Tips for Healthy Living
We’ve partnered with Dr. Doug Husbands of Holistic Health Bay Area to bring you a new set of Tips for Healthy Living. Dr. Husbands is a functional medicine doctor, clinical nutritionist, anti-aging health practitioner and doctor of chiropractic. I appreciate that he encourages visiting the doctor to focus on staying healthy instead of only visiting when you’re sick.– Carmelo Sigona
Cherries Should be Enjoyed with Great Gusto
Scientifically-Supported Suggestions to Seek Summer’s Super Fruit (Part 1)
By Dr. Douglas Husbands
Cherries are a summer treat that should be enjoyed with great gusto. Not only for their sweet and tart juiciness, their deep dark and bright reddish colors, and their versatility for use in salads, pies, other desserts, but also for their myriad of health benefits.
In fact, cherries have so many health benefits, listing them will require a 2-part article. In part 1 of this 2-part Sigona’s Tips for Healthy Living article, I’ll give you three of the seven health-promoting reasons to enjoy this super fruit.
- Anti-Inflammatory/Pain Relief Effects: If you suffer from any joint or muscle pain, including arthritis, muscle pain or gout, then tart cherries are the fruit for you. The Montmorency or Balaton species of cherries are the more tart ones. The sweet Bing cherries also appear to have anti-inflammatory effects. A study (1) performed at UC Davis found that when healthy women ate about 9 ½ ounces of Bing cherries after an overnight fast for 6 days, they showed a 15 percent reduction in uric acid levels and C-reactive protein levels for 5 hours after eating the cherries. C-reactive protein and uric acid are objective markers of inflammation seen on laboratory tests. Other studies seem to confirm the findings of the anti-inflammatory effects of cherries.
- Very Powerful Antioxidant Effects: Randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled crossover trial studies using the tart Montmorency or Balaton cherries have indicated they provide very powerful antioxidant effects. In a study featuring older adults between 61 and 75 years old, they drank 8 ounces of a commercially available cherry juice twice daily for 14 days. This resulted in a significant decrease in oxidative stress (2). One of the objective indicators for decreased oxidative stress in the study, 8-hydroxy-2′-deoxyguanosine, is an indicator for DNA oxidative damage. The study showed decreased 8-hydroxy-2′-deoxyguanosine levels in the cherry juice drinkers. The significance of this finding is that in only 14 days of drinking an 8-ounce glass of tart cherry juice twice a day, older adults showed a statistically significant decrease in the damage to their DNA! As I’ve written about in other articles, what you eat affects your genes!
- Promotes Deep Restful Sleep and Brain Cell Repair: Cherries, in particular the Montmorency and Balaton species, are high in the antioxidant hormone melatonin. Both these species contain significant amounts of melatonin, but according to an article published in the October 2001 issue of the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, Montmorency cherries contain 6 times the amount of melatonin than Balanton cherries. Research studies confirm that melatonin is readily absorbed by our body when taken by mouth. Melatonin is not only an important powerful antioxidant for our brain, but also it also regulates our ability to attain restorative and deep sleep. It helps repair our brain during sleep as well.
As you can see from just these three reasons, cherries are a super fruit you should take advantage of, especially while the fresh fruit is in season. I recommend you buy only organic cherries, because they hold onto pesticides very tightly compared to some other fruits. I also recommend you consume fresh whole cherries more so than the juice alone because of the fiber and other components in the whole fruit that can be missing in the fruit juice.
Stay tuned for the next Sigona’s Tips for Healthy Living issue to find out what the other four “sensational scientifically-supported suggestions to seek summers super fruit” are! Or if you can’t wait, and want to find out more tips to improve your specific health issues using a Functional Medicine approach, contact my office at 650-802-8700 extension 0 to schedule.
- Jacob R, Spinozzi G, Simon V, et. al. Consumption of cherries lowers plasma urate in healthy women. J Nutr 2003;133:1826-29.
- Traustadottir T, Davies S, Stock, A, et. al. Tart cherry juice decreases oxidative stress in healthy older men and women J Nutr 2009;139:1896-1900