Fruit Pomelit Helps to Prevent Heart Attacks

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Fruit Pomelit helps to prevent Heart Attacks
People who eat the Israeli-developed fruit known in Hebrew as


(a cross between a grapefruit and a pomelo) or drink its juice regularly will be able

lower their blood cholesterol


increase their blood antioxidant activity

, thus improving their chances of

preventing blocked heart arteries


heart attacks

, says a researcher at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

In order to test the benefits of drinking the juice of the pomelit (known commercially as

Israeli Jaffa Sweetie

), 72 patients at Kaplan Hospital in Rehovot who were suffering from hypercholesterolemia (elevated cholesterol levels) and had undergone bypass surgery were given daily supplements of Sweetie juice for 30 days. The patients, who ranged in age from 43 to 71, were divided into three groups of 24 each. One group received a daily supplement of 100 milliliters of the juice; a second received 200 milliliters; and a third the control group received none.

Fruit Pomelit Helps to Prevent Heart AttacksThe results showed definite lowering of LDL (”bad”) blood cholesterol and an increase in blood antioxidant activity in patients from the two groups who drank the juice as opposed to those who did not. The patients who consumed the highest daily supplement of juice showed a significant increase in blood albumin and decrease in blood fibrinogen levels, which enhance anticoagulant activity. These positive changes could prevent heart diseases.

The clinical investigation took place at Kaplan Hospital and was carried out by a team headed by Prof. Abraham Caspi, head of the Cardiovascular Institute there, in cooperation with other research groups at various universities in Japan, South Korea, Germany, the Czech Republic and Poland that did similar tests. Positive results were obtained by all of the various research groups.

The researchers concluded their findings with a recommendation that hypercholesterolic patients add fresh Sweetie juice to their daily diets as a likely beneficial preventative to future heart disease. The juice also can serve as a preventative for those who have had no symptoms of arterial occlusion or heart problems but would like to benefit from the prophylactic benefits of this fruit.

[Via Health Jockey]

Diets for medical conditions

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Below are some of the main medical conditions in which diet is an important factor.

  • Allergies

    — The commonest allergic diseases include Eczema, hay fever, asthma, urticaria (hives or nettlerash). The most commons allergens (substances which cause an allergic reaction) are the house dust mite, pollen, animal fur, moulds, milk, fish, eggs and wheat. Food preservatives (benzoate) and food colour (tartrazine) can also cause allergic reactions.
  • Crohn's disease and colitis

    — There is evidence that diet can be an important factor in the onset and treatment of colitis and Crohn's disease (which are diseases of the bowel). However the general advice is to eat a wide range of healthy foods. About 10 per cent of people with colitis find milk makes there condition worse.
  • Coeliac condition

    — People who have coeliac condition (pronounced see-lee-ak) cannot eat wheat and the products which are made from it. Coeliacs react to the protein in wheat and are unable to absorb food in their stomach.
  • Cystic Fibrosis (CF)

    — In cystic fibrosis a diet high in calories and protein is important. This is because children and young people with CF do not produce enough pancreatic enzymes to digest properly and nutrients are lost from the body. Pancreatic enzyme supplements are often given by the doctor. The amount of extra food needed varies but it should be enough to maintain good nutrition.
  • Diabetes

    — People who suffer from diabetes have a high level of glucose in their body. Insulin, a natural hormone in the body, helps the glucose to enter the cells where it is used as a fuel by the body. There are two types of diabetes and in both the body is not able to make enough insulin or to use it properly. The main changes in diet that diabetics need to make are to eat regular meals and to eat equal amounts of starchy food every day; to eat more high fibre foods; cut down on fried and fatty foods like butter, margarine, fatty meats etc, try to get the weight that is right for you and stay there and be careful not to use too much salt.
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

    — This is a common digestive disorder which can cause problems such as cramping, discomfort, a feeling of fullness or being bloated and a change in bowel habit (which can range from constipation to diarrhoea). IBS commonly starts in people aged 15 to 40 and can be triggered by too much or too little dietary fibre, too much fat or a very rich or spicy diet. Alcohol, coffee, tea and smoking can all trigger the symptoms of IBS.
  • Migraine

    — This is a severe headache which comes at intervals and has no other symptoms between attacks. A migraine attack can last several hours or much longer according to the person concerned. People with migraine can sometimes recognise 'triggers' which can start an attack. These include emotional and physical stress, bright lights, loud noise menstruation, contraceptive pill and pregnancy. Insufficient food, irregular meals and prolonged lack of food can also have an affect. Some people find certain foods also trigger migraine.


How to Increase Appetite Naturally: 5 Best Ways

Although overeating is a major problem in this country, undereating is a problem for many individuals who want to gain strength and muscle mass. Often it’s not their intent to eat light, but they simply do not have an appetite. And without enough calories, they will not be able to train as hard as they can and then recover adequately. Here we describe how to increase appetite.

Of course, if you go on the Internet and consult Mr. Google, you can find many funky solutions – such as getting a prescription for the drug Periactin and smoking cannabis, or better yet, getting a prescription for cannabis. While it’s true that smoking cannabis does cause the “munchies", it does so at the cost of cutting down motivation and lowering testosterone for extended periods of time. And yes, the drug Periactin does increase appetite, but it can make you drowsy, therefore reducing your training drive – oh, and there are a few other possible side effects, including fever, seizures and hallucinations.

How to Increase Appetite Naturally: 5 Best Ways
Are there safer and more effective alternatives to improving your appetite, ones that don’t involve controlled substances? There certainly are. Here I present five for your consideration, along with several links to sites that have additional information on resolving this serious issue.

1. Verify your zinc status.

Zinc deficiency is one of the most common and most serious mineral deficiencies. Whenever I test my clients for the first time, I’ve found that roughly 98 percent are zinc deficient. It’s so common that it’s probably safe for any trainer to assume that all their clients are zinc deficient until they can prove otherwise. And this is not good.
Besides compromising your testosterone levels and increasing aromatization of your testosterone to estrogen, low levels of zinc are associated with poor appetite levels. One reason for this is that you need zinc to make HCl, the primary substance that regulates digestion of proteins. Another reason is that zinc affects how your food tastes, therefore affecting your appetite. A BioSignature practitioner can work with you in using the Zinc Tester to give you an idea of your zinc status.

To verify your zinc status most accurately, ask your physician to measure your red blood cell (RBC) zinc, NOT serum zinc levels. Strength and power athletes train most efficiently at RBC zinc levels of 1,400 to 1,500 ug/dL. By getting the proper amount of zinc, not only will you boost your appetite, your testosterone, immune system and tendon strength will soar. If you score low, take 2 Über Zinc twice a day for 12 weeks, and then remeasure your RBC zinc to adjust your zinc intake properly.

2. Use injectable forms of folic acid and B12.

Those two forms of B vitamins are critical in stimulating the appetite, and the most effective way to achieve optimal levels is through injection. Your physician can prescribe the injectable forms for you; 1 cc of each, twice a week, usually does the trick. Undiagnosed low stomach acid is linked to various neurological disorders such as dementia and Alzheimer’s because those ailments are linked to folic acid and B12 status (i.e. no stomach acid, no folic acid and B12 absorption). Which brings us to tip number three.

