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Berry wines—a tasty drug for diabetes

University of Illinois scientists have found compounds in Illinois blueberry and blackberry wines that inhibit enzymes responsible for carbohydrate absorption and assimilation.
The finding could provide a tasty way to help people with diabetes decrease their blood sugar.

“We’re thinking about a dealcoholized fermented fruit beverage that would optimise the inhibition of the alpha-amylase and alpha-glucosidase enzymes and also make use of the wines’ other healthful bioactive components,” said Elvira de Mejia, a U of I professor of food chemistry and food toxicology.

Graduate student Michelle Johnson evaluated the nutritional value of 19 Illinois wines, deciding on a blueberry-blackberry blend for maximum effectiveness.

In the in vitro study, the scientists compared the anti-carb effects of the alpha-amylase and alpha-glucosidase enzymes with acarbose, an anti-diabetes drug. The carb-degrading enzymes were inhibited in a range of 91.8 per cent for alpha-amylase compared to acarbose and 103.2 percent for alpha-glucosidase compared to acarbose, de Mejia said.  The study is the first to assess the effect of berry fermentation at different temperatures on these carb-inhibiting enzymes. At both room and cold (4 degree C) temperatures, berry wine retained the ability to degrade the enzymes, she said.
In a second study, Johnson quantified the antioxidant, polyphenol, and anthocyanin content of blueberry and blackberry wines. Her proposed blend contains an abundance of these bioactive compounds, which add to its healthful properties.

Obese people may suffer faster cognitive decline

People who are obese and also have high blood pressure and other risk factors called metabolic abnormalities may experience a faster decline in their cognitive skills over time than others, according to a study by researchers including one of an Indian origin.

Metabolic abnormality was defined as having two or more of the following risk factors: high blood pressure or taking medication for it; low HDL or “good” cholesterol; high blood sugar or taking diabetes medication; and high triglycerides (a type of fat found in the blood) or taking medication to lower cholesterol.

The study involved 6,401 people with an average age 50 at the start of the study. Information on body mass index (BMI) and the risk factors was gathered at the beginning of the study. The participants took tests on memory and other cognitive skills three times over the next 10 years.

A total of 31 perc ent of the participants had two or more metabolic abnormalities. Nine percent were obese and 38 per cent were overweight. Of the 582 obese people, 350, or 60 per cent, met the criteria for metabolic abnormality. The metabolically normal obese individuals also experienced more rapid decline.

Spirituality boosts mental health regardless of religion

Despite differences in rituals and beliefs among the world’s major religions, spirituality often enhances individuals’ health, according to University of Missouri researchers.

The MU researchers believe that health care providers could take advantage of this correlation between health – particularly mental health – and spirituality by tailoring treatments and rehabilitation programs to accommodate an individual’s spiritual inclinations.

“In many ways, the results of our study support the idea that spirituality functions as a personality trait,” said Dan Cohen, assistant teaching professor of religious studies at MU and one of the co-authors of the study.

“With increased spirituality people reduce their sense of self and feel a greater sense of oneness and connectedness with the rest of the universe. What was interesting was that frequency of participation in religious activities or the perceived degree of congregational support was not found to be significant in the relationships between personality, spirituality, religion and health,” Cohen added.

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