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Berries for the Brain

April 26, 2013

BlueberriesBerries for Brain Protection
Berries are a Brain Super Food
By Byron J. Richards (2012)

Blueberries, strawberries, blackberries, and more. 

These wonder foods are well known for their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties due for the most part to the substances that give them color, polyphenols antioxidant shown to affect cell-to-cell signaling, receptor sensitivity, inflammatory enzyme activity or gene regulation. Found in many different fruits, vegetables, red wine, grains, honey, and legumes, or more specifically anthocyanins.  A new array of emerging gene science is demonstrating that the protective effects of these nutrients to your brain go far beyond their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties and are intimately involved [in regulating] the natural defense systems in your brain.

Researchers at the United States Department of Agriculture lead the world in serious berry research and the brain, with a special emphasis on blueberries. They now say the following, “Dietary supplementation with berry fruits also has direct effects on the brain. Intake of these fruits may help to prevent age-related neurodegeneration…in addition to enhancing neuroplasticity, neurotransmission, and calcium buffering, all of which lead to attenuation of age- and pathology-related deficits in behavior. Recent clinical trials have extended these antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and cognition-sparing effects to humans.”

Fascinating new research at the USDA shows that berries activate the natural housecleaning process within your brain so damage does not accumulate and lead to cognitive decline.  This finding involves the healthy function of your glial cells.  One of their important chores is as a “trash man” or “house cleaner.”  They are responsible for a process called autophagy, which removes and recycles debris that would otherwise clog brain function.  During aging the autophagy process slows down, clogging brain cells and causing them to malfunction.  The researches showed this process is rejuvenated by extracts of berries.  The favorite berry of the researchers at USDA is the blueberry, followed by blackberries and strawberries. 

Collectively these studies demonstrate that berries, especially blueberries, are highly protective to your brain.  Partly this involves their well documented antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects.  However, a significant body of science shows that they are directly helping regulate genes to offset stress, improve brain communication, clean up brain waste products, and stimulate the production of new brain cells.  This is an impressive body of science showing that berries are good for your brain.

Organic berries are available year round in the frozen food section and can be blended into a protein drink or smoothie for breakfast. This makes it easy to incorporate these fruits into your diet when they are not in season. Berries are an important fruit to eat organic and preferably grown in the United States. Concentrated dietary supplements of blueberries and other berries typically contain the active compounds of a full cup of berries in a single capsule, which is another convenient way to get the brain nourishing benefits of berries.

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