dementia

  1. Too much of this mineral can be bad for the brain

    Most nutrients are not only safe in high amounts, they're necessary -- because too many people simply don't get nearly enough of the essentials from diet alone.

    But it's also possible to get too much of a good thing, and a new study shows one of the risks of going overboard with iron. This essential mineral, so crucial to your health, could actually contribute to Alzheimer's disease if you get too much.

    In a series of experiments, lab rabbits given a high-cholesterol diet saw increases in their levels of iron in the brain. And as the iron built up, so did the amount of amyloid-beta plaques linked to dementia.

    Amyloid-beta alone is a huge red flag, but it wasn't the only dementia risk factor that cropped up. At the same time, a neuron protein called tau began a process called phosphorylation.

    I don't want to get too technical here, but that's another big warning sign of dementia.

    That's the bad news.

    Here's the good news: When the bunnies were given the same exact treatment we give humans for excess iron -- chelation, in this case with a chelating agent called deferiprone -- blood levels of both cholesterol and iron fell and the amyloid beta and phosphorylated tau began to disappear.

    Brain levels of iron didn't fall -- only levels in the blood, which is to be expected. And apparently, that alone was enough to do the trick.

    Now, I treat people -- not bunnies. But I test all my patients for excess iron because you don't have to have floppy ears and a love of carrots to face the risks. Too much iron over time can cause or contribute to any number of conditions, including heart disease and cancer.

    And while you've probably heard of iron deficiency anemia, most people have never heard of hereditary hemochromatosis -- a genetic disorder in which the body stockpiles iron, allowing it to build up to dangerous levels.

    It's a lot more common than you'd think.

    Have your holistic doctor check your own levels of iron -- and if they're too high, make like a bunny and seek a treatment that involves regular blood draws.

    I've diagnosed a number of patients with this condition the past 18 years, and I can't tell you how grateful they were since it resolved their fatigue and joint pain, both common symptoms of this condition.

    It greatly reduced their risk of complications like early heart disease and cancer.

    One of the most common mistakes I see people making is that they take iron supplements or multivitamins with iron, thinking it will help their fatigue. This is a mistake. Don't take iron unless you've been diagnosed as being iron deficient via a blood test.

  2. Eye disease linked to brain disorders

    Keep an eye on your eyes -- because your peepers just might be the first part of your body to spy dementia coming.

    That's especially true if your eyes are getting an up-close look at retinopathy, an eye condition that often leads to vision loss and even blindness.

    It's bad enough on its own, but now researchers say a new look at data on more than 500 women finds that dementia and retinopathy may come hand-in-hand -- or as close to hand-in-hand as brains and eyes can be, anyway.

    Researchers say women given annual memory and thinking tests for up to a decade were much more likely to flunk them if they had the eye disease -- and that was true even if they had the blood vessel damage in the retina that marks the condition, but didn't have any actual vision problems yet.

    Of course, that blood vessel damage isn't truly a disease all its own. Retinopathy is usually a warning of something else going on -- another condition that could be causing the same type of blood vessel damage in much less visible areas.

    Like the brain.

    And sure enough, brain scans of the women in the new study revealed that those who had the eye disease also had blood vessel damage inside the brain itself.

    Obviously, the answer here isn't just treating the eyes. It's finding and treating the underlying condition before it's too late. Or better yet, avoiding the condition in the first place -- and that means taking care of the rest of your body, because one of the leading causes of retinopathy is diabetes.

    In fact, the two conditions are so closely linked that diabetic retinopathy is now the leading cause of new blindness among middle-aged Americans -- and we know that diabetics are also more likely to suffer from dementia.

    You've heard of killing two birds with one stone, right? Avoid diabetes, and you'll likely avoid three diseases (or more) at the same time.

  3. Feed your brain some fat

    There are plenty of places on the body where you definitely don't want fat building up. But there's one place you want as fat as can be, and that's right inside your skull.
  4. Dementia patients are being drugged to death

    It's bad enough that up to a third of all dementia patients in nursing homes are given powerful antipsychotic meds despite the fact that they're not approved for dementia.
  5. Overeating could ruin your brain

    Empty calories aren't just bad for your belly. They can be downright ruinous for your brain -- and the latest research shows again how people who eat the most have the highest risk of memory problems.
  6. Speed and strength now can predict health risks later

    You probably don't spend much time at all thinking about how fast you walk or how strong your grip is. But maybe you should -- because a new study shows how these basic tests could help predict serious health problems years down the road.
  7. Quick quiz can measure your Alzheimer's risk

    We waste a fortune on tests we don't need for conditions we don't have -- conditions we often shouldn't be worrying about in the first place.
  8. Nicotine may slow cognitive decline

    Could nicotine possibly be good for you? Short answer: Yes... sort of, and a new study shows again how the most addictive ingredient in cigarettes could help boost the brain.
  9. An up-close look at apnea

    If just the thought of losing your breath as you sleep is frightening, you should see what it looks like when it really happens.
  10. The trans fat lie harming your health

    Everyone's terrified of trans fats these days, and it's not hard to see why: They've been so vilified that some places are actually banning them. Must be something to it, right? There is -- because the trans fats that come from hydrogenated vegetable oils are every bit as bad as their reputation, and then some: They'll up your odds of obesity, heart disease, diabetes, dementia, depression and more.
  11. The key vitamins that will protect your brain

    Some brains, however, shrink faster than others -- and since this rapid loss of gray matter is often a warning sign of dementia and Alzheimer's disease, you want to limit your own shrinkage as much as possible. And the best way to do that is with the vitamins you should be getting anyway.
  12. Nothing fishy about it: Seafood will boost your brainpower

    "Fish is brain food" is the kind of age-old folk wisdom that's been proven time and again by cutting-edge science -- and the latest research confirms that the best way to keep your brain swimming in gray matter is with a steady diet of fish.
  13. Choline on your mind

    Some nutrients, like vitamin D, always seem to be making headlines -- while others, you just never hear about. Take choline, for example.
  14. The great nursing home swindle

    It's the biggest scandal -- and the biggest swindle -- you've never heard of: Dementia patients are being shipped back and forth between nursing homes and hospitals in a calculated attempt to raise their cash value.
  15. B vitamins beat dementia

    I know plenty of seniors who would pop pretty much any pill -- risks and costs be damned -- if it meant they'd never have to battle Alzheimer's disease.
  16. The natural way to beat inflammation

    Inflammation has gone from a condition you should worry about to a marketing buzzword used to sell everything from drugs to juice to cereal. Well, at least they got it half right: You should worry about inflammation, and do what you can to bring your own levels down.
  17. The myth of the 'senior moment'

    The "senior moment" -- it's one of the most common stereotypes in movies and on television. But the "senior moment" used so often for cheap laughs isn't nearly as "common" as you've been led to believe. In fact, most seniors barely experience any significant form of cognitive decline over the years.
  18. Deadly warning over common meds

    Pharmaceutical drugs are supposed to help you... not hurt you. Yet every time I turn around, there's ANOTHER report about ANOTHER way these meds can kill you. Here's the latest.
  19. 8 ways to reduce your dementia risk

    There's no surefire way to keep dementia at bay, but there are steps you can take to dramatically slash your risk -- including the following lifestyle changes you can make, starting today.
  20. The 'secret ingredient' in coffee

    I love a good mystery -- and there's one brewing right now in the world of coffee. Now, a new study has found two ingredients in particular that seem to work together to protect you against Alzheimer's disease. One is caffeinate, and the other is...well, that's where the mystery comes in.

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