Connect with us

NewsMakers

Carrots are healthy, but active enzyme unlocks full benefits

Carrots are a good source of beta-carotene, which is a precursor of vitamin A. But to get the full health benefits of this superfood, you need an active enzyme to produce this vitamin.

Published

on

Photo by Gabriel Gurrola from Unsplash.com

Carrots are a good source of beta-carotene, which is a precursor of vitamin A. But to get the full health benefits of this superfood, you need an active enzyme to produce this vitamin.

Beta-carotene is the bioactive compound that gives carrots their orange color. Studies with humans and mice show the conversion of beta-carotene to vitamin A reduces “bad” cholesterol in the blood. Thus, beta-carotene can help protect against atherosclerosis development, which leads to the accumulation of fats and cholesterol in our arteries. Atherosclerosis cardiovascular disease is the primary cause of death worldwide, says Jaume Amengual, assistant professor of personalized nutrition in the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition at University of Illinois.

Amengual and his colleagues conducted two studies to further understand the effects of beta-carotene on cardiovascular health. They confirmed its importance, but identified a critical step in the process.

Beta-carotene converts to vitamin A with the help of an enzyme called beta-carotene oxygenase 1 (BCO1). A genetic variation determines if you have a more or less active version of BCO1. People with a less active enzyme could need other sources for vitamin A in their diet, Amengual says.

The first study, published in the Journal of Nutrition, analyzed blood and DNA samples from 767 healthy young adults aged 18 to 25. As expected the researchers found a correlation between BCO1 activity and bad cholesterol level.

“People who had a genetic variant associated with making the enzyme BCO1 more active had lower cholesterol in their blood. That was our first observation,” Amengual notes.

To follow up on these findings, Amengual and his colleagues conducted a second study, published in the Journal of Lipid Research, using mice.

“In the human study, we saw that cholesterol was higher in people who do not produce much vitamin A. To know if that observation has an effect in the long run, we would have to wait 70 years to see if they develop cardiovascular. In real life, that is not doable. That’s why we use animals for certain studies, so we can speed up the process,” he explains.

“The main findings of the mice study reproduce what we found in humans. We saw that when we give beta-carotene to mice, they have lower cholesterol levels. These mice develop smaller atherosclerosis lesions, or plaques, in their arteries. This means that mice fed beta-carotene are more protected against atherosclerosis than those fed a diet without this bioactive compound,” Amengual states.

In the second study, the researchers also investigated the biochemical pathways of these processes, determining where in the body the effect occurs.

“We narrow it down to the liver as the organ in charge of producing and secreting lipoproteins to the bloodstream, including those lipoproteins known as bad cholesterol. We observed that in mice with high levels of vitamin A, the secretion of lipids into the bloodstream slows down,” Amengual notes.

Understanding how the BCO1 enzyme relates to cholesterol has important implications. Typically, high beta-carotene levels in the blood are associated with health benefits. But it could also be a sign of a less active BCO1 enzyme that is not converting the beta-carotene we eat into vitamin A.

Up to 50% of the population have the less-active variant of the enzyme, Amengual notes. That means their body is slower at producing vitamin A from a plant source, and they could need to get this nutrient directly from an animal source such as milk, or cheese, for example.

Zest Magazine accepts contributions promoting everything about living the good life (and how to make this so). C'mon, give us a yell.

NewsMakers

Optimism wards off procrastination

While procrastinators often admonish themselves for their “bad habit,” it turns out that their worries for the future are more to blame.

Published

on

People with an optimistic outlook on the future are less likely to be severe procrastinators, according to new research at the University of Tokyo. While procrastinators often admonish themselves for their “bad habit,” it turns out that their worries for the future are more to blame. Through a survey of nearly 300 young people, researchers found that those who had a positive view about their stress levels decreasing in the future, compared to the past or present, were less likely to experience severe procrastination. Views on personal well-being didn’t appear to have an effect. Improving people’s outlook and readiness for the future could help them overcome procrastination and achieve a less stressful lifestyle. 

