Six Foods Linked to Reduced Chance of Alzheimer's

Nutrition research has boomed in our lifetimes. In the past decades, scientists have been learning, bit by bit, about how the way that we nourish our bodies affects our minds and lived experience. Alzheimer's and other dementia diseases have confounded scientists for decades. Where once all research efforts went only to how to ease the progression of the disease of Alzheimer's, current research is beginning to make strides towards how Alzheimer's develops and how it can potentially be prevented. This research has uncovered the fact that we may have some means of control over the progression of these diseases through our nutrition and activities.

Brand new research published from Tufts University pinpointed some nutrients linked to a slower progression of Alzheimer's. These nutrients are found in six notable foods that you may already be consuming. The study that uncovered these findings had 2,800 participants a remarkable and robust amount, providing strong statistics. Most amazing is that this study followed these people for more than 20 years. A study with fewer people over less time would have provided, perhaps, a few starting clues, but a study with this many people over this amount of time provides strong conclusions.

The study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, found three categories of nutrients that were linked to a slower progression of Alzheimer's over these decades. The first category is flavonols. Flavonols are potent antioxidants that protect our cells from harmful oxidation. While flavonols are found in a variety of fruits and vegetables, the study in question noted that they are highest in the commonly enjoyed apples and pears

The second category is anthocyanins. There is not an extensive library of research showing that anthocyanins provide strong benefits to human health, making this new research even more exciting. Anthocyanins are pigmented, and give many natural foods their red or purple colour. In fact, they are one of the molecules that give autumn leaves their stunning, red hue. With this fact in mind, it’s easy to guess what foods might have many of them. The richly coloured blueberries and strawberries have plenty of anthocyanins. 

The third and final category is flavonoid polymers. The “poly” in the word “polymers” comes a Greek word “polu” meaning “many.” A polymer, then, is a large molecule with many parts connected together. This large molecule has been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties within the body. They are found in high quantities in black and green teas

The study at hand compared people who had low versus high intakes of these three molecules. People who had a high intake of flavonols (found in apples and pears) had half the risk of developing Alzheimer's than those who had a low intake. Those who had a high intake of anthocyanins (found in blueberries and strawberries) had a quarter of the risk of developing Alzheimer's. Finally, those who had a high intake of flavonoid polymers (found in tea) had half the risk of developing Alzheimer's. 

According to the study, what did it take to qualify as “high intake”? Those in the high intake group were those who ate 7.5 cups of berries per month, 8 apples per month and 19 cups of tea per month. The low intake group were those who ate no berries, no tea and only an average of 1.5 apples per month. 

The study’s senior author, Paul Jacques, said, “ over time might be related to a person’s cognitive decline” and “with no effective drugs currently available for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease, preventing disease through a healthy diet is an important consideration.” 

Encouraging findings from this research showed that improving your diet even at age 50 is not too late to help prevent Alzheimer's and related diseases. The study is one more stepping stone towards the idea that nutrition does indeed create positive long term physical and mental health



Jenkins, A. L., & Gallagher, S. (2020, May 5). More berries, apples and tea may have protextive benefits agaist Alzheimer’s. TuftsNow.

Shishtar, E., Rogers, G. T., Blumberg, J. B., Au, R., & Jacques, P. F. (2020). Long-term dietary flavonoid intake and risk of Alzheimer disease and related dementias in the Framingham Offspring Cohort. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

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