Archive for the ‘Cognition’ Category

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Nuts and Resveratrol Deliver a Potent Punch to Prevent Cognitive Decline and Dementia

May 17, 2012
Raw Nuts Provide Essential Fats to Prevent Cognitive Decline

Raw Nuts Provide Essential Fats to Prevent Cognitive Decline

Nuts, especially walnuts, almonds and hazelnuts, combined with the potent polyphenol resveratrol team together to improve mood and protect the aging brain to help maintain memory and cognition. Researchers reporting in the New England Journal of Medicine have found that nuts consumed over a period of years not only help with weight management issues, but also can reduce systemic inflammation to improve spirits and prevent cognitive decline.

Resveratrol has long been associated with brain health. The Journal of Pineal Research reports that resveratrol demonstrates anti-aging properties in the brain necessary for energy production and optimal brain function. Combining these two natural agents together as part of your healthy diet can improve mood, help retain memories and preserve youthful thought patterns.

Nuts Improve Mood, Slash Brain Inflammation and Prevent Cognitive Decline

Resveratrol and Nuts Lower Brain Inflammation to Improve Mood

Resveratrol and Nuts Lower Brain Inflammation to Improve Mood

Researchers determined to validate the health-promoting capacity of nuts provided test participants with a diet of walnuts, almonds and hazelnuts for a period of 12 weeks. The volunteers for this study were sex and age-matched individuals given a control diet, and compared to a group not receiving the nut mixture. All participants exhibited symptoms of metabolic syndrome, increasing risk for developing diabetes, heart disease, mood disorders and loss of cognition.

Individuals receiving the nuts had increased levels of serotonin which will help a person feel better and potentially more satisfied and less likely to suffer from depression and poor mood. Additionally, the nut control group demonstrated reduced inflammatory markers from the high polyphenol content of the nuts. This is an important finding, as individuals exhibiting the signs of metabolic syndrome experience the effects of systemic inflammation leading to accelerated brain aging and cognitive decline.

Resveratrol Positively Influences Gene Expression to Restore Mitochondria Function

Resveratrol From Red Grapes and Wine Improves Mitochondrial Function

Resveratrol From Red Grapes and Wine Improves Mitochondrial Function

Mitochondria are the tiny metabolic engines that are responsible for powering each of our trillion or so cells throughout the body. Over time, mitochondria begin to experience loss of function and cellular decline and aging of the cell begin. Mitochondrial regulation is controlled in large part by the ‘longevity’ gene known as Sirt1. Calorie restriction and potent natural nutrients such as resveratrol are known to alter expression of the Sirt1 gene. Researchers have demonstrated that resveratrol is able to restore neural mitochondria function by reviving Sirt1 gene expression, and provides “a potent anti-aging effect within the brain.”

The human brain is a highly metabolic organ, demanding 20% of the total oxygen supply for the body. As such, it is also susceptible to the effects of oxidative stress and free radical damage that cause brain inflammation and advanced signs of aging. Natural nutrients such as resveratrol (25 – 50 mg per day) that cross the blood-brain barrier and foundation monounsaturated fats supplied by most nuts (1 to 2 ounces each day) and seeds protect the brain from damage and dramatically lower the risk of memory loss and cognitive decline.

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Vitamin B12 Prevents Brain Shrinkage During Aging to Prevent Memory Loss

December 26, 2011
Vitamin B12 Enriched Foods or Supplements Help Preserve Memory

Vitamin B12 Enriched Foods or Supplements Help Preserve Memory

Many people are aware that vitamin B12 status declines during aging, as millions of seniors fall prey to a decline in this critical nutrient. Vitamin B12 circulating in the blood declines in the elderly due to absorption problems in the digestive tract leading to poor uptake by body tissues, especially the brain.

Researchers publishing in the journal Neurology have established a definitive link between poor vitamin B12 levels and brain shrinkage, a hallmark of cognitive decline and Alzheimer`s dementia. Supplementation with the biologically active form of the B vitamin may help prevent shrinkage and preserve learning capabilities and memory functions as we age.

Vitamin B12 Deficiencies Linked to Shrinking Brain Volume and Cognitive Decline Among Elderly

Vitamin B12 Prevents Brain Shrinkage During Aging

Vitamin B12 Prevents Brain Shrinkage During Aging

The study involved 121 participants from the Chicago Health and Aging Project who underwent magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans over a period of four and a half years. Additionally, each member of the study had blood drawn to measure levels of vitamin B12 and B12-related markers that can indicate a B12 deficiency. The same subjects took tests measuring their memory and other cognitive skills.

