PREVENTING DEMENTIA AND ALZHEIMER'S DISEASE
People who are losing their wits experience indescribable suffering and the plight of their loved ones is overwhelming. From being the director of a global corporation, a professor at the university hospital, an editor, artist, craftsman, the mother of a big family, a teacher, dancer or farmer on the family farm to the complete loss of any connection to place or time and to the people by whom they once felt understood. They are tormented by fears, by memories that they can no longer relate to, by anxiety, insomnia and the loss of general trust.
The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that in 2007 there were 29 million people suffering from Alzheimer's disease worldwide. By 2050, this figure is expected to rise to 106 million. 1.3 million Germans suffer from dementia and by 2050 it is expected to be 2.6 million. German doctors diagnose 250,000 new cases every year. Among these, 2% of 60-year-olds, 3% of 70-year-olds, 6% of 75-year-olds and 20% of 85-year-old men and women developed the disease. In a third of dementia patients, atherosclerotic vascular damage is responsible for the loss of memory, in two-thirds memory loss is caused by Alzheimer's disease.
The German physician and psychiatrist Alois Alzheimer could never have foreseen that his discovery would one day become one of the most common and feared diseases when in 1901, at a colloquium at the Epilepsy and Dementia Centre Frankfurt, he presented a “rare case of a 50-year-old woman exhibiting memory loss, confusion and imminent death”. He presented slides of brain tissue from the autopsy showing degenerative deposits in the delicate connective tissue of the brain (glia), around the nerve cells and twisted fibrils inside the cells. Nowadays, we know that we are dealing with degenerative proteins, beta-amyloids and, in the case of the fibrils in the nerve cells, excessively phosphorylated tau proteins which, because of their degeneration, are forming senselessly twisted fibrils instead of a normal cytoskeleton, so that the nerve cells (neurons) die and the brain shrinks. There are numerous other hypotheses about the cause of Alzheimer's disease that have not been confirmed. Four genes on chromosomes 3, 14, 19 and 21 have been identified, which are only about 1.5% more common in patients with Alzheimer's disease. Therefore, heredity plays a subordinate role.
During the last few years, a multitude of scientific studies have been carried out proving that the leading cause of Alzheimer's disease by far, is general malnutrition. The Research Institute at Massachusetts General Hospital conducted a randomised comparative study with 60 persons in each case, where high concentrations of beta-amyloid were measured in the cerebrospinal fluid when a diet high in saturated (animal) fats had been followed. A diet rich in polyunsaturated vegetable oils drastically reduced the levels of beta-amyloids. Foods rich in meat, cheese, white flour and sugar have meanwhile been identified as risk factors for Alzheimer's disease. In comparative studies, a Mediterranean diet already offered some degree of protection. However, a diet rich in fruits, salads and raw vegetables, served with highly unsaturated, cold-pressed vegetable oils (omega-3 and omega-6) provided far greater protection against Alzheimer's disease. Beta-amyloid levels in the brain are reduced, fibrils and Alzheimer plaques are broken down.
The skin of apples is particularly rich in polyphenols. But these can be found in all fruits, including fresh avocados. Carrots, potatoes and all kinds of vegetables also contain polyphenols. However, in the brown spots these polyphenols have been oxidised by the polyphenol oxidase resulting in very toxic quinones and must not be consumed at all.
The history of medicine is having a hard time trying to clear up the “French paradox”, according to which moderate consumption of red wine is supposed to prevent Alzheimer’s disease as well as heart attacks and other degenerative diseases. Such studies have long since been disproved and the financial interests have been revealed. It has also been established that the concentration of plant-derived resveratrol, an antioxidant found in red wine, is four times too low to protect against amyloid deposits altogether. Added to this is the fact that red wine contains several copper compounds that are toxic to the nerves. Here, economic interests are in the foreground. The same applies to some studies involving coffee and caffeine.
A high degree of mental activity is very important in old age because it promotes the continuous formation of new dendrite networks between nerve cells in the brain. However, on its own it cannot prevent Alzheimer's disease.
Switching to a living, natural, fresh plant-based diet with a high proportion of raw vegetables, lots of fruit, freshly centrifuged juices, almonds, nuts and highly unsaturated vegetable oils can reliably prevent both vascular dementia as well as Alzheimer's disease. A worthwhile journey.
Dr. med. Andres Bircher