Eating Curry is good a way of preventing Alzheimer’s disease (AD)

Written by Dr harold Gunatillake –Health writer - FRCS, MBBS, FACS. FAICS, AM (Sin).


Dementia a more general term to describe loss of brain function that occurs with certain diseases: Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is one form of dementia.

Memory impairment, as well as problems with language, decision-making ability, judgment, and personality, is necessary features for the diagnosis.

The only fact that is known is that there is a protein called, ’Amyloid’ which forms plaques (plates) that infiltrates into the brain cells, nerves (neurons) and in between, glial tissues.
Causation (etiology), though not clear, there is light at the end of the tunnel, which is promising.

The article that is being disseminated through emails, that eating a curry once or twice a week could help prevent the onset of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, a US researcher suggests.

The key ingredient in the curry is curcumin, a component of the spice turmeric. Curcumin appears to prevent the spread of amyloid protein plaques - thought to cause dementia - in the brain.

“If you have a good diet and take plenty of exercise, eating curry regularly could help prevent dementia” states Professor Murali Doraiswamy, Duke University, Carolina. He further proclaims that there was evidence that people who eat a curry meal two or three times a week have a lower risk of dementia.

But the theory, presented at the Royal College of Psychiatrists' annual meeting, has been given a lukewarm reception by UK experts.

Professor Doraiswamy told the meeting: "There is very solid evidence that curcumin binds to plaques, and basic research on animals engineered to produce human amyloid plaques has shown benefits."

"You can modify a mouse so that at about 12 months its brain is riddled with plaques. "If you feed this rat a curcumin-rich diet it dissolves these plaques. The same diet prevented younger mice from forming new plaques.

"The next step is to test curcumin on human amyloid plaque formation using newer brain scans and there are plans for that."

Dr Susanne Sorensen, of the Alzheimer's Society, said: "Indian communities that regularly eat curcumin have a surprisingly low incidence of Alzheimer's disease but we don't yet know why.

There are an estimated 18 million people with dementia worldwide and these figures are projected to reach 34 million by the year 2025, according to the figures shown at
The IXth National Conference of the Alzheimer’s and Related Disorders Society of India (ARDSI) held in Kolkata - the “City of Joy”. 

It is also predicted that by 2025, 75 % of the world’s dementia population will lie in the developing countries alone. India’s community is aging which means that the number of people with Alzheimer and related dementias is also on the rise. Currently we have an estimated 4 million affected victims. It is also shocking to note that West Bengal has about forty lakh elderly people over 65 years with 80, 000 of them suffering from Dementia. Kolkata itself has about 46,000 dementia patients.

"Alzheimer's Society is keen to explore the potential benefits of curcumin in protecting the brain and we are conducting our own research into this area, said Dr Susanne Sorensen.

The first thing to note is that it is not traditional to have a good healthy diet among the poor majority of Indians, neither do they exercise unlike the more affluent Indian society. The diet among the poorer people forming the majority of the Indian population, chapatti or rice with one curry would be the choice they have.

Poor bio-availability
It is known, that Curcumin, a polyphenolic compound derived from dietary spice turmeric (kaha), possesses diverse pharmacologic effects including anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, anti-proliferative and anti-angiogenic (decreasing circulation) activities, but we are concerned about its poor bio-availability.

What this means is that curcumin appears to be absorbed poorly in the small intestines, the minute quantity that gets absorbed is eliminated (detoxified) rapidly by the liver.
Furthermore, just teaspoonful turmeric is generally added on to certain types of curries when cooked which would be shared by the whole family, and the amount of cucurmin each one consumes in the food would be insignificant. The powdered turmeric is generally added to white curries, like the potato and lentil curries, and occasionally into the meat curries.

One of the major observations related to curcumin studies involves the observation of extremely low serum levels. The first reported study to examine the uptake, distribution, and excretion of curcumin was by Wahlstrom and Blennow in 1978 using Sprague–Dawley rats. Negligible amounts of curcumin in blood plasma of rats after oral administration of 1 g/kg of curcumin showed that curcumin was poorly absorbed from the gut.

In the future, enhanced bioavailability of curcumin is likely to bring this promising natural product in the forefront of therapeutic agents for the treatment of human diseases.

Presently, it is not possible to accept that curcumin can take any credit to the lower incidence of dementia in Indian communities and among other Asians, due to its known low plasma levels not reaching brain circulation to dissolve or affect the amyloid plaques.

The cause of AD is not entirely known, but is thought to include both genetic and environmental factors. A diagnosis of AD is made when certain symptoms are present, and by making sure other causes of dementia are not present.

It is known that most people in many countries contract the disease about the age of 60 years and the majority is over the age of 80 years. Life expectancy among Indian communities is much lower (70 years) compared to people living in more affluent countries, people live beyond the 80th year. Most of the centurions are in japan and U.S. and the apparent incidence (numbers) is greater in these countries.
So, the comparison of AD is not justified.

Alzheimer’s Vaccine
TAMPA, Fla., Jan. 23 -- A safe and effective vaccine against Alzheimer's disease may be back on track, this time by transdermal patch delivery, according to researchers here.

In experimental mice, transcutaneous vaccine administration with beta amyloid peptide sharply reduced the levels of beta amyloid proteins that muddy the brain in Alzheimer's, found Jun Tan, Ph.D., M.D., of the University of South Florida. (Ref: MedPage Today 23.Jan.2007)
For the study, experimental mice -- both wild-type and a strain prone to developing amyloid plaques -- had the vaccine painted on a shaved section of their backs.

