It has been more than proven that our diet directly affects our risk of developing diseases such as obesity or diabetes, but there is growing evidence that brain health can also be affected by poor dietary choices or a lack of certain essential nutrients. New research has shown that in People with Alzheimer’s disease have half the levels of lutein, zeaxanthin, lycopene, and vitamin E in their brains as they do in a healthy brain.. Higher levels of lutein and zeaxanthin in the diet are associated with improved cognitive performance and a reduced risk of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.
The study was conducted by scientists from the Virginia College of Technology, Carillion Medical School. “This study demonstrates for the first time Deficiency of Important Dietary Antioxidants in Alzheimer’s Disease. These results are consistent with large population-based studies that showed that the risk of Alzheimer’s disease was significantly lower in those who ate a diet rich in carotenoids, or had high blood levels of lutein and zeaxanthin, or accumulated in the retina as macular tissue pigment. , said K. Kathleen Dory, professor in the department of fundamental education at the medical school. diets rich in carotenoids will help keep the brain in optimal condition at any age..
Because normal brain function and response to misfolded proteins constantly generate reactive oxidant molecules, the brain is vulnerable to cumulative oxidative damage, which can be prevented by the use of antioxidants in a healthy diet. Carotenoids are powerful antioxidants commonly found in colorful plants. Lutein is especially abundant in kale and spinach, while zeaxanthin is highest in corn and orange bell peppers.
“The risk of Alzheimer’s disease was significantly lower in those who ate a diet rich in carotenoids or had high blood levels of lutein and zeaxanthin.”
Dory and Neil E. Craft of Craft Technologies in Wilson, North Carolina first reported in 2004 that the brain selectively stores carotenoids such as lutein, zeaxanthin, and beta-cryptoxanthin. Since then, researchers around the world have shown that people with higher levels of lutein and zeaxanthin in their macular pigment have a better cognitive process, while those with higher levels of lutein and zeaxanthin in their diet or accumulate in their macular pigment have less the risk of dementia.
The Rush University Aging and Memory Project followed the diet and cognition of more than 1,000 participants living in Chicago for more than a decade, assessing their carotenoid intake, and found that those who followed reasonable diet – which combines characteristics of the Mediterranean diet and the DASH diet to combat hypertension – and consumes more antioxidant-rich fruits, nuts, vegetables and fish, as well as lower levels of meat and sweets, reduced the risk of being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, had higher cognitive ability before death, and had fewer brain pathologies associated with Alzheimer’s disease. In addition, those who consumed the most carotenoids or lutein/zeaxanthin over ten years had a 50% lower risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
Dietary Antioxidant Deficiency in the Alzheimer’s Brain
In a study of carotenoids in brains with and without Alzheimer’s brain pathology, Dory-Craft’s team showed that brains with Alzheimer’s neuropathology had significantly lower levels of lutein, zeaxanthin, lycopene, and tocopherols. The concentrations of lycopene, zeaxanthin and retinol were half that in brains of the same age without the pathology of Alzheimer’s disease.
This new evidence for a selective deficiency of carotenoids and tocopherols in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s disease further supports the growing body of evidence that increased intake of carotenoids in the diet can delay cognitive decline before and possibly after a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease.
Research has also shown that the retina selectively accumulates lutein and zeaxanthin from food, producing a visible yellow macular pigment that improves vision and protects photoreceptors. By non-invasively measuring the optical density of patients’ macular pigment, researchers can assess the concentration of lutein and zeaxanthin in the brain. The results were published in Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.
“Recent advances in new treatments for Alzheimer’s disease hold promise as an effective way to slow the progression of the disease,” Dory said. “I would like our data to motivate people to keep their brains in top condition with colorful diet rich in carotenoids and regular exercise. Available research suggests that it may also reduce the risk of dementia.”