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Research Reveals Possible Alzheimer’s Prevention, Part 1

August 29th, 2011

Two studies recently reported in ScienceDaily provide information for people who hope to prevent or delay the onset of Alzheimer’s disease. The good news:  You don’t need a prescription to take advantage of the two preventive “treatments.”

According to ScienceDaily, an article in the journal Brain, Behavior, and Immunity reports that regular exercise could help prevent brain damage associated with neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease. Previous research had already documented that exercise after brain injury can help the brain’s own repair mechanisms. This new study shows that exercise before the onset of damage modifies the brain’s chemical environment in such a way that the neurons are protected from severe insults or injury.

“Exercise allows the brain to rapidly produce chemicals that prevent damaging inflammation,” said Professor Jean Harry, who led the study at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences in the United States. “This could help us develop a therapeutic approach for early intervention in preventing damage to the brain.”

The researchers found that voluntary physical exercise protects neurons in a way that pharmaceutical therapies do not. Future research will try to figure out the exact way exercise is able to exert such an influence on the brain, and then to find a way to mimic that effect in a pill. But any pharmaceutical created from this research will be years or even decades aways.

According to ScienceDaily:

“This elegant series of experiments reveals an alternative pathway by which voluntary physical exercise may protect hippocampal neurons,” said Dr. Ruth Barrientos from the Department of Psychology and Neuroscience at the University of Colorado. “The study on the role of exercise as a therapeutic intervention will undoubtedly get a workout in the years to come. Perhaps the greatest challenge with this line of research will not be more discoveries of compelling evidence of the anti-neuroinflammatory effects of exercise, but instead, getting humans to exercise voluntarily and regularly.”

Now, you should know that this specific study was done using mice who exercised on a running wheel. I know, I know…some of you are probably asking why you should put on your running shoes based on mouse research. But the mechanisms of action that allowed mouse brains to generate brain-protecting chemicals are very similar to the mechanisms that occur in people. So yes, it is worth tying on your sneakers. Your future self will thank you!

To read the full article in ScienceDaily, click here:  Exercise May Help Prevent Brain Damage Caused by Alzheimer’s Disease

To read the abstract of the original journal article, click here:  Voluntary exercise protects hippocampal neurons from trimethyltin injury

NOTE: To read Part 2 of this article, click here:  Possible Alzheimer’s Prevention, Part 2