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September 30, 2020  

Ginkgo extends neuroprotective effects to the neurons located near the retinas

Gyeongsang National University (South Korea), September 29, 2020

In a recent study, South Korean researchers demonstrated the neuroprotective effects of Ginkgo biloba. They reported that an extract obtained from G. biloba leaves successfully protected retinal ganglion cells (RGC) — the output neurons of the retina — from hypoxic injury both in vivo and in vitro.

The researchers discussed their findings in an article published in the Journal of Medicinal Food.

Ginkgo biloba can prevent glaucoma caused by oxidative stress

The oldest records of G. biloba’s use in TCM suggest that only its seeds were used at first by traditional healers. It took a long time before they discovered the medicinal properties of G. biloba leaves and began using them to treat heart and lung diseases.

When G. biloba reached Western shores, its leaf extracts gained traction for their brain benefits. Standardized extracts of G. biloba leaves have since been used for the treatment of mild to moderate age-related memory impairment, dementia and peripheral vascular diseases.

According to the South Korean researchers, oxidative stress, or excess free radical production, induced by hypoxia — a condition in which tissues do not receive an adequate supply of oxygen — is linked to the pathogenesis of glaucoma. Glaucoma refers to a group of eye conditions that affect the optic nerve and is one of the leading causes of blindness among older adults.

Fortunately, recent findings show that G. biloba leaf extract (GBE) can help reduce oxidative stress as well as treat disturbed vascular circulation. To evaluate the neuroprotective effects of G. biloba, the researchers first induced oxidative stress in rat RGC. They then treated the cells with either a standardized GBE (EGb 761) or a control.

For their in vivo experiment, the researchers induced hypoxic optic nerve injury in rats by using a microserrefine clip with an applicator to clamp the animals’ optic nerves. They then gave the rats various concentrations of EGb 761 via intraperitoneal injection and measured RGC density to estimate cell survival.

The researchers reported that treatment with 1 or 5?mcg/mL EGb 761 significantly increased the survival of RGC after exposure to oxidative stress. In vivo, treatment with 100?mg/kg or 250?mg/kg EGb 761 also significantly improved RGC survival, proving the neuroprotective effects of G. biloba.

Based on these findings, the researchers concluded that G. biloba leaves can be used to protect against hypoxic injury that leads to glaucoma.

 

Dietary folate, magnesium, and dairy products may all help stave off bowel cancer

Service de Gastroenterologie (France), McGill University (Quebec), Erasmus University (Netherlands), September 29, 2020

Folate, magnesium, and dairy products may all help stave off bowel cancer, but there's no evidence that garlic or onions, fish, tea or coffee protect against the disease, finds an overarching analysis of published pooled data analyses in the journal Gut.

In the US alone around 1 in every 20 people is likely to develop bowel cancer at some point during their lifetime. And worldwide, more than 2.2 million new cases and 1.1 million deaths from the disease are predicted every year by 2030.

While deaths from the disease have been falling in most developed countries, the numbers of new cases have been rising in some, including in Canada, the UK, and the Netherlands.

Screening for the disease can pick up the disease at an early treatable stage, but take-up varies considerably from country to country. And as it takes more than 15 years for bowel cancer to develop, a healthy lifestyle likely has a key role in helping to halt or stop its progress altogether, say the researchers.

They therefore trawled relevant research databases for published systematic reviews and meta-analyses (pooled data analyses) of clinical trials and observational studies assessing the impact of dietary and medicinal factors on bowel cancer risk.

The medicinal factors included: aspirin; non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as paracetamol; and statins.

The dietary factors included: vitamins or supplements (magnesium, calcium, folic acid, vitamin A, B, C, E, D, β-carotene and selenium); coffee; tea; fish and omega 3 fatty acids; dairy products; fibre; fruit and vegetables; meat; and alcohol.

They included relevant studies published in French or English between September 1980 and June 2019, but excluded those involving people at high risk of developing bowel cancer. Some 80 articles out of a total of 343 were included in the overarching (umbrella) analysis of pooled data analyses.

The results showed that aspirin is likely protective against bowel cancer, lowering the risk by between 14% and 29% at doses as low as 75 mg/day, with a dose-response effect reported up to 325 mg/day.

NSAID use for up to 5 years was associated with a significant (26% to 43%) fall in the incidence of bowel cancer.

Magnesium intake of at least 255 mg/day was associated with a 23% lower risk compared with the lowest intake, and high intake of folic acid was associated with a 12-15% lower risk, although it wasn't possible to pinpoint a threshold dose from the available data.

Similarly, eating dairy products was associated with 13% to 19% lower risk of the disease. But the small number of available meta-analyses, and the many different research outcomes and variety of dairy products included make it difficult to draw firm conclusions about the quantities required to ward off the disease, caution the researchers.

Fibre intake was associated with a 22%-43% lower risk, while fruit/vegetable intake was associated with up to a 52% lower risk, with added benefit for every additional 100 g/day increase in intake.

Dietary soy intake was associated with a modest, but significant, fall (8-15%) in risk.

But there was no evidence that vitamins E, C, or multivitamins were protective. Similarly, there was no evidence that β-carotene or selenium helped stave off the disease.

The data were weak or equivocal on the impact of tea; garlic or onions; vitamin D either alone or combined with calcium; coffee and caffeine; fish and omega 3; and inconsistent on the protective effect of vitamin A and the B vitamins.

A modest protective effect was found in observational studies for high calcium intake, but a meta-analysis of clinical trial data found no protective effect, and even an increased risk.

Similarly, although meta-analyses of observational studies suggest that statins may lower cancer risk, no positive effect was noted in meta-analyses of clinical trial data.

Most of the available meta-analyses of observational studies reported an increased risk of between 12% and 21% for meat, particularly red and processed meat. Dose-effect studies reported a 10-30% increased risk for each additional 100 g/day of red meat eaten.

Alcohol was associated with a significantly increased risk. The higher the intake, the greater the risk. This was evident even at the lowest level of consumption studied: 1-2 drinks/day.

The researchers caution that the level of evidence is low or very low in most cases, mainly due to wide differences in study design, end points, numbers of participants, etc. And they were unable to define "an optimal dose and duration of exposure/intake for any of the products, even in the case of low dose aspirin and other compounds that have been extensively assessed," they point out.

Nevertheless, they suggest that their findings could help clinicians advise patients on the best diet to lower bowel cancer risk and guide the direction of future research.

Pomegranate improves mitochondria function and counters age-related disorders

Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne (Switzerland) September 27, 2020

With their vibrant scarlet color and sweet-but-tart flavor, pomegranate has become an increasingly popular (and delicious) addition to salads, dressings, beverages and desserts. They are also a proven superfood, credited by researchers with the potential to prevent and help resolve many disease conditions.

Now, a new Swiss study shows that urolithin A, a molecule produced when pomegranate is digested, could hold the key to rejuvenating cell mitochondria – and even prolonging the quality of your life. Let’s take a closer look at urolithin A – and its amazing restorative potential.

Pomegranate triggers urolithin A to rejuvenates the powerhouse of our cells

Mitochondria are tiny structures inside of cells that have the all-important task of turning fuel into energy. Over time, however, they can degrade and deteriorate.

In young, healthy cells, these aging and damaged mitochondria are swiftly broken down and eliminated. This beneficial process, known as mitophagy, helps to ensure optimal cellular function.

Mitophagy becomes less efficient with age, causing malfunctioning mitochondria to accumulate in cells – where they weaken muscle tissues and impair cellular health. Researchers believe that these deposits of mitochondrial debris can trigger degenerative disorders such as Parkinson’s disease, as well as decreased mobility and frailty in elderly people.

This is where pomegranates come in

A molecule called urolithin A is produced by the body upon the digestion of two polyphenols – punicalagins and ellagitannins – that exist naturally in pomegranates. In cell and animal studies, this newly-discovered molecule was shown to induce mitophagy, and prevent the accumulation of dysfunctional mitochondria.

In fact, new research supports the ability of urolithin A to actually rejuvenate cell mitochondria – not only increasing muscle function, but extending life.

What did the study show?

In a study published in 2016 in Natural Medicine, researchers found that urolithin A maintained mitochondrial respiratory capacity and extended the lifespan of C. elegans – a short-lived worm commonly used in longevity studies – by a stunning 45 percent.

