Carnosine, a natural compound, slows down (and even HALTS) brain tissue damage

One of the things that people fear as they get older is the possibility that they would develop neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the number of people suffering from Alzheimer’s alone is expected to reach 14 million by 2050. This statistic is very high for just one disease and is a great cause for concern since treatments for it are not yet well established. Fortunately, recent studies have revealed that there is a natural compound called carnosine that can slow down and even halt brain tissue damage.

Carnosine is a substance that is naturally produced by the body by combining the amino acids beta-alanine and L-histidine. Although this compound is found at higher levels in the muscles and brain, other internal organs like the heart also have it. There are many health benefits associated with carnosine. These include having potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Because of these properties, carnosine has become an important remedy for many health conditions.

Neurodegenerative disease is one of the health conditions that significantly benefit from carnosine supplementation. This condition develops due to the loss of function of damaged nerve cells, which is caused by an underlying health problem or the exposure to toxins and microbes. Neurodegenerative diseases are especially debilitating and can impair both movement and mental functioning, which is why it is important to find appropriate treatments and preventive measures for these conditions.

There are many mechanisms through which carnosine combats brain tissue damage. One of these is by inhibiting glycation. This process produces substances known as advanced glycation end products (AGEs) when sugar in the bloodstream binds to proteins or fats. People with high sugar levels are more likely to undergo glycation but even those with normal sugar levels can experience it. The occurrence of glycation has been associated not just with neurodegenerative diseases, it also increases the risk for heart disease and stroke since it damages both brain cells and blood vessels.

The potent antioxidant effects of carnosine are also useful in preventing neurodegenerative diseases. Oxidative stress increases the risk for Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease since the brain is easily damaged by reactive oxygen species. With the antioxidant properties of carnosine, these reactive oxygen species will be neutralized and rendered harmless.

Carnosine also reduces the risk of neurodegenerative disease by preventing the accumulation of beta-amyloid proteins. This “sticky” substance forms plaques that inhibit communication between cells and activate immune cells that trigger inflammation. Because of these, the functions of brain cells are impaired and they die in the end.

The presence of carnosine also stimulates the production of serotonin. This neurotransmitter, which regulates appetite, mood, and sleep, is significantly reduced in patients suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. Aside from this, a decrease in the neurons that regulate serotonin also promotes beta-amyloid plaque formation that’s associated with neurodegenerative diseases.

Lastly, carnosine prevents damage due to stroke. The sudden restoration of oxygen-rich blood to the brain after a stroke inflicts damage on the brain cells. This occurs due to a build-up of free radicals in the blood before it was supplied to the brain.

The effects of carnosine on brain health alone should be more than enough to convince people to increase its intake. But for those who are still hesitant, there are many other health benefits associated with carnosine. These include reduced risk for diabetes and cardiovascular disease. By increasing carnosine intake, all of these benefits are within reach. (Related: Carnosine and lifestyle changes inhibit telomere shortening to lower heart attack risk and extend lifespan.)

Carnosine-rich foods

Although there are carnosine supplements available on the market, there are also foods that serve as natural carnosine sources. These include the following:

  • Grass-fed beef
  • Salmon
  • Chicken

Sources include: [PDF]

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