Eating more broccoli might be just what you need to combat brain aging.
A study in the journal Frontiers in Immunology found that fiber-rich foods, such as broccoli, nuts and beans, could trigger the making of a short-chain fatty acid that has anti-inflammatory qualities. This activation, the researchers say, could help postpone brain aging.
A previous study showed that a drug form of butyrate [byoo-tuh-reyt], a short-chain fatty acid produced when fiber is agitated, can improve memory and reduce inflammation in mice. The University of Illinois researchers wondered if increasing fiber intake could produce the same results.
To find out, the team fed young and aging mice high- and low-fiber diets. They measured the levels of butyrate in the blood and levels of pro-inflammatory substances in the intestines of the mice. Results from the study showed high-fiber diets raised butyrate in the blood of mice in both age groups.
Aging mice consuming high-fiber diets saw such a large decrease in intestinal inflammation that their intestines looked the same as the younger mice.
If high-fiber diets had this kind of effect on the gut, the team wondered, what could it do for inflammation in the brain? Inflammation of the brain’s microglia, a type of brain immune cell, was found to have decreased on a high-fiber diet. The researchers think that this might be thanks to lower production of a pro-inflammatory chemical that is linked with Alzheimer’s disease.
What you eat matters in all aspects of your overall health. If you’re worried about keeping your brain young, consider adding more fiber into your diet. Your mom was right when she told you to eat more veggies.