New superfoods could help key protein keep bodies healthy

New superfoods could help key protein keep bodies healthy
Professor Paul Thornalley, Warwick Medical School. Credit: University of Warwick

A new generation of new superfoods that tackle heart disease and diabetes could be developed following research into a protein that helps keep cells in our bodies healthy.

Researchers at the University of Warwick found that the protein, called Nrf2, continually moves in and out of the nuclei of to sense the cell's and vitality.

When Nrf2 is exposed to threats to the cell's health it oscillates faster and activates an increase in the cell's defence mechanism, including raising the levels of antioxidant.

The researchers, from the University's Warwick Medical School, successfully increased the speed of Nrf2's movement by artificially introducing health beneficial substances – potential components of new superfoods.

The beneficial substances comprise broccoli-derived sulforaphane and quercetin, which is found in high-levels in onions.

The team used these insights to develop new food supplements, which are currently being trialled to decrease risk of developing diabetes and .

Published by Antioxidants and Redox Signalling, the research investigated the ways in which compounds in fruit and vegetables keep humans healthy.

The research team are the first to record the continual movement cycle of Nrf2, which sees the protein oscillate in and out of the cell nucleus once every 129 minutes. When stimulated by a health beneficial vegetable-derived substance Nrf2's cycle sped up to 80 minutes.

Lead researcher Professor Paul Thornalley says, "The way Nrf2 works is very similar to sensors in electronic devices that rely on continual reassessment of their surroundings to provide an appropriate response".

New superfoods could help key protein keep bodies healthy
Professor Paul Thornalley, Warwick Medical School. Credit: University of Warwick

Discussing the health benefits of the research Professor Thornalley argues:

"The of Nrf2 oscillating at a fast speed is that surveillance of cell health is increased when most needed, that is, when cells are under threat. By understanding how this process works and increasing Nrf2's speed without putting under threat, new strategies for design of healthier foods and improved drugs can be devised. Current designs may have selected substances with suboptimal if not poor health benefits in some cases."

Commenting on the research, Professor Andreu Palou, coordinator of the EU-funded BIOCLAIMS research programme said "A main nutritional challenge in Europe is to substantiate the beneficial effects of foods that are advertised to the consumers. The approach of the group of Prof Thornalley is opening a fascinating new window."


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Sep 11, 2014
And this is all a pile of hoopla when foods of any kind are genetically modified. All GMO foods are modified from their natural state, thus causing them to be partially unrecognizable by gut bacteria for digestion. The result of this creates nutritional deficiencies.

Do you eat fresh corn on the cob & wonder why you excrete undigested corn kernels? Yeah, it's called GMO which is almost 100% of what you buy at the food market or highway produce stands. A lot of other vegetables are GMO as well & this includes everything mentioned in this article as supposedly being healthful & assisting you with your protein requirements.

How about if we start seeing some authorship here by researchers pointing out that your body's gut bacteria cannot be modified to use GMO foodstuffs, then go on to the research contained in this article. Did the researchers producing this study use GMO or nonGMO?

Sep 11, 2014
This comment has been removed by a moderator.

Sep 14, 2014
Do you eat fresh corn on the cob & wonder why you excrete undigested corn kernels? Yeah, it's called GMO . . .

No, it's called the bran coat. It's mostly indigestible cellulose. It's not the product of GMO manipulation; It has always been there.

I share your mistrust of the motives for GMO but conveying misleading information, in a sense telling white lies, doesn't help your cause. In the end, you get caught out and look the worse for it.

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