A Berry Brain Cleanser

August 24/Coventry, England/Coventry Evening Telegraph -- Eating berries may combat age-related mental decline by "cleaning up" the brain, research suggests.

Scientists have found the first evidence that polyphenol compounds in the fruits activate the brain's natural "housekeeping" mechanism. This mops up and recycles toxic proteins linked to the memory loss and mental decline many people experience as they get older.

The U.S. researchers focused on special immune system cells in the brain called microglia which engulf, remove and recycle harmful biochemical debris.

Lead scientist Dr. Shibu Poulose, from the Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging in Boston, Mass., said, "In aging, microglia fail to do their work, and debris builds up.

"In addition, the microglia become over-activated and actually begin to damage healthy cells in the brain.

"Our research suggests that the polyphenolics in berries have a rescuing effect. They seem to restore the normal housekeeping function. These findings are the first to show these effects of berries."

From the August 30, 2010, Prepared Foods E-dition