Thursday, May 31, 2012

Diet and Powerful Nutrients Prevent Brain Shrinkage, Lower Alzheimer’s Disease Risk

Researchers reporting in the prestigious journal, Neurology have found that proper diet and specific nutrients can lower the risk of brain shrinkage by nearly forty percent. Other lifestyle factors including degree of education and elevated blood pressure combined with a healthy diet can slash brain shrinkage risk in half. Shrinking brain volume is very closely associated with the development of many forms of dementia including the most devastating affliction, Alzheimer’s disease.

In addition to following weight management practices including calorie restriction with optimal nutrition (CRON), middle and advanced aging adults will want to ensure they consume a diet packed with marine derived Omega-3 fats and vitamins B, C, D and E to dramatically lower the risk of reduced brain volume, memory loss and risk of Alzheimer’s disease.

Key Vitamins and Marine Derived Fats Slow Brain Shrinkage and Cognitive Decline
Dr. Gene Bowman from the Departments of Neurology and Public Health and Preventive Medicine at the Oregon Health & Science University and his team of researchers recruited 104 elderly people with an average age of 87 who had few risk factors for impaired memory and thinking. They performed blood tests to quantify and compare 30 different nutrient biomarkers considered important to support brain health and volume. All the participants also completed tests of memory and thinking, while 42 of them also underwent MRI scans that measured their brain volume.

An analysis of the results found that the participants ate an otherwise healthy diet, yet 25% were lacking in vitamin D and 7% were deficient in vitamin B12. Dr. Bowman noted that the results showed a significant amount of the variation in brain volume and scores on the thinking and memory tests were tied to levels of nutrient biomarkers.

Nutrient Markers Measured in Blood Impact Brain Health and Memory
Researchers determined the nutrient levels accounted for 17% of the variation in the scores, while 46% of the variation was tied to other factors such as age, number of years of education and blood pressure. For brain volume, the nutrient levels accounted for 37% of the variation. The study found that the vitamins and nutrients you get from eating a wide range of fruits, vegetables and fish can be measured in blood biomarkers and have a direct impact on brain shrinkage, memory and cognition.

Dr. Bowman concluded “it is very exciting to think that people could potentially stop their brains from shrinking and keep them sharp by adjusting their diet… I'm a firm believer these nutrients have strong potential to protect your brain and make it work better.” In addition to eating a natural, organic diet full of fresh vegetables, fish and fruit, some health-minded individuals may want to consider supplementing with vitamins B, C, D, E along with fish oil capsule to ensure optimal bioavailability of these critical nutrients.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Omega-3 Long-Chain Fatty Acids from Fish Oil May Provide a Cure for Leukemia

Scientists from the medical sciences division at Penn State University have discovered that a compound in fish oil appears to target leukemia stem cells and could lead to a cure for the disease. The compound is a natural extract from EPA, the Omega-3 fat component found most commonly in fish and fish oil supplements. Known as delta-12-protaglandin J3, or D12-PGJ3, the molecule is shown to target and kill the stem cells of chronic myelogenous leukemia, a common form of the disease.

Extensive research from past studies has shown that Omega-3 fats are critical to cardiovascular and brain health. This new evidence supports the regular intake of EPA omega-3 fats to selectively kill leukemia-causing stem cells that could prevent and possibly even provide a cure for this devastating disease.

Omega-3 Fat Compound Shown to Kill Stem Cells Necessary for Leukemia Progression
The research, currently being conducted on mice that exhibit metabolic characteristics similar to humans, shows that some metabolites of Omega-3 have the ability to selectively kill the leukemia-causing stem cells. Scientists determined that D12-PGJ3 kills cancer-causing stem cells in the mice's spleen and bone marrow. Specifically, it activates a gene known as p53 in the leukemia stem cell that programs the cells own death in a process called apoptosis.

