Effective, safe weight loss is about more than dieting. It's about maintaining a healthy lifestyle: good nutrition and often, regular exercise. But sometimes the ability to stay active can be hampered by injuries or fatigue -- and one of the main causes of such discomforts is inflammation. Luckily, elderberry can help: the fruit is among the top sources for antioxidants, which play a proven role in reducing inflammation. A dose of elderberry may help keep you on your feet and on track with your fitness and weight loss goals.
This natural substance is anything but a recent fad: the healing qualities of European black elderberry, (Sambucus nigra), have been known for thousands of years. The ancient Greek physician Hippocrates called it his "medicine chest." In the Northern Europe of the middle ages, it was considered the staple of countless salves, balms, extracts and elixirs; a curative so vital that an entire book, Anatomy of the Elder, was devoted to its use -- and has recently been reissued for modern readers.
Reducing inflammation, improving circulation
The most notable use of elderberry today has been as an ally against colds and flu: a host of studies have proven the fruit's antiviral and antibacterial properties. But recent research also points to its ability to reduce inflammation, a beneficial effect primarily due to the presence of the natural pigments, called anthocyanins, that give the elderberry its dark color.
These natural antioxidants are highly effective at destroying the free oxygen radicals increasingly created during exercise. The oxidation that results from free radicals can cause tissue and DNA damage, and has also been linked to the development of degenerative diseases such as type-2 diabetes, heart disease and some cancers.
A 2013 study, conducted by a team of German researchers and published in the British Journal of Nutrition, found that elderberry was among a range of plant extracts that significantly reduced inflammation. Researchers worked with a group of obese women on a program of exercise over the course of eight weeks. The study tracked how these women's bodies dealt with circulatory issues and inflammation. One group of women was given a placebo, and the other capsules made from plant-derived antioxidants, such as elderberry extract. Those given antioxidant capsules had markedly less inflammation and oxidative stress. They also showed significant improvement in microcirculation to the skin.
That's great news for people trying to improve their health and lose weight in a natural and safe way. Given elderberry's ability to improve the microcirculation to the skin, this means you'll also benefit from a palpable glow of health, looking younger and fresher (since one of the known causes of premature aging of the skin is poor microcirculation).
Black elderberry is readily available in a number of soluble and drinkable forms, which are a better bet than the fresh variety, according to nutrition experts. That's because a standardized commercial concentrate is made to maximize the potency of the fruit, and will tend to use the nutraceutical-rich Haschberg variety of elderberry. A high-quality, 15 per cent membrane enriched extract, for instance, is an optimal choice. It's created using a process that standardizes the natural variations in the contents of fresh berries that result from varying soil, climate, and seasonal conditions.
Yoga, walking, dancing, fitness classes or trips to the gym: there are endless ways to get up and move. However exercise, with its multiple benefits, is but part of a quest for overall health. Being able to maintain a fitness program and move freely without pain or inflammation is not only a boon to weight loss, it may well help keep up morale as well. With natural antioxidant tools like elderberry extracts, which counter any harmful effects of exercise, the quest just got even easier.
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