Should we change the old saying from an apple a day to a cup of tea a day, keeps the doctor away?
According to some new research, a cup of tea may help to keep demenia away...especially for those at the highest risk.
A longitudinal study published in the Journal of Nutrition, Health & Aging followed 957 Chinese seniors aged 55 or higher and found that regular consumption of tea lowered the risk of cognitive decline by 50%.
What was more exciting was that those patients in the study with the dreaded APOE e4 gene, a gene that dramatically increases the likelihood of developing dementia and Alzheimers, enjoyed an 86% decreased in risk.
These benefits were seen in all type of tea consumption, including black, oolong, and green tea.
According to lead research, Dr. Feng Lei, the long term benefits of tea consumption seem to come from the bioactive compounds found in the tea leaves which exhibit anti-inflammatory and antioxidant potential and other powerful disease modifying properties that may protect the brain from vascular damage and brain cell degeneration.
The bottom line is there are things that we can do and consume that can slow down the degeneration of the brain as we age.
As we age, our brain appears to shrink by about 1% per year. That's what doctors consider "normal aging"...
In a diseased brain this shrinkage may occur at a much faster rate with some people seeing up to a 5% shrinkage in certain brain structures per year.
How disturbing is that?
Imaging someone sneaking into your room once a year and secretly scooping out 5% of your brain. That image is not far from the truth.
In the news recently I saw a case report of a guy named Ted Esau, who had the APOE e4 gene and whose father died at 74 of Alzheimer's disease.
Sadly, Ted started to notice his brain function deteriorating in his 50's, so he had his brain evaluated and discovered that his brain was shrinking at an alarming 4.3% per year.
He started on a combination of brain drugs and lifestyle changes and since starting the regimen, his memory and brain function have stabilized...
His brain now atrophy's at just 1% a year, which is consistent with normal aging. More important than that, at 64, his memory is great and he continues to manage over 100 employees at a major financial planing institution.
Alzheimers effects 1 in 10 people over the age of 65. It kills more people than breast and prostate cancer combined and 1 in 3 seniors will die from Alzeimers.
We need to take steps to protect our brain from degeneration and research has discovered a number of things we can do to achieve the goal of staying sharp well into our golden years...
1. Omega-3 Fats (Especially DHA) - DHA is an omega-3 fat that makes up a large volume of the brain and it is vital for the proper health and function of the brain...especially the area that controls memory, called the hipocampus. I had the pleasure of interviewing Dr. Majid Fotuhi, a Johns Hopkins trained expert on memory and the one supplement he prescribes to every patient is DHA. I recommend the Euromega formula, which delivers DHA and phospholipids, which are also important for brain and nerve function. 2 tablets daily.
2. Green Tea Extract - As reported earlier on in the segment, green tea contains bioactive compounds that appear to act as an antioxidants and anti-inflammatory to the brain. There's also evidence that green tea can help to clean up some of the metabolic trash that can build up in the brain.
3. Curcumin - Curcuminoids are compounds found in turmeric extract that help to control inflammation, deliver antioxidant protection to the brain and sop up metabolic trash that builds up in the brain better than any other known natural product. Take 500 to 1,000 mg of BCM95 per day for prevention.
4. Lithium and Proline-Rich Polypeptide - These two compounds come in a formula called Memory Protect by Life Extension. This formula helps to lower two-proteins that build up in the brain of Alzheimer's patients, amyloid beta and tau protein while also improving the ability of brain cells to use sugar for fuel. This is important because it is known that the brain of alzheimer's patients seems to lose its ability to use sugar for energy causing some researchers to call Alzheimer's, type III diabetes, or diabetes of the brain.
5. Exercise and movement - Because the areas of the brain that regulate memory also seem to -provide spacial awareness, meaning it helps us to navigate the world, any time we exercise, dance, move, juggle, or do anything else that forces us to navigate the world in new ways, we stimulate the area of the brain responsible for memory. So, practice improvisational dance like ballroom dance. Learn to juggle. PRactice tai chi. Move that body.
6. Lower starch and sugar intake. High sugar in the blood damages all organs and tissues, including and especially the brain. So, keep our sugar and starch intake to a minimum, while increasing our intake of nuts, seeds, fruits, and vegetables.
7. Finally, learn not to stress. All stress is your brain fearing that you are about to be eaten. Family stress, financial stress, and career stress all send the same message "You're about to be eaten by a predator" - that's good when you're actually about to be eaten by a lion, but wehen your brain is sending these signals every day, it becomes toxic for the brain. Stress is toxic to the brain and you must learn to worry less and relax more. Next time you're stressed, tell yourself...."Well, at least they can't eat me." I also recommend practicing mindfulness meditation, which has been shown to increase the gray matter within your brain!
So, that's seven things you can do right now to protect the brain. So...get to work!