Health and Fitness

Fight Eye Fatigue and Improve Your Memory Naturally With This Little Blue Fruit

The Internet and computers have been heralded to increase productivity and allow us to work from remote locations with flexible schedules. For the most part, computers and technology has offered many the freedom and flexibility as promised. However, as with all advances, unexpected set backs often occur.

One result of increased use of technology is the large spans of time spent behind a computer screen without breaks or rest. For some, this can lead to increased eye fatigue and mental strain. However, research indicates the unique antioxidants naturally found in blueberries may help reduce eye fatigue, help to improve vision and help the brain function better.

Interestingly, World War II British Air Force pilots who ate blueberry jam on their bread were found to be more accurate in their bombing missions than other pilots. European studies conducted on the bilberry, the European cousin of the blueberry, offers documented evidence between bilberries and improved eyesight. Japanese research touts the ability for blueberries help fight eye fatigue.

What Makes the Blueberry an Effective Eye Soother?

Some research indicates this little blue fruit has high amounts of a naturally occurring compound called anthocyanins. In fact, anthocyanins is what gives the fruit its blue hue. Anthocyanins have an amazing effect in the human body such as strengthening capillaries and peripheral circulation. This would mean it helps to assist the blood flow in and around the eyes. Thus, this improved blood flow may be responsible for the numerous claims of naturally improved vision and the reduction of eye related irritations.

The Good News Doesn't Stop with the Eyes. Blueberries are Good Brain Food, too!
Several studies conducted on blueberries point to interesting results. A study from the USDA in 1999, showed a diet rich in blueberry extract helped to fight some loss of coordination and balance and showed improved short-term memory in aged rats (1)

In addition, in 2004 the USDA published findings that indicated Wild Blueberries ranked #1 in antioxidant capacity when compared to 20 other fruits. (2) Antioxidants assist the body in fighting free radicals. A free radical is an unstable oxygen molecule that has lost one or more of its electrons. These unbalanced molecules are extremely reactive with other molecules. To offset this imbalance, free radicals attempt to steel needed electrons from other molecules.

Free radicals have a negative affect on other cells, since they can burst cell membranes and causes cells to malfunction. One of the best ways to think of the affects of free radicals on the body is it causes "cellular rust". For example, it is free radicals that causes a freshly cut apple or potato to turn brown. Since the brain only accounts for about 2% of the total body weight it represents approximately 20% of oxygen consumption, thus fighting free radicals in the body and brain is vital.

Where to Find Blueberries

Unfortunately, fresh blueberries are very seasonal and are not always available year round in your local store. However, here are a few suggestions to get the powerful antioxidants of the blueberry regardless what the season is:

Fresh Blueberries: When in season, you can get fresh blueberries straight from a farm market or the produce section of your local store.

Frozen blueberries: To get your hands on frozen blueberries visit the refrigeration section of your local grocery store. Enjoy a few thawed blueberries in your pancakes or muffins.

Dried Blueberries: One source for dried blueberries is Traverse Bay Farms www.traversebayfarms.com. They will ship dried blueberries directly to your home or office.
A handful of dried blueberries make a great healthy snack or an addition to your morning cereal. They also make a good alternative to the candy in the candy jar next to your computer. Dried blueberries also make a great choice since they are available year round.

In fact, studies conducted by blueberry researcher Charles M. Mainland, Ph.D., professor of horticulture at North Carolina State University, show that dried blueberries actually pack an even bigger antioxidant punch than fresh blueberries. According to his research, dried blueberries offer four times greater antioxidant content than fresh blueberries.
Blueberry Extract (Super Fruit Supplements): One source for blueberry capsules is from Fruit Advantage www.fruitadvantage.com. The company even offers free shipping on blueberry capsules. These dietary supplements are made from whole blueberries and deliver highly concentrated amounts of the fruit in an easy-to-swallow capsule without the sugar.

So if you are searching for a natural solution to help ease the results of spending time behind a computer screen consider the blueberry. This little blue fruit is packed full of antioxidants and has a impressive history of clinical research.
(1) Journal of Neuroscience, September 15, 1999
(2) Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 52:4026-4037, 2004.)

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