Friday, April 09, 2010

Good news on preventing Alzheimer’s and mental decline....

Today's Post: Friday, 4-9-2010

Last Wednesday, 4-7, I got my daily email from Dr Al Sears, MD.

(See his website at: .)

It focused on new research showing how protective blueberries actually are for preventing Alzheimer’s disease. We already knew from other studies that people who ingest blueberries could actually regain enough mental function by beginning to eat blueberries or drink 100 % real blueberry juice.

He then added some other ways to prevent Alzheimer’s and mental decline.

This post has his new information and most of his other points. I add my own comments.

Then I add some things I posted on recently for those that missed that post that also prevent Alzheimer’s and mental decline. I also point out why the information in yesterday’s post can help you prevent Alzheimer’s and mental decline.

It turns out there is a very great deal you can do to prevent Alzheimer’s and mental decline.

Some of these things may even reverse Alzheimer’s disease if it is still in its early stages. Some of them keep your mental functions usable even if there is some damage from Alzheimer’s disease. All of them tend to prevent it. And most of them will slow its progression if someone already has it.

Here’s the information from Dr Sears’ email.:

1. “The National Institute of Aging studied the effectiveness of blueberries at protecting the brain from injury in rats.”

One group of rats received a blueberry-enriched diet, the other did not. “Both groups were injected with kainic acid (a toxic chemical that produces the same type of damage to the brain caused by dementia and Alzheimer’s). “

The results were excellent

The rats with brains pre-protected with the blueberry- enriched diet, had significantly less impairment than those that didn’t. The reason for this at least in part was that the rats pre-supplemented with blueberries had far less of a loss of brain cells than the rats who did not.
Dr Sears also read another study that found that blueberries limit the brain injury caused by ischemic stroke. Since some cases of senility and mental decline are caused by many such strokes that can be quite small, called multi-infarct dementia I think, this is a second and very significant way that blueberries are protective.

Dr Sears notes this is likely because Blueberries protect your brain against oxidative damage and inflammation. These are two of the main causes of mental decline.

Dear Sears then suggested eating a large serving of blueberries daily, or drinking 2 to 2-1/2 cups of blueberry juice.

(Since I long ago read about the power of blueberries to keep my mind sharp; but I am working hard to lose some extra fat I eat 2/3 of a 10 ounce package of organic wild blueberries three times a week. I also do three related things that likely have similar effects.

I also take 3 capsules a day of Nature’s Way bilberry extract. Since those are a variety of blueberry, this very likely has similar effects for close to zero calories.

And, separate studies found that people who drink a single glass a day of real fruit or vegetable juice daily get less mental decline, so half the time I drink Concord Grape Juice while half the time I drink 100 % cranberry juice which has about half the calories of grape juice.

As you can see, this set of things gives me a lot of protection and without too many calories.)

2. Dr Sears next notes the research showing that those who can drink coffee and do so daily will likely have less of the beta amyloid protein that is one of the causes of Alzheimer’s disease form at all in their brains.

(This is one area where coffee is actually better for you than tea or green tea.) The researchers in the study Dr Sears read from Disease found that people drinking five cups of coffee a day had significantly lower amounts of beta amyloid protein in their brains than nondrinkers of coffee. (5 cups is a bit excessive for some people. But I remember reading that 1 to 3 cups a day of coffee is also protective AND that decaf coffee was also.

It seems there is some extra protective effect in the coffee bean besides the caffeine that guarana and teas also have. Caffeine improves current mental performance, speed, and alertness. But caffeine apparently does not have this extra Alzheimer’s disease protection. (I also remember reading that there is a coffee bean extract supplement. That may also be protective.)
3. Regular exercise every week is dramatically protective for your brain. This is particularly true for the kind of repeated but relatively short bursts of vigorous exercise that Dr Sears himself recommends in his PACE program.

Dr Sears noted that it helps reduce inflammation, one of the primary causes of Alzheimer’s.

Dr Sears also said that there is a direct link between obesity and dementia. And that research suggests that obese people have three times the risk of developing dementia than thinner people. The kind of exercise he recommends in his PACE program has an excellent track record of helping people lose and keep off extra fat.

