Reversing Alzheimer’s

Recent training at the Buck Institute in San Francisco gave me some major insights into the treatment of Alzheimer’s. The exciting news is that the team at MPI Cognition are making real inroads in developing treatment options for Alzheimer’s and have documented cases where symptoms have not just been halted but reversed. For a full description have a look at this article recently published in Ageing .

The initial protocol for the program involved identifying the type of triggers for the onset of Alzheimer’s. There are some factors which do trigger early onset –  traumatic brain injury is a known risk factor as is early withdrawal of hormones which often happen’s with a full hysterectomy. The five major types were summarised below however many people will present with more than one of these triggers meaning that the case is more complicated to treat.

  1. Glycotoxicity – relating to blood sugar imbalances or diabetes type 2. The brain is the biggest user of glucose in the body relative to size accounting for about 30% of our use. Systemically if we are having issues with glucose metabolism, such as commonly found in hypoglycemia and metabolic syndrome, then our bodies become increasingly resistant to insulin which is essential for the uptake of glucose. A 2011 study in Neurology showed an increased risk of dementia in people over 60 with elevated blood glucose (1).
  2. Hormonal – low oestrogen or testosterone. A significant contributor to early onset dementia is having a full hysterectomy at an early age. A long term Danish study showed an increased risk of an earlier onset of dementia and this was further increased if the patient also had an oopherectomy. (2) The risks are believed to relate to a premature drop in oestrogen and its metabolites which assist in formation of memory in the brain.Snapshot
  3. Infection/Heavy Metal Toxicity – history of ongoing infection such as Lyme or mould toxicity but also associated with periodontal disease, such as gingivitis. The Indian journal of Pyschiatry’s 2006 article on “Reversible Dementia’s” highlight’s the reversible causes at between 0-23% and includes on its list a range of heavy metal toxicities as well as infections such as spirochetes which are seen in Lyme and advanced syphilis.
  4. Vascular – associated with cardiovascular risks as well. The study mentioned above in Neurology highlighted the comorbidity associated with Diabetes.
  5. Traumatic Brain Injury – this could be related to repeated concussion, car accidents or other injury but also other assaults to the brain such as heavy anesthesia use. Boxers and Football players in particular have an increased risk associated with repeated concussion.

The protocol is relatively comprehensive and looks at a range of different areas to try and assist in returning function. The cases described in the journals have utilised not only a mildly ketogenic diet with minimal grains but also regular exercise, bio-identical hormones , supplements and brain training such as that found in the program Brain HQ .

The dietary interventions are discussed in an earlier blog, A new model for treating Alzheimer’s , however when writing that I had not appreciated the value in using regular brain training in conjunction with the program. The program Brain HQ was presented by the founders at the seminar and there are good quality studies confirming the value of its use in reducing the incidence of dementia and delaying its onset. Interestingly it seemed to be the exercises that improved processing speed which really made a difference. The ten year study is summarised in more depth in this article.

The role of exercise is also worth exploring in further depth and typically relates to its role in improving insulin sensitivity and blood flow to the brain. Regular physical exercise also helps maintain active brain tissue in particular in the hippocampus which is the seat of memory.  A 2016 study showed a reduced incidence of dementia in over 65’s who exercised at least three times a week (3).

Christine Pope is a practicing nutritionist and homeopath based at Elemental health at St Ives. If you are interested in working with her to reduce your risk then please contact her clinic on 8084 0081 to make an appointment.

 

(1) Ohara T et al, Glucose Tolerance staus and risk of dementia in the community – The Hisayama study. accessed at http://67.202.219.20/upload/2011/9/20/Neurology-2011-Ohara-1126-34.pdf

(2) Phung T et al, Hysterectomy, Oopherectomy and Risk of Dementia – An Historical Nationwide study. accessed at https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Lars_Kessing/publication/45508676_Hysterectomy_Oophorectomy_and_Risk_of_Dementia_A_Nationwide_Historical_Cohort_Study/links/5798a8f508aeb0ffcd08b189.pdf

(3) http://annals.org/aim/article/719427/exercise-associated-reduced-risk-incident-dementia-among-persons-65-years

6 common medications that are robbing you of nutrients.

Fish Oil Capsules

Do you need to worry about the effect of medications on your intake of vitamins and minerals from your food? More than likely its worth having the conversation to see if there are any particular concerns that need to be addressed. You may be able to do it via your diet but often the dosage required is easier to get through supplementation.

