Omega-3 supplements can, in certain cases, help combat the depression and agitation symptoms associated with Alzheimer's disease, according to a clinical study conducted at the Swedish medical university Karolinska Institutet.
More evidence that supports the use of blueberries in the prevention of AD:
27/06/2007 - Eating a diet rich in blueberries may reduce the severity of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's or cognitive disorders relating to ageing, if results from an animal study can be translated into humans.
June 27, 2007 � It is unclear when the old adage "use it or lose it" first became associated with the idea that by keeping your mind active you could ward off dementia and Alzheimer's, but it probably began with research by Robert S. Wilson, who has just released new scientific evidence that it is true. The latest research in Neurology Journal says it does not have to be activity as complicated as computer games. Simply reading the daily paper can help keep the mind stimulated and lower the risk of Alzheimer's, and even mild cognitive impairment.
This study found a cognitively active person in old age was 2.6 times less likely to develop dementia and Alzheimer�s disease than a cognitively inactive person in old age.
These results remained the same even after consideration of past cognitive activity, lifetime socioeconomic status, and current social and physical activity.
Scientists working on a cure for Alzheimer�s disease find it hard to develop drugs that will pass through the highly selective blood-brain barrier. That may be why a Tel Aviv University researcher decided to take an alternate route � through the nose.
Scientists widely agree that plaque formation is what causes the onslaught of neurological diseases like Alzheimer�s and other neurological disorders, such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Administering a harmless bacterial virus known as a �filamentous phage� through nasal passages, Prof. Beka Solomon of the university�s Molecular Microbiology and Biotechnology Department sends her phages to the brain where they lock onto plaques associated with Alzheimer�s.
Reprinted with permission from Patrick Massey, MD, PhD, from "The Alternative Approach" column in The Daily Herald, July 30, 2007
In June, the American Alzheimer's Association held its annual international conference on preventing dementia. I gave a lecture on the benefit of herbs and dietary supplements for preventing and treating Alzheimer's disease. Although I was prepared to be one of the few focusing on non-drug therapies, I was pleasantly surprised.
It seems that, around the world, there is a lot of thought and research on nontraditional therapies for Alzheimer's disease.
Alzheimer's disease attacks the memory and cognition areas of the brain. The disease progresses over time, and in the late stage, a person is unable to perform even the most simple of tasks and needs constant supervision. Although rare before age 60, Alzheimer's incidence doubles every five years after that until about age 85, when it affects almost one in two people.
It has been theorized that Alzheimer's disease is the result of deformed proteins in the brain, called amyloid, and that it is irreversible. Research presented at this conference, however, indicated Alzheimer's disease might be reversible to some degree or even prevented by simple lifestyle changes.
We know that heart disease, type II diabetes, high blood pressure and other diseases respond well to simple lifestyle changes such as a better diet, regular exercise and stress reduction. It could be argued that a significant percent of chronic diseases might actually be the result of lifestyle choices. Alzheimer's could be added to that list.
At the conference, research from universities and medical centers from across the world emphasized that leading a healthy lifestyle significantly reduced the chance of developing Alzheimer's disease. A diet that is rich in fruits and vegetables provides antioxidants that prevent nerve damage. Regular exercise increases blood flow to the brain, increasing oxygen and nutrients and removing toxins. Even meditation might strengthen areas of the brain that are most susceptible to the damage associated with Alzheimer's disease.
Changes in lifestyle might also benefit those already diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. Research at the University of California-Irvine demonstrated that with 12 months of highly nutritious food and a mentally stimulating environment, old dogs with memory problems could perform memory tasks as well as younger dogs. This correlates with my research that intravenous vitamins also significantly improve memory and cognition in those with mild to moderate dementia.
There was one piece of research that I particularly found fascinating. We know that specific genes, like ApoEe4, increase the risk of Alzheimer's disease. However, researchers at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden showed that diet and regular exercise in those with the ApoEe4 gene reduced the risk of Alzheimer's disease to slightly below that of the normal population. This indicates that simple lifestyle changes can affect the very DNA in our cells.
The answer to Alzheimer's disease is not only better medications. The best approach seems to be deeply rooted in something for which we are completely responsible...healthy lifestyles.
About the Author: Patrick B. Massey, M.D., Ph.D., is Medical Director for Alternative and Complementary Medicine for Alexian Brothers Hospital Network, and President, ALT-MED Medical & Physical Therapy Program, 1544 Nerge Road, Elk Grove Village, IL 60007, 847-923-0046, web site: www.alt-med.org email: [email protected]
"Mediterranean diet and Alzheimer disease mortality"
Scarmeas N, Stern Y, et al, Neurology, 2007; 69(11): 1084-93. (Address: Taub Institute for Research in Alzheimer's Disease and the Aging Brain, Columbia University Medical Center, New York, NY 10032, USA. E-mail: [email protected] ).
In a prospective study involving 192 community-based individuals diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease, results indicate that higher adherence to the Mediterranean diet may be associated with a lower risk of mortality. During 4.4 years of follow-up, 85 patients died. An inverse association was observed between adherence to the Mediterranean diet and mortality risk.
After adjusting for potential confounders, subjects in the highest tertile for adherence to the Mediterranean diet showed a 73% reduced risk of mortality, compared with subjects in the lowest tertile of adherence. Thus, the results of this study suggest that in patients with Alzheimer's disease, greater adherence to the Mediterranean diet may lower the risk of mortality.
