Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive condition that damages areas of the brain involved in intelligence, memory, behavior, judgment, and language. It is the most common form of mental decline in older adults. Alzheimer’s gets worse over time, but the course of the disease varies from person to person. Some people may still be able to function relatively well until late stages of Alzheimers disease. Others may lose the ability to do daily activities in earlier stages. Over time, Alzheimer’s disease causes severe mental and functional problems and eventually results in death.
Scientists do not yet fully understand the causes of Alzheimer’s disease. There probably is not one single cause, but several factors that affect each person differently.
Recent studies indicate that amyloid beta protein may cause Alzheimer’s disease. In healthy people, this protein can cross the blood-brain barrier (the wall of blood vessels that feed the brain and regulate the entry and exit of brain chemicals) and leave the brain. In people with Alzheimers disease, amyloid beta protein can’t pass through that barrier. As more amyloid beta protein accumulates in a person’s brain, they become more and more mentally disabled.
Research has recently revealed that consumption of sugar could be one of the biggest threats to our overall health – especially when it comes to age related diseases such as Alzheimer’s. One of the major problems stemming from sugar over-consumption is a chemical process called glycation. Glycation refers to the combination of a sugar and a protein molecule and occurs in your body when glucose in your blood combines with the amino acids tryptophan, lysine or arginine. This reaction releases byproducts called Advanced Glycation Endproducts (appropriately given the acronym AGE).
The formation of AGEs is accelerated when you have lower levels of antioxidants in your system and when your kidneys are weak or malfunctioning. The formation is also accelerated when blood sugar levels are high. Researchers now believe that glycation and the formation of AGEs lie at the heart of the alteration of proteins in the brain that cause Alzheimer’s disease.
Age is the most important known risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease. The number of people with the disease doubles every 5 years beyond age 65.
Blood sugar problems that cause excess glucose in the blood, such as diabetes, has now been added to the list of risk factors for Alzheimer’s, given the role of glycation.
Family history is another risk factor, depending on the type of Alzheimer’s . Familial Alzheimer’s Disease, a rare form of Alzheimer’s that usually occurs between the ages of 30 and 60, is inherited – so family history is a big risk factor. The more common form of Alzheimers disease is known as late-onset Alzheimer’s. It occurs later in life, and no obvious inheritance pattern is seen.
Relationship to Aluminum
Since 1965, researchers have suspected that Alzheimers disease is related to accumulations of aluminum in the brain. A relationship between aluminum in drinking water and Alzheimer’s has now been established. Additionally, a study looked at the association of Alzheimer’s and lifetime exposure to aluminum in antiperspirants and antacids. Scientists found a direct correlation. The more antiperspirant that was used, the more likely the person would develop Alzheimers disease. The same held true for aluminum antacids. It is hard to deny that environmental exposure to aluminum is at least related to Alzheimer’s.
Symptoms and Cures
Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive disease for which there is no known cure. However, various therapies and treatments can slow the progression of Alzheimer’s. Therefore, it is important to know the warning signs for each stage of Alzheimer’s and detect the condition early. If caught early alpha lipoic acid and other Alzheimer’s treatments can be used to slow (and possibly stop) the progression of the disease.