Eat Strawberries to Protect Your Brain: Compound in Fruity Treat May Reduce Brain Inflammation and Halt Development of Alzheimer’s Disease
- Researchers led by RUSH University of Chicago found that adults who ate strawberries had less tau protein in their brains
- Tau proteins are seen in higher concentrations in people with Alzheimer’s disease
- They said it suggested strawberries could help prevent the disease
- But the cautioned study was observational, and more work was needed to back up the findings.
According to scientists, eating strawberries may help protect the brain from Alzheimer’s disease by reducing inflammation.
A team of researchers led by Rush University in Chicago, Illinois, found that adults over 65 who ate fruit regularly had less tau protein in their brains, which can lead to the wasting disease higher concentrations.
Strawberries are one of the main sources of pelangonidine, which is considered an anti-inflammatory. Others are raspberries, kidney beans, plums and radishes.
The scientists warn, however, that the study was observational, meaning it could not prove whether it was actually the strawberries that protected against the disease or another factor.
Eating strawberries could help someone avoid Alzheimer’s disease by decreasing inflammation in the brain, study finds (file photo)
Published last week in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, the study looked at the brains of 575 deceased patients with an average age of 91. None had Alzheimer’s disease.
For more than two decades before their deaths, each had completed an annual diet survey for researchers to track.
They also had their cognitive abilities tested every year.
The autopsy results showed that among the group that ate the most strawberries, the lowest concentration of tau protein was observed.
The study authors also said they found no association between tau protein levels and those who had the APOE-4 gene, which is thought to increase the risk of the disease.
Explaining the findings, Dr Julie Schneider, the neuropathologist who led the paper, said: “We suspect that the anti-inflammatory properties of pelargonidin may decrease overall neuroinflammation, which may reduce cytokine production.”
Cytokines are proteins produced by cells that can trigger an inflammatory response.
Brain inflammation can be caused by many factors, including lack of sleep, infections, and extreme stress. These are also risk factors for developing Alzheimer’s disease.
Dr Puja Agarwal, a nutritional epidemiologist also involved in the research, said it was a “simple change” anyone could make to their diet.
But he also cautioned that the study was observational, meaning it was unclear whether strawberries reduced the risk.
“Further research is needed to understand the role of nutrition in Alzheimer’s disease,” he said, “but this study gives us hope about how specific dietary components such as berries may contribute to brain health.
Alzheimer’s disease is a debilitating disease that affects more than 6.5 million Americans. By 2050, this figure is expected to more than double.
Early signs include difficulty remembering recent events or conversations or where something was left.
But in later stages, patients may repeat themselves or ask questions over and over again, get lost in familiar places, and struggle to find the right words to identify objects.
What should I eat to avoid getting Alzheimer’s disease?
Numerous studies suggest that what people eat could affect their risk of suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.
The National Institute on Aging says certain diets, such as those high in processed foods, can increase a person’s risk for the disease.
But others may actually have a protective effect. In particular, the researchers point to the Mediterranean diet – high in fruits, vegetables and fish and low in red meat and eggs – as a key way to reduce risk.
The NIH says so far there is no confirmed evidence that eating more of a particular food can help protect someone against Alzheimer’s disease.
But a number of studies have looked at certain foods — including blueberries, strawberries, and leafy greens — as possibly offering protection against disease.
These foods have been selected for their anti-inflammatory properties, which are believed to help reduce the risk of dangerous protein buildup.
Recent articles have included one that suggested eating a daily serving of spinach or kale reduced the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
While a second found that people who regularly ate fish also had higher cognitive function later in life than those who didn’t.
Source: National Institutes on Aging
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