Citrus fruits may help in battle against lifestyle diseases

Flavanones in citrus combat high blood glucose, liver damage and oxidative stress. Also in the news: trampoline parks causing a rising number of injuries

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 21 August, 2016, 5:31pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 21 August, 2016, 5:31pm

The latest weapon against lifestyle diseases: citrus fruits

Oranges and their citrus siblings, lemons and limes, not only boost immunity, but may also help prevent the harmful effects of a Western-style, high-fat diet, according to a new study in mice. The secret lies in the fruits’ abundant antioxidants called flavanones. “Our results indicate that in the future we can use citrus flavanones to prevent or delay chronic diseases caused by obesity in humans,” says Paula S. Ferreira, a graduate student with the research team from Universidade Estadual Paulista in Brazil.

The researchers treated 50 mice with citrus flavanones called hesperidin, eriocitrin and eriodictyol. For one month, the mice had either a standard diet, a high-fat diet, or a high-fat diet plus one of the three flavanones. The high-fat diet without the flavanones increased the levels of cell-damage markers called thiobarbituric acid reactive substances (TBARS) by 80 per cent in the blood and 57 per cent in the liver compared to mice on a standard diet.

But the flavanones decreased the TBARS levels in the liver by between 50 per cent and 64 per cent, compared with mice fed only a high-fat diet. Eriocitrin and eriodictyol also reduced TBARS levels in the blood by nearly 50 per cent in these mice. In addition, mice treated with hesperidin and eriodictyol had reduced fat accumulation and damage in the liver.

“Our studies did not show any weight loss due to the citrus flavanones,” says lead researcher Thais B. Cesar. “However, even without helping the mice lose weight, they made them healthier with lower oxidative stress, less liver damage, lower blood lipids and lower blood glucose.”

The study did not state how many oranges need to be eaten for an effect to be seen. Next, the team will explore how best to administer these flavanones, and also plan to conduct studies involving humans. The study, presented at the National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society in Philadelphia, was partly funded by Citrosuco, an orange juice manufacturer in Matão, Sao Paulo.

Trampoline park injuries ‘emerging public health concern,’ doctors in Australia warn

The growing popularity of indoor trampoline parks – Hong Kong has two of these – has led to doctors in Australia calling for the implementation of national design and safety standards to ward off a potentially rising injury toll. In a new study in the journal Injury Prevention, researchers at Sydney Children’s Hospital found that in the space of six months, 40 children needed medical treatment at the just one trauma centre following a visit to a trampoline park. The researchers had reviewed the medical records of under-17s in the six months following the July 2014 opening of a trampoline park about 6km away from the hospital.

The average age of children seeking treatment was 10, but the youngest was just a year old. Most of the injuries (33 cases) occurred while the child was on the trampoline and had been predominantly caused by a failed landing (18 cases). But in eight cases the injury was the result of several people of different sizes using the trampoline at the same time.

Over half the children were injured while involved in simple jumping activities. But five were attempting somersaults or flips at the time. Six children were injured when they landed awkwardly on something on the trampoline, which included the protective padding.

Fifty-five per cent of the children sustained bruising or ankle sprains, but more than a third fractured bones (elbows and ankles). And five required surgery and a hospital admission.

Chronic pain linked to partners of people with depression

Partners of people with depression are more likely to suffer from chronic pain, research led by the

University of Edinburgh has found. The study, published in PLOS Medicine, shows that the two conditions share common causes – some of which are genetic whilst other causes originate from the environment that partners share. There are also significant overlaps between the risk factors for chronic pain and depression. Information, including genetic background as well as details about their experiences of pain and depression, from more than 100,000 people taking part in large nationwide health studies in the UK was analysed.

The experts say their findings shed new light on the illnesses and could one day help to develop better diagnostic tests and treatments. Professor Andrew McIntosh, Chair of Biological Psychiatry at the University of Edinburgh, says: “We hope our research will encourage people to think about the relationship between chronic pain and depression and whether physical and mental illnesses are as separate as some believe.”