3. Restore your HCl levels.

Hydrochloric acid (HCl) is a stomach acid that helps to break down food into useable nutrients and kills pathogenic bacteria that enter the body through food. The increased acid levels in the stomach will improve the absorption of protein, calcium, vitamin B, magnesium, zinc, iron, and other basic nutrients. Having low levels of HCl decreases your appetite for protein.

4. Start the day with lime juice diluted in water.

This is an inexpensive trick that works well. Foods can be classified as being alkalizing or acidifying, as determined by what’s known as a pH scale. The pH scale is measured from 0 to 14, with 0 to 7 considered acidic and 7.1 to 14 considered alkaline. Adding lime juice to water creates a slightly acidic solution that will stimulate your HCl production. The paradoxical part is that the solution helps to alkalize you, which is anabolic in itself, as an alkaline state negates the catabolic effects of cortisol.

5. Salt your food properly.

Functional medicine tests show, over and over, that high-protein consumers are in fact sodium deficient. But it has to be the right kind of sodium. Salt your meat and fish dishes liberally.

In addition, the following can also contribute to a loss of appetite:


  • Some antibiotics affect the taste buds. They can also slow the movement of food through the intestines. This prolongs the feeling of fullness after a meal.
  • Chemotherapy drugs may affect the taste of certain foods or cause nausea or a loss of appetite.
  • Pain relievers and anti-arthritis medications can irritate the stomach. This can cause nausea and a distaste for food.
  • Some heart medications and diuretics can also dampen the desire to eat.
  • Never stop taking any medication without first talking to your doctor.

Poor nutrition

  • Overall nutrient deficiencies can take a toll on an otherwise healthy appetite.
  • Older people in particular may suffer from a low intake of zinc. A zinc deficiency can deaden taste buds.


  • You may feel less like eating if you have certain lung problems, congestive heart failure or cancer. Being in a lot of pain from arthritis can affect your appetite, too.
  • Depression and loneliness can rob some people of their desire to eat.

If you apply these tips, your lack of appetite will cease to hamper your gains. In the comments section below you can describe what has worked for you in the past to increase your appetite.

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Not All Antioxidants Are Created Equal

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Not All Antioxidants Are Created Equal
They've been said to stall aging, ward off disease and wage internal war against the harmful free radicals that pummel our bodies every day. But just how well do antioxidants—those all-powerful compounds often found in richly colored fruits and vegetables, such as blueberries, blackberries and red cabbage—actually perform inside the human body?

Nutritionists with the Agricultural Research Service (ARS), the U.S. Department of Agriculture's chief scientific research agency, recently tackled this question. Their findings appear in the current issue of the Journal of the American College of Nutrition.

Led by Ronald Prior, an ARS chemist who works at the Arkansas Children's Nutrition Center in Little Rock, the researchers investigated how the consumption of different fruits affected volunteers' antioxidant status.

They did this by measuring the plasma (blood) antioxidant capacity (AOC) of volunteers who'd just ingested blueberries, cherries, dried plums, dried-plum juice, grapes, kiwis or strawberries.

The series of ARS studies confirmed what many antioxidant experts have long suspected: that the free-radical-busting compounds found in foods are quite complex, with some apparently being easier to absorb and utilize than others.

For instance, the researchers found that despite their high antioxidant content, plums did not raise plasma AOC levels in volunteers. According to Prior, one of the major phytochemicals in plums is chlorogenic acid, a compound not readily absorbed by humans.

As for the wild blueberry, a larger-than-average serving of this much-heralded antioxidant source was needed to boost plasma AOC levels. A noticeable climb in AOC wasn't detected until volunteers consumed at least a half-cup serving of the berries.

The volunteers' consumption of grapes and kiwifruit both led to noticeable spikes in plasma AOC. But it's not clear yet which compounds were responsible for the increased levels.

Alternatively, when volunteers were asked to consume a shake containing protein, carbohydrates and fat, with no antioxidants, their blood antioxidant levels dropped.

While additional research is needed to determine if elevated plasma AOC levels translate to a lower risk for chronic degenerative disease, the current ARS study is an important first step in efforts to establish recommendations for antioxidants in the diet.


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How to Improve Digestion: 5 Simple Tips

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Do you inhale your food? Are you so busy that even chewing seems like a luxury? Here are some tips on improving digestion:

Tip #1: Cover the Basics

Chew, Chew, Chew

  • Take smaller bites.
  • Put your fork down in between meals.
  • Try using chopsticks - it forces you to slow down.
  • Thoroughly chew each bite of food.
  • Carbohydrate digestion begins in the mouth - chewing grains thoroughly allows amylase, the digestive enzyme present in saliva, to digest the grains.

Basic 2: Get Enough Water

Insufficient water intake is a primary cause of constipation. Constipation then causes an imbalance in bacteria, promotes inflammation of the intestinal lining, and can even lead to the absorption of larger molecules, a condition known as intestinal permeability.

Basic 3: Increase Your Dietary Fiber

Good sources of dietary fiber include:
  • Dried fruit, such as dates, figs, and prunes
  • Beans and legumes — if you don't have time to cook dried beans, buy canned, but make sure you rinse them thoroughly before cooking. Lentils and split peas are less gas-forming than other legumes.
  • Bring an apple with you to work as a snack
  • Ground flaxseeds are a gentle laxative. They can be useful for chronic constipation, damage to the intestine wall from laxative use, irritable bowel, and to soothe inflammation. Sprinkle ground flaxseeds on rice, grains, salads, or any other meal of your choice.

Tip #2: Practice Mindful Eating

A pilot study at Indiana State University found that mindfulness, including specific instructions to slowly savor the flavor of food and be aware of how much food is enough, helped to reduce eating binges from an average of four binges per week to one and a half.
  • Eat in the moment. Savor every bite, enjoying the flavors, textures, and smells of your meal.
  • Buy fresh flowers to put on the dining table.
  • Use smaller cutlery so that you eat less with each bite.
  • Create a beautiful atmosphere - dim the lights, play music and light candles.

Tip #3: Address Food Sensitivities and Allergies

Food sensitivities are behind many digestive disorders. For example, between 33% and 66% of IBS patients report having one or more food intolerances, resulting in bloating, gas, and pain. The most common culprits are milk and dairy (40-44%) and grains (40-60%).

A trained practitioner can supervise an elimination diet. Many foods are removed from the diet for a brief period of time, then re-introduced sequentially to isolate the body's reaction to the offending foods.

Tip #4: Increase Good Gut Bacteria

Not all bacteria is bad. There are over 400 different kinds of bacteria and yeasts in the digestive system. Of these, the bacteria Lactobacillus acidophillus and Bifidobacterium bifidum are considered good "probiotic" bacteria because they can help to maintain intestinal health.

Although good bacteria can be found in some yogurt, there is a wide variation in the quantity and quality. Look for good quality organic yogurt that add the active cultures after pasteurization, because this heat process destroys both good and bad bacteria.

Supplements containing acidophilus and bifidobacteria can be found in health food stores. They are especially helpful for the following conditions:
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Diarrhea
  • Gas, bloating, flatulence
  • Recurring vaginal yeast infections
  • Bad breath

Tip #5: Supplement to Restore Digestive Health

  • # Enteric-Coated Peppermint Oil - Peppermint oil can reduce abdominal pain, bloating, and gas.
  • Digestive Enzymes - Enzyme supplements are believed to support the body's own digestive enzymes to aid digestion and help with other disorders stemming from poor digestion.

