Daily glass of pomegranate juice combats forgetfulness
If your memory is starting to fade as you age, a daily glass of pomegranate juice can help. Neurologists at the University of California in Los Angeles were able to see on MRI scans that pomegranate juice improves the cooperation between parts of the brain involved in the process of memory.
Pomegranates contain substances that improve the functioning of the blood vessels. This is why pomegranate may help improve memory function in the elderly. As we age the blood vessels in the brain clog up and reduce the functioning of our memory. Pomegranate may help combat this.
The researchers tested this theory in an experiment involving 28 forgetful volunteers with an average age of 62-63. Half of them were given a flavoured soft drink containing no active ingredients [Placebo] for four weeks; the others were given a large glass of pomegranate juice [PJ].
The concentration of urolithin-A in the blood of the latter group rose. Urolithin-A is a metabolite of ellagic acid, of which large amounts are found in pomegranate, produced by bacteria in the gut.
Before [Time 1] and after [Time 2] the supplementation period the researchers assessed the subjects' memory. They did this by first reading a list of word pairs to the subjects. Then they read the first part of each pair and asked the subjects if they could recall the second part.
The figure below shows that the pomegranate supplementation increased the number of words that the subjects could remember.
During the memory test the researchers also did MRI scans of the subjects' brains, which resulted in the scans reproduced below.
These show the brain activity at the end of the supplementation period, when the subjects were digging in their memory. In the pomegranate group the basal ganglia, the thalamus and the hippocampus were active. This was not the case for the placebo group.
The leader of the research team receives money from Pom Wonderful, a pomegranate juice producer. [pomwonderful.com] The study reviewed here, however, was funded by the university where the researchers work.
Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2013;2013:946298.
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