What Causes Alzheimer’s Disease – And How To Avoid It
Exactly what causes Alzheimer’s Disease remains unknown, but we are making great strides in uncovering potential causes and risk factors that contribute to its development. Alzheimer’s Disease is a debilitating and progressive neurological disorder that affects millions of people around the world. In the U.S., Alzheimer’s affects over 6 million people aged 65 and older.1
Unfortunately, a fraudulent landmark study from 2006 sent researchers in the wrong direction for 16 years. It was only in 2022, that a whistleblower came forward to reveal that the images in the original study had been manipulated.2 Moving forward, brand new research has identified factors that bring us closer to answering the question of exactly what causes Alzheimer’s Disease.
What Causes Alzheimer’s Disease – The 2006 Fraudulent Study
In 2006, Nature published a study on what causes Alzheimer’s disease. However, in 2022, it was determined that the study was fraudulent, as the data and images were modified in order to skew the results to the authors’ liking.
In this study, the authors determined that amyloid beta precursor proteins were resulting in cognitive decline. These beta-amyloid structures were called “senile plaques” and have been identified during autopsies. After this study was published, researchers studying Alzheimer’s disease attempted to build onto the amyloid hypothesis and develop drugs that would, “stabilize a critical protein in the brain.”
Thanks to the whistleblower, Matthew Schrag, a neuroscientist from Tennessee, the original study was determined to be fraudulent and researchers were no longer basing their experiments on it. However, scientists had to start at ground zero again to determine what causes Alzheimer’s disease.3
Brand New Research On What Causes Alzheimer’s Disease – Sugar
One recent study from the University of Colorado Anschutz suggests that elevated levels of sugar, more specifically, fructose consumption, is linked to an increased risk for Alzheimer’s Disease.4 The lead researcher, Richard Johnson, MD, states that “we make the case that Alzheimer’s disease is driven by diet.”
Johnson goes on to say that the reason why sugar causes Alzheimer’s disease is rooted in our ability to survive starvation situations that were often encountered by our ancestors. When foraging for food, metabolism is slowed down and even inhibited in certain parts of the brain. This allowed our ancestors to focus their energy on assessing the situation rapidly and taking risks without much fear in the hopes of acquiring food.
When in starvation mode and searching for food, it is better that we don’t focus on high-level cognition. Instead, we allow our animalistic instincts to take over so that searching for food is our only goal.
The consumption of sugar, and fructose specifically, also reduce metabolism in the same specific areas of the brain, relaying more processing power to searching for food. In short, fructose reduces the amount of blood flow to the cerebral cortex, required for complex thought processes.
Additionally, fructose causes more blood flow to enter the visual cortex, which associates with food rewards. When we consume fructose, we are even more determined to forage for food, or in the case where we have access to unlimited food, eat more food.
When we are constantly exposed to fructose, as is normal with the standard American diet, it leads to cerebral atrophy and the loss of neurons that are associated with Alzheimer’s disease. This is because fructose leads to brain inflammation. In short, chronic fructose consumption breaks down the brain and destroys neurons.
This deterioration of cerebral tissue is confirmed in animal studies where constant consumption of fructose led to memory loss, the inability to complete a maze, and inflammation of the neurons. As such, it was not surprising that people suffering from Alzheimer’s disease also have high levels of fructose in their brains.5
Preventing Alzheimer’s Disease – Feasting And Fasting Cycles
Since we are programmed to feast and fast, as our ancestors did when they were foraging for food, going back to that cycle of eating will not only reduce constant fructose consumption but will prevent a wide range of inflammatory-based and autoimmune conditions that are common in modern society. Some of the conditions that fasting is known to improve and even eliminate are diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, brain fog, and weight loss resistance.
Check out this article if you want to know more about the benefits of fasting.
Reducing The Risk Of Alzheimer’s Disease – Reduce Fructose Consumption
Fructose can be found in many popular food and beverages such as soft drinks, fruits, fruit juices, honey, syrups, cookies, pastries, and cereals. Additionally, high fructose corn syrup is contained in so many products because it is an inexpensive sweetener. Take a look at the nutrition labels on food packaging when you are shopping and avoid any products that contain high fructose corn syrup.
