How OJ Helps You Through A Fast Food Meal

April 13, 2010 by  
Filed under Food & Nutrition


Ever wondered why fast food places also sell healthy orange juice along with their high fat, high-carbohydrate fast-food meals? They may not know it, but by eating foods containing flavonoids, particularly orange juice, with such meals it helps neutralise the oxidative and inflammatory stress generated by the such food and helps prevent blood vessel damage.

Endocrinologists at the University at Buffalo, the State University of New York, studied the effect of the preventative effect of orange juice on the risk of heart attack and stroke. Free radicals are known to induce inflammation in blood vessel linings and contribute to those conditions and they believed orange juice might be a key as it is heavily loaded with the flavonoids naringenin and hesperidin, which are major antioxidants.

They found that drinking orange juice with a meal high in fat and carbohydrates prevented the marked increases in inflammatory agents and that did not happen when study participants drank water or a sugary drink with the meal. The high dose of free radicals in fast food meals are a risk because the resultant high glucose and high triglycerides are known to be related to the development of cardiovascular events.

So what did the study subjects eat? It was based it on a typical fast food 900-calorie breakfast composed of an egg “muffin” sandwich, a sausage “muffin” sandwich and a serving of hash browns. The meal contained 81 grams of carbohydrates, 51 grams of fat and 32 grams protein.

Along with the breakfast, one group drank 300 calories of “not-from-concentrate” orange juice, a second group drank a 300-calorie glucose drink and the third group drank an equal amount of water. All participants were given 15 minutes to finish their food and drink. Blood samples were collected before the meal and at 1, 3 and 5 hours afterwards.

Analysis of the samples after the meal showed that oxygen free radicals increased an average of 62 percent with water, 63 percent with the glucose and 47 percent with orange juice. There also was an increase in blood components known as toll-like receptors, which play an important role in the development of inflammation, atherosclerosis, obesity, insulin resistance, and injury to cardiac cells than can occur after a blocked vessel is reopened. Orange juice also prevented a significant increase in SOCS-3, an important mediator of insulin resistance, which contributes to development of type 2 diabetes.

So if you are having a fast food meal make sure you get a glass of real orange juice to mitigate the damage, but I have to say that starting the day with a 900 calorie fat and carbohydrate feast is not the best way to stay healthy. Couldn’t they just have suggested halving the calorie count and having orange juice as a better option?

Warning on fruit juice and drug interactions

Sorry to be still on the fruit juice trail, but news this week had a real deja-vu quality about it for me. In the 1980′s, I was involved with a naturopath in the writing of a book called ‘The Medicine Chest’ which looked at the relationship and interaction between foods, vitamins and medicines. One of the things we flagged up then was how food can affect your medication. One example of this is the drug warfarin which interacts with vitamin K, which we get from food, and from the bacteria in our gut. Vitamin K is involved in the formation of special liver proteins, known as coagulation factors, which reduce the risk of haemorrhage or bleeding. Conversely, if you are susceptible to blood clotting, warfarin (because of how it interferes with the formation of these vitamin-K-dependent factors) may be prescribed for you. So you can see that if you increase the amount of vitamin K-rich foods then you can alter the effect that the warfarin will have in your body. Such foods include everyday items like spinach, lettuce, beef, broccoli and soy beans – good foods in themselves but to be discussed with your doctor if you are on warfarin.

Now the scientific world seems to have caught up with the research done by naturopaths over the years, which has always treated food as ‘medicine’ and been much more aware of its effects. Recent research presented at a US conference has now suggested that a chemical in grapefruit, orange, and possibly also apple juice, could stop anti-allergy drugs being absorbed properly. Grapefruit juice is already known to interfere with blood pressure drugs and indeed some medicines carry a warning that taking them alongside grapefruit juice could cause an overdose and normally your pharmacist will point this out to you. However, the latest finding shows that grapefruit juice had the reverse effect on fexofenadine, an antihistamine drug, making it less rather than more potent. Volunteers took the drug with either a single glass of grapefruit juice, or just water.

When it was taken with juice, only half the drug was absorbed, potentially reducing its effectiveness. The active ingredient of the juice, naringin, appears to block a mechanism which moves drug molecules out of the small intestine into the bloodstream and this substantially decreases the absorption of certain drugs.

The three juices mentioned have also been found to affect etoposide, a chemotherapy drug, some beta-blocker drugs used to treat high blood pressure, and cyclosporine, taken by transplant patients to prevent rejection of their new organs. Dr David Bailey of the University of Western Ontario, the study’s author, said: “This is just the tip of the iceberg – I’m sure we’ll find more and more drugs that are affected this way.”

OJ – Not for women?

August 29, 2008 by  
Filed under Food & Nutrition, Lifestyle, Womens Health

This is OJ as in juice, not as in Simpson, because starting the day with a glass of orange juice is seen as healthy habit, high in vitamin C and good for you. However, there are some reasons you might want to switch to another juice in the mornings – particularly if you are a woman. Recent research suggests that drinking orange juice frequently may put women at an increased risk of developing type two diabetes – a serious and debilitating disease that becomes progressively more common with age and obesity.

This is yet another study from the US, the home of OJ as they refer to their juice, and was done at Tulane University School of Public Health, in New Orleans. Over 70,000 women enrolled in the study, and dietary and medical records were analysed with these results:

Diabetes risk is LOWERED by 18% if the subjects added three daily servings of whole fruit because this slows down the rapid absorption of the natural sugars found in fruit as the fibres take longer for the stomach to digest. If you add in just one additional serving of leafy green vegetables then the risk was LOWERED AGAIN by 9%

Diabetes risk is INCREASED by 18% if one additional daily serving of orange juice is taken. This is because the natural sugars in juice are absorbed too rapidly in the stomach, causing a surge in blood sugar levels. Since the research was carried out only on women, it is not yet known whether men are at the same risk of getting diabetes if they drink orange juice. BUT, drinking large quantities of neat juice is not something to recommend as you are getting a large sugar load in one hit comes and because it comes in a liquid form it is absorbed rapidly into the body. People are not always aware either, that many types of fruit juices like orange, grapefruit and grape, contain as much sugar per serving as many fizzy drinks. That amount of sugar will help you put on weight, and that is another factor in promoting diabetes.

A couple of suggestions are either to cut your juice with water about 50/50 or switch to apple juice and cranberry juices – real juice, with bits and no added sugar because they have a much better sugar/nutrients ratio than citrus and grape- based juices.