A diet with compounds found in green tea and carrots reversed Alzheimer’s-like symptoms in new experiments, a new study suggests.
Researchers say that mice genetically programmed to develop the disease had memory and visual-spatial skills restored and could find their way out of a maze just as well as healthy mice.
The team, from the University of Southern California, note that it’s possible the discoveries made in the rodents may not be able to be replicated in humans.
However, they add that the findings could lead to plant-based supplements being used in combination with drugs to prevent or slow down dementia symptoms.
An estimated 5.7 million Americans of all ages are living with Alzheimer’s disease in 2019.
However, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that number will rise to around 14 million over the next four decades.
Sufferers experience a decline in cognitive, behavioral and physical abilities – and there is no cure.
For the study, published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry, the team studied two compounds, the first being EGCG, which is found in high quantities in green tea.
EGCG is an antioxidant that prevents free radicals from forming in the body, thereby protecting against cell and molecule damage.
Previous studies have shown that EGCG protects newly-developed neurons, which helps with cognition and alertness.
The second compound, ferulic acid (FA), is found in foods such as carrots, oats and tomatoes.
FA is an antioxidant that is best-known for its benefits when it comes to skin, such as treating sun damage, fine lines and wrinkles.
The team split the mice with Alzheimer’s into four groups and added the same number of healthy mice to each group.
They were given one of four diets: both EGCG and FA, just EGCG, just FA, or a placebo.
The mice underwent several neuropsychological tests – which measures areas such as problem solving, memory, and visual-spatial skills – both before and after the diet.
The researchers noted one test, which is maze in the shape of a Y and tests if the mice can find their way out it.
Following the three months, the mice who were on the combination diet performed just as well as the healthy mice did.
Senior author Dr Terrence Town, a professor of physiology and neuroscience at USC’s Keck School of Medicine, says it appears that EGCC and FA prevent amyloid beta proteins from entering the brain and smothering neurons, which leads to loss of memory and confusion.
The antioxidants also seemed to reduce inflammation and oxidative stress in the brain, risk factors associated with Alzheimer’s disease.
‘You don’t have to wait 10 to 12 years for a designer drug to make it to market. You can make these dietary changes today,’ said Dr Town. ‘I find that very encouraging.’
SOURCE: Daily Mail, Mary Kekatos