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In This Issue

The Role Bacteria Play in Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Super Fruits are All The Rage

What Americans Think About Aging And Health

How to Stay Mentally Healthy

The Role Bacteria Play in Inflammatory Bowel Disease

By Richard N. Fedorak, MD, and Karen L. Madsen, PhD
From Inflammatory Bowel Disease Vol. 10 No.3, May 2004

Several lines of experimental evidence implicate enteric flora in the pathogenesis of ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease.

  1. The incidence of inflammation in the case of these disorders is greatest in the area with the highest concentrations of luminal bacteria.
  2. The continuity of the fecal stream has been implicated in disease activity, and interruption of this stream is associated with disease improvement.
  3. Intestinal inflammation and mucosal ulceration can be induced by direct instillation of fecal contents from an inflamed gut into a non-inflamed gut of susceptible individuals.
  4. There is growing evidence that suggests there is a genetically determined loss of immunologic tolerance to commensal bacteria in the case of patients who have IBD.
  5. Evidence pointing to the interaction of genes, immunity, and bacteria has emerged during the past half-decade, and the evidence is particularly noticeable in the case of a series of sporadic, engineered, and genetically determined animal models of IBD.

In each of these models, enteric flora is required for the induction of the inflammatory process, regardless of the underlying genetic predisposition or immunologic effector mechanism defect. The discovery of the role enteric flora play as part of a common pathway to clinical IBD has led to renewed interest in, and increasing scientific assessment of, probiotics modification of the luminal bacterial environment for therapeutic reasons.

Super Fruits are All The Rage

The most exciting functional food trend today is the super fruit. These exotic fruits are full of vitamins and minerals, and are heavily endowed with antioxidants that inhibit oxidation in the body, protecting cells from the damage caused by free radicals.

This Brazilian berry fruit is the newest gem from the Brazilian rain forests. An antioxidant-rich berry, Acai is an all-natural energy fruit that is considered one of the top super foods. It's full of antioxidants, amino acids and essential omega fatty acids, and contains up to a third more anthocyanins than red wine.

Currently, acai is popping up in energy drinks, smoothies, yogurts and sorbets. Similar in appearance to a blueberry with firmer skin, it has a mild tart or bitter taste with chocolate undertones. It requires more sweeteners and other flavors than traditional berry ingredients to achieve a fruity taste profile, so it works well in combination with other fruits.

Second only to the acai in popularity as an antioxidant-rich super food, an average pomegranate contains substantially more antioxidants than blueberries or oranges. This large, seedy red fruit is believed to act as an anti-inflammatory, lower blood pressure, and reduce bad cholesterol, heart attacks and stroke.
It's also a trendy flavor for adult palettes tired of sugary sweet fruit flavor profiles. The rich ruby seeds add a tart, almost sour flavor that is not as bitter as cranberry, but does have drying tannins that may need to be balanced by sweeteners or other fruits. It adds a deep red color and sweet/sour taste, making it a hit for vinaigrettes and other light, fragrant sauces. It is turning up in juices, sodas, dressings, marinades, and baked goods, and has even been used in ice cream bars.

This berry fruit also known as the black chokeberry. It has long been popular as a decorative shrub in colder climates. The discovery that this pea-sized, violet-black berry has antioxidant levels rivaling that of the acai has dramatically increased its potential as a functional ingredient. It also has levels of anthocyanins and flavonoids that are five to 10 times higher than cranberry juice.

While still relatively unknown in the U.S., these berries are popular in Denmark, eastern Europe and Russia for juice and even wine production. The slightly bitter berry is currently being used to make commercial juice, either alone or blended with other fruit juices, such as grape or apple, in some parts of the world, and it will likely turn up in all the products in which we currently see pomegranate and acai.

Black Currant.
This dark-colored berry, popular in Europe, is packed with antioxidants, and it was recently written that black currants may help thwart Alzheimer's Disease. The black currant has a much higher source of antioxidants than the blueberry, four times the amount of vitamin C found in oranges, and more potassium than bananas.
The European black currant, which recently became available in organic form in the U.S., has a strong sweet flavor and can be eaten fresh as a berry, or used in juice, jams, tarts, teas, wines yogurt, homogenized cheeses, ice creams and instant beverages. In the Bordeaux region of France, black currant is made into a popular liqueur called cassis.

