vitamins, alternative medicine, antioxidants

Vitamin Stuff Blog

A Health, Nutrition, and Alternative Medicine Blog

Friday, February 6, 2009

A New Purple, Antioxidant Tomato

Scientists were surprised to find out that their experiment with creating a hybrid purple tomato had such a positive outcome on health. The study was published by Nature Biotechnology and was funded by the John Innes Center in Britain. It was led by plant biologist Cathie Martin of the John Innes Center.

Ms. Martin and her colleagues first took tomatoes and genetically engineered them with genes from the snapdragon flower, an annual flower also known as Antirrhinum majus. This infusion caused the tomatoes to create the antioxidant anthocyanin, which is commonly found in blackcurrants and blackberries.

Anthocyanins are known to lower heart disease and help combat cancer, and have even been linked to produce a lower risk of some neurological diseases.

The result was a purple tomato rich in antioxidants that was ready to be fed to mice to determine the effects. The researchers were excited by the results: mice that were genetically engineered to develop cancer lived much longer when fed the purple tomato. In fact, the mice on a standard diet, with and without regular tomatoes, only lived around 142 days, while the mice fed the purple anthocyanin tomato lived an average of 182 days.

The scientists based their study on the fact that berries, specifically blackberries and blackcurrants, contained healthy antioxidants, but that the average person does not eat enough of these foods on a regular basis. They were excited to find out that changing one’s diet could result in much better health.

Specifically, they are researching whether or not these antioxidants can help deter cancerous tumors.

While the study was on mice and not humans, it did produce noteworthy results that lead them to believe that people may be able to increase their health by changing their diet and eating foods that are genetically modified to carry more vitamins and nutrients than regular foods.

For now, it is too soon to tell if these foods can actually reduce the risk of cancer, but plans to do more studies and human-based trials are in the works.

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Monday, November 10, 2008

Low Antioxidants and Blue Light Damage Retina

A recent study involving over 4,500 participants points to low levels of antioxidants and sunlight exposure as a combined cause in age-related macular degeneration, also known as AMD. The study was lead by Estrid E. Fletcher, Ph.D., from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, and was published in the October 2008 issue of Archives of Ophthalmology.

AMD happens when the retina is damaged over time. The result is a blurry vision, distorted vision and a complete loss of vision. It has been theorized that high doses of antioxidants such as zinc, carotenoids, and vitamin E and vitamin C, can protect against the harmful effects of blue light from the sun. With this in mind, the researchers studied their subjects.

The study consisted of carefully scrutinizing the blood samples of participants to check their levels of antioxidant nutrients. Photographs were taken of their retinas to test for AMD and they also answered a questionnaire about sun exposure throughout their lifetime. The participants were an average age of 73.2 years.

Surprisingly, nearly 2,200 participants were found to have an early phase of AMD. A little over 100 participants were found to have an advanced form of AMD, Neovascular AMD, and the rest were free from the disease. While the researchers could not pinpoint whether blue light exposure was linked to these cases alone, when coupled with low antioxidant levels it seemed that the two – blue light exposure and low antioxidants in the blood – were associated with the disease.

In particular, it seemed that low levels of vitamin C, vitamin E, and zeaxanthin, when combined with blue light, increased the chances nearly four times for developing neovascular age-related macular degeneration.

The scientists noted that they wished they had cost efficient ways to do screening on the older population to determine whether they are at risk. In lieu of this testing, they are recommending that middle-aged and older people stay out of direct sunlight, and use large hats and sunglasses to protect their retinas. In addition, eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables can further help to protect them by supplying enough vitamin C, E and zinc to help combat the disease.

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What are Plant Pigments

Plant pigments are colorful, chemical compounds present in plants that are responsible for the colors of plants. Not only do they reflect certain wavelengths of visible light to give them color, but they also absorb certain wavelengths of light for photosynthesis. There are many different types of plant pigments, but the most common are chlorophylls, which give plants their green color and convert light energy into chemical energy. Carotenoids are usually yellow, red or orange and help fuel photosynthesis. Carotenoids are great antioxidants and promote healthy eyesight. Flavonoids can be red or blue or even white or pale yellow – there are many different pigments from anthocyanins (blue) to betalains (yellow or red). Some are water-soluble and some are not. Pigments play many different roles, from attracting our visual attention and the attention of pollinators, to providing us with vitamins and nutrients.

