The number of Americans currently living withAlzheimer's and dementia has increased significantly in recent years. In fact, according toAlzheimer's Disease Facts and Figures, an annual report released by the Alzheimer's Association, there arecurrently more than 5.8 million Americans over the age of 65 currently living with Alzheimer’s. That’s a shockingincrease of over a million more people compared to just 10 years ago when there were an estimated 4.7 million over age 65 living with the condition. This dramatic increase has doctors concerned — and puzzled.
Early (Young) Onset Alzheimer’s Disease
What doctors are finding equally concerning is the staggering increase in newly diagnosed cases of the lesser known, but equally debilitating condition, known asyoung-onset Alzheimer’s disease. Young-onset Alzheimer’s disease, or early onset Alzheimer’s — the term that is more often used in the press — affects people under the age of 65, and is currently increasing even faster than Alzheimer's diagnosed in those over 65 years old. To make matters more troubling, unlike traditional Alzheimer’s, young-onset Alzheimer’s disease tends to be progressively sporadic in nature and isnot thought to have a genetic link to causation. In fact, doctors have yet to determine a concrete reason why this mysterious form of Alzheimer’s is appearing more frequently and at increasingly younger ages.Considering that this early onset diagnosis can affect people in their 40s and 50s, this news has many worried.
But there is some good news from the medical community on potentiallyproactively addressing early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. Many doctors believe this condition is not something entirely out of our control. There are specific things you can (and should) do every day that have been shown to help improvebrain health and reduce the risk of developing early symptoms of the condition, including a few non-traditional, little-known options that may surprise you. But first, let’s take a look at known risk factors that contribute to decreased brain function and increased chance of developing early-onset Alzheimer’s, while dispelling a few of the common myths associated with how this disease develops and progresses.
Risk Factors and Causes of Early Onset Alzheimer's
Alzheimer’s is a disease of stages, typically progressing from mild to more severe symptoms as the disease advances. Since young people are rarely, if ever, tested for Alzheimer’s, many — nearly all, in fact — early on-set diagnoses are delayed until after the disease has advanced in significance with problematic symptoms. In the more mild stages, people may experience a wide range of symptoms, including:
- Memory loss of recent events.This could also include challenges in learning new information, often characterized by asking questions/requesting clarification on the same topic over and over.
- Difficulty with problem-solving, complex tasks and judgments. Simple tasks, such as remembering to pay a bill or balancing the checkbook start to become overwhelming. It’s often common to notice increased incidences of poor decision making, especially when it comes to financial decisions.
- Changes in personality.Becoming increasingly angry, irritable, or frustrated.
- Difficulty organizing and expressing thoughts. Finding the right words to describe objects and the ability to clearly express ideas becomes increasingly challenging.
- Getting confused, lost in familiar places, or frequently misplacing things like keys, phone, or wallet.This one is self-explanatory, and is one of the more widely known symptoms.
As mentioned earlier, doctors have not yet determined why this disease is now being diagnosed at higher rates in younger people, but there are plenty of factors that are thought to contribute to the risk, including:
Exposure to Heavy Metals
Current research has demonstrated a likely relationship between certain metals and the development and progression of Alzheimer’s disease, inducing copper, zinc, iron, and what appears to be the most dangerous, but controversial of all metals: aluminum.
Aluminum specifically is controversial because for years scientists believed that prolonged exposure to aluminum, especially from cooking utensils and deodorant, have long contributed to the development of Alzheimer’s and other brain conditions. This claim is strengthened by the fact that autopsies on the brains of Alzheimer’s patients almost always demonstrate elevated amounts of aluminum and other metals, including copper and iron. And, while many researchers continue to believe that a relationship between heavy metals and damage to the brain exists — mainly through the formation of plaques in the brain calledbeta-amyloid — to date there exists noconclusive evidence or studies supporting this.
Even Eating The RDA of Saturated and Trans Fats is Too Much!
By now we know you are well aware of how dangerous saturated fats andhydrogenated oils are to heart health, but we don’t often hear of the dangers they pose to the brain — until now.
To all the Keto or Atkins dieters out there, you should be aware that research conclusively shows that eating too much saturated fats can significantly increase the risk of developing Alzheimer’s. In fact, eating as little as 25 grams of saturated fat per day has been shown to double, and in some cases even triple, the risk of developing the condition, regardless of age. The same researchers also looked at consumption of hydrogenated fats and trans fats found in baked goods like donuts, cookies, and pastries, and guess what they found? The same exact trend — consuming as little as 25 grams per day (that's just a little bit more than the RDA) increased the risk of Alzheimer’s by over 300%!
Mega-dosing With Low-Quality Multivitamins
We know thatvitamins,minerals, and nutrients play an essential role in supporting our health, but it’s important to understand that dosing with theright amount of these vitamins, minerals, and trace elements — from natural (not synthetic) sources — is proving to be just as essential to supporting brain health. Here’s why: manufacturers of low-quality multivitamins often dump massive amounts of the cheaper vitamins and some minerals into their massive, chalky tablets. Take a look at some of the popular commercially available multis and you’ll see what we mean — 5,000% RDA of Vitamin A; 8,333% of the RDA of vitamin B12; 150% of copper and iron… massive doses of each.
