A UNIVERSITY of Newcastle scientist has developed the most powerful “super food” on the planet following a breakthrough in antioxidant extraction technology.
In research to be unveiled by the university on Thursday, Dr Vincent Candrawinata, has developed a revolutionary way to extract antioxidants naturally using apples and water in a pioneering joint study between the university and the Department of Primary Industries.
He said his breakthrough had allowed him to develop the most potent dietary antioxidant available anywhere in the world.
It had all come back to finding a way to extract antioxidants from “the original super food,” the humble apple.
Dr Candrawinata said activated phenolics had long been considered the “Holy Grail” of antioxidants, as they posed “profound benefits” for human health, particularly in protecting the body against inflammation and cellular damage.
But until now, there had been no way to extract them from natural foods without using chemical solvents, which meant clinical trials and studies had been limited.
Activated phenolics were a powerful natural preservative, found in apples at a high concentration, he said.
“The reason my research was such a breakthrough was because for the very first time I invented a technology to extract phenolic antioxidants from apples using water, and without the use of any chemicals,” Dr Candrawinata said.
Dr Candrawinata said the phenolics in apples were more easily absorbed than others, and that they were the only source of “true broad spectrum” antioxidants.
“Throughout human history, out of approximately 1755 types of edible fruit, there has never been another that is said to keep the doctor away,” he said.
“That saying also exists in eastern cultures too, so you could say the apple is nature’s original super food.
“Sometimes to move forwards, we need to look back.”
Dr Candrawinata said antioxidants had a number of health benefits.
“Many studies have shown the positive relationship between phenolic antioxidants with the prevention, inhibition as well as recovery of diseases such as cardiovascular diseases, pulmonary diseases, allergy, as well as cancers,” he said.
Phenolics in apples were responsible for protecting the fruit from degradation from UV light and disease.
They performed a similar role in humans, protecting cells against damage that could lead to ageing, inflammation and cell mutations.
Dr Candrawinata said the antioxidants worked to relieve “oxidative stress” of the cells and neutralise free radicals.
“So at its core what they do is increase the efficiency of cellular activity,” he said.
Dr Candrawinata said the use of chemical solvents in previous extraction methods had posed two major problems.
The first was the potential for chemical residue to build up in the body, particularly if the supplement was taken every day.
“There have been a lot of reports into how some health supplements could be dangerous, especially in regards to the liver and kidneys, because if things do not get absorbed, those organs are the ones that have to deal with all the residue,” he said.
“Secondly, the chemical solvents are not compatible with our body system. If you need such a harsh chemical solvent to extract these compounds out, how can our body possibly utilise it, because our bodies do not possess these kinds of solvents.”
By developing this new water soluble antioxidant, he had created something natural and compatible with the human body which would open the door for “limitless” studies into the benefits of antioxidants.
“Before, researchers around the world couldn’t trial this product because it would be inhumane and unethical to give someone something that potentially could be dangerous to people,” he said.
“But now, what the technology that I have developed has allowed the scientific and medical community to do, is to further the health studies of phenolic antioxidants.”
Dr Candrawinata said the exact process used to extract the antioxidants was patented and protected.
But he said they had essentially found a way to manipulate and change the behaviour of water molecules in order to achieve a high efficiency extraction process.
He believed that science should not sit in papers and “collect dust in a library,” but be put into action instead.
Supported and championed by the University of Newcastle, Dr Candrawinata has now used the technology to develop a supplement range.
“I want to be in the frontline of preventative action rather than curative,” he said.
“Conventional medicine is doing a great job in terms of finding treatments and cures for people who have already developed diseases and problems.
“I want to tackle the issues long before.”
It had been a steep learning curve for the scientist to venture into the commercial world, but with the backing of two key investors and the support of the University of Newcastle, the NSW Department of Primary Industries and Horticulture Australia, Dr Candrawinata now has his supplement, Renovatio, on the market.
He said it was inevitable that others would try to copy it and market it as a similar product, but he had trademarked a certification logo. He had also trademarked the phrase, “an apple a day.”
Dr Candrawinata hopes his phenolic antioxidant may one day help to lift minimum health levels in developing countries where fresh fruit and vegetables are not prevalent.
“In countries where nutrition is poor due to factors such as drought or poverty, activated phenolics could have a transformational impact,” he said.
“Often these communities also have limited access to healthcare so prevention and recovery is key.”