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Alzheimer's prevention: Can plant estrogens be beneficial for the disease?

 Alzheimer's prevention: Can plant estrogens be beneficial for the disease?

Alzheimer's prevention: Can plant estrogens be beneficial for the disease?

The foods we consume are like two sides of the same coin. On the one hand, it can serve as a medicine to prevent and treat various diseases. On the other hand, it can have harmful effects.

What is Alzheimer's disease?

It is a disorder that gradually leads to weakness in the brain. Whoever suffers from it gradually loses his cognitive abilities. These effects result from damage to nerve cells. They are specific cells in the brain that participate in various human activities such as thinking, language, and movement.

Understanding the stages of Alzheimer's disease progression

Primary lesions may appear up to two decades before the first symptoms appear. Typically, there are four stages of cognitive decline that explain the progression of the disease.

1. Pre-clinical stage: Individuals do not show noticeable symptoms, but the disease does cause changes in the brain. Imaging tests or vital signs can detect these changes.

2. Mild cognitive impairment (MCI): Affected people experience mild memory loss and cognitive decline that they and their loved ones can notice. However, their daily functioning is relatively intact, and symptoms may not significantly interfere with their daily activities.

3. When the disease is mild: the severity of symptoms increases with brain damage. Communication, thinking and vision-spatial skills are lost. The need for assistance with daily activities also increases. It is a painful symptom for family members of the affected person when it becomes difficult to recognize their loved ones.

4. When the disease is severe: Patients are unable to carry out daily activities, resulting in full-time dependence on a family member or caregiver. Cognitive abilities are reduced to a minimum. Systemic symptoms then appear, such as motor difficulties, olfactory dysfunction, etc. The disease progresses to death when nerve cell damage reaches areas of the brain involved in vital activities such as breathing. It is important to note that the progression of the disease can vary from person to person. Not everyone will experience all stages in the same way.

Neurological consequences: accumulation of beta-amyloid and tau proteins

There are two major damages associated with the disease: Accumulation of beta-amyloid proteins forms plaques on the outer surface of nerve cells. Abnormal accumulation of tau protein inside nerve cells.

The transmission of these signals between neurons forms the basis of memory, thinking, movement, emotions, and more. This is the reason behind the symptoms experienced by people with this disease. Tau proteins, normally found in nerve cells, are produced abnormally and clump together to form a type of tangle inside the cell. As a result, they block the passage of nutrients and other essential substances. As a result, nerve cells die.

The sequence between these two events and other changes that occur in the brain is not well defined. Common additional effects include inflammation and decreased brain volume.

The accumulation of these proteins becomes toxic to the brain, which leads to the immune system responding to eliminate them. When it becomes impossible to remove toxic proteins as well as dead cells and their remains in sufficient quantities, chronic inflammation occurs. Brain atrophy occurs due to cell loss. Its inability to use glucose as necessary fuel affects its proper function.

Can phytoestrogens be beneficial?

Despite extensive efforts, there is currently no drug available that can cure the disease permanently. The main reason is the unknown molecular mechanism that leads to its appearance. Scientific literature offers about 15 hypotheses, each of which attempts to explain the emergence and development of the disease. To understand the potential actions of phytoestrogens, it is first necessary to understand the brain damage that occurs in affected individuals.

The relationship between phytoestrogens and disease

Estrogens, hormones that effectively regulate various functions of the nervous system, also protect against a wide range of neurological injuries. Because they have the ability to influence synaptic function and participate in the synthesis, release, and metabolism of neurotransmitters and peptides that play important roles in brain function.

The chemical structure of phytoestrogens, known as phytoestrogens, is very similar to that of estradiol, the primary female sex hormone. This structural similarity allows phytoestrogens to bind to estrogen receptors and modulate their activity.

In other words, they can mimic the effects of estrogen within the brain. Several studies have also shown encouraging results regarding the neuroprotective effects of various phytoestrogens. Regarding Alzheimer's disease, some of the benefits mentioned for preventing or treating it include:

1. Reduce the production of amyloid beta peptide.

2. Reducing tau protein phosphorylation.

3. Act as anti-inflammatory agents and antioxidants.

Some findings suggest that phytoestrogens may have a beneficial effect on individuals with this neurological disorder. The results are not conclusive, and more research is needed.

Plant estrogen

It can be found naturally in more than 300 species of plants. Soybeans appear to be the richest source of phytoestrogens for phytoestrogens. Although there is still a lot of research to be done, the results obtained so far indicate that phytoestrogens are candidates that can work beneficially in various cases of Alzheimer's disease .