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Tufts E-News --Nothing To Be Blue About

Tufts E-News --Nothing To Be Blue AboutTuftsresearch on blueberries shows that the fruit does more than justtaste good. Boston

Boston [09.09.04] While staying young isn’t as simple as sippingfrom the “Fountain of Youth,” there is another –tastier – way to potentially slow the aging process: eatingblueberries. According to research conducted by Tufts experts,preventing age-related illnesses such as Alzeimer's and arthritisinflammation could be as simple as adding some blue to your diet.

“Whatblueberries do is what simply can be called strengthening thebrain by taking advantages of the brain’s tremendous redundancy,”Tufts’ James Joseph PhD told The Seattle Post-Intelligencer.“Blueberries have compounds that boost neuron signals andhelp turn back on systems in the brain that can lead to usingother proteins to help with memory or other cognitive skills.”

Joseph –a nutrition researcher at the Jean Mayer USDAHuman Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University– said that people with Alzheimer’s disease have weakerneuron signals. The medicine Alzheimer’s patients take inhibitsan enzyme that destroys memory capacity, but does nothing to createstrong neuron signals.

“It’s allabout neuron signals in the brain,” Joseph told the Post-Intelligencer,adding that, “Old neurons are like old married couples –they don’t talk to one another very well anymore.”

In laboratory studies,Joseph found that the addition of blueberries to diet resultedin “better short-term memory, navigational skills, balance,coordination and speed than before the blueberry diet,”reported The Ottawa Citizen.

Joseph has had “theblues” for awhile.

In 1997,Joseph introduced the public to the antioxidant power of blueberriesvia a study, and later co-wrote the book, “The Color Code:A Revolutionary Eating Plan for Optimum Health.” The bookpersuaded the federal government to modify its suggested fiveservings of fruits and vegetables per day to “fivea day the color way.”

The lack of color insome diets worries Joseph.

“Oneof the sad parts of the Atkins diet is that it has closed downthe orange industry in this country,” Joseph – whoalso teaches at the FriedmanSchool of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts - told thePost-Intelligencer. “People are too concerned about carbs.Drinking orange juice and other fruit juices is a healthy thingto do.” Blueberry juice is actually available to consumers,catching on in the U.S. after a surge of popularity in Japan.

Joseph andcolleagues found that blueberries also help cancer patients.

“It might be that eating blueberries or other berries inthe months before radiation therapy can cut back on cognitiveand motor deficits (caused by therapy) and maybe means no morenausea for patients,” Joseph told the Post-Intelligencer.

Blueberries retaintheir health-boosting qualities when dried or frozen, and canbe enjoyed year round. According to Joseph, making healthy foodchoices is a conscious effort that happens over a lifespan.

“In the end,it comes down to what you eat or drink,” Joseph told thePost-Intelligencer. “That’s what’s most important.”

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