September 2010 Newsletter

Crohns Curbed by Broccoli & Plantains
Previous research shows that individuals who have Crohn's disease have elevated levels of a type of bacteria (Escherichia coli) that can penetrate the intestinal wall via cells called M cells. In people with Crohn's disease, this leads to chronic inflammation of the gut.

To help prevent E. coli from interacting with M cells, scientists have tested a medical food that contains soluble fibers from plantains. Jon Rhodes, a professor at the University of Liverpool, notes in a news release in August 2010, that Crohn's disease is "much more prevalent in developed countries, where a diet of low fiber and processed foods is common." He and his colleagues suggest there is a "link between the food that we eat and the transportation of bacteria in the body," and that consumption of a medical food containing plantain fibers may have a beneficial impact.

Dr. Barry Campbell, from the University's Institute of Translational Medicine, adds that their research on the effect of this medical food "shows that different dietary components can have powerful effects on the movement of bacteria through the bowel." Earlier studies have shown benefits of eating broccoli and plantains, "but until now we have not understood how they can boost the body's natural defenses against infection common in Crohn's patients."

To arrive at their conclusions, the scientists cultured M cells and tested whether preparations of plant soluble fibers from leeks, apples, broccoli, and plantains, as well as fat emulsifiers polysorbate 60 and 80 (used in the manufacture of processed foods) could affect the activity of E. coli across M cells. While plantain and broccoli fibers reduced E. coli activity by 45-82%, leeks and apples had no observable impact.

The authors suggest that people who have Crohn's disease may prevent relapse if they supplement their diet with broccoli and plantain fibers. While the scientists are working on a medical food for this purpose, it remains unclear how much actual broccoli and plantains an individual should eat for this purpose.

Fish Oil Improves Metabolic Syndrome

Researchers have found that fish oils and diets rich in omega-3 compounds can help improve the health of people with metabolic syndrome, a set of risk factors (such as high blood pressure, insulin resistance, high cholesterol levels, and abdominal fat) that increase the risk of heart attack and diabetes.

The new findings, which appear in the September issue of the Journal of Nutrition, examine the effects of placing 117 people with metabolic syndrome on four different diets (a diet high in saturated fat, a diet high in monounsaturated fat, a diet low in fat and high in complex carbs such as whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, and a low-fat diet high in complex carbs that was supplemented with omega-3 fatty acids).

The researchers found that participants on those diets rich in monounsaturated fat or low-fat, high complex carbs and supplementation of omega-3 fatty acids had lower triglycerides than those in the other two groups.

Green Tea Tips & Benefits
Although drinking tea has been associated with health benefits for centuries, only in the last few years has its medicinal properties been scientifically investigated. A recent Harvard Health Newsletter not only documented the healthy benefits of tea but listed tips on how to get the most out of each cup.
The health benefits from tea are mainly due to its high level of flavonoids i.e. naturally occurring antioxidants. Green tea is the best source of a group called catechins. In test tubes, catechins are more powerful than vitamins C and E in halting oxidative damage to cells and appear to have other disease-fighting properties. Studies have also found an association between consuming green tea and a reduced risk for several cancers, including, skin, breast, lung, colon, esophageal and bladder.
Additional benefits for regular consumers of green and black teas include a reduced risk for heart disease. The antioxidants in green, black and oolong teas can help block the oxidation of LDL (bad) cholesterol, increase HDL (good) cholesterol and improve artery function.

A Chinese study published recently in the Archives of Internal Medicine showed a 46%-65% reduction in the risk of hypertension in regular consumers of oolong or green tea, compared to non-consumers of tea.
Tips on how to get the most out of drinking tea:
  • Drink a cup of tea a few times a day to absorb antioxidants and other healthy plant compounds.
  • Allow tea to brew for three to five minutes to bring out its catechins.
  • The best way to get the catechins and other flavonoids in tea is to drink it freshly brewed. Decaffeinated, bottled ready-to-drink and instant teas contain less of these compounds and possibly greater calories.

Did You Know???
  • Eat an apple a day!

    Apples are low in calories and high in disease-fighting antioxidants.  For maximum fiber, eat them unpeeled.

  • Mineral water may lower blood pressure.

    After drinking one liter of mineral water per day for one month,
    people between the ages of 45 and 64 with borderline hypertension (high blood pressure) experienced a significant decrease in blood pressure.

    Theory: Most mineral waters contain significant amounts of magnesium and calcium, both of which help to reduce blood pressure.

  • High heels or flats?

    Scientists in England have found that the price of wearing high heels is uncomfortable enough while they're on, but for some women the pain really kicks in when the shoes come off. That's because for regular wearers of high heels, Achilles tendons thicken and stiffen over time. The tendon apparently stiffens to compensate for calf-muscle fibers that have been shortened by heel-wearing. Using MRI scans and ultrasound, the researchers compared images of the calves and tendons of 11 women who wore 2-inch heels (and who complained of pain when walking without heels) with those of nine women who wore flats.

    The calf-muscle fibers of heel-wearers, they found, were 13 percent shorter than those of the flats-wearers, and their tendons were thicker as well. Some simple exercises can head off the muscle-shortening, lead author Marco Narici tells the London Daily Telegraph. "If you stand on your tiptoes and lower your heels up and down again, it will stretch out the tendons, making it easier to walk without heels." Narici recommends doing this 20 times a day. The alternative: Switch to good-looking flats.
  In this Issue:
Crohns Curbed by Broccoli & Plantains

Fish Oil Improves Metabolic Syndrome

Green Tea Tips & Benefits

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