And that isn’t all.

In another phase of the study, researchers administered urolithin A to aging mice, and found that it improved muscle function by 57 percent and running endurance by 42 percent.

And it was not only aging mice that benefited from urolithin A. The substance increased the running capacity of young, healthy mice – by a dramatic 65 percent.

The research suggests that boosting levels of urolithin A – through consuming pomegranate extracts – can enhance mitochondrial function, thereby improving muscle quality.

Researchers noted that this finding holds particular significance for elderly people. By helping to enhance muscle function, urolithin A may help ward off the loss of mobility and general decline that can accompany weakened muscle tissue.

Calling urolithin A a “promising approach to improving mitochondrial and muscle function in the aging population,” the team called for further research.

Pomegranate has a proven ability to combat heart disease and cancer

The new study is not the first to reveal important health benefits from pomegranates – these tasty members of the berry family have been impressing researchers with their ability to combat serious degenerative diseases.

In a recent review published in Advanced Biomedical Research, the authors noted that pomegranate can help prevent or treat a veritable laundry list of dangerous conditions known to trigger potentially life-threatening diseases – including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, oxidative stress, high blood sugar, atherosclerosis and inflammation.

Interestingly, in some cases pomegranate has been found to work in much the same way as pharmaceutical medications. For instance, pomegranate extracts help to suppress pro-inflammatory COX-2 and tumor necrosis factor-alpha – much as anti-inflammatory drugs do. And, when it comes to regulating blood pressure, pomegranate extracts seem to function like ACE inhibitors, a group of pharmaceutical hypotensive medications.

Pomegranates also have been shown in studies to reduce incidence of tumors, reduce the number and size of cancerous stem cells, and induce apoptosis – or cancer cell death. Pomegranate extracts are currently used to treat a variety of cancers, including those of the prostate, breast, colon, lung and skin.

Finally, pomegranate extracts have protective effects against neurodegenerative conditions. Research has shown that they help to prevent accumulations of beta-amyloid, a protein associated with Alzheimer’s disease.

Pomegranates owe much of their potent disease-fighting powers to their extraordinary antioxidant capabilities.

The juice of a single pomegranate contains more than 40 percent of the RDA of vitamin C – itself a potent antioxidant and immune system booster. Pomegranates are also rich in beneficial amino acids, polyphenols and anthocyanins – natural pigments that give the pulp its intense scarlet color. These colorful flavonoids also contribute to pomegranate’s ability to scavenge free radicals and prevent oxidative damage in cells and tissues.

And, wait, there’s more good news about pomegranates: no side effects or adverse changes have been reported – even in a clinical study in which participants received 1, 420 mgs a day of pomegranate fruit extract.

However, the researchers noted that pomegranate could interact with certain prescription drugs. Before supplementing with pomegranate extracts, consult a trusted, healthcare provider.

You can consume pomegranates in the form of various beverages – such as juice or tea – or nibble the luscious seeds out of hand as a snack. Pomegranate extracts are also available in the form of capsules and tablets.

By rejuvenating fragile, indispensable cell mitochondria, pomegranate can help combat the muscle weakness and frailty often associated with aging – leading to a stronger, longer life.

High-fiber diet, low level inflammation: Sidestepping the effects of radiation

Universities of Gothenberg and Lund (Sweden) and University of South Australia, September 29, 2020

Loved or hated, the humble oat could be the new superfood for cancer patients as international research shows a diet rich in fiber could significantly reduce radiation-induced gut inflammation.

Conducted by the University of Gothenburg, Lund University and the University of South Australia, the preclinical study found that dietary oat bran can offset chronic gastrointestinal damage caused by radiotherapy, contradicting long-held clinical recommendations.

Gastroenterology and oncology researcher UniSA's Dr. Andrea Stringer says the research provides critical new insights for radiology patients.

"Cancer patients are often advised to follow a restricted fiber diet. This is because a diet high in fiber is believed to exacerbate bloating and diarrhea—both common side effects of radiotherapy," Dr. Stringer says.

"Yet, this advice is not unequivocally evidence-based, with insufficient fiber potentially being counterproductive and exacerbating gastrointestinal toxicity. Our study compared the effects of high-fiber and no-fiber diets, finding that a fiber-free diet is actually worse for subjects undergoing radiotherapy treatment. A diet without fiber generates inflammatory cytokines which are present for a long time following radiation, resulting in increased inflammation of the digestive system. Conversely, a fiber-rich diet decreases the presence of cytokines to reduce radiation-induced inflammation, both in the short and the long term."

Intestinal issues following radiotherapy are problematic for many cancer survivors.

"In Europe, approximately one million pelvic-organ cancer survivors suffer from compromised intestinal health due to radiation-induced gastrointestinal symptoms," Dr. Stringer says.

"This is also commonplace in Australia and around the world with no immediate cure or effective treatment. If we can prevent some of inflammation resulting from radiation simply by adjusting dietary fiber levels, we could improve long-term, and possibly life-long, intestinal health among cancer survivors."

Poor bone quality is linked to poor heart health

Queen Mary University of London and University of Southampton, September 28, 2020

New research by Queen Mary University of London and the University of Southampton's Medical Research Council Lifecourse Epidemiology Unit (MRC LEU) has found associations between lower bone mineral density and worse cardiovascular health in both men and women.

Published in the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research, the study used the internationally unique UK Biobank cohort to investigate links between bone and cardiovascular health. They used a combination of imaging and blood biomarker data to investigate the relationship in the largest sample of people reported to date.

Osteoporosis and heart disease are important public health problems. These conditions share a number of risk factors such as increasing age, smoking, and a sedentary lifestyle. Research shows that there may be links between the two conditions even after accounting for shared risk factors. This suggests that there may be biological pathways linking the two conditions, and investigating these links could reveal targets for novel drug therapies. However, current research studies lack objective measures of bone and heart health and are often limited to studies of small numbers of people for relatively short periods of time.

The researchers found that lower bone density was linked to greater arterial stiffness (indicating poor cardiovascular health) in both men and women. They also found that individuals with poor bone health had an increased risk of dying from ischaemic heart disease. These links were not explained by shared risk factors or traditional cardiovascular risk factors. Interestingly, they found that the mechanisms underlying the bone-heart relationship appeared different in men and women.

Dr. Zahra Raisi-Estabragh, BHF Clinical Research Training Fellow from Queen Mary University of London, led the analysis. She said: "Our study demonstrates clear links between bone disease and cardiovascular health. The underlying pathophysiology of the bone heart axis is complex and multifaceted and likely varies in men and women."

Professor Nick Harvey, Professor of Rheumatology and Clinical Epidemiology at the MRC LEU, University of Southampton, who supervised the work added: "The wealth of information available in the UK Biobank permitted a highly detailed analysis of the complex interactions between musculoskeletal and cardiovascular health, helping to elucidate potential underlying mechanism, and informing novel approaches to clinical risk assessment."

Professor Steffen Petersen, Professor of Cardiology at Queen Mary University of London co-supervised the project. He comments: "Increasing our understanding of novel determinants of heart disease, such as the bone-heart axis, is key to improving disease prevention and treatment strategies and for improving population health."

Professor Cyrus Cooper, Director of the MRC LEU, University of Southampton, added: "This study directly complements our program of research investigating the lifecourse determinants of musculoskeletal health and disease. It illustrates the importance for the University of Southampton and the MRC LEU of our ongoing contribution to the leadership of the large, state-of-the-art, multidisciplinary Imaging Study as part of the unique world-leading UK Biobank resource."

Researchers Say THC From Cannabis May Treat Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome, Study

University of South Carolina, September 24, 2020

Since Covid-19 first became a dangerous pandemic, many have wondered how cannabis use might factor into risk or healing for the deadly disease. While some immediately assumed cannabis was harmful, like tobacco, and others assumed it could cure or preventthe disease, scientists quickly began to explore the question.

Early research focused on the cannabinoid CBD as a potential treatment for cytokine storms and acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) - a symptom in severe cases of Covid-19, which can lead to death. The results suggested that CBD may be an effective treatment, although human studies need to be conducted to confirm.

Now, researchers are exploring whether another popular cannabinoid, THC, might help with treating the novel coronavirus. And they suggest THC may actually be able to prevent Covid-19 from escalating into a fatal condition.

