Category Archives: Alzheimer Disease

Unified theory of Alzheimer’s disease (UTAD): implications for prevention and curative therapy

No need to read the following. It’ll likely bore you to death. I record it here for my own purposes. Alzheimer’s Disease is a huge problem and we desperately need ways to prevent and cure it. Prevention should be easier than cure. BTW, the Mediterranean diet is linked to lower risk of Alzheimer’s Disease.

“The master regulator/inhibitor of autophagy is the mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR). This intracellular kinase functions as a key signalling node that integrates information regarding extracellular growth factor stimulation, nutrient availability and energy supplies. The fungal metabolite rapamycin was accidently found to block mTOR and became not only the eponym of mTOR but also the main molecular tool to dissect mTOR-function. Rapamycin treatment was found to activate autophagy by inhibiting mTOR, thereby slowing down both aging and cognitive decline of caged mice, suggesting that inefficient autophagy as part of the NRJ-program might be a central element of both processes. Conversely, caging (standard housing) might eliminate an important behavioural cues (like for instance physical activity or intermittent fasting, see below), which leads to unnaturally high activity of mTOR and low activity of peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor γ coactivator 1α (PGC-1α), the master controller of mitochondrogenesis (see below), thereby inhibiting neuron-rejuvenating and protecting autophagy. Hence the observed aging and cognitive decline in murine models of AD might be regarded as artificial and not reflecting the aging process under natural conditions.

Other behavioural cues that inactivate mTOR are, besides physical exercise, which was shown to promote autophagy of defunct organelles and macromolecules in the brain, chronic caloric restriction (CCR), which is well known to delay aging and extend life-span in essentially all eukaryotic organism. But is CCR a physiological cue or rather an artefact of experimental research that simulates, to some extent, a more natural dietary pattern, namely intermittent fasting (IMF), which from an evolutionary point of view is more natural (see below)? But IMF is experimentally more labour-intensive than CCR and therefore less well studied. Nevertheless, autophagy and in particular mitophagy was found to being activated by CCR through inhibition of mTOR in essentially all species investigated, ranging from yeast, to flies, worms, fish, rodents and even to rhesus monkeys [87], thereby decelerating mTOR-driven aging. CCR not only extends lifespan, it also protects the central nervous system from neurodegenerative disorders, whereas excessive caloric intake is clearly associated with accelerated aging of the brain and increased the risk of neurodegenerative disorders due to suppressed autophagy.

Nevertheless, IMF was shown to create a more robust and steady inhibition of mTOR-accelerated aging and cognitive decline when compared to CCR. This is explained by the fact that the main hormone-like signalling molecules of the metabolic status during IMF, the ketone bodies acetoacetate (AcAc) and D-β-hydroxybutyrate (βOHB), are more efficiently generated during fasting than by CCR. These two respiratory fuels can endogenously be produced by the liver in large quantities (up to 150 g/day) from mobilized fatty acids in a variety of physiological or pathological conditions. In humans, basal serum levels of βOHB are in the low micromolar range, but rise up to several hundred micromole after 12 to 16 h of fasting. Importantly, when blood glucose and insulin are low, up to 60 % of the brain energy needs can be derived from ketone bodies, replacing glucose as its primary fuel. Similar high levels of up to 1 to 2 millimole βOHB are reached after prolonged endurance exercise. A physiologically relevant increase in ketone body production is already achieved by fasting overnight, which can even be enhanced if we are physically active before breaking the fasting in the morning. This most likely mimics the situation that faced our foraging ancestors who went out for hunting or gathering food with their stomachs empty.

Since neither long- nor medium-chain saturated fatty acids can pass the BBB, only their transformation into ketone bodies allows our energy-demanding brain to access the largest energy store, our adipose tissue. In fact, ketone body production reduces glucose requirement and preserves gluconeogenic protein stores during fasting, which enables a profound increase in the capacity for survival. Interestingly and again in line with the GMH, elderly generate ketone bodies at least as efficient as younger adults during IMF and the metabolic response to a ketogenic diet appears also to be unaffected by aging.As hinted at above, the observation that IMF is superior to CCR makes also a lot of sense from an evolutionary perspective, as not chronic starvation but rather periodic alteration between fasting and intake of high-caloric meals after successful foraging was ancient normality. Importantly, recent evidence suggests that our phylogenetically conserved genetic program uses the metabolic changes that originate from intermittent fasting (IMF) as a behavioural cue of for [sic] the initiation of subcellular renewal. This is a good thing, since in order to maintain cellular youth, we do not have to starve by CCR. It is sufficient to alternate phases of fasting, which just need to be sufficiently long to induce ketone body production (for instance 12 h overnight) and phases of eating, in which the total energy demand of our body can be met. In contrast, current normality consists of constant feeding pattern, which results in permanent high mTOR activity (and low PGC-1α-levels, see below), which suppresses cellular rejuvenation. A sedentary lifestyle aggravates this pro-aging effect, whereas prolonged physical exercise reduces mTOR-activity, possibly also by increasing ketone body production.”

Source: Unified theory of Alzheimer’s disease (UTAD): implications for prevention and curative therapy

DHA, an Omega-3 Fatty Acid, Is Again Linked to Alzheimers Disease

Dead whole fish aren't very appealing to many folks

Dead whole fish aren’t very appealing to many folks

Linked in a good way.

It’s a little complicated.

DHA is an essential fatty acid. Our bodies need DHA, and certain fish are a good sources for us.

