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Juice helps Alzheimer's disease

31st August 2006

04092006_fruit_juice1.jpgPeople who drank three or more servings of fruit and vegetable juices per week had a 76 percent lower risk of developing Alzheimer's disease than those who drank juice less than once per week say researchers in a large epidemiological study in the American Journal of Medicine.

For the study, the Kame Project, the researchers identified 1,836 dementia-free subjects in the Seattle population.  They collected information on their dietary consumption of fruit and vegetable juices and assessed the subjects' cognitive function every two years for up to 10 years.

After controlling for possible confounding factors the researchers found that those who reported drinking juices three or more times per week were 76 percent less likely to develop signs of Alzheimer's disease than those who drank less than one serving per week.

The benefit appeared particularly marked in people who carry the apolipoprotein E -4 allele, a genetic marker linked to late-onset Alzheimer's disease, the most common form of the disease, which typically occurs after the age of 65.

Originally, researchers suspected that high intakes of antioxidant vitamins (vitamins C, E and -carotene) might provide some protection against Alzheimer's disease, but this has not been supported by recent clinical studies.

Lead researcher, Qi Dai, thought another class of antioxidant chemicals, known as polyphenols, could play a role. These are non-vitamin antioxidants common in the diet and particularly abundant in teas, juices and wines, existing primarily in the skins and peels of fruits and vegetables. Recent studies have shown that polyphenols extend maximum lifespan by 59 percent and delay age-dependent decay of cognitive performance in animal models.

Dai said the next step is to test the subjects' blood samples to see if elevated levels of polyphenols are related to the reduced risk of cognitive decline and Alzheimer's disease. This would provide further evidence of the role of juice polyphenols in Alzheimer's disease risk and may also point to the types of juice that would be most beneficial.

However he cautioned that more study was needed.

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