Beneficial Effects of Antioxidants on Alzheimer's & Parkinson's

man with Alzheimers

"Oxidative stress is a main component in neurodegenerative diseases"

The key to antioxidants' beneficial effects on neurodegenerative conditions is their ability to inhibit oxidative stress. Although there's some evidence to show the beneficial properties of antioxidants on Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and dementia, it's important to consider that while they may be beneficial... they're not a cure.

1. Anti-Glycative & Anti-AGEs

palo azul and antioxidant fruits

A 2021 study mentions that "oxidative stress is a main component in neurodegenerative diseases." This same study concluded that palo azul's "extract exerts the protective effect (from oxidative stress) via the activation of cellular antioxidant defenses."

2022 study corroborates these findings by explaining that oxidative stress "leads to the formation of advanced glycation end products (AGEs) which facilitate further disease progression."

The study concludes that "anti-glycation properties may be a very successful approach for the treatment of neurodegenerative disorders like Alzheimer’s disease."

A 2018 study found that palo azul "showed antidiabetic and anti-hyperlipidemic activities, an ability to reduce the formation of advanced glycation end products, and an antioxidant capacity."

What is glycation and AGEs?

woman eating sugar

Glycation is the covalent attachment of a sugar to a protein or lipid. This process is responsible for many complications in diabetes mellitus, some diseases and in aging.

A 2018 study explains that "glycation of such AD (Alzheimer's disease)-associated proteins such as Aβ and tau play a critical role in the pathogenesis of this disorder."

A 2017 study explains that "advanced glycation end products (AGEs) are non-enzymatic modifications of proteins or lipids after exposure to sugars. Numerous publications have demonstrated acceleration of the aging process by AGEs." The researchers concluded that "inhibition of AGE formation and accumulation in tissues can lead to an increase in lifespan."

Another 2017 study mentions that there are "empirical studies exhibiting an association between AGEs and a variety of conditions such as decline in memory with age, cardiovascular complications, bone health, periodontitis, erectile dysfunction, peripheral artery disease, obstructive sleep apnea, cancer, elevated cellular oxidative and inflammatory state, Alzheimer’s disease, and risk for metabolic syndrome."

What are reactive oxygen species (ROS)?

DNA

Reactive oxygen species are a type of unstable molecule that contains oxygen and that easily reacts with other molecules in a cell. A build up of reactive oxygen species in cells may cause damage to DNA, RNA, and proteins, and may cause cell death. Reactive oxygen species are free radicals.

What are free radicals?

Free radicals are atoms with a single valence electron that cause damage to the body associated with diabetes, cancer, aging, atherosclerosis, Parkinson's, Alzheimer's and many other diseases.

This happens because electrons like to be in pairs... and for this reason, free radicals look for "free" electrons in the body. This causes damage to cells, proteins, DNA and these damaged molecules can mutate, grow tumors, and damage the DNA code. Eventually, this cellular damage causes new cells to grow with defects and it will lead to aging and degenerative diseases. 

free radicals and oxidative stress formation

Fortunately for us tea lovers, a 2021 study which supports the previously cited 2022 study, found that palo azul tea "can reduce the oxidative stress caused by the imbalance between reactive oxygen species (ROS) because of its free radical scavenging activity."

2014 study also found that "Eysenhardtia polystachya (palo azul) possesses considerable antioxidant activity with reactive oxygen species (ROS) scavenging activity and demonstrated an anti-AGEs and inhibits oxidative stress."

palo azul vs free radicals

In other words...excess sugar and oxidative stress causes glycation which accelerates aging and is associated with degenerative diseases. Therefore, antioxidants could help to improve cognitive health because of their anti-glycation and free radical scavenging activity. 

 

 

2. Flavonoids

palo azul and fruits with flavonoids

In addition, palo azul tea is rich in flavonoids, which are natural antioxidant compounds found in plants, fruits, vegetables, and teas. You can learn all about flavonoids here, but for now, just know that thousands of studies have found that they have numerous health benefits because of their anti-oxidative, anti-inflammatory, anti-diabetic, anti-aging, anti-hypertensive, anti-bacterial, anti-mutagenic, anti-viral and anti-carcinogenic properties.

