Alzheimer's Dementia is an organic brain dysfunction characterized by memory impairment, declining comprehension, behavioral and mood disturbances, changes in personality, disorientation and confusion leading to a complete inability to care for the self. There are over 47.5 million people worldwide with dementia and approximately 6 million Americans have Alzheimer's or mild cognitive impairment. Researchers estimate that the rate of dementia will double by the year 2060. It is truly an epidemic with what seems to be multiple causes and, according to mainstream medicine, it is an absolute death sentence.

But is it? Join us for this episode of The Health and Wellness Show where we discuss this cruel affliction, the risk factors and tell-tale signs of its development. Most importantly we highlight ways to prevent it, reduce the symptoms or reverse the disease altogether.

And stay tuned for Zoya's Pet Health Segment, where she discusses the age old question: "Why do elephants never forget?"

Running Time: 00:59:18

Download: MP3

Here's the transcript of the show:

Jonathan: Welcome to the Health & Wellness Show everybody. Today is Friday, June 1, 2018. My name is Jonathan. I'll be your host for today. Joining me in our virtual studio from all over the planet we have Tiffany, Erica, Doug and Gaby. Hey guys.

All: Hellos.

Jonathan: So today we are going to be talking about the absolute terror of losing one's mind in the sense of Alzheimer's and Dementia, to shed some light on this topic, something we haven't really delved into before. We talked about mental illness and certain aspects of Dementia but I think never fully about it.

Tiffany: That's surprising.

Jonathan: Yeah. It's a pretty deep topic and I wanted to start with something that I found interesting in thinking about this, if I can say this clearly. I had never consciously made fun of Alzheimer's, like "Nah-hah", but little jokes here and there "Oh, I forgot" and making jokey things about it, but when we were talking for the show last week when we were planning this out and Tiffany you had said, because you have some direct experience with this, that it's absolutely terrifying and there's nothing funny about it.

So of course there's something funny about everything in life if you want to go that way with it, but this is a very serious condition and it can completely unseat your reality.

Tiffany: Well as long as people just think of it as forgetting stuff here and there and being funnily forgetful like you see on TV and on movies, they have an old person in the cast kind of makes fun of the fact that they forget everything. They might be a little "senile", but it's quite a sad thing to see. I'm not exactly 100% sure that the patients that I've taken care of who had Alzheimer's are aware in the least of what is going on with them. I'd like to hope that they're not because it would be absolutely horrific if they were but sometimes I suspect that they are. At least sometimes they might get a little flash. That's just my guess but it's really sad because it's not forgetting stuff. You forget that, but you forget basically who you are. You forget your family. You can't take care of yourself eventually as the disease progresses. You lose control of your bowel and bladder and have to wear diapers and someone has to feed you. It's really, really sad.

Jonathan: And there are many, many levels to it too, right? There's early stages of Alzheimer's where it starts to kind of creep in. You hear stories about families who have older family members who start to have signals here and there, red flags about their behaviour. But that was something I thought was very interesting about this too. It's not just that you forget what you are, but because you forget everything about yourself, or most of the things about yourself, you lose context for how you would be in the world or how you'd react to anything else. So you essentially lose your personality. In extreme cases you're like a blank slate. Where am I? Who am I? What is this? What's happening right now? But with enough awareness to ask questions.

Gaby: Or your personality gets worse. If there was some rigidity decades before, some people are more prone to their particular anxiety problems decades before and so forth.

Jonathan: Yeah, I was reading stories about meanness and snappiness and a lot of people who suffer from Alzheimer's would become angry and kind of spiteful and it's probably largely a result of the confusion, I would imagine.

Tiffany: Although sometimes I suspect that their true essence is coming out because some of the patients that I've worked with are just as sweet as pie. They're very nice and smiley and they seem kind of happy in their forgetfulness. But other people are just mean, slapping at you, yelling, screaming. It can be really bad. And I think that you can tell when family comes to visit the ones that were really nice, and they were probably good parents to their adult children, they all show up to visit and the really mean ones, not very many visitors. So maybe they were mean all along and the Alzheimer's just took the brakes off.

Gaby: I once met a patient who was 96 years old. She was very religious when she was younger and her daughter was still very young. Her daughter was 60-something. And she could not stop saying bad words. She had dementia. She would insult the nurse, me, but over and over and over again. That's all she said. That's all that was left. {laughter}

Doug: It makes you wonder if it is just taking the brakes off of something that they've been repressing their entire lives. Sudden the damn breaks and it all comes gushing out. I don't have any evidence for that but it does make me wonder.

Jonathan: Yeah. I've heard some interesting stories too about the total opposite of that where it's just sweetness and light because maybe that's who that person was and they're forgetful and they don't know where they are and they lose all these things and they're suffering from this disease but what's coming out of them is "Oh hey, where am I?" more of that attitude than snapping. That does seem to be less common.

