What is Alzheimer’s disease (AD)?
- A neurodegenerative disorder.
- Plaques form in the brain which trigger inflammation and this drives the progression of AD.
- Leads to progressive issues with thinking, behaviour, and memory leading to dementia.
- Causes loss of neurons that are important to make acetylcholine, the neurotransmitter that is used to activate muscles.
- Tends to only be diagnosed with a post-mortem autopsy
- In some cases of AD, it is known as Type 3 Diabetes. Studies have shown that approximately half of type 2 diabetics will later develop AD. As insulin is unable to stimulate proper glucose metabolism in the brain, brain function, structure and size declines.
How can anthocyanins help?
- Oriental plums (the variety that the Queen Garnet was derived from) have been shown to reduce plaques and improve cognition.
- Suppressing various inflammatory markers.
- Scavenging free radicals: free radicals in the brain caused by oxidative stress have a missing electron and tend to want to steal one from a fat molecule. Most of the brain is made up of fat, so you can imagine that if fat molecules continually donate electrons, this will lead to damage to the brain tissue. The energy centre of our cells, known as the mitochondria, has a membrane that is made of fat – if electrons a lost, brain power is also lost. Anthocyanins are able to neutralise these free radicals.
- Binding to metals in plaques: antioxidants are ‘metal chelators’, meaning they bind to metals that are neurotoxic to nearby cells.
- Inhibiting the enzyme that breaks down acetylcholine: maintaining muscle activation.
- Making neurons: flavonoids (anthocyanins are a part of this class of antioxidants) are able to stimulate neurogenesis – the process by which neurons are produced.