background image
attention, inhibition, visuospatial memory and execu-
tive function between 2ĘC6 h post-consumption, whilst
supplementation of flavonoids for 1.5ĘC8 weeks has
been associated with improved visuospatial memory
and improved long-term memory.
Numerous mechanisms of action have been investi-
gated to explain the beneficial effects of flavonoids on
cognition. These include increases in cerebral blood
flow, protecting against neuronal stress via anti-
inflammatory and anti-oxidative effects and positively
stimulating neural signaling pathways, such as Ex-
tracellular Signal-Regulated Kinase (ERK), Serine/
Threonine-specific Protein Kinase (Akt) and Brain-De-
rived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF), leading to improved
neural signaling.
Independently of the experimental evidence that
shows flavonoids improve cognitive performance,
there is emerging evidence that flavonoids may also
support mental health and well-being.
Epidemiological data shows that lifetime consumption
of fruit and vegetables (and therefore higher flavonoid
consumption) predicts a lower incidence of depression
in later life. The benefits are also seen earlier in life;
a recent systematic review concluded that whilst the
quality of evidence was weak, there was a consistent
body of research reporting cross-sectional and longitu-
dinal associations between nutrition and mental health
in children and young people. Similar findings have been shown by other au-
thors. However, there is an absence of studies exploring the effects of flavo-
noid-rich interventions on mood.
Given the well-documented links between flavonoid consumption and cogni-
tion, and between cognition and depression, the studies reported in this paper
assess the acute effects of flavonoid-rich wild blueberries (WBB) on mood two
hours post-consumption. This two-hour interval coincides with the time-frame
for the peak absorption and metabolism of the anthocyanins present in blue-
berries. In addition, it is important to establish whether acute effects on mood
are observable prior to considering a chronic flavonoid-based intervention for
mood outcomes.
Two independent groups, healthy children and young adults, were recruited.
These groups represent individuals who are at crucial stages of mental and
cognitive development and thus plausible points at which prevention and pub-
lic health interventions may be particularly powerful.
(continued pg 3 >>)
Blueberry Intervention Increases Positive Mood
Study adds to case for natural alternative for depression
take a walk... at
work...
Pg 6
strawberries, the
perfect snack... Pg 9
inspect & wash
that boat... Pg 10
Uncle Kracker plays
the casino... Pg 12
Effects of Acute Blueberry Flavonoids on Mood
in Children and Young Adults
Major depressive disorder is the leading international
cause of disability and is estimated to affect 350 million
people worldwide. It is the second most common cause
of death in 15ĘC29 years old, via suicide.
Current treatments for depression include psychologi-
cal therapies and a range of pharmacological agents.
The treatment options recommended for children and
adolescents are limited, with only one recommended
pharmacological treatment, fluoxetine, in addition to
psychotherapy.
These treatment options are further constrained be-
cause of concerns about the use of anti-depressant
medication with young people and because most young
people do not have easy access to psychological thera-
pies.
Therefore, there is a pressing need for alternative in-
terventions, especially those that offer a cost-effective
and practical means of preventing, or alleviating, de-
pression in this population.
A common symptom of depression is impaired cogni-
tive functioning, with significant deficits in executive
functioning (EF). EF is an umbrella term, describing
cognitive processes such as working memory, planning,
problem-solving, cognitive flexibility, inhibitory control,
directing attention, thoughts and, therefore,
2018 OCT/NOV #9-5
behaviours.
Impaired EF is believed to maintain depressive symptoms, such as nega-
tive self-perception and low mood, via perseveration and rumination.
Importantly, EF is associated with the development of the frontal area of
the brain, an area that continues to mature and develop throughout ado-
lescence and into early adulthood. Thus, any disturbance to the develop-
ment of the frontal region during this critical period (for example because
of an episode of depression) can have a long-lasting impact and may
explain why depression that occurs during adolescence and early adult-
hood is associated with long-term impairments into adult life.
Flavonoids are a class of polyphenols (micronutrients) found naturally
in fruits, vegetables, tea, coffee and cocoa. Flavonoid consumption has
been associated with both vascular and cognitive benefits across the
lifespan.
Single-dose flavonoid interventions have produced improvements in
Independently of the experimental
evidence that shows flavonoids
improve cognitive performance,
there is emerging evidence that
flavonoids may also support
mental health and well-being.