I love Goji Berries! They are one of my favourite additions to a trail mix. Considered both a fruit and an herb, goji berries grow in some of the most extreme and harsh climates. It has become very popular and known as a “superfood” over the last few years due to its highly nutritive and antioxidant properties.
5 Reasons Why You Want These Red Jewels In Your Trail Mix:
1. Goji berries can protects your eyes: Glaucoma is the second leading cause of blindness in the world, and half of those that have it don’t even know it. It is the increase in intraocular pressure that is the major cause of blindness because some of the cells necessary for vision slowly degenerate and die. Studies have shown that goji berry helps the retinal ganglion cells in the retina (these cells are needed for vision) to survive longer despite the increase in intraocular pressure and prevents vascular damages as well. (1) (2) (3)
2. Supports brain health: With Alzheimer’s disease becoming very prevalent, there is widespread interest in finding ways to protect the brain from degeneration. Studies have shown that something as simple as taking a goji berry extract can protect the brain against toxins and age-related neurodegeneration while enhancing cognitive and memory function. (4) (5)
3. Goji berries protect your liver: This is such an important thing because most compounds that get into our bodies have to be filtered by the liver. Some of them can cause a huge burden and damage this vital organ. A few studies have demonstrated that Goji berries actually protect the liver from being damaged by toxic substances. Decreased liver enzymes (AST, ALP, and ALT – markers of liver damage when elevated) and increased liver tissue antioxidant activities were observed. (6) (7)
4. Gogi berries can boosts your energy levels and feelings of general well being: Do you want to experience easier awakening, improved focus and concentration, and more energy during the day? A study has shown that about 70% of people who drank Goji juice for 14 days experienced these benefits and more than 50-60% felt healthier and happier. Doesn’t that sound amazing? (8)
5. Gogi berries can help you get a better control of your blood sugar levels, even if you are insulin resistant: Goji berries can help you balance and control your blood sugar levels by reducing blood glucose levels and improving insulin resistance. It does so by increasing the levels of GLUT4, which is responsible for the majority of glucose transport inside the muscles, and improving the intracellular signal for insulin. (9)
Note: Technically Goji Berries are a nightshade which contain glycoalkaloids. These are natural chemicals that the plants produce to protect themselves. These compounds which are found throughout the plant, but the concentrations are higher in the leaves, flowers and unripe fruits.
Though many people do perfectly well and even thrive on certain nightshade plants, they are contra-indicated for people that react to even a small amount of glycoalkaloids. Glycoalkaloids can cause inflammation and arthritic symptoms in some people. You will need to test goji berries for yourself to see if you react in an adverse way.
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2. Mi X., Feng Q., Yin Lo A., Chang R., Lin B., Chung S., So K. “Protection of retinal ganglion cells and retinal vasculature by Lycium barbarum polysaccharides in a mouse model of acute ocular hypertension”. PLOSone. (2012); 7: 1-12.
3. Chan H., Chang R., Ip A., Chiu K., Yuen W., Zee S., So K. “Neuroprotective effects of Lycium barbarum Lynn on protecting retinal ganglion cells in an ocular hypertension model of glaucoma”. Experimental Neurology. (2007); 203: 269-273.
4. Yu M., Leung S., Lai S., Che C., Zee S., So K., Yuen W., Chang R. “Neuroprotective effects of anti-aging oriental medicine Lycium barbarum against B-amyloid peptide neurotoxicity”. Experimental Gerontology. (2005); 40: 716-727.
5. Chen W., Cheng X., Chen J., Yi X., Nie D., Sun X., Qin J., Tian M., Jin G., Zhang X. “Lycium barbarum polysaccharides prevent memory and neurogenesis impairments in scopolamine-treated rats”. PLOSone. (2014); 9: 1-13.
6. Chin Y., Lim S., Kim S., Shin D., Suh Y., Kim Y., Kim Y., Kim J. “Hepatoprotective pyrrole derivatives of Lycium chinense fruits”. Bioorganic and Medicinal Chemistry Letters." (2003); 13: 79-81.
7. Cui B., Liu S., Lin X., Wang J., Li S., Wang Q., Li S. “Effects of Lycium Barbarun aqueous and ethanol extracts on high-fat-diet induced oxidative stress in rat liver tissue.” Molecules. (2011); 16: 9116-9128.
8. Amagase H., Nance D. “A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, clinical study of the general effects of a standardized Lycium barbarum (Goji) juice, GoChi.” The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. (2008); 14: 403-412.
9. Zhao R., Li Q., Xiao B. “Effect of Lycium barbarum polysaccharide on the improvement of insulin resistance in NIDDM rats”. The Pharmaceutical Society of Japan. (2005); 125: 981-988.