The p53 gene is a well known “tumor suppressor gene that regulates the response to DNA damage and maintains genomic stability”, noted lead study author Dr. Sandeep Prabhu. The D12-PDJ3 compound kills the leukemic stem cells (leukemia is a cancer of the white blood cells), an important step to prevent the development and division of white blood cells that can be used to propagate new cancerous tissue.

Long-Chain Omega Fats Help Regenerate White Blood Cells to Prevent Leukemia
Current drug therapies are ineffective as they only attempt to keep the number of leukemia cells low, and carry many dangerous and sometimes fatal side effects. Drug therapy for leukemia patients fails to completely cure the disease because they do not target the source of new leukemia stem cells. Current treatments are unable to kill the leukemia stem cells and fall short of providing an effective cure for the disease.

The Omega-3 EPA fat compound, D12-PDJ3 targets regeneration of white blood stem cells, an essential step necessary to cure leukemia. The authors noted there were no side effects from administering the natural fat compound. Researchers from Penn State indicated that the compound would shortly move to human trials, with similar results anticipated. Long chain omega fats have been documented to promote human health and prevent chronic illnesses ranging from heart disease and dementia to metabolic syndrome and stroke. EPA fat compounds (500 mg per day) may help prevent and treat leukemia and other cancer lines dependent on stem cells to replicate and metastasize.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Mediterranean Diet and Calorie Restriction Promote Brain Health and Longevity

Researchers have long theorized that a Mediterranean diet full of vegetables, fruit, fish, nuts, seeds and olive oil can help promote good health. Scientists at the Sahlgrenska Academy in Sweden reporting in the European journal AGE provides the unanimous results of four independent studies that demonstrate this style of eating not only lowers the risk from many chronic and potentially fatal diseases, but actually extends healthy lifespan in aging adults.

A separate research body appearing in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) explains that calorie restriction or consuming about twenty-five percent fewer calories each day, turns on a molecule that helps the brain stay young. Extrapolating the results of both studies suggests that following a Mediterranean diet with fewer calories may provide a valuable key to preserving memory, lowering risk of serious illness and extending a healthy life span.

Mediterranean Diet Improves Lifespan by Twenty Percent
Swedish researchers studied the effects of a Mediterranean diet on older people in the Swiss population. They developed a unique study designed to compare 70-year-olds who eat a Mediterranean diet with others who have eaten more meat and animal products. The intent was to confirm the positive results suggested by a myriad of studies over the past decade that found a diet low in animal meats and high in fresh vegetables and monounsaturated fats can improve health and extend lifespan.

The result of the study indicated that those who eat a Mediterranean diet have a 20% higher chance of living longer. The study leader, Dr. Gianluca Tognon commented “This means in practice that older people who eat a Mediterranean diet live an estimated two to three years longer than those who don't”. Three additional studies awaiting publication support these results. Dr. Tognon concluded “there is no doubt that a Mediterranean diet is linked to better health, not only for the elderly but also for youngsters.”

Calorie Restricted Diet Slows Brain Aging to Improve Cognition
An independent study found that overeating may cause brain aging while eating less turns on a molecule that helps the brain stay young. Italian researchers demonstrated that a molecule called CREB1 is triggered by a calorie restricted diet and activates many genes linked to longevity and to the proper functioning of the brain. Calorie restriction is defined as eating 25 to 30 percent less than normal while maintaining optimal nutrition.

Researchers conducting the study concluded “This discovery has important implications to develop future dietary therapies to keep our brain young and prevent brain degeneration and the aging process.” Compiling the available scientific evidence shines a critical light on how the type of food we consume (Mediterranean diet) and the quantity (Calorie Restriction with Optimal Nutrition) can help prevent premature brain aging and lower the risk of cognitive decline as we age.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Super Nutrients Extend Telomere Length to Extend Cellular Age

Many factors are known to contribute to human lifespan. Many natural health followers carefully control their diet to include organic choices of fruits and vegetables in their natural, uncooked state, while remaining physically active and maintaining body weight within a healthy range. The science of how lifestyle habits and nutrition promote health and longevity, known as Epigenetics, has dramatically advanced our knowledge base by providing a solid understanding of telomeres, the tiny strands of DNA akin to a zipper that shorten with poor dietary choices, inflammation and everyday stress.

