Nov
16
2019

Trans Fat Causes Alzheimer’s Disease

The FDA is aware for some time that trans fat causes Alzheimer’s disease. This is why the FDA has outlawed trans fats in 2015. But the industry was given 3 years to phase out trans fats. The FDA also gave special extensions to many companies, which allows these companies to continue adding trans fats into your food until January 2020. CNN reported about a Japanese study that examined the correlation between trans fat levels in the blood and the risk of coming down with Alzheimer’s disease.

Japanese trans fat study

This Japanese study followed 1,628 Japanese community residents (men and women) for about 10 years. Researchers used the typical trans fatty acid, elaidic acid to monitor the accumulation of trans fats in patients. This is possible with a simple blood test, which serves as a marker for industrial trans fats. 377 participants developed dementia (247 Alzheimer’s disease and 102 vascular dementia). Based on the blood elaidic acid levels earlier in the study individuals with higher trans fat levels were more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease as the study progressed. Patients whose trans fat blood levels were in the higher range were 50% to 75% more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease or dementia.

Comment by an Alzheimer’s researcher

Dr. Richard Isaacson, director of the Alzheimer’s Prevention Clinic at Weill Cornell Medicine in New York was not involved in the study. But he commented on the importance of it. He said: “The study used blood marker levels of trans fats, rather than more traditionally used dietary questionnaires, which increases the scientific validity of the results.” He continued: “This study is important as it builds upon prior evidence that dietary intake of trans fats can increase risk of Alzheimer’s dementia.”

Other studies that indicate that trans fats cause Alzheimer’s disease

On June 10, 2019 researchers published a paper that stated that three simple steps would prevent strokes and heart attacks. Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women. In the US about 610,000 people die of heart disease every year, which is about one in every 4 deaths. Here are a few facts. First, there is the simple observation that patients do not control their high blood pressure enough to avoid a heart attack or stroke. Secondly, patients with high blood pressure need to restrict their salt intake, or they will develop heart attacks or strokes. Finally, patients need to avoid exposure to artificial trans fatty acids as this leads to direct damage of the lining of the arteries.

Why avoiding artificial hydrogenated fats is important

Given enough time, this will cause heart attacks and strokes. If patients survive to a ripe old age, they will develop Alzheimer’s disease as well. Apart from controlling blood pressure and restricting salt intake the third factor was to avoid artificial hydrogenated fats.

Hydrogenated fatty acids or trans fats

Hydrogenated fatty acids or trans fats still make their way into the grocery-shopping basket. They are present in baked goods, snacks like chips, creamer and margarines. Think of cakes and cookies, crackers, piecrust, potato chips, corn chips and microwave pop corn. Deep fried food is also full of trans fats (french fries, doughnuts, fried chicken). Trans fats can make their way into frozen pizza crusts, non-dairy coffee cream, canned biscuits and cinnamon rolls. Above all do not buy any form of margarine. Hydrogenated fatty acids affect the arteries directly by increasing the harmful LDL cholesterol and decreasing the protective HDL cholesterol. This accelerates hardening of the arteries, which in turn causes heart attacks, strokes and on the long run Alzheimer’s disease. 

Eliminate trans fats

We need to eliminate trans fats as they are causing heart attacks and Alzheimer’s disease. There is an important difference between ruminant trans fats and artificial trans fats. Ruminant trans fats have been part of the human diet for millennia like milk fat and fat from cows, goats or sheep that are on pasture. Milk products for instance contain fat with 2-5% natural trans fats. 3-9 % of the fat in beef and lamb consists of natural trans fats. Studies have shown that the body is able to handle these natural trans fats, and heart attacks are not more frequent in people eating moderate amounts of these products including butter from cows that graze on pasture.

Artificial trans fats

Quite the opposite is true for artificial trans fats in margarine that comes from vegetable oil. Avoid bakery items like sweet pieces or muffins and other products that contain hydrogenated oils. Read labels! Use olive oil or coconut oil, but avoid vegetable oils like corn oil, safflower oil or grape seed oil to get away from trans fats and unstable oils that turn rancid. Rancid oils contain free radicals that oxidize LDL cholesterol and attack the lining of your arteries through small dense LDL cholesterol. Remember that merchants add artificial trans fats to prolong the shelf life of processed food. Your best defense against trans fats is to not buy processed foods. This is what I do.

Poor diet habits can cause Alzheimer’s

A new study from the Brock University in St. Catharine’s, Ont. showed that poor diet habits can cause Alzheimer’s. A significant risk for Alzheimer’s was a combination of high saturated fats in the diet in combination with too much sugar. Another triggering factor was the normal aging process that also contributed to the development of Alzheimer’s.

Study showing that poor diet habits can cause Alzheimer’s

Master student Bradley Baranowski and PhD student Kirsten Bott conducted the experiments under the supervision of Assistant Professor of Health Sciences Rebecca MacPherson. The experimental group consisted of middle-aged mice that were observed for 13 weeks. They received a high-fat/high-sugar diet. The control group received a normal diet.

The experimental group with the high fat/high sugar diet was aging prematurely. They also showed elevated inflammatory markers, elevated insulin levels and cellular stress. Dr. MacPherson mentioned that the middle-aged mice would be comparable to humans aged 40 to 60. “We’re trying to see what the initiating signals are that can lead to progression of Alzheimer’s disease,” MacPherson said.

Lifestyle choices matter

“People often view Alzheimer’s disease as a genetic disease when in fact, genetic mutations leading to Alzheimer’s accounts for less than five per cent of cases,” Baranowski said in the press release. “This study highlights that our lifestyle choices matter and can potentially put us at risk of developing or progressing neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s.”

Over the years many other researchers have analyzed what factors contribute to developing Alzheimer’s. It probably is a combination of several factors.

Trans Fat Causes Alzheimer’s Disease

Trans Fat Causes Alzheimer’s Disease

Conclusion

Researchers are aware of trans fats causing Alzheimer’s disease, heart attacks and strokes for a long time. They increase the bad LDL cholesterol, decrease the good HDL cholesterol. Rancid oils contain free radicals that oxidize LDL cholesterol and attack the lining of your arteries through small dense LDL cholesterol. The FDA has started to initiate steps in 2015 to make the use of trans fats in the food industry illegal. Completion of this in the US occurs in early 2020. Many countries are more lax in their laws. It is up to the consumer to read food labels and decide not to buy certain products known to contain trans fats like frozen pizza crusts, non-dairy coffee cream, canned biscuits and cinnamon rolls, just to mention a few. Eliminate artificial trans fats from your food and avoid the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.

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About Ray Schilling

Dr. Ray Schilling born in Tübingen, Germany and Graduated from Eberhard-Karls-University Medical School, Tuebingen in 1971. Once Post-doctoral cancer research position holder at the Ontario Cancer Institute in Toronto, is now a member of the American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine (A4M).

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