A recent small study found that people with higher levels of bloodstream DHA have less accumulation of amyloid in their brains. Amyloid deposition is a marker of Alzheimers disease. As the dementia starts and progresses, amyloid builds up in the brain. We don’t know if the amyloid is actually causing harm to brain tissue, or is simply a bystander to some other primary disease process. Some researchers think that if we can prevent amyloid build-up, we can prevent Alzheimers.

A recent MedPageToday article reviews the new study I mentioned above:

“So what’s a clinician to do? Quinn asked. “Maybe the best advice is to adhere to the recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and from the American Heart Association and American Stroke Association, each of which recommend eating fish two to three times per week, primarily for vascular health,” he suggested.

Source: Role for Fatty Acid Metabolism in Preclinical AD? | Medpage Today

I’ve been recommending at least that level of consumption since 2007. Follow my Advanced Mediterranean Diet or Ketogenic Mediterranean Diet and you’ll get plenty of DHA.

Steve Parker, M.D.

PS: Fish with decent levels of DHA and other omega-3 fatty acids include salmon, trout, mackerel, sardines, herring, and albacore tuna.

Monster In the Mind: A New Documentary From Jean Carper Looks Interesting

Monster in the Mind (2016) Trailer from jean carper on Vimeo.

Diabetes and Alzheimer’s Dementia: What’s the Connection?

dementia, memory loss, Mediterranean diet, low-carb diet, glycemic index, dementia memory loss

“More basic research is critical.”

Several scientific studies, but not all, link type 2 diabetes with Alzheimer’s disease. Some go so far as to say Alzheimer’s is type 3 diabetes.

My Twitter feed brought to my attention a scientific article I thought would clarify the relationships between diabetes, carbohydrate consumption, and Alzheimer’s dementia (full text).

It didn’t.

Click the full text link to read all about insulin, amylin, insulin degrading enzyme, amyloid–β, and other factors that might explain the relationship between type 2 diabetes and Alzheimer’s dementia. You’ll also find a comprehensive annotated list of the scientific studies investigating the link between diabetes and Alzheimer’s.

Bottom line: We still don’t know the fundamental cause of Alzheimer’s disease. A cure and highly effective preventive measures are far in the future.

Action Plan For You

You may be able to reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s disease by:

  • avoiding type 2 diabetes
  • preventing progression of prediabetes to diabetes
  • avoiding obesity
  • exercising regularly
  • eating a Mediterranean-style diet

Carbohydrate restriction helps some folks prevent or resolve obesity, prediabetes, and type 2 diabetes. A low-carb Mediterranean diet is an option in my Advanced Mediterranean Diet (2nd edition).

Steve Parker, M.D.

Reference: Schilling, Melissa. Unraveling Alzheimer’s: Making Sense of the Relationship Between Diabetes and Alzheimer’s Disease. Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, 51 (2016): 961-977.

Steve Parker MD, Advanced Mediterranean Diet

Two diet books in one





Seafood Consumption May Protect Against Alzheimers Dementia

…according to an article at the Journal of the American Medical Association. The study involved Chicago-area residents who had provided information about their eating habits. After death, their brains were biopsied, looking for typical pathological findings of Alzheimers Disease.

fresh salmon and lobsters

Rich sources of omega-3 fatty acids include salmon, sardines, herring, trout, and mackerel

Participants who ate seafood at least once a week had fewer Alzheimers lesions in their brains, but only if they were carriers of a particular gene the predisposes to Alzheimers. The gene is called apolipoprotein E or APOE ε4.

You’ve heard that seafood may be contaminated with mercury, right? The seafood eaters in this study indeed had higher brain levels of mercury, but it didn’t cause any visible brain damage.

The Mediterranean diet, relatively rich in seafood, has long been linked to a lower risk of dementia.

A weakness of the study is that the researchers didn’t report results of clinical testing for dementia in these participants before they died. You can have microscopic evidence of Alzheimers disease on a biopsy, yet no clinically diagnosis of dementia.

Steve Parker, M.D.

Steve Parker MD, Advanced Mediterranean Diet

Two diet books in one

Mediterranean Diet Once Again LInked to Reduced Age-Related Brain Decline

…particularly in Australian men at high genetic risk for Alzheimer’s disease. MedPageToday has the details.

Higher Blood Sugar Levels Once Again Linked to Dementia

dementia, memory loss, Mediterranean diet, low-carb diet, glycemic index, dementia memory loss

“Let’s work on getting those blood sugars down, honey.”

On the heels of a report finding no association between Alzheimer’s disease and abnormal blood sugar metabolism, MedPageToday features an new study linking high blood sugars to future development of dementia. And diabetics with sugar levels higher than other diabetics were more prone to develop dementia.

Some of you have already noted that not all cases of dementia are Alzheimer’s dementia. But Alzheimer’s accounts for a solid majority of dementia cases.

Some quotes from MedPageToday:

During a median follow-up of 6.8 years, 524 participants [of the 2000 total] developed dementia, consisting of 74 with diabetes and 450 without. Patients without diabetes and who developed dementia had significantly higher average glucose levels in the 5 years before diagnosis of dementia (P=0.01). The difference translated into a hazard ratio of 1.18 (95% CI 1.04-1.33).

Among the patients with diabetes, glucose levels averaged 190 mg/dL in those who developed dementia versus 160 mg/dL in those who did not. The difference represented a 40% increase in the hazard for dementia (HR 1.40, 95% CI 1.12-1.76).

Steve Parker, M.D.

Reference: Crane PK et al. “Glucose Levels and Risk of Dementia” N Engl J Med 2013; 369: 540-548.

Reminder: Conquer Diabetes and Prediabetes is now available on Kindle.