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Berries benefit health

[SEPT. 12, 2002]  URBANA — For decades, mothers and grandmothers have said that drinking cranberry juice would help prevent urinary tract infections. Anecdotal evidence said that it worked, but why it worked and at what dosage, Grandma couldn’t say. Researchers finally know the answer.

A team of researchers working in labs across the continent have been studying a variety of medicinal properties of cranberries and blueberries and have found some remarkable answers to age-old mysteries about the health benefits from eating berries.

According to "the Berry Group" as they are often called, berries can protect against a wide variety of ailments, including urinary tract infections, cardiovascular disease, cancer, attention-deficit disorder and diabetes. Berries are also the No. 1 antidote for aging.

One member of the berry group at Rutgers, led by Amy Howell, has shown that the unique ability of cranberry and blueberry juices to combat urinary tract infections is not, as earlier suspected, an acidity effect, but an anti-adherence.

Mary Ann Lila, a plant scientist at the University of Illinois and a member of the berry group, explained, "The berries actually interfere with the bacterial-landing mechanism, preventing them from taking hold on the rough walls of the bladder and preventing colonization that can lead to infections. And, as a direct result of this conclusive research, for the first time, we are able to establish effective dosage recommendations for patients."


Interestingly, Lila’s lab recently discovered that the same berry components (called proanthocyanidins) responsible for the anti-adherence also have potent anti-carcinogenic properties. "Natural ingredients found in high concentrations in the berries are capable of inhibiting the initiation of carcinogenesis, as well as inhibiting tumor formation. It’s remarkable that the berries have exhibited such far-ranging and diverse roles in human health protection," Lila said.

The team has also begun referring to blueberries as "brainberries," due to another berry research project that looks at brain functions. Researchers Jim Joseph and Barbara Shukitt-Hale at Tufts in Boston fed blueberry chow to lab rats and found a slowing and actual reversal of age-related loss in cognitive as well as motor and neurological functions. Rat memory improved as measured by their ability to complete a maze.


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Diets rich in berries enhance dopamine release in the brain as well, which improves the brain cells’ ability to communicate. This brain function is reduced with age, but research has shown that eating blueberries can reverse the age-related decline in brain signals.

Lila cautions that the health benefits derived from eating berries may not be the same if taken as a dietary supplement from a bottle. "Dietary supplements are frequently produced and marketed based on one recognized bioactive component," said Lila. "They fail to look at the contribution of other components from the whole plant food."

There appears to be a relationship between all the components that make up a plant food. When one component is separated out, the maximum effect is not seen. "So, a dietary supplement containing only one isolated extract of a blueberry or cranberry," said Lila, "cannot be expected to provide full benefits and will not mimic the same results if someone were to eat the whole berry."

Finding whole, fresh blueberries in the local grocery store, however, can be tricky, particularly for areas where blueberries are not grown year-round. Lila has a couple of suggestions. "Convince your local grocery store to stock them. Or if they won’t, there are frozen blueberries available in most places. There are also sources for mail order blueberries that come packed in dry ice, which are often comparable or cheaper than fresh berries that you’d buy in a grocery store. For those of us in the Midwest who can’t always get fresh berries, the quick frozen mail order berries are a good alternative."

Lila said that canned blueberries are another option. Although the heating process for canning may take some of what she called "the good stuff" out of the berries, what’s left in the canned variety can be more easily absorbed into the body.

Funding for Lila’s research is provided by the National Institute for Health — National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine and the USDA Initiative for Future Agriculture and Food Systems.

[U of I news release]

Health Matters

A monthly feature from  Logan County Health Department

The flu and you

[SEPT. 3, 2002]  As the fall weather approaches, flu season begins. Influenza is a serious and widespread illness that is the cause of as many as 4,000 deaths each year in Illinois. Influenza is caused by a virus that spreads from infected people to the nose or throat of others and can cause fever, cough, chills, sore throat, headache and muscle aches in people of any age. Influenza should not be confused with intestinal illness.

People considered at high risk should get a flu shot every year. The optimal time for these individuals to receive influenza vaccine is during October and November.

High-risk categories include:

•  People 65 years of age or older.

•  People with chronic medical conditions.

•  People with immune system problems.

•  Women who will be in the second or third trimester of pregnancy during flu season.

•  Children receiving long-term aspirin therapy.

•  Employees of nursing homes or other chronic care facilities.

•  Health-care workers.

•  Household contacts of people at increased risk for influenza-related complications.


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All others should begin their flu shots in November and later, for as long as vaccine is available.

Beginning in October, Logan County Health Department will have flu and pneumonia immunizations available at the Health Department, 109 Third St., and on the Rural Health Van.

Flu shots and pneumonia shots cost $16 each. Medicare will pay for flu and pneumonia shots; clients must bring their Medicare card with them. Medicaid will pay for only flu shots; clients must bring their Medicaid card with them.

Watch the newspapers for upcoming schedules of flu clinics or call Logan County Health Department at (217) 735-2317 for more information.

[News release]

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Mobile health unit schedule

The Rural Health Partnership has announced the schedule for its mobile health unit for 2002.


Morning: 9-11 a.m.



Afternoon: 1-3:30 p.m.


