A dietary supplement from Finland may be able to slow down the progression of Alzheimer's in people who have early onset of the disease. This is good news for anyone with a history of Alzheimer's in their family. And while this supplement isn't available yet, a natural form of it is.
Current research suggests that Alzheimer's disease develops slowly. In fact, it may take 20 years for the first clear symptoms to make an appearance. So it's hard to know how to treat people who seem healthy yet are at risk of developing the disease. Fortunately, new studies of dietary treatments seem promising. In a recent study at the University of Eastern Finland, researches varied the diets of mice to see the effects on cognitive function.
Many other studies have found that docosahexaenoic acid, or DHA, may reduce the risk of Alzheimer's. There does seem to be a modest relationship between DHA and several factors affecting the disease. So this study looked at whether DHA in the diet can help and whether additional nutrients will enhance its effects.
The researchers used mice carrying genetic mutations APP and PS1 linked with familial Alzheimer's disease as well as wild-type mice. They began dietary intervention for all of the mice from ages five months to 13 months, adjusting the fat content to imitate human diets. Some of the APP/PS1 mice also received special supplemented diets: one contained fish oil only, one fish oil and a plant sterol, and one fish oil and a Fortasyn supplement, which contains uridine-monophosphate, phospholipids, B-vitamins, and antioxidants.
As you would expect, the APP/PS1 mice didn't do nearly as well as the wild-type mice in a swim navigation test, designed to measure spatial memory. The only exception was the group taking the Fortasyn supplement - they did equally as well as the wild-type mice. Fortunately, all the APP/PS1 mice receiving special diets did well in an odor recognition test.
At the end of the study, the researchers measured levels of amyloid-β in the mice's brains. Only the plant sterol group showed a significant reduction in amyloid-β, which was interesting since the Fortasyn group performed the best in the spatial task. These results indicate that even small changes in diet can add up to significant changes. The Fortasyn supplement in the study is now being introduced in Finland, and further research is being done to find out whether it may work effectively in humans. That research will likely take at least a year. But as prior studies have indicated, fish oil is still a great way to protect your brain.
So don't wait until this Finnish drug comes on the market. Add a supplement high in DHA to your diet and begin to protect yourself today. The brand that I recommend for high DHA is Daily Omega. According to this study, it will help you fight dementia and Alzheimer's and have better overall cognitive function.
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Your voice of reason in Women's Health,
Dr. Janet Zand
Hennariikka Koivisto, Marcus O. Grimm, Tatjana L. Rothhaar, Róbert Berkecz, Dieter Lütjohann,rajsa Giniatullina, Mari Takalo, Pasi O. Miettinen, Hanna-Maija Lahtinen, Rashid Giniatullin, botond Penke, Tamás Janáky, Laus M. Broersen, Tobias Hartmann, Heikki Tanila. Special lipid-based diets alleviate cognitive deficits in the APPswe/PS1dE9 transgenic mouse model of Alzheimer's disease independent of brain amyloid deposition. Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry, January 2014.