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Stop brain aging with these simple foods

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
These simple fruits can stop and maybe reverse brain aging.

Millions of baby boomers have been alerted about increasing rates of diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease that are linked to aging. Adding more berries to the diet could protect brain health for years, perhaps thwarting dementia and other brain disorders. The little fruits have brain health properties that were previously unknown.

Berries and the brain

We all know berries are good for health because they are high in antioxidants. But now a new study shows the delicious little fruits can clear toxins from the brain.

Some of the other well-known benefits of berries include:
• Boosting immunity
• Possible cancer prevention
• Healthy vision

Strawberries and blueberries have been shown to improve cognitive function and behavior in animal studies, but how does that work exactly?

One way is that berries improve signaling in the brain to help keep us mentally sharp. Another reason berries promote brain and overall health is because they contain phytochemicals that reduce inflammation.

Berries keep the brain clean

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Researchers from the Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University and University of Maryland Baltimore County recently discovered berries protected the brains of rats following irradiation that mimics aging.

The study authors say substances in berries act like scavengers to clear the brain of toxins through a process known as autophagy – the breakdown and removal of cellular components that naturally degrade in the brain.

High levels of toxic proteins in the brain promote development of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. Berries sweep out toxic proteins.

There are currently no effective medications that can reverse dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. Treatment of Parkinson’s disease involves medications that have side effects and perhaps risky surgery for patients who are candidates for implantable brain stimulators.

You can get more berries in your diet by adding them to yogurts, whole grain cereals, eating them dried, adding them to smoothies and putting them in your morning oatmeal. Try some blueberries in your salad. Of course, there is no reason not to just eat them plain either. Take a bag to work and snack on them mid-morning.

Dr. Barbara Shukitt-Hale, the lead investigator is now conducting a study on humans age 60 to 75. Shukitt says there are enough animal studies now to suggest berries may even reverse some of the behavioral changes seen with declining memory and growing older. Investing in a bag of berries once a week could prove to be good medicine for the brain – and a lot cheaper than a bag filled with prescription medication.