Manchester.ac.uk – Eating purple fruits such as blueberries and drinking green tea can help ward off illnesses often associated with aging, including Alzheimer’s, Multiple Sclerosis and Parkinson’s, a University of Manchester report claims.

Ground-breaking research from Professor Douglas Kell, published in the journal Archives of Toxicology, has found that the majority of debilitating illnesses are in part caused by poorly-bound iron which causes the production of dangerous toxins that can react with the components of living systems.

These toxins, called hydroxyl radicals, cause degenerative diseases of many kinds in different parts of the body.

In order to protect the body from these dangerous varieties of poorly-bound iron, it is vital to take on nutrients, usually polyphenols, known as iron chelators, which can bind the iron tightly.

Brightly-colored fruits and vegetables are excellent sources of chelators, as is green tea, with purple fruits considered to have the best chance of binding the iron effectively .

However, despite conflicting reports, the widely-publicized benefits of red wine seem to work in a different way, and have no similar benefits, Professor Kell’s paper noted.

This new paper is the first time the link has been made between so many different diseases and the presence of the wrong form of iron, and gives a crucial clue as to how to prevent them or at least slow them down.

Professor Kell argues that the means by which poorly-liganded iron accelerates the onset of debilitating diseases shows up areas in which current, traditional thinking is flawed and can be dangerous.

For instance, Vitamin C is thought to be of great benefit to the body’s ability to defend itself against toxins and diseases.

However, Professor Kell, who is Professor of Bioanalytical Science at the University, indicates that excess vitamin C can in fact have the opposite effect to that intended if unliganded iron is present.

Only when iron is suitably and safely bound (“chelated”) will vitamin C work effectively.

Professor Kell said: “Much of modern biology has been concerned with the role of different genes in human disease.”

“The importance of iron may have been missed because there is no gene for iron as such. What I have highlighted in this work is therefore a crucial area for further investigation, as many simple predictions follow from my analysis.

“If true they might change greatly the means by which we seek to prevent and even cure such diseases.”

The recent study is available free, in full, online here:

Iron, Alzheimer’s, and other illnesses of aging

Reference: Kell DB. Towards a unifying, systems biology understanding of large-scale cellular death and destruction caused by poorly liganded iron: Parkinson’s, Huntington’s, Alzheimer’s, prions, bactericides, chemical toxicology and others as examples. Arch Toxicol 2010; 577, 825-889: DOI: 10.1007/s00204-00010-00577-x

The paper has been selected by the Faculty of 1000 http://f1000.com/5799956 and was introduced in an Editorial: Bolt, H. M. & Marchan, R. (2010). Iron dysregulation: an important aspect in toxicology. Arch Toxicol 577, 834-824.

It builds on an earlier paper, also available as Open Access: Kell, D. B. (2009). Iron behaving badly: inappropriate iron chelation as a major contributor to the aetiology of vascular and other progressive inflammatory and degenerative diseases. BMC Medical Genomics 2, 2 http://www.biomedcentral.com/1755-8794/2/2/