MRI scans were analyzed to measure total brain volume and look for other signs of brain damage. The tests included seven measures of episodic memory, two measures of visual spatial ability and perceptual organization, two measures of perceptual speed, two measures of semantic memory, and three measures of working memory. Stored blood samples were analyzed for vitamin B12 and homocysteine, a byproduct of metabolism associated with dementia, cognitive decline and coronary artery disease.

Vitamin B12 Levels Improve Cognitive Abilities and Can Help Prevent Stroke

Vitamin B12 is Shown to Lower Incidence of Stroke and Maintain Normal Cognition

Vitamin B12 is Shown to Lower Incidence of Stroke and Maintain Normal Cognition

Researchers determined that having high levels of four of five markers for vitamin B12 deficiency was associated with having lower scores on the cognitive tests and smaller total brain volume. Indicators of vitamin B12 insufficiency contributed to poor global cognitive test scores and a decrease in brain volume revealed by MRI findings compared to those with better B12 status. Higher levels of the vitamin B12 markers were linked to decreased total brain volume. Elevated homocysteine levels were indicative of greater white matter volume and elevated risk of cerebrovascular events.

Lead researcher, Dr. Christine Tangney concluded “Our findings suggest that … vitamin B12 deficiency, may affect cognition by reducing total brain volume whereas the effect of homocysteine on cognition may be mediated through increased white matter hyperintensity volume and cerebral infarcts.” Vitamin B12 deficiency among the elderly is a significant cause for concern and may very well be a key contributor to the explosion of Alzheimer`s disease cases over the past 50 years. Nutritionists recommend supplementing with the bioactive form of B12 known as methylcobalamin (1 to 5 mg per day taken sublingually) to regulate circulating levels of this critical brain nutrient.

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DHA Omega-3 Fat Lowers Risk of Cognitive Decline, Alzheimer’s Disease

November 25, 2011
DHA Omega-3 Fat LowerS Stroke Risk by One-Quarter

DHA Omega-3 Fat LowerS Stroke Risk by One-Quarter

Several recently published articles highlight the critical importance of Omega-3 fats from fatty fish consumption and fish oil supplements. Scientists publishing in the journal Stroke demonstrate that the active DHA Omega-3 fat component helps brain cells to better withstand the stress load placed on the aging brain to lower the risk of a life-altering stroke by as much as a quarter.

Researchers from the Rhode Island Hospital`s Alzheimer`s Disease and Memory Disorders Center have found that DHA from supplements alter the critical brain chemistry and structure to prevent cognitive decline and abnormal brain aging. A wealth of scientific evidence is mounting to document the importance of Omega-3 fats to assist metabolic disorders that lead to dementia, stroke and chronic disease.

DHA, Omega-3 Fat Lowers Brain Inflammation to Improve Cognitive Function

DHA Lowers Brain Inflammation to Improve Cognition

DHA Lowers Brain Inflammation to Improve Cognition

Inflammation of the vital nerves and critical structures of the brain is a precursor to stress that can play an important role in the development of a life-altering stroke. Researchers publish the result of their work designed to determine if Omega-3 fatty acids from fish oil, specifically the long-chain DHA component would be sufficient to reduce neural inflammation and lower risk from a stroke.

To conduct the study, mice were broken into three groups. The first group was supplemented with a DHA-enriched diet, the second group consumed a DHA-depleted diet and the final mice were fed a control diet. After a period of three months, scientists found that only the group with the DHA-enriched diet experienced lower levels of neuroinflammation and had 25% less tissue injury following an induced stroke. They also noted that long-term supplementation resulted in a healthy buildup of DHA fat in brain tissue resulting in an enhanced Omega-3 to Omega-6 fatty acid ratio.

Consumption of Omega-3 Fats Protects the Brain to Lower Damage from a Stroke

DHA Fat Helps Maintain Normal Brain Volume to protect Against Alzheimer's Disease

DHA Fat Helps Maintain Normal Brain Volume to protect Against Alzheimer's Disease

Lead author on the study, Dr. Jasna Kriz concluded “This is the first convincing demonstration of the powerful anti-inflammatory effect of DHA Docosahexaenoic acid Essential Omega 3 fatty acid integral to the health of all cell membranes, nerve and brain function. The consumption of omega-3s creates an anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective environment in the brain that mitigates damage following a stroke.”

