Recently, I ran into my old friend Kristen at the grocery store. As we greeted each other, I realized that my husband had never met her before and that I needed to introduce them.
But as I went to make the introductions, it happened. I just couldn’t recall Kristen’s name. Despite my having been friends with her for many years, no amount of wracking my brain would produce the information I needed.
Needless to say, I was incredibly embarrassed and after a few uncomfortable minutes of stilted conversation, I rushed to the checkout and then hightailed it out of the store as fast as I could with my poor puzzled husband in tow.
Have you ever experienced that fleeting moment of panic when you realize you simply can’t recall someone’s name? Or perhaps you’ve had that sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach when you can’t remember where you parked the car? When “senior moments” like these pop up, it’s hard not to wonder if they are just isolated incidents or if they are early signs of a downward spiral toward dementia.
Now I don’t know about you, but for me few things are quite as frightening as the prospect of losing control. Just thinking about no longer being in the driver’s seat when it comes to my own memories or actions frankly leaves me feeling a bit panicked.
It’s probably that fear, combined with my recent grocery-store incident, that made two new Alzheimer’s-prevention studies catch my eye.
The first study, published in the journal Fluids and Barriers of the CNS, uncovered a link between low levels of vitamin D and Alzheimer’s disease. I’ll tell you more about that connection in just a moment, but first a little background.
Amyloid beta is a peptide that’s associated with Alzheimer’s disease. Prior research showed that the peptide builds up in the brains of those suffering with the disease.
Researchers from Tohoku University in Japan wanted to find out what effect raising vitamin D levels might have on Alzheimer’s disease. To find out, they began giving injections to mice with the disease. When they took another look at the brains of the mice they were surprised to see that the vitamin appeared to be literally reversing the buildup of amyloid beta.
The scientists believe that the vitamin somehow allows more of the peptide to pass across the blood / brain barrier, meaning, of course, that if enough of the vitamin is present the dangerous buildup may never occur in the first place.
So, in other words, we can now add yet one more great reason to the growing pile of reasons why we need to maintain healthy levels of vitamin D. Besides playing an important role in fighting diabetes, Crohn’s disease, and the battle of the bulge, the multitalented vitamin is apparently an important player in Alzheimer’s prevention.
That brings me to the second Alzheimer’s-related study that caught my eye. If you’re a grape eater, this one’s bound to make you a happy camper. It turns out that if you’ve been eating a seeded variety of the fruit you may already be unknowingly fighting off memory loss and cognitive decline.
A study published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease concluded that the polyphenols found in grape seeds may be able to ward off the memory loss that’s associated with Alzheimer’s by naturally reducing levels of beta-amyloid.
And for those already suffering with the disease, I have more great news. Researchers say that the natural antioxidant also appears to have the ability to apply the brakes to existing cases of Alzheimer’s…in effect delaying the disease from progressing any further.
I have to say that sitting in the sunshine snacking on grapes sounds like an Alzheimer’s-prevention plan I can wholeheartedly endorse. However, keep in mind that if you don’t work outdoors you’re likely not going to get enough D from sun exposure alone so you might want to consider a supplement.
Just make sure it’s D3, the same form of the vitamin that’s produced by your skin when it’s exposed to sun. And you can also add more foods to your diet that are rich in the vitamin like salmon, sardines, and cod-liver oil.
I realize that there are those who say that a poor memory is the key to true happiness, but, personally, I’d prefer that mine stick around for a while.
“1a,25-Dihydroxyvitamin D3 enhances cerebral clearance of human amyloid-b peptide(1-40) from mouse brain across the blood-brain barrier,” Fluids Barriers CNS. 2011 Jul 8;8(1):20. [Epub ahead of print]
“Grape derived polyphenols attenuate tau neuropathology in a mouse model of Alzheimer’s disease,” J Alzheimers Dis. 2010;22(2):653-61.
An enthusiastic believer in the power of natural healing, Alice has spent virtually her entire 17-year career in the natural-health publishing field helping to spread the word.
She is an advocate of self-education and is passionate about the power of group knowledge sharing, like the kind found right here on HealthierTalk.com. Alice loves to share her views on holistic and natural healing as well as her, sometimes contentious, thoughts on the profit-driven inner workings of traditional medicine.
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