Science chat with Dr Vincent Candrawinata

Does an apple a day really keep the doctor away?

Founder of Renovatio Bioscience and UON scientist Dr Vincent Candrawinata seems to think so, and he has the evidence to back it up.

“This is a saying in both Eastern and Western culture, stretching back thousands of years. And of course out of the 1755 known edible fruits and vegetables, apples have the very broadest range of phenolic antioxidants,” he said.

Vincent is at the forefront of antioxidant extraction technology, developing the most potent antioxidant in the world using only apples and water.

“Phenolic antioxidants are the most powerful form of antioxidants known, but the problem has always been with the extraction that made them bio-available in the human body. Given the health benefits, I wanted to take on the challenge and finally crack the nut (or apple as the case may be).”

In the past, supplements have been only created by synthetic processes in a lab or extracted from natural foods using chemicals – both of which prove challenging for the body to break down and absorb the benefits.

As part of his PhD project, Vincent found a way to manipulate water molecules so that phenolics from apples could be extracted without the methanol, ethanol or acetone which is usually required. This natural extraction technology is a world first in the eighty-year history of supplement development.

But with the vast array of antioxidants and supplements already on the market, what are the actual benefits of phenolic antioxidants?

Vincent was kind enough to break it down for me, and it’s clear just how amazing his discovery his.

Antioxidants work by lending their electrons to stabilise free-radicals, which are linked to cancer. The thing about electrons is that always need to be in pairs. Oxidative stress can cause these electrons to separate, leaving single electrons. As a result, they bounce around the body seeking other electrons to pair up with, causing damage to cells, proteins and DNA in the process. (Which seems kind of like Love Island now that I think about it.) Phenolic antioxidants differ as they have more electrons to lend and less chance of becoming unstable themselves.

“With the extraction technology I invented the phenolic antioxidants are also around 90% bio-available in the body – this is compared to 3-5% for normal antioxidants you get from eating and in other supplements,” Vincent explained. Basically – they are more readily absorbed.

As these antioxidants target inflammation, there is the potential for Vincent’s ground-breaking research to be applied to the prevention of lung, colon, prostate and pancreatic cancer.

All in all, not too shabby from a man whose humble beginnings started at UON’s Central Coast campus.

“It is a beautiful place with awesome people and fantastic programs. In my case specifically, UON Central Coast campus has one of the best Food and Nutrition programs in the country!”

Moving forward, Vincent hopes to introduce his product to more markets in Australia and overseas, and improve the overall health of those who do not have access to fresh fruit and vegetables improve their health.