Functional foods may show promise to those with genetically-linked illnesses. According to a University of Auckland, New Zealand news release, “Research into nutrigenomics opens opportunities for new high-value foods,” dated May 27, 2004, the science program leader, Professor Lynnette Ferguson from the University of Auckland, noted that she is enthusiastic about the potential of diet to make a real difference to genetically-linked diseases.
Of course, to measure genetic risk, you whole genome needs to be sequenced, not simply a few dna snippets. Whole genome tests are becoming more affordable, but are not under $1,000 generally at this time. But keep asking around. You may find a lab that has reduced it's price on whole-genome testing and might offer a 'special.'
The article quotes Ferguson as reporting, "We know that a small number of genes may play a disproportionate role in disease development, and that they may be particularly responsive to manipulation by diet. If we can understand the interactions between diet and genes, this will not only help manage disease, but could help us optimize physical and mental performance, slow the effects of aging and reduce health care costs."
The press release also noted that, “An initial focus will be on diseases, such as Crohn's disease, where foods are known to play a role in triggering the genes which cause disease. Later research might focus on the development of foods for use in preventing or managing conditions such as diabetes, obesity and cardiovascular disease, or on optimizing human performance.”
Effective screening systems for defective genes also are needed. Other questions also arise. Does a defective gene in one area of the body signal a gene for some benefit in another area of the body?
Are new functional foods being developed?
Will there be an improvement in the quality of life from genetic screening systems? How do genes relate to how people metabolize food or medicine? All these questions are ripe for debate because they relate to issues in nutrition as well as current controversies to be discussed and researched.
What about the issue of individual response to food and medicine leading to personalized medicine and personalized nutrition? Who stands to profit by creating new market opportunities for tailored foods enhanced with specific nutrients? Do different people respond differently to the same food, medicine, or skin-care products?
Some people are allergic to some foods. Some people metabolize food differently based on their individual genetic signatures. But, do people respond differently to food, medicines, or anesthesia based on their ethnicities?
Can people with genetic predispositions to diseases take a food-based approach to health?
How do we know the way people respond to certain foods when most people have mixed ethnicities over tens of thousands of years? Are there tests that show you how you might respond to a particular food, vitamin, nutrient, medicine, skin-care product, or anesthesia, or what you are allergic to based on your genes? Can response be tested at the molecular level rather than at the racial or ethnic level? Are there smart foods?
Which diseases are notorious for having several genes known to be associated with increased risk? Do studies show that the types of food eaten and the particular environment change the susceptibility of individuals to the disease? All these topics are excellent for debate. Almost everyone is interested in how individuals respond to food.
Smart foods and nutrigenomics for children's science projects research
The goal of nutrigenomics is to develop foods that can be matched to individual human genotypes to benefit the health of those individuals and enhance normal physiological processes. Foods and nutrients influence the genetic control of metabolism. How metabolism is controlled is by through the changing the expression of genes. Exercise, stress and maternal nutrition also have an influence on the individual’s response to food or medicine.
Your genotype is defined as genes that any living being (animal, human, or plant) possesses. (Science classifies humans also as animals.) Your phenotype is defined as the observable characteristics of an individual as well as the expression of the genes present in an individual. Your phenotype also is defined as the way your genes are expressed that determines what you are and the way that you perform.
There are many ways that the interplay between your individual genes, what you eat, and the environment can vary. According to a May 27, 2004 University of Auckland, New Zealand press release titled, “The Science Behind Nutrigenomics,” animal studies show that the interaction between the environment and genotype can modulate (vary) the expression of individual genes, turning them on or off or regulating the level of expression.
What you might want to debate could be how much do your genes vary? The word ‘modulate’ stated in the press release also means to vary in tone, inflection, pitch or other quality of sound. For more information, see the entire May 27 2004 press release titled, “The Science Behind Nutrigenomics,” which is at the Crop and Food Research (Auckland University, Auckland, New Zealand), site. The sub-title of the press release is, “Research Into Nutrigenomics Opens Opportunities For New High-Value Foods.”
