A cup of coffee for a cup of prevention? 

Alzheimer’s. Parkinson’s. Huntington’s. Different diseases, all caused by the deterioration and destruction of neurons in the body. What can we do to reduce their prevalence? 

One of the most devastating things about these diseases is how they lack a cure. While treatment exists to alleviate and suppress symptoms, it is currently a challenge to completely eliminate these conditions.  

Approaching prevention  

According to Science Daily, the human brain is surrounded by proteins. As these proteins age, they double over. Proteins at this stage cannot adequately protect the neurons of the brain and consequently make one susceptible to neurodegenerative disease.  

The good news? an enzyme called NMNAT2 has been noted to help “unfold” these proteins. The better news? Caffeine can help foster this process. The waker-upper chemical that many of us know and love contains the receptor that activates NMNAT2. Once the enzyme complex is stimulated, it begins to straighten folded proteins out, restoring their ability to defend the brain and boost its ability to fend off deterioration. Prevention has never tasted so good.  

The research team at Indiana University responsible for this discovery has also administered over 1,000 trials to see what other agents can perform similarly. While caffeine seems to be the most effective, other substances such as ziprasidone, cantharidin, wortmannin and retinoic acid also seem to be promising for their purpose.   

My thoughts in the vitamin aisle... 

The other day, I was picking up iron supplements for my grandmother, who has Alzheimer’s. I picked a container of B-complex vitamins for myself. There was a sign nearby saying how these supplements can help protect the myelin sheaths. Myelin sheaths act as a layer to protect nerves and the spinal cord from damage, and internal damage can trigger diseases of the nervous system, such as multiple sclerosis, as well. Simply starting to advocate how helpful these supplements further promotes awareness and prevention of neurodegenerative disease. Starting with easy steps, like taking supplements, can help tons of people to reduce their risks in the future.  


Preventing someone from suffering from neurodegenerative allows them to continue to live their lives as normally as possible. From a national perspective, prevention of neurodegenerative disease has the enormous potential to help alleviate the healthcare overspending problem that America is currently undergoing. Nearly six million Americans are suffering from Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s alone, and about 75% of our nation’s healthcare spending goes towards chronic conditions.  


Perhaps reducing the risk for developing neurodegenerative disease can mitigate at least some healthcare costs.  

Take it from someone whose family supports someone with Alzheimer’s. Hiring a home health aide, paying for medication and maintaining transport equipment can all be very costly. Needless to say, we are happy to pay these costs to make my grandmother comfortable. What’s more of a cost to our family is having to take away her car, her opportunity to travel and live alone, and inadvertently, her independence. To know that there may be a simple and accessible way to potentially prevent this condition from manifesting within others is what matters much, much more. 

Forecasted start year: 


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