Monday, February 25, 2013

Omega-3 Fatty Acids from Dietary Sources Lower Risk of Developing Alzheimer’s Disease

Omega-3 fats from foods including fish, chicken, nuts and seeds are preferentially sequestered after consumption and used for critical functions to maintain optimal brain metabolism and function. These long-chain fats are used to form the highly permeable cell wall membrane of nerve cells, as electrical and chemical transmissions through this barrier are limited when sufficient omega-3 fats are unavailable from blood circulation.

Researchers from the Columbia University Medical Center in New York have published the result of their work demonstrating the close relationship between Omega-3 fats, blood saturation levels of amyloid proteins and risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease in the prestigious journal, Neurology. The study confirms that lower blood levels of a protein related to Alzheimer's disease (amyloid-beta plaque) can protect against memory problems, mild cognitive decline and progression to Alzheimer’s disease in many cases.

Increased Omega-3 Fats from Diet Reduces Beta-Amyloid Levels in the Blood up to Thirty Percent
The lead study author, Dr. Nikolaos Scarmeas noted “While it's not easy to measure the level of beta-amyloid deposits in the brain in this type of study, it is relatively easy to measure the levels of beta-amyloid in the blood, which to a certain degree, relates to the level in the brain.” The brain normally generates amyloid proteins as a metabolic byproduct that are broken down and cleared in the youthful, healthy brain. The study suggests that Omega-3 fats from dietary sources can aid this process, though the scientists did not specifically note this conclusion.

Researchers looked at 1,219 people that were over the age of 65 and free of dementia. The participants provided information regarding their diet for an average of 1.2 years before their blood was tested for beta-amyloid. The scientists specifically monitored ten nutrients including saturated fatty acids, omega-3 and omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids, mono-unsaturated fatty acid, vitamin E, vitamin C, beta-carotene, vitamin B12, folate and vitamin D.

Consume Several Servings of Walnuts, Fish and Seeds Daily to Lowers Dementia Risk
The study determined that higher levels of omega-3 fats consumed by eating fish, chicken, nuts and seeds directly correlated to lower blood beta-amyloid levels. Researchers found that consuming one gram of omega-3 per day (equal to approximately half a fillet of salmon per week) was associated with 20 to 30 percent lower blood beta-amyloid levels. Researchers found that most people do not eat enough omega-3 enriched foods to adequately raise blood levels of the essential fat.

Dr. Scarmeas concluded “The more omega-3s one eats, the less the beta amyloid levels are… we were able to relate something that we eat with a very specific mechanism in the body that is very strongly related to Alzheimer’s.” This study did not account for intake of the pre-formed omega-3 fats supplied through fish oil supplements, known to dramatically boost blood saturation of the long-chain fats. Nutrition experts suggest several servings of fish, chicken, nuts and seeds each week (or supplementing with 1,200 to 2,400 mg EPA/DHA daily) to significantly lower the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Berry Consumption Lowers Risk of Cognitive Decline and Dementia in the Elderly

Incidence of cognitive decline leading to dementia and Alzheimer’s disease is rising at unprecedented levels among those aged 65 and older. Many people fear the myriad of memory-robbing forms of dementia more than a diagnosis of cancer. Blueberries and strawberries, which are high in flavonoids that easily cross the blood-brain barrier, have been shown to to reduce cognitive decline in older adults in prior bodies of research.

A new study recently published in the Annals of Neurology suggests that cognitive aging could be delayed by up to 2.5 years in elderly individuals who consume greater amounts of flavonoid-rich berries. In the past, studies have hinted at the positive effects of flavonoids from berry consumption, but have been limited to animal studies or very small sample groups. This is the first research to demonstrate the critical preventive and healing nature of anthocyanins in a very large cohort of more than 100,000 senior aged adults.

Blueberries and Strawberries Improve Cognitive Skills in Aging Adults
Flavonoids are bioactive structures found in plants that are known to have powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Nutrition researchers theorize that stress and inflammation contribute to cognitive impairment and that increasing consumption of flavonoids could thwart the harmful effects. Many forms of dementia, especially Alzheimer’s disease, are rapidly emerging as illnesses caused largely by poor lifestyle (environmental pollution, household chemicals and electromagnetic forces) and a highly processed diet consisting of sugar, glucose-stimulating carbohydrates and hydrogenated fats.

To conduct the study, researchers examined data from a cohort of 121,700 female registered nurses between the ages of 30 and 55 who completed health and lifestyle questionnaires beginning in 1976. Participants provided details about frequency of food consumption every four years, and cognitive function was measured in 16,010 subjects over the age of 70 years, at 2-year intervals.

Eat Three to five Servings of Fresh Berries Each Week to Lower Risk of Cognitive Decline
Researchers found that increased consumption of blueberries and strawberries slows cognitive decline by up to 2.5 years in older women. A greater intake of anthocyanidins and total flavonoids was also associated with a reduction in cognitive degeneration leading to Alzheimer’s disease. Lead study author, Dr. Elizabeth Devore concluded “Our study examined whether greater intake of berries could slow rates of cognitive decline.  We provide the first epidemiologic evidence that berries may slow progression of cognitive decline in elderly women. Our findings have significant public health implications as increasing berry intake is a fairly simple dietary modification for older adults.”

