If you look at deep-colored berries–the blue, red, and purple–pigments in plants, they have specific health-related benefits being studied by scientists because these berries are rich in anthocyanins. If you’re eating blueberries, cranberries, pomegranates, black currents, beets, and acai, all these plant-based foods are rich in anthocyanins.
To put it in perspective, the anthocyanins in these fruits or vegetables are present only in tiny amounts. But they’re absorbed into your blood when you eat them, regardless of what your digestive acids do to the food. What happens is a physiological response with the purpose of helping to stop or at least slow down free radical activity. What you need to do is look at the actual scientific research that tells you how anthocyanins confer specific health benefits.
What science actually reports is that anthocyanins inhibit cancer cell growth by inducing apoptosis in a variety of cancer cell lines. At the same time anthocyanins also reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, enhance glucose tolerance and lipid profiles, improve eye function, and limit cellular oxidative DNA damage. Check out the scientific study, “Oxidants, antioxidants, and the degenerative diseases of aging.” The study is published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Low dietary intake of fruits and vegetables doubles the risk of most types of cancer as compared to high intake and also markedly increases the risk of heart disease and cataracts, according to the study. Since only 9% of Americans eat the recommended five servings of fruits and vegetables per day, the opportunity for improving health by improving diet is great.
Besides acai berries having health benefits studied by scientists, other beneficial pigmented plants include grapes, raspberries, strawberries, blackberries, cherries, especially tart cherries, and purple corn. Raspberries protect against DNA damage in HT-29 colon cancer cells and inhibit HT-115 colon cancer invasion. But the studies have been done “in-vitro.” (In the test tube apparatus).
If you look closer at the studies, in combination with other berry extracts–raspberry extracts have shown ‘efficacy’ against “oral, breast, and prostate cancers in the laboratory. Note the studies were in vitro or in laboratory studies. Where are human trials? The tests were done with cells and berry extracts in test tube-like apparatus in laboratories.
Strawberry extracts, grapes, and grape seeds have been studied in the lab and have been shown in the laboratory to inhibit colon cancer cell invasion, decrease LDL oxidation, and decrease platelet aggregation. They are taken as supplements for cardiovascular protection or at least marketed that way. See, Exercise Benefits Even the Oldest Old.
Grapes also have expanded the life span of fruit flies and may help in combating Parkinson’s and other neurodegenerative diseases. But the studies you want to look at should focus on any human results as far as health benefits. In other words, grape seed extract thins the blood. But grapes may contribute to high insulin levels as compared to grape seed extract without the sugars.
Scientists have tested strawberry, blackberry, and cherry extracts for health benefits such as reducing pain stemming from inflammation (tart cherries) and blackberries. Now articles are appearing after all the research has been done for years on the health benefits of berries–articles questioning whether the public is being shown marketing health claims or real science when it comes to foods and supplements.
On the other hand, each day, every cell in your body withstands 10,000 individual strikes by free radicals, according to the Life Extension magazine article, “The Secret Behind Acai.” So what would the average consumer require to be convinced and be able to separate health benefits of berries, for example from health claims made on packages of foods?
U.S. consumers are being misled by the health claims made on the packaging of foods and supplements, according to because those claims do not undergo the same scientific rigor required for such claims on medications, according to a new report by the Institute of Medicine, noted in the Health Day news article, “Health Claims on Foods May Not Be Well-Grounded,”
Should you believe what you read on a box of cereal that proclaims the breakfast food will lower your cholesterol? Think about it. Has the labeling claims had to pass the same government standards as the claims on the packaging of a cholesterol-lowering drug? What can you believe about food packaging as related to health benefit claims?
In marketing food packages, are standards lower than labeling for marketing commercial drugs? Food supplements or even packaged foods don’t have as high a go-ahead level as commercial drugs need? Why?
The big issue is whether to believe health claims for foods
Is there a role for the FDA to develop a way in which those health claims can be be better evaluated? Does the FDA even have resources, staff, and money to look at health claims on food packaging or supplements?
The health claims may be made regarding beneficial effects on biomarkers, which are a measure of a biological process, such as blood pressure or cholesterol. A cereal might be sold to consumers as being good for the heart when, in fact, that clinical outcome has not been tested, according to the article. But when health studies are limited to laboratory research with fruit extracts in test tube-like equipment and not with human trials, what can you really believe about the claims?
If you look at most supplements, you’ll see that some use biomarkers to make health claims. But if you read the actual scientific studies, ask yourself is the claim made from the context? Is a claim made because lab studies showed rats, for instance, had health benefits from the item, under laboratory conditions?
