Protect Against Alzheimer's - We Can Do It

Dementia does  not affect only the United States or Western nations. It is not a problem exclusively of wealthy or of developing nations. It does not target only one race. Dementia affects everyone. Everywhere. It is in everyone’s interest to cure Alzheimer’s disease and other dementia causing diseases.

 

Cure Alzheimer's | Graph showing the predicted worldwide rise in dementia incidence through the year 2050.

† From World Alzheimer Report 2015
Worldwide incidence of dementia is expected to rise exponentially through the year 2050 unless we find a cure or a way to prevent it.

Alzheimer’s Disease International published some pretty scary projections in World Alzheimer Report 2015: The Global Impact of Dementia. Researchers there estimate that worldwide 46.8 million people  were living with dementia in 2015. Furthermore, they warn that, “this number will almost double every 20 years, reaching 74.7  million in 2030 and 131.5 million in 2050.” Presently around the world there is a new case of dementia every 3 seconds. The costs of dementia are also increasing exponentially. Dementia represents an estimated $818 billion per year drain on the world economy. That amount is expected to climb to $2 trillion by the year 2030. That is bigger than Apple and Microsoft combined.  That’s bigger than the GDP of many countries!

The quest to cure Alzheimer’s has become an international effort.

Some good news! There is an increased determination around the world to cure Alzheimer’s disease. It is partly economic. Dementia care is very expensive on a national and international level, and costs continue to rise. In January of 2011 , President Obama signed the National Alzheimer’s Project Act into law. The act calls for a coordinated national effort to attack the disease and improve care. The President has increased funding for Alzheimer’s research every year since.  Much of the rest of the world has adopted similar programs and increased their own budgets to combat this coming epidemic.

  • Australia was one of the first nations to adopt a national policy to combat dementia. In 2005 Australia implemented the Dementia Initiative with the explicit goal of “making Dementia a National Health
    Priority in the 2005 Federal Budget with additional funding over five years to take action in respect of community care, training and dementia care research.
  • In 2009 England launched its National Dementia Strategy, titled Living well with dementia. The goal of this national plan, is to ensure that significant improvements are made to dementia services across three key areas: improved awareness, earlier diagnosis and intervention, and a higher quality of care.”
  • France launched their  French National Plan in 2008 focused on care and carer support as well as training for professionals, and on expanding research and raising public awareness of dementia.
  • South Korea waged War on Dementia in 2008 to focus on early diagnosis, prevention and treatment, infrastructure, and awareness.
  • Norway ratified its Dementia Plan in 2007 to improve care facilities and develop awareness and expertise through education and training.
  • Denmark’s Dementia Plan, instituted in 2010, focuses on information exchange, research, and diagnosis and treatment.
  • In 2008, the Dementia Care Plan replaced the National Dementia Programme in the Netherlands 
  • Scotland’s National Dementia Strategy was adopted in 2010 to improve standards of care and diagnosis, improve access to care, and to expand research.
Cure Alzheimer's Disease |The human brain. How soon will we cure Alzheimer's. The world is coming together to attack this disease.

NOT IF BUT WHEN! How soon will we cure Alzheimer’s disease?

The approaches taken by all of these different strategies, initiatives and  plans differ somewhat. Each country has it’s own unique population to consider. But without exception they all have as express goals, to improve quality of care, improve quality of life, and to expand medical research. All aim to eventually cure Alzheimer’s and other diseases that cause dementia.

Additionally, the G8 dementia summit in December 2013 created the World Dementia Council. The council aims to stimulate innovation, development and commercialization of life enhancing drugs, treatments and care for people with dementia, or at risk of dementia, within a generation. It will do this by providing independent, non-governmental advocacy and global leadership. The views expressed by the council will be independent of any government and not representative of government policy.

The Council’s goal is to cure Alzheimer’s, and to eradicate dementia from the face of the earth.

A cure is elusive, but I am seeing much that indicates progress in the right direction. It also appears that our understanding of neurology and the brain is, like the incidence of Alzheimer’s, expanding exponentially. A better understanding of the human brain will surely lead us closer to a dementia cure.

Will we finally Cure Alzheimer’s — or prevent it?

