Natural blueberries minimize Alzheimer's effects

Natural blueberries minimize Alzheimer's effects

Blueberries can apparently alleviate memory problems in dementia
About 1.5 million people in Germany suffer from dementia, most of them have Alzheimer's. So far, the disease is incurable, but it can be delayed with medication in the early stages. American scientists may now have discovered a natural remedy for the symptoms: Blueberries can obviously help to alleviate memory problems when dementia begins.

Health benefits of blueberries
The health benefits of blueberries have long been known. Blueberries are rich in vitamins and fiber, they catch free radicals, have anti-inflammatory effects and increase the elasticity of the blood vessels. The berries lower the risk of heart attack and protect themselves against gum infections. In a study, US scientists have now found that blueberries can also alleviate memory problems when dementia begins.

Diet may have an impact on mental degradation
In Germany alone, around 1.5 million people suffer from dementia, the majority of them from Alzheimer's. There are approximately 47 million dementia patients worldwide. And there are more and more: According to the World Alzheimer Report, another dementia diagnosis is made every 3.2 seconds. The disease has not yet been curable, but can be delayed with medication in the early stages. In addition, there has been increasing evidence in recent years that a special diet could at least delay and alleviate mental degradation.

Brain could benefit from blueberries
A team of researchers led by Robert Krikorian from the University of Cincinnati have now found in a study that "home-made superfood" can also alleviate Alzheimer's symptoms. This is how the scientists discovered that the brain could benefit from blueberries. As part of their investigation, the scientists administered approximately a large handful of blueberries in the form of a powder made from freeze-dried berries to 47 over 68-year-olds with initial memory loss. A second group received a similar-looking placebo powder instead.

Stronger brain activity visible
At the beginning and after 16 weeks, both the memory and the mental performance of all participants were tested. As reported in the specialist magazine "EurekAlert!", The researchers in the group that took blueberry powder every day were able to find measurable improvements in memory and mental performance. The blueberry group therefore showed better access to words and abstract concepts. Furthermore, during brain scans using functional magnetic resonance tomography (fMRI), a stronger brain activity of the blueberry participants was visible.

Positive effect attributable to phytochemicals
This was not the case for the participants who received the placebo. "Those who received the blueberries showed a clear improvement in mental performance and brain function compared to the placebo recipients," said Krikorian. The researchers believe that the blueberries' positive effect is due to the anthocyanins they contain. Anthocyanins are phytochemicals found in blue, purple, red or blue-black vegetables and fruits. Earlier studies had shown that this plant substance had a protective effect on the brain in Parkinson's patients. "Our results confirm these previous studies and support the assumption that blueberries can have a positive effect on memory and mental performance", at least in some older people, the study authors say.

Effect only with existing mental failures
However, a further study with a good 90 seniors without beginning memory loss did not show that the berries had such a clear effect. So there were slight improvements in general mental performance, but not in memory. The functional MRI scans also showed fewer differences from the placebo group than among the elderly with already beginning memory problems. The researchers conclude from these findings that the blueberry ingredients show positive effects especially when there are already mental deficits. In people who do not yet have symptoms, the effect may be less pronounced or simply less easily detectable. The researchers now want to check this in a study with younger subjects. (ad)

Author and source information

Video: Natural Supplements for Alzheimers Disease