The mice developed high levels of anti-amyloid antibodies, the researchers found, and the Langerhans cells near the shaved sections were positive for the amyloid protein, showing that they had been involved in the immune response.

"If those studies show clear cognitive benefits," Dr. Tan said, "we believe clinical trials to evaluate a beta amyloid skin patch or topical cream in patients with Alzheimer's would be warranted."

Moderate Drinking for Alzheimer’s and cognitive Impairment
Moderate social drinking significantly reduces the risk of dementia and cognitive impairment, according to an analysis of 143 studies by Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine researchers.

Researchers reviewed studies dating to 1977 that included more than 365,000 participants. Moderate drinkers were 23 percent less likely to develop cognitive impairment or Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia.

Wine was more beneficial than beer or spirits. But this finding was based on a relatively small number of studies, because most papers did not distinguish among different types of alcohol.

Resveratrol, found in wine at fairly high levels, is a naturally occurring antioxidant too that decreases the stickiness of blood platelets and helps blood vessels remain open and flexible. It is also known that it inhibits the enzymes that can stimulate cancer cell growth and suppress immune response.

Results are reported in the journal Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment. The authors are Edward J. Neafsey, PhD. and Michael A. Collins, PhD., professors in the Department of Molecular Pharmacology and Therapeutics.

The drinking should be moderate to achieve long term favorable results. Excessive drinking will be associated with a higher risk of cognitive impairment and dementia. It may be that the cardio vascular benefits of moderate alcohol consumption, such as raising good HDL cholesterol, also can improve blood flow in the brain and thus brain metabolism.

The researchers note that there are other things besides moderate drinking that can reduce the risk of dementia, including exercise, education and a Mediterranean diet high in fruits, vegetables, cereals, beans, nuts and seeds. Even gardening has been shown to reduce the risk of dementia. (ref: Loyala University Health System, date 18 Aug 2011))

Vitamin C dissolves amyloid aggregates
Researchers at Lund University have discovered a new function for vitamin C. Treatment with vitamin C can dissolve the toxic protein aggregates that build up in the brain in Alzheimer's disease. The research findings are now being presented in the Journal of Biological Chemistry.

The brains of people with Alzheimer's disease contain lumps of so-called amyloid plaques which consist of miss-folded protein aggregates. They cause nerve cell death in the brain and the first nerves to be attacked are the ones in the brain's memory center.

"When we treated brain tissue from mice suffering from Alzheimer's disease with vitamin C, we could see that the toxic protein aggregates were dissolved. Our results show a previously unknown model for how vitamin C affects the amyloid plaques", says Katrin Mani, reader in Molecular Medicine at Lund University.

Antioxidants such as vitamin C have a protective effect against a number of diseases, from the common cold to heart attacks and dementia has long been a current focus of research.

"Another interesting finding is that the useful vitamin C does not need to come from fresh fruit. In our experiments, we show that the vitamin C can also be absorbed in larger quantities in the form of dehydro-ascorbic acid from juice that has been kept overnight in a refrigerator, for example". (Ref: Lund University, AlphaGalileo Foundation)

Drinking Coffee
Middle-aged people who drink moderate amounts of coffee significantly reduce their risk of developing Alzheimer's disease, a study by Finnish and Swedish researchers showed Thursday.

"Middle-aged people who drank between three and five cups of coffee a day lowered their risk of developing dementia and Alzheimer's disease by between 60 and 65 percent later in life," said lead researcher on the project, Miia Kivipelto, a professor at the University of Kuopio in Finland and at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm.

The study, which was also conducted in cooperation with the National Public Health Institute in Helsinki and which was published in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease this month, was based on repeated interviews with 1,409 people in Finland over more than two decades.

They were first asked about their coffee-drinking habits when they were in their 50s and their memory functions were tested again in 1998, when they were between 65 and 79 years of age.

It remained unclear exactly how moderate coffee drinking helped delay or avoid the onset of dementia, but pointed out that coffee contains strong antioxidants, which are known to counter Alzheimer's. Coffee may be stimulating brain cells to maintain normal metabolic functions.

Omega 3 fatty acids
Omega-3 fatty acids, which are present in fish, canola and flax seed, have also been observed to help slow down the signs and symptoms of the disorder Some researchers have also observed positive indications that the herb gingko biloba has been helpful in treating, preventing and curing Alzheimer’s

Scavenger cells in the immune system-chemokines
Universitätsmedizin Berlin and Universitätsklinik Freiburg succeeded in documenting how the immune system can counteract the advancement of Alzheimer's disease. Within the scope of their neuroscience paper they showed that certain scavenger cells in the immune system, so-called macrophages, play a key role in this context. Furthermore, they were able to demonstrate how special cell-signaling proteins, so-called chemokines, mediate the defense process. The results of the study have now been published in the renowned Journal of Neuroscience.

The bottom-line is, keep active, play golf daily or a brisk walk helps to keep your brain active. Listening to music or playing a musical instrument helps. A pet like a dog would be a good companion. Concentrating on crossword puzzles, or indulging in indoor games help. Eat a Mediterranean type of diet, avoid saturated fats and salt. Don’t forget your one glass of red wine every evening with or before dinner.

These recommendations and advice is stressed for your longevity and dying healthy.

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