Eating a half cup of blueberries every day in your late 50s can stave off dementia later in life, study finds
- Eating just a half-cup of blueberries every day in a person’s 50s can help them avoid devastating cognitive decline later in life, a new study finds
- Researchers found that people in their 50s who are the blueberries tested better on cognitive tests, and even had healthier blood sugar levels
- Researchers suggested this may be because blueberries contain anthocyanins, though they could not nail down a mechanism
- More than six million Americans suffer from dementia, a report from the Alzheimer’s association suggests
Eating just half a cup of blueberries a day in your late 50s could help stave off dementia, a new study finds.
Researchers at the University of Cincinnati tracked 13 obese adults with mild memory decline who ate the berries for three months, and found a significant improvement in their memory compared to others who had no fruits.
The team suggested berries may have a protective effect because they contain anthocyanins, a type of flavonoid which can reduce inflammation.
But they admitted it was difficult to determine whether the blueberries had triggered the improvement because the study was observational — meaning it could not tell if the result was due to other factors — and had a small sample size.
Eating half a cup of blueberries a day could help to stave off dementia, scientists say (stock)
WHAT IS DEMENTIA?
Dementia is an umbrella term used to describe a range of progressive neurological disorders, that is, conditions affecting the brain.
There are many different types of dementia, of which Alzheimer’s disease is the most common.
Some people may have a combination of types of dementia.
Regardless of which type is diagnosed, each person will experience their dementia in their own unique way.
Dementia is a global concern but it is most often seen in wealthier countries, where people are likely to live into very old age.
HOW MANY PEOPLE ARE AFFECTED?
The Alzheimer’s Society reports there are more than 850,000 people living with dementia in the UK today, of which more than 500,000 have Alzheimer’s.
It is estimated that the number of people living with dementia in the UK by 2025 will rise to over 1 million.
In the US, it’s estimated there are 5.5 million Alzheimer’s sufferers. A similar percentage rise is expected in the coming years.
As a person’s age increases, so does the risk of them developing dementia.
Rates of diagnosis are improving but many people with dementia are thought to still be undiagnosed.
IS THERE A CURE?
Currently there is no cure for dementia.
But new drugs can slow down its progression and the earlier it is spotted the more effective treatments are.
Source: Dementia UK
In the study — published in the journal Nutrients — scientists recruited 33 adults in their late 50s from around the Cincinnati area who had gained weight in their middle age.
Participants in both groups weighed about 205 lbs on average, and had a waist circumference of about 107 centimeters.
Their BMI scores were 33, classing them as obese.
All of them were pre-diabetic, when the body starts to become resistant to insulin.
This is a step closer to type 2 diabetes — a key risk factor for dementia.
In the trial, the adults were told to stop consuming all berries and fruits.
Half were then given a ‘blueberry’ sachet to mix with water every day, containing the equivalent of half a cup of the fruits.
The rest received a placebo sachet, which contained an inert powder.
The trial was double-blind, meaning participants and researchers did not know who was receiving the ‘blueberry’ or placebo sachets.
Before the experiment began tests were performed to measure participant’s memory.
These were repeated again after 12 weeks of eating the blueberries or the placebo.
Dr Robert Krikorian, the psychologist who led the study, and others said in the paper: ‘The cognitive findings indicated improved executive ability in this middle-aged sample [who had blueberries].
‘The demonstration of these benefits in middle-aged individuals with insulin resistance and [subjective cognitive decline] suggests that ongoing blueberry supplementation may contribute to protection against cognitive decline when implemented early in at-risk individuals.’
They added: ‘In summary, this study demonstrated that blueberry supplementation has neurocognitive benefit in middle-aged individuals with insulin resistance and elevated risk for future dementia.’
More than 6 million Americans are thought to have dementia, the Alzheimer’s Association reports.
By 2050 this is projected to rise to nearly 13million as the older population grows — or one in 25 people.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says early symptoms of the condition include memory loss, difficulty maintaining attention and communicating with others.
This may include getting lost in a familiar neighborhood, using unusual words to refer to familiar objects and forgetting the names of family members.
Being older is the strongest risk factor for developing the condition — alongside a family history of it and being at higher risk of heart disease.
There is currently no cure for dementia, with treatments instead focusing on slowing the condition and limiting its symptoms.