Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Eating Your Veggies May Provide Additional Health Benefits

Date:
June 14, 2007
Source:
Arizona State University
Summary:
Mom may have been right all along, especially when we were hormone-raging teenagers: Eat your veggies and good things will happen. In a new physiological study of birds, a researcher has found that carotenoids, the pigments that color carrots orange and corn yellow, have even deeper health benefits than originally thought. They appear to fight off the negative impacts that testosterone can have on an animal's health.

A male zebra finch. In physiological studies with the zebra finch researchers found a connection between testosterone, dietary antioxidants and bird coloration.
Credit: Kevin McGraw, Arizona State University

Mom may have been right all along, especially when we were hormone-raging teenagers, eat your veggies and good things will happen.

In a new physiological study of birds, a researcher at Arizona State University has found that carotenoids, the pigments that color carrots orange and corn yellow, have even deeper health benefits than originally thought. They appear to fight off the negative impacts that testosterone can have on an animal's health.

The researchers, Kevin McGraw an assistant professor in ASU's School of Life Sciences and Daniel Ardia, of Franklin and Marshall College in Pennsylvania, focused their work on zebra finches, a common domesticated pet bird originally from Australia. Carotenoids are known to play several key roles in birds and fish, including contributing to their bright colors, which acts as a signal to attract potential mates. They also act as an antioxidant in the body, which improves immune system function.

"Researchers in animal behavior often study what keeps sexual signals like bright colors or elaborate songs 'honest,' or why all individuals cannot produce them ad nausea and try to get mates," said McGraw. "The reason typically is that long tails and fancy dances incur costs. Testosterone, for example, has been thought of as a double-edged sword as it relates to sexual signals, because it enhances trait production but comes at a health price to the animal."

"This study shows that testosterone may not be as costly as previously thought, so long as animals can nutritionally offset the immune detriments of testosterone. They may even experience a net health benefit as a result," explained McGraw, who studies the functions of naturally occurring chemicals in birds and their relationship to the birds' colors and health.

"In the case of the zebra finch, the cost is in the pigments -- having enough of them to develop a red beak and enough to combat testosterone, which you also need to be red."

McGraw and Ardia describe their findings in "Do carotenoids buffer testosterone-induced immunosupression" An experimental test in a colorful songbird," in the current issue (June 6, 2007) of Biology Letters, a journal of the Royal Society, London.

The researchers experimentally examined the relationship between testosterone, carotenoids and immune state in 35 male and female zebra finches. They surprisingly found that when they administered testosterone implants to zebra finches that it acted as a stimulant to the immune system. They went on to show that carotenoids acquired from food and circulating through the blood were changing in ways that were linked to testosterone levels. Birds who were given additional testosterone depleted their carotenoid levels and became healthier, as if they were combating testosterone directly with antioxidants.

"These findings show that there are nutrient specific mechanisms by which animals can avoid the immune costs of testosterone elevation and still keep their attractive and bright colors," McGraw said. Most previous studies of this sort have focused on physiological or even genetic links between testosterone and health. He adds that it is worth considering the implications for human nutrition and health.

"If testosterone is having immunosuppressive effects in human men, perhaps they too could benefit from increased carotenoid intake, say, by eating more corn," he said.

"This study certainly opens the door for future work on nutritional/antioxidant therapy for the hormonally immunocompromised," McGraw added. "The interface between diet and health in animals is a fascinating one. But we need a much better understanding of their interactions, as with testosterone, at the molecular level."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Arizona State University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Arizona State University. "Eating Your Veggies May Provide Additional Health Benefits." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 14 June 2007. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/06/070612105519.htm>.
Arizona State University. (2007, June 14). Eating Your Veggies May Provide Additional Health Benefits. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 24, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/06/070612105519.htm
Arizona State University. "Eating Your Veggies May Provide Additional Health Benefits." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/06/070612105519.htm (accessed July 24, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

New Painkiller Designed To Discourage Abuse: Will It Work?

New Painkiller Designed To Discourage Abuse: Will It Work?

Newsy (July 24, 2014) The FDA approved Targiniq ER on Wednesday, a painkiller designed to keep users from abusing it. Like any new medication, however, it has doubters. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Doctor At Forefront Of Fighting Ebola Outbreak Gets Ebola

Doctor At Forefront Of Fighting Ebola Outbreak Gets Ebola

Newsy (July 24, 2014) Sheik Umar Khan has treated many of the people infected in the Ebola outbreak, and now he's become one of them. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Condemned Man's US Execution Takes Nearly Two Hours

Condemned Man's US Execution Takes Nearly Two Hours

AFP (July 24, 2014) America's death penalty debate raged Thursday after it took nearly two hours for Arizona to execute a prisoner who lost a Supreme Court battle challenging the experimental lethal drug cocktail. Duration: 00:55 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Can Watching TV Make You Feel Like A Failure?

Can Watching TV Make You Feel Like A Failure?

Newsy (July 24, 2014) A study by German researchers claims watching TV while you're stressed out can make you feel guilty and like a failure. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

    Health News

      Environment News

        Technology News



          Save/Print:
          Share:

          Free Subscriptions


          Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

          Get Social & Mobile


          Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

          Have Feedback?


          Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
          Mobile: iPhone Android Web
          Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
          Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
          Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins