The midlife breakdown of myelin, a fatty insulation coating the brain’s internal wiring, may hold the key to the onset of Alzheimer’s disease later in life. Researchers identified the connection by using a new model of human brain aging developed by a UCLA neuroscientist.
The model allows researchers the opportunity to explore how lifestyle changes made in midlife, and other factors, could extend the brain’s peak performance time so that our minds function as long as our bodies. As it is now, MRIs show that the brain’s wiring develops until middle age and then begins to degenerate with the breakdown of myelin.
Myelin, a sheet of lipid, or fat, with very high cholesterol content helps to send messages through the brain. As the brain ages, more myelin is produced, which leads to greater cholesterol levels in the brain. Eventually this can lead to the production of a toxic protein that attacks the myelin, leading to the toxic plaques that are found in Alzheimer’s patient.
The new brain model suggests that the best time to address the myelin breakdown is during middle age, when the process begins, as by the time patients reach their 60s to 80s it may be too late to reverse the course of the disease.
Neurobiology of Aging January, 2004;25(1):49-62
Dr. Mercola’s Comment:
Alzheimer’s, the most common form of dementia, is one of the most costly disorders among the elderly. It is a terrible and devastating disease that causes loss of brain function. About 4.5 million people are affected by Alzheimer’s disease today, and it is estimated that this number will increase to 7.7 million by 2030. These numbers are staggering, especially because it is so difficult to treat.
But, just because you get older, it doesn’t mean you have to lose your mind. Experts from all over are confirming this fact. Some of the best prevention therapies for Alzheimer’s disease include:
Follow the Total Health Program
Eat plenty of good omega-3 fish oil
Avoid most fish and remove mercury
Avoid aluminum, such as in antiperspirants, cookware, etc.
Exercise for three to five hours per week
Correcting abnormal zinc and copper levels