2021 study even found several phytochemicals in palo azul such as flavones, isoflavones, flavanones, phenolic compounds, chalcones and dihydrochalcones” which have been linked to its health benefits, highlighting “diuretic, antidiabetic, antiglycationantioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial potential.”


polyphenols flavonoids family treeA very interesting study analyzed a group of 49,281 men and 80,336 women in the Health Professionals Follow-up Study and found that “the participants in the highest quintile of total flavonoids had a 40% lower PD (Parkinson’s Disease) risk than those in the lowest quintile.” The researchers from this study concluded the following: 

The researchers concluded the following: “Our findings suggest that intake of some flavonoids may reduce PD (Parkinson's Disease) risk.”

A medical review which analyzed 161 studies on flavonoids explains that “flavonoids may perform a key role in enzyme and receptor systems of the brain, exerting significant effects on the central nervous system, like prevention of the neurodegeneration associated with AD (Alzheimer’s Disease) and Parkinson's disease” This is due to mainly to their potent antioxidant effects which have been associated with these diseases and many others.

This is why you should consume antioxidant rich foods and avoid processed foods that cause oxidative stress!

Powerful antioxidants: Tea, vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, fatty fish, olive oil, turmeric, cocoa

palo azul and antiinflammatory foods

Oxidative foodsfoods that are heavily processed and have high fructose content, trans fats and refined carbs

hamburger and fries lead to oxidative stress

The authors of this review also mentioned that flavonoids have “favorable biochemical and antioxidant effects associated with various diseases such as cancer, Alzheimer's disease (AD), and atherosclerosis.

The authors explain the following biological mechanisms for flavonoids beneficial effects on Alzheimer's:

"Flavonoids lower Alzheimer's amyloid protein (Aβ) production via a nuclear factor κ-light-chain-enhancer of activated B cells (NF-κB)-dependent mechanism. It is well known that AD (Alzheimer’s Disease) is due to the accumulation of Aβ peptides and the presence of neurofibrillary tangles in the brain. Aβ is believed to play an important role in AD (Alzheimer’s Disease) and it has been shown that certain flavonoids such as genistein, quercetin, taxifolin, kaemferol, luteolin, apigenin, daidzein, aminogeneistein, and α- and β-napthofalvone can affect Aβ production.

In other words...flavonoids could help to improve cognitive health by lowering the Alzheimer's amyloid protein (Aβ), which is known to play an important role in Alzheimer's.

berries

Another medical review which analyzed 166 studies found that “flavonoids contained in berries may have a positive effect against Parkinson's disease and may help to improve memory in elderly people.” 

Lastly, the researchers from this study concluded that “intake of antioxidant flavonoids has been inversely related to the risk of incidence of dementia.” 

 

Conclusion

In summary, antioxidant rich foods and teas may help to improve cognitive health  because of their anti-glycative and anti-AGEs properties. Because of these properties, antioxidants could inhibit oxidative stress and scavenge free radicals, both of which cause damage to our DNA that is associated with aging and dementia. 

 

magiktea palo azul

Looks like your grandma was right all along...
So eat your veggies and drink tea!

 

   

Clinical Studies

* Palo azul is commonly referred to by its scientific name: Eysenhardtia polystachya / E. polystachya / E.P - Cyclolepis genistoides / C. genistoides - kidney wood - palo dulce

 

(2022) Prevention of Protein Glycation by Nanoparticles: Potential Applications in T2DM and Associated Neurodegenerative Diseases

(2021) Cyclolepis genistoides aqueous extract as source of neuroprotective agents

(2018) The Ethanolic Extract of Eysenhardtia polystachya (Ort.) Sarg. Bark and Its Fractions Delay the Progression of Rheumatoid Arthritis and Show Antinociceptive Activity in Murine Models

(2014) Evaluation of antidiabetic, antioxidant and antiglycating activities of the Eysenhardtia polystachya

(2016) (Medical Review: 161 studies) Flavonoids: an overview 

(2013) (Medical review: 166 studies) Chemistry and Biological Activities of Flavonoids: An Overview 

(2012) Habitual intake of dietary flavonoids and risk of Parkinson disease 

(2017) The role of glycation in the pathogenesis of aging and its prevention through herbal products and physical exercise

(2018) The role of advanced glycation end products in aging and metabolic diseases: bridging association and causality