The new research from the University of South Carolina, Columbia investigated whether using THC might be able to prevent Covid-19 deaths. THC is the notorious chemical in cannabis that produces psychoactive effects like feeling ‘high’ or having an elevated mood. But it is also a highly medicinal chemical with potent anti-inflammatory and pain relieving traits.

In this case, researchers were looking to see if THC’s anti-inflammatory powers might be able to fight against cytokine storms and ARDS.

Cytokine storms are a dangerous symptom of Covid-19 (and other severe infections) which happens when the immune system goes overboard in its attempt to fight off an infection. Cytokines are normally part of a healthy immune response - triggering inflammation to fight against an infection. But when the infection is severe enough, our bodies can release way too many cytokines, and thus create a dangerous level of inflammation. This leads to ARDS, where breathing becomes difficult or even impossible. And cytokine storms can also lead to death from organ failure. Several studies point to CBD as a potential treatment for ARDS, and the FDA recently greenlighted clinical trials for a synthetic cannabinoid treatment for ARDS.

In the new research, scientists explored whether THC might be able to treat cytokine storms and ARDS, by studying its effects on mice.

In this animal model, researchers exposed two groups of healthy mice to a bacterial infection called Staphylococcus aureus or SEB. SEB is known to cause cytokine storms and ARDS in mice, and it almost always leads to death for those exposed. In this case, however, the researchers gave one group of mice a treatment of THC right after they infected them with SEB, along with doses 24 and and 48 hours afterward.

Amazingly, 100% of the mice who were given THC before being infected survived having SEB. Meanwhile, 100% of the mice who weren’t given THC died from the ARDS that resulted from their infection.

While some researchers suggested early on that cannabis’ anti-inflammatory effects could potentially be dangerous in early phases of an infection - suppressing the immune system when it should be defending against attack. This study suggests that using THC early in the infection drastically improved the prognosis and avoided damage to the lungs. While the results need to be confirmed by human research, it could be good news for cannabis users who fear ongoing cannabis use could increase their risk of infection with Covid-19. For mice with SEB, THC helped even when administered immediately after the infection.

Researchers also found that THC was also able to significantly suppress the inflammatory cytokines that are involved with ARDS. It also was able to elevate regulatory T cells which help suppress inflammation. Interestingly, researchers also noticed a shift in the expression of miRNA in cells in the lungs - which may play an important role in suppressing cytokine storms, reducing lung injury and preventing death from ARDS.

In a follow up study, the same researchers went a step further, exploring whether the results from the first study are relevant to those suffering from ARDS as a result of Covid-19. While both Covid-19 and SEB lead to cytokine storms and ARDS, it’s not clear that this happens in the same way. So, given the way THC acted on RNA in mice, these researchers decided to perform an analysis comparing gene expression in Covid-19 patients with ARDS and mice with ARDS from SEB. They found similarities suggesting THC may work well in both cases.

The researchers explain that “Collectively, this study suggests that the activation of cannabinoid receptors may serve as a therapeutic modality to treat ARDS associated with Covid-19.”

While this is a very early study, and more studies should be conducted in human populations with Covid-19, the research suggests that cannabis’ active ingredient THC could be able to prevent Covid-19 from escalating to ARDS - or treat it if it does.

Meditation keeps emotional brain in check

Michigan State University, September 29, 2020

 

Meditation can help tame your emotions even if you're not a mindful person, suggests a new study from Michigan State University.

Reporting in the journal Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, psychology researchers recorded the brain activity of people looking at disturbing pictures immediately after meditating for the first time. These participants were able to tame their negative emotions just as well as participants who were naturally mindful.

"Our findings not only demonstrate that meditation improves emotional health, but that people can acquire these benefits regardless of their 'natural' ability to be mindful," said Yanli Lin, an MSU graduate student and lead investigator of the study. "It just takes some practice."

Mindfulness, a moment-by-moment awareness of one's thoughts, feelings and sensations, has gained worldwide popularity as a way to promote health and well-being. But what if someone isn't naturally mindful? Can they become so simply by trying to make mindfulness a "state of mind"? Or perhaps through a more focused, deliberate effort like meditation?

The study, conducted in Jason Moser's Clinical Psychophysiology Lab, attempted to find out.

Researchers assessed 68 participants for mindfulness using a scientifically validated survey. The participants were then randomly assigned to engage in an 18-minute audio guided meditation or listen to a control presentation of how to learn a new language, before viewing negative pictures (such as a bloody corpse) while their brain activity was recorded. The participants who meditated – they had varying levels of natural mindfulness – showed similar levels of "emotion regulatory" brain activity as people with high levels of natural mindfulness. In other words their emotional brains recovered quickly after viewing the troubling photos, essentially keeping their negative emotions in check.

In addition, some of the participants were instructed to look at the gruesome photos "mindfully" (be in a mindful state of mind) while others received no such instruction. Interestingly, the people who viewed the photos "mindfully" showed no better ability to keep their negative emotions in check.

This suggests that for non-meditators, the emotional benefits of mindfulness might be better achieved through meditation, rather than "forcing it" as a state of mind, said Moser, MSU associate professor of clinical psychology and co-author of the study.

"If you're a naturally mindful person, and you're walking around very aware of things, you're good to go. You shed your emotions quickly," Moser said. "If you're not naturally mindful, then meditating can make you look like a person who walks around with a lot of mindfulness. But for people who are not naturally mindful and have never meditated, forcing oneself to be mindful 'in the moment' doesn't work. You'd be better off meditating for 20 minutes."

 

 

Freezing prostate cancer: Study shows notable outcomes with cryoablation

University of California Los Angeles, September 28, 2020 

A less-invasive treatment technique called hemi-gland cryoablation (HGCryo) - destroying the areas of the prostate where cancers are located by freezing them - provides a high rate of effective prostate cancer control, according to a new study published in The Journal of Urology®, Official Journal of the American Urological Association (AUA). The journal is published in the Lippincott portfolio by Wolters Kluwer.

"Freedom from cancer, as documented by biopsy, was found in 82 percent of men who underwent HGCryo, at their 18 month follow-up," according to the research by Ryan Chuang, MD, and colleagues at the University of California, Los Angeles. The importance of utilizing modern magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)-guided prostate biopsy in monitoring the effectiveness of HGCryo is also emphasized as part of this study.

'Hemi-Gland Cryoablation' Eliminates Clinically Significant Cancer in Most Patients

In the HGCryo procedure, using an advanced ultrasound/MRI fusion system, needles are precisely placed in and around the area of the prostate where the cancer is located. Argon gas is then injected to create extremely cold temperatures, destroying the cancer and surrounding area.

According to the study, 61 men with clinically significant prostate cancer (grade 2 or higher) involving one side of the prostate gland, underwent HGCryo. Cryotherapy was performed using general anesthesia; patients were discharged on the same day as the procedure. The results were assessed through follow-up imaging procedures and MRI-guided biopsies.

Biopsies were performed at 6 months in all patients; 27 patients underwent an additional biopsy after reaching 18 months' follow-up. At both times, biopsies showed no evidence of clinically significant prostate cancer in 82 percent of patients. In men who had areas of prostate cancer detected at follow-up, repeated HGCryo or other treatments were effective.

The study assessed three different biopsy approaches for monitoring the outcomes of HGCryo therapy: tracking of prior cancer-positive sites, biopsy targeting of MRI-visible lesions, and systematic biopsy of the entire prostate using a template. "While tracking biopsy was the most sensitive, all three methods were required for maximum cancer detection," Dr. Chuang and coauthors write.

HGCryo provided notable cancer control even in six patients with more advanced prostate cancers (grade 3 or 4). None of the patients died from their cancer, and none developed metastatic prostate cancer.

Postoperative complications of HGCryo were "generally mild and short-lived." There were no serious complications, including urinary incontinence - a common complication after prostate cancer surgery. One patient developed erectile dysfunction , which was successfully treated with medication.

Cryotherapy is an FDA-approved treatment for prostate cancer and is increasingly popular as a less-invasive alternative to surgery. However, there has been limited evidence on its long-term effectiveness in controlling prostate cancer. Most studies of prostate cryoablation were performed before the availability of modern multiparametric MRI scanning of the prostate, which can provide "a targeted path to precise biopsy and focal treatment" in most men with prostate cancer.

