September 19, 2018

New study demonstrates blueberry supplementation improves brain function

Blueberries are rich in flavonoids, which contain powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. High intake of flavonoids mitigate age-related cognitive decline, however, human studies are limited. Cognitive function declines with age as the body’s cells are more susceptible to damage and death. In addition, the body produces less energy due to slower metabolism and as a result, cells are less able to produce antioxidants and soak up free radicals.

According to a new study published last week, researchers demonstrated that drinking concentrated blueberry juice improves brain function in older individuals.

This study included 26 healthy individuals ranging from 65 to 77 years of age. Twelve people drank a concentrated blueberry juice every day providing 387 mg of anthocyanidins for 12 weeks that demonstrated improvements in cognitive function, working memory, blood perfusion to the brain as well as activation of the brain while performing cognitive tests.

Before and after the twelve week period, all 26 individuals took a variety of cognitive tests while an MRI scanner monitored their brain function and resting brain blood flow. As a result, those who consumed the blueberry supplement showed significant increases in brain activity in brain areas related to the tests.

There is evidence that simple prevention strategies can reduce the risk of dementia and preserved cognition with a diet rich in plant-based foods. Flavonoids are an essential component contributing to these effects.

Blueberry consumption also plays a role in the reduction of amyloid β protein (Aβ) aggregation, which can disrupt mitochondrial function and lead to neuronal cell death. Pathological levels of amyloid plaques are found in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients.1,2 Also, the cognitive improvement provided by blueberries is associated to higher brain antioxidant production of glutathione.3

By Michael Jurgelewicz, DC, DACBN, DCBCN, CNS

References
Soluble protein oligomers as emerging toxins in Alzheimer’s and other amyloid diseases. Ferreira ST, Vieira MN, De Felice FG. IUBMB Life. 2007 Apr-May;59(4-5):332-45.

Synaptic failure and adenosine triphosphate imbalance induced by amyloid-β aggregates are prevented by blueberry-enriched polyphenols extract. Fuentealba J, Dibarrart AJ, Fuentes-Fuentes MC, Saez-Orellana F, Quiñones K, Guzmán L, Perez C, Becerra J, Aguayo LG. J Neurosci Res. 2011 Sep;89(9):1499-508. doi: 10.1002/jnr.22679. Epub 2011 Jun 6

Effect of a polyphenol-rich wild blueberry extract on cognitive performance of mice, brain antioxidant markers and acetylcholinesterase activity. Papandreou MA, Dimakopoulou A, Linardaki ZI, Cordopatis P, Klimis-Zacas D, Margarity M, Lamari FN. Behav Brain Res. 2009 Mar 17;198(2):352-8. doi: 10.1016/j.bbr.2008.11.013. Epub 2008 Nov 17.

Source: Joanna L. Bowtell, Zainie Aboo-Bakkar, Myra Conway, Anna-Lynne R. Adlam, Jonathan Fulford. Enhanced task related brain activation and resting perfusion in healthy older adults after chronic blueberry supplementation. Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism, 2017; DOI: 10.1139/apnm-2016-0550

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