The Surprising Connection Between Alzheimer’s and Heart Failure – And How to Avoid Both

September 2018
Volume 24    |   Issue 9

Although they seem completely unrelated, Alzheimer’s and heart failure are more interconnected than we thought. This means that someone who begins to show signs of Alzheimer’s needs to make sure they take care of their heart as well. And someone with heart failure could soon show signs of Alzheimer’s. This is double the bad news. Not only can both diseases destroy your life, there’s not a cure for either one. So prevention is vital – and a lot of research shows you how to avoid both.

While a cure for Alzheimer’s disease continues to elude researchers, they haven’t stopped studying it. In the process, they’ve learned a lot about how the entire body works, not just the brain. They’ve found that much of what we know about diabetes can shed light on Alzheimer’s disease. And now, they’re finding that what we know about Alzheimer’s disease could teach us about heart failure. The good news is that this information can help us prevent both problems at once.

If you know much about Alzheimer’s disease, you know that a big cause of it is the buildup of protein plaques in the brain. These sticky plaques gum up our cognitive functioning. Now, researchers are finding that this buildup could be happening beyond the brain.

Johns Hopkins University researchers have been studying heart failure. Unlike a heart attack, an acute event, heart failure is a chronic condition. Over time, the heart weakens. It has trouble filling and pumping blood effectively. Eventually, it just gives out. As you can imagine, people with heart failure become very tired, very quickly.

Currently, the only known cure for heart failure is a heart transplant. Someone diagnosed with heart failure has a 50/50 chance of dying of the disease within five years. So, like with Alzheimer’s disease, prevention is critical. But until recently, doctors weren’t sure what was causing the failure in the first place. And it’s hard to target prevention efforts when you don’t know the source of the problem.

Now the researchers are starting to find answers by studying protein clumps. Like in the brains of Alzheimer’s disease patients, amyloid clumps of proteins seem to accumulate in the hearts of heart failure patients. The researchers aren’t yet sure why this happens. But this finding is still a big breakthrough. Here’s why.

Thanks to all the research that’s been done on Alzheimer’s disease, we know about breaking up protein clumps. In a mouse model, the researchers tried treating the clumps with epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG). This is the chemical found in one of my favorite beverages, green tea. Research has shown that it can help break up amyloid in Alzheimer’s disease patients.

Sure enough, the EGCG cut the mice’s number of protein clumps in half. This is a promising finding, as it suggests that other efforts to reduce Alzheimer’s disease risk could be helpful in fighting heart failure as well.

There does seem to be a genetic component to heart failure. And genes are heavily involved in early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. Still, more and more research is indicating that we can change our gene expression through our lifestyles. Drinking green tea is a great place to start. But there’s a lot more you can do to reduce your risk of both conditions.

Just ask Emma. Her doctor told her she had early onset dementia. She told me this really wasn’t a surprise, as she could not remember very much of anything in any given day – her proverbial keys, people’s names that she knew for years, etc. We put her on the Mediterranean diet with a de-emphasis on grains. She was eating vegetables, fish, poultry once or twice a week, and fresh fruits (mostly berries, apples, and pears). She used MCT oil in her salad dressing. (If you’re starting to take MCT oil please begin slowly. For the first five days, use one teaspoon of MCT oil or two teaspoons of emulsified MCT oil. For the next week, increase to two teaspoons of MCT oil or one tablespoon plus one teaspoon of emulsified MCT oil. For the next week and going forward, increase to one tablespoon of MCT oil or two tablespoons of emulsified MCT oil.)

After only three months of this regime, Emma came to see me again. She was beginning to feel better and felt more comfortable socializing. At this visit, we added Reduloxin (two tablets twice daily) and PectaSol (two daily at night). I next saw her three months later and Emma was a new woman. She had lost 12 pounds and her face was bright and her mood was cheery. She told me she was back to being herself, playing bridge (which she loved and had given up) and going to social and family gatherings. Her neurologist was delighted with her progress. So was her cardiologist, who noticed a marked increase in her heart’s ejection fraction. This is a good indication that she was moving away from heart failure. The changes she made for her brain also helped her heart. This is a surprise.

But it’s one of the main reasons food is your best medicine. We now know the obvious – improving your diet does so much for your health. As you can tell with Emma’s story, one of my favorite dietary approaches is the Mediterranean diet. I like its emphasis on vegetables, legumes, fruits, and fish. It also allows for a moderate intake of alcohol, particularly in the form of red wine. It includes dairy, red meat, and poultry too, but keeps them to a minimum.

Many studies have linked this diet to a reduced risk of a number of health issues, like cardiovascular disease and cancer. And research is also finding that it can lower your risk of Alzheimer’s disease. One study of 2,258 people living in New York found that the better participants followed this diet, the lower their risk was for Alzheimer’s disease.

