As part of National Dementia Action Week, I wanted to discuss the different types of Alzheimer's disease as outlined by Dr. Dale Bredesen. Throughout his decades of research, he has discovered that the reason it is so difficult to find a one size fits all, magic pill that can cure Alzheimer's is because there are too many different contributors to the disease, and every single person is different.
Here is a breakdown of the different types:
Type 1 Inflammatory
Genetics, nutrient levels and insulin resistance all contribute to the first type of Alzheimer's which is known as the inflammatory type. Those with Apo E 4/4 genetics have a greater disposition to inflammation in the body. If you are lacking in certain key nutrients, or have an over abundance of nutrients that can throw the system out of balance, it can also be a driver for increased inflammation. Inflammation is detrimental to the brain because it is what contributes to the creation of the Amyloid plaques in the brain. The plaques are our body's way of trying to protect our brain from the increased inflammation.
Type 1.5 Glycotoxic
Alzheimer's disease is nicknamed Diabetes of the Brain for a reason. It is currently viewed as the number one contributor to the disease. The Standard America Diet creates Insulin resistance which causes significant inflammation throughout the body and brain and is driven by high blood sugar or high fasting insulin. It is called type 1.5 as it has characteristics of both type 1 and type 2: chronic inflammation (type 1) and reduced trophic support (type 2) occurs due to the insulin resistance and your brain cells being unable to utilize the insulin it needs for growth and nourishment.
Type 2 Atrophic
Do you ever wonder why 3/4 of Alzheimer's sufferers are women? It largely has to do with the lack of trophic factors such as hormones as women age and go through perimenopause and menopause. Poor cognitive performance is caused by suboptimal levels of nutrients, hormones, or trophic factors (cell growth factors like nerve growth factor). You brain has five hundred trillion synaptic connections, and if you are not receiving enough of the right building blocks to maintain those connections, it can lead to increased cognitive disorders.
Type 3 Toxic
A toxin is any external organism or chemical that is unable to be excreted by the body and can build up and be a contributor to disease. Toxins that contribute to cognitive decline include Heavy metals such as mercury, toluene, and copper, mycotoxins such as mold spores, chemicals including herbicides, pesticides and organisms such as those that contribute to Lyme disease. Since we are all exposed to toxins (and some more than others depending of vocation), we all at risk for this type of Alzheimer's, so the key is to minimize exposure, identify the toxins to which we are exposed, and increase excretion of them.
Type 4 Vascular
This type of Alzheimer's is driven by cardiovascular disease. One of the earliest changes identified in Alzheimer’s disease is vascular leakiness. It is caused by a reduction of blood flow to the brain, which ultimately deprives the brain of essential oxygen and nutrients. The brain is an extremely vascularized tissue, meaning it requires large amounts of oxygen. The vascular system is vital to the brain as it is one way the body is able to clear the accumulation of the Amyloid plaques that build up there. The blood-brain barrier is often also damaged which can lead to damaged neurons as harmful substances leak in.
Type 5 Traumatic
Head trauma is the main contributing factor to this type of Alzheimer's disease. Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI) be from a car accident, falls or even repeated concussions sustained during sports. Certain types of TBI’s or repeated TBI's may increase the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease years after the injury takes place, this is called Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy. Those with a history of moderate TBI have a 2.3 times greater risk of developing Alzheimer’s than older adults with no history of a head injury and those with a history of severe TBI had a 4.5 times greater risk.