What are the BIG causes of Alzheimer’s? Is it…genetics? Well… A new study shows it’s mostly caused by lifestyle factors like… Diet Stress Inactivity In this episode we talk about the new study and what you can do to protect your brain as you age.
TRANSCRIPT OF TODAY'S EPISODE
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Dr. Martin, Sr.: Well, hello again. It’s Dr. Martin, Senior, here bringing you a solo podcast today. It’s always a pleasure to be with my son, Dr. Martin, [00:00:30] Junior, but today I’m alone, but hopefully we’ll get through this, technically and every other way.
Dr. Martin, Sr.: I wanted to spend this particular podcast talking about a study that came out. I always find… I read probably, I don’t know, somewhere between 50 or 60 studies a day, and some of them are very interesting or some are a little bit… there can be, let’s just put it this way, less interesting. You know, there’s a lot of things being [00:01:00] studied. But I like to look at things that are pertinent to… especially to what I see in the office… and I’ll just read you the headline of this study. It says poor diet, stress and inactivity converge to form a perfect storm that drives Alzheimer’s disease pathogenesis.
Dr. Martin, Sr.: So poor diets, stress and inactivity are, according to this study, big, big factors [00:01:30] that drive Alzheimer’s. Now, let me just give you a little bit of background… and we talk about this a lot, but it’s always worth repeating… that Alzheimer’s today is huge. I mean, it is incredible. The amount of people that suffer from it; it went from out of nowhere; believe you me, when I tell you this, that in the 1970s I didn’t even know… and coming out of school, I’m sure [00:02:00] there was Alzheimer’s, but if there was, I never heard of it, okay?
Dr. Martin, Sr.: And dementia, it’s not… obviously there was some of that around, but it was so rare that we certainly didn’t study it, talk about it, and it wasn’t really part of my training in the 1970s, but today it is an epidemic. And I don’t say that word lightly, because it is the number [00:02:30] one killer in the U.K., in North America; these are statistics that came out in 2018, that Alzheimer’s had gone from number four, for the fourth most common reason that people die. Heart disease is still number one on the hit parade; heart and stroke kill around 2,100 people a day, and I think it’s 1,600 a day in cancer, and then it falls off to [00:03:00] number three, which surprised me because it went from number four to number three; it surpassed diabetes. So, I think it was somewhere around 300 and something people… I think it was 380 or whatever… every day, every day in North America… well, in United States alone, die of Alzheimer’s. And then fourthly, it’s diabetes.
Dr. Martin, Sr.: Now, just to put that into perspective, the diabetes in the 1950s would be [00:03:30] probably the… you had a better chance of dying from getting hit by lightning than you did of diabetes in the 1950s. That’s how rare it was.
Dr. Martin, Sr.: And so, I love these researchers because they are saying that Alzheimer’s is not genetic, it’s not, “Mummy had Alzheimer’s. That gives me Alzheimer’s, or it makes me more susceptible.” Now, it might make you slightly more susceptible. [00:04:00] I don’t negate the fact that genetics play a part. You know, I give you an example of my family. There was lots of diabetes. My grandfather had diabetes; my brother, my father, diabetic; my sister, diabetic. There’s a lot of diabetes in my family, but of course that doesn’t mean I’m going to get diabetes. It just means I would have more of a susceptibility. And I always like the fact that you can override [00:04:30] your genetics. I mean, there’s a lot of things you can’t do in life. You can’t control everything, but you certainly can supersede your genetics. And, of course, this is lifestyle.
Dr. Martin, Sr.: And these researchers said that the perfect storm of Alzheimer’s had to do with lifestyle things like a poor diet, stress; well, they named three: poor diets, stress and inactivity. And I couldn’t agree more. I 100 [00:05:00] percent degree that Alzheimer’s is a lifestyle disorder, because if it was genetics, why is it going through the roof today? It’s not genetics. Think about it. It’s lifestyle.
