Health In Focus
  • Maple syrup extract can prevent amyloid-beta plaque formation on brain cells
  • It can also prevent abnormal tangles of Tau protein in the brain
  • It has neuroprotective effects on the microglia; immune cells of the brain
  • It can also increase the lifespan of people with Alzheimer's disease
Maple syrup, a natural sweetener is made from the sugary sap of the maple trees. It is considered to be healthier and nutritious than sugar as it contains loads of minerals and vitamins. About two-thirds of maple syrup is made up of sucrose and was first discovered by the indigenous people in North America.
Maple Syrup May Help Fight Alzheimer's Disease
Maple Syrup May Help Fight Alzheimer's Disease

About 71% of maple syrup globally is produced by the Federation of Quebec Maple Syrup Producers in Canada. There has been growing research on the maple syrup as it contains 100 bioactive compounds that mostly have anti-inflammatory properties.

Several studies have indicated that maple syrup can have an effect on neurological health and the latest studies examine its potential role in protecting brain health.

Recently, a two-day symposium was conducted by the American Chemical Society (ACS), wherein international scientists shared results of 24 studies that looked at the role of natural products in delaying neurodegenerative diseases, particularly Alzheimer's disease.

Alzheimer's disease is a neurodegenerative disease that impairs daily functioning through gradual loss of memory. It is one of the common types of dementia that cannot be prevented, delayed or treated currently.

Alzheimer's Disease Statistics

  • The World Alzheimer Report 2015 found that there are currently around 46.8 million people are living with dementia around the world, with 4.1 million in India.
  • Nearly half of all people with dementia globally will live in Asia by 2050.
  • The Alzheimer's Association reports that for every 67 seconds, someone in the U.S. develops Alzheimer's disease.
  • Alzheimer's is the sixth-leading cause of death in the US and the annual health care cost is $226 billion.

Maple Syrup Effects on Brain Health

One of the studies presented at the symposium indicated that pure maple syrup extract can slow the onset of Alzheimer's disease. The study was led by Dr. Donald Weaver, Director of Krembil Research Institute of the University of Toronto.

Alzheimer's disease is caused by the accumulation of amyloid-beta proteins in the brain that are activated by the overproduction of immune cells of the brain, microglia. Microglia helps in fighting against foreign bodies in the brain, but as we age, these cells get triggered hyperactively that leads to increased production of amyloid-beta proteins. These proteins form plaques in the brain, leading to brain damage and memory loss.

Brain cells rely on a transport system to send signals and this system depends on the proper functioning of a protein called Tau protein. But in people with Alzheimer's, these proteins form abnormal tangles leading to death of nerve cells and loss of brain tissue.

Therefore, the onset of Alzheimer's depends on these two key proteins. Current treatments focus on Alzheimer's symptoms than on these plaques and tangles. But phenolic-enriched extracts of maple syrup was found to prevent the formation of amyloid protein plaques and Tau protein tangles in the brain.

Another study found that maple syrup extract prevented the fibrillation (tangling) of amyloid beta proteins and had neuroprotective effects in primary immune brain cells (microglia), a decrease of which is associated with Alzheimer's disease and other neurological problems.

Maple syrup may also play a crucial role in expanding the lifespan of people with Alzheimer's disease. The results were obtained by researchers at the University of Rhode Island, in collaboration with researchers at Texas State University.

"Natural food products such as green tea, red wine, berries, curcumin and pomegranates continue to be studied for their potential benefits in combating Alzheimer's disease. And now, in preliminary laboratory-based Alzheimer's disease studies, phenolic-enriched extracts of maple syrup from Canada showed neuroprotective effects, similar to resveratrol, a compound found in red wine. However, further animal and eventually human studies would be required to confirm these initial findings," said Dr. Navindra P. Seeram, University of Rhode Island, USA.

These preliminary findings promise to include maple syrup as one of the natural products in fighting against Alzheimer's disease.

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Source: Medindia

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