Is it possible to reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer's? According to science, yes, it is, and it is possible by acting on modifiable factors such as diet. The Mediterranean diet, in fact, has been shown to protect the brain and to reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer's and cognitive decline. Not only that, as demonstrated in the research we are talking about today, even foods rich in flavonoids are able to lower the risk of Alzheimer's. The research was published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition by a team from Boston University School of Medicine (Shishtar et al, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Aug 2020).
Flavonoids are antioxidant substances contained in certain foods, such as, berries, citrus fruits, black tea and green tea, dark chocolate, parsley, celery, onions, apples and soy products. Flavonoids protect the brain through two mechanisms, on the one hand they act as antioxidants by counteracting free radical damage, on the other they protect neurons from neurotoxins and counteract neuroinflammation. Until now, the studies that have investigated whether flavonoids can reduce the risk of Alzheimer's have covered periods of time too short to be able to arrive at a certain result. The research in question, on the other hand, was based on data from a study begun in 1948 on more than 5,000 people aged between 28 and 63 years. The participants in the study were followed up over the years by regularly assessing their health, both physical and mental, and the type of diet they ate. In this way, it was possible for scientists to extrapolate the data of interest, namely the contribution of flavonoids through food. What emerged was that, in the long run, we are talking of an average of about 20 years, those who had consumed the largest quantities of foods rich in flavonoids showed a lower risk of developing Alzheimer's and dementia than those who consumed low amounts of these foods.