“I work quite a bit with Native Americans and Alaska Natives. Berries have a long history of use, traditional ecological knowledge as cosmeceuticals,” she told us last week at the Berry Health Benefits Symposium in Portland, Ore.
“Some of the cosmetic companies right now are looking at beauty from within and beauty from without, and how can berry compounds help our skin?”
Working together with Dr Giuseppe Valacchi, a professor and researcher of regenerative medicine at North Carolina State, Dr Lila explored the mechanism of action of how berry compounds may aid wound healing when applied topically.
“The Native Americans used berries as a treatment for wounds, mostly because anti-microbial properties. So it helped to facilitate wound healing without infection,” she said.
After some in vitro studies done at the university using samples of skin tissue, “we now know that berry compounds can actually cause a wound to close more quickly to force migration of cells to close a wound neatly. That has never been realized before. So that’s a really cool thing.”
Berries for skin health is just one ‘off-the-wall’ way berries can be incorporated more in daily life, Dr Lila said. During her keynote speech at the symposium, she also highlighted several sports nutrition applications for berries.
“I think that in the US berries have had a very limited role in the past, relegated to cereals, cereal toppings and desserts,” she said.
“But in more recent years, the marketing industry and the berry growers have been doing such a beautiful job of getting recipes out there that the millennials now can embrace and realize now that berries can do a lot more than maybe the way their grandmother used them.”