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Why don't we start a fifth food ...

Posted Mar 03 2009 4:03pm

Why don't we start a fifth food group to keep track of all the foods we are being told are good for preventing dementia or halting Alzheimer's Disease?  Instead of calling it something ucky like the "fats" group we can call it the "dementia-stopping food group" and add it to the food pyramid.

Literally every day we are seeing new reports saying that everything from red wine to green tea will be offering us protection from certain dementia-related factors such as damaging proteins or helping our cells "talk" better to one another.  All this research is terrific except we are all dizzy trying to figure out what we are supposed to eat and not eat.

In the last 2 weeks, I saw all these foods mentioned in the news as being "Alzheimer-friendly" foods:  apple juice, red wine, blackcurrants, green tea and turmeric spices.  Research at the University of Massachusetts at Lowell made headlines when they said that drinking apple juice may actually increase production of acetylcholine in the brain and improve memory.  Dr. Thomas Shea, the lead researcher in that study is quoted as saying, "We anticipate the day when foods like apples, apple juice and apple products are recommended along with the most popular Alzheimer's medications".  This study was published in the August issue of the International Journal of Alzheimer's Disease.

Dr. Pasinetti led Mount Sinai School of Medicine in publishing a study in the Federation of American Societies For Experimental Biology Journal in which they focused on the slowing of the development of Alzheimer's Disease symptoms in mice who drank wine (what a visual!). Then we heard that the University of South Florida finding that green tea offers Alzheimer's Disease protection by preventing damage by decreasing the production of beta-amyloid protein. Not to be outdone, the British say that blackcurrants (similar to boysenberries) contain "neuroprotective" compounds that help our cells communicate, hence preventing Alzheimer's Disease.  The same with findings about the Indian spice turmeric, which contains a component called curcumin, which also protects us from bad proteins.  And on and on.

The Rush University Medical Center site actually has a section on their website where they review all the foods that have Alzheimer's Disease protective properties.  An organized food group may be the answer as all this information is interesting yet overwhelming.

One troubling note:  the apple research, which made news everywhere, was sponsored by the US Apple Association and the Apple Products Research and Education Council.  Hmmm......

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