What do you need to think about when you are on medications in regards to managing side effects? I have compiled a list below of common medications and some suggested nutrients to manage the side effects, however rather than taking everything on the list its always preferable to work with a practitioner to ensure that any interactions are monitored and that you have a workable program.

  1. Statins. A common problem is for people on statins (cholesterol lowering medication) that they start feeling less energetic as the statins deplete the levels of Co Q 10. CoQ10 is important for energy production within the cell. Supplementing an appropriate level of CoQ10 can make a big difference for these people.
  2. The Oral Contraceptive Pill is known for reducing levels of B6 an important B vitamin for hormonal health. Support at around 50mg a day of B6 is usually best sought in the form of a multi-vitamin with a range of B’s.
  3. Metformin which is often given for Diabetes can reduce levels of both B6 and B12. Low B12 may lead to peripheral neuropathy which can cause loss of sensation in the feet or tingling or burning sensations. Again a Multi vitamin with adequate B12 is essential .
  4. Anti-depressants need B vitamins for optimal effect and whilst they may not reduce levels specifically they may be less effective if you are not taking a multi vitamin at the same time.
  5. Antibiotics Antibiotics can disrupt the natural bacteria flora in the digestive system, killing  beneficial bacteria, including Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacterium bifidum . Use a good quality brand such as Inner Health with at least 1 billion live organisms for effective management.
  6. Hormone Replacement Therapy impacts on folic acid (B9), B6 and B12 as well as magnesium levels.

Natural medicine can be a great option to help manage side effects as well as providing options to drugs when side effects are not well tolerated. Christine Pope is an experienced nutritionist and homeopath based at Elemental Health , St Ives and is available on 8084 0081 for appointments.

 

12 Changes for better health

bigstock-Measurement-tape-wrapped-aroun-14088857

Its the time of year when gyms get very busy as people try to live up to their New Year’s resolutions. Instead of being active for a couple of weeks and forgetting it until next year I have developed a list of 12 changes so that at the end of the year you have made significant improvements in your health. Usually maintaining change requires at least a month so try to really adopt this change for at least a month until it becomes part of the routine.

First up see how many you are doing and then figure out how much you have left and then project out the number of months it will take you. Post that commitment on your facebook page or somewhere will you will be reminded regularly.

  1. Drink enough water – writing this today its 38C and hydration just seems the most important thing to focus on. How much is enough water? Well it depends on your size and activity levels but generally 1.5 to 2 litres a day plus 1 litre for every hour of exercise. So for a small woman it may be more like 1.5 litres plus whatever you need for the exercise you are doing.
  2. Find an activity you enjoy and commit time to it 4-5 times a week. It could be walking the dog, cycling, yoga classes, tennis or spin or a combination of all of the above. Block it out in your diary. Just remember if you are starting an activity start at a beginners level and build up slowly. 
  3. Add one cup of leafy green vegetables to your diet daily. It could be spinach with your poached eggs or a salad instead of a sandwhich at lunch or add chopped kale to a curry at dinner. Greens are a great source of essential minerals that many people lack. If you struggle with the taste try looking at the website Simple Green Smoothies for some great recipes.
  4. Declutter – spend a week focussing on each major room and start with three boxes. One box is for garbage, one for recycling and one for stuff which lives somewhere else. Its critical to ensure you fill the third box before putting things back where they belong or you get distracted. Spend 1-2 hours a week on each room and then at the end of the month notice how different it is to be in a clear and productive space. Decluttering can really reduce stress levels.
  5. Manage your stress – By this stage if you are hydrated, exercising regularly and improving your diet you may already have noticed that your stress levels are better. If not its probably time to start identifying what causes stress and whether it is still serving you. It could be a job you no longer enjoy, an employee who is driving you nuts or a friendship which leaves you feeling exhausted. Time for some change. Figure out where the issue is and make a plan to deal with it. If its really overwhelming find someone to talk to – a coach or a counsellor could really help you break those stressful patterns.
  6. Get rid of your allergens – environmental ones may be challenging. If you suffer from reflux, bloating and flatulence, constipation or diarrhoea, chances are something in your diet needs to be removed for a while. The most common suspects are wheat and dairy with up to 70% of adults unable to tolerate lactose (milk sugar) as they age.
  7. Laugh – go to the park and watch how children are constantly chuckling or giggling. When was the last time you enjoyed a good belly laugh? A few years ago I did a laughter yoga class and we laughed for 22 straight minutes – you feel amazing afterwards except the aching stomach muscles.
  8. Health Checks – see your GP for those tests, get your teeth checked and get your moles mapped. Spend a month making sure you are dealing with problems before they become serious. gf products
  9. Swap your snacks for healthier choices. Switch the milk chocolate to good quality dark chocolate, replace the potato chips with activated nuts, the coffee for a herbal tea and the soda for a vegetable juice (perfect for an afternoon boost too).
  10. Train your brain – read a different book every week or try crosswords or sudoku as a way to improve your brain’s health and stay mentally healthy.
  11. Catch up with friends – having a social support network can make all the difference to our health. If you find it difficult to catch up for a meal just try scheduling in a coffee on a weekly basis or a play date with your children. 
  12. Time out – plan and take at least two weeks vacation doing something you enjoy. It could be 2 weeks by the beach or 2 weeks hiking in the mountains. It doesn’t have to be expensive and is you can travel out of peak season there are often some great deals available. Most importantly try and disconnect from your work as much as possible to really maximize your down time.