As with other types of partial gland ablation (PGA) for treatment of prostate cancer, the findings highlight the importance of follow-up biopsy as "the most important criterion for success" in evaluating the results of HGCryo. Dr. Chuang and colleagues conclude, "As utilization of MRI-guided biopsy increases, with resulting improved accuracy of prostate tissue characterization, numbers of candidates for PGA are expected to rise."

Early introduction of gluten may prevent celiac disease in children

Kings College London, September 28, 2020

Introducing high doses of gluten from four months of age into infants' diets could prevent them from developing coeliac disease, a study has found.

These results from the Enquiring About Tolerance (EAT) Study, published today in JAMA Pediatrics, by researchers from King's College London, Guy's and St Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust, St George's, University of London, and Benaroya Research Institute, Seattle, suggest the early introduction of high-dose gluten may be an effective prevention strategy for the disease, though researchers say further studies are needed before being applied in practice.

Coeliac disease is an autoimmune disease whereby eating gluten causes the body's immune system to attack its own tissues. There are currently no strategies to prevent coeliac disease and treatment involves long-term exclusion of gluten from the diet. Even very small amounts of gluten in the diet of those with coeliac disease can cause damage to the lining of the gut, prevent proper absorption of food and result in symptoms including bloating, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, and tiredness.

Previous studies exploring early introduction of gluten in infants have varied in the amount of gluten consumed and the timing of the introduction. The EAT study investigated the effects of gluten alongside breastfeeding, from the age of four months. The results were compared to children who avoided allergenic foods and consumed only breast milk until age six months as per UK government guidelines.

Infants in the intervention arm of the EAT study were given 4g of wheat protein a week from four months of age. This was in the form of two wheat-based cereal biscuits such as Weetabix, representing an age-appropriate portion of wheat.

1004 children were tested for antitransglutanimase antibodies, an indicator of coeliac disease, at three years of age. Those with raised antibody levels were referred for further testing by a specialist.

The results showed that among children who delayed gluten introduction until after six months of age, the prevalence of coeliac disease at three years of age was higher than expected—1.4% of this group of 516 children. In contrast, among the 488 children who introduced gluten from four months of age, there were no cases of coeliac disease.

Lead author Professor Gideon Lack, Professor of Paediatric Allergy at King's College London and head of the children's allergy service at Evelina London Children's Hospital said: "This is the first study that provides evidence that early introduction of significant amounts of wheat into a baby's diet before six months of age may prevent the development of coeliac disease. This strategy may also have implications for other autoimmune diseases such as Type 1 diabetes."

Author Dr. Kirsty Logan, Researcher in Paediatric Allergy at King's College London said: "Early introduction of gluten and its role in the prevention of coeliac diseaseshould be explored further, using the results of the EAT Study as the basis for larger clinical trials to definitively answer this question."

September 29, 2020  

Organic potatoes contain more microelements that are often deficient in soil

University of Warmia and Mazury (Poland), September 23, 2020

Researchers at the University of Warmia and Mazury in Olsztyn investigated the effect of three production systems, namely, conventional, integrated and organic farming, on the micronutrient and trace element content of tubers belonging to very early, early and medium-early maturing potato cultivars.

The researchers found that organic farming allows crops to obtain more essential micronutrients from the soil than either conventional farming or integrated farming systems. These microelements are crucial not only for plant growth and development but also for plant survival. Research also suggests that these nutrients can influence the appearance of plants and, most importantly, their fruit yields.

The researchers discussed their findings in an article published in the journal Acta Agriculturae Scandinavica, Section B – Soil & Plant Science.

Organic farming ensures good plant nutrition

Today, modern farmers have a variety of options when it comes to raising animals and growing crops. Organic farming, conventional farming and integrated farming are three of the most common production systems currently used in agriculture.

In organic farming, farmers use natural fertilizers (e.g., farm manure, organic compost), herbicides and pesticides to support the growth of their crops. They also use natural methods (e.g., clean housing, rotational grazing) to keep their livestock healthy and feed them nothing but organic and chemical-free feed. (Related: Do you know the history of organic farming?)

In conventional farming, farmers rely on chemical fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides to ensure the quality and quantity of their produce. They also use growth hormones and antibiotics to accelerate the growth of their livestock and keep them safe from diseases. Conventionally raised farm animals also have less access (or none at all) to the outdoors than organically raised animals.

Integrated farming is a relatively new approach that combines livestock and crop production to reduce costs and waste and improve income. In this agricultural system, waste from one component (e.g., livestock) is used to sustain the other component (e.g., crops or fish). Besides ensuring that farm waste is eliminated sensibly, integrated farming also promotes ecological diversity by including both plants and animals in the production.

For their study, Polish researchers grew five local potato cultivars using the three above-mentioned production systems under field conditions. They then analyzed samples from each to determine the amounts of select microelements and trace elements they contained.

Microelements that the researchers looked for included boron (B), copper (Cu), iron (Fe), manganese (Mn) and zinc (Zn) that are essential for living organisms. They also tested for trace elements, such as chromium (Cr), nickel (Ni) and lead (Pb), which are all important but are considered non-essential nutrients.

The researchers found that the micronutrient and trace element content of potato tubers were influenced by three factors, namely, the type of production system used to grow them, plant genotype and weather conditions during the growing season. Organic potatoes had higher B and Cu content but lower Fe, Mn and Zn content than potatoes grown in either conventional or integrated systems. Meanwhile, conventionally grown potatoes had the highest Pb content.

Organic cultivation resulted in better alimentation of potato tubers with B and Cu, which are crucial elements for plant growth and survival but are often found to be deficient in soil. In contrast, the researchers noted that conventional farming required the use of fertilizers to ensure adequate plant nutrition.

Based on these findings, the researchers concluded that organic farming is the best cultivation system to use as it ensures that crops receive proper nourishment, especially ample amounts of essential micronutrients.

 

 

 

Common Antioxidant Enzyme Catalase May Provide Potential Treatment for Covid-19

University of Caliornia Los Angeles, September 29, 2020

 

Researchers from UCLA and China have found that catalase, a naturally occurring enzyme, holds potential as a low-cost therapeutic drug to treat COVID-19 symptoms and suppress the replication of coronavirus inside the body. A study detailing the research was published in Advanced Materials.

Catalase is produced naturally and used by humans, animals and plants. Inside cells, the antioxidant enzyme kick starts the breakdown of hydrogen peroxide, which can be toxic, into water and oxygen. The enzyme is also commonly used worldwide in food production and as a dietary supplement.

"There is a lot of focus on vaccines and antiviral drugs, and rightly so," said Yunfeng Lu, a UCLA Samueli School of Engineering professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering and a senior author on the study. "In the meantime, our research suggests this enzyme could offer a very effective therapeutic solution for treatment of hyperinflammation that occurs due to SARS-CoV-2 virus, as well as hyperinflammation generally."

Lu's group developed the drug-delivery technology used in the experiments. Three types of tests were conducted, each addressing a different symptom of COVID-19.

First, they demonstrated the enzyme's anti-inflammatory effects and its ability to regulate the production of cytokines, a protein that is produced in white blood cells. Cytokines are an important part of the human immune system, but they can also signal the immune system to attack the body's own cells if too many are made -- a so-called "cytokine storm" that is reported in some patients diagnosed with COVID-19.

Second, the team showed that catalase can protect alveolar cells, which line the human lungs, from damage due to oxidation.

Finally, the experiments showed that catalase can repress the replication of SARS?CoV?2 virus in rhesus macaques, a type of monkey, without noticeable toxicity.

"This work has far-reaching implications beyond the treatment of COVID-19. Cytokine storm is a lethal condition that can complicate other infections, such as influenza, as well as non-infectious conditions, like autoimmune disease," said Dr. Gregory Fishbein, an author on the study and a pathologist at the UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine.

 
 

Effects of one month of Common Yoga Protocol practice appear to be mediated by the angiogenic and neurogenic pathway: A pilot study

Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (India),  25 September 2020.

Abstract

Objective

To examine the molecular effects of mindful activities such as yoga and meditation

Design

This was an open label single arm exploratory yoga intervention study.

Study participants

64 healthy individuals within the age of 18-60 years were recruited for this one month yoga intervention study.

Intervention

Common Yoga Protocol (CYP) is a standardized yoga protocol released by Ministry of AYUSH, India for International Yoga Day. It includes all aspects of yoga i.e. asanas, pranayama and meditation. It is designed for adoption by all age groups for the health of community.

