Health Prospects


Diet and lifestyle may play a significant role in Alzheimer's disease Reviewed by Emily Henderson, B.Sc. Apr 2 2021 For years, research to pin down the underlying cause of Alzheimer's Disease has been focused on plaque found to be building up in the brain in AD patients. But treatments targeted at breaking down that buildup have been ineffective in restoring cognitive function, suggesting that the buildup may be a side effect of AD and not the cause itself. A new study led by a team of Brigham Young University researchers finds novel cellular-level support for an alternate theory that is growing in strength: Alzheimer's could actually be a result of metabolic dysfunction in the brain. In other words, there is growing evidence that diet and lifestyle are at the heart of Alzheimer's Disease. Alzheimer's Disease is increasingly being referred to as insulin resistance of the brain or Type 3 Diabetes. Our research shows there is likely a lifestyle origin to the disease, at least to some degree." Benjamin Bikman, Senior Study Author and Professor, Physiology and Developmental Biology, Brigham Young University For the new study, published in academic journal Alzheimer's & Dementia, the BYU research team examined RNA sequences in 240 post-mortem Alzheimer's Disease-impacted brains. They were looking specifically at the gene expression of nervous system support cells during two types of metabolism: glucose metabolism, where carbohydrates are broken down to provide energy, and something called ketolytic metabolism. Ketolytic metabolism involves the brain creating energy from ketones, molecules made in our body when the hormone insulin is low and we are burning relatively higher amounts of fat. The popular "Keto Diet" is named after the process since that low-carb, high-protein diet lowers insulin levels and causes the body to burn fat instead of carbs and produce ketones. Fight for Sight funds research to explore gene editing as treatment for inherited retinal diseases The researchers found widespread glucose metabolism impairment in those nervous system support cells of the brains of former Alzheimer's Disease patients, but limited ketolytic metabolism impairment. The finding is significant because the brain is like a hybrid engine, with the ability to get its fuel from glucose or ketones, but in the Alzheimer's brains studied, there appears to be a fundamental genetic deficit in the brain's ability to use glucose. "We've turned the hybrid engine of our brains into a mono-fuel system that just fails to thrive," Bikman said. "And so, the brain, which is progressively becoming deficient in its ability to use glucose, is now crying out for help; it's starving in the midst of plenty. The body is swimming in a sea of glucose, but the brain just can't use it. "The inability to use glucose increases the value of ketones. However, because the average person is eating insulin-spiking foods so frequently, there's never any ketones available to the brain," Bikman added. "I look at these findings as a problem we've created and that we're making worse." Previous research has observed that the brains of people with AD have a quantifiable reduction in the ability to take in and use glucose, but this paper is the first to show it actually happens at the cellular level. It's a significant contribution to the growing paradigm shift in regards to the scientific view of the causes of Alzheimer's. And since ketolytic metabolism seems to keep working fine in people with AD, even when glucose metabolism gives out, the paper concludes that treatments involving ketones may be able to support brain metabolism and slow the cognitive decline associated with the disease.

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Aces Quality Management Loan growth: Quality is as important as quantity Enterprise-grade audit technology can mitigate loan defect risk. According to the latest survey from Cornerstone Advisors, mortgage and auto loans are No. 1 and 2 on credit union executives’ list of lending priorities for 2021, and it’s easy to see why. Auto lending has always formed the core of credit unions’ consumer lending strategy. Even with mortgage interest rates rising from 2020’s historic lows, rates are still low enough to encourage purchase business in 2021. However, when the goal is lending growth, prepare to manage the associated risk of loan defects. Take mortgage lending, for example. Utilizing post-closing quality control data derived from more than 90,000 loan files analyzed by the ACES Quality Management and Control ™ benchmarking system, ACES Quality Management tracks the industry’s critical defect rate by quarter in its Mortgage QC Industry Trends Report , and the numbers don’t lie. When the market shifts from refinances to purchase transactions, which are far more complicated, there is typically, though not always, a corresponding shift in the critical defect rate. The explanation for this is simple: human nature. When tasks grow more complex or the number of tasks to be completed increases, errors are bound to occur. Even the best loan underwriters or teams click using the most sophisticated decisioning technology will inevitably make mistakes. As any seasoned lending executive knows, perfection in loan origination is a moving target, and one that few, if any, will ever hit. The goal should be to implement the appropriate fail-safes and checkpoints into consumer lending operations to catch these errors before they become a financial, regulatory, or reputational issue. Given the demands of the current regulatory environment, technology should form a critical component of lenders’ risk management and quality control strategies. This can ensure lenders are keeping pace with changing regulatory and investor requirements while achieving the speed and efficiency needed to identify threats to loan quality as early as possible. While some audit platforms are channel-specific, ACES Quality Management and Control ™ software is built to leverage credit union systems to improve loan quality and performance across multiple lines of business and throughout the enterprise. Using the platform’s Flexible Audit Technology, credit unions can easily manage and customize ACES to meet their individual business needs or scale the system to match demand without having to rely on internal information technology resources or outside vendors. In addition, ACES Audit Packs ™ combine out-of-the-box quality insight reports and managed questions to address specific loan types, allowing credit unions to dig deep into areas of concern and uncover the root causes of defects to reduce risk and improve loan quality. Maintaining quality and reducing risk are critical to loan growth and fulfilling the ultimate mission of helping members succeed financially. With ACES in place, credit unions can achieve both.