Brain Preservation With Brain Health Supplements

9. December 2011 10:25 by IKE in Ailments, Body Health  //  Tags: , ,   //   Comments (0)

Protecting brain health is imperative for meaningful and healthy aging. Scientific and medical wisdom suggest that some degree of cognitive decline is part of the aging process. The possibility of living longer and healthier lives is within reach, but brain health must be preserved while achieving this goal. For this reason, it’s quite encouraging to learn that scientists have discovered that neurological structure and function can be preserved and even restored. We can now offer scientifically substantiated approaches to enhancing our cognitive health with brain health supplements.


Various factors contribute to the gradual decline of mental acuity as we age. Recent studies suggest that inflammation, high blood pressure, elevated insulin levels, obesity, arterial inelasticity and a condition known as metabolic syndrome are all risk factors and can lead to a decline in brain health. Anxiety and depression can also predispose an individual to a deterioration of brain health. A good strategy for preserving brain health starts with preventing illnesses that are known to contribute to cognitive decline. The old adage “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” definitely applies here. Good nutrition and a healthy lifestyle are obviously beneficial to brain health and a great place to start. A healthy neurological system is also dependent on keeping blood pressure and body weight in check, avoiding diabetes and its precursor metabolic syndrome, as well as treating depression and anxiety disorders.

A number of well-known dietary supplement ingredients support brain health. Nerve cells (neurons) have a high energy demand, and hence free radicals are abundant due to a high level of oxidative metabolism within neurons. Antioxidants scavenge these free radicals and thus minimize neuronal damage and support brain health. Alpha-lipoic acid is quite valuable for neuronal protection because of solubility characteristics that allows considerable free radical neutralizing activity within nerve cell mitochondria. Inflammation is implicated in a wide variety of neurological disorders, including Alzheimer’s disease. Ginkgo biloba leaf extract (GBE) is well-known for its neuroprotective effects mediated through anti-inflammatory and antioxidant action. GBE has been used extensively for memory enhancement as well as in a wide variety of dementias. Omega-3 fatty acids, in particular docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), have been used quite frequently to combat neurological damage, inflammation and deteriorating brain health. Phosphatidylserine (PS) and related phospholipids are integral components of every cell membrane and are particularly abundant in brain neuronal membranes. In Europe and Japan, PS is sold as a prescription drug to remedy memory loss and learning deficits.

For a long time it’s been known that declining levels of the essential neurotransmitter acetylcholine is responsible for a wide range of cognitive deficits (1). By boosting acetylcholine levels in the brain, cognitive deficits are reversed. One approach to increasing brain acetylcholine levels involves inhibiting acetylcholine esterase, the enzyme responsible for acetylcholine metabolism or breakdown. Many of the prescription drugs used to treat Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias act as cholinesterase inhibitors. A naturally occurring cholinesterase inhibitor sold as a nutritional supplement is called huperzine A. This alkaloid is isolated and purified from extracts of the Chinese club moss, Huperzia serrata. Huperzine A has been found to be both potent and effective in elevating brain levels of acetylcholine (2).

I have always thought of progesterone as having an important role in female health. It has been known for quite some time that progesterone is also produced by males but at much lower levels. Recently, it was discovered that progesterone is synthesized in the brain, spinal cord and peripheral nerves from the precursor molecule pregnenolone (3). I was surprised to learn that within the brain, and the nervous system in general, progesterone offers neuroprotection and is intimately involved with the formation of myelin sheaths. These findings suggest that progesterone, now referred to as a neurosteroid, has the potential to preserve cognitive functions and overall brain health because of these neuroprotective and promyelinating effects. Very recently, animal studies revealed that progesterone inhibited the inflammatory response and enhanced the recovery from traumatic brain injury and stroke (4). At this point, the conclusion is that progesterone supports brain health and combats neurodegeneration that may occur during the aging process.

The brain, like any other organ or system in the body, is subject to the aging process. During this process, physical and biochemical changes in brain cells can lead to various degrees of cognitive impairment. This loss of brain function as we age is not inevitable. Scientific research has demonstrated mechanisms that explain cognitive decline as well as nutrients/supplement ingredients that can slow and even reverse the progression of age-related brain health degeneration. Brain health supplements containing some of these key ingredients provide a smart option for maintaining brain health throughout life.

Created by Dr. William J. Keller

References:

  1. Bartus RT, Dean RL, Beer B, Lippa AS. The cholinergic hypothesis of geriatric memory dysfunction. Science. 1982 Jul 30;217(4558):408-14. Abstract available at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7046051
  2. Jellin, JD. Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database. 2010. pp. 926-929.
  3. Schumacher M, et al. Local synthesis and dual actions of progesterone in the nervous system: neuroprotection and myelination. Growth Hormone IGF Research. 2004 Jun;14 Suppl A:S18-33. Abstract available at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15135772
  4. Wang J, et al. The protective mechanism of progesterone on blood-brain barrier in cerebral ischemia in rats. Brain Research Bulletin. 2009 Aug 14;79(6):426-30. Abstract available at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19477244.

