Archive for January, 2012

An Apple a Day

Tuesday, January 31st, 2012

A new study recently published in the Journal of Leukocyte

Biology shows that antioxidants found in apple peel may lead
the way to better treating
inflammatory diseases. The study has discovered that oral
ingestion of anti-inflammatory polyphenols (found in apple
peel) can suppress T cell
stimulation, resulting in colitis prevention in mice.
Scientists found that apple polyphenols failed to protect
against colitis in mice which were
lacking in T cells, suggesting that these antioxidants work by
suppressing T cell activity.

The hope is that this new information could lead to new
therapies and treatments for people suffering from conditions
such as colitis and Crohn’s
disease. Colitis is the inflammation of the colon,
specifically the large intestine, whereas Crohn’s disease can
affect any part of the
gastrointestinal tract, from the mouth to the anus. Both
conditions can often be extremely painful and debilitating
when at their worst. So this
news may prove heartening for sufferers.

Colitis treatment

“Many people with colitis use some form of dietary supplement
to complement conventional therapies, but most of the
information on the health
effects of complementary medicine remains anecdotal. Also,
little is known about exactly how these therapies work, if
they work at all,” said David
W. Pascual, Ph.D., a researcher involved in the study at the
Department of Immunology and Infectious Diseases at Montana
State University in
Bozeman, Montana. “Our results show that a natural product
found in apple peels can suppress colonic inflammation by
antagonizing inflammatory T
cells to enhance resistance against autoimmune disease.”

Polyphenols are found in a number of food stuffs, including green tea (you
can read our article on the benefits of green tea here)
and red wine. However, the apple polyphenols are
slightly different, as they are water soluble. Polyphenol-rich
diets have been shown to not only help with inflammatory
diseases, but also to
promote better heart health, and even lower cancer rates.

Blood fat drop

The good news doesn’t stop there. When these antioxidants are
combined with a form of fibre called pectin, which is also
found in apples, this can
help lower blood fat levels. However, this can only happen
with regular consumption of unpeeled apples, meaning that to
see any possible benefits
you should eat at least one apple a day.

Deputy Editor of the Journal of Leukocyte Biology, John
Wherry, Ph.D., said, “In addition to the obvious health
benefits of the nutrients and fibre
in fruits and vegetables, this study indicates that even
something as relatively common as the apple contains other
healthy ingredients that can
have serious therapeutic value.”

Apples are proving to be an all-round perfect health food,
with growing evidence that ‘an apple a day’ really can keep
the doctor away. Other
apple-eating benefits include:


  • Stabilizing blood sugar levels
    – The Pectin found in apples has been linked to lower
    risk of insulin resistance and less likelihood of
    developing pre-diabetes.

  • Weight control
    – Another benefit of Pectin is that it can reduce
    appetite, because it is a filling form of fibre. This
    makes apples the perfect snack if
    you’re trying to manage your weight.

  • Improved allergy symptoms
    – Quercetin is another anti-inflammatory found in
    apples, and is a natural antihistamine. Studies have
    shown that children who regularly
    eat apples have lower rates of asthma. It can also
    help improve allergy symptoms in adults.

  • Alzheimer’s prevention
    – Researchers at Cornell University have found
    another use for Quercetin, discovering that it may
    protect brain cells from free radical
    damage that can lead to Alzheimer’s disease.

Although all apples contain these nutrients, organic apples
have been shown to contain greater concentrations. Studies
from Britain, France, Poland
and the US all agree that organic apples contain higher
amounts of vitamin C, polyphenols, betacarotene and
flavonoids. Many of the same benefits
can be gained from consuming apple products, such as apple
juice, or apple cider vinegar. For example, apple cider
vinegar has long been known to
treat a whole host of different ailments, from allergies,
sickness, even muscle spasms. With the latter, cider vinegar
can help by either consuming
orally in some water, or by rubbing it directly onto the
affected area. It can ease cramping almost immediately.

So while it’s great to keep up to date with all the latest
super fruits and wonder grains, and latest gadgets and
products that can help us lead
more healthy and natural lifestyles – such as the juicer,
the all-natural
mattress
or the vegan shoe – it
pays not to forget the humble, simple apple.

Study suggests Legumes May Prevent Iron Deficiency

Wednesday, January 25th, 2012

One of the difficulties in maintaining a strict vegan diet has been ensuring a sufficient iron intake. Supplements have often been the answer but a new study published in Science Daily suggests legumes may provide a novel alternative and natural answer for iron deficiency.