Eating Disorders

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There are three recognised eating disorders:
  • Anorexia Nervosa,
  • Bulimia Nervosa and
  • binge eating disorder.
There is also
  • EDNOS (Eating Disorders Not otherwise Specified).
In some cases eating disorders can be combined — so someone can have Bulimia and Anorexia at the same time. Anorexia Nervosa causes severe weight loss and bulimia nervosa combines overeating with vomiting. People suffering from anorexia nervosa become obsessed with losing weight combined with a distorted self image; they are so concerned about it that they eat almost nothing and in severe cases the body can starve. Often sufferers reject help.

According to the Eating Disorders Association, eating disorders are really a way of not having to face up to painful problems in life and difficulties you can't solve. Eating (or not eating) is used as a way of showing deeper feelings of unhappiness.

Traditionally eating disorders have been seen as a condition suffered by young women, but they can affect people of all ages and increasingly young men are experiencing these difficulties too — approximately 10 per cent of anorexics are male. It has also been argued by some that the influence of the media on people's self image causes concern. Some surveys suggest that young people (young men and young women) feel encouraged to lose weight in order to be more like their celebrity idols.

Anorexia nervosa makes the sufferer believe that they are fat so in response they cut down on the food they eat. The symptoms of anorexia may include:
  • severe loss of weight
  • mistaken beliefs about actual body size, shape and weight
  • taking too much exercise
  • getting rid of the food they eat (by vomiting or using laxatives)
  • cutting themselves off from friends, family or carers
  • feeling moody and bad-tempered
  • having difficulty sleeping
  • periods may stop
  • feeling cold and having poor blood circulation
  • growth of downy hair all over the body and
  • low self-esteem.
The characteristics of bulimia nervosa mean that sufferers eat lots of food and then make themselves sick. There are times when they starve themselves or use laxatives. The symptoms may be:
  • bingeing on large quantities of food
  • getting rid of the food they eat by vomiting or using laxatives
  • feeling out of control, helpless and lonely
  • irregular periods
  • sore throat and loss of enamel on teeth
  • poor skin condition due to dehydration
  • tiredness
  • moodiness and self-hatred.
Dealing with eating disorders can be difficult because it can take a long time for people to admit that they have a problem. The sooner this happens the greater chance there is of recovery. It is important to get professional help. They may appreciate talking to someone they trust.

Side effects are suffered by people with both conditions. Damage may be caused to the heart and kidneys. If laxatives are used regularly there may also be significant bowel muscle damage. Gastric acid from the stomach is corrosive and will damage tooth enamel if vomiting is persistent.

Compulsive dieting

It is estimated that 50% of women in the UK are either dieting at the moment or thinking about it. Dieting has become an obsession in the UK over the past few years as we strive for the perfect body. Researchers also suggest that 96% of diets don't work. Many people get trapped into the 'yo-yo' dieting effect where crash diets initially cause the desired weight loss only for the pounds to return just as quickly.

Healthy eating is far safer and will help to maintain a stable weight, that is comfortable for a person's size and shape. It will also keep the necessary balance of minerals and fluids that the body needs.

Binge Eating

Like bulimia, binge eating has only recently been recognised as a distinct condition. The essential difference is that these people binge uncontrollably but do not purge themselves. It is believed that many more people suffer from binge eating disorder than either anorexia or bulimia nervosa. It is estimated that approximately ten per cent of people with binge-eating disorder are obese.

Signs of binge eating include:
  • Eating much more rapidly than usual
  • Eating until feeling uncomfortably full
  • Eating large amounts of food when not physically hungry
  • Eating alone because of their embarrassment at the quantities of food consumed
  • Feeling ashamed, depressed or guilty after bingeing
  • Being unable to purge themselves of the food eaten.

Other Eating Disorders

Conditions as complex as eating disorders inevitably mean that there are variations in the typical signs described in these web pages, and not all symptoms will apply to all people. For instance, a woman with anorexia may have irregular or normal periods; bulimic episodes may be very infrequent. These cases will be classified as 'partial syndrome' eating disorders.

Some variations are much more distinct, such as 'chew and spit' behaviour, when a person chews food and spits it out — rather than swallowing — large amounts of food. Another example is regurgitation when food is swallowed and is then brought back up into the mouth for re-chewing. Some people eat non-foods, such as paper tissues, to fill themselves up without the calorific intake.


Soy and Fish Oil Supplements May Help Prevent Heart Attacks

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Taking daily supplements of fish or soy oil may protect against heart attacks and improve cardiac function in the short-term. Study results published in CHEST, the peer-reviewed journal of the American College of Chest Physicians, are the first to show that soy oil increases heart rate variability (HRV), a measure of cardiac autonomic function.

“Our findings contradict the current belief in the medical community that increasing the intake of omega-3 fatty acids produces only long-term cardiac benefits,” said the study’s lead author, Fernando Holguin, MD, Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta, GA. “In fact, our study group showed improvements in heart function in as little as two weeks.”

Researchers from Atlanta, GA, Boston, MA, and Cuernavaca, Mexico, took the HRV of 58 elderly patients every other day for two months to establish an HRV baseline for each participant. For 11 weeks, half of the study participants took a daily two gram supplement of fish oil, which contains marine-derived omega-3 fatty acids, and the other half took a daily two gram supplement of soy oil, which contains plant-derived omega-3 fatty acids. The omega-3 fatty acids improve heart function by providing greater variability between beats, therefore reducing the risk of arrhythmia and/or sudden death. Heart rate variability is measured by high-frequency (HF) and low-frequency (LF) domain components and standard deviation of normal RR intervals (SDNN). Those who received fish oil experienced a significant increase in total HF and LF domain components and SDNN. Patients who received soy oil experienced a marginally significant increase in HF and LF domain components and a significant increase in SDNN.

"Reduced HRV predicts mortality and arrhythmic complications in patients who have had a heart attack, as well as those who are considered healthy," said Dr. Holguin. "Taking a daily supplement of fish or soy oil may help reduce the risk of suffering an adverse cardiovascular event, such as arrhythmia or sudden death, specially in persons with known cardiovascular disease or at increased risk for it, such as those with lipid disorders, advanced age, hypertension, a history of smoking, and family history of heart disease."

Researchers also discovered that while patients in both groups experienced a significant increase in HRV, those who took the fish oil supplements achieved a greater increase in a shorter time period. Patients who received fish oil experienced increased HRV within the first 2.7 weeks, whereas it took 8.1 weeks for a significant increase in HRV to be seen in the group taking soy oil. None of the study participants experienced significant negative side effects, but 41 percent of participants in the fish oil group reported belching, compared to 16 percent in the soy oil group.

"Studies like this demonstrate that there are additional approaches we can take to protect ourselves from heart attacks," said Paul A. Kvale, MD, FCCP, President of the American College of Chest Physicians. "It's exciting to see the potential for omega-3 fatty acids in improving heart function when it complements a healthy lifestyle of exercising, maintaining a healthy weight, and getting eight hours of sleep."

