No one likes getting older, things that you have disappear, things that you don’t want seem to come out of nowhere, and random things just start to hurt.
If your goal is to maintain your fun and active lifestyle well into you 80s and 90s, proper exercise and nutrition are your secret weapons.
Today, I’d like to introduce you to wolfberry.
Wolfberry, also called Goji berries or Lycium barbarum, are edible, highly nutritious berries that have been used as a traditional medicinal herb and food supplement by Chinese medical practitioners for over 2,000 years.
The berries are claimed to be able to treat dry skin and dry coughs and improve sexual desire. These medicinal properties are not all backed by medical research, however.
One thing wolfberry is scientifically supported to do is reduce the negative effects of aging.
Wolfberry does this through antioxidant, immunoregulative, anti-apoptotic, and DNA damage-mitigating mechanisms.
With this article, I’m going to cover what wolfberry contains, the pharmacological activities of one of the major components of wolfberry, and tell you how it works to prevent aging. Then, I’ll finish by telling you where you can find wolfberry and how much is safe to consume in a day.
What wolfberry contains
Wolfberry contains abundant amounts of:
- Lycium barbarum polysaccharides (LBPs)
- Carotenoids – such as zeaxanthin and β-carotene
- 2-O-β-d-glucopyranosyl-l-ascorbic acid
- Vitamins – such as riboflavin, thiamine, and ascorbic acid
LBPs are the interesting players in the wolfberry makeup because their mechanism of action is so diverse.
LBPs are a bundle of 17 natural amino acids and several monosaccharides (rhamnose, galactose, glucose, arabinose, mannose, and xylose).
The other components of wolfberry are effective primarily because of their potent antioxidant capabilities – being able to scavenge reactive oxygen species when they are formed, reduce lipid peroxidation, and prevent cellular damage caused by the oxidation of its major structural and functional components.
LBPs have these antioxidant capabilities too, but they have a host of other tricks up their sleeve that make them one potent ingredient to combat aging.
How LBPs prevent aging
Reducing oxidative stress
Some theories of aging suggest the oxidative damage of macromolecules (proteins, lipids, and DNA) increase with age and underlie various age-related disorders.
LBPs can scavenge free radicals and reduce the oxidative stress reaction.
Studies conducted in experimental models of aging suggest LBPs can scavenge free radicals such as O2– and the hydroxyl radical, can inhibit the formation of damaging byproducts of oxidative stress, and can reduce the rate of superoxide formation in rat liver homogenate.
Natural killer cells are a type of immune cell that plays a major role in preventing the development of tumours and killing cells infected with a virus. Natural killer cells contain special proteins they can release in the vicinity of cells carrying out the infected cells execution.
Natural killer cell function decreases with age and LBP has been shown to be able to promote their activation, which makes them more functional.
Dendritic cells are immune cells that present toxins or other foreign substances in the body to more specialized immune cells that will carry out their destruction or removal. Dendritic cell dysregulation can contribute to poor immunity in elderly people, LBPs can promote these cells proper function.
Cytokines are important small molecules used by immune cells to signal and communicate with one another. LBPs enhancing their secretion could make immune cells reactions to invaders and pathogens more efficient.
Apoptosis is programmed cell death – an important component of maintaining a stable environment within the body’s tissues.
Dysregulation of apoptosis has been increasingly implicated in normal aging and disease associated with age.
Apoptosis involves several steps – highly coordinated and regulated by the cell: gene activation, gene expression and regulation, transcription, translation, and so on. It involves several genes.
Inhibition of apoptosis is tightly linked to anti-aging, anti-oxidative stress approaches.
Preventing DNA damage
DNA is the code of life. It contains instructions used for growth, development, functioning, and reproduction. It’s the basis of all known living organisms and many things on the brink of living, like viruses.
Many external stressors can cause damage to DNA. Damage to DNA alters its instructions, which could make them incomplete, or render them completely functionless.
DNA damage increases with age.
Wolfberry has been shown to reduce cellular DNA damage by decreasing oxidative stress, which damages DNA.
By decreasing DNA damage, wolfberry is able to contribute to the long-term maintenance of vital life functions well into old age.
Where to find wolfberries
You can find wolfberries in raw or dried form – which are great as snacks on their own or mixed into salads, trail mix, cereal, yogurt, desserts, smoothies, or protein shakes – or as a supplement in pill, powder, or liquid form.
There is no FDA daily recommended guideline for wolfberry, but the “Herbal Medicine-Makers Handbook” recommends a daily dosage between 10 and 15 grams. So, you should look for a supplement with numbers that fall within this range.
Is it possible to go overboard? The current medical literature shows no significant short-term or long-term effects, so they’re generally considered quite safe.
Wolfberry has been used in ancient Chinese Medicine for thousands of years. We’re only now beginning to discover why. It’s chalked full of nutrients all primed to help your body stave off the harmful effects of aging.
If you’d like to learn more about wolfberry, contact me. I’d love to share my research and knowledge with you.
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