What happens in Neuro-degenerative diseases
Neuro-degenerative disease is a term that refers to a range of conditions that affect the neurones in the human brain. It is the progressive loss of structure or function of neurones or even their death. Neurones are the bricks of the nervous system, which includes the brain and spinal cord. Neurones are not like cells which reproduce and replace themselves. Once they are damaged or die, they cannot be replaced. This makes neuro-degenerative diseases incurable and debilitating resulting in the progressive degeneration and/ or death of nerve cells. The result of this is usually physically exhibited with problems in movement and mentally with cognitive ineptness (known as dementias).
Examples of neurodegenerative diseases include Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, Pick’s, Huntington’s disease, Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and dementia. Parkinson’s disease occurs when nerves in a central area of the brain slowly degenerate resulting in problems in coordination and movement. Huntington’s disease is an inherited nerve disorder that causes neural degeneration. Pick’s disease occurs when large portions of nerves at the front and sides of the brain are destroyed due to an accumulation of abnormal protein. ALS causes the rapid destruction of nerves and controlling muscle function.
Studies on the effects of antioxidants for the treatment of various diseases and the optimum functioning of the body have been conducted in the recent past to try and pinpoint all the benefits of an antioxidant-filled diet. A new review aimed to identify the potential of antioxidant methods for the treatment of degenerative diseases.
Antioxidants work by eliminating the action of free radicals in the body. It has long been suspected that an accumulation of free radicals in the body can lead to neurodegenerative diseases through oxidative stress. Antioxidants are now being looked upon as possible remedies against solemn loss of neurones.
Polyphenols, in particular, have been linked to the prevention of neurodegenerative diseases. Polyphenols are secondary metabolites that have antioxidant properties. They can be found in most fruits and vegetables. These are able to protect cells found in the neural pathway by attenuating oxidative stress and damage. Oxidative stress is particularly prone to affect the brain as it requires high amounts of oxygen per unit weight and contains a high amount of oxidizable polyunsaturated fatty acids.
IN a study conducted in Chicago, it was found that the consumption of Vitamin E reduces the risk of Alzheimer’s if the condition is not caused by a genetic predisposition. Results were, however, inconclusive on patients who had inherited the disease.
More research is yet to be done on the effect of and antioxidant-rich diet on neuro-degenerative disorders. While some studies have been inconclusive, experts say that there is no harm in consuming antioxidants that are found naturally in our food. What would not be recommended is loading up on antioxidant supplements, which are sometimes not easily absorbed into the body. Treatment of neurodegenerative diseases using antioxidants has become an attractive alternative to prevent, delay or completely stop the effects of these diseases.