For years, researchers have been investigating the link between the benefits of consuming walnuts and dementia lowered risk or treatment.
This is in a bid to identify foods or snacks that can either help prevent the development or progression of the illness. Professionals have been collecting data indicating that eating walnuts reduces inflammation and oxidative stress that builds up in the human brain as individuals grow older.
Many believe that oxidative stress and inflammation that occurs throughout an individual’s lifetime causes aging.
As time goes by, human bodies lose the ability to clean up the mess that occurs on a cellular level.
The build-up that occurs in the brain is partially responsible for the cognitive decline that elderly persons experience.
The concept of walnuts and dementia was borrowed from Greeks who believed in the “Doctrine of Signatures.”
This implies that a specific food item affects the body part that it resembles. For instance, walnuts resemble the brain; hence, walnuts improve brain health according to the “Doctrine of Signatures.”
Benefits of consuming walnuts
There are several reasons researchers consider the consumption of walnuts beneficial to persons who have dementia or are at the risk of developing the illness.
1. Walnuts have several components that are rich in anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. This helps to protect cells and fight off inflammation.
2. The nuts are a great source of fiber, minerals, and vitamins. These are no strangers to helping boost brain health according numerous studies.
3. Walnuts contain healthy fats that do a great job at nurturing the body’s cardiovascular and nervous system. Studies show that omega 3 fatty acids present in the nuts can improve things like blood pressure, abnormal heartbeats, and triglyceride levels.
4. English walnuts contain phytochemicals that include numerous polyunsaturated fatty acids that are beneficial for brain health.
5. Walnuts are rich in polyphenolic compounds that improve interneuronal signaling, reduce inflammatory and oxidant load on brain cells, and boost neurogenesis.
6. Walnuts contain huge amounts of PUFAs like LA and ALA that are known to boost brain function and health even when a person is aging.
7. The nuts have polyphenols that promote neuronal calcium homeostasis on the hippocampus and striatum regions of the brain. These are regions that are essential for secondary and primary memory functions.
8. Walnuts also contain melatonin a bioactive compound that is responsible for regulating circadian rhythms. A melatonin deficiency has been known to result in cognitive impairment and dementia.
Supplementation with walnuts can improve cognition
Both human and animal studies from various researchers propose that supplementation with walnuts in a person’s diet can improve cognition.
A diet that includes walnuts is said to have beneficial effects on learning, memory, anxiety, motor coordination, and locomotor activity. Human clinical trials also suggest that the consumption of walnuts is associated with improvement in memory and better cognitive performance.
Some experts through observational studies have confirmed that older people who eat walnuts tend to experience better brain function which can include better mental flexibility, faster processing speed, and improved memory.
Alzheimer’s is one of the most common causes of dementia. Below, you can find some of the studies that investigated the link between walnuts and dementia.
Studies on walnuts and dementia connection
A Study Citing Walnut Enriched Diet May Improve Memory
A study conducted by the New York State Institute for Basic Research in Developmental Disabilities confirmed what many experts say about walnut consumption and dementia. The researchers gave mice an equivalent of 1/4 cup of walnuts daily.
The professionals then tested their subjects to mazes and experiments that tested their psychomotor skills, coordination, and learning ability. The researchers found that the group of mice that were eating walnuts performed way better than the mice that were not on the diet.
Abha Chauhan the lead researcher was on record saying that there was a follow-up study suggesting that walnut extract could protect the brain from a protein known as beta-amyloid. This is the protein that often appears in the brain of individuals who have Alzheimer’s.
This is one of the discoveries that might help professionals with the development of novel treatments that can help people who have Alzheimer’s.
A Study Explaining Walnuts May Slow Cognitive Decline in At-Risk Seniors
A study conducted by researchers in Spain and California concluded that eating walnuts may help slow cognitive decline in elderly persons who are at risk. The study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition explained that healthy seniors who consumed walnuts affected their cognitive function.
The study observed almost 640 free-living elders in California, Loma Linda, Spain, USA, Catalonia, and Barcelona. The test group ate walnuts every day for 2 years while the control group did not have any walnuts.
The principal investigator Joan Sabate MD, DrPH, professor of nutrition and epidemiology at Loma Lina University stated that this was one of the most-controlled and largest trials that have been conducted in regards to the effects of nuts on cognition.
He further explained that even though the study produced a minor result, there may be better outcomes if the study was conducted for longer periods. Based on the findings, Sabate said that the need for more research to find out the perks of including walnuts in a person’s diet is still necessary.
Worth noting is that the research team was one of the pioneers to uncover the lowering effects of cholesterol when eating walnuts. These findings were published in 1993 in the New England Journal of Medicine.
Additionally, researchers from Loma Linda University found that nut consumption relates to the risk of cardiovascular diseases.
Although numerous studies investigated walnuts and dementia, more research is still necessary.
The data collected through future research will ascertain whether or not the consumption of walnuts has a significant impact on brain function and health as people grow older.
Keep in mind that most studies confirm that the brain prefers the whole nut rather than the supplement.
You may be interested in reading more about the benefits of people with cognitive decline eating a variety of nuts and dementia.