Foods for a healthy mind-3: Berries

“One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well” – Virginia Woolf

This quote by Woolf succinctly expresses an eternal truth, that food is crucial not only for sustenance but good physical and mental health as well. Since food has a direct impact on one’s health it is important to eat nutritious food, so that it can provide all the essential nutrients to the brain required for its healthy development.

Amid all the nutritious food, berries are said to be exceptionally beneficial for the brain. Berries of all kind, including blueberries, blackberries, raspberries and strawberries can help in keeping the memory sharp and boosting brain health. While berries are a good source of natural antioxidants, they also help in reducing symptoms of depression. Blueberries, specifically, help in curbing genetic and biochemical drivers behind depression and suicidal tendencies, especially in people with post-traumatic stress disorder. Research has also found that berries can help keep illnesses such as cancer at bay.

In this regard, an article published in the American Chemical Society’s (ACS) Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry stated that berries can have beneficial effects on the brain and help prevent age-related memory loss and other changes. In the article, researchers Dr. Barbara Shukitt-Hale and Marshall G. Miller report how berries prevent aging of the brain. They added, “In addition to their now well-known antioxidant effects, dietary supplementation with berry fruits has direct effects on the brain.”

Berries prevent brain-aging

In the article, Miller mentions that with an increase in the life expectancy of human beings, there are increasing concerns about the rising health care costs. With a longer lifespan, the risk of age-related diseases such as Alzheimer’s and other forms of mental illnesses has also increased. In this regard, experiments and research have found that berries help fight the aging of the brain.

According to the article, berries are helpful to the brain in several ways. First, since berries are a rich source of antioxidants, they protect the brain from getting damaged due to free radicals. Notably, free radicals play a major role in brain-cell-damage, however, the high levels of antioxidants that are commonly found in berries, help nullify the damaging effect of the free radicals.

Secondly, berries have the potential to alter the way of communication of the neurons in the brain, thereby preventing inflammation in the brain. This further protects it from any kind of neuronal damage. “This can result in an improvement in both cognition and motor control,” suggests the article.

Besides, berries also contain anthocyanidin, an antioxidant that can cross the blood-brain barrier, thereby benefiting areas in the brain responsible for memory and learning. Additionally, another group of researchers from Harvard have found that berries reduce the risk of Parkinson’s disease in men.

However, the findings of the article have left scope for further research as to whether these benefits result from individual compounds shared between berry fruits or unique combinations of chemicals in each berry fruit that simply have similar effects.

Curing mental disorders

There are several health benefits (both physical and mental) of eating berries. Besides these, there are several other foods that are known to boost the brain’s health. The series “Foods for a healthy mind,” talks about foods such as Omega-3 fatty acids, leafy green vegetables and whole grains and their beneficial effect on the brain. All these food products not only improve the physical health but also help in easing psychological symptoms.

If you or your loved one is battling some form of mental disorder, get connected to the 24/7 Mental Health Helpline to learn about the best mental health programs in the U.S. You can call us at our 24/7 helpline number 855-653-8178 or chat online to know more about mental health and mental disorders. Our mental health experts can also help you find the mental health rehabilitation centers near you.

Read the other articles of the series, “Foods for a healthy mind”:

  1. Omega-3 fatty acids
  2. Leafy greens