The study of plant and fruit polyphenols, a rich source of dietary antioxidants, represents one of the most promising areas of research in the field of anti-aging, and the prevention of degenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease. Recent and ongoing research indicates that polyphenols present in berries and other fruits and vegetables provide protective and supportive nourishment to critical structures (i.e. hippocampus) in the brain responsible for learning, and memory formation and retention.
One of the longest held thoughts about damage to our brain’s cells (neurons) was that once they were lost, it was a fait accompli. Damaged neurons were considered damaged goods, never to regain their function, and without any hope for regeneration. Fortunately, for those concerned about recovery from brain trauma, stroke, and the neurological damage associated with Alzheimer’s disease (AD), there is promising research indicating that growth factors in the brain, not only promote brain structure and function associated with memory and learning, they can promote brain growth and recovery from damaging events to the brain.
Long before a diagnosis of Dementia or Alzheimers disease (AD) is given, brain damage is occurring that leads to, and reflects the gradual downward spiral of mental decline that typifies AD. A cluster of signs that define Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI), especially memory loss and forgetfulness, may be the early warning indicators that you are at risk for developing AD. If you can visualize a spectrum whereby healthy brain/cognitive function in an individual is on one side of the spectrum, and AD is on the opposite side, MCI would be inching ever so close to the AD side of the spectrum.
Alpha lipoic acid (ALA), a naturally occurring nutrient found in many foods and available in supplemental form, is also synthesized in humans where it serves in energy metabolism and as a vital antioxidant. ALA is a unique antioxidant in that it is both water and fat-soluble, which enables ALA to confer its antioxidant benefits to all the cells and cell structures of the body. Another important characteristic of ALA is that it is part of the antioxidant team that includes vitamin E, C, coenzyme Q10 and glutathione. ALA regenerates theses antioxidants as they are metabolized in their protective antioxidative roles.
Insulin fulfills an indispensable role in your body’s utilization of blood sugar (glucose). In type 2 diabetes and Metabolic Syndrome, insulin’s function of glucose uptake into the body’s cells is impaired due to a resistance to insulin that develops over time. This insulin resistance pattern which defines the disease process of the above mentioned disorders, is now seen as a link to the degenerative spiral that occurs in Alzheimer’s disease (AD) over and above the role of insulin in glucose metabolism in the brain. Insulin resistance and its role in inflammation, and impaired insulin function in the brain are now understood to be underlying pieces of the Alzheimer’s puzzle.