Protecting The Liver By Reducing Fructose
The liver is the primary organ responsible for processing fructose. When fructose enters the bloodstream, it is taken up by cells in the liver and converted into glucose. The glucose is then either used as energy or stored as glycogen. If there is an excess of fructose, it can be converted to fat and stored in the liver. This conversion process is known as de novo lipogenesis and is promoted by inflammation.6
Fructose is also broken down into other molecules, like lactate and pyruvate, which can be used for energy production or further metabolized. The metabolism of fructose requires more energy than glucose, thus making it less efficient as an energy source. Therefore, regular consumption of large amounts of fructose can easily lead to fat accumulation in the liver.
In addition, fructose has been linked to fatty liver diseases such as non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). Long-term consumption of fructose can cause the liver to become resistant to insulin, leading to an increase in blood sugar levels and potentially causing diabetes. Therefore, it is important to limit the amount of fructose one consumes in order to maintain liver health.7
The point I am making is that excessive fructose consumption is bad for all aspects of health, not only brain health.
Why Is Alzheimer’s Disease Called Diabetes Type 3
Well before the study linking fructose consumption with Alzheimer’s Disease was published, many experts including myself have been labeling Alzheimer’s disease as diabetes type 3. This is because fructose-related inflammation is behind diabetes type 2, and similarly, fructose-related brain inflammation is directly behind the breakdown of neurons and atrophy of cerebral tissue that eventually results in Alzheimer’s Disease.
What Causes Alzheimer’s Disease – Mercury
Mercury is another one of the contributing causes of Alzheimer’s disease. Mercury exposure has been linked to an increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia.8 There are many sources of mercury, including air pollution, fish consumption, dental amalgam fillings, coal-burning power plants, and other industrial emissions.
Mercury toxicity is directly behind a wide range of health problems including inflammatory and autoimmune conditions.9 Some of these conditions include thyroid disorder, the inability to lose fat, rheumatoid arthritis, and brain fog, among others.
What Causes Alzheimer’s Disease – Aluminum
In animal models, injection of aluminum mimicked the neurodegeneration that is typical in patients with Alzheimer’s disease. Additionally, these animals exhibited behavioral traits that are expressed in individuals with Alzheimer’s disease.
Limit your exposure to aluminum by avoiding aluminum products and eating from or drinking out of aluminum cans. Furthermore, aluminum food and beverage cans are lined with BPA, an estrogen-mimicking compound that affects endocrine function, a toxin far worse than aluminum.10
What Causes Alzheimer’s Disease – Iron
Excessive iron levels have been shown to cause metabolic diseases and neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s disease. Specifically, the accumulation of iron in certain regions of the brain has been shown to cause memory, cognitive, and motor damage that is associated with Alzheimer’s disease.11
People who live in the Blue Zones of the world, meaning they have the longest life expectancy, have blood iron levels between 50 and 70 mg/ML, while it is considered normal for people living in modern society to have blood iron levels up to 300 mg/ML.12
Fortunately, it is simple to reduce blood iron levels by donating blood 3 or 4 times a year.13
Read more about iron levels and how it affects your health.
What Causes Alzheimer’s Disease – Copper
In a study on recently deceased individuals who suffered from Alzheimer’s, it was noted that extremely low copper levels were found in regions of the brain affected by the disease. This may indicate that low copper levels play a role in Alzheimer’s disease.14
For this reason, consume foods high in organic copper like seeds, nuts, cacao, liver, and avocados.
On the other hand, high copper levels from inorganic copper sources like copper pipes and copper IUDs are responsible for weakness, memory issues, neurotransmitter abnormalities, sensitivity to the cold, and even a loss of vision so avoid inorganic copper.15 16
Read more about the role copper plays in your health.
What Causes Alzheimer’s Disease – Zinc And Selenium
Both zinc and selenium also play a role in the development of Alzheimer’s Disease.17 18 A balanced diet with foods high in zinc and selenium like grass-fed meat, seeds, and nuts ensures sufficient intake.
What Causes Alzheimer’s Disease
Now that we have a better understanding of what causes Alzheimer’s Disease, it is important to avoid or at least significantly reduce fructose consumption. Additionally, avoid heavy metals like mercury and remove them from the body. Limiting exposure to aluminum and iron, while consuming foods that are high in copper, zinc, and selenium is important in keeping the brain healthy as we age and reducing the risk of dementia.
