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Reduce senior moments

mature woman looking troubledHave you ever forgotten a place name or even your PIN number? Walked upstairs for something – but then forgotten what you went for?

We call these temporary memory lapses ‘senior moments’, and they do become more common with age. But what’s happening? Should you be worried? Can you reverse the process?

Researchers at Columbia University in New York have some positive news. This type of memory problem is reversible in mice and probably reversible in humans.

It is mostly caused by a reduction in the level of a protein in the brain that commonly occurs as we get older. When this protein is increased, the risk of this type of memory loss is reduced or possibly even eliminated.

Protein RbAp48 is key

Called RbAp48, this key protein is found in your brain’s hippocampus. Your hippocampus is part of an area of the brain called the limbic system – a region that regulates emotion and is involved in memory.

“It’s been known for a long time that our memory declines just by the normal wear and tear of the aging process,” says Dr Scott Small, co-author of the study and director of the Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center at Columbia University NY.

“Our study provides compelling evidence that age-related memory loss is a syndrome in its own right, apart from Alzheimer’s.”

Not necessarily a sign of future dementia

So senior moments are not necessarily a sign of future dementia – the two have different causes. Alzheimer’s is linked to the build-up of amyloid plaques in the brain’s neurons, and to inflammation in the brain’s fatty tissues, whereas memory loss due to natural ageing is linked to the RbAp48 protein.

The Columbia study initially looked at eight post-mortem brains from humans with no history of a brain disease, ranging from ages 33 to 88. They found that as a person’s age increased, levels of the protein RbAp48 (also called RBBp4) slowly decreased.

Researchers then found that when they decreased the protein in young rodents they experienced the same type of memory loss that older mice suffered.

The good news was that their memory was restored, once levels of RbAp48 were brought back to normal. Better still, when researchers increased RbAp48 in the brains of old mice, their memory improved within days.

“The fact that we were able to reverse age-related memory loss in mice is very encouraging,” says lead researcher and Nobel Laureate Eric Kandel. “At the very least it shows that this protein is a major factor. Unlike with Alzheimer’s, there is no significant loss of neurons.”

How can you increase RbAp48?

Almost inevitably Big Pharma is off and running looking for drugs. But there may be natural ways to enhance the RbAp48 protein in particular, and brain function in general. Here are our recommendations:

1. Ensure adequate protein intake

Studies show that as a person ages, their absorption of protein declines. So it may be beneficial to increase your overall intake of protein, as you can’t selectively just increase the RbAp48 protein outside the laboratory.

moroccan-chicken-tagine

Moroccan Chicken Tagine from the Health Defence Cookbook

In a 2014 study of elderly Japanese residents over a period of 7 years, men who consumed higher levels of animal protein in their diets were 39 percent less likely to have mental and physical decline as they aged. The results were less pronounced for women.

This was supported by a 2012 study which found that amongst people aged 70 to 89, individuals with the highest protein intake had a reduced risk of cognitive decline of 21 percent.

Increased protein intake may have other benefits. A 2014 study published in Cell Metabolism examined the diets of nearly 7,000 individuals between 50 and 90 years of age. The group over the age of 60 had a 62% lower risk of developing cancer and a 28 percent lower risk of death when they ate a diet high in protein.

However, since younger individuals make more proteins, increased food intake of protein could lead to excess protein in the body – and there are indications that people under the age of 60 should keep their protein consumption below 20% of calorie intake.

How much protein? According to a 2006 study conducted by the McGill Nutrition and Food Science Centre in Canada, elderly persons should consume about 0.45 to 0.6 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight. This is about 90 grams for a 150 pound (68 kg/10st 10lb) adult.

salmonA younger person should aim for about 0.45 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight – about 68 grams of protein for a 150 pound (68 kg/10st 10lb) person.

An 8-ounce steak contains about 60 grams of protein, a 3 ounce chicken breast 24g of protein and 3 oz of salmon or sardines a similar amount. An egg contains about 6 grams.

eggEggs have another brain benefit. They (along with liver and soybeans) contain choline which is a precursor to the production of acetylcholine. Acetylcholine is an important neurotransmitter and key molecule for brain health. Acetyl L-Carnitine is an amino-acid that can beneficially effect the production of acetylcholine.

2. Can we turn on the genes that produce RbAp48?

We are now finding that certain nutrients can turn genes on (and off). It’s called gene expression.

One candidate for possibly turning on the production of the RbAp48 protein is epicatechin – found in green tea, black grapes, blackberries, cherries – and dark cocoa powder.

3. Reduce sugar intake

A 2013 study published in Neurology found that high blood sugar levels have a negative effect on cognitive health. High levels of blood sugar in the brain shut down normal insulin response, which can lead to impairments in memory and cognition, as well as the development of type 2 diabetes.

Carbohydrates are metabolised as sugar inside the body, so a high carb diet can be detrimental to brain health.

