Multigrain, wholegrain, wholemeal: what’s the difference and which bread is best?

Herbs and Helpers

With so many choices of bread available, it’s hard to know which is best for us

Choices include wholemeal, wholegrain, multigrain, sourdough, rye and low GI

Leah Dowling, lecturer in dietetics at Swinburne University of Technology, gives gives her take on each type

Bread has always been a dietary staple in most households – it’s a good source of carbohydrate and it’s low in fat.

We all know that wholemeal is better for us than white bread. But how does wholemeal, wholegrain and multigrain compare? And what about sourdough, rye, high fibre white, low GI, low FODMAP and gluten-free?

With so many choices of bread available, it’s hard to know which is best for our health.

Writing for The Conversation, Leah Dowling, lecturer in dietetics at Swinburne University of Technology, gives her take on each type.

White bread vs wholemeal

Due to the grains being ground down during processing, white and wholemeal breads have a higher glycaemic index (GI) than wholegrain bread. This results in glucose being released into the bloodstream more quickly.

Foods with a high GI index can can cause blood sugar spikes and have been liked to a raised risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

Regular consumption of lower GI foods helps to regulate blood glucose levels, keeping us fuller for longer, and helping us eat fewer calories to keep our weight in check.

Furthermore, white bread is made from wheat that has had the germ and bran removed, thereby reducing the fibre, B group vitamins, vitamin E and minerals such as iron, zinc, magnesium and phosphorus.

Wholemeal bread is made from wholegrains that have been milled to a fine texture, giving a plain brown appearance.

Wholemeal flour contains more fibre than white flour. Wholemeal bread also contains more vitamins and minerals than many white breads, but has a higher GI than wholegrain breads.

What about white bread labelled ‘high fibre’?

High fibre white breads are white breads that have fibre added to them. This makes them a better choice than regular white bread especially for children (or fussy adults) who won’t eat wholegrain bread.

Wholegrains

Wholegrain bread has a dense wholemeal flour base and well as lots of grain and seeds.

They contains the entire grain: the bran (outer layer), endosperm (starchy middle layer) and germ (nutrient rich inner part).

It’s a rich source of carbohydrates, protein, unsaturated (good) fats, vitamins and minerals and healthy fats as well as three types of fibre: soluble, insoluble and resistant starch.

Diets high in wholegrains are linked to a reduced risk of health conditions such as excess weight and obesity, heart disease, type 2 diabetes and some cancers.

The high dietary fibre helps keep us feeling full. It is also beneficial for bowel health by preventing constipation and feeding the ‘good’ gut bacteria which is likely to result in a number of health benefits.

A recent study found a diet high in wholegrains was associated with a lower risk of bowel cancer.

Soy and linseed bread has the added benefit of healthy omega 3 fats. Wholegrain bread is low GI as are wholemeal breads with added grains.

Multigrain bread

Often multigrain bread is made from white flour with some added grains.

Despite this, multigrain breads tend to have more fibre and a lower GI than white bread, resulting in longer lasting energy.

Rye bread

Rye bread has a heavier texture due to a lower gluten content (but it’s not gluten free).

Wholegrain rye with added grains has a higher fibre and vitamin content than light rye and has a lower GI, as does rye sourdough.

Wholegrain rye is a good choice for health and even light rye is better than white.

Sourdough

Sourdough bread has a lower GI due to the higher acidity level. Fibre, vitamin and mineral levels vary with the flour used, with wholegrain sourdough being the preferred choice.

Be sure to choose an authentic sourdough, as some are faux sourdough and contain yeast rather than the traditional starter.

Authentic sourdough takes a long time to produce and results in an acidic and chewy bread, two features that lower the GI.

Look for a chewy texture and the absence of yeast in the ingredients, preferably with wholewheat flour or rye wholemeal, grains and seeds.

Gluten free

Gluten free breads are made from an alternative grain to wheat, so as to avoid the wheat protein gluten.

Traditionally, gluten free breads have had a lower fibre content and higher GI than their wheat-containing counterparts, although, there are now some with added seeds.

These breads are useful for people with a gluten intolerance such as coeliac disease, but offer no additional health benefits beyond regular breads for the rest of us.

GLUTEN FREE FOODS CONTAIN MORE FAT AND LOWER PROTEIN AND FIBRE THAN EQUIVALENTS

Gluten free foods contain more fat, salt and sugar than their gluten-containing equivalents, and are generally more than twice has expensive, a study published yesterday found.

Researchers at the University of Hertfordshire said it was clear that gluten free (GF) products offer no nutritional advantage to regular foods and are not a healthier alternative, which may surprise many consumers.