But there is reason to think that such exercise is even more protective than that for your brain. It improves your blood flow and the responsiveness and health of your blood vessels AND it has been shown to help reverse insulin resistance and lower high blood sugar including its best measure, HBA1C levels. THAT IS a HUGE protection. Most kinds of mental decline are caused or worsened by bad blood circulation to your brain. And, of even more importance, high levels of blood sugar has been found to be a direct cause of Alzheimer’s disease. In fact, some researchers go so far as to call Alzheimer’s disease “type 3 diabetes.)

And, there’s even more, exercise releases growth hormone, slows aging and has been proven to GROW NEW BRAIN CELLS.

3. Eating vegetables and fruit daily, particularly if it’s organic and most to all of the vegetables are nonstarchy was found in another study reported by the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease was to produce people who scored much higher on cognitive tests than those who ate far less. Even more exciting and significant, they also had lower biomarkers that are normally associated with Alzheimer’s disease. (This also helps combat or prevent obesity, insulin resistance, and high blood sugar!)

4. Keep Your Mind Active Dr Sears calls “one of the best things you can do to ward off dementia.” Dr Sears suggests doing some kind of puzzles regularly that you like or learning a new language.

Researchers at the University of California found that learning new things causes your brain to grow new brain cells and new brain cell interconnections and does so even in people over 80 years old!

In addition to that, your brain function is much like the internet itself, the more parts and interconnections it has, the more reliable it becomes at continuing to work when parts of the network are damaged. Educated people and those who speak two languages or more can sustain some Alzheimer’s type damage and other brain damage while having no or very little decline in mental performance or memory.

So mental activity and learning new things protects you double. You GAIN new brain cells and function plus the more brain cells AND you have a better network that can sustain damage and still work decently.

Lastly, we converse from the time we are tiny and so doing so feels easy and natural. But brainwave research reveals social and work conversations produce profound increases in mental activity. So people who maintain and converse often with a varied set of social contacts often tend to get little dementia or mental decline compared with people who do not.

The second major set of things that protect your brain and maintain good mental function have already been partly listed here. They are those things that protect your heart and the health of your blood vessels. They help maintain your blood flow to your brain and to prevent direct damage to it from strokes.

(See yesterday’s post for a complete list of the better ways to do this.)

I also recently did a post with some of this same list but which also adds taking some other supplements and foods that are protective. (Some of those supplements have been found to both prevent Alzheimer’s disease and possibly to reverse it in its early stages.)

Here it is:

Supplements to protect your memory....

Today's Post: Friday, 2-19-2010

I. The supplements that work to protect your memory and brain function work best if you also do the other things that work that do so.

A. There are four things you can do that keep your circulation good which both protects your brain AND your heart.

AND, one of them also grows new brain cells!

1. Regular exercise each week, particularly if at least a couple of minutes of it are quite vigorous once you have worked up to it gradually, grows new brain cells. And, it both increases circulation while you do it plus directly reducing the small particle LDL in your blood that is one of the top two or three causes of cardiovascular disease.

In short, regular exercise is perhaps the best single thing you can do to protect all of your brain.
Your brain gets extra circulation every time you exercise; you grow new brain cells; & exercise helps keep your blood vessels clear to protect your brain’s circulation.

2. Eating wild caught fish high in omega 3 oils, such as salmon, herring, or sardines, once or twice a week and taking omega 3 supplements from purified fish oil daily plus NOT eating oils high in omega 6 such as corn, soy, safflower, and canola, is already known for reducing inflammation and triglycerides. Just this week news broke that doing this also INCREASES your HDL.

But that information is incredibly important. It seems that researchers have found that when HDL goes up and triglycerides go down, in your body that means your small particle LDL in your blood that is one of the top two or three causes of cardiovascular disease has gone down!

(Note that farmed fish is very high in pollutants and had dramatically less omega 3 oils and more omega 6 oils. If you value your health do NOT eat it.)

I take two capsules a day of Nordic Naturals omega-3 supplement. Most health food stores carry it. I take one first thing in the morning and one at lunch.

(I also eat wild caught salmon three times a week and do NOT use oils with omega 6. I use extra virgin olive oil instead. Olive oil increases or leaves alone your HDL but still keeps your LDL low and does NOT boost triglycerides. Its use is one of the key reasons that the Mediterranean diet protects health.

In fact, Doctors Oz & Roizen recently said that eating a Mediterranean diet that also has lots of vegetables and beans instead of fatty meat cuts the incidence of Alzheimer’s disease by SIXTY percent!)

