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How rare sugars might help control blood glucose

In an era when the label “natural” hits a sweet spot with consumers, some uncommon sugars emerging on the market could live up to the connotation. Preliminary animal studies have suggested that allulose and other low-calorie, natural rare sugars could help regulate glucose levels. Now, researchers are investigating how they might exert such effects. They report their findings in ACS’ Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

Sucrose is the natural sweetener most labels refer to when sugar is on the ingredient list. It’s abundant, and manufacturers figured out long ago how to extract it on a large scale from sugar cane and other sources. Allulose, which is 70 percent as sweet as sucrose, and other rare sugars also can be found in fruits and vegetables but in very small amounts. Recently, however, researchers discovered an industrial way to produce allulose in large quantities from high-fructose corn syrup, which contains about equal parts glucose and fructose. Some studies have suggested that allulose can help control weight gain and glucose levels, but no one knew why. Tomoya Shintani and colleagues wanted to confirm that allulose — and potentially other rare sugars — yield these results and to take a step toward understanding why.

To investigate, the team of scientists gave three groups of rats plain water, water with high-fructose corn syrup and water with rare-sugar syrup (RSS) containing glucose, fructose, allulose and other rare sugars for 10 weeks. The rats drinking RSS-infused water gained less weight, had less abdominal fat, and had lower blood glucose and insulin levels compared to the high-fructose corn syrup group. The study also showed that the liver cells’ nuclei in the RSS rats exported to the cytoplasm higher amounts of glucokinase, an enzyme that reduces blood-sugar levels by helping convert glucose to its stored form, glycogen. Although further testing is needed, the researchers say, the findings suggest that rare sugars could be a good alternative sweetener.

The authors acknowledge funding from the Matsutani Chemical Industry Co. and Meijo University.

More: “Rare Sugar Syrup Containing D-Allulose, but not High Fructose Corn Syrup, Maintains Glucose Tolerance and Insulin Sensitivity Partly via Hepatic Glucokinase Translocation in Wistar Rats”

By American Chemical Society - Wednesday, March 8, 2017 - Full Story

Pulling the curtain back on the high cost of drugs

Extreme price hikes for a handful of pharmaceuticals in recent years have severely soured public sentiment toward the industry. Drugmakers are pushing back with a public relations campaign to highlight the new treatments they bring to the table. But industry watchers say what they might need instead is more transparency and perspective, according to the cover story in Chemical & Engineering News (C&EN), the weekly newsmagazine of the American Chemical Society.

Rick Mullin, a senior editor at C&EN, notes that part of the industry’s reputation problem is one of oversimplification. High drug costs, regardless of the reasoning behind the price tags, are often perceived by the public as gouging. But while some hikes have been deemed indefensible, some industry experts say that in other cases, high prices are a company’s way to cover the costs of getting drugs to the market, reflect the complexity of the health care payment system or are calculated based on long-term value — for curing chronic diseases, for example.

The public’s tendency to lump high-cost drugs into one category, say industry watchers, shows that the drug industry needs to communicate its pricing rationale more clearly. And, experts say, pharmaceutical companies also need to understand that even if a therapy can save the health care system or patients thousands of dollars in the long run, if a person has to choose between buying food and buying essential medicine, something needs to change.

More: “Costly drugs

By American Chemical Society - Wednesday, March 8, 2017 - Full Story

Fidgeting, And Magic Underwear

“Stop tapping your pencil!” my teacher called out. I didn’t. And one day he walked to my desk, threw me to the front of the class, then tossed me out of the classroom. Now, a study at the University of Missouri, shows that fidgeting has health benefits!

And have you heard of “magic underwear”?

By Dr. Gifford Jones - Monday, March 6, 2017 - Full Story

Antimicrobial substances identified in Komodo dragon blood

In a land where survival is precarious, Komodo dragons thrive despite being exposed to scads of bacteria that would kill less hardy creatures. Now in a study published in the Journal of Proteome Research, scientists report that they have detected antimicrobial protein fragments in the lizard’s blood that appear to help them resist deadly infections. The discovery could lead to the development of new drugs capable of combating bacteria that have become resistant to antibiotics.

The world’s largest lizard, Komodo dragons live on five small islands in Indonesia. The saliva of these creatures contains at least 57 species of bacteria, which are believed to contribute to the demise of their prey. Yet, the Komodo dragon appears resistant to these bacteria, and serum from these animals has been shown to have antibacterial activity. Substances known as cationic antimicrobial peptides (CAMPs) are produced by nearly all living creatures and are an essential part of the innate immune system. So, Barney Bishop, Monique van Hoek and colleagues at the College of Science at George Mason University wondered whether they could isolate CAMPs from Komodo dragon blood, as they previously had done with alligator blood to expand the library of known CAMPs for therapeutic studies.