I don't know how common or uncommon this is, but I had a friend once who ran into a woman who was self-aware of her Alzheimer's and he was trying to ask her directions and she said "You know what? I have Alzheimer's and so I can't and shouldn't tell you. I know if I go this way, we'll find somebody who can tell us what's happening." And that man was her husband.

Tiffany: Wow!

Jonathan: But she had this basic directional trigger thing going on where he had run into her on the side of the road and she was on the edge of their property so she knew she had Alzheimer's and that she had to find somebody else to help this person.

Doug: Wow! That sounds pretty rare.

Jonathan: Yeah, I would imagine.

Tiffany: I can imagine for someone like her with that little bit of awareness that she had, it was probably even more scary because she knew what was happening.

Jonathan: Sure. You know that you're forgetting something.

Tiffany: If I had it I wouldn't want to know.

Jonathan: Yeah, you know that you're forgetting something.

Doug: Well it was interesting too because there was an article that we looked at in preparation for the show that was saying that people who are suffering from some cognitive decline - so I guess that would be precursors or in some cases precursors to full-blown dementia - people who have self-awareness tend to be less likely to actually develop into full-blown dementia. So it seems like people who are having memory issues who are aware that they're having memory issues seem to have some protection there versus people who are completely oblivious to the fact that they're having this cognitive decline. So I found that interesting. I don't know if it would actually be protective to try and develop that awareness or if it's just the luck of the draw and some people are more aware than others.

Erica: Are we seeing an increase in it or is it something that's been happening for the last 100 years and they just didn't have a name for it?

Doug: I did look into the history a little bit and apparently these beta amyloid plaques in the brain that are associated with Alzheimer's, were discovered in 1906, so it's been with us for a little bit more than 100 years. But mind you, it might have been just as rampant before that and they had just never discovered these plaques before. They've been talking about dementia for centuries at least so I guess some form of dementia has been around for that long.

Jonathan: I would think of it as having been called madness back in the day probably.

Tiffany: Well do we want to get into some of the signs that dementia might be coming your way because I've only worked with people who already had it. I've never had any family members that developed it and I can look back and say "Oh yeah, now that you mention it, this kind of makes sense because they were like this or did certain things that would make sense as to why they developed Alzheimer's.

Erica: So just to clarify - and I know I asked this before - what is the difference between dementia and Alzheimer's? Or are they the same?

Tiffany: Alzheimer's is just a form of dementia.

Doug: Dementia is the general term and Alzheimer's, particularly the type that is associated with the build up of those plaques.

Gaby: Maybe Alzheimers is the most common or people are more aware of Alzheimer's but there are other types of dementia, like the type where you get a stroke over the ears that actually cuts the blood flow to parts of your brain and you get dementia. There's also Parkinson's disease which, as the disease evolves, involves some dementia as well. There is frontal temporal dementia which is a very aggressive form. I think most people can deteriorate a lot. There's mild cognitive dysfunction that precedes Alzheimer's or any other type. So there are several forms to lose your mind. {laughter}

Tiffany: There's syphilis where you can get dementia.

Jonathan: The idea that brain health could potentially mitigate some of this, I think is important. You were talking about ways to prepare for it, I think one, aside from just trying to exercise you mind with your intellect and with thinking about certain things, but also supporting with your diet, things that support the brain and support neural health.

Gaby: Just to clarify, because there is a chatter that is asking for the flags that are probably symptoms, not the cause. Or maybe not even the symptom because there was this famous study done in nuns that were very active intellectually. They were solving puzzles all the time and always intellectually engaged and they donated their brains to science. When they died scientists did autopsies to look at their brains and they were filled with plaques. They had Alzheimer's brains, but they never developed the disease while alive.

Doug: It's hard to say. At first it seemed like because the plaques often contained aluminium, at first the thinking was that aluminium causes Alzheimer's. Then after a while they said, "No, just because there's aluminium there". The advice was "avoid exposure to aluminium". But I think that's impossible. I think it's one of the most common elements on the planet so actually trying to avoid it is pretty much impossible.

Then they said, "No, it's not the aluminium itself, it's these plaques. That's what's causing it." And now I think there's all kinds of research on it and that is losing its appeal and people are saying "It's not necessarily the plaques. The plaques might actually be just a symptom." Some people even say that the plaques may have a defensive capability and that it's actually something else going on in the brain and the brain is actually forming these plaques as a means of defence.

So it's really not clear.

Gaby: You know the interesting thing about these plaques, which are called amyloid beta plaques, it's protein material and scientists say that it prevents neurons from working properly. But the interesting thing is that there's an enzyme that breaks down these plaques. The same enzyme is used to clear out insulin, which gets stimulated by glucose in your blood. So with all the rampant people eating lots of carbohydrates, are stimulating insulin like crazy, I think this is one of the reasons by Alzheimer's is considered a type III diabetes, because it's like insulin resistance in the brain. You have these enzymes clearing out all the insulin so all the plaques get accumulated.

