Researchers Are Looking Closely At Green Tea Extract And New Experiences In The Battle of Alzheimer’s Disease

Green tea extract may help battle the dreaded neurodegenerative disease. So might taking up new hobbies.

Researchers in Michigan have discovered that green tea extract interferes with the formation of damaging plaques implicated in the development of Alzheimer’s disease.

The new study, out of the University of Michigan, seems to indicate that an extract from green tea can battle Alzheimer’s disease. There is a molecule researchers identified in the tea which they found can prevent the damage to proteins in the brain commonly associated with the development of Alzheimer’s.

The growth of damaging proteins, metal-associated amyloids, was controlled in lab settings, as reported in the science journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The study was part of a multidisciplinary effort which involved biophysicist, chemists, and biologists. The teams used epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), a flavinoid and widely-accepted antioxidant that can be extracted from the tea. The EGCG broke the amyloid protein structures.

Metal-associated amyloids and small molecules have been studied by researchers as a major cause of Alzheimer’s as they attempt to find a cure or even a slowdown of the development of the disease. This study was notable for the multidisciplinary approach of the unique coordination between research teams.

One out of eight people in the U.S. age 65 or older, more than 5 million people total, currently have Alzheimer’s disease. Alzheimer’s is the sixth-leading cause of death in the U.S., and cannot currently be slowed, prevented, or cured. In addition to the number of people with Alzheimer’s, there are at least 15 million unpaid caregivers tending to them, delivering care valued at $200 billion.

Numerous studies show that keeping the brain active, moderate exercise, and regular social interactions seem to delay the onset of dementia. A new study out of the Neurologic Diseases in the Department of Neurology at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH), provides specific evidence which supports the position that an enriched environment delays Alzheimer’s disease.

Researchers studied environment and Alzheimer’s. The study, just published in Neuron, reports how Alzheimer’s disease occurs: a protein accumulates and forms “senile plaques” in the brain matter. That protein accumulation blocks nerve cells from communicating with each other, which breaks down mental processes.

But prolonged exposure to an enriched environment has been found to activate adrenalin-related brain receptors which then trigger signaling in the brain, reinforcing that communication between nerve cells in the hippocampus, where memories are stored.

New experiences and activities proved to give greater protection from plaque buildup than just aerobic exercise, says researchers. Mental agility is as important, if not more so, than physical agility.

John Hale is a Dallas estate planning attorney and elder law lawyer with The Hale Law Firm. To learn more visit http://www.thehalelawfirm.com.

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