But if a little of these nutrients are good for us, a lot will be even better, right? Well, that’s not how it works with vitamins or minerals according to doctors. Remember, even though we need essential minerals and trace elements like copper and iron, we only need them in certain amounts and only enough to supplement what we are not getting from our diet, especially when it comes to brain health. In the case of some minerals, we are already getting enough from our diets and don’t even need to supplement. As we already discussed, too much copper and iron contributes to brain plaque deposits specifically linked to Alzheimer’s. So choosing a multi that issmartly formulatedby nutritionists, for your sex, is very important.
Eating For a Healthier Brain: A Proven Way to Reduce The Risk of Early Onset Alzheimer’s
So, based on the information so far, you might be thinking “if I avoid cooking with aluminum pots, buy all-natural deodorant, takethe right multi andstop eating meat andbaked goods then my brain should be fine. I’m covered, right? Well, that is definitely a good start, but it’s not quite that simple. The good news is that you don’t have to do a whole lot more to significantly improve your brain health while also lowering your risk of developing Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia. Here’s what Alzheimer’s doctors recommend:
Cut Saturated Fat and Trans Fats Out Of Your Diet
When we think of saturated fat, we tend to think of fatty cuts of red meat, greasy sausage, and fatty bacon; but believe it or not, meats, while high in saturated fats, are not the number one source of saturated fats in the average American’s diet. That distinction goes to dairy products.
Butter, whole milk, and cheese are loaded with saturated fats that contribute to a host of health issues includingheart disease,chronic inflammation, and, yes, decreased brain function. The same is true of trans fats found in processed foods like potato chips, frozen foods, candy bars, and baked goods. Despite the recent popularity of somehigh-fat diets, research continues to show over and over, and the numbers don’t lie: the less of these bad fats you eat, the better your overall health. Cutting these fats out may even reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s by 200 to 300%.
Make Curcumin A Regular Part of Your Diet
If you’ve never heard of curcumin, you are really missing out on a nutritional game-changer. Curcumin is the concentrated active ingredient found in turmeric. It’s only about 2-3% of the turmeric root itself, so it’s difficult to get enough just from adding turmeric to your diet. However, when formulatedin supplement form with the active cucumin (not turmeric powder), it has an amazing effect on the body and especially the brain. In fact, it’s a whopping 250 times more potent an inflammation-fighter than turmeric itself. A large part of the inflammation-fighting effect of curcumin comes from its ability to inhibit key enzymes in the body and brain known to promote inflammation.
But it does even more than that for the brain; according to the American Brain Society, curcumin also improves oxygen uptake in the brain, increases cognitive function andmemory, and prevents harmful free radicals from harming nerve and brain function. More and more doctors across the countries are touting the broad spectrum of benefits associated with this inflammation fighter every day.
Eat More Zinc, Eat More Magnesium, and Eat More Vitamin E - Just Not Too Much
Zinc has been shown to reduce the toxic effect of amyloid plaque deposits by changing the amyloid proteins into a shape that is less harmful to the brain — it actually fights to prevent the damage caused by excess copper, iron, and aluminum.
Magnesium has been called the “sleeper” of the essential trace elements because this little-known mineral is crucial for over 300 functions in the body. Magnesium stimulates brain function and is key for improving your brain’s ability to process information and improve memory. Recent findings demonstrate that magnesium, like zinc, may also be effective in protecting against Alzheimer's disease-like pathological progression by reducing plaque in your brain.
Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant that’s been shown to reduce risk of Alzheimer’s by over 50%, but only when you consume around 8 mg each day. Found in leafy greens and mangoes, and like magnesium and zinc, you can get Vitamin E from raw, organicnuts and seeds. But here’s the most important part: however you opt to get your vitamin E, whether through food or through supplement,it should come from a natural source or a supplement that is sourced only from natural ingredients. Here’s why: there are actually 8 different types of vitamin E, and 99.9% of supplements on the market only source their vitamin E from one type. When that happens, believe it or not, that one form of vitamin E in the supplement can actually inhibit your body’s ability to absorb the other 7 essential forms of the vitamin. So make sure it’s derived from a whole food source.
In addition to curcumin, zinc, magnesium, and vitamin E, make sure you are supporting your brain health through other natural brain foods, including organic blueberries, grapes, tomatoes, dark leafy greens, beets, and other brightly colored, fresh fruits and vegetables.
The Bottom Line on Prevention
While doctors continue to search for a reason as to why they are seeing such an increase in early onset Alzheimer’s disease, you can take proactive steps to protect your health. So make sure you support your brain health by opting for a more plant-based diet rich in a wide variety of all natural foods, and taking the right supplements in the right amounts.