The ?molecular memory? – a key player in the development of Alzheimer`s disease – guilty or not?

Is it possible that memories from the past could decrease our current ability to memorize? Yes they could when it comes to the so called ?molecular memory?

Apart from the memory, that we all know that is used by our mind and negatively influenced by Alzheimer Disease and without which we are not able to deal with daily life activities there are also other types of memory. The process of constant hallmarking of nucleic acids and proteins by small biochemical marks can be described as a so called ?molecular memory?. This kind of marking regulates the processes of gene expression and function of various proteins and is directly influenced by the metabolic status of the organism and stimuli from inside and outside of the organism at different stages of development. When this kind of molecular marking is working well it supports our abilities to accommodate to constantly changing environmental conditions and so reassemble the fundament of health. So one can say that expressions ?bad and good memories? could mean also something deeper than what we understand from colloquial language.
?Molecular Memory? has its own timing – it could be very short or long lasting, existing from millisecond intervals to even a few human generations. In simple terms one can say that our cells partially remember, for example the diet habits of our parents or even grandparents especially when it comes to prenatal life. The so called epigenetic profile, is a part of this ?molecular memory? and can be influenced or colloquially speaking ?remember? the bad diet habits of our ancestors. This ?bad molecular memory? in consequence could lead to health problems. It is highly plausible that the widespread increase in civilization diseases like Alzheimer`s may be linked to: the radical lifestyle changes, diet changes being most important, of our grandparents and parents generations and the impact of two world wars. Life style changes that might have been important in that case were: decrease in physical activities, the consumption of industry made food, substitution of social communication by electronic communication and decrease in active social interactions by widespread flow of passively ?ingested? information. On the other hand wars were characterized by the times of under nutrition and severe stress. All of those conditions may or might negatively influence the molecular memory and lead to health problems among individuals from the present generations or, by influencing the germ cells, the health of their descendants.
To invert the molecular foundations mediating the increase in the incidence of civilization diseases, possibly caused by changes in the life style, PAMAT strategy could be used. This strategy is nothing more than the combination of three types of activities: physical, intellectual and social together with maintaining proper dietary habits. All of those activities could at least partially erase the bad molecular marks imprinted in our molecular memory and to some extent bring back health.
Concluding, one can state that, what our cells ?remember? from the past negative stimuli, that influenced our and our ancestors organisms, may have effects on our present intellectual abilities to memorize. This process is becoming apparent especially in the elderly people. The open question is how strong might have the bad stimulus been to influence our ?molecular memory? so strong that it left an imprint on our health and what is the individual vulnerability of particular people? Those questions are directly related to another one: how strong should the positive stimulants of the PAMAT strategy be to substitute the molecular burden of ?bad memories? by a ?healthy marks?.
Dariusz Stępkowski
English translation and edition by Tomasz Stępkowski

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.

Colors of Memory

Colors of memory

At the kind invitation of Professor Stępkowski, I would like to share a few thoughts in the blog under the attractiv title of “Cheerful Seniors”. At the sound of the word “cheerful” I am induced into a feeling of bliss.

When I was a student, my favorite occupation was reading books from different areas which have nothing in common. In this way, I came across a council how to deal with the mind so as not to waste a single moment of its activity. It came to my mind how my Teacher of Polish literature in primary school was amazed that I, the boy from the village, can talk about the events read in polish national epos “Pan Tadeusz”. The council and that memory merged, and I krew what to do on the field of not wasting even one blink of mind. So, waiting to get “baked beans” as common student meal at that time, I began to memorize the verses of our polish national epos. But the most fruitful place of doing this job, were Polish overcrowded trains and buses in the seventies of last century. Coming home for breaks from studies, I devoured, without much effort, verse by verse. So going back to study I enjoyed reciting for myself learned verses. What a joy it was!
Recently I was watching on You Tube great Daniel Barenboim conducting all nine Beethoven symfonies and there was no score before his eyes. All from memory! Nice to have something in common with this Great Musician and Conductor!

Ten years ago I had the privilage to work in the town of Mwanza in Tanzania, right on Lake Victoria. In its neighbourhood lies the village of Bujora. There in the sixties of the last century, a missionary priest from Canada, called by the local people Padre Klementi, created a museum documenting the history, customs, rituals, life in peacetime and during wars of the tribe called Wasukuma. When I visited this place and museum, my attention was drawn to the board showing the line of the kings of the tribe starting approximately 1570! I could not believe it! How is this possible? They did not know how to write! Guide explained that the one who began his reign, had an obligation to sing “song of Enthronement”. In its content he had to sing the names and achievements of his predecessors. And so from king to king! Let us praise oral tradition!

When the missionaries came to the area, in 1879 The first books were introduced. Then in 1950’s Padre Klementi started working among this tribe and created a wonderful museum.

A few years ago I read the news that in Japan lives a man one hundred year old, and each new year of life he begins learning a new foreign language. Some curios people asked him why he does that. He answerd, if I remember well, for the mind not to get aged.

Summarizing all of this I would say ” gray cells” love the color of memory!

Padre Antoni (from the same clan as Padre Klementi)
Fr Antoni Markowski
Society of Missionaries of Africa

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

not language edited

16 commandements of healthy diet

16 recommendations of healthy nutrition in the prevention of the Alzheimer’s disease, other dementias, obesity, cancers, diabetes, ischaemic illness of the heart

1. Buying food, diverse as possible and from different suppliers, lowering in this way the risk of the accumulation of one type of harmful substances in the body, is recommended.

2. Least processed products, and self-preparation of meals are recommended.

3. Avoidance of the excess of sugar and salt is recommended.

4. Avoidance of the excess of cold cooked meats due to the large content of chemical additives is recommended. For enthusiasts of cold cooked meats a preparation of roasted meat by oneself is a good custom.

5. Avoidance of the excess of meat especially fatty one is recommended. We apply the great changeability of kinds of the meat and suppliers. Eating only a poultry is an infringement of 1st recommendation. The meat can contain harmful amounts of antibiotics – especially poultry is suspicious.

6. We are trying to replace the meat with fish – wild living saltwater fishes are most valuable.

7. Eating several servings of raw vegetables a day is recommended taking a 1st recommendation into account.

8. Eating several servings of fresh fruits is recommended taking a 1st recommendation into account.

9. We are eating slowly in order to let our body to take time for sending information about satiating its needs to the brain.

10. We should generally eat less of the food than we want to eat.

11. We apply small portions of different kinds of dishes clubbing together for the meal.

12. We are serving meals in an aesthetic way, eating slowly what allows for enjoyment of the taste and the appearance of dishes.

13. The dinner will go well with moderate amount of alcohol (equivalent of 25g of pure ethanol ? one glass of wine or one beer or one standard drink).

14. Drinking of one or two cups of the green tea and coffee per day is recommended.

15. Turmeric – spice well-known for Indian cuisine (a component of curry) in combination with the black pepper or hot red peppers should appear on our table.

16. Preparations of fish oil containing Omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin D3 are the only supplements of the diet worth recommendation, taking a 1st recommendation into account.

Assoc. Prof. Dariusz Stępkowski PhD,DSc
Last revised 2014.05.31