A medical trial has found that a chemical in foods such as red wine, dark chocolate, raspberries and grapes could help reconstruct a major barrier of the brain that helps defend against Alzheimer’s.
The chemical resveratrol was found to obstruct harmful molecules accessing the brain.
When it was administered in a study of 119 patients, researchers discovered that those given the chemical had a reduction of MMP-9 fluid, which causes a breakdown of the blood-brain barrier, by up to 50%.
The strength of the resveratrol applied in the year-long study was equal to what would be found in 1,000 bottles of red wine.
Resveratrol is thought to activate enzymes known as sirituins, which can prevent the onset of a number of age-related illnesses such as dementia.
Previous research observing the effect on sirituins on age-related diseases found that they were dramatically reduced when they were activated in animals in a laboratory setting.
However, whilst this new research looks promising for sufferers of Alzheimer’s (around 850,000 people in Britain), we need not binge on wine and chocolate just yet.
Dr Laura Phipps from Alzheimer’s Research UK, said of the study: “While it could be tempting to think that a glass of wine and a chunk of chocolate could benefit the brain, the doses of resveratrol used in this research were many hundreds of times higher than those consumed day-to-day through a normal diet.
“These findings were taken from an early clinical trial with high-dose resveratrol, which will now need to be followed up in larger groups before we can know its true potential against the disease.
“We do know that a healthy balanced diet, lower in saturated fat and high in fibre with plenty of fruit, vegetables, wholegrains, beans, pulses and cereals, is important to maintain good body and brain health. Drinking in moderation, staying mentally and physically active, and keeping blood pressure and cholesterol in check are also important for brain health and reducing dementia risk as we age.”
The Alzheimer Society of Ireland reports that currently there are almost 48,000 people living with some form of dementia in Ireland.
Of these, 17,385 are men and 30,359 women.
More than 4,000 of these people are under the age of 65 and are classified as having younger onset dementia.
It is estimated that the number of people living with dementia here will rise to 153,157 by 2046, due to an increase in the older population.
Here’s some other foods to boost our brains...
Wholegrains supply our bodies with a slow and steady release of energy, allowing us to be more alert and raise our levels of concentration. Replace your usual white loaf for brown and reap the rewards for breakfast.
Much like grapes and raspberries, there is evidence blueberries can potentially improve or delay short-term memory loss. Loaded with anthocyanins, which gives the fruit its colour, blueberries are a healthy snack for body and mind.
Red peppers, among other foods that are high in vitamin C, are thought to help our brains combat degenerating diseases such as dementia.
Broccoli is high in glucosinolates, which slow the degeneration of acetylcholine; a neurotran-smitter in the brain which keeps us alert and active.
While broccoli slows the breakdown of acetylcholine, egg yolk helps build it. Yolks are filled with choline, which the brain uses to create the neurotransmitter. Research has found that there is a positive correlation between choline intake and scores on memory tests.
The world’s most fashionable food is not only good for Instagram, it’s good for our health. The fruit is enriched with mono-
unsaturated fats, which promote blood flow to the brain and sharpens reflexes.
Another fashion foodie favourite, kale contains antioxidants, which protect your brain from any potentially damaging diseases. Kale is thought to encourage a ‘younger’ and more active brain; a study by the Alzheimer’s Assocation found that older women who ate more green vegetables had brain functioning like someone two years younger.
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