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Beer Could Be the Key to Preventing Alzheimer’s

A glass of beer with wheat ears
Beer could hold the key to Preventing Alzheimer’s Credit: Marco Verch Professional Photographer CC BY 2.0 / Flickr

Researchers have suggested in a recent study that hop flower extracts found in beer could hold the key to preventing Alzheimer’s which is a common form of dementia.

Hops generally act as stabilizing agents in all beers. For their study, researchers from the University of Milano-Bicocca tested four common varieties of hop flower extracts to determine whether they would help to prevent brain protein clumping affiliated with Alzheimer’s.

The Hop varieties put to test included Cascade, Saaz, Tettnang, and Summit which the researchers exposed to amyloid proteins and human nerve cells.

What their findings revealed was that they were able to block amyloid beta proteins from clumping around cells. In addition, they contain antioxidant properties believed to protect cells in the body.

Hop extracts in beer also triggered a renewal process called autophagic pathways. That is where the body breaks down and reuses old cell parts to increase efficiency.

All beer production uses them as ingredients, although they are more often in larger quantities in ales like Indian Pale Ales (IPA). They are also in herbal teas and soft drinks.

Causes of Alzheimer’s

According to information from the Alzheimer’s Association, there is no single cause linked to Alzheimer’s disease as it develops from multiple factors such as genetics, lifestyle and environment.

However, researchers involved in this particular study attributed it to amyloid beta proteins, which are naturally occurring, clumping together to form plaques that collect between neurons, disrupting cell function.

Hops in Tettnang cultivated a town in the Bodensee district in southern Baden-Württember in Germany were the top performing, as they helped clear out proteins that were defunct due to high levels of antioxidants.

For that reason, those conducting the analysis believe that hops could form the basis of foods to help prevent the illness.

Other remedies

Being a complex disease, it is unlikely that any one drug or intervention will ever successfully treat Alzheimer’s in all people. That being said, there are several prescription drugs the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have already approved that help manage it symptoms in people with the disease.

On June 7, 2021, the FDA accelerated approval for Aducanumab, a human antibody or immunotherapy that targets the protein beta-amyloid and helps to reduce amyloid plaques. At the moment, it is the only disease-modifying medication approved to treat Alzheimer’s.

Clinical studies to determine the effectiveness of aducanumab were conducted only in people with early-stage Alzheimer’s or mild cognitive impairment. Yet researchers are continuing to study whether the medication works to affect a person’s rate of cognitive decline over time.

One should note that their findings in no way advocate people drinking more beer as alcohol is a risk factor for Alzheimer’s. Nevertheless researchers did find that, along with other remedies, hops could serve as the basis of foods lessening the risk of neurodegenerative diseases.

Recent scientific publications related to the MICOIL study have also provided several different types of evidence suggesting that extra virgin olive oil can delay the onset of Alzheimer’s in humans without any negative side effects. If so, that would provide one more possible remedy.

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