Study Says Cutting Calories May Lower Risk for Alzheimer’s Disease – Apples May also Reduce Risk

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A new study says that by cutting calories you may be able to reduce your risk for Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Researchers took laboratory mice that were destined to develop the brain wasting disease and controlled their diets.

The researcher found that the mice that were fed 30 percent fewer calories had a dramatic improvement in brain function. The scientists hope to come up with a pill that would imitate calorie reduction.

In related news, the South African website, Health 24, reports that two apples a day, or a glass of apple juice, could also reduce the risk for Alzheimer’s. There is a chemical in apples that boosts the levels of a neurotransmitter.

Professor Thomas Shea says “We anticipate that the day may come when foods like apples, apple juice and other apple products are recommended along with the most popular Alzheimer’s medications.” Shea is professor at the University of Massachusetts Lowell (UML).

This research was done with mice too. The researchers fed apple juice to mice that were prone to the disease. The benefits may not come from the antioxidants in the apples exclusively. They believe the apples (or juice) increase the production of the essential neurotransmitter acetylcholine in the brain, resulting in improved memory. Neurotransmitters such as acetylcholine are chemicals released from nerve cells that transmit messages to other nerve cells.

Levels of acetylcholine decrease naturally as we age. The drop is more pronounced in patients with Alzheimer’s disease. This role of acetylcholine in the brain forms the basis of many medications for Alzheimer’s that seek to increase brain levels of the neurotransmitter to retard mental decline in Alzheimer's patients.

This study appears in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease, Dec. 2005, Vol. 8, pp. 283-287.

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