Doug: Yeah. I think that is definitely a key piece of the puzzle.

Tiffany: It's like their brains have no fuel.

Gaby: Exactly! They've seen that Alzheimer's brains have impaired glucose uptake, especially in the areas involved with memory and learning. Since sugar cannot reach the brain they have this dysfunction, this cognitive impairment. But you give them an alternative source of fuel, like ketones, the metabolism of fat, and they light up again. They're able to improve their cognitive function. So it's pretty interesting.

Doug: Yeah.

Tiffany: There have been stories about people taking coconut oil and having their Alzheimer's symptoms not completely go away, but in some cases they said that it does, but at least the symptoms get alleviated, just with taking coconut oil.

Doug: And they attribute that to the fact that the fats in coconut oil are converted to ketones quite readily by the body. It's funny because in the mainstream press, because they don't really have any deep insight into a lot of these health issues, they just said "Coconut oil cures Alzheimer's or helps with Alzheimer's or with dementia" without actually looking into it more deeply. Well, actually keeping your normal high-sugar diet and taking coconut oil is probably not the most ideal solution to the problem". If they actually went to a ketogenic diet, then you might actually see a real turnaround.

Jonathan: It makes sense I think, just that small amount causing improvement because I think we've all had the experience where either you're really thirsty and you have just a little bit of water and all of a sudden you feel satiated. I know for myself, sometimes I'll remember that I haven't taken magnesium for five days and I take one and immediately my body's like "Oh wow!" So if your body is in need of something and you give it just a little bit of that, it starts to improve right away. But I would think that MCT oil would be even better for that than just coconut oil.

Doug: Definitely because MCT is refined so that the particular fats that are readily converted to ketones are what makes it up.

Jonathan: But like you said, you would want to be very careful that the presumably elderly person was not having sugar and fat in parallel.

Doug: I guess if it's helping then it's good.

Tiffany: It's better than nothing.

Doug: It's not ideal. It's better than nothing, yeah.

Erica: And staying away from things like canola oil. There was just an article on SOTT about canola oil - claiming to be the healthiest of all oils - increases memory loss. Researchers for the Alzheimer's Center at Temple University investigated. Of course they did it on mice, but it causes more plaques and tangles because it's that highly processed...

Gaby: It's toxic.

Jonathan: Yeah, well it's two molecules away from plastic, isn't it? Canola oil. When you heat it, it actually becomes similar molecularly to plastic.

Gaby: It promotes oxidation of your brain. And the brain is the most vulnerable organ to oxidations. You can see why saturated fat is good for the brain and why canola oil will just burn it up.

Jonathan: Tiff, you were talking about signs and one of the articles we were looking at that I thought was interesting was the gait of walking; that your style of walking or your gait can indicate early onset of dementia or Alzheimer's. But in reading the article it looks like it mainly refers to motor function and they're interpreting gait as the most easily observable one.

Tiffany: Yeah, as long as there's no reason, like you have a bum knee or something that throws your gait off. They said if your walking pattern is slower and less controlled, like if you're wobbly or if you sway back and forth, and there's nothing wrong with your legs physically, then it's probably a sign that there's something wrong with your brain.

Doug: They talked about a couple of studies in that article. In one of them they were talking about having them doing a mental task. I think they were counting backwards from 50 in twos and they were doing that while walking. Normally people can do that kind of mental task and walk at the same time. It's like chewing gum and walking at the same time. {laughter} But apparently people who had this precursor to dementia were not able to do it. They would either be stumbling with the numbers or their gait would get all mixed up and they'd stumble.

Gaby: It's part of the executive functions of the brain. What is interesting is I would guess that these people will otherwise be fine. This test that they did saw some anomalies. I was often surprised myself to see elderly people fill out the questionnaires that screen for cognitive decline and they will otherwise look very sharp. They will do the test and they will not be able to do even simple tests like drawing a normal clock with the arrows showing that it's 11:10. They're told to mark on the clock that it's 11:10 or 11:30 and they will not be able to do that. It's like, wow!

Tiffany: Because they might seem okay when you're talking to them, but if you don't know them and you don't know how true what they are saying is, they could be just confabulating, making stuff up, and if you don't know their history or anything, you just believe what they say. But if you actually give them a test, it all comes out.

Erica: And what's the test? A blood test?

Tiffany: No, just a written test, you and the therapist or the doctor sitting down.

Gaby: Though they are making more blood tests recently as part of the protocol; testing for these amyloid beta plaques and so forth. But there are a lot of cognitive tests that are questionnaires and so forth. It reminds me of a man that used to be a champion in chess. He noticed that he had cognitive decline because he could not think ahead of six or eight moves that he had in his brain all the time. I thought "Oh my!. Congratulations! I cannot even play chess!" {laughter}

Jonathan: Well there's something interesting regarding the physical side of the disease. Another one of the articles that we were looking at was about Alzheimer's being caught. Can you catch Alzheimer's. They do suggest - although I don't think there's any hard proof around this - it's debated as to what the plaques do in this whole system - that they can be spread through blood transfusions.

