PETALING JAYA: A Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) lecturer has discovered a potential cure for memory loss.
Dr You Yee Xing, 28, said the ulam raja had been found to be promising due to the potential value of its polyphenol and antioxidant content.
The plant has been proven effective in preventing memory loss and increasing cognitive functions among the elderly.
He developed ulam raja supplements which lowers lipid peroxidation, increases serum glutathione levels and activates the brain; these help to prevent cognitive decline.
He then carried out a study which involved 48 adults aged between 60 and 75 with mild cognitive impairment.
They consumed the supplement for a period of 12 weeks, he said in a statement to The Star yesterday.
"Cognitive functions among the elderly will decrease with age.
"To reduce the risk of dementia and cognitive decline, I came up with this supplement for older adults and investigated its efficacy on cognitive improvement.
"Twenty-four of them were given the ulam raja supplement to consume, while the remaining 24 were given placebos," he added.
You, who is from the UKM Faculty of Health Sciences Centre for Healthy Ageing and Wellness, said to maintain transparency throughout the clinical trial, he and the participants were not informed of the distribution of the supplement.
The participants' fasting serum lipids, blood sugar, kidney and liver functions were tested at the baseline and post-intervention, he said, adding that this was to determine whether the supplement was safe to be consumed.
"Those who took the supplement had a significant increase in brain activation compared to those who consumed placebos.
"The supplement also improved global cognitive function, working memory, and reduced stress and mood disturbances.
"It has been proven that ulam raja, which is high in antioxidants and other nutrients, can help prevent cognitive decline in older people," he claimed.
The study used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), he said, to test the participants' cognitive functions before and after they took the supplement.
Eating ulam raja was not a common practise for You, who said he was initially hesitant to take up the topic when it was first suggested to him.
However, upon conducting in-depth research on it, he saw the benefits the vegetable offered.
He has published 23 papers in reputable journals, including journal articles, conference papers and book chapters related to this field of study.
"I am proud to get the chance to pursue my degree and PhD in UKM.
"The university has helped in achieving my dreams and shaping my future," he added.
You was awarded the Doctoral Gold Award from the university for his thesis titled "Cosmos Caudatus supplementation as an ulam consumption modelling to improve cognitive function among older adults' mild cognitive impairment" during UKM's 49th convocation ceremony on Nov 27.
UKM deputy vice-chancellor (research and innovation affairs) Prof Datuk Dr Abdul Wahab Mohammad said such research was important for the country as Malaysia had a wealth of local ulam and herbs.
"These should be explored as it can increase the value of our local valuable resources.
"Apart from carrying out excellent research where the findings can be published internationally, You also managed to discover the scientific explanation on something that is already practised by our community," he said.
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