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Alzheimer's and Autism Are more Similar Than What We Think

Updated: Feb 4, 2021

I have been discussing this topic of neuroinflammation and imbalances in the gut many times in autism. New research shows that brain inflammation and gastrointestinal imbalance are also present in Alzheimer's patients (1). The picture is getting clear that regulation of brain inflammation is vital for optimal brain function in children and adults with autism or adults with dementia.

Also, other researchers are comparing Alzheimer's with autism in the biology or imbalances present in the body (2). In fact, research reveals that behavior characteristics in autism are similar in patients with psychiatric symptoms of dementia.

Some of the Similarities are:

*High levels of beta-amyloid protein (4)

*Gut Imbalance

*High Inflammation

*Mitochondrial Dysfunction

*High Oxidative Stress (think about the rust present in a car)

*Language impairment

*Executive functions

*Loss of myelin (protective covering in neurons)

What Can We do?

Without a doubt, nutrition is a crucial area for improvements in brain function. There are limited options like medications to treat autism or Alzheimer's, but there are multiple ways to benefit brain function in autism or Alzheimer's Disease with foods. Some of the options can include:

*Mediterranean Diet: Mediterranean Diet has an anti-inflammatory effect, and it significantly lowers Alzheimer's risk.

*Extra-Virgin Olive Oil and Omega-3 Fats: Amazing brain-boosting fats

*Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, Brussel sprouts, and kale are some of the options to improve detoxification and brain function.

*Nuts like almonds or walnuts

*Exercise thirty minutes per day

*Avoid the News and limit TV. Being addicted to news increases stress, and it will lower brain function. Instead, start reading twenty minutes per day of books that will make you grow. One of my favorites is The Magic of Thinking Big by David Schwartz.

Have a great day!

David Rivas, RPh, MSc, CCN

Pharmacist and Clinical Nutritionist


(1): Megur, A., Baltriukienė, D., Bukelskienė, V., & Burokas, A. (2021). The Microbiota–Gut–Brain Axis and Alzheimer’s Disease: Neuroinflammation Is to Blame?. Nutrients, 13(1), 37.

(2): A Khan, S., A Khan, S., R Narendra, A., Mushtaq, G., A Zahran, S., Khan, S., & A Kamal, M. (2016). Alzheimer’s disease and Autistic Spectrum Disorder: Is there any Association?. CNS & Neurological Disorders-Drug Targets (Formerly Current Drug Targets-CNS & Neurological Disorders), 15(4), 390-402.

(3) Rhodus, E. K., Barber, J., Abner, E. L., Bardach, S. H., Gibson, A., & Jicha, G. A. (2020). Comparison of behaviors characteristic of autism spectrum disorder behaviors and behavioral and psychiatric symptoms of dementia. Aging & Mental Health, 1-9.

(4): Sokol, D. K., Chen, D., Farlow, M. R., Dunn, D. W., Maloney, B., Zimmer, J. A., & Lahiri, D. K. (2006). High levels of Alzheimer beta-amyloid precursor protein (APP) in children with severely autistic behavior and aggression. Journal of Child Neurology, 21(6), 444-449.

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