High Fruit & Vegetable Intake Positively Correlated with Antioxidant Status and Cognitive Performance
Researchers have investigated the relationship between fruit and vegetable intake, plasma antioxidant micronutrient status and cognitive performance in healthy subjects aged 45 to 102 years.
The study results, published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, indicate higher cognitive performance in individuals with high daily intake of fruits and vegetables. Mild cognitive impairment is thought to be a precursor to Alzheimer’s disease.
193 healthy community dwellers underwent cognitive testing and blood withdrawal for the measurement of antioxidant micronutrients and biomarkers of oxidative stress as well as administration of a food frequency questionnaire to assess the daily intake of fruits and vegetables.
94 subjects who consume about 400 g of fruits and vegetables daily had significantly higher cognitive test scores, higher levels of carotenoids, α- and γ-tocopherol as well as lower levels of F2α isoprostanes than the 99 subjects consuming low amounts (less than 100 g/day) of fruits and vegetables.
Fruit and Vegetable Intake Improves Cognition
Cognitive scores were directly correlated with blood levels of α-tocopherol and lycopene and negatively correlated with F2α isoprostanes and protein carbonyls.
The results were independent of age, gender, body mass index, education, total cholesterol, LDL- and HDL-cholesterol, triglycerides, and albumin.
Modification of Nutritional Habits Lowers Prevalence of Cognitive Impairment in Later Life.
Lead researcher Dr. M. Cristina Polidori explains:
“It is known that there is a strong association between fruit and vegetable intake and the natural antioxidant defenses of the body against free radicals. It is also known that bad nutritional habits increase the risk of developing cognitive impairment with and without dementia. With this work we show a multiple link between fruit and vegetable intake, antioxidant defenses and cognitive performance, in the absence of disease and independent of age.
Among other lifestyle habits, it is recommended to improve nutrition in general and fruit and vegetable intake in particular at any age, beginning as early as possible. This may increase our chances to remain free of dementia in advanced age.”
Polidori MC, Praticó D, Mangialasche F, Mariani E, Aust O, Anlasik T, Mang N, Pientka L, Stahl W, Sies H, Mecocci P, Nelles G. High Fruit and Vegetable Intake is Positively Correlated with Antioxidant Status and Cognitive Performance in Healthy Subjects. Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease 2009;17(4):921-7.
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Other Lifestyle Habits to Prevent Alzheimer’s
KC Khoo forwarded us these 10 strategies which he found in Jean Carper’s latest book
“100 Simple Things You Can Do to Prevent Alzheimer’s and Age-Related Memory Loss”
Have coffee. In an amazing flip-flop, coffee is the new brain tonic. A large European study showed that drinking three to five cups of coffee a day in midlife cut Alzheimer's risk 65% in late life. University of South Florida researcher Gary Arendash credits caffeine: He says it reduces dementia-causing amyloid in animal brains. Others credit coffee's antioxidants. So drink up, Arendash advises, unless your doctor says you shouldn't.
Floss. Oddly, the health of your teeth and gums can help predict dementia. University of Southern California research found that having periodontal disease before age 35 quadrupled the odds of dementia years later. Older people with tooth and gum disease score lower on memory and cognition tests, other studies show. Experts speculate that inflammation in diseased mouths migrates to the brain.
Google. Doing an online search can stimulate your aging brain even more than reading a book, says UCLA's Gary Small, who used brain MRIs to prove it. The biggest surprise: Novice Internet surfers, ages 55 to 78, activated key memory and learning centers in the brain after only a week of Web surfing for an hour a day.
Grow new brain cells. Impossible, scientists used to say. Now it's believed that thousands of brain cells are born daily. The trick is to keep the newborns alive. What works: aerobic exercise (such as a brisk 30-minute walk every day), strenuous mental activity, eating salmon and other fatty fish, and avoiding obesity, chronic stress, sleep deprivation, heavy drinking and vitamin B deficiency.
Drink apple juice. Apple juice can push production of the “memory chemical” acetylcholine; that's the way the popular Alzheimer's drug Aricept works, says Thomas Shea, Ph.D., of the University of Massachusetts. He was surprised that old mice given apple juice did better on learning and memory tests than mice that received water. A dose for humans: 16 ounces, or two to three apples a day.
Protect your head. Blows to the head, even mild ones early in life, increase odds of dementia years later. Pro football players have 19 times the typical rate of memory-related diseases. Alzheimer's is four times more common in elderly who suffer a head injury, Columbia University finds. Accidental falls doubled an older person's odds of dementia five years later in another study. Wear seat belts and helmets, fall-proof your house, and don't take risks.
Meditate. Brain scans show that people who meditate regularly have less cognitive decline and brain shrinkage — a classic sign of Alzheimer's — as they age. Andrew Newberg of the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine says yoga meditation of 12 minutes a day for two months improved blood flow and cognitive functioning in seniors with memory problems.
Take D. A “severe deficiency” of vitamin D boosts older Americans' risk of cognitive impairment 394%, an alarming study by England's University of Exeter finds. And most Americans lack vitamin D. Experts recommend a daily dose of 800 IU to 2,000 IU of vitamin D3.
Fill your brain. It's called “cognitive reserve.” A rich accumulation of life experiences — education, marriage, socializing, a stimulating job, language skills, having a purpose in life, physical activity and mentally demanding leisure activities — makes your brain better able to tolerate plaques and tangles. You can even have significant Alzheimer's pathology and no symptoms of dementia if you have high cognitive reserve, says David Bennett, M.D., of Chicago's Rush University Medical Center.
Avoid infection. Astonishing new evidence ties Alzheimer's to cold sores, gastric ulcers, Lyme disease, pneumonia and the flu. Ruth Itzhaki, Ph.D., of the University of Manchester in England estimates the cold-sore herpes simplex virus is incriminated in 60% of Alzheimer's cases. The theory: Infections trigger excessive beta amyloid “gunk” that kills brain cells. Proof is still lacking, but why not avoid common infections and take appropriate vaccines, antibiotics and antiviral agents?
Jean Carper is a New York Times best-selling author, contributing editor to USA Weekend Magazine (700 newspapers nationwide and 50 million readers) and a leading authority on health and nutrition. She is the author of 24 books, including “Your Miracle Brain, Miracle Cures, Stop Aging Now!, Food-Your Miracle Medicine, The Food Pharmacy, Jean Carper’s Complete Healthy Cookbook”—and now, her latest–“100 Simple Things You Can Do to Prevent Alzheimer’s and Age-Related Memory Loss,” which she wrote after discovering that she carries the major gene for Alzheimer’s.