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Common Nutrient Supplementation May Hold The Answers To Combating Alzheimer’s Disease

Summary:
In a new study, researchers reveal that a lifelong dietary regimen of choline holds the potential to prevent Alzheimer’s disease (AD).

In a new study, Biodesign researchers reveal that a lifelong dietary regimen of choline holds the potential to prevent Alzheimer’s disease (AD).

Choline is a safe and easy-to-administer nutrient that is naturally present in some foods and can be used as a dietary supplement. Lead author Ramon Velazquez and his colleagues at the ASU-Banner Neurodegenerative Disease Research Center (NDRC) looked into whether this nutrient could alleviate the effects of Alzheimer’s.

Earlier this year, Velazquez and colleagues found transgenerational benefits of AD-like symptoms in mice whose mothers were supplemented with choline. The latest work expands this line of research by exploring the effects of choline administered in adulthood rather than in fetal mice.

The study focuses on female mice bred to develop AD-like symptoms. Given the higher prevalence of AD in human females, the study sought to establish the findings in female mice. Results showed that when these mice are given high choline in their diet throughout life, they exhibit improvements in spatial memory, compared with those receiving a normal choline regimen.

Notably, findings published in July 2019 from a group in China found benefits of lifelong choline supplementation in male mice with AD-like symptoms. “Our results nicely replicate findings by this group in females,” Velazquez says.

Intriguingly, the beneficial effects of lifelong choline supplementation reduce the activation of microglia. Microglia are specialized cells that rid the brain of deleterious debris. Although they naturally occur to keep the brain healthy, if they are overactivated, brain inflammation and neuronal death, common symptoms of AD, will occur.

The observed reductions in disease-associated microglia, which are present in various neurodegenerative diseases, offer exciting new avenues of research and suggest ways of treating a broad range of disorders, including traumatic brain injuries, multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s disease.

The findings appear in the current issue of the journal Aging Cell.

Supplementing the brain with additional choline

Choline acts to protect the brain from Alzheimer’s disease in at least two ways, both of which are explored in the new study. First, choline blocks the production of amyloid-beta plaques. Amyloid-beta plaques are the hallmark pathology observed in Alzheimer’s disease.

Secondly, choline supplementation reduces the activation of microglia. Over-activation of microglia causes brain inflammation and can eventually lead to neuronal death, thereby compromising cognitive function. Choline supplementation reduces the activation of microglia, offering further protection from the ravages of AD.

Mechanistically, the reductions in microglia activation are driven by alteration of two key receptors, the alpha7 nicotinic acetylcholine and Sigma-1 receptor. A new report this year found that choline can act as an agonist for Sigma-1 receptors. These results confirm that lifelong choline supplementation can alter the expression of the Sigma-1 receptor, which thereby attenuates microglia activation. (An agonist is a substance that activates a given receptor.)

The devastating decline

In the scientific community, it is well understood that Alzheimer’s disease causes harm to the brain long before clinical symptoms are made evident. And once these symptoms are identified, it is too late — the disease has become irreversible. In addition to causing disorientation and memory loss, the disease causes loss of motor control in those who are afflicted.

Approximately 6 million individuals are living with AD in the U.S. currently, and the disease is projected to afflict 14 million Americans in the next four decades. Economically, the costs associated with managing Alzheimer’s are expected to exceed $20 trillion in the same time span.

To develop more effective treatments, we first need to understand the disease itself, which is one of the tallest orders facing modern medicine today.

Women are at a particular increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. This study shows that the simple addition of choline in the diet throughout life may reduce AD pathology in those most affected by the disease. Additionally, these results have implications for other neurodegenerative afflictions where activated microglia are rampant says Velazquez.

Guidelines for dietary choline

Prior research concerning Alzheimer’s has indicated that there is no one factor at play. Rather, a multitude of factors that are believed to contribute to the development of the disease, including genetics, age and lifestyle. Additionally, studies suggest that diet can have a significant effect in increasing or lowering the risk of cognitive decline.

A recent report suggested that plant-based diets may be determinantal due to the lack of important nutrients, including choline. Another recent report found that the increase in cases of dementia in the United Kingdom may be associated with a lack of recommendations for choline in the diet throughout life. In fact, as of August 2019, AD and other forms of dementia are now the leading cause of death in England and Wales.

