June 12, 2010 § 4 Comments
Parkinson’s disease is caused by the progressive impairment or deterioration of neurons in an area of the brain known as the substantia nigra. When functioning normally, these neurons produce a brain chemical known as dopamine. Dopamine is a chemical messenger responsible for transmitting signals between the substantia nigra and the corpus striatum. This communication coordinates smooth and balanced muscle movement. A lack of dopamine causes a loss in the ability to control body movements. How exactly the neurons become impaired is not known, but significant findings have been made by research scientists lately that provide important new clues to the disease.
Having a family history of the disease is a more significant risk factor in cases of early-onset Parkinson’s disease, but this form of the disease is not common.
Some research suggests that long-term exposure to certain environmental factors such as pesticides, chemicals, or well water may increase a person’s risk of developing Parkinson’s disease. In this theory, free radicals may contribute to nerve cell death, thereby leading to Parkinson’s disease.
When weak bonds split, free radicals are formed. Free radicals are very unstable and react quickly with other compounds, trying to capture the needed electron to gain stability. Free radicals attack the nearest stable molecule, “stealing” its electron. When the “attacked” molecule loses its electron, it becomes a free radical itself, beginning a chain reaction. Once the process is started, it can cascade, resulting in the disruption of a neuron.
The key to having a healthy body in general, and fighting Parkinson’s, is to repair the damages caused by the free radicals before it is too late, and to protect the neurons from the free radicals before they cause mutations. Most of these antioxidants come from plants and are called phytochemicals. More than 60,000 such plant chemicals are identified. Among the most effective and dedicated antioxidants are Vitamin A, C, and E. Out of these, Vitamin C is the most powerful.
Vitamin E is the most abundant fat-soluble antioxidant in the body. One of the most efficient chain-breaking antioxidants available. Vitamin C is the most abundant water-soluble antioxidant in the body. It also helps return vitamin E to its active form.
The long-term effect of large doses of these nutrients has not been proven. Other chemicals and substances found in natural sources of antioxidants may also be responsible for some of the beneficial effects.
Food rich in antioxidants
Nuts and seeds are good sources of the antioxidant vitamin E. And it contains natural stimulants like caffeine, which can enhance focus and concentration.
Fruit and vegetables of course, as sources of Vitamin C. Research in animals shows that blueberries help protect the brain from oxidative stress. Diets rich in blueberries significantly improved both the learning capacity and motor skills of aging rats, making them mentally equivalent to much younger rats.
Researchers are cautiously optimistic about ginseng, ginkgo, and vitamin, mineral, and herb combinations and their impact on the brain, but a supplement is only useful to people whose diets are lacking in that specific nutrient.
And of course, Fish Really is Brain Food! For most people …