Dr Hilary issues warning about missed dementia diagnoses
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The threat of dying from dementia in the UK is still prominent. Last year it was estimated the condition killed more than 71,000 Britons, making it one of the leading causes of death in the nation. Health leaders said the figures highlighted the pressing need for efficient protective measures. Some studies have highlighted that one food may be the ‘cornerstone’ of brain-healthy diets, helping stave off 40 percent of cases.
The protective role of food against brain diseases comes down mainly to its enhancing effects on blood flow.
The congestion of blood vessels connecting to the brain is one of the hallmarks of dementia.
Damaged brain cells cause the loss of synaptic connections which eventually lead to memory loss.
Berries, however, are loaded with a litany of naturally occurring chemicals that have been found to promote brain health.
READ MORE: Dementia: The career decision that could increase your risk of developing the condition
They are a particularly good source of flavonoids, with blackberries containing six different types of molecules.
Blueberries, raspberries and cherries are also deemed good sources of flavonoids.
Flavonoids are a group of plant metabolites thought to provide health benefits through cell signalling pathways and antioxidants.
While all fruits contain flavonoids, the more colourful the fruit, the higher the concentration of the molecule will be.
The high concentration of flavonoids in berries has been shown to reduce the risk of dementia by 40 percent, according to one study.
The 2020 study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that participants who reported the highest consumption of flavonoids had a substantially lower risk of dementia.
The team defined a high intake of flavonoids as having 7.5 cups of berries, eight apples or pears, and 19 cups of tea per month.
A low intake, on the other hand, was defined as having no berries or tea, and less than two apples per month.
This was later confirmed by researchers at the National Institutes of Health who evaluated the lifestyles of over 7,750 participants over a period of five to 10 years.
Participants were required to fill out questionnaires to determine their eating habits and had cognitive tests of memory, language and attention administered over the phone.
Researchers thereafter used the data to determine the dietary factors most important in lowering the risk of cognitive impairment.
“Liberal servings of fruits and vegetables are the cornerstone of any brain-healthy diet, but berries, in particular, bring benefits,” explains Teresa Fung, adjunct professor in the Department of Nutrition at the Harvard School of Public health.
“In addition to adding important vitamins and nutrients to your diet, these also contain a healthy dose of those cell-protecting antioxidants.”
The food with the most proactive effects against cognitive decline was fish, which contains omega-2 fatty acids.
This compound was shown to ward off damaging inflammation inside the body, including the brain.
Omega-3 fatty acids may also help protect the body’s cells from damage, according to the study.
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