Would you like to live longer but live with an active mind? One potent action you can do to help you maintain your brain health is to boost the efficiency of your immune system.

Your immune system helps fight off outside toxins and invaders. It has the ability to recognize and destroy toxins, bacteria, viruses, etc. that might invade your body and are “foreign” to your body, thus protecting your cells from potential damage from them. However, if your inflammation goes wild and over-does-it, it can cause damage. This is that “silent” chronic inflammation that you hear about from Dr. Oz or you read about in Newsweek and Time magazine.

Unfortunately, as you get older and age, the ability of your immune system to fend off these foreign substances begins to deteriorate and is less efficient. The response of your body is to fight even more and put more immune soldier in there, which can potentially start damaging your tissues as “collateral damage”. This collateral damage can cause the degenerative disorders we all know about and include heart disease, joint disease, dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, and aging skin, to name a few.

An example of this inflammatory response can be seen when arthritis, or inflammation of the joints occurs. Here, there was some damage to your joint. The immune system tried to correct the problem. But, with age, the response isn’t so efficient so the response is increase, i.e. goes wild, because it wants to protect you. Unfortunately, sometimes it just damages tissues, resulting in painful, inflamed, swellen, sometimes red and hot areas that need treatment to resolve.

A similar response can occur microscopically all over your body, and particularly in your arteries, causing cardiovascular disease, and in your brain, resulting in poor brain function and weakening your ability to think, otherwise called cognitive function. As this inflammation progresses, worsening damage occurs and the result is dementia and potentially Alzheimer’s disease. This silent inflammation is rapidly becoming recognized as the root cause of cognitive decline and other serious medical conditions, as listed above.

There are many actions you can do that can boost your immune efficiency resulting in potentially decreasing collateral damage to your tissues and thus maintaining healthier tissues. You could call these tissue protectors since they protect your tissues, including your brain, heart, and joint tissue, from excessive inflammation and its potential destructive effects.

One of the most powerful protecting substances, especially protecting the brain, is a natural compound called curcumin. Curcumin is an antioxidant compound that is found in the root of a plant called turmeric. It is the familiar bright yellow spice commonly found in curry powder. It is consumed in high amounts in India and it is thought that it contributes to their longevity, as their lifespan tends to be longer than Americans. Interestingly, India also has the lowest incidence of cognitive decline worldwide, and it is thought that this high intake of curcumin contributes to this (1).

Unfortunately, it is estimated that 1 in 8 Americans will suffer from some sort of severe cognitive decline; and by age 80, up to 50%, 1 in every 2 Americans, will develop this (2). But don’t fear; there are actions you can do to decrease this from happening, and these are called anti-aging actions; i.e. actions you can take to help prevent the damages produced by degenerative processes that can occur as we age.

In a nutshell, here’s what you should do: take immune boosters, lose weight, exercise regularly, use your mind, replenish low hormones, ingest or supplement adequate nutrients. Regarding taking immune boosters, one of the most powerful immune boosters that you can take is curcumin. It is also an antioxidant to fight off free radicals that can destroy your tissues, and it boosts your immunity so there’s less collateral damage to your tissues.

If the excess inflammation gets to your brain, it can cause the deposition of abnormal protein on the nerves in your brain, called neurons, and decrease their ability to function. In Alzheimer’s, this protein is called amyloid, and partly causes the mental sluggishness and forgetfulness that goes along with that disease. Studies show that curcumin has the ability to bind to these proteins and break then down so your body can eliminate them better (3).

This was demonstrated in a study involving people with severe cognitive decline demonstrating the benefits of curcumin. Those participants taking curcumin had significantly higher levels of dissolved abnormal proteins in their blood compared to those in the placebo group (3). Removal of these abnormal proteins can therefore help protect the neurons and maintain their normal function. Curcumin is one of the only natural substances known to have this protective effect on the brain.

Curcumin’s ability to boost you immunity can not only help your brain, but it also has been shown to reduce joint pain and muscle soreness, plus help your arteries and support your cardiovascular system (4, 5, 6, 7, 8). It is easy to reap the benefits curcumin can provide for you: you can just take a pill.

The recommended dose is to take around 1000 mg of curcumin a day. To make sure you are taking the right stuff, make sure the curcumin has a large proportion of the active ingredient, cucunimoids (curcumin, demethoxycurcumin and bisdemethoxycurcumin). Best is to take one with75% to 95% active curcuminoids per standardized assay.

Let’s review how curcumin can help you

Boosts your immune system
Improves the efficiency of your immune system to fight off foreign attacks.
Fights body-wide inflammation
Significantly lowers levels of inflammatory markers and decreased excess inflammation
Protects brain neurons
Binds and dissolves inflammatory proteins that stick to neurons and reduce their ability to function.
Supports cardiovascular function
Decreases inflammatory changes in arteries which could lead to plaque formation to help decrease atherosclerosis.
Decreases joint pain and loss of mobility
By decreasing inflammation of joints which decreases destruction and damage to joint tissues
Reduces compromised digestive function
Reducing inflammation in the gut promotes improved gut function and less leaky gut problems
Promotes more youthful skin
By fighting free radicals and decreasing inflammation, skin aging is slowed, promoting soft, smooth, glowing skin
Fights obesity complications
Inflammation that occurs from obesity can be lessened

References:

1. Neurology. 1998; 51(4): 1000-1008

2. http://www.alzheimersprevention.org/alzheimers_disease.htm

3. Arthr Res Ther. 2005:8(1):doi:10.1186/ar1846.

4. .Int J Biochem Cell Biol. 2009; 41(1): 40-59.

5. J Neurosci Res. 2004 Mar 15; 75(6): 742-50

6. J Pharmacol Exp Ther. 2007 May; 321(2): 616-25

7. Nutrition. Sept 2009, 25(9): 964-972.)

8. Biochem Pharmacol. 2005 Sep 1; 70(5): 700-13