Outcome measures

The participants were assessed for biochemical parameters including Fasting Sugar and Lipid profile. The molecular markers of neurogenesis (i.e. Brain derived Neurotropic Factor, BDNF) and Angiogenesis (i.e. Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor, VEGF and Angiogenin) along with Amyloid β (marker related to neuro-degenerative diseases) were assessed. All the assessments were made at baseline and after one month of the intervention.

Results

After one month of CYP practice High Density Lipoprotein (HDL) levels increased significantly (p<0.001), although other biochemical parameters i.e. fasting sugar and other lipid assessments were found to be unaltered. Angiogenesis marker, angiogenin was increased significantly (p<0.002), other angiogenesis marker VEGF did not show any change along with BDNF, marker of neurogenesis. Amyloid β levels were also unaltered. Even though individual levels of VEGF and Amyloid β did not show any change, proportion of VEGF to Amyloid β showed a significant increase (p<0.001) after one month of CYP intervention indicating that the change in VEGF levels were significantly higher than the change in Amyloid β levels.

Conclusion

CYP practice may influence cell survival pathways mediated by angiogenic and neurogenic cross talk. Hence, CYP can be considered as a preventive measure for diseases associated with impaired angiogenic and neurogenic mechanism. This is the first study to examine the effects of CYP at the molecular level.

 

Pterostilbene shows promise against inflammatory bowel disease

Tokyo University of Science, September 25 2020. 

 

Research described on September 22, 2020 in the FASEB Journal suggests that pterostilbene, a blueberry compound similar to resveratrol (found in grapes), has potential as a treatment for inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Inflammatory bowel disease is caused by an increased immune response that results in chronic inflammation, which leads to ulcers in the lining of the gastrointestinal tract. 

"Resveratrol, a polyphenol, was known to have pronounced immunomodulatory and anti-inflammatory effects on animal models of colitis ulcer,” explained first author Takuya Yashiro of Tokyo University of Science. “Therefore, we investigated the possibility of other compounds structurally similar to resveratrol as a new type of treatment for IBD."

By testing the effects of resveratrol derivatives in cultured cells, the research team observed that pterostilbene had the strongest inhibitory effect against the proliferation of immune cells known as T cells that are activated by dendritic cells (another type of immune cell). Pterostilbene also decreased Th1 and Th17, which are subtypes of T cells. Pterostilbene was also associated with an increase in regulatory T cells that have an anti-inflammatory effect. The findings indicate that pterostilbene has a suppressive effect against the overactive immune response involved in IBD.

In mice with induced colitis, pterostilbene decreased the expression of the proinflammatory cytokine tumor necrosis factor-alpha and reduced symptoms.

“Pterostilbene supplementation may either inhibit the pathology of IBD or delay its onset,” the authors concluded. “Whether pterostilbene executes similar immunosuppressive effects in human immune cells requires further analysis.”

"For disease prevention, it is important to identify the beneficial components in foods and to understand the underlying mechanism by which immune responses and homeostasis are modulated in body,” Dr Yashiro remarked. “Our findings showed that pterostilbene possesses a strong immunosuppressive property, paving the way for a new, natural treatment for IBD."

 
 

Anxious, moody older adults are vulnerable to worse cognitive function

Northwestern University, September 26, 2020

Our aging brains collect tangles and sticky plaques that can interfere in our cognition and memory. But some older adults with this neuropathology have more cognitive resilience than others, reports a new Northwestern Medicine study. 

The reason: their personalities.

Personality traits were associated with cognitive resilience, which is the ability to better live with the neuropathology in the brain that causes dementia. Individuals with a greater tendency toward self-discipline, organization, diligence, high achievement and motivation -- a trait known as higher conscientiousness -- was associated with greater resilience.

Individuals with higher neuroticism -- a greater tendency towards anxiety, worry, moodiness and impulsivity -- were more likely to have worse cognitive function than expected given the amount of neuropathology detected at autopsy.

The study was published Sept. 24 in Journal of Gerontology: Psychological Sciences

"These findings provide evidence that it is possible for older adults to live with the neuropathology associated with Alzheimer's disease and related dementias while maintaining relatively healthy levels of cognitive function," said lead study author Eileen Graham, a research assistant professor of medical social sciences at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. 

"Our study shows personality traits are related to how well people are able to maintain their cognitive function in spite of developing neuropathology," Graham said. "Since it is possible for personality to change, both volitionally and through interventions, it's possible that personality could be used to identify those who are at risk and implement early interventions to help optimize function throughout old age."

Personality and other factors that promote cognitive resilience may be particularly important in the context of stress (like the COVID-19 pandemic) and this is an important area of future research, Graham noted.

This is believed to be one of the first studies showing an individual's personality traits are linked to how well they are able to sustain their cognitive function as they age. These findings lend credence to the idea that personality can be leveraged to help individuals maintain their cognitive function when they may otherwise be vulnerable to neurodegeneration.

The data was collected at Rush University Alzheimer's Disease Research Center. Individuals contributed annual psychosocial self-report survey and clinical data. At study enrollment they also consented to donating their brains for post-mortem autopsy. Study participants contributed years of rich data on their psychological and cognitive functioning while they were living, as well as autopsy data after they died.

 

Green soy extract could prevent cognitive dysfunction: Mouse data

University of Shizuoka (Japan), September 14, 2020

Intake of green soybean extract could help reverse cognitive dysfunction and its associated accumulation of beta-amyloid proteins in the brain, say researchers.

The accumulation of beta-amyloid proteins has long been linked to the development of brain stunting conditions including Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. 

The new findings come from a Japanese trial in mice with cognitive dysfunction.

Writing in the Journal of Functional Foods, the team revealed that brain functions were ‘significantly better-preserved’ in aged mice fed green soybean than age-matched control mice with or without yellow soybean feeding.

The molecular mechanisms of these beneficial effects on brain function were examined using transcriptome analysis.

An increased expression of lipocalin-type prostaglandin Dsynthase (Ptgds) and a significant reduction in the amyloid precursor protein Aplp1 was reported by the team, led by Keiko Unno from the University of Shizuoka in Japan.

“As Ptgds binds and transports small lipophilic molecules (…) it has been proposed as the endogenous Aβ chaperone,” noted the team, adding that lower levels of the usually abundant protein “may play an important role in the development of dementia and of Alzheimer's disease (AD).”

“Furthermore, the amount of beta-amyloid 40 and 42 was reduced in the insoluble fraction of cerebral cortex,” the team noted.

Soy benefits

Unno and colleagues noted that previous research has suggested several beneficial effects of soybean components such as so isoflavones, including previous suggestions of benefits for cognitive function and the prevention of oxidative damage.

In the current study, the isoflavones found to be present in soybean extracts were mostly the glycosides genstin and daidzin.

“The levels of genistein and daizein, aglycones of genstin and daidzin, respectively, were very low or not detected,” reported the team – adding that the content of oligo sugars, especially sucrose, was significantly higher in green soybean than in yellow.

Furthermore, the contents of saponin and carotene in green soybean were found to be slightly higher in the green than in yellow, however the contents of other components were not different between green and yellow soybeans.

“Soybean feeding did not change the weight of body, liver or cerebrum,” Unno and colleagues said – adding that the average food consumptions of each group were also not different. 

Source: Journal of Functional Foods

 

Cannabis use for menopause symptom management

San Francisco Veterans Administration, September 28, 2020)

As legislation relaxes regarding cannabis, it is being used to manage numerous chronic health conditions and mood symptoms. A new study indicates that a growing number of women are either using cannabis or want to use it for the management of bothersome menopause symptoms. Study results will be presented during the 2020 Virtual Annual Meeting of The North American Menopause Society (NAMS), which opens on September 28.

In a sample of 232 women (mean age, 55.95 y) in Northern California who participated in the Midlife Women Veterans Health Survey, more than half reported such bothersome symptoms as hot flashes and night sweats (54%), insomnia (27%), and genitourinary symptoms (69%). Roughly 27% of those sampled reported having used or were currently using cannabis to manage their symptoms. An additional 10% of participants expressed an interest in trying cannabis to manage menopause symptoms in the future. In contrast, only 19% reported using a more traditional type of menopause symptom management, such as hormone therapy. 