They also found that gluten free foods were 159% more expensive than their regular counterparts.

A study found that gluten free products are not healthier alternatives to regular food – and they’re considerably more expensive too (stock image)

More than 1,700 food products from Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury’s, Morrisons and Ocado, were compared by researchers.

They found that, with the exception of crackers, gluten free foods contained more fat, salt and sugar and also had lower fibre and protein content than their equivalents.

A GF diet is the only treatment option for those who suffer from coeliac disease but many more people in the UK and around the world avoid gluten foods as it is perceived to contribute towards a healthy lifestyle.

This has lead to a huge increase in sales of GF foods in recent years.

A gluten free diet – of which Victoria Beckham Gwyneth Paltrow and Miley Cyrus are said to be fans – avoids the proteins found in wheat, rye and barley.

Advocates believe our modern diets have become increasingly high in refined wheat products and believe over consumption may lead to digestive symptoms such as bloating, pain and stomach cramps in those who are sensitive to gluten.

It is believed that around 13 per cent of the UK population are gluten-free. And the figure is even higher in the US, with a quarter saying they had consumed such foods in 2015 – a 67 per cent increase in two years.

The findings come after gastroenterologist Dr Suzanne Mahady, a senior lecturer, Monash University, earlier this week said only those diagnosed with coeliac disease – caused by a reaction of the immune system to gluten, which is different to gluten sensitivity – should keep to the strict diet.

FODMAP breads

Low FODMAP breads have recently hit the market. These breads are suitable for people such as those with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), who are sensitive to a group of carbohydrates known collectively as FODMAPS.

FODMAPS are found in a number of foods including wheat. These breads still contain gluten and are not suitable for people with coeliac disease.

Although better than regular white bread as they contain seeds and grains, the fibre content varies between brands, so people without sensitivities are generally better to choose wholegrain breads.

What’s the verdict?

Not all breads are created equal. Ideally look for heavy, dense breads with lots of grains and seeds. Ingredient lists on food labels are written in descending order so look for words such as wholegrain, kibbled grain, nuts and seeds at the beginning of the ingredients list.

Foods with more than 4g fibre per serve are considered a good source of fibre under the Australian food standards code.

Go for a wholegrain, wholegrain rye or authentic sourdough breads (particularly rye or grain sourdough).

The soft fluffy white breads are best left for the occasional sausage butty, where the only decision to make is onions or no onions.

Source: Daily Mail

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Persian shallot ‘could help fight TB antibiotic resistance’

Herbs and Helpers

A type of onion could help the fight against antibiotic resistance in cases of tuberculosis, a study has suggested.

Researchers believe the antibacterial properties extracted from the Persian shallot could increase the effects of existing antibiotic treatment.

They said this could help “reverse the tide” of drug-resistant TB, which infected 490,000 people in 2016.

But they said the research was still in its early stages and clinical trials would need to follow.

In the ongoing study, led by Birkbeck, University of London and University College London, the research team conducted tests on four different molecules from the shallots, which are a staple of Iranian cooking.

They found all four showed a significant reduction in the presence of the bacteria in the multidrug-resistant TB – the most promising candidate of which inhibited growth of the isolated TB cells by more than 99.9%.

The team concluded that the chemical compounds could be used alongside existing antibiotics to combat strains of TB which have developed resistance to anti-bacterial drugs.

Dr Sanjib Bhakta, one of the study’s authors, from Birkbeck’s department of biological sciences, said: “Despite a concerted global effort to prevent the spread of tuberculosis, approximately 10 million new cases and two million deaths were reported in 2016.

“In searching for new anti-bacterials, we tend to focus on molecules that are potent enough to be developed commercially as new drug entities by themselves.

“However, in this study we show that by inhibiting the key intrinsic resistance properties of the TB, one could increase the effects of existing antibiotic treatment and reverse the tide of already existing drug resistance.”

Prof Simon Gibbons, another of the authors, and head of UCL’s department of pharmaceutical and biological chemistry, said: “Natural products from plants and microbes have enormous potential as a source of new antibiotics.

“Nature is an amazingly creative chemist and it is likely that plants such as the Persian shallot produce these chemicals as a defence against microbes in their environment.”

In October, England’s chief medical officer, Prof Dame Sally Davies, urged global leaders to tackle the growing threat of antibiotic resistance.

Medical experts say these drugs are being used too much, and that 25,000 people die across Europe each year because of drug-resistant infections.

Researchers said they hope the molecules, which were tested in a laboratory, could be combined with existing antibiotics to form new anti-TB drugs.

