Newsletter: November 6, 2018

Researched and written weekly by the editorial team of Food Technology magazine, the IFTNEXT Newsletter explores what are, arguably, the next big things in the science of food through original reporting of scientific breakthroughs, leading-edge technology, novel food components, and transdisciplinary R&D.

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Orange JuiceThermal treatment of orange juice can increase absorption of carotenoids
Certain types of cold treatment used by the citrus juice processing industry greatly impact the color of orange juice and the concentration and bioaccessibility of the carotenoids present in the juice, according to a study published in the Journal of Functional Foods

The researchers analyzed fresh orange juice, pasteurized orange juice, and ultra-frozen orange juice thawed at room temperature, in a microwave oven, and in a refrigerator. The results showed that while there was some loss of carotenoids in the juices that underwent cold treatments, the juices that were ultra-frozen and then thawed at room temperature or defrosted in a microwave had more bioaccessible carotenoids than fresh juice. Thermal treatments affect the structure of carotenoids, reducing the size of the particles and degrading cellular material. The researchers believe that this may help with the release of carotenoids from the matrix that are then absorbed by the intestines. 

The researchers plan to conduct another study to determine the content of certain carotenoids in the blood of subjects after they consume various samples of orange juice that underwent the processing conditions. 


TrehaloseNatural sugar could help prevent diabetes
Sugars aren’t typically associated with health benefits, but studies by researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis suggest that the natural sugar trehalose and a related sugar, lactotrehalose, could be therapeutic in the treatment of insulin resistance, a hallmark of type 2 diabetes. 

Study results published recently in the journal JCI Insight showed that mice that received trehalose in their drinking water had improved insulin resistance—a benefit similar to that produced by fasting. The researchers determined that trehalose, a Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) food additive, has the ability to block glucose from the liver, thus turning on a gene called Aloxe3, which improves insulin sensitivity.  

“We learned that this gene, Aloxe3, improves insulin sensitivity in the same way that common diabetes drugs—called thiazolidinediones—improve insulin sensitivity,” says researcher Brian DeBosch, MD, an assistant professor of pediatrics at the medical school. “And we showed that Aloxe3 activation in the liver is triggered by both trehalose and by fasting, possibly for the same reason: depriving the liver of glucose. 

“Our data suggest that fasting—or giving trehalose with a normal diet—triggers the liver to change the way it processes nutrients, in a beneficial way,” he summarizes. “And if glucose can be blocked from the liver with a drug, it may be possible to reap the benefits of fasting without strictly limiting food.”  

Activating the Aloxe3 gene had additional health benefits in the mice. It increased calorie burning, reduced fat accumulation and weight gain, and lowered measures of fats and cholesterol in the blood.  

Lactotrehalose may prove even more therapeutically valuable than trehalose, the researchers report, because it does not break apart in the digestive tract. DeBosch explains it like this: “Lactotrehalose resists breakdown by host and microbial machinery, a property that likely increases both effectiveness and safety of the compound. … We have quite a bit more data on lactotrehalose that should come out in about six to seven months in press. Stay tuned! 
“The data show the therapeutic effects of lactotrehalose in mice in comparison to trehalose,” he continues. “We think this next chapter is perhaps even more exciting than the current one!”  


TickAllergen in red meat may be associated with heart disease
It’s known that diets high in saturated fats may contribute to blocked arteries and heart disease. Researchers have discovered another possible factor in the development of heart disease: an allergen in red meat. 

“This research identified an association between an allergic response to a specific sugar in mammalian meat and coronary artery disease,” explains Jeffrey Wilson, a medical doctor and a research fellow at the University of Virginia. “Although there have been prior hints that there could be links between allergic disease and coronary artery disease, this is the first report that has implicated a specific allergen.” 

People can develop sensitivity to the allergen, called galactose-α-1,3-galactose, when bitten by the lone star tick. “Because the sensitivity relates to the lone star tick, it is most common in areas where the lone star tick is endemic,” says Wilson. “There have been few population-based studies but in small studies we have found that ~20% of adults in parts of the Southeastern U.S. have the sensitivity.” Researchers are currently unaware of sources other than the ticks that can lead to the sensitivity, he adds. 

The results of the study found that a specific blood marker—a type of antibody (immunoglobulin or IgE) specific to the galactose-α-1,3-galactose allergen—was associated with higher levels of fatty deposits on the inner linings of the arteries.  

Wilson stresses that the novel finding currently represents an association. “Additional investigations will be necessary to determine whether measuring for this specific allergic response, which can be done with a blood test, will be helpful for managing coronary artery disease.” He says there are plans to further the research by conducting larger clinical studies and investigations in animal models. 

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Published every Tuesday, this newsletter explores what are, arguably, the next big things in the science of food.