Doug: Yeah. They discovered that one. This is one of those crazy, psychotic medical tests that they do. They took two mice. Apparently mice don't actually form these plaques. So they've genetically modified this one mouse, to force it to produce these plaques. And then they fuse it to another mouse so that they share a blood supply. The one is genetically modified to produce these plaques and the other one is not. And they're like, "Oh, the plaques started building up in the other mouse too." Well what have you proved there really?! That's just insane! Like okay, you forced them to share a blood supply and the one ended up developing the plaques as well. That's not really showing anything.

Jonathan: No, not really.

Tiffany: But they hypothesized that maybe it's prions, these teensy little viral particles that are found in mad cow disease or something, or Jakob Creutzfeldt disease and they think that the prions could be one of the reasons why people develop Alzheimer's and they suspect that maybe you could get it from a blood transfusion or from contaminated surgical instruments.

Gaby: I even read it was worse. There are hypotheses that you can get Alzheimer's with common viral infections like herpes zoster, the herpes family, mononucleosis virus, Epstein-Barr. There were actually some very compelling studies linking Alzheimer's disease to viruses that we all have. So there you go.

Doug: Even periodontal disease as well, was another one. It's interesting too because it goes back to the idea that these plaques might actually be protective because apparently they have antimicrobial properties, that they're actually quite efficient at killing off microbes. So if it did turn out that there was some kind of contagious aspect to Alzheimer's, then maybe the plaques are actually trying to defend against them.

Gaby: So it's kind of like a correlation, like cholesterol in cardiovascular disease. It's like the fire fighters trying to calm down the fire. They're not actually to blame.

Doug: Yeah, they're not the arsonists.

Jonathan: Drugs too, in the vein of what we're talking about, prescription drugs could be causing dementia, especially when people get into old age and they're on a protocol of six or even more different drugs.

Tiffany: Or maybe 14 drugs.

Jonathan: Sure.

Tiffany: A lot of the mental health medications like antidepressants have been implicated in causing cognitive decline.

Gaby: Benzos.

Tiffany: Benzos, and antipsychotics can actually cause brain shrinkage and they see brain shrinkage in the brains of people who have Alzheimer's and dementia.

Erica: And don't they give antipsychotics to people in late stages?

Tiffany: Yes they do, to sedate them.

Gaby: Not only late stages. Also young people are getting taking antipsychotics just to fall asleep. They call them chemical lobotomies.

Doug: Oh my god!

Jonathan: The use of Ambien too is on the rise. I was reading about that recently and surprised at just how many people are using it on a regular basis, way more than it's suggested to be used. I think it came up in the news because of that Rosanne Barr story.

Tiffany: "It was the Ambien!" Plus when you get old, your liver is not as good at clearing out medications from your bloodstream, so you're taking a bunch of medications and they just build up in your system because you can't flush it out as well because you're old and your organs are old. Your liver and your kidneys are old. That's why a lot of old people, when they take something like Xanax or other benzodiazepines that might actually cause the opposite effect. It's supposed to calm them down but they become very, very agitated. Some of them do.

Gaby: Yeah. That happens with me with GABA. The sluggish liver. I don't know if I'll live to an old age. People say "Oh, it's great because we're living this many years and it never happened before.'' That's questionable, but look at how we're getting to 90 years old, 96, completely the worst possible...

Tiffany: Old years.

Gaby: Yeah. But everybody that works in the healthcare system has the comment "I'd rather die younger than live to an old age like that".

Jonathan: I have my doubts that it's even that common nowadays, more so in the western world and the United States specifically, that that many people are living to be that old. Everybody I know recently who has passed away has been in their 70s at the oldest. If you top 95 you make the news now.

Gaby: That's interesting. I do live in Spain which is the country with the oldest longevity in the whole of Europe that's for sure. But more and more I hear stories from North America, it not only speaks about leaving the elderly totally vulnerable to the negative effects of the healthcare system, but also the quality of life. It sounds so bad.

Doug: Yeah. But the crazy thing is that they do talk about dementia and Alzheimer's as though it's considered a natural part of aging. "Oh yeah, your brain is just running down" which I think is just nonsense. It's pretty clear to me that if you look at old stories and things like that, a person who was crazy in their old age was not a common thing. It wasn't that if you lived long enough your brain would just give out on you. People stayed sharp until the day they died. So I really don't buy the whole myth of "It's a senior's moment" and that's just a thing. That's like "Oh yeah, your brain doesn't work anymore because you're old." I don't buy it! I think that you should be sharp right up until the day you die.

