Eating half a cup of blueberries every day in your late fifties may prevent dementia later in life, study finds
- Eating just half a cup of blueberries a day in your 50s may help prevent devastating cognitive decline later in life, new study finds
- Researchers found that people in their 50s who are the blueberries tested better on cognitive tests and even had healthier blood sugar levels
- Researchers suggested this may be because blueberries contain anthocyanins, although they couldn’t pin down a mechanism
- More than six million Americans suffer from dementia, a report from the Alzheimer’s Association suggests
Eating just half a cup of blueberries a day in your late 50s may help prevent dementia, a new study finds.
Researchers at the University of Cincinnati followed 13 obese adults with mild memory loss who ate the berries for three months, and found a significant improvement in their memory compared to others who had no fruit.
The team suggested that berries may 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 caused the improvement because the study was observational — meaning it couldn’t say whether the result was due to other factors — and had a small sample size.
Eating half a cup of blueberries a day may help prevent dementia, scientists say (Stock)
WHAT IS DEMENTIA?
Dementia is an umbrella term used to describe a range of progressive neurological disorders, that is, disorders that affect the brain.
There are many different forms of dementia, with Alzheimer’s disease being the most common.
Some people may have a combination of dementias.
Regardless of which type is diagnosed, each person experiences their dementia in their own unique way.
Dementia is a global problem, but it is most often seen in wealthier countries, where people are likely to live very old.
HOW MANY PEOPLE ARE INVOLVED?
The Alzheimer’s Society reports that there are more than 850,000 people living with dementia in the UK today, more than 500,000 of whom have Alzheimer’s disease.
It is estimated that the number of people with dementia in the UK will rise to over 1 million by 2025.
There are an estimated 5.5 million Alzheimer’s patients in the US. A similar percentage increase is expected for the coming years.
As a person gets older, the risk of developing dementia also increases.
The number of diagnoses is improving, but it is thought that many people with dementia are still undiagnosed.
IS THERE A CURE?
Currently, there is no cure for dementia.
But new drugs can slow progression, and the sooner it’s noticed, the more effective treatments are.
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 arrived in middle age.
Participants in both groups weighed an average of about 205 lbs and had a waist circumference of about 107 centimeters.
Their BMI scores were 33, classifying them as obese.
They were all pre-diabetic, when the body starts to become resistant to insulin.
This is one step closer to type 2 diabetes – a major risk factor for dementia.
In the trial, the adults were told to stop consuming all berries and fruits.
Half were then given a ‘blueberry’ sachet to mix with water each day, containing the equivalent of half a cup of fruit.
The remainder received a placebo bag containing an inert powder.
The trial was double-blind, meaning participants and researchers didn’t know who was getting the “blueberry” or placebo sachets.
Before the experiment started, tests were performed to measure the participant’s memory.
These were repeated again after 12 weeks of eating the blueberries or the placebo.
dr. Robert Krikorian, the psychologist who led the study, and others said in the paper: “The cognitive findings indicated improved executive ability 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 bilberry supplementation may help protect against cognitive decline when applied early in at-risk individuals.’
They added: ‘In summary, this study has shown that blueberry supplementation has neurocognitive benefit in middle-aged individuals with insulin resistance and an increased risk of future dementia.’
More than 6 million Americans are thought to have dementia, reports the Alzheimer’s Association.
By 2050, this is expected to rise to nearly 13 million as the elderly population grows — or one in 25 people.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say early symptoms of the condition include memory loss, difficulty sustaining attention, and communicating with others.
This may include getting lost in a familiar neighborhood, using unusual words to refer to familiar objects, and forgetting the names of relatives.
Being older is the strongest risk factor for developing the condition — alongside a family history of it and a higher risk of heart disease.
There is currently no cure for dementia, with treatments instead aimed at slowing the condition and limiting symptoms.