Alzheimer's Disease: Beta-Amyloid Plaques
It has been suggested that the accumulation of plaques could be due to an overload of metal in the brain, specifically aluminum, iron and copper - all of which have been found in excess in the brains of people with Alzheimer's disease.
While aluminum has no known function within the human body, copper is needed for regulation of enzymes, and iron is used in the production of red blood cells. However, in large amounts, these metals produce free radicals which have been shown to cause damage to cells in the body.
Iron that is not used to produce red blood cells goes to the liver first and then to the brain. It can affect neurotransmitters, causing neurological symptoms like confusion, dizziness, mood disorder and ringing in the ears.
It has been found that areas of the body most likely to collect and store aluminum are those with tissues that have slow cellular regeneration like the bones, heart and brain. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, aluminum may interfere with cellular and metabolic activity within the nervous system and other areas of the body.
According to research conducted by Dr. Lawrence Wilson of the Center for Development, brain fog can be caused by a copper imbalance due to its impact on the thyroid gland.
Where are aluminum, iron and copper found?
Aluminum can be found in store-bought baked products, as many are made with aluminized baking powder. Also, many personal care products like shampoo, conditioner and deodorants contain aluminum, as do antacids.
Iron can be found in foods like:
- Red meats
- Egg yolks
- Dark, leafy greens
- Iron-enriched cereals and grains
- Organ meats
- Dried fruits
Because iron has always been touted as a good thing in terms of health, it is also available as a dietary supplement, either alone or in a multi-vitamin. Cooking with cast-iron pots and pans can also be an iron source.
Copper can also be found in multivitamins. Because the daily recommended amount of copper is only two milligrams, we usually get plenty in a healthy, daily diet. Some homes also contain copper pipes which can leach the metal into drinking water.
Here are some tips to avoid metal overload in the brain:
- Don't supplement with iron unless you have been tested and shown to be deficient.
- Choose stainless steel cookware instead of cast iron, aluminum or copper.
- Limit consumption of red meats and high-fat dairy products. Not only are they high in iron, but they are also high in unhealthy saturated fats.
- Even though a rich source of iron, eat plenty of dark, leafy greens. The type of iron they contain is a form that is only absorbed when the body needs it. Dark, leafy greens are also high in folate which has been shown to be good for the brain.
- Because both iron and copper are sometimes added to multi-vitamins, check labels to find a form that does not contain these metals.
- Limit antacid use, and check the labels of store-bought baked items and personal care products for aluminum.
- Invest in a water filter to reduce levels of copper found in some pipes.