Researchers reporting in The Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry show that reducing oxidative stress, cellular inflammation and improving DNA methylation pathways can extend telomere length and slow the biologic aging clock. Specific nutrients provide the necessary building blocks to support DNA health and extend your natural lifespan.

Targeted Nutrients and Foods Increase DNA Methylation to Maintain Telomere Length
Genetic expression is not set in stone, and our genes are continually under the influence of our environment, lifestyle and dietary choices. Gene settings are made initially from our time in the womb, based largely on the nutritional status and lifestyle of the mother. As we age, our genes instantly read micronutrient and environmental cues in an effort to ensure short term survival. Every morsel of food energy we consume results in an alteration in gene expression, either promoting optimal health or eventual illness.

The methylation pathway is critical to maintain DNA integrity and prevent telomere shortening. Foods and nutrients that donate methyl groups are essential to prevent genetic mutations that result in cancer. Researchers reporting in The Journal of Nutrition found that men with the highest levels of folate in their blood have the longest telomeres when compared to those with the lowest levels. In addition to folate (800 mcg each day), vitamin B12 (500 to 1000 mcg daily) and the entire B-vitamin family are associated with longer telomeres. Sulfur-enriched proteins from nuts and seeds are also important methyl group donors.

Zinc and Magnesium Essential to DNA Health and Anti-Aging Effects
Independent research projects have concluded that the minerals zinc (25 to 50 mg per day) and magnesium (400 to 800 mg each day) are necessary to accurately complete DNA sequencing during cell replication. A lack of these cofactors leads to DNA strand breakage, premature cell destruction and acceleration of the aging process. Vitamin C (1 to 3 grams per day) has been shown to slow the loss of telomeres in human vascular endothelial cells, an important element in preventing cardiovascular disease. Vitamin E tocotrienols (400 mg per day of a full-spectrum supplement) have been shown to restore the length of telomeres while reducing DNA damage, making it possible for a nutrient to reverse the shortening of telomeres and reverse an underlying cause of aging.

Stress and inflammation are two controllable factors that independently shorten telomere length and increase cell aging. Stress management is essential to lower the release of chemical messengers that fuel the flames of inflammation. Additionally, researchers have identified a host of polyphenol compounds (resveratrol, grape seed extract and curcumin) that lower systemic inflammation, help to maintain telomere length and extend healthy lifespan.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Fisetin From Diet of Fruits and Vegetables Improves Brain Health, Prevents Cancer

Fisetin is a unique flavonoid compound found naturally in many fruits and vegetables including strawberries, blueberries and the skin of cucumbers. A wealth of scientific research now explains how a diet packed with raw fruits and vegetables can help prevent amyloid plaque formation in the aging brain and promote the early destruction of cancer cells by triggering the body’s innate immune response. 

Researchers reporting in the journal Neuroscience Letters found that fisetin is neuro-protective and helps to maintain normal memory processes while inhibiting plaque formation around synapses. The International Journal of Oncology has published the work of Chinese scientists documenting how fistetin promotes the natural death of potentially malignant breast cancer cells. Fisetin is rapidly emerging as a powerful tool in the arsenal against a number of diseases associated with premature aging.

Fisetin Helps Prevent Inflammation in the Brain to Boost Memory and Cognition
Fruits and vegetables in their natural state are typically packed with polyphenols that are structurally bioactive and target specific areas of the body or help to lower oxidative stress and inflammation that are behind many disease processes. The brain is particularly sensitive to stress from a high rate of metabolism necessary to oxygenate and fuel the sensitive neurons that control memory and cognition.

