Alzheimer’s affects over 5 million Americans and is reaching epidemic proportions. With no cure in sight, researchers are focusing their efforts on prevention methods.
A new study from the United Kingdom is exploring a compound in the pomegranate fruit that may slow the progression of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. Learn more about this compound and what it may mean for the future of Alzheimer’s treatment methods.
Pomegranate Compound May Delay Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s
For over four years, researchers have looked at pomegranate as a possible superfood that can delay the progression of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. Historically, a compound found in pomegranates called “punicalagin” has been shown to reduce inflammation associated with rheumatoid arthritis and Parkinson’s. Now, researchers from the University of Huddersfield in the United Kingdom are exploring the possibilities of using punicalagin in drugs that may treat inflammation in the brain.
Researchers believe that this pomegranate compound could help fight Alzheimer’s by reducing inflammation in specific brain cells called microglia. Inflammation in microglia leads to destruction of other brain cells which can make symptoms worse for people with Alzheimer’s or dementia.
Lead researcher Dr. Olumayokun Olajide is hoping the newest study sheds more light on exactly how much of this compound is required to be an effective treatment. In a recent press conference he said:
“…We do know that regular intake and regular consumption of pomegranate has a lot of health benefits — including prevention of neuro-inflammation related to dementia.”
New Research Reveals Greater Insight into Alzheimer’s Fighting Compound
A new study recently published in the journal ACS Chemical Neuroscience provides more insight into the brain boosting powers of pomegranate. Researchers identified 21 compounds from pomegranate extract, mostly plant based molecules with antioxidant properties called polyphenols and one compound called urolithins.
Urolithins are anti-inflammatories and are created in the body when the bacteria in the gut breaks down the polyphenols found in pomegranate extract. Researchers found that polyphenols were not able to cross the blood-brain barrier but that urolithins were able to do. Crossing the blood-brain barrier is crucial to Alzheimer’s prevention and treatment because in order to prevent beta amyloid plagues from forming, a molecule has to cross the blood-brain barrier.
Researchers also tested the effects of urolithins on roundworms with Alzheimer’s and found that the roundworms who were given the compound had an increased life expectancy.
This study is the latest study to tout the positive effects of pomegranate extract on brain health but researchers caution that more tests are needed to determine the role of urolithins in Alzheimer’s prevention and treatment.
The Role of Pomegranate in Future Alzheimer’s Treatment Methods
Researchers hope that the study will result in a type of drug treatment that can utilize the compound to treat neuro-inflammation and Alzheimer’s.
While more studies are needed to develop that drug, it may be a good idea to consider increasing the intake of pomegranate for a person with dementia. Dr. Olajide says that juice products that are 100% pomegranate juice that contain 3.4% punicalagin can be taken, and if raw, most of the compound is found in the outer skin of the fruit and not the soft part.
The compound may also be useful in fighting other inflammatory diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, Parkinson’s and even cancer.
What other foods do you eat to help reduce inflammation in the body? Share your favorites in the comments below.