Alzheimer’s Disease

Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) is a neurodegenerative disorder, which causes a progressive loss of synapses and neurons, gradually leading to cognitive impairment and dementia.

One feature or sign of Alzheimer’s Disease is the deposits of amyloid-β (Aβ) plagues outside of the cells. Another feature of Alzheimer’s Disease is the tangling of neurofibrillary hyperphosphorylated tau proteins. Both of these featured of AD are caused by the misfolding and gradual conversion of highly soluble proteins into insoluble, filamentous polymers. A metaphor for this situation is that there are bricks laid to build a building. But some of those bricks break apart, and are left in the site of construction. Those broken bricks accumulate until no more construction is possible until they are removed.

tau protein on microtubules tangle and clump
A diagram depicting the degeneration of Tau Proteins that stabalize the microtubules of a neuron. From diseased neurons, the microtubules disintegrate, causing the tau proteins to tangle and clump together.

What exactly causes Alzheimer’s Disease is still murky in the scientific community, but there is evidence pointing to Reactive Oxygen Species as a possible cause. In fact, oxidative stress is also associated as a cause for other neurodegenerative diseases. Which makes sense, since oxidative stress damages the neural circuitry of the brain, as well as any other cell in our body. Which is why our human body is equipped with an antioxidant defense system to protect from the dangers of an oxidative metabolism and environment.

Indeed, autopsies of Alzheimer’s Disease patients show elevated levels of lipid oxidation products, protein oxidation, and DNA oxidation in the brain.

So with the threat of oxidation in mind, it may be wise to make sure that your diet is rich in antioxidants. For example, a study[2] showed that flavonoid intake is inversely related to the risk of suffering dementia. A flavonoid is a plant chemical with powerful antioxidant capacity. So diet does make a difference for your neurological health.

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Sources

  1. Cocoa Powder Triggers Neuroprotective and Preventive Effects in a Human Alzheimer’s Disease Model by Modulating BDNF Signaling Pathway [J Cell Biochem.]
  2. Intake of flavonoids and risk of dementia [Eur J Epidemiol.]

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