More good news. It might already be happening. Despite the projections of the Alzheimer’s Association and other health organizations around the world, there is evidence that the incidence of dementia is actually declining. The Framingham Heart Study¹ has been monitoring a group of  5205 persons 60 years of age or older since 1975. Funded by the National Institutes of Health, investigators reported a significant decrease in incidence of dementia in this group over the 4 decades duration of the study. And it’s not a small amount. According to researchers, “An American over age 60 today has a 44 percent lower chance of developing dementia than a similar-aged person did roughly 30 years ago…” One caveat: The reduction held true only among persons who had a high school diploma or better. OK, two caveats: the trend is seen in most of the world’s wealthier nations, while poorer countries continue to experience increases.

But it’s a start. The researchers don’t know the reason for the decline. It’s most likely a combination of things. But if they can identify the factors that are combining to bring this about, we should be able to apply them to the rest of the world. And if rates keep declining we will eventually cure dementia.

On a personal level…

We have always maintained that certain lifestyle choices can reduce the risk of dementia as well as slow down its progression in those already diagnosed. Could it be that, at least in the wealthier nations of the world that are seeing decreases in dementia rates, certain of these choices are becoming commonplace? There is still much to be done, but quite possibly healthy living will provide the clues we need to cure Alzheimer’s.

Read more.


 

More research for “Can We Cure Alzheimer’s

  1. The Framingham Heart Study
  2. Study: U.S. Alzheimer’s rate seems to be dropping. The Seatle Times; Originally published July 15, 2014.

Millions of people fall victim to scams each year, including an increasing amount of seniors who are especially targeted. Scammers are becoming more savvy and refined with their fraudulent measures, so it is more important than ever to identity the scams before becoming a victim.

Researchers in the U.K. have found declining dementia rates over two decades

There are many reasons to get an early and accurate diagnosis if you suspect dementia. Included: treatment is sometimes more effective when started early, early diagnosis gives one time to get affairs in order, and diagnosis might be more accurate if done early. Most importantly, there are many diseases and conditions that mimic Alzheimer’s disease as well as the symptoms associated with most other causes of dementia. Many of these are treatable and even curable!

It is an exciting time for the science of neurology and brain study. I read recently that we have learned more about the brain in the last five years than in the five thousand years previous. Recent advances in brain-imaging technology have given us some incredible tools for studying this most complex structure in the known universe: tools like the fMRI, the EEG, SPECT scan, and CT scan and the PET scan. These special tools allow us to watch electrical activity and blood flow in the brain as it responds to different stimuli and situations. One thing we are learning is there is a special connection between music and the brain.

Lifestyle choices reduce plaques and tangles

A study, published Aug. 16, 2016 in the American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, found that certain lifestyle factors reduce the amount of amyloid plaque and fibrillary tangles in the brain. These plaques and tangles are always present in the Alzheimer’s affected brain. The group at UCLA found that the brains of subjects who followed a Mediterranean diet and exercised regularly had fewer plaques and tangles than those who did not.

Leaky blood brain barrier may be responsible for Alzheimer's disease.

Using Magnetic Resonance Imaging, researchers in the Netherlands have found what they believe to be a connection between a leaky blood brain barrier (BBB) and Alzheimer’s disease.  According to their report published in the journal Radiology a team of investigators led by Harm J. van de Haar saw a significantly higher rate of leakage in the BBB in people who had early symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease than in normal, healthy adults.

Just what is the blood brain barrier?

A leaky blood brain barrier may be responsible for Alzheimer's disease, or at least a biomarker.

The blood brain barrier is responsible for keeping toxins in the blood stream from infecting the brain. A leaky blood brain barrier may be responsible, at least in part, for the onset of Alzheimer’s disease. Credit University of Washington

The blood brain barrier is, as the name implies, a membrane that separates the blood in the circulatory system from the fluid that surrounds the brain cells. Its purpose is to filter out possible neurotoxins, including bacteria, contained in the blood. At the same time it allows to pass those nutrients that are essential to normal neurological function. Because of this selective screening system infections of the brain are rare. Conversely, when they do occur they can be extremely difficult to treat. The barrier also blocks many drugs from entering the brain from the bloodstream, including most antibiotics.

