April 19, 2018

Increasing glutathione levels may provide protective measures against age related decline

Glutathione is a powerful antioxidant that helps support detoxification pathways by providing protective measures against environmental stresses, air pollutants, heavy metals, and pharmaceuticals. Numerous condition has been associated with a decline of detoxification pathways such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer, and neurodegenerative conditions.

According to a new study published in the journal Redox Biology, researchers at Oregon State University demonstrated that n-acetyl-cysteine (NAC) may help maintain glutathione levels and prevent the metabolic declines associated with aging. This powerful antioxidant declines with age and helps the body resist the stresses of everyday life.

In this animal study, researchers demonstrated that cells from younger animals are more resistant to stress than those from older animals. In younger animal cells stress doesn’t cause a rapid loss of glutathione as seen in older animals. As a result, prophylactic use of NAC increased glutathione levels in the older cells and offset cell death.

I also shared a study earlier this year published in June in PLOS ONE in which researchers from Thomas Jefferson University demonstrated a potential benefit of n-acetylcysteine (NAC) in patients with Parkinson’s disease. The study showed that patients receiving NAC improved both mental and physical abilities with brain imaging studies that tracked the levels of dopamine.

This demonstrates that NAC may have a unique physiological effect on the brain that alters the disease process and improves the function of dopamine neurons and offers a new approach for managing patients with Parkinson’s disease.

Glutathione is an important antioxidant which has been found to be depleted with the natural aging process and also seen in patients with neurodegenerative conditions. The extent of glutathione depletion appears to mirror the severity of disease and is the earliest known indicator of degeneration.

N-acetyl-cysteine can definitely play a significant a role in preventing the increased toxicity faced with aging and the body’s reduced ability to eliminate toxins. NAC has the ability to improve the metabolic resilience that lost with the aging process as well as it detoxification support. Increasing NAC can reduce the toxicity of some prescription drugs, cancer chemotherapies, and support other health issues. Therefore, using NAC as prophylactic support instead of a treatment can allow glutathione levels to be maintained to provide protective measures against the natural aging process in older adults.

By Michael Jurgelewicz, DC, DACBN, DCBCN, CNS

Source: Nicholas O. Thomas, Kate P. Shay, Amanda R. Kelley, Judy A. Butler, Tory M. Hagen. Glutathione maintenance mitigates age-related susceptibility to redox cycling agents. Redox Biology, 2016; 10: 45 DOI: 10.1016/j.redox.2016.09.010

Folate improves verbal communication in autistic children according to study

Approximately 2% of American children experience symptoms among the autism spectrum. Many of these children have difficulty interacting and communicating with others. The only currently approved medications for autism are antipsychotic medications that address some symptoms but many times lead to unwanted side effects. Most of these families seek integrative doctors to investigate food sensitivities, environmental toxins, nutritional deficiencies, and metabolic imbalances not seen on the usual laboratory testing.

According to a study published in Nature’s Molecular Psychiatry, researchers demonstrated that therapeutic doses of folinic acid can help improve the language and communication skills of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

Previous research has identified a link between autism and abnormalities in the metabolism of folate as well as genes involved in folate metabolism. In addition, other studies have demonstrated that children of mothers who took folate supplements before during pregnancy had a lower risk of having a child with ASD. Researchers have also described cerebral folate deficiency (CFD) in which the concentration of folate is below normal in the central nervous system but not in the blood. Many children with CFD have ASD symptoms and respond well to high-dose folinic acid. The research team also demonstrated that folate receptor autoantibodies were commonly found in children with ASD.

In this study, researchers found that children with folate receptor autoantibodies had a more favorable response to treatment with folate. Improvement in verbal communication was significantly greater in children who received folinic acid compared with those receiving the placebo.

Folate is not the only important nutrient for this children. I shared a study earlier this year in January published in PLOS One which found that vitamin B12 levels in the brain are significantly lower in children with autism. In this study autistic children were found to have brain vitamin B12 levels three times lower then what is commonly seen in adults in their fifties. These differences were not seen in serum B12 levels. This large deficit of brain B12 in individuals with autism may provide insight to why these patients experience neurological and neuropsychiatric symptoms.

