Unfortunately, no one is spared the inconveniences associated with aging (memory troubles, learning disabilities, increased stress…). These inconveniences are part of what is called cognitive decline, an irreversible phenomenon. We cannot prevent it so, what if we could limit or delay these effects?
In addition to a healthy lifestyle (limiting alcohol and tobacco consumption, regular physical activity, etc.), nutrition can play an essential role in preventing cognitive decline.
Since 2017, Mathilde Chataigner, PhD. student for Abyss Ingredients at the NutriNeuro Laboratory of the University of Bordeaux, has been evaluating the effects of an innovative marine ingredient developed by Abyss Ingredients and two industrial partners on cognitive decline. She explains the results of her research.
What exactly is cognitive decline? What happens in our brain as we age?
“As we age, so does our brain. It’s called cognitive decline. It is an alteration in cognitive functions that can result, in particular, in memory troubles.
One of the reasons for this alteration may be an abnormal and chronic inflammation in our brain. In itself, inflammation is not abnormal, on the contrary, it is necessary. Inflammation is our brain’s response to an “aggression”. Nevertheless, this inflammation may become problematic when it lasts over time (several weeks, months or even years). Indeed, the microglia – the brain’s immune cells that orchestrate the inflammatory response – will become very reactive and will overproduce pro-inflammatory molecules (cytokines). This will disturb the balance of our brain in favor of a pro-inflammatory environment, damaging the brain structures involved in memory.
Other factors such as stress can also accentuate and accelerate this cognitive decline.”
How can nutrition help us slow down the effects of aging on our brain?
“Preventive nutrition is an innovative approach that can help prevent cognitive decline in seniors. Certain nutrients will have anti-inflammatory or anti-stress properties that are particularly interesting for our brain!
This is the case of lipids and in particular polyunsaturated fatty acids from the omega 3 family (you know, the “good fat”), particularly known for their benefits on the brain. They have anti-inflammatory properties and act on the microglia by reducing the production of pro-inflammatory molecules.
Peptides of small molecular weight are also very interesting, although their effects on the brain are, for the moment, not studied enough. These short amino-acids chains are the result of a process of protein hydrolysis that aims to “cut” the longest protein chains into smallers. Peptides, in addition to their many benefits, also have anti-inflammatory and anti-stress properties.”
“The idea of the BrainBooster project is to develop a concentrate of these good things (peptides and lipids) for our brain, while enhancing the marine by-products that are sources of these nutrients!”
What are the proven effects of this new ingredient combining peptides AND lipids on aging?
“First of all, this new ingredient helps protect short-term spatial memory. It has also been observed that subjects supplemented with BrainBooster are able to solve problems more quickly by adopting more effective strategies. In addition, this ingredient has anxiolytic properties since it reduces anxiety-type behaviors and improves stress management.
These behavioral effects can be explained by the anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective properties of this ingredient. It has been shown to limit microglial reactivity in the hippocampus, i.e. it limits neuro-inflammation in the major structure involved in memory. In addition, it decreases the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines in microglia (immune cells in the brain).
Thus, by improving stress management and limiting neuroinflammation, we protect our brain and therefore our memory!”
What is the next step?
“The next step is the writing of a 2nd article about the study of the anti-inflammatory but also pro-resolutive effects of this ingredient associating peptides of small molecular weight and lipids.”