QUEBEC CITY, Quebec — Antioxidants play a key role in keeping your cells healthy. Thankfully, many of the foods we eat contain these vital nutrients. Now, a new study reveals the right balance of antioxidants may also help prevent the onset of Alzheimer’s disease.
A team from the Institut national de la recherche scientifique (INRS) says they have discovered that an oxidation-antioxidant imbalance in the blood acts like an early warning sign of Alzheimer’s onset. Their study finds that oxidative stress markers can display an increase up to five years before the disease actually appears.
“Given that there is an increase in oxidative stress in people who develop the disease, we may regulate the antioxidant systems. For example, we could modulate the antioxidant systems, such as apolipoproteins J and D, which transport lipids and cholesterol in the blood and play an important role in brain function and Alzheimer’s disease. Another avenue would be to increase the intake of antioxidants through nutrition,” says Professor Charles Ramassamy in a media release.
Oxidative stress develops when there is an imbalance between the production and accumulation of oxygen reactive species (ROS) in cells and tissues and the body’s ability to detoxify these substances. Previous studies have found that biological markers of this oxidation show a link to Alzheimer’s disease, the most common form of dementia.
Can a diet change really keep dementia away?
The new study finds these markers are not a side-effect of the disease, but are actually an indictor Alzheimer’s may develop soon. Luckily, the team says antioxidant intake can lower this risk. Antioxidants inhibit the production of free radicals which damage the cells.
Researchers say the markers of this damaage was discovered in plasma extracellular vesicles, which are “pockets” released by every cell — including brain cells. The team made their breakthrough while focusing on “sporadic” Alzheimer’s, the most common form of the disease, which generally develops due to the presence of the APOE4 susceptibility gene.
“By identifying oxidative markers in the blood of individuals at risk five years before the onset of the disease, we could make recommendations to slow the onset of the disease and limit the risks,” the researchers conclude.
So when it comes to altering nutrition to increase antioxidant intake, foods like broccoli, spinach, carrots, and potatoes are all rich sources of these nutrients. Dark chocolate and many berries also contain high levels of antioxidants.
The study appears in the journal Alzheimer’s & Dementia: Diagnosis, Assessment & Disease Monitoring.