Eating foods rich in flavonoids can reduce memory loss

Eating foods rich in flavonoids can reduce memory loss

As we age, we suffer from memory loss as the passing years also affect cognitive function. Our lifestyle can positively or negatively affect the health of the body and brain, and a large study has shown for the first time that low flavanol diet, species flavonoids (natural antioxidant substances contained in certain fruits and vegetables, tea, apples, cocoa or berries) contributes to memory loss.

The research, conducted by researchers at Columbia University Irving Medical Center and Brigham and Women’s Hospital/Harvard, also found that flavonoid intake in adults over 60 who were mildly deficient in these nutrients improved their performance on tests designed to detect memory loss related to by age.

“The improvement among study participants on a low-flavonoid diet was substantial and raises the possibility of use diets rich in flavonoids or dietary supplements for improve cognitive function in older adults,” he stated Adam M. Brickmanprofessor of neuropsychology at Columbia University’s Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons and co-director of the study.

“As we live longer, research is beginning to reveal that different nutrients are needed to strengthen our aging minds.”

The results of the work were published in American Journal of Clinical Nutrition and to support the idea that the aging brain needs specific nutrients to maintain good health, just as the developing brain of a baby or child needs certain nutrients to do so.

“The identification of nutrients critical to the proper development of the infant’s nervous system was the crowning achievement of nutritional science in the 20th century,” said Scott A. Small, MD, lead author of the study and the Boris and Rose Katz Professor of Neurology at Columbia University. Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons and adds, “In this century, as we live longer, research is beginning to reveal that different nutrients are needed to strengthen our aging minds. Our study, which is based on biomarkers of flavonoid consumptionit can be used as a model for other researchers to identify other required nutrients.

Changes in the hippocampus associated with memory loss

The new research builds on studies that were carried out in the laboratory of Dr. Small for more than 15 years and link age-related memory loss to changes in dentate gyrusan area in the brain’s hippocampus – a key area for storing new memories – and shows that flavanols improve function in this area of ​​the brain.

During tests on mice, scientists found that flavanols, especially the bioactive substance so-called epicatechinimprove memory increase the growth of neurons and blood vessels in the hippocampus. Small’s team then tested the flavanol supplements on humans.

They selected 3,562 healthy older adults who were divided into groups to receive the sa pill flavanol supplement (with cocoa extract) or a placebo pill every day for three years. The active supplement contained 500 mg of cocoa-derived flavanols, including 80 mg of epicatechins, which is the recommended daily allowance for adults to obtain from food.

At the beginning of the study, all participants answered a questionnaire assessing the quality of their diet, including foods high in flavanols. They then completed a series of activities in their own homes, designed and validated by Brickman, to assess the types of short-term memory controlled by the hippocampus. The tests were repeated after years one, two and three.

Urine samples were also collected from more than a third of the participants, allowing the researchers to measure a biomarker for dietary flavonoid levels before and during the study and giving them a more accurate way to determine whether flavonoid levels correlate with performance. on cognitive tests.

Memory scores improved slightly in all those taking a daily flavonoid supplement, most of whom were already eating a healthy diet high in flavonols. But after one year of taking the flavanol supplement, the memory scores of participants with poorer diets and lower baseline levels of flavanols increased by an average of 10.5% compared to those in the placebo group and 16% compared to their memory at baseline. . Annual cognitive tests showed that the improvement observed after one year persisted for at least two more years.

According to the researchers, the results support that flavanol deficiency is a driver of age-related memory loss, as flavanol intake was correlated with memory scores and flavanol supplementation improved memory in flavanol-deficient adults. “Age-related memory decline is thought to occur sooner or later in almost everyone, although there is great variability,” says Small. “If some of this variation is partially due to differences in dietary intake of flavanols, then we would see even more dramatic improvements in memory in people who supplement with flavanols in their 40s and 50s.”

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