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ORAC

Background: “What is ORAC”

ORAC stands for Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity. This is a scientific way of saying “How well does a certain food help my body fight diseases like cancer and heart disease?” Oxidation and oxygen radicals are well known and documented; this process leads to cell damage. Prevention or limitation of this damage will improve health and has led to increased sales of “antioxidant” food supplements.

The public is becoming more aware of foods and dietary supplements, which are naturally high in antioxidants and these fruits, vegetables and dietary supplements are promoted by numerous agencies and organizations. ORAC scores are used by nutritionists to identify which products and foods offer a higher capacity to absorb free radicals, the more oxygen a food can absorb the higher the ORAC score.

The use of ORAC scores easily identifies which foods are better at fighting cancer, heart disease, etc.

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ORAC – What’s the Score

The following is a publication by the United States Department of Agriculture;

Agricultural Research Service:

High-ORAC Foods May Slow Aging

By Judy McBride
February 8, 1999

WASHINGTON, Feb. 8--Foods that score high in an antioxidant analysis called ORAC may protect cells and their components from oxidative damage, according to studies of animals and human blood at the Agricultural Research Service's Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts in Boston. ARS is the chief scientific agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

ORAC, short for Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity, is a test tube analysis that measures the total antioxidant power of foods and other chemical substances.

Early findings suggest that eating plenty of high-ORAC fruits and vegetables – such as spinach and blueberries – may help slow the processes associated with aging in both body and brain.

"If these findings are borne out in further research, young and middle-aged people may be able to reduce risk of diseases of aging – including senility – simply by adding high-ORAC foods to their diets," said ARS Administrator Floyd P. Horn.

In the studies, eating plenty of high-ORAC foods:

  • Raised the antioxidant power of human blood 10 to 25 percent
  • Prevented some loss of long-term memory and learning ability in middle-aged rats
  • Maintained the ability of brain cells in middle-aged rats to respond to a chemical stimulus--a function that normally decreases with age
  • Protected rats' tiny blood vessels – capillaries – against oxygen damage

Nutritionist Ronald L. Prior contends, "If we can show some relationship between ORAC intake and health outcome in people, I think we may reach a point where the ORAC value will become a new standard for good antioxidant protection."

The thesis that oxidative damage culminates in many of the maladies of aging is well accepted in the health community. The evidence has spurred skyrocketing sales of antioxidant vitamins. But several large trials have had mixed results.

"It may be that combinations of nutrients found in foods have greater protective effects than each nutrient taken alone," said Guohua (Howard) Cao, a physician and chemist who developed the ORAC assay.

He and Prior have seen the ORAC value of human blood rise in two studies. In the first, eight women gave blood after separately ingesting spinach, strawberries and red wine – all high-ORAC foods – or taking 1,250 milligrams of vitamin C. A large serving of fresh spinach produced the biggest rise in the women's blood antioxidant scores – up to 25 percent – followed by vitamin C, strawberries and lastly, red wine

In the second study, men and women had a 13 to 15-percent increase in the antioxidant power of their blood after doubling their daily fruit and vegetable intake compared to what they consumed before the study. Just doubling intake, without regard to ORAC scores of the fruits and vegetables, more than doubled the number of ORAC units the volunteers consumed, said Prior.

Early evidence for the protecting power of these diets comes from rat studies by Prior, Cao and colleagues. Rats fed daily doses of blueberry extract for six weeks before being subjected to two days of pure oxygen apparently suffered much less damage to the capillaries in and around their lungs, Prior said. The fluid that normally accumulates in the pleural cavity surrounding the lungs was much lower compared to the group that didn't get blueberry extract.

Neuroscientist James Joseph and psychologist Barbara Shukitt-Hale at the center tested middle-aged rats that had eaten diets fortified with spinach or strawberry extract or vitamin E for nine months. A daily dose of spinach extract "prevented some loss of long-term memory and learning ability normally experienced by the 15-month-old rats," said Shukitt-Hale.

Spinach was also the most potent in protecting different types of nerve cells in two separate parts of the brain against the effects of aging, said Joseph.

"These cells were significantly more responsive when the animals ate diets fortified with high-ORAC foods – especially spinach – compared to unfortified diets," Joseph said. "The spinach group scored twice as responsive as the control animals."

Why spinach is more effective than strawberries – which score higher in the ORAC assay – is still a mystery. The researchers conjecture that it may be due to specific compounds or a specific combination of them in the greens.

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More details on this research appear in an article in the February issue of Agricultural Research, ARS' monthly magazine by United States Department of Agriculture; Agricultural Research Service: The story is also available at: http://www.ars.usda.gov/is/AR/archive/feb99/aging0299.htm

For a 2007 update:
Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity
(ORAC) of Selected Foods – 2007
Prepared by
Nutrient Data Laboratory
Beltsville Human Nutrition Research Center (BHNRC)
Agricultural Research Service (ARS)
U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)in collaboration with

Arkansas Children’s Nutrition Center, ARS, USDA, Little Rock, AR:
http://www.ars.usda.gov/SP2UserFiles/Place/12354500/Data/ORAC/ORAC07.pdf

Another article on USDA, Agricultural Research Service, addressing the possible role of ORAC in conjunction with degenerative diseases:

“Oxidative stress is considered to have a role in the process of aging and in the development of many chronic and degenerative diseases, such as cancer, heart disease, and neuronal degeneration such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease. Antioxidants in the diet may have a role in reducing oxidative stress and thus reduce the risk of these diseases.”

