1a. Objectives (from AD-416):
To assess the benefits of dietary strawberries Fragaria chiloensis for improving cognitive and motor function in older adults. We hope to show that strawberry supplementation attenuates specific cognitive and motor deficits normally associated with aging. This information can then be utilized to show that the addition of strawberries to the diet can increase “health span” in aging, and possibly slow the aging process by reducing the incidence and/or delaying the onset of debilitating neurodegenerative disease.
1b. Approach (from AD-416):
The proposed research, will use a biopsychological approach to explore the effects of chronic berry supplementation in older adults (60-70 years) and a double-blind, placebo controlled, pre-test post-test experimental design. Following screening and recruitment into the study, participants would come in for an initial assessment (see list of tests below). Participants would then begin a 3 month period in which they consume freeze-dried blueberry or strawberry powder equivalent to 1/2 cup fresh berries, twice per day. After 1.5 months, participants would complete a midpoint assessment and, after 3 months, participants would return for a final assessment. Cognition will be assessed through measures of spatial navigation, attention, short- and long-term memory, mood, and executive function. Mobility will be assessed through analysis of balance, gait, fall history, and activities of daily living questionnaires. Biomarkers of oxidative stress and inflammation will be assayed to assess their association with changes in mobility and cognition.
3. Progress Report:
Functional changes in the brain and motor neurons during aging can alter learning and memory, steady gait, and balance - in some cases leading to early cognitive decline, disability, or injurious falls among older adults. We are exploring the effects of dietary supplementation with strawberry on age-related alterations in balance, gait, and cognition in older men and women (60-75 years old). During this year, a protocol for this study was established based on the preliminary results of pilot research. Work has begun on the production of the strawberry powder supplement to be used in this study. Additionally, a placebo powder has been formulated. Currently, these materials are being produced and packaged.