Strawberries, blueberries and acai berries – they all help recycle toxic proteins linked to age-related memory loss and other mental decline, says a new study.
Shibu Poulose said that one factor involved in aging is a steady decline in the body's ability to protect itself against inflammation and oxidative damage. This leaves people vulnerable to degenerative brain diseases, heart disease, cancer, and other age-related disorders.
"The good news is that natural compounds called polyphenolics found in fruits, vegetables and nuts have an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effect that may protect against age-associated decline," said Poulose.
Berries, and possibly walnuts, activate the brain's natural 'housekeeper' mechanism. Cells called microglia are the housekeepers, which remove and recycle biochemical debris that otherwise would interfere with brain function. However, with aging, these cells fail to do their work.
"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," said Poulose.
Their study was presented at the 240th National Meeting of the American Chemical Society (ACS).