Can Blueberries Protect Against Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s?

By: Byron J. Richards, Board Certified Clinical Nutritionist
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Professor Douglas Kell of the University of Manchester published an extensive article, (which you can read in full1) explaining how uncontrolled iron is a common theme in many degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s wherein the inflammatory gene signal NF-kappaB is inappropriately activated and excessive cell death results.  Blueberries may be the answer, along with other antioxidants, as blueberries turn out to be a potent natural iron chelator.

Iron is one of the most important nutrients in human metabolism.  It is also one of the most closely guarded – it is literally kept in a steel bar cage until it is needed (ferritin).  In conditions of worsening health the ability to manage iron declines.  This causes more “free” iron to be inappropriately exposed around cells, leading to a free radical chain reaction and excessive production of the highly damaging hydroxyl radical.  Cell death results as part of the chronically over-activated NF-kappaB system.

The solution, according to Dr. Kell, is to not have a battle with free iron in the first place.  He believes that iron chelating nutrients are the answer.  His top choice is blueberries.  Other deep purple berries and green teas also have iron chelating effects.  Red wine assists health by a different mechanism.

I believe that Dr. Kell has hit upon a basic principle of health with far reaching application for prevention of diseases that are at epidemic levels.  Many of these diseases will continue to increase over the next 20 years as the baby boomers age.  I have recently highlighted the importance of blueberries for the protection of your brain and this is another important angle on this issue.

Referenced Studies:
  1. ^ Blueberries May Prevent Many Nerve Diseases  Archives of Toxicology,  Douglas B. Kell.

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