Ahead of the curve: early-stage discoveries: EFA oleic acid, ginger, okra/yogurt

Good results in the lab can lead to larger human trials. Here are some of the most promising recent findings.
EFA oleic acid in MS

The essential fatty acid, oleic acid, aids the function of immune regulatory (T-reg) cells impaired by multiple sclerosis (MS). Doctors first exposed T-reg cells to oleic acid, which activated their immune-suppressing activity, counteracting arachidonic acid, a pro-inflammatory molecule that reduces T-reg cell metabolic sensors. Later, in the lab, doctors introduced oleic acid into fatty tissue samples from people with MS, and saw T-reg cells increase. The findings suggest environmental factors such as diets low in oleic acid play a role in MS.

Ginger counters autoimmune diseases

Neutrophils are a type of white blood cell that makes up much of the innate immune system. Autoimmune diseases like lupus and antiphospholipid syndrome (APS) form sticky, spider-web-like structures on neutrophils. Called neutrophil extracellular traps (NETS), these cause blood vessel damage and clotting. The active molecule in ginger, 6-gingerol, prevented NETS. In the lab, mice taking 6-gingerol had lower levels of NETS and less tendency to form clots. Doctors said 6-gingerol may be an adjunct treatment along with blood thinners.

Okra/yogurt blend improves lipids

Okra is rich in calcium, folic acid, potassium, vitamins B and C, and is high in fiber and low in calories. In this pilot study, 60 people with type 2 diabetes took 150 grams of yogurt alone, or with 10 grams of okra powder, with lunch and dinner. After eight weeks, the okra group had a significant decrease in fasting glucose levels, less insulin resistance, and lower total and LDL cholesterol levels. This appears to be one of the earliest okra studies in humans.

Reference: Journal of Clinical Investigation; 2020, 138519; Published Online

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