Eating half a cup of blueberries every day in your late 50s may stave off dementia later in life, study finds
- Eating just half a cup of blueberries every day in their 50s can help them avoid devastating cognitive decline later in life, new research suggests
- Researchers found that people in their 50s who are blueberries tested better on cognitive tests and even had healthier blood sugar levels.
- The researchers suggested it could be because blueberries contain anthocyanins, although they couldn’t pinpoint a mechanism.
- More than six million Americans have dementia, Alzheimer’s Association report says
Eating just half a cup of blueberries a day in your late 50s may help prevent dementia, according to a new study.
Researchers from the University of Cincinnati followed 13 obese adults with mild memory decline who ate the berries for three months and found their memory significantly improved compared to others who did not have the fruit. .
The team suggested the berries might have a protective effect because they contain anthocyanins, a type of flavonoid that can reduce inflammation.
But they admitted it was difficult to determine whether the blueberries triggered the improvement because the study was observational – meaning it could not say whether the result was due to other factors – and had a small sample.
Eating half a cup of blueberries a day could help ward off dementia, scientists say (stock)
WHAT IS DEMENTIA?
Dementia is an umbrella term used to describe a range of progressive neurological disorders, that is, conditions affecting the brain.
There are many types of dementia, of which Alzheimer’s disease is the most common.
Some people may have a combination of dementia types.
Regardless of the type diagnosed, each person will experience dementia in their own way.
Dementia is a global concern, but is most commonly seen in wealthier countries, where people are likely to live to very old ages.
HOW MANY PEOPLE ARE AFFECTED?
The Alzheimer’s Society reports that there are over 850,000 people with dementia in the UK today, of which over 500,000 have Alzheimer’s disease.
It is estimated that the number of people with dementia in the UK by 2025 will reach over one million.
In the United States, it is estimated that there are 5.5 million people with Alzheimer’s disease. A similar percentage increase is expected in the coming years.
As a person’s age increases, the risk of developing dementia also increases.
Diagnosis rates are improving, but it is believed that many people with dementia remain undiagnosed.
IS THERE A CURE?
Currently, there is no cure for dementia.
But new drugs can slow its progression and the earlier it is spotted, the more effective the treatments.
Source: Dementia UK
In the study – published in the journal Nutrients – scientists recruited 33 adults in their late 50s from the Cincinnati area who had gained weight in middle age.
Participants in both groups weighed about 205 pounds on average and had a waist circumference of about 107 centimeters.
Their BMI scores were 33, classifying them as obese.
All were pre-diabetics, when the body begins to become resistant to insulin.
This is one step closer to type 2 diabetes, a key risk factor for dementia.
During the trial, adults were told to stop consuming all berries and fruits.
Half of them then received a sachet of “blueberries” to be mixed with water every day, containing the equivalent of half a cup of fruit.
The others received a placebo sachet containing an inert powder.
The trial was double-blind, which means that participants and researchers did not know who received the ‘blueberry’ or placebo packets.
Before the start of the experiment, tests were carried out to measure the memory of the participants.
These were repeated after 12 weeks of consuming the blueberries or the placebo.
Dr. Robert Krikorian, the psychologist who led the study, and others said in the article, “Cognitive results indicated improved executive abilities in this middle-aged sample.” [who had blueberries].
“The demonstration of these benefits in middle-aged people with insulin resistance and [subjective cognitive decline] suggests that continued blueberry supplementation may help protect against cognitive decline when implemented early in those at risk.
They added: “In summary, this study demonstrated that blueberry supplementation has neurocognitive benefits in middle-aged individuals with insulin resistance and high risk of future dementia.”
More than 6 million Americans have dementia, reports the Alzheimer’s Association.
By 2050, this figure is expected to reach almost 13 million as the elderly population grows to one in 25 people.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says early symptoms of the disease include memory loss, difficulty maintaining attention and communicating with others.
This can include getting lost in a familiar neighborhood, using unusual words to refer to familiar objects, and forgetting the names of family members.
Being older is the biggest risk factor for developing the disease – alongside a family history and a higher risk of heart disease.
There is currently no cure for dementia, with treatments focusing instead on slowing the disease and limiting its symptoms.