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Could Antioxidants In Fruit Prevent Oxidative Stress and Alzheimer’s Disease?

Updated on March 30, 2013
Alison Graham profile image

Alison is a freelance writer on health, nutrition, skincare, and pets, especially cats and dogs.

Mum Had Alzheimer's Disease

Mum as a lovely young woman (front of picture)
Mum as a lovely young woman (front of picture) | Source
Alzheimer's disease robbed my lovely Mum of her later years and my Dad, brother and myself of the lovely lady we knew before the illness struck.
Alzheimer's disease robbed my lovely Mum of her later years and my Dad, brother and myself of the lovely lady we knew before the illness struck. | Source

Antioxidants, Oxidative Stress and Alzheimer's Disease

My interest in Alzheimer's disease has led me to research on the subject, antioxidants in polyphenol rich fruits have a powerful effect on Oxidative Stress, linked to many Neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's.

My Mum had Alzheimer’s, but she died of inhalation pneumonia. She was in an NHS Hospital when this happened, her swallow reflex was poor but no member of staff was supervising her when she ate her meal, she choked on an egg and cress sandwich, inhaling some of it into her lungs. She died within twenty-four hours.

I still feel really guilty that I didn’t prevent her from choking, I wasn’t with her when it happened – I thought she was safe in Hospital.

My Dad had vascular Dementia – he passed away March 5th 2010.

The Blessing was that he was in a Nursing Home where the staff treated everyone with respect and courtesy. My Dad got his dignity back before he died.

Dementia in My Genes?

The degeneration in my Mum and Dad in their later years – plus the fact that my family history research has turned up quite a few old Death Certificates where the primary cause of death has been put as ‘Senile Decay’ – a very old term for ‘Dementia’ - has rather concentrated my mind on what the future may hold for me and if there is anything I can do to stave off Alzheimer’s symptoms or an Alzheimer’s-like form of Dementia, or a cardiovascular form of Dementia as suffered by my Dad.

The Alzheimers Foundation of America definition: "Alzheimer's disease is a progressive, degenerative disorder that attacks the brain's nerve cells, or neurons, resulting in loss of memory, thinking and language skills, and behavioural changes."
The Alzheimers Foundation of America definition: "Alzheimer's disease is a progressive, degenerative disorder that attacks the brain's nerve cells, or neurons, resulting in loss of memory, thinking and language skills, and behavioural changes."

I have been doing quite a bit of research and this is my first hub on the subject of Alzheimer’s. It is dedicated to what I have found out about the relationship between Oxidative Stress and Neurodegenerative Disorders and how we may be able to help ourselves with something as simple as changes in our diets to include Polyphenol-rich fruits and juices with antioxidant properties that may have a powerful role to play in warding off the development of Alzheimer’s because of their effect on the production of free radicals in the body.

What is Oxidative Stress?

Oxidative Stress is caused when an imbalance between the production of reactive oxygen which, during times of stress (environmental or emotional) can increase dramatically within the body and result in a lot of cell damage because the body’s systems cannot repair the damage quickly enough.  A normal redox state is when things are in balance and the body’s own processes, preserve the right environment within the cells by using enzymes which are able to remain in a ‘normal’ state through the constant input of metabolic energy.  Disturbances in this normal redox state, getting into a state of Oxidative Stress, can cause toxic effects throughout the body such as the production of peroxides and free radicals – both of which damage elements of the cells such as proteins, lipids and DNA.

Anthocyanins, Catechins, Theaflavins, Curcumin, Resveratrol

Anthocyanins found in berries
Anthocyanins found in berries
Powerful antioxidant green tea
Powerful antioxidant green tea
Antioxidant curcumin from Turmeric
Antioxidant curcumin from Turmeric
Red wine, source of Resveratrol
Red wine, source of Resveratrol

What are Neurodegenerative Disorders?

Neurodegenerative Disorders is a sort of catch-all term for a group of diseases, including Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and Huntington’s. In all these diseases, there is a progressive loss of function due to neurodegenerative Processes. Alzheimer’s is the most common of these and affects more than 13 million people worldwide, a staggering figure.

What are Polyphenols?

Polyphenolic compounds in our diets have neuroprotective, antioxidant properties. They are found in a wide variety of foods.

Polyphenolic compounds include,


– found in berries

(please see this excellent hub on the

benefits of cherry juice)

Catechins and Theaflavins

– found in teas, especially green tea


– found in Turmeric


– found in red grapes and wine

Oxidative Stress and the link with Alzheimer's Disease

The exact mechanism for Alzheimer’s is not clear, but increasingly, support is gathering for the theory that it is caused by the build-up of plaque from amyloid deposits and these deposits are themselves, associated with an increase in brain cell damage and death from Oxidative Stress.

