Category Archives: Alzheimers and Dementia

Part 1: Alzheimer’s Prevention? Special Foods and Cysteine and Glutathione Levels

The amino acids cysteine and glutathione play a role, it seems, in preventing the onset of Alzheimer’s. Evidently, according to a study by SS Karuppagounder, JT Pinto, et al., in their study on “Dietary supplementation with resveratrol reduces plaque pathology in a transgenic model of Alzheimer’s disease” from the Department of Neurology and Neurosciences, at the Burke Medical Research Institute, in White Plains, New York, the amino acid levels of cysteine and glutathione are affected in Alzheimer’s patients by the same types of chemopreventive agents (cancer-preventing foods) that cancer patients would eat to help prevent cancer.

One food constituent in particular was studied by the researchers—Resveratrol. Resveratrol is a polyphenol that is found in peanuts, pomegranates, soybeans, and especially red wine. People have heard for years about resveratrol being good for the heart, but evidently it is good for the brain as well, including other neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer’s disease.

Even though resveratrol was fed to the hosts for forty-five days, it was not detectable in the brain, yet plaque formation in the regions of the brain were diminished. The majority of the diminished brain-plaques were “observed in medial cortex (-48%), striatum (-89%) and hypothalamus (-90%). … However, brain glutathione declined 21% and brain cysteine increased 54%.”

Cysteine and Glutathione’s role in chemopreventive agents

There is a list of foods, called chemopreventive agents, which help prevent cancer, that also may help with oxidative stress, destroying free radicals that also cause DNA damage, or help prevent plaques in the brain of people who may otherwise be developing Alzheimer’s disease (AD). I will cover some of these agents first:

According to one source, there are two such agents that have carcinogen-detoxifying activity that “might be achieved by combination of an agent such as N-acetyl-l-cysteine (NAC), which provides substrate for glutathione (GSH) synthesis, with agents such as oltipraz or garlic/onion disulfides, which enhance GSH S-transferases (GST).”

The food constituents will be listed further in our next section…

CONTINUE TO Part 2: Alzheimer’s Prevention? Special Foods and Cysteine and Glutathione Levels 

References:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19041676

http://nutrition.highwire.org/content/130/2/467S.full

http://naturalsolutionsradio.com/blog/natural-solutions-radio-administrator/amazing-nutrient-reduces-alzheimers-plaque-formation-nine

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2797420/

Part 2: Alzheimer’s Prevention? Special Foods and Cysteine and Glutathione Levels

CONTINUED FROM Part 1: Alzheimer’s Prevention? Special Foods and Cysteine and Glutathione Levels, where we covered the research done on Alzheimer’s patients that found Resveratrol affected cysteine and glutathione levels, raising the former, and reducing the latter, and their connection to reduced brain plaques. 

Chemopreventive agents that help cancer patients may also help Alzheimer’s patients…

Chemopreventive agents (food constituents), cysteine, and glutathione

Food-derived chemopreventive agents may help when used by normal-risk populations with long-term use. According to a study by GJ Kelloff, JA Crowell, et al., and their assessment, there are 40 promising agents and food combinations “being evaluated clinically as chemopreventive agents for major cancer targets including breast, prostate, colon and lung. Examples include green and black tea polyphenols, soy isoflavones, Bowman-Birk soy protease inhibitor, curcumin, phenethyl isothiocyanate, sulforaphane, lycopene, indole-3-carbinol, perillyl alcohol, vitamin D, vitamin E, selenium and calcium.” Many of these agents are available to purchase online from supplement vendors such as: GNC.com, Powdercity.com and Vitaminshoppe.com

Additionally, some natural sources that have anti-cancer, antioxidant, anti-tumor, antibacterial, antifungal, and anti-viral constituents includes a huge variety of medicinal mushrooms like reishi, maitake, cordyceps, shiitake, and so on. Lion’s mane mushroom (Hericium erinaceus), in particular, boasts boosting of cognitive function, memory, and learning in those who take them regularly, as well as immune-enhancing health benefits.

Many amino acids are also known to be brain food. Cysteine and glutathione were the aminos that were implicated in the first study mentioned above, although it was the higher levels of cysteine and lowered glutathione that helped the plaque in Alzheimer’s patients.

Cysteine is a semi-essential (normally listed as a non-essential) amino acid. When it is used as a food additive, it has the E number “E920”. In rare cases this amino acid may be important for infants or the elderly, or for people with malabsorption syndromes or metabolic disease. As long as enough methionine is available, cysteine can usually be synthesized by the body.

Cysteine is found in protein foods like: beef, pork, poultry, eggs, and dairy, and in lesser amounts in plant sources such as garlic, onions, broccoli, red peppers, Brussels sprouts, granola/oats, wheat germ, or lentils.

The non-essential amino acid glutathione works as an important antioxidant in animals and plants, fungi and some bacteria, as well as archaea, preventing free radicals and peroxides damage. However, glutathione is not considered an essential nutrient since it can be produced by the body (outside of food) from the amino acids L-cysteine, L-glutamic acid, as well as glycine.

Interestingly, the sulfhydryl (thiol) group of the amino acid cysteine is actually the amino acid responsible for glutathione’s activity in the body. This is why they are connected. Cysteine limits glutathione synthesis in cells since glutathione is rare in foodstuffs.

Remember that in the original study on Alzheimer’s patients and reduced brain plaque formation, it was the connection of increased cysteine and decreased glutathione that may be the link. That study, according to the researchers, “supports the concept that onset of neurodegenerative disease may be delayed or mitigated with use of dietary chemo-preventive agents that protect against beta-amyloid plaque formation and oxidative stress.”

With this in mind, be aware of the fact that chemopreventive foods like Resveratrol in red wine, or garlic, not only may help prevent cancer or improve cardiovascular health, but also are connected to a reduction in Alzheimer’s disease rates due to how it affects amino acids cysteine and glutathione levels. Please check with your doctor before altering your diet.

References:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19041676

http://nutrition.highwire.org/content/130/2/467S.full

http://naturalsolutionsradio.com/blog/natural-solutions-radio-administrator/amazing-nutrient-reduces-alzheimers-plaque-formation-nine

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2797420/

What are Carnitine and Carnosine Amino Acids Used for?

There are two amino acids that often get mixed up: carnitine and carnosine. What are they and how do they differ? Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins. Normally, when you eat proteins your body breaks them down into their basic units, called amino acids. Then your body puts them back together in a new way to build protein in your body, such as muscles and organs, and it is used for other bodily functions as well.

Carnitine is an essential amino acid, meaning that your body cannot produce it on its own, so it must be gotten through diet, specifically from protein foods (meats, fish, and eggs have all 22 common amino acids), but can also be taken as an amino acid supplement.

Carnosine is a non-essential amino acid, which means that your body produces it on its own; therefore, it is not usually needed as a supplement.

Both carnitine and carnosine can be taken as supplements, but be careful doing so without checking with your doctor (whether separately or together) first since they can have side effects, especially if you are taking certain medications. Normal amounts of carnitine and carnosine that are gotten through food do not apply.

Carnitine and carnosine are usually connected with other amino acids:

Carnitine is synthesized from the amino acids methionine and lysine.
Carnosine is made from the amino acids histidine and alanine.

Carnitine and carnosine health benefits

Carnitine helps the body burn fat by transporting fatty acids, and it also flushes toxins out of the mitochondria within cells. Carnitine is found in concentrations within the cardiac muscle and skeletal muscles. It also could possibly aid in reducing symptoms of people with an overactive thyroid. People who have diabetic neuropathy may also find some pain relief, thanks to carnitine.

Carnosine works differently than carnitine. In effect, it is an antioxidant. It functions within the brain, nervous system, and skeletal muscles. Interestingly, this amino acid can help remove excess zinc and copper out of the body in a process known as chelation. It may also help with cataracts and speed up wound healing.

Carnitine and carnosine are complimentary for diseases

Carnitine and carnosine both have anti-aging effects, plus reduces the speed of memory loss in Alzheimer’s disease (AD) age-related patients.

Another area is autism, where the carnitine and carnosine both function to help autism as an alternative treatment. When comparing these two amino acids for autism treatment, Michael Chez, M.D., et al. (Nov 2002 Journal of Child Neurology) and Dan Rossignol, M.D., (Oct 2009 Clinical Psychiatry), reported that carnitine got a grade “B” for improving symptoms of autism, while carnosine got a grade “C” for improving communication and behavior.

These two amino acids also help improve cardiovascular function, but they do so in different ways. Carnitine reduces the symptoms of heart angina and peripheral vascular disease. Carnosine reduces the risk for developing atherosclerosis plus can help reduce cholesterol.

An important note: some physicians believe people should avoid taking D-carnitine because it can interfere with L-carnitine, which is naturally found in the body. Because of this, you should ask your physician before taking both carnitine and carnosine as supplements.

Reference:

http://www.livestrong.com/article/493759-carnosine-vs-carnitine/