Last time, I told you about new, long-term research that revealed brain pathology isn’t accurate in terms of diagnosing dementia. Even in autopsies showing the “pathological abnormalities” associated with dementia, there is only a 50:50 chance the patient actually had dementia. On the flip side, if you do develop dementia as you get older, there’s only a 50:50 chance you actually have the “pathological abnormalities” of dementia.
As one expert put it, “pathology is not destiny” when it comes to dementia.
To put it in even simpler terms, there is absolutely no connection at all between cognitive function and pathologic brain abnormalities that supposedly cause dementia.
No wonder mainstream research and treatments for dementia have been a bust. They are barking up the wrong tree, as I have said all along.
The presence of these so-called “pathologic abnormalities of dementia” doesn’t predict or explain how to prevent or treat dementia. So why should experts even call them “evidence” of dementia in the first place? I may never get an answer to that question, so let’s take a more positive approach…
Experts find strong link between good cardiovascular health and healthy brain function.
As I explained yesterday, this powerful association may relate to a protein called vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF). As the name suggests, VEGF promotes healthy growth of blood vessels. It also promotes healthy brain development. And, ultimately, it may provide the link between a healthy heart and healthy brain.
A study performed as part of the Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative linked higher VEGF levels in brain fluid with healthier brain aging. This finding held particularly true for people who had biomarkers for the presence of beta-amyloid and tau proteins that “tangle up” in brain tissues.
Experts associate these tangles and plaques in the brain with dementia. Blood vessels around these amyloid plaques may deteriorate, thus depriving surrounding brain cells of blood and oxygen and causing brain death. This process leads to dementia. But VEGF may protect healthy blood vessels and even promote healing in the event of injury or damage.
So, even in individuals with the so-called “Alzheimer’s pathology” of beta-amyloid plaques, protective mechanisms — such as VEGF — may kick in to preserve brain cells and cognitive function. Research shows physical activity also increases VEGF. Makes you wonder what else promotes this important self-healing protein.
The brain is the most sensitive tissue in the body. So any deprivation of blood, oxygen or energy supply can lead to serious injury and infection.
The brain has an ancient defense system
Unlike any other organ in the body, the brain is surrounded entirely by thick, enclosed, protective bone and durable protective membranes. Plus, it has the unique blood-brain barrier to filter out toxins, metabolic poisons, and microbes. Such defenses are part of the concept of cognitive resilience.
The immune system also protects the brain. But research shows some people carry a genetic variant (a mutation) that results in fewer receptors for immune system cells in the brain. In studies using PET scans, older adult brains with the genetic variant who have fewer functional immune cells in the brain can’t clear away beta-amyloid. As a result, plaque can accumulate in their brains, which in turn can harm blood vessels, damage brain cells, and cause dementia.
Somehow the idea of having “plaques” in the brain must be an appealing way for the mainstream to think about the stubborn problem of dementia. After all, we have to brush our teeth everyday to eliminate plaque. (That’s how they sell the toothpaste four out of five dentists recommend.) So why not get out the old tooth brush to clean up those brain cells?
A real Alzheimer’s cure will have to give the “brush off” to old ideas.
The goods news is…
The brain itself is arguably our most important tool in the fight against Alzheimer’s. And it only developed into this complex, sensitive tool through several adaptive and protective mechanisms. I’m convinced these same mechanisms — such as VEGF — are the key to preventing and treating dementia.
I also believe we should look to the natural world for brain support and self-healing.
As I often say, the human body and brain developed from the beginning in a terrestrial environment surrounded by plants, which were the best (and only) possible sources of food and medicine.
Everything about the how the brain and body developed is based on using the biological potency of plant compounds in Nature. Therefore, is it any surprise so many effective nutrients and herbal remedies from plants act to protect the brain and prevent dementia?
New research shows these natural remedies can even reverse dementia with a 90 percent success rate. Look for more details about these natural approaches to prevention in this month’s February 2016 issue of my Insiders’ Cures newsletter. If you’re not already a subscriber, consider signing up today. This finding is important information you don’t want to miss. (You should also keep an eye out for my Alzheimer’s Reversal Protocol coming out later in 2016.)
In the meantime, stay active. Stay socially connected. And keep using that brain. It’s the best way to protect it.
- “The Brain Fights Back: New Approaches to Mitigating Cognitive Decline,” JAMA Neurol. 2015;72(5):520-529
- “CD33 Alzheimer’s disease locus: altered monocyte function and amyloid biology,” Nature Neuroscience 2013;16(7):848-850