Tag Archives: Food

Berries are berry, berry healthy for you

It’s berry season. I love berries. One of my fondest memories, when I was a little girl, involves picking wild berries that grew along a dirt road behind my grandparent’s home in Michigan. Blueberries, raspberries, and even one that my Grandpa called ‘June berries’. I don’t know what they really were, but I suspect that he called them June berries because that’s when they became ripe.

Wayne Owensby is getting ready to enjoy a delicious smoothie made with berries as well as a bunch of other tasty ingredients.
Wayne Owensby is getting ready to enjoy a delicious smoothie made with berries as well as a bunch of other tasty ingredients.

Most folks know, or at least suspect that berries are good for you, but it is always a bonus to have studies back it up. As nice as it is to know that berries help keep our bodies healthy, those of us who have loved ones with memory loss, or want to keep ourselves from memory loss will be gratified to know that according to two recent studies,  those who ate a cup of blueberries per day showed improvement in cognitive performance and brain function.

Also, a study conducted by Harvard researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital found that berries also appear to slow progression of memory decline in elderly women. They learned that a high intake of flavonoid-rich berries, such as strawberries and blueberries, over time, can delay memory decline in older women by two and a half years.

WebMD also weighs in with a study: Eating More Blueberries and Strawberries Is Linked to Better Brain Function With Age

Summer is a great time to enjoy berries, but since frozen berries are available year-round, we don’t have to limit the benefits to summertime. I did a web search to see if freezing berries destroy any of the nutrients. According to Healthy Advice Blog: “Freezing raw berries, fruits and vegetables does not kill the enzymes contained in these foods like heat does”

Healthy Advice goes on to mention another benefit: “Frozen berries when local, freshly picked ones are not available is that frozen fruits, berries, and vegetables are often more nutritious than produce that has been shipped a long distance. In order to transport well, fresh produce needs to be picked before they fully ripen to minimize bruising. Plus, with the time involved transporting produce cross-country, what you think are fresh fruits, berries and vegetables may actually be 1-2 weeks old, if not more. This causes them to lose much of their nutrients.”

Healthline.com adds a thought to the fresh vs frozen debate.   “Frozen fruit and vegetables are generally picked at peak ripeness. They are often washed, blanched, frozen and packaged within a few hours of being harvested.”

Strawberries arranged in a circle on a yellow plate.
One cup of fresh berries, like these organic strawberries, can be a part of a healthy addition to our diet.

One protest that typically arises whenever the topic is on healthy eating is cost. Eating berries may be part of a healthy diet, but if they are too expensive some folks believe they can’t afford them. No argument that berries can be pricey. I might maintain that though berries aren’t cheap to add to our diets,  perhaps instead of adding berries, there is something currently in the budget (less healthy) that can be substituted for berries? It may not be possible, but it may still be worth checking out.

To help determine what the cost of eating one cup of berries per day would be, next time you are at the grocery store, check out the frozen berry section and compare prices. Keep in mind that 1 pound is equal to about 3-3.5 cups of blueberries and about 2 cups per pint of strawberries (sliced).

If you’re still not convinced of the benefits, here is an article enlisting strawberries in the fight against cancer.

At the end of the day, it all comes down to choices.



"Finishing Well: Finding the Joy in Dementia" can be ordered by clicking on the following link: https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B01GAG2ZMS
“Finishing Well: Finding the Joy in Dementia” By Senia Owensby

Has your world been touched by dementia? Or, are you a caregiver? My recent book, “Finishing Well: Finding Joy in the Journey”, is a collection of stories and tips about doing life with my Mama. May it encourage and inspire you to find the joy in your own, unique journey. Find our group on Facebook 

Shedding some light on the subject of dementia

In light of the summer solstice marking the official start of the summer season, and the day with the most amount of sunlight, I thought it would be appropriate to write a post about vitamin D – also known as the sunshine vitamin.finishing_well-in-life-VitD

Science Daily reports that Vitamin D deficiency is associated with a substantially increased risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease in older people. This was the most robust study of its kind ever conducted. An international team found that the study participants who were severely vitamin D deficient were more than twice as likely to develop dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

Also, a study published in  Neurology®, found that people with low levels of vitamin D had a 53 percent increased risk of developing dementia and those who were severely deficient had a 125 percent increased risk (that’s huge!) compared to participants with normal levels of vitamin D.

Vitamin D comes from three main sources: exposure of skin to sunlight, foods, and supplements. Since older people’s skin can be less efficient at converting sunlight into Vitamin D, making them more likely to be deficient and reliant on other sources.  Care must also be taken to limit exposure due to the risk of skin cancer.

