Goji Berries Health Benefits
What are goji berries? Goji berries have been believed to have health benefits for many generations in Chinese medicine, but only recently have they gained mainstream attention. The goji berry grows on a bush and is native to Asia, particularly China. Goji berries are also sometimes referred to as a wolfberry and are known for their signature orange-red hue. Over time, goji berries have gained a reputation for possessing anti-aging qualities. Throughout history, goji berries have been traditionally used to help reduce the effects of many ailments, including diabetes, fever, vision impairments, and high blood pressure. However, there are a number of other fascinating health benefits that goji berries can offer whether they are consumed as a tea or juice, eaten raw, or used in a topical skin care product. Below some of the vast array of health benefits of goji berries.
What are the Benefits of Goji Berries?
When considering integrating a new substance into your diet or skin care routine, it is vital to ask yourself what the benefits of that item are in order to determine if it is the right fit for you. Some of the specific benefits goji berries are thought to offer include:
- Brain Benefits: Goji berries have been shown to aid in protecting neural tissue against degenerative neurological diseases like Alzheimer’s disease. It is thought that this is possible due to the high levels of calcium and B vitamins found in the goji berry. In Chinese medicine, Goji berries are known as a defender of the brain because of their ability to help defend the nervous system and protect against harmful degenerative diseases. They have also been linked to increased mental clarity, memory recall, and other related neurological functions.
- Anti-Aging Properties: Goji berries are rich in powerful antioxidants. Antioxidants help to prevent skin damage caused by harmful free radicals. Free radicals occur when an atom is missing an electron. Free radicals can damage the skin by trying to get an extra electron from other atoms in the skin. The removal of atoms from the molecules in the skin leads to damage to the skin’s DNA, which manifests as aging skin. Antioxidants combat free radicals by preventing the oxidation of other molecules, which allows them to remove the free radicals and their damage from skin cells. The presence of enough antioxidants has the power to reduce or even potentially halt the damage that causes the skin to age. The high level of antioxidants present in goji berries are critical anti-aging components. In addition to antioxidants, goji berries contain a number of beneficial minerals and amino acids that aid the body in the process of regenerating new, healthy cells and repairing damaged cells. Helping to slow or reverse the effects of aging is one of the benefits for which goji berries are most well known.
- Liver Protection: Goji berries are comprised in part of betaines, which is a type of chemical compound used to support healthy liver function. Betaines are known for their liver protecting properties in part due to their ability to reduce fatty deposits that can build in the liver. These fatty deposits may be attributed to a number of different lifestyle factors, including alcoholism, diabetes, poor diet, etc.
- Improved Immune System: Goji berries have traditionally been used to improve the immune system functions and fortify the body against extrinsic toxins and bacteria. The use of organic goji berries has often been thought to strengthen the immune system’s ability to fight off infection and maintain a healthy body and mind. Goji berries possess the ability to help improve immune functioning due to their levels of the carotenoid beta-carotene and the amino acid Cystine. Both beta-carotene and Cystine have been shown to support immune function. In addition, goji berries also contain zinc, which has also been shown to support immune health and possibly safeguard against various viral illnesses, including the common cold. The polysaccharides that are found in goji berries are the final component of this immune boosting superfood.
- Regulated Blood Glucose Levels: When dealing with a blood glucose issue, such as diabetes or hypoglycemia, often the first thing to get cut out of your diet is sugar as this can lead to spikes, and subsequent drops, in blood sugar levels. Many fruit contain high a sugar content, and though naturally occurring and unprocessed, it can sometimes be dangerous for those suffering from blood glucose-related conditions to consume fruit. Fortunately, goji berries may be one of only a small number of fruit that can be safely consumed by those suffering from diabetes. Diabetics are often recommended to only consume foods with a low glycemic index and commonly anything below 40 is considered low. Goji berries possess a glycemic index of 29. In addition, some research has even suggested that the consumption of goji berries may lead to a reduction in the buildup of insulin resistance.
- Maintenance of Eyesight: Goji berries may not make you take your glasses off and be able to see perfectly, but they have been shown to protect eyes from age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Age-related macular degeneration is the number one cause of blindness in human beings older than sixty-five years old. Goji berries are capable of helping to reduce the risk of age-related macular degeneration because of their high levels of carotenoids, which are powerful antioxidants. The carotenoid zeaxanthin is found in high levels in goji berries and is recognized for is unique skill in protecting the eyes from damage caused by oxidation and reducing the risk of age-related macular degeneration. In addition to this, there has been some research that suggests that the polysaccharides found in goji berries may actually be able to prevent damage to the retina and optic nerve.
