The “shrinking” brain

The “shrinking” brain

A marvel of nature

The evolution of the human brain is undoubtedly one of the most incredible accomplishments of nature. Our distinct cognitive abilities such as higher self-awareness, complex problem solving, and the invention of intricate tools have often been referred to as the “crowning achievement” of evolution.

There are around 100 billion neurons in our brain connected by trillions of synapses - and all this in a neat package weighing less than 2 kilograms. But if we share more than 90% of our DNA with our closest animal relatives, what makes our brain unique?

Whilst specific findings are yet to be made on this complicated subject, studies point to a phenomenon called plasticity. In simple terms, this refers to genetic inheritability. A study on chimpanzee brains concluded that the organizational structure of the cerebral cortex, where many of the higher functions reside, is much more genetically controlled than in humans. This means the ability of the chimpanzee brain to shape to its surroundings at birth is limited.

The human brain, in contrast, is much less developed at birth and therefore has the means to literally shape itself, or adapt, to its surroundings as it develops. Researchers believe that this may well be the process by which evolution allowed our brains to advance to higher functions over many generations.

But as marvellous our brain is, it is susceptible to disease and the aging process, just like the rest of our body.

What causes our brain to age?

Everyone experiences a bit of forgetfulness or difficulty concentrating. This can have many causes and is usually nothing to worry about when we are younger. But with progressing age, neurodegeneration accelerates. This is a process by which the neurons in our brains become damaged and can even die, leading to profound consequences for our quality of life.

Whilst we can't stop aging, we can certainly look at the root cause of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease. As it turns out, there may well be an answer to significantly slow the onset of neurodegeneration.

Many studies point to oxidative stress, the result of excess free radicals, as a major contributor to the progression of neurodegenerative diseases. Free radicals are continuously produced by our body as a by-product of energy production, called cellular respiration. But stress, toxins, exercise, chronic illness and unhealthy lifestyle choices also contribute to free radical production. Over time, this causes our brains to “shrink”, a term for decreased neural activity. And as a result, our brain progressively functions at sub-optimal levels.

Powerful protection against free radicals

Our body has developed an elaborate and formidable way to deal with the oxidative stress caused by free radicals. Many compounds work in synergy to protect our cells from oxidative stress, and these are known as antioxidants. We have all heard about them and may even take supplements to boost their levels. But the king of all antioxidants is glutathione which is produced in every cell to deal with the constant threat of free radicals. But glutathione does more than that because it also recycles common antioxidants such as Vitamins C, D & E, recharging them, so to speak. Glutathione's significance is well studied and without question.

The brain is especially reliant upon glutathione due to its ability to both reduce neurotoxicity, or nerve cell damage, and its ability to detoxify heavy metals like lead and mercury. Glutathione also offers powerful protection against the damage caused by free radicals on brain cells.

Our body's ability to effectively repair DNA is also essential for protecting us from aging. Once again, studies have shown that glutathione plays a crucial role in this process.

Maintaining cellular glutathione

If our antioxidant defenses are so elaborate, the question ultimately arises why is oxidative stress a problem? The simple answer is that, like everything in nature, nothing is perfect. The pace of free radical generation can often outstrip the cellular production of glutathione.

This is due to various factors, but ageing, chronic inflammation, nutrient deficiencies, poor digestion, stress, viral infections, heavy metal toxins, radiation, and medications can all dramatically affect glutathione production. And this is not without consequences. Studies have shown that it is possible to predict the risk of degenerative diseases and cancer by the body's ability to make enough glutathione.

The liver being the bodies primary detoxification organ contains the largest glutathione reserve, so anything that impedes liver function will also reduce our glutathione. The brain subsequently becomes glutathione deficient and that's how neurological diseases can manifest themselves.

The holy grail

Supplementing cellular glutathione levels has been the subject of countless studies. Glutathione does not perform its free radical scavenging function outside the cell, so we need to get glutathione inside the cell. But this is not an easy task, and there are many obstacles. Taking glutathione itself, in any form, does not work as it can't enter cells. So-called cysteine pro-drugs such as N-acetylcysteine (NAC) do not increase cellular glutathione either for the simple reason that we are not deficient in cysteine. There is plenty inside our cells, so taking more is futile. This is why effective glutathione enhancement has been dubbed the “Holy Grail” by scientists.

But there is a new player on the market that has drastically changed this: Glyteine! It's the cells naturally occurring precursor to glutathione and lower levels of its production in the cell are the main reason why glutathione levels can be below optimal.

The Glyteine in Continual-G does indeed enter cells and is immediately converted to glutathione. Being the immediate precursor to glutathione, cells can make use of it without limitations and will produce glutathione for as long as there is an ample supply of Glyteine. This ensures optimal cellular glutathione levels and a healthy brain. Glyteine is unique in this ability and has taken the crown as the only supplement clinically proven to increase cellular glutathione safely and in a single dose!