We’ve known for some time that beta-amyloid protein clumps are associated with Alzheimer’s disease. When these sticky protein clumps form plaques around brain cells, the cells are unable to communicate with other brain cells, and inflammation eventually destroys the surrounded brain cells.
Researchers at Washington University learned that serotonin reduces beta-amyloid production in our brain. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter involved with appetite, sleep, memory and mood. Sufferers of depression have low levels of serotonin in their brains.
The Washington University researchers decided to determine if antidepressants also reduce beta-amyloid production, and slow the progression of Alzheimer’s. Their findings indicate that antidepressants indeed do reduce the production of beta-amyloid production in our brain.
The researchers, however, don’t recommend using antidepressants to prevent Alzheimer’s, since the drugs come with severe side effects.
The question, then, is how do we increase serotonin levels in our brain without drugs? Serotonin supplements are out of the question, since serotonin can’t cross the blood-brain barrier. And this question has been asked before by researcher Simon Young. He addressed this question in his article “How to Increase Serotonin in the Human Brain without Drugs.”
There’s some evidence that self-induced changes in mood from negative to positive thoughts can increase serotonin levels in our brain. This may be easier for some than others.
One method is to use meditation specifically targeted to reduce stress and create a more positive attitude. There’s no guarantee your brain serotonin levels will increase, but your chances are better than not meditating.
Evidence is good bright light, such as sun light, increases brain serotonin levels. People living in northern climates may consider using artificial sun light therapy. Most respond well to bright light therapy with improvement in mood, and serotonin levels.
Exercising skeletal muscles appear to increase serotonin levels, and levels of serotonin’s precursor tryptophan. Exercise also improves mood, which is associated with increased levels of brain serotonin.
L-theanine is an amino acid found in tea. It helps improve serotonin function in our brain by blocking the effects of glucocorticoids. Glucocorticoids block the function of various brain chemicals, including serotonin. And L-theanine is one of the few chemicals that can cross the blood-brain barrier.
Other research found that theanine also is able to reduce the levels of beta-amyloid in our brain.
You can increase your intake of theanine by drinking 3 glasses of tea, especially green tea, a day, or take a theanine supplement, which is readily available.
One possibly way to reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s disease is to reduce the formation and function of beta-amyloid in our brain. Serotonin and L-theanine are two possible candidates to accomplish that job.
We can increase our intake of theanine by drinking more tea or taking a supplement. We can increase our brain serotonin levels by enjoying more sunlight, exercising more and finding ways to improve our mood. A healthy Mediterranean type of diet also decreases our odds of developing Alzheimer’s.
As in most cases, a healthy lifestyle is a major factor in staying healthy.