Most of the diagnostic tools related to Alzheimer’s are intended to identify those people who are already showing some signs of memory loss. These conventional tests are intended to determine if the individual being diagnosed is on a recognized path towards this illness, so that it can be properly diagnosed. There is now ample proof that our brain cells are changing, over many years, as they move in this direction. In fact, there are several tests and evaluation tools that can identify the very beginning of this process of cellular deterioration, years before any of the cells become diseased. If that is true, then we should be able to use these early warning assessments to build a defensive strategy against the eventual development of dementia and Alzheimer’s.
The following panel of tests is very different than most conventional Alzheimer’s tests because it is intended to identify the “early warning” signs and signals that can indicate that a person might someday be an Alzheimer’s patient. These tests are markers for changes in the body that are “pre-Alzheimer’s” indicators that can then allow the doctor and the patient to take steps to prevent the disease. All of these tests have scientific and medical merit, as well as corresponding preventative treatment protocols that can be followed. Each one is briefly described, along with the basic prevention strategies.
- Homocysteine – Homocysteine is a protein that indicates a low level of vitamin B6, B12 and folic acid. It is often caused by the over consumption of meat, dairy and sugar and contributes to heart disease and other illnesses. Vitamin B6, B12 and folic acid are crucial to the creation of hormones and neurotransmitters, which means a deficiency in these nutrients can contribute to brain related illnesses, such as dementia and Alzheimer’s.
- C-reactive protein – This is a blood marker for inflammation and indicates that the body has already begun the early stage of cellular deterioration. High levels of c-reactive protein are an early warning sign for heart disease, stroke and other brain-related problems.
- GlycoMark test – This is the best test for diabetes because it can indicate the beginning of insulin resistance at the cellular level, as well as the weakening of the pancreas. It can accurately predict these weaknesses five to seven years before other tests, such as the Total Glucose Test or the AIC Test. It is also important as an early warning sign for dementia and Alzheimer’s, since blood sugar levels are now clearly identified with these illnesses. Some doctors are even beginning to call Alzheimer’s, “Type 3 diabetes.”
- Neurotransmitter test – This test can be a saliva or a urine test. The accuracy in either case, is not good enough to be used independently, without other tests. It can provide some indication of the level of key neurotransmitters, such as serotonin, dopamine, GABA and acetylcholine, which has been associated with Alzheimer’s. Any results should be verified by other tests, such as the presence of symptoms related to deficiencies of these key neurotransmitters.
- Heavy metals test – This is a blood test that determines the existing level of heavy metals, such as mercury, lead, arsenic, cadmium, chromium and even aluminum. These heavy metals are serious toxins that create free radical damage in our organs, including the brain. Some doctors also use hair testing to determine levels of heavy metals. Aluminum is particularly important because postmortem tests typically indicate high levels of aluminum in Alzheimer’s patients. There are several effective ways to eliminate these heavy metals, including the consumption of water with high levels of silica and the consumption of sea greens such as chlorella and spirulina. Another good test to determine heavy metal damage to cellular DNA is the 8-OHgD test, which measures the accumulative damage caused by all toxins.
- Acid-Alkaline pH test – This is a somewhat controversial test because many conventional doctors do not feel that it is an accurate measure of good or bad health. Most Functional or Natural Medicine Doctors disagree and use this test frequently. Many illnesses have been traced to high acid levels in the body, which is usually tested in the urine in the morning before drinking or eating anything. The desired level in a urine test should be 7.0 to 7.4 on the 14-point scale. Blood tests are also used, although the blood has a tendency to balance pH as part of the natural homeostasis process. High acid levels are caused by the consumption of meat, dairy, sugar and nearly all fried, processed or fast food. Higher levels of alkalinity are created by the consumption of low sugar vegetables and fruits due to the higher levels of minerals present.
- Oxygen test – Circulating oxygen can be measured by a finger oxygen meter. Oxygen is crucial to the production of energy in the mitochondria when oxygen and glucose are combined. If oxygen levels are low, then the mitochondria do not produce enough energy and cells are not able to do function properly. Finger meters use a 100-point scale and the desired level is from 96 to 100. As the level of oxygen drops, the seriousness of the cellular challenge increases. Circulatory restriction is usually the primary cause of reduced oxygen levels.
- APOE–4 gene test – This is a blood test for a genetic marker, which has been associated with Alzheimer’s for many years. As is the case with many genetic tests, the APOE–4 test is not an absolute predictor for Alzheimer’s. Rather, it recognizes a potential for this illness because it marks the body’s tendency to generate higher than average levels of cholesterol and triglycerides. Many doctors are not using this test due to its lack of accuracy in predicting Alzheimer’s. However, as part of this early panel it could help to determine if Alzheimer’s is a possibility in the future.
- Oligomers Protein test – This blood test measures the level of a specific protein called Oligomer Protein. This protein has been shown to be a precursor, or building block, to the development of amyloid plaque, often found in Alzheimer’s patients. Oligomers protein has a toxic impact on brain cells and is associated with “tau tangles” in the brain, often associated with memory decline. It is not yet clear if this test is accurate, by itself, as an early warning sign for Alzheimer’s.
