Submitted to: Micronutrients and Brain Health
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: 7/22/2009
Publication Date: 10/6/2009
Citation: Joseph, J.A., Shukitt Hale, B., Willis, L. 2009. Fruits, Nuts, and Brain Aging: Nutritional Interventions Targeting Age-Related Neuronal and Behavioral Deficits. In: Packer, L., Sies, H., Eggersdorfer, M., and Cadenas, E., editors. Micronutrients and Brain Health. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press. p. 179-188.
Technical Abstract: By the year 2050, 30% of the total population of the US will be over 65 years of age. As the aged population expands, the economic burden of care and treatment of those with age-related health disorders also increases, necessitating the immediate implementation of therapeutics to prevent or even reverse age-related health disorders. One such potential therapeutic option is the use of nutrition with berry fruit and fatty acids derived from walnuts or fish. Research has recently shown that consumption of the aforementioned substances can dramatically impact the aging brain, possibly leading to improved cognition and motor abilities. It has been postulated that these behavioral and neuronal declines are the result of an increasing vulnerability to oxidative and inflammatory insults, thus creating a “fertile environment” for the subsequent development of age-related neurodegeneration. However, fruits and vegetables may have direct effects on oxidative stress and inflammation in aging, and data also indicate that polyphenolic compounds from berries and fatty acids from nuts and fish may have a plethora of additional effects involving enhanced signaling and neurogenesis, leading to an improvement in motor and cognitive function. The present chapter provides some background on oxidative and inflammatory stress in age-related neuronal degeneration and reviews some recent advances in the effects of berry, grape, or walnut supplementations on motor, cognitive and signaling functions in the aged brain and in cell models.