The purpose of beginning your research with news releases is to guide you to read the abstracts of related medical articles, and then to move on to learning to read the actual medical and scientific articles in journals that you can find in most university libraries.
These libraries usually are open to the public.
Some of the most valuable sources for research are the medical school libraries (and university libraries) because of their many scientific journals available to the general public for reading that you may not find at your local public library branch. If you’re going to debate, write about, or discuss new findings, visit your local university or medical school library and look at the periodicals.
Functional foods are part of the latest health trend focus on the antioxidant (ORAC) value of plant foods
An example of a functional food or super food would be the higher ORAC value olive leaf extract compared to the antioxidant value of an orange. Currently, the emphasis is on the health benefits of pomegranates, grown in the USA and exported back to parts of Asia where they originated and are now starting to grow again, in Afghanistan, for example. The health trend is that the growers are being taught about health trends and the global market for functional foods.
Who's doing research on functional foods, for example, the health benefits and trends of eating pomegranates? It's now the season for pomegranates to appear in many supermarkets across the nation. For example, when it comes to pomegranates, Afghanistan is becoming famous for its pomegranates, for example the pomegranate seeds displayed in a news photo on a plate at the Omaid Bahar Fruit Processing Company which is Afghanistan's first juice concentrate factory.
The Getty news photo above this article is from October 15, 2009 in Kabul, Afghanistan. The factory is buying fruit from 50,000 Afghan farmers which is mostly the 'B' and 'C' grade that are perfect as a juice product but they are usually bruised, slightly off color.
The recently built $11 million factory has lucrative contracts for juice concentrate and whole fruits with major buyers in India and the Gulf and is negotiating with European and American for its concentrated juices made from Afghan pomegranates, apples, melons, apricots and peaches. And back in the USA, pomegranates are being studied as a functional food, a health trend with research being touted as to the healing benefits to clogged arteries. Notable are the studies that focus on what plant foods such as pomegranates have in their micronutrients.
The University of California, Davis is concerned with growing pomegranates in Afghanistan
Check out the UC Davis article, Pomegranate Production in Afghanistan. Davis is heavily involved in advising the local pomegranate growing industry. From the USA, especially in California, pomegranates, usually native to the Middle East, Southwest Asia, and Central Asia, now are exported all over the world. For example, the University of California, Davis's research focuses on edible plant products that are widely exported locally to all areas of the globe. These include pomegranates, almonds, and olive oil. All of these foods have health benefits in the vegan lifestyle. Most people buy pomegranate extract for health benefits that includes the seeds, plant, and all parts of the pomegranate. Nothing goes to waste.
What part of the pomegranate has the most health value, the seeds, pulp, skin, leaves, plant, or juice? It's the whole plant extract that has been studied in research centered on reversing hardening of the arteries and/or inflammation. Does long-term ingestion of the whole pomegranate or the juice have those anti-aging properties of perhaps lowering blood pressure and reversing arteriosclerosis in various studies? Or are the benefits due to the general vegan lifestyle that emphasizes some caloric restriction, green juice feasts, and a low-sugar diet in general?
Micronutrients, phytonutrients, and childhood obesity help
When you're trying to manage your weight, for example lose extra pounds or keep what you have, scientists report that most excess weight is created by ingesting just 100 calories too much a day, according to the article, UC Davis News & Information: New Danish-Californian Consortium. Some research at UC Davis focuses on how it's possible to reverse this trend by developing foods that provide a greater feeling of satiety and increase the metabolism, while also preventing the fat from being absorbed in the body. UC Davis research focuses on products that are widely exported from mild climates, including pomegranates, almonds, and olive oil.
All of these foods have health benefits in the vegan lifestyle. When you're trying to manage your weight, for example lose extra pounds or keep what you have, scientists report that most excess weight is created by ingesting just 100 calories too much a day, according to the article, UC Davis News & Information: New Danish-Californian Consortium. Some research at UC Davis focuses on how it's possible to reverse this trend by developing foods that provide a greater feeling of satiety and increase the metabolism, while also preventing the fat from being absorbed in the body.