One reason the Mediterranean diet is so healthy is that it provides plenty of anti-inflammatory nutrients. Inflammation can be a major driver of disease. While it’s an important part of a healthy immune response, too much inflammation is taxing to the body. And if you’re trying to avoid heart failure, you definitely don’t want this vital organ working harder than it needs to be.

Diet is a great place to start to reduce inflammation. But you can supplement your efforts with the comprehensive supplement, Reduloxin. It’s specifically designed for this purpose. It even contains green tea, so you can get the plaque-fighting benefits of EGCG even if you don’t like the taste of the tea.

Another reason the Mediterranean diet is beneficial is that it includes quite a bit of fish. Eating fish increases levels of fatty acids like DHA and EPA in the blood and brain. These fatty acids are also anti-inflammatory and promote healthy brain function. In fact, two studies, one of Illinois residents and one of residents of Rotterdam, The Netherlands, both found that eating fish once a week decreased Alzheimer’s disease risk by 60%.

I recommend eating fish two or more times a week as part of an overall Mediterranean diet. But if you don’t enjoy fish at all or weekly consumption is too much for you, you can still benefit from the anti-inflammatory properties of these fatty acids. Try Complete Daily Oils, which will give you both EPA and DHA along with CoQ10 to support your heart and your energy levels. It supplies the fatty acids you need sans the taste of fish.

Next, the Mediterranean diet provides many antioxidants from fresh fruits and vegetables. Antioxidants are important because free radicals contribute to plaque formation. This is another place supplements can be helpful, as both your brain and your heart need help minimizing their free radical load.

Resveratrol is a particularly powerful antioxidant. While you’ll find it in low doses in foods like berries and grapes and in red wine, you get a lot more bang for your buck in supplements. I like Advanced Resveratrol Formula because it contains six powerful polyphenols, not just resveratrol. Research has found that polyphenols can both prevent and break up protein plaques. So they’re incredibly important to preventing both Alzheimer’s disease and heart failure. I often receive emails telling me that after using Advanced Resveratrol and PectaSol, short term memory has improved.

One final dietary change I’d like you to consider isn’t actually part of the Mediterranean diet. But it can help give your brain the fuel it needs to function properly – even if cognitive decline has already begun.

Research has found that coconut oil helps the brain utilize more ketones. Ketones are also a type of fatty acid that give the brain even more energy than glucose. You may have heard of a ketogenic diet, which is a high-fat diet that’s recently become popular.

I’ve written about the ketogenic diet before, so check the archives online for more information. I do think it is an extraordinary diet for many people, but it’s also harder to stick to than the Mediterranean diet. For some older women, the higher fat content presents an issue if there is a history of a gallbladder issue. So I often tell my patients to follow the Mediterranean guidelines, focus on less grain consumption and incorporate some coconut or MCT oil daily. It’s easy to stir into oatmeal or mix into salad dressing or a smoothie. And it will help power up your brain.

I think we all wish following a Mediterranean diet would magically transport us to a Mediterranean beach. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way. But recreating another aspect of life on the Mediterranean could be beneficial: heat and light.

Recent research has found that exposure to near-infrared light can help break up amyloid beta plaques. This study found that near-infrared lasers could generate photothermal effects and antioxidant activity. Combined, these effects helped the plaques disaggregate and reduced free radicals.

Other research has found that exposure to infrared light, even in small doses, can help cells grow up to 200% faster.

This can be helpful if you need to regenerate brain or heart cells that are being lost to disease.

While this research is still in preliminary stages, you can start taking advantage of these findings by using an infrared sauna. You can order a sauna online to use at home. While these can be pricey, I think the health benefits are worth it in the long run. Having one at home is the most private and convenient option. But you can also join a gym that offers an infrared sauna on site. Many locations are beginning to offer this as a perk. Just make sure you actually go! And if you get a workout in while you’re there, your heart will thank you for that too.

If you really don’t like the idea of a sauna, you can get some of these benefits from sunlight. Much of the light we get from the sun is infrared. Just don’t overdo it – short doses are all you need. You don’t want to increase your risk of skin cancer or premature aging!

Thinking about the many issues and diseases that can plague us as we age can be overwhelming. But discovering that many have similar root causes can actually be reassuring. By targeting issues like protein plaques, we can protect at least two major organs. And who knows what subsequent studies will find? These plaques could be at the root of other issues as well – issues you won’t have to worry about if you’re already taking these protective steps.

I highly recommend healthy lifestyle choices like following the Mediterranean diet and using infrared saunas. But if you’re not ready to completely overhaul your habits, start by looking at your weakest areas and making some simple changes. If you never eat fish, add Complete Daily Oils to your rotation. If you’re paying for a gym membership but hate exercising, try going just for the sauna (then maybe some time on the treadmill won’t seem like such an ordeal – after all, you’re already there!).