Autism spectrum disorders are also associated with oxidative stress, which may play an underlying role in the decreased brain B12 levels observed in this study. These results suggest there may be a need for supplemental vitamin B12 and antioxidant support to prevent or decrease oxidative stress. This may include using n-acetyl-l-cysteine, glutathione, and/or s-acetyl-glutathione.

Assessing other methylation cofactors such as folate are also important as a folate deficiency has been associated with developmental delay, autism, and is essential in treating these conditions as identified in the study above. An organic acid test is also a great test to assess nutrient deficiencies, oxidative stress, and detoxification impairment as well as stool testing to assess the gut microbiome.

By Michael Jurgelewicz, DC, DACBN, DCBCN, CNS

Source: R E Frye, J Slattery, L Delhey, B Furgerson, T Strickland, M Tippett, A Sailey, R Wynne, S Rose, S Melnyk, S Jill James, J M Sequeira, E V Quadros. Folinic acid improves verbal communication in children with autism and language impairment: a randomized double-blind placebo-controlled trial. Molecular Psychiatry, 2016; DOI:10.1038/mp.2016.168

Low vitamin D levels during pregnancy may be linked to an increased risk of ADHD

According to a study published in The Australia & New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, pregnant women who took vitamin D during pregnancy had children with fewer symptoms of ADHD. Researchers demonstrated for every 10 nmol/L increase in umbilical blood vitamin D levels, there was an 11% reduced risk of ADHD symptoms.

In this study 1,233 children from were monitored. Researchers measured vitamin D levels in umbilical blood and mothers completed the Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL) when their child was 2½ years of age. The CBCL questionnaire can be used to identify early symptoms of ADHD, but an ADHD diagnosis cannot be made at that age.

The research team demonstrated that there was a clear association in mothers who had taken vitamin D and had umbilical blood levels greater than 25 nmol/L had children with lower ADHD scores. This was after they had corrected for other factors, such as the mother’s age, smoking, alcohol, obesity, education, number of children, psychiatric disease in the parents, child’s sex, age and seasonal variation.

There has not been a previous link between vitamin D and ADHD or that this could be identified at such an early age. However, we cannot conclude or prevent which children will develop ADHD later in life. In addition, this study confirm that vitamin D will protect against ADHD but previous studies have demonstrated the role of vitamin D in the early brain development.

There was interesting study in February 2015 published in FASEB Journal which described that serotonin may be a possible link demonstrating how vitamin D and fish oil support cognitive function. Many brain based conditions, such as ADHD commonly has low brain serotonin. This study explains how serotonin is a critical modulator of executive function, impulse control, sensory gating, and pro-social behavior.

Researchers link serotonin production and function to vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids, which suggests one way that these important nutrients help the brain function and affect our behavior.

The bottom line is it we need optimize every patient’s nutrients status based upon testing and support accordingly and we cannot forgot supporting these individuals with essential fatty acids. These are major deficiencies in the US and assessing and supporting optimal vitamin D and essential fatty acids levels would optimize brain serotonin concentrations and function. As a result, we can possibly prevent and alleviate some of the symptoms associated with these disorders without the harmful side effects.

By Michael Jurgelewicz, DC, DACBN, DCBCN, CNS

Source: M. H. Mossin,  J. B. Aaby, C. Dalgard, S. Lykkedegn, H. T. Christesen, N. Bilenberg. Inverse associations between cord vitamin D and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder symptoms: A child cohort study. Australian & New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, 2016; DOI: 10.1177/0004867416670013

Magnesium supplementation improves insulin sensitivity and glucose control

According to a new study published last month in Pharmocological Research, researchers demonstrate magnesium supplementation significantly improves HOMA-IR index and fasting glucose.
Over the past several decades diabetes has become a growing epidemic and it’s a fact that more than 50% of Americans are magnesium deficient. I cannot emphasis enough the importance of magnesium deficiency as a serious and common health problem. Magnesium plays a key role in more than 350 enzymes in the body. It is involved in virtually every metabolic process occurring in the body. Magnesium is the second most abundant intracellular cation and a cofactor involved in the modulation of glucose transport. In addition, a magnesium deficiency interferes with the tyrosine-kinase activity of the insulin receptor as well as increases intracellular calcium concentration which is associated with impaired insulin sensitivity, so it makes sense that a magnesium deficiency could play a significant role in the development of insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome, and type 2 diabetes.