Researchers have found that fisetin operates in a very specific pathway to boost nerve cell glutathione levels and to reduce one of the most damaging free radicals, peroxynitrite. Scientists have determined that the natural compound protects nerve cells from damage during stroke, while at the same time maintaining vital energy production in the brain. Fisetin also prevents excess activation of specialized glial cells in the brain that helps deter inflammatory nerve damage, excitotoxicity, and declining neurological health. And fisetin reduces amyloid beta fiber accumulation to improve memory and thwart cognitive decline.

Fisetin Induces Programmed Cell Death to Help Prevent Cancer Progression
In a separate body of research, scientists examined the effect of fisetin from dietary and supplemental sources on breast cancer programmed cell death. Cancer cells normally are detected and destroyed by an alert immune system response. Inflammatory messengers such as TNFa (tumor necrosis factor alpha) allow cancer cells to become cloaked and invisible to our immune system, preventing cancer cells death through a process known as apoptosis. Fisetin negates the damaging effect of TNFa, reducing systemic inflammation and enabling the normal immune response.

Many health-conscious individuals may not be immediately familiar with fisetin, although they already consume therapeutic quantities from their healthy dietary choices. Nutrition experts recommend including fruits such as strawberries and mangoes as a source of dietary fisetin or supplementing with 50 mg per day to boost memory, high-level brain function and to promote natural cancer cell death.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Resveratrol and Nuts Combine to Improve Brain Health and Boost Cognitive Function

Nuts, especially walnuts, almonds and hazelnuts, combined with the potent polyphenol resveratrol team together to improve mood and protect the aging brain to help maintain memory and cognition. Researchers reporting in the New England Journal of Medicine have found that nuts consumed over a period of years not only help with weight management issues, but also can reduce systemic inflammation to improve spirits and prevent cognitive decline.

Resveratrol has long been associated with brain health. The Journal of Pineal Research reports that resveratrol demonstrates anti-aging properties in the brain necessary for energy production and optimal brain function. Combining these two natural agents together as part of your healthy diet can improve mood, help retain memories and preserve youthful thought patterns.

Nuts Improve Mood, Slash Brain Inflammation and Prevent Cognitive Decline
Researchers determined to validate the health-promoting capacity of nuts provided test participants with a diet of walnuts, almonds and hazelnuts for a period of 12 weeks. The volunteers for this study were sex and age-matched individuals given a control diet, and compared to a group not receiving the nut mixture. All participants exhibited symptoms of metabolic syndrome, increasing risk for developing diabetes, heart disease, mood disorders and loss of cognition.

Individuals receiving the nuts had increased levels of serotonin which will help a person feel better and potentially more satisfied and less likely to suffer from depression and poor mood. Additionally, the nut control group demonstrated reduced inflammatory markers from the high polyphenol content of the nuts. This is an important finding, as individuals exhibiting the signs of metabolic syndrome experience the effects of systemic inflammation leading to accelerated brain aging and cognitive decline.

Resveratrol Positively Influences Gene Expression to Restore Mitochondria Function
Mitochondria are the tiny metabolic engines that are responsible for powering each of our trillion or so cells throughout the body. Over time, mitochondria begin to experience loss of function and cellular decline and aging of the cell begin. Mitochondrial regulation is controlled in large part by the ‘longevity’ gene known as Sirt1. Calorie restriction and potent natural nutrients such as resveratrol are known to alter expression of the Sirt1 gene. Researchers have demonstrated that resveratrol is able to restore neural mitochondria function by reviving Sirt1 gene expression, and provides “a potent anti-aging effect within the brain.”