Are pomegranates included as smart foods?
Sacramento area's San Joaquin Valley is one of the best growing regions in California for pomegranates, but their health value is not understood by most people who buy season pomegranates in the winter and bottled pomegranate juice the rest of the year. In South and Central Asia pomegranates are used as folk medicine. Some Sacramento naturopaths also are looking at the health benefits various pomegranate extracts.
In fact, pomegranates, if you narrow down the area where they come from originally, are native to the areas between Iran and the Himalayas, but grown all over the world today, and in California, especially now being grown in the San Joaquin Valley.
Check out the latest Cost Study from UC Davis on growing pomegranates. Naturopaths and doctors often recommend the power of pomegranate, even when it's not in its winter season. Vegans typically put on a low-glycemic diet because high-sugar, processed foods lead to chronic inflammation.
So when you look at a label on most bottled pomegranate juices, you'll see that an eight-ounce glass usually contains about 34 grams of sugar compared to only seven grams of sugar per eight ounce glass of cranberry juice. A tablespoon of pomegranate juice concentrate in an eight ounce glass of water contains only about nine grams of sugar per glass.
What are the non-drug approaches that reverse atherosclerosis caused by aging?
Kids aren't too interested in hardening of the arteries when young because many think they're invincible and will eat most anything that tastes good to them. But you can show kids what smart foods and functional super foods are and who studies them. According to medical journal articles touting studies showing the ability of consumed pomegranate juice and a natural superoxide dismutase (SOD) –enhancing agent called GliSODin® to reverse “carotoid artery ultrasound markers” of hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis) better than any prescribed commercial drug.
See Life Extension Magazine, July 2007, “Reversing Atherosclerosis Naturally," by Dale Kiefer. The article notes, “In the past seven years alone, the amount of published research on pomegranate has increased seven-fold over all preceding years in the medical and scientific literature.”
The primary source for Life Extension Magazine's article’s conclusion is the medical journal study by Lansky EP, Newman RA. Punica granatum (pomegranate) and its potential for prevention and treatment of inflammation and cancer. Journal of Ethnopharmacology, 2007 Jan 19;109(2):177-206.
Also see the article on SOD and oxidative stress titled, “Oxidative stress and antioxidants: how to assess a risk or a prevention?” Science is looking at fruit juices, nutrients, and even hormones that slow the progression of hardening of the arteries and inflammation of the arteries. But can fruit juice actually reverse existing artery calcification, possibly due to a high LDL level of calcium in the blood instead of the bones? Without drugs, can a whole food reverse atherosclerosis?
If atherosclerosis is caused by aging, it’s not the years that cause it because there are older people who don’t have either arteries hardened by calcium deposits or plaque made of fats. Hardening of the arties actually is caused by endothelial dysfunction.
And endothelial dysfunction can be slowed by certain natural forms of vitamins A, C, and E, provided the E vitamin contains all eight toctrienols, vitamin C is in its whole food state, and A is in a natural form of betacarotene obtained from natural foods with carotenoids. How does the reversing process work?
To reverse hardening of the arteries you have to first halt the process and then reverse the calcium and other materials in the plaque that has narrowed arteries for decades. Let’s say you have an ultrasound test of the carotid arteries in your neck. It gives you a reading of the blockage by measuring the thickness of the carotid artery walls.
You can ask for an IMT, also called an “intima-media thickness test.” When your LDL cholesterol is high, it means calcium is flowing into your bloodstream to clog your arteries instead of being deposited in your bones. Your balance of multiple minerals going in your body isn't quite right.
Before you start planning the next step, first read the article from the Journal of Nutrition. 2001 Aug; 131(8):2082-9, Aviram M, Rosenblat M, Gaitini D, et al. "Pomegranate juice consumption for 3 years by patients with carotid artery stenosis reduces common carotid intima-media thickness, blood pressure and LDL oxidation."