This review consisted of 1,362 individuals from 21 RCTs including 684 and 678 individuals into the magnesium and control groups from studies published between 1992 and 2015. The range of magnesium supplementation was from 1 to 6 months and the doses ranged from 300 mg to 600 mg of magnesium per day. The impact of magnesium supplementation on plasma concentrations of glucose, HbA1c and insulin, and HOMA-IR were assessed.

The results of the meta-analysis demonstrated that magnesium supplementation for greater than 3 months significantly improves the HOMA-IR index as well as fasting glucose in both diabetic and non-diabetic individuals.

How much magnesium is enough? Unfortunately, we do not have a great way to measure magnesium status. For example, serum magnesium represents only 1% of magnesium stores. Magnesium is homeostatically controlled in the serum and measuring serum magnesium levels provides many false negatives. By the time your serum is low, you are very deficient as the body cannot maintain the serum magnesium levels. Serum magnesium is not the answer. Red blood cell magnesium is definitely better and can be done by most labs and all functional medicine labs. I test RBC magnesium levels on all my patients and it’s surprising to see how many patients that are deficient.

By Michael Jurgelewicz, DC, DACBN, DCBCN, CNS

Source: Simental-Mendia L et al. A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials on the effects of magnesium supplementation on insulin sensitivity and glucose control. Pharmocological Research. 2016 Sept; 111:272-82. doi:10.1016/j.phrs.2016.06.019.

Chemical exposure has been linked to low levels of vitamin D

This study investigated data from 4,667 adults between 2005 and 2010. EDC exposure was measured by a urine analysis. The researchers found that individuals who were exposed to larger amounts of phthalates had lower levels of vitamin D in the bloodstream than the those who were exposed to smaller amounts of the EDCs. This link was strongest seen in women. It is possible that EDCs alter vitamin D through some of the same mechanisms that they use to impact other hormones in the body.

We live in an ever-increasing toxic environment. We are exposed to According to a new study published Tuesday in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, researchers discovered a link between chemical exposure and reduced serum vitamin D levels.

Endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) have been known to cause adverse health effects such as diabetes and obesity by interfering with hormones in the body. There is currently more evidence than ever before. It is a fact that EDCs disrupt hormones in a manner that harms human health. Hundreds of studies have confirmed over and over again
EDCs are found in everyday products and throughout the environment. There are more than 85,000 manufactured chemicals. Many of these chemicals mimic, block or interfere with the body’s natural hormones and as a result, EDCs alter the way cells proliferate and develop.

Examples of EDCs:
• Bisphenol A (BPA)- found in food can linings and cash register receipts.
• Phthalates – found in plastics (PVC products, vinyl shower curtains) and cosmetics (perfumes, nail polish, lotion)
• Flame retardants, solvents, lubricants (PCBs, PBBs, and PBDEs)
• Pesticides (sprayed on conventional fruits and vegetables), insecticides.
• Heavy Metals: cadmium, lead, arsenic, mercury

Everyone is exposed to endocrine-disrupting chemicals, so the connection of these chemicals impacting vitamin D levels have a significant impact on our health. Vitamin D plays a significant role in musculoskeletal, immune and cardiovascular health as well as diabetes and cancer.

pesticides, herbicides, chemical solvents, xenobiotics, and industrial chemicals of all kinds that we get exposed through the food we eat, the water we drink and the air we breathe. These toxins accumulate in our body and contribute to the total toxic load that can cause a variety of health problems.
We need to do their best to minimize further exposure. We also have to keep in mind that our indoor environment is often more toxic than our outdoor environment.

