Blueberry and Green Tea Extracts Boost Brain Rejuvenation

By: Byron J. Richards, Board Certified Clinical Nutritionist
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Scientists examined molecular signaling within brains of aged rats fed purified concentrates of blueberry anthocyanins and green tea catechins—the type of nutrients typically found in dietary supplements of these extracts. Both classes of nutrients activated and enhanced the function of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), which is literally the fountain of youth for brain cells. Over a six-week period, the old animals experienced significant improvement in their memory.

Any time older nerves can be improved by anything, it is noteworthy. This is a very detailed study, examining precise molecular mechanisms that are highly relevant to humans. Improvement in BDNF signaling resulted in improved brain plasticity—the exact opposite of the typical brain aging process. The implications of this are best summarized by the concluding remarks of the authors themselves.

“Our study presents evidence that dietary quantities of pure flavanols, (−)-epicatechin and (+)-catechin and pure anthocyanins are capable of inducing beneficial effects on memory in aged rats. As such, our data add weight to the evidence suggesting that flavonoids are the causal agents in determining the cognitive benefits of flavonoid-rich foods such as blueberry. Our data further support the view that such effects of flavonoids are determined at the molecular level in the hippocampus, where they are able to increase the expression of BDNF in specific regions of the hippocampus. Most notably, our data suggest that dietary amounts of flavanols and anthocyanins are capable of inducing both molecular and behavioral changes linked to memory in rats. As such, these compounds represent potential therapeutics that can counteract age-associated cognitive decline through dietary intervention, or most importantly can play a crucial role in preventing age-related cognitive impairment.”

And of course, nutrients work best when you actually stimulate your brain. Learn something new or perform it better via practice, especially physical activities. Training your nerve-muscle coordination is the very best way to environmentally activate processes of new nerve growth and connections, which benefits not only the new skill learned, but your brain in general. Aerobic exercise has also been proven to elevate levels of BDNF, as have other brain support nutrients. 

Modern science is uncovering a variety of gene signals that stimulate new nerve growth. BDNF is certainly one of the primary methods your brain uses for recovery from injury, as well as ongoing brain maintenance and healthy cognitive function.

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