The current established adequate intake level of choline for adult women (>19yrs of age) is 425mg/day, and 550mg/day for adult men. A converging line of evidence indicates that even the current recommended daily intake (RDI) may not be optimal for a proper aging process, especially in women. This is relevant, given the higher incidence of AD seen in women. This suggests that additional choline in diet may be beneficial in preventing neuropathological changes associated with the aging brain.

The tolerable upper limit (TUL) of choline unlikely to cause side effects for adult females and males (>19yrs of age) is 3500mg/day, which is 8.24 times higher than the 425mg/day recommendation for females and 6.36 times higher than the 550mg/day recommendation for males. “Our choline supplemented diet regimen was only 4.5 times the RDI, which is well below the TUL and makes this a safe strategy,” Velazquez says.

Choline can be found in various foods. According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), high levels of choline are found in chicken liver (3oz; 247mg), eggs (1 large egg with yolk;147mg), beef grass-fed steak (3oz; 55mg), wheat germ (1oz toast; 51mg), milk (8oz; 38mg), and Brussel sprouts (1/2 cup; 32mg). Additionally, vitamin supplements containing choline, for example choline bitartrate and choline chloride, are widely available at affordable costs. The vitamin supplements containing choline are particularly relevant for those who are on plant-based diets.

Effects of choline

All plant and animal cells require choline to maintain their structural integrity. It has long been recognized that choline is particularly important for brain function.

The human body uses choline to produce acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter responsible for functioning memory, muscle control and mood. Choline also is used to build cell membranes and plays a vital role in regulating gene expression. Additionally, a new report in Jan 2019 found that choline acts as an agonist for Sigma-1 receptors, which are implicated in AD pathogenesis.

In this study, researchers used a water maze to determine whether the mice with AD-like symptoms that received lifelong supplemental choline exhibited improvements in spatial memory. It was found that this was indeed the case, and subsequent examination of mouse tissue extracted from the hippocampus, a brain region known to play a central role in memory formation, confirmed changes in toxic amyloid-beta and reductions in microglia activation, which reduces brain inflammation.

Due to alterations of key microglia receptors induced by choline, the improvements in behavior may be attributed to reduced microglia activation. “We found that lifelong choline supplementation altered the alpha7 nicotinic acetylcholine and Sigma-1 receptor, which may have resulted in the reduction of diseased associated activated microglia,” Velazquez said. These receptors regulate CNS immune response and their dysregulation contributes to AD pathogenesis.

The study’s significance establishes beneficial effects of nutrient supplementation in females throughout life. “Our work nicely complements recent work showing benefits in male AD-mice on a lifelong choline supplementation regimen.” “No one has shown lifelong benefits of choline supplementation in female AD-mice.” “That’s what is novel about our work.”

Choline is an attractive candidate for prevention of AD as it is considered a very safe alternative, compared with many pharmaceuticals. “At 4.5 times the RDI (recommended daily intake), we are well under the tolerable upper limit, making this a safe preventive therapeutic strategy.”

Although the results improve the understanding of the disease, the authors suggest that clinical trials will be necessary to confirm whether choline can be used as a viable treatment in the future.

Source:
Materials provided by Arizona State University. Original written by Richard Harth. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.


Journal Reference:
Ramon Velazquez, Eric Ferreira, Sara Knowles, Chaya Fux, Alexis Rodin, Wendy Winslow, Salvatore Oddo. Lifelong choline supplementation ameliorates Alzheimer’s disease pathology and associated cognitive deficits by attenuating microglia activation. Aging Cell, 2019; DOI: 10.1111/acel.13037

ScienceDaily,         27 September 2019. 

 

The Best Supplements

 

These Are The Supplements Health Experts Actually Use

Rule number one: ignore hype.

Taking supplements you don’t need can be dangerous.

Flick through social media and you’ll come across countless supplements that people swear by — turmeric pills, maca pills, goji berry juice powder, spirulina, kale powder — you name it.

With so many supplements out there which are simply gimmicks, it’s tricky knowing the good ones from the useless ones.

Well, we asked four health experts which supplements they actually use and recommend, and importantly, in what circumstance you truly require them.

According to Alexandra Parker and Anna Debenham, accredited practising dietitians from The Biting Truth, the first and best way to get nutrients is from your food.