Tip to Help Avoid EDCs:
• Eat organic produce (join your local CSA)
• Buy free-range, organic meats to reduce exposure from added hormones and pesticides.
• Buy products available in glass containers rather than plastic or cans when possible.
• Cookware: Replace non-stick pans with glass, ceramic, or cast iron.
• Drink filtered water
• Use a shower head with a filter
• Use household products that are fragrance-free and free of phthalates and BPA.

There is also significant evidence on the importance of diet and nutritional supplementation in maintaining detoxification pathways.

Nutritional Support for Detoxification
• Milk Thistle is one of the most protective herbs for the liver with hundreds of studies that confirm its protective properties.

• N-Acetyl Cysteine- supports phase II detoxification and precursor to glutathione

• Calcium D-Glucarate- aids in liver detoxification through the glucuronidation pathway. Xenobiotics, environmental toxins, and excess estrogens are cleared through this pathway.

• EGCg- the most extensively studied green tea polyphenol. Green tea also supports detoxification by enhancing the glucuronidation pathway in addition to modulating blood glucose, and its antioxidant and cancer protective properties.

• A Detoxification Program

Exposure to endocrine-disrupting chemicals are virtually impossible to avoid. We need to do our best to limit our exposure and make lifestyle and nutritional choices to properly detoxifying these chemicals.

By Michael Jurgelewicz, DC, DACBN, DCBCN, CNS

Source: Lauren E. Johns, Kelly K. Ferguson, John D. Meeker.Relationships Between Urinary Phthalate Metabolite and Bisphenol A Concentrations and Vitamin D Levels in U.S. Adults: National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), 2005–2010. The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, 2016; jc.2016-2134 DOI: 10.1210/jc.2016-2134

Infant microbiome predicts allergies and asthma later in life

According to a new study published on Monday in Nature Medicine, researchers link the gut microbiome of 1 month old infants to an increased risk of allergies and asthma later in life. This paper identifies that imbalances in the gut microbiome in at-risk infants causes immune dysfunction which causes a hyperactive immune system.

Many studies have linked the early exposure to beneficial microbes in the environment to numerous health benefits. I previously shared a study was published last year the journal Clinical & Experimental Allergy that revealed infants with a lower diversity of gut bacteria at three months of age are at a higher risk to become sensitized to foods such as milk, egg or peanut by the time they reach one year of age. In addition, infants who developed food allergies also had a dysbiosis specifically associated with the bacteria, Enterobacteriaceae and Bacteroidaceae

Recently, researchers at the University of British Columbia reported that 3 month old infants had low levels of four key types of gut bacteria that was significantly more likely to show symptoms of asthma at their first birthdays than infants with normal levels of these bacteria.

In this study, researchers collected stool samples from the infants. Based the team’s 2 and 4 year follow-up data, the size of this at-risk group was consistent with the rate of allergic asthma in the general population and the microbial diversity analysis demonstrated that these infants were missing specific beneficial bacteria and also had high levels of specific opportunistic bacteria.

They also identified that a healthy microbiome contains a wide range of molecules that can reduce inflammation and keep the immune system in check. In contrast, these key anti-inflammatory molecules were not present in the at-risk infants.

We have co-evolved with microbes over the past several decades but our lifestyles have changed dramatically reducing our exposure to these microbes.

There are several variables that may contribute to the infant’s gut microbiome at this early age. Breastfeeding, vaginal births and pets in the home during the first year of life all are associated with protective effects against asthma and allergies. Cesarean delivery may affect the early diversity of intestinal bacteria. The gastrointestinal tract of infants becomes colonized immediately after birth with environmental microorganisms mainly from the mother. The intestinal microbiota of infants delivered by cesarean delivery appears to have less diversity and is characterized by an absence of Bifidobacteria species than the microbiota of vaginally delivered infants. In addition, mothers using formula instead of breast milk is another factor. Breast milk is an early stimulator of the intestinal flora and lacking this dietary support may be a contribution to food sensitization. In these circumstances, a probiotic may be considered.

