The word "superfood" has become part of the common vernacular within wellness circles over the last couple of decades, with almost every ancient, exotic health food being assigned this label at some stage. However, there are a few unique fruits, vegetables, and herbs that were considered super-foods long before the term was coined throughout our western culture - and the goji berry is one of them!
Goji berries, or wolfberries, have been used in traditional Chinese medicine for thousands of years. Some folklore suggests that these delicious red fruits were a favorite staple of the ancient Himalayan monks, who used them to aid meditation practices and achieve elevated levels of vitality, longevity and stamina. In the Western world, goji's were one of the first natural products to be dubbed a superfood and as such, consumption of goji berries has increased dramatically over the past 20 years. Here are a few good reasons to add goji's to your diet.
1. Forever Young
Each day your body is bombarded by free radicals from a multitude of different sources. These compounds create DNA damage to your cells and contribute extensively to the process of aging. Antioxidants are the most active fighter of free radicals, and goji berries contain particularly high levels of them. Goji berries also contain valuable amino acids and other minerals that can assist your body in the process of repairing and regenerating cells. Potential benefits of these compounds include firmer skin, reduced inflammation, decreased prevalence of wrinkles, reduced appearance of scar tissue and healing of sun-damaged skin. It would seem that a daily serving of goji berries might actually help to slow or even reverse the signs of aging!
2. Mind Defense
Goji berries have been proven effective in protecting the mind against certain degenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease, as well as supporting memory, mental clarity, & other neurological functions. These traits seem to be attributable to high levels of calcium and B vitamins within the fruit, and interestingly, their efficacy in supporting the nervous system is one of the few benefits that has been extensively researched within the scientific community.
3. Muscle Recovery
Goji's have been used for centuries to promote both physical strength and muscle recovery. By facilitating elevated blood and oxygen flow within the body, goji berries can assist in preventing excessive lactic acid production and build-up. Gojis also support healthy liver function, which is closely related to muscle recovery, as a healthy liver is able to eliminate stored lactic acid from muscle tissues much more efficiently than a liver that is in poor condition.
4. Healthy Heart
The vitamins and minerals found in goji berries promote healthy blood and muscle function - which directly impacts the strength of your heart. Furthermore, studies have shown that the antioxidant content of the goji berry has the potential to guard red blood cells against a process called "lipid peroxidation" which is basically the degeneration of lipids within the cellular membrane. This process causes extensive damage to cells and is a leading cause of heart disease.
5. Increased Energy
Due to the fact that gojis are so abundant in certain vitamins and minerals that help to boost metabolism, they can also contribute to reducing the effects of chronic fatigue and increasing energy levels. Here's a quick breakdown;
- B vitamins – help to metabolize fats, proteins, and carbohydrates and convert them into energy.
- Fiber – helps to digest food more productively, which greatly assists in providing sustained energy levels.
- Iron – used by your body to transport the oxygen in your blood to your organs, muscles and other tissues. At a cellular level, iron assists in creating energy and fueling enzymes.
6. Liver Detoxification
Goji berries contain a variety of chemical compounds known as "betaines", which have been shown to reduce fatty deposits in the liver.
Fat within the liver can sometimes accumulate to hazardous levels due to factors such as alcohol abuse, obesity, diabetes and other causes. Betaine is renowned for being able to help detoxify the liver by breaking down and removing these fats.
Studies have also found that betaine can be useful in guarding the liver against hepatotoxins, such as ethanol and carbon tetrachloride. These toxic chemical substances, which cause severe damage to the liver, often enter the body via certain prescription medications or through pesticide and herbicide consumption from food that is not organically grown.
7. Cancer Fighter
Perhaps the most promising benefit of the goji berry is its potential to aid in the recovery process for cancer patients. There have been studies conducted over the past few years to ascertain the effectiveness of goji berry extract in fighting tumorous cells within the body. Some of these studies have demonstrated that goji berries might actually be able to inhibit the growth of certain cancerous cells, while other studies have shown that they were a highly beneficial supplement to conventional cancer treatments; contributing to the reversal of cancerous growths on the skin, colon, kidneys, lungs, and throat.
So there you have it - goji berries aren't just delicious, they're an incredible source of vitality and rejuvenation. No wonder some people refer them as the "miracle fruit".
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GOJI BERRY TEA
- 1/4 cup dried goji berries
- 1-inch piece of ginger, sliced
- 1 lemon wedge
- 3 cups hot water
Add all ingredients to a teapot and allow to steep for 20-30 minutes. Enjoy straight away or allow to cool and sip on throughout the day.