Your Road to Wellness

Cognition

Want to slow down brain atrophy?

Posted by on 5:46 am Anti-Aging, Cognition, Dementia, Fish Oil, Flaxseeds, General Health, Stay healthy, Supplements, Vitamin B, Vitamin B12, Vitamins | 0 comments

Most likely everybody would like to slow down brain atrophy.  Who wouldn’t like more brain power? But is that even possible?  Take a look at the results from this research.

168 elderly people (≥70 y) with mild cognitive impairment were included and randomly assigned to either a placebo group or to a group taking a high-dose of B vitamins.

This is what they  took daily, 0.8 mg of folic acid, 20 mg of vitamin B-6, and 0.5 mg of vitamin B-12 (Jernerén F, et.al., 2015).

The participants underwent cranial magnetic resonance imaging scans when they started and 2 years later. The omega 3 fatty acid levels of EPA and DHA was also measured.

This what the researchers found.

The B vitamin treatment slowed the average atrophy rate by 40.0% compared with the placebo group. This happened however only in the participants who had high levels of omega 3 fatty acids at the start of the study.

Another study investigating cognitive decline in 266 participants 70 years or older found similar interesting results (Oulhaj A, et.al., 2016).

When omega-3 fatty acid concentrations are low, treatment with B vitamins had no effect on cognitive decline, but when omega-3 levels were in the upper normal range, B vitamins slowed cognitive decline.

Eating a lot of fish is not a good way anymore to increase your omega 3 fatty acid levels because all fish is now contaminated. A better choice is to use a high quality fish oil with high amounts of EPA and DHA, since that would not expose you to the same levels of contaminants.

It is also a good idea to take a B-complex formula that has the metabolite of folic acid, 5-methyltetrahydrofolate, because many people does not metabolize folic acid effectively.

References

Jernerén F, Elshorbagy AK, Oulhaj A, Smith SM, Refsum H, Smith AD. Brain atrophy in cognitively impaired elderly: the importance of long-chain ω-3 fatty acids and B vitamin status in a randomized controlled trial. Am J Clin Nutr. 2015 Jul;102(1):215-21.

Oulhaj A, Jernerén F, Refsum H, Smith AD, de Jager CA.Omega-3 Fatty Acid Status Enhances the Prevention of Cognitive Decline by B Vitamins in Mild Cognitive Impairment. J Alzheimers Dis. 2016;50(2):547-57.

 

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The B1 (thiamine), B2 (riboflavin), B6 (pyridoxine), and B12 (cobalamin) comes in their physiologically active form, making them easier to absorb.

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The anti-inflammatory effects of Omega 3 fatty acids are well known. Most people that eat a western diet can benefit from increasing the intake of Omega 3 fatty acid. Most fish oils on the market are ethyl esters because that’s cheaper to produce.

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Oxidative stress is involved in cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s Disease

Posted by on 8:28 am Alzheimer’s, Anti-Aging, Cognition, Diseases, General Health, Health Risk, Research, Stress, Wellness | 0 comments

Increased oxidative stress has been documented in the frontal cortex in individuals with Alzheimer’s disease and in patients with mild cognitive impairment (Ansari, MA 2010).  One of the emerging causative factors associated with Alzheimer’s pathology is oxidative stress. This AD-related increase in oxidative stress has been attributed to decreased levels of the brain antioxidant, glutathione (Saharan and Mandal, 2014). 

The body uses antioxidants to limit the damage done by oxidative stress and glutathione is the body’s most effective self-made antioxidant.  Glutathione is a part of the body’s natural defense against free radical damage.

The following study used proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy to measure glutathione levels in both healthy individuals and patients with alzheimer’s disease (Mandal PK et. al, 2015).

The researchers found a reduction of glutathione in both the hippocampus and frontal cortex–which are two different areas of the brain–in Alzheimer’s patients.  It is interesting to note that glutathione reduction in those regions correlated with a decline in cognitive function.  The researchers concluded that the study provides compelling evidence that the glutathione levels in specific brain regions are relevant markers for mild cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s disease.  

So how can we ensure that our glutathione levels remain at healthy levels?  One way is to add it into our daily routine via supplementation.  It is now possible to supply glutathione in a bioavailable form–which gets it into the cells where it is needed–and that is by using S-Acetyl Glutathione (Cacciatore et. al., 2010).

The body is making less glutathione as we get older, that happens to everybody, but some are making less than others.

References

Ansari, A, and S W Scheff. “Oxidative Stress in the Progression of Alzheimer Disease in the Frontal Cortex.OUP Academic, Journal of Neuropathology and Experimental Neurology , 1 Feb. 2010, academic.oup.com/jnen/article/69/2/155/2917186.