By Michael Jurgelewicz, DC, DACBN, DCBCN, CNS

Source: Kei E Fujimura, Alexandra R Sitarik, Suzanne Havstad, Din L Lin, Sophia Levan, Douglas Fadrosh, Ariane R Panzer, Brandon LaMere, Elze Rackaityte, Nicholas W Lukacs, Ganesa Wegienka, Homer A Boushey, Dennis R Ownby, Edward M Zoratti, Albert M Levin, Christine C Johnson, Susan V Lynch. Neonatal gut microbiota associates with childhood multisensitized atopy and T cell differentiation. Nature Medicine, 2016; DOI: 10.1038/nm.4176

New study demonstrates vitamin D reduces asthma attacks

Asthma has become more common in the last several years. Many patients have managed their asthma with medication and avoiding environmental triggers.

According to a new review published 4 days ago, taking a vitamin D supplement in addition to standard asthma medication can reduce severe asthma attacks.

Low serum vitamin D levels have been linked to an increased risk of asthma. In this review, researchers found 7 trials and 2 studies including 1,093 patients which conducted over 6 to 12 months. The researchers found that vitamin D supplementation reduced the risk of severe asthma attacks requiring hospital admission as wells as reduced the need for steroid tablets.

It is important to note that the vitamin D did not improve lung function or day-to-day asthma symptoms but significantly reduced the risk of severe asthma attacks without side effects.

There was a previous study published 2 years ago that I shared from the journal Allergy which demonstrated that Vitamin D could help manage asthma attacks. Researchers analyzed the medical records of approximately four million members of Clalit Health Services, Israel’s largest health care provider. The Vitamin D levels of 307,900 people were measured between 2008 and 2012. Asthma patients with a Vitamin D deficiency were 25% more likely than other asthmatics to have had at least one flare-up in the recent past.

We know vitamin D has significant immunomodulatory effects and it has been shown to have an effect on asthma.

These results demonstrate the link between Vitamin D and asthma and the beneficial effects of Vitamin D in reducing exacerbations. Asthma patients who experience recurrent exacerbations should have their Vitamin D levels checked and supplement when necessary. Increasing Vitamin D levels is something we can easily do to improve the patients’ quality of life.

While most of the Vitamin D in our bodies comes from exposure to the sun, most of us need to obtain Vitamin D from other sources. The majority of us are deficient and there are several reasons for that. Many people avoid the sun due to the dangers of overexposure. In addition, most of us spend so much time inside under fluorescent lights and away from natural light. Also, depending on what latitude you are at and the time of year, you may not be able to get adequate vitamin D from the sun. For those people that spend a lot of time in the sun, most have eighty percent of their bodies covered preventing optimal Vitamin D absorption.

Other nutrients to consider to relax the airways and provide anti-inflammatory properties include magnesium, vitamin C, and fish oil.

By Michael Jurgelewicz, DC, DACBN, DCBCN, CNS

Source: Adrian R Martineau, Christopher J Cates, Mitsuyoshi Urashima, Megan Jensen, Alex P Griffiths, Ulugbek Nurmatov, Aziz Sheikh, Chris J Griffiths. Vitamin D for the management of asthma. Cochrane Library, 2016 DOI:10.1002/14651858.CD011511.pub2

New study demonstrates omega-3 fatty acids improve outcomes from traumatic brain injury

The treatment of concussions and traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a clinical challenge. Medical treatments for post-concussion symptoms have consisted mainly of opiates for headaches, anti-depressants, anti-nauseas, anti-vertigo, stimulants, and other medications to increase neurotransmitter levels.

The traumatic forces involved in concussion and in those with post-concussion syndrome have been shown to result in a decrease of glucose use by the brain, and changes in cerebral blood flow.

