To Your Berry, Berry Good Health

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Have you ever had the pleasure of picking your very own berries fresh from bush, shrub or vine and experiencing the burst of flavour and fragrance warm from the sun? MMMM-mmm – that taste sensation of sweet and sour, fruity flavour wakes up your taste buds and is so scrumptious.

Blueberries, strawberries, cherries, cranberries, mulberries, raspberries and blackberries to name just a few of the obvious ones, and then there are the super-berries like: goji berries, acai and others and all are turning out to have remarkable health benefits.

New studies are showing that berries contain unique phyto-chemicals that may help to prevent cancer, heart disease, age-related declines and much, much more. It would make sense to enjoy them as often as you can, however, for most of us this is not going to be often enough. That’s because the greatest health benefits come with consistent, regular use of a wide variety of berries. It is with regular use that come the greatest benefits, this means eating 1 to 1 ½ cups of mixed berries a day, everyday. So my suggestion is to find a good quality supplement containing berry extracts and eating fresh berries whenever possible.

Goji berry (Fructus Lycii) has been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine for thousand of years, and I for me this is a high recommendation, as the Chinese did not pay their doctors to cure them like we do, the village or regions doctors were only paid, by the whole village, for as long as their patients remained well. Imagine if we required our doctors to do this? The sickness industry might actually become the health industry J

The Legends

1. Chinese Wolfberry can be used to nourish a weak body, improve vision, and promote longevity. There are many legends associated with Chinese Wolfberry. A famous Chinese physician, Li Shizhen (1518 – 1593) who lived during the Ming Dynasty (1368 to 1644 A.D.), compiled the Great Compendium of Herbs (or Compendium of Materia Medica), which stated, “The Bao Shou herb store recorded an elixir that promotes longevity. A bizarre barefooted man named Zhang passed the formula of this elixir to an elderly person at Yi Shi county, who followed the recipe and lived for over a hundred years. The elderly man could walk extremely fast as if he was flying. His gray hair turned black again. His aged teeth were replaced with new ones and he was very virile in the bedroom. The herb is mellow and can be taken often to eliminate excessive heat in the body, and will also improve vision.”

2. During the prime of the Tang Dynasty (618 – 907 A.D.), a caravan on the Silk Road stopped for a rest at an inn and noticed a young lady reprimanding and whipping an old man. A merchant approached them and enquired the young lady, “For what reason are you assaulting and abusing this elderly person?” The lady replied, “I am disciplining my great-grandson. It is none of your business.” Everyone at the scene was shocked by her reply. Further enquiries revealed that the lady was more than three hundred years old! The old person was being punished because he refused to take a type of herb and started to age. Amazed at the magic of the herb, the merchant bowed to the lady with respect and asked, “May I be so bold as to ask the lady what type of magical herb do you take?” The lady replied, “This herb has five names. You want to take a different part of the herb each season. In spring you take its leaves, which is known as the essence of heaven herb. In summer you take its flowers, which is known as the longevity herb. In autumn you take its fruits, which is known as Chinese Wolfberry. In winter you take the bark of its roots, which is known as the skin and bone of the earth, or the staff of the deities. Taking these four parts in the four seasons respectively, will give you a life as lofty as heaven and earth.”

Thereafter the Chinese Wolfberry was introduced to the Middle East and Western countries and was eulogised as the divine herb from the East. In 1933 the Ministry of Public Health of China approved goji berry to be marketed as a botanical medicine and it continues to be a revered and popular health tonic in China today.Goji berry’s Important PhytochemicalsPolysaccharides – long-chain sugar molecules that are one of the distinguishing characteristics of goji berry, are a primary source of dietary fibre in the intestinal system, and once they have been metabolised in the body they:

