Van Dyk's by nature

Van Dyk News & Announcements // Jun 28, 2013

Berry Health Symposium

I was fortunate to attend the Berry Health Benefits Symposium held in North Carolina from June 18 -20, 2013.The latest research from all over the world on the health benefits associated with berries was presented. The berries represented at this conference were blueberries (wild & cultivated), strawberries, raspberries, black raspberries, blackberries and cranberries.

Research was presented on the following topics:

  • Diabetes – “the not forbidden fruit”
  • Mental acuity and anti-aging
  • Weight management
  • Heart health
  • Gut health
  • Cancer

The findings presented were the result of “in vitro” (in test tube) research, studies involving rats with a predisposition to certain disease(s), and human clinical trials. This conference has been in existence for 10 years now and one comment made was that more and more of the research is moving to human clinical trials – this will provide more definitive proof of the benefits associated with the consumption of these dark colored berries and a better understanding of the mechanism of how these berries provide positive benefits to humans.

One phrase that stuck with was that these berry plants are “Stressed for Success”, that is the berry plants produce protective compounds (polyphenols) that are not required for the growth of the plant, but provide protection to the plant from environmental stressors (ie. drought, poor quality soil, insects, bacteria, virus, fungi, and many more) or to attract pollinators for reproduction.

Much of the discussion revolved around the polyphenols – the “phyto-nutrient” compounds in the berries that are typically associated with the deep dark colour of the fruit and are the primary contributors to the anti-oxidant properties. “Polyphenol: A kind of chemical that (at least in theory) may protect against some common health problems and possibly certain effects of aging” ( Some of the sub-categories are anthocyanins, flavoinoids, tannins and pro-anthocyanindins.

The presentations and discussion moved very quickly into what I would call “heavy duty” bio-chemistry, far beyond my undergrad biochemistry taken 15 years ago. The growing body of evidence is that these polyphenol compounds are metabolized/affected by the acid conditions of the stomach and the enzymatic activity and microbiologic activity in the small and large intestine resulting in what is called secondary metabolites. (The polyphonelic compounds are broken down or altered resulting in new chemical compounds being formed call secondary metabolites) The belief is that these secondary metabolites are potentially active in many chemical pathways in the body, acting as triggering mechanisms.

There were several research presentation sessions over the two days of research presentations:

  • Berries and Cancer
  • Berries and Brain Aging
  • Berries and Metabolism
  • Berries and Heart Health
  • Berries and Gut Health/Micro flora

In some of the research, berry extracts and drug treatments were compared for certain disease conditions, the results in some cases were that the berry extract was as effective as the drug, and in other cases the combination of the berry extract and the drug had a synergistic effect.

The research presented was far too in-depth for me to try to summarize in a paragraph or two, what I have written about are the snippets of information that struck me as important. For more information I would suggest you check out the Berry Health Benefits Symposium site as a starting point for your own research quest.

The “take away message” for me was to ensure you consume dark berry fruits every day!

The benefits are potentially far reaching.

I would like to suggest 75mL per day of Van Dyk’s by Nature 100% Pure Wild Blueberry Juice as your “daily dose of blue”.