Berries and fruits, tea, and red wine may stave off Alzheimer’s disease

Simple diet changes can significantly reduce your risk of dementia.

someone pouring a cup of tea from a stainless steel teapot

Worried about developing Alzheimer’s disease?

Well, boil a kettle and pop a tea bag into a cup. Or better yet, pour yourself a glass of red. Even if you’re not partial to a tipple or a tea, you may still stave off Alzheimer’s or other dementia by snacking on a cup of berries.

The old ‘an apple a day’ adage can also be applied to keeping Alzheimer’s away, says a new study published online recently in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

According to the study, people with the lowest amounts of fruits, red wine and tea in their diet were two to four times more likely to develop Alzheimer's disease or other dementia.

"Diet matters. And the good news is you don't have to make dramatic changes. Modest changes like going from not eating any berries to eating a cup or two a week can make a difference," said senior author Paul Jacques, director of nutritional epidemiology at the USDA Human Nutrition Research Centre on Ageing at Tufts University in Boston.

So, what is providing these benefits to brain health? Researchers put it down to flavonoids, which are natural substances found in plant foods.

Flavonoids are known to reduce inflammation –  which has been linked to Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia.

Dr Jacques notes that the study may not prove a definitive link between fruits and teas and wine in the diet and dementia, as it is possible that those who eat more fruits or drink more tea or wine may have other healthy habits that affect their dementia risk.

When the study began in 1970, it comprised 2800 people aged 50 or older, with an average age of 59. Around half were women, and most were white and of European descent.

The researchers sorted over 20 years’ worth of participants’ dietary information into four categories of flavonoids intake and compared those with the lowest intake to those with the highest intake.

Those on the low end ate no berries, about 1.5 apples and no tea during the month. Those on the highest end ate about 7.5 cups of blueberries or strawberries, eight apples or pears and drank about 19 cups of tea (green or black) a month.

Those who consumed the lowest amounts of apples, pears and tea had a two times higher risk of developing Alzheimer's dementia or dementia.

Those who consumed the lowest levels of blueberries, strawberries and red wine had a fourfold risk of developing Alzheimer's or other dementias.

Many other factors such as genetics and environment may cause Alzheimer's disease, says Dr Jacques, but previous research has strongly suggested that diet is a leading factor. This study adds to that evidence.

"This study also seems to tell us that the risk of dementia varies with people's dietary intake," he said.

Heather Snyder from the Alzheimer's Association agreed.

"Alzheimer's disease is complex. Brains are complex. Looking across the life course, genetics, nutrition, education and other factors are all part of a puzzle. This study is another piece in that puzzle," she said.

Regardless of any vagaries, both experts agree that it’s better to have a healthy diet throughout your life and that brain-health benefits are likely with a healthier diet no matter what your age.

Where on the scale would you be? Are you eating enough berries and fruits, and drinking enough tea and red wine?

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    COMMENTS

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    aocal
    14th May 2020
    6:21pm
    My mother always ate lots of fruit, walked daily, drank tea and red wine, was never overweight, did crosswords daily, played scrabble and still got dementia in her early 80's and died at 88. She did all the recommended things to prevent dementia, (as she worried about it because her father had i)t, but it still got her! And probably me!!!
    Incognito
    14th May 2020
    6:43pm
    Because she still drank alcohol which is poison. Another cause can be from too much animal proteins.
    Incognito
    14th May 2020
    6:42pm
    Why do they always push alcohol?, one of the worst things you can have, it is poison, there are no nutritional benefits that you can get that you can't get from a bunch of fresh grapes.
    BillW41
    14th May 2020
    7:34pm
    At 79, I have berries on my breakfast muesli, an apple, two cups of tea and one or maybe two glasses of red per day. Oh ye sceptics, red wine does contain beneficial ingredients.
    Ravishing
    19th May 2020
    12:03pm
    Sounds like a good diet to me!
    Hairy
    14th May 2020
    8:25pm
    My next door neighbour is 73 a lady has never married is a virgin does not drink or smoke eats vegetables and fruit daily along all different herbal teas like ginger turmeric etc etc also pastas rice chicken and pork ,yes she has dementia?,eat and drink and enjoy you still going to die,
    Grey
    16th May 2020
    7:39pm
    Sadly that is true. Countless friends and relatives did the right things. I drink a lot, eat not too heavily, never exercise (too lazy), was never religious and at 77 outlived those who did the right things.
    My boarding school friends told me i will get Parkinsons. I am the only one of the 20 odd in 6th form who is still living. I guess luck counts.
    BTW I was a initially a demography statistician later working in heavy stressed jobs.
    Joyful56
    17th May 2020
    2:18pm
    My husband eats kilos of fruit and drinks tea (herbals) and has Alzheimer's so I'm willing to call BS on this. I know of several other people who lead active (mentally and physically) lives and also follow the above dietary guidelines who also have it - so I'm of the opinion that should you be predisposed to getting it then you will. This doesn't say that we shouldn't eat well and look after ourselves, but as for preventing Alzheirmer's then I think not - just my opinion.
    Joyful56
    17th May 2020
    2:18pm
    My husband eats kilos of fruit and drinks tea (herbals) and has Alzheimer's so I'm willing to call BS on this. I know of several other people who lead active (mentally and physically) lives and also follow the above dietary guidelines who also have it - so I'm of the opinion that should you be predisposed to getting it then you will. This doesn't say that we shouldn't eat well and look after ourselves, but as for preventing Alzheirmer's then I think not - just my opinion.
    Incognito
    17th May 2020
    2:26pm
    It may have been caused by many other things, chemicals, alcohol, or too much animal protein, hard to pinpoint the causes but fruit helps to keep up your nutrients and could prevent it being worse.


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