  • Support and maintain the health of the colonic mucosal lining
  • Lower pH and reduce the risk of colon cancer
  • Enhance mineral uptake
  • Stabilise blood glucose levels
  • Stimulate the immune system
  • Offer antioxidant protection – Zeaxanthin – an antioxidant in the carotenoid family – a group of fat soluble pigments found in plants that play a key role in immune system support, are found in abundance in goji berries. Zeaxanthin is a powerful protector of your vision, that allows you to distinguish fine detail and protects against macular degeneration, helps to prevent cataracts from forming and may retard the aging of the lens. Beta-carotene – is found in red and orange coloured foods, it is important for the synthesis of Vitamin A, which is essential for the health of your vision, cell structure, bones and teeth, and healthy skin. Goji berry has one of the highest beta-carotene content for edible plants.
  • Goji for Cardiovascular Health: In the book ‘Discovery of the Ultimate Superfood,’ the authors document the science behind goji and list 67 medical studies showing how goji supports health heart function. One study of the antioxidant activity of goji and two other Chinese herbs found goji to be the strongest inhibitor of lipid peroxidation (a major factor in heart disease).Reduces Blood Glucose Levels and Lipids (fats)After three weeks of eating a diet supplemented with goji berry, laboratory animals with non-insulin dependent diabetes II showed a significant decrease in weight, cholesterol, triglycerides, and insulin levels, leading the researchers to conclude that goji berry may also be helpful in improving insulin resistance. Another study found that goji contains potent antioxidants that reduced blood glucose levels, and total cholesterol and triglyceride concentrations in rabbits, while increasing high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL)-“good cholesterol” levels after 10 days of treatment.
  • Immunity Booster: In a 1988 report published by the State Scientific and Technological Commission of China, researchers discovered that after eating 50 grams of goji berry, human volunteers showed an increase in white blood cell count and a 75 percent increase in the antibody immunoglobulin A (lgA). In a more recent animal study, goji berry polysaccharides stimulated production of interleukin-2, a hormone-like substance that stimulates the growth of blood cells important to the immune system, which protect against cancer cells and microbial invasion.
  • Protects DNA Against Damage: One of the most amazing things about this berry is that it has been shown to actually protect against DNA damage and reduce DNA damage that has already occurred in animals … which means it may very well counteract aging. Although studies haven’t been done yet on humans, the potential is tremendous. A recent study at the Fudan University in Shanghai, China, found that when goji berry polysaccharides were given to laboratory animals with DNA damage and non-insulin dependent diabetes, the animals showed a decrease in blood glucose levels and an increase in serum levels of superoxide dismutase (SOD)-an important antioxidant. Additionally, goji berry decreased DNA damage, possibly by decreasing oxidative stress levels, leading the researchers to theorize that goji berry extract supplementation may prevent the development of complications or even the tendency for diabetic animals to develop other health problems.
  • Brain Health: MaintenanceAlzheimer’s disease is predicted to become an epidemic for Baby Boomers, and there are currently about 70,000 scientists working around the world to find a cure. In a recent study at the University of Hong Kong, researchers theorized that since goji berry extract has anti-aging effects, it probably also has neuroprotective effects against toxins in neurodegenerative diseases, namely Alzheimer’s disease. They were right. Goji berry extract protected the brain neurons of laboratory animals from the toxic effects of beta amyloid protein-a culprit in Alzheimer’s disease. The researchers concluded that studies on anti-aging herbal medicine like goji berry might open up a new therapeutic window for the prevention of Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Cancer Inhibitor: Thousands of studies have been done using a variety of dietary supplements, with most of them on animals. A clinical trial done in China in 1994 on goji berry showed very promising results. Seventy-nine advanced cancer patients were treated with LAK/IL-2 (a cancer drug) combined with goji berry. Initial results indicated that regression of the cancer was achieved in patients with malignant melanoma, renal cell carcinoma, colorectal carcinoma, lung cancer, nasopharyngeal carcinoma, and malignant hydrothorax. The response rate of patients treated with LAK/IL-2 plus goji berry was 40.9%, while that of the patients treated with just LAK/IL-2 was 16.1% (P
  • Liver Protector: Goji berry is a potent hepatoprotective, or liver protector.One study discovered that goji berry helps counteract carbon tetrachloride toxicity in the liver.A goji berry compound called cerebrosides-a combination of sugar and fat (glycolipids)-was shown to protect liver cells from a toxic dry-cleaning chemical better than the well-known liver protectant milk thistle. Pyroles, another hepatoprotective compound in goji berry, are unusual molecules that have a nitrogen atom in their central ring and were found to outperform goji berry cerebrosides in protecting the liver.

Based on scientific studies, we know that berries and more importantly goji berries contain unique physio-protective and restorative compounds that support your good health and may even extend your life. We’re bound to learn even more in the future about this “King of the Berries”, so take advantage of modern research and the ancient wisdom of China, today. After all the Chinese have been keeping themselves healthy and living longer for literally thousands of year using goji. Isn’t it time you tried it?


Source by Annie Robinson



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