Keep me posted on how you go and let me know what makes a difference for you.

If you are interested in looking at your health holistically I have a range of tools in my clinic which can assess nutrient levels, such as minerals, as well as looking at body parameters such as fat mass, muscle mass and energy quality. I am in practice at St Ives and appointments can be made on 02 8084 0081.

Iodine – a critical element for metabolism

Fish Oil CapsulesEarlier this year I was working with a tall guy who was close to 100kg on the scales. He could lose 5-6kg and then get stuck. Ideally he needed to be around 86-89 kilos for his height and frame. He could be eating well and exercising a lot but he struggled to loose the extra weight and he was really frustrated with it.

I did an Oligoscan test to look at nutrient minerals and see what his levels were like. Given his overall presentation I was thinking about possibly a slow thyroid and expected to see low levels of zinc, selenium or iodine which are all critical for effective thyroid function. Surprisingly his zinc and selenium levels were all in the normal range but his Iodine was critically low.

Snapshot

Why is Iodine so important? Basically thyroid function is dependent on adequate levels of iodine and tyrosine. The thyroid gland produces two primary hormones – thyroxine (also referred to as T4) and tri-iodothyronine (also referred to as T3). The numbers 3 and 4 refer to the number of atoms of iodine in the hormones. Iodine is essential for the production of thyroid hormones and we need about 150 mcg each day.

Iodine is important for the health of all glands but also critical for early growth and development during pregnancy and early childhood. Iodine deficiency in early development can contribute to a 10-15 point drop in IQ’s.

Iodine deficiency is increasingly common in Australia. Good sources of iodine include eggs, fish, seaweed and Celtic Sea Salt, but many people rarely consume fish on a regular basis and will need to rely on supplements to increase levels.

My weight loss client was asked to supplement with iodine at a reasonable level and over the next 4-5 months reduced his weight to 87kg. Generally a weight loss of 0.5-1kg a week is reasonable and sustainable.

Long term supplementation with high amounts of iodine can inhibit thyroid function so it is important to ensure when supplementing that you are carefully monitored and ensure you are receiving adequate but not excessive amounts of iodine. The cautious recommendation is no more than 600 micrograms a day when you are deficient.

Interested in finding out more about your minerals? Follow my blogs or book in for an appointment and have an Oligoscan test done to see what your levels of nutrient minerals are like.

Christine Pope is a Homeopath and Nutritionist based at Elemental Health at St Ives and is contactable on 8084 0081 for appointments.

Is your brain still suffering?

Brain health doesn’t have to deteriorate as we get older but it seems in many people that they blame poor memory or difficulty concentrating simply on ageing. Actually difficulties with your brain are really an indicator of declining health generally. Symptoms which alert you to the fact that your brain is struggling could be vague, such as forgetting names or where you parked the car or they can be more disabling such as vertigo or tinnutis (ringing in the ears) .

Improving brain health requires a systematic approach focussed on reducing inflammation and improving function. In an earlier post I talked about the gut brain connection so if you have sorted out this area without resolving your issues its now time to consider other areas which can cause damage to your brain.

Probably the two major areas are toxicity and deficiency. So how does each of these present and what can you do to improve your brain health?