4. Eat more healthy fats

avocado-CHealthy fats – and especially Omega 3 fish oil – provide essential nutrients that protect the brain and memory. Healthy fat sources include virgin olive oil, nuts and avocados. High intake of Omega 3 is linked to lower levels of depression.

These fats need to be combined with anti-oxidants as the brain is a fatty organ and prone to free radical damage unless it is protected with anti-oxidants.

Leaf of Sea lettuceVery recent research indicates that combining Omega 3 fish oil with marine polyphenols is ideal. Marine polyphenols (polyphenols are health protective compounds found in fruits and vegetables) – are found in seaweed and act as both anti-oxidants and anti-inflammatory agents.

5. Increase dietary fibre

When ‘friendly bacteria’ ferment dietary fibre in your gut and combine with salt, it produces a fatty acid called sodium butyrate. This is a potent detoxifier of neurotoxins and is thus brain healthy.

6. Vitamins and Minerals

Vitamins B12, B6 and betaine – along with folic acid – are known to reduce the level of an amino acid called homocysteine. Raised levels of this amino acid have been associated with reductions in cognitive function and memory loss – and also heart attacks.

shrimpZinc deficiency is also known to lead to cognitive impairment, and seafood and whole grains are a good source of zinc.

Recent research also links higher levels of vitamin D to improved mental health. A study at Exeter University found that severe vitamin D deficiency correlated with a 100% increase in Alzheimer’s risk [meaning that risk was doubled].

The mechanisms are not yet clear, but since vitamin D is a key nutrient for the immune system, some of the beneficial effects on the brain may come from its role in enhancing the immune system and in reducing inflammation – which is a known element in Alzheimer’s and dementia.

7. Exercise

Numerous studies show that continuing to be active is essential for brain health. That’s also true of getting at least 8 hours of sleep

8. Keep the blood flowing

The risk factors for heart disease, stroke and brain deterioration are surprisingly similar. They include obesity and high blood pressure and atheroma – the accumulation of fatty deposits and scar tissue, which lead to restriction of the circulation.

the-results-of-inflammation-graphicUnderlying these health threats is a common problem – called ‘chronic, sub-clinical inflammation’ that increases over the years. Indeed New Scientist recently confirmed that this type of internal unseen and unfelt (and therefore especially dangerous)  inflammation is involved in:

“… muscle wasting and glaucoma, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, osteoporosis and arthritis, heart failure and high blood pressure, cancers, and lung, liver and kidney and skin disorders.”

9. Supplements can help

From the above it appears as though a comprehensive supplement containing not just a full range of vitamins and minerals, but betaine, Omega 3, green tea extract, grapeseed extract and polyphenols should help keep those ‘senior moments’ at bay.

 


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You can follow us on www.facebook.com/nutrishield or www.twitter.com/colinrose40 for daily headline health tweets.


Dr Paul Clayton designed NutriShield as a comprehensive healthbutton-2 supplement with OPTIMUM levels of essential nutrients. See more detail elsewhere on this site or click on the button.

Health Defence bookDr Paul Clayton’s best-selling book Health Defence is available from most good bookstores. See the website www.healthdefence.com for excerpts and links to buy direct from the publisher.

See online here for delicious recipes from the Health Defence Cookbook  incorporating healthy foods featuring in a Mediterranean Diet. Combined 3 courses strip


REFERENCES

Pavlopoulos E, Jones S, Kosmidis S, Close M, Kim C, Kovalerchik O, Small SA, Kandel ER. 2013. “Molecular Mechanism for Age-Related Memory Loss: The Histone-Binding Protein RbAp48”. Science Translational Medicine. 5 (200)

Zhang Q, Vo N, Goodman RH. 2000. “Histone Binding Protein RbAp48 Interacts with a Complex of CREB Binding Protein and Phosphorylated CREB”. Molecular and Cellular Biology. 20 (14): 4970–8.

Lu et al. “REST and stress resistance in ageing and Alzheimer’s disease.” Nature, doi:10.1038/nature13163, 2014.

Andrade C, Radhakrishnan R. “The prevention and treatment of cognitive decline and dementia: An overview of recent research on experimental treatments.” Indian J Psychiatry. 2009 Jan;51(1):12-25. doi: 10.4103/0019-5545.44900.

 

Brain health – use it or lose it

Keep your brain sharp and stay free of dementia

Experts on brain health agree that there are proven ways to stay mentally sharp and cut the risk of cognitive decline as we get older. And regularly solving puzzles and brainteasers like this is one:

5 = 10
6 = 18
7 = 28
8 = 40
9 = ?

So I will post a brain teaser here once a week on a Friday. https://nutrishield.com/the-library/brain-teasers

Challenging your brain with puzzles and brain teasers is of course only one way to keep mentally sharp – although it’s certainly one that the Alzheimer’s Association agrees with.