Previous studies have failed to identify an effective treatment in controlling aspects of neuroprotection, neuroinflammation, and neuroregeneration. A new study published last month in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition showed that the aggressive intake of omega-3 fatty acids was beneficial to TBI, concussion, and post-concussion syndrome patients.

Research suggests that early treatment of high dose omega-3 fatty acids can improve outcomes from traumatic brain injury. The article reviews preclinical research as well as 3 brain injury case studies which demonstrated the safety and tolerability in patients who sustained life-threatening brain injuries and recovered with the supplementation of omega-3 fatty acids.

The brain needs to be saturated with high doses of omega-3 fatty acids in order for the brain to heal. If these individuals do not have an optimal supply of EPA and DHA, healing will likely be impaired. In addition, there is no negative impact supporting these patients with optimal nutrition to regain as much function as possible.

Other Nutrient Considerations

Glycerophosphocholine (GPC) has been used to prevent damage to brain cells after blood flow, and thus oxygen, has been cut off to those cells. GPC also supports the brain’s ability to recover after traumatic brain injuries and reduce the symptoms associated with concussion and post-concussion syndrome. GPC is a form of choline that has been shown to protect and repair damaged brain cells1.

In another study, twenty-three patients who suffered from concussions and cerebral contusions were given GPC for a three month period. At the end of the study, ninety-six percent of the patients’ mental faculties had improved significantly2.

Other brain supportive nutrients to consider are acetyl-l-carnitine, inositol, and phosphatidylserine, fish oil, krill oil, and MCT oil.

By Michael Jurgelewicz, DC, DACBN, DCBCN, CNS

Source: Michael D. Lewis. Concussions, Traumatic Brain Injury, and the Innovative Use of Omega-3s. Journal of the American College of Nutrition, 2016; 35 (5): 469 DOI: 10.1080/07315724.2016.1150796

Sleep and its impact on memory and learning

There were two interesting studies published this past week on sleep and its effects on memory and learning this past week. Sleep disturbance is a common problem in our everyday lifestyle and it has significant consequences on overall health, wellbeing, and brain function.

How we feel when we wake up has a lot to do with what happens while we were sleeping. Sleep helps our brain function properly, improves learning, and protects our mental and physical health. Lack of sleep also contributes to weight gain, how our body reacts to insulin, our immune response, and hormone dysfunction.

In the first study, researchers from the Netherlands and Pennsylvania have discovered a component of how the lack of sleep negatively impacts memory.

This animal study published in eLife demonstrated that five hours of sleep deprivation leads to a loss of connectivity between neurons in the hippocampus. This specific region of the brain is associated with learning and memory.

We all know adequate sleep is essential for overall health and sleep issues will exacerbate all chronic disorders. Previous research demonstrate the role of sleep and memory but this study shows that it impairs hippocampal function. The results indicate sleep deprivation significantly reduces the length and density of the dendrites of the neurons in the hippocampus.
They then repeated this sleep-loss experiment but left the mice to sleep undisturbed for 3 hours afterwards. This period is sufficient to restore deficits caused by lack of sleep. The effects of the 5 hour sleep deprivation in the mice were reversed. This demonstrates the importance of the nervous system’s ability to adapt to sleep loss and that these neuronal connections can be restored with several hours of recovery sleep. During this time these individuals are remodeling their brain.

A second study published in Psychological Science revealed how naps in between study sessions may make it easier to recall what you studied and relearn what you’ve forgotten even 6 months later. The improved memory from sleeping between sessions seemed to last over time. Follow-up data showed the sleep group outperformed their peers on the recall test 1 week later and this benefit was still noticeable 6 months later.

These results suggest that alternating study sessions with sleep might be an easy and effective way to remember information over longer periods of time.

Addressing sleep disturbances can very challenging with patients in practice. One product does not work for everyone. We all have our own biochemical individuality and there can be different underlying causes to an individual’s sleep issue. A patient can have a nutrient deficiency or hormone dysfunction. One person may have trouble falling asleep whereas another can’t stay asleep. Also, one botanical may have the opposite effect and stimulate a patient or another product may cause drowsiness. We also need to keep in mind, if we are recommending a product for a child or during pregnancy, we may want to avoid certain botanicals, neurotransmitters, and hormones.

