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.
You can improve your brain function with a reduction of belly fat, and you can reduce your belly fat by replacing saturated fats with unsaturated fats, according to two new studies.
Belly, visceral, fat is associated with increased risks of heart disease, type 2 diabetes and cancer. Now researchers at the Georgia Regents University say that visceral fat also leads to destruction of the communication links between brain cells. And your brain function capability decreases as the connections or synapses between your brain cells decrease.
Apparently, your immune system considers belly fat a chronic invader that must be attacked. A large amount of belly fat keeps inflammation high, and allows the proteins that regulate inflammation to enter your brain. Once in your brain, these immune response protein regulators allow disease destroying cells, microglia, to start destroying the synapses between your brain cells. With less synapses comes less brain function capabilities.
This is why a large amount of belly fat triples your risks of “mild cognitive impairment as well as Alzheimer’s.”
The researchers stress that a reduction in belly fat responds well to aerobic exercise. And exercise is the best strategy for reducing your visceral or abdominal fat.
A second research report states that the type of fat you eat influences that amount of belly fat you develop.
Saturated fat leads to less muscle mass and more belly fat, compared to consumption of unsaturated fats, say researchers at Sweden’s Uppsala University.
The researchers used palm oil as the saturated fat, and sunflower oil as the polyunsaturated fat in their study of 39 men and women. The group of participants eating the saturated fat experienced a substantial increase in liver and abdominal fat, and a reduction in muscle mass. This is in comparison to the group who ate the unsaturated fat.
It appears that saturated fats “turn on” our genes that increase development of visceral or belly fat. And unsaturated fats “turn on” our genes that reduce storage of belly fat and increase sugar metabolism.
New research indicates belly fat decreases our brain function by the destruction of synapses between our brain cells. We can improve our cognitive abilities by reducing the amount of belly fat. This is a result of the reduction in body wide inflammation caused by the visceral fat. And we can reduce our belly fat with aerobic exercise and diet. Replacing saturated fats with unsaturated fats in our diet reduces the amount of belly fat, and increases our metabolism of blood sugar.
Get rid of your belly fat, and increase your brain’s capabilities. And you can get rid of that belly fat with aerobic exercise and unsaturated fats in your diet. So, stop eating all that red meat, butter and palm oil, and start eating more unsaturated plant oils and cold water fatty fish, like salmon, sardines, Herring and tuna.
A new study at Tufts University will determine if eating eggs daily reduces your risks of dementia in old age. Egg lovers will rejoice if an egg a day keeps dementia away. Why eggs?
A study published by the American Society of Nutrition in 2012 found the combination of DHA and lutein supplementation improve cognitive functions in elderly participants of the study. Previous studies found that patients with mild dementia had lower concentrations of lutein in their brains compared to patients without symptoms of dementia.
Based on the results of previous research connecting lutein with mental health, Tufts researchers chose eggs for their study, because eggs have a high concentration of two related antioxidants, lutein and zeaxanthin. Both are found in high concentrations in healthy brains, along with DHA. DHA is the omega-3 fatty acid, which is one of the primary structural components of our human brain.
If eggs prove to improve brain function in the elderly, it will be a relatively cheap source of nutrition to help reduce their risks of dementia.
Eggs and yellow corn have the highest percentage of both lutein and zeaxanthin, but eggs are the best source of both antioxidants together. Yellow corn has a higher percentage of lutein, while orange peppers have a high percentage of zeaxanthin. Both antioxidants can also be found in kiwi fruit, grapes, spinach, zucchini and other squash.
DHA is found in cold water, fatty fish like wild salmon, sardines, herring and tuna.
Eating fatty ocean fish along with eggs and yellow corn on a bed of spinach, and kiwi fruit for dessert, may prevent the onset of dementia, if the new study at Tufts University determines eggs improve cognitive function in the elderly. You can enjoy a relatively inexpensive and delicious meal, and stay mentally healthy throughout your old age.
A new study from Finland reports that elderly people with high serum vitamin E levels are less likely to suffer from memory disorders, according to the ScienceDaily article “Several Forms of Vitamin E Protect Against Memory Disorders.”
What’s interesting about this report is that the entire vitamin E family may be needed to lower your risk of memory loss. You only get the alpha-tocopherol version of vitamin E in supplements. Vitamin E, however, comes in 8 natural forms. The article states: “According to the researchers, the results show that the entire vitamin E family plays a role in memory processes.”
