New study says beer can protect you from Alzheimer's disease, but there's a catch - Best Life

New study says beer can protect you from Alzheimer’s disease, but there’s a catch – Best Life

Currently, more than six million americans live with Alzheimer’s disease (AD), and many more silently experience the neurological changes that will one day lead to the onset of the disease. According to a new study published last month by the magazine ACS Chemistry Neurosciences, this delay between the onset of neurological damage and its eventual diagnosis makes many interventions for AD less effective. Meanwhile, preventative measures — which can help protect the brain long before signs of disease appear — may be your best bet for warding off cognitive decline, they say.

Specifically, the study found that a particular type of beer may have brain-boosting effects that could help ward off Alzheimer’s disease. However, the search has a major catch, which may make you think twice. Read on to find out what the results mean for your own drinking habits and whether an occasional brew might actually be good for you.

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Although there is no one way to definitely prevent Alzheimer’s, experts say there may be several ways to reduce your risk. Exercising regularly, quitting smoking, maintaining strong social connections with others, managing underlying conditions such as high blood pressure and blood sugar, and getting enough sleep are just some of the strategies recommended by medical experts.

Additionally, following a healthy diet such as the Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay, also known as the MIND diet, may reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s. This particular diet emphasizes minimally processed plant-based foods while limiting saturated fats, sugars, and animal products.

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A group of elderly men drinking beer in a bar

Since a healthy diet is believed to significantly reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease, experts are now exploring various “nutraceuticals” – foods that improve health or prevent disease – in relation to cognitive decline. In fact, the SCA A study indicates that hop flowers, commonly used to brew bitter beers, could be one such food. Indeed, certain chemical compounds present in hops seem to prevent the accumulation of beta-amyloid proteins in the brain, a hallmark feature and possible cause of the onset of AD.

After testing four popular types of hops – Cascade, Saaz, Tettnang and Summit – they found that Tettnang hops were most closely linked to neurological benefits. This particular variety is commonly found in German lagers, ales, and wheat beers.

Scientist in the lab using a microscope

Before you make beer a regular part of your Alzheimer’s disease prevention strategy, it’s important to note that the study looked specifically at the effects of four types of hops extract, rather than the effects of beer containing these ingredients. Although the researchers extrapolated from their findings that hopped beers may have cognitive benefits, the study did not include any human subjects. The researchers instead tested the chemical compounds on the beta-amyloid proteins of human nerve cells in lab dishes, and later in C.elegansa type of roundworm with some genomic similarities to humans.

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Men chatting over a beer

More research is needed to determine whether occasional consumption of hopped drinks can in fact help prevent Alzheimer’s disease, but one thing is certain: excessive alcohol consumption is a well-documented risk factor for cognitive decline. Experts agree that if you choose to drink alcohol, it’s best to limit yourself to recommended guidelines: no more than two drinks a day for men or one drink a day for women, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Additionally, experts urge caution when it comes to change your consumption habits based on currently available research. “People who do not currently drink alcohol should not be encouraged to start as a means of reducing dementia risk,” writes the Alzheimer’s Society, a UK-based charity. “Conversely, those who drink alcohol within the recommended limits are not advised to stop on the grounds of reducing the risk of dementia, although reducing alcohol consumption may provide other benefits for health,” say their experts.

“Based on a unique personal and family history, alcohol offers everyone a different range of benefits and risks“, Harvard Health Publishing additional notes. Talk to your doctor to learn more about how your own drinking habits may affect your personal risk, their experts advise.

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