Girl Brain Power, Berry Style! (or the tummydoc's garden week 3: the raspberry)

The Raspberry
The Raspberry

I always love to talk to my patients about their diet.  What is good, what is bad, and what is downright ugly. 

We all feel better when we eat certain foods.   Eat a large meal late at night and chances are you’ll sleep poorly.  Not only that, your digestive system will remind you with waves of upset and nausea that a pizza at midnight is not a good choice.  Eat an early dinner with fresh fruits, veggies and fish and, wow, you feel great!

While some of the problem has to do with conditions like acid reflux brought on by eating fatty meals late at night, the nutrients from the foods also play a role.

That brings us to our next tummydoc garden selection, the raspberry.  Medical studies are popping up that show how the antioxidants inherent to colorful berries can improve brain function.

Before we get into those, let’s talk about raspberries.  They are a delicious and wonderful perennial addition to your garden.  With a slightly acidic soil, they will thrive.  In fact, they are so vigorous, they may start taking over nearby space. 

Fiber Up

The fruit itself is made up of tiny lobules called aggregates.  This translates to raspberries having more surface area per weight than many other fruits.  From a nutrition perspective, this makes raspberries a great source of fiber. 

Vitamins & Minerals

Raspberries are also a good source of Vitamin C and manganese, which is important for your body’s normally functioning, especially bone health.

women's brain health
women's brain health

So why Raspberries?

Now, let’s talk about how eating raspberries on a regular basis may be good for the mind.  Researchers know that the normal wear and tear on the brain eventually takes its toll.  For some, it may just be that you aren’t as quick to recall a word.  For others, the consequences are more severe, like in Alzheimer’s disease. 


It turns out that certain people are better able to protect against this normal brain stress.  For many, diet plays an essential role.  Diets rich in fruits and vegetables are also very rich in substances called antioxidants.  Much of the physical damage to cells that causes everything from the brain slowing down to wrinkles occurs through a process called oxidative stress.  As the names imply, antioxidants can help counteract this damage.


It turns out the same substances that give berries their rich and vibrant colors are also antioxidants.  In general, these substances are called polyphenols.  Of the polyphenols, a subtype, called flavonoids, has gained positive press recently.  Flavonoids are powerful antioxidants also found in foods normally regarded as treats, such as chocolate.  In berries, certain flavonoids, called anthocyanidins, are particularly effective.  To read more on this, visit the free article at http://www.expert-reviews.com/doi/pdf/10.1586/ern.12.86.

Concord Grape Juice and for the Mind

In a recent review in the Journal of Nutrition, the authors identified berries, Concord grapes, and walnuts as particularly beneficial to keep the brain healthy.  One study demonstrated that older adults who drank Concord grape juice daily for 12 weeks had significant benefits for their brain health.  In another by the same group, adults who ate berries for 12 weeks improved their memory and behavior compared to those who did not.  To learn more about these studies, get a free copy of the article at http://jn.nutrition.org/content/139/9/1813S.long.

Girl Brain Power

Finally, a recent article in the Annals of Neurology showed that the brain benefits of eating berries on a regular basis was especially applicable to women.  In the study, 16,010 women over the age of 70 were were tested for brain function.  Women who ate more berries had brains which were functioning 2.5 years “younger” than those who did not enjoy these delicious fruits. 

As always, thanks for reading and I look forward to sharing more, both on this blog and on the tummydoc channel.  I don’t know about you, but I’m in the mood for a big bowl of berries. 

-Dustin G. James, MD

Board-Certified Gastroenterologist

the tummydoc

The material in this site is intended to be of general informational use and is not intended to constitute medical advice, medical diagnosis, or medical treatment.  You should seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or question.  As with all supplements and functional foods, be sure to discuss these products with your physician before using.

It's Tomato Time! The Health Benefits of Tomatoes.

Healthy Tomato 

One of the pleasant consolations of a hot summer is the tomato.  Not only does it taste great by itself and in many of our favorite foods, it is a nutrient powerhouse that should be part of your diet.  For most of us, fresh tomato season doesn’t last long enough, so be sure to take advantage of this amazing fruit. 

Here are some of the health benefits of tomatoes.


Can you say potassium?


Potassium is considered the good “salt”.  Many medical studies have shown that people who consume foods that are potassium rich have less high blood pressure.  Some of the best dietary sources of potassium without sodium (the bad salt), tomatoes and orange juice! 


Healthy Weight Loss


Yes, you can eat tasty foods and still lose weight.  Medical studies show that by eating foods rich in water and fiber, you can lose weight and not have to sacrifice taste.  The idea is that fiber and water help to fill your stomach.  This sends signals back to your brain that make you full, so you eat less.  In medicine, we call this sensation satiety.  Yes, you guessed, it!  Tomatoes are a great source of water and fiber, and are low-calorie to boot.


Eat Your Sunscreen?


Tomatoes are a great source of antioxidants, including lycopene.  It is such a great antioxidant that medical studies have shown that eating tomatoes on a regular basis helps prevent sunburn.  It has also been shown to be useful for brain health.  Lycopene gets into your body better when it is heated with oil.  Go with olive oil, the healthy fat.  My personal preference is to enjoy the variety that tomatoes offer.  My family enjoys some fresh, some as a caprese salad, and some as a tomato sauce to name a few.  Be sure to tune in to the TummyDoc Channel, as we will feature the amazing Italian Chef Fabrizio Schenardi as he discusses the culinary aspects of the Mediterranean diet!


 As they say in Italy, Buon Appetito!


 Dustin James MD


The Tummy Doc


Board-Certified Gastroenterologist


Author of The Complete Idiot’s Guide® to Digestive Health






Reading, sharing, or other utilization of this article does not establish a doctor patient relationship with the article’s author.  As always, be sure to consult with your physician regarding your health related issues before initiating or changing any medicines.  

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