamin C complex, 25-30 g per day (see A Guide to Nutritional Supplements before using)
- Krill oil, 3 g per day
- Calcium, 400-800 mg per day and magnesium, 400-800 mg per day has been found to slow down aluminium absorption (21)
- Avoid where possible drugs, radiation scans and intrusive ‘diagnostic’ testing
- Regular exercise is very important. Not just walking! Get the heart rate up with cycling, stair-climbing, hill-climbing, etc. for at least 30-40 minutes a day (see Exercise)
- Spend at least 40 minutes a day outdoors between 11am and 2pm. Get the required sun to pinken the skin. Do not burn
- Play memory games and stay intellectually active
- Avoid isolation and loneliness
- Be happy and stress-free
1 Martyn, C N, Barker, D J, Osmond, C, Harris, E C, Edwardson, J A and Lacey, R F “Geographical relation between Alzheimer’s disease and aluminum in drinking water”, Lancet, I (8629): 59–62, 14th Jan 1989; McLachlan, D R, Kruck, T P and Lukiw, W J “Would decreased aluminum ingestion reduce the incidence of Alzheimer’s disease?” Can Med Assn J, 1st Oct 1991
2 Jackson, J A, Riordan, H D, and Pol¬ing, C M “Aluminum from a coffee pot”, Lancet, I (8641) 781–782, 8th April 1989
3 Research at www.ravediet.com
4 Sellman, Sherill, Hormone Heresy, GetWell Int’l, Inc. 1998; also Seaman, Barbara, The Doctors’ Case against the Pill, Hunter House, USA, 1995, p.7
5 Pfeiffer, Carl & Patrick Holford, op. cit. p.176
6 Daily Mail, 14th September 2010
9 www.vitamindcouncil.org; Evatt ML, Delong MR, Khazai N, Rosen A, Triche S, Tang-pricha V “Prevalence of vitamin insufficiency in patients with Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease”, Arch Neurol. 2008 Oct;65(10):1348–52
10 http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/7466457.stm: “How Care Home Keeps Elderly Healthy” , 23rd June 2008
11 Batmanghelidj F and P Day, The Essential Guide to Water and Salt, Credence, 2008
12 Martyn, C, et al, “Geographical relation between Alzheimer’s disease and aluminium in drinking water”, Lancet, 14th January 1989
13 Prior IA, Davidson F, Salmond CE, Czochanska Z “Cholesterol, coconuts, and diet on Polynesian atolls: a natural experiment: the Pukapuka and Tokelau Island studies”, American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 1981;34:1552–1561
14 Hydrogenation is an industrial process whereby natural fats are heated and hydrogen atoms added to produce a plasticised, thickened, rancid oil. Consuming this mess damages human health while benefiting industry in terms of viscosity and the supermarket in terms of shelf-life.
15 KG Nevin and T Rajamohan “Beneficial effects of virgin coconut oil on lipid parameters and in vitro LDL oxidation”, Clinical Biochemistry, September 2004; 37(9): 830–835
18 GF Cahill, Jr and RL Veech “Ketoacids? Good Medicine?”, Transactions of the American Clinical and Climatological Association , vol. 114, 2003; RL Veech “The therapeutic implications of ketone bodies: the effects of ketone bodies in pathological conditions: ketosis, ketogenic diet, redox states, insulin resistance, and mitochondrial metabolism”, Prostaglandins, Leukotrienes and Essential Fatty Acids , 70 (2004) 309–319; Y Kashiwaya, T Takeshima, N Mori, K Nakashima, K Clarke, and RL Veech “D-b-Hydroxybutyrate protects neurons in models of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease”, PNAS May 9, 2000, vol. 97, no. 10, 5440–5444
20 See A Guide to Nutritional Supplements
21 Garrison, Jr Robert H and Somer, Elizabeth Nutrition Desk Reference. New Canaan, CT: Keats, p 78–79; 106; 210–211, 1990; Weiner, Michael A “Aluminum and dietary factors in Alzheimer’s disease”, J Orthomolecular Med, 5(2):74–78, 1990
Excerpted with kind permission from The ABC’s of Disease by Phillip Day, www.credence.org. Copyright © Phillip Day 2011
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