Wednesday, August 25, 2010

It's the Berry Way to Go

It was a great year for blueberries, a fruit yours truly adores. At the height of the season, my family buys little containers of same (3 for $5.00) which last for about a nano second in the Robert E household. The same fetish also applies to strawberries, blackberries and raspberries, gems that grow in abundance in CT during the summer but of course, this little post is not about adoration but rather about health as these lovelies, along with walnuts, may play an important role in keeping the brain supple.

"Scientists today 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.

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."

Ah tech, you gotta love it. :)

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