Eat strawberries to protect your brain: Compound in the fruity treat may reduce brain inflammation and stop Alzheimer’s development
- Researchers led by RUSH University in Chicago found that adults who ate strawberries had fewer tau proteins in their brains
- Tau proteins are seen in higher concentrations in people with Alzheimer’s disease
- They said this suggested strawberries could help prevent the disease
- But cautioned that the study was observational and more work was needed to substantiate the findings
Eating strawberries may help protect the brain from Alzheimer’s disease by reducing inflammation, scientists claim.
A team of researchers led by Rush University in Chicago, Illinois found that adults over age 65 who regularly ate the fruit had fewer tau proteins in their brains, which can lead to the debilitating disease at higher concentrations.
Strawberries are one of the main sources of pelangonidine, which is thought to be an anti-inflammatory. Others include raspberries, kidney beans, plums and radishes.
However, scientists warned that the study was an observation, meaning it couldn’t prove whether it was actually the strawberries that protected against the disease or some other factor.
Eating strawberries could help someone avoid Alzheimer’s disease by reducing inflammation in the brain, study has suggested (file photo)
Published last week in the Alzheimer’s JournalThe study looked at the brains of 575 deceased patients with an average age of 91 years. No one had Alzheimer’s.
For more than two decades before their deaths, they had each completed an annual survey about their diet for researchers to keep track of.
They also had their cognitive skills tested annually.
The post-mortem results showed that the lowest concentration of tau proteins was observed in the group that ate the most strawberries.
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.
dr. Julie Schneider, the neuropathologist who led the paper, explained the results: “We suspect that the anti-inflammatory properties of pelargonidin may reduce general neuroinflammation, which may reduce the production of cytokines.”
Cytokines are proteins produced by cells that can trigger an inflammatory response.
Inflammation in the brain 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 who was also involved in the study, said it was a “simple change” that anyone could make to their diet.
But he also cautioned that the study was observational, meaning it wasn’t clear whether the strawberries reduced the risk.
“Further research is needed to understand the role of diet in Alzheimer’s disease,” he said, “but this study gives us hope about how specific dietary components such as berries can help brain health.”
Alzheimer’s disease is a debilitating condition 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 has been left behind.
But in the later stages, patients may repeat themselves or questions over and over, get lost in familiar places, and have trouble finding the right words to identify objects.
What should I eat to prevent Alzheimer’s?
Numerous studies suggest that what people eat may affect their risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
The National Institute on Aging says some diets — such as those high in processed foods — can increase a person’s risk of suffering from the disease.
But others can actually have a protective effect. In particular, researchers point to the Mediterranean diet — rich in fruits, vegetables and fish and low in red meat and eggs — as an important way to reduce risk.
The NIH says there’s no confirmed evidence to date that eating more of a particular food can help protect someone from Alzheimer’s disease.
But a number of studies have examined whether certain foods, including blueberries, strawberries and leafy greens, may protect against the disease.
These foods have been selected for their anti-inflammatory properties, which are believed to help reduce the risk of forming dangerous proteins.
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 of Aging