Saturday, March 07, 2009

Fruit juice with added goodness may be bad

FRUIT juices containing added extras such as herbal supplements or antioxidants do not have significant health benefits and may actually be harmful to some people, Australia's leading consumer group says. An investigation by Choice has found juice with extras such as aloe vera, echinacea, ginkgo, ginseng, spirulina, barley grass and wheat grass did not contain enough of the extracts to have any meaningful health impact.

Choice spokesman Christopher Zinn said the low levels could actually be an advantage because some extracts at higher doses were not necessarily safe. He said gingko could interfere with other medications such as anticoagulants while anyone suffering high blood pressure should take ginseng only in small doses and pregnant women should not take it at all. "In our view the use of medicinal herbs in products like juices should be banned unless specific approval is given after a proper safety assessment, an idea which our food regulator has abandoned," he said.

Juices promoting extra antioxidants were also a concern, with no evidence that taking antioxidants as a supplement provided any preventative benefit for cancer or heart disease. "Apple juice has only 14 per cent of the antioxidant capacity you'd get from actually eating an apple," he said. "The juice market is rife with claims which are not matched by reality and it's often best to stick to the whole fruit or vegetable."

Mr Zinn said the juices with added extras were also more expensive than those without. "Many of the products, which go by names such as Kickstart, Energy Lift and Green Recovery, are mostly inexpensive apple juice with a few added extras," he said. One juice from Berri which claimed to contain "over 30 per cent of your daily needs" of omega-3 fats in fact contained only eight per cent of the Heart Foundation's recommended daily dose for men, he said.


How a simple injection could halt diabetes in children

A jab to prevent children developing diabetes came a step closer last night following a British breakthrough. Studies show a common tummy bug is strongly linked to childhood diabetes, which can shorten life and lead to blindness, heart disease, kidney failure and amputation. The findings could lead to a vaccine that would protect against the bug and 'drastically reduce' the prevalence of childhood, or type 1, diabetes.

The studies focused on enteroviruses - a family of more than 100 bugs that cause vomiting, diarrhoea and cold symptoms. The first showed that enterovirus infection of the pancreas is much more common in children with type 1 diabetes than those without. Researchers from the University of Brighton, Glasgow Royal Infirmary, and the Peninsula Medical School in the South West of England found that more than 60 per cent of diabetic pancreases studied had traces of the bug. But it was hardly spotted in those without the disease, the journal Diabetologia reports.

The finding suggests infection plays a key role in the development of the disease. It is thought that enteroviruses trigger a rogue immune response that destroys insulin-producing cells in the pancreas in those genetically vulnerable to diabetes. Further work on the role of enteroviruses could lead to the development of a jab which would 'drastically reduce' the number of people developing diabetes, said the researchers. Type 1 diabetes affects around 300,000 in the UK, including 20,000 children under 15.

Professor Adrian Bone, of Brighton, said: 'There has been a lot of evidence about peaks of diabetes following outbreaks of viral infections but this is the first direct link. 'What nobody else is done is put the viruses at the scene of the crime. It is extremely exciting. 'If you can narrow it down to a specific virus or small family of viruses, then you are in the business when it comes to developing vaccines.'

Professor Noel Morgan, of the Peninsula school, said: 'The next stages - to identify which viruses are involved, how cells are changed by infection and the ultimate goal to develop a vaccine - will lead to findings which we hope will drastically reduce the number of people around the world who develop type 1 diabetes.'

Dr Alan Foulis, of Glasgow, said: 'With 250,000 sufferers, the idea of a vaccine and being able to prevent this disease would be my life's work.'

A second study, by Cambridge University, has linked a gene called IFIH1, type 1 diabetes and enteroviruses, the journal Science reports. Karen Addington, of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, said the studies would give fresh hope to those with type 1 diabetes. She added: 'This life-threatening condition requires a lifetime of painful blood tests and insulin injections. Incidences are increasing by four per cent each year. Research such as this brings us closer to curing this condition.'

Dr Iain Frame, of the charity Diabetes UK, said: 'The next steps to identify the viruses and find out what they are doing to the infected cells will be hugely exciting and will take us a step closer to preventing type 1 diabetes.'



John A said...

"A second study, by Cambridge University, has linked a gene called IFIH1, type 1 diabetes and enteroviruses, the journal Science reports"

Wow! This is potent news, if it pans out it will surpass H. Pylori discovery.

And perhaps trouble the "diabetes is all the fault of indulging in sweets" crowds.

Sydney said...

Thanks a lot for your precious Article! I was directed to your blog recently and am very glad that I was. This article on Vitamin D caught my attention as I have a genetic disorder that affects the level of calcium in my blood. I have been wondering about taking more vitamin D and am planning on taking this article to my endocrinologist next week. Glad you could enjoy your family vacation while being sun smart!

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