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A Bug for Alzheimer’s?

In the ever-frenetic race to discover the root cause of one of aging’s most dreaded diseases — Alzheimer’s — a Boston neurologist has found what he believes could be a key. As reported by Aeon, this scientist and his fellow researchers have found that people infected by certain types of bacteria are 10 times more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease. Their work is published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.

While this research is merely a meta-analysis of 25 other studies that indicate an association with infectious agents, their findings are intriguing. What they’re studying are the beta-amyloid plaques associated with Alzheimer’s disease, and their work explores the possibility that the plaques may not be intrinsically abnormal, but instead, may act as a natural antibiotic that protects your brain from infection.

Researchers believe beta-amyloid traps infectious agents in your brain and imprisons them in a beta-amyloid “cage,” where they ultimately die. The theory is that the “cages” left behind form the plaque buildup seen in Alzheimer’s and might ultimately might be a byproduct of your brain’s attempts to fight off infections.

The research is ongoing and certainly not definitive. In the meantime, one way to protect your brain is to optimize your vitamin D levels, as vitamin D deficiency is associated with a substantially increased risk of all-cause dementia and Alzheimer's disease by 125 percent. Vitamin D also has immune-boosting properties that can protect you from infection.

Other research has shown that resveratrol, a compound found in red wine, appears to slow the encroachment of cognitive problems in Alzheimer’s.
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