Cacciatore I1, Cornacchia C, Pinnen F, Mollica A, Di Stefano A. “Prodrug approach for increasing cellular glutathione levels.” Molecules, 3 Mar. 2010, https://www.mdpi.com/1420-3049/15/3/1242

Mandal PK, Saharan S., Tripathi M., and Murari G. “Brain glutathione levels–a novel biomarker for mild cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s disease.” Biol Psychiatry, 15 Nov. 2015,  https://www.sciencedirect.com/ science/article/pii/S0006322315003121

Saharan S., Mandal P.K., “The emerging role of glutathione in Alzheimer’s disease.” J Alzheimers Dis. 23 April 2014. https://content.iospress.com/articles/journal-of-alzheimers-disease/jad132483

 

 

 

Glutathione helps your cells reduce free radical damage and also helps lower inflammation.

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Improve cognition and physical performance at the same time

Posted by on 3:00 pm Cognition, Eating, Energy, Exercise | 0 comments

Adding one thing can sometimes give you more than one benefit.

This research was conducted to find out if dietary nitrate supplementation would improve exercise performance and cognitive function during a prolonged intermittent sprint test (Thompson C.,et.al., 2015).

16 male team-sport players received either 140 ml a day of beetroot juice high in nitrate or a placebo beetroot juice low in nitrate for 7 days.

Using a stationary bike they repeatedly performed several 6 seconds “all-out” sprints with 100 seconds active recovery and 20 seconds of rest, while simultaneously performing cognitive tasks. The test went on for two 40 minutes “halves” simulating team sports.

The beetroot juice high in nitrate improved sprint performance compared with the placebo juice and also improved reaction time of response to the cognitive tasks.

In another study when the participants exercised for 6 weeks and either drank beetroot juice or a placebo drink,  the exercise and beetroot group had brain networks that more closely resembled those of younger adults (Petrie M, et.al., 2017).

When 450 ml beetroot juice was compared with a placebo drink cognitive performance was improved on a subtraction task 90 minutes later (Wightman EL, et.al., 2015). These results show that single doses of dietary nitrate can modulate the prefrontal cortex cerebral blood-flow response to task performance and potentially improve cognitive performance.

References

Thompson C, Wylie LJ, Fulford J, Kelly J, Black MI, McDonagh ST, Jeukendrup AE, Vanhatalo A, Jones AM. Dietary nitrate improves sprint performance and cognitive function during prolonged intermittent exercise. Eur J Appl Physiol. 2015 Sep;115(9):1825-34.

Petrie M, Rejeski WJ, Basu S, Laurienti PJ, Marsh AP, Norris JL, Kim-Shapiro DB, Burdette JH. Beet Root Juice: An Ergogenic Aid for Exercise and the Aging Brain. J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 2017 Sep 1;72(9):1284-1289.

Wightman EL, Haskell-Ramsay CF, Thompson KG, Blackwell JR, Winyard PG, Forster J, Jones AM, Kennedy DO. Dietary nitrate modulates cerebral blood flow parameters and cognitive performance in humans: A double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover investigation. Physiol Behav. 2015 Oct 1;149:149-58.

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Do you want a bigger brain and better memory?

Posted by on 7:33 am Alzheimer’s, Anti-Aging, Cognition, Dementia, Exercise, General Health, Memory, Research, Stay healthy, Wellness | 0 comments

 

Is it really possible to increase the size of the brain later in life?

Data from a randomized controlled study of 155 older women, who participated in 52 weeks of resistance training showed reduced cortical white matter atrophy on MRI scans when compared with the control  group (Best JR, et.al., 2015).

This means that they ended up with a bigger brain than they would have had if they had not done the resistance exercise.

Twice-weekly resistance training also promoted memory and increased peak muscle power when they were followed up after 2 years.

The control group did balance and toning.

If you instead prefer aerobic type of exercise, that may also improve your cognition.

Research showed that an individual’s cardio-respiratory fitness was a better predictor of cognitive gains than the exercise dose (Vidoni ED, et.al., 2015).

To improve cardio-respiratory function you can do regular aerobic exercise, or you can do high intensity short interval training which will save you time.

This study compared the effects of long slow distance training with high-intensity interval training in rowers (Ní Chéilleachair NJ, et.al., 2017).

High intensity short interval training was more effective than long and slow distance training in improving performance and aerobic characteristics.

References

Best JR, Chiu BK, Liang Hsu C, Nagamatsu LS, Liu-Ambrose T.Long-Term Effects of Resistance Exercise Training on Cognition and Brain Volume in Older Women: Results from a Randomized Controlled Trial. J Int Neuropsychol Soc. 2015 Nov;21(10):745-56.

Vidoni ED, Johnson DK, Morris JK, Van Sciver A, Greer CS, Billinger SA, Donnelly JE, Burns JM,Dose-Response of Aerobic Exercise on Cognition: A Community-Based, Pilot Randomized Controlled TrialPLoS One. 2015 Jul 9;10(7):e0131647.

Ní Chéilleachair NJ1,2, Harrison AJ2, Warrington GD,HIIT enhances endurance performance and aerobic characteristics more than high-volume training in trained rowers.J Sports Sci. 2017 Jun;35(11):1052-1058

 

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What else can you do to improve your cognition other than pay attention to the food you eat?

Posted by on 10:31 am Anti-Aging, Cognition, Exercise, General Health, Health, Vigorous Activity, Wellness | 0 comments

 

You actually have quite a lot of control over how functional your brain is going to be.