Science Daily reports: “A groundbreaking study conducted by Children’s Hospital Oakland Research Institute (CHORI) Senior Scientist Elizabeth Theil, PhD, is the first to reveal the existence of at least two independent mechanisms for iron absorption from non-meat sources-and a potential treatment for iron deficiency, the most common nutrient deficiency worldwide. Dr. Theil’s discovery of an alternative mechanism for iron absorption from vegetables and legumes may provide the key to helping solve iron deficiency by providing an alternative, affordable, and readily available source of iron

In an upcoming publication in The Journal of Nutrition (published online January 18, 2012), Dr. Theil and her international colleagues demonstrate that there is an alternative mechanism for the absorption of ferritin, a large, protein-coated iron mineral rich in legumes, in addition to the more well-known mechanism for iron absorption of small iron complexes like those found in iron supplements.
“Our study shows that this different mechanism of iron absorption from plant ferritin is more efficient and gives the intestinal cells more control. It can be a new way to help solve global iron deficiency,” says Dr. Theil.
Iron deficiency is the most common nutrient deficiency in both developing and non-developing nations. Traditional treatments include iron supplements and increased meat consumption. Both of these approaches have proven to have significant limitations, however.
Iron supplements frequently cause uncomfortable side effects, including gas and bloating, which lead to inconsistent consumption. In some cultures where iron deficiency is endemic, meat is scarce; frequently, the limited meat available is reserved for men, even though growing children and women of child-bearing age are the most susceptible to iron deficiency. The discovery of an alternative and highly efficient mechanism for iron absorption from legumes, however, could provide the key to helping solve worldwide iron deficiency by providing a readily available and affordable source of iron.
The new study combines the results of two different experiments, one conducted in humans and the other using rats to model humans. In the rat model, portions of the rat intestines were bathed with solutions of traceable iron, either as a typical type of iron supplement or as ferritin (protein-coated iron mineral). Measurements showed that both the large ferritin and the smaller iron complex were absorbed through the intestine.
In the human study, traceable iron in ferritin was consumed by volunteers with a 9:1 ratio of unlabelled, non-meat iron dietary supplement, or with hemoglobin, with the type of heme iron in meat, to see if the two types of iron competed with ferritin iron for the same absorption mechanism. In each case, the iron competitor had no effect on the iron absorption from ferritin.
“What these studies show together is that during digestion, ferritin is not converted from its large, mineral complex, which contains a thousand iron atoms, to individual iron atoms like those found in many iron supplements,” explains Dr. Theil. “Instead, ferritin iron is absorbed in its protein-coated, iron mineral form by a different, independent mechanism; iron absorbed as ferritin, leaves the intestine more slowly, but may, provide greater safety to the intestines than iron supplements.”
In addition to potentially being safer, causing less irritation to the intestines, absorption of iron as ferritin is easier for the intestine. The iron found in meat and non-meat iron supplements enters the intestine from food one iron atom at a time. Each entry step requires the intestinal cells to use up energy. When the intestine takes in a single molecule of ferritin, however, it gets a thousand atoms inside that one ferritin molecule, making iron absorption that much more efficient.
While further studies are needed to elucidate the exact mechanism of ferritin absorption, in the mean time, the results demonstrate that ferritin-rich foods such as legumes can provide a significant source of dietary iron for those in the greatest need of increasing their iron consumption.”

You Can Still Eat out And Lose Weight!

Sunday, January 22nd, 2012

Would you stop eating out to lose weight?  This is a question posed recently by Science daily.  A new study the results of which are published in Science daily, shows you can still eat out and lose weight.

“Going out to eat has become a major part of our culture. Frequently eating out and consuming high-calorie foods in large portions at restaurants can contribute to excess calorie intake and weight gain. However, a study in the January/February 2012 issue of theJournal of Nutrition Education and Behavior demonstrates that individuals can eat out and still lose weight.
Investigators from The University of Texas at Austin enrolled 35 healthy, perimenopausal women aged 40 to 59 years who eat out frequently. Participants took part in a 6-week program called Mindful Restaurant Eating, a weight-gain prevention intervention that helps develop the skills needed to reduce caloric and fat intake when eating out. The focus of the program was on preventing weight gain in this population, not weight loss. It is important to prevent weight gain in this population as increasing abdominal waist circumference from weight gain is greater during the perimenopausal years, which in turn increases the risk for cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Even though the focus was on weight maintenance, the researchers found that participants in the intervention group lost significantly more weight, had lower average daily caloric and fat intake, had increased diet related self-efficacy, and had fewer barriers to weight management when eating out.
Dr. Gayle M. Timmerman, PhD, RN, the principal investigator of this study states, “Although the intention of the intervention was weight maintenance and the majority of participants were not dieting with the intent to lose weight at the start of the study (69%), on average the intervention group lost 1.7 kg during 6 weeks. The number of times that participants ate out, as captured in the 3-day 24-hour recalls, did not significantly decrease from time 1 to time 2, indicating that participants were able to successfully manage their weight while continuing their usual, frequent eating-out patterns. Overall, the participants in the intervention group reduced their daily caloric intake by about 297 calories after completing the intervention, which would explain their weight loss. Only part of the calorie reduction (about 124 calories) can be accounted for during eating out, indicating that fewer calories were also consumed at home.”
“Based on what we learned from this study, for those individuals who eat out frequently, developing the skills needed to eat out without gaining weight from the excess calories typically consumed at restaurants may be essential to long-term health,” Dr. Timmerman concludes.
This study addresses the importance of developing creative solutions in preventing weight gain; developing restaurant eating skills to manage intake in the high risk restaurant food environment may be one of those solutions.”

