Cutting-edge science and long-pondered questions explained in plain English. Bad science gutted. Great science extolled.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Preventing Alzheimer's Disease:
Pickle Your Brain With Booze
And other good ideas

That’s right. The best and latest research shows that the best way to avoid, slow, or delay Alzheimer’s disease and preserve your brain is to pickle it with booze, cigarettes, caffeine, ibuprofen, and the occasional fish.

I discussed the most shocking finding, that smoking is negatively correlated with getting Alzheimer’s Disease, in a previous essay. Basically, there’s some good research out there, both on the epidemiological and the molecular scale, that shows that people who smoke are less likely to get AD, that nicotine binds to one of the proteins implicated in AD and reduces its aggregation, and that nicotine exposure increases the number of nicotinic acid receptors in a smoker’s brain. Read the previous article on AD and Smoking to understand what all that means.

But now, the rest of the prissy lifestyle choices will also destroy your brain. If you’re a teetotaling, caffeine-abstaining, chocolate-avoiding, pharmaceutical-abjuring vegan, then you can kiss your brain good-bye.

If you want to keep your brain happy and healthy, first,
have a drink. Both wine in particular and alcohol consumption in general decrease risk of AD. One caveat: all of these studies focused on light to moderate drinking, on the order of one to three drinks per day, especially of red wine, and with the lower number of drinks for women. Any source of alcohol seems to help, though red wine is a good source of reversterol and tannic acid, which were helpful at a molecular level in other studies.

Next, eat
Indian food or a Mediterranean diet, which has lots of fish, rice or pasta, red wine, and olive oil.

The spice turmeric contains the compounds curcumin and other curcuminoids that
amyloid fibrils.

Eating the Mediterranean Diet reduced chances for AD, even when the researchers controlled for cohort, age, sex, ethnicity, education, apolipoprotein E genotype, caloric intake, smoking, medical comorbidity index, and body mass index.

Get married, or at least live with someone.

Stay in school. Go to college and grad school.
Increasing educational levels have long been found to delay or prevent AD. If you’re past the college age, being mentally active in a variety of ways helps reduce your chances for AD. Specifically, novelty-seeking behaviors (trying new foods, new activities or hobbies like learning chess or knitting, listening to new types of music, or reading books on new subjects) and social activities that involve the exchange of ideas (talking about politics, but not merely social activities like playing a game you already know, like canasta,) reduce your chances.

Ah, yes, here it is.
Eat chocolate! The darker, the better. It has huge amounts of anti-oxidants and other psychoactive peptides. Some people have noted that, if it wasn’t so prevalently and commonly used, if chocolate had been discovered recently, the government would probably regulate it as a controlled substance. Raise a cup of cocoa to lack of government intervention!

Advil (or other NSAID, like Aleve, or generic ibuprofen) a day keeps the neurologist away. NSAIDs like ibuprofen and naproxen (Advil and Aleve) bind to amyloid plaques in the brain and may help clear them. However, be careful about gastrointestinal problems when you take NSAIDs. They’re rough on your tummy.

Take a walk or get other exercise. Both regular physical activity specifically and
not being overweight in general have been found to reduce your risk of AD.

Eat a fish every week. At least one fish a week decreases your chances of getting AD by 60%. That’s HUGE.

Drink filtered water. Even
one-tenth (10%) of the EPA allowable limits of copper in drinking water affected the formation of plaques in the brains of rabbits, dogs, and a mouse with Alzheimer’s-associated genes.

Don’t eat so much. In a study of mice with human mutant Alzheimer’s-associated genes, merely
reducing their food intake (calorie intake, actually, not the volume of food) greatly increased their survival and reduced the pathology in their brains. This may be somewhat associated with the positive correlation between being overweight and being more prone to AD (see above.)

Some things that make no difference:
No statistically significant association was found for family history of dementia, sex, history of depression, estrogen replacement therapy, head trauma, antiperspirant or antacid use, high blood pressure, heart disease, or stroke.

To summarize, the general consensus is that some booze, especially red wine, some coffee, a fish a week, some exercise, a dab of chocolate, and doing new stuff will reduce your chances of getting Alzheimer’s Disease.

If you found this article helpful, please Digg it.

TK Kenyon

No comments: