Researchers from the University of Milano-Bicocca in Milan, Italy, have discovered that hoppy beers may help prevent the development of Alzheimer’s disease (AD).
While no single cause has been linked to the neurodegenerative disease, the Alzheimer’s Association claims multiple factors, from genetics to lifestyle to environment, contribute to its prevalence. However, the latest study, published last month in ACS Chemical Neuroscience, hopes to deepen our understanding of the mechanisms that trigger AD.
While prescription drugs that help manage Alzheimer’s symptoms exist, none effectively treat all forms of the complex condition that can manifest. Last year, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved a new drug called Aducanumab which seemingly helps slow the acceleration of the disease.
Nevertheless, no cure yet exists for AD, according to the Alzheimer’s Association.
However, the latest findings out of Milan point to a potential natural remedy to help prevent its development. The authors found that hop flower extracts used in beer can block amyloid beta proteins from clumping around cells. The proteins can accumulate between neurons, disrupt cell function, and ultimately lead to Alzheimer’s, the researchers suspect.
Indian Pale Ales (IPAs) were particularly effective because they contain high levels of hops.
The researchers also discovered that hops possess antioxidant properties. Hops prompted autophagy after exposure to amyloid proteins and human nerve cells.
According to Cleveland Clinic, autophagy is a “natural cleaning out process” initiated when cells are stressed or lack nutrients. It allows your body to break down and recycle old parts, potentially improving cell efficiency.
Hops from the town of Tettnang in southern Germany were found to be the most effective at clearing out deteriorating proteins. Further research will be needed to determine if hops should be recommended to help reduce the risk of the disease.
For now, it is probably wise to talk to your doctor before prescribing yourself another IPA.