Nutrition and the Neurodegenerative Diseases. What can you do?

Nutrition and the Neurodegenerative Diseases (NDDs) including Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Huntington’s, MS etc.  What can you do?

What are NeurodegenerativeDiseases??  Neurodegenerative diseases (NDD) are a spectrum of disorders that attack the brain and nervous tissue, interfering with coordinated muscle control and /or the ability to learn, think clearly, or access our memories.  NDDs include a variety of neurological disorders including :

The demyelization disorders (destruction of the myelin sheath that protects the delicate nerve pathways)like Multiple Sclerosis (MS).  Common symptoms include visual and coulometer abnormalities (loss of eye control),  paresthesias (numbness or tingling), weakness, spasticity, urinary dysfunction and mild cognitive impairment.  MS symptoms are exacerbated by viral infections, emotional stress, pregnancy, heat exposure, food allergies (dairy, gluten) and are provoked by environmental contaminants, like mercury or organic solvents.  Although firm statistics are unavailable, it’s estimated that as many as a half-million people currently have MS, with an additional 200 new cases diagnosed every week!

The movement and cerebella disorders like Huntington’s and Parkinson’s diseases.  Parkinson’s disease for example is an idiopathic, slowly progressive, degenerative central nervous system (CNS) disorder, characterized by muscular rigidity, resting tremors, slowed body movement and postural instabilities.  In Parkinson’s, destruction occurs within certain regions of the brain that produce a neurotransmitter called dopamine.  Dopamine helps the brain to control smooth movement of the muscles.  The medicines used to manage Parkinson’s are partially successful at treating symptoms like tremor and rigidity, but they cannot halt the progression of the disease.  In the United States, it is estimated that 60,000 new cases are diagnosed every year, adding to the 1.5 million  Americans who currently have Parkinson’s disease.

The dementias, which includes Alzheimer’s disease.  Dementia is a progressive decline in mental function.  It disrupts memory, behavioral self-control, attention span, language skills and problem solving.  Alzheimer’s Dementia is a disorder that gradually robs people of their ability to remember, think, understand, communicate and control their behavior.  This occurs because their brain tissue slowly degenerates in a very specific way: Fibrous tangles form within brain cells, and  fibrous clumps (called amyloid plaques) form between the neurons, interfering with normal transmission of nerve impulses.  There are now more than five million people in the United States with Alzheimer’s disease.  This number includes 4.9 million people over the age of 65, and up to a half-million people under 65 who experienced an early onset of Alzheimer’s.

The common thread connecting NDDs is the functional breakdown of the cellular structures called mitochondria within brain tissue.  Mitochondria are specialized cellular structures (or organelles), contained within every cell in our body.  Damage to the structure of the mitochondria permits leakage of reactive free radicals, which then cause damage to brain tissue.  The progressive degeneration of nervous tissue that follows this damage then leads to disruption of the brain’s ability to control motion and normal thought processes.

The five drugs currently approved by the FDA to treat dementia all failed to provide “clinically important improvements” for the patients who took them.  It advised providers that: “Clinicians must take into account the adverse effects of these drugs, and balance potential harm against the modest potential benefits.”  How frustrating to discover that medications designed to help neurodegenerative disease have not been found to provide significant benefit.

Neurodegenerative brain disorders can be frustrating for both conventional and alternative practitioners.  A more comprehensive and integrative approach is urgently needed, particularly in light of the disappointing new review of current pharmaceutical management.

One emerging focus for alternative intervention is brain energetics.  Most of these diseases involved mitochondrial disruption.  The studies that correlated damage of the mitochondria with the ensuing damage to brain cells also revealed that those damaged cells had depressed levels of several critical nutrients.  Encouraging results have been found studying patients who supplement with premium quality supplementation of these nutrients. 

Stay tuned to parts 2 and 3 of this topic to see which critical nutrients can play a very important  role in the potential prevention and treatment of NNDs.

Find out about damage at the cellular level and how you can help combat it

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