The research is published in the journal Scientific Reports.

Source: BBC

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Why stress is making you sick: New research explains why pressure attacks our cells and makes us more vulnerable to disease

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Researchers from the University of Michigan discovered stress interacts with cells that are supposed to protect the body

They found stress can control how immune cells defend the body

Stress causes certain cells to release chemical substances that can lead to inflammatory and allergic diseases

Stress can cause physical illness by hijacking the immune system, according to a new study.

Researchers at the University of Michigan have identified how stress interacts with cells that are supposed to protect the body against infection diseases and manifests into physical illness.

The study revealed stress can impact the response of ‘defense chemicals’, or substances that fight off bacteria or viruses, amplifying inflammatory and allergic reactions such as irritable bowel syndrome, asthma and autoimmune disorders such as lupus.

Doctors could start prescribing stress management tools like breathing exercises and yoga to treat disorders like asthma and symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome.

The study, published in the Journal of Leukocyte Biology, revealed stress receptors, known as corticotropin-releasing factor (CRF1), send signals to certain immune cells, called mast cells, and control how they defend the body.

Mast cells, a type of white blood cell, are involved with inflammatory responses such as hypersensitivity and allergic reactions when the immune system fights off a perceived threat. These cells are also triggered during stressful situations.

Researchers conducted a mouse study to examine the immune cell responses to psychological and allergic stress. One group of mice had stress receptors on their mast cells, while the other group had no stress receptors.

They discovered that the mice with stress receptors had high levels of disease, while the mice without stress receptors had less disease and were protected against both psychological and allergic stress.

Adam Moeser, an associate professor who specializes in stress-induced diseases, said when mast cells are triggered during stressful situations they are vulnerable to being controlled by stress receptors.

‘When this happens, CRF1 tells these cells to release chemical substances that can lead to inflammatory and allergic diseases such as irritable bowel syndrome, asthma, life-threatening food allergies and autoimmune disorders such as lupus,’ explained Moeser.

How to manage stress

Breathe: The hormone noradrenaline is released during stressful situations. It makes people sweat, breath heavily and increases our heart rate, according to experts at Harvard Medical School.

Stand: Standing up straight allows lungs to fill up with air, improving the body’s oxygen supply and significantly reducing the production of the stress hormone cortisol, Dr. Sheela Raja, clinical psychologist and assistant professor at The University of Illinois at Chicago, told Naperville Magazine.

Avoid coffee: This caffeinated drink can cause insomnia, nervousness and a faster heart rate – which can worsen the feelings of stress, Dr Mark Hyman wrote.

Get active: Exercise releases ‘feel good’ hormones called endorphins that can help counterbalance anxiety during stressful situations, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America.

This means chemical substances like histamine, which is produced by mast cells and known to help the body get rid of invading allergens like pollen, can become life-threatening.

In a normal response to an allergen, histamine would cause an allergic reactions such as inflammation, itching, sneezing and runny nose.

Researchers said this response can be intensified when someone has a severe allergy or is under a lot of stress, causing severe symptoms such as trouble breathing, anaphylactic shock and even death.

‘This work is a critical step forward in decoding how stress makes us sick and provides a new target pathway in the mast cell for therapies to improve the quality of life of people suffering from common stress-related diseases.’

A 2017 study published in the journal Psychiatric Services has found that 8.3 million adults in the US suffer from stress, anxiety and depression.

‘In the past, you may go out and meet with your friends and talk about something, but when you got home you’d go to sleep,’ Dr Harsh Trivedi, president and CEO of Sheppard Pratt Health System, a Maryland mental health provider, told CBS News. ‘The difficulty now is you can’t really turn things off. We don’t necessarily have downtimes to recharge and get our bearings straight again.’

Sleep and stress are intertwined, according to the American Psychological Association. They say when stress increases, length and quality of sleep decreases.

And when people aren’t getting the minimum recommendation of seven to nine hours of sleep at night, they feel even more stressed.

Stress, a physical response to feeling threatened or anxious, has been the root of many health concerns including, insomnia, depression and high blood pressure.

One 2016 study published in the journal Personnel Psychology followed more than 2,000 people for 36 years and found people with stressful were more likely to have health issues and die early.

Another study published in a 2013 issue of PLOS One revealed stress is linked to an increased risk of heart attack, heart disease and an increased risk of death.

In addition to sleep problems, common signs and symptoms of stress include depression, difficulty making decisions and trouble concentrating.