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Fruit Pomelit Helps to Prevent Heart Attacks


Vitamins That Will Save Your Eyes

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There has been a lot of interest in the role of nutrition and nutritional supplements, such as vitamin tablets, and their effect on vision. The main focus has been on how vitamins and minerals might affect age-related eye conditions such as age-related macular-degeneration (AMD) and cataracts. This page explores these issues and looks at the importance of good nutrition and how the eye can be affected by it.

The importance of good nutrition

Good nutrition is very important for both your general and eye health. Good nutrition helps our body to grow, repair wear and tear, protect against infection and to function properly. An eye condition called ‘xerophthalmia’, which is a common cause of childhood blindness in developing countries, is a good example of how nutrition and eye health go hand in hand. This condition is caused by a lack of vitamin A in a person’s diet and could be prevented by eating fresh vegetables, fat (animal and plant) and protein (eg meat, eggs, cheese, fish, poultry, milk, yoghurt, dairy products, nuts, seeds, pulses and grains).

Vitamins That Will Save Your Eyes

What might cause age-related eye disease?

There are many causes for the various different eye conditions.

Sometimes an eye condition can be related to another medical condition, and some are inherited. Much research is being carried out in various areas of eye health. Often there is no known cause for the development of an eye condition - these conditions are often known as ‘idiopathic’.

A few possible risk factors of eye disease are:


Although it may sound obvious, age is the biggest risk factor in age-related eye disease. As we get older the changes in our body processes also affect our eyes.

Oxygen is essential for the human body, but it can also be harmful. Oxygen can produce “free-radicals” which damage cells or prevent them from regenerating as they used to. This cell regeneration process is affected as we get older due to free radicals and other factors.

Our bodies do have a natural protection against the effect of free radicals but under certain conditions this protection is not good enough.

Free radicals damage the retina, a light sensitive layer at the back of the eye. They also affect the lens, a clear tissue found behind the coloured part of the eye known as the iris. The lens helps to focus light onto the retina which then sends an image of what we are looking at to our brain. This is how we see. Mostly, these free radicals are neutralised by the body’s defences. Most vitamins and minerals can help the body and our eyes to combat the effects of free radicals. These vitamins and micronutrients are known as antioxidants and their role in maintaining eye health will be explored in this leaflet.


Smoking causes harm to the tissues of the eye. Research has confirmed the direct, harmful effects of smoking on eyesight, particularly in the development of cataracts and age-related macular degeneration (AMD). We also know that smoking can make diabetes-related sight problems worse. Cigarette smoking increases free radicals which accelerate ageing and alters the body’s ability to absorb or extract necessary vitamins and minerals from food. Smoking reduces appetite which may result in a poor diet. Poor nutrition also has an adverse effect on eye health. Passive smoking, that is not smoking yourself but breathing in other people’s smoke, is almost as harmful as smoking yourself.

While cataracts are treatable and therefore do not lead to blindness, they remain a major cause of sight loss in the UK. Treatment options for AMD are limited and smokers do not only double their risk of developing AMD, they also tend to develop it earlier than non-smokers.

It has been shown that stopping smoking can reduce the risk of macular degeneration developing. Your GP can tell you about NHS stop smoking services in your area.


A balanced diet, with plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables is good for your eye health. Eating a diet low in saturated fats but rich in omega 3 fats and micronutrients derived from green leafy vegetables, fruit, fish and nuts may help prevent and slow down the progression of AMD and age-related cataracts.


Obesity is increasingly being discussed as a risk factor for sight loss. Recent research suggests that obesity may put someone more at risk of developing an eye condition which can cause sight loss, including AMD, cataracts and retinal vein occlusion. In addition, obesity significantly increases the risk of developing diabetes and with it, diabetic retinopathy. Further research is now needed to gain better understanding of the links between obesity and these eye conditions.


It has been suggested that eyes can be damaged by continuous exposure to intense sunlight. Many studies show that prolonged periods of sunlight exposure are a risk factor for the development of AMD. The sun’s rays have been linked to the development of cataracts.

For this reason it is very important to reduce exposure of the eye to sunlight. Sunglasses that offer good protection from all angles, are recommended. These not only protect the eye from direct sunlight but also from scattered or reflected light that can enter the eye from above, the sides or below. Wearing a hat with a good brim can decrease eye exposure to light by 30-50 per cent. Sunglasses and hats are, therefore, also recommended for children.


There is a higher rate of AMD and cataracts among women, possibly because they tend to live longer than men. There also seems to be a hormonal influence and it is reported that Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) can reduce these risks.

Nutrition for the eye

Vitamins and the eye

In various studies and clinical trials antioxidant vitamins found in certain foods have been linked with eye health. They help to maintain healthy cells and tissues in the eye.

The main focus has been on the anti-oxidant vitamins A, C and E. These vitamins can be found in many different sources of fruit and vegetables such as oranges, kiwis, grapefruit, dried apricots, tomatoes, peppers, raw carrots, green leafy vegetables including kale and spinach, green peas, green beans and brussel sprouts. They can also be found in nuts, seeds, dairy products and eggs. These are only a few of the food types in which antioxidant vitamins can be found. The British Nutrition Foundation can provide you with further information on this. Their contact details are at the end of this leaflet.

Lutein and eye health

More recently it has been suggested that two types of antioxidants, known as ‘carotenoids’, called Lutein (pronounced Loo-teen) and Zeaxanthin (pronounced Zay-a-za-thin) may also help with eye health. Some studies have found that people who have a good diet rich in carotenoids, particularly lutein and zeaxanthin, have a lower risk of developing AMD. Lutein and Zeaxanthin can be found naturally in vegetables and fruit. For example, Lutein can be found in yellow peppers, mango, bilberries, and green leafy vegetables such as kale, spinach, chard and broccoli. Zeaxanthin can be found in orange sweet peppers, broccoli, corn, lettuce (not iceberg), spinach, tangerines, oranges and eggs. Many of these overlap with food types in which vitamins A, E and C are present.

Vitamins supplements and diet
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD)

A large research trial, called the ‘Age-Related Eye Disease Study’ (AREDS), showed that high quantities of the antioxidant vitamins A, C, E, beta-carotene and the minerals zinc as zinc oxide, and copper as cupric oxide, can help to slow down the progression of AMD. It would be very hard to obtain the large quantity of vitamins used in the trial from your diet. Therefore some people who have AMD may consider supplementation with vitamins and anti-oxidants. Such high dosages of vitamins and minerals might have possible side effects on the body.

For this reason it is very important to consult your doctor first before taking a supplement.

Eye health

Following the AREDS research trial there have been over 150 smaller scale studies looking at how vitamins and minerals, both from food and in a vitamin supplement, can help eye health in general, and in particular AMD and cataracts. A number of these studies have looked specifically at the carotenoids Lutein and Zeaxanthin which have been particularly associated with healthy eyes.

Some of these studies have shown how certain vitamin and mineral supplements can have a positive effect on eyes and sight. Others have shown there to be no or little benefit. For this reason various organisations are calling for further, larger scale research.

As a result of these studies there are now a number of different supplements for eye health on the market. There is still divided medical opinion on the use of supplements for both eye health and for preventing, or slowing down, the progression of AMD and cataracts in particular.

