What Does Arginine Do for Brain Health?

Brain cancer, especially the most prevalent form known as glioblastoma, can be devastating, with a dismal prognosis (medically speaking) for this particularly tumor. Many cancers develop and progress due to a decreased immune function, allowing single cancer cells to reproduce and metastasize to different organs in the body. Th1 lymphocytes and cytokines (the ‘killer’ side of the immune system composed of different types of white blood cell neutrophils and specialized chemicals) are responsible for destroying aberrant tumor cells before they have the opportunity to develop. This is what is known as ‘normal cell death’; cells divide, and the ‘old cell’ dies, aided, in part, by the ‘killer cells’ that you’re your body clean of possible cancer growth.  Normally, immune response declines as we age, in large part due to excess sugar consumption (our poor diets accelerate this process), systemic inflammation (chronic, even sub-clinical autoimmune disorders) and poor cellular oxygenation (made worse by sedentary lifestyles). Researchers publishing in the journal Clinical Cancer Research have found that natural arginine (an amino acid) supplementation may reactivate cancer-fighting T-cells in glioblastoma patients, allowing reactivation of the immune system to fight cancer progression.

What Foods Promote Brain Health?

Cool; now what do we need to learn from this information?  Eat foods that contain higher amounts of arginine like nuts, seeds, beans, and fish.  These are all things we encourage cancer patients to consume; this is part of our cancer-regimen ‘snack food’.  Raw peanuts, almonds, walnuts and hazelnuts are great snack-brain-food that increases arginine levels (as well as good fat levels) and decreases inflammation.  Tuna, salmon and eggs all have high arginine levels.


Neutrophils, a type of white blood cell necessary in this immune attack on cancer cells, are an ancient and nonspecific cell that neutralizes invading bacteria and viruses. Neutrophils are a part of the Th1 response to provide a powerful immune response to knock out pathogens. Low-grade and often sub-clinical autoimmune disorders as well as general obesity, sedentary lifestyles, and individuals living with poor diet and lifestyle choices, all develop chronic, systemic inflammation.

Chronic inflammation suppresses Neutrophils and other Th1 cytokines (the cancer killer side of the immune system) and they become desensitized to the persistent, systemic inflammation and act less responsive to disease-causing agents. Cancer cells thrive in an inflamed cellular environment and, if left unchecked, lead to the destruction of healthy tissue and unchecked tumor formation. Neutrophils stop the immune response by secreting an enzyme called arginase. Researchers have found that patients with glioblastoma (as well as other cancers) do not exhibit the normal neutrophil-mediated immune response and cancer cells grow and spread unabated.

Again: Cancer tends to be a Th1 suppressed disorder!

Scientists from the University of Colorado Cancer Center found that Th1 cells are critically dependent on arginine for activation and function. They were able to determine that the lack of arginine suppresses the ‘killer side’ of the immune system. The researchers concluded that “persistent arginase production from neutrophils suppresses the immune system and keeps cancers from becoming immune targets.”

Arginine is a well-researched, natural compound (an amino acid) largely associated with helping lower blood pressure and improves both cardiovascular and brain health. The result of past research demonstrates that arginine is a precursor to the production of friendly nitric oxide (eNOS) and supports blood vessel relaxation to effectively lower out of range blood pressure readings in at-risk individuals. Cancer prevention can now be added to the list of chronic conditions that benefit from regular arginine supplementation and it is ALWAYS best to get your nutrients from your FOOD.

Eat more RAW seeds, nuts, almonds, walnuts, ocean-caught cold-water fish and organic eggs. Decrease inflammatory foods like red meat, dairy, sugar and grains.  Be conscious of what you eat and even your temperament. Forgive and forget; do what is right.

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