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Brain Health Breakthrough


Brain Health Breakthrough

 

The three-pound human brain is comprised of 100 billion neurons with branches that connect to more than 100 trillion connections in the brain. This mind-boggling “neuron forest” is the very foundation of connectivity to our inside and outside world. When things begin to go wrong with this network, the system starts to run slower, access to memory files become sluggish and eventually begin to fail. Just like with the office or home computer, routine maintenance prevents fragmentation of one’s hard drive, decreased CPU speed and protection against corruption of vital files. The term dementia as we know describes memory loss and other intellectual abilities serious enough to interfere with daily life. The predominant subset of dementia is Alzheimer’s disease that accounts for 50 to 80 percent of dementia cases. Smaller dementia subsets include vascular dementia, mixed dementia, dementia with Lewy bodies and frontotemporal dementia. Cognitive Decline A staggering 5.3 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s disease. This epidemic is now ranked as the 6th leading cause of death in the US, together with diabetes as a leading killer. Alzheimer’s disease progressively destroys brain cells, causing memory loss and problems with thinking eroding away the very foundation of one’s social, work and personal life pursuits.

 

The two primary physical changes in structure that are involved are known as plaques and tangles. Plaques build up between nerve cells and are comprised of protein fragments called beta-amyloid plaques. In turn the tangles are twisted fibers called “tau” proteins that arise from dying neurons. Tangles (neurofibrillary tangles) are aggregates of the microtubule-associated protein tau, which has become hyperphosphorylated and accumulates inside the cells themselves. These substances are believed to alter electrical conductivity and communication between neurons. Put simply, the brain is “short-circuited” slowing or at times completely stopped, which prevents the rapid and efficient nerve transmission that allows for “our brain’s connectivity” through the forest of neurons that forms the very genesis of all brain functions and is the repository of memories, thoughts and feelings. The current state of scientific understanding of the pathogenesis and progression of most brain abnormalities points to the need to control inflammation, decrease oxidative damage, minimize the production of amyloid plaques and tau protein tangles, plus decrease exposures to environmental toxins and to accommodate unique genetic susceptibilities. Research has shown that a newly available, bioavailable form of curcumin combined with EGCG from green tea, and an anti-inflammatory diet are strong considerations for brain wellness. Furthermore, Vitamin D and curcumin have documented synergy when it comes to sustaining a healthy brain. Curcumin Curcumin extract from Turmeric (Curcuma longa) has been used for centuries in India and Southeast Asia, where by chance the prevalence of Alzheimer’s disease is a small fraction of what is found in the westernized world. To assert that this is the only contributing factor would overstate the case; however, without question, the scientific literature has documented clearly that this widely used spice possesses potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Yet, the same published literature has pointed out that this amazing botanical holds great promise to preserve or enhance the health of the brain; In a study conducted on mice it was discovered that curcumin’s natural anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties may reduce both oxidative damage and pathological changes in the brain that frequently leads to brain abnormalities. More specifically, curcumin has been shown to reduce the incidence of harmful amyloid-beta protein (Abeta) plaques by slowing deposition of beta-amyloid precursor protein (APP) within the brain, which is hypothesized to play a pivotal role in the progression of Alzheimer’s disease. As the researchers reported in their scientific abstract: “We show for the first time that curcumin potently lowers Abeta levels by attenuating the maturation of APP in the secretory pathway.” The mechanisms described above along with the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of Curcumin extract hold great promise. Green Tea The extract of green tea, EGCG, has been shown to possess neuroprotective properties, according to research on mice bred to have AD-like disease. This protection reaches far beyond antioxidant properties and has been hypothesized to arise also from the modulation of the pathological process of creating beta-amyloid plaques that is enzyme dependent. The creation of Abeta plaques arises from the varying levels of activity of the enzymes alpha-, beta and gamma-secretase. Compounds that enhance alpha- while down regulating beta- and gamma- were shown to have positive effects in the study. The researchers’ findings are promising as their quote reflects: “Compared with untreated mutant PS2 AD mice, treatment with EGCG enhanced memory function and brain alpha-secretase activity but reduced brain beta- and gamma-secretase activities as well as Abeta levels. Moreover, EGCG inhibited the fibrillization of Abeta in vitro with a half maximal inhibitory concentration of 7.5 mg/L. These studies suggest that EGCG may be a beneficial agent in the prevention of development or progression of AD.” It also appears that “EGCG treatment fortified the cellular GSH (reduced glutathione) pool through elevated mRNA expression of gamma-glutamylcysteine ligase (GCL), the rate limiting enzyme in glutathione biosynthesis. It was hypothesized that EGCG may have another potential role in AD patients by augmenting cellular antioxidant defense capacity and attenuating Abeta-mediated oxidative and/or nitrosative cell death.” Vitamin D There remains a need for much more research when it comes to dementia and vitamin D, yet a 2010 review of the literature reported: “Vitamin D deficiency has recently been linked to dementia, particularly AD, through several mechanisms. Current clinical trials are investigating a possible link between low vitamin D levels and low cognitive test scores in AD patients.”  It is not surprising to those of us who follow the emerging research on vitamin D that the “sunshine” vitamin may impact AD genetic factors. In another 2010 research report, great detail was offered as to the role of vitamin D and immune modulation as it relates to AD. Conclusion There are definitive nutritional, diet and lifestyle requirements for helping maintain optimal brain performance. We know that among the risk factors, oxidative damage ranks high, which is self-evident since with each heartbeat some of the 60,000 miles of arteries within the body carry about 20 to 25 percent of your blood to your brain. Inflammation is another very real factor that must be controlled as well as the creation of amyloid plaques.

 

 

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