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Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Bilberry: A Less Popular Healing Fruit

Bilberry might not be as popular as its relatives – cranberry and blueberry – but that doesn’t make it less of a healing fruit. Bilberries can be eaten fresh or dried, or found in capsules and tinctures. Full of anthocyanins and flavonoids, Bilberry offers the body antioxidants and can act as a powerful anti-inflammatory. It is also thought to have value as an antiseptic.

Although the fruit is most known for treating issues of the eyes, such as cataracts, diabetic retinopathy, macular degeneration and even night vision, it is also used to ease gastrointestinal discomfort, strengthening artery walls and promoting good circulation. It is used for hardening of the arteries, diarrhea, painful menstruation, mucous membrane inflammation, peptic ulcers, mouth sores, varicose veins and more.

Bilberry

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Friday, October 31, 2008

Is Carnosine the Next Super-Antioxidant?

Some are hailing carnosine as the next super-antioxidant and many are already using it as an anti-aging supplement. This amino acid is made naturally by the body, but supplementation is thought to slow down the aging process by slowing down the glycation process. Carnosine is thought to be extra effective for anti-aging when taken in addition to antioxidants, which slow down the oxidation process.

Even though these anti-aging claims have mostly been shown through studies involving rats, some lab studies found that carnosine can increase the lifespan of human cells. Carnosine is also known to help the body remove toxic metals, which can help protect against diseases linked to toxic metals, such as ADHD, dementia, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.

Carnosine

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Friday, October 17, 2008

Researches are Convinced that Juice Prevents Blockages in the Arteries

Recently, researchers conducted an experiment that involved hamsters that were given water and hamsters who received juice in an amount that was comparable to four glasses daily for an individual who weighed approximately one hundred and fifty pounds. While other hamsters were apples or grapes with human equivalents of three apples a day or three bunches of grapes per day. Researchers studied how the fruits affected the risk of atherosclerosis in hamsters. Atherosclerosis has become a major health concern for humans in recent years due to unhealthy diet and lifestyle changes. Consequently, the results grapes and apples may beneficial in preventing atherosclerosis among humans as well.

Hamsters who received either fruit or juice had lower cholesterol, less aortic fat build-up, and less oxidative stress. The results of this study seem to suggest that there is a direct correlation between the amount of phenol contained in fruit and its antioxidant benefits.

The study revealed that apples and grapes had about the same phenol content while purple grape juice had more than double the phenol content of apples or grapes.

In fact, purple grape juice had the strongest antioxidant effect, followed by purple grapes, apple juice, and apples.

Antioxidants have long been considered to good for your health, however these findings seem to indicate that phenols and other antioxidants contained in fruit such as vitamin C and carotenoids may greatly affect an individual’s risk of heart attack and stroke.

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Does Juice Consumption Reduce the Risk of Alzheimer’s Disease

Researchers in the United States have published the results of a ten year study that involved nearly two thousand individuals in the American Journal of Medicine, which investigated the affect of vegetable and fruit juice upon an individual’s risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. Researchers found that individuals who drank juice more than three times per week were more than seventy five percent less likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease.

Recent studies have linked Alzheimer’s disease to the build up of beta-amyloid protein in the brain. Some studies have suggested that polyphenols contained in fruits and vegetables may slow the process that creates beta-amyloid clumps in the brain. Researchers believe that the phenols contained in fruit and vegetables may somehow disrupt the process that creates clumps of beta-amyloid protein in the brain. While other scientists have put forth a theory that free radicals contained with in the body and brain may be associated with the onset of Alzheimer’s disease. Fruits and vegetables are rich in antioxidants neutralize free radicals within in the body; consequently the findings of this study may strengthen the belief that free radicals cause the early brain cell changes that lead to the onset of Alzheimer disease.

No matter what theory you subscribe too, diet is key in every individual’s risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Researchers hope that diet may become an inexpensive way to prevent the development of a disease that devastates individuals’ lives and costs the national health system more than stroke, heart disease and cancer combined.

Perhaps, the results of this study will encourage family doctors to pass on this information to their patients who are at high risk for Alzheimer’s disease.

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Disclaimer: The information provided here is for informational purposes and is not medical advice. Individuals wishing to use supplements or alternative medicine therapies should consult with their doctor beforehand.

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