An apple a day is meant to keep the doctor away. Now it’s an orange a day that is likely to cut dementia risk by a quarter, a major study shows. Daily intake of any citrus fruit such as oranges, grapefruits, lemons or limes can cut the chances of developing the incurable brain condition by almost a quarter, it suggests. The findings, by a team of scientists at Tohoku University in Japan, surmise that tangy fruits could be a powerful weapon against a disease that is emerging as modern day epidemic.
Numerous studies have suggested that citrus fruits can protect the brain against the damage that leads to dementia or Alzheimer’s. Citric acid contains a chemical, Nobiletin, which in animal tests has been shown to slow or reverse impairment of memory. But the new research, published in the British Journal of Nutrition, is the first major study to investigate the effects citrus fruit consumption might have on large numbers of those most at risk. Scientists tracked more than 13,000 middle-aged or elderly men and women for several years and found those with a daily intake of citrus were 23% less likely to develop dementia than those eating it less than twice a week. The results come days after experts warned that Britain faces an epidemic of dementia.
Researchers, led by University College, London and Liverpool University, said the total affected will jump 60% to 1.2 million in England alone by 2040. Without suitable health campaigns to raise awareness of how to prevent the brain disorder, experts said this figure could hit 1.9 million, up from 800,000 currently. New cases of dementia are actually falling in Britain at a rate of over 2% a year but an ageing population means the number living with it will carry on rising for at least the next twenty years.
In the latest study, scientists tracked older adults for up to seven years to see how many developed dementia. Rates of dementia amongst those eating citrus fruits at least once a day were significantly lower than in volunteers having them less than twice a week. In their report, the scientists said: ‘Some biological studies have indicated citrus may have preventive effects against cognitive impairment. But no study has examined the relation between citrus consumption and rates of dementia. Our findings, such as frequent consumption, are linked with a lower risk of dementia.’
Well, I’m glad to hear that citrus fruits are likely to decrease the risk to dementia in old age. For my breakfast invariably starts with an orange on a daily basis, as I find it very refreshing, especially given that I eat it at 4.30 am every morning without fail. Do you reckon I’ve gone crazy in my old age?