Chronic inflammation is the enemy of your body and your brain.
Scientists have come to see inflammation as the common factor behind some of the worst diseases plaguing mankind: cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s.1
But now a study shows that certain foods may fight brain inflammation and the age-related memory problems that come with it.2
Research from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has found that high-fiber foods help slow brain aging.
Here’s how it works…
There’s an important immune cell in the brain called microglia. These cells often become chronically inflamed as we get older. It’s one of the primary causes of the memory and cognitive decline linked with old age.
When we consume fiber, it is fermented in the gut by bacteria. This prompts production in the colon of a short-chain fatty acid called butyrate. Butyrate has anti-inflammatory effects.
A drug form of butyrate has been shown to reduce inflammation in mice and improve their memory. For the new study, scientists wanted to see if butyrate produced naturally in the body would have the same effect. So they fed aging mice a diet either high or low in fiber.
The researchers then measured blood levels of butyrate. They also gauged levels of pro-inflammatory substances.
Dr. Rodney Johnson was an author of the study. He said the high-fiber diet “elevated butyrate…in the blood both for young and old mice.”3
He pointed out that inflammation was seen more among older mice on the low-fiber diet than younger mice. “It clearly highlights the vulnerability of being of old,” he said.
But eating a high-fiber diet reduced levels of inflammation in old mice to the point that it matched levels in young mice. This specifically benefited the animal’s microglia, and therefore their brains.
The researchers think fiber had another benefit… It reduced a pro-inflammatory chemical called interleukin-1β. Interleukin-1β has been linked with Alzheimer’s.
10 Brain-Boosting High-Fiber Foods
Here are 10 excellent food sources of fiber:4
- Raspberries – 8 grams of fiber per cup.
- Split peas (boiled) – 16.3 grams per cup.
- Lentils (boiled) – 15.6 grams per cup.
- Artichoke (boiled, medium sized) – 10.3 grams.
- Almonds – 3.5 grams per ounce.
- Green peas (boiled) – 8.8 grams per cup.
- Pear (medium sized, with skin) – 5.5 grams.
- Apple (medium sized, with skin) – 4.4 grams.
- Banana (medium sized) – 3.1 grams.
- Carrot (raw, medium sized) – 1.7 grams.
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