Without FDA looking at the supplements, no packaging can make a health claim of diagnosing or treating any type of disease. Only a drug can do that, according to the FDA’s laws. So no claims can be made as far as curing or treating a real disease. So the only claim left to food or supplement packagers is that the item inside the bottle can be used as a dietary supplement.
When it comes to whole foods, such as purple berries, even though experiments were made in laboratories or test tubes, common sense tells you that people eating a vegan diet or raw vegan foods for a few weeks can reverse some types of diseases caused by a lack of that type of nutrition. You can’t make any health claims that any specific food can treat or diagnose a disease.
For example, if you buy a pomegranate or grape seed extract, all the marketing claims a manufacturer can make on a food product is that it “helps support or maintain normal, healthy blood pressure.” You can’t make a claim in any advertisement that the food item or extract will lower the blood pressure of someone who wants to avoid taking drugs. That’s not legal, according to FDA rules.
You will be persecuted if you’re a manufacturer of a food item making a claim that some food or food extract will treat a disease. Only a “big pharmaceutical drug label” can make that claim legally. Check out the article, Angina Often Affects Quality of Life .
But if you publish a magazine on health, for example, what you can legally do is show a list of references to studies that showed that invasion by cancer cells, for example, were inhibited by anthocyanins. You can say, (which you can read in the Life Extension article,) that the antioxidants found in freeze-dried acai berry extract have been shown under laboratory conditions to “enter human cells in a fully-functional form and effectively neutralize free radicals at very low doses.” But you can’t say that if you buy acai extract, for example, that it will cure any disease.
What you can say is that pigmented plant foods rich in anthocyanins may serve as a “frontline defense against multiple diseases of aging.” In other words, you can say that blueberries, black currants, acai, and raspberries, have health benefits in general. Check out the article, Researchers Perfect the View of Heart Disease.
So getting health benefits from certain whole foods is more about what you can and cannot say in print, labeling on supplements or food packaging, or in advertising, than educating the public to look for themselves at those scientific studies online or in university libraries. For example, a review paper published in the Cellular and Molecular Neurobiology journal in 2008 outlined several known components of the Goji berries and their possible health benefits.
For example, Goji berries contain carotene and zeaxanthin, which are nutrients important for eye health. In addition, the fruit contains various water-soluble polysaccharides (a group of complex molecules) that appear to have beneficial effects on overall immunity, protection of body cells (from oxidation and aging), and brain health. See the article, Health Benefits of Goji Berry.
So what can you believe from the health claims? All you can surmise is that each year or two a new berry takes the front page on its health benefits. Three years ago it was exotic juices from Fiji or Hawaii. Two years ago it was mangosteen. Then last year, Goji berries. This year it’s Acai berries or extracts and juices. What will it be next year? Can berries help your heart against certain types of injuries if it helps rats’ hearts under laboratory conditions in various studies?
Claims made for foods (berries) to combat the effects of air pollution
And can any claims legally be made for foods combating the effects of air pollution in Sacramento neighborhoods, since so many private homes and apartments are around the corner from high traffic areas of the city. They may not hear the noise, but they breath the small particles of polluted air. Can berries help? Or does air pollution wipe out the benefits of pigmented plant foods?
The most powerful antioxidant berries to emerge in recent studies, according to the article, “The Secret Behind Acai,” published in the June 2010 issue of Life Extension magazine, page 40, contain “a class of polyphenols (plant-based compounds) known as anthocyanins.”
A decade ago, the health benefits of coconut milk were touted. Is it all about marketing? Why does the fruit of health restoration change each year? And the only logical place to go to right now is to look at the actual studies and think out what’s going to be helpful to humans when you read about experiments such as the study, “Berry Meals and Risk Factors Associated With Metabolic Syndrome.” European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, March 3, 2010.
If you read the abstract of the study, will you be able to understand in plain language that the berry meals were nutritionally significant by enhancing the liver function? Will you be able to sift through the technical terms to understand how the various berries contributed positively to decrease low-grade inflammation and how the berries decreased the risk of cardiovascular diseases?
Redox signaling: The capacity of the body to heal itself
If you want to define “redox signaling,” it’s about teaching people to understand the capacity of the body to heal itself. The scientific community also is studying redox signaling. In fact, redox research is at the forefront of biomedical research in how people can cure themselves of various human diseases. Can you heal your body or improve the odds if you live in a neighborhood of high traffic and polluted air and can’t afford to move?
To define redox signaling, it’s actually a process that examines how reactive molecules communicate between and within cells. Your mitochondria (mtDNA) produce molecules in every cell along with adenosine triphosphate (ATP) that fuels your cells and body.
Adenosine triphosphate (ATP) is considered by biologists to be the energy currency of life. It’s the high-energy molecule that stores the energy you need to do just about everything humans do. It is present in the cytoplasm and nucleoplasm of every cell, and essentially all the physiological mechanisms that require energy for operation obtain it directly from the stored ATP. (Guyton).
