Green tea and blueberries may protect you from DEMENTIA, study finds
- Compounds in tea and berries reduce plaques strongly linked to Alzheimer’s disease
- Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of degenerative dementia
- Findings apply to more than 6 million Americans living with Alzheimer’s disease
Green tea can ward off dementia, study finds.
Chemicals found in the herbal drink called catechins reduced plaques strongly linked to Alzheimer’s disease in a lab study.
The compound resveratrol – found in blueberries, grapes and red wine – also had a similar effect on human brain cells.
Catechins and resveratrol possess anti-inflammatory properties, which may explain their plaque-removing abilities.
The Tufts University researchers reported their findings in the journal Free Radical Biology and Medicine.
Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia affecting more than six million Americans.
It is characterized by a lack of communication between neurons in the brain, resulting in loss of function and cell death.
Catechins are compounds in green tea that have antioxidant-like effects that help prevent cell damage and soothe inflammation in the brain. Tufts researchers considered this and 20 other compounds for their anti-Alzheimer’s properties, including resveratrol, common in blueberries and grapes.
What is Alzheimer’s disease?
Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive and degenerative disease of the brain, in which the accumulation of abnormal proteins leads to the death of nerve cells.
This disrupts the transmitters that carry the messages and causes the brain to shrink.
More than 5 million people suffer from the disease in the United States, where it is the 6th leading cause of death, and more than a million Britons have it.
When brain cells die, the functions they perform are lost.
This includes memory, orientation, and the ability to think and reason.
The progression of the disease is slow and progressive.
On average, patients live five to seven years after diagnosis, but some may live ten to 15 years.
- Short term memory loss
- Behavioral changes
- Mood swings
- Difficulties managing money or making a phone call
- Severe memory loss, forgetting close family members, familiar objects or places
- Become anxious and frustrated with the inability to make sense of the world, leading to aggressive behavior
- Eventually loses the ability to walk
- May have problems eating
- The majority will eventually need round-the-clock care
Source: Alzheimer Association
In a brain with Alzheimer’s disease, abnormal levels of certain natural proteins clump together to form plaques that accumulate between neurons and disrupt cellular function.
But catechins and resveratrol have been shown to reduce plaque formation in these neural cells. And they did it with little to no side effects.
Some of the other compounds tested, including curcumin from turmeric, the diabetes drug Metformin, and a compound called citicoline, also prevented plaque formation.
They tested the efficacy of 21 compounds in a 3D neural tissue model consisting of a non-reactive silk sponge seeded with human skin cells which, through genetic reprogramming, were converted into self-renewing neural stem cells.
Dr Dana Cairns, research associate at Tufts School of Engineering and study leader, said: ‘We were lucky that some of them showed quite strong efficacy.
“In the case of those compounds that passed the screen, they had virtually no visible plaque after about a week.”
The research team’s findings that indicate the anti-plaque properties of commonly found compounds have the potential to benefit millions of people and build on years of research into their therapeutic benefits.
Green tea and berries are rich in flavonoids, which can reduce cell-damaging free radicals, soothe inflammation in the brain, and improve cerebral blood flow.
The findings of the Tufts researchers do not conclusively say that the neuroprotective properties of the 21 compounds studied will help halt the progression of dementia.
Some of the compounds studied, for example, are not readily absorbed by the body or the bloodstream.
And some compounds were unable to cross the blood-brain barrier, a barrier between blood vessels in the brain and the cells and other components that make up brain tissue.
The purpose of the blood-brain barrier is to protect against circulating toxins or pathogens that could cause brain infections.
According to Dr. Cairns, further study of the adaptability of these compounds to better penetrate the bloodstream and the blood-brain barrier is needed.
But his team’s findings are important because there is currently no cure for Alzheimer’s disease and treatments to slow the progression of the disease are limited.
Alzheimer’s disease is not the only cause of dementia, which affects more than 7 million people in the United States. Other causes include Parkinson’s disease and vascular dementia caused by conditions that block or reduce blood flow to various regions of the brain.