Dementia vs Alzheimer’s Disease Dementia is a general term for a decline in mental ability severe enough to interfere with daily life. Alzheimer’s Disease is a type of dementia that causes problems with memory, thinking, and behavior.
Alzheimer’s Disease The most common form of dementia: 50-80% of dementia cases Progressive disease where the symptoms worsen over time Symptoms become severe enough to interfere with daily life
Who gets it? Greatest risk factor is age. ▫Majority of people are >65 years 5% people have early onset Alzheimer’s in their 40’s Other risk factors: Family history & Genetics
Causes of Dementia Diseases that affect blood vessels Nutritional deficiencies Infections that affect the brain and spinal cord Diseases that cause degeneration or loss of nerve cells in the brain- Alzheimer’s Disease
Early Stages of AD Before symptoms, plaques begin to form in brain areas involved in: ▫Learning & memory ▫Thinking & planning May begin 20 years or more before diagnosis
Mild to Moderate AD Plaques spread to areas involved in: ▫Speaking & understanding speech ▫Your sense of where your body is in relation to objects around you Generally last from 2 to 10 years
Severe AD Most of the cortex is severely damaged Brain shrinks dramatically due to cell death Lose ability to communicate, recognize family, and care for themselves May last 1-5 years
Cortex shrivels up Ventricles grow larger (fluid filled spaces)
So what is the proposed underlying metabolic cause of Dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease?
Metabolic Aging is the most common risk factor for the development of neurodegenerative disease. Oxidative stress may also contribute to the pathophysiology of neurodegenerative disorders. Oxidative stress may lead to mitochondrial failure and problems with the ETC.
Proposed protective mechanism
Conventional Medicines Cholinesterase inhibitors ▫Prevent breakdown of acetylcholine a key chemical messenger for nerve cells Memantine ▫Regulates the activity of glutamate ▫All these drugs come with side effects such as headaches, constipation, confusion and dizziness
Can we stop or delay this terrible disease with nutrition? Micronutrients?
Micronutrients of Interest Vitamin D Ginkgo biloba
Vitamin D Fat soluble vitamin Key micronutrient in calcium absorption and mineral homeostasis Vitamin D receptor (VDR) interaction also involved in modulation of transcription Growing evidence of VDR activity
Vitamin D Provides an antioxidant like protection via up regulation of glutathione May protect the structure and integrity of neurons via detoxification and neurotrophin synthesis
Ginkgo biloba One of the oldest living tree species Dried leaves used to make plant extract Antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties Protect cell membranes & regulate neurotransmitter function
Ginkgo biloba Amyloid beta triggers mitochondrial dysfunction through elevation of ROS Increased ROS can inhibit protein import & damage cellular structures EGb761 has antioxidant effects and targets amyloid beta, thereby reducing ROS and preventing mitochondrial dysfunction Amyloid beta is the main component of amyloid plaques found in AD
Conclusion What is the moral of the Alzheimer’s Disease/Dementia Story? Age and Genetics are primary contributing factors and largely unalterable Key prevention seems to be a well rounded diet, plenty of key micronutrients and antioxidants USE YOUR BRAIN!! Learning and staying sharp provide some of the greatest protective action.
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