The general consensus of opinion is that with a good balanced diet that includes sufficient fresh fruits and vegetables there should be no need to use supplements.

However, research has shown that many people in the UK do not get enough vitamins and minerals from their diet. Some people might consider taking a supplement for their general and eye health when :
  • their diet does not include enough fresh fruit and vegetable
  • diet does not include enough vitamins and minerals
  • vitamins and minerals from food are not adequately absorbed by the body
  • it is hard to obtain or prepare fresh fruit and vegetables
  • they have been told to take a supplement by their doctor or nutritionist.

However, experts agree that taking supplements is not a substitute for a healthy diet


Evidence regarding the benefits of nutritional supplements against eye disease is conflicting and there is no real agreement among researchers on this subject at present. However, a consensus has been reached on the importance of a healthy, balanced diet full of fresh fruits and vegetables, particularly leafy green vegetables such as kale and spinach.

Key points to remember:

  • Eat a good, balanced diet with lots of fresh fruit and vegetables.
  • Discuss changing your diet or taking vitamin supplements with your GP.
  • Discuss your diet or taking a vitamin supplement with your GP if you believe that your diet may be inadequate.
  • The biggest avoidable risk is smoking.
  • Protect your eyes from sunlight. Use good quality sunglasses, ie those that have the ‘CE’ mark, which means they meet the European Union Quality Standards. Wearing a brimmed hat also offers very good protection.
  • Get your eyes tested at least every two years and more frequently if necessary.

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Several vitamins, minerals (green leafy vegetable ingredients) and herbs have used in an attempt to treat or prevent the development of cataract, glaucoma, macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy. Although anecdotal evidence abounds, the lack of large scale controlled trials make definite recommendations difficult. This is not surprising since most of the aging eye diseases progress slowly and a multitude of factors (genetic and environmental) affect their development and progression, so that it becomes very difficult to isolate the influence of a specific vitamin or mineral on this process. On this page we discuss the nutrients that over time have been suggested to play a possible role.

In the absence of specific contraindications and side effects, most physicians seem it reasonable to use these nutrients as an adjunct to specific medical therapy - i.e. "can't hurt and might help" approach. Perhaps the most reasonable recommendation would be to increase the dietary intake of green leafy vegetables (for Carotenoids) and fruits & vegetables like carrots and cantaloupe which have reddish pigment (for beta-Carotene). Was Interested In Ocular Nutrtion?There is a risk however. Patients affected by these diseases are willing to grasp at any straw in desperation, because in advanced disease medical therapy seems to offer so little hope. This is especially true for macular degeneration and glaucoma. Therefore, despite claims of cure with expensive alternative treatments, refrain from unreasonable expectations is prudent.

There is concern about eating green leafy vegetables if you are on Warfarin (Coumadin), a blood thinner. Warfarin reduces the ability of blood to clot by blocking Vitamin K; however, large amounts of Vitamin K can overcome the effects of warfarin. Green leafy vegetables are high in vitamin K. According to the National Stroke Association, patients taking Warfarin do not need to avoid foods that are high in vitamin K-- rather, they should avoid against abruptly changing the amount of vitamin K-rich foods consumed since the changes in vitamin K intake can alter the effect of warfarin, making warfarin ineffective (too much vitamin K in the diet) or causing bleeding (too little vitamin K in the diet). If you eat a relatively constant amount of green vegetables then Warfarin levels would be unlikely to fluctuate.

Vitamin C, Vitamin E, beta-Carotene (pro-Vitamin A) and Carotenoids (Lutein & Zeaxanthin) are strong antioxidants i.e. they protect the eye against free radical damage. It seems reasonable to assume that strengthening of the eye defences by increasing the intake of these vitamins would be helpful in preventing the chronic AgingEye diseases. Recent well designed and controlled studies seem to support this assumption. Lycopene (a different type of carotenoid found in tomatoes) protects against prostate cancer and heart disease — therefore the protective effect of these vitamins is not just restricted to the eye.

Nutritional supplements and Macular Degeneration

The Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS) was a major study sponsored by the National Eye Institute (NEI). In the study, scientists looked at the effects of zinc and antioxidants (vitamin C, vitamin E & beta carotene i.e. provitamin-A), on patients with cataracts and age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Lutein was not part of this study because during the planning stages in the early 1990s, lutein and zeaxanthin were not commercially available.

The study reported a beneficial effect of antioxidants + zinc in patients who have moderate to advanced macular degeneration (i.e. those who have extensive intermediate size drusen or at least 1 large drusen or geographic atrophy in 1 or both eyes, or visual acuity worse than 20/32 attributable to macular degeneration). The study showed that treatment with antioxidants + zinc reduced the risk of progression of moderate macular degeneration to advanced macular degeneration by 25%. (see graph). Vitamin supplements do not provide as much benefit to patients with minimal macular degeneration. These nutritional supplements do not prevent the development of macular degeneration, nor can one recover vision already lost to macular degeneration. In this study, nutritional supplements do not seem to prevent cataracts, or to keep them from getting worse over time, although other studies have shown such a beneficial affects. The dose of vitamin C used was about 5 times what the general population receives from diet alone. The dose of vitamin E was about 13 times the recommended daily allowance and the dose of zinc was about 5 times the recommended daily allowance. These levels of zinc and vitamins C and E generally can be obtained only by supplementation.

While most patients in the study experienced no serious side effects from the doses of zinc and antioxidants used, a few taking zinc alone had urinary tract problems that required hospitalization. Some patients taking large doses of antioxidants experienced some yellowing of the skin. The long-term effects of taking large doses of these supplements are still unknown.

If you have intermediate (or advanced macular degeneration in one eye only), talk to your physician about taking nutritional supplements. Your doctor can help you determine if they may be beneficial-and safe-for you, and what types and doses of supplements to take. The doses used in the study were: Vitamin C 500 mg, Vitamin E 400 IU, Beta-carotene 15 mg, Zinc 80 mg, as zinc oxide, Copper 2 mg, as cupric oxide (copper should be taken with zinc, because high-dose zinc is associated with copper deficiency). Ophthalmologists and others prescribing the AREDS formula to their patients should recognize that this is not a multivitamin; if the patient needs additional vitamins (e.g., B vitamins or vitamin D), other products must be used. To know more about the NEI macular degeneration study read or print the NIH News Release about this study or view the video.

It is very important to talk with your physician before taking large-dose supplements, and to follow the dosage recommendations carefully. Megadoses of vitamins have well defined health risks. Some supplements may interfere with each other or other medications. Smokers and ex-smokers probably should not take beta-carotene, as studies have shown a link between beta-carotene use and lung cancer among smokers.An estimated 8 million persons at least 55 years old in the United States have intermediate or advanced macular degeneration. Of these 8 million, 1.3 million would develop advanced macular degeneration if no treatment were given to reduce their risk. If all of these people at risk received supplements such as those used in AREDS, more than 300 000 of them would avoid advanced macular degeneration and any associated vision loss during the next 5 years.