Research has shown we can slow down memory loss and even improve our memory.

The food we eat is extremely important, but another tool we have is exercise.  Resistance exercise is especially effective.

The following study included 155 older women participating in resistance training 2 days a week for a year (Best JR, et.al., 2015).

They were compared with a group doing balance and toning twice a week and were evaluated at the beginning of the study, after 1 year and after 2 years.

Resistance training improved executive function compared to balance and toning. It also improved memory, reduced cortical white matter.

Atrophy verified on MRI and increased peak muscle power at 2-year follow-up. The balance and toning exercises did not do that.

Men and women doing resistance exercises 2-3 times a week for 6 months significantly improved overall cognitive function, with maintenance of executive and overall benefits over 18 months (Fiatarone Singh MA, et.al., 2014).

They were compared with a group doing seated calisthenics which did not result in the same benefits.

Doing resistance exercise twice a week does not require a lot of time and can help to keep your brain healthier.

That’s time well spent.

References

Best JR, Chiu BK, Liang Hsu C, Nagamatsu LS, Liu-Ambrose T. Long-Term Effects of Resistance Exercise Training on Cognition and Brain Volume in Older Women: Results from a Randomized Controlled Trial. J Int Neuropsychol Soc. 2015 Nov;21(10):745-56.

Fiatarone Singh MA, Gates N, Saigal N, Wilson GC, Meiklejohn J, Brodaty H, Wen W, Singh N, Baune BT, Suo C, Baker MK, Foroughi N, Wang Y, Sachdev PS, Valenzuela M. The Study of Mental and Resistance Training (SMART) study—resistance training and/or cognitive training in mild cognitive impairment: a randomized, double-blind, double-sham controlled trial. J Am Med Dir Assoc. 2014 Dec;15(12):873-80.

 

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Dementia, Inflammation and free radical damage.

Posted by on 5:41 pm Cognition, Dementia, Inflammation, Memory | 0 comments


Low grade inflammation and free radical damage are risk factors for most chronic conditions and dementia is no exemption.

Vascular risk factors, markers of inflammation and endothelial dysfunction predicted lower performance in several cognitive areas in a study which included 747 participants older than 50 years (Miralbell J, et al. 2013).

Examination of study participants with an average age of 63 years found that higher levels of the inflammatory marker hs-CRP was associated with worse performance in executive function (Wersching H, et al. 2010).

The low grade inflammation was associated with cerebral microstructural disintegration. Even if you don’t know exactly what cerebral microstructural disintegration is, it does not sound good to me. It’s probably something you don’t want to get.

High level of hs-CRP can even be used to identify individuals at an increased risk for cognitive decline because it predicted poorer memory 12 years later in elderly women (Komulainen P, et al. 2007).

Oxidative stress also plays a role in chronic conditions. Advanced glycation end products and lipid peroxidation are markers of disease progression for both diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease (Reddy VP, et al. 2009).

Autopsies have shown increased lipid peroxidation as well as protein, DNA and RNA oxidation in multiple brain regions establishing oxidative damage as an early event in Alzheimer’s disease (Markesbery WR, Lovell MA, 2007).

For these reasons using effective antioxidants and plant derived anti-inflammatory substances make a lot of sense.

As an antioxidant I can’t think of anything more effective than the antioxidant glutathione which the body makes, but makes less of as we get older. You just have to be sure to take it in a form which works.

A plant derived anti-inflammatory substance with a lot of research behind it is curcumin.  This would also be beneficial, as long as you take it in a form which is well absorbed.

 

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 Komulainen P1, Lakka TA, Kivipelto M, Hassinen M, Penttilä IM, Helkala EL, Gylling H, Nissinen A, Rauramaa R. Serum high sensitivity C-reactive protein and cognitive function in elderly women. Age Ageing. 2007 Jul;36(4):443-8. Epub 2007 May 30.
 Markesbery WR1, Lovell MA. Damage to lipids, proteins, DNA, and RNA in mild cognitive impairment. Arch Neurol. 2007 Jul;64(7):954-6.
Miralbell J1, López-Cancio E, López-Oloriz J, Arenillas JF, Barrios M, Soriano-Raya JJ, Galán A, Cáceres C, Alzamora M, Pera G, Toran P, Dávalos A, Mataró M. Cognitive patterns in relation to biomarkers of cerebrovascular disease and vascular risk factors. Cerebrovasc Dis. 2013;36(2):98-105. doi: 10.1159/000352059. Epub 2013 Sep 11.
Reddy VP1, Zhu X, Perry G, Smith MA. Oxidative stress in diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease. J Alzheimers Dis. 2009;16(4):763-74. doi: 10.3233/JAD-2009-1013.
Wersching H1, Duning T, Lohmann H, Mohammadi S, Stehling C, Fobker M, Conty M, Minnerup J, Ringelstein EB, Berger K, Deppe M, Knecht S. Serum C-reactive protein is linked to cerebral microstructural integrity and cognitive function. Neurology. 2010 Mar 30;74(13):1022-9. doi: 10.1212/WNL.0b013e3181d7b45b.

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