Source: Daily Mail

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Traditional Chinese Medicine Bushen Huoxue Shows Potential for Treating Endometriosis, Study Suggests

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Traditional Chinese medicine Bushen Huoxue, an herbal infusion, is safe and may be as effective as Western medicine in treating endometriosis, a recent review study in China found. However, more studies, including further clinical trials, are needed to confirm the results, researchers said.

The study, “Meta-Analysis of Chinese Traditional Medicine Bushen Huoxue Prescription for Endometriosis Treatment,” was published in the journal Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine.

According to traditional Chinese medicine, kidney deficiency and blood stasis are common in endometriosis, and Bushen Huoxue (BSHXP), a prescription that uses 10 different herbs, can be used to treat the condition. In vivo tests have shown that BSHXP has the ability to “inhibit the invasion of endometrial stromal cells,” researchers wrote.

In this study, scientists reviewed seven databases looking for published, randomized, and controlled trials that tested the effects of BSHXP in patients with endometriosis. They compared results with trials using Western medicine’s approach to treating endometriosis.

The main goal of the meta-analysis was to assess the therapy’s total effectiveness rate, as measured according to the Guidelines of Clinical Research of New Drugs of Traditional Chinese Medicine, as well as the rate for easing menstrual cramps, and pregnancy rates.

From an initial pool of 146 studies, the meta-analysis included 13 studies involving a total of 936 patients with endometriosis. Of those, 492 women were assigned to the treatment group for BSHXP and 444 were assigned to the Western medicine control group, where therapies included mifepristone, diphereline, gestrinone, and danazol. These agents are sold under various brand names including Mifeprex for mifepristone; Decapeptyl for Diphereline; Dimetrose for gestrinone; and Danocrine for danazol. Treatment duration varied from three to six months.

The meta-analysis showed that treatment with BSHXP was similar to Western medicine in the ability to improve endometriosis-related symptoms, and “BSHXP emerged as an effective alternative therapy to alleviate endometriosis-associated pain.”

The results also suggest that BSHXP increased clinical pregnancy rates more than hormonal therapy, but researchers noted that “this conclusion should be further verified in future studies.” Results also showed no signs that BSHXP is more effective at reducing the size of endometriotic cysts compared to Western medicine. BSHXP may carry fewer serious effects, although serious events were reported in six trials.

Overall, “our study provided evidence that BSHXP is effective and safe for endometriosis, but this evidence is inconclusive because of the low methodological quality of the included RCTs [randomized control trials],” researchers wrote.

“Our findings suggest that BSHXP is an alternative drug for endometriosis, but it should be further examined in future clinical research,” the study concluded.

Source: Endometriosis news

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Quinoa Compounds Slow Aging and Improve Metabolic Health, Animal Study Suggests

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ORIGINAL ARTICLE: http://www.nutritionaloutlook.com/herbs-botanicals/quinoa-compounds-slow-aging-and-improve-metabolic-health-animal-study-suggests

Results from a study1 newly published in the Journal of Functional Foods showed for the first time that quinoa phytochemicals may slow the effects of aging and improve metabolic health in an animal model. The study adds to the “superfood” cachet that the high-protein ancient grain already enjoys.

But while quinoa (Chenopodium quinoa) has heretofore earned praise primarily for the full complement of amino acids that its protein comprises, the current study examined the benefits attributable to its rich store of phytochemicals, including flavonoid glycosides, phenolic acids, betalains, saponins, and compounds called ecdysteroids.

The study, a collaboration between Rutgers University and the North Carolina State University Plants for Human Health Institute (PHHI) at the North Carolina Research Campus (NCRC), used the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans, or C. elegans, as its animal model—a common choice in research because the worms are transparent, easy to study, and have a short lifespan. Also, specific types of metabolic genes in the worms are similar to those in mammals.

With the aim of studying the quinoa phytochemicals’ effects on C. elegans’ lifespan, movement, development of advanced glycation end-product (AGE) pigments—molecules that accumulate during aging—and reactive oxygen species (ROS), the researchers subjected the worms to a complex high-concentration phytochemical mixture—termed “quinoa leachate”—which they prepared specifically to extract and concentrate the bioactive quinoa components of interest.

Speaking in a company statement, Slavko Komarnytsky, PhD, associate professor of pharmacogenomics and director of the Mobile Discovery program at PHHI, and one of the study’s co-authors, noted: “The use of leachate of quinoa seeds as a vehicle for extraction and concentration of its bioactive properties is an original idea of my collaborators at Rutgers University.”

As for the results, they showed for the first time that quinoa supplementation slows aging in C. elegans and boosts its metabolic health, improving factors like lifespan and locomotory performance and decreasing negative factors such as AGE levels and ROS and lipid accumulation.

