How to live longer: The food packed with strong antioxidants that shields against illness


Breakthroughs in longevity research are enabling many to reach old age while avoiding decrepitude. The survival enjoyed by certain populations across the globe has mostly been attributed to diet. Foods touted for their life-prolonging effects usually comprise strong antioxidants that target specific ailments, such as respiratory illness. Suzie Sawyer, Clinical nutritionist and formulator of the Alive! multi-vitamin range breaks down which group of foods offer benefits.

A paper published in the journal Molecules explains that elderberry is “a widely disseminated plant that produces bright blackberries containing high quantities of anthocyanin.”

Anthocyanin is popular because it reduces oxidative stress in the body, which in turn may extend lifespan by curtailing long-term damage to the body’s systems.

By combatting oxidative stress, the fruit also staves of chronic diseases.

Suzie explained: “When it comes to health benefits, berries have a fantastic reputation. Their wonderful colours ensure that berries are loaded with antioxidant compounds, specifically and flavonoids.

“All berries are rich in fibre to encourage smooth digestion. Blueberries improve biomarkers of heart disease, thereby reducing risk factors.

READ MORE: How to live longer: Reduce high blood pressure and cancer risk by eating a green treat

“Berries are rich in nutrients, especially immune-boosting vitamin C. The ellagic acid in berries will help protect and repair UVB induced skin damage. They are great for any kind of diet, including the ketogenic, as they’re low in carbs.

“However, one berry, namely elderberry, has the edge when it comes to fighting upper respiratory tract infections.”

Indeed, elderberries have traditionally been used as supportive agents for respiratory health.

One paper in the journal Complementary Therapies in Medicine bears out these claims, confirming the positive effects of elderberry on participants with colds.


The meta-analysis, which looked at four studies comprising 180 participants, established that black elderberry demonstrated antiviral activity against the common cold and influenza.

The study found that black elderberry extract reduced the duration of upper respiratory symptoms like cough, nasal congestion and sore throat.

The aim of the research was to quantify the effect size for elderberry supplementation for upper respiratory symptoms and to analyse moderator variables.

The researchers noted: “This meta-analysis provides evidence that elderberry supplementation at the onset of upper respiratory symptoms substantially reduces overall symptoms duration as compared to a control group.

In fact, The Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies says sales of dietary supplements increased by as much as 255 percent in the single week period ending March 8, 2020.

Health bodies warn that consuming elderberry as a fruit can be unsafe when uncooked leaves, stems, or fruit are consumed.

This is because the plant contains a chemical that produces cyanides in the leaves or other parts in the unripe green fruit.

Side effects may include nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea and runny nose.

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