Aging Eye Times recommendation:

We urge clinicians to be cautious when advising patients with macular degeneration regarding the benefits of ocular vitamin/mineral supplements. These nutrients are not a cure for macular degeneration, nor will they restore vision already lost from the disease, but they may help some people at high risk for developing advanced macular degeneration keep their vision. Based on data from AREDS, persons older than 55 years should have dilated eye examinations to determine their risk of developing advanced macular degeneration. Patients who have moderately advanced macular degeneration and are not current or past smokers, should consider taking a supplement of antioxidants plus zinc. In patients who have early macular degeneration, it seems reasonable to defer consideration of supplementation. If patients with early macular degeneration choose to take the supplements, then they must understand that their decision to do so is not supported by a demonstrated benefit and any presumed beneficial effect on preventing the progression of macular degeneration is mere speculation. Approximately 80% of Americans older than age 70 will fall in the low-risk group of early or no macular degeneration.
All patients should be encouraged to eat a balanced diet rich in fruits and vegetables, and in particular they should be informed by they clinician on the dietary sources rich in these carotenoids. We further recommend patients to wear UV protective lenses and a hat or cap when outdoors and suggest they see their primary care physician to treat any hypertension, hypercholesterolemia or potentially compromising vascular disease.

Lutein & Zeaxanthin role in Eye Disease Prevention

The macula is yellow in color due to the presence of pigment, which is composed of two dietary carotenoids, lutein and zeaxanthin. By absorbing blue-light, lutein and zeaxanthin pigments protect the photoreceptor cells of the retina from light damage. In addition, lutein & zeaxanthin are antioxidants, able to prevent free-radical damage to the macula. If the macula has more lutein and zeaxanthin, the protection against light damage is also greater. The macular pigment can be increased in by either increasing the intake of foods that are rich in lutein and zeaxanthin, such as dark-green leafy vegetable, or by supplementation with lutein and zeaxanthin.

While the assumption that increasing the intake of lutein or zeaxanthin may protect against the development of age-related macular degeneration has a strong scientific basis, a causative relationship has yet to be unequivocally demonstrated in rigorous controlled studies. Given the evidence to date, the advice to increase the intake of lutein & zeaxanthin seems reasonable.

A number of studies intended to examine trends in a population suggest a link between lutein and decreased risk of eye disease:

  • In 1994, a National Eye Institute (NEI)-supported study indicated that consumption of foods rich in carotenoids — particularly green, leafy vegetables such as collard greens, kale and spinach — was associated with a reduced risk of developing macular degeneration.

  • In 1999, data from the Nurses Health Study showed a reduced likelihood of cataract surgery with increasing intakes of lutein and another carotenoid --zeaxanthin.

  • In 1999, the Health Professionals Follow-up Study found a trend toward a lower risk of cataract extraction with higher intakes of lutein and zeaxanthin.

  • In 1999, a follow-up to an NEI-supported population-based study -- called the Beaver Dam Study -- concluded that people with diets higher in lutein and zeaxanthin had a lower risk of developing cataract.

  • In 2001, data from the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey reported that higher intakes of lutein and zeaxanthin among people ages 40-59 may be associated with a reduced risk of advanced macular degeneration.

Lutein & Zeaxanthin were not part of this AREDS (macular degeneration study) because during the planning stages in the early 1990s, lutein and zeaxanthin were not commercially available. Therefore, the recently released results of the macular degeneration study could not advice on lutein.

It seems reasonable to conclude that the trends and available evidence to date supports a beneficial affect for lutein in preventing eye diseases.

Nutritional supplements and Cataracts

Compared with nonusers, the risk for cataract is 60% lower among persons who use multivitamins or any supplement containing vitamin C or E for more than 10 years. Use of vitamins for shorter duration is not associated with reduced risk for cataract (Arch Ophthalmol 2000;118:1556-63). Vitamin C reduces the risk of cortical cataracts in women aged 60 years or less & carotenoids reduce the risk of posterior subcapsular cataract (PSC) in women who have never smoked (Am J Clin Nutr 2002;75:540-9). A recent research report also suggests that lutein and zeaxanthin (the only carotenoids found in the lens) may retard aging of the lens (Arch Ophthalmol 2002;120:1732-7). Higher intakes of protein, vitamin A, niacin, thiamin, and riboflavin (i.e. vitamin B-complex) are associated with reduced prevalence of nuclear cataract (Ophthalmology 2000;107:450-6).

The combined weight of the evidence suggests that long-term use of vitamin supplements (containing vitamin-C, E and carotenoids) may be of value in delaying cataract development.

Years ago, Nobel laureate Linus Pauling advocated megadoses (1,000 to 2,000 mg per day) of Vitamin C to fend off colds and prevent cancer. Studies have found no benefit from such massive doses of vitamin C, but a different line of research suggests that just a little extra might be a good thing for women's eyes. Any protective effect of vitamin C probably occurs well above the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) of 75 mg/day for women, about the amount in an orange (Women who smoke need more vitamin C 110 mg/day).

Research by the Nutrition and Vision Project (NVP), a cooperative effort of Harvard and Tufts University scientists, has found that women who consume higher-than-recommended doses of vitamin C may lower their risk for more than one type of cataract (Harv Womens Health Watch 2002;9:1). Boosting the vitamin C intake from both food and supplements to around 500 mg/day is probably a good idea, however discuss it with your doctor, especially if you have an increased risk for kidney stones.

Herbs and AgingEye Diseases

The use of herbal supplements in the US has become increasingly popular in recent years. In a survey conducted in 1999, about 49% of adult Americans were estimated to have used herbal products during the previous year (Journal of Clinical Pharmacy & Therapeutics 2002:27;391-401). Contributing to their increased use is the perception that herbs are safer, gentler and represent a more 'natural' way of curing disease than conventional drugs, which are viewed as chemicals.

These medications fall into the category of alternative/complementary medicines and, as such, are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) with the same scrutiny as conventional drugs. There is no pre-marketing review and post-marketing surveillance requirements for herbal supplements in the US. Their regulation by the FDA is restricted as a result of the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA) passed by US Congress in 1994. These products are freely available to consumers as over-the-counter (OTC) items. The FDA has now established standards to ensure that dietary supplements and dietary ingredients are not adulterated with contaminants or impurities, and are labeled to accurately to reflect the ingredients in the product (News Release). There is still no requirement to show that dietary supplements are safe or effective.

As the use of herbal supplements in the US continues to grow under the prevailing scenario, some concerns have become apparent regarding the safety of these products. Of particular safety concern is potential interactions of these products with conventional drugs. It has been documented that as many as 31% of the patients who use herbal supplements do so in conjunction with prescribed drugs and about 70% of these patients do not regularly report the use of these products to their health care providers (Journal of Clinical Pharmacy & Therapeutics 2002:27;391-401). Of most concern is the bleeding tendency when herbs like Gingko are taken along with aspirin or other blood thinner.

Bilberry (Vaccinium myrtillus)

Bilberry has a long history of use for various eye conditions. The active components, flavonoid anthocyanosides, are potent antioxidants with a particular affinity for the eye and vascular tissues. Interest in bilberry was first aroused during World War II when British Royal Air Force pilots reported improved night visual acuity on bombing raids after consuming bilberries. Subsequent claims have been made that the administration of bilberry extracts results in improved night visual acuity, quicker adjustment to darkness and faster restoration of visual acuity after exposure to glare. In a report of 50 patients with age-related cataracts, a combination of bilberry and vitamin E delayed the progression of cataracts (Head K. Altern Med Rev 2001;6:141-166).

