Video: Can blueberry juice reduce risk of dementia?
With older age come a greater number of health issues including dementia. There is no certain way to prevent dementia but scientists have been looking at the role that diet can play.
People who eat lots of fruits and vegetables over their lifetime are known to have a lower risk of dementia. Scientists have singled out one particular class of chemicals found in plant foods, called flavonoids, which may be the ‘active’ agent that could be protecting the brain from damage. A sub-class of flavonoids called anthocyanidins have been gaining attention because of their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Anthocyanidins are abundant in berries and contribute to the bright red, blue and purple colours in these foods.
A recent clinical trial looked at whether a concentrated quantity of anthocyanidins can give a boost in brain function. The study involved 26 healthy adults aged between 65 and 77. Half of the group were given concentrated blueberry juice to drink each day for 12 weeks. The juice was equivalent to eating 230 grams of whole blueberries. The other half drank a placebo that had the taste, but no anthocyanidins.
After 12 weeks, people drinking the blueberry supplement showed improvements in cognitive function, blood flow to the brain and activation of brain areas linked with cognitive function. There was also evidence suggesting an improvement in working memory too.
Despite being a small study, the results fit with the larger research narrative that flavonoids can have beneficial effects on the workings of the brain. Choosing a diet high in a variety of fruits and vegetables and including some delicious berries as well may go some way to reducing the risk of declining brain function in older age.
Last Reviewed: 23/06/2018
© Norman Swan Medical Communications.
Bowtell JL et al. Enhanced task related brain activation and resting perfusion in healthy older adults after chronic blueberry supplementation. Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism Epub online March 1, 2017. doi: 10.1139/apnm-2016-0550.
Dementia: what is it?
Dementia affects thinking, behaviour and the ability to perform everyday tasks. Find out the early signs of dementia and the importance of a timely diagnosis.
Dementia linked to overcooked food
Scientists have linked chemical byproducts from over-cooked food to the risk of age-related dementia.
Video: Exercise keeps dementia at bay for middle-aged women
Mid-life exercise is important for women who want to limit their risk of dementia when they’re older.
Vascular dementia describes problems with reasoning, planning, judgement, memory and other thinking skills that interfere with daily life.
Genetics of dementia
Familial Alzheimer's disease is one rare genetic form of dementia that is passed from generation to generation.