The present study contributes to a growing body of knowledge surrounding quinoa and its beneficial properties, including a 2014 PHHI study of its phytochemicals and their ability to lower blood glucose in the context of diabetes. Though acknowledging the need for further study, the authors concluded that the findings suggest that eating quinoa may “improve various aspects of health and wellness among aging populations.”

Graf BL et al., “Phytoecdysteroid-enriched quinoa seed leachate enhances healthspan and mitochondrial metabolism in Caenorhabditis elegans,” Journal of Functional Foods, vol. 37 (October 2017): 1-7.

ORIGINAL ARTICLE: http://www.nutritionaloutlook.com/herbs-botanicals/quinoa-compounds-slow-aging-and-improve-metabolic-health-animal-study-suggests

Source: Nutritional Outlook

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Management of Diabetes with Medicinal plants and Dietary control (part 2)

Herbs and Helpers

An important research area is the discovery and development of more effective and safer antidiabetic agents. In this context, medicinal plants and diet continue to play an important role in the treatment of diabetes, particularly in developing countries where most people have limited resources and do not have access to modern treatment. A recent survey of the frequency of use of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) in diabetes patients found that most of the patients using CAM are better educated, born in cities, live in large families and were suffering from diabetes for longer duration.

One should note that metformin, the single most prescribed agent for the treatment of diabetes, originated from herbal medicine and was derived from galegine. Experimental and clinical evaluations of galegine, isolated from Galega officinalis provided the pharmacological and chemical basis for the subsequent discovery of metformin. 1- Deoxynojirimycin (DNJ), a potent α-glucosidase inhibitor which helps in prevention of diabetes, was isolated from the water extract of leaves of mulberry trees (Morus alba L.).

Diet has long been the keystone in the treatment of diabetes and various other diseases. Diet and lifestyle play an important role in the management of several diseases, including diabetes. Before the introduction of the therapeutic use of insulin, diet was the main form of treatment and dietary measures included the use of traditional medicines mainly derived from plants.

Many studies have confirmed the benefits of medicinal plants with hypoglycemic effects in the management of diabetes mellitus. The effects of these plants may delay the development of diabetic complications and correct metabolic abnormalities. Moreover, during the past few years, some of the new bioactive drugs isolated from plants showed antidiabetic activity with more efficacy than oral hypoglycemic agents used in clinical therapy.

The folk medicines used for the treatment and prevention of diabetes include garlic, onion, ginseng, bitter melon, fenugreek, Gymnema sylvestre, Pterocarpus marsupium, bilberry and aloe vera. The active ingredients derived from plants used for antidiabetic preparations have been identified, and potentially beneficial effects on the rate of food ingestion, glucose transport, potentiation of insulin release, inhibition of insulin clearance, insulin-mimetic effects, reduced gluconeogenesis, and β-cell protection have been attributed to these agents.

Some plants, such as G. sylvestre, M. charantia and P. marsupium, may also help in regeneration of β cells in the pancreas, which is an important discovery because none of the conventional oral hypoglycemic agents shows this action. Several common spices such as fenugreek, cumin, turmeric are some other spices with beneficial antidiabetic properties. Experimental data indicated that dosages of 25- 50 grams of fenugreek seeds, 5-6 garlic cloves, 1 onion bulb, and 1 gram of turmeric powder incorporated into the daily diet of diabetics were effective as a support therapy in the prevention and management of diabetes and related complications like hypertension and obesity.

The mechanisms of action are recognized as stimulation of the pancreas to secrete insulin, interference with dietary glucose absorption and insulin sparing action of bioactive compounds. Ginger, curry leaf, mustard and coriander also improved glucose tolerance in experimental diabetic animals. The National Diabetes Education Program of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) recommends that eggplant should be included in the diet for the management of Type II diabetes.

The anti-diabetic potential of two plants, leaves of agrimony (Agrimony eupatoria), avocado (Persea americana), were evaluated by an in vitro dialysis model of glucose movement. The glucose movement was decreased by more than 50% by agrimony and avocado. It was concluded that agrimony and avocado have the ability to inhibit glucose diffusion using an in vitro model of glucose absorption and represented potential dietary supplements that may be useful for allowing flexibility in meal planning for management of Type II diabetes.

Other nutraceutical compounds which reduce the risk of diabetes are found in diets rich in fibres, legumes, coffee (chlorogenic acid), barley malt, biotin, magnesium, chromium picolinate, calcium/vitamin D, bitter melon, cinnamon extracts.

