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Drinking Grape Juice Improves Memory in Older Adults

Wednesday, July 09, 2008 by: Sherry Baker, Health Sciences Editor
Tags: grape juice, health news, Natural News

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(NewsTarget) It's one of the most dreaded problems associated with growing older –- memory problems. But dementia and even plain old "senior moments" don't have to be inevitable with age. Research is mounting that do-it-yourself strategies like continuing to challenge your brain by learning new things and exercise can help preserve your cognition as you age. Now scientists have found that a delicious natural drink can actually improve memory in older adults who have already experienced early memory decline. The brain power booster isn't anything exotic or rare, either –- it is Concord grape juice.

A ground-breaking pilot study, led by Robert Krikorian, PhD, of the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, was recently presented at the 38th annual scientific meeting of the American Aging Society in Boulder, Colorado. Dr. Krikorian and his research team gave 12 adults with early memory decline a total of 15 to 21 ounces of Concord grape juice or placebo daily (the amount varied depending on body weight) for 12 weeks.

This was the first placebo-controlled human study to investigate whether regular consumption of a polyphenol-rich food or beverage such as grape juice could positively impact age-related cognitive decline. Polyphenols are found in a wide variety of phytonutrient-containing food, including grapes, and are known to have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Previous research has linked them to combating oxidative stress and suggested they could hold the key to preventing cardiovascular and neurodegenerative diseases.

The study participants who drank the Concord grape juice were found to have significant improvements when given learning tests. The researchers concluded this suggests a measurable improvement in short-term memory retention –- so adding Concord grape juice in the diet may provide benefit for older adults with early memory decline.

The evidence that a diet including phytonutrient-rich fruits, vegetables and juices may help slow and possibly even reverse age-related mental declines is especially good news for America's aging Baby Boomer population. The number of people 65 years of age and older will double to 70 million by 2030 and cases of age-related cognitive decline as well as dementia from Alzheimer's disease (AD) and other causes are expected to soar. In fact, a Duke University study published early this year in the Annals of Internal Medicine concluded that 22 percent over age 70 have mild cognitive problems and the National Institutes of Health estimates up to 4.5 million Americans have AD.

"A simple, easy-to-incorporate dietary intervention that could improve or protect memory function, such as drinking Concord grape juice daily, may be beneficial for the aging population. These results with Concord grape juice are very encouraging and certainly warrant additional study," Dr. Krikorian stated in a prepared statement for the media.

About the author

Sherry Baker is a widely published writer whose work has appeared in Newsweek, Health, the Atlanta Journal and Constitution, Yoga Journal, Optometry, Atlanta, Arthritis Today, Natural Healing Newsletter, OMNI, UCLA’s "Healthy Years" newsletter, Mount Sinai School of Medicine’s "Focus on Health Aging" newsletter, the Cleveland Clinic’s "Men’s Health Advisor" newsletter and many others.

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