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Fructose not behind fatty liver disease

A meta-analysis of all available human trials has revealed that fructose in and of itself is not to blame for the increase in non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.

Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease is the most common chronic liver disease. But, there’s a growing debate in the medical community about whether diet plays a role in its development, specifically the consumption of fructose.

The possible link to non-alcoholic fatty liver disease has become the main criticism against fructose among those who believe there is something unique about the fructose molecule or the way it is metabolised and blame it for the obesity epidemic.

Excess consumption of calories can contribute to the disease, regardless of whether those calories came from fructose or other carbohydrates, lead author, Dr John Sievenpiper, a researcher in the Clinical Nutrition and Risk Factor Modification Centre of St Michael’s Hospital, said.

“The one thing fructose is supposed to do is give you fatty liver disease, which some say is a starting point for metabolic syndrome--a term used to describe a group of conditions that puts people at higher risk of developing Type 2 diabetes and heart diseases.

“But we found it behaves no differently than glucose or refined starches. It is only when you consume excess calories in the form of fructose that you see a signal for harm but no more harm than if you consume excess calories as glucose,” Dr. Sievenpiper said.

Fructose, which is naturally found in fruit, vegetables and honey, is a simple sugar that together with glucose forms sucrose, the basis of table sugar. It is also found in sucrose and high-fructose corn syrup, the two most common sweeteners in commercially prepared foods.

Self-rated physical fitness in midlife and risk of dementia

A new collaborative study from Finland has found that a simple question about self-rated physical fitness in midlife may reveal individuals who are at an increased risk of developing dementia.

The study, involving the follow-up of 3,559 adults for 30 years, found that those who reported poor self-rated physical fitness in midlife, at the mean age of 50 years, were four times more likely to get dementia during the next three decades compared to those with good self-rated physical fitness.

“Previous research has shown that self-rated health is a strong indicator of adverse health events. This is the first large population-based study investigating associations between self-rated physical fitness during the three decades from midlife to later life and dementia risk,” Postdoctoral Researcher, Dr Jenni Kulmala from the Gerontology Research Center at the University of Jyvaskyla, Finland, said.

The association between poor self-rated physical fitness and dementia was most pronounced among noncarriers of the apolipoprotein E ε4 allele, that is, people who did not have a strong genetic susceptibility for dementia.

The researcher said that chronic conditions independently increase the dementia risk. Furthermore, if a person additionally feels that his or her physical fitness is poor, the risk is even higher. In terms of dementia prevention, maintaining good physical fitness seems to be especially important for people with chronic diseases.

Vinegar helps fight drug-resistant TB

A new study has found that the active ingredient in vinegar, acetic acid, might be used as an inexpensive and non-toxic disinfectant against drug-resistant tuberculosis (TB) bacteria as well as other stubborn, disinfectant-resistant mycobacteria.

“Mycobacteria are known to cause TB and leprosy, but non-TB mycobacteria are common in the environment, even in tap water, and are resistant to commonly used disinfectants. When they contaminate the sites of surgery or cosmetic procedures, they cause serious infections. Innately resistant to most antibiotics, they require months of therapy and can leave deforming scars,” senior author on the study, Howard Takiff, from Venezuelan Institute of Scientific Investigation (IVIC) in Caracas, said.

While investigating the ability of non-TB mycobacteria to resist disinfectants and antibiotics, Takiff's postdoctoral fellow, Claudia Cortesia stumbled upon vinegar's ability to kill mycobacteria. Testing a drug that needed to be dissolved in acetic acid, Cortesia found that the control, with acetic acid alone, killed the mycobacteria she wanted to study.

It was found that exposure to 6 per cent acetic acid, just slightly more concentrated than supermarket vinegar, for 30 minutes, reduced the numbers of TB mycobacteria from around 100 million to undetectable levels.

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