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Can You Clean Your Brain? New Research Shows Berries Can Eliminate Brain “Debris”

It sounds as wonderful as it does impossible: that our brain can be cleaned, restored, and refreshed by eliminating harmful clutter. There’s some brand new research indicating that this clean sweep is no new age fantasy, and it may be achieved by what we eat.

The latest scientific research reveals that what is cluttering up the brain and leaving us susceptible to its diseases of aging such as Azhiemer’s and memory loss can be tidied up through berries – specifically blueberries, strawberries and acai berries, frozen or fresh. The concept marks a leap in a compelling area of science focused on maintaining the health of the brain. It also strengthens an already compelling link between diet and prevention.

The study was presented at the 240th National Meeting of the American Chemical Society, and it showed that berries (and possibly walnuts), activate the brain’s natural “housekeeper” mechanism, which cleans up and recycles toxic proteins linked to age-related memory loss and other mental decline.

If all this talk of garbage and recycling sounds more like working at a landfill than working on your health, here’s some new concepts to start thinking about:

Brain “Debris”

Previous research has suggested that one factor involved in aging is a steady decline in the body’s ability to protect itself against inflammation and oxidative damage. This damage results when normally protective cells become overactivated to the point that they damage healthy cells. This is, in a sense, the origin of brain debris, or the buildup of biochemical waste. This waste of the nervous system collects during aging, essentially gumming up the works. Without a little cleanup, this can prevent the brain from working the way it should.

Brain “Cleansing”

Now that we have the dirt, we need the broom. Enter cells called microglia. They are the housekeepers of the brain that in normal functioning collect, remove, and actually “recycle” the biochemical debris in a process called autophagy.

This process can be hindered as we get older, and without this “sweeping” process, we are left with the buildup. As a result of this slowing of the natural protective process, we are left vulnerable to degenerative brain diseases, heart disease, cancer, and other age-related disorders.

Restoring a Cluttered Brain

We know that natural compounds called polyphenolics found in fruits and vegetables have an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effect that may protect against age-associated decline. Shibu Poulose, Ph.D. and James Joseph, Ph.D., (Joseph passed away in June; you can read our rememberance of Jim Joseph here) did the latest research that takes these details and ties them directly to the berries in question.

The research by Poulose and Joseph suggests that the berries’ polyphonolics are responsible for what they call a “rescuing effect”.  They restore the housekeeping action – the normal function of sweeping away debris – that hinders the function of the brain.

A Growing Area of Study

While we are already aware of the disease preventing effects of polyphenols, this “rescuing” process has been previously unrecognized by researchers. It furthers the science behind an important link between diet and maintaining healthy brain aging.

Keeping diseases of the brain at bay seems to be more and more within reach by accessing the great foods that surround us. As research into the astonishing benefits of berries continues, researchers continue to provide compelling data about their disease preventing power  – and that means hope for all of our aging, cluttered brains.

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