If you have a particular cholesterol-carrying protein, you may be at risk for Alzheimer's. But a popular nutrient may be able to prevent it.
Researchers at the Buck Institute in California are discovering proteins that seem to be major genetic risk factors for Alzheimer's. One particular protein, called ApoE4, can be found in 25% of the American population. But it's much more common in Alzheimer's sufferers — around 66% of them carry this protein. Scientists aren't yet sure how ApoE4 increases Alzheimer's risk, but there certainly seems to be a connection.
Fortunately, a new study says there seems to be a way to minimize this protein's effects. It turns out, there's a connection between ApoE4 and SirT1, which is an anti-aging protein. The higher your ApoE4 levels, the lower your SirT1. Researchers have found this inverse relationship both in cultured neural cells and brain samples from Alzheimer's patients.
But it seems that SirT1 could help prevent the creation of beta-amyloid, a key risk factor for Alzheimer's that's also associated with ApoE4. When SirT1 levels are lower, your brain processes amyloid precursor protein differently, leading to more beta-amyloid. And we know that this sticky beta-amyloid plaque can lead to Alzheimer's.
Clearly, the link between increased levels of ApoE4 and decreased levels of SirT1 needs to be broken. Since there are currently no known treatments that can cure or slow the progression of Alzheimer's, prevention is critical. Resveratrol, found in red wine and other foods, could be a key player in the battle for prevention, particularly if you're part of the 25% of the population with the ApoE4 gene.
Up until a few weeks ago, finding out whether or not you have this gene was not difficult or expensive. That's because www.23andme.com
has a test that can find this and other genes for just $99. But the FDA stepped in and said they had to get the test approved. I'm not sure why. It's not a test with any side effects or risk and it's very accurate. So the company is in the process of getting their test approved. As a result, for now, you can't get the test. Hopefully, it will be available shortly. In the meantime, whether or not you have this gene, you can protect yourself from Alzheimer's by taking resveratrol.
Resveratrol, as you may know, is an anti-aging nutrient. It supports the immune system and heart and helps to lower blood pressure. It's too early to know how much resveratrol it will take to prevent Alzheimer's, but it may make sense to include it in your supplements. You can't get enough in a glass or two of red wine. You need it in higher concentrations than wine can provide. Of course, drinking a glass or two of red wine can help. But supplements are a must. I don't know if I have this gene or not. I just take plenty of resveratrol. And the supplement I take is Advanced Resveratrol Formula.
Your voice of reason in Women's Health,
Dr. Janet Zand
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Weber, Belinda. Medical News Today, 22 October 2013.