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Acai Shows Brain Health Benefits for Mature Adults

Extracts from the acai berry may improve "neuronal housekeeping functions" and protect your brain as you age according to new findings presented at the Society of Neuroscience annual meeting in San Diego. The meeting took place the week of November, 13, 2010.

The brain’s natural housekeeping mechanism is called autophagy. It involves the controlled degradation of cells, and the reallocation of nutrients in a starving cell from unnecessary processes to more essential processes.

The acai (pronounced ah-sigh-ee) berry has been used medicinally for thousands of years by indigenous tribes in the Amazon rainforest to boost the immune system, fight infection, protect the heart and control prostate enlargement.

The berries look very similar to grapes but taste like a tropical fruit. They were introduced to the western world during the last few decades and their benefits are just now being verified by the scientific community.

Researchers from Tufts University sought to provide more scientific evidence to back the potential antioxidant and anti-inflammatory potential of acai berries in this recent study.

For the study, lab rats were given an acai berry extract and their biological response to those extracts was measured.

The researchers found that the acai berry extract protected against the release of Cox-2 and TNF-alpha, two well known pro-inflammatory compounds.

They also found that the acai berry extracts increased the performance cells called microglia which are responsible for the brain's “natural housekeeping process.” As we age, these cells begin to become less efficient which can lead to a buildup in chemical debris but the acai berry extract appeared to combat that decline.

Although the scientific investigation of acai berries is still in an early stage, this study provides evidence that the high antioxidant content of this “super fruit” may help reduce oxidative stress and chronic inflammation.

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