(ORDO NEWS) — A new study has shown that regular consumption of blueberries has a positive effect on the cognitive functions of older people who have metabolic disorders and are at risk of developing dementia, that is, senile dementia.
According to epidemiological forecasts , a kind of epidemic of neurodegenerative disorders awaits humanity in the coming decades.
These diseases lead to a slow and increasing death of nerve cells, which, as a rule, is manifested by dementia (senile dementia), impaired memory, movement, and so on. Alzheimer’s disease is considered the most common neurodegeneration : it accounts for 80% of all cases of such diseases.
However, despite huge efforts, there are still no cures for neurodegenerative disorders. All this determines the active search for new pharmacological preparations and biologically active substances that can affect the destruction of the brain.
A new paper has been published in the journal Nutrients in which American researchers evaluated the effectiveness of blueberries in slowing down cognitive impairment in an at-risk group of overweight older people.
Blueberries and related blueberries, lingonberries, and other brightly colored berries contain many pigments. Blueberries are especially rich in so-called anthocyanins and proanthocyanidins.
These are natural compounds that have antioxidant properties and have a number of positive health effects. When consumed regularly, berries improve metabolism, suppress inflammation and oxidative stress, and promote vascular and nervous system health.
Unlike yellow or red carotenoids, anthocyanins give fruits their blue or purple hues. Proanthocyanidins protect plants, in particular, from damage by free radicals and reactive oxygen species, as well as from infections.
In humans, consumption of proanthocyanidins reduces the risk of cancer, cardiovascular disease, metabolic disorders, and neurodegenerative diseases.
It is also noteworthy that proanthocyanidins lower blood sugar levels by affecting the operation of the glucose transporter, suppressing gluconeogenesis (the release of glucose from non-carbohydrate compounds), and other mechanisms.
“Bilberries have previously been shown to have a positive effect on the cognitive functions of people of mature age, and it can be effective in those young people who are also insulin resistant,” said Professor Robert Krikorian from the University of Cincinnati (USA).
He emphasizes that the first symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease are usually preceded by many years of its imperceptible development – it is during this period that various preventive measures are relevant.
The study involved 33 subjects aged 50-65 who are overweight and live in and around Cincinnati. All of them noted subjective deterioration of their memory. For 12 weeks, these people did not eat any berries and took a package of crushed powder, which was dissolved in water, daily at breakfast or lunch.
Half of the subjects received in this form the amount of anthocyanins contained in half a cup of blueberries, the other half received a placebo. Next, everyone was tested, which assessed those cognitive functions that are impaired in dementia: memory, intellectual flexibility and self-control.
As a result, people who received the blueberry preparation showed cognitive improvements: they were more successful in solving tasks that required executive control, that is, prompt response and adaptation.
In addition, the level of insulin in their blood taken on an empty stomach decreased. This means both a certain improvement in metabolism and the ability to burn fat stores faster.
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