Lifestyle Works

Alzheimer and Atherosclerosis

In 1902, a 51 year old woman, Auguste Deter, was committed to an asylum in Germany. She was forgetful, disoriented, anxious, delusive, unruly, disruptive and unable to carry out her daily household duties. A Dr Alois Alzheimer was committed to her case, and after her death upon autopsy, he found a hardening of her arteries within her brain.

We think of atherosclerosis  as a heart condition, but the vascular system affects virtually our entire human organism, including our brain. There is a common link between atherosclerosis of the heart and degenerative brain disease and dementia, indicating a blood circulation problem.

In the 1970’s, it was discovered that the ageing brain is highly sensitive to a lack of oxygen. With the increase of heart problems, it was also noticed that there was an increase of dementia. Now we have a substantial body of evidence from epidemiologic, correlative and experimental studies strongly associating atherosclerosis vascular disease with Alzheimer’s disease.

Regular blood flow circulating in our brain is about one litre a minute. One loses about half a percent a year, so by age 65 we may be down on that flow by about 15-20 percent. But this does not necessarily affect brain function, as we do have built in buffers. However, if there are any additional inhibitors that affect that blood flow, such as narrowing of the fine intra-cranial arteries, this further reduction of blood flow can starve the brain of oxygen, resulting in mini-strokes, brain atrophy shrinkage with the accumulative effect that seems to be pivotal in accelerating Alzheimer’s disease.

As progress continues in their research, some have considered this disease to be re-classifed as a vascular disorder.

This is good news! Good news in that atherosclerosis is potentially reversible.

More recent findings have confirmed by two large studies of over 1000 autopsies, each which found the same thing – atherosclerosis in the brain is significantly more frequent and severe in those with Alzheimer’s.

This suggests the strategies proven to delay the progression of artery disease, like plant-based diets, may be beneficial to preventing or treating Alzheimer’s.

We have stated in the past, ‘the goal of medicine is to provide patients with hope, when there is no hope to offer understanding’. For the first time in the history of this disorder, we have the chance to provide Alzheimer patients with hope instead of well meaning, but helpless understanding.                                                            — Michael Greger MD, FACLM, November 22,2019

Recipe of the Month

Raw Peppermint Slice

1 c (120g) dates                
2 c (150g) almonds
1. Process in food processor until fine.
2. Put on baking paper in a 20x20cm dish. Place in freezer while preparing filling.    

Mid Filling:
1 c (150g) cashews
¼ c (60g) honey/maple syrup
¼ c (50g) coconut oil
50 ml water
5 drops peppermint oil

1. Blend cashews until powdery in blender.
2. Add rest of ingredients to obtain a smooth consistency.
3. Spread mint filling over base then return to freezer while making carob topping.

Carob Topping:    
¼ c (50g) cashews, soaked
Up to ¼ c (20g) coconut oil
2 Tbsp (60g) honey
¼ c (30g) carob powder
3 Tbsp water
2 Tbsp Ecco or Caro for richer flavour (optional)

1. Place ingredients in blender and blend until smooth.
2. Spread over mint filling and return to freezer till set.
3. When firm, cut into squares. Store in freezer.

NB: to make vanilla slice; omit peppermint oil and add 10-20mls of  vanilla paste.