Additional evidence of the importance of Omega-3 fats from fish consumption or supplementation is provided by researchers from Rhode Island Hospital. A study was designed using 819 senior participants broken into three groups, those with normal cognition, mild cognitive impairment, and Alzheimer`s Disease. 117 individuals were taking fish oil supplements during the three year course of the study. Taking fish oil supplements was associated with less brain shrinkage and improved cognitive function during the study period.

The lead author, Dr. Lori Daiello concludes, “In the imaging analyses for the entire study population, we found a significant positive association between fish oil supplement use and average brain volumes in two critical areas utilized in memory and thinking.” DHA is preferentially conserved for the construction of neural structures and should be an essential part of your regular menu (from fatty fish) or as a molecularly distilled and purified supplement (500 mg to 1 gram per day) to lower stroke risk and prevent cognitive decline.

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Carnosine Aids Cellular Energy Production to Help Prevent Alzheimer’s Dementia

November 9, 2011
Carnosine Supplementation is Shown to Boost Cellular Energy to Blunt Stress Effects

Carnosine Supplementation is Shown to Boost Cellular Energy to Blunt Stress Effects

Carnosine is a naturally occurring antioxidant and metal-chelating nutrient that is shown to minimize the damaging effects of stress on cellular function. Research presented in the PLoS One journal explains that carnosine can help to drastically reduce the formation of amyloid beta protein associated with the brain tangles seen with Alzheimer’s disease.

Our antioxidant defense system is in a continual state of flux, being tested by external pathogens, metabolic glycation and stress that can determine quality of health and risk for disease. Carnosine is shown to boost and recycle existing antioxidants throughout the body to provide a natural shield against chronic illness, and may specifically halt the progression of deadly diseases that lead to dementia and cognitive dysfunction.

Carnosine Supplementation Improves Cellular Energy Production to Prevent Dementia

Carnosine Improves Conversion of Glucose to ATP, Cellular Energy Units

Carnosine Improves Conversion of Glucose to ATP, Cellular Energy Units

Researchers understand that a crucial marker of Alzheimer’s dementia and cognitive decline is the formation of beta-amyloid protein clumps that inhibit the normal electrical and neurotransmitter activity required to function optimally and form new memories. Until recently scientists have not fully understood if the tangles were the cause or result of dementia. New evidence exists to support the theory that amyloid plaques form as a result of a declining ability to naturally clear the protein tangles. Neuroscientists believe that a failure in the energy producing mitochondria where glucose is converted to ATP is to blame.

The study included mice that have been genetically bred to develop a form of dementia that closely resembles Alzheimer`s disease in humans. Energy-producing mitochondria are susceptible to the ravages of free radicals and cellular imbalances in metals like copper, iron, and zinc that cause ultimate failure of the organelles leading to numerous chronic diseases. Supplementing the mice with carnosine was found to “promote a strong reduction in the hippocampal intraneuronal accumulation of amyloid-beta and completely rescue Alzheimer`s disease and aging-related mitochondrial dysfunctions.”

Carnosine Helps Prevent Glycation and May Provide a Treatment Option for Alzheimer’s Disease

Cellular Dysfunction is a Leading Cause of Dementai, Helped by Carnosine Supplementation

Cellular Dysfunction is a Leading Cause of Dementai, Helped by Carnosine Supplementation

Carnosine is a potent antioxidant shown to dramatically lower mitochondrial damage typically caused by stress and glycation (protein-sugar bonds) leading to cellular dysfunction and disease. The study authors went so far as to conclude “Our data indicate that carnosine can be part of a combined therapeutic approach for the treatment of AD.” This is a powerful conclusion considering that Big Pharma has no approved cure or effective treatment for this insidious form of dementia.

Carnosine coupled with other natural nutrients known to be neuroprotective (grape seed extract, resveratrol, curcumin, DHA) can lower the stress placed on critical brain structures and provide an effective shield against development and progression of disease. Carnosine is found most commonly in beef, pork, poultry and dairy products. Many health-minded individuals avoid a diet centered around animal-derived foods and supplementation (1,000 mg per day) has been found to be an effective and bioavailable alternative.

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Brain Shrinkage and Cognition Linked to Common Lifestyle Factors

October 24, 2011
Six Lifestyle Factors Lead to Cognitive Decline and Brain Shrinkage

Six Lifestyle Factors Lead to Cognitive Decline and Brain Shrinkage

The result of a new study published in the journal Neurology (the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology) has found that poor lifestyle habits and related health disorders such as smoking, overweight and obesity, diabetes and high blood pressure cause brain shrinkage and cognitive decline.

