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When I ask people for their typical dietary intake, many people “shamefully” tell me that they drink coffee.  It  surprises them when I ask “what is wrong with that”?  Coffee is a healthy addition to one’s diet because it can help the body regulate its  immune inflammatory responses.

Studies have shown that coffee consumption reduces the risk of conditions such as diabetes, neurological diseases, cardiovascular disease, certain cancers, depression,and back and neck pain to mention a few.

 Diabetes
Phytonutrients, plant compounds, other than caffeine, found in coffee, are reported to reduce blood sugar levels, and decrease the way the body stores carbohydrates and fats.  Data from over 450,000 people found that every additional cup per day of caffeinated or decaffeinated coffee lowers the risk of diabetes by 5 to 10%.  Heavy consumers of coffee, 12 cups/day, have a 67%  lower risk of getting diabetes.  The effect is not due to the caffeine found in coffee, but to other compounds in coffee.

 Parkinson’s Disease
In Parkinson’s disease, caffeinated coffee may protect nerve cells from destruction, decrease the incidence of Parkinson’s, and the improve mobility of individuals with Parkinson’s disease. In the case of Parkinson’s, the caffeine in coffee is the “magic ingredient”, since decaffeinated coffee does not have the same affect.  Women with Parkinson’s Disease, that were on hormonal replacement therapy, showed less benefit from coffee.  

Alzheimer’s and Dementia
As mentioned above, caffeine may help the body protect nerve cells. Consuming caffeinated coffee over a long period appears to decrease the risk of dementia or Alzheimer’s.

Heart Disease
In other studies, although coffee may raise blood pressure for a brief time, after two months of daily coffee consumption, blood pressure is reduced. It also lowers the risk of heart disease and reduces stroke incidents.

Cancer
Drinking one cup of coffee a day has been associated with a 42% lower risk of liver cancer.  Women that drank two or more cups of coffee per day had a delayed onset of a hard-to-treat cancer.  Individuals drinking three cups of coffee a day had a 40% lower risk of developing pharyngeal, esophageal, and oral cancers. Men who drank over six cups of caffeinated or non-caffeinated coffee a da,y had an 18% lower risk of prostate cancer, and a 40% lower risk of aggressive prostate cancer. Individuals that were heavy coffee drinkers had a 30% lower risk of colorectal cancer.

 Depression
A study of over 50,000 women, found that 4 cups of coffee daily lowered their risk of depression by 20%.

Coffee and Pain Responses
Subjects who consume coffee while working at the computer, report less pain in their back and necks than those that abstain from drinking coffee

Inflammatory Responses  and Coffee:
Regular coffee consumption affects the production of cytokines, such as IL-1 and IL-10 that regulate immune inflammatory responses. The data suggests that the benefits of coffee consumption are due to the phytonutrients, plant nutrients, and caffeine found in coffee. The adage that “coffee is not good for you”, should be re-examined.

 

Reach out to Dr. Hellen Greenblatt for simple steps to help the body balance inflammatory responses. 


http://www.lef.org/magazine/mag2012/jan2012_Discovering-Coffees-Unique-Health-Benefits_02.htm
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22955949
http://www.biomedcentral.com/1756-0500/5/480/abstract
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21858104
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22070680
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21779565
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20839413
http://newsroom.ucla.edu/portal/ucla/why-coffee-protects-against-diabetes-190743.aspx
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21030499
http://jama.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=192731
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22927157
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22149008

 

Alzheimer’s and IVIG Rx
Last week John Gever, Senior Editor, MedPage Today brought attention to the results of a small study presented at the 2012 Alzheimer’s Association International Conference held in Vancouver, British Columbia.  In this study, patients with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s were given antibody preparations, immunoglobulin preparations, which were obtained by pooling plasma from numerous blood donors.  This sterile, medical product, IVIG, intravenous immunoglobulin, consists mostly of immunoglobulins, antibodies,  and is administered intravenously (IV). 

After receiving IVIG twice a month for three years, patient’s ‘ ability to function or think, their mood, or memory did not worsen over the three years. [Untreated Alzheimer’s disease patients typically show measurable declines in 3 to 6 months.]

The FDA, The U.S. Food and Drug Administration, has approved the use of IVIG for only six conditions.  However, it has been used “off-label”, to try and treat about 50 other conditions, including infectious diseases, a wide-range of autoimmune conditions, organ transplant and cancer patients, blood, and neurological conditions to mention a few.

When practitioners are asked how s/he thinks IVIG works, the response is typically, except for infectious diseases, “we are not sure”.

 IVIG Contains Immunoglobulins and Smaller Immune Factors
IVIG contains antibodies to organisms such as streptococcus, hepatitis, measles, polio, etc., that can specifically neutralize infectious agents.  Other immunoglobulins may be directed  against specific immunological factors. 

However, viewing reported results in chronically ill populations, I have always been of the opinion that IVIG also contains cytokines, or cytokine-like immune molecules, with potent immune system-modulating properties, which help the body return to immune homeostasis, immune balance. 

 I suggest that the reason that Alzheimer’s patients receiving IVIG saw a stabilization of their symptoms, is that IVIG limited inflammatory responses and thus slowed the progression of disease.

 Alzheimer’s and Inflammatory Cytokine Levels
This supposition is further supported by the fact that animal models suggest that excessive production of inflammatory cytokines, inflammatory messages, are implicated in Alzheimer’s disease. These animals have a condition similar to human Alzheimer’s, and also have higher levels of inflammatory cytokines in their blood.  When a drug was administered that inhibited the cytokines, there was less damage to nerve cells and neurological outcomes in the animals improved.  

