Brain degeneration and low protein link – new study

Could this supplement slow down dementia and keep our minds healthier for longer?

Key Points

  • Study finds low protein diet can accelerate brain degeneration. 

  • Amino acids found to slow brain function decline in mice. 

  • There is now hope that amino acid intake could help modify the development of dementia in humans.   

One of the keys to a long and healthy life is maintaining a balanced, nutritious diet—and new research suggests proteins and amino acids may play a much bigger role in brain health than previously thought.  

Researchers from the National Institutes for Quantum Sciences and Technology found that a low protein diet can accelerate brain degeneration in Alzheimer’s disease but that Amino LP7—a supplement containing seven specific amino acids—can slow down brain degeneration and dementia development. 

Dementia is a condition involving the extreme loss of the cognitive functions that control how we think, behave, and perform day-to-day tasks. It mainly affects older people, and so far, simple and effective strategies for preventing this condition have remained elusive. There are many different kinds and causes of dementia, but the most common is Alzheimer’s Disease, which causes a progressive decline in brain function. In older people, low protein diets have been linked to poor maintenance of brain function.  

Researchers examined how a low protein diet affects the brain in mouse models of Alzheimer’s disease. They found the mice who consumed a less protein not only showed accelerated brain degeneration but also had signs of poor neuronal connectivity. Interestingly, these effects were reversed after supplementation with Amino LP7, indicating that the combination of seven specific amino acids could inhibit brain degeneration.  

After examining how the Amino LP7 supplement affects different signs of brain degeneration in Alzheimer’s, the research team found the treatment suppressed neuronal death—reducing brain degeneration— and improved neuronal connectivity and overall brain function. 

The researchers comprehensively analysed the gene-level changes induced by Amino LP7, and observed that it also reduced brain inflammation and prevented kynurenine (an inflammation inducer) from entering the brain—preventing inflammatory immune cells from attacking neurons.

What are amino acids?

Amino acids are long-chain molecules that are the essential building blocks for proteins. Your body uses amino acids for repairing tissues, building muscles regulating appetite and blood pressure, keeping your immune system in fighting shape, building brain chemicals and breaking down your food.  

Your body doesn’t store amino acids and can’t make essential amino acids, so consuming foods high in these macronutrients is critical for maintaining good health. 

What do the results mean?

These results of the study suggest essential amino acids can help maintain balance in the brain, preventing deterioration and is the first to report how specific amino acids can hinder the development of dementia. 

It brings hope that amino acid intake could also modify the development of dementia in humans, including Alzheimer’s disease. 

So, how can you get more amino acids into your diet? Red meat, chicken, fish, seafood, eggs, dairy and even tofu are all high in essential amino acids. They can also be found in smaller quantities in grains, nuts, seeds, beans, legumes, fruits and vegetables. If you’re eating a balanced diet, you’re most likely already meeting your essential amino acid intake requirements, but as always, speak to your GP if you have concerns.

Source: Knowridge Science Report