Families of those with Alzheimer's disease are also affected, as they watch their loved ones slip away before their eyes, forgetting everything that made them who they were, and becoming someone else entirely. It is a frightening thing - both for those afflicted with the disease, and for those who care for them. And the incidence of Alzheimer's only continues to rise.
Is there any hope for a cure? Will this dreadful disease eventually afflict us all as we age? While no one can know for sure, in fact there are some signs of hope - if not for a cure, then at least for preventative measures that we can all take today to ensure our future health and longevity.
However, as we often say, prevention is the best medicine, and thankfully, there are already a number of recent discoveries that may prevent the disease from happening to you in the first place.
Some swear by coconut oil, as we discussed last week, but an even more promising substance when it comes to preventing and even controlling Alzheimer's disease is green tea. Green tea has been shown to have a defensive effect against many diseases, but Alzheimer's may be its most promising application yet.
A recent article in Life Extension Magazine (Aug. 2014; 22-30) explored the potential benefits of green tea in both preventing and possibly even reversing the effects of Alzheimer's disease. Here is a short breakdown of some of the research in this area, along with the cited sources:
Alzheimer's disease is caused by the buildup of toxic proteins in the brain (commonly called amyloid plaques), which impairs, and eventually kills, brain cells. The result is memory and speech loss, impaired motor skills, and eventually, death. However, a compound found in green tea called EGCG has been shown to prevent the formation of these plaques, break down existing ones, and even help the brain to create new neurons to replace those that have been damaged or lost. In fact, some reports state that green tea consumption has been associated with a 54% reduction in the risk of developing dementia and other symptoms of cognitive decline! (Source: American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Feb. 2006; 83 (2): 355-61.)
Green tea compounds containing EGCG have been shown to have anti-inflammatory effects, and contain detoxifying and antioxidant enzymes, which in laboratory studies, protected DNA against oxidative damage, and protected the brain from both Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease. (Source: Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry, Sept. 2004; 15 (9): 506-16.)
Researchers have also studied the effects of EGCG on memory impairment and learning, and discovered marked improvements in both factors when green tea extracts were administered to mice in a laboratory setting, as reported in the January 2009 issue of the Biological & Pharmaceutical Bulletin.
Human studies - such as the one published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition (Nov. 2012; 66 (11): 1187-92.), have also shown increased brain activity and improved memory function after consuming green tea extract.
I could go on, but you get the point - green tea is good stuff! So what does this mean for you - and for anyone worried about Alzheimer's disease, either for yourself or a loved one? For one thing, it means that there IS hope! If not for an immediate cure, at least for a positive impact on those currently suffering from cognitive decline - and certainly for preventing the onset of these deadly brain diseases for those as yet unaffected.
One thing you can do right now - quite inexpensively - is just start drinking green tea! Many find it an excellent (and healthier) substitute for coffee in the morning, and others simply enjoy curling up with a cup on a rainy afternoon. Preventative effects have been noted for those drinking as little as 2 cups per day. For those who don't care for the taste of green tea, try one of the many naturally fruit-infused versions - such as those from Yogi Teas (my favorite - always natural and delicious!). Or if you really don't want to drink it, look for a green tea supplement containing about 200mg of EGCG (equivalent to 2-3 cups of green tea).
Those already experiencing symptoms already may wish to take a stronger approach, and take green tea extract supplements (be sure they contain a potent amount of EGCG - over 200mg is best, or at least 90% polyphenols).
Above all, remember that YOU have the power to take control of your health, and improve your odds for a long and healthy life - just by making simple and inexpensive changes in your daily lifestyle. Green tea may be one of the cheapest and most beneficial changes you can make for your health.
Until next week, we wish you good health, and happy tea drinking! :-)
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