Science Update

New study demonstrates blueberry supplementation helps improve brain function


Cognitive function declines with age as the bodys cells are more susceptible to damage and death. In addition the body produces less energy due to slower metabolism and as a result cells are less able to produce antioxidants and soak up free radicals.

There is evidence that simple prevention strategies such as a diet rich in plant-based foods can help reduce the risk of dementia and preserve cognition. Flavonoids are an essential component contributing to these effects. Blueberries are rich in flavonoids which contain powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. While high intake of flavonoids has been shown to help mitigate age-related cognitive decline human studies have been limited.

According to a new study published last week researchers demonstrated that drinking concentrated blueberry juice improves brain function in older individuals.

This study included 26 healthy individuals ranging from 65 to 77 years of age. Twelve people drank a concentrated blueberry juice daily that provided 387 mg of anthocyanidins (equaling 230 g of blueberries). In just twelve weeks improvements were noted in cognitive function working memory blood perfusion to the brain and activation of the brain while performing cognitive tests.

Before and after the twelve week period all 26 individuals took a variety of cognitive tests while an MRI scanner monitored their brain function and resting brain blood flow. As a result those who consumed the blueberry concentrate showed significant increases in brain activity in brain areas related to the tests. 

Blueberry consumption also plays a role in the reduction of amyloid β protein (Aβ) aggregation which can disrupt mitochondrial function and lead to neuronal cell death. Pathological levels of amyloid plaques are found in the brains of Alzheimers patients.12 Also the cognitive improvement provided by blueberries is associated with higher brain antioxidant production of glutathione.3

By Michael Jurgelewicz DC DACBN DCBCN CNS

SourceJoanna L. Bowtell Zainie Aboo-Bakkar Myra Conway Anna-Lynne R. Adlam Jonathan Fulford. Enhanced task related brain activation and resting perfusion in healthy older adults after chronic blueberry supplementation. Applied Physiology Nutrition and Metabolism 2017; DOI: 10.1139/apnm-2016-0550