“As dietitians who focus on wholefoods for optimal nutrition and wellbeing, vitamins and micronutrient supplementation are not generally our initial recommendation,” Parker told The Huffington Post Australia.
Get your nutrients from whole foods first, then supplement if required.
“Food first, always. Food provides vitamins in the most biologically available form, in the right quantities and combined with other complementary nutrients.”

“We’re big believers that if you’re otherwise healthy, a healthy eating pattern should never be replaced by a supplement. More and more often we’re seeing people who are eating a poor diet, drinking and smoking, and believe everything will be okay if they take a supplement.”

Pharmacist and personal trainer Holly Vogt, The Fit Pharmacist, agrees.

“Vitamin supplements should not be used as a substitute for a balanced diet and if you do take them, make sure you do not exceed your daily requirement. Choosing a good health supplement should be an informed and wise decision,” Vogt said.

Food first, always. Food provides vitamins in the most biologically available form, in the right quantities and combined with other complementary nutrients.

Although supplements may be marketed as ‘magic bullets’, unfortunately they don’t provide equal nutrients to those found in foods, nor do they counteract a poor diet.

“A piece of fresh fruit, for example, contains antioxidants, phytochemicals, fibre and many other nutrients that do not make it into the vitamin jar but play a huge role in our health,” Debenham told HuffPost Australia.

“Saying that, there is a time and a place for supplements and there’s good evidence to suggest that if a vitamin or mineral supplement replaces a deficiency, it will have beneficial outcomes. But aside from a few specific groups of people and situations, most people who eat a balanced diet have no need for supplementation.”

Who needs supplementation?

The main instances and stages of life where people may need to genuinely supplement is when food alone is simply not enough to meet an individual’s nutrient needs, and supplementation becomes integral to that person’s wellbeing. Some examples include:

  • Those trying to conceive and pregnant women (one month prior to conception and three months after) — folate has been shown to reduce risk of neural tube defects.
  • People on a strict vegan or vegetarian diet, and elderly people who may be eating poorly and/or absorbing less from their food — iron, and vitamin B12 as this is found almost exclusively in animal products.
  • People with an allergy or intolerance such as lactose intolerance — calcium
  • Autoimmune disease e.g. Crohn’s disease, cystic fibrosis or coeliac disease — supplementation may be required at some stage to correct any nutrient deficiencies.
  • People who did not receive enough sunlight (e.g. bed bound, elderly, covered/veiled women and men) — vitamin D
  • Following a course of antibiotics — probiotics may be beneficial in restoring gut health after a round of antibiotic treatment.
  • People with specific hormonal imbalances such as PCOS.
  • – Parker and Debenham.

“It is important to note that we all have specific nutritional requirements and health concerns at different stages of life, and it is ideal to choose supplements that target those specific needs,” Vogt said.

So, how do you tell when you need to supplement?

“If you are fatigued, training hard, have a restricted diet or limited food options available, say, when you are travelling, this is a good time for supps,” celebrity trainer Tegan Haining said.

“When it comes to supplements, it’s often difficult to decipher which protein powder, omega 3 oil or multivitamin to trust. It’s very important to understand that supplements should not be a free-for-all,” Parker explained.

These Are The Supplements Health Experts Actually Recommend

“It’s best to avoid going to the supermarket or searching online when you don’t know what you’re looking for or if you’re self-diagnosing.

“Blood tests can be useful, however are not always necessary. We highly recommend speaking to your doctor or accredited practising dietitian to determine your need for supplementation.”

On top of this, not all supplements are required to be taken long term and dosages will vary depending on your specific needs.

“Some supplements have adverse effects, like toxicity or interference with nutrient absorption when taken in excess. For example, vitamin A, B or zinc,” Parker said.

A few key things to consider when purchasing supplements:

  • Start out with the low dosage recommendation first and increase as required.
  • Look for supplements without added fillers, colours or unnecessary ingredients.
  • Think of supplementation as an investment to your health and always choose quality. Try not to choose a product for its logo, price or marketing.
  • Ensure you continue to eat real food.

– Parker and Debenham.

Here are five supplements health experts actually use.

1. Fish oil

“One of the key nutrients many of us don’t get enough of is long chain omega 3 fats (which are found naturally in oily fish, for example, salmon),” Debenham told HuffPost Australia.
“There is solid evidence to show that omega 3 fatty acids are necessary for a healthy heart and brain, and play a role in reducing inflammation throughout the body.”

Fish oil is rich in omega 3 fatty acids which include eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).