This is another indication that to get the full benefits from vitamins, natural forms from food are best.
What are the best food sources of vitamin E?
Both the National Institutes of Health and The George Mateljan Foundation agree that sunflower seeds, almonds, spinach and peanuts are excellent sources of natural vitamin E. Some additional sources are Swiss chard, avocado, wheat germ, sunflower oil, safflower oil and hazelnuts.
It’s true sunflower and safflower oils are high in natural vitamin E. However, they are also low in natural vitamin K. As I discussed in the post “Vitamin K2 May Be the Best Medicine to Prevent Calcium Buildup in Your Arteries,” vitamin K is important to prevent calcium plague buildup in our bodies.
I wouldn’t be surprised to find out one day that vitamin K is also a necessary nutrient for brain health. Two oils that have healthy amounts of both vitamins E and K are extra virgin olive oil and canola oil. Olive oil is used extensively by healthy populations in the Mediterranean, and canola oil is used by healthy populations in Asia.
A second study shows that vitamin E helps slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease in patients with mild to moderate symptoms. This study, however, used large amounts of vitamin E supplements in concentration impossible to obtain from food. This is the one situation where supplements may be better.
For memory health, however, the entire natural form of the vitamin E family appears to be best. So to maintain your memory health, eat healthy amounts of sunflower seeds, spinach, Swiss chard, almonds and peanuts with extra virgin olive oil or canola oil.
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Former NFL players Tony Dorsett, Joe DeLamielleure, and Leonard Marshall are diagnosed with chronic traumatic encephalopathy, known as CTE.
CTE is a progressive degenerative brain disease found in people with a history of repetitive brain trauma. The type of brain trauma that is common among football players and boxers. According to Boston University, the brain degeneration of this disease is characterized by memory loss, confusion, impaired judgment, impulse control problems, aggression, depression and eventually dementia.
CTE also is associated with an abnormal buildup of a brain cell protein called tau. In particular, various forms of dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease, is associated with an abnormal buildup of a phosphorylated tau protein or p-tau. Clumps of p-tau are known to impair the function of brain axons. Axons make it possible for brain cells to communicate with each other. When our brain cell communication ability is disrupted, various forms of dementia develop.
The three players sought medical help when they noticed memory loss, feelings of depression and suicide, and fogginess of thought.
There is one silver lining to the diagnosis of these three players. Researchers can now observe this disease in living people. Until now, doctors were only able to see the results of this disease after the deaths of athletes. Tracking CTE in living people will help medical researchers develop early diagnosis procedures and possible treatments.
No one is saying that football is the direct cause of CTE. But it’s clear that athletes who experience repeated head trauma, common in football and boxing, have a high risks factor for developing CTE.
It’s becoming increasingly clear that the best way to decrease our risks of developing Alzheimer’s disease is living a healthy lifestyle. New research is indicating that a good night’s sleep is also essential for brain health.
Three years ago, research at Columbia University showed that we can substantially reduce our risks of Alzheimer’s Disease by regularly consuming a Mediterranean-type of diet. This dietary lifestyle includes consuming more fresh vegetables and fruits, nuts, fish and poultry, seeds and healthy oils like extra virgin olive oil or canola oil, and eating less red meats and high fat dairy products.
On top of eating a Mediterranean-style of diet, these researchers also found that we can reduce our risks even further with frequent moderate-intensity exercise.
A new study led by Dr. Maiken Nedergaard of the University of Rochester Medical Center shows that a good night’s sleep is also essential for long-term brain health. Dr. Nedergaard states that “the restorative nature of sleep appears to be the result of the active clearance of the by-products of neural activity that accumulate during wakefulness.”
This new understanding of brain activity is made possible with new imaging technologies allowing observation of the activities of a living brain. In this study, medical researchers were allowed to see how the living brains of mice, remarkably similar to human brains, function.
This study shows that our brain functions differently between awake and sleep states. When we’re awake, our brain must use all its energy for cognitive and muscle control functions. It has little energy to remove biological waste products that our brain cells make, while we do our daily activities. Cleaning our brains of biological waste is an activity that can only be accomplished while we’re sleeping.
Janitorial servicing of our brain is reserved during sleep, because the brain in sleep mode has the energy to clean itself rather than using that energy for wake-state activities. Not only that, but when we’re sleeping, the space between our brain cells increases by 60%. This allows large waste molecules to pass easily back to blood vessels that carry these wastes out of the brain and to our liver for waste disposal. Large waste molecules like beta-amyloid proteins.