By Michael Jurgelewicz, DC, DACBN, DCBCN, CNS

Source: Robbert Havekes, Alan J Park, Jennifer C Tudor, Vincent G Luczak, Rolf T Hansen, Sarah L Ferri, Vibeke M Bruinenberg, Shane G Poplawski, Jonathan P Day, Sara J Aton, Kasia Radwańska, Peter Meerlo, Miles D Houslay, George S Baillie, Ted Abel. Sleep deprivation causes memory deficits by negatively impacting neuronal connectivity in hippocampal area CA1. eLife, 2016; 5 DOI: 10.7554/eLife.13424

Source: S. Mazza, E. Gerbier, M.-P. Gustin, Z. Kasikci, O. Koenig, T. C. Toppino, M. Magnin. Relearn Faster and Retain Longer: Along With Practice, Sleep Makes Perfect. Psychological Science, 2016; DOI:10.1177/0956797616659930

New study reinforces the importance of diet and exercise in the prevention of Alzheimer’s

In a recent study published in the American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry researchers at UCLA demonstrated the importance of a healthy diet and regular exercise and its impact on reducing amyloid plaque build-ups that are associated with Alzheimer’s disease.

In the study, 44 adults ranging from 40 to 85 years of age with mild memory changes had PET scans to measure the level of plaque and tangles in the brain. Researchers also obtained information on exercise activity, BMI, and other lifestyle factors.

The study found that exercise, a Mediterranean diet, and a healthy BMI were all associated with lower levels of plaques and tangles on the brain scans.

Previous studies have linked a healthy lifestyle to delays in the onset of Alzheimer’s but this study is the first to demonstrate how lifestyle factors directly influence abnormal proteins in people with slight memory loss who have not been diagnosed with dementia. In addition, these factors have also been shown to reduce shrinking of the brain and lower rates of atrophy in individuals with Alzheimer’s.

This study reinforces the importance of diet and exercise in the prevention of Alzheimer’s disease.

Previous research has showed us the association between diabetes and Alzheimers. A study published earlier this year in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease compared decades of research on diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease.

In addition to diet and exercise there are also several nutrients to consider. A study published in September in the journal, Neurology, demonstrated that resveratrol stabilized amyloid-beta40 (Abeta40) in patients with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease. This biomarker declines when the disease progresses.

Another study published last year in JAMA Neurology demonstrated a significant association between vitamin D insufficiency and cognitive decline specifically seen Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.
B vitamins and omega-3 fatty acids are also essential nutrients involved in numerous metabolic processes that play a significant role in cognitive health. There was an interesting study published in January in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease. Researchers found a link between Omega-3 levels, homocysteine, and brain atrophy rates. Homocysteine plays a role in regulating phospholipid metabolism and omega-3 distribution by the methionine cycle. As a result, B vitamins are essential for the synthesis of phospholipids. This study demonstrated when omega-3 levels are in an upper normal range, B vitamins slow cognitive decline and brain atrophy.

Glutathione is also essential for neurodegenerative disease. This powerful antioxidant has been found to be depleted in the brain of neurodegenerative disorders. The extent of glutathione depletion appears to mirror the severity of the disease and is the earliest known indicator of degeneration. The brain has difficulty handling significant amounts of oxidative stress due to the presence of polyunsaturated fatty acids and low levels of antioxidants such as glutathione. In conclusion, providing antioxidant support with NAC or glutathione can provide a beneficial effect in all neurodegenerative disorders.

By Michael Jurgelewicz, DC, DACBN, DCBCN, CNS

Source: Merril, D et al. Modifiable Risk Factors and Brain Positron Emission Tomography Measures of Amyloid and Tau in Nondemented Adults with Memory Complaints. American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry published May 13 2006.