In my case, sunlight can be a problem. In fact, I love to garden, but refer to myself as a shade plant, so I try to get enough vitamin D from supplements and food.

Thankfully, a seven-year study in France concluded that higher vitamin D dietary intake was also associated with a lower risk of Alzheimer’s Disease.

According to the National Institute of Health’s Office of Dietary Supplements, (Office of Dietary Supplements) among the best sources are fatty fish such as salmon, tuna and mackerel. Other foods that provide small amounts of vitamin D include; beef liver, cheese, egg yolks and mushrooms. Additionally, nearly all milk and many breakfast cereals are fortified with vitamin D.

Increasing our vitamin D intake is an easy way to help reduce the risk of dementia, so whether you are a sun flower or a shade plant, be sure to get enough of the sunshine vitamin.

Curry some goodness

I love it when a study comes out that touts the benefits of a food I love. As you might guess from the title of this post, today’s topic is curry. Turns out that curry has some secrets hidden in all it’s yellow goodness.

A new trial by Australian scientists suggests that eating curry on a weekly basis may keep dementia at bay as we age.

Published in the British Journal of Nutrition, the study identifies yellow spice turmeric, which contains curcumin – an ingredient used in many curry dishes. It is thought that the curcumin blocks rogue proteins called beta amyloid, which clump together and destroy neurons.

Curry is a dietary staple in India, a country where the rate of Alzheimer’s disease is among the world’s lowest.

According to a story posted by WebMD, researchers say curry’s powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties make it a very attractive possibility for treating diseases such as Alzheimer’s, cancer, and heart disease.

finishingwellinlife-turmeri

My husband and I had learned about the possible benefits of turmeric, so we began the practice of eating a spoonful of mustard, (which contains turmeric) each day. I love mustard, so it wasn’t a problem, but my husband thought it might be nice to see if perhaps it came in pill form. Fortunately, it does!

In light of this finding, we recently went to one of our favorite Thai restaurants to order some yummy, curry-laden dishes. When the food arrived, the waitress asked if I would like some chopsticks. I was feeling adventurous, and (while retaining my fork) I said, “Yes”.

I quickly discovered another brain sharpening feature of eating curry: Using chopsticks. Since I’m not very good with them, it is a good neurobic exercise for me.  Neurobic exercises in a nutshell are: Doing the ordinary things in new, surprising and unexpected ways.

I wrote about neurobics in a previous post: “Upside Down and Backwards”     Of course, if you are already handy with chopsticks, it may not be that helpful for you, but still fun nevertheless.

If you really want to get a wonderful, dementia bashing benefit from eating curry, then here’s one more tip. Grab a friend – or several to join you for dinner. Studies show that social engagement – talking, laughing and sharing with others is good for your brain.

Are you beginning to feel hungry? Why not make a plan to ‘curry’ some goodness in the near future.

 

Enough to give you heartburn…

I enjoy reading dementia-related news reports and research publications from a variety of sources trying to learn as much as I can about this devastating disease.  Of course, I am always hoping that someone will discover either the definitive cause or a promising cure. Until then, we keep moving forward as best as we can.

It was with a bit of alarm, then that I began seeing a slew of articles recently regarding the correlation between heartburn medicine and dementia. It seems that there was a German study reported recently with results suggesting that there might be an association between PPIs (Proton Pump Inhibitors) and an elevated risk of developing dementia.finishing_well-in-life-heartburn

That really bothered me, as I get the occasional bout of heartburn and enjoy quick relief with an over the counter product. Wow, what a dilemma. Making a decision about whether to take a medicine now to prevent misery may cause a new type of misery later in life. That’s enough to cause anyone heartburn.

I did some more research. It turns out that even though a tremendous amount of attention has been given to this news report – to my relief – it seems that many of the headlines do not tell the entire story.

For one thing, it was a small study based on the follow-up of a smaller cohort study that had been reported in 2015.  A much larger and longer study will need to be conducted in order to provide a better picture.

David A. Johnson, MD writing for New England Journal of Medicine’s ‘Journal Watch’ advises a cautious approach.

Thankfully, at least one doctor, Dr. Valerie Thompson adds that there’s a variety of other medications available that haven’t been linked to dementia, and that  antacids were not used in the study, so that’s a relief.

Other studies have disagreed. I believe that the bottom line here is to stay as informed as possible, and if you do experience heartburn, try to take the smallest dose possible to get relief. In the meantime, here is a link to a slide show that provides tips to help avoid heartburn in the first place “Heartburn, Foods to What, Foods to Avoid” 

Undoubtedly, more studies will emerge as time goes on…stay tuned.