Livin' on the MDedge

A purple warrior rises in the battle against diabetes


One-eyed, one-horned, flying purple veggie eater

Big Fruits and Vegetables is at it again. You notice how they’re always like “Oh, vegetables are good for your health,” and “Eating fruits every day makes you live longer,” but come on. It’s a marketing ploy, leading us astray from our personal savior, McDonald’s.


Just look at this latest bit of research: According to researchers from Finland, eating purple vegetables can protect against diabetes. Considering nearly 40 million Americans have diabetes (and nearly 100 million have prediabetes), anything to reduce the incidence of diabetes (people with diabetes account for one-fourth of every dollar spent in U.S. health care) would be beneficial. So, let’s humor the fruits and veggies people this time and hear them out.

It all comes down to a chemical called anthocyanin, which is a pigment that gives fruits and vegetables such as blueberries, radishes, and red cabbages their purplish color. Anthocyanin also has probiotic and anti-inflammatory effects, meaning it can help improve intestinal lining health and regulate glucose and lipid metabolic pathways. Obviously, good things if you want to avoid diabetes.

The investigators also found that, while standard anthocyanin was beneficial, acylated anthocyanin (which has an acyl group added to the sugar molecules of anthocyanin) is really what you want to go for. The acylated version, found in abundance in purple potatoes, purple carrots, radishes, and red cabbages, is tougher to digest, but the positive effects it has in the body are enhanced over the standard version.

Now, this all a compelling bit of research, but at the end of the day, you’re still eating fruits and vegetables, and we are red-blooded Americans here. We don’t do healthy foods. Although, if you were to dye our burgers with anthocyanin and make them purple, you’d have our attention. Purple is our favorite color.

Manuka honey better as building material than antibiotic

Milk, according to the old saying, builds strong bones, but when it comes to patients with bone loss caused by various medical reasons, researchers found that manuka honey, produced only in New Zealand and some parts of Australia, may also do the job. They soaked collagen scaffolds used for bone implants in various concentrations of the honey and found that 5% led to higher mineral formation and osteoprotegerin production, which suggests increased bone production.

Marley Dewey

But, and this is a pretty big one, the other half of the study – testing manuka honey’s ability to ward off bacteria – wasn’t so successful. Bone implants, apparently, count for almost half of all hospital-acquired infections, which obviously can put a damper on the healing process. The hope was that a biomaterial would be more effective than something like metal in lessening bacteria formation. Nope.

When the researchers soaked paper disks in honey and added them to cultures of Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Staphylococcus aureus, none of the various concentrations stopped bacterial growth in the scaffolding, even when they added antibiotics.

The sticky conclusion, you could say, is more bitter than sweet.


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