Protect Yourself Against the Scariest Aspect of Aging
Aging can be a very scary process. For most, it’s not the thought of getting deep wrinkles or shrinking a few inches that sends anxiety throughout the body – it’s the possibility of neurodegeneration. Researchers have pointed to several possible causes of cognitive decline ranging from your genetic makeup to amyloid plaque buildup and the accumulation of a destructive protein called C1q.
While scientists are still struggling to find both a cure and a cause, nutrition researchers are finding major correlations between low levels of certain nutrients and neurodegenerative disease risk. Below you’ll find some of the latest research studies on proven nutrients and their neuroprotective effects.
CoQ10 Found to Lower Dementia Risk & Reverse Damage
In December 2014, the journal Atherosclerosis reported that Japanese researchers had discovered older men and women with higher CoQ10 levels had a lower risk of developing dementia. The study followed 65 men and women who developed dementia between 1999 and 2004, as well as 130 healthy control subjects. Participants with CoQ10 levels in the highest 25% demonstrated a 77% lower risk of developing dementia than those in the lowest quartile.
Though this was the first prospective study measuring CoQ10 levels and dementia risk in humans, previous mouse models have shown that this lipid-soluble antioxidant may lower oxidative stress and reduce amyloid plaque. Moreover, CoQ10 was found to actually reverse existing oxidative damage.
How does it work? The researchers suggested that CoQ10’s role in ATP synthesis (the “currency” of energy exchange in cells) and antioxidant action in mitochondrial and lipid membranes could explain CoQ10’s success in diminishing dementia risk.
Pomegranates: The Tastiest Way to Reduce Inflammation
One major component of dementia is inflammation in the brain that leads to the destruction of previously healthy brain cells. One of pomegranate’s biggest benefits is reducing inflammation. So it just seems natural that pomegranates would want to fight the progression of dementia, and that’s exactly what researchers from the University of Huddersfield in the UK found.
Dr. Olumayokun Olajide and his team believe that a polyphenol called punicalagin, found in high concentrations in pomegranates, is responsible for inhibiting inflammation in specialized brain cells known as micrologia. Specifically, the researchers found that punicalagin can reduce the prevalence of the inflammatory molecules TNF-a, IL-6, and prostaglandin E by interfering with NK-kB signaling pathways.
Was that a little too detailed for your liking? Here’s the big takeaway: pomegranate is an amazing food for healing inflammation in the body!
The Sunshine Vitamin Racks Up More Points as a Neuroprotector
Last but not least, the sunshine vitamin! We’ve been in awe of all the amazing research on vitamin D gracing the front pages of prominent journals lately, and when it comes to supporting cognitive health, vitamin D is one of the VIP nutrients for brain health.
A recent study published in the journal Neurology looked at 1,658 participants who did not have dementia, cardiovascular disease, or stroke upon enrollment. About six years later, 171 of the subjects were diagnosed with dementia, which included 102 cases of Alzheimer’s disease.
When the researchers tested the subjects blood levels of vitamin D, they found that those with a moderate vitamin D deficiency had a 53% greater risk of dementia and a 69% higher risk of Alzheimer’s disease. In subjects with severe deficiency, the risk more than doubled compared to those with healthy levels.
In other research, low vitamin D levels contribute to poor decision-making and increased cognitive problems overall.
Stuck on how to get enough vitamin D during these cold days of winter? Increase your intake of mushrooms, the only non-animal source of vitamin D. Eat wild salmon (it has up to 1000 IU of vitamin D in a 3.5 ounce serving, while farmed salmon only has 10%-25% of that amount!) Getting some winter sunshine may drive you to take a special vacation somewhere tropical, just tell your boss it’s a health risk not to take a few days off in the sun!