Lifestyle changes, not a magic pill, can reverse Alzheimer’s

Last summer, a research group from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) quietly published the results of a new approach in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease. What they found was striking. Although the size of the study was small, every participant demonstrated such marked improvement that almost all were found to be in the normal range on testing for memory and cognition by the study’s end. Functionally, this amounts to a cure.

These are important findings, not only because Alzheimer’s disease is projected to become ever more common as the population ages, but because current treatment options offer minimal improvement at best. Last July, a large clinical trial found little benefit in patients receiving a major new drug called LMTX. And after that, another hopeful drug designed to target amyloid protein, one of the hallmarks of Alzheimer’s disease, failed its first large clinical trial as well.  Just two months ago, Merck announced the results of its trial of a drug called verubecestat, which is designed to inhibit formation of amyloid protein. It was found to be no better than placebo.  

The results from UCLA aren’t due to an incredible new drug or medical breakthrough, though. Rather, the researchers used a protocol consisting of a variety of different lifestyle modifications to optimise metabolic parameters – such as inflammation and insulin resistance – that are associated with Alzheimer’s disease. Participants were counselled to change their diet (a lot of veggies), exercise, develop techniques for stress management, and improve their sleep, among other interventions. The most common ‘side effect’ was weight loss.

The study is notable not only for its remarkable outcomes, but also for the alternative paradigm it represents in the treatment of a complex, chronic disease. We’ve spent billions of dollars in an effort to understand the molecular basis of Alzheimer’s in the hope that it will lead to a cure, or at least to more effective therapies. And although we have greatly enlarged our knowledge of the disease, it has not yielded many successful treatments.

The situation is analogous in kind, if not quite degree, to the many other chronic diseases with which we now struggle, such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease. While we do have efficacious medications for these conditions, none work perfectly, and all have negative effects. Our understanding of the cellular processes at the root of these diseases is sophisticated, but technical mastery – the grail of a cure – has remained elusive.

Acknowledging these difficulties, the researchers at UCLA opted for a different approach. Beginning from the premise that Alzheimer’s disease is a particular manifestation of a highly complex system in disarray, they sought to optimise the system by changing the inputs. Put another way, the scientists chose to set aside the molecular box which has proven so vexing, and to focus instead on the context of the box itself. Although we cannot say precisely how the intervention worked, on a cellular level, the important thing is that it did work.

The method isn’t entirely novel. Researchers have already shown that multi-faceted, comprehensive lifestyle interventions can significantly improve outcomes in cardiovascular disease, diabetes and hypertension. But it’s difficult for these approaches to gain traction for two reasons. First, these protocols are more challenging than simply taking a pill at bedtime. Patients need ongoing education, counselling and support to effect meaningful change. And second, the pharmaceutical mode of treatment is deeply embedded within our current medical system. Insurance companies are set up to pay for medication, not lifestyle change; and physicians are taught pharmacology, not nutrition.

Despite these difficulties, it’s time to start taking these approaches much more seriously. The prevalence of Alzheimer’s disease is expected to triple over the next three decades, to nearly 14 million in the United States alone. Diabetes and other chronic diseases are expected to follow a similar trajectory. Trying to confront this epidemic with medication alone will raise a new host of problems, from prohibitive cost to adverse effects, without addressing any underlying cause. We know that comprehensive lifestyle modification can work for many chronic diseases, in some cases as well as medication. It deserves more than passing mention at the end of an annual check-up – it’s time to make it a cornerstone in the treatment not only of Alzheimer’s disease, but of all chronic disease.Aeon counter – do not remove

Clayton Dalton

This article was originally published at Aeon and has been republished under Creative Commons.

Does Alzheimer’s scare you?

PET Scans. source: creative commons

I suppose that question depends on how old you are, or if you have people in your family who have died of Alzheimer’s. If you’re one of those, I don’t have to tell you how dreadful this disease is. To see a loved one lose their identity and become an empty shell, finally, to die from the lack of ability to eat or breathe.

 Alzheimer’s Epidemic?

