(Article first published as The Color Purple Helps Prevent Brain Aging and Dementia on Technorati.)
Study Implicates Unbound Iron with Declining Brain Health
Excess iron in the blood is associated with an increased risk for heart disease and heart attack and new research now highlights the metal with a decline in brain health. The result of a study published in the journal Archives of Toxicology shows that the brain is particularly sensitive to unbound iron that crosses the blood-brain barrier to cause free radical damage as well as toxins known as hydroxyl radicals.
Purple Berries and Green Tea are Excellent Iron Chelators
In order to protect yourself from these damaging iron particles it’s necessary to ensure a healthy intake of binding nutrients known as iron chelators. Purple fruits and vegetables are a particularly potent source of compounds that bind tightly with iron to neutralize their effect on the brain. Blueberries, acai berries and green tea have been cited as excellent foods that help protect the brain.
This study underscores the importance of avoiding red meat as a source of unbound iron in the diet. Most of the iron in red meat is unbound and freely released into the blood where it can wreak havoc throughout the body. Conversely, vegetarian sources of iron such as leafy greens and spinach are tightly bound with fiber and do not elevate iron levels. The study author noted that the antioxidant effect of vitamin C is negated with high levels of unbound iron and is dramatically improved with a diet high in vegetables and fruits.
Acai Berry Extract Shown to Improve Brain Housekeeping
A significant pathway that leads to declining brain health occurs when the normal cellular housekeeping cycle is disrupted in a process known as autophagy. Researchers from the USDA`s Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging have found that berry extracts can enhance the process in aging adults in part due to their powerful antioxidant properties.
Anthocyanins in the skins of the berry protect against the pro-inflammatory agents including COX-2 and TNF-alpha. The researchers conclude ‘these results suggest that acai may contribute to ‘health span’ in aging, as it is able to combat some of the inflammatory and oxidative mediators of aging at the cellular level’. Acai berries can be consumed in their natural form, as a concentrated drink or as a supplemented extract.
The purple compounds found in the skins of many fruits and vegetables are important to brain health as they are able to cross the critical blood-brain barrier. Extensive research demonstrates that these chemical structures help to reduce brain inflammation and bind with iron to protect sensitive brain cells. Be certain to include a variety of purple foods to naturally protect your brain and lower your risk from devastating diseases that threaten your ability to walk, learn, think and make new memories.