Scroll To Top
Prevention

Berries: The Brain's Housekeeper?

Berries: The Brain's Housekeeper?

Eating blueberries, strawberries, and acai berries may help the aging brain stay healthy in a crucial but previously unrecognized way, according to new evidence.

[ FIT-TIP FRIDAY ]

A study presented at the 240th National Meeting of the American Chemical Society concluded that berries — and possibly walnuts — activates the brain's natural "housekeeper" mechanism, which cleans up and recycles toxic proteins linked to age-related memory loss and other mental decline.

Previous research suggested that one factor involved in aging is a steady decline in the body's ability to protect itself against inflammation and oxidative damage, according to Shibu Poulose, Ph.D., who presented the report. This decline leaves people vulnerable to degenerative brain diseases, heart disease, cancer, and other age-related disorders.

"The good news is that natural compounds called polyphenolics found in fruits, vegetables, and nuts have an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effect that may protect against age-associated decline," said Poulose, who is with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging in Boston. Poulose did the research with James Joseph, Ph.D., who died June 1. Joseph, who headed the laboratory, pioneered research on the role of antioxidants in fruits and nuts in preventing age-related cognitive decline.

Their past studies, for instance, showed that old laboratory rats fed for two months on diets containing 2% high-antioxidant strawberry, blueberry, or blackberry extract showed a reversal of age-related deficits in nerve function and behavior that involves learning and remembering.

In the new research Poulose and Joseph focused on another reason why nerve function declines with aging. It involves a reduction in the brain's natural house-cleaning process. Cells called microglia are the housekeepers. In a process called autophagy, they remove and recycle biochemical debris that otherwise would interfere with brain function.

"But in aging, microglia fail to do their work, and debris builds up," Poulose explained. "In addition, the microglia become overactivated and actually begin to damage healthy cells in the brain. Our research suggests that the polyphenolics in berries have a rescuing effect. They seem to restore the normal housekeeping function. These findings are the first to show these effects of berries."

Advocate Channel - The Pride StoreOut / Advocate Magazine - Fellow Travelers & Jamie Lee Curtis

From our Sponsors

Most Popular

Latest Stories

HIV Plus Editors

Editor