How many times have you made a “to do” list, and although the most important task is at the top, you seem to be working your way up from the bottom or distracted by something else entirely? While we might chide ourselves for procrastinating, sometimes the more we try to overcome it, the more stressed we feel and the cycle continues. That is how it was for graduate student Saya Kashiwakura from the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences at the University of Tokyo, so she decided to investigate why.

“I have struggled with procrastination since childhood. I would clean my room when I needed to study for a test and prioritize aikido practice over my postgraduate research. This habit of putting off important tasks has been a constant challenge,” said Kashiwakura. “I wanted to change my behavior, as I realized that I was not confronting the future impact of my actions.”

This inspired Kashiwakura to examine the relationship between procrastination and the procrastinator’s perspective on time, particularly their view of the future. When she began researching procrastination, she was surprised to discover that many more people suffer from it than she had imagined and found it reassuring her problems were not unique.

Previous research has shown that a feature of procrastination is disregard for the future or difficulty linking present actions with future outcomes. However, the reasons for this have been unclear. Kashiwakura and co-author Professor Kazuo Hiraki, also from UTokyo, proposed that it might be because severe procrastinators have a more pessimistic outlook. 

The researchers surveyed 296 participants in Japan in their 20s for their views on stress and well-being, and importantly how these changed over time. This included asking about their experiences from 10 years in the past through to the present, and their expectations for 10 years in the future. From the results, participants were clustered into one of four groups (for example, if they thought their situation would improve or would stay the same), and then each group was divided into severe, middle and low procrastinators. 

“Our research showed that optimistic people — those who believe that stress does not increase as we move into the future — are less likely to have severe procrastination habits,” explained Kashiwakura. “This finding helped me adopt a more light-hearted perspective on the future, leading to a more direct view and reduced procrastination.” 

It was not only the level of stress people experienced, but how their perception of it changed over the 20-year time period discussed, which influenced their procrastination habits. Surprisingly, a relationship wasn’t found between procrastination and negative views on well-being, such as one’s attitude towards oneself, or not yet finding purpose and goals in life.

Using these results, the team wants to develop ways to help people nurture a more optimistic mindset and overcome procrastination. “We hope our findings will be particularly useful in the education sector. We believe that students will achieve better outcomes and experience greater well-being when they can comprehend their procrastination tendencies scientifically, and actively work on improving them, rather than blaming themselves,” said Kashiwakura. 

“Thoughts can change with just a few minutes of watching a video or be shaped by years of accumulation. Our next step is to investigate which approach is appropriate this time, and how we can develop the ‘right’ mindset to lead a happier and more fulfilling life.”

Continue Reading

NewsMakers

Study shows how night shift work can raise risk of diabetes, obesity

“When internal rhythms are dysregulated, you have this enduring stress in your system that we believe has long-term health consequences.”

Published

on

Just a few days on a night shift schedule throws off protein rhythms related to blood glucose regulation, energy metabolism and inflammation, processes that can influence the development of chronic metabolic conditions.

The finding, from a study led by scientists at Washington State University and the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, provides new clues as to why night shift workers are more prone to diabetes, obesity and other metabolic disorders.

“There are processes tied to the master biological clock in our brain that are saying that day is day and night is night and other processes that follow rhythms set elsewhere in the body that say night is day and day is night,” said senior study author Hans Van Dongen, a professor in the WSU Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine. “When internal rhythms are dysregulated, you have this enduring stress in your system that we believe has long-term health consequences.”

Though more research is needed, Van Dongen said the study shows that these disrupted rhythms can be seen in as little as three days, which suggests early intervention to prevent diabetes and obesity is possible. Such intervention could also help lower the risk of heart disease and stroke, which is elevated in night shift workers as well.

Published in the Journal of Proteome Research, the study involved a controlled laboratory experiment with volunteers who were put on simulated night or day shift schedules for three days. Following their last shift, participants were kept awake for 24 hours under constant conditions—lighting, temperature, posture and food intake—to measure their internal biological rhythms without interference from outside influences. 

