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ARS Home » Northeast Area » Boston, Massachusetts » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #273553

Title: Food for thought: what Jim Joseph taught me about aging and nutrition

item Shukitt-Hale, Barbara

Submitted to: American Aging Association
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 5/3/2011
Publication Date: N/A
Citation: N/A

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: Motor and cognitive behavioral deficits occur in senescence, and in cases of severe deficits, hospitalization and/or custodial care would be a likely outcome. Unless some way is found to reduce these age-related decrements in neuronal function, health care costs will continue to rise exponentially. Thus, it is extremely important to explore methods to retard or reverse age-related neuronal deficits, as well as their subsequent, behavioral manifestations, in order to increase healthy aging. In this regard, for the last 15 years, the laboratory of Jim Joseph has studied how consumption of fruits and vegetables high in antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity, such as blueberries, blackberries, and strawberries, can prevent and even reverse the occurrence of the neurochemical and behavioral changes that occur in aging. We have shown that berry extracts are able to reverse several parameters of brain aging as well as age-related motor and cognitive deficits when fed to rats from 19-21 months of age. The polyphenolic compounds found in berry fruits may exert their beneficial effects either through their ability to lower oxidative stress and inflammation, or directly by altering the signaling involved in neuronal communication, calcium buffering ability, neuroprotective stress shock proteins, plasticity, and stress signaling pathways. These interventions, in turn, may exert protection against age-related deficits in cognitive and motor function.