Dr. Martin, Sr.: And the world is changed, and you must get tired of hearing me say it, but our diets have changed. Let’s just talk diet for a minute or two here. The number one thing, the number one thing, it’s probably over 50 percent of [00:05:30] all cases of Alzheimer’s is due to insulin resistance. Okay? So insulin, insulin, insulin; insulin is a death hormone. And look, you can’t live without insulin. Your body pancreas makes insulin. Insulin’s got a big job to do, but we put it on overtime, the way we eat; it works the morning, afternoon, and the night shift.
Dr. Martin, Sr.: [00:06:00] We eat too much, we eat too many carbohydrates, we eat far too many seed oils, packaged goods. And the average North American is somewhere in that 200 pound a year sugar. It’s craziness. Our body was never made for that, and the brain especially was not made for that.
Dr. Martin, Sr.: Now, let me just spend [00:06:30] a minute on the brain. Now, we talk about this a fair amount. And if you go back, and I was just looking at some of the podcasts today… if you go back, we’ve talked about autism in the brain, we talked about why red meat is good for your brain, if you look at episode 201. So, we love the brain because if headquarters is not good, let’s face it; nobody wants to outlive their brain. And [00:07:00] this is why it’s one of the greatest fears in society today, is that of Alzheimer’s.
Dr. Martin, Sr.: By the way, this is episode number 207. Can’t believe we’ve been doing these podcasts for such a long time, 207 of them. But I can tell you that we really enjoy it.
Dr. Martin, Sr.: So insulin, insulin, insulin; insulin is a death hormone. It will, at high levels… if you develop insulin resistance, [00:07:30] you will develop inflammation, and inflammation will affect your brain. Now, let me just give you a little bit of physiology. What happens inside the brain when a you are consuming lots of sugars. Okay? So, your brain is headquarters. It loves fuel, okay? And it especially will love sugar because any quick fix [00:08:00] for the brain, the brain will take that as a fuel, and it loves it. Your brain cells… they’re not good for your brain cells… but your brain cells will take the fuel that you’re eating, especially carbs, it will take it immediately.
Dr. Martin, Sr.: That’s not a a real problem as long as your insulin is good, because if you have good insulin, your insulin’s job is to take the sugar and take it out of your blood vessels. [00:08:30] So the blood vessels of your brain, sugar is in there, your brain calls for it; it says, “Hey, you’re eating a chocolate bar. Hey, I like that. Give me that.” Okay? Because it’s like cocaine for your brain; think about it. It’s a quick fix, so your brain loves that. It says, “Okay, I like that. I like the feeling of that.”
Dr. Martin, Sr.: The problem is that sugar can’t stay in your bloodstream, and it’s very dangerous for your blood vessels. Sugar is so toxic. It is so [00:09:00] tightly controlled. The problem is with the hormone insulin, okay? So if you’re eating a lot of sugar, eventually your cells resist insulin. Now, the brain is even more sensitive to insulin, because you have what we call a blood brain barrier. Now, that barrier around your brain is there for your protection. It won’t let garbage in there [00:09:30] unless you have no border guards, okay?
Dr. Martin, Sr.: But one of the things that your blood brain barrier does, it takes insulin, it has receptor’s for insulin, and it allows insulin to come into your brain. You need that in order to take the sugar outside your brain. It gets rid of it. But what if you have what we call insulin resistance? So insulin [00:10:00] resistance, and I can just give you a few symptoms of that in a minute, but insulin resistance is when your cells are saying to insulin, “Get out of here.” So now, for years, you’ve been a carbaholic and you’ve eaten too many sugars. I know, it always surprises me when patients come in still… because I often assume… and a lot of people that have never seen me before are listening to podcasts and they watch videos, and [00:10:30] it seems to me that I’m always preaching against sugar. Okay, so what’s the new smoking? Sugar.
Dr. Martin, Sr.: But when I get patients come in, and they’re brutally honest and they say, “Well, yeah, I have a lot of sugar in my diet, or I drink a Pepsi every day or a Coke every day.” And I say, “Well, you know that’s got 12 teaspoons of sugar in it, right?” Well, they never looked at it like that. I said, “Well,”… then I do tests, and I say, “Well, you’ve got insulin resistance. Your cells are very resistant to [00:11:00] insulin. Now, you need a lot more insulin to do the same job.”