Diets High in Nutrients such as Omega 3 May Help Prevent Alzheimers Disease.

Tuesday, January 10th, 2012

In the first study of its kind, researchers have linked specific vitamins and nutrients in the diet with cognitive performance and the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.

Time Healthland reports:

“The research, published in the journal Neurology, showed that people with healthier diets — rich in omega-3 fatty acids and a variety of vitamins — had bigger brains and better cognitive function than those whose diets were unhealthier on the whole.

Many previous surveys of people have found that those who report diets high in vitamin E and omega-3 fatty acids have slower rates of cognitive decline, compared with people whose diets are lower in these nutrients. But when researchers have conducted randomized trials with elderly patients, giving specific supplements to some and placebos to others, the association between the nutrients and intellectual abilities like memory, language, reasoning and planning fell apart.

Part of the problem, says Gene Bowman, a nutritional epidemiologist at Oregon Health & Science University, is that the participants in these observational studies were asked to remember what they ate by answering questionnaires. But if the primary outcome was to measure their cognitive abilities, including memory and recall, the studies were clearly flawed — how reliable could the volunteers’ answers be, if they were suffering from cognitive decline?

So Bowman and his colleagues came up with a way to address that fault. They conducted the first study to use an objective measure of dietary nutrient content: by measuring levels in the blood. The study involved 104 people, who were elderly (average age 87) but relatively healthy. Researchers analyzed their blood for a variety of vitamins and nutrients, including vitamins B, C, D and E, saturated fat, carotenoids, omega-3 fatty acids, cholesterol and trans fats. Then they compared those levels to participants’ performance on cognitive tests as well as MRI scans looking at differences in the size of certain brain structures related to Alzheimer’s.

The team found that people who had higher blood levels of vitamins B, C, D and E and omega-3 fatty acids scored higher on the mental-function tests, including attention tasks and visual and spatial skills, than those with lower levels of these nutrients. People who had higher levels of trans fats in their blood, by contrast, scored lower on these tests; they took more time overall to complete the tests and had more trouble with memory and language skills.

Omega-3s and vitamin D are found primarily in fish, while vitamins B, C and E are high in fruits and vegetables. Trans fats come largely from packaged, fried, frozen and fast foods, along with baked goods and margarine spreads.

When the scientists took into account known risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease — age, gender and genetic mutations — they found that these factors were responsible for 46% of the difference in participants’ cognitive scores. In other words, people who were older and had the APOE4 gene mutation that is a risk factor for Alzheimer’s, were more likely to score lower on cognitive tests than younger participants who didn’t have the genetic mutation.

When Bowman’s group added in the effect of participants’ diet, however, they found that their nutritional profiles explained another 17% of the variation in cognitive scores.

The researchers then looked at the size of specific brain structures on the MRI. Known Alzheimer’s risk factors accounted for about 40% of the difference in cognitive scores between those with normal-size brains and those with smaller brain volumes, while diet explained another 37% of the variance. Brain size normally shrinks with age, but with Alzheimer’s disease, that shrinkage is accelerated — a sign that the condition is getting worse. “That means that diet, plus known risk factors, explained a total of 76% of the variance,” says Bowman. “That tells us that imaging and structural changes in the brain may be very sensitive to dietary intake. So imaging may actually have a greater power to detect relationships between diet and cognitive decline than tests of mental skills. That’s quite remarkable.”

It’s possible, then, that clinicians may someday use brain scans to identify brain-size changes — and cognitive decline — attributable to deficiencies in certain nutrients or supplements. This is the first study to objectively measure the potential association between diet and brain aging, however, so further research is needed to confirm the connection.

It’s also the first study to capture the combined effect of a variety of nutrients on the brain. Previous studies that have focused only on single nutrients may have failed to detect an effect because nutrients may work together to protect brain functions from the effects of aging or disease.

