No one is ever going to mistake pizza for health food. But many of us still like to have a slice from time to time.
And it turns out there’s a not-so-secret ingredient in the best pies that does more than just give it that fresh-from-the-garden taste. It could also be lending some powerful hidden support to your brain.
New research zeros in on a potent compound locked inside the “pizza herb” basil. And researchers say it just might help your body fight some of the damage that leads to Alzheimer’s disease.
Even more incredibly, they think there’s a chance you could get the benefit simply from eating basil.
An unexpected way to fight dementia damage
One reason dementia is so hard to solve is that there’s no single cause. It’s not like you have with a specific germ that triggers an infection, for example.
Dementia often results from a cascading series of interrelated problems striking in tandem. And together, they do a number on your brain from multiple angles.
But the new study did uncover a single natural compound found inside delicious basil that may help make a dent in dementia damage naturally. Because it fights back from multiple angles.
Interestingly, the basil doesn’t go to work on the brain itself directly. Instead, the herb extract starts working its magic somewhere else, entirely unexpected. And that’s in your stomach.
When you eat the basil compound, it kicks off a chain reaction that starts in your gut. But that action can eventually lead to key changes within the brain that scientists believe may help prevent Alzheimer’s disease.
Researchers say the basil may even help slow or stop the progression of any damage you already have.
Of course, we’re not talking about a miracle cure here. But rather some powerful brain support that can be one more essential item in your anti-aging toolkit.
And you can pick this “tool” up at your local grocery store or Farmer’s market. Basil is affordable enough for most budgets. Or, even better, you can grow some basil in a pot on your windowsill. That way, you’ll always have fresh leaves when you need them.
How BASIL can enhance the brain
The moment you pluck a fresh basil leaf from its stem, you’ll catch the distinct and robust scent of basil. That smell comes from a compound called fenchol.
The new study finds this compound can be an effective stand-in for the short-chain fatty acids produced by your gut that are essential to brain health. These metabolites often go AWOL as cognitive decline sinks in.
That’s a problem because when those fatty acid levels plunge, they can no longer activate the free fatty acid receptor 2 essential for healthy brain neurons. That, in turn, can allow damaged cells and toxic proteins to start to accumulate in your brain.
In tests on human cells and animal models, the basil-derived fenchol could bind to those FFAR2 receptors, much like the fatty acids. That led to two key changes in the brain that essentially target the damage that’s behind dementia.
- The brain was better able to clear out the beta-amyloid plaques that play a significant role in Alzheimer’s disease.
- Levels of senescent neuronal cells plummeted. These cells are better known as “zombie” cells because they don’t die quickly like most cells do but instead linger in a “half-dead” state. When they accumulate, they cause dangerous brain inflammation and can turn other nearby cells into zombies.
It’s too soon to say for sure if the basil compound can actually stave off dementia in humans outside of the lab. The research is still in its early stages.
But the researchers have plans to study the extract further. They’re even planning on testing to confirm whether or not we can get these same benefits simply from eating basil.
But since basil is both delicious and healthy… it’s a natural inflammation reducer and circulation booster, for example… there’s no need to wait for that study. Get yourself a basil plant and have it on hand in the kitchen.
And not just for pizza night. If the new study’s any indication, you may want to have some basil every night of the week.
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