With age comes wisdom and experience... but also some memory loss and cognitive decline. Research on this topic usually focuses on those 65 or older, but some signs of age-related decline appear earlier. Symptoms can become apparent anywhere from age 35-65 and for some as early as their 20s.
Berries for Brain Power
Luckily, researchers are finding that one of the most effective ways for boosting your brain power is through the consumption of different types of berries.
A 12-week study on elderly adults was conducted to measure the effects of concentrated blueberry juice on cognitive performance. The participants were divided into two groups: one group supplemented with 30 milliliters of concentrated juice (the equivalent of a little more than two cups of blueberries) and the other was a placebo group.
The group on the juice improved activation in areas of the brain associated with cognitive function compared to the placebo group. And these effects aren't limited to an elderly population.
More Proof of Super-Fruit
- A separate study on blueberry milkshake supplementation using 8-9 year old kids revealed improved memory and attention in the blueberry supplementing groups.
- From 1995-2001, cognitive function in participants was measured along with dietary intake. Greater intakes of blueberries and strawberries were associated with slower rates of cognitive decline after adjusting for multiple potential cofactors. Berry intake appeared to delay cognitive aging by up to two and a half years.
- Grapes may be of benefit too, and yes, they're technically berries. Researchers did another study on older adults with mild cognitive impairment and had them consuming either concord grape juice or a placebo drink for 16 weeks. Those who drank grape juice showed reduced semantic interference on memory tasks and relatively greater brain activation. The findings suggest that consumption of grape juice could enhance cognitive function.
The effects of berries on cognitive performance appear to improve a variety of outcomes with things like memory being most prevalent in studies on children and elderly adults while processing speed being more noticeable with younger and middle aged adults. Basically, berries seem to help fight cerebral inflammation.
Most research also indicates that the antioxidants have anti-inflammatory effects that improve neuronal signaling. Scientists say that berries may be so effective because of their ability to improve glucose disposal, since insulin abnormalities have been linked to increased central inflammation and impaired beta amyloid clearance.
Related: The Perfect Superfood
Related: Make These Blueberry & Yogurt Cookies
- Bowtell, J. L., Aboo-Bakkar, Z., Conway, M., Adlam, A. R., & Fulford, J. (2017). Enhanced task related brain activation and resting perfusion in healthy older adults after chronic blueberry supplementation. Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism. doi:10.1139/apnm-2016-0550
- Whyte, A., & Williams, C. (2012). The cognitive effects of acute blueberry anthocyanin interventions on 7–9 year old children. Appetite, 59(2), 637. doi:10.1016/j.appet.2012.05.108
- Devore, E. E., Kang, J. H., Breteler, M. M., & Grodstein, F. (2012). Dietary intakes of berries and flavonoids in relation to cognitive decline. Annals of Neurology,72(1), 135-143. doi:10.1002/ana.23594
- Krikorian, R., Boespflug, E. L., Fleck, D. E., Stein, A. L., Wightman, J. D., Shidler, M. D., & Sadat-Hossieny, S. (2012). Concord Grape Juice Supplementation and Neurocognitive Function in Human Aging. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 60(23), 5736-5742. doi:10.1021/jf300277g