The study also opens up the possibility that we may be able to use individualized dietary treatments to enhance whatever aspects of brain function — memory, attention or higher learning — are declining fastest. For example, Bowman found that participants in the study who had higher levels of vitamins B, C, D and E did not have problems with memory, but did show trouble with attention and visual-spatial tasks, while those with higher levels of carotenoids (found in carrots and dark leafy green vegetables) also showed fewer problems with memory.

“It’s a platform for individualized nutritional therapy,” he says. “We’re already seeing different nutritional patterns associated with different cognitive domains, so not only does this help us understand the role of diet in brain aging, but also how we might individualize nutritional therapy to enhance brain function as we age.”

By Alice Park via Time Healthland, December 29, 2011.

Original article: http://healthland.time.com/2011/12/29/how-your-diet-may-affect-your-risk-of-alzheimers-disease/

Bowman is a naturopathic doctor and an assistant professor in the OHSU Brain Institute’s Department of Neurology. OHSU co-authors in the study included Joseph Quinn, M.D., an associate professor in the Department of Neurology and Jackilen Shannon, Ph.D., R.D., M.P.H., an associate professor in the Department of Public Health and Preventive Medicine.

Dr. Bowman conducts research at The C. Rex and Ruth H. Layton Aging and Alzheimer’s Disease Center at Oregon Health and Science University (OHSU). The Layton Aging and Alzheimer’s Disease Center is integrated around the activities of the Oregon Alzheimer Disease Center (OADC), one of 30 national centers funded by the National Institute of Aging. The OADC ranks among the top centers nationally. The OADC is at the forefront of a worldwide effort to discover the causes of Alzheimer’s disease, find effective treatments, and improve the quality of life for persons with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia.”

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Eating Fresh Fruits and Vegetables Prevents Brain Damage

Tuesday, January 3rd, 2012

Recent research points to more reasons why we should eat more raw fruits and vegetables such as strawberries. Natural News reports:

Fisetin  a Favanoid Found in Many Fruits and Vegetables Helps Prevent Inflammation in the Brain to Boost Memory and Cognition

“(NaturalNews) Fisetin is a unique flavonoid compound found naturally in many fruits and vegetables including strawberries, blueberries and the skin of cucumbers. A wealth of scientific research now explains how a diet packed with raw fruits and vegetables can help prevent amyloid plaque formation in the aging brain and can promote the early destruction of cancer cells by triggering the body’s innate immune response. Researchers reporting in the journal Neuroscience Letters found that fisetin is neuro-protective and helps to maintain normal memory processes while inhibiting plaque formation around synapses. The International Journal of Oncologyhas published the work of Chinese scientists documenting how fisetin promotes the natural death of potentially malignant breast cancer cells. Fisetin is rapidly emerging as a powerful tool in the arsenal against a number of diseases associated with premature aging.

Fruits and vegetables in their natural state are typically packed with polyphenols; these polyphenols are structurally bioactive and target specific areas of the body or help to lower oxidative stress and inflammation that is behind many disease processes. The brain is particularly sensitive to stress from a high rate of metabolism necessary to oxygenate and fuel the sensitive neurons that control memory and cognition.

Researchers have found that fisetin operates in a very specific pathway to boost nerve cell glutathione levels and to reduce one of the most damaging free radicals, peroxynitrite. Scientists have determined that the natural compound protects nerve cells from damage during stroke, while at the same time maintaining vital energy production in the brain. Fisetin also prevents excess activation of specialized glial cells in the brain that helps deter inflammatory nerve damage, excitotoxicity, and declining neurological health. And fisetin reduces amyloid beta fiber accumulation to improve memory and thwart cognitive decline.

In a separate body of research, scientists examined the effect of fisetin from dietary and supplemental sources on breast cancer programmed cell death. Cancer cells normally are detected and destroyed by an alert immune system response. Inflammatory messengers such as TNFa (tumor necrosis factor alpha) allow cancer cells to become cloaked and invisible to our immune system, which prevents cancer cell death through the process known as apoptosis. Fisetin negates the damaging effect of TNFa, reducing systemic inflammation and enabling the normal immune response.

Many health-conscious individuals may not be immediately familiar with fisetin, although they already consume therapeutic quantities from their healthy dietary choices.
Nutrition experts recommend including fruits such as strawberries and mangoes as a source of dietary fisetin or supplementing with 50 mg per day to boost memory and high-level brain function and to promote natural cancer cell death.”

 Try Nushie’s Natural non dairy organic gluten free Strawberry Ice Creamery. Nushie’s Natural Strawberry Ice Creamery contains 23% organic strawberries. Two servings or scoops contain approximately 25% of the recommended daily intake of vitamin C.