Cannabis for menopause symptom management was most often used in women reporting hot flashes and night sweats. Such use did not differ by age, race/ethnicity, socioeconomic status, or mental health conditions.

"These findings suggest that cannabis use to manage menopause symptoms may be relatively common. However, we do not know whether cannabis use is safe or effective for menopause symptom management or whether women are discussing these decisions with their healthcare providers--particularly in the VA, where cannabis is considered an illegal substance under federal guidelines. This information is important for healthcare providers, and more research in this area is needed," says Carolyn Gibson, PhD, MPH, a psychologist and health services researcher at San Francisco VA Health Care System and the lead author of the study. 

The study, "Cannabis use for menopause symptom management among midlife women veterans," will be one of many presentations during the 2020 NAMS Virtual Annual Meeting focused on novel approaches for treating menopause symptoms. 

"This study highlights a somewhat alarming trend and the need for more research relative to the potential risks and benefits of cannabis use for the management of bothersome menopause symptoms," says Dr. Stephanie Faubion, NAMS medical director.

Drs. Gibson and Faubion are available for interviews before and after the virtual annual meeting.

 

Pets Linked To Maintaining Better Mental Health And Reducing Loneliness During Lockdown

 

University of York and University of Lincoln (UK), September 25, 2020

Sharing a home with a pet appeared to act as a buffer against psychological stress during lockdown, a new survey shows.

Most people who took part in the research perceived their pets to be a source of considerable support during the lockdown period. (23 March – 1 June, 2020)

The study – from the University of York and the University of Lincoln – found that having a pet was linked to maintaining better mental health and reducing loneliness. Around 90 per cent of the 6,000 participants who were from the UK had at least one pet. The strength of the human-animal bond did not differ significantly between species with the most common pets being cats and dogs followed by small mammals and fish.

More than 90 per cent of respondents said their pet helped them cope emotionally with the lockdown and 96 per cent said their pet helped keep them fit and active.

However, 68 per cent of pet owners reported having been worried about their animals during lockdown, for example due to restrictions on access to veterinary care and exercise or because they wouldn’t know who would look after their pet if they fell ill.

Lead author, Dr Elena Ratschen from the Department of Health Sciences University of York said: “Findings from this study also demonstrated potential links between people’s mental health and the emotional bonds they form with their pets: measures of the strength of the human-animal bond were higher among people who reported lower scores for mental health-related outcomes at baseline.

“We also discovered that in this study, the strength of the emotional bond with pets did not statistically differ by animal species, meaning that people in our sample felt on average as emotionally close to, for example, their guinea pig as they felt to their dog.

“It will be important to ensure that pet owners are appropriately supported in caring for their pet during the pandemic.”

Co-author, Professor Daniel Mills from the School of Life Sciences at the University of Lincoln said: “This work is particularly important at the current time as it indicates how having a companion animal in your home can buffer against some of the psychological stress associated with lockdown. However, it is important that everyone appreciates their pet’s needs too, as our other work shows failing to meet these can have a detrimental effect for both people and their pets.”

Dr Ratschen added: “While our study showed that having a pet may mitigate some of the detrimental psychological effects of the Covid-19 lockdown, it is important to understand that this finding is unlikely to be of clinical significance and does not warrant any suggestion that people should acquire pets to protect their mental health during the pandemic.”

More than 40% of UK households are estimated to own at least one pet.

The study also showed that the most popular interaction with animals that were not pets was birdwatching. Almost 55 per cent of people surveyed reported watching and feeding birds in their garden

September 28, 2020  

Michael Kane has worked as a New York City public school teacher for the past 13 years and is a steering committee member for New York Teachers for Choice, a grassroots organization that is 100 percent opposed to forced vaccination of teachers. During his teaching years, he is an active union member for the United Federation of Teachers as a former union delegate working on committees to improve public school conditions, lobby Albany and efforts to erase the Janus Supreme Court decision that threatened to break unions apart.  Michael also works closely with Bobby Kennedy's Childrens Health Defense and John Gilmore's Autism Action Network. His website is NYTeachersForChoice.org

September 25, 2020  

Prof. Cahill received her degree in Molecular Genetics from Trinity College Dublin (1989) and her PhD in Immunology from Dublin City University in 1994. She was group leader of the Protein Technology Group in the Max-Planck-Institute of Molecular Genetics, Berlin, Germany (1996-2003) She co-founded a biotechnology company, Protagen AG (www.protagen.de) in Dortmund to commercialise this technology. Since 2005, she is Professor of Translational Science at the University College Dublin School of Medicine and Medical Sciences.

Her research, publication and patent record is in high content protein/antibody arrays and their biomedical applications. Application include the characterisation of antibodies specificity (including therapeutic antibodies), biomarker discovery validation, diagnostics, assay development, protein-interaction studies, proteomics, large scale/systems biology research. 

She is a member of a number of Editorial and Science Advisory and Review Boards. For the past 10 years she has been involved in policy development in the areas of science, technology and innovation, including in the EU Health, Innovation and Infrastructure. Since 2003, she is a Member of the Irish Government’s Advisory Science Council (ASC) (www.sciencecouncil.ie), appointed by the Minister for Industry, Trade and Employment. For the past ten years, she is on a number of Science Advisory & Review Boards, including for BMBF/DLR in Germany; BBSRC in the UK; Vinnova in Sweden. She has received prizes for her research, including the prestigious BMBF ‘BioFuture’ Award from the German Minister of Science. She was awarded the Federation of European Biochemical Societies (FEBS) 2009 Award for her research & its significance. Other recipients of this award include Prof. J. Craig Venter & Prof. Robert Huber.

September 24, 2020  

The Gary Null Show is here to inform you on the best news in health, healing, the environment.

 

Racism has been redefined' Bret Weinstein on woke science & how humans succeed - BQ #31

Biologist, evolutionary theorist and member of the 'intellectual dark web' Bret Weinstein talks about the woke movement, how they have impacted the sciences and the US election. Weinstein talks to The Sun's Steven Edginton for 'Burning Questions'.
September 23, 2020  

Economic Outlook During the Corona Pandemic Leading up to the Elections

Gerald Celente is one of today’s pioneers in trend strategy and identifying the developments of change occurring in our world. He founded the Trends Research Institute in Kingston NY and is the publisher of the Trends Journal that has been in publication since 1980. Gerald has since become one of the nation’s most sought after diagnosticians and forecasters.   He is also the host of the weekly show "Trends This Week," heard every Wednesday at 11 am Eastern Time on the Progressive Radio Network. More information can be found on the Institute's website TrendsResearch.com

September 22, 2020  
Influence of a Novel Food-Grade Formulation of Red Chili Extract on Overweight Subjects
St. Thomas College (India), September 12 2020
Abstract

Capsaicinoids from pungent red chilies (Capsicum annum and Capsicum frutescens) have received significant attention as a natural supplement for the management of obesity. However, the consumption of chili extract at physiologically relevant dosage of capsaicinoids is a challenge owing to its pungency and gastrointestinal discomforts. The present study reports the systemic absorption, safety and influence of a novel, food-grade, and sustained-release formulation of capsaicinoids-rich red chili extract using fenugreek dietary fiber (Capsifen®). Twenty-four healthy overweight subjects were randomized into placebo (n = 12) and Capsifen (n = 12) groups and supplemented with 200 mg × 1/day of Capsifen (4 mg capsaicinoids/day) for 28 days. Influence of Capsifen on eating behavior and appetite was followed by Three-Factor Eating Questionnaire (TFEQ) and Council of Nutrition Appetite Questionnaire (CNAQ), respectively. Consumption of Capsifen did not reveal any adverse events or deviations in hematology and biochemical parameters related to safety. However, a significant decrease in body weight (2.1%), w/h ratio (4%) and body mass index (BMI) (2.2%) were observed among Capsifen group when compared to placebo. The TFEQ and appetite analysis revealed a significant improvement in uncontrolled eating and reduction in appetite among Capsifen subjects. The UPLC-ESI-MS/MS analysis confirmed the absorption of capsaicinoids from CAP supplementation. The study further demonstrated the safety and tolerability of Capsifen at the investigational dosage. Thus, the significant reduction in anthropometric parameters such as body weight, w/h ratio, and BMI along with the improvement in eating behaviour as well as appetite, indicated the potential body weight management effect of Capsifen.

