Thursday, March 07, 2013

How foods that leave a bitter taste in the mouth could prevent asthma attacks


They may create an unpleasant sensation in the mouth, but how we respond to bitter foods could help scientists prevent asthma attacks.

A study found eating something tart stimulates taste receptors in the airway cells which improves airflow by relaxing the muscles.

Some foods such as Thai kale and bitter melon can even dilate airway cells that have already contracted, a process known as bronchodilation.

Scientists from the University of Massachusetts hope the discovery will pave the way for potent new treatments for asthma.

Study leader Dr Ronghua ZhuGe, said: 'I am excited that someday, with more research, there may be a new class of bronchodilators which are able to reverse an asthma attack quicker and with fewer side effects than is currently available to patients.'

He added that experiments in mice suggest the relaxing effects of bitter substances may even be faster and stronger than current asthma treatments.

Bitter taste receptors most likely evolved to help alert the body to potentially harmful foods that have spoiled or are toxic. The receptors have long been thought to only exist in certain cells present in the tongue.

Over the last few years, however, scientists have come to realize that these receptors are present in many other cells throughout the body.

Specifically, bitter taste receptors on smooth muscle cells in the airway act to relax the cells when exposed to bitter-tasting substances.

A hallmark of an asthma attack is excessive contraction of smooth muscle cells, which causes narrowing of the airways and subsequent breathing difficulties.

Dr ZhuGe examined the effect of bitter substances at a cellular level.

During an asthma attack channels on the membrane of smooth muscle cells in the airways open. This allows calcium to flow into the cell, causing it to contract and making breathing difficult.

Dr ZhuGe's findings suggest bitter foods shut down the calcium channels allowing the cells to relax.

Dr ZhuGe said: 'With this new understanding of how bitter substances are able to relax airways, we can focus our attention on studying these receptors and on finding even more potent bitter compounds with the potential to be used therapeutically to end asthma attacks.'

The findings are published in the journal PLOS Biology.


Bananas?! Mother claims fruit has cured her crippling migraines after 20 years

There are various dietary manipulations that help some people with migraines but I doubt that many will share the solution below

A mother-of-two who has been plagued by migraines for almost 20 years says she has been cured after snacking on bananas.

Lisa Poyner, 38, used to suffer episodes that left her bed ridden for days at a time, and tried out dozens of medications to try and relieve her condition.

But she realised she could head off attacks if she snacked on the fruit as soon as she felt the symptoms coming on.

Mrs Poyner said: 'I had been prescribed all kinds of medication before, but nothing ever worked as well as just making sure I eat every couple of hours.

'Bananas are handy as they're healthy, and good sustenance, so if I feel an attack about to strike, I just grab one straight away.  'I don't even really like bananas very much.'

The supermarket worker from Worthing, West Sussex, now has 'banana breaks' to help her cope.  'I get my banana breaks every couple of hours, and all my colleagues are really understanding,' she said.

'I know that if I feel a migraine coming on, or start to feel a bit spaced out, I can just stop and grab something to eat.'

She said it's important that she tackles a migraine before it becomes full-blown.  'If I suffer a full-on attack it leaves me completely immobile. I can lose my vision and my arms and legs go numb.

'I had been prescribed all kinds of medication before, but nothing ever worked as well as just making sure I eat every couple of hours.

Lisa began to suffer with severe headaches while in her teenage years - but when she gave birth to her sons, Isaac, and Austin, in her late 20s, they got much worse.

Mrs Poyner said: 'My vision blurs, or disappears completely, and I get a tingling sensation in my arms or legs.

'My head feels as though it will burst open - as though it's about to explode. At my worst, I was getting them two or three times a week.

'So many people don't understand how bad they are. People say to me , "Oh, I get terrible headaches too" - but this is not just a headache.

'I've been back and forth to the doctors for more than 20 years, trying to find what triggers them.'

Then the mother-of-two realised they usually came on when she was hungry. Eating carbohydrates, such as a banana, helped to stave off symptoms by keeping blood sugar levels even.

'I was terrified of suffering a migraine when I was alone with my children, especially when they were young, so I made sure I always had something substantial to eat.

'When my children were young I could never imagine going back to work, as I needed a job where I can eat whenever I need to.

'I've been working on a supermarket checkout for the last six months, and my employers are brilliant.

'It might seem a bit weird to carry bananas round with me, but it's helped me to live as close to a normal life as possible.'


1 comment:

Wireless.Phil said...

Salt again?
Eat salt, get AIDS?

Excess dietary salt identified as autoimmune trigger