Challenge your brain to think in new ways

Your brain evolved to be challenged. It needed to interpret the dangers and opportunities in your environment – indeed that is how we survived early in our evolution. But today, as we get older, we are mainly doing familiar things, so we pay less attention, we notice less detail, we are therefore less conscious and challenged.

This is an important cause of cognitive decline. So It is true that as we get older, our mental processing normally gets slower. But it doesn’t have to be like that. The solution is to deliberately put yourself in unfamiliar situations. To put back the challenge.

braincellHence the phrase Use it or Lose it. Challenging your brain with new activities that engage your attention will actually build new connections in the brain and indeed even new neurons. In turn new connections mean that you have increased your reserves of brain power. So any loss of brain cells has a less negative effect.

Scientists now talk of brain ‘plasticity’ – the fact that deterioration and ageing is actually reversible, given the right stimulus. Brain plasticity is the reason that stroke victims are able to regain speech or limb control again – the brain has been able to grow new connections to replace the non-functioning neurons and connections.

This sort of stimulus can include playing strategy games like chess and bridge. Taking up a new hobby like painting or woodwork. Learning to read music or learning a new language.

[So I can’t resist telling you that in another life I developed a new way of learning languages – see http://acceleratedlearning.com/ali/master-languages-fast/classic-languages-for-english-speakers/]

 

Here are 5 more ways to stay free of cognitive decline:

Take action on depression

There are several studies that link depression to long term mental decline – so take early advice from your doctor if depression strikes. There is good evidence that certain diets and nutrients can have a marked effect on mood and help alleviate depression. See Where are you on the happiness scale?

Be Social

There is good evidence that socialising, participating in community activities, joining a choir or volunteering is an important way to stay brain healthy. It is after all challenging because you are in a new environment.

Keep the blood flowing

The risk factors for heart disease, stroke and brain deterioration are surprisingly similar. They include obesity and high blood pressure and atheroma – the accumulation of fatty deposits and scar tissue, which lead to restriction of the circulation.

The Results Of Inflammation graphicUnderlying these health threats is a common problem – called ‘chronic, sub-clinical inflammation’ that increases over the years. Indeed New Scientist recently confirmed that this type of internal unseen and unfelt (and therefore especially dangerous) inflammation is involved in:

“… muscle wasting and glaucoma, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, osteoporosis and arthritis, heart failure and high blood pressure, cancers, and lung, liver and kidney and skin disorders.”

 

The Mediterranean Diet is an effective anti-inflammatory diet and the most powerful anti-inflammatory supplements include Omega 3 fish oil, curcumin, green tea extract, grapeseed extract, CoQ10  and vitamins B6, folic acid, C, D3, E and K – as well as minerals like zinc and magnesium.

This is not a combination you will find in a simple one-a-day supplement, but only in specialist comprehensive supplements like NutriShield.

Get your heart rate up

Several studies have found a direct link between regular physical activity and improved learning and memory and a reduced risk of cognitive decline. Regular cardiovascular exercise raises your heart rate and increases blood flow to the brain and body.

Get enough sleep

It’s true that lack of sleep leads to long term problems with memory and below par mental performance.

Combine nutrition, mental challenge, physical activity and social interaction

If you combine all these bits of advice – healthy nutrition, mental challenges, physical activities and social interactions, you have given yourself every chance of staying mentally sharp into ripe old age.

 


If you enjoyed this article, please share it with family and friends (see buttons below).

CTA Register NewsletterAnd register now for a free e-newsletter on the latest in nutrition and health research.

You can follow us on www.facebook.com/nutrishield or www.twitter.com/colinrose40 for daily headline health tweets.


Dr Paul Clayton designed NutriShield as a comprehensive healthbutton-2 supplement with OPTIMUM levels of essential nutrients. See more detail elsewhere on this site or click on the button.

Health Defence bookDr Paul Clayton’s best-selling book Health Defence is available from most good bookstores. See the website www.healthdefence.com for excerpts and links to buy direct from the publisher.

See online here for delicious recipes from the Health Defence Cookbook  incorporating healthy foods featuring in a Mediterranean Diet. Combined 3 courses strip


REFERENCES

1. Carl W. Cotman, Nicole C. Berchtold and Lori-Ann Christie, Exercise builds brain health: key roles of growth factor cascades and inflammation. TRENDS in Neurosciences Vol.30 No.9

2. Paula Alhola and Päivi Polo-Kantola. Sleep deprivation: Impact on cognitive performance. Neuropsychiatr Dis Treat. 2007 Oct; 3(5): 553–567.

3.  Ybarra O, Burnstein E, Winkielman P, Keller MC, Manis M, Chan E, Rodriguez J. Mental exercising through simple socializing: social interaction promotes general cognitive functioning. Pers Soc Psychol Bull. 2008 Feb;34(2):248-59. doi: 10.1177/0146167207310454.