| Phytochemical-Rich Foods, Such As Blueberries
Reverse Deficits In Memory
If you are getting forgetful as you get older, then a research team
from the University of Reading and the Peninsula Medical School
in the Southwest of England may have good news for you.
If you are getting forgetful
as you get older, then a research team from the University of
Reading and the Peninsula Medical School in the South West of
England may have good news for you.
They have found that phytochemical-rich foods, such as blueberries,
are effective at reversing age-related deficits in memory, according
to a study soon to be published in the science journal Free Radical
Biology and Medicine. The researchers working at the Schools of
Food Biosciences and Psychology in Reading and the Institute of
Biomedical and Clinical Sciences at the Peninsula Medical School
in Exeter supplemented a regular diet with blueberries over a
12-week period, and found that improvements in spatial working
memory tasks emerged within three weeks and continued throughout
the period of the study.
Blueberries are a major source of flavonoids, in particular anthocyanins
and flavanols. Although the precise mechanisms by which these
plant-derived molecules affect the brain are unknown, they have
been shown to cross the blood brain barrier after dietary intake.
It is believed that they exert their effects on learning and memory
by enhancing existing neuronal (brain cell) connections, improving
cellular communications and stimulating neuronal regeneration.
The enhancement of both short-term and long-term memory is controlled
at the molecular level in neurons. The research team was able
to show that the ability of flavonoids to induce memory improvements
are mediated by the activation of signalling proteins via a specific
pathway in the hippocampus, the part of the brain that controls
learning and memory.
This innovative research was conducted by a multidisciplinary
research team led by Dr. Jeremy Spencer, a lecturer in Molecular
Nutrition at the University of Reading and included Dr. Claire
Williams, a Psychologist also from Reading and Dr. Matt Whiteman,
a Principal Investigator at the Institute of Biomedical and Clinical
Science, Peninsula Medical School. Dr Spencer commented: "Impaired
or failing memory as we get older is one of life's major inconveniences.
Scientists have known of the potential health benefits of diets
rich in fresh fruits for a long time. Our previous work had suggested
that flavonoid compounds had some kind of effect on memory, but
until now we had not known the potential mechanisms to account
Dr. Whiteman added "This study not only adds science to the claim
that eating blueberries are good for you, it also provides support
to a diet-based approach that could potentially be used to increase
memory capacity and performance in the future. Indeed, Dr. Spencer's
research team plan on extending these findings further by investigating
the effects of diets rich in flavonoids on individuals suffering
from cognitive impairment and Alzheimer's disease."