Cheers to that: IPAs and hoppy beers may LOWER Alzheimer’s risk, study suggests
- Beer hops may prevent brain protein clumping, which could lead to Alzheimer’s disease
- It is the most common cause of the widespread degenerative disease dementia
- The researchers said that natural preventive strategies outweigh the treatment of symptoms
Hoppy beers may reduce dementia risk, study suggests.
Chemicals that give IPAs their unique bitter taste prevented the clumping of protein plaques strongly linked to Alzheimer’s disease in lab dishes.
Pale ales and hoppy beers are made with hop flower extracts, which contain natural antioxidants that protect cells in the body.
Tettnang, a hop variety grown in Germany and found in amber and light lagers, was the best at clearing protein in the Italian study’s lab test.
But the researchers caution that their findings may not justify drinking more beer, as too much alcohol is a huge risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease.
This is because heavy drinking accelerates the shrinkage of the white matter in the brain, which sends signals between different parts of the brain, leading to cognitive function problems.
The researchers from Milan found that Tettnang hops were the best at stopping protein clumps in the brain
What is Alzheimer’s?
Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive, degenerative disease of the brain in which the build-up of abnormal proteins causes nerve cells to die.
This disrupts the transmitters that transmit messages and causes the brain to shrink.
More than 5 million people suffer from the disease in the US, where it is the 6th leading cause of death, and more than 1 million Britons have it.
WHAT IS HAPPENING?
When brain cells die, the functions they provide are lost.
That includes memory, orientation, and the ability to think and reason.
The course of the disease is slow and gradual.
On average, patients live five to seven years after diagnosis, but some may live ten to 15 years.
- Loss of short-term memory
- Behavioral changes
- mood swings
- Difficulty handling or calling money
- Severe amnesia, forgetting close relatives, familiar objects or places
- Becoming anxious and frustrated with the inability to understand the world, leading to aggressive behavior
- Eventually loses the ability to walk
- May have problems eating
- The majority ultimately need 24-hour care
Source: Alzheimer’s Association
Alzheimer’s is an incurable neurodegenerative disease, which is thought to be caused by an unhealthy build-up of proteins in the brain.
It is the most common cause of dementia, which destroys memory and thinking skills through cell death.
More than 5 million people suffer from Alzheimer’s disease in the US, where it is the sixth leading cause of death, and more than 1 million Britons have it.
The researchers said, “The identification of natural compounds … for the development of preventive strategies against Alzheimer’s disease (and other neurodegenerative diseases) appears to be a better alternative for treating symptoms.”
Researchers from the University of Milano-Bicocca made four of the most popular hops (Cascade, Saaz, Tettnang and Summit) using a method similar to the brewing process, extracting chemicals from the hops.
They used a method called “dry-hopping,” where hops are added late in the brewing process to preserve the flavor.
They compared the anti-Alzheimer potential of hops in the lab using an analytical chemical technique to identify the presence of antioxidants.
They also incubated amyloid beta proteins with and without each of the hop extracts, to see if the hops stopped protein clustering.
All extracts had antioxidant properties and were able to stop the grouping of amyloid beta proteins in human nerve cells to varying degrees.
Amyloid beta proteins occur naturally, but abnormal levels in the brain can cause the proteins to clump together, interfering with cell function.
The hop extracts also triggered renewal processes called autophagic pathways – where the body breaks down and reuses old cell parts to increase efficiency.
The best performing hop was Tettnang, which is used in many different lagers and lighter ales.
Tettnang encouraged the cleanup of defunct proteins.
This is due to the high levels of the antioxidant polyphenols, which are also found in fruits, vegetables, herbs and spices, which had the strongest medicinal effect.
The researchers said that while their findings may not justify drinking more beer, it shows that hops may be the basis for foods that reduce the risk of neurodegenerative diseases.
Hops are also found in herbal teas and soft drinks.
The study was published in the journal ACS Chemical Neuroscience.