An international team of researchers in India may have discovered a simple-yet-effective way to combat Alzheimer’s disease, a healthcare burden reaching epidemic proportions globally: eating a handful of walnuts each day.
Dr. Abha Chauhan, head of the Developmental Neuroscience Laboratory at New York State Institute for Basic Research in Developmental Disabilities, claimed his research group found anti-oxidative and inflammatory properties in walnuts that could effectively slow the progress of Alzheimer’s in patients with the disease, as well as potentially prevent new cases from emerging in healthy individuals. Though preliminary, the findings open the flood gates for the international scientific community to begin large-scale human studies on the effects of dry fruit on such a terminal illness.
"Oxidative damage and inflammation are two prominent features in the pathology of Alzheimer's disease and many other neurodegenerative diseases," Chauhan told the Press Trust of India, the Economic Times reported Tuesday. "Walnuts are very rich in anti-inflammatory components and antioxidants."
Alzheimer's is a form of dementia that impacts memory, thinking and behavior in effected individuals, accounting for nearly 60 to 80 percent of all dementia cases. The disease spreads throughout the brain as cells degenerate and die, effectively destroying mental capabilities, including motor functions and memory. As of 2016, an estimated 5.4 million Americans suffer from Alzheimer’s disease, with the vast majority (nearly 5.2 million) being 65 and overs.
The numbers are equally harrowing in India, where over 8 million people are expected to be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease by 2030.
The recent findings suggests walnuts are capable of reducing amyloid beta-protein deposits in the brain, a protein researchers believe is responsible for the growth of Alzheimer’s. Though researchers remain confident a definitive cure for Alzheimer’s could be on the way, Chauhan noted more studies are needed to reach a medical breakthrough.
"One in 10 people over the age of 65 suffers from Alzheimer's," he said. "However, the awareness about the disease is very less. It takes 10 years to show the symptoms. It is not diagnosed properly; people think it is just an old age symptom and they have started forgetting things."