(NaturalHealth365) Could something as simple and natural as pomegranates be effective in preventing dementia? Science is showing that a component found in this little red fruit – long prized for its nutritional profile and antioxidant properties – could reduce the risk of dementia.
Pomegranates contain an impressive array of fiber, vitamins, minerals and useful plant compounds. But pomegranates are also known to contain extremely powerful antioxidants, particularly in the juice and peel, known as punicalagins. Now, researchers believe these naturally occurring antioxidants inhibit a type of inflammation linked to dementia and related diseases.
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Pomegranates could be used to prevent dementia and Parkinson’s disease
Chronic inflammation is known to be a leading cause behind many deadly diseases, including not only Alzheimer’s disease, but also cancer, type 2 diabetes, heart disease and obesity. But the punicalagins found in pomegranates are now known to have potent anti-inflammatory features. Earlier lab tests have shown this component of pomegranates can reduce inflammation throughout the digest tract, as well as in breast cancer and colon cancer cells.
Researchers at England’s University of Huddersfield and Germany’s University of Freiburg discovered that punicalagins found in pomegranates can inhibit damaging neuroinflammation. Their findings were published in the journal Molecular Nutrition & Food Research.
This type of inflammation is typically caused by the brain’s microglia, the central nervous system immune cells associated with Alzheimer’s disease. Discovery of this link to Alzheimer’s disease could lead to treatment for other types of disease-causing inflammation as well, reducing the risk of such conditions as Parkinson’s disease.
Over the course of several experiments, they found that punicalagin significantly impacted the production of inflammatory compounds in rats exposed to inflammation-inducing agents. Researchers found that punicalagin works by interfering in multiple ways with a protein involved in inflammation.
In an earlier study of transgenic mice, scientists from Loma Linda University in California supplemented mice with pomegranate juice. They found that these mice were able to swim faster than controls and learn a water maze more quickly.
Nutritional preventive for inflammation-related diseases
The researchers believe the results suggest punicalagin inhibits neuroinflammation in a way that suggests it could have potential as a nutritional preventive for neurodegenerative disorders. The scientists plan to develop punicalagin derivatives that may later be used as oral compounds to prevent neuroinflammation.
Regular intake and consumption of pomegranate has long been known to have a lot of health benefits. Now, prevention of neuroinflammation related to dementia can be added to the list of advantages.
Dementia is taking devastating and costly toll on society
Today, there are more than 5 million Americans living with Alzheimer’s disease, with one out of every three seniors dying from some sort of dementia disorder, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. Alzheimer’s remains the sixth leading cause of death in the U.S.
But there is another side of the statistics on dementia that are less frequently told. This year alone, Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia will cost the nation a staggering $236 billion. Caregivers spend an average of $5,000 per year caring for someone with Alzheimer’s. And, these numbers are expected to rise rapidly as the aging baby boomer generation begins to reach age 65 and older, the age for greatest risk of Alzheimer’s.
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