Alzheimer’s disease is a major cause of dementia. While the condition is primarily linked to aging, the precise trigger is still unclear.
A new study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition shows that low consumption of flavonoid-rich foods like tea, apples, or berries might increase the risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s.
Scientists from Tufts University in Massachusetts examined the consumption of 6 different forms of flavonoid among more than 2,800 participants. The study lasted nearly 20 years.
Dietary questionnaires were used to measure the intake of flavonoids. All participants had to fill them out approximately every four years.
In addition, researchers kept track of their overall health, including rates of dementia and Alzheimer’s.
The study suggested an overview of how the diet would be associated with cognitive decline over time.
Of the 2,800 participants, 158 people developed Alzheimer’s and 193 people developed related dementias during the period.
Based on the analysis of data, researchers have shown that those participants who took in high amounts of flavonoids were 2 to 4 times less likely to develop the condition.
Low consumption of anthocyanins like berries was linked to a fourfold higher risk of developing dementia, whereas a low consumption of flavonols like tea or apples was linked to twice the possibility.
“Low consumption” was equivalent to taking in no tea, only one apple, or no berries in 1 month. “High consumption” was equivalent to taking in nearly 20 cups of tea, 10 apples, or 8 cups of berries in the same period.
The finding can be very exciting because there is still no cure for this condition. Therefore, prevention is the key.
More importantly, making diet changes later in life can still be effective in preventing Alzheimer’s disease. Thus, scientists suggest that it is never too late to start making diet changes, even when you reach the 50s.
In fact, the risk of Alzheimer’s begins to increase after the age of 70.
It is not too hard to start these changes in the diet. All you need is to eat berries 2 or 3 times each week or drink a cup of tea per day.
However, the study only suggests an association rather than a proof that low consumption of flavonoids would lead to Alzheimer’s.
Also, researchers only measured flavonoid consumption via self-reported data, which would be erroneous.
Another limitation is that all participants in the study had European descent and were over 50 years old.