Researchers determined that these conditions when present during middle age predicated lower brain volume and precursor markers for dementia up to a decade later. Identifying and controlling these risk factors early is a critical step in preventing loss of cognitive function and memory in later life.

Detrimental Lifestyle Practices Directly Impact Brain Health

Correcting High Blood Pressure Readings Help Lower Dementia Risk

Correcting High Blood Pressure Readings Help Lower Dementia Risk

To conduct the study, researchers examined a cohort of 1,352 people with an average age of 54 from the Framingham Offspring Study. The participants were weighed and body mass index and waist circumference were established along with blood pressure and cholesterol tests and blood glucose readings to detect for diabetes. Additionally, MRI brain scans were completed over the course of a decade with the first test performed seven years after the original biomarker benchmark.

Researchers found that those participants with high blood pressure developed a condition identified as `white matter `hyperintensities` or small areas of damage to the delicate vessel structure of the brain. Hypertensive participants were much more likely to demonstrate worsening scores on tests of executive function compared to those with normal blood pressure readings. The study authors found that this single factor negatively affected planning and decision making processes and corresponded with five to eight years of premature chronological brain aging.

Smoking Cessation and Controlling Diabetes and Obesity Key to Improved Cognition

Smoking is a Significant Lifestyle Action Leading to Loss of Cognition

Smoking is a Significant Lifestyle Action Leading to Loss of Cognition

Diabetes in middle age was associated with loss of brain volume in the memory-forming hippocampus region at a much faster rate than non-diabetics. Smokers were found to experience both accelerated brain volume shrinkage and white matter hyperintensities at a much faster rate than non-diabetic participants that did not smoke. Obese individuals were in the top quarter of those most likely to display loss of executive function and rapid rate of cognitive decline.

The lead study author, Dr. Charles DeCarli concluded that the four studied risk factors “provide evidence that identifying these risk factors early in people of middle age could be useful in screening people for at-risk dementia and encouraging people to make changes to their lifestyle before it`s too late”. Poor lifestyle choices are well known to contribute to a host of potentially lethal conditions and this body of research continues to add to the existing evidence. Health-conscious individuals will insist on a well balanced reduced calorie, low-refined carbohydrate diet along with regular physical activity to prevent obesity, hypertension, diabetes and cognitive decay.

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Vitamin K2 Promotes Heart Health, Prevents Cognitive Decline

October 17, 2011
Vitamin K From Fresh Vegetables and Supplements Provide a Potent Anti-Inflammatory Shield

Vitamin K From Fresh Vegetables and Supplements Provide a Potent Anti-Inflammatory Shield

Vitamin K is a critical nutrient widely known for its ability to promote normal blood clotting. A wealth of new information demonstrates that this vitamin in its multiple forms can provide a powerful anti-inflammatory shield to protect against many lethal diseases of aging. Writing in the Journal of Nutrition, researchers show that vitamin K works with other fat-soluble nutrients to protect the brain from arterial calcification that leads to a stroke or cognitive decline.

Vitamin K works to prevent the deposition of calcium within arterial walls and ushers the mineral toward the normal construction of bone throughout the body. The research provides proof that eating a healthy diet to maintain adequate stores of vitamin K over a lifetime can help prevent arterial hardening, atherosclerosis and cognitive decline.

Vitamin K Slows Cognitive Decline by Supporting Brain Health

Vitamin K2 Improves Electrical Conductivity in the Brain to Prevent Cognitive Decline

Vitamin K2 Improves Electrical Conductivity in the Brain to Prevent Cognitive Decline

To determine the effect of vitamin K on cognitive function, researchers studied three groups of mice that were broken into a low, adequate, or high level of vitamin K supplemented in their diet over the course of their lifetime. Vitamin K is a fat soluble nutrient that can easily cross the blood-brain barrier to provide antioxidant support to a critical organ composed primarily of omega-3 fats.

Researchers found that vitamin K plays an important role in “maintaining the white matter region of the brain by supporting the myelin sheathing that protects axons, connecting glial cells together with axons, and facilitating the speed at which your brain functions.” Animals with the lowest supplemental vitamin K levels displayed the highest degree of cognitive decline as they grew older, compared with the highest vitamin K group.