 

Study on the effect of rosemary and ginger essential oils against Klebsiella pneumoniae

 
Damanhour University and  Pharos University (Egypt), September 21, 2020
 

Klebsiella pneumoniae is a nosocomial pathogen in outbreaks of hospital infections. It is one of the major factors for morbidity and mortality in hospitalized patients especially those infected with colistin resistant pathogens. Many plant essential oils have antimicrobial activities and have been investigated as natural sources to combat multiple antibiotic resistances. Moreover; recent advances in phytonanotechnology have created exciting opportunities for the management of many infections. 

This study aims at investigating the antimicrobial and antibiofilm effect of rosemary and ginger essential oil-based nano-sized formulations on colistin resistant K. pneumonia clinical isolates.

Isolation and identification of 30 K. pneumonia isolates from different human samples was done followed by antibiotic susceptibility testing and detection of biofilm gene (mrkD). Examination of the activity of the tested essential oils and their chitosan nanoparticle formulations against the selected isolates was made by determination of their MICs using broth microdilution method followed by biofilm inhibition test and quantitative real-time PCR for the expression of mrkD gene in the presence of the oils and nanoparticles formulations compared to untreated bacterial isolates.

Our results showed that the minimum inhibitory concentrations of rosemary and ginger oils were found to be 1250 μg/ml, nanostructured lipid carrier-rosemary oil and nanostructured lipid carrier-ginger oil were 625 μg/ml and rosemary oil loaded chitosan nanoparticles and ginger oil loaded chitosan nanoparticles were 156 μg/ml. Results also revealed complete (100%) inhibition for mrkD gene expression when compared to untreated K. pneumonia. 

We can conclude that oil loaded chitosan nanoparticles show a high antimicrobial and antibiofilm activity.

 

 

The unintended consequence of becoming empathetic

University of Michigan, September 16, 2020

When people say that they want to change things about their personalities, they might not know about the inadvertent consequences these changes could bring. In fact, changes in personality may also lead to changes in political ideologies, say researchers from Michigan State University and the University of Granada, who led the study.

"We found this interesting effect where people wanted to improve on things like being more emotionally connected to others -- or, becoming more empathetic," said William Chopik, assistant professor of psychology at MSU. "But we found that this leads to changes in their political souls as well, which maybe they weren't intending. We saw that in these personality changes toward greater empathy, people placed a lot more importance upon more liberal ideologies -- like how you should treat other people and take others' perspectives."

The study, published in the most recent edition of Journal of Research in Personality, is the first to look at shifts in personalities and morals due to volitional change -- or, changes one brings upon oneself.

Chopik and co-authors from Southern Methodist University and the University of Illinois asked 414 volunteer participants to take a weekly questionnaire. Such questions included how they would react in certain situations, if they wanted to improve or change themselves, how they felt about helping others and other personality-related queries. Additionally, the researchers measured participants' "empathic concern" -- or, feelings that would arise when they saw someone in need or doing poorly. The researchers continued the weekly questionnaire for four months.

"Among the questions, we asked participants how they felt about five broad moral foundations: care, fairness, loyalty, authority and purity. We tracked sentiments week-to-week," Chopik said. "While these are common for personality-related assessments, individual moral foundations can also help explain attitudes toward various ideologies, ethical issues and policy debates."

Generally, liberal and progressive people tend to prioritize two of the five moral foundations: care and fairness; whereas, conservatives draw from all five -- including the more binding foundations: loyalty to the ingroup, respect for authority, and observance of purity and sanctity standards, Chopik said.

"Our study shows that when people are motivated to change, they can successfully do so," he said. "What we were surprised to find was that an upward trajectory for something like perspective-taking aligned with the person's shift towards the more liberal foundations."

The researchers did not intend for their study to generalize personality traits of one political party or another, but rather to see if -- and how -- a person could change themselves and what might be a result of their "moral transformation."

"Being a better perspective-taker exposes you to all sorts of new ideas, so it makes sense that it would change someone because they would be exposed to more diverse arguments," Chopik said. "When you become more empathic, it opens up a lot of doors to change humans in other ways, including how they think about morality and ideology -- which may or may not have been intended."

 

 

Evidence for Korean Ginseng's effects on improving bone health

Hospital of Chonbuk National University, Sept. 9, 2019

The Korea Ginseng Association introduced new evidence of Korean Ginseng's efficacy on bone health.

Korean Ginseng refers to ginsengs produced in Korea. Ginseng's scientific name, Panax ginseng, is named after the Greek word 'Panax', meaning cure for all diseases; indeed, ginseng has been sought after medicine since the ancient times. It has been proven to improve immune system and fatigue previously, and now even for bone health, as seen in recent research released in Korea.

In June of 2019, Rural Development Administration, Korea Research Institute of Bioscience & Biotechnology (KRIBB) and Hospital of Chonbuk National University confirmed the efficacy of Korean ginseng's efficacy on bone health in a research conducted for 3 years and followed up for another two years. The clinical application study was performed with three groups of female participants over the age of 40 and who suffer from bone loss. There were a total of 90 participants, with 30 participants in each group. The participants in the control group were given placebo, while the other groups were given ginseng extracts (3g per day and 1g per day). 

The results indicated that the level of osteocalcin was 11.6 times higher in the test group than the control group; the level of calcium was 3 times higher in the test group with 3g extracts as well. The change in Osteoarthritis rating before and after taking the extract was also significant, indicating ginseng's efficacy on improving pain and rigidity due to bone loss. 

In animal testing, ginseng extract (300mg per kg of mouse body mass) was administered for 8 weeks in Panax that were 112 weeks old. The result also indicated that bone density was 32% higher in the test group. The calcium concentration and bone formation effect were also higher in the test group. 

The Korea Ginseng Association's president Mr. Ban mentioned, "With this new evidence on ginseng's efficacy on bone health, we have even more pride for our Korean Ginseng. We hope to continue to find scientifically based evidence for the ginseng's benefits."

 
 

Immune system may have another job—combatting depression

Yale University, September 18, 2020

An inflammatory autoimmune response within the central nervous system similar to one linked to neurodegenerative diseases such as multiple sclerosis (MS) has also been found in the spinal fluid of healthy people, according to a new Yale-led study comparing immune system cells in the spinal fluid of MS patients and healthy subjects. The research, published Sept. 18 in the journal Science Immunology, suggests these immune cells may play a role other than protecting against microbial invaders—protecting our mental health.

The results buttress an emerging theory that gamma interferons, a type of immune cell that helps induce and modulate a variety of immune system responses, may also play a role in preventing depression in healthy people.

"We were surprised that normal spinal fluid would be so interesting," said David Hafler, the William S. and Lois Stiles Edgerly Professor of Neurology, professor of immunobiology and senior author of the study.

Previous research has shown that blocking gamma interferons and the T cells they help produce can cause depression-like symptoms in mice. Hafler notes that depression is also a common side effect in patients with MS treated with a different type of interferon.

Using a powerful new technology that allows a detailed examination of individual cells, the researchers show that while the characteristics of T cells in the spinal fluid of healthy people share similarities with those of MS patients, they lack the ability to replicate and cause the damaging inflammatory response seen in autoimmune diseases such as MS.

In essence, the immune system in the brains of all people is poised to make an inflammatory immune system response and may have another function than defending against pathogens, Hafler said.

"These T cells serve another purpose and we speculate that they may help preserve our mental health," he said.

Hafler said that his lab and colleagues at Yale plan to explore how immune system responses in the central nervous system might affect psychiatric disorders such as depression.

 

Avocado pulp improves cardiovascular and autonomic recovery following submaximal running

Sao Paulo State University (Brazil), August 23, 2020

Abstract

Previous studies have demonstrated that regular avocado consumption presents advantageous effects on cardiovascular system. However, little attention has been paid to the use of avocado as a dietary supplement, in particular, for individuals involved in physical exercise training. Therefore, this study aims to evaluate the effect of acute avocado pulp intake on cardiovascular and autonomic recovery subsequent to moderate exercise. Using a crossover, randomized, double-blind and placebo-controlled trial design, 16 healthy female adults underwent two protocols: Avocado pulp (600 mg in capsule) and placebo (600 mg starch in capsule). After the ingestion of Avocado pulp or placebo, the subjects were seated for 60 min at rest, followed by running on a treadmill at a submaximal level and then remained seated for 60 min during recovery from the exercise. Heart rate (HR), heart rate variability (HRV) [rMSSD, SD1, HF (ms2)] and skin conductance were evaluated before and during exercise, as well as during recovery. HR, systolic blood pressure, HRV and skin conductance recovered faster when subjects were given avocado pulp prior to exercise. In conclusion, avocado pulp improved cardiovascular and autonomic recovery after exercise, suggesting a reduced risk of cardiovascular events after exertion. The current results support the beneficial effects of ingestion of avocado prior to submaximal treadmill running.