- Increased Energy Levels: Goji berries contain a high volume of minerals and vitamins that have been shown to help reduce tiredness and fatigue. Goji berries are capable of combatting low energy levels because of their vitamin and mineral content, which aids in speeding up the metabolic rate with which the human body breaks down food and transitions it into energy. By speeding this process up and converting the food to energy, rather than just storing the calories as fat, goji berries can help reduce fatigue. Goji contain high levels of iron, which has been shown to help the transport of oxygen to vital organs, muscles, and tissues throughout the body. The calcium found in goji berries helps the body to regulate the hormone levels and contributes to heathier cardiovascular and nerve function. In addition, the B vitamins found in goji berries assist in metabolizing food, whether it be fat, protein, or carbohydrate, into a steady energy source. Goji berries also contain significant levels of fiber, which aid in digesting food efficiently. Finally, goji berries also contain a number of vital amino acids, which the body utilizes as a source of energy.
- Heart Disease Prevention: In addition to helping boost energy levels and protect the liver, goji berries may also help to prevent heart disease. The various vitamins and minerals found in goji berries, such as iron and calcium, help to increase muscle function and promote the creation and circulation of healthy blood cells. The antioxidants found within goji berries also have the ability to fortify red blood cells from the dangers of lipid peroxidation. Lipid peroxidation occurs when lipids, or fats, are degraded into the cellular membrane. The degradation of the lipids into the cellular membrane leads to the onset of cell damage, which is one of the most commonly recognized causes of heart disease.
- Muscle Recovery: Goji berries have been thought for generations to help preserve and enhance overall physical health and strength. Goji berries are thought to help increase the flow of oxygen throughout the body, which contributes to the goji berry’s unique ability to speed up muscle recovery time. As mentioned previously, the consumption of goji berries can help promote healthier liver function. The combination of these benefits can help decrease muscle recovery time. A liver that is functioning well can efficiently rid the body of stored lactic acid that builds up as a result of strained or overused muscle tissue. Lactic acid is typically built up during exercise and is what causes the fatigue and muscle soreness commonly felt the day after a strenuous workout. Goji berries are thought to help increase blood circulation throughout the body, which is also a tremendous benefit for skin health and rejuvenation.
- Reduce Inflammation: The goji berry has also been known the help in the reduction of inflammation. By reducing inflammation, the goji berry can help promote healthier, more youthful skin because of the even skin tone it helps create. In addition, the consumption of goji berries or use of a topical skin care product containing goji berries can help to reduce acne breakouts. Goji berries are thought to be able to reduce inflammation because of the increased blood circulation and cell metabolism that they offer. It is no wonder that many modern skin care products harness the unique capabilities of goji berries in order to maximize the skin benefits they can offer.
An Important Caveat about Goji Berries
While goji berries are rich in many beneficial properties, it is important to note that goji berries have been linked to possessing anti-coagulant properties. Coagulation is the process the body undergoes where it thickens the blood from a liquid form to a viscous, gel form. Coagulation is also sometimes referred to as clotting. The body naturally clots when it begins losing blood as a safeguard to prevent the loss of large amounts of blood from the body, which could potentially be dangerous. Because goji berries have been shown to possess anti-coagulant properties, it is vital to be sure that they not interact with any blood thinning medication. If you take any type of medication which had blood thinning properties, consult your doctor before ingesting goji berries.
Despite their extensive use in Chinese medicine for many generations, Goji berries health benefits have only recently begun to gain mainstream attention for their potential health benefits. Goji berries are experiencing greater awareness from the public in part due to their skin improving qualities. One of the best ways to maximize on the benefits of the goji berry is to invest in a quality skin care product that utilizes the goji berry as a main ingredient and focuses on powerful, natural ingredients shown to improve the overall health and appearance of the skin. One such product is the OZNaturals Vitamin C cleanser, which contains goji berry, rose hips, hyaluronic acid, Vitamin C, and Vitamin E. All of these ingredients have been proven to improve the health and appearance of the skin. OZNaturals Vitamin C cleanser an ideal candidate for utilizing the strong antioxidant properties found in the goji berry to improve the skin.
-- Angela Irish, Certified Aesthetician & Co-Founder OZNaturals