Hot water extracts of coffee seeds showed significant inhibition against both the enzymes α-glucosidase and α-amylase and reduced postprandial hyperglycemia as assessed by in vivo assays on Wistar rats for Oral Saccharinity tolerance test (OST).

Bitter gourd or bitter melon (Momordica charantia L.) is consumed as a vegetable and herbal medicine in various parts of the world is considered to prevent and help in the management of diabetes and its related complications. It has been proved by a cell culture and glucose uptake assay that the hypoglycemic potential of bitter gourd was due to activation of AMP-Activated protein kinase. Leaves of Tamarindus indicus showed 90% inhibition of α-amylase. Other fruits and vegetables which have been reported as helping to decrease hyperglycemia are the rind of bitter cucumber (Citrullus colocynthis Schard), roots of cabbage (Anthocleista voglii), leaf extract of mango (Mangifera indica),flowers and fruits of banana (Musa sapientum Kuntze), leaves of olive (Olea europea L.), leaves of jackfruit (Atrocarpus heterophyllus Lam.), roots of ginger (Zingiber officinalis), husk of isphagula (Plantago ovate), bitter gourd (Momordica Charantia), Ivy gourd (Coccinia indica), leaves of mustard (Brassica juncea), cinnamon (Cinnamomi cassia).

In addition, other well-known plants with this activity are Aloe barbedensis, Ocimum album, Withania somnifera, Cryptolepis Sanguinolenta, Ocimum sanctum Linn, Stevia rebaudiana Bertoni, Cantharanthus roseus, Azadirachta indica, Opuntia steptacantha, Lantana camara, Agrimony eupatoria L., Eucalyptus globules Labill, Semecarpus anacardium Linn., Chamaemelum nobile, Pterocarpus marsupium, Asparagus adscendens, Phyllanthus amarus, Tinospora cardifolia, Acanthopanax senticosus, Silybum marianum and Panax ginseng.

An extract of leaves of guava (Psidium guajava Linn.) have all shown good hypoglycemic potential. An aqueous extract of unripe plantain (Musa paradisiaca) was shown to possess hypoglycemic activity, as it reduced glucose levels in normal and alloxan-induced diabetic rats.It is suggested that daily consumption of chamomile tea can prevent hyperglycemia and diabetic complications. Roselle tea extract is made from the dried flowers of Hibiscus sabdariffa Linn. (Sobolo) and is a popular beverage in Ghana. Roselle tea extract showed significant inhibition of porcine pancreatic amylase.

From the scientific evaluation of phytochemicals, it is clearly seen that the majority of foods traditionally used to reduce hyperglycemia and related disorders (obesity etc) are rich in polyphenolic compounds and flavonoids.

Conclusion

As α-amylase is a key enzyme for starch hydrolysis and α-glucosidase for intestinal absorption, these enzymes help in digestion and uptake of carbohydrates. Inhibition of these enzymes significantly decreases the postprandial increase of blood glucose level and can therefore be an important strategy in the management of hyperglycemia linked to Type II diabetes. Currently available drugs, acarbose and voglibose, which inhibit these enzymes, have associated side effects of abdominal distention, flatulence, meteorism and diarrhea, which might be caused by the excessive inhibition of pancreatic α- amylase resulting in the abnormal bacterial fermentation of undigested carbohydrates in the colon.

Natural inhibitors from dietary sources have shown lower inhibitory effects against α- amylase activity and stronger inhibitory activity against α-glucosidase, which can be a good strategy to reduce postprandial hyperglycemia with minimal side effects. Lifestyle modifications and proper diet management are also important factors in the treatment and prevention of diabetes mellitus and its related complications. Omega-3-fatty acids and regular consumption of fish helps in diabetes by reducing the chances of getting cardiovascular diseases and cinnamon may also have some affect in reducing blood glucose. Exercise and physical activity are the other important factors to manage diabetes to increase energy expenditure, as physical inactivity and a sedentary lifestyle are associated with metabolic disorders such as diabetes, obesity and other cardio-vascular disorders.

By MH/Dr Ernest Aggrey, 0543999776/donmirage77@yahoo.com

Reference:
Gulati, V., Harding, I., & Palombo, E. (2009), Medicinal Plants: Classification, Biosynthesis and Pharmacology, Management of Diabetes with Diet and Plant-Derived Drugs. Nova Science Publishers, Inc. New York.pg 167-182

Source: Modern Ghana

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Two breakthroughs in reversing ‘incurable’ tinnitus

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Tinnitus—a persistent ringing in the ear—is thought to be incurable, but two new technologies are being tested that could finally improve, or even reverse, the problem.

