We are what we eat

We are what we eat – the influence of the diet on cognitive abilities and the memory
Journal Club 2014.07.01

Everyone will agree with the statement, that the healthy diet is supporting keeping for a long time good physical and intellectual fitness. However when we are reach the point of defining what the healthy diet is, it turns out , that the devil’s is in the details. Generally, the general view is that the proper diet should provide us with all needed macro and micro components of diet and in the appropriate amounts and proportions. When it comes to determination what amounts and proportion are appropriate it is nowadays a mess. When we think about keeping the mind fitness along with the ageing and about the influence of our dietetic habits on brain aging helpful are epidemiological studies showing positive impact of some diet components on the health of the brain. Among others: folic acid, beta-carotene, vitamin D3, omega-3 acids, vitamin B12 are showing positive correlations with mind fitness. Recently a positive effect of these components was confirmed in examinations with brain imaging techniques in order to detect deposits of beta-amyloid – a marker of the Alzheimer’s disease and the activity of the brain associated with the glucose usage as energy source – a marker of brain fitness. Research team led by Lisa Mosconi (Mosconi et al. BMJ Open, 2014, 4,) examined 49 healthy volunteers in New York from a high-risk group of falling ill with the Alzheimer’s disease. Volunteers filled in the dietary questionnaire based on habits of eating certain foods. Consumption of individual components of diet was calculated. Researchers examined how higher consumption of determined components influences the level of deposits of the beta-amyloid and the metabolism of the glucose in the brains of persons not showing signs of disease. Persons who had the best use of the glucose had increased consumption of folic acid and beta-carotene. Higher consumption of vitamin D, vitamin B12 and omega-3 acids correlated with the smaller content of beta-amyloid plaques in brains of participants in the study. It is an important conclusion from these examinations, that mentioned ingredients had a positive effect on the brain when came from the eaten food rather than supplements. These preliminary results call for undertaking further long-term research on the larger group of persons, in which a positive effect of these diet components will be confirmed and perhaps of other diet components which weren’t still taken into account. This observation is unusually significant for drawing up accurate guidelines for composing the anti-Alzheimer?s diet which appears as one of the most effective ways of the prevention of this illness and other forms of dementia.

Bilingualism is protective against dementia

Journal Club 2014.06.26
Bilingualism is protective against dementia

International team of researchers led by Morris Freedman on 18th of May 2014 published in the Behavioural Neurology findings concerning the influence of the bilingualism on the age of onset of dementia. They conducted research in Toronto and Montreal (Canada) and in Hayderabad (India). The research confirmed prior reports on the protective influence of the bilingualism and demonstrated, that in each of cities group of bilingual people later fell ill with dementia. They also stated that then more languages the patients had used the protective effect was stronger. The long-term parallel use of several languages is probably building so-called cognitive reserve in the brain compensating for losses of efficiency accompanying the ageing process of the brain.

Journal Club 2013.11.03

Journal Club 2013.11.03

The influence of medicines taken by patients on their cognitive abilities and the memory

In 2013 in a scientific journal Alzheimer’s and Dementia, group of researchers from the St. Louis in the USA published results of studies performed on group of 4414 patients in age 50 and above – men and women. For the examination were enrolled volunteers with normal cognitive abilities and the memory checked with battery psychometric tests. Patients filled in the questionnaire form describing taken medicines. After the end of one year a compliance of taking determined medicines with the decline of cognitive abilities was examined. Out of the list of over 100 preparations (of medicines and supplements of the diet) 9 preparations had established the link with the condition of cognitive fitness. Six of them had positive influence on retaining the decline of intellectual fitness and three influenced it negatively. Positively acting were naproxen, calcium plus vitamin D, sulphate of iron, potassium chloride, flaxseed, and sertraline and negatively influenced cognition bupropion, oxybutynin and furosemide. Amongst medicines positively acting it is worthwhile to put attention to calcium in combination with the vitamin D and flaxseed or linseed oil. Suplementation of the diet with vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids contained in the flaxseed as well as in fish oils are considered as a good way of prevention of the Alzheimer’s disease and as the factor slowing down the course of Alzheimer?s disease.
Dariusz Stępkowski PhD, DSc

Influence of the change of the traditional diet in Japan and a few developing countries on the incidence of the Alzheimer’s disease in these countries.

Amongst the researchers dealing with the Alzheimer’s disease more and more a view is becoming widespread, that diet and dietary history of individuals and averaged for the entire human population is significant for the susceptibility to develop Alzheimer?s disease (AD) of the entire population. This year a publication was published in Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, authored by William B. Grant, analysing historical tendencies of the change of the diet in Japan and eight developing countries with reference to the prevalence of the Alzheimer’s disease in these countries. For Japan the factors strongly correlating with the increase of AD prevalence were: increased alcohol, animal products ? meat consumption, and the number of people smoking tobacco (measured by the amount of cases of the lung cancer). Negatively and strongly correlating was decrease in rice consumption. Change of dietary habits 10-15 years earlier influenced the prevalence of the Alzheimer’s disease much later. The author observed the similar period of delayed effects of the change of the diet for other eight developing countries. For these countries most strongly correlated with the increase in the number of cases: the increase of consumption of animal fats and increase in the caloric value of meals. The most important conclusion from this publication is that a significant risk factor for falling ill with the Alzheimer’s disease is what we ate in the past. In my opinion Polish diet containing quite a lot of complex carbohydrates (in the form of potatoes, groats, rice, bread) in spite of eating quite a lot of animal fats along with the influence of other factors is causing that an incidence of AD in Poland is on an average level by comparison with other countries. Dariusz Stępkowski PhD, DSc

Comment on Food Safety

Comment about the safety of the food

Published earlier “16 recommendations of healthy nutrition in the prevention of the Alzheimer’s disease” provoked comments about the safety of food. The purpose of writing these recommendations was to propose a rational solution to the problem each of us can approach. Generally producers of the food are obliged to follow norms concerning applying plant protection products, veterinary medicines, fertilizers and the like. However assumption that this system is in 100% efficient and safe is incorrect, and so it can happen that we will buy products with amounts of substances originating in the process of manufacturing foodstuffs, above allowed level. And so diversifying a risk is a sensible strategy. This can be achieved by using different food types, coming from different sources, in this way reducing the risk of the accumulation of harmful substances of one type. All types of toxins have certain threshold above which they are starting displaying the detrimental effect to the organism. And so by lowering the risk of the accumulation of toxin we are lowering the risk of triggering its harmful action. Above reasoning does not mean that that our food is in general contaminated and are a sign of the cautious approach to the problem of the influence of substances of different kinds, used in the process of the manufacturing of foodstuffs, on the health. Such deliberations are necessary taking into consideration unknown long-term (in the range of 30-40 years) effects of applying these compounds. In the light of some studies showing that Alzheimer?s patients have a significantly raised level of the DDT metabolite – a pesticide withdrawn from use several dozen years ago the concern about food safety is substantiated. The Alzheimer’s disease is being triggered by the tangle of different risk factors acting in the past amongst which toxins can have their own contribution.
Dariusz Stępkowski PhD, DSc

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