- The Peanut Butter test – This test was developed by University of Florida researchers, who suspected that reduced smell sensitivity could be an early warning sign of future Alzheimer’s. Using peanut butter, patients were tested by placing peanut butter up to the left and then the right nostril. Those that had been diagnosed with probable Alzheimer’s needed to have the peanut butter 10 centimeters closer with the left nostril than with the right nostril. This test could be part of the early warning test panel to indicate the possibility for Alzheimer’s sometime in the future.
Healthy at Work Alzheimer’s Nutrition Test
(Originally developed by Patrick Holford)
The following early warning assessment tools can be used to determine if a person’s brain is getting the nutrients necessary to create a sustainably health brain.
- The Brain Health Survey – This assessment tool poses twenty questions on nutrition, and other lifestyle factors, in order to produce an overall rating for brain health.
- Brain Food Check – This assessment tool evaluates the five primary food categories necessary for good brain function; including glucose, phospholipids, essential fats, amino acids and specific nutrients (vitamins and minerals). There is a rating system to determine the level of deficiency in each of the five categories.
- Optimum Nutrient Questionnaire – This assessment tool uses symptoms to determine possible deficiencies in seventeen nutrients. A rating scale is used to determine if deficiencies are mild, medium or serious, so that steps can be taken to increase the consumption of foods containing these nutrients and/or the use of nutritional supplements.
UCLA Alzheimer’s Assessment Tools
In the book entitled “Alzheimer’s Prevention Program,” Gary Small and Gigi Vorgan have included several assessment tools for people to use as early warning tests for the development of Alzheimer’s. The tests selected for this article are as follows:
- Subjective Alzheimer’s Memory Test – This tool is a self-assessment using a scale of one to five to determine the seriousness of the memory challenges being experienced. There are five category scores and one overall score provided.
- Physical Fitness Questionnaire – This is a self-assessment tool to measure aerobic levels, strength and balance. There is a score for each category, as well as an overall score.
- Stress Level Assessment Scale – This is a self-assessment tool in three categories, including psychological symptoms, physical symptoms and coping ability. There are scores for each of the categories, as well as an overall score that measures existing stress levels.
Miscellaneous Alzheimer’s Assessments
There are four other components that should be included in this Early Warning Alzheimer’s Panel in order to create a more comprehensive assessment tool.
- Lifestyle factors – These include the use of tobacco,the use of recreational drugs, the over use of prescription medications and the level of alcoholic consumption each day.
- Sleep – This usually implies the regular level of 7-9 hours of sound, uninterrupted sleep each day. REM sleep in the early cycle is important, as it is the retention of dreams and the feeling of being rested and energized upon waking that determines if the brain has been properly balanced and restored during sleep.
- Circulatory health – Tests of circulation efficiency often include a carotid artery MRI, a Doppler ultrasound test or a stress test or blood pressure as well; each of which can indicate the presence of circulatory challenges.
- Commitment to Natural Medicine – This indicates a person’s knowledge of, and commitment to, Holistic or Functional Medicine. Most of the tests in this panel can be addressed using this type of medicine, but only if there is a high level of commitment to use them seriously.
The Early Warning Alzheimer’s Panel—Score Card
Using the foregoing assessment strategies, it is now possible to use the following scorecard to determine someone’s relative risk of Alzheimer’s at some time in the future. Since these are all early warning signals, it is definitely possible to reduce any perceived risk with scientifically proven prevention and reversal strategies.
These twenty factors can be evaluated on the scale provided from level one to level five, depending on actual results in some cases, and on a more subjective basis in other categories, based on the perception of the person taking the assessment. The twenty assessments have not been weighted based on their level of importance or significance. This should be studied by a team of qualified health care practitioners. This How To Protect Your Brain From Alzheimer’s Early Warning Panel is intended to create a relative measurement of risk to be used, with a doctor, to determine the priorities within a personal Alzheimer’s prevention program.
Alzheimer’s Numerical Score
- 20 – 29 Very Low Risk – This indicates the lowest possible risk for dementia or Alzheimer’s in the future. Any item scoring low should be addressed and monitored for improvement.
- 30 – 39 Low to Medium Risk – This indicates a possible concern in some categories that should be addressed ASAP.
- 40 – 50 Medium Risk – This indicates that some serious risk factors may be present and should be addressed as part of an overall prevention strategy with your health care professional.
- 60 – 79 High Risk – This indicates that several risk factors are present and may require additional testing as recommended by a Holistic Neurologist. A comprehensive prevention program
- should be jointly developed and monitored.
- 80 – 100 Very High Risk – This indicates the same approach as the high-risk assessment, only with more urgency.