“We cannot produce these in our bodies so it is essential that we receive them through our diet or supplementation,” Vogt said. “Ensure that you choose a supplement with a high concentration of EPA and DHA, and one that has purity and sustainability certifications.”
“I also like cod liver oil tablets, which are high in Vitamin D and A,” Haining added.

Flaxseeds, flaxseed oil, walnuts and chia seeds are other good sources of omega 3s.

2. Probiotics
Probiotics are ‘good’ bacteria that line our digestive tracts and support our body’s ability to absorb nutrients and fight infection.

“I always take a probiotic to ensure my gut health,” Haining said.
“There is mounting scientific evidence to show that the health of our gut directly affects our immune system. Taking a daily probiotic can be a simple way to help keep your gut healthy and your immune system strong,” Parker said.

“Whether you take it as a capsule, drink or powder, the choice is yours. If you’ve taken a course of antibiotics, supplementing with probiotics will also be beneficial to your gut.”

It’s important to note that there are different types of strains of probiotics, Vogt explained.

“Certain strains of probiotics support immunity, others digestion, and some even help to regulate weight and balance hormones,” Vogt said.

Kombucha, yoghurt, kefir, sauerkraut, miso and tempeh all contain probiotics.

3. Vitamin D
Vitamin D is important for strong bones, muscular and overall health.

“Vitamin D is a fat soluble nutrient and is one of the 24 micronutrients essential for human survival. Due to the increasing rates of vitamin D deficiency and the implications, supplementation is encouraged if optimal levels are not present in the body,” Vogt said.

“Most of us probably get enough vitamin D from the sun during the summer months (you only need about 15-20 mins of exposure). However, during winter, if you tend to spend a lot of time indoors, some of us may benefit from a vitamin D supplement,” Parker added.

4. Magnesium
Magnesium is an important nutrient which plays a role in hundreds of enzymatic bodily reactions, including metabolising food, synthesis of fatty acids and proteins, and transmission of nerve impulses.

“Magnesium is also great to take in the evening for a better night’s sleep and managing stress levels,” Haining said.

5. Protein
While most people can obtain adequate protein through their diet (it’s found in both plant-based foods and meat), select population groups can benefit from protein supplementation — namely athletes or those who have an intense training regime.

“When it comes to muscle gain and fat loss, protein is the king of nutrients. Protein has been proven to help weight loss by boosting metabolism and reducing hunger and appetite,” Vogt said.

“Whey protein is ideal, however if you have issues with lactose intolerance, then plant-based proteins are still highly effective.”

 

By Juliette Steen          10/01/2017
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Mushrooms May Reduce Risk of Cognitive Decline in Older Adults

Older adults who consume more than two servings of mushrooms each week may reduce their risk of mild cognitive impairment (MCI) by 50 percent, according to a new 6-year study conducted by researchers from Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine at the National University of Singapore (NUS).

“This correlation is surprising and encouraging. It seems that a commonly available single ingredient could have a dramatic effect on cognitive decline,” said Assistant Professor Lei Feng, who is from the NUS department of psychological medicine, and the lead author of this work.

The study used six types of mushrooms commonly consumed in Singapore: golden, oyster, shiitake and white button mushrooms, as well as dried and canned mushrooms. However, researchers believe it is likely that other mushrooms would also have beneficial effects.

A serving was defined as three quarters of a cup of cooked mushrooms with an average weight of around 150 grams. Two servings would be equivalent to about half a plate. While the portion sizes act as a guideline, the study found that even one small serving of mushrooms a week may still help reduce chances of MCI.

MCI falls between the typical cognitive decline seen in normal aging and the more serious decline of dementia. Older adults with MCI often exhibit some form of memory loss or forgetfulness and may also show declines in other types of cognitive function such as language, attention and visuospatial abilities.

These changes can be subtle, as they do not reflect the disabling cognitive deficits that can impact everyday life activities, which are characteristic of Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia.
The research, which was conducted from 2011 to 2017, collected data from more than 600 Chinese seniors over the age of 60 living in Singapore. The findings are published online in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.

“People with MCI are still able to carry out their normal daily activities. So, what we had to determine in this study is whether these seniors had poorer performance on standard neuropsychologist tests than other people of the same age and education background,” Feng said.

mushrooms

As such, the researchers conducted extensive interviews which took into account demographic information, medical history, psychological factors, and dietary habits. A nurse measured blood pressure, weight, height, hand grip, and walking speed. The participants also completed a simple screen test on cognition, depression and anxiety.