Bilberry has been used in the treatment of glaucoma as well.

Ginkgo Biloba

Ginkgo biloba extract is freely available and popular. An extract of Ginkgo leaves is commonly used for conditions associated with cerebral and peripheral ischaemia (e.g. dementia, impotency, claudication). Gingko has several biological actions which combine to make it a potentially useful agent in the treatment of glaucoma: improvement of central and peripheral blood flow, reduction of vasospasm, reduction of serum viscosity, antioxidant activity, platelet activating factor inhibitory activity, inhibition of apoptosis, and inhibition of excitotoxicity. The effect of Ginkgo biloba extract as a potential antiglaucoma therapy is undergoing scrutiny.

Bleeding may occur inside the eye in patients taking Gingko (N Engl J Med 1997 10;336:1108). One of its components, ginkgolide B, is a potent inhibitor of platelet-activating factor, which is essential for the induction of arachidonate-independent platelet aggregation. Bledding complications in the brain have also been reported.

A recent research article suggests that Ginkgo biloba extract (40 mg, orally, administered three times daily for 4 weeks) improves preexisting visual field damage in some patients with Normal Tension Glaucoma (Ophthalmology 2003;110:359-362). Visual field improvement theoretically could result from improved retinal ganglion cell function or improved cognitive abilities. Either of these effects could occur secondary to improved blood flow to the eye, the brain, or both to a neuroprotective effect of Gingko Biloba. Further studies are needed to determine by what mechanisms Gingko may benefit patients with glaucoma.

Coleus Forskohlii

The triterpene forskolin from the plant Coleus forskohlii stimulates the enzyme adenylate cyclase. Adenylate cyclase then stimulates the ciliary epithelium to produce cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP), which in turn decreases eye pressure by decreasing aqueous humor inflow.

Results of studies using topical forskolin applications to decrease eye pressure have been mixed. To date, human studies on forskolin's effect on eye pressure have been limited to healthy volunteers. Several studies have found it effective at lowering eye pressure and decreasing aqueous outflow in healthy volunteers.

Salvia Miltiorrhiza

Salvia miltiorrhiza is a commonly used botanical in Chinese medicine. Injected intravenously, this botanical appears to improve microcirculation of the retinal ganglion cells.

In a human study, 121 patients with mid- or late-stage glaucoma with medication-controlled eye pressure received daily intramuscular injections of a 2 g/mL solution of Salvia miltiorrhiza alone or in combination with other Chinese herbs (four different groups). The results suggest a possible benefit from this herbal treatment. Double-blind evaluations of oral administration of Salvia seem warranted.

Wine and Macular Degeneration

Researchers reported in Journal of the American Geriatrics Society that people who drink wine in moderation may be less likely to develop age-related macular degeneration (AMD). This finding was based on an analysis of data collected between 1971 and 1975 for the National Health Nutrition and Examination Survey (NHANES-1) from 3,072 adults 45 to 74 years of age with eye-related changes that indicated AMD.
The National Eye Institute (NEI) believes that it would be premature to make any recommendations based on this single study. While this is an interesting finding that bears further investigation, the authors warn that the study should not be used to "draw inferences about a cause and effect relationship." It also should be noted that later studies have found no such relationship between AMD and wine drinking, and that the findings reported are of borderline significance.

The NEI agreed with the author's concerns about the reliability of the data indicating the amount of alcohol consumed, as these data are often subject to recall bias. In addition, the study did not completely take into account possible confounding factors, especially smoking. Many studies show that smoking is a risk factor for AMD. Since there is generally more smoking among alcohol users, smoking status should be taken into account in the analyses. NEI questioned, too, the reliability of the diagnosis of AMD in those surveyed. The methods used now to diagnose AMD in large studies have been improved and are quite different than those used in the early 1970's.

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How Much Sugar Must You Eat Too Kill Yourself

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The BBC broadcast the following "Discovery" program on the 31 meter shortwave band, October 10th, 1989.


STEPHEN HEDGES: Hello and welcome to Discovery. Today we discuss some ideas about the causes of ageing. I hope you're not enjoying a sticky bun or drinking a cup of sugary hot chocolate as you listen. If it's a between-meals snack, you could be in for a shock. Writing in a recent issue of the New Scientist, researchers based at the University of Oxford and at the Open University, report that taking sugary snacks between meals may damage vital body proteins and cause premature ageing. Their experiments suggest that high levels of sugars in the blood cause proteins to stick together. Normally special enzymes unstick the glycated proteins, but if sugar levels are raised between meals the enzymes can't cope, and the proteins become permanently damaged. Being partial to the occasional Chelsea bun myself, I took the train to Oxford and found Dr Anna Furth in her laboratory at the Open University's research unit. She explained why they think high levels of sugar damage proteins.

How Much Sugar Must You Eat Too Kill YourselfDR ANNA FURTH: Well the damage to the protein takes place in 2 stages because the first product that's formed by glucose attacking the protein is called a Schiffs base and that, within a matter of days, will slowly convert to the next product which is called an Amadory product and these 2 modified forms of the protein are known as the early glycation products and there's a lot of discussion as to how debilitating they are. But, as any protein chemist will tell you, you've only got to modify the surface of a protein very slightly and you are likely to alter its reactions with other molecules in the body because protein reactions are in essence controlled by their surface shape. So what it could well add up to is a series of minor disabilities rather than a specific illness. And with short-lived proteins you do get replacement molecules within a matter of weeks so you can get fresh molecules that are not glycated. Albumin, once it's glycated - and 1 in 3 molecules of albumin are glycated, even in normal people - is much less efficient at carrying long chain fatty acids, and this you'd expect to have some effect on fat metabolism, however minor. And there's another protein in the serum, a lipo- protein which is used to carry cholesterol and if you glycate that in a test tube to the same extent as you can find it in the body, then it's not picked up by cells and that is bound to have some effect on the metabolism and the transport of cholesterol.

HEDGES: Now I believe from what you were saying that diabetics have more of these glycated proteins. Is there any indication of the sort of long-term damage that high levels might cause?

FURTH: Most of the interest in long-term damage has been directed at the long-lived proteins which are there long enough for the final stages of glycation to take place and that's collagen and crystallin in the eye lens. It's well known that diabetics are more likely to have cataracts than non-diabetics. Even short-term damage may be caused by glycation of basement membrane components. Now, the basement membrane is a lining underneath capillaries and it's also part of the kidney filtration mechanism and its function seems to be to filter out large molecules from the nutrient fluid that comes out of capillaries and nourishes tissues like the retina and muscles and lots of other tissues. An unfortunate characteristic of diabetic tissue is that the basement membrane does get very thick, and that obviously upsets its filtration properties, and several of the components, notably a specialised collagen which is used to make a filtration network, and fibronectin, both of these proteins are more heavily glycated in diabetics and if you glycate them to the same amount in a test tube, you can impair their filtration mechanisms and they certainly don't form a nice network as they would otherwise do.

HEDGES: Are there any ways of preventing this damage? I'm thinking perhaps of drugs that you might use.

