When fellow Oatie, Sebrina, talked about Blueberries possibly being the most patriotic fruit, I just had to smile! I love blueberries. Like all healthful berries, they are packed with some very nice ingredients that can help us stay healthy. Good for us, good for our kids!
OK, so what is this buzz about eating blueberries and Parkinson’s Disease? Well, it gets scientific pretty quick but we’ll keep it simple here. Parkinson’s Disease is no fun and no one wants to get it. You may remember when Michael J. Fox (the talented star of “Back To The Future”, “Family Ties” and “Spin City”) was diagnosed at the incredibly young age of 30! With Parkinson’s, weird deposits of protein (called Lewy bodies) develop inside the brain. These Lewy bodies contain alpha-synuclein and that weird molecule has been the focus of intensive efforts by researchers to determine ways to protect the brain from getting Parkinson’s, or slowing its progression. The scientific community is even trying to come up with some kind of vaccine to possibly bind with the alpha-synuclein and get it out of the brain. Lewy bodies interfere with the health of certain types of brain cells leading to severe impairment or death of those cells. People with Parkinson’s Disease can think fine but they lose control over their movements. Like I said, it is no fun, and no one wants to get it!
Now, back to the blueberries. Researchers from Newfoundland have recently published a scientific paper on the beneficial effect of blueberry extract and keeping alpha-synuclein in check. Without getting into the details, the Newfoundland team suggests that “those living with Parkinson’s disease may want to consider consuming blueberries to reduce the effects of the neurodegenerative disease”. A different research team in the U.S. found that particular compounds found in blueberries (and also blackcurrants and a few herbs) were helpful in stopping the impairment and death of the specialized brain cells affected.
There are about 60,000 new cases of Parkinson’s Disease diagnosed each year in the U.S. 85% of cases have no family history of the disease. Certainly there are many factors involved in the development of this disease. If eating blueberries might help, and we like them anyway, that makes for a pretty easy decision. Eat blueberries, and worry less about Parkinson’s Disease!