The team used an approach known as bioprospecting. They incubated Komodo dragon blood with negatively charged hydrogel particles that they developed to capture the peptides, which are positively charged. With this method, they identified and sequenced 48 potential CAMPs with mass spectrometry. All but one of these was derived from histone proteins, which are known to have antimicrobial activities. Eight were synthesized and tested against Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Staphylococcus aureus. Seven of the peptides showed significant potency against both bacteria. The eighth was only effective against P. aeruginosa. The researchers conclude that Komodo dragon blood plasma contains a host of potentially viable antimicrobial peptides that could help lead to new therapeutics.—Full Article...

By American Chemical Society - Wednesday, February 22, 2017 - Full Story

“Dying, I Don’t want to be There When it Happens”.

Woody Allen, when asked for his opinion about death, replied, “I don’t worry about dying, I just don’t want to be there when it happens!” Unfortunately, Allen will be there and so will the rest of us. This week, why I have a personal interest in the end of life. And what can we all do to provide the best of care to loved ones near death?

Years ago I conducted a five year battle to legalize heroin to ease the agony of dying cancer patients. Readers, at that time, sent me funds to help with costs. Finally, when heroin was legalized in 1998, $450,000 was left in the kitty which I donated to the University of Toronto, Faculty of Medicine, to establish the Gifford-Jones Professorship in Pain Control and Palliative Care. For an update of the current situation, I recently interviewed Dr. Jeff Myers, the current Professor of Palliative Care. 

By Dr. Gifford Jones - Monday, February 20, 2017 - Full Story

Ways to Decrease the Risk of Heart Attack

Every 37 seconds in North America someone dies of a heart attack. But there are several natural remedies to protect the health of our hearts. They’re all available in Health Food Stores and are not associated with the complications of cholesterol-lowering and other prescription drugs. Remember, the first rule of medicine is to do no harm.

One – Get hooked on fish
Researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health report the magic ingredient in fish is omega-3 fatty acids. Fatty acids, like Aspirin, add oil to the blood, making it less likely that platelets will stick together to form a fatal clot.

By Dr. Gifford Jones - Monday, February 13, 2017 - Full Story

Thank You for Being Our Voice

Last week, I wrote that unless we use Singapore’s solution to hang drug pushers, we will never defeat the opioid epidemic in North America. This week, a strong response from readers.

By Dr. Gifford Jones - Monday, February 6, 2017 - Full Story

Increased Activity = Greater Brain Power

What would get more people walking? This activity shows tons of health benefits. And today one person in three over the age of 85 develops Alzheimer’s disease. This statistic should get everyone out of his or her chair and walking because a report from Tufts University in Boston shows that the most active people have the largest volume of gray matter in parts of the brain typically affected by Alzheimer’s disease.

Dr. Tammy Scott, at Tufts’ Neuroscience and Aging Laboratory, says, “Physical activity has consistently shown to be beneficial to brain health.” She adds, “There is increasing evidence that regular exercise lowers the risk of dementia.”

By Dr. Gifford Jones - Monday, January 30, 2017 - Full Story

Canada must improve prescription drug safety for seniors

Montreal – Canada needs a national strategy to address inappropriate prescribing practices that lead to the unsafe use of medications by seniors, says the author of a new study from the Institute for Research on Public Policy.

Seniors are the heaviest users of prescription medicines in Canada. On average, two-thirds take 5 or more prescriptions drugs over the course of a year and one-quarter take 10 or more, says Nicole Bernier. “It is estimated that as much as half of the medications given to seniors are taken incorrectly or are overprescribed, increasing the likelihood of adverse drug reactions and interactions.”

By News on the Net - Thursday, January 12, 2017 - Full Story

LeafSource : A Natural Remedy 100 Years in the Making

Can the fossilized remains of an ancient, organic forest treat many modern medical problems? Like Ripley, you might say, “It’s too good to be true”. But unlike today’s medicines, LeafSource has been 100 million years in the making!

The Cretaceous Age started 145 million years ago. It was the golden age of giant tree ferns, fresh marsh vegetation and rich food sources. But, unhappily, all ages end. Nevertheless, this period has been preserved in a seabed deposit in New Mexico, U.S.A. Now, its nutritious content is available in a capsule called LeafSource,

By Dr. Gifford Jones - Monday, January 9, 2017 - Full Story

What Did You Learn in 2016?

Mahatma Gandhi counselled, “Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever”. One never stops learning. So let’s see from this quiz how much you learned this past year.

#1 20 studies show that moderate drinkers live longer than teetotalers or alcoholics.

#2 North Americans with low levels of potassium are more likely to suffer a stroke due to a blood clot.