 The scientists suggest that blocking production of high amounts of inflammatory cytokines may be beneficial for any number of brain conditions, such as “Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis (MS), motor neurone disease, frontotemporal dementia, and complications from traumatic brain injury.” (1)

 Immune Homeostasis, Immune Balance the Key to Health
Thus improvements, or at least delay in the onset of Alzheimer’s, or other brain –associated conditions, may be associated with the body achieving immune homeostasis.  A body in inflammatory balance controls the immune system’s  inappropriate inflammatory responses which otherwise may lead to damage of bystander tissues.

Feel free to contact Dr. Hellen at DrHellen@DrHellenGreenblatt.info with questions or to consult with her. A message may also be left at: 1.302-265.3870 or click on: http://drhellengreenblatt.info/contact-dr-hellen/.

 


www.medpagetoday.com/MeetingCoverage/AAIC/33780
http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/210367-overview#aw2aab6b3
www.alz.org/aaic/tues_1030amct_ivig_trial.asp
www.jneurosci.org/content/32/30/10201.abstract?sid=349221d1-e12f-411a-80a6-80285ed5db54
www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22806462

As I have shared with readers and audiences over the years, when someone ages poorly, it results from decades of inflammatory imbalances.

Inflammation is necessary for the body to defend itself from pathogens and mutating cells, and for the body to heal itself after trauma or disease.

However, when the immune system produces excessive levels of inflammation, and does not correctly limit the amount of inflammation after its task has been completed, then inflammation becomes associated with unhealthy aging, and chronic disease.

For example, it is apparent that neurological diseases are affected, if not triggered by, inflammatory responses of the immune system.

 Immune cells of the brain and nervous system release inflammatory factors, cytokines and complex mixtures of other small immune molecules.

 These factors result in nervous cell and immune system inflammation and eventually, death of nerve cells.

 Last month, the journal of Immunity and Aging reported the results of genetic and immunological studies of Sicilian centenarians, individuals that are 100 years or older.

The researchers concluded that these individuals, all active and “in relatively good health”, survived longer than their cohorts, because their immune system was at “optimal performance” and that they were able to control inappropriate levels of inflammation.

 More evidence for the contribution of inflammation to aging poorly, for example cognitive abilities, is seen in a seemingly irrelevant study in which the use of fish oils was shown to counteract the negative effects of sugar drinks.

In this study, rats learned how to run a maze.  After their lesions, one group of rats was fed a sugary solution for over 6 weeks. After six months, the rats ran the maze again from memory.

Rats that were on the sugar, could not remember how to run the maze, but those on sugar along with  omega-3 fatty acids, were able to run it. The omega-3 fatty acids counteracted the negative effects of the sugary diet.

We know that high sugar consumption results in increasing size of fat cells, adipose tissue, and that fat cells release inflammatory molecules that are associated with the cardiovascular, joint, and insulin-related issues seen in obese individuals.

In addition, it has been shown that there are compounds in omega-3 fatty acids that counteract inflammatory responses.

Therefore, the results of the maze study may be attributable to the fact that the omega-3 helped down-regulate pro-inflammatory cytokines, messengers that initiate the inflammatory process.

During the past decades, I have watched the health outcomes of older individuals that have followed a regimen that maintains inflammatory balance.

In their 70s, 80s, and early 90s, they work full days, sometimes in physically-demanding positions, are on little or no medication, and find that they are more active, than individuals 20 years their junior.

Balanced immune inflammation, immune homeostasis, is the key to an active life.

One must generate enough inflammation to defend oneself from infectious disease, and help the body heal, but a healthy person has to be able to limit and control  inflammatory responses at appropriate levels for the tasks at hand.

www.immunityageing.com/content/9/1/8/abstract
www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22404117
www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16613757
www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22535513
archpsyc.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?volume=66&issue=11&page=1263
www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22566778

An article this week from Shirley Wang, a Wall Street Journal reporter, brought the public’s attention back to the fact that there is no cure for the usually fatal disorder, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a paralytic disease caused by the gradual degeneration of nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord. The breakdown of neruons interrupts the ability of muscles of the body to send messages to the brain. ALS results in difficulties in talking, swallowing, moving, and paralysis, and eventually, the loss of the ability to breathe.

An international group of scientists recently reported in the journal Nature, that the lack of a certain protein might be the common underlying cause of neurodegenerative diseases such as ALS, dementia, Parkinson’s, and Alzheimer’s. The task of this specialized protein is to remove the debris of damaged nerve cells and help in their repair. When this function no longer occurs, normal transmission of signals from muscles to brain is blocked.

One individual commented on Ms Wang’s article. “It seems outrageous to me that in 2011 a quickly fatal disease that was brought to our national attention in 1939 continues to steal our best and brightest without any treatment and with few clues as to the cause. We must do better….”

I agree. Instead of treating a condition after damage has occurred, why not prevent excessive inflammatory responses from causing damage in the first place? The ALS Association does an excellent job explaining that, “The glia cells that usually support and nourish their neighboring neurons in the nervous system can become over active in certain diseases”. And that leads to over production of cytokines, immune signals, that are mediators of inflammation,and damage to the nerve cells.

Inflammation protects the body from infection and repairs tissue damage. But uncontrolled levels of inflammation damages healthy by-stander cells, and tissues. When it comes to the repair protein mentioned above, perhaps individuals with ALS, or other neurodegenerative diseases, are attacking this protein, and decreasing the quantities needed for clean-up and repair.

A body in immune homeostasis, immune balance, is unlikely to attack itself. Instead one approach that research should take is finding ways to help the body modulate inappropriate levels of inflammation.

 

www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/amyotrophiclateralsclerosis/detail_ALS.htm

www.chicagotribune.com/health/ct-met-northwestern-als-breakthrough-20110822,0,4185292.story

www.nature.com/nature/journal/v477/n7363/full/nature10353.html

http://www.alsa.org/research/about-als-research/inflammation.html

 

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