With increasing life expectancy as a result of better quality of life and improved health care, the incidence of aging related diseases and disorders is heading toward epidemic proportions. Dementia, a spectrum of neurological diseases associated with aging, is an increasingly prevalent disease. No cure exists yet for dementia; however, there are many potential candidates for treatment of dementia that merit more exploration. Polyphenols, which constitute one such class of compounds, are dietary agents that are globally found in commonly consumed food. Many processes that are associated with the pathophysiology of dementia can be modulated by polyphenols. Polyphenolic compounds can alleviate oxidative stress by acting as direct scavengers of free radicals and clearing superoxide and hydroxyl radicals and by increasing the level of antioxidant enzymes such as glutathione peroxidase. They also chelate metal ions to prevent free radical formation. Polyphenols can also combat inflammation by affecting transcription factors such as NF-κB. Some polyphenols may have the potential to inhibit excitotoxicity by regulating intracellular calcium ion concentration, inhibiting glutamate receptors and increasing glutamate reuptake at the synapse. The cognitive decline in dementia due to decreased availability of acetylcholine can also be countered by polyphenols that inhibit acetyl-cholinesterase activity. Taken together, these findings suggest that increasing the consumption of polyphenol rich food may alleviate the effects of dementia. Moreover, their effects on controlling multiple mechanisms that are associated with dementia may also prevent or slow down the onset and progress of this devastating disease.
Keywords: Catechin; Curcumin; Dementia; Diet; Polyphenols.