Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Antioxidant-rich diets improve age-related declines in mental function of rats, USF/VA researchers report

15.07.2002


Popeye was right — eat your spinach. In fact, add some fresh-cut apples to that spinach salad.

Two new animal studies by researchers at the University of South Florida Center for Aging and Brain Repair and James A. Haley Veterans Hospital bolster a growing body of evidence that certain fruits and vegetables may protect the brain against the ravages of age. The complementary research papers appear in today’s issue of the Journal of Neuroscience.

"If these pre-clinical findings translate to humans, it suggests that eating a diet high in antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables may help reverse declines in learning and memory as you get older," Paula Bickford, PhD, lead author of both studies and a professor at the USF Center for Aging and Brain Repair.



In the first study, co-authored by USF’s M. Claire Cartford, PhD, older rats fed a diet rich in spinach for six weeks showed a reversal in the normal loss of learning that occurs with age. The rats that ate rat chow containing 2 percent freeze-dried spinach learned to associate the sound of a bell tone with a subsequent puff of air faster than those fed regular rat chow, the study found.

The test measured how quickly the rats learned to blink, after hearing the tone, in anticipation of the oncoming puff of air — a conditioned response shown to slow with age in rodents and humans.

Spinach is rich in antioxidants, which scientists say can counteract free radicals generated in the body during normal metabolism and exposure to environmental insults such as pollution, ultraviolet light and radiation. An excess of free radicals can damage cellular lipids, protein and DNA. Studies suggest that a lifelong accumulation of free radicals can slow mental processes in old age and may be a factor in Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases, Dr. Bickford said.

The second study, co-authored by Carmelina Gemma, PhD, of USF and James A. Haley VA Hospital, found that the benefit of a diet high in fruits and vegetables depends on the levels of antioxidant nutrients in the fruits and vegetables. Furthermore, the researchers suggest, the protective effect of antioxidants may be linked to their ability to reverse age-related accumulations of potentially harmful inflammatory substances in the brain.

The USF researchers compared three groups of older rats. One group ate a diet supplemented by spirulina, a blue-green algae high in antioxidant activity. The second group was fed a daily ration of apple, a food moderate in antioxidant activity, with their rat chow. The third group ate a cucumber-enriched diet, low in antioxidant activity.

Aged rats fed either spirulina-or apple-enriched diets for two weeks demonstrated improved neuron function, a suppression of inflammatory substances in the brain, and a decrease in malondialdehyde (MDA), a marker for oxidative damage. In fact, spirulina reversed the impairment in adrenergic neural function normally associated with aging. There was no improvement in rats fed a diet supplemented with cucumber.

"Not all foods are created equal," Dr. Bickford said. "Cucumbers taste good and have lots of fiber. But unlike spirulina and apples, they are not rich in phytochemicals that have antioxidant or anti-inflammatory effects in the brain."

The research has hopeful implications for the prevention of neurodegenerative disorders in an increasingly aging population, but still must be tested in humans, Dr. Bickford said.

Until then, the USF neuroscientist recommends that daily diets include a variety of richly colored fruits and vegetables — the most colorful ones tend to pack the greatest antioxidant punch. She favors spinach salads for lunch and routinely snacks on blueberries and strawberries.

"Studies like these are lending scientific credibility to what nutritionists, and our mothers, have been telling us for years," Dr. Bickford said. "Eat your fruits and vegetables. They’re good for you!"

Researchers at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center and Denver Veterans Affairs Medical Center contributed to the study on diets enriched with spirulina, apples and cucumbers.

James A. Haley | EurekAlert

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht Researchers simplify tiny structures' construction drip by drip
12.11.2018 | Princeton University, Engineering School

nachricht Mandibular movement monitoring may help improve oral sleep apnea devices
06.11.2018 | Elsevier

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: UNH scientists help provide first-ever views of elusive energy explosion

Researchers at the University of New Hampshire have captured a difficult-to-view singular event involving "magnetic reconnection"--the process by which sparse particles and energy around Earth collide producing a quick but mighty explosion--in the Earth's magnetotail, the magnetic environment that trails behind the planet.

Magnetic reconnection has remained a bit of a mystery to scientists. They know it exists and have documented the effects that the energy explosions can...

Im Focus: A Chip with Blood Vessels

Biochips have been developed at TU Wien (Vienna), on which tissue can be produced and examined. This allows supplying the tissue with different substances in a very controlled way.

Cultivating human cells in the Petri dish is not a big challenge today. Producing artificial tissue, however, permeated by fine blood vessels, is a much more...

Im Focus: A Leap Into Quantum Technology

Faster and secure data communication: This is the goal of a new joint project involving physicists from the University of Würzburg. The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research funds the project with 14.8 million euro.

In our digital world data security and secure communication are becoming more and more important. Quantum communication is a promising approach to achieve...

Im Focus: Research icebreaker Polarstern begins the Antarctic season

What does it look like below the ice shelf of the calved massive iceberg A68?

On Saturday, 10 November 2018, the research icebreaker Polarstern will leave its homeport of Bremerhaven, bound for Cape Town, South Africa.

Im Focus: Penn engineers develop ultrathin, ultralight 'nanocardboard'

When choosing materials to make something, trade-offs need to be made between a host of properties, such as thickness, stiffness and weight. Depending on the application in question, finding just the right balance is the difference between success and failure

Now, a team of Penn Engineers has demonstrated a new material they call "nanocardboard," an ultrathin equivalent of corrugated paper cardboard. A square...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

“3rd Conference on Laser Polishing – LaP 2018” Attracts International Experts and Users

09.11.2018 | Event News

On the brain’s ability to find the right direction

06.11.2018 | Event News

European Space Talks: Weltraumschrott – eine Gefahr für die Gesellschaft?

23.10.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Purdue cancer identity technology makes it easier to find a tumor's 'address'

16.11.2018 | Health and Medicine

Good preparation is half the digestion

16.11.2018 | Life Sciences

Microscope measures muscle weakness

16.11.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>