Finally, a two-hour standard neuropsychological evaluation was performed, along with a dementia rating. The overall results of these tests were discussed in depth with psychiatrists to come to a diagnostic consensus.

The researchers believe the reason for the reduced prevalence of MCI in mushroom eaters may come down to a specific compound found in almost all varieties. “We’re very interested in a compound called ergothioneine (ET),” said Dr. Irwin Cheah, Senior Research Fellow at the NUS Department of Biochemistry.

“ET is a unique antioxidant and anti-inflammatory which humans are unable to synthesize on their own. But it can be obtained from dietary sources, one of the main ones being mushrooms.”

A previous study by the team on elderly Singaporeans revealed that plasma levels of ET in participants with MCI were significantly lower than age-matched healthy individuals. The findings led to the belief that an ET deficiency may be a risk factor for neurodegeneration, and increasing ET intake through mushroom consumption might possibly promote cognitive health.

The next step is to conduct a randomized controlled trial with the pure compound of ET and other plant-based ingredients, such as L-theanine and catechins from tea leaves, to determine the potential of such phytonutrients in delaying cognitive decline.

By Traci Pedersen    Associate News Editor
13 Mar 2019

Source: National University of Singapore


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Blueberries May Help Reduce Your Risk Of Alzheimer’s Disease: It’s All About The Anthocyanins

Blueberries deliver the most delicious wallop of vitamin C found on the planet (in my humble opinion). One serving supplies 25 percent of your daily C requirement plus additional heart-healthy fiber and manganese, important to bone health. A super-achiever when it comes to antioxidant strength, this fruit may also lower your risk of heart disease, cancer, and, new research suggests, even Alzheimer’s disease.

A team of University of Cincinnati scientists led by Dr. Robert Krikorian says the healthful antioxidants within blueberries provide a real benefit in improving memory and cognitive function in some older adults. Based on their work, they believe adding blueberries to your diet may help you prevent neurocognitive decline.

Blueberries acquire their deep color from anthocyanins, a type of flavonoid that acts as an antioxidant within the fruit, explains the U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council. Generally, antioxidants help to prevent age-related damage at the cellular level within the plants. While some scientists believe consuming foods rich in antioxidants will help delay aging, not all scientists, including those at the National Institutes of Health, entirely support that theory.

Still, eating a diet rich in fruits and veggies is unquestionably good for your health with many scientists analyzing and testing specific foods to understand whether they might prevent a particular illness. Quite a few studies, Krikorian and his colleagues note, have found blueberries beneficial in preventing dementia.

 

blueberries
Anthocyanins within blueberries provide a real benefit in improving memory
and cognitive function in some older adults: study.

Silver Tide
One type of dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, causes problems with memory, thinking, and behavior. This neurodegenerative disorder develops in a healthy brain, its symptoms appearing slowly and then worsening over time. Eventually, this disease becomes severe enough to interfere with daily tasks and in the end disrupts even the autonomic nervous system, which controls heart rate and breathing. If they live long enough, Alzheimer’s patients die because their breathing stops. Currently 5.3 million Americans suffer from Alzheimer’s disease, yet as the nation’s population grows older, that number will almost inevitably rise. The Alzheimer’s Association calculates that the number of Americans with this disorder will reach more than seven million by 2025.

How can science slow this trend?

Following up on earlier clinical trials showing blueberries boost cognitive performance, Krikorian and colleagues conducted two new studies. The first involved 47 adults, 68 years old or older and beginning to show signs of mild cognitive impairment — a risk factor for Alzheimer’s. First, the researchers conducted tests and a brain scan for each participant. Then, after forming two groups, one group of participants ate a placebo powder once a day for 16 weeks, while the other consumed a freeze-dried blueberry powder (equivalent to a single cup of berries).

Conducting the same tests and comparing the groups, Krikorian and his colleagues observed comparative improvement in cognitive performance and brain function among the adults who ate blueberry powder.

“The blueberry group demonstrated improved memory and improved access to words and concepts,” said Krikorian in a statement to the press. Additionally, a second scan showed increased activity in the brains of those in the blueberry group.