Dr. Martin, Sr.: But let me just tell you what happens in the brain. So if you’re a carbaholic and you’ve been consuming a fair amount of sugar over the years … the average Canadian, like I said… North American… is in that 200 pound range, which is craziness. When we were little kids in the 1950s, it wasn’t that we didn’t have any ice cream or stuff like that, but the sugar wasn’t added to foods like it [00:11:30] is today. So, we were consuming somewhere around 25 pounds of sugar a year. It’s up to 200 pounds. That creates a metabolic disorder, a big time metabolic disorder.
Dr. Martin, Sr.: And what is specific for the brain, and this has a lot to do with Alzheimer’s, is that the receptors… remember what I said. Your brain is so receptive to insulin. It locks into insulin, and the blood brain barrier, [00:12:00] the cells around the blood brain barrier, the receptors there say, “Hey insulin, welcome, we need you. Go get that sugar and get it out of here.” Problem is, once you develop insulin resistance at the blood brain barrier level, unlike the rest of your body, it will not allow insulin to go across anymore.
Dr. Martin, Sr.: And guess what happens? Now, your brain cells are flooded with sugar, [00:12:30] and you’re not even diabetic. You got diabetes of the brain, but you’re not… you haven’t been labeled that diabetes. You haven’t been labeled a diabetic because your insulin, even though you have to secrete two or three times more than you used to, because your cells are so resistant to it, so resistant to it… but insulin will do its job, but in the brain, it can’t cross the blood brain barrier when you have insulin resistance. Now, it gets across a little bit, [00:13:00] but it’s not getting across the way it should.
Dr. Martin, Sr.: So what does that create? It creates sugar that floods your brain cells, and one of the areas in your brain that is most affected by high levels of sugar is your hippocampus, which is… think of the word campus. Think of the word brain memory centre; hippocampus. I like that. They named that thought. You know, they always give it big [00:13:30] stupid Latin names, but that was a good Latin name. I like that; hippocampus. Your brain, right? The part of your brain is your memory centre. Well, I always remembered that because of the campus, right? You went to the university, you were on a campus, right?
Dr. Martin, Sr.: So your brain, your hippocampus is especially affected by insulin resistance. Isn’t that incredible when you think about it? And if you have [00:14:00] insulin resistance, then your brain is in trouble. It’s the area of your body even more than your heart. We’ve talked about this in the past, how diabetics are so susceptible to heart disease. Diabetics are much more susceptible to cancer. Diabetics are much more susceptible to anything that has to do with circulation, including their eyes and their kidneys [00:14:30] and their legs, their limbs. We know these things, but what your brain when you’re, “Oh doc, I’m not a diabetic”; well, your brain is, okay? Your brain is already, and folks, that is the biggest factor in Alzheimer’s. It’s the biggest factor in Alzheimer’s.
Dr. Martin, Sr.: And so… isn’t it? When you think about getting [00:15:00] proactive to lower your insulin, what do you need to do? Cut out the sugars, cut down on the carbohydrates. I’m not saying never any carbs, but I am saying eat a low carb lifestyle, because this will help with insulin, and then eat less. You know how they always talk about eat frequently? Well, don’t do that, because every time you eat, you need insulin. So if you just… [00:15:30] one of the ways, we talk about intermittent fasting; we’ve talked about this on several podcasts. If you’re not quite sure, then go back and look at podcasts. We’ve talked about intermittent fasting, what it does; one of the things that it does, it really helps for your cells to become more insulin receptive, not insulin resistant, okay?
Dr. Martin, Sr.: So as your cells… if you need less insulin to do the same job, that is [00:16:00] insulin receptivity. And the more your cells are sensitive to insulin, the less work, the less inflammation you’re going to create. But it’s particularly important when you look at the brain, because of the blood brain barrier. The blood brain barrier is very, very, very much affected by insulin resistance. So if you know that, this is a good tool. It’ll give you even [00:16:30] more encouragement that you don’t want to be part of that statistic where you see that 300 and something people every day in the United States alone are dying from Alzheimer’s; gone from number four to number three.