Both use simple earbuds that transmit messages to the brain that change the way it ‘hears’ sounds.

The first, a technology known as bimodal auditory-somatosensory stimulation, has been tested by researchers at the University of Michigan on a small group of tinnitus sufferers. After using the technology 20 minutes a day for 25 days, the 20 sufferers all reported a significant improvement; some said the noises they heard were 12 decibels softer, others said the noises were less harsh or piercing, and two reported their tinnitus had disappeared. None of these improvements were reported by another group of tinnitus sufferers who had been given a sham treatment.

The technology works by changing the way the brain ‘hears’ in a process known as long-term depression (LTD) in nerve activity that contributes to tinnitus. In healthy people, the nerves—known as fusiform cells—help locate where sound comes from, but become over-active in the tinnitus sufferer, usually after they have been damaged, such as when they have been exposed to loud noises.

Bimodal auditory-somatosensory stimulation plays sounds into the ear that match the frequency and volume of the whistling and rushing noise of tinnitus.

In a separate trial, researchers have been eliminating tinnitus by using neuro-feedback technology that trains the brain to focus on different sounds and sensations. The basis of the technique is the understanding that there is a close relationship between ‘hearing’—the way the brain picks up sounds through the primary auditory cortex—and other processes that monitor breathing or touch, for instance.

By shifting the focus, the sounds of tinnitus can be reduced or even reversed, say researchers from Wright State University in Ohio. They tested the theory on a group of 18 healthy people, who were fed ‘white noise’ through earplugs while an MRI scanner was monitoring their brains.

The researchers hope that biofeedback could also be developed to help people cope with pain.

References
(Sources: University of Michigan study: Translational Medicine, 2018; 10: eaal3175; Wright State University study: proceedings of the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America, 2017)

Source: WDDTY

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Is deadly bacteria lurking in your dishwasher? Scientists discover pathogens linked to food poisoning and fatal heart infections build-up in the kitchen staple

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Dishwashers can contain E.coli, which causes life-threatening food poisoning

Also has other pathogens linked to infections of the urinary tract and skin

These can be fatal in people with reduced immune systems, like cancer patients

Pathogens likely enter dishwashers via tap water and contaminated food

Reduce infection risk by letting dishwashers cool down before opening them

Deadly bacteria could be lurking in your dishwasher, new research reveals.

The kitchen staple can contain everything from E.coli, which causes life-threatening food poisoning, to other pathogens linked to infections of the urinary tract, skin and inner heart lining, a Slovenian study found.

Although usually harmless, these bacteria can be fatal in people with reduced immune systems, such as those undergoing chemotherapy or organ transplants.

Bacteria and fungi are thought to enter dishwashers via the tap water that supplies them, as well as through contaminated food, the research adds.

Researchers recommend people reduce their risk of infection by allowing dishwashers to cool before opening them and wiping their rubber seal after every use.

DOES CLOUDY WATER COME OUT OF YOUR TAP? IT COULD CONTAIN THE NOROVIRUS

Cloudy drinking water could contain the norovirus, research suggested last August.

More than 10 studies found a link between cloudy water and acute gastrointestinal illness (AGI), a study review by Drexel University in Philadelphia found.

Aside from the norovirus, AGI-causing parasites include Giardia or Cryptosporidium, all of which can cause vomiting, nausea and diarrhea.

Water is cloudy due to floating material, which is thought to be undissolved particles.

Such particles may protect pathogens against water’s disinfection processes.

Cloudiness may also be evidence of pathogen-containing sediment.

What pathogens do dishwashers contain?

The researchers, from the University of Ljubljana, in Slovenia, analysed 24 rubber seals in dishwashers in privately-owned homes.

They also investigated the water supplying the dishwashers.

Results reveal many dishwashers contain bacteria including Escherichia, which covers strains such as E.coli that cause life-threatening food poisoning in humans.

They also contain Pseudomonas, which can cause chest infections, and Acinetobacter, which is linked to infections of the urinary tract, skin and inner heart lining, which can be deadly.

As well as bacteria, dishwashers also frequently contain fungi such as Candida, which causes thrush.

How to reduce your risk

The researchers warn these pathogens could break free into homes via the hot air produced at the air of a dishwasher cycle.

People should therefore avoid opening their dishwashers until they have cooled down.

Pathogen exposure can also be minimised by wiping the rubber seal that surrounds dishwasher doors after each cycle to prevent bacterial and fungal build up. Microbes often lurk on the seal as it is a protective environment against the hot and humid inner dishwasher.