As aging adults fall prey to the processes of cognitive decline, dementia and Alzheimer’s disease at an unprecedented pace, it is comforting to know that there are a number of lifestyle and dietary steps that can be followed to improve brain health and memory loss. Include one to two daily servings from a wide variety of berries, especially blueberries and strawberries to improve cognition and normal brain function.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Vitamin E from Diet Protects against Many Forms of Cancer

Cancer is a leading cause of death in many western cultures, second only to heart disease. A wide array of research bodies exist to provide solid evidence that this killer disease is largely promoted by poor lifestyle habits, especially diet. Medical researchers have long known that there is a definite connection between cancer and the fat soluble vitamin E. Some studies have concluded a positive relationship between the two, while others vilify vitamin E as a cancer progenitor.

Researchers at the Center for Cancer Prevention Research at Rutgers University have published the result of a study in the journal Cancer Prevention Research that demonstrates that vitamin E from dietary sources has a profound effect on cancer development and progression. The scientists have found that two forms of vitamin E, gamma and delta-tocopherols found in soybean, canola and corn oils as well as nuts do prevent colon, lung, breast and prostate cancers.

Vitamin E from Nuts, Seeds and their Oils Provide Broad-Spectrum Protection against Cancer
Researchers know that in the past, studies have shown an increased risk of cancer and decrease in bone density with vitamin E from supplements. Unfortunately, those studies either used a synthetic form of the vitamin known as dl-alpha- tocopherol or they did not specify the form of vitamin E used. Vitamin E exists in a variety of forms called tocotrienols and tocopherols which occur in natural balance in many nuts, seeds and their cold-pressed oils.

The Rutgers study author, Dr. Chung S. Yang and his team conducted studies on animals that examined associated risk for developing colon, lung, breast and prostate cancer. The scientists found that the forms of vitamin E in vegetable oils, gamma and delta-tocopherols, prevent cancer formation and growth in animal models.

Vitamin E from Natural Foods Sources and Full-Spectrum Supplementation Promotes a Cancer-Free Lifestyle
Dr. Yang commented “When animals are exposed to cancer-causing substances, the group that was fed these tocopherols in their diet had fewer and smaller tumors… when cancer cells were injected into mice these tocopherols also slowed down the development of tumors.” Researchers noted that studies conducted using the synthetic mono-isomer form of vitamin E commonly used in inexpensive multi-vitamins (dl-alpha- tocopherol ) not only did not prevent prostate cancer, but its use significantly increased the risk of this disease among healthy men.

This study demonstrates the importance of consuming vitamin E from natural food sources such as nuts, seeds and their oils to benefit from the full spectrum of tocotrienols and tocopherols, specifically the gamma and delta isomers. Dr. Yang concluded “For people who think that they need to take vitamin E supplements, taking a mixture of vitamin E that resembles what is in our diet would be the most prudent supplement to take.” One to two servings of nuts, seeds or oil extracts daily (or a natural food-based supplement) are sufficient to provide the full benefits of all vitamin E isomers shown to significantly lower cancer risk.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Avocado Helps in the Fight against Free-Radical Aging and Cancer Proliferation

Oxygen has been a critical component in the evolution of life on earth, and humans are no exception as the gas has enabled nutrients to be used more efficiently, in turn allowing for the essential generation of energy required for development and growth. While oxygen is a crucial part of life, it is also implicated in the generation of free radicals that promote abnormal cellular destruction, cancer proliferation and advanced aging in humans.

Many environmental factors such as pollution, cigarette smoke and radiation turn the oxygen molecules found in mitochondria into free radicals. These unstable molecules destroy the normal molecules that form our cells, such as lipids, proteins and even DNA, by turning them into free radicals.

Avocado Oil Protects Cellular Mitochondria to Prevent Free Radical Damage and Aging
The destructive nature of free radicals is behind the genesis of many chronic diseases including hypertension, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, dementia and cancer. This knowledge has prompted researchers to investigate the potent antioxidant properties of fruits and vegetables in the fight against these often fatal illnesses.

Many prior studies designed to investigate the impact of food based antioxidants on human health have been disappointing because most phytonutrients are unable to penetrate the mitochondrial power factories housed in each cell. Free radicals continue to damage the delicate mitochondria, causing energy production to stop and the cell to collapse and die.

Researchers from the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB) have released the results of a study conducted with avocado oil to determine absorption by the mitochondria and subsequent neutralization of deadly free radicals. Avocado oil is highly resistant to oxidation, and has been shown to help neutralize the metabolic effects of iron, a primary cause of cellular oxidation.

Eat Avocados and Avocado Oil Regularly to Prevent Cellular Oxidation Damage
Lead study design author, Dr. Christian Cortez-Rojo noted that “avocado oil causes accelerated respiration in mitochondria, which indicates that the use of nutrients for producing energy for cell functions remains effective even in cells attacked by free radicals and that mitochondria can produce little amounts of damaging free radicals.” Avocados have been maligned for decades as poor dietary advice about fat consumption has prevailed in modern medical culture.

The study concluded that avocado lowers the blood concentration of cholesterol and certain fats that are increased in diabetic patients and that may lead to stroke or heart attack. Adding small amounts of avocado to your daily diet can provide excellent antioxidant support to protect mitochondria from early decline and protect against chronic diseases of aging.