With any chronic condition such as Alzheimer’s dementia, whether talking about prevention or treatment, I never advocate a one disease: one cure model. The natural approach necessitates a complete lifestyle change. This is where the power of lifestyle comes in–the benefits of hundreds of positive choices adding together to produce a massive improvement.
I have certainly addressed the mitochondrial dysfunction model of neurodegenerative disorders in previous blog posts and will not go into this model in detail here (although previous blog posts on the topic can be read by clicking here). However, it can be summarized by saying that anything that helps with the way your brain cells make energy is good while anything that harms the way your brain cells make energy is bad. Too much of a loss in the ability of your brain to make energy and you start to lose brain cells. While we can all tolerate the loss of a few here and there, too many brain cells lost can lead to the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s dementia or Parkinson’s disease.
Antioxidants clearly benefit our brain and protect the mitochondria within your brain cells, and thus, in general, will lower your risk of developing neurodegenerative disorders. Antioxidants can come internally, such as cellular made coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) or the enzymes superoxide dismutase or glutathione peroxidase, or they can come from the foods you eat or what you drink. Examples can include:
- Vitamin E (ONLY as mixed tocopherols)
- Coenzyme Q10 supplements
- Coffee or tea
- Other phytonutrients (the thousands of compounds that make up the colors, scents, smells and tastes of the plant world)
Some phytonutrients are more potent than others, which brings us to this particular study.
Researchers looked at a mouse model of Alzheimer’s disease to see how well an extract from pomegranates could halt or slow the progression of the disease. The results were pretty good in the group of mice prone to the formation of amyloid plaques (like those seen in Alzheimer’s dementia) given the pomegranate extract compared to the same type of mice not give the extract:
- The pomegranate feeding shortened the distance it took for the mice to get out of a maze.
- The extract group had less inflammation in the brain (based on TNF-alpha and NFAT levels).
- The pomegranate fed group had less “turning on” of the immune system in the brain (termed microgliosis).
- The pomegranate group had less amyloid plaque formation.
- 2 polyphenol components of pomegranate extract, punicalagin and ellagic acid, seemed to do the bulk of the work.
Overall, while this was a mouse study, the results were pretty strong in suggesting that the mere addition of a pomegranate extract was able to protect the brain in multiple ways from the Alzheimer’s progression.
As always, you should never follow a one-cause, one-cure model, but a sip or two of pomegranate juice may not be a bad idea. Better yet, as the summer rolls around I’ll be able to pick my own pomegranates from my backyard trees and eat the seeds directly.
I’m sure my brain will thank me.