The team’s second study included 94 people between the ages of 62 and 80, all confessing to some memory problems. The researchers believed these participants to be in better cognitive “shape” than the first group, however no objective measurements verified this. For this study, the researchers divided the participants into four groups. Each group received either blueberry powder, fish oil, fish oil and powder, or placebo.

A hoped-for replication of the first study did not occur. Cognition proved somewhat better for those taking either blueberry powder or fish oil separately, yet memory barely improved, certainly not as much as in the first study, Krikorian noted. Even the scans showed similar lukewarm results. The team believes participants’ less severe cognitive impairments contributed to this weakened effect.

Blueberries may not show measurable benefit for those with minor memory issues or who have not yet developed cognitive problems, the combined results of the two studies suggest. Perhaps blueberries effectively treat only those patients who already show signs of mental impairment.

Nevertheless, Krikorian says, the very same ingredient that bestows color may provide blueberries with their brain benefits; in past animal studies, scientists have shown anthocyanins improve cognition.

By Susan Scutti      Mar 13, 2016
 
source:    Krikorian R, et al. Blueberry Fruit Supplementation in Human Cognitive Aging.
Meeting of the American Chemical Society. 2016.


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Some Video Games Are Good For Older Adults’ Brains

If you’re between 55 and 75 years old, you may want to try playing 3D platform games like Super Mario 64 to stave off mild cognitive impairment and perhaps even prevent Alzheimer’s disease.

That’s the finding of a new Canadian study by Université de Montréal psychology professors Gregory West, Sylvie Belleville and Isabelle Peretz. Published in PLOS ONE, it was done in cooperation with the Institut universitaire de gériatrie de Montréal (IUGM), Benjamin Rich Zendel of Memorial University in Newfoundland, and Véronique Bohbot of Montreal’s Douglas Hospital Research Centre.

In two separate studies, in 2014 and 2017, young adults in their twenties were asked to play 3D video games of logic and puzzles on platforms like Super Mario 64. Findings showed that the gray matter in their hippocampus increased after training.

The hippocampus is the region of the brain primarily associated with spatial and episodic memory, a key factor in long-term cognitive health. The gray matter it contains acts as a marker for neurological disorders that can occur over time, including mild cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s.

West and his colleagues wanted to see if the results could be replicated among healthy seniors.

The research team recruited 33 people, ages 55 to 75, who were randomly assigned to three separate groups. Participants were instructed to play Super Mario 64 for 30 minutes a day, five days a week, take piano lessons (for the first time in their life) with the same frequency and in the same sequence, or not perform any particular task.

The experiment lasted six months and was conducted in the participants’ homes, where the consoles and pianos, provided by West’s team, were installed.

The researchers evaluated the effects of the experiment at the beginning and at the end of the exercise, six months later, using two different measurements: cognitive performance tests and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to measure variations in the volume of gray matter. This enabled them to observe brain activity and any changes in three areas:

  • the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex that controls planning, decision-making and inhibition;
  • the cerebellum that plays a major role in motor control and balance; and
  • the hippocampus, the centre of spatial and episodic memory.

According to the MRI test results, only the participants in the video-game cohort saw increases in gray matter volume in the hippocampus and cerebellum. Their short-term memory also improved.

The tests also revealed gray matter increases in the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex and cerebellum of the participants who took piano lessons, whereas some degree of atrophy was noted in all three areas of the brain among those in the passive control group.

What mechanism triggers increases in gray matter, especially in the hippocampus, after playing video games? “3-D video games engage the hippocampus into creating a cognitive map, or a mental representation, of the virtual environment that the brain is exploring.,” said West. “Several studies suggest stimulation of the hippocampus increases both functional activity and gray matter within this region.”

Conversely, when the brain is not learning new things, gray matter atrophies as people age. “The good news is that we can reverse those effects and increase volume by learning something new, and games like Super Mario 64, which activate the hippocampus, seem to hold some potential in that respect,” said West. Added Belleville: “These findings can also be used to drive future research on Alzheimer’s, since there is a link between the volume of the hippocampus and the risk of developing the disease.”

“It remains to be seen,” concluded West, “whether it is specifically brain activity associated with spatial memory that affects plasticity, or whether it’s simply a matter of learning something new.”

