Alzheimer’s disease now affects more than 5.5 million Americans, and it is a disease without cure or meaningful treatment. Dr. Mary Newport, a medical doctor specializing in the care of critically ill newborns, was thrust into the role of caregiver when her husband was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. But rather than remain passive and agree to the “standard of care”, Dr. Newport began an in-depth pursuit to gain an understanding of what actually underlies the neuronal failure characteristic of this disease. She chronicles this journey, and her discoveries, in her book Alzheimer’s Disease: What If There Was a Cure?.
This is a compelling work that’s focused on the idea of providing ketones, a type of fat, to power brain cells.
The fundamental mechanism that underlies such seemingly disparate issues as autism, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, and various other neurodegenerative conditions, is the process of inflammation. As you will note, this has been a central theme in my recent lectures, television programs, as well as books, as this is what current science is strongly supporting.
But it now looks as if this process, inflammation, may actually begin in the gut and subsequently affect the brain as a downstream mechanism. In a submission to the Journal of Neuroinflammation, researchers at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles reported on a fascinating experiment.
Using a laboratory mouse, they administered a chemical, dextran sodium sulfate (DSS), into the drinking water of some of the animals. They then examined the brains of these animals at various times up to 26 days after the chemical was placed in the water. DSS specifically causes gut inflammation. Continue reading
Last week I had the opportunity to participate in a Google Hangout discussing dietary recommendations in response to a case presentation of an elderly woman who was beginning to experience decline in cognitive function.
Basically, the case was selected as she was experiencing mild cognitive impairment (MCI), generally thought to be a harbinger of future Alzheimer’s disease.
Alzheimer’s disease, far and away the most common form of dementia, now affects some 5.4 million Americans, representing the third leading cause of death in our country. This number is predicted to double in just the next 15 years! Moreover, women are disproportionately at risk, representing 65% of Alzheimer’s cases. In fact, a woman’s risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease now exceeds her risk of developing breast cancer. The annual cost for caring for Alzheimer’s patients exceeds $200 billion, and this is a disease for which we currently have no meaningful treatment. Continue reading
Is there such a thing as being too clean? Could our obsession with cleanliness actually be doing more harm than good to our overall health? A new study from Evolution, Medicine, and Public Health find an interesting relationship between rates of Alzheimer’s Disease and parasitic stress in the gut. This could represent another endorsement of having a diverse gut bacterial population.
Last month I had the great honor to serve as program chairman for an integrative brain symposium held in Hollywood, Florida. What was so exciting for me was the fact that I was given the opportunity to invite some of our most well-respected thought leaders in the field of brain science to lecture on their research.
One of our esteemed presenters was Dale E. Bredesen, M.D., an Alzheimer’s researcher at the Mary S. Easton Center for Alzheimer’s Disease Research at UCLA. Dr. Bredesen provided a unique assessment of the current approaches to dealing with Alzheimer’s disease. It was very clear from his presentation that the idea of focusing on a single drug or single intervention was simply not going to be appropriate if we are ever going to be able to offer up any meaningful therapy for the more than 5.4 million Americans who are afflicted with this devastating condition.
Dr. Bredesen described a “systems approach” to dealing with Alzheimer’s disease, looking at a variety of factors that seem to conspire, ultimately leading to brain degeneration that we know recognize as representing this disease. Using his approach which he termed, “systems therapeutics,” which integrates a variety of parameters, he has actually been able to reverse cognitive decline in this devastating condition. Continue reading
There is certainly been a lot of discussion in the scientific community I related to the positive aspects of drinking red wine. Red wine, in addition to its healthy content of polyphenols – natural antioxidants, also contains small amounts of resveratrol, that does offer up a level of antioxidant function as well as reduction of inflammation.
To add to the story, new research published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, tells yet another story about red wine. In this new report, researchers evaluated the effect of red wine consumption versus control in 10 middle-aged male volunteers, and measured two important parameters. First, they looked at LPS. LPS is a gut related bacterial marker of inflammation. Basically higher levels of LPS correlate with higher levels of inflammation. And, as we all know, inflammation is the cornerstone of such dreaded issues as Alzheimer’s disease, coronary artery disease, diabetes, and even cancer.
We Americans seem to be obsessed with hygiene and cleanliness. Whether it’s the hand sanitizer dispenser at the end of virtually every aisle in the grocery store, the plethora of antimicrobial cleaning products, or our insistence on taking powerful antibiotics for every cough or cold, somehow or another we have bought into the mentality that bugs are bad and are waging a war against us at every turn.
As it turns out, in many ways the multitude of bacteria that exist in our world and within our bodies may actually be doing more good than harm. Within our intestines, for example, there exists a vast and expensive colony of living organisms upon which we are completely dependent for our wellbeing. Most of these organisms reside within the intestine and are called our microbiota. In fact, the number of organisms living within each of us outnumber the cells of our body by a factor of 10 to 1.
And it is these bacteria and other organisms including fungi and viruses that control any number of aspects of our physiology that determine health versus illness. Our immune function, levels of inflammation, ability to fight cancer cells, detoxification, and even absorption of various nutrients, are all intimately dependent upon the various species of organisms that live within the gut. Continue reading
Many of you viewed my interview with Dr. Mercola last year.
Just recently, Dr. Mercola and I spoke again, and our conversation is one you need to hear. Here, we dive deeper into the topics discussed in Grain Brain, from proper diet to the causes of Alzheimer’s Disease, but we also go well beyond them, fully exploring the gut-brain connection and even the role of gut bacteria in brain health.
We’ve all come to accept the notion that our brain will continue to shrink as we age. Nowhere is this decline more impactful than in the hippocampus, the brain’s memory center, one of the primary brain areas that’s first to decline in Alzheimer’s disease.
Researchers measuring the size of the hippocampus using MRI scans demonstrate a clear correlation between shrinkage of the hippocampus and declining cognitive function. So, at least as it relates to the hippocampus, size does matter.
Challenging the status quo notion that loss of hippocampal function is inevitable is new and exciting research showing that we have the potential to actually grow new cells in this vitally important are of the brain, expanding the hippocampus in size and enhancing memory function.
What a wonderful story of success from Mike and Linda. It’s great to see how they go through this together. – Dr. Perlmutter
My wife bought your book “Grain Brain” a few months ago and like most books we buy, it just sat on the coffee table for a while and neither of us even opened it for a few days. When Linda first picked up the book and began to read, it became obvious that this was not just another diet book that was going to fail us again. We both have strong histories of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia in our families and, from first-hand experience, it is the most cruel and debilitating disease I have ever seen.
Once we understood the message you were relating in the book, we knew instantly that our main motivation was to maintain and improve the cognitive functions of our brains and, hopefully, prevent either of us being cast into the nightmare of Alzheimer’s. We actually looked at the possibility of losing weight as side benefit from the healthy eating regiment you had laid out in your book and on your website.