Volumes of current research now clearly demonstrate that Alzheimer’s disease, though influenced to a small degree by genetic predisposition, is largely caused by a confluence of lifestyle indiscretions over the course of one’s early and mid-life years. Prior studies have shown that a diet consisting of hydrogenated fats, processed carbohydrates and sugary treats rapidly accelerate the onset and progression of the disease, especially in those with familial genetic traits. Lack of physical activity, smoking, exposure to environmental and household pollutants as well as nutritional deficiencies all play a role in promoting an early Alzheimer’s diagnosis.
Researchers from the University of California Davis have found another significant factor linking cholesterol ratios and Alzheimer’s disease. Publishing in the Journal of the American Medical Association Neurology, scientists explain how both high levels of HDL cholesterol and low levels of LDL cholesterol are associated with lower accumulations of the amyloid plaque deposition in the brain that is a hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease. The team found that similar cholesterol ratios that lead to coronary artery disease also promote the development of Alzheimer’s amyloid plaques found in virtually all diagnosed cases of the memory-robbing illness.
Imbalanced HDL/LDL cholesterol levels significantly increase amyloid brain plaque deposits
Following up on long-term evidence showing a correlation between raised levels of cholesterol and Alzheimer’s disease incidence, researchers developed a cohort of 74 men and women, aged 70 years or more that included three people with mild dementia, 38 with mild cognitive impairment, and 33 who were cognitively normal. All the participants had fasting blood tests and underwent brain PET scans where amyloid plaques were highlighted using a radioactive tracer that binds to them.
After analyzing participant blood tests and scans, researchers found a direct relationship between reduced levels of HDL cholesterol, increased levels of LDL cholesterol and development of amyloid brain plaque formation. Lead study author, Dr. Bruce Reed noted “Unhealthy patterns of cholesterol could be directly causing the higher levels of amyloid known to contribute to Alzheimer’s, in the same way that such patterns promote heart disease.” The scientists found that people can improve their chances of keeping their brains healthy later in life by not only controlling their blood pressure, but also by controlling their cholesterol ratios.
Dr. Reed concluded that “modifying cholesterol levels in the brain early in life can reduce amyloid deposits late in life… we could potentially make a significant difference in reducing the prevalence of Alzheimer’s.” Supporting studies have stressed the importance of lowering oxidized LDL cholesterol levels by drastically limiting hydrogenated and trans fat foods along with sugary treats and processed carbohydrates to improve cholesterol ratios and heart disease risk. Undoubtedly this same strategy supports optimal brain health and can lower Alzheimer’s disease risk.