By Dr. Levister
Dear Dr. Levister: My elderly mother was told to drink unsweetened cranberry juice to fight urinary tract infections; however she’s allergic to the berries. Do blueberries work in a similar fashion? N.T.
Dear N.T.: Cranberry juice, as long as it isn’t doused with sugar, really works against common urinary tract infections. The problem is that it sometimes works a little too well. Aspirin-like compounds in cranberry juice trigger allergic reactions in the aspirin-sensitive, and cranberry extracts really aren’t safe in children under three. In fact, infants and toddlers have had to be hospitalized after treatment with cranberry juice extract.
Fortunately, blueberry juice and fresh blueberries also fight urinary tract infections, and they are safe for young children and for people who are sensitive to aspirin. One of the major benefits of blueberries is that they are tasty all by themselves, no sugar added because no sugar is needed, and they also fight the build of sticky biofilms left by infectious microorganisms in the urinary tract.
Blueberries are packed with antioxant power, but the benefits of blueberries are far more than just the plant chemicals you hear about so often. Blueberries fight disease on multiple levels, and are an underused tool of naturally good health.
Blueberries are also beneficial for your brain. Blueberry antioxidants activate two brain-protective enzymes, catalase and superoxide dismutase. These are the enzymes that keep neurons from being “deactivated” after they are attacked by free radicals. Scientists even believe that blueberry juice will be the source of treatments for Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and age-related memory problems, and that eating blueberries confers similar benefits now.
Up to a quarter cup of blueberries every day for kids and up to a whole cup of blueberries every day for adults offers all the benefits of blueberries–and you can enjoy all-fruit blueberry conserves and blueberry juice every day of the year.
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