by Craig Weatherby
Recent findings suggest that Alzheimer's may be brought on in part by lack of blood flow to supply blood sugar (glucose) to the brain (See “Blood-Starved Brains Shown Prone to Alzheimer's” and “Cocoa and Tea Boost Brain Blood and Performance.”)
Of course, apple juice would add sugar to the brain-protection picture.
But a series of studies by researchers at the University of Massachusetts suggests that apple juice may aid brain health in several other ways.
A team led by Thomas Shea, PhD of the University's Center for Cellular Neurobiology conducted controlled studies in normal and “apoE-deficient” mice, which are prone to develop Alzheimer's disease (Chan A, Shea TB 2009).
Mice bred to lack the apolipoprotein E (apoE) gene are susceptible to the excessive buildup of beta-amyloid plaque in the brain, which kill cells and is strongly associated with development of Alzheimer's disease.
Beta-amyloid plaque kills brain cells in part by increasing the oxidative stress caused by free radicals… an effect that promotes senile dementia, Alzheimer's, and age-related cognitive decline.
The Massachusetts team found that adding apple juice concentrate to the animals' drinking water had several beneficial effects:
- Blocked buildup of beta-amyloid plaque in normal and apoE-deficient mice.
- Decreased expression of a gene called presenilin-1 (PS-1), which promotes Alzheimer's disease by raising beta-amyloid plaque and free radical levels.
- Maintained acetylcholine levels in aged mice placed on vitamin-deficient, oxidative stress-promoting diets, which otherwise cause levels of this key neurotransmitter to decline. Major anti-Alzheimer's drugs like Tacrine and Aricept work (pretty weakly) by reducing breakdown of acetylcholine.
Those old sayings seem to get wiser with the passing years!
- Chan A, Graves V, Shea TB. Apple juice concentrate maintains acetylcholine levels following dietary compromise. J Alzheimers Dis. 2006 Aug;9(3):287-91.
- Chan A, Shea TB. Dietary Supplementation with Apple Juice Decreases Endogenous Amyloid-beta Levels in Murine Brain. J Alzheimers Dis. 2009 Jan;16(1):167-71.
- Chan A, Shea TB. Supplementation with apple juice attenuates presenilin-1 overexpression during dietary and genetically-induced oxidative stress. J Alzheimers Dis. 2006 Dec;10(4):353-8.
- Rogers EJ, Milhalik S, Orthiz D, Shea TB. Apple juice prevents oxidative stress and impaired cognitive performance caused by genetic and dietary deficiencies in mice. J Nutr Health Aging. 2004;8(2):92-7.
- Shea TB, Rogers E, Ashline D, Ortiz D, Sheu MS. Apolipoprotein E deficiency promotes increased oxidative stress and compensatory increases in antioxidants in brain tissue. Free Radic Biol Med. 2002 Oct 15;33(8):1115-20.