Simple foods to improve your health: Part I

Vaccinium corymbosum
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I have not covered diet much on this blog so far. Today I will give a cursory glance (Part I) at some potential foods you might want to add to your eating habits to improve your brain health. Changing your diet is one of the simplest hacks for improved brain and overall health.

Interestingly, a number of recent studies have indicated taking individual vitamins have no benefits, and potentially maybe even adverse outcomes including life span (see here).

However, taking in certain foods have shown a number of benefits for a wide spectrum of outcomes. Today I am only going to talk about two things you can eat to improve your health: blueberries and the spice turmeric, which contains curcumin.


Blueberries increases life span:

A large number of studies have found blueberries beneficial for your health.  A spectrum of blueberries polyphenols not only increased thermotolerance but also increased the life span in C. Elegans (Wilson et. al., 2006). You can’t ask more better health improvement than increasing your life span. They fed extracts to C. Elegans because they probably couldn’t really feed them whole blueberries so for us just eat the whole berries.

Blueberries protects the brain:

Blueberries reduces the amount of neuronal loss after ischemia and improved behavioral recovery (Wang et. al., 2005). The group also found similar results with spinach and spirulina. In an animal model of Parkinson’s disease blueberry intake resulted in improved dopamine recovery (Stromberg et. al., 2005).

Blueberries also protects the cardiovascular system:

Blueberries also decrease glycosaminoglycans (GAGs) that build up on your arterial walls (Kalea et. al., 2005). Build up of GAGs are obviously bad for your cardiovascular system. I am only mentioning a few of the many papers that show the postive effects of blueberries just to give you a taste of the potential benefits.


Curcumin is good for the brain:

Curcumin is a major component of turmeric yellow curry spice, which has anti-oxidative and anti-inflammatory activities. Curcurmin increases neurogenesis (a very good thing) in the hippocampus of adult mice (Kim et. al., 2008). In a traumatic brain injury model curcurmin reduced oxidative damage, and normalized the brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) along with improved the behavoiral outcome (Wu et. al., 2008). However, the effect was really only observed in animals of a high-fat diet, but not in animals on a normal chow diet. There has also been papers that have found antidepressants effects with curcumin (Wang et. al., 2008).

Curcumin has also proved benefical in animal models of Alzheimer’s (Garcia-Alloza et. al., 2007, Pan et. al., 2008). Currently, there is a randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind pilot study examining curcumin for Alzheimer’s patients (Baum et. al., 2008).


Eat your blueberries (daily if possible) and add some turmeric curry spice to your diet – more taste and better health.