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  • Kathryn Watson

Could Your Immune System Be the Culprit Behind Alzheimer’s Disease?

If you or someone you know has Alzheimer's you probably look for answers. Why is this happening? Could my immune system be to blame? Is there something I can do?

Researchers Rudy Tanzi and Robert Moir, both of Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital believe the immune system plays a role. If they are right, it could change the way we treat Alzheimer’s Disease.

If you have been researching information about this disease you have probably heard of a protein called beta-amyloid. Thought to be the “bad seed” in Alzheimer’s disease, could actually play a positive role in healing. A new paper published in Science Translation Medicine by the researchers claims that these proteins play a positive role in fighting bacteria and fungus in worms, cells, and mice.

In fact, current drug trials that encourage getting rid of the beta-amyloid protein could cause more harm than good. Stimulating and balancing the immune system could be a better way to go. The problem happens when an immune system goes astray. Immune systems on overdrive (like what happens in autoimmune diseases could create Alzheimer’s disease.

Now, this is interesting. How many people do you know with an autoimmune disease? And according to Jon Hopkins

Autoimmune disease affects 23.5 million Americans, and nearly 80 percent of those are women.

The researchers suggest that some people may be more vulnerable to infection from bacteria such as those that cause Lyme Disease, chlamydia, and herpes. While a younger person may be able to ward off these attacks on their immune system an older person may not.

A New Theory about Alzheimer's Disease

Moir said he came up with this new theory when looking at an immune protein called LL-37 that acts like an amyloid. In moderation, LL-37 is essential for keeping the brain healthy, but an excess of the protein has been linked to ailments from heart disease to rheumatoid arthritis. I found this very interesting since my mother-in-law recently died. She had rheumatoid arthritis and Alzheimer’s disease.

Could stress play a role in this disease also?

There is a definite link between stress and the immune system. Our bodies are hardwired to react to stressful situations. A series of physical responses take place when someone perceives a stressful situation. The eyes dilate, our hearing becomes sharper, blood pressure and heart rate rise, our muscles tense, and the responses of our reproductive and immune systems decrease. Why? Because we fight off the danger our body/mind is perceiving. We do not need the immune system to do that.

But We Are Not Caveman

Now, this was great in the caveman days. We may have to run from or fight off a very real predator like a saber tooth tiger. When the danger was away all of our systems would return back to the normal response. The body/mind is no longer perceived as a threat.

Today’s stressors are different. And they never go away. People often go from one stressful event to the next. Many people in our society today are stressed out and worn out all of the time. The body systems never have a chance to return back to the normal response. Not surprisingly, for many people, the immune system suffers.

Healthy Lifestyle Choices to Boost Your Immune System

Choosing healthy lifestyle factors to reduce stress on both your body and mind could make a difference in Alzheimer’s Disease. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, healthy lifestyle choices such as diet, exercise, adequate sleep, and stress reduction all play a role in reducing your risk for Alzheimer’s Disease.

In conclusion, making a few tweaks in your lifestyle is really not that hard to do. And the benefits may be huge! While the research still has a way to go these gentlemen may have just made a major breakthrough in how we treat Alzheimer’s Disease.

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