It is important to remember that this Alzheimer’s Early Warning Panel is not an absolute indicator that Alzheimer’s will develop no matter how high the risk score. It is a valuable tool in determining how to prevent Alzheimer’s, based on the best available research on this topic. There is a complete strategy for achieving optimal prevention status in a new program I have developed. By addressing the risk factors identified in this early warning panel, there is a very high probability that dementia and Alzheimer’s will not be something you will have to face in the future. In fact, by following the guidelines in the new program just mentioned, there is every reason to believe that you will be able to avoid all chronic disease and live a long and healthy life.
Alzheimer’s Early warning prevention protocol
For people who have used the early warning diagnostic tools from Is Alzheimer’s Preventable? By Healthy at Work, and have scores in the low to medium range of early warning risk, there are some excellent guidelines to follow. The following modified nutritional program will likely be sufficient to slow symptom progression and perhaps delay symptoms indefinitely. Here are the basic elements of this modified program.
- The first step is to follow the Mediterranean Diet with emphasis on vegetables being about 40 % of caloric intake. (8-10 helpings per day).
- Eat as many detoxifying foods as possible, such as cabbage, celery, curry, asparagus, garlic, spinach, kelp, spirulina, wheat grass, silica water (Fiji or Volvic) and green tea.
- Use exercise, sauna or a steam bath to remove toxins.
- Use meditation, yoga, music, deep breathing or tai chi to reduce stress.
- Chew your food very thoroughly and eat in a peaceful place with family and/or friends.
- Drink a green powdered drink every day; one with a high ORAC value such as Greens First.
- Use the following nutritional supplements* from a quality company such as Source Naturals, Metagenics, Life Extension or MyGreenVillage.
- Take a multiple vitamin and mineral supplement.
- Use probiotics in the morning about 15 minutes prior to breakfast. Take with an organic yogurt.
- Take a digestive enzyme with each cooked meal or with every meal if you have digestive issues.
- Take a vitamin B complex (100 strength) preferably with the dinner meal. Helps make neurotransmitters.
- Take a sublingual vitamin B 12 1000 mcg, preferably in the morning. Helps provide energy and make neurotransmitters.
- Take vitamin D3 in liquid form throughout the day. From 1000 IU to 10,000 IU depending on blood levels, which should be maintained at 50-90 ng/ml. Antioxidant and genetic protection.
- Take 300 to 500mg of benfothiamine, a special form of vitamin B 1. Improves glucose absorption in the brain. Cognitive improvement of 19% in all patients in one study.
- Take vitamin C in Ester or Liposomal form at 1500-3000 mg/day. Take split doses with each meal for antioxidant protection.
- Take omega 3 oils at 2000-4000 mg (combined DHA and EPA). Take split doses with each meal.
- Take curcumin at 750-2000 mg/day. Take in split doses for amounts over 750 mg. Strong Anti-inflammation nutrient.
- Take 5 to 15 grams of PectaSol-C, modified citrus pectin, to help reduce heavy metal levels and the accumulation of cholesterol in the arteries.
- Take Co-enzyme Q 10 at 200-1000 mg/day, depending on energy levels and other conditions such as heart, kidney or liver issues, which need more Co Q10.
- Take astaxanthin at 4 mg/day in the morning for antioxidant protection.
- Take magnesium glycinate at 400 mg in the morning. Helps with insulin/glucose absorption.
- Take coconut oil or MCT powder at 3-20 grams/day. Easier to take with green drink in a shake. Known to help with Alzheimer's.
- Take Lithium Orotate at 5-20 mg/day as directed by your primary care physician. Prevents damage to the brain from toxins and grows new brain cells to prevent shrinkage.
- Take phosphatidylserine at 200-500 mg to improve communication between neurons.
- Take berberine at 500-100 mg daily to increase energy levels in all cells.
- Take choline at 400-500 mg daily to increase levels of acetylcholine in the brain.
*Dosages depend on your doctor's recommendations and the use of tests such as the IGG test for food sensitivities and the Spectro Cell Test for nutritional supplement needs and sensitivities.
For those who score in the high to very high risk range it is probably advisable to read Dr. Bredesen's book The End of Alzheimer's and find one of the many doctors who have been trained in the Bredesen Protocol. Using this protocol will likely enable most of these people to avoid Alzheimer's for the rest of their life.
This nutritional protocol is based on the program Is Alzheimer's Preventable? by Healthy at Work, November 2017, as well as the clinical trial by Dr. Dale Bredesen reported in AGING, September 2014, Vol.6 No.9. and his book The End of Alzheimer's.
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Charles K Bens, PhD
Charles K. Bens, PhD is an author, speaker and wellness consultant specializing in the prevention and reversal of chronic disease. He is the founder and president of Healthy @ Work, Inc. a wellness education and consulting company focused on improving the health of employees. The company provides workshops on a wide range of health topics. He has written nine books including Healthy at Work: Your Pocket Guide to Good Health, The Healthy Smoker: How To Quit Smoking By Becoming Healthier First and over 200 articles. Dr. Bens lectures all over the world on organizational change and improvement as well as on wellness and health improvement. And was selected by Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation as the Vail Visiting Professor for 2013.
Visit Dr. Bens' terrific website: https://www.drcharlesbens.com/