FURTH: The only drug that's been, as it were, designed to prevent glycation has been developed by Professor Cerami's group at the Rockefeller Institute in the States, and this is called amino- guanidin, and it was aimed to block the most reactive glucose modified protein called the Amadory product and it is said that if you feed it to diabetic rats, it does stop their basement membranes from thickening but that takes 5 months of feeding and it stops their aortic collagen from getting cross-linked. It has been tried on humans for 2 weeks with apparently no ill effects but there has been no large-scale clinical trial and at the moment they have taken out a patent to use it for preventing ageing in food proteins and in animals. So that's amino-guanidin. Surprisingly, the most effective drug seems to be aspirin - I say surprisingly because it wasn't intended as an anti-glycation drug, but studies by John Harding in Oxford, and his collaborators, have shown that if you take a group of people who have got cataracts and another group of comparable age, and ask them if they have taken any drug for more than 4 months continuously at any time in their life, you find that if they've taken aspirin or Paracetamol or Neurofen, there's a distinct so-called protective effect against cataracts. In other words, statistically they are less likely to develop cataracts than if they haven't taken these drugs over this period. And there's not been a deliberate clinical trial but it seems that if you take even just 1 aspirin a day for 18 months, you might protect against cataract. But cataract is largely due to glycation of the eye lens protein which is unusual in that it's never replaced, or virtually never - it's a very long-lived protein. And the big question is, of course, whether aspirin will have a similar protective effect against other proteins, particularly, say, the basement membrane proteins.

HEDGES: Is it known how these anti-inflamatory drugs like aspirin and Neurofen might be having this effect?

FURTH: Well it's originally thought with aspirin that it reacted itself with the protein at the same site that would otherwise be attacked by glucose. But then it was realised that some of these other anti-inflamatory drugs don't have quite the same structure as aspirin so they couldn't affect the proteins in the same way. So I think the answer is that no-one is very clear how the drugs work and maybe it is simply an effect through a rather complex series of reactions that actually lower the blood glucose.

HEDGES: Does the body itself have any way of preventing the cross- linking of these glucose modified proteins?

FURTH: Well it used to be thought not, but fairly recently a group in South Carolina, led by John Baines, have found a derivative of proteins called carboxylmethyl lysine which is much more pronounced in diabetics and has come from the breakdown of products that have been modified glucose, but have then oxidised to convert the glucose, add-up to something which is comparatively harmless because it can't cross-link. And the nice thing would be, of course, if you could encourage this oxidation reaction but at the moment naturally it only breaks down about 10% of the glucose modified proteins so on its own it doesn't help you very much.

HEDGES: Are all researchers agreed about the way that sugar damages proteins, or are there some scientists who have rather different ideas?

FURTH: I think most people agree that the route for the damage is that a glucose molecule attaches to a protein and then becomes irreversibly attached through an internal re-arrangement and may then go on to cross-linking. But there is a group at University College in London, led by Simon Wolff, who feel that it is not so much the glucose itself that attacks the protein but the oxidation products of glucose and that this can actually fragment proteins and therefore conditions which enhance oxidation are the ones to be avoided.

HEDGES: Now if Dr Wolff is right, what can you actually do about it? Is there some other way of preventing the damage?

FURTH: Well, there's a lot of interest in taking anti-oxidants like vitamin C and vitamin E, and if he's right that this oxidative fragmentation is the major route by which glucose damages proteins then possibly vitamin C or vitamin E would help but I have to point out that the body's own mechanism for getting rid of glucose- damaged protein seems to be the route discovered by John Baines which is an oxidation in itself. So if you go around taking a lot of vitamin C you would be tending to depress that reaction maybe. It's far more complicated than that. I would also point out that vitamin C in the test tube, if you leave it sitting with a protein, it will cross- link it and form the same sort of undesirable products very nicely.

HEDGES: Finally, what would your advice to people be to avoid this long-term protein damage? Do we have to take drugs or are there other things that we might do?

FURTH: Well there is a much simpler method which is to avoid taking glucose in the first place and obviously one can't be too glib about this because we rely on glucose for food and energy. I think it's important to point out that the body has no means of controlling this particular reaction unlike all the other reactions that go on, and are controlled by enzymes, and the only controls are the concentration of glucose that the protein is exposed to, and the length of time it's exposed. And obviously both those things tend to be greater in diabetics but I think that what people have not emphasised is that as you get older, every time you take a carbohydrate-containing meal, your blood glucose does go up and it's a perfectly normal phenomenon, but the older you get, the higher it goes and the longer it takes to come down. And if you're looking for small cumulative changes in your proteins, which is exactly what we think happens in ageing, this glycation after a meal could contribute and so if you wanted to reduce the likelihood of glycation, you clearly can't stop eating, but I think you can minimise the exposure by perhaps cutting down on snacks that contain carbohydrate.

HEDGES: Dr Anna Furth of the Open University. And the message would clearly seem to be, cut out those sugary between-meals snacks, even when you're list- ening to Discovery in the World Service of the BBC.


VITAMIN C AND SUGAR: Ascorbic Acid (AA) and Dehydroascorbic Acid (DHA) are on opposite sides of a chemical equation that expresses an important reaction that's continually going on in our body. Depending on conditions, the reaction can go from left to right or from right to left, that is, AA and DHA are two forms of the same chemical that are constantly being transformed back and forth. Now we all know that AA (vitamin C) is extremely important to our health, but few of us know that DHA can be deadly. DHA, for instance, is thought to be involved in deterioration of the circulatory system, heart attacks, cancer, and birth defects. Also, and what may be most important, DHA has a lympholytic effect which reversibly atrophies the thymus and thus suppresses the immune system. It's known that stress will cause AA to convert into DHA and may be the reason why stress is implicated in all of the above conditions. It's very important, therefore, to maintain a high AA/DHA ratio (of at least 10/1). It's thought that the body may have developed a method of doing this for us by taking a certain amino acid precursor (found in high levels in raw or lightly cooked broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts and cabbage) and using it to make a tri-peptide amino acid, called glutathione, which then, inside every cell of our body, and as soon as the DHA enters the cell, converts the DHA back to AA. Unfortunately, when you eat sugar, you interfere with this whole delicate process by inhibiting the transport of DHA through the cell wall. Whatever type or form of sugar (including honey and fructose) or rapidly hydrolyzable starches (such as white rice, bread and potatoes) we eat, it's all converted by our body into glucose, and, since it's our only source of energy, is given 1st priority by the cells. The glucose then proceeds to occupy all of a cell's receptor sites and prevents the entrance into the cell of DHA, and, as a result, the DHA doesn't get converted back to AA by the glutathione in the cell. The best method of determining whether your average sugar intake is excessive is to test (for about $20) your blood for glycosylated hemoglobin A1C ("A-one-C"). Although the "normal" range is said to be from 5 to 9, Dr John Ely, of the Univ. of Washington in Seattle, strongly suggests your A1C must be less than 7. For instance, in a study of 114 pregnant women, those having an A1C greater than 8.5 during early pregnancy showed a 22% chance of giving birth to a markedly abnormal baby (malformed body, undeveloped brain). But it dropped to 0% for those whose A1C was less than 7.

So, the bottom line is, in addition to taking your normal vitamin C, to eat plenty of those vegetables mentioned above, avoid stress, and above all, TO AVOID SUGAR!! I want to thank Dr Ely for all of the above, since much of it is proprietary pre-publication information that he's allowing me to break to you first.

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