Dementia is an umbrella term for a cluster of symptoms associated with brain damage that mainly affects people over the age of 65, although it is not a natural part of ageing.
The condition disrupts the brain’s cognitive functions, causing symptoms such as memory loss and a decline in mental sharpness.
There’s no certain way to prevent dementia but groundbreaking research is shedding a light on lifestyle interventions that may reduce your risk.
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Blueberries are rich in flavonoids, a plant compound possessing antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
Antioxidants are substances that thought to counter “oxidative stress”, a chemical imbalance in the body that is believed to play a role in the development of Alzheimer’s disease.
Alzheimer’s disease is a neurological brain condition that is the most common form of dementia.
To gather the findings, 26 healthy adults were divided into two groups: Twelve were given concentrated blueberry juice – providing the equivalent of 230g of blueberries – once a day, while 14 received a placebo.
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Before and after the 12-week period, participants took a range of cognitive tests while an MRI scanner monitored their brain function and resting brain blood flow was measured.
Compared to the placebo group, those who took the blueberry supplement showed significant increases in brain activity in brain areas related to the tests.
Commenting on the findings, Dr Joanna Bowtell, head of Sport and Health Sciences at the University of Exeter, said: “Our cognitive function tends to decline as we get older, but previous research has shown that cognitive function is better preserved in healthy older adults with a diet rich in plant-based foods.
“In this study we have shown that with just 12 weeks of consuming 30ml of concentrated blueberry juice every day, brain blood flow, brain activation and some aspects of working memory were improved in this group of healthy older adults.” Dementia: Scale of Britain’s health crisis revealed in damning report
Dementia: Study found that aerobic exercise may help to preserve memory The study was a small proof-of-concept trial of people ages 55 and older with mild cognitive impairment (MCI).
Mild cognitive impairment (MCI) is the stage between the expected cognitive decline of normal ageing and the more serious decline of dementia.
Although both groups preserved their cognitive abilities for memory and problem solving, brain imaging showed people from the exercise group with amyloid buildup lost slightly less volume in the hippocampus — a brain region that deteriorates as dementia progresses.
Amyloid is a naturally occurring protein that clumps together to form plaques that collect between neurons and disrupt cell function in a brain damaged by Alzheimer’s.