Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is the most common cause of dementia and is characterized by a decline in cognitive function and the loss of neurons. According to The World Alzheimer Report 2016, 47 million people live with dementia worldwide, more than the population of Spain. This number is projected to increase to more than 131 million by 2050. Currently 5 million Americans have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and will increase three fold by 2050.
Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive neurodegenerative disorder that is characterized by cognitive decline and the presence of two core pathologies, amyloid β plaques and neurofibrillary tangles. We are learning that there’s a third pathology and it is the presence of a sustained immune response in the brain; which is neuroinflammation. This also holds true for other diseases such as Parkinson’s and multiple sclerosis to name a few.
Alzheimer’s disease is associated with aging, inflammation, and the ApoE4 genotype which is a risk factor for developing late onset Alzheimer’s. Research suggests that amyloid plaque formation may initially be a protection mechanism to prevent microbial invasion in the brain. Unlike the rest of the organs in the body where white cells in the blood are transformed into killer cells (neutrophils and macrophages) that can enter the infected area to destroy microbial invasion, the brain is relatively isolated by the blood-brain barrier. Therefore, the brain depends on the formation of a sticky cage built of beta amyloid proteins to trap the microbe so it eventually dies. The cage that is left behind is the amyloid plaque. Research shows the blood-brain barrier is leakier in people with Alzheimer’s patients.
So where does inflammation and ApoE4 fit in? Inflammation must balance with resolution to maintain wellness. Resolution is the final stage of the inflammatory response, when restoration of tissue occurs. Evidence supports that a faulty resolution response in Alzheimer’s is caused by a lack of resolution which is usually a consequence of inadequate levels of omega-3 fatty acids to produce the hormones known as resolvins. ApoE4 is a protein that’s an integral part of circulating lipoproteins. What’s the connection with Alzheimer’s? Individuals who have a certain genetic mutant of this protein are at higher risk for developing Alzheimer’s. In fact, about 14 times higher.
In the past, lipoproteins such as LDL were usually associated with heart disease. But we now know that individuals with high levels of ApoE4 in their lipoproteins have difficulty in transferring omega-3 fatty acids into the brain. Without adequate levels of omega-3 fatty acids being supplied to the brain, it is difficult to reduce neuroinflammation; the underlying cause of Alzheimer’s. Those individuals who have an ApoE4 mutation, meaning that the resolution of inflammation caused by the debris of the dying microbe trapped within the amyloid plaque cage in the brain is compromised, have microbial debris that remains a constant source of inflammation that eventually causes the death of brain cells.
What can be done? First, reduce the leakiness of the blood-brain barrier. Leakiness is often caused by increased production of leukotrienes from arachidonic acid. The best way to reduce arachidonic acid is to follow our anti-inflammatory protocol. Second, increase the levels of omega-3 fatty acids in your blood so more omega-3s can get into the brain to generate resolvins. If you have the ApoE4 mutation, then you should take even more omega-3 fatty acids which include EPA and DHA from fish oil.
The best prevention for inflammation in the brain is a comprehensive lifestyle approach. It must include high-doses of omega-3 fatty acids and polyphenols. It is essential to eat a well-balanced diet in protein, moderate in carbohydrate yet rich in fermentable fiber; and low in omega-6 and saturated fats. We have put years of research and clinical practice into developing our Lifestyle protocols to reduce and even prevent inflammation. We can prevent and reverse disease. If people don’t start following an anti-inflammatory diet, Alzheimer’s rates will continue to rise and money will be spent in all the wrong areas. Our bodies can prevent and reverse disease.