Blood samples drawn at regular intervals throughout the 24-hour period were analyzed to identify proteins present in blood-based immune system cells. Some proteins had rhythms closely tied to the master biological clock, which keeps the body on a 24-hour rhythm. The master clock is resilient to altered shift schedules, so these protein rhythms didn’t change much in response to the night shift schedule.

However, most other proteins had rhythms that changed substantially in night shift participants compared to the day shift participants.

Looking more closely at proteins involved in glucose regulation, the researchers observed a nearly complete reversal of glucose rhythms in night shift participants. They also found that processes involved in insulin production and sensitivity, which normally work together to keep glucose levels within a healthy range, were no longer synchronized in night shift participants.

The researchers said this effect could be caused by the regulation of insulin trying to undo the glucose changes triggered by the night shift schedule. They said this may be a healthy response in the moment, as altered glucose levels may damage cells and organs, but could be problematic in the long run.

“What we showed is that we can really see a difference in molecular patterns between volunteers with normal schedules and those with schedules that are misaligned with their biological clock,” said Jason McDermott, a computational scientist with PNNL’s Biological Sciences Division. “The effects of this misalignment had not yet been characterized at this molecular level and in this controlled manner before.”

The researchers’ next step will be to study real-world workers to determine whether night shifts cause similar protein changes in long-term shift workers.

Continue Reading

NewsMakers

USANA Philippines celebrates 15-year anniversary

Beyond awards, the community it empowers is the true measure of success. From employees to Associates, life-changing opportunities allow them to grow both personally and professionally.

Published

on

USANA Philippines recently celebrated its 15-year anniversary in it its ongoing mission to maintain wellness. Company executives, ambassadors, Associates, and product users all attended this grand celebration — a testament to the unwavering commitment to reach one million families worldwide.  

Since its launch in 2009, USANA Philippines has received numerous accolades: Named among the best companies to work for in the country by the HR Asia Awards; Winning the prestigious Linchpin Award from the Asia Pacific Enterprise Awards (APEA); Recognized by Euromonitor as the Number 1 Vitamins and Dietary Supplements Brand in the Philippines for five consecutive years. 

But beyond awards, the community it empowers is the true measure of success. From employees to Associates, life-changing opportunities allow them to grow both personally and professionally.

When Analan Omambing, assistant customer service manager, joined USANA she was shy and introverted, but the support she’s received has pushed her to step up as a team leader.  “The career growth and personal development I gained here have transformed my personality significantly,” she says.  

USANA Philippines also creates ways to form meaningful relationships.  

“Direct selling, especially USANA, is all about relationships,” says Aurora Gaston, vice president for sales development.   

As the first employee hired by USANA Philippines, Loudelle Cinco, USANA’s regional controller in the Philippines, Thailand, and Indonesia has experienced it all.  

“One of the things I treasure is the friendship, having a family in USANA. This position has paved the way to building great and lasting relationships.”  

Over the past 15 years, USANA has seen a shift in their Associate’s perspectives — from a focus on individual success to embracing a more collaborative and inclusive view of the community.  

“This comprehensive development approach underscores USANA’s commitment to not only enhance the lives of our Associates but also empower them to make a meaningful difference in the world” shared Cherry Dionisio-Ampig, general manager for USANA Philippines.  

USANA consistently strives to make an impact by being responsive to shifts in consumer behavior. Changes made over the years include strengthening the brand through collaboration, embracing the evolution of social media, and ensuring Associates can effortlessly introduce USANA’s products to the world. And as USANA Philippines celebrates this milestone, its vigor to sustain wins and touch more lives grows even stronger.  

“We are dedicated to ongoing research and innovation to develop products that not only meet — but exceed — the expectations of families worldwide. By focusing on efficacy and quality, we aim to be the trusted partner in every family’s journey towards maintaining wellness” Cherry says.   

The 15-Year “Ignite the Vibe” celebration was held at the Marriot Hotel Grand Ballroom. It’s the final touch to the anniversary festivities that kicked off with a Thanksgiving Day event in January.

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Advertisement

Like Us On Facebook

Facebook Pagelike Widget

Most Popular

Copyright ©FRINGE PUBLISHING. All rights reserved.