Researchers into Oxidative Stress found that in laboratory experiments, that when neuron-like PC12 cells were exposed to fruit extracts (apple, orange or banana), prior to being treated with hydrogen peroxide to induce Oxidative Stress, significantly more cells were viable after treatment with the fruit extracts and those treated with apple offering the best protection (so maybe there’s truth in the ‘an apple a day keeps the doctor away’ saying). Orange and Banana extracts still had a significant effect on the cells though, each protecting over 100% more cells than the control group at the highest concentrations.

So the research ‘in the test tube’ is encouraging, but what about in our diets? It has been reported that in mice which had genetically induced AD (Alzheimer’s Disease), apple juice with antioxidative phytochemicals protected their brain tissues against oxidative damage, and improved cognitive function. It was therefore concluded that “additional consumption of fresh fruits such as apple, banana, and orange may be beneficial to ameliorate chemopreventive effects in neurodegenerative disease such as AD,"


Eat polyphenol rich fruits

As a result of all this investigation, which foods should we all be eating more of in the hopes of avoiding the results of oxidative stress and even more hopefully, staving off the onset of Neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimers? The direct cost of Alzheimer’s care in the USA is well over $100 billion per annum, whilst in the UK, the cost is in excess of £15 billion per annum – frightening! It is no wonder that the search for preventative dietary measures is so important.

Whilst apples, oranges and bananas are three polyphenol-rich fruits, attention is now turning to other fruits that may have even better preventative, antioxidant properties.


Powerful antioxidants from Fruits

Grapes, the source of Grape Seed Extract, a polyphenol rich antioxidant
Grapes, the source of Grape Seed Extract, a polyphenol rich antioxidant

Grape seed extract, a powerful antioxidant

Researchers, led by Dr. Giulio Pasinetti at Mount Sinai School of Medicine found that oral administration of a polyphenol-rich extract from grape seed (MegaNatural-AZ, Polyphenolics) led to a significant reduction in the cognitive decline associated with Alzheimer's disease in mice.  Dr. Pasinetti  stated that the grape seed extract may even be able to prevent memory loss in people who had yet developed Alzheimer's disease.


Antioxidant-rich pomegranate juice could halve the build-up of harmful proteins linked to Alzheimer's disease
Antioxidant-rich pomegranate juice could halve the build-up of harmful proteins linked to Alzheimer's disease

Pomegranate juice improves cognitive function

Lead researcher Richard Hartman from Loma Linda University in California. Stated that a daily glass of antioxidant-rich pomegranate juice could halve the build-up of harmful proteins linked to Alzheimer's disease after his research project assessing the cognitive function in two groups of mice, one group of which had been fed pomegranate juice and another group which had been fed plain water.  The results were conclusive, cognitive function was significantly better in the group that had received the pomegranate juice; they performed the task on average 35% quicker.


Blueberry sales have increased hugely because they are known to have antioxidant properties
Blueberry sales have increased hugely because they are known to have antioxidant properties

Blueberries affect degenerative processes in the brain which are due to oxidative stress

Lead author Kara Duffy wrote in the journal ‘Neurobiology of Aging, "the current findings would suggest that a diet enriched in blueberry might attenuate degenerative processes due to oxidative or inflammatory stressors similar to the effectiveness of pharmacological strategies related to this hypothesis of Alzheimer’s disease". Her comments came after the research findings from National Institute on Aging (National Institutes of Health), Tufts University, and Louisiana State University System. Blueberries have been linked to protection from Alzheimer's for some time, with sales of blueberries reported to be booming in both the UK and the USA.


In conclusion, I have been actively trying to increase the amount of antioxidant, polyphenol rich fruits in my diet, eating at least two pieces of fruit each day and drinking juices instead of tea a couple of times a day. I also buy a vitamin supplement online which I take daily. I may not be able to stave off the inevitable but I feel fitter, my skin is better and I am keeping my brain active writing here on HubPages!

With Alzheimer's Your Brain Plays Tricks On You Everyday

 The following, very short video really struck me, starts out funny, but .....

If you have found this article on Alzheimer's Disease and Oxidative stress interesting and/or helpful, please help me to publicise it by clicking the Tweet and Like buttons at the top of the page or the share it button below.  I would love to receive your comments.  Thank you.


Submit a Comment
  • Alison Graham profile imageAUTHOR

    Alison Graham 

    10 years ago from UK

    Lane, thank you so much for this excellent information and what you have told me about aromatherapy is amazing. I will certainly be looking into this further. Thank you again for your informative comment.

