Diet plays a key role in keeping us healthy, from supporting the immune system to weight management, what we eat and drink really does matter. This week’s Nutrition News covers the latest research papers so you can keep informed in the ever changing world of health.

Orange juice bioactives on the immune system and inflammation

It’s perhaps never been so important to ensure your immune system is well supported and important to remember that nutrition is a vital part of this. A recent review has explored the effects of nutrition on the immune system and found the micronutrients of orange juice to bolster the immune response and lessen the effects of oxidative stress and inflammation.

The review, reported by NutraIngredients and carried out by researchers at Southampton University in the Nutritional Immunology department, looked at almost 200 studies carried out over the past 20 years. These studies evaluated vitamin C and folate in citrus juices and their role in maintaining immunological barriers and supporting the immune function of cells, which includes phagocytes, natural killer cells, T-cells and B-cells.

The conclusion of the review was that such fruit juices were an excellent way of absorbing these immune supporting nutrients and that, due to the different types of polyphenols, such as hesperidin, narirutin and naringin, contained in citrus fruit juice, they can also have an anti-inflammatory effect.

Omega 3 could extend life expectancy

We’ve been told for a while that omega 3s are beneficial to health but a recent report goes even further by suggesting they could extend life expectancy.

The study, which used data from the Framingham Offspring Cohort and was reported by EurekAlert, established that omega 3 levels in blood erythrocyte were an accurate predictor of mortality risk. It is thought that having higher levels of these fatty acids in the blood could increase life expectancy by as much as five years.

The findings are based on data that followed 2,200 people over an 11 year period. It is worth noting that the findings are restricted to those in the study, who were over the age of 65 and all from Massachusetts, so further research would be needed to establish a link between omega 3 and prolonged life expectancy amongst the broader population.

What was interesting, according to the researchers, was that 4 types of fatty acids were found to be associated with longer life expectancy, omega 3 being one of them. Study author, Dr. Aleix Sala-Vila, a postdoctoral researcher in the IMIM's Cardiovascular Risk and Nutrition Research Group said of these findings, “It reinforces the idea that small changes in diet in the right direction can have a much more powerful effect than we think, and it is never too late or too early to make these changes.”

The benefits of apple cider vinegar

Apple cider vinegar is made from fermented apple juice and is thought to provide a wealth of health benefits. As well as being used as a pickling aid to prolong the shelf life of food, apple cider vinegar is also thought to support the body’s defences in warding off infections.

According to this Healthline video, apple cider vinegar is also considered to be helpful in weight management through increasing feelings of fullness. Apple cider vinegar has antimicrobial properties therefore many people believe it is useful in keeping the skin healthy and support its resistance to infections.

Some people consume apple cider vinegar through cooking, mixing in water or as a food supplement. Each method is an effective way of getting more apple cider vinegar into your diet and could support a healthy lifestyle.

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Alison Astill-Smith author Alison is the Founder of Metabolics who writes about Metabolics updates, events and natural healthcare. Her experience and passion for natural supplements and healthcare comes from her years of experience as a practising osteopath, having founded Metabolics in her search for high quality, natural products in her own work. Alison has been a qualified and practising Osteopath since 1981 and regularly gives seminars on a range of healthcare subjects to the wider practitioner community helping share her knowledge and experience.