Friday, March 21, 2014

Disappearing Trans Fats

Partially hydrogenated fats, also known as trans fats or oils, may be eliminated in processed foods by steps being taken now by the Food and Drug Administration.

The FDA has directed that these artificial trans fats be taken from the “generally recognized as safe” (GRAS) list of approved food additives. As a result, these fats will not be able to be used in food products following a waiting period and finalization of the initiative.

Trans fats are strongly linked to the development of cardiovascular disease. They raise LDL, which most Americans know as “bad” cholesterol, and lower HDL, known as “good” cholesterol. Additional reports indicate that these fats contribute to obesity, insulin resistance and diabetes.

Trans fats have also been shown to contribute to certain types of cancer, have adverse effects on cell membranes and the immune system, and promote inflammation and aging. Trans fat is considered the worst type of fat for health.

The Institute of Medicine has concluded that trans fat does not provide any known health benefit, and more importantly, there is no safe level of consumption for trans fat.

Source: Dr. Pam Duitsman, nutrition and health specialist, University of Missouri Extension.
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Sunday, March 16, 2014

Sweet Antibiotic

Honey could be a sweet solution to the serious, ever-growing problem of bacterial resistance to antibiotics, according to researchers studying its antibacterial qualities.

Medical professionals sometimes use honey successfully as a topical dressing, but it could play a larger role in fighting infections.

"The unique property of honey lies in its ability to fight infection on multiple levels, making it more difficult for bacteria to develop resistance," said study leader Susan M. Meschwitz of Salve Regina University in Newport, R.I.

Honey has combination of traits which actively kill bacterial cells. An osmotic effect, the result of its high sugar concentration, draws water from the bacterial cells, dehydrating and killing them.

Several studies have shown that honey inhibits the formation of biofilms, or communities of slimy disease-causing bacteria.

"Honey may also disrupt quorum sensing, which weakens bacterial virulence, rendering the bacteria more susceptible to conventional antibiotics," Meschwitz said. Quorum sensing is the way bacteria communicate with one another, and may be involved in the formation of biofilms. In certain bacteria, this communication system also controls the release of toxins, which affects the bacteria's pathogenicity, or their ability to cause disease.

Another advantage of honey is that it doesn't target the essential growth processes of bacteria. This type of targeting, which is the basis of conventional antibiotics, often results in the bacteria building up resistance to the drugs.

Honey is effective because it is filled with healthful polyphenols, or antioxidants. These include the phenolic acids, caffeic acid, p-coumaric acid and ellagic acid, as well as many flavonoids.

"Several studies have demonstrated a correlation between the non-peroxide antimicrobial and antioxidant activities of honey and the presence of honey phenolics," Meschwitz pointed out. A large number of laboratory and limited clinical studies have confirmed the broad-spectrum antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral properties of honey.

Source: 247th National Meeting of the American Chemical Society (ACS), the world's largest scientific society, in Dallas, Texas.

Artwork: Glass Honey Pot with Lid and Dipper
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