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Bilberries promote gastrointestinal health

Thursday, December 15, 2011 by: Raw Michelle
Tags: bilberries, gastrointestinal, health

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(NaturalNews) Eating bilberries will reduce intestinal inflammation and alleviate the effects of colitis. These are the results of the experiments conducted by a team of scientists led by Professor Gerhard Rogler from University Hospital of Zurich, Switzerland.

Bilberries, or huckleberries, are tiny fruits related to American blueberries and cranberries, but native to Northern Europe. They are known to have positive effects on treating acute and chronic diarrhea. Bilberries have also been reported to help patients suffering from Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD). With the current study, scientists wanted to find further data to confirm these reported benefits.

"Ingestion of dried bilberries had positive effects on various parameters, especially in acute DSS-colitis," announced the group of researchers.

Tests show the power of bilberries in stopping gut inflammation

A group of laboratory mice were given a specific chemical substance mixed with water in order to induce colon inflammation and eventually colitis. The compound, dextrane sodium sulphate (DSS), is known to cause the affliction after repeated administration. It also produces inflammation of the gut similar to that found in patients suffering from IBD. The test subjects were later divided into three groups, each of them having been given different supplements alongside their usual meals. The first group was given meals containing 20% dried bilberries. The second and third groups were fed meals containing 10% and 1% anthocyanins obtained from bilberries. Anthocyanins are a group of flavonoids found in plant tissue that are responsible for the red, blue or purple pigmentation of fruits and flowers. This water soluble substance can be found in high concentrations in bilberries and has been associated with various beneficial effects on human health.

The data resulted from the experiments proves that bilberry intake can be directly linked to a decrease in inflammation intensity. Highly positive effects are reported in both acute and chronic forms of the disease, with some cases even resulting in a full medical recovery. "Oral administration of bilberries during acute DSS-induced colitis ameliorated disease severity. Dried bilberries also improved chronic DSS-colitis," explained the scientists. However, further research in this field is required and should be undertaken. The research team conduced that "these promising results justify a clinical study on their therapeutic effect in inflammatory bowel disease".

Bilberries have numerous other health benefits

Bilberries are the fruits of a shrub closely related to North American berries, but which present a different anthocyanin profile. The plant produces single or paired fruits that are smaller in size than blueberries, but have a richer taste and a juicier pulp. They have dark, almost black skin, with a red or purple pulp. Often associated with improved eyesight and better retina health, these fruits can even prevent or reverse eye disorders, such as macular degeneration. They are a very rich source of healthful flavonoids with powerful cell-protective properties. The benefits of these bioactive substances on human health range from anti-tumorigenic, anti-carcinogenic, and anti-inflammatory properties, to protection of the circulatory and nervous systems. Moreover, consuming a handful of bilberries each day can also help prevent or ameliorate stress induced liver damage.

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About the author:
Raw Michelle is a natural health blogger and researcher, sharing her passions with others, using the Internet as her medium. She discusses topics in a straight forward way in hopes to help people from all walks of life achieve optimal health and well-being. She has authored and published hundreds of articles on topics such as the raw food diet and green living in general. >>> Click here to see more by Michelle

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