New Nutrient Fights Alzheimer’s Disease

Alzheimer’s disease is a frightening destroyer of your memory and your sense of self — your whole identity. It breaks the connections between brain cells as it slowly severs your grip on reality. But unknown to most doctors, who believe there is no treatment for Alzheimer’s, researchers have discovered a combination of nutrients shown to help the brain form new neuronal connections and help prevent this scourge of aging.

We cover these vital nutrients in our bestselling book, Awakening from Alzheimer’s. But it looks like a new one has been discovered, and we wanted to bring you this important information right away. . .

Experts estimate that about 5 million Americans are already suffering with Alzheimer’s. In the next, four decades, that number is expected to grow to 14 million, a figure larger than the entire population of Illinois.1 According to researcher Dr. Jennifer Weuve, with the Rush University Medical Center, this growth in Alzheimer’s represents “a staggering epidemic.”

If you want to maximize your chances of avoiding this dreaded condition, a growing body of research shows that the nutrient choline, a B vitamin, combined with DHA (an omega-3 fatty acid) and a nutrient called uridine can help your brain defend itself.

Now here’s the exciting part: While DHA and choline are well-known as brain nutrients, uridine is apparently a new discovery. It’s not even available as a supplement yet, as far as we can gather, although there are foods that contain it.

Maintaining Connections

Alzheimer’s is thought to begin when brain connections called synapses begin to breakdown and are destroyed. The loss of synapses — nerve connections that normally communicate impulses between brain cells — prevents your brain from retaining memories or properly processing information about the world around you.

However, studies at MIT indicate that consuming choline, along with DHA and uridine, stimulate the brain to start forming new synapses. In one study, scientists gave this nutrient mixture to 259 Europeans with Alzheimer’s and found that the nutrients boosted the memories of people who were in the beginning stages of the disease.2

“If you can increase the number of synapses by enhancing their production, you might to some extent avoid that loss of cognitive ability,” says researcher Richard Wurtman, a professor of brain and cognitive science at MIT.

According to Wurtman, the body uses these three natural substances (which are found in breast milk) to make the fatty molecules incorporated into brain cell membranes. Those membranes are the creators of synapses. In laboratory studies, Wurtman has demonstrated that the nutrients increase the production of dendritic spines, small protrusions of the neural membranes. When dendritic spines contact another neuron, a synapse is created.

“You want to improve the numbers of synapses, not by slowing their degradation — though of course you’d love to do that too — but rather by increasing the formation of the synapses,” Wurtman says.

During the MIT research, the scientists used electroencephalography to map shifts in brain activity patterns. They found that the brains of Alzheimer’s patients taking the nutrients gradually shifted from patterns indicating Alzheimer’s to activity that looked more normal and showed that more synapses were functioning.

Meats, nuts and eggs are rich sources of choline. DHA and other omega-3 fatty acids are found in fish and, to some degree, in eggs, flaxseeds and meat from animals that have been grass-fed. Both nutrients, of course, are easily available in supplements.

Uridine poses a problem, however. It’s made in your liver and kidneys and can be found in sugar beets, sugar cane and molasses made from those foods. Now, these three sugary foods are bad for you in almost every way, so we don’t recommend eating them to obtain uridine. And uridine is not yet available in a pill as far as we know. But hopefully an enterprising supplement company will develop a uridine extract that doesn’t involve consuming sugar.

In any case, one study isn’t the last word, and more research on uridine is needed.

Meanwhile, even if you believe your risk for Alzheimer’s disease is low, make sure you consume adequate amounts of choline and DHA — and indeed the whole range of brain nutrients described in the book Awakening from Alzheimer’s.

Good nutrition is cheap, easy insurance against this growing threat to the brain.