Also see an article in the scientific journal titled, Clinical Nutrition. 2004 Jun;23(3):423-33. In a controlled study involving people with severe carotid artery narrowing (stenosis), one group drank pomegranate juice with conventional drugs such as statins and high blood pressure medications.
The other group didn’t consume any pomegranate but were on the same type and doses of drugs. The findings observed in the pomegranate group showed that the severe carotid artery narrowing had been reversed.
The study lasted three years, but what about people who don’t want to take drugs and just drink the pomegranate juice? Will the juice reverse the calcium and fat deposits in their narrow carotid arteries without any drugs? It’s difficult to get funding for people not taking drugs and just drinking pomegranate juice or taking some other nutrients with the pomegranate.
If you take away the drugs and give both groups just juice to drink and similar meals with the juice, will the arteries clean themselves? That’s the question, since studies usually involve people on conventional drugs rather than on juicing diets.
How many studies look at patients that stepped away from conventional medicine and are willing to drink certain amounts of various juices to see what the pomegranate or other juices are doing to their arteries? And how does pomegranate work on people over age 65 with similar issues who are not on drugs?
Finding the ORAC (antioxidant) value in vegetables or fruits
Kids may enjoy science projects that are focused on finding the beneficial, nutritional values in various foods. To find out the antioxidant value of any fruit or vegetable, you look at its ORAC value. This is a test that only measures both the degree and speed with which a certain food inhibits those two measurements--the organic compounds in the plant food and the speed at which that food inhibits those measurements into a single value. That produces an accurate assessment of different types of antioxidants that have various strengths.
When you look at the ORAC value of any food, what to remember is that the ORAC value of that afood is proportional to its polyphenol content. So fruits or vegetables with a higher ORAC value also have richer color. And the higher the ORAC value and richer or deeper the color, the result for that fruit or vegetable is its ability to suppress free radicals better than fruits or vegetables lighter in color.
You don't have to follow a vegan lifestyle for the rest of your life if you don't want to, nor should you if you have any deficiencies that need to be corrected, but if you try a vegan, at least 50% raw plant-food diet for 30 days, you can have your blood tested to see whether your high blood glucose becomes more manageable. There are plenty of videos on uTubes attesting to reversing type 2 diabetes with a 30-day eating style of vegan, raw foods.
Before you plan any diet change, after you've talked it over with your health care professional team, you might want to understand the difference between eating low on the glycemic index and eating high on the ORAC value scale. You want to eat high on the ORAC value scale that measures antioxidants and low on the glycemic index that measures how fast the glucose (sugar) in those carbohydrates you're eating will hit your blood stream. Here's a brief explanation of the differences bewteen ORAC values and glycemic index measurements.
Polyphenols may help you manage your weight
How does this work? First you look up the ORAC value of the plant food. Then you simply eat foods high on the plant food's ORAC value and low on its glycemic index. The standard index of finding out how much antioxidant value of any type of plant food (actually the organic compounds in the fruit or vegetable) is called the ORAC. The initials stand for the oxygen radical absorbance capacity. The glycemic index is a measure of how fast that food will turn to sugar in your bloodstream once you eat it.
Which is more important, the Glycemic Index or the ORAC value of a food when you're trying to manage your weight? The USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University developed the ORAC test. Can you manage or lose weight by measuring the ability of antioxidants to absorb free radicals? That depends on how large or small your portion size is, what time of day you eat, and the calories needed for energy to do your daily work.
If you look at the recommendations from the US Dept. of Agriculture, the suggestions are to eat foods equivalent to 3,000 to 5,000 ORAC units daily. But is this number fine, or is it too low? As you can see, fruits, particularly some types of berries are much higher in ORAC value than vegetables, yet fruits have more sugars.
To find out what foods are highest in ORAC value, you can look at the article, "What Foods are Highest in ORAC Value?" The article is published in the June, 2010 issue of Life Extension magazine, on page 38. Usually the articles appear online a month after publication in the print magazine.
