Never underestimate the potential contributions of small town living. From Jackson Wyoming a town of 9,577 people to Ogimi, Japan a village of just 3,000, great strides in brain health and longevity are happening organically. A January 18 article in Fortune magazine drew attention to a small lab, the nonprofit Brain Chemistry Labs in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, where 65-year-old ethnobotanist Paul Cox believes he’s come up with a treatment that might prevent Alzheimer’s disease, ALS, and other neurodegenerative diseases. He called it “Serine Dipity”, referring to the L-Serine amino acid critical to the central nervous system.
L-serine is a naturally occurring dietary amino acid that supports healthy neurological function as we age. It is a neuroprotective agent. It is abundant in soy protein products, sweet potatoes, eggs, some seaweed, raw veal, lima beans, peanuts, eggs, wheat germ. L-serine is said to play an important role in helping to promote and maintain neurological health. It synthesizes protein fatty acid, methylates RNA and DNA, aids “nervous system function, muscle growth, healthy metabolism, cell proliferation and much more,” according to a February 12, 2019 report by Swanson Vitamins’ Lindsey Toth (see https://www.swansonvitamins.com/blog/lindsey/could-l-serine-be-a-brain-health-game-changer).
Here’s where Ogimi Village comes in. Let’s have a look at the eating habits of the world’s longest living humans in the Japanese Ogimi village of Okinawa. According to Wikipedia, several population studies conclude that Ogimi village in northwest Okinawa, has the highest longevity index in the world with a large percent of residents over 100 years old. Their high consumption of L-Serine intensive foods is noteworthy. Let’s just dub it the “Ogimi Diet”. Villagers of the indigenous Japanese Ogimi (of Okinawa) diet has unique elements based on marine algae and soy, both containing large quantities of L-serine.
Test results further reinforce the role of L-serine on our mental and physical health. An FDA approved clinical trial of patients taking L-serine at 5 and 15 g/day had a 22% reduction in the rate of functional decline, while those at 30 g/day of L-serine experienced an 85% reduction in functional decline by the slope of ALSFRS (the functional rating scale of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis). Furthermore, the total L-serine content of the Ogimi diet for women over the age of 70 is in excess of 8 g/day. This is about 6 g/day above the daily L-serine intake (2.53 g/day) from all sources consumed by women in the USA (source: Paul Alan Cox and James S. Metcalf, Brain Chemistry Labs, Institute for Ethnomedicine).
Below is a ranked frequency of consumption of the 25 top food items in the Ogimi diet compared to rank content mg/g of L-serine:
— Overall rank Item — Ogimi name — description. — SER rank — Serine (mg/100 g):
1) Citrus depressa juice
(a green citrus lemon native to Okinawa & Taiwan) Kugani (1 15 162.7*)
2) Oryza sativa Gohan (a form of Japanese long rice) (2 19 128.1)
3) Momordica charantia Goya
(a bitter melon from a tropical and subtropical vine) (5 21 64.0)
4) Tofu (coagulation soy milk, bean curd) Tofu (6 1 2351.5)
5) Undaria pinnatifida
(species of edible seaweed, sea vegetable) Wakame (8 5 771.4)
6) Saccharina japonica (type of kelp) Kombu (9 10 391.5)
7) Glycine max (immature soybean) Edamame (9 3 1670.3)
8) Ipomoea batatas (sweet potato) Beneimo (10 8 480.0)
9) Ulva lactuca (sea lettuce) Aasa (10 17 138.8)
10) Artemisia princeps (mugwort, wormwood) Fuchiba (12 4 805.3)
In summary, it is generally advantageous to consume Tofu and Edamame over rice, which is the case for Ogimi villagers in relation to its fellow Japanese. Most importantly, consumming a rich diversity of marine algae is ideal. However, as said earlier in this blog, traditionally western diet items also contain substantial amounts of L-serine. So if you don’t like tofu or seaweed, no need to fret. Potatoes, eggs, lima beans will also keep you serene on the serine scale.
The same L-serine amino acid that year over year is creating the world’s highest per capita concentration of centenarians is the same amino acid driving innovations in brain research led by the likes of Jackson Wyoming’s Paul Cox and Brain Chemistry Labs.