If you aren’t big on fruits and vegetables, try Advanced Resveratrol Formula. And if you’re prone to inflammation, give Reduloxin a try. Stir some coconut oil into some oatmeal or put it into your salad dressing and you can probably get some daily. You can order these supplements by calling 800-791-3395.

These changes may seem small, but their benefits add up. The more of them you can make, the more you’ll benefit your organs and your overall health in big ways. And stay posted to learn if breaking up protein plaques turns out to help keep any of your other organs safer. I’ll be sure to report on it here if we have another research breakthrough in this area.

Ashwagandha Lowers Cholesterol and Infectious Disease Risk

LWe all know that it’s possible to have too much of a good thing. Even healthy habits like exercise and eating right can be unhealthy in excess. Now research is showing that you can have too much HDL cholesterol.

You probably know that there’s more than one kind of cholesterol. We typically consider low-density lipoprotein (LDL) to be “bad” cholesterol. You can definitely have too much of this. It will leave you vulnerable to heart disease.

High-density lipoprotein (HDL) is “good” cholesterol. HDL does benefit the body in some ways. But it turns out that having too much HDL may also be dangerous.

Researchers have been studying people who are susceptible to infectious diseases. And they’ve noticed an interesting pattern. It’s true that people with very low HDL are vulnerable.

But, what's surprising is that people on the opposite end of the spectrum, people with very high HDL, seem to be vulnerable as well.

European researchers have been studying people who contract diseases such as gastroenteritis or pneumonia. They were surprised to find the connection to high HDL. Both people with low HDL and people with high HDL have a high risk of both contracting and of dying from an infectious disease.

More specifically, researchers have found that people in the lowest 21% of the population and the highest 8% of the population when it comes to HDL have the highest disease risk.

Compared to a reference group, those with low HDL had a much higher risk of infectious disease: 75%. But the high HDL group was also at a 43% higher risk than the reference group. That’s a big jump in risk for something that’s supposed to be good for you.

HDL plays an important role in the immune system. So it’s not surprising that low HDL leaves you vulnerable. But researchers aren’t yet sure why there’s also a connection between high HDL and high risk. There may be a causal connection. Or it’s possible that an independent genetic factor predisposes people to both high HDL and infectious disease.

Regardless, it’s a good idea to be mindful of your cholesterol levels and not simply assume that higher is always better when it comes to HDL cholesterol. Of course, if you do have very low HDL, you should increase those levels. Too little is still more dangerous than too much.

Fortunately, I’ve got an easy way you can improve your cholesterol numbers and your immune function at the same time: adaptogenic herbs. You may know these herbs for their ability to support your adrenal function and help your body adapt to stress. But that’s not all they can do.

One of my favorite of these herbs, ashwagandha, can improve your overall cholesterol and support your immune system. In particular, it can drastically lower total and LDL cholesterol levels. It can also raise HDL cholesterol levels slightly.

In one study of people with mildly high cholesterol, taking 3 g per day lowered their total cholesterol by 10% and LDL cholesterol by 6%. It also raised their HDL by 4.2%. Another study with healthy participants saw similar results for total and HDL cholesterol. However, their LDL cholesterol went down by 14%!

If your ratio of LDL to HDL cholesterol is bad, this is exactly what you want. And ashwagandha even goes a step further. One of the reasons LDL cholesterol is so dangerous is that free radicals can oxidize LDL inside your arteries. This creates the plaque that leads to heart disease. Ashwagandha supplies antioxidants that prevent this oxidation process by mopping up free radicals.

This antioxidant activity also supports the immune system. With fewer free radicals to deal with, the body can keep inflammation to healthier levels.

And it will be better prepared to fight disease.

Ashwagandha is easy to find online. It has numerous additional benefits, like protecting the liver and improving diabetes symptoms. Plus, it doesn’t have any known side effects. A standard dose is 1–2 tsp of leaf or root powder a day or 600–1200 mg root or leaf extract. These amounts are similar to those used in the studies I mentioned above.

If you’re already taking other medications or herbs to lower your cholesterol, you may want to talk to your doctor about the best dose for you. But I’d much rather you take ashwagandha than a drug like a statin. Natural herbs are a much safer choice.

Adaptogenic herbs like ashwagandha are the solution to vulnerability to infection, protecting your heart, and slowly regulating your lipids. But you do have to take them for a reasonable amount of time.

The research shows you need at least 6 to 12 months to start turning the ship around. So don’t panic if you don’t see a difference right away.

