Berries and their role in the quest for anti-aging
By: Dr. Michael O’Leary PhD
Published on December 18th 2018
Anti-Aging is a popular marketing term when it comes to the supplement world. Many companies will promise you that their new product will have you looking and feeling years younger. It’s a good marketing campaign, however is it true? What ingredients are scientifically proven to actually help you? And what products should be effective? Let’s have a look.
One of the most significant ingredients that claim to have anti-aging effects are various berries. They are a so-called “Powerhouse” of nutrients and are composed of other actives that have a positive effect on your body. When discussing “Anti-Aging”, it is not only about getting better skin, but also obtaining an overall increased healthy state. Let’s explore the world of berries and their role in healthy and effective anti-aging.
Berries contain numerous antioxidants and anti-inflammatories which are molecules that neutralize harmful free radicals and protect vital cellular structures in your body from their damaging effects. Many of these can be obtained naturally from the foods you eat. Your body also contains antioxidant enzyme systems and has its own ability to create them. The more free radicals your body contains the more likely you are to suffer from harmful conditions, diseases, and accelerated aging.
Let’s quickly look at free radicals a little more so we can know why the antioxidants found in berries are so important.
Free radicals are highly reactive chemicals that are formed daily in your body – usually in manageable amounts – as a result of normal metabolic activity. Being very unstable, free radicals typically attack the nearest stable molecule and “steal” its electron. When the “attacked” molecule loses its electron, it becomes a free radical itself, thus beginning a chain reaction.
What happens when we lack antioxidants and these free radicals get out of balance? This then creates a state of inflammation. When we have an extended period of inflammation our body then enters a state called "oxidative stress".
When this first occurs, the cells’ first response is to fight and is programmed for cell survival. However, if oxidative stress is not resolved, the cells are quickly compromised and begin programmed cellular death. This is the aim to eliminate weak cells in hope to keep a group of healthy cells, yet, if a change to regain balance within the body these healthier cells will also begin to weaken.
This can lead to many conditions that are directly associated with this imbalance. Issues such as Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, cancers, chronic fatigue syndrome, heart and blood vessels disorders, and other inflammatory diseases. (10)
For example, when you’re exposed to toxic chemicals, infections, and diseases – and your body’s detoxification enzyme system is no longer able to cope, it leads to a situation known as “oxidative stress.” To combat this, by consuming more antioxidant-rich foods, and berries being one of those, we can reverse this. The less oxidative stress, the more “anti-aging”.
A recent study in Korea found that a combination of berries and medicinal herbs made into a juice had a profound effect on reducing oxidative stress through antioxidant activity. The researchers clearly stated that the berries within the juice had a larger effect and reduced skin aging once the study was complete. (1)
Berries can be a great source of a vast variety of antioxidants such as flavonoids, tannins, phenolic acids, and stilbenes. In turn, such active ingredients can have an effect such as a delay of onset aging. Also, an antimicrobial effect which can help in controlling the spread of certain pathogens is found from intake of berry phenolics. (2)
So, what are the some of the best and well-studied berries that we highlight today? Bilberries and Goji berries are some of the most well-known, effective, and studied berries today.
Bilberries - The European Blueberry
Known as European blueberries, is one of the richest natural sources of anthocyanins. They are crucially important due to their antioxidant content and are reported to be key to a long list of reported health benefits. A powerful anti-oxidant, it is historically known to be effective for its ability to improve vision, it is also known to assist with lowering blood glucose, anti-inflammatory effects, and lowering oxidative stress within the body, all anti-aging effects that can assist you! (3)
One study using a bilberry extract in 1990 and then performed again in 2006 was able to show that taking bilberry over a long period of time resulted in improved short-term memory, vision and assisted in the control of sensory inputs. (4)
In your body, inflammation is used as a protective mechanism, however, long-term inflammation will increase oxidative stress and lead to many age-related diseases. As stated above, bilberry contains anthocyanins, and a study focusing on their effects was above to show that after continued use several proinflammatory biomarkers were reduced at substantial ways, and a follow up with patients in the study showed a continued reduction in those biomarkers, leading to reduced inflammation and oxidative stress levels. (9)
Goji berries - The Wonder Berry
Its main “anti-aging” properties are found in its antioxidants, minerals, amino acids, vitamin C, carotenoids, and polysaccharides, all fundamental to less oxidative stress and healthier skin. Recent studies have found that goji berries are high in antioxidants and vitamin A, good for heart disease and maintaining healthy vision. The historic berry of Traditional Chinese Medicine, goji berries are classified as a “superior tonic.” In TCM, goji is used to strengthen the liver, purify the blood, protect healthy vision, and revitalize energy. (5) (6)
Research in Switzerland has shown that intake over a 90-day period of goji berries was able to strengthen macular characteristics and improve overall eye health. An increase in zeaxanthin and antioxidant levels was the main reason for the improvements. (7)
Another study in Brazil looked at the effects of goji berries on abdominal fat and blood lipid profiles. After a 45-day intake of goji berries, there was a significant improvement in the lipid profiles, along with a significant reduction of their waist circumference. To note, they also found an increase of glutathione levels, one of the bodies’ most effective and potent antioxidants. (8)
In closing, no matter if we regard anti-aging as better skin appearance, delaying cognitive decline, improved eye health, smaller waist circumference, or a larger amount of overall antioxidant intake to fight free radicals within our body, these two berries are part of a natural approach to reaching those goals.
Two products on our website can be found below that are a great source of Bilberries and Goji Berries.
A great selection of prebiotics can again be found within the Prima Pure Life Select store.
- 5. https://www.annmariegianni.com/goji-berry-the-long-lived-anti-aging-fruit/