Gaby: The wisest generation. In certain tribes the elderly were highly regarded because of their experience and their knowledge.

Doug: Yeah! Exactly.

Jonathan: Do you think we've begun to associate dementia more with old age than wisdom?

Doug: Yeah.

Erica: In the US, for sure.

Doug: I think it's just the accumulation of all the bad crap that people do to themselves over the course of the years; their bad diet, bad environmental exposures, all that stuff. It wears on the brain and that's not a natural part of aging. It's a natural part of being toxic.

Gaby: It's compounded. It's also the stress. It literally burns areas of your brain related to memory and learning, the hippocampus. We have all this cortisol pumping up all the time throughout all your life. Maybe that's the reason why people have personality changes. They just cannot regulate their emotions. They're in fight or flight all the time.

Jonathan: One of the other articles we looked at was talking about desk jobs contributing to early onset of dementia. I think it boils down to that; it's the stress, sedentary lifestyle.

Tiffany: Sedentary and not having a lot of circulation to the brain.

Erica: Controlled environments too, lighting and air quality, screens and WiFi and cell phones.

Jonathan: We were just talking about sleep. I imagine that's a huge contributor to your brain deteriorating early if you're not getting that restful time and having the toxins cleared out and stuff.

Tiffany: And not getting enough REM sleep.

Erica: That's what they were saying in that book Why We Sleep. Can't remember his name now. {laughter}

Tiffany: Matthew Walker.

Erica: Thank you.

Tiffany: If you don't get enough REM sleep your brain will just force you to dream while you're awake.

Gaby: The dreamlike life.

Jonathan: It's crazy.

Tiffany: Yeah, but if you're not sleeping well enough either, if you're not getting that deep sleep during that time when your lymphatic system is supposed to be cleaning out all the waste in your brain, if that stuff builds up you can see why it would cause some dysfunction.

Gaby: But there are some studies showing that if you sleep more than 9 hours it's correlated with dementia and they were saying that maybe it was not because you sleeping too much, it might be because you had a lack of REM sleep, so you have all these many hours to make up for it. That was related to it.

Jonathan: Well Walker did say that the window was 7-9 hours so that would track, if you're going to try to not get more than nine.

Tiffany: Sometimes I wonder though - on more of a spiritual level perhaps and maybe this is not the case, I'm just speculating here - but people who reject knowledge or reject thinking or trying to solve problems or trying to improve themselves, can that have an effect on the brain and lead to some kind of cognitive impairment like dementia; people who spend most of their time just vegging out, watching TV, don't really challenge themselves, don't try to learn new things?

Gaby: It's in the statistics.

Jonathan: Yeah, there's the old cliché of when you're thinking hard about something, somebody goes "Ow!" It hurts to think.

Gaby: Painful to think.

Jonathan: Anecdotally I believe this 100%. Scientifically I'm not so sure, but the idea that your attitude can contribute to physical disease, so that people might say that they hypothetically get cancer because they're very knotted up and repressed and full of hate or spite for other people and that manifests later in their life. So I'd imagine a very similar thing, if that is the case, could happen with your brain and if you're not good at dealing with things or if you have repressed stress and emotions. The body is a synergistic system and what you're thinking manifests physically and vice versa, because what you're thinking determines how your body is reacting to what you're putting into it or what's around you determines your ability to think. So it's all tied together. For lack of a better term, a shallow person who doesn't think very deeply or doesn't even try, then perhaps there's a higher chance.

Gaby: They don't want to use their brain.

Jonathan: So it's not to get down on "dumb" people or calling anybody dumb. I think this is more of a case of choice.

Doug: Like lazy.

Jonathan: It's laziness, yeah.

Doug: It's interesting though because there are some researchers out there who have correlated particular personality types, for lack of a better term, or personality attributes that correlate with particular disease states. The one I always think of is people saying that somebody who has something like Parkinson's, they tend to be very rigid people. They don't have any give, uncompromising, not fluid and go with the flow but very strict. So I could see there could be somebody who was more of a rigid thinker who isn't open to new ideas or new thoughts, that would correlate to some kind of dementia. You're not open to new information so therefore you don't have the ability to be anymore. You can't even use the information you've got.

Jonathan: Every time I think about this too I always think about Dick Cheney just because he's...

Tiffany: You think of who?

Jonathan: Dick Cheney. When you think about mind over matter, the body and your life manifesting what's in your heart and your mind. He's still alive and he's stayed on through five different hearts. {laughter}

Erica: Interesting he has a steady supply. {laughter}

Jonathan: Yeah.

Gaby: And somebody waiting for years on the waiting list.

Erica: Oh, I guess I need another one. Burned that one out.

Jonathan: Yeah. I guess the fact that he's alive doesn't really point to his health necessarily.

Tiffany: It's because of pure evil.

Erica: Yeah, is he alive?

Jonathan: Yeah. He's been kept alive.

