Eat your berries!
See below for an interesting article on how berries can assist in
preventing cognitive decline.
Evan H. Hirsch, MD
Consuming berries could delay brain aging up to two and a half years
Friday, April 27, 2012. An article published online on April 26, 2012
in the Annals of Neurology reports a protective effect for diets
containing high amounts of blueberries and strawberries against
cognitive decline in older women. Berries are high in compounds known
as flavonoids, which may help reduce the negative impact of
inflammation and stress on cognitive function.
“As the U.S. population ages, understanding the health issues facing
this group becomes increasingly important,” commented lead researcher
Elizabeth Devore of Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical
School. “Our study examined whether greater intake of berries could
slow rates of cognitive decline.”
Dr Devore and her associates evaluated data from women who were
between the ages of 30 and 55 upon enrollment in the Nurses’ Health
Study in 1976. Dietary questionnaires completed every four years since
1980 were analyzed for the frequency of berry intake as well as the
intake of 31 individual flavonoids representing six major flavonoid
subclasses commonly found in US diets. Cognitive function was tested
every two years in 16,010 participants who were over the age of 70
between 1995 and 2001.
Berry brain benefit
A review published online on January 23, 2012 in the Journal of
Agricultural and Food Chemistry describes a multitude of positive
effects for berries on neurologic function. “A growing body of
preclinical and clinical research has identified neurological benefits
associated with the consumption of berry fruits,” write Marshall G.
Miller and Barbara Shukitt-Hale, PhD of Tufts University in their
introduction to the article. “In addition to their now well-known
antioxidant effects, dietary supplementation with berry fruits also
has direct effects on the brain. Intake of these fruits may help to
prevent age-related neurodegeneration and resulting changes in
cognitive and motor function.”
Berries have antioxidant effects, such as that demonstrated for
mulberry in Parkinson’s disease. Wolfberry, also called gogi berry,
may have direct neuroprotective effects that are independent of its
antioxidant benefits. In animal studies, blueberries have been
associated with a variety of brain benefits, including a reduction in
age-related increases in nuclear factor-kappa beta. Aged rats given
blueberries, cranberries or blackberries have better balance and
control, and a reduction in amyloid beta has been observed in
association with blueberry intake in mice bred to develop specific
aspects of Alzheimer’s disease. In humans with mild cognitive
impairment, daily consumption of blueberry juice resulted in improved
word list recall and better performance in comparison with subjects
who receive a placebo.
“Given that neurodegeneration and cognitive decline are chronic
processes, throughout adulthood, future research should also identify
critical periods during which increased consumption of berry fruits is
most effective and the extent to which berry fruits prevent or even
reverse the deleterious effects of aging,” the authors conclude.
“Furthermore, the optimal dietary intake, necessary duration of
supplementation, and longevity of the effects following the cessation
of supplementation should also be explored.”