You also shouldn’t panic if you have very high HDL numbers. My own mother is 92, and her total cholesterol is 325 because her HDL is so high. But she hardly ever gets sick. She might catch a cold every couple of years, but that’s it.
So high HDL isn’t a death – or disease – sentence.

If you do have high or low HDL, take steps to support your immune system. That will help you overcome any vulnerability to infectious diseases you may have. And if your LDL is higher, go ahead and work on lowering that and getting your HDL up. You’ll benefit your heart and lower your risk of disease.

Nutrition Detective

Can an Inexpensive Vitamin Really Work as a Pain Killer?

When you’re in pain, your first thought is probably to reach for an over-the-counter medication, like acetaminophen or ibuprofen. While those may provide quick relief, you probably know they can have some longer-lasting side effects. So natural painkillers are a safer way to go. Unfortunately, they often don’t work as quickly as the drugs. But it might surprise you to learn that a vitamin might be just what you’re looking for when pain strikes.

We don’t usually think of vitamins as pain relievers. But a review study published in the journal Neural Plasticity suggests that we may need to adjust our mindset. In this review, researchers analyzed a number of studies that suggest methylcobalamin (MeCbl) can provide analgesic (pain-fighting) effects for a number of conditions.

You may think you’ve never heard of MeCbl. But you’ll probably recognize its more common name: vitamin B12. And the review study found that it’s especially effective for back and neck pain, which the vast majority of adults have suffered from at some point. What’s more, the reviewers found evidence from several studies that MeCbl can help relieve pain associated with diabetic neuropathy, including paresthesia, burning pains, heaviness, and spontaneous pain. In fact, one study found that MeCbl could relieve spontaneous pain by 73%.

It seems that MeCbl has such potent analgesic effects because it promotes nerve health. It can actually encourage injured nerves to regenerate and protect nerves from neurotoxic factors. Because of this, the vitamin also benefits patients with neuralgia, a nerve pain disorder, and even Alzheimer’s disease, to which nerve dysfunction can be a major contributing factor.

If you suffer from chronic muscle or nerve pain, vitamin B12 may be able to help you find relief. You’ll want to take it as a daily supplement rather than on an as-needed basis, but you may be pleasantly surprised by just how much better you feel once it’s part of your regular routine. Sometimes we grow so used to living with aches and pains that we don’t realize how good it can be to get rid of them! Vitamin B12 may very well be a much better fit for you than your usual OTC drug solution.


Q:In your July 2018 newsletter, you mention that antioxidant tart cherries are a “true powerhouse when it comes to fighting AGEs.” Since they are not readily available in my area, can I substitute dried tart cherries? If yes, how many per day? What about tart cherry juice (how many ounces per day)? – Sallye E., via email

Dear Sallye,

Yes, you can substitute dried tart cherries. Ideally you would soak them in water (1/4 cup of cherries to one cup of water). Put them in a jar overnight and allow them to soften. In the morning you have two options:

(1) You can put them in the fridge. Depending on the ecology of your refrigerator, they can last up to two weeks. You can eat six to eight cherries daily. You can put them on salads, use them as a snack between meals, etc. When you finish eating all of the cherries, DON'T throw the water away. The water is filled with micronutrients. Drink it.

(2) Take the soaked cherries and the water combination and put it in a blender. By doing this, you are essentially making your own tart cherry juice. I recommend 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup of the mix daily. Drinking one full cup can be anywhere from 14-25 mg. of sugar. For those of us trying to reduce sugar intake, a full 8 ounces a day might be an issue.

Note: as with all new foods, it’s important to use them consistently and introduce them into your diet in a natural way.

This is more work than some people want to do, which is what makes supplements so great to have around. So feel free to use Advanced Anti-AGEs Formula (800-791-3395) I told you about in that article. It contains tart cherries and other nutrients for slowing the aging process.

Q. I purchased 12 Boxes of CircO2 in early October 2017. For several months, my test readings were optimal. For the past several months, my test reading are low or depleted. I follow the instructions on the box. I take one every morning. Can you give me some idea on how to correct my readings? – Paul S., via email

Dear Paul,

Usually when people begin testing low or depleted and they’re still taking the CircO2, it’s for one of three reasons (or a combination):

(1) The most common reason is that they’re using mouthwash. Mouthwash destroys the effectiveness of the wafers. If you’re using mouth wash daily try to reduce it or consider replacing it with baking soda and water.

(2) They have begun eating fewer vegetables. Vegetables are high in nitric oxide and sometimes people just stop consuming them. When they do, their nitric oxide levels come down.

(3) I’m not sure when you bought the 12 boxes, but if you’ve had them for more than two years, it’s possible they are beyond their expiration date. Check the box. The ingredients in CircO2 are very stable and the product should remain effective well past the marked expiration date. But you might try a fresh supply.

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