Beta-amyloid protein plaques are associated with Alzheimer’s disease. Clumps of these sticky proteins prevent nutrition from reaching our brain cells, which eventually kills them. If enough beta-amyloid clumps form in our brains to kill vital cognitive brain cells, Alzheimer’s disease develops.
The new research is suggesting that these brain-cell killing proteins is typically removed in a healthy brain during a good night’s sleep. However, if we form the habit of not sleeping between 6 to 8 hours on most nights, these harmful protein clumps just keep building up in our brains. Over time, these beta-amyloid clumps kill enough brain cells that prevent us from having healthy cognitive function, which can eventually lead to death.
We may find that a healthy diet with moderate-intensity exercise keeps our circulatory system healthy enough to deliver essential nutrients to our cognitive brain cells for proper functional activities. A healthy circulatory system is also essential to perform necessary janitorial functions in our brain to remove harmful waste products that can lead to diseases like Alzheimer’s. With new research, we now know that a good night’s sleep is necessary to allow our body to remove these harmful waste products from our brain.
So, if you want to substantially reduce your risks of developing Alzheimer’s disease, eat a Mediterranean-type of diet, keep physically active, and get a good quality 6 to 8 hours of sleep every night.
A new study from the University of Washington in Seattle shows that high levels of blood sugar, even for those without diabetes, increases your risk of developing dementia.
The study involved 2,067 people 65 and older over a 7 year period. Of these, 232 participants had diabetes at the start of the study, and the rest did not.
The diabetes free participants with high blood glucose levels had an 18% greater risk of developing dementia than those with lower sugar levels. Participants with diabetes and high blood sugar levels had a 40% greater risk.
The results of the study show a clear link between increased blood sugar levels and a greater risk of developing dementia. Blood sugar control is important for cognitive health for both diabetics and non-diabetics. Every additional amount of sugar in your blood stream increases your risk of developing some form of dementia, including Alzheimer’s.
This and other studies suggest that the best way to improve cognitive health as we age is through moderate exercise, blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol control. There’s no substitute for a healthy lifestyle. There’s no magic pill and may never be such a pill that cures poor health as the result of an unhealthy lifestyle.
In addition to an increase risk of cognitive diseases, high blood glucose levels have also been linked to an increased risk of heart disease and cancer. Our bodies simply are not designed to process the amount of sugar that modern society consumes each day. The message is clear. Either start controlling your blood sugar levels, or run the risk of developing heart disease, cancer and now, dementia.
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Alzheimer’s Disease appears to occur when amyloid proteins form clumps, and attach to and kill brain cells. New research that is published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry shows that EGCG can prevent the amyloid proteins from attaching to your brain cells.
EGCG, epigallocatechin-3-gallate, is an antioxidant and a component of green tea. EGCG can also be found in smaller amounts in apples, blackberries and carob flour. There are studies that show green tea to be beneficial in reducing your risks of high cholesterol, diabetes, stroke and dementia. However, there are an equal number of studies that show no health benefit in drinking green tea.
One problem is that some of these studies may have been poorly controlled. Many of these studies may not include the healthy aspects of lifestyle choices. For example, diets high in fruits, vegetables and fish may have more of an impact on brain and heart health than green tea. Another problem is the “EGCG is not always fully used by the (your) body,” according to Webmd.com.
When many people hear news like this, they immediately go out and buy a supplement. Unfortunately, many vitamins, minerals and antioxidants do not provide health benefits as isolated molecules. They typically need a complex of chemicals that are found in natural foods to provide you with the full range of health benefits. So, if you want to have the full potential of EGCG, it is best to drink green tea, eat more apples (especially Fuji apples) and blackberries.
As a matter of fact,
studies done at Columbia University have shown that Mediterranean type of diets high in vegetables, fruits, fish and extra virgin olive oil with frequent physical activity can reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s disease by 60%. If you are interested in reducing your risks of Alzheimer’s, start eating a Mediterranean type of diet, stay physically active and drink some green tea with a serving of blackberries.
Huffpost Healthy Living:
EGCG, In Green Tea and Red Wine, Could Play Role In Fighting Alzheimer's
The Journal of Biological Chemistry:
Prion protein-mediated toxicity of anyloid-B oligomers requires lipid rafts and the transmembrane LRP
Health Benefits of Green Tea