Can Alzheimer’s really be reversed, as a new documentary claims?

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Two people diagnosed with Alzheimer’s claim to have overcome the disease through simple lifestyle changes.

Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease have been the leading causes of death in Britain over the past decade, accounting for 11.4% of deaths in Britain. 2022. although new medicines can reduce the progression of the disease, there is increasing evidence that something as simple as incorporating a healthy lifestyle can ‘reverse’ the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease.

Alzheimer’s disease can be divided into two subgroups: familial and sporadic. Only 5% of patients with Alzheimer’s disease are familialinherited, and 95% of Alzheimer’s patients are sporadically, due to environmental, lifestyle and genetic risk factors. The most effective tactic to tackle Alzheimer’s disease is a preventive approach and a healthy lifestyle. This has led researchers to study risk factors associated with Alzheimer’s disease.

Two Alzheimer’s patients, Cici Zerbe and Simon Nicholls, claim to have beaten the deadly disease with simple lifestyle changes. The pair detailed their journey in a CNN documentary The last Alzheimer’s patient.

Zerbe experienced a reversal of symptoms after participating in a clinical trial in the US. The trial examines the effects of intensive lifestyle changes on mild cognitive impairment or early dementia due to Alzheimer’s disease. The study has not yet been published.

Lifestyle changes include switching to a plant-based diet, regular exercise, group support sessions, yoga and meditation. Zerbe said she feels “much better” than before she took part in the trial five years ago, when she was diagnosed with the disease.

Notable improvements

Simon Nicholls, 55, is another person with Alzheimer’s disease featured in the CNN documentary who participated in the trial. Nicholls has two copies of a gene variant called ApoE4, which is known to significantly increase the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. However, after making healthy changes to his lifestyle, Nicholls saw notable improvements in his symptoms.

About 25% of the population carries at least one copy of the ApoE4 gene variant (called an ‘allele’) and 5% carry two. copies. Carrying one ApoE4 allele is associated with a three- to four-fold increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. Taking two copies increases the risk to 12 fold making it the greatest genetic risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease.

These statistics reinforce the remarkable and remarkable nature of Nicholls’ achievement in reversing his symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease simply through his lifestyle choices. His biomarkers for Alzheimer’s disease disappeared in 14 months, which is significantly more effective than most treatments for Alzheimer’s disease.

Excerpt from CNN documentary on Alzheimer’s disease.

Nicholls emphasized that physical activity and dietary changes were crucial to his journey. He was initially prescribed tirzepatide, a drug designed to suppress appetite by regulating blood sugar levels. He also added regular exercise, including strength training three times a week, walking 10,000 steps daily and jogging or cycling every morning.

Cardiovascular disease is an important risk factor and potential future predictor of Alzheimer’s disease. The heart-brain connection is crucial for supplying brain cells with energy and oxygen through cerebral blood flow. So poor heart health could increase the risk of Alzheimer’s disease by giving brain cells less energy to function. This explains why Nicholls’ improved heart health and increased cardiovascular activity have improved his symptoms.

He also enforced dietary changes (cutting out sugar, alcohol and processed foods) and embraced the Mediterranean diet.

The Mediterranean diet is high in antioxidants, which protect brain cells from damage. Research shows that the nutrients obtained from the diet help maintain memory and cognitive skills. A recent extended one study in 60,000 Britons, it was found that following a Mediterranean diet reduces the risk of dementia by 23%.

Nicholls has also implemented good sleep hygiene to improve his irregular sleep patterns, as some studies show sleep deprivation is linked to Alzheimer’s disease.

The dominant theory is that during sleep, toxic proteins, such as amyloid, can be flushed out with the glymphatic system. These would otherwise accumulate and cause dementia. Although it should be noted that a recent research in mice questions this theory.

Scientists at Imperial College London found that toxin clearance was actually reduced during sleep, suggesting that sleep may reduce the risk of dementia through other mechanisms that are currently unknown.

These lifestyle changes had a significant impact on Nicholls’ life. In just nine weeks he lost almost 10kg and 80% of his body fat and lowered his fasting blood sugar levels.

Nicholls and Zerbe have been shown to have ‘reversed’ their symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. This is because conditions such as obesity, high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, high cholesterol and insomnia are all risk factors for dementia, and can be modified through a healthy lifestyle.

However, it is important to interpret these findings with caution. These are just results from two people participating in the trial. Without the specifics of the claimed results, it is difficult to determine whether these lifestyle choices actually “reversed” the progression of the disease.

The effect of lifestyle on cognition is receiving increasing attention and more and more scientists are investigating the benefits. Combining the advent of new disease-modifying drugs with strict lifestyle changes can significantly reduce the symptoms and progression of Alzheimer’s disease.

Provided by The Conversation

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