What if beer protected us against Alzheimer’s disease?

Beer, and more specifically the hop flower, would have a significant neuroprotective effect to protect us from Alzheimer’s disease. How to explain it?

The hop flower is all good on the memory front! This plant of the cannabinaceae family used as flavorings in the 1,001 beers served around the world would indeed be the friend of our neurons. In any case, this is the conclusion formulated by Cristina Airoldi and Alessandro Palmioli, scientists from the University of Milan, in a study published on November 7, 2022.

Supporting evidence: in the laboratory, and not at the counter, “the components of hop flowers inhibited the agglutination of Beta-amyloid plaques, a biological phenomenon characteristic of Alzheimer’s disease”, summarize the two researchers.

Antioxidants and polyphenols

“We observed four distinct hop flowers: some had an antioxidant power capable of preventing the accumulation of Beta-amyloid plaques in neurons”. Was one flower more effective than another? Yes that of Tettnang, known for its spicy and herbaceous aromas, used in most lager beers, in light beers of so-called bottom fermentation* but also in English beers and wheat beers. Thus, “a high content of polyphenols guaranteed a strong antibiotic power and greater efficiency in inhibiting the process of agglutination of Beta-amyloid plaques”.

This discovery sheds light on this very precise moment of the pathology. An advance because one of the difficulties in the management of Alzheimer’s disease is to treat the patient between this first phase of the disease, which is the agglutination of plaques and beta-amyloids, and the appearance of the first symptoms. Very often, several years separate these two stages. Consequence: the damage to the nervous system becomes irreversible even before the diagnosis is made.

“Under no circumstances should our work encourage the consumption of alcohol,” recalls Cristina Airoldi. But “this study is part of the field of nutraceuticals: an approach studying the benefits of drinks and foods on biological processes at work in certain pathologies”.

To note : the benefits of hops on cognitive abilities have already been the subject of several studies highlighting the effects of a flavonoid, xanthohumol, in the stimulation of cognitive abilities. In capsule form, the buds of bitter acids from beer (MHBA) have been described as stimulating memory and attention spans. They would also reduce stress levels and prevent cognitive decline.

*type of fermentation which requires the addition of yeast mash which transforms glucose and maltose into carbon dioxide. These beers are lighter and less fruity than those made from so-called high fermentation

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