Despite its yellow, lumpy appearance and unfortunate rotten cheese fragrance, sales of noni juice and related products are booming, largely because of its perceived medicinal properties. In the South Pacific where it is grown, noni has long been believed to treat joint pain, immune problems, colds, infection, digestive disorders, injuries and inflammation. It is rich in antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, and is already available in a certified organic form.

Noni is most often consumed as a juice made from the fruit, sometimes with leaves added. The liquid has an astringent taste and a slightly cheesy smell. Many processors blend it with other fruit juices, such as blueberry and raspberry, to sweeten the taste.

Found in the Himalayas, this tiny red berry has a reputation throughout Asia as a potent anti-aging herb. It contains 18 amino acids and up to 21 trace minerals. The whole dried Goji berry is burnt-red in color and about the size of a raisin with a sweet/tart taste like a cross between a raisin, a cranberry, and a cherry. They are used whole in trail mixes and snacks, or pureed for juices and smoothies.

Like all the super fruits the berry of the Mangosteen tree, which grows in Malaysia, India and Thailand, is touted as having amazing health properties and is said to cure everything from cancer to dysentery to bacterial infections. While those claims are mostly unsubstantiated, the Mangosteen does have high levels of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, potassium, iron and calcium.

The fruit is round and purple, about the size of an apple, with a thick bitter rind and interior white segments like an orange. It has a sweet flavor with a slight sour edge, reminiscent of a combination of strawberry, peach and vanilla ice cream. Unlike the other hot new super fruits, the Mangosteen is valued as much for its delicious flavor as its high antioxidant properties, and promises to be a popular new ingredient for the organic industry.

What Americans Think About Aging And Health

Research America, the nonprofit organization that advocates for medical research, recently polled a cross-section of 1000 Americans on their attitudes about aging.

  • Our main concern. More than a third of Americans (37%) said poor, declining health was their main concern about growing old. That was followed by financial concerns (23%).
  • Our greatest fear. More than twice as many Americans (62%) fear losing their mental capacity as they age as those who fear a diminished physical capacity (29%).
  • How much of the aging process do we control? The majority of Americans-84%--believe there are things they can do to control the aging process.
  • How many of us are taking action? A majority of Americans-83%--say they are taking action now to stay healthy as they age.

How to Stay Mentally Healthy

  • Take naps. Surveys show that most Americans don't get as much sleep as they need (most of us require seven to eight hours a night). Daily naps of 15 to 20 minutes are energizing-and longer naps can help you catch up if you are sleep deprived. If upi only sleep five to six hours a night, consider taking a two-hour nap on Saturdays.

  • Don't immerse yourself in bad news. The large amount of negative information coming our way from TV, radio, news-papers, the Internet, etc. can hurt the psyche, causing stress and fatigue. Reduce the amount of time you spend watching, listening to or reading the news, and focus on things that bring you joy.

  • Be social. Studies show that isolation can lead to depression and early death. We gain energy by being with others, both humans and animals alike. Make time for family, friends and pets.

  • Explore your creativity. Boredom leads to a lack of motivation and energy. Finding a creative outlet that absorbs you is invigorating. Developing your creativity also teaches you new skills, challenges your brain and leads to the release of endorphins, which are the 'feel good' brain chemicals. Consider, taking up a new hobby, learning a musical instrument or even taking on an unusual project at work. The added benefit is that mentally stimulating activities can lower your risk of Alzheimer's disease.

  • Laugh. Laughter appears to release endorphins just as creative pursuits do. By improving your outlook, you'll feel more energetic and ready to tackle life. Its helpful to watch funny movies, read cartoon and share humorous stories and jokes with friends.

  • Think young. To a large extent, your mind set dictates how much energy you have as you age. If you expect the worst, you're likely to feel tired and unwell. If you expect to stay vital, you'll fight off disease that can sap energy and well-being and you'll add years to your life.

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In Good Health.
Pamela Nathan

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