Jewish New Year fruit may hold seeds of hope for brain disease sufferers

///Jewish New Year fruit may hold seeds of hope for brain disease sufferers

Jewish New Year fruit may hold seeds of hope for brain disease sufferers

 Israeli neurologist, nanotech expert make pomegranate oil capsules that send antioxidants where they can have the most effect

Pomegranates at the Mahane Yehuda market in Jerusalem on August 25, 2016. (Nati Shohat/Flash90)

As Jewish families across the world reach for the pomegranate that they customarily eat on Rosh Hashanah, they may not realize that the fruit, with its juicy red seeds and crown-like crest, could hold a key to graceful aging.

 King Solomon is said to have designed his crown based on that of the pomegranate, and the image of the fruit often appears on ancient coins of Judea. The pomegranate is said to have 613 seeds, which correspond with the 613 Jewish precepts or commandments set out by the Torah regulating the Jewish way of life. For this reason, and because it represents fruitfulness, knowledge, learning and wisdom, and is seasonal in Israel, it customarily appears on Jewish New Year dinner tables.
Pomegranates at the Mahane Yehuda market in Jerusalem on August 25, 2016. (Nati Shohat/Flash90)

As Jewish families across the world reach for the pomegranate that they customarily eat on Rosh Hashanah, they may not realize that the fruit, with its juicy red seeds and crown-like crest, could hold a key to graceful aging.

 King Solomon is said to have designed his crown based on that of the pomegranate, and the image of the fruit often appears on ancient coins of Judea. The pomegranate is said to have 613 seeds, which correspond with the 613 Jewish precepts or commandments set out by the Torah regulating the Jewish way of life. For this reason, and because it represents fruitfulness, knowledge, learning and wisdom, and is seasonal in Israel, it customarily appears on Jewish New Year dinner tables.

The association of the pomegranate with knowledge, learning and wisdom may not be far from the truth. Pomegranate seed oil (PSO) contains high concentrations of punicic acid, or omega 5 as it is also called, which is believed to be one of the most powerful antioxidants in nature.

“Oxidation of proteins and lipids play an important role in aging and neuro degeneration in the brain in general,” said Prof. Ruth Gabizon, a researcher of degenerative brain diseases at the Neurology Department of Hadassah University Hospital in Jerusalem. “Brain cells die over time, from when we are teenagers, and they are not replaced.”

Prof. Ruth Gabizon, a researcher of degenerative brain diseases at the Neurology Department of Hadassah University Hospital in Jerusalem (Courtesy)

 

Common daily activities, such as digesting food and breathing, create free radicals that result in oxidation and damage to human cells, in particular to brain cells. Unlike blood or skin cells, brain cells do not get replaced by new ones. So free radicals are harmful to our health and end up impairing our thinking, memory, orientation and alertness, among others.

Degenerative brain disease and brain atrophy are typical of debilitating illnesses such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease in which brain cells are destroyed, followed by rapid functional and behavioral deterioration and eventual death.

The number of people worldwide living with dementia, for example, is expected to almost double every 20 years, reaching 75 million in 2010 and 131.5 million in 20150, according to Alzheimers’ Disease International.

Fighting fire with food

Aging and brain degeneration are a natural and unavoidable process, explained Gabizon, but they can be accelerated or slowed down depending on our lifestyles.

Antioxidants are known for their ability to protect against the destruction of brain and body cells. They can be found in foods such as cranberries, blueberries, beans, artichokes, pecans and foods containing Vitamin E.

“If we are able to control the levels of free radicals, maybe our cells will work better and live longer,” Gabizon said. “Our approach is that even if we cannot cure the severely affected patients with diseases such as Alzheimer’s, since they are diagnosed at a stage when large numbers of brain cells are already dead, perhaps we can delay the disease’s advance at early stages or even prevent disease outbreak in healthy people at risk of developing neurodegeneration, which is actually most of us.

“This, by extending the life span of brain cells, and improving their functioning even under dire conditions in which the body is filled with ‘biological garbage’ like the destructive oxidizing free radicals.”

Read more: https://www.timesofisrael.com/jewish-new-year-fruit-may-hold-key-to-graceful-ageing/

By | 2017-12-25T14:30:59+00:00 December 25th, 2017|Blog|Comments Off on Jewish New Year fruit may hold seeds of hope for brain disease sufferers

About the Author: