Vegetables and fruit comprise many vitamins and minerals that play an necessary function in serving to us preserve good well being. Take flavonoids, for instance. These are a gaggle of naturally occurring compounds which are discovered in lots of meals – together with citrus fruits, berries, crimson wine and even darkish chocolate.
Flavonoids act as antioxidants, which assist to forestall or gradual harm to cells which can result in ailments – akin to most cancers. Additionally they cut back irritation within the physique, which is widespread in lots of persistent ailments – together with neurodegenerative ones, akin to Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s illness.
Analysis reveals that flavonoids are good for our mind well being, with research exhibiting diets excessive in fruits and veggies could gradual cognitive decline and decrease dementia threat. And now, a current examine has advised that folks with Parkinson’s illness who eat diets excessive in flavonoids could dwell longer than those that don’t.
To conduct their examine, a workforce of researchers analysed information from 121,700 feminine registered nurses and 51,529 male well being professionals. They selected to have a look at these two teams as a result of many points of their life which could affect their illness threat can be comparable – akin to exercise ranges, training and years in work. Data on their diets has been gathered each two to 4 years, starting in 1975 for the ladies and 1986 for the lads. The info from these teams has been utilized in many different top quality diet research.
On the time when this new examine was carried out, 599 of the ladies and 652 of the lads had been recognized with Parkinson’s illness. From the meals these ladies and men reported consuming, it was attainable to calculate their consumption of flavonoids.
It was discovered that the lads with Parkinson’s illness who ate probably the most flavonoids as a part of their eating regimen had a 47% decrease threat of dying from any trigger in comparison with males who consumed the least flavonoids of their eating regimen. However for ladies, the quantity of flavonoids they consumed of their eating regimen had no impact on their threat of demise from all causes. So the tentative conclusion from this examine is that flavonoids could cut back the chance of males with Parkinson’s illness from dying, though not in ladies. It’s not presently identified why the lads noticed better profit.
As with every observational diet examine of this kind – the place researchers merely observe outcomes with out making an attempt to intervene within the group (akin to intervening by having half of the group eat a selected eating regimen) – it’s not attainable to show a causal hyperlink. Within the case of the current examine, a causal hyperlink would imply that consuming extra flavonoids immediately reduces the chance of males with Parkinson’s illness from dying.
A important motive for not with the ability to show causality is that different dietary and life-style elements may additionally have contributed to extending lifespan. The authors did compensate for this to some extent by making statistical changes for different probably useful vitamins – akin to beta-carotene and the antioxidant nutritional vitamins C and E – and for presumably damaging life-style elements akin to smoking, being obese and never exercising sufficient.
However this nonetheless doesn’t bear in mind many different dietary, life-style and genetic elements that might contribute to an individual’s threat. One instance is publicity to herbicides and pesticides.
One issue that did affect the examine’s outcomes was the kind of flavonoids they checked out. There are lots of various kinds of flavonoids, and two teams – often known as anthocyanins and flavan-3-ols – had been discovered on this examine to be most strongly linked to prolonging life. Anthocyanins give berries and crimson wine their crimson and purple colors, and flavan-3-ols are discovered at excessive ranges in inexperienced tea.
Nevertheless it’s not identified how these flavonoids could profit the mind. As with different degenerative mind issues, the development of Parkinson’s illness is more likely to contain oxidative stress (when too many extremely reactive molecules, referred to as free radicals, are produced for antioxidant defences to deal with) and mind irritation. Many flavonoids, together with anthocyanins and flavan-3-ols, have been proven in experimental research to have antioxidant and anti inflammatory properties.
Different mechanisms may additionally be concerned. Flavonoids can have a constructive impact on the intestine microbiome, which can lower the irritation that contributes to Parkinson’s. Additionally, as Parkinson’s illness progresses, many neurological pathways such because the dopamine pathway are affected. Dopamine performs a significant function in regulating motion by the physique. However the attainable function of flavonoids in enhancing the functioning of those pathways will not be identified.
Although this examine examined threat of demise in individuals who already had Parkinson’s illness, different research have additionally proven that diets excessive in flavonoids decrease the chance of creating Parkinson’s illness. The profit was additionally proven to be better in males – though once more it isn’t clear why.
Whereas there are lots of elements that may have influenced the outcomes of this newest examine, there’s nonetheless physique of proof suggesting that diets wealthy in flavonoids can assist shield in opposition to many degenerative mind issues – together with Parkinson’s illness. And thankfully for us, flavonoids are discovered in lots of vegatables and fruits that we are able to readily purchase from our grocery store.
Richard Hoffman is the writer of two books on the Mediterranean eating regimen: The Mediterranean Food regimen: Well being and Science (2011) and Extra Wholesome Years – Why a Mediterranean Food regimen is finest for you and for the planet (2020).