Modern medicine typically ignores how natural factors can have a profound effect on your health. For the most part, they assume high-tech approaches beat out natural alternatives for everything, every time.
But a new study conducted in Canada, France, and the U.S. found a “robust” association between the seasons and the severity of symptoms associated with Alzheimer’s disease (AD).
It makes a lot of sense that someone would finally start paying attention to seasonal cycles and health. Indeed, the seasons are the basic foundation — and the beginning of diagnosis and treatment — in traditional Chinese medicine as well as the Ayurvedic medicine of India.
Even in early America, physicians always noted the time of year and weather conditions at the time of a person’s death. In fact, at Pennsylvania Hospital — the nation’s first hospital (and where I did my residency training in pathology) — we kept ledger books noting all the post-mortem examinations that were done, dating back to the hospital’s founding in 1762. And they always used to note the climate and weather conditions at the time of death.
It seems researchers are beginning to pay attention — once again — to how much the seasons can influence health…
When temperatures dip, so does your memory
For the new study, researchers analyzed data on 3,400 people from Canada, France, and the U.S. (Seven hundred study subjects had AD and 2,700 did not.)
Turns out, the patients with AD — as well as the healthy study participants — performed significantly worse on cognitive tests in the winter and early spring.
Plus, new cases of dementia and mild cognitive impairment — a transitional diagnosis given prior to a dementia diagnosis — were 30 percent more likely to occur in winter and early spring.
On the other hand, in the summer and early fall, both sets of participants performed significantly better in cognitive testing — showing improvements in processing speed, memorization, and concentration equivalent to men and women who were five years younger.
Plus, these results held up even after the researchers controlled for other influential factors, such as physical activity, depression, sleep, and thyroid function.
Researchers may never “see the light”
As I read through the complete study, it became clear to me that the researchers don’t quite understand why the time of year so strongly affected cognitive function in people with — and without — AD.
In fact, the researchers made one irrelevant point about higher levels of certain arcane proteins associated with cognitive function at different times in the year. But this point entirely misses the bigger picture.
It’s pretty obvious to me, aside from all the previous research that’s been done, that the patients in the study showed dramatically improved cognition in the summer and early fall because they had more sun exposure, resulting in higher vitamin D levels.
Indeed, during the summer, in all parts of the U.S., Canada, and France, the sun is strong enough to activate the body’s natural production of vitamin D in the skin.
Plus, the body can store it to last through early fall.
But by winter and early spring, the stored vitamin D typically runs out — unless you supplement with vitamin D year-round.
As you know, vitamin D plays a key role in all parts of the body — especially the brain.
In fact, previous research shows supplementing with vitamin D, together with other vitamins, strongly supports brain and nervous system function. Plus, treatment trials with vitamin D and vitamin E (another fat-soluble vitamin) showed much better results than the “go-to,” billion-dollar Alzheimer’s drugs from big pharma! That’s because, as the research suggests, it works by helping to reduce chronic inflammation.
Researchers miss another obvious connection
It also struck me that the patients in the study lived in Canada, which is far north, and France, which is actually at about the same latitude as northern New England.
And seasonal vitamin D deficiency remains a huge problem in these places. (The farther away from the equator, the more likely you are to have a vitamin D deficiency.)
So, I’m not at all surprised that the participants suffered from such extreme decline in cognition during the winter and early spring, as they were all likely lacking vitamin D.
We also know that supplementing with vitamin D helps prevent and even reverse the symptoms of another degenerative disease of the central nervous system — multiple sclerosis (MS). Again, vitamin D helps to protect against MS by reducing chronic inflammation.
Plus, for decades, researchers noted that people who lived further away from the equator had much higher rates of MS. Yet they kept chasing down other cockamamie ideas about the causes of the disease.
Finally, after 20 years of ridiculous debate, even mainstream researchers now acknowledge the key role vitamin D plays in preventing and treating MS.
In the end, my vitamin D recommendations stay the same, based on the most current science…
- Spend 15-20 minutes daily outside in the sun without sunscreen between May and October, when the sun is strong enough to activate your body’s natural production of vitamin D.
- Supplement year-round with 10,000 IU of vitamin D. (You can now find it in convenient liquid form with the potent marine carotenoid astaxanthin.)
- Have your blood tested annually for vitamin D. I recommend keeping your levels between 50 nmol/L and 75 nmol/L, but 100 nmol/L is still a safe upper limit. (And don’t believe the lamestream media’s “fake news” that increasing vitamin D blood testing is some big conspiracy.)
These three simple vitamin D recommendations apply to everyone — and especially anyone with MS and AD.
Before I go, I want to make one more point about AD…
As I explained in June, new research has found a strong link between AD and chronic inflammation. Especially chronic inflammation and the GI microbiome, the environment in your GI tract where billions of healthy bacteria (or probiotics) thrive.
As it turns out, the healthy bacteria in your gut send signals to activate immune system cells in your brain. These immune system cells then “turn on” your body’s response to inflammation.
Fortunately, you can take simple steps to reduce chronic inflammation and improve the health of your microbiome— which in turn, will help dramatically reduce your risk of AD and other chronic diseases. Learn all about these natural approaches to prevent — and reverse — this terrible disease in my comprehensive Complete Alzheimer’s Cure online learning protocol. For more information, or to enroll today, simply click here.
“Seasonal plasticity of cognition and related biological measures in adults with and without Alzheimer disease: Analysis of multiple cohorts,” PLoS Medicine (journals.plos.org) 9/4/2018