Drink your fruits and vegetables

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Everyone likes a juicy story. That became apparent recently after we ran an item about the beneficial effects of apple juice on people with Alzheimer's.

If you've been looking at our list of "Most Popular" stories on the right-hand side of the McKnight's home page, you likely have seen the apple juice story at the top.

It's always interesting to see which articles resonate with readers. It's not altogether surprising that a story about a commonplace drink helping those with dementia hit the mark. Alzheimer's, a devastating disease, affects many residents in long-term care facilities.

To summarize, a pilot study was conducted on 21 residents with moderate-to-late-stage Alzheimer's at two Massachusetts nursing homes. Participating residents drank two four oz. glasses of apple juicy a day for one month. While they demonstrated no change in the Dementia Rating Scale, caregivers reported an approximate 27% improvement in behavioral and psychotic symptoms associated with dementia. The largest changes occurred in anxiety, agitation and delusion.

The power of phytochemicals

Whey does apple juice help improve behavioral effects? It's not clear, according the authors. One possibility is the antioxidant potential of phytochemicals, "which is consistent with reduction of oxidative damage to brain tissue in preclinical studies."

Whatever the reason, this is good news. One of the most uplifting aspects of the story is that it reinforces the positive impact of nutritional supplementation. Researchers increasingly are learning about the benefits of certain foods on our cognitive and physical well-being. It is good to know that we can take natural approaches to healing, in addition to the usual pharmacological ones. 

The study notes that because of the small participant population, we should interpret the results with caution.

Still, "the modest, but statistically significant, impact of apple juice on BPSD [behavioral and psychological symptoms of dementia] in this short-term pilot study add to the body of evidence supporting the usefulness of nutritional approaches, including fruit and vegetable juices, in delaying the onset and progression of AD [Alzheimer's disease] even in the face of known genetic risk factors," according to authors.

That is sure to sound sweet to Mott's.


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Daily Editors' Notes

McKnight's Daily Editors' Notes features commentary on the latest in long-term care news and issues. Entries are written by Editorial Director John O'Connor, Editor James M. Berklan, Senior Editor Elizabeth Newman and Staff Writer Marty Stempniak.