Tune in to nature and the wonderful world around us and we will see what nature is up to and the lessons that can be learnt. I’ve recently noticed just how many birds visit the ivy bush just outside our back door to feast on the ivy berries for their breakfast, lunch and dinner and during my research for this article I discovered that the dry pith of ivy berries contains nearly as many calories as a mars bar – I’m not sure how many berries to a mars bar, but the parallel is interesting! Bilberries, blackberries, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, acaia berries, goji berries and various other kinds of berries have all in turn been labelled superfoods and recommended to help control blood glucose, slow down the ageing process, sharpen the brain and improve vision, all the while fighting heart disease and cancer. They’re loaded with fibre, which helps you feel full and they top the charts in antioxidant power, protecting your body against inflammation and free radicals which can damage cells and organs. James Joseph, PhD, at the U.S. Department of Agriculture & Human Nutrition Research Centre on Aging at Tufts University, Boston noted that we become more susceptible to the damaging effects of free radicals and inflammation as we age. Berries help prevent this process by turning off the inflammation signals.
Scientists at the University of Rhode Island have been doing a spot of nature watching themselves and have discovered that migratory birds eat certain nutrient rich berries instead of their usual diet of insects and bugs at certain times of the year.
The new research reveals birds such as sparrows, thrushes and warblers stopping over on Block Island specifically go after arrow-wood berries which contain more anti-oxidants and pigments than the eleven other berries that grow on the island. That means the migratory birds somehow know to specifically zero in on arrow-wood berries, the richest source of nutrients in the area. Birds and animals are so innately blessed as they have not had the interference of “learning” and “opinions” throughout the ages, they have relied on their inborn intelligence and have become experts at preventing disease and optimising their bodies to deal with the stress of migration. It has evolved that this superfood, the arrow-wood berry, offers protection against oxidative stress which occurs during long flights. This has caused excitement in the scientific world as this knowledge can now be used in the search for ways to reduce oxidative stress in humans – this lends new meaning to the phrase “bird brained“!
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