Each year, the number of Americans living with Alzheimer’s is growing — and growing fast. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, more than 5 million Americans of all ages have Alzheimer’s. An estimated 5.8 million Americans age 65 and older are living with Alzheimer’s in 2020. If you’re concerned with this neurodegenerative disease, there is hope. There’s a simple way to protect your brain from the ravages of time…and even dementia. All you need is some colorful, whole foods you can get on your next grocery trip.
Researchers have found that a diet low in flavonoids was associated with higher Alzheimer’s risk. The April 2020 study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found, “higher long-term dietary intakes of flavonoids are associated with lower risks of Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias (ADRD) in U.S. adults.” According to Oregon State University, certain flavonoids have been shown to, “cross the blood-brain barrier and exert preventive effects towards cognitive impairments in animal models of normal and pathological aging.” The study included 2,800 participants and followed them for 20 years. Those who stayed away from apples, pears and teas had twice the risk for developing Alzheimer’s. And those consuming the least amount of blueberries, strawberries and red wines had four times the risk of developing Alzheimer’s.
What You Eat Really Matters
Flavonoids are a group of plant nutrients found in a variety of fruits and vegetables. There are more than 6,000 types of flavonoids, and they are responsible for the bright colors plants have. Not only do flavonoids make fruits and vegetables colorful, they also offer many health benefits. The majority of flavonoids fight off inflammation by acting as antioxidants. You don’t have to make drastic changes to your diet. Start small. Add a few berries to something you are eating or start drinking some tea (green tea or matcha has a lot of flavonoids).
And if keeping your brain healthy isn’t enough for you, a 2019 study published in Nature Communications also found that foods rich in flavonoids could decrease the risk of cancer. It’s only a matter of time before new research confirms how flavonoid rich foods help keep us young. In the meantime, make sure you eat plenty of colorful foods such as apples, berries, cocoa-based products, red grapes, and tea.