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2011-07-04

Coffee and a Healthy Diet May Protect Against Alzheimer’s Disease

No, this is not a picture of the Canadian flag...
it's me paying the price for being stupid.
Happy Canada Day.
So on Friday, we went to the local Canada Day festivities and I totally got sun burnt! First burn I've had in over a decade...and likely one of the worst I've ever had. A true red neck, for sure. Not smart. I'm usually pretty good with covering up, staying under shade, and using natural sunblocks. Not sure where my head was at this time.

It hasn't felt as bad as it looks since I've been playing doctor and taking care of it. I've used the following to keep the burn moisturized and soothed (and it seems to be working):
  • organic Aloe vera gel
  • Franca Organics' Antioxidant Vitamin-Enriched Moisturizing Face Cream
  • Inno-Vite's Liquid K2 Drops (I know I'm reaching here...but I was desperate for anything to work)
  • DermaSense's Stretch Mark Therapy (again, just trying everything I could)
  • and other natural creams/moisturizers

Anyway, one thing I noticed was the amount of junk that was sold by the food vendors. I just read another article that found diabetes rates have doubled in the last 30 years, and just a looking at what people are eating at events like this, it's obvious why.

There were overweight kids gobbling down "snow cones," huge cups of soda/pop, hot dogs, etc. I also noticed their parents eating the leftovers that their kids didn't finish...how are the kids ever going to learn about healthy nutrition if the parents are encouraging this garbage?!

Then you see the Extreme Makeover - Weight Loss Edition after the Bachelorette on Monday nights and you realize that these people have not a single clue that this stuff is killing them! Unbelievable. It's like they've been living under a rock their whole lives and have never read a single sentence on healthy nutrition...or considering the amount of TV they watch (an assumption), they've never seen a news clip (or other) that talked about healthy eating?

Anyway, I'm losing myself here... back to the reason I'm writing...

Talking about eating healthy, in a study on Alzheimer's, it was shown that a "healthy" diet can modulate/alter the biomarkers of the disease. In this 4-week diet intervention study, healthy cognitively intact older adults who stuck to a low-saturated-fat, low-glycemic-index diet experienced decreases in cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) levels of β-amyloid 42, a biomarker of Alzheimer's disease risk.

At the same time, in a group of older adults with amnestic mild cognitive impairment (aMCI), the healthy diet had the opposite effect, raising CSF levels of this protein. However, this was not surprising, and actually expected -- a good sign the diet intervention was working. This is because β-amyloid 42 sticks in the brain of Alzheimer's patients, and so levels are lower in the CSF, and anything that reverses the disease process is going to raise levels in the CSF.

It looks like the "healthy diet" is one that contains a lot of fruits and vegetables and healthy fats (like the Mediterranean diet), and this would be important for people who have Alzheimer's disease or conditions that put them at risk for developing Alzheimer's disease.

A diet that has a lot of saturated fat and sugar has the opposite effect -- it places you at greater risk of Alzheimer's.

Source: Diet Intervention and Cerebrospinal Fluid Biomarkers in Amnestic Mild Cognitive Impairment

And coincidentally, I came across another study on Alzheimer's...this one studied coffee and its potential health benefits. This study on mice provides evidence that caffeinated coffee offers protection against Alzheimer's disease. The benefits seem to come from a yet-to-be-identified compound found in caffeinated coffee, but it's not caffeine itself (mice in the caffeine alone or decaffeinated coffee groups did not get the benefits).

According to the research team, the ingredient can boost blood levels of a growth factor called GCSF (granulocyte colony stimulating factor) -- a substance greatly decreased in Alzheimer’s patients, and also demonstrated to improve memory in Alzheimer’s mice.

The researchers say GCSF can improve Alzheimer’s memory performance in various ways, including:
  • recruits stem cells from bone marrow to enter the brain and remove the harmful beta-amyloid protein that initiates the disease
  • creates new connections between brain cells
  • increases the birth of new neurons in the brain

What's interesting is that decaffeinated coffee didn't produce the same results. This would indicate that there is a synergistic interaction between this unknown compound and caffeine (which is why many times botanical medicines can be more powerful than synthetic isolates or pharmaceuticals), or that this compound is removed (along with caffeine) in the decaffeinating process.

It looks like we need about 4-5 cups of coffee daily to see these effects. My two-a-day doesn't seem to be cutting it... and maybe this is why my short-term memory is... wait-a-sec, what am I talking about?

Source: Caffeine Synergizes with Another Coffee Component to Increase Plasma GCSF: Linkage to Cognitive Benefits in Alzheimer's Mice

Related Alzheimer's disease posts:
Related posts on coffee:

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2 comments:

  1. You watch the Bachelorette?!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. While I want to say "no," I've got to say, "of course! Who doesn't watch the Bachelorette?"
      :)

      Delete

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