Story Source:
December 6, 2017     Materials provided by Université de Montréal. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

Journal Reference:
Greg L. West, Benjamin Rich Zendel, Kyoko Konishi, Jessica Benady-Chorney, Veronique D. Bohbot, Isabelle Peretz, Sylvie Belleville. Playing Super Mario 64 increases hippocampal grey matter in older adults. PLOS ONE, 2017; 12 (12): e0187779 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0187779


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Alzheimer’s Linked To Too Much of This In Your Diet

Excess sugar in the diet could play an important role in the development of Alzheimer’s disease, new research finds.

Too much glucose (sugar) in the diet damages a vital enzyme which helps fight the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease.

Dr Omar Kassaar, the study’s first author, said:

“Excess sugar is well known to be bad for us when it comes to diabetes and obesity, but this potential link with Alzheimer’s disease is yet another reason that we should be controlling our sugar intake in our diets.”

The researchers studied samples of brain tissue from people with and without Alzheimer’s disease.

They found that sugar can damage an enzyme called MIF (macrophage migration inhibitory factor).

The researchers studied samples of brain tissue from people with and without Alzheimer’s disease.

Professor Jean van den Elsen, a study co-author, explained:

“We’ve shown that this enzyme is already modified by glucose in the brains of individuals at the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease.
We are now investigating if we can detect similar changes in blood.

Normally MIF would be part of the immune response to the build-up of abnormal proteins in the brain, and we think that because sugar damage reduces some MIF functions and completely inhibits others that this could be a tipping point that allows Alzheimer’s to develop.”

MIF helps to fight the build up of abnormal proteins in the brain, which are characteristic of Alzheimer’s.

The reduction of MIF activity by glucose could eventually lead to a ‘tipping point’ in Alzheimer’s progression.

Dr Rob Williams, a study co-author, said:

“Knowing this will be vital to developing a chronology of how Alzheimer’s progresses and we hope will help us identify those at risk of Alzheimer’s and lead to new treatments or ways to prevent the disease.”

The study was published in the journal Scientific Reports (Kassaar et al., 2017).

source: PsyBlog


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Can Green Tea Help Prevent Alzheimer’s Disease?

Green tea is touted as an amazing superfood replete with many healing benefits, from its anti-cancer properties to its heart health boosting compounds. So it is no surprise that green tea has been linked with the prevention of Alzheimer’s disease. But new research found that it may offer more protection than originally believed.

Green tea is high in antioxidants that fight off harmful free radicals. By some estimates the antioxidants found in green tea may be 20 times more potent than vitamin E, which is a proven brain health booster. But new research shows that green tea is even better than just its amazing antioxidants.

According to a new study by scientists at McMaster University in Hamilton, Canada, and published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society found that epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) has yet another health benefit—it stops beta amyloid plaques linked to Alzheimer’s from forming. Beta amyloid plaques have long been known as causal factors in Alzheimer’s but finding ways to stop the harmful plaques from forming has been the task of many researchers. Beta amyloid plaques disrupt communication between brain and nerve cells, creating the memory loss and dementia, which are the trademark signs of Alzheimer’s disease.

This new research found that EGCG in green tea effectively prevented plaques from being able to damage healthy cells. While the exact mechanism by which EGCG achieves this protection is not fully clear, the discovery is an exciting one into brain health and Alzheimer’s disease.

This ground-breaking research offers hope to the 50 million people worldwide who already suffer from Alzheimer’s disease since EGCG may slow the plaque’s progression and therefore the disease’s progression as well. It may also help anyone looking to prevent the disease, which is probably most people.

This research supports earlier research in the medical journal Brain Research that also found that green tea consumption can help prevent Alzheimer’s disease. Other research in the American Journal of Medicine found that regular tea consumption can cut the risk of cognitive decline in half, which is impressive by anyone’s standards.

While the research is still quite early so it is not clear exactly how much green tea or its protective compound EGCG is needed to reap the brain protective effects, most experts agree that a few cups of green tea daily should be helpful with brain health. Earlier research published in the American Journal of Epidemiology found that people who drank two or more cups of tea each day were less likely to develop Parkinson’s disease. The benefits were not linked to tea’s caffeine content which is lower than the caffeine found in coffee.

To make green tea: add one or two teaspoons of green tea leaves to a cup of boiled water, preferably in a tea strainer. Let steep for five minutes. Pour over ice if you prefer a cold beverage.  And don’t worry—it contains a lot less caffeine than coffee or black tea. Green tea contains about 55 mg of caffeine per cup while coffee typically contains between 125 and 200 mg per cup.