As food in the cells is gradually oxidized, the released energy is used to re-form the ATP so that the cell always maintains a supply of this essential molecule. One set of these molecules is responsible for activating antioxidants that fight free radicals and minimize oxidative stress. The second set of reactive molecules in intra and intercellular damage control communications, cellular protection and the healing response.
Redox signaling is vital to the body, but your cells lose the ability to heal themselves as you age. Have scientists really found a way to keep your body repairing your own cells, healing yourself when you have grown older, for example over age 70? For further information about redox signaling, approximately 100 publications were published last month on the topic in medical and scientific journals.
Check out the ASEAScience blog. But you have to look at the big picture for yourself and see what the medical research is showing. The entire science of redox signaling revolves around studying what happens at the cellular level with the basic premise that you live at the cellular level and that your body is naturally programmed, that is hardwired to heal and to repair itself. That means you’re programmed for health. Your cells were made for replacing themselves. As you age, that ability diminishes.
Can you protect your body’s ability to repair damaged cells due to air pollution?
Or you lack the ability to repair damaged cells, if you have certain diseases. So to protect each of your cell’s ability to repair and replace (caring and repairing) itself, there is a specialized set of molecules called redox signaling molecules. Your body manufactures these molecules continuously all day and night. As you age, your body becomes less efficient at repairing and replacing your cells. Are you trying to buy the fountain of youth? And how do you know what really works?
How do you tell the difference between healing and the placebo effect, which also can heal without you spending money if you have faith in the placebo? That’s what some of the reseach also is about. Young children operate at nearly 100% efficiency in what scientists call “the healing response,” a 70 year-old is operating at only 10% efficiency. So if you want to define what aging is about at the molecular level, then the definition of aging is reduction in your efficiency of your healing response.
And what you need to increase the efficiency of your healing response is to find a redox signaling supplement that works to increase the efficiency of your healing response as you age. Your supplement should increase your body’s ability to protect, repair, and replace cells. But does a supplement exist that works and is not a placebo? How do you tell the difference if you have no science training?
Can activating anti-oxidants help fight air pollution effects?
Who’s watching the consumer? And how much does the average shopper know about what really allows a cell to repair itself when it has aged or has some specific disease or condition? Redox signaling molecules are what your body creates to support the vital functions of your immune system. Those molecules are what your body manufactures within your cells. You already know how important they are for healing. One set of these molecules is responsible for activating antioxidants.
The other set of molecules are essential for cellular communication, cellular protection, and the healing response. So any food or nutritional supplement you take has to activate antioxidants and at the same time switch on the healing response. Your body makes these molecules. But is there really a good source of help out there that works in people over age 70 with a healing response operating at only 10% of how it operated when that person was younger? Is rapid aging inevitable? Or can it be slowed down, and if so, how much?
Is there an affordable supplement that works to help your body make its own molecules for healing even when you’re over age 70? Is the body the only source? Or is there some supplement that scientists have agreed upon that works? What researchers look for is how to balance those reactive molecules which can clean up free radical damage caused by oxidative stress at the cellular levels.
These questions are all about what the average shopper is concerned. You read news reports of how air pollution when driving in or living near heavy traffic damages the brain. When cells and tissues are damaged, by everyday living, they send out redox signaling messages for help.
This starts a cascade of messengers that are quickly spread throughout the affected area where they call for action to start the healing process. For further information, check out the key words Redox Signaling when you look through the various online medical databases such as PubMed.gov. Also see, What is Redox Signaling?
The science behind healing
You might wish to take a look at the book on the science behind healing written by Dr. Samuelson PhD, the scientist who discovered a method to stabilize redox signaling molecules. His book is online as a PDF file document, The Science of Healing Revealed. Listen to an audio file talk from the medical physicist on the topic of finding ways to stabilize “redox signaling.” There’s a talk on how cells function and other talks on the nervous system. Also check out the two uTube videos on the topic: Video 1 and Video 2.
If you’re looking for a product, check out the Avant Garde Wellness site. But as a watcher of watchers for shoppers, please check out the science and make sure anything you buy works before you buy the marketing. It’s the scientific facts you may want to explore and research. Ask yourself, what works and who has proven the facts behind the research? What numerous ways are there out there that are free that you can utilize to slow down aging and switch off those gene tags?
And what has science said about a fountain of youth that allows the body to repair itself even at an advanced age or through an illness or condition? Look at studies that show the results of research and how has it worked. Ask yourself: what can help cells repair and heal even when you’re old? Do you need a way to make your age-shortened telomeres longer? Check out the thread, “Redox Signaling Molecules.”