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SUBJECT: Special: Neuroregenerative Nutrition from Roc Nutrition Investigator
Dear friends,  As I have more friends facing cognitive decline, and even youngsters want to keep their minds sharp, the first article I read prompted me to share a long review article on how nutrition can help to regenerate and maintain our brains. 
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A plea to inform everyone about good nutrition. A large body of evidence supports the notion that incorrect or insufficient nutrition contributes to disease development.  Perspective: Improving Nutritional Guidelines for Sustainable Health Policies: Current Status and Perspectives

This long extract of an article on the use of nutrition to maintain the brain (and reduce the risk for Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and cancer) is worth reading.  It is packed with evidence supporting practical advice like eating blueberries and cocoa.  Although diet may help in the maintenance of cellular fitness during periods of stability or modest decline in the regenerative function of an organ, this approach is inadequate in an aged system, in which the ability to maintain homeostasis is further challenged by aging and the ensuing suboptimal functioning of the regenerative unit, tissue-specific stem cells. Focused nutritional approaches can be used as an intervention to reduce decline in the body’s regenerative capacity. This article brings together nutrition-associated therapeutic approaches with the fields of aging, immunology, neurodegenerative disease, and cancer to propose ways in which diet and nutrition can work with standard-of-care and integrated medicine to help improve the brain’s function as it ages. 

A short course of consumption of cocoa flavanols by older adults gave rise to substantial increases in the growth of their neuropoietic (20) hippocampal dentate gyrus and improved their cognitive functioning. There is growing interest in the role of inflammation that is thought to be attenuated by polyphenols [e.g., resveratrol).  In addition to exercise and cognitive training, a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, grains, and low-fat and low-carbohydrate foods, along with fish ≥2 times/wk, facilitated the capability of working memory and overall health.  Dairy products, including milk and cheese, have been shown to increase the risk for Parkinson’s (PD) in men (27), and other studies have found that the consumption of milk by women is associated positively with PD (28).  Total flavonoids and their different subclasses (e.g., anthocyanins) and caffeine are associated with having a lower risk for developing PD. Particular dietary components (e.g., curcumin, epigallocatechin-3-gallate (green tea)) reduce cancer risk.  Examples of putative cognitive-enhancing foods include blueberries (4950), nuts (5152), and spirulina. Other dietary components such as lipids and a high-fat and reduced carbohydrate and ketogenic diet can have effects on the normal neural stem cells involved in maintaining cognitive function, along with the pathological stem cells involved in brain cancer (37).

Studies clearly show a role for the “nutrient control of neural stem cells” (55), whereby enhancing cell numbers through diet can result in profoundly positive outcomes in cancer; in cancer, sugar is a crucial, continuous source of energy for tumor cell genesis.  Certain nutrients also can support brain circuitry protection and repair in neurodegenerative diseases or following traumatic injuries, with consequential improvements in mood, lifelong learning, and memory (e.g., as seen in a human clinical trial using blueberries in the diet) (58).  Numerous studies exist of polyphenols and flavonoids affecting the central nervous system, including the neuropoietic niches in the forebrain (64); affecting synaptic transmission and circuitry function, including the importance of structural phospholipids (e.g., plasmalogens) (65); and their role in the nutritional formulation. Souvenaid (a combination of uridine, docosahexaenoic acid, eicosapentaenoic acid, choline, phospholipids, folic acid, vitamins B-12, B-6, C, and E, and selenium) (66), proposed to maintain the structural integrity of brain membranes in AD (65) that also may contribute to cell genesis and synaptogenesis from newly generated neurons.  The well-established prowess of blueberries (70) and other fruit- and nut-derived (e.g., walnut) (5152) individual nutrients (e.g., pterostilbene) (71) exhibits antioxidant and anti-inflammatory biological actions that counter neuronal aging and enhance structure, function, and resultant cognitive (e.g., maze-associated navigational skills) behaviors associated with the hippocampus (72). Micronutrients, including B and other vitamins (73), also play roles in the cognitive impairment that can accompany aging, and often seem to be in association with vascular processes. 

The discovery that the hypothalamus may play a key role in systemic aging and that this is influenced by inflammation of the brain draws a direct link between age-related inflammation and aging. It also raises the possibility that attenuating age-associated brain inflammation may positively affect overall brain aging and systemic aging.

It is likely that the nutritional requirements for maintaining a healthy young adult and middle-aged brain are different from those for the older adult brain. Consuming a diet that is higher in anti-inflammatory substances will likely be more important in the older adult population, to reduce inflammation in the central nervous system.  A study that used a Western, high-sugar and high-fat diet in rodents found profound correlative changes in the species of gut microbiota that had a substantial negative impact on anxiety, memory, and cognitive flexibility in different long-term, short-term, and reversal training tests (107). Supplemental administration of particular probiotic combinations can have positive effects on inflammation-associated diseases via modifying interactions between the body, immune system, and nervous system. 

Taken from the July, 2017 Advances in Nutrition.
- Roc, Nutrition Investigator
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