Doug: Reanimated. Lives in a hyperbaric chamber.

Jonathan: But I do find that. It's not so often, but occasionally we'll run into somebody who is older, say 60s, 70s, in good health and just a total asshole - pardon my French. You know what I mean? But I think that that's less common. I think usually the people who have that kind of attitude about life are not in good health. Their body has reflected what their mind is doing.

Gaby: There is a chatter who asked "How much of a role does depression play in causing older people to stop being interested in learning, thinking and keeping active?" I don't know. I read this study that was saying that people at 65, if they had depression were at more risk of developing cognitive decline. They were wondering if it was already a manifestation of the disease or was it a predisposition. I don't know.

Doug: It's hard to say. Apparently it is very strongly correlated. A lot of people with dementia are also depressed so it is difficult to tease it apart. Were they depressed first and that led to the disease or is it the other way around, that the disease has caused this depression?

Eric: And have they given up on that spark of life? That sense of adventure and learning and challenging yourself?

Jonathan: I think depression probably runs in parallel with all the other stuff that leads up to Alzheimer's. So as you say that you've lived a life in such a way that you have toxified your body or you got the bad genetic roll of the dice, or whatever the story is - I'm ironically losing my train of thought right now. {laughter} Damn it!

Gaby: We've talked about the personality changes, a little bit about the diet, but I wanted to bring up this health program for Alzheimer's patients. It was published in a mainstream journal. It was so successful. It was only 10 participants but 9 of them improved, and so much that some of them went back to work again. Basically what they did was cut down on simple carbs and follow a low glycemic, low in sugar diet. They also did a little bit of intermittent fasting. They ate in a window of 12 hours per day. They did stress reduction, either yoga, meditation, some sort of stress reduction technique. They got eight hours of sleep a night, either with natural supplements like melatonin, but that was very important in the program. They did exercise a few times per week. They got brain stimulation - crosswords, that kind of brain stimulation. They optimized their vitamin D levels and their vitamin B levels for supplementation. They also ate dietary-rich antioxidants like blueberries, turmeric. They had some probiotics and prebiotics and their hormone balance, like thyroid hormones, were optimized as well. And they also had fish oil supplements. They did also have mitochondrial function supplements, any supplement that boosts mitochondrial function and they had MCT oil.

So it was a pretty holistic program but it had incredible results. Everybody was like "Wow! We can actually reverse Alzheimer's?!"

Doug: It's actually amazing that didn't get more attention than it did because the party line on it still is that with Alzheimer's there's no cure for it. "We can give you medications that'll help and they'll slow it down, but once it's kicking in, there's nothing you can do about it." And meanwhile these researchers completely turned the tables on that. And this is all the stuff that we've been talking about and thinking about for a long time, all the different supplementation and lifestyle changes, just for good health in general. These guys apply it to a particular condition, dementia, and they have this kind of result!? It's like "Wow! That's pretty amazing."

Erica: But there's no drugs involved.

Gaby: No drugs.

Tiffany: And really the drugs that they already have for dementia, they don't do anything.

Erica: And Gaby, in your article you also mentioned photobiomodulation.

Gaby: Yeah, I added it in there because there's all these studies showing how when you use near/far infrared light in the spectrum between 650 and 850 nanometers, it sparks people's brains. We did a show about this. Alzheimer's patients that couldn't even feed themselves suddenly started eating with their own hands. It was great to see.

Tiffany: And you don't have to have one of those special wacky hats with the lights coming out of it.

Doug: Well you could. {laughter}

Tiffany: They sell those lights on Amazon. You can just shine it on your head.

Gaby: People are making their own devices at home with a bucket and they lined up all the lights and connected to electricity and there you go.

Tiffany: Or they have those little nasal things that shine the red light. They use them allegedly for allergies where you can shine the light up your nose and let it hit your brain.

Gaby: Now listen to this testimonial of somebody who tried photobiomodulation who had Parkinson's disease. "I recovered my sense of smell. My writing is now firm and concise. My gait has improved and I can climb stairs." So it's interesting.

Tiffany: Speaking of smell, there's been a few articles that we carried on SOTT about people who have Alzheimer's or dementia who either cannot smell it or cannot identify what that particular smell is, but peppermint, fish, orange, rose, leather, peanut butter. And they say that it's based on the memory of the smell, being able to articulate what it is that you're smelling, not necessarily losing your sense of smell. But in that testimonial you just read, the person said they got their sense of smell back. So I don't know which one it is, but I thought that was weird that that was one of the signs that Alzheimer's might show up, if you can't identify certain smells.

Doug: So if somebody tells you that they smell peppermint and you can't smell it, time to get out!

Gaby: Yeah. Don't be hard on them. "I already have Alzheimer's."

Jonathan: That is an interesting thing. I've always heard - again with the casual jokes - that if you think you're having a stroke that you say you smell toast.

Doug: Burnt toast.

