Thursday, April 5, 2012

Diet can significantly reduce risk of Parkinson's disease

It is important to eat healthy, and scientists from Harvard University have just found an additional reason to keep an eye on your diet. It appears that a particular substance found, among others, in berries and wine, can reduce the risk of developing Parkinson's disease, a neurodegenerative disorder that slowly renders you unable to properly control your muscles. The compounds, known as flavonoids have already been shown to have beneficial effects.

Researchers saw that flavonoids are able to protect brain cells against damage or destruction, which is what happens in Parkinson's patients. That is what they found after analyzing a group of 130.000 people and doing a follow-up after 20 years. Around 800 of them had developed Parkinson's disease in the mean time, and the scientists set out to analyze whether differences in consumption pattern could be associated with development of the neurodegenerative disease. Surprisingly, they found that men who consumed high amounts of flavonoids were well protected, with a risk decrease of 40 percent, but no similar effect was observed in women.

Of all flavonoid compounds, those found in berries seem to be the most effective in preventing Parkinson's. It is however not known how they work in the brain, which is why more research is needed to unravel the mechanism and find out what kind of recommendations need to be made on flavonoid-rich consumption. Of course, scientists also need to find out why only males benefit from berry consumption.
Other effects
Flavonoids are interesting compounds, and not only because they appear to decrease the risk of Parkinson's in males. Previous research showed red wine can cut down the risk of breast cancer, and this effect is likely to be attributed to flavonoids. Additionally, flavonoids seem to be beneficial for your circulatory system. It is interesting that a single group of compounds can have such a wide range of beneficial effects. Extract obtained from seeds also shows anti-tumour potential, highlighting why researchers are so interested in berries and their contents.

Parkinson's is a nasty disease and is hard to treat. Tremors and shaking are characteristic symptoms, but severe Parkinson's can damage the brain even further. It is similar to Alzheimer's, which is also a neurodegenerative disease, yet that one starts by wreaking havoc in brain areas involved with memory. Novel therapies are being explored to find a cure for Parkinson's, including stem cell treatment, brain stimulation or genetic modification. Of course, it would be better to prevent the onset of the disease, which is why studies on flavonoids are highly relevant. 

1 comment:

  1. Good diet plays an important role in our life, not only to have a good health but also to prevent in acquiring or having any health issues or diseases. It is important we monitor the food we in take, as much as possible avoid unhealthy foods or foods with carcinogens.