3. Taking niacin does the triple, it lowers LDL, increases HDL, and lowers triglycerides. Here again, that means that taking niacin also lowers your small particle LDL in your blood that is one of the top two or three causes of cardiovascular disease goes down when you take niacin.

For that reason, taking niacin lowers death rates and does so far better than statin drugs. In addition, the Berkeley Heart Lab has developed a genetically based and much more individual way to measure heart attack risk. Of the several types they found, only one does better on statins than on niacin.

IMPORTANT NOTE: More than 600 to 900 mg a day of niacin can cause liver problems just like statins. I’ve found that just 300 twice a day: one after breakfast and one after lunch -- is effective in part by combining it with the other things in this post. But some people need more to do the job. And if you are taking statin drugs, some people get extra side effect if they also take niacin. So, if you plan to take over 900 mg a day or take statin drugs, you need to be under a good doctors care with whom you work well, get regular liver function tests, and enjoy some good luck to do it safely.

4. Hydrogenated vegetable oils are heart attack starter. Never, ever voluntarily ingest the stuff. Researchers found that the transfats hydrogenated vegetable oils contain directly increases the small particle LDL in your blood that is one of the top two or three causes of cardiovascular disease.

Always read labels! If any kind of hydrogenated vegetable oil is listed as an ingredient, do not buy it or eat it. Yes, that still eliminates a lot of otherwise decent tasting commercial treats and any use of shortening in your own cooking. But there are some that do not contain this dangerous stuff. Buy those instead.

In addition, look for zero transfats. Some foods manage to have the stuff without any listed hydrogenated vegetable oils as ingredients.

Note though that having a zero transfats content is NOT true if the food has any hydrogenated vegetable oil at all. Zero on the label only means it has less than a half gram per serving. But if you eat 6 servings of .48 grams each, that’s actually ingesting 2.88 grams of transfats. They can list zero in that case. But since the product contains hydrogenated vegetable oil, it is NOT so!

B) Regular socializing may not FEEL mentally challenging since we get so much practice at it. But brain scans show it exercises the brain more than doing crossword puzzles or chess problems.

In addition, people who socialize often and are friendly with the people they socialize with experience MUCH less stress than people who do not. Since excess stress harms memory and can even damage the part of your brain that retrieves memory for you.

So, no surprise, researchers have found that people who socialize often tend to keep their memories and brains intact and functioning well much, much better than people who do not.

C) Avoid eating swordfish and King mackerel and only eat canned tuna occasionally instead of every week. And, eat cilantro often.

That helps you avoid getting excess mercury from NOT eating the fish that contain too much of it while eating cilantro I’ve read will help extract it from your body.

Too much mercury harms your mental function enough that people who have it have been diagnosed as having Alzheimer’s disease. If excess mercury goes on too long the diagnosis may become accurate. But in the early stages, getting rid of the excess mercury has restored good mental function and memory.

Meanwhile, you can help avoid this happening to you by eating salmon and smaller fish that have little or no mercury and eating cilantro often.

II. Besides omega 3 supplements (#1 supplement)and the related food practices, you can also take the following supplements.

2. People who also take extra DHA, kind of omega 3 oil, also get extra protection from mental decline. I take Jarrow Max DHA 607 mg per capsule once a day. Nordic Naturals also makes a DHA supplement but I like Jarrow’s better.

Some of these supplements prevent Alzheimer’s disease and may even reverse it in its early stages while some of them actually restore your mental abilities to where they were 10 to 15 years ago and keep them there!

2. Turmeric in curry can be enjoyed in curried foods which is how its effects were initially discovered. But you can get the full effect from Curcumin or Turmeric supplements by taking just one a day. (Curcumin is the active ingredient though to be protective.)

Not only was this effect found in India, researchers have since verified that this compound can prevent Alzheimer’s disease and may even reverse it in its early stages by cleaning the amyloid plaque from your brain or preventing its build up.

I take NOW’s curcumin supplement one a day. That is available in many health food stores & almost all that do not have it DO have a curcumin or turmeric supplement.

3. Until recently, health professionals thought that the RDA for vitamin D3 was 400 to 800 iu a day. Just in the last 10 years or so, it’s been discovered that the real RDA for vitamin D3, particularly in the winter and to some extent all year, is far closer to 2,000 to 5,000 iu.