 

Food for Thought: WHAT are the CAUSES of OBESITY?

23. May 2011 18:32 by IKE in Body Health, Fitness, Health  //  Tags: , ,   //   Comments (0)

Food for Thought: WHAT are the CAUSES of OBESITY?



Obesity has been a problem in the United States for quite some time now. Most health care practitioners view obesity as a prelude to a variety of conditions that range from osteoarthritis to cardiovascular disease. An increasingly serious health issue involves obesity being associated with insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes. However, it’s not clear if obesity or diabetes develops first, and this question has been a focus of considerable debate and research in recent years.

A simplistic and sometimes convincing explanation of weight gain involves looking at calories consumed versus calories expended. The calorie in/calorie out concept readily explains weight gain when factors that seem to define the American lifestyle are considered. These factors include consuming large portions of high-fat and high-carbohydrate food coupled with a sedentary lifestyle. An estimated 68 percent of American adults qualify as overweight or obese because they eat more calories than they burn. Although this assessment of weight gain appears logical, there may be several other factors that contribute to the preponderance of obesity in the United States.

Research has shown that a lack of sufficient sleep (sleep debt) adversely affects the balance of at least two important hormone-like substances in the body. Prolonged periods of less than seven hours of sleep each night usually result in elevated levels of the appetite-stimulating ghrelin and reduced levels of the satiety-inducing leptin (1, 2). Exposure to excessive levels of BPA (bisphenol A is a known endocrine disruptor from certain types of plastics) has been shown to contribute directly to obesity in humans (3). Infections with adenovirus (there are 52 types of this DNA virus that can invade human cells) cause obesity in laboratory animals, and this may correlate with similar infections in humans (4).

In my opinion, the most fascinating new research on body weight variation shows that the intestinal flora (gut microbiota) can determine the efficiency of calorie extraction from the food that we eat (5). The microbes in the colon extract energy from the indigestible food passed on from the small intestine. These microbes ferment food that we cannot digest, and they keep most of the resulting energy for themselves. However, our gut microbiota do share some of the extracted energy with us, but the amount varies from almost nothing to nearly 10% of our daily calories. A good analogy here is to look at obese individuals like fuel-efficient cars. Their gut microbes are much better at extracting energy from food which, in turn, can contribute to weight gain. The intestinal flora from a lean person could be viewed as gas guzzlers because of reduced energy extraction efficiency from food material in the colon. Further research has shown that obese volunteers had more Firmicutes species and fewer Bacteroidetes species in their guts than did lean volunteers. When the obese volunteers lost weight, their gut microbiota populations shifted with an increase in the gas-guzzling microbes (Bacteroidetes) and a decrease in the fuel-efficient microbes (Firmicutes). A number of food companies and ingredient vendors are currently investigating the link between probiotic composition and weight control.

Keep in mind that diet and exercise are the cornerstones of any successful weight-loss program. I believe that dietary supplements for weight loss can offer meaningful help in weight loss efforts. Certain supplements for weight loss can provide benefit to the vast majority of consumers who seek to lose weight and strive for healthy living . To reach your weight-loss goals and to keep the weight off, it is imperative to change your diet, improve exercise habits and make sound lifestyle choices. And don’t forget determination. If you have the determination to stick with a supplement program together with diet, exercise and a healthy lifestyle, you will succeed.

Created by Dr. William J. Keller

References

1. Sharma, S., Kavuru, M. Sleep and metabolism: an overview. International Journal of Endocrinology. 2010: 270832. Available at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2929498/

2. Body Weight and Sleep. Available at http://www.sleepdex.org/weight.htm

3. Hugo, ER, et al. Bisphenol A at Environmentally Relevant Doses Inhibits Adiponectin Release from Human Adipose Tissue Explants and Adipocytes. Environmental Health Perspectives. 2008; 116(12): 1642-1647. Available at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2599757/?tool=pubmed

4. Whigham, LD, et. al. Adipogenic potential of multiple human adenoviruses in vivo and in vitro in animals. American Journal of Physiology-Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology. 2006; 290(1):R190-4. Available at: http://ajpregu.physiology.org/content/290/1/R190.long

5. Ley RE, et. al. Microbial ecology: human gut microbes associated with obesity. Nature. 2006; 444(7122): 1022-3. Abstract available at: http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v444/n7122/full/4441022a.html

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