Ingredients in two popular drinks may fight the onset of Alzheimer’s disease, according to a new study
It is known that one of the hallmarks of the disease of Alzheimers – which affects 600,000 people in Italy alone – are the harmful plaques that accumulate in the brain. But according to a group of scientists from Tuft University in Massachusetts (USA) they do exist two natural compounds that can contribute to their reduction, protecting the brain from disease. And the good news is that these are the ingredients of two very popular drinks…
Two drinks against Alzheimer’s
The Tufts University team has indeed discovered that the catechins of green tea and resveratrol, which is found in red wine, they inhibit the growth of amyloid plaques: a protein that, when it clumps in the brain, destroys neural cells and causes the telltale signs of Alzheimer’s, such as memory loss and confusion, to develop. Previously, the same team had discovered that the herpes virus also plays a role in the formation of these plaques in the brain. So, in the new study, using a 3D model of living human brain cells, the scientists tested 21 different compounds that had the potential to slow the progression of Alzheimer’s. “Finding a compound that can reduce plaques regardless of the herpes virus component is important, because it would demonstrate that regardless of the cause of Alzheimer’s, improvement can still be achieved,” says Professor Dana Cairns, co-author of the study. study published in the journal Free Radical Biology and Medicine.
Alzheimer’s: What Makes Green Tea and Red Wine Special?
The initial screening found 5 compounds that appeared to have the ability to prevent these plaques from forming. Besides the compounds in green tea and resveratrol, the other three are the curcumin in turmeric, the diabetes drug metformin, and a compound called citicoline. All 5 prevented plaque formation and did not produce the side effects of antivirals. But tea compounds and resveratrol have proven to be the most effective.
Lhe catechins are molecules present in green tea leaves and which have antioxidant properties. Previous scientific work has shown that they are also potential treatments for cancer. The resveratrol, which is abundant in red wine and some fruits such as grapes, blueberries and cranberries, peanuts, pistachios and cocoa, it is instead known for its anti-aging properties. The authors of the study are convinced that both may also play a role against Alzheimer’s disease.
The next steps
But before singing victory, further studies are needed to see if this good result obtained in the laboratory also proves to be good in patients. The next step will be to look at the bio-availability of resveratrol and catechins (i.e. how well they are absorbed by the body or bloodstream). Furthermore, there is still some doubt as to whether they can cross the blood-brain barrier unscathed, an essential condition for the treatment of Alzheimer’s.
Introducing green tea and foods that contain resveratrol into your diet could be a good idea in any case, according to the researchers. Provided you get the OK from your doctor: “Although it’s helpful to be able to take steps like these to potentially prevent neuro-degeneration, it’s always a good idea to check with your doctor before making any major dietary changes,” suggests Professor Cairns.
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