Dementia and other neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease have become increasingly worrisome over the past few decades for many of us. This is especially the case among those of us in industrialized countries – those regions that maintain the ‘perfect storm’ of rampant toxic pollutants and the Western diet.
Increasingly, research is finding that instead of dementia-related diseases being the result of just bad luck or genetics – as many will have it – what we do and in particular, what we eat, will effect our risk of Alzheimer’s and other dementias dramatically. In other words, what we put into our mouths – combined with what pollutants we are exposed to – relate directly to the health of our brains later in life.
Berry good evidence
A team of international researchers, which included scientists from the U.S. National Institutes of Health, Washington State University, India’s Annamalai University and Oman’s Sultan Qaboos University College of Medicine and Health Sciences, investigated the evidence relating berries and Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia.
They found all the berries, in fact, significantly reduced the risk of various forms of dementia.
The researchers found that strawberries – containing caffeic acid, ellagic acid, anthocyanins, catechins and gallic acid – decreased cyclooxidation and increased neurological health.
They found that bilberries and their anthocyanin, flavonol, lutein and zeaxanthin content provides antioxidant protection against damage to arteries and neurons.
They found clear evidence that blackcurrants, with their high content of polyphenols, provide protection against the formation of the beta-amyloid fibrils that have been found in the brains of dementia-ridden folks.
They also found that blackberries also provide polyphenols together with other antioxidants that reduce oxidation and increase glutathione levels, helping detox the blood and liver.
And blueberries’ flavanols, anthocyanins and cinnamate content were found to be associated with increased memory and learning, as well as reduced radical oxidation species that harm brain cells.
Fruit in the diet reduces dementia
The evidence is clear that berries – and fruit in general – decrease the risk of dementia. A study published last year from China’s Tianjin Medical University investigated 1,324 elderly persons from three regions. The researchers found that the incidence of Alzheimer’s, vascular dementia and other forms of dementia was increased over five times (that’s over 500%) among those who lacked fruit in their diets.
Fruits and veggies proven to decrease dementia risk
Another study, of 2,235 men between 45 and 60 years old from the UK’s Cardiff University and the University of South Wales, found that higher fruit and vegetable intake significantly decreased the risk of dementia. They also found that regular exercise and low alcohol intake reduced the risk of all types of dementia.
Diets with greater content of fruits and veggies also proven to decrease dementia risk
As I have written about before, the evidence is clear that a diet that contains more plant-based foods in general has been shown to reduce dementia risk. This has been shown in a number of studies showing that the Mediterranean diet – a diet notably higher in plant-based foods – decreases the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
This was evidenced by a large review from researchers from the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, New York. The scientists conducted a large systematic meta-study on the evidence. They found five studies that met their strict quality criteria.
These five studies were from France, Australia and the U.S. Combined they included 7,537 human subjects, who ranged from 62 years old to 80 years old.
The test subjects were followed for between two and eight years among the studies.
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