I've been saying it for 20 years. I even wrote a book about it called Bursting With Energy. The major factor in every chronic disease including the very process of aging itself is decreased energy production. And the amazing thing about this is that there are still only a handful of doctors even checking their patients' energy production.
Now, a team of investigators from McLean Hospital and Harvard Medical School, led by Kai C. Sonntag, MD, PhD, and Bruce M. Cohen, MD, PhD, has found a connection between decreased energy production and the development of late onset Alzheimer's disease (LOAD).
LOAD is the form of Alzheimer's that happens to people over 65 years old. It is by far the most common form of Alzheimer's disease. It affects more than five million seniors in the United States. The other form of Alzheimer's is different. It is called early onset Alzheimer's disease because it happens in men and women younger than 65 years old. Only about 5% of all Alzheimer's cases are early onset.
The authors of the new study state unequivocally, "Our results support the hypothesis that impairment in multiple interacting components of bioenergetics metabolism [energy production] may be a key mechanism underlying and contributing to the risk and pathophysiology of this devastating illness [LOAD]."
This is important because for three decades, it has been thought that the accumulation of small toxic molecules in the brain called amyloid beta, is what causes all forms of Alzheimer's disease. The problem is that the amyloid beta theory only applies to the early onset version. It doesn't explain what is seen in patients with the more common LOAD. But decreased energy production does.
To do the study, Sonntag and Cohen compared the energy production profiles of skin cells from men and women with LOAD to those of healthy patients. The scientists looked at the two main components that produce energy in cells: fat metabolism and a process called oxidative phosphorylation or mitochondrial respiration.
They discovered that the cells from patients with LOAD were significantly different from the cells from healthy men and women in two ways.
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First, the cells from the healthy patients produced their energy predominantly from fat metabolism, and used only sugar (glucose) metabolism sparingly. But the cells from the patients with LOAD were different. They had shifted away from effective fat metabolism to an excessive dependence on sugar metabolism.
And second, the overall mitochondrial metabolism of the cells of the patients with LOAD had become less efficient across the board. You can learn all about this in my book Bursting With Energy.
Sorry for sounding like a broken record, but I demonstrated and published both of these findings 20 years ago using a form of VO2 testing called Bio-Energy Testing. The way it works is this.
First, as your cells burn fat less efficiently for energy, they have to rely more and more on sugar. This leads to insulin insensitivity, which ironically leads to less efficient sugar metabolism. Since brain cells depend on sugar metabolism, the end result is less efficient brain cell function.
Secondly, as their mitochondrial function becomes less efficient, the brain cells are rapidly damaged by the excessive free radicals that follow. And third, another effect of the combination of a shift from fat to sugar metabolism is excessive acid formation. This also makes the brain cells function at a lower level and age prematurely. But here's the thing.
Although decreased energy dynamics are clearly at the root of LOAD, there are also other factors. This is why not everyone with decreased energy production will get LOAD. They might not get LOAD, but they are still much more vulnerable to premature aging and all of the other age-related diseases. So, the point is this.
Get your energy production dynamics tested right now, before anything has gone wrong. As I said, you can read all about it in my book, Bursting With Energy. You can find doctors offering the test at www.bioenergytesting.com.
Ideally, everyone should get the test when they hit 40 years. If it's great, then fine. You are on a good course. Just check it every one to two years to make sure it stays that way. If it's less than great, then the testing results along with other tests can help your doctor decide how to improve it. The better your results are, the more slowly you're aging, and the less likely you are to get cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, LOAD, and every other condition associated with getting older.
Yours for better health,
Frank Shallenberger, MD
Sonntag Kai-C, Ryu Woo-In, et al. Late-onset Alzheimer’s disease is associated with inherent changes in bioenergetics profiles. Scientific Reports, 2017; 7.