"Creatine supplementation and cognitive performance in elderly individuals"
McMorris T, Mielcarz G, et al, Neuropsychol Dev Cogn B Aging Neuropsychol Cogn, 2007; 14(5): 517-28. (Address: Centre for Sports Science and Medicine, University of Chichester, College Lane, Chichester, West Sussex PO19 6PE, UK.
E-mail: [email protected] ).
In a study involving 32 elderly subjects, results indicate that supplementation with creatine may improve cognitive performance. The subjects were assigned to 1 of 2 groups - 1) received 5 g/day of placebo for 1 week, followed by 5 g/day of creatine for 1 week; 2) received placebo for 2 weeks.
Cognitive performance was evaluated at baseline, and at the end of each week of the study period, using random number generation, forward and backward number recall, spatial recall, and long-term memory tasks. Creatine supplementation was associated with improvement in all tasks except backward number recall.
Thus, the results of this study suggest that supplementation with creatine may improve cognitive performance in elderly subjects.
Insulin, it turns out, may be as important for the mind as it is for the body. Research in the last few years has raised the possibility that Alzheimer�s memory loss could be due to a novel third form of diabetes.
Now scientists at Northwestern University have discovered why brain insulin signaling -- crucial for memory formation -- would stop working in Alzheimer�s disease. They have shown that a toxic protein found in the brains of individuals with Alzheimer�s removes insulin receptors from nerve cells, rendering those neurons insulin resistant. (The protein, known to attack memory-forming synapses, is called an ADDL for �amyloid �-derived diffusible ligand.�)
With other research showing that levels of brain insulin and its related receptors are lower in individuals with Alzheimer�s disease, the Northwestern study sheds light on the emerging idea of Alzheimer�s being a �type 3� diabetes.
The new findings, published online by the FASEB Journal, could help researchers determine which aspects of existing drugs now used to treat diabetic patients may protect neurons from ADDLs and improve insulin signaling in individuals with Alzheimer�s. (The FASEB Journal is a publication of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology.)
In the brain, insulin and insulin receptors are vital to learning and memory. When insulin binds to a receptor at a synapse, it turns on a mechanism necessary for nerve cells to survive and memories to form. That Alzheimer�s disease may in part be caused by insulin resistance in the brain has scientists asking how that process gets initiated.
Can a person maintain good memory and recall for 115 years? A recent report published in the journal Neurobiology of Aging, documents the case of a 115-year old woman with remarkable preservation of her mental faculties.
A more recent report in the same journal points to a simple array of B vitamins (25 mg vitamin B6/pyridoxine, 2000 mcg vitamin B9/folic acid, 400 mcg vitamin B12) which dramatically decreased levels of beta-amyloid in the blood circulation.
Beta amyloid is the plaque that builds up in the brain with advancing age that is implicated in Alzheimer's disease. After two years on vitamin therapy, blood levels of beta amyloid only increased by 4.9%, compared to 18.5% in a group received an inactive placebo tablet. Elevated blood levels of beta amyloid is an indicator of the onset of senility. [Neurobiology of Aging 29: 303-06, 2008]
The new study suggests that DHA may be most useful for early intervention and prevention of late-onset Alzheimer's disease (LOAD), the most common form of the disease that occurs later in life and has no obvious family inheritance pattern.
Ma and co-workers report that DHA induced increases in LR11 in all the systems studied, as well as from an in vivo model of type-2 diabetes, another AD risk factor.
"Because reduced LR11 is known to increase beta-amyloid production and may be a significant genetic cause of LOAD, our results indicate that DHA increases in [LR11] levels may play an important role in preventing LOAD," concluded the authors.
The data was welcomed by Dr. Edward Nelson, vice president of medical research for Martek, who provided the vegetarian DHA used in the study.
"This study adds to the evidence supporting the important brain health benefits provided by an enhanced DHA status, and there are a number of ongoing studies investigating the role of DHA in reducing the risk for neurological diseases like Alzheimer's," said Nelson.
Study in this area is ongoing with a National Institutes of Health- funded multi-million dollar clinical study on DHA in the progression of Alzheimer's disease. Results from this NIH clinical study will be available in 2010.
The new results build on an earlier pre-clinical study using genetically modified mice, reported to be the first study to show that DHA may slow the accumulation of a protein, tau, that leads to the development of neurofibrillary tangles, one of two signature brain injuries of Alzheimer's disease (Journal of Neuroscience, Vol. 27, No. 16).
Consumption of fruits may reduce the risk of Alzheimer's disease
Apples, bananas, and oranges are the most common fruits in both Western and Asian diets, and are important sources of vitamins, minerals, and fiber. A new study in the Journal of Food Science explores the additional health benefits of these fruits and reveals they also protect against neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer’s Disease.
Researchers at Cornell University investigated the effects of apple, banana, and orange extracts on neuron cells and found that the phenolic phytochemicals of the fruits prevented neurotoxicity on the cells.
Among the three fruits, apples contained the highest content of protective antioxidants, followed by bananas then oranges.
The authors concluded “[their] study demonstrated that antioxidants in the major fresh fruits consumed in the United States and Korea protected neuronal cells from oxidative stress….Additional consumption of fresh fruits such as apple, banana, and orange may be beneficial to improve effects in neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s.”