WHAT CAUSES ALZHEIMER’S?

Alzheimer’s is no longer a mysterious disease to be feared.

Research has been ongoing for more than a century to understand the causes of advanced cognitive decline in older people, including Alzheimer’s.  But the breakthrough that Dr. Bredesen and his team published was that a natural function of the brain which responds to nutritional deficiencies or attacks on cell tissues (inflammation or toxin exposure) responds with chemical messengers that sacrifice brain cells, particularly in the region of the brain that handles memory.

In short, the root cause of Alzheimer’s is the body’s attempted protective response to three different problems:

  • Chronic (ongoing) inflammation, including from infections (like Lyme disease).
  • Hormonal and nutritional deficiencies (such as Vitamin D).
  • Exposure to toxins (poisons).
  • The ApoE gene is responsible for regulating the maintenance of brain health.

The APOE gene is responsible for regulating many body processes, including the maintenance of brain cell health.  When the APOE gene detects a problem, whether it be damage from a toxic substance, a nutritional or hormonal deficiency, or inflammation of cell tissues, it may mediate the amyloid precursor proteins (APPs) in the brain to formulate a response.

In a healthy person, the normal messages tell the APP molecule to divide into two parts known as peptides.  These two “parts” are much like lines of computer code than then instruct the cells on what to do, including protecting brain cells.

But when the body is under attack from toxins or inflammation or is suffering from key nutritional deficiencies, the APOE gene and other signals then cause the APP molecules to take defensive action.  Instead of splitting into two peptides, the APP molecule is cut into four different peptides: soluble APP beta, Jcasp, C31, and amyloid-beta.

Neuron with amyloid-beta plaque buildup.

The amyloid-beta then kills pathogens such as bacteria or fungi, and triggers other APP molecules to churn out even more amyloid-beta, eventually flooding the brain and leading to the formation of clumps of amyloid-beta that can be seen in a brain scan.  The other three “bad” peptides cause the neuron connections (synapses) to pull back, thus losing memory and reducing the interaction via neurotransmitters. While this preserves (at least initially) the more important functions such as speaking and performing everyday tasks.

Of course, to the person afflicted by memory loss, the brain cells that regulate memory don’t feel “unnecessary” at all.  But given an option between protecting vital brain cells that regulate functions like speaking, vision, planning, and autonomic functions (like blood pressure and body temperatue), the plasticity is sacrificed first—thus memory is a “canary in the mine” that indicates that Alzheimer’s is coming and should be addressed before further decline.

The presence of the APOE-4 variant is believed to be harmful at least in part because it mediates an “overreaction” to inflammation, thus speeding up the instructions that tell APP molecules to produce the four “bad” peptides.

If the sources of chronic inflammation, nutritional deficiencies, hormonal imbalances, and/or exposure to toxins are addressed, the APOE gene and other influences will then stop telling the APP molecules to switch into damage control mode that includes sacrificing brain cells.  This is how Dr. Bredesen and his team proved that addressing the underlying issues (inflammation, nutrition/hormone problems, and exposure to poisons) can prevent the symptoms of Alzheimer’s.

A customized treatment program inlcudes a healthy diet, regular exercise, and intellectual stimulation.

The ReCODE program developed by Dr. Bredesen identifies 36 separate biomarkers that indicate the presence of or the risk of developing Alzheimer’s. Along with a genetic workup that includes identifying copies of the APOE-4 gene variant, the ReCODE program can then both predict an individual’s risk of developing Alzheimer’s as well as customizing a treatment program to correct nutritional deficiencies, hormonal imbalances, and chronic inflammation with a combination of dietary and lifestyle changes.

These are personalized; some of the basics include:

  • Eating a healthy diet free from sugars and gluten.
  • Consuming little or no red meat.
  • Addressing vitamin deficiencies with supplements and/or diet.
  • Regularly exercising (elevating your heart rate for 30 minutes, 3-4 times week).
  • Eliminating/reducing exposure to toxic substances.
  • Participating in intellectually stimulating activities to keep the brain sharp.

Alzheimer’s is no longer a mysterious disease to be feared.  By analyzing a simple blood test and applying the ReCODE program, your doctor can design a proactive course of treatment to protect you from damage and continue to enjoy a healthy brain for years to come.