Recent research into Alzheimer’s disease has suggested that drinking specific types of water can help reduce both the risk and severity of the disease. Here we look at this theory, and discuss what else you can do to reduce your risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
The aluminium- build up theory
Research in the past few years has found traces of aluminium inside the brains of Alzheimer’s disease sufferers, causing scientists to query whether a link exists between aluminium exposure and cognitive decline.
Aluminium can build up within the body over time. It is perhaps no coincidence therefore that the aging process is the single most important risk factor for the development of Alzheimer’s disease. Some evidence suggests that the accumulation of aluminium within the brain tissue can be due to exposures to every day items such as deodorant, processed food packaging, vaccinations and construction.
Last year Dr Chris Exley, who has been researching the link between aluminium exposure and Alzheimer’s disease for decades, published his team’s latest findings in this area. In his view, ‘the findings are unequivocal in their confirmation of a role for aluminium in some if not all Alzheimer’s disease’.
The study used a new method of aluminium-selective fluorescence microscopy to assess the aluminium content of the brains of deceased Alzheimer’s sufferers. Approximately 40% of brain tissues examined had an aluminium content considered to be ‘pathologically-concerning’, and 58% had an aluminium content considered to be ‘pathologically-significant’. In fact, 11 out of 12 individuals had at least one tissue with a pathologically-significant aluminium content. These results were not replicated in the brains of non-Alzheimer’s sufferers.
In further support of the findings, it was noted that previous studies have found the aluminium content of brain tissue in late-onset Alzheimer’s disease to be significantly higher than that found in non-sufferers of the same age. Similarly, unusually high levels of aluminium have been found in the brains of individuals diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. Such individuals have typically experienced high exposure to aluminium through their environment or workplace.
It is also true that a link has been found between the high rate of Alzheimer’s disease suffered by those with Down’s Syndrome and the enhanced absorption rate of aluminium across the gastrointestinal tract by individuals with Down’s Syndrome. This potentially explains why those with Down’s Syndrome are at a much greater risk of developing Alzheimer’s and do so at a much younger age than those without Down’s Syndrome. In fact, by the age of 50, over half of those with Down’s Syndrome will have sadly developed dementia.
In view of the weight of evidence linking aluminium and Alzheimer’s disease, Dr Exley reconfirmed his latest findings last month in a report which concluded, ‘Alzheimer’s disease is not an inevitable consequence of aging in the absence of a brain burden of aluminium’. Essentially, no aluminium, no Alzheimer’s.
So how can I reduce my body’s aluminium content?
In 2012, Dr Exley’s team asked 15 Alzheimer’s sufferers and 14 non-Alzheimer’s sufferers to drink 1 litre a day of mineral water rich in silicon (silicic acid/ silica), on the basis that silicon is known to aid the elimination of aluminium from the body. Urine samples were taken weekly to measure any change in aluminium levels. All participants completed a cognitive test at both the start and the end of the 12 week study. These results were published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.
The researchers found that excretion of aluminium increased for the majority of participants, significantly reducing their body levels of aluminium. (Previous studies had shown that mineral water without a silicon content was of no beneficial use in eliminating aluminium in this way). A fifth of the Alzheimer’s disease sufferers showed a significant improvement in their cognition by the end of the study.
Interestingly, other research has suggested that exercise may assist the excretion of aluminium via the process of perspiration (possibly explaining why exercise is so commonly cited as one of the best ways to reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease). This may also explain why women, who generally sweat less than men, are statistically more prone to developing the disease.
Should I be avoiding aluminium exposure?
Whilst Dr Exley’s latest research has provided the most robust evidence to date of the link between aluminium levels found within the brain and the existence of Alzheimer’s disease, the research cannot yet go as far as saying that aluminium exposure causes Alzheimer’s disease. It would certainly therefore be wrong to boycott vaccinations at this stage. However, there are steps you can take to reduce your exposure to aluminium. For example, choose aluminium-free deodorant and reduce packaging by choosing wholefoods which aren’t processed. Antacids have also been found to be high in aluminium content, so it might just be worth putting up with a bit of extra wind in the long run! Alternatively, choose foods which are less likely to cause indigestion in the first place (on which note, see our blog on avoiding sweeteners: www.lpaadvice.co.uk/artificial_sweeteners_causing_alzheimers/).
If a causal relationship between aluminium exposure and the development and/or severity of Alzheimer’s disease is proven, this may have significant implications for a wide range of industries, who will need to take steps to reduce the risk of harmful exposure or face significant fines, with possible liability for compensation to those suffering the illness.
Whilst we at the LPA Advice Company would like to see larger studies involved in such research, perhaps in the meantime put on the running shoes, grab a bottle of Volvic and head on out into our lovely countryside for a brisk walk or run – and embrace the glow!