In cases like this it is important to consider the direction of cause and effect. Does the leaky blood brain barrier cause Alzheimer’s disease or result from it. By adding analysis of some vascular diseases like diabetes to the mix the study concluded that the permeable BBB likely created the conditions for dementia.

The authors list two important generalizations that can be taken away from their findings:

  1. Patients with early Alzheimer disease have significantly more tissue characterized by blood-brain barrier leakage than do healthy control subjects, both in the normal-appearing white matter (P = .019) and in the gray matter (P = .004).
  2. Blood-brain barrier leakage in the gray matter correlates with lower scores on the Mini-Mental State Examination¹.

The test group in this study was small, which limits its impact. The authors, on the other hand, feel that the differences between the test group and the control group were significant enough to warrant further study. If further study substantiates this teams findings it may lead to an accurate early diagnostic tool. Early diagnosis can provide a powerful tool in our search for a cure because researchers will be able to look at disease as it is taking hold. It will also give the individual diagnosed an opportunity to participate in the planning of their future.

Related Research: leaky blood brain barrier and Alzheimer’s

  1. Mini–mental state examination; From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  2. Erickson MA, Banks WA. Blood-brain barrier dysfunction as a cause and consequence of Alzheimer’s disease. J Cereb Blood Flow Metab 2013;33(10):15001513.
  3. Montagne A, Barnes SR, Sweeney MD, et al. Blood-brain barrier breakdown in the aging human hippocampus. Neuron2015;85(2):296302. CrossRef,

 

One of the first things that I learned about Alzheimer’s disease was that it is growing at an epidemic rate. Almost 10 years ago I learned from the Alzheimer’s Association that nearly 5 million people in the U.S. had Alzheimer’s. At that time a new case was diagnosed every seventy seven seconds. The statistics go on. Now some good news! Amidst all of these dire forecasts, a recent study published in Nature Communications (April, 2016) reports declining dementia rates in England. These trends are being seen in other countries as well. And the researchers cannot attribute this downward trend to medical advances.

How Alzheimer's Affects Perception - this optical illusion illustrates how the brain determines what we see

Our sense organs are an extension of our brain. Each sense organ is a highly specialized structure that evolved to gather information about our environment and pass that information to the brain for processing.  It is through these specialized organs that we get information about our surroundings and about ourselves. It is only because of our senses that we are able to interact with our environment. But Alzheimer’s affects perception in a way that makes understanding the world difficult.

In a study led by neuroscientist Susumu Tonegawa,  mice were put into a cage and given a mild electric shock to their feet. When they were returned to that cage it was obvious that the mice all remembered the shock. Then  Alzheimer’s symptoms were experimentally  induced in half of the mice. This group of mice seemed to forget about the shocking.

Using a procedure called optogenetics the Alzheimer’s mice were able to reconnect with the lost memory, and became anxious once again when returned to the cage from which they had received the electric shock.

Can Coconut Oil Cure Alzheimer's Disease?

Almost every day I see a new article or blog post, or an email proclaiming the varied and often remarkable benefits of coconut oil. Quite often I see a headline like Discover How Coconut Oil Can Rescue The Brain From Alzheimer’s or an advertisement selling a Coconut Oil Cure for Alzheimer’s. Those are real headlines — I didn’t make them up. I always approach claims like this with healthy skepticism; I have seen too many “miracle cures” turn to snake oil. But coconut oil seems to be getting more traction than most such proclamations. Might there be something to this one? We are learning more and more about the health benefits of certain foods. According to recent research coconut oil can improve brain health; but can coconut oil cure Alzheimer’s disease?

I’m not the only one impressed by the tenacity of these claims. The Byrd Alzheimer’s Institute at the University of South Florida is also interested. Scientists there are investigating the effect coconut oil has on the brain, and if it may indeed provide some clues to curing dementia. The study was inspired in large part by the work of Dr. Mary Newport.

The question, “Can Coconut Oil Cure Alzheimer’s Disease?” first occurred to Dr. Newport when her husband, Steve, showed marked improvement after she began to include coconut oil in his diet. Steve had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease at the age of 51, and began presenting with some of the textbook symptoms; short term memory problems; a slow, unsteady gait;  trouble with numbers, though he was an accountant. At one time or another he took all the usual drugs prescribed for his condition, but the progression continued.