It seems that Alzheimer’s disease is affecting more and more people. According to figures, there are over 530,000 people are present in the UK suffering from Alzheimer’s disease out of 862,000 suffering dementia. There are massive implications for society and the health service. Some £36,000 is used for every patient on average because full-time care is required. There adds up to some £30 billion a year, for which the NHS bears most of the burden.

The estimates are that the number of people with Alzheimer’s will triple in the next 30 years . You could say that that is a consequence of people living longer, which to a degree is true, and you could also say it is because the medicine currently available slows down the progress of the disease. Slowing down the disease, is in my opinion, a double-edged sword.

Early Onset

40,000 people under the age of 65 have dementia . There are currently nearly 36 million people with dementia in the world, but as many as 28 million of those living with dementia worldwide do not have a diagnosis .

The outlook in the United States is even bleaker: according to the Alzheimer’s Society , AD is the 6th leading cause of death in the United States. More than 5 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s at present, and by 2050, this number could rise as high as 16 million. In 2017, Alzheimer’s and other dementia will cost the United States, $259 billion. By 2050. These costs could rise as high as $1.1 trillion. Every 66 seconds someone in the United States develops the disease. It kills more than breast cancer and prostate cancer combined.

Alzheimers disease beta-amyloid plaque formation. source: Creative Commons

Drugs cannot cure Alzheimers – only slow down its progress

If you look at the material on Alzheimer’s on the Internet, you will find that there is a lot of research being done, but at present the does not appear to be a cure. At least, I cure by drug-related treatment. Unfortunately, it seems that money for research is channelled into discovering drugs or concentrating on genetic causes.

Although there are is no doubt that some of the cleverest brains in the world are facing the challenges of finding new treatments and drugs, it may well be that they are “barking up the wrong tree.”.

If one takes a look at the research going on that is not funded by drug companies or has a genetic causation slant, then you will find that some promising discoveries are being made. The primary thrust is that Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative diseases are possibly caused by metabolic dysfunction, in turn, caused by chronic stress, and although genetic factors are critical, it is the way that genes are expressed. Given the chronic stress applied which leads to the disease.

Reverse Alzheimer’s? Are you serious?

This research has not gone unnoticed by Misha Sakharoff, who has developed a protocol which provides a drug-free path for the prevention and reversal of lifestyle diseases. He believes that by applying this protocol, early diagnosed Alzheimer’s can be stopped and even reversed.

You probably will choose not to believe the last sentence, because it is beyond most people’s belief system. Reverse Alzheimer’s? A crazy? When has brain tissue been destroyed?

Yes, it does sound a little far-fetched but happens to be based on sound engineering principles, which takes note of the very latest medical research.

You’re right to be scared about Alzheimer’s disease. It is a terrible thing. Some doctors say that everybody over the age of 45 should undergo a test, maybe have a brain scan, to see if they are in the early stages of dementia. But what is the point of having those tests, if there is no cure? I suppose many people would do that and then start looking at lifestyle changes to try and avoid developing the disease later, or merely pray and hope that some wonder drug is invented to cure all the 36 known metabolic pathways that need to be fixed. Even the drug companies admit that this is not feasible.

8-week course to learn about the latest research

Misha is offering an eight-week video course for all comers, to explain the what’s and the why of Alzheimer’s and how is protocol can stop it. Beyond this course, if early-diagnosed sufferers wish to take up the fight, there is the possibility of joining a paid course, in which the progress will be monitored by medical doctors.

Is this wishful thinking bullshit? I don’t think so. I’ve seen results of applying this protocol, and I have adopted the protocol to the ultimate benefit fit of my health. An American doctor has achieved a success rate of 9/10 patients returning to normal brain function. Even if this course leads to just 10% being cured, it is better than what we have right now.

It is possible to sign up for this course by visiting this page. If you know anybody who has early stage Alzheimer’s, has parents who have died from Alzheimer’s, or you simply want to address your fear and change your lifestyle to minimise the risk, I suggest you sign up. It is free.