The human brain is a highly metabolic organ, demanding 20% of the total oxygen supply for the body. As such, it is also susceptible to the effects of oxidative stress and free radical damage that cause brain inflammation and advanced signs of aging. Natural nutrients such as resveratrol (25 – 50 mg per day) that cross the blood-brain barrier and foundation monounsaturated fats supplied by most nuts (1 to 2 ounces each day) and seeds protect the brain from damage and dramatically lower the risk of memory loss and cognitive decline.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Lifestyle Changes and Lower Body Weight Reduces Cancer Risk by Forty Percent

It may come as no surprise to many natural health disciplinarians that cancer is largely an avoidable disease that develops and advances due to poor lifestyle habits adopted over the course of a lifetime. Researchers from Britain have found that more than 100,000 cancer cases, nearly one in four cancers diagnosed, could have been prevented by following simple lifestyle changes.

Lead study author Dr. Max Parkin, a cancer epidemiologist based at Queen Mary, University of London publishing on the journal Nature remarked “Looking at all the evidence, it's clear that around 40 percent of all cancers are caused by things we mostly have the power to change.” Controlling behaviors such as smoking, unhealthy eating, alcohol consumption and being overweight provide a significant shield against the number two killer of adults worldwide.

Nearly 45% of All Cancers Are Preventable Through Lifestyle Modifications
Researchers from the UK analyzed data from cancer cases occurring between 1993 and 2007. The study was designed to determine the proportion that could be attributed to the following 14 risk factors: drinking alcohol, smoking tobacco, insufficient fruits and vegetables in the diet, not eating enough fiber, consuming red and processed meat, excess salt consumption, being overweight or obese, not exercising, infections (such as HPV), sunlight exposure, radiation exposure, chemical exposure. Specifically for women, the scientists examined not breastfeeding and undergoing hormone replacement therapy.

The study provided some predictable results that follow along with the lifestyle pattern of many western cultures. Thirty-four percent of the cancers were found to be linked to smoking, diet, alcohol and excess weight. One in 25 of cancers are linked to a person's job, such as being exposed to chemicals or asbestos. Certain cancer risk factors were found to favor either men or women more prominently.

Lack of Fruits and Vegetables Directly Contributes to Cancer Progression
Insufficient consumption of fruits and vegetables was found to contribute to nearly 6% of the cancers in men, yet was a factor in only 3.4% of the women. Conversely, overweight and obesity played a significant role in risk for 7% of cancers in women versus only 4.1% in the men analyzed. Lead author Parkin noted “We didn't expect to find that eating fruit and vegetables would prove to be so important in protecting men against cancer… and among women we didn't expect being overweight to have a greater effect that alcohol."
The authors of this study concluded that 45% of the cancers found in men could be prevented by altering one or more of the fourteen identified risk factors, along with 40% of all cancers in women. Many health-minded individuals already maintain a natural and healthy diet, and avoid smoking and processed meats. Make note of the 14 identified cancer risk factors to prevent cancer and a host of life-threatening chronic diseases.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Low Vitamin D in Children Leads to Explosion of New Diabetes Cases

Researchers publishing in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism have found that children with low vitamin D levels, especially when overweight and obese, are at much higher risk for developing insulin resistance progressing to full-blown diabetes by early adulthood. Based on cellular saturation of the vitamin/prohormone, children and adults require higher amounts of vitamin D as body weight increases.

The vast majority of children are vitamin D deficient, a problem exacerbated further by additional fat stores. In addition to a healthy lifestyle including plenty of physical activity and proper diet, parents will want to ensure their children reach proper blood levels of this critical vitamin through exposure to the sun or adequate supplementation.

Low Vitamin D Levels Lead to Insulin Resistance and Diabetes in Overweight Children
Past research studies have concluded that high rates of vitamin D insufficiency are found most prominently in overweight and obese populations and are linked to dramatically increased risk of heart disease and diabetes. These studies have not explained the mechanism by which excess fat stores and low vitamin D saturation result in chronic disease development and progression.

