Apples as brain food, new evidence
New Evidence for Apples as Brain Food & Alzheimer Treatment
The many health benefits of apples and apple juice have been known for some time. One among many is that their soluble pectin fibre promotes all-round digestive health and lowers blood-cholesterol levels.
Now research at the University of Massachusetts has provided new evidence that apples also protect neurons from the cognitive decline that typically accompanies ageing. They improve nerve cell communication and can prevent, halt, and even reverse some signs of Alzheimer’s disease.
It is still unclear which specific apple components do what, but several antioxidants and flavonoids are likely to be active in multiple ways.
Apples act as anti-oxidants, helping reduce the vulnerability of the brain’s nerve cells to inflammation and oxidative stress by reducing free radicals of oxygen in the central nervous system.
Apple components suppress expression of harmful genes like presenilin-1 that are active in the ageing process and promote early development of Alzheimer’s disease.
Apples also boost levels of neurotransmitters like acetylcholine that influence signals important for movement, sensory perception and attention. These neurotransmitters are often much reduced in people eating vitamin-poor diets [as many old people do, especially in aged-care facilities and hospitals, PL-N].
Apple juice consumption reversed the toxin-accumulating effect of a vitamin-poor diet in mice by reducing both the generation and toxicity of the neurotoxin beta-amyloid. This neurotoxin is thought to cause Alzheimer’s disease.
In 21 people with moderate to severe Alzheimer’s disease who each consumed 236 ml of apple juice a day for a month, behavioural and psychotic symptoms fell by 27%. Patients experienced reductions in anxiety levels, agitation and delusional symptoms.
Drinking two glasses of apple juice a day may be the easiest way to do your brain some good.
[taken from: H.E Marano, ‘Apples: a brain food that may keep more than the doctor away’, originally in Psychology Today, SMH 27/5/2010, p.19]