Vitamin K2 Inhibits Coronary Artery Calcification to Halt Heart Disease

Vitamin K2 Ushers Calcium Into Bones and Away From Coronary Arteries

Vitamin K2 Ushers Calcium Into Bones and Away From Coronary Arteries

Scientists publishing in the journal Atherosclerosis determined the effect of vitamin K on 564 post-menopausal women. The study was designed to contrast dietary intake of both the phylloquinone (vitamin K1) and menaquinone (vitamin K2) with coronary artery calcification (atherosclerosis or hardening of the arteries). Researchers found that the K2 form of vitamin K was associated with a significant decrease in coronary artery calcification, while vitamin K1 did not appear to impact disease progression.

Dark green leafy vegetables provide a healthy dose of vitamin K1 but are not a significant source of vitamin K2, the form shown to yield protection against arterial hardening and dementia. Fermented foods such as natto, egg yolks and certain cheeses provide high levels of K2, although many people may choose to avoid these foods. Health-minded individuals will need to supplement with a quality supplement providing the full range of vitamin K isomers (1000 – 2000 mcg per day) to avert atherosclerosis and cognitive function decline.

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Carnitine and Lipoic Acid Lower Diabetes, Dementia Risks

October 12, 2011
Potent Antioxidants Improve Insulin Function to Avert Diabetes

Potent Antioxidants Improve Insulin Function to Avert Diabetes

Diabetes is a devastating disease that results from an inability to properly metabolize glucose resulting from poor insulin function. Researchers writing in the Journal of Clinical Biochemistry and Nutrition found that the naturally occurring cellular antioxidant, alpha lipoic acid has the ability to correct abnormal insulin signaling and resistance that are known to promote disease development.

Lipoic acid is shown to rejuvenate energy production in the critical mitochondria and enhance the metabolism of sugars and carbohydrates to restore proper insulin activity. Most health-minded individuals will need to supplement with the biologically active `R` form of this critical antioxidant to effectively thwart metabolic disease and diabetes progression.

Alpha Lipoic Acid Improves Cellular Insulin Function to Thwart Diabetes Progression

Alpha Lipoic Acid Supplementation Improves Blood Glucose Control

Alpha Lipoic Acid Supplementation Improves Blood Glucose Control

Alpha lipoic acid instructs our body`s trillions of cells to effectively burn glucose to be used as a fuel for metabolism and energy production. The result of this study demonstrates that the cofactor compound provides a critical link between the antioxidant status within a cell and normal insulin function. When insulin becomes resistant or ineffective due to the stress of continually high levels of blood glucose, metabolism suffers and diabetes is the end result.

Researchers found that r-alpha lipoic acid (100 mg daily) influences cellular antioxidant nutrients and enzymes. The compound was shown to have a profound influence on these critical protective structures so a perfectly efficient balance was restored that allowed them to perform optimally. As a result, proper gene signaling was restored and insulin and glucose metabolism improved. The study was the first to show that insulin regulation in a cell is closely controlled by antioxidant status, and antioxidant deterioration through poor diet and lifestyle trigger metabolic syndrome and diabetes. Alpha lipoic acid helps to restore cellular antioxidant synergy and can stave off diabetes.

Acetyl-L-Carnitine Inhibits the Formation of Amyloid Brain Tangles

Acetyl-L-Carnitine Inhibits Damaging Protein Accumulation in the Brain

Acetyl-L-Carnitine Inhibits Damaging Protein Accumulation in the Brain

In addition to the amazing health benefits experienced by people supplementing with alpha lipoic acid, another naturally occurring nutrient is showing the ability to boost mood, improve cognitive function and help retain memory loss as we age. Researchers writing in the Journal Neurochemistry documents the precise mechanism that acetyl-l-carnitine (500 mg, twice daily) exhibits to help prevent the formation of brain tangles that are the hallmark of Alzheimer`s disease.

Scientists found that mice supplemented with acetyl-l-carnitine for a period of two weeks protects against the formation of the tau protein tangles that are a hallmark in the development of the memory-robbing form of dementia. While tau proteins are a normal part of nerve cell construction, they are known to accumulate in a hyperactive fashion that can result in cognitive decline and memory loss. Acetyl-l carnitine helps tau proteins behave properly by interceding at the gene and molecular level to prevent dementia and memory decline.

Nature has bestowed us with a multitude of natural compounds that are particularly effective in promoting human health. Alpha lipoic acid and acetyl-l-carnitine are shown to help prevent metabolic dysfunction, diabetes and loss of cognition. Following a natural diet filled with fresh organic vegetables and fruits along with regular physical activity will help to restore youthful levels of these two super-nutrients. Some health-conscious adults may want to supplement to ensure optimal cellular saturation and disease risk reduction.