In my past two postings, I know it may have sounded a bit bleak that we don’t have any FDA-approved therapies that can really address the underlying cause of the cognitive decline that is associated with dementia. That said, with so many health care professionals studying this condition, of which Alzheimer’s is a part, it is refreshing to see that we do find promising approaches with some regularity…or maybe I should say with some irregularity, but with reasonable frequency.
I did mention a number of healthful steps that should be taken to reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer’s specifically and dementia generally. Let me add one more healthful step that has recently come to my attention – pomegranate juice. Pomegranate juice is an antioxidant that now has been tested against placebo for its efficacy with dementia, and it shows a positive effect in delaying the decline of what researchers term visual memory decline associated with aging. It was a randomized trial in which 261 participants were assigned to receive either pomegranate or a placebo. After 12 months, both groups were administered a standardized test of “visuo-spatial memory.”
Memory decline is generally associated with aging and poor health style. This most recent research is part of a larger body of research that has been going on since at least 2013. In addition to this most recent study, scientists have studied pomegranate juice with animals as well as young to middle-aged subjects. In some of the research pomegranate juice did more than prevent further decline; it actually improved memory. Improvement was not seen in this most recent study, but with only eight ounces of pomegranate every day those who had the juice were statistically better off than those who had not received pomegranate juice. Do you see a pattern here? A whole lot of healthy lifestyle interventions seem to work for a whole lot of healthful outcomes…at the very least dodging some pretty difficult bad outcomes…like Alzheimer’s. Back to pomegranate. The researchers are studying the juice more closely, and have found that the juice is not only an antioxidant, it also is an anti-inflammatory and there is reason to believe that it also has specific anti-amyloid effects. This last one is what brings us back to its potential for Alzheimer’s disease. I will keep you posted on this as well as other ongoing research.
Charlotte Bishop is an Aging Life Care Advisor, Geriatric Care Manager and founder of Creative Care Management, certified professionals who are geriatric advocates, resources, counselors and friends to older adults and their families in metropolitan Chicago. She also is the co-author of How Do I Know You? A Caregiver’s Lifesaver for Dealing with Dementia.