Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Drink This. It May Prevent Alzheimer's

A glass of apple juice a day may keep Alzheimer's away and help fight the devastating effects that aging has on the brain.

According to a study from the University of Massachusetts at Lowell, apple juice may boost production of an essential neurotransmitter called acetylcholine that helps nerve cells communicate and are important to brain health and a good memory. This in turn could ward off mind-robbing conditions like Alzheimer's disease, reports Ivanhoe Newswire.

The study: The researchers tested the ability of apple juice to improve brain functioning in both younger and older mice, including special mice that were bred as a genetic model for human Alzheimer's. The animals were divided into three groups. The first ate a standard diet, another ate a nutrient deficient diet, and the third also ate a nutrient deficient diet, but drank water laced with apple juice.

The results: When the investigators ran the mice through a standard maze, those on the apple juice diet outperformed the other two groups. These mice also showed an increase in production of acetylcholine in their brains. Even the genetically engineered mice who were given apple juice had improved acetylcholine levels. Previous research has shown that mental decline associated with Alzheimer's disease can be slowed when the amount of acetylcholine is increased.

"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," says Thomas Shea, Ph.D., director of the UML Center for Cellular Neurobiology and Neurodegeneration Research, said in a news release announcing the study findings. Many Alzheimer's drugs on the market today were developed with an eye toward increasing acetylcholine production in the brain.

Why does apple juice appear to have the same effect as Alzheimer's drugs? The investigators believe apples must have the right combination of antioxidants and other nutrients to get the job done.

How much apple juice do you need to drink to reap the benefits? The researchers gave the mice the human equivalent of two 8-ounce glasses of juice or two to three apples a day.

The study findings were reported in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease, August 2006.

--From the Editors at Netscape

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