What Foods are Low on the glycemic index? Eating foods low on the glycemic index may prevent the sugar spikes that pour insulin into your blood, creating problems such as belly fat, metabolic syndrome, and too much insulin in the blood that's not working properly to balance your sugar levels (blood glucose levels). The glycemic index refers to foods that don't spike your blood glucose/sugar levels quickly after you eat those foods. Foods low on the glycemic index take longer to create a rise in insulin in your bloodstream.
Analyzing the Glycemic Index
The glycemic index is about the quality of the carbohydrates, not the quantity. The measurement of the glycemic index of a food is not related to portion size. It remains the same whether you eat a tablespoon full of a particular food or a cup. To make a fair comparison, those who make up some of the tests of the glycemic indexes of food usually use 50 grams of available carbohydrate in each food.
What happens when you eat twice as many carbohydrates in a food that, for example, has a glycemic index of 50 than one that has a glycemic index of 100 and have the same blood glucose response? How do you manage your weight? You have to go with portion size and total calories. Actually, the Glycemic Index indirectly measures a food's effect on blood sugar. It actually measured the "area under the blood sugar curve" following a set intake of that carb. Not all carbohydrate foods are created equal, in fact they behave quite differently in our bodies.
The glycemic index or GI describes this difference by ranking carbohydrates according to their effect on our blood glucose levels. Choosing low GI carbs - the ones that produce only small fluctuations in our blood glucose and insulin levels - is the secret to long-term health reducing your risk of heart disease and diabetes and is the key to sustainable weight loss. Check out the lists of foods that are low on the glycemic index at the Food & Diet in Diabetes website.
For example, peanuts registers a 14 on the Glycemic Index, which is low, whereas a baked potato registers 85, which is high. And ice cream is in the middle at 61 on the Glycemic Index. Look at a comparison chart of foods listed on the Glycemic Index at Glycemic Index - NutritionData.com.
For women, a better way to balance your hormones is to eat foods listed as low on the Glycemic Index and high as far as the food's ORAC value. One site that lists the actual measurements of the Glycemic Index foods listed there is the Nutrition Data.com site. Check out the Nutrient Search database. Also see the article, "How to Use the Glycemic Index."
To view lists of foods low on the Glycemic Index, also see the site, Low Glycemic Index Foods at the Right Health website. Also check out the article, Functional foods may help those with genetically-linked diseases.
Low Glycemic Index Foods (55 or less)
Oat bran bread
Converted or Parboiled rice
Al dente (firm) pasta
Medium Glycemic Index Foods (56-69)
Split pea or green pea soup
Shredded wheat cereal
Whole wheat bread
High Glycemic Index Foods
Instant mashed potatoes
Baked white potato
Which research studies focus on pomegranates and their health benefits?
Here are a few of the numerous medical articles that have tested pomegranate for its ability to reverse hardening of the carotid arteries include the following studies. Also find out what studies are coming up in the near future. Here is a list of some of the studies that look place in the last decade.
Cloarec M, Caillard P, Provost JC, et al. GliSODin, a vegetal sod with gliadin, as preventative agent vs. atherosclerosis, as confirmed with carotid ultrasound-B imaging. European Annals of Allergy Clinical Immunology. 2007 Feb;39(2):45-50.
de NF, Williams-Ignarro S, Sica V, et al. Effects of a pomegranate fruit extract rich in punicalagin on oxidation-sensitive genes and eNOS activity at sites of perturbed shear stress and atherogenesis. Cardiovascular Research. 2007 Jan 15;73(2):414-23.
Kaplan M, Hayek T, Raz A, et al. Pomegranate juice supplementation to atherosclerotic mice reduces macrophage lipid peroxidation, cellular cholesterol accumulation and development of atherosclerosis. Journal of Nutrition. 2001 Aug; 131(8):2082-9.
Aviram M, Rosenblat M, Gaitini D, et al. Pomegranate juice consumption for 3 years by patients with carotid artery stenosis reduces common carotid intima-media thickness, blood pressure and LDL oxidation. Clinical Nutrition. 2004 Jun;23(3):423-33.
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