Toxicity 

Heavy metals particularly aluminium and mercury can build up over years of exposure and create problems. Aluminium is probably the easiest metal to understand as there is research to show that you have a significantly  higher risk of developing Alzheimers if you worked in Aluminium factories. Alzheimers involves the development of plaque which blocks connections in the brain (known as beta amyloid). The Lancet published some research showing a link between long term aluminium exposures and an increase in the build up of this type of plaque. A researcher called Rondeau also looked at the impact of high daily intake of aluminium from water and other sources and found it was correlated with an increased risk of dementia and cognitive decline. Anecdotally I am also aware of a case of severe onset Alzheimers in a gentleman who had worked in an aluminium coating plant for a long period of time.

Worker with protective mask welding metal

How do you detect heavy metal exposures? Blood tests are not very reliable unless the exposure is recent as the body will try and move heavy metals to fat to protect you from the impact and levels in the blood will not be maintained. Hair analysis is useful if you are what we call “an excretor”, that is you are able to detoxify and mobilise the metal out of fat stores. Obviously if you are able to detox heavy metals you wouldn’t be experiencing symptoms. Hair analysis and blood tests can show up heavy metals if you administer a provocation challenge before the tests, otherwise hair analysis may not give you an accurate picture until you have chelated heavy metals for a number of months.

The Oligoscan machine can detect heavy metals held in tissue and is based on spectrometer analysis. Its not unusual once you start treating a client for heavy metals to actually see levels increase before they start reducing. This is usually because they are mobilising deeper stores of the heavy metals and moving them out resulting in an increase in levels.
Home Made Cultured Or Fermented Vegetables
How do you reduce heavy metals or “chelate” them as it is more commonly known? The first step is ensuring the client’s system is alkaline which requires a diet high in fruit and vegetables as well as additional support from Vitamin C in reasonable doses (up to 2g a day). You would also ensure that you were giving nutrient minerals which antagonise the heavy metal. Generally that requires zinc in significant doses however it is also worth looking at other nutrients such as selenium which is also a potent anti-oxidant to support chelation.

Deficiency

Obviously deficiencies of key nutrients can allow toxicity to buildup and its important to ensure that you maintain a good intake of key minerals from your diet to minimise this risk. Nutrient deficiencies can show up with wide range of symptoms. You really need to look at the complete picture to determine what may be problematic. Generally with brain fog and low energy always think about magnesium, iron and iodine – for quite different reasons.

Magnesium is a critical nutrient responsible as a catalyst for over 300 reactions in the body. Low levels can really affect your ability to operate at many levels, typically you can be wired and tired as well as suffering from cramps or constipation.

Iron is the nutrient which carries oxygen in the blood so low levels can result in poor brain oxygenation and difficulty thinking. Its a simple blood test to get iron levels checked so it should be excluded as a possible issue.

Iodine is a key component of thyroid hormone and Australians’ are suffering from historically low levels of iodine which means deficiency is very common. Thyroid is a master hormone controlling growth and repair as well as energy. Low thyroid will leave you foggy, tired and prone to easily gaining weight.

It’s not unusual to find that you have both toxicity and deficiency as your body will try and “normalise” the situation depleting it of important nutrient minerals. You need to work on improving your stores of nutrients first before chelating out toxicity.

Need more information on supporting your brain health? Christine is in practice at Elemental Health St Ives , appointments can be booked on 8084 0081.

Why I feed my dog a natural food diet

2015/02/img_0257.jpg

In 2008 I was on the Organising Committee for a Homeopathic conference which was held in Sydney. One of our most popular speakers was a Vet who also used homoeopathics called Clare Middle and what really stuck in my head was her attitude towards diet. She said 70% of skin problems in animals were solved purely by feeding the pet a natural food diet. To me that showed how helpful a natural food diet could be in maintaining your pet’s health.

So what does our dog eat? Well most nights its a couple of chicken wings plus a bone of some type as well as leftover fruit and vegetables. We keep a tub in the fridge in which we put organic vegetable peelings, outside lettuce leaves and the woody bits of the broccoli and cauliflower as well as the tops and tail of carrots plus leftovers from our table like salad or risotto. Generally we avoid anything with a lot of garlic or onion which are quite toxic for dogs. Anything that is looking a little too soft from the fruit bowl also goes in the dog bowl.
Dog bowl

Feeding the dog this way is actually very cost effective – most of the vegetables would have been thrown away and the 2kg of chicken wings a week is only about $8. The vet Claire Middle also recommends a weekly meal of oily fish, we find a can of sardines work well and are usually quite cheap. She also has a little book available through her website which explains exactly what you need to feed your pet. Click here for details.

