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 ECG procedure indicates whether an implantable defibrillator will extend a patient's life
02.09.2019 | Technische Universität München

nachricht Fracking prompts global spike in atmospheric methane
14.08.2019 | European Geosciences Union

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: Controlling superconducting regions within an exotic metal

Superconductivity has fascinated scientists for many years since it offers the potential to revolutionize current technologies. Materials only become superconductors - meaning that electrons can travel in them with no resistance - at very low temperatures. These days, this unique zero resistance superconductivity is commonly found in a number of technologies, such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).

Future technologies, however, will harness the total synchrony of electronic behavior in superconductors - a property called the phase. There is currently a...

Im Focus: How Do the Strongest Magnets in the Universe Form?

How do some neutron stars become the strongest magnets in the Universe? A German-British team of astrophysicists has found a possible answer to the question of how these so-called magnetars form. Researchers from Heidelberg, Garching, and Oxford used large computer simulations to demonstrate how the merger of two stars creates strong magnetic fields. If such stars explode in supernovae, magnetars could result.

How Do the Strongest Magnets in the Universe Form?

Im Focus: Liquifying a rocky exoplanet

A hot, molten Earth would be around 5% larger than its solid counterpart. This is the result of a study led by researchers at the University of Bern. The difference between molten and solid rocky planets is important for the search of Earth-like worlds beyond our Solar System and the understanding of Earth itself.

Rocky exoplanets that are around Earth-size are comparatively small, which makes them incredibly difficult to detect and characterise using telescopes. What...

Im Focus: Axion particle spotted in solid-state crystal

Scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Physics of Solids in Dresden, Princeton University, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and the University of the Chinese Academy of Sciences have spotted a famously elusive particle: The axion – first predicted 42 years ago as an elementary particle in extensions of the standard model of particle physics.

The team found signatures of axion particles composed of Weyl-type electrons (Weyl fermions) in the correlated Weyl semimetal (TaSe₄)₂I. At room temperature,...

Im Focus: A cosmic pretzel

Twin baby stars grow amongst a twisting network of gas and dust

The two baby stars were found in the [BHB2007] 11 system - the youngest member of a small stellar cluster in the Barnard 59 dark nebula, which is part of the...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

International Symposium on Functional Materials for Electrolysis, Fuel Cells and Metal-Air Batteries

02.10.2019 | Event News

NEXUS 2020: Relationships Between Architecture and Mathematics

02.10.2019 | Event News

Optical Technologies: International Symposium „Future Optics“ in Hannover

19.09.2019 | Event News

 
Latest News

Electrochemistry to benefit photonics: Nanotubes can control laser pulses

11.10.2019 | Physics and Astronomy

Biologically inspired skin improves robots' sensory abilities (Video)

11.10.2019 | Power and Electrical Engineering

New electrolyte stops rapid performance decline of next-generation lithium battery

11.10.2019 | Power and Electrical Engineering

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>