Dr. Micah Olson and his team from The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center examined the association between vitamin D levels and dietary habits in 498 obese and non-obese children. The researchers checked for levels of abnormal glucose metabolism and blood pressure in the participants. Additionally, the scientists measured vitamin D levels, blood sugar levels, serum insulin and BMI. Study participants were also asked to provide dietary information including daily intake of soda, juice and milk, average daily fruit and vegetable intake, and whether or not they routinely skipped breakfast.

Children with Higher Soda and Juice Consumption Showed Lower Vitamin D Levels
The study authors determined that 92% of the obese children tested had a vitamin D saturation (using the standard 25(OH)D test) below the ‘adequate’ level of 30 ng/mL. 50% of the participants were classified as ‘deficient’ with a level below 20 ng/mL. Dr. Olson commented “Poor dietary habits such as skipping breakfast and increased soda and juice intake were associated with the lower vitamin D levels seen in obese children.” The study concluded that obese children with low serum blood levels of vitamin D had higher degrees of insulin resistance that played a significant role in the development of Type II diabetes.

New cases of diabetes and prediabetes are now found in young adults and even children at an alarming and increasing rate. This research highlights the connection between low vitamin D levels, excess body weight and diabetes risk and underscores the importance of vitamin D blood testing for all children and adults. Alternative health practitioners recommend maintaining a vitamin D level between 50 and 70 ng/mL using the 25(OH)D blood test.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Resveratrol and Pterostilbene Duo Combine to Improve Cognition and Mental Function

The potent phenolic compound resveratrol and its close cousin, pterostilbene have long been touted for their anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory and blood sugar-lowering health benefits. Information published in the prestigious journal publications, Neurobiology of Aging and The Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry both cite resveratrol and pterostilbene as powerful brain-boosting agents, enhancing cognitive and mental function while lowering the risk from many forms of dementia.

Pterostilbene, chemically similar to resveratrol, is a bioactive protective compound found commonly in many fresh fruits and vegetables. Numerous research studies show the two compounds acts to reduce inflammation throughout the body, a process behind seven of the ten most common disease processes that lead to death. Including this potent duo as part of your healthy diet, or from supplementation may help aid memory retention.

Resveratrol and Pterostilbene Stimulate Insulin Growth Factor to Impede Cognitive Decline
Resveratrol is a bioactive compound extracted most commonly from the skin of red grapes and found at differing concentrations in red wine. Researchers in Japan working with mice examined the effect of consuming red wine with a resveratrol concentration of 20 mg per liter, compared with a lower concentration of 3.1 mg per liter. A typical glass of red wine averages 4.7 mg per liter of resveratrol concentration.

The scientists found that the higher resveratrol concentration resulted in improved cognitive function using a variety of spatial and memory intensive tests. The benefits were linked to an increase in the production of a peptide called insulin-like growth-factor-I (IGF-I) that promotes the growth of blood vessels and neurons in the hippocampus region of the brain. Researchers commented “It is thus possible that drinking red wine with regular concentrations of resveratrol for long periods lowers the risk of age-associated cognitive decline.” Experts recommend an intake of 25 to 50 mg of resveratrol each day for optimal health effects.

Pterostilbene Lowers the Effect of Cellular Damage from Stress and Inflammation
In a separate research study conducted at Case Western Reserve University and Tufts University, two groups of mice were fed either identical doses of resveratrol or pterostilbene, about the equivalent of drinking two glasses of wine. While both compounds were found to boost levels of cognition, those receiving the pterostilbene demonstrated modulated markers of cellular stress and inflammation. This effect was not seen in the resveratrol supplemented mice.

The researchers concluded that because of the slight structural difference between the two compounds, “This change may lead to a better bioavailability of pterostilbene and consequently a more neuroprotective effect in the brain.” Pterostilbene is available naturally through a diet including blueberries, grapes, cranberries and olive oil or can be supplemented (50 mg per day) to meet nutritional goals. Both compounds provide a healthy synergistic effect that can help preserve memories and mental function as we age.