Researchers have found that the addition of blueberries to the daily diets of some middle-aged individuals could reduce the likelihood of late-life dementia developing.1✅ JOURNAL REFERENCE
Although not completely dissimilar from other berries and also plants such as red cabbage, blueberries have especially high levels of micronutrients as well as antioxidants known as anthocyanins. The anthocyanins provide blueberries their color as well as helping in defending the plants against excess exposure to radiation, infectious agents as well as other threats.
These very same survival providing properties that blueberries have also provide humans with benefits, such as inflammation reduction, metabolic function improvement, and the enhancement of energy production in cells.
Prior research on berries has concentrated on older individuals, but the researchers in this study wanted to examine middle-aged people to focus on preventing dementia and reducing risk.
Approximately 50% of U.S. individuals develop insulin resistance around middle age, typically known as prediabetes which is a chronic disease factor.
The researchers had seen the cognitive benefits that blueberries had in earlier studies with older individuals and speculated they could be effective in younger people with insulin resistance. Like all chronic diseases related to aging, Alzheimer’s disease develops over many years starting in midlife.
The researchers recruited 33 individuals aged between 50 and 65 who were prediabetic, overweight, and had observed mild decline in memory with aging. This population segment has an increased late-life dementia risk as well as a higher risk of other common conditions.
The study participants were requested to abstain for 12 weeks from consumption of any kind of berry fruit besides a supplement powder mixed with water and consumed every day either with dinner or breakfast. Half of the individuals consumed powders containing the same as a half a cup of whole blueberries, and the other participants consumed a placebo.
Tests were also administered measuring specific cognitive abilities that decline in individuals with late-life dementia and aging, such as executive functions like self-control, mental flexibility, and working memory.
The blueberry-treated individuals improved on cognitive tasks that rely on executive control. This was seen as reduced extraneous information interference during memory and learning.
The blueberry-treated individuals also had reduced fasting insulin levels, which meant they had better metabolic function and could burn fat for energy more easily.
The blueberry group also exhibited a mild degree of a cellular process known as higher mitochondrial uncoupling, which has been linked to a reduction in oxidative stress and greater longevity. Oxidative stress can result in symptoms such as memory loss and fatigue.
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