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Eating Berries May Activate The Brain's Natural Housekeeper For Healthy Aging
News Report (Aug. 24, 2010) â€” Scientists have reported the first evidence that eating blueberries, strawberries, and acai berries may help the aging brain stay healthy in a crucial, but previously unrecognized way. Their study, presented at the 240th National Meeting of the American Chemical Society (ACS), concluded that berries, and possibly walnuts, activate the brain's natural "housekeeper" mechanism, which cleans up and recycles toxic proteins linked to age-related memory loss and other mental decline. Those proteins are the culprits to blame for age-related memory loss and other mental deterioration.
Shibu Poulose, Ph. D., who presented the report, said 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. This 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-Agricultural Research Service (USDA-ARS) Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging in Boston. Poulose did the research with James Joseph, Ph. D. 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 percent high-antioxidant strawberry, blueberry, or blackberry extract showed a reversal of age-related deficits in nerve function and behavior that involves learning and remembering.
The study's findings suggest that vitamin C, a natural antioxidant found in most berries, might be the ingredient that helps protect the nervous system. Antioxidants have also been shown to fight damage to cells and can help battle diseases including Parkinson's and Alzheimer's.
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 over-activated 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 suggesting regular consumption of strawberries may provide significant nutritive and antioxidant benefits for your body."
Essentially, the microglia can become hyperactive and harm healthy brain cells by leaving oxidized deposits of minerals throughout the brain and body. Foods rich in anti-oxidants sweep through the system and effectively loosen the deposits' holds and help the body transport the waste out of the system.
â€œA blueberry is not a one-time shot.â€ Poulose continued, â€œWith age, the microglia are re-invigorated, but not re-taught to do their job, so once the anti-oxidants pass through the system, the body needs another supply for continued cleaning and maintenance. Changing the way you eat is a life-style change if you want to see the true benefits.â€
The findings emerged from research in which Joseph and Poulose have tried to detail factors involved in the aging brain's loss of normal housekeeping activity. Using cultures of mouse brain cells, they found that extracts of berries inhibited the action of a protein that shuts down the autophagy process.
Poulose said the study provides further evidence to eat foods rich in polyphenolics. Although berries and walnuts are rich sources, many other fruits and vegetables contain these chemicals ― especially those with deep red, orange, or blue colors. Those colors come from pigments termed anthocyanins that are good antioxidants. He emphasized the importance of consuming the whole fruit, which contains the full range of hundreds of healthful chemicals. Frozen berries, which are available year round, also are excellent sources of polyphenolics, he added.
Polyphenols preparations are also available as dietary supplements. Mainly found in the fruit skins, high levels of polyphenols may reflect only the measured extractable polyphenol content of a fruit, which may also contain non-extractable polyphenols.
Notable sources of polyphenols include berries, tea, beer, grapes/wine, olive oil, chocolate/cocoa, coffee, walnuts, peanuts, borojo, pomegranates, popcorn, yerba mate, and other fruits and vegetables.
The author is a highly professional and an experienced Content writer who publishes for Business Development. Visit at http://www.anti-aging-plan.com/ to know more about antioxidant benefits, natural antioxidant and age-related memory loss.
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