Mary noticed that his symptoms would be less severe on some days and began to wonder if diet might have something to do with that.

Can coconut oil cure Alzheimer's - There is evidence for lower incidence of dementia in cultures that include coconut products in their diet.

There is evidence for lower incidence of dementia in cultures that include coconut products extensively in their diet. India and the Philippines are examples.

But coconut oil seems an unlikely place to look for a cure. It is a fat, after all, and aren’t fats bad for our health? Well, yes. And no. Depends on the fat. And coconut oil has an especially bad reputation. In the middle of the last century, studies reported that coconut oil clogged the arteries of animal subjects. The conclusion was that fat in the diet leads to heart disease. The studies, however, did not use coconut oil; rather, they used hydrogenated coconut oil, which is a very different thing. The hydrogenation process changes the structure of the fat molecule, leaving behind something that bears little resemblance to the original. It is this hydrogenation process that creates the notorious trans-fats. And it is these trans-fats that have turned out to be the artery-cloggers. Any oil that is hydrogenated becomes bad eats.

From these bogus studies and misinterpreted findings concerning dietary fat have come our preoccupation with low-fat diets.  Real coconut oil (and many other oils) are actually good for you. In fact, fat is a necessary component of a healthy diet. People in the Philippines depend on coconuts, and most include some form of coconut in their diet every day. Many use only coconut oil in their cooking. Yet the Philippines has one of the lowest rates of cardiovascular disease anywhere.

Unfortunately, many processed foods still contain hydrogenated oils (also known as shortening or margarine on the ingredients label). These unhealthy fats increase the shelf life of food products, so the food industry is very averse to getting them out of our food,  even though we have known of their dangers for decades.

But, Can Coconut Oil Cure Alzheimer’s Disease?

Back to Mary. As she watched Steve’s condition steadily decline she researched the state of medical research as it relates to dementia. She found reference to a new drug that was showing some promise in improving the memory of people who have Alzheimer’s disease. In her study¹ she writes:

I learned that the promising “ingredient” in Ketasyn is simply MCT oil, and that a dose of 20 grams (about 20 ml or 4 teaspoons) was used to produce these results. The MCT oil that these researchers used was obtained from Stepan Company and consists of primarily 6 and 8 carbon chains, however they state that MCT of any combination of medium chains (6 to 12 carbon chains are medium chain) would also be effective. Just once in this application, the author mentions that MCT oil is derived from coconut or palm oil (this is incorrect, the author should have stated palm kernel oil.)

Shortly after Mary was told that Steve’s condition was now likely severe – no longer just moderate. That’s when she started adding coconut oil to his diet. The next morning she stirred the oil into his oatmeal. Just 4 1/2 hours later he was taking a scheduled screening. The result of the screening was that he showed a marked improvement in memory functioning over the previous test!

And he continued to improve. Many of the abilities he had lost returned. Even his memory was better. In Dr Newport’s own words:

At the time of this writing it has been 60 days since he started taking coconut oil (May 21, 2008.) He walks into the kitchen every morning alert and happy, talkative, making jokes. His gait is still a little weird. His tremor is no longer very noticeable. He is able to concentrate on things that he wants to do around the house and in the yard and stay on task, whereas before coconut oil he was easily distractible and rarely accomplished anything unless I supervised him directly…

She knew she was on to something. And Steve continued to improve. As it turns out, coconut oil is brain food. The brain’s primary source of food is glucose (sugar). If sugar is not available, it can use ketones as fuel. Now, Alzheimer’s disease can make it difficult for certain areas of the brain to process glucose. Coconut oil makes ketones available to our brains. So it stands to reason that coconut oil can feed the brain when disease makes its preferred food difficult to obtain.

 

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Unfortunately, after seeing such remarkable improvement, Steve’s condition worsened in 2013, partly due to depression following the death of his father. Alzheimer’s disease eventually beat his efforts, and the efforts of his wife, Mary. Steve died on January 2, 2015,  but his life with coconut oil was almost assuredly better than it would have been without. In his case coconut oil did not cure the disease, but Steve was approaching the later stages of Alzheimer’s when he began to use the oil. How much more could it help if introduced into the diet earlier in the progression of the disease? Or before the disease has taken hold?