See for yourself:

http://www.ars.usda.gov/research/publications/publications.htm?SEQ_NO_115=214029

Can Foods Slow Down Aging?

Studies at the USDA Human Nutrition research centre on aging at Tufts University in Boston suggests that consuming fruits and vegetables with high ORAC values may help slow the aging process in both the body and the brain. Oxygen radical absorption capacity – measures the ability of foods, blood plasma and just about anything to subdue oxygen free radicals in test conditions.

These results have driven theories that the ORAC measure may help define the dietary requirement needed to help prevent tissue damage.Res-Juventa Reserveratrol Complex

It has been suggested for many years that damage by oxygen free radicals is behind many conditions associated with aging, including cardiovascular disease and cancer. Firm evidence supports the theory that a high intake of fruits and vegetables reduces the risk of cancer and a low intake raises risk. Recent evidence suggests that reduced brain function associated with aging and other disorders like Alzheimer’s may be due to increased vulnerability to free radicals.

It’s in the Blood

Several laboratories have reported that individual plant derived antioxidants (flavonoids) can be absorbed and are thought to have protective powers. Approximately 4,000 flavonoids have been identified, and constitute a major class of antioxidants and appear to be responsible for the major part of fruit and vegetable power. Scientists have found evidence that food antioxidants are not only absorbed but actually boost the antioxidant power of the blood

A study involving 36 men and women aged 20 to 80 was conducted with the participants doubling their daily fruit and vegetable intake. The average quantity of fruit or vegetable portions was increased from 5 to 10 a day and the relative ORAC daily units calculated. The daily ORAC consumption was raised from 1,670 to between 3,300 and 3,500, approximately double the previous score. Blood analysis indicated a 13 to 15 percent rise in blood plasma ORAC scores.  This study supports a preliminary study, which showed a 25 percent rise in serum ORAC after 8 women were given test meals made form high ORAC foods, red wine or vitamin C. Red wine was used as it tests high for ORAC and has been linked to a lower risk of cardiovascular disease.

You are what you Eat

The ORAC values of foods is so broad range that selecting the right foods is vitally important. For example, choosing six foods with lower values could provide less ORAC units than a single food with a high score. Studies have yielded even more support for high ORAC diets. High ORAC diets have been linked to the protection of nerve cells within the brain against effects of aging. Researchers have concluded that motor and memory loss cannot be prevented completely but high ORAC diets help prevention and management of these age related conditions. It is considered that ORAC may become the standard for antioxidant protection.

How is ORAC measured?

Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity (ORAC) is a standardized test adopted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to measure the Total Antioxidant Potency of foods and nutritional supplements. This standardized test was developed by Dr. Guohua Cao, a physician and chemist at the National Institute on Aging in Baltimore, Maryland. It provides us with a very precise way of determining the Free Radical destroying or neutralizing power of a particular food, supplement or compound.

Here's how it works: A sample of antioxidant in the form of food, drink, fruit, nutritional supplement, vitamin, or chemical substance (example, orange juice, carrot, or vitamin E) is put in a test tube to see how well and how long it takes to destroy or neutralize the free radicals. This test or substance is then given an ORAC SCORE that reflects the Power and Speed with which it does its job as an antioxidant. Dr. Cao and Dr. Prior of the Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University have established that their recommended 5,000 ORAC Units Daily help prevent certain age related diseases.

The Right ORAC Source for you

Res-JÜVENTA is produced in Spain through a patented process which uses the whole (pomace) Spanish Blue Grape (Vitis Vinifera), including its pulp, skin, seeds and stems. The result is a
100 % natural organic capsule containing a staggering ORAC count of 4,803 μmol TE/g.

Enough of Science

Ok, what does this mean for the average person?

The latest guidelines from the Food Standards agency (FSA) advises that everyone consumes at least 5 portions (1 portion = 80g) of fruit and vegetable a day.

A High ORAC diet, in an average day, could consist of;Res-Juventa Reserveratrol Complex

Strawberries (40g) & Kiwi (40g)
Stuffed pepper (80g) followed by a small Orange (80g)
2 servings of vegetables (Broccoli and Cauliflower)

This would yield in a total daily ORAC value of 3,400. But the average daily score for a more “normal” diet would be about 2,000 units. The aim of a high ORAC diet would be to achieve a daily intake of no less than about 5,000 units.

Supplementing a daily diet with a capsule of Res-JÜVENTA will add 4,803 μmol TE/g, thereby ensuring that the recommended ORAC intake is not only achieved, but is considerably enhanced.

While the daily intake of a Res-JÜVENTA will help reach the suggested daily value, we think that it is important to recommend an existing healthy diet which still includes fruits or vegetables. On the other hand, with our busy life style we may not always be able to obtain the required fruit and vegetable intake in any given day, and a daily Res-JÜVENTA will always be readily available to make up for the occasional deficit.

The following article was published on Nature.com on November 11, 2009 from the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition:

Dietary antioxidant capacity and concentration of adiponectin in apparently healthy adults: the ATTICA study.

For access to the article, please click on:
http://www.nature.com/ejcn/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/ejcn2009130a.html

The following article was published on Nature.com on September 21, 2009 from the Asian Journal of Andrology:

Uptake of Resveratrol and role of Resveratrol-targeting protein, quinone reductase 2, in normally cultured human prostate cells.

For access to the article, please click on:
http://www.nature.com/aja/journal/v11/n6/full/aja200956a.html

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