Optimal Brain: Decreasing Risks of Brain Conditions
by: Dr. Noreen Lalani, N.D.
Learning how to decrease the risk or minimize the effects of debilitating brain health conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease is one of the most significant health issues facing our generation of aging Americans today. According to research compiled by scientists at the National Institutes of Health and the National Parkinson Foundation, approximately 4 million Americans suffer from Alzheimer’s disease, and there are more than 60,000 new cases of Parkinson’s disease diagnosed each year. With the help of condition-specific nutrients, a proper diet, and a healthy lifestyle, one can improve cognitive function, minimize the risk of developing these conditions and combat age-associated memory loss. The following results are based on studies and other information relative to critical brain functions, together with a discussion of the natural elements and related supplements that support and facilitate those functions.
Every time the heart beats, approximately 25% of its output goes to the brain, ensuring that the brain receives a healthy supply of oxygen and blood. Gingko Biloba Extract is an herb well-known for increasing blood flow to the frontal cortex of the brain. It also has very rich flavonoids that protect brain tissue from harmful free radicals. Vinpocetine is derived from vincamine, an alkaloid of the lesser periwinkle plant (Vinca minor L). Vinpocetine improves blood flow globally in the brain partially by reducing blood viscosity and resistance, allowing more oxygen and fuel to circulate to brain cells.
NADH, or Nicotinamide Adenine Dinucleotide, is the reduced coenzyme form of Vitamin B3. A coenzyme is the active form of a vitamin that is essential to metabolism. NADH is involved in three energy production cycles, and is needed to oxidize (burn) all foods including carbohydrates, fats, and amino acids to produce ATP energy - the fuel used by every cell in the body. Research indicates increased concentrations of NADH in the brain may boost the production of neurotransmitter brain chemicals needed for proper mental function. A study showed the value of NADH supplementation in improving mental function in people with Alzheimer’s disease, and preliminary research suggests that NADH may also help those with depression.
Acetyl-L-Carnitine, a neuro-protective dipeptide, has demonstrated the ability to help slow or even help reverse the many signs of brain aging. Studies show that Acetyl-L-Carnitine may help slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease and has beneficial effects on memory and attention span.
Phosphatidylserine is a phospholipid that is present in every cell membrane in the body, and it is especially important in the brain. It is a crucial component of optimal brain structure and function, maintaining the fluidity of brain matter. It is also critical to all cognitive brain functions and the possible prevention of dementia. Phosphatidylserine crosses the blood-brain barrier and ensures that glucose enters the nerve cells so they may be energized, thereby restoring memory, brightening the mood, lifting anxiety and helping to counter behavioral and learning problems.
Resveratrol, an antioxidant found in the skin of red grapes, has been shown to help reduce cell damage caused by beta amyloid, the substance found in the brain of patients with Alzheimer’s disease. Beta amyloid is a sticky substance that damages adjacent healthy tissues, causing inflammation and free radical-induced oxidative stress. Resveratrol may help protect the brain from this type of damage.
Another nutrient, L-Carnosine, also may protect neural tissues from dementia by possibly helping inactivate beta amyloid induced cell damage. L-Carnosine also reduces glycation, a process in which DNA and protein are damaged by glucose. Glycation is very harmful to the body as it damages proteins, lipids and nucleic acids, thus greatly accelerating the aging process.
A very strong antioxidant called GliSODin®(Superoxide Dismutase) quenches the most damaging and dangerous free radicals in the body and brain. When used in conjunction with an anti-oxidant enzyme called Catalase (Catalase is the best protector from bleaching-damaging peroxides) GliSODin® may help protect the brain and nerve tissue, and may reduce the risk of developing neurological conditions and age-related memory loss.
Consuming antioxidant rich foods such as Blueberries and Pomegranate actually may improve the neuroplasticity (help reverse aging) of an important part of the brain known as the hippocampus. The hippocampus is important to memory and learning.
Good living habits such as regular physical exercise, reduction of stress levels, limited smoking and reduced alcohol intake, are key to delaying the onset of neurodegenerative diseases. When these living habits are augmented by a regimen of appropriate nutritional supplementation, as well as a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids, fresh fruits, and green vegetables, one can sustain increased cognitive functionality while significantly delaying or preventing the onset of serious brain diseases.
For additional scientific references on brain support, and many other health issues, please go to the nutritional library section of our website.