Berry young brains

It is no news that eating fresh, preferably organic, berries is good for you. What is news is that a new study has found a new effect of berries (including blueberries, strawberries, and acai berries) that will protect your brain as it ages.

One of the factors involved in ageing is a steady decline in your body’s defences against things like inflammation and free radical damage. As a result diseases of the joints, heart disease, cancer, and degeneration of your brain can occur. There is also another defensive mechanism in your brain that drops off as you age.

Your brain has a range of natural self-cleaning processes. The cells that do this house-keeping are called microglia and they remove the by-products of the chemical processes in your brain. “Autophagy” is the name given to this cleaning process that microglia perform. If autophagy did not happen the biochemical by-products would clog up your brain circuitry and interfere with the way your brain functions. As you age, this is exactly what happens; your microglia don’t work as efficiently and debris builds up choking your mental processes.

If that piece of news has ruined your morning coffee then perk up because the good news is that berries have shown to help boost the actions of microglia in your brain.

Polyphenols are the antioxidant molecules in berries that give them their various lustrous colours and also provide their healing power. What these polyphenols have been shown to do is block the action of a protein that shuts down the process of autophagy. So by blocking this protein, berries allow the cleansing process in your brain to go on as close to normal as possible.

The berries used in this study were blueberries, strawberries and acai berries. Strawberries in particular can be subject to lots of herbicide and pesticide use, so go organic if you can or at least wash your fruit carefully.

Keeping your mental housework up to date a nice berry salad is no onerous task. Even better, when people compliment you on your incredible memory and say, “Gee, you are very sharp!”, you will be able to wow them with your witty one-liner, “Actually, I’m berry sharp!” Watch out for some aching sides as the laughter flows.

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The WellBeing Team

The WellBeing Team

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