If you have ever had a loved one who suffered from Alzheimer’s, you know what it is like to bear the pain alongside them. In many ways it is much worse than losing someone to an accident or a sudden heart attack. The disease takes years to root itself in the brain, slowly erasing their memories. We are forced to watch them lose themselves piece by piece. It is an agonizing process for the inflicted person and for everyone who loves them. There is little that anyone can do to stop its progression.
But that is about to change. Now there is reason to have hope, where before there was only despair. Researchers at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm have released a revolutionary study that could change the entire way we look at Alzheimer’s disease.
The pain of Alzheimer’s disease
Previous studies have shown that Alzheimer’s patients curiously have lower levels of key omega-3 fatty acids in the cerebrospinal fluid. This association is not entirely understood, but we do know that the concentration of DHA (an omega-3) in the cerebrospinal fluid is directly linked to the degree of change in the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease and in markers of inflammation in the fluid. In the past, reducing inflammation has been proposed as a way to treat Alzheimer’s. Since omega-3s are anti-inflammatory agents, it makes sense to research them as an avenue of treatment.
“Earlier population studies indicated that omega-3s can protect against Alzheimer’s disease, which makes it interesting to study the effects of dietary supplements containing this group of fatty acids in patients who have already developed the disease,” study lead author Dr. Yvonne Freund-Levi said in an institute news release.
The Swedish researchers wanted to learn how far in the nervous system ingested omega-3s would travel. The study took 18 patients with mild Alzheimer’s and gave them a daily omega-3 supplement while 15 patients received a placebo. After 6 months, a cerebrospinal fluid sample was taken from each patient. Patients who received the supplement showed higher levels of both DHA and EPA, a very promising find for the study. But researchers don’t have the whole picture yet. It is likely that much more time is needed to study the link between omega-3s and a possible treatment.
“[The finding] suggests that omega-3 fatty acids in dietary supplements cross the blood-brain barrier,” co-author Jan Palmblad said in the news release. “However, much work remains to be done before we know how these fatty acids can be used in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease to halt memory loss.”
If adding omega-3s has the power to treat and even cure Alzheimer’s, the outcomes could be astonishing. It may be possible to lessen the pain and fear of patients and their families. We would no longer have to watch our loved ones forget us and lose their identities over time. So many hours, days and years of suffering could be alleviated.
Find a cure, save money
Alzheimer’s disease is the 6th leading cause of death in the United States with 450,000 people dying of it each year. There are more than 15 million caretakers which provide 17 billion hours of unpaid care for an estimated cost of $216 billion. In 2013, the treatment of Alzheimer’s patients cost the nation $203 billion, including $142 billion in costs to Medicare and Medicaid. Health care, long-term care and hospice for Alzheimer’s and other dementia patients are estimated to reach a shocking $1.2 trillion by 2050.
We can see why a cure for Alzheimer’s is not only important for the patient’s themselves, but it is essential for our nation if we want to keep these costs down. If we can find a way to prevent or effectively treat Alzheimer’s, this money could be diverted for other uses. A trillion dollars would go a long way in research on cancer or other diseases, or simply to help more people in need of Medicare and Medicaid. There is reason to believe that similar treatments could be used for other forms of dementia as well and perhaps simply to assure that our brains remain healthy and sharp throughout our lives.
The power of omega-3s
The list of super powers of omega-3 fatty acids continues. They protect the heart, make us happy, fight cancer and now there is evidence that they can are good for our brains as well. They even have the potential to save the nation billions, even trillions, of dollars. With this information in hand, it is intrinsic that omega-3s should be part of a balanced, healthy diet. At Pucci Foods, we are committed to providing fresh, sustainable, brain-protecting seafood. oProvide your clients with brain-protecting power today with fresh seafood from Pucci Foods.