HEALTH news in brief

Health news: exotic berry high in antioxidants, brain networks weaker in premature babies

Ceylon gooseberry's skin could become a source of natural colourants and antioxidants for use in food manufacturing, say researchers.

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 25 October, 2015, 8:38pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 25 October, 2015, 8:38pm

Exotic berry skin and pulp found to have high antioxidant levels

The exotic Ceylon gooseberry is an attractive purple berry produced in the southwest tropics of Brazil. It is often used in jams and drinks, and is sold fresh. A recent study by researchers at Brazil's Campinas State University published in the Journal of Food Science has discovered that gooseberry skin and pulp contain higher antioxidants than those of other berries such as blueberries and cranberries. Ceylon gooseberries contain high levels of phytochemicals, which have been reported in several studies to prevent oxidative stress that can cause cancer and heart disease. Gooseberry skin could potentially be a source of natural colourants and antioxidants for use in food manufacturing.

Premature birth appears to weaken brain connections

Babies born prematurely face an increased risk of neurological and psychiatric problems that may be due to weakened connections in brain networks linked to attention, communication and the processing of emotions, new research shows. Scientists at Washington University Neonatal Development Research Lab used functional magnetic resonance imaging and diffusion tensor brain imaging to compare 58 babies born at full term with 76 infants born at least 10 weeks early. Each full-term baby was scanned on his or her second or third day of life. Each premature baby, meanwhile, received a brain scan within a few days of his or her due date. The researchers found that some key brain networks - those involved in attention, communication and emotion - were weaker in premature infants, offering an explanation for why children born prematurely may have an elevated risk of psychiatric disorders. The researchers say these brain circuit abnormalities probably contribute to problems that materialise as the children get older. They are planning to continue following the babies through to their teens.

Yoga in jails helps make better fathers A study of inmates at a county jail in the US state of Washington has found that yoga can help fathers in jail be better dads. The study, conducted at the Chelan County Regional Jail in Wenatchee, took place over three years with 14 different groups of male inmates. "We would have a class on a specific topic, like child development or setting limits," says researcher Jennifer Crawford, from Washington State University. "That would last about an hour, then a yoga instructor would come in and give a guided yoga class." Inmates demonstrated being more aware and accepting of their vulnerability and responsiveness to children, among other benefits. "Yoga can be physically demanding, and the initial responses we got from the participants confirmed that," Crawford says. "I believe the yoga practice helped participants become ready to learn and increased their willingness to try new ideas, absorb new information and begin to apply these in their lives."