September 25, 2022

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Study: Regular consumption of blueberries may reduce dementia risk

Study: Regular consumption of blueberries may reduce dementia risk.


Study: Regular consumption of blueberries may reduce dementia risk.


The new research from the University of Cincinnati (UC) shows the potential health benefits of a different fruit.

Researchers led by Dr. Robert Krikorian of the University of California found that adding blueberries to the daily diet of certain middle-aged people may reduce the odds of developing dementia later in life.

The discovery was recently published in Nutrient.


Study: Regular consumption of blueberries may reduce dementia risk.



Research method

For several years, Krikorian’s team has been studying the berries’ benefits for people at high risk of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.


While other berries and plants like red cabbage aren’t all that different, Krikorian points out that blueberries are especially high in micronutrients and antioxidants called anthocyanins.

Krikorian says anthocyanins help give blueberries their namesake color and also help protect the plant from excessive radiation exposure, infectious bacteria and other threats.


These properties that help blueberries to survive also offer benefits to humans, such as reducing inflammation, improving metabolic function and enhancing energy production within cells, Krikorian said.


Previous berry research led by Krikorian focused on older populations, but in this study, the team wanted to study middle-aged people in order to focus on dementia prevention and risk reduction.


About 50 percent of people in the U.S. develop insulin resistance, commonly referred to as prediabetes, around middle age, Krikorian noted.

Prediabetes has been shown to be a factor in chronic disease, he said.


Krikorian, professor emeritus and director of the Division of Psychology in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neuroscience at the University of California School of Medicine, said they observed the cognitive benefits of blueberries in previous studies of older adults and suggested that they may be beneficial in younger adults with insulin resistance. Individually effective, “Alzheimer’s disease, like all chronic diseases of old age, begins in midlife and develops over the years.”




Study details and results

The researchers recruited 33 patients aged 50-65 from around the Cincinnati area who were overweight, had symptoms of prediabetes and noticed a mild decline in memory with age.

Krikorian noted that this population is at increased risk of developing dementia and other common diseases later in life.


For 12 weeks, the patients were instructed to abstain from berries of any kind, except for a daily sachet of supplemental powder mixed with water — with breakfast or dinner.

Half of the participants received a powder containing the equivalent of half a cup of whole blueberries, while the other half received a placebo.


The participants also underwent tests that measure certain cognitive abilities that decline in people with dementia in old age and later in life.


People in the blueberry treatment group showed improvements in cognitive tasks that depend on executive control, Krikorian said. “This is clearly manifested in reduced interference with irrelevant information during learning and memory.”


Study: Regular consumption of blueberries may reduce dementia risk.



In addition, patients in the blueberry group also showed lower fasting insulin levels, which means that participants’ metabolic function improved and they were able to burn fat for energy more easily.

Krikorian noted that the blueberry group showed a higher degree of additional mildness of mitochondrial uncoupling, a cellular process associated with longer lifespan and reduced oxidative stress. Oxidative stress can lead to symptoms such as fatigue and memory loss.

Going forward, Krikorian said he is interested in better understanding the exact mechanisms by which blueberries help improve cognitive performance and metabolic function. But the main takeaway from the current study is that regular blueberry supplementation in at-risk middle-aged diets may reduce the odds of developing dementia later in life.

“Since the sample size is an obvious limitation of the study, it will be important to reproduce these findings, especially by other investigators,” Krikorian said. In the meantime, it may be a good idea to consume blueberries on a regular basis. “


(source:internet, reference only)

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