Integrated Health Center
of Inland Empire
of Inland Empire
What is brain stress? When talking about a stressed brain it is really a topic about oxidative damage to the brain -a type of stress caused by rampant free radicals and an imbalance in the antioxidant status of brain metabolism . Abnormal oxidative stress is a hallmark of Alzheimer’s Disease (AD), but what exactly to do about it remains cloudy. “Oxidative stress is defined as an imbalance between reactive oxygen (ROS) and nitrogen species (RNS) and weakened antioxidant defenses.”
Further evaluation of antioxidant intervention in the treatment of AD and the stressed brain remains even more promising than in 2002 when investigation into this area first took off. While the latest studies have focused on insulin resistance in cognitive impairment and AD, a more recent 2019 study put the focus back on oxidative stress theorizing that a common denominator in the relationship between the metabolic disturbances in AD and MCI and cerebral degeneration- inclusive of insulin resistance- is all related to one overall mechanism, oxidative stress. Whether oxidative stress is a cause of insulin resistance or not remains to be proven, but a relationship exists.
As oxidative stress in the brain continues, the accumulation of ceramide and activation of pro-inflammatory cytokines occurs leading to mitochondrial dysfunction and nerve death. It is now believed that radical oxygen species (ROS) overproduction occurs due to metabolic abnormalities that co-exist with peripheral insulin resistance and with an impaired mitochondrial activity in the insulin resistant brain.
Oxidative stress also leads to the accumulation of amyloid β-peptides and plaque formation.
It is now known that a disruption in peripheral insulin metabolism affects insulin resistance in the brain, a relatively new finding since now we know that insulin is produced in the brain and not just peripherally. Insulin can be synthesized by neurons and glial cells. So, any factors impacting insulin resistance peripherally can impact the insulin metabolism in the brain as well including oxidative factors.
Nutraceuticals regulate mitochondrial stress, cellular death, the free radical scavenging system, and neurotrophic factors by targeting specific cellular targets so including them in your diet may help reduce brain stress. What are some of these nutraceuticals?
Studies suggest that polyphenols can help treat neurodegenerative pathology and age-related loss in memory, learning and cognitive performance. Their mechanism is multifactorial involving cerebrovascular blood flow, intracellular signaling and the reduction of damage induced by neurotoxins and neuroinflammation. Some examples of polyphenols with such activity is resveratrol, Cucurmin, EGCG (found predominantly in green tea), soy extracts, and ginkgo biloba.
Ascorbic acid, the reduced form of vitamin C, can switch neuronal metabolism from glucose to lactate consumption to sustain synaptic activity. Vitamin C is high in fruits and vegetables and is in most multivitamin supplements.
Vitamin E is an antioxidant involved in neuroprotection and improved mitochondrial functioning. High vitamin E foods include wheat germ oil, sunflower seeds, almonds, avocado, almond butter, almond oil, fish, mango, blackberries, cranberries and sweet pepper to name a few.
Vitamin D is notoriously low in the general population. Vitamin D can be difficult to obtain if you don’t live in a sunny climate at a certain distance from the equator or don’t drink vitamin D fortified milk products. Salmon, vitamin D fortified milk, egg yolks and fortified cereals can be a source of vitamin D, but many people must resort to supplementation to achieve the average of 600 IU needed daily.
Omega 3 fatty acids (polyunsaturated fatty acids), including EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), are dietary fats found in oily fish and seafood, with small amounts of DHA found in algae. it is likely that DHA may delay the onset of age-related cognitive decline, but not in individuals with already diagnosed AD progression.
Approaches such as nutritional interventions have demonstrated the reversal or delay of the onset of patho-physiological modifications associated with normal aging as well as with AD and MCI. Thinking smarter means thinking smarter about our eating habits as well. Following a diet plan full of fruits, vegetables and antioxidant foods as mentioned above may improve brain power by decreasing the oxidative state of the brain by supplying necessary antioxidants to the body’s hungry, imbalanced system.
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