Early Alzheimers disease
Alzheimer's disease is a complex condition that starts to develop decades before symptoms appear. Early signs include memory problems and difficulties with complex tasks. These signs can be subtle and people often think this is a result of ageing. In the early stages of Alzheimer's disease, certain regions in the brain crucial for memory are affected. This causes the frequency and severity of memory lapses to become more evident than with normal aging.
Our brains communicate through a vast network of billions of nerve cells. These nerve cells connect with each other through connections called 'synapses'. Throughout our lives we lose and regrow these brain connections. In a healthy brain the amount of new synapses generated balances the loss of older ones. In the case of Alzheimer's disease, the rate at which these connections are damaged accelerates so that new ones formed can no longer compensate for those lost. This is when the brain network starts to fail and symptoms such as memory loss appear.
Nutrition and the brain
Nutrients within food are important for keeping the brain tissue healthy. Specific key nutrients are important to help build the brain connections or synapses.
These nutrients are :
- Omega 3 fatty acids
- B Vitamins
Studies have shown that people with early Alzheimer's disease often have low levels of these key nutrients, despite eating a normal diet. Increased intake of these nutrients is necessary because the pathways supporting synapse formation and function depend on them. Research has shown that taking these single nutrients alone or together has not consistently demonstrated benefits in early Alzheimer's disease. In contrast, a multi-nutrient combination, taken daily at the right levels, have shown benefits in clinical trials in early AD. Other benefits that have been reported by patients taking this multi-nutrient combination, are lower levels of apathy, increased energy, alertness and improved mood. This was reported to lead to increasing social interactions, renewed interest in hobbies and restarting activities recently stopped due to the illness.