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Forgetful? Try This Nutritional Therapy First…

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Infants need specific nutrients for their developing brains to thrive. The same holds true for the aging brain. What’s more, a deficiency of one such nutrient has been shown for the first time to drive memory loss in people over the age of 60. If you desire strong focus, clear thinking, better attention span and a sharp memory—and don’t we all—it’s a nutrient that you don’t want to be short of. And if you’re already suffering from forgetfulness, researchers say you should try getting more of this nutrient before you do anything else. Here’s the story. Age-related memory loss is linked to changes in the dentate gyrus, a region in the hippocampus that plays critical roles in cognitive processing and memory retrieval. This has been demonstrated over the last 15 years by Dr. Scott Small and his research team at Columbia University, New York. Critical for Cognitive Function Their laboratory work not only identified this key region in the brain but also showed that dietary or supplemental flavanols – potent antioxidant compounds found in many healthy fruits and vegetables – are needed to maintain its function. Further work in mice showed that epicatechin – another potent antioxidant compound within flavanols — improved memory by enhancing the growth of neurons and blood vessels in the hippocampus. A small human study the Columbia team conducted confirmed the dentate gyrus link to cognitive aging and a second, larger trial showed flavanols improved memory by acting selectively on this important brain region. The next step in their research was to carry out a large high-quality trial in adults over the age of 60. Memory Tests Target the Hippocampus For their study, they worked in conjunction with scientists from Harvard and the University of Reading, England. Together the team enrolled 3,562 generally healthy men and women with an average age of 71. Half were randomly assigned to receive a daily pill containing 500 mg of flavanols - including 80 mg of epicatechins - derived from cocoa powder, or a placebo. All participants completed a questionnaire regarding their daily diets, followed by a series of web-based mental tests to assess the types of short-term memory governed by the hippocampus. They repeated the tests every 12 months for three years. A subset of 1,361 participants also supplied urine samples before and over the course of the study so that the research team could measure a biomarker for dietary flavanol levels. The results validated all the Columbia team’s previous work that flavanols were not only important to your memory, they’re essential. Deficiency Causes Memory Loss After 12 months those consuming a poorer quality diet, had low urinary flavanols, and were assigned to the active supplement, saw their memory scores increase. They increased by an average of 10.5 percent compared to placebo and 16 percent compared to their memory when the study began. These remarkable memory improvements were sustained over the following two years. The results strongly suggest flavanol deficiency is a driver of age-related memory loss, the researchers say, because flavanol consumption correlated with higher memory scores and flavanol supplements improved memory in flavanol-deficient adults. The most consistent flavanol-induced memory improvement was seen in participants in the lowest 20 percent in terms of diet quality. But, according to the researchers, if people are getting sufficient flavanols from their diet, then getting more won’t improve their memories. They also found flavanols improved memory processes governed by the hippocampus only and didn’t improve other brain areas associated with memory. Dr. Small and his team were clearly delighted by their findings. Potential For Bigger Gains Starting In Middle Age Dr. Small explained, saying, “…research is starting to reveal that different nutrients are needed to fortify our aging minds. “Age-related memory decline is thought to occur sooner or later in nearly everyone, though there is a great amount of variability. If some of this variance is partly due to differences in dietary consumption of flavanols, then we would see an even more dramatic improvement in memory in people who replenish dietary flavanols when they’re in their 40s and 50s.” His Columbia colleague, Dr. Adam Brickman, added: “The improvement among study participants with low-flavanol diets was substantial and raises the possibility of using flavanol-rich diets or supplements to improve cognitive function in older adults.” Gunter Kuhnle, at the University of Reading, believes the results “are exciting because they suggest there is an optimum amount of flavanols in the diet. Results from this study clearly show that a low flavanol intake has a detrimental effect on health.” So, the question is, are you getting enough flavanols? If you’re suffering from memory struggles, maybe not. Fortunately, it’s easy for all of us to increase our flavanol consumption through diet or supplementation. Want More Flavanols? You Can Drink The Top Source Flavanols are particularly rich in fruits. Good sources are apples (a large apple contains 125 mg), blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, cranberries, cherries, peaches, nectarines, plums, pears, grapes. Flavanols can also be found in cereals, legumes, nuts, vegetables, beer, and red wine. Probably the easiest way to obtain a high amount of flavanols is to drink green tea. Just 2½ cups a day provide the recommended 500 mg. By the way, even though the study used flavanols extracted from cocoa, if traditional processing is used in its manufacture, the flavanols will be mostly destroyed in the production of chocolate, even the dark variety. And finally, antioxidant supplements rich in flavanols are widely available online and in health food stores. Best Regards, The Awakening From Alzheimer’s Team
https://www.pnas.org/doi/full/10.1073/pnas.2216932120 https://www.cuimc.columbia.edu/news/low-flavanol-diet-drives-age-related-memory-loss-large-study-finds https://www.reading.ac.uk/news/2023/Research-News/Low-flavanol-diet-linked-to-memory-loss https://theconversation.com/flavanols-are-linked-to-better-memory-and-heart-health-heres-what-foods- you-can-eat-to-get-these-benefits-206903

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