Sometimes foods that are healthy don’t always appeal to a large number of people. Blueberries are an exception, however – they are both delicious and nutritious. Blueberries are truly one of the great superfoods for so many reasons. Although they can satisfy a sweet tooth, they are low in sugar and low on the glycemic index, so they will not cause blood sugar levels to spike up. They are full of healthy fiber to improve digestion and aid in weight loss for those who are trying to shed unwanted pounds. And they are incredibly rich in vitamins, minerals and bio-active compounds like anthocyanins which have powerful antioxidant properties. It is this strong combination of nutrients that lead to so many health benefits and, according to new studies, even a longer life span.
Longevity and DNA
While there are many diseases, illnesses and other conditions that can bring about premature death, the underlying cause of these problems involves DNA and its repair. There is DNA in every cell in the body and over the course of a lifetime, many things (such as illness, exposure to environmental toxins, or just the aging process) can damage that genetic material. At first, the cells are able to repair this DNA but as the body ages, they become less efficient at this. This results in DNA that is faulty or damaged, and this in turn can lead to problems like cancer that greatly shorten life expectancy.
However, the strong antioxidant properties of blueberries can help avoid this process and reduce the risk of DNA damage and flaws and thus improve the chances of avoiding many chronic diseases that can shorten life.
What blueberries can do
Because of their high antioxidant content, extracts of blueberries have shown the ability to help repair DNA damage and to reduce the oxidative stress to the cells that can bring about the damage to begin with. This means that, since the DNA damage is avoided from the start, then the chances of developing life-shortening diseases the cancer are likewise reduced.
Blueberries seem so incredibly effective at this that, in a joint study by the United States Department of Agriculture and other research organizations, scientists found that regular consumption of blueberries and their strong antioxidants can increase the lifespan about around 28 percent, or an average of 22 years. This is because blueberry plants evolved to be able to adapt to different environmental stresses like drought, high or low temperatures and other things that can threaten it. When humans consume these berries, they are also able to take advantage of some of the beneficial compounds in berries. And the benefits are truly amazing, including:
- Protect the nervous system, including the brain
- Protect cells throughout the body from DNA damage due to free radical activity
- Decrease the chances of chronic diseases like cancer and heart disease
In short, recent research has shown that regular blueberry consumption – which increases dietary intake of antioxidants – can reduce cellular and DNA damage and prevent the onset of many chronic diseases. The end result of this is a dramatic increase in quality and length of life.
Green tea has held the equivalent of rock star status in the world of natural health and nutrition for years now. This is largely because new research seems to be coming out all the time that finds yet more ways in which the regular consumption of green tea can benefit the body. So far, science has linked green tea drinking to a boosted metabolism, increased ease of weight loss, improved heart health, reduced cancer risk and stronger immunity, just to name a few. This is largely due to the large number of anti-oxidants, catechins and other bioactive compounds that green tea has in abundance. So it should probably come as no surprise that new evidence has emerged which links the use of green tea with another great health benefit: An improvement in working memory and general brain power as well. Read on to find out more about this latest intriguing research.
Swiss study uncovers brain-boosting power of green tea
This new research is coming out of the University of Basel in Switzerland, where Swiss scientists have been looking at the correlation between green tea consumption and better cognitive functions, including working memory. These findings, which used green tea extract on participants and then studying various aspects of their brain power, was recently published in the journal Psychopharmacology and appears to be a promising beginning for natural treatments to be developed in the future that will help with memory loss and other forms of cognitive dysfunction naturally.
These are some of the same bioactive compounds in green tea that have been so extensively studied in regards to cancer, especially breast cancer in women. However, this is the first time that the cognitive benefits of these compounds have been thoroughly studied in regards to brain health and function.
What the researchers found
This study was involved a team of scientists led by Professor Christoph Beglinger of the University Hospital in Basel and Professor Stefan Borgwardt, who is associated with the Psychiatric University Clinic. It found that the reason green tea extract was able to improve brain function was because of its positive effect on brain connectivity: In other words, bioactive compounds made communication between different parts of the brain easier and more rapid. This better communication led to better brain performance, especially in areas like working memory: Participants scored significantly better on their tests after ingesting green tea extract.
Specifically, this study looked at a group of otherwise healthy men and gave them a beverage containing green tea extract before going through a series of tests to measure cognitive performance. Analysis through MRIs found that the men had increased communication between the frontal cortex and parietal lobe of the brain and it was this that was likely responsible for the enhanced mental performance.
This research might open up exciting new opportunities for research, especially in the area of geriatrics, where numbers of patients with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia continue to grow. With further development, these findings might eventually translate into a natural remedy for those who struggle with memory loss and other cognitive challenges.
The numbers, quite frankly, are grim: Colon cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in America and the fourth leading cause of cancer death globally. And even if the colon cancer is not fatal, it can lead to radiation or chemotherapy as well as surgical removal of the colon and the placement of a colostomy bag, which can seriously impact the quality of life for these cancer survivors. That is why so much research in recent years has gone into discovering ways that this cancer can be prevented in the first place. It has long been suspected that a typical American diet – with its reliance on meat and starches – can raise the risk of colon cancer development. And this new study illustrates clearly how important the link between diet and this disease really is.
