In an abstract summarizing the results of a study reported at the Experimental Biology 2013 meeting, published on April 9, 2013 in The FASEB Journal, researchers from Tufts University report a benefit for strawberry and blueberry consumption in improving autophagy in the brain. Autophagy is a process employed by the body to clear the accumulation of unnecessary or damaged cellular components that have been implicated in some disorders. "Most diseases of the brain such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's have shown an increased amount of toxic protein," explained research team member Shibu Poulose, PhD, of Tufts' Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging. "Berries seem to promote autophagy, the brain's natural housekeeping mechanism, thereby reducing the toxic accumulation."
In a study led by Dr Barbara Shukitt-Hale, rats were provided with a control diet or a diet supplemented with strawberries or blueberries for two months prior to and 30 days following irradiation of the brain (which results in oxidative and inflammatory stress to that organ). Some of the animals underwent examination of their brains 36 hours following irradiation and the remaining animals were examined after 30 days.
The team observed a reduction in inflammation and oxidative stress in rats that received diets enhanced with either berry, as well as improved indicators of autophagy activation in comparison with untreated animals. "After 30 days on the same berry diet, the rats experienced significant protection against radiation compared to control," Dr Poulose reported. "We saw significant benefits to diets with both of the berries, and speculate it is due to the phytonutrients present."
"We have a lot of animal work that suggests these compounds will protect the aged brain and reverse some of behavioral deficits," stated Dr Shukitt-Hale. "We are hoping it will translate to human studies as well."
Are Statin Drugs really the answer?
Hosted by Michael A. Smith, M.D.
Thursday, May 23 at 3 p.m.
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