Jonathan: Yeah. So it would be like "Oh-oh, I smell toast!"

Gaby: The study that really blew me away was how working your leg muscles helps to grow healthy new brain cells. Apparently if you have weak leg muscles, you can restrict the growth of your brain cells by 70%.

Doug: It's kind of crazy too because it seems the whole exercise thing is controversial. There have been a number of studies that have said "Exercise is definitely good for staving off dementia. It makes sense when you think about the whole connection with the gait and that movement clearly is very important. It's part of using your brain.

But there was a study that came out where they had people - I don't know if it was just dementia or if it was specifically Alzheimer's - but they put them in an exercise routine. They found that it didn't do anything. In fact they even found that there might be negative effects in some people. So it's weird. Maybe the type of exercise is important or maybe there might have been some kind of flaw in this study. I don't know.

Gaby: I didn't read the actual study, just a report and apparently these people were going to the gym 4-6 times per week and they were there 60 to 90 minutes. I don't know what they were doing. I would imagine that they were just pumping cortisol fight or flight response all the time. That doesn't necessarily improve brain tests.

Tiffany: That would be my guess. What kind of exercise are they doing? Are they doing cardio all those times a week? That can just stress them out even more.

Doug: It definitely could be that. If they were doing actual resistance exercises - maybe that's the key. There is one study that says if you exercise your leg muscles, resistance training, one would assume. So maybe that's the key.

Gaby: Yeah. Building up muscle which builds up mitochondria which builds up brain cells.

Erica: Especially since those muscles in your legs are the largest in the body. So is there a correlation between the two? Keeping the leg muscles strong, keep the brain strong?

Tiffany: Or maybe it can also be the brain power that's needed to do coordinated movements. It's a form of brain exercise, not just muscle exercise.

Gaby: And also muscle is the primary place where sugar is dumped when you have insulin resistance, you have such a long deposit of sugar and adipose tissue in your muscles when you have insulin resistance.

Jonathan: Well it sounds like really just keeping your body in tune is the way to go, just overall.

Tiffany: One study says you could also smoke pot. {laughter}

Erica: And you'll forget that you're forgetting?

Tiffany: They did this - in mice of course - but they said that the low doses of THC found in marijuana, for these particular mice they gave them the THC and they performed better on a water maze. Now, I don't know if that really applied to human beings.

Jonathan: Yeah. Or how does that indicate preventing Alzheimer's deterioration? They might have just been more fascinated with it.

Tiffany: An excuse for old stoners to keep smoking. {laughter}

Doug: "It helps with my Alzheimer's man." It's kind of counterintuitive given what Matthew Walker was saying about sleep and the importance of REM sleep. He was also talking about how marijuana actually interferes with sleep and that it keeps you from experiencing REM sleep. So it's counterintuitive because if sleep issues can lead to - although that's speculative - but lead to dementia, or dementia in and of itself causes these sleep disturbances, then how would taking something that also interferes with your sleep be beneficial?

Tiffany: Maybe it just depends on the dose. They used low dose but I guess you shouldn't be sitting around all day...

Erica: Low dosing. {laughter}

Tiffany: Or high dosing all day long.

Doug: You need homeopathic THC.

Gaby: It would interesting to see some studies with a non-psychoactive compound.

Erica: So the CBD?

Gaby: CBD oil, yeah.

Erica: What about caffeine?

Doug: That's controversial too.

Gaby: The jury is out.

Jonathan: It helps. It doesn't help.

Doug: I think all of the studies, or most of them that I've seen that have talked about caffeine are all observational studies. So they just ask people "How much coffee do you drink a day?" Then they take the population and say "The people who drank the most coffee had the least Alzheimer's. There are so many confounding factors that could actually be involved there that you can't really say that therefore coffee prevents Alzheimer's. You can't make that kind of correlation.

Jonathan: You could actually say that the people who admitted how much coffee they actually drank were honest and they probably have a lesser occurrence of mental deterioration because they're honest. {laughter}

Gaby: So many confounding factors.

Tiffany: But so many billions of people all over the world drink coffee.

Jonathan: I don't know if you can use that as a baseline or anything.

Gaby: It doesn't seem to be working.

Doug: Well I'm just making sure, drinking coffee just in case.

Jonathan: Well we have a really interesting pet health segment from Zoya today about elephants and memory, so it dovetails with what we're talking about. So let's check that out and then we'll wrap it up when we come back.

Zoya: Hello and welcome to the Pet Health Segment of the Health and Wellness Show. This week's topic is why elephants never forget. It's a common saying that elephants never forget, but the more we learn about elephants, the more it appears that their impressive memory is only one aspect of an incredible intelligence that makes them some of the most social, creative and benevolent creatures on earth. Listen to the following recording to learn more about that. Have a great weekend and good-bye.

