Berries are rich in disease-fighting nutrients. What’s more, a growing wealth of research indicates that including more berries in your diet can make you smarter, as well as ward off neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease.
2012 New Research
Strong scientific evidence exists that eating blueberries, blackberries, strawberries and other berry fruits has beneficial effects on the brain and may help prevent age-related memory loss and other changes. These findings are from a large new review published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.
Because chiropractic care focuses on facilitating the nervous system, it is interesting to see research showing that berries change the way neurons in the brain communicate. These changes in signaling can prevent inflammation in the brain that contributes to neuronal damage and improve both motor control and cognition.
Anthocyanins and Berries
Monoamine oxidases (MAOs) are enzymes in the brain that trigger neuron reactions. High MAO activity is associated with cognitive problems including depression and memory loss.
Laboratory studies show that antioxidants called anthocyanins inhibit the activity of MAO in the brain. Berries are an excellent source of anthocyanins.
Resveratrol Benefit of Eating Berries
Resveratrol is a powerful antioxidant, typically associated with grapes. However, what many people don’t know is that this disease-busting nutrient is also abundant in many berries. Evidence reveals that resveratrol may be useful in the prevention of cardiovascular disease, cancer, pain, inflammation, tissue injury and neurodegenerative disorders, especially Alzheimer’s disease.
Eating Berries and Alzheimer’s
Eating berries may thwart Alzheimer’s even in people with a strong genetic predisposition to the disease. In an experiment, scientists bred rats to have a genetic risk for AD. Some of the rats were fed blueberry supplementation from 4 months of age. At 12 months of age (old-age for rats) the rats that ate blueberries showed no deficit in navigating a maze. In addition, their brains showed no evidence of the plaque formations associated with AD.
This data indicates for the first time that it may be possible to over-come genetic predispositions to Alzheimer disease through diet.
Berries Help Slow Cognitive Decline
Studies show that berry consumption may prevent—and perhaps even reverse—mild cognitive impairment.
The study explains that blueberries contain compounds called anthocyanins, which have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. In addition, anthocyanins have been associated with increased neuronal signaling in brain centers, mediating memory function as well as improved glucose disposal, benefits that would be expected to mitigate neurodegeneration.
Prevent Parkinson’s by Eating Berries
Parkinson’s disease is one of the most common neurodegenerative disorders. Now recent research indicates that berries may stave off Parkinson’s disease.
In the laboratory, scientists treated brain neurons with an extract of mulberry fruit. They then used toxins to induce cell changes associated with Parkinson’s. Specifically, these changes involve the death of neurons associated with the hormone dopamine.
Findings showed that mulberry extract significantly protected the cells from neurotoxicity.
Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry
British Journal of Nutrition