Despite their advice, experts stress that for the average, healthy person, dishwashers likely pose little harm.

Erica Hartmann, an assistant professor at Northwestern University, who was not involved with the study, said: ‘The risk is probably in the realm of a shark attack.’

The findings were published in the journal Applied and Environmental Microbiology.

Source: Daily Mail

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Cure for Crohn’s disease comes closer after link to fungus discovered

Herbs and Helpers

A cure for Crohn’s disease—the debilitating inflammatory bowel problem—came a step closer this week after scientists identified a fungus that plays a key role in its development.

Scientists have previously blamed ulcers and bacteria for the cause of the inflammatory disease, but this week’s discovery is the first to link a fungus to the condition, and it could open the doors to new treatments. The researchers, from Case Western Reserve University, also discovered a new bacterium that’s associated with the disease.

Most doctors believe that Crohn’s is caused by an abnormal response of the immune system to bacteria that we all have in our gut—but nobody has looked to see what role that fungus, also present in the intestines, plays.

The researchers analysed samples from 20 Crohn’s patients for levels of bacteria and fungi, and compared them to those from 28 healthy volunteers. The Crohn’s sufferers had “strong fungal-bacterial interactions”, said the researchers, and specifically of the bacteria Escherichia coli and Serratia marcescens, and the fungus Candida tropicalis.

The amounts of all three were far higher in the samples taken from the Crohn’s sufferers, and the researchers also noted that the samples also had far lower amounts of beneficial bacteria.

The discovery is the first to ever link a fungus to Crohn’s disease, and it’s one that could open the door to new therapies, such as different medications and probiotics.

References
(Source: mBio, 2016; doi: 10.1128/mBio.01250-16)

Source: WDDTY

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Why we should all be eating broccoli yogurt: New research claims the bizarre food could curb rocketing rates of bowel cancer

Herbs and Helpers

Researchers in Singapore used a harmless form of bacteria and combined it with broccoli to make yogurt

The substance killed almost all bowel tumors grown in the laboratory

A broccoli-based yogurt could prevent — and even treat — colon cancer, according to a new research.

Researchers in Singapore found that yogurt made with the ‘superfood’ killed 75 percent of tumors in mice, and more than 95 bowel cancer cells grown in a laboratory.

Broccoli contains a cancer-fighting chemical called sulforane, while yogurt contains probiotics – bacteria that helps maintain a natural balance of organisms in the stomach and intestines.

Based on these findings, researchers believe broccoli-based yogurt is a ‘disease busting formula’ that can be used as cancer prevention and to get rid of remaining cells after surgical removal of tumors.

‘One exciting aspect of our strategy is that it just capitalizes on our lifestyle, potentially transforming our normal diet into a sustainable, low-cost therapeutic regimen,’ said researcher Matthew Chang, professor at National University of Singapore.

Professor Matthew Chang and Dr Chun-Loong Ho engineered a harmless form of bacteria called E. coli Nissle, which is found in the gut.

Using genetic techniques they developed it into a probiotic that attached to the surface of bowel cancer cells and secreted an enzyme to convert a substance found in broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables into a potent anti cancer agent.

In tests it killed almost all bowel cancer cells grown in a laboratory.

Then, strikingly, the combination of yogurt and veg killed 75 percent of tumors in mice with the disease.

The tumors that were detected in the rodents were also three times smaller than in a group not fed the mixture.

The researchers see it being used in two ways – both as prevention and to get rid of remaining cancer cells after surgical removal of tumors.

And one day people may be able to take probiotics as a dietary supplement, along with their broccoli, to ward off the disease, or reduce the risk of it returning.

Interestingly, this mixture had no effect on cells from other types of cancer such as breast and stomach cancer.

The researchers, whose study is published in Nature Biomedical Engineering, said with these special bacteria a dose of broccoli a day can keep the cancer doctor away.

Dr Ho added: ‘Mothers are right after all, eating vegetables is important.’

Colon cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the US, and the third most common cancer in men and women, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Despite its prevalence, it’s still unclear what causes colon cancer. However, scientists believe the disease may be linked to western diets, which are typically high in fat and low in fiber.

A 2016 study published in Nature found linked high-fat diets to an increased risk of developing intestinal tumors.

Obesity, red meat alcohol consumption, tobacco use and lack of physical exercise have also been linked to an increased risk of colon cancer, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The US Preventive Services Task Force recommends screening for colon cancer starting at age 50 and continuing to 75.

People with inflammatory bowel disease and/or a family history of colon cancer should get screened earlier.

Source: Daily Mail

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