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Fermented turmeric prevents memory loss caused by oxidative stress and inflammation

Turmeric is a pretty powerful superfood on its own. As a fermented food product, it gains the power of probiotics as well. A Korean study showed that fermented turmeric can prevent memory loss that stems from oxidative stress and inflammation of key brain cells.

Alzheimer’s disease is just one of the many neurodegenerative diseases that come with age. It affects the brain in many ways, one of which is memory loss.

The hippocampus and cortex are the parts of the brain that handle learning and memory. They are mostly comprised of glial cells that support and protect brain cells.

Free radicals can forcefully activate glial cells and cause inflammation in the brain. This leads to neuronal cell death and corresponding loss of capabilities, such as the ability to retain memories over time.

The memory problems can be mitigated by increasing the levels of acetylcholine in the brain. To boost this neurotransmitter, the amount of acetylcholinesterase that metabolizes acetylcholine must be reduced.

Therefore, the Keimyung University (KMU) research team looked into the possibility of using turmeric (Curcuma longa L.) to protect the brain against oxidative stress and inflammation. Turmeric contains curcumunoids like curcumin, a well-known antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compound that shields neurons from damage.

Fermented turmeric tested to see if it can protect brain cells from oxidants

The researchers used a yeast-grown Lactobacillus plantarum K154 strain to create fermented turmeric powder. They administered the fermented turmeric to male ICR mice.

Next, they injected amnesia-inducing scopolamine into mice that received fermented turmeric and unprotected mice. They put both groups of animals through a step-through passive avoidance test and a Morris water maze test to evaluate the mice’s memories.

MTT assays determined how well-fermented turmeric protected rat glioma C6 cells from free radicals that caused destructive oxidation. To figure out the related anti-inflammatory effects, the researchers measured the amounts of nitric oxide and prostaglandin E2 produced in murine BV2 cells that were stimulated by lipopolysaccharide.

They also analyzed the expression levels of inducible nitric oxide synthase and cyclooxygenase-2.

Mice brains cells were examined to determine how fermented turmeric affected their scopolamine-induced memory deficit. The researchers measured the amount of acetylcholinesterase, as well as the expression of cAMP response element-binding protein (CREB) and brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF).

Finally, they also analyzed the contents of the curcuminoids in fermented turmeric. (Related: Curcumin enhances disease resistance in aquaculture.)

Fermented super food stops brain cell death and boosts neurotransmitters

The KMU researchers found that fermented turmeric protected mice from the effects of scopolamine. It prevented oxidative stress that would have damaged or destroyed brain cells.

In addition, the fermented superfood protected brain cells from lipopolysaccharide. Turmeric stopped the expression of inducible nitric oxide synthase and cyclooxygenase 2, which resulted in much lower levels of associated oxidants.

Fermented turmeric also reduced the memory-impairing effects of scopolamine in mice by a significant margin. It did so by inhibiting acetylcholinesterase levels, thereby increasing the amount of acetylcholine that enables effective communications between brain cells.

Finally, fermented turmeric raised the levels of cAMP-response elementary-binding protein (CREB) and brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). Higher levels of CREB means more BDNF, which helps form long-term memories.

About 1.44 percent of fermented turmeric was comprised of curcuminoids. While lower than what is found in fresh turmeric, this amount of curcumin and related compounds was enough to achieve positive effects.

Furthermore, the researchers noted that fermented turmeric is much more easily dissolved in water. Curcumin is also much more stable when it is in the lactic acid that comes with fermentation. Finally, the fermented food can be infused with beneficial bacteria.

They concluded that fermented turmeric could serve as a possible therapy for patients afflicted with learning and memory problems, such as Alzheimer’s disease.

Sources include:

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