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Why a whole orange is better for you

Researchers at the Brigham Young University are squeezing all the healthy compounds out of oranges to find the right mixture responsible for their age-old health benefits. The popular stocking stuffer is known for its vitamin C and blood-protecting antioxidants, but researchers wanted to learn why a whole orange is better for you than its components when taken separately.

“There’s something about an orange that’s better than taking a vitamin C capsule. We think it’s the particular mixture of antioxidants that makes it so good for you,” said Tory Parker of the BYU.

Parker explained that every time we eat carbs and fat, we increase the amount of free radicals in our blood. Over time, that increases our chance for hardened arteries and heart disease. But eating fruit protects us from that effect for a few hours after every meal.

Parker noted supplement companies often mix “high concentrations of extracts from blueberry and blackberry and orange and throw them all together and hope it’s good”.

The researchers identified several combinations of antioxidants that were the most synergistic — the compounds hesperidin and naringenin, in particular, appeared to contribute the most punch in the combinations.

Those are the mixtures Parker would continue to research in human studies to evaluate whether their health effects mimic those of eating an orange.

Human immune system has emergency backup plan

The immune system has an effective backup plan to protect the body from infection when the ‘master regulator’ of the body’s innate immune system fails. A molecule known as nuclear factor kappa B (NF-?B) has been regarded as the ‘master regulator’ of the body’s innate immune response, receiving signals of injury or infection and activating genes for microbial killing and inflammation.

Scientists at the University of California studied the immune function of laboratory mice in which genetic tools were used to block the pathway for NF-?B activation.
The researchers made the unexpected and counterintuitive discovery that NF-?B-deficient mice were able to clear bacteria that cause a skin infection even more quickly than normal mice.

“We discovered that loss of NF-?B caused mice to produce a potent immune-activating molecule known as interleukin-1 beta (IL-1ß), which in turn stimulated their bone marrow to produce dramatically increased numbers of white blood cells known as neutrophils,” said lead author Michael Karin.

Common dairy foods may cut diabetes risk

A natural substance in dairy fat may substantially reduce the risk of Type 2 diabetes.

The compound, trans-palmitoleic acid, is a fatty acid found in milk, cheese, yogurt, and butter. It is not produced by the body and so only comes from the diet.

Investigators at the Harvard School of Public Health explain that trans-palmitoleic acid may underlie epidemiological evidence in recent years that diets rich in dairy foods are linked to lower risk of Type 2 diabetes and related metabolic abnormalities.
The researchers examined 3,736 participants, who have been followed for 20 years in an observational study to evaluate risk factors for cardiovascular diseases in older adults.

Metabolic risk factors such as blood glucose and insulin levels, and also levels of circulating blood fatty acids, including trans-palmitoleic acid, were measured using stored blood samples in 1992, and participants were followed for development of Type 2 diabetes.

During follow-up, individuals with higher circulating levels of trans-palmitoleic acid had a much lower risk of developing diabetes compared to individuals in the lowest quintile.

An electronic nose that smells cancer

Scientists have used electronic nose to confirm that ovarian cancer tissue and healthy tissue smell different. Gyorgy Horvath from the University of Gothenburg and researchers from the University of Gavle conducted the study.

Previously scientists used specially trained dogs to demonstrate that ovarian cancers emit a specific scent. The dogs were able to use this scent to distinguish between ovarian cancer tissue and both normal healthy abdominal tissue and other gynaecological cancers.

The discovery that the blood of patients with ovarian cancer also has this same specific scent was published in ‘BMC Cancer’.

Together with Thomas Lindblad from KTH and Jose Chilo from Gavle University, Horvath worked on detecting this scent using an existing electronic nose at KTH.
“We’ve managed to detect and register the scent from a form of ovarian cancer, and the scent from a healthy Fallopian tube and healthy womb muscle.”

“This technical confirmation of a cancer scent will have major practical implications — a sufficiently sensitive and specific method could save hundreds of lives a year in Sweden alone,” said Horvath.

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