1st and 3rd


1st and 3rd



2nd and 4th

San Jose

2nd and 4th






Mount Pulaski



New Holland




1st and 3rd




2nd and 4th

Friendship Manor-Lincoln


1st, 2nd, 4th

Village Hall-Latham




2nd and 4th




Maintenance/ special events


special events

The mobile health unit does not operate on the following dates for holidays during 2002:  Jan. 21 (Martin Luther King Jr. Day), Feb. 18 (Presidents’ Day), March 29 (Good Friday), May 27 (Memorial Day), July 4 (Independence Day), Sept. 2 (Labor Day), Oct. 14 (Columbus Day), Nov. 11 (Veterans Day), Nov. 28-29 (Thanksgiving break) and Dec. 24-25 (Christmas break).

For more information on the mobile health unit schedule and services, contact Dayle Eldredge at (217) 732-2161, Ext. 409.

Community resource list

This family resource list to save and use is provided by the Healthy Communities Partnership and the Healthy Families Task Force, 732-2161, Ext. 409.         


Phone number


Lincoln agencies


911 (emergency)
732-3911 (office -- non-emergency)

911 Pekin St.
Lincoln, IL 62656

Abraham Lincoln Memorial Hospital


315 Eighth St.
Lincoln, IL 62656

American Red Cross

732-2134 or 
1 (800) 412-0100

125 S. Kickapoo
Lincoln, IL 62656

Catholic Social Services


310 S. Logan
Lincoln, IL 62656

Lincoln/Logan County Chamber
of Commerce


303 S. Kickapoo St.
Lincoln, IL 62656

Community Action (CIEDC)


1800 Fifth St.
Lincoln, IL 62656

Crisis Pregnancy Center/
Living Alternatives


408 A Pulaski St.
Lincoln, IL 62656

DCFS (Department of Children
& Family Services)

735-4402 or 
1 (800) 252-2873
(crisis hotline)

1120 Keokuk St.
Lincoln, IL 62656

Heartland Community College
- GED program


620 Broadway St.
Lincoln, IL 62656

Housing Authority


1028 N. College St.
Lincoln, IL 62656

Illinois Breast & Cervical Cancer Program (IBCCP)

735-2317 or 
1 (800) 269-4019

109 Third St.
Lincoln, IL 62656

Illinois Employment and Training Center (replaces JTPA office)


120 S. McLean St., Suite B
Farm Bureau Building
Lincoln, IL 62656

Lincoln Area YMCA


319 W. Kickapoo St.
Lincoln, IL 62656

Lincoln/Logan Food Pantry


P.O. Box 773
Lincoln, IL 62656

Lincoln Parents’ Center


100 S. Maple
Lincoln, IL 62656

Lincoln Park District


1400 Primm Rd.
Lincoln, IL 62656

Logan County Department of Human Services (Public Aid)


1500 Fourth St.
P.O. Box 310
Lincoln, IL 62656

Logan County Health Department


109 Third St.
P.O. Box 508
Lincoln, IL 62656

Logan-Mason Mental Health

735-2272 or
735-3600 (crisis line)

304 Eighth St.
Lincoln, IL 62656

Logan-Mason Rehabilitation Center


760 S. Postville Drive
Lincoln, IL 62656

The Oasis
(Senior Citizens of Logan County)


501 Pulaski St.
Lincoln, IL 62656

Project READ


620 Broadway St.
Lincoln, IL 62656

Salvation Army


1501 N. Kickapoo
Lincoln, IL 62656

Senior Services of Central Illinois

732-6213 or 
1 (800) 252-8966
(crisis line)

109 Third St.
Lincoln, IL 62656

U. of I. Extension Service


980 N. Postville Drive
Lincoln, IL 62656

Springfield agencies

Department of Aging


421 E. Capitol, #100
Springfield, IL 62701-1789

American Cancer Society

(24 hour)

1305 Wabash, Suite J
Springfield, IL 62704

Community Child Care Connection

(217) 525-2805 or
1 (800) 676-2805

1004 N. Milton Ave.
Springfield, IL 62702-4430

Hospice Care of Illinois

1 (800) 342-4862
(24 hour) or
732-2161, Ext. 444

720 N. Bond
Springfield, IL 62702

Illinois Department of Public Health

(217) 782-4977

535 W. Jefferson
Springfield, IL 62761

Legal Assistance Foundation

(217) 753-3300 or
1 (800) 252-8629

730 E. Vine St., Suite 214
Springfield, IL 62703

Sojourn Shelter & Services Inc.

732-8988 or
1 (866) HELP4DV
(24-hour hotline)

1800 Westchester Blvd.
Springfield, IL 62704

U. of I. Division of Specialized Care for Children

524-2000 or 
1 (800) 946-8468

421 South Grand Ave. West
Second Floor
Springfield, IL 62704

Logan County libraries

Atlanta Library 

(217) 648-2112

100 Race St.
Atlanta, IL 61723

Elkhart Library

(217) 947-2313

121 E. Bohan
Elkhart, IL 62634

Lincoln Public Library


725 Pekin St.
Lincoln, IL 62656

Mount Pulaski Library


320 N. Washington
Mount Pulaski, IL 62548

(updated 2-15-02)

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