Two Natural Ways to Protect Your Brain Cells

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Two Natural Ways to Protect Your Brain CellsWhen thinking about the health issues that we struggle with and worry about most in North America, cancer and dementia are likely near the top of the list. Even though heart disease is a major threat, it’s the thought of us or someone we know getting cancer or Alzheimer’s that seems to be a major preoccupation. These two diseases are front and center in the media day after day. It’s always good health news, then, when a study finds evidence that two natural substances — a mineral and a fatty acid — can protect against both these frightening conditions.

Researchers have found that zinc and DHA exert very different — but beneficial — effects when it comes to protecting your good health. They prefaced their study by noting that dietary intake of zinc and DHA have health benefits for a number of human diseases. But how, exactly, the researchers wondered, do these benefits happen?

After conducting extensive tests, the research team discovered that zinc and DHA affect expression levels of histones H3 and H4 in human neuronal M17 cells. What the heck does that mean? Histones are small proteins that help build DNA. Building healthy DNA, especially in nerve cells, helps keep diseases like cancer and Alzheimer’s at bay.

Specifically, zinc helps to reduce the levels of the anti-apoptotic marker Bcl-2, while increasing the apoptotic marker caspase-3 levels. Sounds complicated, but basically, this means that zinc is protecting your cells: it helps the cells that should die do so and prevents substances that halt death in proliferating cells (such as cancer cells) from performing this task. As for DHA, it promotes gene expression (the building of proteins) and neuroprotection, aiding in staving off Alzheimer’s.

Make sure your diet contains adequate amounts of both zinc and DHA (for more info on DHA and fatty acids, read Use Flaxseed Powder and Alpha-Linolenic Acid to Protect Against Alzheimer’s). Food sources of zinc include liver, beef, lamb, scallops, sesame seeds, and pumpkin seeds. Food sources of DHA include flaxseeds, salmon, walnuts and sardines. Adding these healing foods to your weekly meals could help protect you from both cancer and dementia.