Apple juice may help ward off Alzheimer’s disease

As the average age of the population increases, largely as a consequence of greater life expectancies, senile health conditions become manifest in greater numbers. According to U.S. Census Bureau figures, median age (a measure of average) of the U.S. population grew from 35.3 years to 37.2 years between 2000 and 2010.Screen Shot 2015-01-12 at 10.51.11 AM

One of the most pressing healthcare conditions facing an aging population is Alzheimer’s disease, a condition characterized by a lack of certain memory and cognitive function. Though aging doesn’t itself cause Alzheimer’s disease, more people will develop Alzheimer’s disease later in life (refer again to figure 1 above). There are some associations with processing cells and areas of the brain responsible for spatial relationships and other closely linked ones for memory.

The top candidate for causality in Alzheimer’s disease is a buildup of beta-amyloid plaque, which causes dysregulation in certain brain regions. These are caused by protein misfolding (proteopathy) of segments of what is called amyloid precursor protein (APP). APP is in its undamaged state a very alzheimer_brain
important part of healthy neuronal tissues; it’s the misfolding of the enzymatically-cut pieces of APP that leads to development of the plaques. Treatments therefore, would strive to prevent the formation and deposition of these beta-amyloid plaques to keep the progression of the disease in-check.

There are several candidate drugs being explored to help the future cases of this disease, with a goal of complete remission, or even prevention. In the meantime, some natural cures have been touted, with specious results. There is an amazingly simple dietary intervention which has been looked at to prevent cognitive decline associated with Alzheimer’s disease: apple juice.

Researchers from Center for Cellular Neurobiology; Neurodegeneration Research University of Massachusetts, Lowell, have performed a series of small studies published in the Journal of 110607131718Alzheimer’s Disease looking at the performance of mice in maze trials and found that those mice which received the human equivalent of about 2 glasses of apple juice per day performed better in maze trials as they aged compared with control (non-treated) mice.

The hypothesized link was indeed beta-amyloid plaques, and the researchers did indeed correlate apple juice intake with lower production of beta-amyloid (caution is still needed in interpreting correlation).

The lead researcher in the study observed, “These findings provide further evidence linking nutritional and genetic risk factors for age-related neurodegeneration.” As I’ve written about before, the relationship with individual genotypes and environmental exposures is one that will continue to have a huge increase in coverage within literature over the next several years, as we are only beginning to circumspect what this line of study will offer to the field of risk-based medicine.

Ben Locwin, PhD, MSc, MBA is a contributor to the Genetic Literacy Project and is an author of a wide variety of scientific articles for books and magazines. He is also a researcher and consultant for a variety of industries including behavioral and psychological, aerospace, food and nutrition, pharmaceutical, petrochemical, and academic

3 thoughts on “Apple juice may help ward off Alzheimer’s disease”

    • Great question and thanks for posting.

      Presumably, as you ask, there should be some body mass-dose dependent relationship but the data are not robust enough yet to suggest that. This may give you a bit more information towards what you’re interested in:

      Apple juice improved behavioral but not cognitive symptoms in moderate-to-late stage Alzheimer’s disease in an open-label pilot study.
      Am J Alzheimers Dis Other Demen. 2010 Jun;25(4):367-71. , Remington R1, Chan A, Lepore A, Kotlya E, Shea TB.
      Center for Cell Neurobiology and Neurodegeneration Research, University of Massachusetts-Lowell, USA.
      Preclinical studies demonstrate that apple juice exerts multiple beneficial effects including reduction of central nervous system oxidative damage, suppression of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) hallmarks, improved cognitive performance, and organized synaptic signaling. Herein, we initiated an open-label clinical trial in which 21 institutionalized individuals with moderate-to-severe AD consumed 2 4-oz glasses of apple juice daily for 1 month. Participants demonstrated no change in the Dementia Rating Scale, and institutional caregivers reported no change in Alzheimer’s Disease Cooperative Study (ADCS)-Activities of Daily Living (ADL) in this brief study. However, caregivers reported an approximate 27% (p < .01) improvement in behavioral and psychotic symptoms associated with dementia as quantified by the Neuropsychiatric Inventory, with the largest changes in anxiety, agitation, and delusion. This pilot study suggests that apple juice may be a useful supplement, perhaps to augment pharmacological approaches, for attenuating the decline in mood that accompanies progression of AD, which may also reduce caregiver burden.

      PMID: 20338990

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