Intriguing new research
This elegantly done study was a collaborative effort between researchers in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and those in KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa. The researchers chose 20 African-American men and women in Pittsburgh and 20 men and women of African descent living in KwaZulu-Natal to participate in this study that looked at the link between diet and colon cancer risk.
Before this study began, researchers performed an analysis of the gut microbes in each participant. In other words, they looked at the kind of bacteria living in the digestive tract of every patient in the study. Every patient also underwent a colonoscopy, or visual study of the colon, during which it was discovered that nine out of the 20 Americans had colon polyps (which can become cancerous) while 0 out of the 20 South Africans had the same problem. Then the study itself began.
How the research was done
In this two-week study, the group of 20 African Americans ate a traditionally South African diet. Such a diet consists largely of plant-based foods including a variety of fruits, vegetables, grains and beans. Meanwhile, the 20 South Africans ate a diet that mimicked that of the West, with approximately 2-3 times more meat and fat than their native diet usually included.
After two weeks, participants were examined again. It was found that major changes had taken place in just the short time that this study took to complete its course. The African Americans on the South African diet showed better health in their intestinal flora as well as reduced inflammation and other signs of damage to the colon. Meanwhile, the South Africans on a typically American diet showed increased inflammation of the colon and a decrease in the health of their guts. Both of these are considered to be risk factors for colon cancer.
In short, this study is part of a large (and growing) body of evidence to show that a diet which is rich in plant-based foods helps to reduce the risk of colon cancer, while a diet that is high in fats and meat-based protein increases the chances that this cancer will develop. It is yet another good reason for people to consider cutting back on red meat and high fat foods and increasing their dietary intake of fruits, vegetables and other plant-based foods.
If your child is challenged with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, chances are you have both doctors and educators demanding you put your child on medication. Take heart. There are natural ways to help your child.
First and foremost, diet plays a crucial and primary role in managing your child’s health and symptoms. Diet management is simple, but overarching. Your child needs the healthiest possible diet, but then again, don’t we all?
The healthiest possible diet consists of 80% raw, fresh, organic produce – more vegetables than fruit. This means salads, chopped up veggies to snack on, carrot slaw, coleslaw, kale salad, spinach salad, apple salad, fruit salads, smoothies and more. Whole foods are both nourishing and healing. If you eat meat, be sure it is organic. If you eat dairy, choose goat or sheep milk and cheese. Be sure to include healthy fats in the diet like coconut oil, avocados, and flax seed oil or a high quality, beneficial, fatty acid supplement. Make sure your child’s diet is high in B vitamins or supplement B complex. Of course, choose a whole food vitamin if you are supplementing – never synthetic.
If your current diet resembles the American Standard Diet, you’ll be focusing more on what not to eat that what to eat. To begin with, eliminate all artificial flavors, colors, and preservatives. No BHA, BHT, MSG, trans fats, GMOs, high fructose corn syrup (or any corn syrup), and seriously limit or eliminate all sugars except raw honey. Never, under any circumstances, feed your child artificial sweeteners. It wouldn’t be a bad idea (at least in the beginning) to eliminate gluten as well. After several weeks on a really clean diet, you could add it back in and monitor results.
If your child has any known food allergies, completely eliminate offending foods.
Children with ADHD often have issues with heavy metals and other substances they need to detox. For children, it is best to work with a knowledgeable health care provider who practices chelation therapy and detoxification protocols.
The proper diet (as mentioned above) provides on-going detoxification the natural way. Make sure your child’s diet includes fresh garlic, onions, and cilantro – all of which aid in detoxification and chelation.
Adequate, quality sleep is essential for ADHD challenged children to maintain impulse control and focus. Do you know how many hours your child requires? Do bedtimes in your home allow for this much sleep, including wind down time to fall asleep?
- Age 3-5 years: 11-13 hours
- Age 6-13 years: 9-11 hours
- Teenagers 14 and up: 8-10 hours
If your child has difficulty sleeping, again, this is another area where B vitamin supplementation may help.
Exercise and Earthing
Hyperactive children need to run and play. The more they exercise, the better they sleep and the more control they have over their bodies and their attention.
While skateboards, roller skates, bikes, trampolines, and the like will all be great aids for these kids, don’t forget that lack of impulse control leads to risky behaviors. Increased supervision may be required.
Encourage contact with the ground. Barefoot in the grass, laying in the grass, connecting with the earth – however it is done can help. (see below)
Unconditional Love and Positive Regard
Identify and celebrate your child’s strengths and unique abilities. Your child needs to develop a healthy self-esteem, and there is little to no chance this will happen through the school system.
Throughout your child’s formative years, the message from most of the adults in his or her life will be one of disappointment, disapproval, and from some, disbelief that ADHD is real. Your unconditional love, respect, and appreciation will provide the emotional foundation your child needs to develop a healthy sense of self.