By Dr. Gifford Jones - Monday, January 2, 2017 - Full Story

MAO is a possible Alzheimer’s disease biomarker

Alzheimer’s disease affects more than 35 million people, a number that is expected to increase in the coming years. Currently, Alzheimer’s diagnoses rely on clinical neuropathologic assessment of amyloid-β (Aβ) peptide aggregates (plaques) and neurofibrillary tangles. But in ACS Central Science, researchers reveal that an enzyme already implicated in a host of neural disorders could someday serve as a biomarker.

By American Chemical Society - Tuesday, December 27, 2016 - Full Story

Red cabbage microgreens lower ‘bad’ cholesterol in animal study

Microgreens are sprouting up everywhere from upscale restaurants to home gardens. They help spruce up old recipes with intense flavors and colors, and are packed with nutrients. Now testing has shown that for mice on a high-fat diet, red cabbage microgreens helped lower their risk factors for developing cardiovascular disease and reduce their weight gain. The report appears in ACS’ Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

By American Chemical Society - Tuesday, December 27, 2016 - Full Story

Why Would God Have Made Wine So Good?

Why do I like Cardinal Amand Richelieu? I’m not an expert theologian. But I remember the Cardinal was a leading character in The Three Musketeers, a ruler more powerful than the King and known as “The Red Eminence” due to his red robe. But he also enjoyed red wine. He once remarked, “If God forbade drinking, would he have made wine so good?”

It appears that Jesus supported the use of alcohol. After all, he transformed water into wine. So why would a mortal like me ignore such sage teachings? Particularly, when there are more old wine drinkers than old doctors!

By Dr. Gifford Jones - Monday, December 26, 2016 - Full Story

Tiny barcodes are huge help in personalized cancer therapy

Tiny “barcodes” made of synthetic DNA can help determine the suitability of specific anticancer drugs to a specific patient before treatment even begins, according to an Israeli study recently published in Nature Communications.

The new diagnostic technology was developed by Technion-Israel Institute of Technology researchers led by Assistant Prof. Avi Schroeder of the Faculty of Chemical Engineering and the Technion Integrated Cancer Center.

“The medical world is now moving towards personalized medicine, but treatments tailored only according to the patient’s genetic characteristics don’t always grant an accurate prediction of which medicine will be best for each patient,” explained Schroeder. “We, however, have developed a technology that complements this field.”—More…

By ISRAEL21c - Wednesday, December 14, 2016 - Full Story

Toward opioid vaccines that can help prevent overdose fatalities

In 2014, the number of deaths from opioid overdoses in the U.S. jumped to its highest level on record. The spike brought national attention to the epidemic and the awareness that new interventions are needed. Now researchers are developing opioid vaccines that could one day help protect people from dying of overdoses. Their study, which tested the vaccines on mice, appears in the journal ACS Chemical Biology.

By American Chemical Society - Wednesday, December 14, 2016 - Full Story

LILT, A New RX for Concussions

If my children wanted to play a sport that involved head contact, would I be concerned? You bet I would. And I’d encourage them to think twice about their decision.  But concussions can also occur after a car accident and in unusual circumstances. To date, taking time off to smell the roses for months, has been the usual medical treatment. Now, a study shows that Low Intensity Laser Therapy (LILT), is producing amazing results. To learn more about this procedure I interviewed Dr. Fred Kahn, an international authority on LILT, in Toronto.

Dr. Kahn’s clinic has been using LILT for years to treat arthritis, sport injuries, wounds and dermatological diseases. This year he will also treat 500 cases of acute and chronic concussion with a greater than 90 percent improvement rate!

By Dr. Gifford Jones - Monday, December 12, 2016 - Full Story

Urine test for fatigue could help prevent accidents

Doctors, pilots, air traffic controllers and bus drivers have at least one thing in common — if they’re exhausted at work, they could be putting lives at risk. But the development of a new urine test, reported in the ACS journal Analytical Chemistry, could help monitor just how weary they are. The results could potentially reduce fatigue-related mistakes by allowing workers to recognize when they should take a break.

By American Chemical Society - Wednesday, December 7, 2016 - Full Story

A Miner Will Save Millions from Blindness

Would I, as a doctor, ever expect to meet a miner? As Mark Twain remarked, “A mine is a hole in the ground with a liar at the top”.  Luckily, I accepted an invitation to do just that, and discovered there is something new under the sun. This week, how “DIAGNOS”, a Canadian company in Montreal, has developed what’s called “computer assisted retinal analysis (CARA)”. This computer software will save millions of people around the world from blindness due to Type 2 diabetes.  So, did a miner become a retinal expert?

The slogan of DIAGNOS is “Beat it in a blink”. Patients simply look into a camera and a photo is taken of their retina, the back part of the eye. It’s the only part of the body where doctors can see arteries and veins and thus diagnose early diabetes.

By Dr. Gifford Jones - Monday, December 5, 2016 - Full Story