Resveratrol and EGCG Found to Stimulate New Brain Cells by Dr. Joseph Mercola for Mercola
Research led by scientists at the University of Queensland found phytonutrients have proneurogenic effects in the brain.1 The researchers studied the effects of quercetin in vitro and in an animal model. The basis of the research was investigating flavonoids, which are phytonutrients commonly found in fruits and vegetables.
Evidence has demonstrated that flavonoids have the potential to protect brain cells against injury, suppress neuroinflammation and promote cognitive functioning.2 The researchers found the most prominent examples of these flavonoids and polyphenols are epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), commonly found in green tea, resveratrol, red grapes and berries.3
Taking steps to protect your brain from the assault of processed foods and environmental toxins is a crucial way to protect your overall health and ability to stay independent as you age.
The results of a nationally representative cross-sectional study published in the BMJ4 found that 57.9% of the calories eaten by the participants came from ultraprocessed foods and 89.7% of the energy was from added sugars. One physician calls this diet pattern “Fast Food Genocide.”5
Added sugars present a significant risk to brain health as they contribute to obesity6 and Alzheimer’s disease.7 The researchers wrote8 that in ultraprocessed foods, the added sugars were eight times higher than in processed foods and five times higher than in minimally processed foods.
In the 9,317 participants surveyed, the researchers found 82.1% in the highest quintile consumed over the recommended limit of 10% of their calories from added sugar, as compared to the 26.4% in the lowest quintile. This indicates a significant need to improve dietary intake and protect brain health.
Phytonutrients Promote Growth of New Brain Cells
The study9 from the University of Queensland is yet another piece of evidence demonstrating the power of phytonutrients to your health. The researchers sought to investigate how natural compounds may have become part of the environmental stimuli that shape neurological structure and function.
They chose to investigate bioactive compounds found in apples as they are consumed worldwide and analyzed the presence of quercetin in apple peel and 3,5 dihydroxybenzoic acid from the apple flesh. Dihydroxybenzoic acid is not related to flavonoids but did appear to have proneurogenic properties.
Quercetin was chosen as it was an abundant flavonoid extracted from apple peel. However, past studies have investigated the effects of other flavonoids, namely EGCG and resveratrol named by researchers from the University of Queensland.
One study published in Genes & Nutrition10 investigated the neuroprotective actions demonstrated by flavonoids that help promote memory, learning and cognitive functions. They found the effects are supported by two processes. In the first, flavonoids appeared to play an important role in signaling cascades.
In the second, the flavonoids improve peripheral and cerebral vascular blood flow in a way that could lead to angiogenesis and the production of new nerve cells in the hippocampus. The result of the second pathway is the same described by the researchers analyzing quercetin — generation of new nerve cells in the hippocampus.11
Evidence has shown that flavonoids have a direct and indirect effect on the central nervous system12 and the various effects on the brain include the ability to reverse some symptoms that are associated with Alzheimer’s disease and enhance cognitive function.13 The neuroprotective mechanism also contributes to the quality of neurons and their connectivity, which one study suggests:14
“… can thwart the progression of age-related disorders and can be a potential source for the design and development of new drugs effective in cognitive disorders.”