If you’re not a big fan of the taste of green tea, try it blended with other types of tea, such as ginger or lemongrass. You can also try icing it with some stevia to sweeten the beverage and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice for a delicious green tea lemonade.

Dr. Michelle Schoffro Cook, PhD, DNM is the publisher of the free e-newsletter World’s Healthiest News, president of PureFood BC, and an international best-selling and 20-time published book author whose works include:  Boost Your Brain Power in 60 Seconds:  The 4-Week Plan for a Sharper Mind, Better Memory, and Healthier Brain.

By: Michelle Schoffro Cook          November 9, 2017
About Michelle    Follow Michelle at @mschoffrocook
 
source: www.care2.com


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You Say Turmeric, I Say Curcumin

Either way, we say healthy

Who doesn’t love the flavours and aromas that turmeric imbues our lives with? But we can also thank this delicious spice for some powerful therapeutic properties. Find out what this yellow jewel can do for you.

If you’ve eaten curry, you’ve likely consumed turmeric. Not only does this spice lend its flavour and yellow colour to delicious curry dishes; it’s also played an important role in ancient medical practices like Ayurveda and traditional Chinese medicine.

Curcumin, found in supplement form at your natural health store, is the active ingredient of the turmeric plant. Over the last few decades, the extract curcumin has been the subject of wide-ranging scientific research for its medicinal properties.

The colour of health may be yellow

Prized for its yellow hue and medicinal properties for, reportedly, 4,000 years, turmeric’s unique qualities are found in its curcuminoid components. Extracted from the turmeric (Curcumin longa L.) plant, curcumin research has uncovered plenty of reason to turn (to) yellow.

Burns and scalds

While you’re in the kitchen cooking up a batch of your favourite curry, you may have occasion to remember that the curcumin in that turmeric you’ve just added to the pan is also useful in a gel to help heal minor burns and scalds.

Research says:

The effectiveness of curcumin gel on the skin is, according to the author of a recent study, related to its powerful anti-inflammatory properties. Research subjects who were treated with a topical curcumin gel after suffering minor burns had less pain and inflammation and improved healing with less than expected scarring—even no scarring in some cases.

Arthritis pain

People who suffer from joint pain and swelling from arthritis, either from osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis, may be able to find some relief with curcumin’s ability to reduce inflammation. And it may help them get around much more easily.

Research says:

Clinical studies have shown a positive effect of curcumin on reducing pain and improving physical function and quality of life for osteoarthritis patients through its anti-inflammatory and cartilage-protective qualities. Preliminary evidence suggests that curcumin may also have the same effect for people with rheumatoid arthritis.

Cancer

In countries where people eat curcumin at levels of about 100 mg to 200 mg a day over long periods of time, there are low rates of certain types of cancer. Curcumin seems to have a powerful effect on cancer cells. In some cases curcumin has shown the ability to step in and reduce the ability of cancer cells to transform, grow, and spread to other parts of the body.

Research says:

The promising results in laboratory studies have inspired researchers all over the world to continue the search for the exact mechanism by which curcumin could help prevent and even offer therapeutic benefits for certain types of cancer. Researchers, in a recent review of years of curcumin studies, suggest that future studies should take a more holistic approach to account for turmeric’s chemically diverse constituents that may synergistically contribute to its potential benefits.

Ulcerative colitis

There is currently no known cure for ulcerative colitis, an inflammatory bowel disease that affects the lining of the large intestine (colon) and rectum. One of the goals of treatment is to prevent relapses of its symptoms and promote remission. This is something that curcumin seems to be able to help with.

Research says:

A Cochrane Database systematic review of studies into curcumin’s effectiveness for maintenance of remission in patients with ulcerative colitis (UC) in 2014 concluded that curcumin may be a safe and effective adjunctive therapy for maintenance of remission in “quiescent” UC.

Alzheimer’s disease?

Elderly villagers in India, where turmeric is a dietary staple, have the lowest rate of Alzheimer’s disease in the world; and researchers have been keen to determine if curcumin may play a role in this. They were intrigued because of curcumin’s antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

Research says:

Though plenty of studies have focused on exploring this possibility, so far there’s no concrete evidence that curcumin is effective in combatting or preventing Alzheimer’s disease. The research continues, though, since laboratory studies have shown some intriguing and promising possibilities.

October 1, 2017 by alive Editorial
source: www.alive.com