Further, it’s been found that taking that much D3 tends to prevent cancer and autoimmune disease in addition to keeping your bones strong. Even better, that much D3 a day also prevents Alzheimer’s disease and may even reverse it in its early stages by cleaning the amyloid plaque from your brain or preventing its build up -- just as curcumin does!

Best of all taking D3 is really affordable. I take two or more a day of 1,000 iu capsules from Carlson. I get 100 capsules for a bit under $5 at the discount place I go to. But even full price is just $7.

Taking 2,000 or 3,000 a day in summer and 5,000 or a bit more in winter looks to be a key and critical good health practice according to all this recent research. (Note that up to 10,000 a day of D3 is safe and never been found harmful though sustained 50,000 a day or 100,000 a day might be according to Wikipedia.)

4. Two things I’ve read have directly restored mental function enough to bring it back to where it was 10 to 15 year ago or to make it the same is it is for people the age you were that long ago.

a) Eating several servings a week of blueberries has been found to do this. Organic ones are available in the frozen foods section of Whole Foods for just $2.99 a package. The conventional ones they carry may only work about 70% as well and actually cost a bit more; but as a change of pace, they are nice since they are bigger and sweeter and can be more fun to eat for that reason.

b) Taking 100 mg a day of Phosphatidylserine or PS in acronym form also does this.

Dr Dharma Khalsa says that this is because this compound keeps the cell walls flexible enough that your brain cells can better take in nutrients and get rid of wastes.

It’s a bit more expensive to take but I think it’s worth it. I take one a day of the 100 mg capsules from Jarrow. 60 capsules of 100 mg of PS from Jarrow costs about $30 per bottle after tax. The $30 does sound like a lot but that works out to 50 cents a day.

Given what it does, I think it’s worth it.

5. The mineral magnesium is in nuts and greens.

But either many older people eat too little of those or digest them less well and become deficient in this mineral.

That slows mental processing it turns out an also helps cause high blood pressure by making salt boost it more when not enough magnesium is present. Not enough magnesium also tends to make people constipated.

I take the 200 mg capsules of Magnesium Asporotate from Solaray three times a day.

6. The other nutrient older people are often deficient in is B12. This is apparently caused by not extracting well from foods and supplements as you get older.

This is a BIG deal since lack of B12 can cause enough memory loss and confusion to cause some doctors to diagnose Alzheimer’s disease even when none is present.

There are 4 solutions to this. Simply use one or more.

a) Take much more than the old RDA: 1,000 mcg or more a day is good.

b) Or get a doctor like JFK once had to give you B12 by injection or shots.

c) Or get a chewable form that allows the B12 to be absorbed directly. I take one a day of the Methyl B12 from Now in just that way. AND, I do so in addition to the foods I eat that contain B12 and the B12 in my multivitamin and in my B Complex vitamin.

Given how important it is, I think that’s justified.

d) Al Sears, see his website at , also sells a vitamin B12 spray that works even better than the chewable I use and almost as well as the B12 shots. He finds an instant energy boost when he uses it also which is a very nice extra.

7. The other supplement I take, CoQ10 in the Ubiquinol form, helps keep all my cells with their internal energy generators, their mitochondria, working well.

The notable effect of this is to protect your energy level as you get older and it has been found to even help prevent or partially reverse heart failure.

So by taking it, I help ensure my brain has enough energy and blood supply from my heart to keep working well.

(Ubiquinol is the compound your body makes when you take CoQ10. Doctors and researchers have found that taking the ubiquinol directly gives you more in your blood and keeps the level up better than taking Co Q10 -- and the effect is startlingly large up to EIGHT times better!

I take 150 mg a day. 100 mg when I first get up and 50 mg at lunch. (Since taking it boosts energy I don’t yet take it later in the day.)

I get my 100 mg capsules of ubiquinol from Jarrow and the two 25’s I take at lunch from
BlueBonnet. When I get a bit older, I may go to 100 mg three times a day.

8. The other supplements I’ve heard increase memory are Gingko Biloba, Pregnenolone, huperzine, and citicholine.

I take a bit of Gingko Biloba but the recent research on it is mixed. I’ve taken Pregnenolone but haven’t noticed a difference without it.

And, Gingko Biloba, huperzine, and citicholine may be best used by people with more severe memory problems.

The other methods and supplements in this post if you use them all will do enough, I think most people can do with out this last group of supplements.”

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