We all know the notoriety blueberries have received regarding their health benefits. Blueberries have several other things going for them; kids love them, and they are easy to prepare and eat. Rinse them off and pop them in your mouth. No peel or pit, just sweet (Fresh From Florida) deliciousness.
I’m not going to bore you with a list of recent disease fighting findings regarding blueberries. I want to focus on one disease: Type 2 diabetes. Most of us know someone with diabetes. Type 1 diabetes doesn’t have a cure and requires insulin injections. Type 2 diabetes used to be a problem generally found only in adults but has now become a problem in children too. The difference between Types 1 and 2 is that Type 2 is preventable. A healthy diet rich in fruits—especially blueberries—can prevent the disease from developing.
I don’t know about you, but when I hear the word diabetes I think of sugar and insulin. Those two words immediately pop into my head. When I hear the word blueberry I think of health. I love eating them and I know from everything I have read that they are good for me. As a 56-year-old I need every advantage I can get. So stay with me, lets take this a step further. What if every time someone thought of diabetes they thought of blueberries? What if—through education, promotion and research—blueberries became synonymous with one very specific disease and its prevention.
When I Google the words “blueberry and health,” the second article is one regarding how blueberries can play a significant role in blood sugar regulation. This is a big deal! The health benefit recognition of blueberries will eventually die down unless blueberries are tied to very specific and provable health benefits against a common disease, like Type 2 diabetes.
What does this have to do with a bunch of blueberry farmers in Florida? First, it is an opportunity to make a difference in people’s lives. I’m not talking about strangers you don’t know but the kids and grandkids in your family. Getting them started eating healthy at a young age is critical. We grow one of the healthiest foods in the world. Second, I want you to think of the implications of this on the blueberry industry. By recognizing the importance of our crop in the prevention of a life-changing disease, consumption will certainly increase and we need to be ready.
Last year, a group of individuals with close ties to the blueberry industry recognized the value of blueberries in children’s diets and the positive effects they have. They also recognized the problem is rapidly getting worse with the CDC predicting that one in three children born after the year 2000 will develop diabetes, primarily Type 2. Not only is this a life-changing problem for the individuals and families affected, but will also be a serious economic strain on our already overburdened medical industry. The outcome of this was the creation of the Blueberry Family Health Foundation. The mission of the Blueberry Family Health Foundation is to improve the lives of children and families by supporting research, education, and wellness initiatives.
The Blueberry Family Health Foundation is about you and me. We are all part of this family of growers. We can’t depend on Dr. Oz to carry the message to the masses. We need proven science with global implications to be our game plan going forward. This is the purpose of the foundation. With your support, we can make this happen. Blueberries can be recognized as the valuable diabetes-preventing super food that it is.
To learn more about the Blueberry Family Health Foundation and what you can do to become a member, please take a look the their website; http://www.bbfamilyhealth.org.
by BILL BRASWELL, FBGA past-president and Florida blueberry grower