1 Alzheimer’s Association. 2022 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures. Alzheimers Dement 2022;18.
2 Lucchesi, E. L. B. (2022, October 14). “False” Alzheimer’s Study Could Set Research Back 16 Years. Discover Magazine. https://www.discovermagazine.com/the-sciences/false-alzheimers-study-could-set-research-back-16-years
3 Lesné, S., Koh, M. T., Kotilinek, L., Kayed, R., Glabe, C. G., Yang, A., Gallagher, M. & Ashe, K. H. (2006). A specific amyloid-β protein assembly in the brain impairs memory. Nature, 440(7082), 352–357. https://doi.org/10.1038/nature04533
4 Richard J. Johnson, Dean R. Tolan, Dale Bredesen, Maria Nagel, Laura G. Sánchez-Lozada, Mehdi Fini, Scott Burtis, Miguel A. Lanaspa, David Perlmutter, Could Alzheimer’s disease be a maladaptation of an evolutionary survival pathway mediated by intracerebral fructose and uric acid metabolism?, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2023, ISSN 0002-9165, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ajcnut.2023.01.002.
5 Anderer, J. (2023, February 15). ‘Alzheimer’s disease driven by diet’: Scientists suggest sugar cravings fuel dementia. Study Finds. https://studyfinds.org/fructose-alzheimers-disease-risk/
6 Todoric, J., Di Caro, G., Reibe, S., Henstridge, D. C., Green, C. R., Vrbanac, A., Ceteci, F., Conche, C., McNulty, R., Shalapour, S., Taniguchi, K., Meikle, P. J., Watrous, J. D., Moranchel, R., Najhawan, M., Jain, M., Liu, X., Kisseleva, T., Diaz-Meco, M. T., Moscat, J., … Karin, M. (2020). Fructose stimulated de novo lipogenesis is promoted by inflammation. Nature metabolism, 2(10), 1034–1045. https://doi.org/10.1038/s42255-020-0261-2
7 Ter Horst, K. W., & Serlie, M. J. (2017). Fructose Consumption, Lipogenesis, and Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease. Nutrients, 9(9), 981. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu9090981
8 Siblerud, R., Mutter, J., Moore, E., Naumann, J., & Walach, H. (2019). A Hypothesis and Evidence That Mercury May be an Etiological Factor in Alzheimer’s Disease. International journal of environmental research and public health, 16(24), 5152. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16245152
9 Pollard, K. M., Cauvi, D. M., Toomey, C. B., Hultman, P., & Kono, D. H. (2019). Mercury-induced inflammation and autoimmunity. Biochimica et biophysica acta. General subjects, 1863(12), 129299. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bbagen.2019.02.001
10 Endocrine Disruptors. (2022.). National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. https://www.niehs.nih.gov/health/topics/agents/endocrine/index.cfm
11 Peng, Y., Chang, X., & Lang, M. (2021). Iron Homeostasis Disorder and Alzheimer’s Disease. International journal of molecular sciences, 22(22), 12442. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms222212442
12 Buettner, Dan. The Blue Zones: 9 Lessons for Living Longer from the People Who’ve Lived the Longest. National Geographic, 2012.
13 Gittleman, A. L. (2021). Radical Longevity: The Powerful Plan to Sharpen Your Brain, Strengthen Your Body, and Reverse the Symptoms of Aging. Adfo Books.
14 Xu, J., Church, S. J., Patassini, S., Begley, P., Waldvogel, H. J., Curtis, M. A., Faull, R. L. M., Unwin, R. D., & Cooper, G. J. S. (2017). Evidence for widespread, severe brain copper deficiency in Alzheimer’s dementia. Metallomics : integrated biometal science, 9(8), 1106–1119. https://doi.org/10.1039/c7mt00074j
15 Keenan, Joanne et al. “Acute exposure to organic and inorganic sources of copper: Differential response in intestinal cell lines.” Food science & nutrition vol. 6,8 2499-2514. 20 Oct. 2018, doi:10.1002/fsn3.857
16 Collins JF, Klevay LM. Copper. Adv Nutr. 2011 Nov;2(6):520-2. doi: 10.3945/an.111.001222. Epub 2011 Nov 3. PMID: 22332094; PMCID: PMC3226389.
17 Lei, P., Ayton, S., & Bush, A. I. (2021). The essential elements of Alzheimer’s disease. The Journal of biological chemistry, 296, 100105. https://doi.org/10.1074/jbc.REV120.008207
18 Cuajungco, M. P., & Lees, G. J. (1997). Zinc and Alzheimer’s disease: is there a direct link?. Brain research. Brain research reviews, 23(3), 219–236. https://doi.org/10.1016/s0165-0173(97)00002-7