Researchers from the University of Southern California investigated the effects of two compounds, namely, epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG) and ferulic acid (FA), on mice that have been genetically modified to develop Alzheimer’s disease. EGCG is a compound found in green tea, while FA is found in foods like carrots, tomatoes, rice, wheat, and oats.
For their study, the researchers divided 32 genetically modified mice and an equal number of healthy mice into four groups. Each group received one of four treatments: EGCG, FA, EGCG with FA, or a placebo.
Before and after the three-month diet, all the mice underwent a series of neuropsychological tests similar to the thinking and memory tests used to assess dementia in humans. One particularly noteworthy test they conducted was the Y-shaped maze test. This test was designed to evaluate a mouse’s spatial working memory -- a skill that humans use to find their way out of a building.
During the initial assessment, healthy mice had no problem looking for food or an escape route in the Y maze, but the same could not be said of their mentally impaired counterparts. However, after treatment with a combination of EGCG and FA, the mice with Alzheimer's managed to perform just as well as healthy mice.
“After three months, combination treatment completely restored spatial working memory, and the Alzheimer’s mice performed just as well as the healthy comparison mice,” said Terrence Town, senior author of the study.
The researchers explained that the positive results have something to do with the ability of EGCG and FA to inhibit the break down of amyloid precursor proteins into amyloid beta proteins. These smaller proteins form clusters in the brains of people with Alzheimer's and interrupt the activity of neurons.
The researchers also observed that EGCG and FA reduced oxidative stress and inflammation in the brains of mentally impaired mice. In humans, oxidative stress and inflammation are key aspects of the pathology of Alzheimer’s disease.
Aside from carrots and green tea, there are other foods that can help reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Researchers from the Rush University Medical Center in Chicago came up with a diet plan which includes these foods. This diet plan, called the MIND diet, can reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease by as much as 53 percent.
Listed below are some of the foods included in the MIND diet. (Related: MIND diet, healthy fats and smoothies are crucial for preventing Alzheimer's disease, research shows.)
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