When neurons are chronically or traumatically damaged, cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s disease become a real possibility. Studies have pinpointed amyloid plaques, which are found in the brains of those with Alzheimer’s disease, as your body’s physiological response to inflammation or infection. There are six well-known causes of neuron destruction that lead to cognitive decline relating to inflammation. It’s crucial to understand the origins of this disease for treatment, healing, and prevention.
1. Alzheimer’s Induced by Inflammation
Inflammation is your immune system’s natural response to infection and injury. It’s a vital part of protecting your body from harm as well as its healing process. Inflammation prompts the body to resolve the damage, and once that’s finished, your body calms down and returns to its normal state of function. When an individual experiences chronic injury or infection, however, the inflammation becomes persistent. This persistent inflammatory response burdens the immune system, as it overworks the body and causes hormonal imbalances and risk factors associated with neurological illnesses. Because of this, individuals who have diabetes, cardiovascular disease, or who eat a low-nutrient diet have a higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
2. Alzheimer’s Induced by Deficiency
For proper function, the body needs a significant amount of minerals, vitamins, and nutrients. If it does not receive enough of these essential nutrients, processes that are crucial to function either slow down or completely stop. Take, for instance, vitamin D. Vitamin D is the most important player in countless tasks such as calcium absorption, cardiac muscle function, modulation of your hormones and immune system, neuronal function, and more. If an individual has a vitamin D deficiency, his or her body has to choose between tasks, essentially prioritizing functions, leaving some systems vulnerable and open to harm. Studies have linked deficiencies in many nutrients and nutrient-derived chemicals to Alzheimer’s.
3. Alzheimer’s Induced by Deficiency and Inflammation
It’s no surprise that many of my patients have developed cognitive impairment as a result of many factors. An individual who is deficient in crucial nutrients can no longer produce the molecules they need to function optimally or to heal and repair already existing damage. The standard American diet (SAD) is one of the leading causes of this issue. The SAD lacks sufficient micronutrients, so continual consumption of the SAD can trigger inflammatory signaling in the brain and in other important organs. If a body is deficient, it’s also going to experience inflammation.
4. Alzheimer’s by Toxic Exposure
An increase in industrial products leads to an increase in toxic byproducts that can move into our bodies and make homes in our fat and other tissues. Toxins that are linked to neuroinflammation include
- Heavy metals such as mercury, lead, aluminum, and cadmium
- Agricultural pesticides
- Flame retardants on clothing and furniture
- Air pollution from vehicles and industrial environments
An individual’s exposure to fungus, mold, bacterial infections, and viruses are also linked to their risk of developing cognitive impairment.
Toxins that travel through food, air, and water attack our bodies every day through contact with our skin. It is important to be aware of your environment because, at a certain point, the body will be exposed to so many toxins that it will not be able to keep up with the healing process.
5. Alzheimer’s Induced by Cerebrovascular Events
Proper brain function is dependent upon vascular health. In order for oxygen and nutrients to provide neural tissue with the fuel it needs, it has to successfully pass the blood-brain barrier. As a result, cardiovascular disease or any sort of vascular impairment can undoubtedly affect brain function. Cerebrovascular trauma such as a stroke can also cause brain damage. Patients with Alzheimer’s often have amyloid plaques and or cerebrovascular lesions, which points to a possible relationship between the two. When you consider that amyloid production is a protective immune response, this connection makes a lot of sense.
6. Alzheimer’s from Trauma
The relationship between brain trauma and cognitive impairment has gained increasingly more attention over the years due to an increase of NFL players developing neurological symptoms and experiencing cognitive decline after continuous head trauma.
It takes more than a concussion or blunt force for amyloid formation to occur, however. Researchers believe that individuals who have had brain surgery early in life had developed the misshapen proteins found in Alzheimer’s disease almost three decades later.
Clearly, preventing cognitive decline is a complex venture, and an individual must explore each of these individual factors. If an individual wishes to reverse or treat his or her cognitive decline, the person must first pinpoint which risks are applicable to his or her personal experience.
Functional medicine is great for uncovering the underlying cause of illness, which is why it is more effective in reversing cognitive decline than most approaches.
It’s important for a practitioner to pay attention to how each individual is unique; in that way, they can pinpoint the root cause of the disease instead of merely addressing the symptoms.