Dr. Martin, Sr.: Other factors are stress; I agree with that a million percent; stress cortisol. Now remember, cortisol is an accelerant. Cortisol is… if you have a fire inflammation, [00:17:00] it going to make it a whole lot worse. And this is why cortisol is such a big factor. So, stress in life. Look. Who in this world that we live in today… when I wrote a book on chronic fatigue syndrome, this was years ago… in the 1980s, I said there’s a new phenomenon that was going on, chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia. But one of the things that I had [00:17:30] put into my thesis was that the world had changed. Okay? Because why was chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia hitting women? I mean, it was 90 percent to ten. It was probably 95 to five, women getting chronic fatigue. Well, I said, the world has changed, and my mother had 11 children. I get a headache just thinking about it. How did my mother do it? I mean, honestly, unbelievable. 11 kids. [00:18:00] You had to love babies in our house, because my mum was having a baby every year it seemed, okay?
Dr. Martin, Sr.: But I have such a love for babies. but I grew up around babies. I was number six, and after me, there was five more, and it was just babies, babies, babies, and it was wonderful, I mean, in that sense. But my mother wasn’t stressed; not that they didn’t have stress, of course, but [00:18:30] it’s a different world. I think we’d all agree that the diets have changed and lifestyle has changed. There was no pressure for women to really get into the workforce. Not that women… of course, you think my mom didn’t work? She’d get two bronze medals, right? I mean, talk about a Purple Heart for having 11 kids, when you think of it!
Dr. Martin, Sr.: But the world was not as complicated. [00:19:00] It’s much more complicated today, and this is why even in my practice, I see so much more problems with cortisol and anxiety what stress does. Stress… I love Tony, Jr. for what he came out with, and he just said, “Dad, stress is the accelerant. If you have inflammation, it puts it on steroids. If you have insulin [00:19:30] resistance, cortisol will make that worse.” And cortisol… you don’t sleep properly. One of the side effects of having the high levels of cortisol is that it throws off your circadian rhythm. Your body works in sort of a clockwise fashion, right? And you look at shift work, and you look at one of the biggest epidemics in society today is a lack of sleep, and [00:20:00] no wonder people are not doing well.
Dr. Martin, Sr.: And then your brain with lack of sleep, you even get… cortisol will give you a lack of sleep, and the lack of sleep will give you high levels of cortisol. You’re into a vicious cycle. It’s hard to get out of it. And this is one of the major, major things that we see in our society today.
Dr. Martin, Sr.: I deal… I’m not kidding you… I deal with stress and [00:20:30] high levels of cortisol, adrenal exhaustion. And this is one of the things that I probably see the most in the office, and it’s coming to a theatre near you. I mean, it’s just… it is so common today, and I love the fact that I can test for it. I look for it. I watch for it, and I see it, and how cortisol [00:21:00] affects the thyroid, and it slows the thyroid, because it won’t allow the conversion of T-4 to the T-3 that your thyroid really needs to work properly.
Dr. Martin, Sr.: So there’s a lot of effects on cortisol, what it does to your brain and that brain fog, and when I wrote a book years ago… Tony, Jr. and I wrote a book called Serial Killers… he gets mad at me a little bit because [00:21:30] he said, “Dad, why did you call it that?” Well, I said it was because these two hormones really do want you dead: that is insulin and cortisol.
Dr. Martin, Sr.: And guess what, guys? Insulin and cortisol… insulin is food, cortisol is stress, the perfect storm. So these guys sort of spelled this out in terms of Alzheimer’s, but if you look at heart disease [00:22:00] and you look at cancer and you look at diabetes, again, all of these things are a factor; so, poor diet, stress. The third one they named was inactivity; so, this would be a lack of exercise. You know what I call vitamin E, okay? I know what vitamin E is, guys, but what I call the true vitamin E is vitamin exercise, because I don’t know if there’s anything other than [00:22:30] your diet that you can do that is so good for you, and that is exercise.
Dr. Martin, Sr.: So you… look, again, you just listen to our podcasts, listen to me. The true vitamin E is activity. I just came back before I did this podcast, and I went for a nice long 40… nah, it wasn’t that long… but 40 minute walk. It’s fall here in Northern Ontario, and the colours are just fabulous. I [00:23:00] go out and I just love walking. I do weights, too. I do resistant exercises because this really helps.
