Last summer, a research group from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) quietly published the results of a new approach in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease. What they found was striking. Although the size of the study was small, every participant demonstrated such marked improvement that almost all were found to be in the normal range on testing for memory and cognition by the study’s end.
The results from UCLA aren’t due to an incredible new drug or medical breakthrough, though. Rather, the researchers used a protocol consisting of a variety of different lifestyle modifications to optimize metabolic parameters – such as inflammation and insulin resistance – that are associated with Alzheimer’s disease.
These are important findings, not only because Alzheimer’s disease is projected to become ever more common as the population ages, but because current treatment options offer minimal improvement at best. Last July, a large clinical trial found little benefit in patients receiving a major new drug called LMTX. And after that, another hopeful drug designed to target amyloid protein, one of the hallmarks of Alzheimer’s disease, failed its first large clinical trial as well. Just two months ago, Merck announced the results of its trial of a drug called verubecestat, which is designed to inhibit formation of amyloid protein. It was found to be no better than placebo.
It’s time to start taking these approaches much more seriously. The prevalence of Alzheimer’s disease is expected to triple over the next three decades, to nearly 14 million in the United States alone. Trying to confront this epidemic with medication alone will raise a new host of problems, from prohibitive cost to adverse effects, without addressing any underlying cause. We know that comprehensive lifestyle modification can work for many chronic diseases, in some cases as well as medication. It deserves more than passing mention at the end of an annual check-up – it’s time to make it a cornerstone in the treatment not only of Alzheimer’s disease, but of all chronic disease.
Late-onset AD (99% of all cases) really can be prevented by implementing specific lifestyle changes and taking certain dietary supplements, which are most effective when combined together into a daily action plan. The critical thing is to take action NOW!