May Fruit and Vegetable Juice Ward off Alzheimer's?

May Fruit and Vegetable Juice Ward off Alzheimer's?

Alzheimer's disease (AD) is a neurodegenerative disease characterized by progressive cognitive deterioration together with declining activities of daily living and neuropsychiatric symptoms or behavioral changes. It is the most common cause of dementia.


The most striking early symptom is short term memory loss (amnesia), which usually manifests as minor forgetfulness that becomes steadily more pronounced with illness progression, with relative preservation of older memories.

As the disorder progresses, cognitive (intellectual) impairment extends to the domains of language (aphasia), skilled movements (apraxia), recognition (agnosia), and those functions (such as decision-making and planning) closely related to the frontal and temporal lobes of the brain as they become disconnected from the limbic system, reflecting extension of the underlying pathological process.

A new study suggested that drinking fruit and vegetable juices frequently could help stave of Alzheimer's disease in individuals at risk for developing the disease, research suggests.

There is evidence from both lab and animal studies that high levels of reactive oxygen species (ROS) -- harmful byproducts of normal metabolism -- may be involved in the development of Alzheimer's disease.

While vitamins and polyphenols contained in plant foods exert antioxidant effects and thus blunt the action of ROS, certain ways of preparing these foods can deplete their nutrient content. Juicing, however, can preserve much of the antioxidant content of fruits and vegetables.

In their study, Dr. Qui Dai of the Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee and colleagues looked for links between fruit and vegetable juice consumption and Alzheimer's risk. They analyzed juice consumption in 1,836 Japanese-Americans living in Washington State who had no dementia when the study began, in 1992-1994, and were followed until 2001.

They found that people who drank juices at least three times a week had one-quarter the risk of developing dementia compared to those who consumed juice less than once a week. The effect was stronger in people carrying an Alzheimer's-associated gene variant and in those who were not physically active.

The effects of antioxidant vitamins alone aren't enough to explain the findings, Dai and colleagues note, and further research is needed to determine whether polyphenols might also have protective effects.

Alzheimer's disease is the most frequent type of dementia in the elderly and affects almost half of all patients with dementia. Correspondingly, advancing age is the primary risk factor for Alzheimer's. Among people aged 65, 2-3% show signs of the disease, while 25 - 50% of people aged 85 have symptoms of Alzheimer's and an even greater number have some of the pathological hallmarks of the disease without the characteristic symptoms.

Every five years after the age of 65, the probability of having the disease doubles. The proportion of people with Alzheimer's begins to decrease after age 85 because of the increased mortality due to the disease, and relatively few people over the age of 100 have the disease.

More study is also needed to determine which fruit and vegetable juices are most beneficial and how long they must be consumed, they add.

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