Dr. Martin, Sr.: What is resistant exercise? What does it do the most? It helps with insulin resistance. Remember what insulin does? Insulin needs a place to store because it’s a storing hormone. I often use the illustration of the… your liver is like the Costco’s parking lot. [00:23:30] I don’t know about you guys, I don’t know where you’re from, but we have a Costco in Sudbury. I always say to my out of town patients, “When do you want to come to Costco again?” And they go, “Oh good, that’ll be my next appointment.”
Dr. Martin, Sr.: But… because they always love Costco; if you don’t have a Costco in your hometown, you know what I’m talking about. Anyway, the Costco parking lot is always busy here in Sudbury, always, and I always relate that to your liver. Your liver is a parking lot, [00:24:00] and insulin is going to take, especially the carbs, the sugars that it converted from your food… all food is going to be eventually turned into sugars, and it has to be stored. Now, the more carbs you eat and especially the crappy carbohydrates, the more insulin you need, because it’s turning to sugar rapidly and then boom, boom, boom; it has to be stored, has to be put in the parking lot.
Dr. Martin, Sr.: So think of insulin resistance as when [00:24:30] your cells resist insulin. One of the ways is eat less frequently. I talked about you intermittent fasting, but another way is by moving. Moving! They’ve shown this! You can lower your blood sugar level and lower your insulin resistance by moving. Go for a walk, try and walk everyday. I feel sorry for people that can’t move around very much, and [00:25:00] for whatever reason; some people because they’ve got… one of the biggest things that we see in our society today, and this is so detrimental, is people that because they were old injuries, or because they were bigger. One of the biggest side effects of obesity, having to carry extra weight, is it’s almost invariable, you are going to be disabled, almost invariably [00:25:30] with your knees or your hips or both.
Dr. Martin, Sr.: And then you can’t move. I don’t care who you are; you’re going to do very little activity if your knees don’t allow it and/or if your hips don’t allow it. And that’s one of the side effects, and it’s one of the factors in Alzheimer’s because of the lack of movement. So, the true vitamin E is activity. [00:26:00] Move, okay? I got no problem with… you see these puzzles, and you see they’re exercising your brain. I got no problem with that, okay?
Dr. Martin, Sr.: But you know what? I just know this is statistically, that is like… I got no problem with you using your brain. I use my brain every day, okay? You might not think that the way I talk, but I need my brain. [00:26:30] Okay? I just need it. I try and stretch it every day. I’m studying, studying, studying. Okay? I study the Bible, get up in the morning and I have my quiet time and I study God’s word, but then I study. I am always looking at studies, and I’m reading and I need a brain for that.
Dr. Martin, Sr.: But guys, I’m telling you, stretching your brain; there’s nothing wrong with that. I’m telling you it helps. But the biggest factors [00:27:00] is not inactivity of the brain; the biggest factor is inactivity of motion of your body. Stress, number two. And diet, number three. Okay?
Dr. Martin, Sr.: So this study came out: North American incidents of Alzheimer’s is expected to double. It’s already number three in the hit parade. And these researchers who talk about the perfect storm of Alzheimer’s… it’s [00:27:30] expected to double over the coming generations. So, I hope you appreciated the podcast this morning. I thank you very much for listening. We always appreciate your feedback. If you want to go to previous podcasts, of course they’re up there on the website, MartinClinic.com.
Dr. Martin, Sr.: And then if you haven’t joined our Martin Clinic Facebook group… by the way, that group is just growing and growing every day, but I love the feedback. Boy, [00:28:00] we get a lot of interesting questions and we get… a lot of people are engaging others with their conversation in that group, and you’re more than welcome to come and join the Martin Clinic Facebook group. Okay? So, talk to you soon guys. Much appreciate it.
Announcer: You’ve reached the end of another Doctor Is In podcast with your hosts, Dr. Martin, [00:28:30] Junior and Senior. Be sure to catch our next episode, and thanks for listening.