  • profile image

    Lane Simonian 

    10 years ago

    Thank you for your research and your excellent article. This is a very difficult disease for both the person who has it and perhaps even more so for their loved ones.

    I began researching Alzheimer's disease seven years ago when my aunt and cousin were dying from the disease and my mother was in the early stages of the disease. Phenolic compounds such as the ones you mention both inhibit the activation of the pathway that leads to Alzheimer's disease and scavenge peroxynitrites--which are held to be the main cause of short-term memory impairment in Alzheimer's disease. They also partially reverse the peroxynitrite caused oxidation of receptors involved in short-term memory, sleep and mood,smell,and alertness. Methoxyphenols (eugenol, carvacrol, and thymol) in various essential oils (cinnamon leaf, clove, oregano, thyme, sage, rosemary, etc.) are good peroxynitrite scavengers and have the advantage that they can be directly inhaled into the brain via aromatherapy. Every peroxynitrite scavenger studied so far (rosmarinic acid, cinnamon extract, grape seed extract--as you mention, eugenol in Cinnamomum zeylanicum, and thymol and carvacrol in Zataria multiflora Boiss.) has helped correct cognitive deficits in animal models of the disease. Jimbo and colleagues also noticed significant improvements in cognitive function in patients with dementia, including those with Alzheimer's disease, after giving them rosemary and lemon to smell in the morning and lavender and orange to smell in the evening for 28 days. The Texas State Research on aromatherapy produced similar results. After four years on aromatherapy, my mother recognizes her home again, can remember her name and sometimes spell it, sleeps through the night, has some limited short-term memory, and is much more alert and aware.

    Hopefully, before long, aromatherapy will be a standard treatment for Alzheimer's disease.

  • Alison Graham profile imageAUTHOR

    Alison Graham 

    10 years ago from UK

    Hugs to you too G-Ma, just read your beautiful hub about the annual barbeque with your Mom.

    I agree, it is a scary prospect - I hope that a cure will be found or a way to reverse or slow the degeneration - as inevitably many of us will end our days this way.

  • G-Ma Johnson profile image

    Merle Ann Johnson 

    10 years ago from NW in the land of the Free

    Great if we can just get the younger generation to PAY ATTENTION... there may be some the future they say over half the population will have Dementia and most doctors I have heard speak on this say their greatest fear is getting Alzheimer/Dementia...

    My 92 year mom has had it now for over 8-9 years..BTW Hello I am G-Ma Johnson here on the hubs and nice to meet you...:O) Hugs G-Ma

  • Alison Graham profile imageAUTHOR

    Alison Graham 

    10 years ago from UK

    daliamaia, thank you for your comment. I hope that the specialist will be able to help you and you will find the peace you need.

    As an outsider who only knows about your situation from what you have written here, it sounds as though years of stress have completely exhausted you and you need a complete rest from it with someone else to take over - even if only for a little while.

    I am thinking of you.

  • profile image 

    10 years ago

    Hi Alison, your article on article on Alzheimer's Disease and Oxidative stress contains precious information and I think it should be published as soon as possible.

    I suspect I am in some ealy stage of brain stress related disease. I spent the 14 last years of my life in a batle to keep my daughter alive - she became severely anoretic and bulimic at the age of 17. She was hospitalized 6 times in emergency and God only knows how she suvived. Some tow or three years ago, my mother started showing signs of short term memory loss. Now she lives with us and I can tell she loses some memories day by day. Myself, I feel SO TIRED, it is like I haven't slept in weeks! Sometimes My brain literaly refuses to focus on anything and I seem not to be able to even think. Most of the time I feel quite alright, but there are these episodes, some 2 or 3 times a day, when I feel something is very wrong with me. I have an appointment with a neurologist especialized in alzheimer. I also go weekly to a psichiatrist and take antidepressive medication (venlafaxina). Now I plan to eat more healthy with my focus on Antioxidants In Fruits. Thank you for your article. I was lost. Now I know I had every reason to suspect my long stressed life had a price.

  • Alison Graham profile imageAUTHOR

    Alison Graham 

    11 years ago from UK

    Thank you for your comment Billy, there is a lot of research going on into Alzheimer's and other neurodegenerative diseases - adding extra antioxidants to our diets is an easy thing to do (I have written a new hub on Smoothies!)

  • billyaustindillon profile image


    11 years ago

    Very interesting - I had no idea that antioxidants would help Alzheimer's. It make sense of course, these studies are very encouraging. Thank you for sharing, I am sorry to hear about your parents Alison.


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