It's a common saying that elephants never forget. But these magnificent animals are more than giant walking hard drives. The more we learn about elephants, the more it appears that their impressive memory is only one aspect of an incredible intelligence that makes them some of the most social, creative and benevolent creatures on earth.

Unlike many proverbs, the one about elephant memory is scientifically accurate. Elephants know every member in their herd, able to recognize as many as 30 companions by sight or smell. This is a great help when migrating or encountering other potentially hostile elephants. They also remember and distinguish particular cues that signal danger and can recall important locations long after their last visit.

But it's the memories unrelated to survival that are the most fascinating. Elephants remember not only their herd companions but other creatures who have made a strong impression on them. In one case, two circus elephants that had briefly performed together rejoiced when crossing paths 23 years later. This recognition isn't limited to others of their species. Elephants have also recognized humans they've bonded with after decades apart.

All of this shows that elephant memory goes beyond responses to stimuli. Looking inside their heads, we can see why. The elephant boasts the largest brain of any land mammal as well as an impressive encephalization quotient. This is the size of the brain relative to what we'd expect for an animal's body size and the elephant's EQ is nearly as high as a chimpanzee's. And despite the distant relation, convergent evolution has made it remarkably similar to the human brain with as many neurons and synapses in a highly developed hippocampus and cerebral cortex.

It is the hippocampus strongly associated with emotion that aids recollection by encoding important experiences into long-term memories. The ability to distinguish this importance makes elephant memory a complex and adaptable faculty beyond rote memorization. It's what allows elephants who survive a drought in their youth, to recognize its warning signs in adulthood, which is why clans with older matriarchs have higher survival rates.

Unfortunately, it's also what makes elephants one of the few non-human animals to suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder. The cerebral cortex on the other hand, enables problem solving which elephants display in many creative and ways. They also tackle problems cooperatively, sometimes even outwitting the researchers and manipulating their partners. And they've grasped basic arithmetic, keeping track of the relative amounts of fruit in two baskets after multiple changes.

Their rare combination of memory and problem solving can explain some of elephants' most clever behaviours but it doesn't explain some of the things we're just beginning to learn about their mental lives. Elephants communicate using everything from body signals and vocalizations, to infrasound rumbles that can be heard kilometers away. And their understanding of syntax suggests that they have their own language and grammar.

This sense of language may even go beyond simple communication. Elephants create art by carefully choosing and combining different colours and elements. They can also recognize 12 distinct tones of music and recreate melodies. And yes, there is an elephant band.

But perhaps the most amazing thing about elephants is the capacity even more important than cleverness; their sense of empathy, altruism and justice. Elephants are the only non-human animals to mourn their dead, performing burial rituals and returning to visit graves. They have shown concern for other species as well. One working elephant refused to set a log down into a hole where a dog was sleeping, while elephants encountering injured humans have sometimes stood guard and gently comforted them with their trunk..

On the other hand, elephant attacks on human villages have usually occurred right after massive poachings or cullings, suggesting deliberate revenge. When we consider all this evidence, along with the fact that elephants are one of the few species who can recognize themselves in a mirror, it's hard to escape the conclusion that they are conscious, intelligent and emotional beings.

Unfortunately, humanity's treatment of elephants does not reflect this as they continue to suffer from habitat destruction in Asia, ivory poaching in Africa and mistreatment in captivity worldwide. Given what we now know about elephants and what they continue to teach us about animal intelligence, it is more important than ever to ensure that what the English poet John Dunn described as "Nature's Great Masterpiece", does not vanish from the world's canvas.

Tiffany: Did she say there were elephant bands?

Doug: Yeah.

Tiffany: Like musical bands?

Jonathan: Yeah.

Tiffany: I want to see that.

Doug: That's something to YouTube later.

Tiffany: Elephants live in concert.

Jonathan: That was really cool.

Doug: Yeah, very interesting.

Jonathan: There's a story that always fascinated me about the guy who worked with elephants who passed away and the herd that he worked with travelled 200 miles. Nobody went and told them that he died, obviously.

Tiffany: Ooooooooo.

Jonathan: They just showed up after he died and they were all just standing there. To me that's an incredible evidence for the connection that's there. I don't know how you could shoot that down. I feel like you'd have to be pretty closed minded.

Doug: Cold and heartless.

Jonathan: Yeah.

Erica: They even mourn their dead. That's pretty interesting.

Jonathan: Yeah, it is. Well that's our show for today. Thanks everybody for tuning in and for everybody who is taking part in the chat. Be sure to tune into the SOTT radio show on Sunday at noon eastern time. Go to radio.sott.net for that.

Doug: And Saturday.

Jonathan: Oh, and Saturday.

Doug: Yeah, there's a Saturday show too. So tune in to that one too.

Jonathan: Thank you. Both of them.

Gaby: The Truth Perspective.

Jonathan: Okay so we'll be back next week with a new topic and we'll see everybody then.

All: Good-byes.