31 Days of Resolutions – Day 6
Have you heard about nutraceuticals?
It seems like one of those weird words that have become so popular, like “Brangelina.”
The best definition I could find is that a nutraceutical is a food or food component that helps prevent or relieve the symptoms of illness.
Nutraceuticals, then, are the step between diet and drugs, meaning that you alter your diet to prevent or alleviate symptoms of an illness before heading straight for the pharmaceuticals.
The U.S. doesn’t regulate all nutraceuticals. Regulation depends on how the food or food component is produced and sold. (U.S. FDA, Dietary Supplements)
Nutraceuticals as Food for Thought
My focus on nutraceuticals came about while trying to address some annoying symptoms of my Parkinson’s Disease.
Sleep and clear thinking were issues. I was waking up every few hours and having trouble getting back to sleep. Not really a problem if I felt rested in the morning and was able to think normally. But I felt tired and groggy a lot.
I wondered if there were foods that interfered with or foods that could help the brain.
Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases share a lot of commonalities as they both involve amyloid accumulations in the brain. So any studies involving one of these diseases might apply to both.
I found a recent review of possible treatments to slow or reverse amyloid accumulations, and the authors proposed a variety of treatment suggestions. Some of those suggestions involved foods and nutrients.
Antioxidants Specific to the Brain
Antioxidants fight free radicals in our cells to help us slow aging, boost immunity, and fight diseas
Grapes and food products made from grapes, like wine, contain antioxidants.
The anti-inflammatory benefits of a glass of wine a day is prescribed in both the MIND and Mediterranean diets.
Can some of these antioxidants help keep the brain sharp? Can they slow or reverse the amyloid accumulations?
The answer is “maybe.”
“Trust me. You Can Dance.” -Wine
The Graper Good
A recent experiment demonstrated that grape seed extract effectively protects human white blood cells against the toxic effects of X-rays. That’s huge for cancer patients receiving radiation treatment.
But what about amyloid accumulations?
The answer to the question is complicated, and perhaps not yet fully known. But research has shown that resveratrol “promotes amyloid peptides clearance and anti-amyloidogenic cleavage of APP, and reduces neuronal apoptosis.”
What does that mean? Basically, yes, the antioxidant helps prevent and/or clear deposits in the brain.
Resveratrol occurs naturally in grapes.
Purple and Concord grapes have the most total antioxidant activity, while red and green grapes are about equal. But the amount and type of benefits depends on what parts of the grapes are consumed. The skins of darker purple grapes win the antioxidant war, but red and green grapes have about equal amounts when considering all parts of the grape.
Concord and purple grapes have significantly higher total antioxidant activities than red or green grapes which were very similar. The antioxidants in the purple and red grapes were found primarily in the skin, whereas, in the Concord and green grapes, the TAC (total antioxidant capacity) was equally divided between skin and pulp. This study suggests that the dark color Concord and purple grapes are more beneficial in terms of antioxidants. Further studies are needed to confirm whether this is also true in vivo.
Even though resveratrol isn’t news, the studies supporting its neuroprotective effect are recent. And phase 2 clinical trials are continuing as we speak.
That’s good news for a hope filled new year.
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