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Eating berries may activate brain’s housekeeping


August 25, 2010
By Fruit & Vegetable

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August 24, 2010 –
Scientists have reported the first evidence that eating blueberries,
strawberries and acai berries may help the aging brain stay health in a
previously unrecognized way.



August 24, 2010 –
Scientists have reported the first evidence that eating blueberries,
strawberries and acai berries may help the aging brain stay health in a
previously unrecognized way.

The study, presented at
the 240th National Meeting of the American Chemical Society,
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 mental decline.

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The research was conducted
at the U.S. Department of AgricultureAgricultural Research Service’s Human
Nutrition Research Center on Aging
located in Boston, MA.

According to USDA
researcher Dr. Shibu Poulose, who conducted the study with Dr. James Joseph,
natural compounds, called polyphenolics, found in fruits, vegetables and nuts
have an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effect that may protect against
age-associated decline.

Past studies have shown
that old laboratory rats fed for two months on diets containing two per cent
high-antioxidant strawberry, blueberry, or blackberry extract showed improved
nerve function and exhibited behaviour involving learning and remembering.

In the new research, Dr.
Poulose focused on the brain’s natural housekeeping process where cells, called
microglia, work as garbage collectors, removing and recycling biochemical
debris that otherwise interferes with brain function. During aging, the
microglia fail to do their work and the “garbage” builds up.

“Our research suggests
that the polyphenolics in berries have a rescuing effect,” said Dr. Poulose.
“They seem to restore the normal housekeeping function.”

He said the study provides
further evidence that people should be eating foods rich in polyphenolics, especially
fruits and vegetables with deep red, orange or blue colours.


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