Steve and Mary’s story has most certainly given us a new avenue to research, and it could very well be the thing that eventually leads us to a cure. For once and for all. It may be that the answer to the question, “can coconut oil cure Alzheimer’s?” will turn out to be an emphatic “YES!”

So here’s your challenge. Try it. And please let us know what you discover. Get a tub of 100% Organic Coconut Oil. (Be sure it’s not hydrogenated. Organic coconut oil is very available now- I get mine at Costco.) Use it in your cooking. Put it in your oatmeal. Use it in Smoothies. Rub it on your face (I do — it’s a great natural skin conditioner, especially with a little Frankincense oil). If you are caring for someone with dementia especially, make sure they get it every day. Dr. Mary Newport recommends that you begin with about 2 tablespoons per day. (Download Dr. Mary Newport’s Coconut Oil Dietary Guidelines) The only reported side effect of coconut oil is indigestion in some cases. Very minor when compared to the possible effects of any drug on the market. And a very minor inconvenience if your loved one gets anything near the benefits that Steve Newport experienced. Indigestion can result with a new type of food, and the inconvenience may likely go away with continued use. Weigh that against the possible benefits.

“Can coconut oil cure Alzheimer’s?” is a big question, and many more questions arise when considering it, like:

  1. good fats vs. bad fats (the important thing to remember here is that organic, non-hydrogenated, unprocessed coconut oil is one of the good fats, and all hydrogenated oils, margarines, and “shortenings” are bad fats)
  2. coconut oil and other health issues (there is evidence that coconut oil in the diet can lower risk of cardiovascular disease and help to avoid obesity), and other diseases like arthritis and diabetes that coconut oil might help. Hopefully we will be looking at some of these in the future. In the meantime, try it. And let us know what you discover.

 

A couple of more lifestyle issues to consider; possibilities I want to explore in depth in the near future…

Statins are one of the most prescribed drugs in all of human history. Statins are designed to lower serum cholesterol (cholesterol in the blood). Aside from netting huge profits for the pharmaceutical industry, statins are so often prescribed because of the belief that serum cholesterol increases the risk of cardiovascular disease. As we saw earlier, the belief that there is a connection between cardiovascular disease and serum cholesterol levels is based on old, poorly designed studies. I have seen some evidence that a slightly elevated cholesterol level after a certain age might even protect against heart attack.

And there is a growing concern that statins may be in part to blame for the meteoric rise we are witnessing in rates of Alzheimer’s disease² ³. The brain is, after all, made essentially of cholesterol; though it weighs only 3 pounds, the brain contains about 25% of all cholesterol in the body. It makes sense that cholesterol would be necessary for its functioning, and science is beginning to prove that out.

And one that at first seems contradictory America’s low-fat diet fetish might in part be responsible for our obesity epidemic.


We are not recommending that you stop taking statins or any other medication prescribed by your medical professional. We are suggesting that you be an enlightened consumer; research the potential problems, side effects, and dangers of any drug that you are taking. And talk to your doctor from an informed perspective. See our legal disclaimer here.

More Research for “Can Coconut Oil Cure Alzheimer’s Disease?”

  1. Dr. Mary Newport (2008); What If There Was a Cure for Alzheimer’s Disease and No One Knew?
  2. Dr. Stephanie Seneff (2012); The Clue to Why Low Fat Diet and Statins may Cause Alzheimer’s.
  3. West R, Beeri MS, Schmeidler J, Hannigan CM, Angelo G, Grossman HT, Rosendorff C, Silverman JM (2008). Better memory functioning associated with higher total and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels in very elderly subjects without the apolipoprotein e4 allele. Am J Geriatr Psychiatry. 2008 Sep;16(9):781-5. doi: 10.1097/JGP.0b013e3181812790.
  4. U.S. study looks into the benefits of coconut oil on patients with Alzheimer’s
  5. Bentham Science Publishers. (2016, February 10). Lipid-based diets effectively combat Alzheimer’s disease in mouse model: Researchers have devised several lipid-based diets aimed at slowing down progression and relieving symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. ScienceDaily. Retrieved February 28, 2016