Blueberry constituents do much more than fight oxidation. Studies are now revealing the powerful ability of blueberry polyphenols to modulate genes associated with aging itself, such as the Methuselah gene, which can promote an extension of up to 35% in the life span of fruit flies, a commonly studied organism in aging science.
Studies in no fewer than three different species illustrate the value of blueberries in decelerating the aging process to produce significantly longer life spans.
The simplest multicellular organism used in aging research is the roundworm Caenorhabditis elegans, a minute worm measuring about 1.3 mm long, which is one of the most versatile animal models of aging.
Studies reveal that treating C. elegans worms with blueberry polyphenols increased the animals’ mean life span by 28%.3 In human terms, that’s the equivalent of adding more than 22 years to the life of a 79-year-old person (the mean life expectancy of a male child born today).
C. elegans worms are extremely sensitive to temperature variations, and blueberry treatment increased the animals’ survival during acute heat stress.3 Treated worms also were much better able than non treated animals to resist induced aging stresses.
Indeed, blueberry treatments can prolong the life of the classic laboratory organism, the insect Drosophila melanogaster, better known as the fruit fly. Flies fed on blueberry extracts lived on average 10% longer than did control animals. This increase was accompanied by an increase of multiple beneficial genes, including protective enzymes and reduction of age-shortening genes. These healthy effects were apparent when flies were treated with an herbicide called paraquat, which normally imposes fatal age-accelerating changes in the flies’ metabolisms.
Blueberries Boost Longevity
- Blueberries and blueberry extracts have been proven to augment memory and cognitive abilities, but new research shows their effectiveness at decelerating the aging process in many organs.
- Studies in at least three animal species, including mammals, demonstrate compelling increases in longevity following blueberry supplementation.
- Cardiovascular diseases arise from many different factors; blueberry supplementation directly counteracts many of the most dangerous factors, including lipid disturbances, blood vessel stiffness, and vulnerability to infarction, thereby reducing the size and impact of tissue damage related to atherosclerosis.
- Metabolic syndrome, a collection of the consequences of modern lifestyles, threatens millions of lives each year through insulin resistance, high blood sugar, lipid anomalies, and hypertension. Blueberry constituents directly oppose each of metabolic syndrome’s components.
- Laboratory studies show that blueberry supplementation prevents or mitigates virtually each step in cancer development, from DNA damage to invasion of distant organs through metastasis.
- If you are seeking supplements to augment your body’s own natural defenses, to raise your disease resistance, and prolong your health span, give strong consideration to starting a blueberry extract supplement.
Boosting Natural Killer Immune Cells
The actions of many immune system components decline with advancing age, in a degenerative process calledimmunosenescence. Controlling and slowing immune senescence is an attractive means of prolonging life and health. Blueberry extracts have been shown to have powerful anti-aging impacts on both cellular and molecular components of the aging immune system.
At the cellular level, blueberry extracts boosted the actions of natural killer (NK) cells charged with identifying and destroying abnormal cells such as those infected by viruses and those showing malignant changes.
At the molecular level, blueberry anthocyanins sharply decreased activation of nuclear factor kappa-beta (NFk-b), an inflammation-generating molecule associated with cancer,47 heart disease,48 and other manifestations of chronic inflammation.
Blueberries And Cancer Prevention
With their powerful anti-inflammatory and gene regulatory properties, blueberries seem an ideal agent for preventing cancer. Human studies in cancer prevention are enormously difficult and time-consuming, but there is ample pre clinical data available to support an important role for blueberries in the prevention of malignancies.
In addition to their unequalled content of bioactive anthocyanins and other polyphenols, blueberries are the single best source for pterostilbene, a close relative of resveratrol, which is also found in grape skins and other dark fruits.
Pterostilbene, a compound found in blueberries has been called a “hallmark” anticancer agent, based on its ability to fight malignant change in several tissues, while producing negligible toxicity.
Along with pterostilbene, the anthocyanins in blueberries exert a spectrum of effects all of which reduce the risk that a cell will become cancerous, and that an incipient cancer will grow, invade tissue, and metastasize to other body sites.82Documented effects of blueberry bioactive molecules include:
- Prevention of DNA damage,
- Arrest or alteration of the cell proliferation cycle to reduce the growth rate of cancerous cells
- Induction of the normal “programmed cell death” routine that is abnormal from malignant cells, allowing them to proliferate infinitely,
- Prevention of tissue invasion and inhibition of metastasis by down-regulating “protein-melting” enzymes used by cancer cells to invade.
- Peng C, Zuo Y, Kwan KM, et al. Blueberry extract prolongs life span of Drosophila melanogaster. Exp Gerontol. 2012 Feb;47(2):170-8.