Brain breakthrough makes you "Alzheimer's proof"?
Few things are as terrifying as the prospect of losing your mind. But that's exactly what you face when you're handed an Alzheimer's diagnosis.
Alzheimer's slowly robs you of your independence, your memories, and, ultimately, yourself. There's no cure for it and, up until now with hardly any new information about nutrients for brain health, we knew precious little about the disease... and even less about how to prevent its devastating effects.
But now, two new studies published just this month are raising real hopes about beating back this terrible disease with the power of common nutrients for brain health. And it turns out some of the answers we've been looking for were right under our noses the whole time.
I'll have more details on those breakthroughs in a moment. But first you need to know a little bit about how this disease strikes.
Amyloids are abnormal proteins produced in your body. The toxic proteins, which can end up being deposited in any of your organs, are linked to a variety of diseases including Parkinson's and diabetes. But when the rogue proteins end up in your brain they are converted into beta-amyloids and they're linked to Alzheimer's disease.
As the beta-amyloids build up in your brain, they start to clump together forming super-sticky balls of destruction called amyloid plaques. And it's when these toxic protein balls stick to the proteins called prions (that live on the surface of nerve cells) that we really have a problem. The nerve cells soon begin to malfunction and it isn't long before they wither and die.
So, as you can imagine, figuring out how to interrupt this brain-destroying process is priority number one for Alzheimer's researchers. And that's why the findings of a recent study of good nutrients for the brain published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry are so exciting.
It turns out that the researchers needed to look to the world of natural medicine to begin to make real progress on unraveling the Alzheimer's puzzle.
Natural extracts beat brain plaques
Researchers wanted to find out if changing the shape of those sticky amyloid balls had any effect on their ability to attach to the prions on the nerve cells. So they created some of the toxic protein balls in a test tube and added them to both human and animal brain cells.
When they introduced green tea and red wine extracts to the mix, something incredible happened. The amyloid plaques no longer damaged the nerve cells! The extracts literally reshaped the balls so they could no longer attach to the prions.
Now, of course the researchers responded with...yup, you guessed it...a call to figure out how to turn this stunning natural breakthrough into an un-natural Big Pharma drug.
Lead researcher Professor Nigel Hooper enthusiastically reported, "I'm certain that this will increase our understanding of Alzheimer's disease even further, with the potential to reveal yet more drug targets."
Way to miss the forest for the trees, Prof.
But wait, I'm not done with Alzheimer's breakthroughs yet. Another study, published this month in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease, has the world of natural medicine to thank for its findings too.
"Alzheimer's proofing" your brain
In a small study, a team of researchers from the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA have confirmed that nutrients that are good for the brain including vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids may be able to help mop up those toxic Alzheimer's-linked amyloids I spoke of earlier.
The researchers drew blood samples from patients with Alzheimer's, as well as healthy volunteers. Next they extracted immune cells called macrophages from the samples. And here's where things start to get really interesting.
Macrophages operate kind of like little Pac-men in your body. Only they go around gobbling up waste products instead of ghosts. One of those waste products is beta-amyloid. The UCLA scientists wanted to find out what kind of effect vitamin D3, and the omega-3 fatty acid DHA, would have on the amyloid-eaters.
They combined the macrophages with beta-amyloids and let them sit overnight. Next, they added an active form of either vitamin D3 or the omega-3 fatty acid DHA. And then a funny thing happened.
The macrophages that came from the blood of the volunteers with Alzheimer's disease got an observable boost from the added nutrients for brain health. They were able to gobble up even more of the beta-amyloid garbage. And, most importantly, they were able to inhibit the nerve cell death that's normally caused by the toxic proteins.
More study is, of course, needed. The researchers are planning for a clinical trial in the future. But there's no reason to wait around for those results.
I've sung the praises of all of these nutrients at one time or another. The fact that they may have the extra benefit of "Alzheimer's proofing" your brain is just a very welcome added bonus.