Submitted to: Expert Review of Neurotherapeutics
Publication Type: Popular publication
Publication Acceptance Date: 6/8/2012
Publication Date: 8/1/2012
Citation: Poulose, S.M., Carey, A.N., Shukitt Hale, B. 2012. Improving brain signaling in aging: could berries be the answer?. Popular Publication. 8:887-889. Interpretive Summary:
Technical Abstract: As the lifespan of humans is increasing, the quest for “healthy aging” is increasingly becoming a focus of the media and people. This trend is important, as the population of people over 65 years of age worldwide is expected to triple by midcentury. Many regard “healthy aging” as preventing wrinkles or reducing heart disease risk, but as the incidences of neurological diseases are skyrocketing in tandem with the economic burden of long-term care for the elderly, interest in the aging brain is growing. Dementia is one consequence of brain aging, with concomitant behavioral deficits in motor and cognitive function. Colorful fruits such as blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries have been shown to contain countless phytochemicals, which are produced by plants for self-defense to thwart pests and diseases, and possess powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, which reveals the potential for dietary berry fruit intervention to prevent age-related decline in behavior and brain function. Future research needs to identify critical periods during which berry consumption is most effective and the longevity of the beneficial effects, in addition to transitioning pre-clinical evidence into human studies. As the population begins to focus more on ways to “age healthfully”, prevention becomes key. Dietary intervention with berry fruits is a promising avenue for further research, but many questions remain to be answered before we can draw a definitive conclusion about the extent to which their consumption can protect the aging brain.