Mediterranean Diet Cuts Alzheimer’s Risk

Pomegranate Juice May Thwart Onset of Alzheimer’s Pomegranate Juice May Thwart Onset of Alzheimer’s
Adventist News Network

Before you gulp down that eggnog or spicy apple cider this holiday
season, take a moment to consider what your drink can do for your
brain. If you opt for a glass of pomegranate juice, you may be staving
off Alzheimer’s disease, says Dr. Richard Harman, lead researcher and
author of a study released last month by Seventh-day Adventist-owned
Loma Linda University in collaboration with Washington University

The study reveals that pomegranates, when compared to other fruits and
vegetables, pack notably high levels of polyphenols. Polyphenols,
according to researchers, are one of many antioxidants known to
neutralize the harmful effects of free radicals, which attack healthy
human cells and cause them to mutate into cancer cells. Free radicals
have also been linked to triggering arthritis, atherosclerosis,
diabetes, premature aging, and Alzheimer’s disease.

For years, pomegranates have been linked to curbing certain types of
cancer and clearing arteries. Hartman’s study indicates they’re as good
for your brain as they are for your heart.

At Loma Linda University, Hartman and other researchers used mice with
genetic tendencies to develop Alzheimer’s-like diseases. Researchers
divided the mice into two groups. The first drank water with added
pomegranate juice concentrate, while the remainder drank water with
added sugar equal to the natural sweetness of the juice.

Six months later, the study mice that consumed pomegranate juice
learned more quickly and swam measurably faster during underwater maze
tests of their learning and memory abilities than the mice that drank
sugar water. They also had 50 percent less plaque in their brains.

Hartman explains that brain plaques are “toxic clumps of protein”
accumulated in the brain. These accumulations, he says, damage and
disrupt communication between brain cells. Compromised brain cells
trigger memory loss and cognitive decline–both characteristic signs of
Alzheimer’s disease.

Each of the mice in the study drank an average of 5 milliliters of
pomegranate juice a day. To reap similar benefits, researchers project,
humans should aim for 1-2 glasses per day.

“There’s no evidence that it’s an ‘all or none’ situation,” says
Hartman, so even a glass of pomegranate juice every now and then may
prove beneficial. However, he encourages everyone to drink the
recommended amount.

Dr. Allan Handysides, director of health ministries at world church
headquarters, adds that research involving laboratory animals does not
always translate directly to humans. “I don’t decry the study,” he
says. “It’s very exciting, but it has to be taken, as do all studies in
laboratories, as a preliminary opening to continued research, rather
than conclusive proof in itself.”

While pomegranate juice is a bit pricy when compared to, say, orange or
grape juice, Hartman believes it’s well worth the price. “Medications
for Alzheimer’s disease, cancer and heart disease are significantly
more expensive, and as they say, an ounce of prevention is worth a
pound of cure.” He adds that some groceries offer the juice in an
affordable organic concentrate form.

Look for the December 2006 journal of Neurobiology of Disease at your
local library to read the full study, which is the first of its kind:
“Pomegranate juice decreases amyloid load and improves behavior in a
mouse model of Alzheimer’s disease.”

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