Trust Your Gut! Doctor Hypothesizes About Both Cause and Prevention of Alzheimer's
Although not a neurologist, Dr. Wes Jones has developed an interesting theory about what causes Alzheimer’s disease. In his book “Cure Constipation Now” (which I was provided to review), the gastroenterologist suggests that aluminum that leaches into the food supply may be a trigger for the development of the disease.
Dr. Jones points to reports in the 1990s indicating that many dialysis patients who were being given aluminum-containing antacids ended up developing Alzheimer’s-like illnesses. “…I was struck by how quickly these antacids seemed to cause this Alzheimer’s-like illness,” he wrote. “Periodically I see dialysis patients, and I have noted how often these patients are constipated.”
“My position is that if you have the right genetic makeup and high brain aluminum levels, you are more likely to develop the illness, whereas if you do not have the right genetic makeup or if you do not have high brain aluminum levels, then perhaps you will not develop Alzheimer’s disease,” Dr. Jones wrote. “It would be interesting to learn whether anyone has looked at brain aluminum levels from people who died seventy-five years ago, when Alzheimer’s disease was rare.”
He hypothesizes that the introduction of aluminum cans to the United States in 1956 may especially be to blame for the increase in the number of Alzheimer’s cases. Jones suggested that the aluminum in these cans may be leeched into carbonated sodas.
So where does constipation fit into this equation? “If aluminum is this second environmental cofactor, then it would stand to reason that anything that may affect aluminum’s absorption by the gut would affect the prevalence of this illness,” Dr. Jones noted. “If there is slow gut transit, with high concentrations of aluminum (or any other metal or mineral) in the diet, Alzheimer’s disease may develop.” He believes that a diet that includes high-quality fiber will cause these minerals to be absorbed less. “We already know that a high-fiber diet undermines the body’s ability to absorb nutrients, so why should it not also work to prevent the absorption of bad minerals?” he reasoned.
Noting that he has seen patients who have only two bowel movements a month (and who feel perfectly fine), the doctor advocates that people aim for 3-5 bowel movements daily. “It’s much harder to get bowels started when they shut down,” Dr. Jones said. “And that food is sitting in you for that period of time and there will be major consequences on down the road. Why do people let stuff decompose inside themselves?”
To achieve this type of bathroom, Dr. Jones recommends embracing a high-fiber diet that is good for the intestinal track. “Most ‘high-fiber’ whole wheat and whole-grain breads and pastas sold in the United States are not a good source of high-quality fiber from the gut’s viewpoint,” he said. “There are a few exceptions, such as Fiber Five bread sold by Great Harvest.”
So what to take out of all of this? I’m not a medical doctor, so I don’t have a take on his hypothesis about aluminum. However, I do believe that since each body is a system, what we eat can (and probably will) influence our health and well-being. Therefore, having a well-running digestive system is critical so that potential toxins move out of the body quickly. Therefore, Dr. Jones’ fiber program is worth checking out as a way to keep the gut “well-tuned” and working for us (instead of against us).