amyloid beta

  1. Junk food and amyloid beta in the brain

    How saturated fats can lead to dementia

    It's called junk food for a reason and when you fill your belly with junk, you could end up with junk in your brain.

    And that, in turn, can lead directly to cognitive decline, dementia and even Alzheimer's disease.

    In this case, "brain junk" starts out as a protein called amyloid beta. When left alone in your brain, amyloid beta can turn into the plaques that mark dementia.

    Fortunately, amyloid beta isn't usually left alone in the brain. In fact, your body has a pretty ingenious way of dealing with this stuff.

    Think of a bouncer in an exclusive nightclub. The bouncer is a chemical called apolipoprotein E, or ApoE, and it literally attaches itself to the troublemaking amyloid beta proteins and escorts it out before it can turn into those brain-robbing plaques.

    Not a bad security team to have on your side, right?

    But new research shows how eating saturated fats can cause your ApoE levels to plunge -- leaving your brain without its bouncers, and allowing the amyloid beta proteins to go wild and form the plaques that can ultimately wreck the joint.

    It doesn't take much, either. In the new study, just a single month of a diet high in fats in general and saturated fats in particular caused ApoE levels to plunge.

    And if that's what just one month of a junk-food diet will do, imagine what too much saturated fat for years or even decades will do to your ApoE levels. It helps explain why poor diet has been linked time and again to dementia, and why junk-food eaters in particular often have a higher risk of the disease.

    If there's any good news here, it's that it's not too late to take the action needed to protect your brain, boost your ApoE level and slash your risk of dementia.

    All you have to do is eat better.

    Limit your saturated fat intake -- and make sure that whatever saturated fats you do get (because you do need some) come from fresh and natural sources, not junk food.

    For more on protecting yourself from dementia -- including a natural diet low in saturated fat that's proven to protect the brain -- read this free report.

    And for more on how NOT to diet, keep reading.

  2. Drink to beat dementia

    A little coffee in the morning, a little booze at night-– two new studies show how your choice of beverage can help lower your risk for cognitive decline and even Alzheimer's disease.

    Let's follow the clock and start in the morning, where that daily cuppa jo might be more than just a tool to help you wake up: A series of studies published in a special supplement to the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease finds that a little caffeine can slow or even stop brain degeneration.

    Researchers say caffeine can slow the production of amyloid-beta, an amino acid found in the brains of Alzheimer's patients. Caffeine can also help normalize memory in people facing dementia and other cognitive problems, according to the new research.

    What's more, the studies found that caffeine appears to protect against all kinds of cognitive decline--from the typical brain hiccups that anyone can get, to more serious conditions such as Alzheimer's disease.

    Caffeine is packed with other great benefits, and coffee in particular has been linked to a lower risk of diabetes, Parkinson's disease, colon and prostate cancers, cirrhosis and even gallstones.

    Not bad for something you'll find at the donut shop--just avoid the donuts, and never get your caffeine fix from sugary soft drinks.

    Moving to the evening, another new study finds that alcohol –-known as such an effective preservative in the lab--can also help preserve the brain.

    I'm oversimplifying, of course--no one's literally going to pack his or her own grey matter in Grey Goose. But a drink or two at night--remember, keep it moderate--really can help protect against dementia and Alzheimer's disease, according to the study.

    Spanish researchers examined data on 422 elderly people, 176 of whom had been diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. All of them answered questions about their lifetime drinking and smoking habits--with relatives answering the questions on behalf of the Alzheimer's patients.

    Nonsmoking women who enjoyed a drink or two a day had a 52 percent lower risk of Alzheimer's disease than those who neither drank nor smoke. Men had a 20 percent lower risk of the life-robbing condition, according to the study published in the regular edition of the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease.

    That's also consistent with previous studies on booze and cognitive health. And, of course, moderate drinking has plenty of other benefits as well, from a lower risk of heart disease and diabetes to longer lives.

    If you're healthy enough to enjoy these habits--and, let's face it at this point, if you can afford them--there's no reason not to enjoy your share of moderate booze and caffeine.

  3. Sleep to avoid dementia

    Nothing beats a good night's sleep – but when was the last time you got one? If you can't remember, here's some sobering news: New research links poor sleep to Alzheimer's disease.

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