Our dog Buffy is now 7 years old and is a really healthy animal. She doesn’t seem to suffer from dog breath and has a really healthy coat. The picture above is one my son took when we were away and checking on the dog (it was taken on his sister’s bed)!

So what’s wrong with commercial dog food? Depends on what it is really, but as the Vet explained it seems that they often have a very high carbohydrate content and that’s different to what dogs would eat in the wild. Dogs were really scavengers and would eat small animals and whatever was dropped on the ground or easily accessed. Basically dogs are used to having bones in their diet and in the wild you will see animals eating the droppings of carnivores to access the calcium from the bones they consumed. There would be some carbohydrate in their diet from vegetables and fruit however not really from grains which is what many commercial dog foods may use.

We did try to convert our cat to a natural food diet with a little less success – she will eat raw minced meats like chicken and lamb but cannot figure out what to do with chicken necks, which is what was recommended for cats. She also gets a bit sniffy about fish, not really keen on canned fish but loves a bit of our leftover tuna or salmon.

How do you feed your pets? Have you tried a natural food diet with them and been successful?

Christine Pope is a nutritionist and homeopath based in Sydney at St Ives and practices at her clinic, Elemental Health. She feeds her family a largely whole food diet and her pets as well.

What’s your mineral status like?

Dairy products

Most of us are aware that we need calcium and the dairy lobby do a great job at reminding us that we need three serves a day. I think we need a marketing lobby for the other sixteen nutrient minerals which really don’t get the same air time but have really critical roles to play in how well we function.

I have posted extensively about the role of magnesium in the past as its probably calcium’s forgotten partner. Calcium and magnesium are required for effective muscle contraction and release as well as to assist calcium to mobilise into bone. Muscle cramping is a common sign of magnesium deficiency. Good sources of magnesium include most of the green leafy vegetables, ideally at least one cup a day.

burnout2

Magnesium is also well indicated if your energy levels are low and will often help improve energy quite quickly. However if magnesium isn’t doing the job you may need to add Manganese as well. Good sources include most of the legumes such as chickpeas and lentils.

Zinc for example is critical for effective digestion as it is required for many digestive enzymes. Good sources of red meat are zinc and oysters – two things that many women don’t eat enough of or don’t like (really oysters YUK). Low zinc status means low immunity so you are prone to getting every infection that goes around. Signs of zinc deficiency include white spots on the finger nails and noticing you are losing your sense of taste or smell. Compromised digestion can also be another signal that zinc levels are low.

So how do you check all these levels easily – there are a couple of tools in naturopathic practice , Hair Tissue Mineral Analysis, which is offered by a few companies such as Interclinical and Healthscope Pathology. There is also a new tool which has been recently released in Australia called Oligoscan, which uses Spectrophotometry to measure the optical density of the trace elements, minerals and heavy metals, currently present in the tissues. It provides, in real time, a precise analysis of the minerals in the skin and peripheral blood vessels. No biopsy, blood or hair sample is needed. There are often delays in waiting for Hair Tissue Mineral Analysis as women often need to grow out colour before a sample can be taken and many dislike cutting their hair.

Having recently introduced the Oligoscan I have found it really helps target potential health issues related to mineral deficiciencies and heavy metal toxicity. One of the areas that is consistently a problem is Aluminium levels as we are exposed to it in so many ways. Basically you think of Aluminium in cans and foil but it is widely present in toiletries and cosmetics as well as being used in the form of aluminium sulfate to treat water to kill off bacteria. Given the concerns about Aluminium and it relationship to Alzheimers it would be sensible to reduce your exposure to this element as much as possible. A good quality water filter should remove the Aluminium before you drink the water, after all you only need the Aluminium sulfate to do its job killing bacteria you don’t need it after that.

A quick preview of the technology is given on this Youtube clip. https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC6nwFFQndS10wG6t2FWBsGQ

More information on Oligoscan is on their website at http://www.oligoscan.net.au or you can visit me at St Ives and organise a test either as part of a consult or as a standalone test. Clinic number is 8084 0081 and I am available Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Other days I am lecturing at Nature Care College.