 

Study shows vitamin E needed for proper nervous system development

Oregon State University, September 21, 2020

 

In research with key ramifications for women of childbearing age, findings by Oregon State University scientists show that embryos produced by vitamin E-deficient zebrafish have malformed brains and nervous systems.

"This is totally amazing - the brain is absolutely physically distorted by not having enough vitamin E," said Maret Traber, a professor in the OSU College of Public Health and Human Sciences.

The study led by Traber, the Ava Helen Pauling Professor at Oregon State's Linus Pauling Institute, was published today in Scientific Reports.

Zebrafish are a small freshwater species that go from a fertilized egg to a swimming fish in about five days. They are highly prized for studying the development and genetics of vertebrates. 

Zebrafish share a remarkable similarity to humans at the molecular, genetic and cellular levels, meaning many findings are immediately relevant to humans. Embryonic zebrafish are of special interest because they develop quickly, are transparent and are easy to care for.

Vitamin E was discovered in 1922, identified because it was essential for fertilized rat eggs to culminate in live births.

"Why does an embryo need vitamin E? We've been chasing that for a long time," said Traber, a leading authority on vitamin E who has been researching the micronutrient for three decades. "With this newest study we actually started taking pictures so we could visualize: Where is the brain? Where is the brain forming? How does vitamin E fit into this picture?"

In an embryo, a brain primordium and the neural tube appear early and will form the nervous system and "innervate" - supply with nerves - all organs and body structures. Without vitamin E, the zebrafish embryos showed neural tube defects and brain defects.

"They were kind of like folic acid-deficient neural tube defects, and now we have pictures to show the neural tube defects and brain defects and that vitamin E is right on the closing edges of the cells that are forming the brain," Traber said. 

In healthy organisms, neural crest cells drive the creation of facial bones and cartilage and innervate the body, building the peripheral nervous system.

"Acting as stem cells, the crest cells are important for the brain and spinal cord and also go on to be the cells of about 10 different organ systems including the heart and liver," Traber said. "By having those cells get into trouble with vitamin E deficiency, basically the entire embryo formation is dysregulated. It is no wonder we see embryo death with vitamin E deficiency."

Traber likens it to the children's game KerPlunk, in which kids take turns pulling out the straws that support several dozen marbles in a vertical tube. When the wrong straw is pulled out, everything collapses; vitamin E is the straw whose extraction brings down the house on embryo development, especially with the brain and nervous system.

"Now we're at the point where we're so close being able to say exactly what's wrong when there isn't enough vitamin E but at the same time we're very far away because we haven't found what are the genes that are changing," she said. "What we know is the vitamin E-deficient embryos lived to 24 hours and then started dying off. At six hours there was no difference, by 12 hours you see the differences but they weren't killing the animals, and at 24 hours there were dramatic changes that were about to cause the tipping point of total catastrophe."

Vitamin E, known scientifically as alpha-tocopherol, has many biologic roles and in human diets is most often provided by oils, such as olive oil. It is found in high levels in foods such as hazelnuts, sunflower seeds and avocados.

Vitamin E is a group of eight compounds - four tocopherols and four tocotrienols - distinguished by their chemical structure. Alpha-tocopherol is what vitamin E commonly refers to and is found in supplements and in foods associated with a European diet; gamma-tocopherol is the type of vitamin E most commonly found in a typical American diet.

"Plants make eight different forms of vitamin E, and you absorb them all, but the liver only puts alpha-tocopherol back into the bloodstream," said Traber. "All of the other forms are metabolized and excreted. I've been concerned about women and pregnancy because of reports that women with low vitamin E in their plasma have increased risk of miscarriage."

Joining Traber on the study were Brian Head of the Linus Pauling Institute, Jane La Du and Robyn Tanguay of the OSU College of Agricultural Sciences and Chrissa Kioussi of the OSU College of Pharmacy.

The Oregon Veterinary Diagnostic Lab supported the research with technical assistance, and the Ava Helen Pauling Endowment and the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences of the National Institutes of Health contributed toward the study's funding.

 

Lactobacillus rhamnosus attenuates bone loss and maintains bone health 

All India Medical Institute (India), September 18, 2020

 

According to news reporting based on a preprint abstract, “Osteoporosis is a systemic-skeletal disorder characterized by enhanced fragility of bones leading to increased rates of fractures and morbidity in large number of populations. Probiotics are known to be involved in management of various-inflammatory diseases including osteoporosis.

“But no study till date had delineated the immunomodulatory potential of Lactobacillus rhamnosus (LR) in bone-health.

“In the present study, we examine the effect of probiotic-LR on bone-health in osteoporotic (Ovx) mice model.

“We observed that administration of LR attenuated bone-loss in Ovx mice. Both the cortical and trabecular bone-content of LR treated group was significantly higher than Ovx-group. Remarkably, the percentage of osteoclastogenic-CD4+Ror{gamma}t+Th17 cells at distinct immunological sites such as BM, spleen, LN and PP were significantly reduced, whereas the percentage of anti-osteoclastogenic-CD4+Foxp3+Tregs and CD8+Foxp3+Tregs were significantly enhanced in LR-treated group thereby resulting in inhibition of bone-loss. The immunomodulatory-role of LR was further supported by serum-cytokine data with a significant reduction in proinflammatory-cytokines (IL-6, IL-17 and TNF-) along with enhancement in anti-inflammatory-cytokines (IL-10, IFN-{gamma}) in LR treated-group. Altogether, the present study for the first time establishes the osteoprotective role of LR on bone-health, thus highlighting the potential of LR in the treatment and management of various bone related diseases including osteoporosis.”

 

 

September 21, 2020  

Vitamin D supplementation can reduce cancer death risk by 16%, study shows

Cornell University, September 18, 2020

 

A recent review published in the British Medical Journal analyzed studies on vitamin D supplementation. Researchers from the United States and China found that it reduces the risk of cancer-related death by 16 percent.

Vitamin D linked to reduced risk of cancer death

There are three sources of vitamin D: from one’s diet, from supplements and through sunlight exposure. In the case of the latter, the body naturally produces the micronutrient, leading to its moniker “the sunshine vitamin.”

The cancer-related benefits of vitamin D have been reported numerous times in the past. One of the first studies demonstrated a link between non-skin cancers and the levels of sunlight that fall in different geographic latitudes. According to its lead researcher, Frank Apperly, the sunlight gave “a relative cancer immunity.”

While Apperly’s study was largely ignored during its time, it was rediscovered later on and more studies on the link between cancer and vitamin D appeared. For instance, previous research proposed that vitamin D deficiency increases the risk of colon and prostate cancer.

For the current study, the researchers looked at 52 randomized controlled trials that compared the effects of vitamin D supplementation to those of a placebo or no treatment. About 7,450 participants were included in the studies.

Results showed that vitamin D supplementation reduced cancer death risk by 16 percent. The finding was particular to cancer-related death as all-cause mortality risk remained virtually unchanged after supplementation.

The researchers added that the reduced risk of cancer death was best observed among participants who took supplements of vitamin D3 — what the human body produces naturally upon exposure to sunlight. Vitamin D3 is also found in animal-based foods such as egg yolk and fish oil.

They recommended taking vitamin D3 supplements for at least three years to reap its benefit. They explained that among the trials that they examined, those that involved longer supplementation showed greater evidence for the cancer-related benefit of vitamin D3. 

“Another finding from subgroup analysis suggested that […] the benefit of reduced mortality was seen in trials with longer follow-up but not in those with a shorter follow-up. According to these findings, supplementation with vitamin D3 for at least three years should be considered,” wrote the researchers.

More studies on the anti-cancer benefit of vitamin D

Recent studies also found the link between reduced risk of cancer-related death and vitamin D supplementation.

In a recent study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, researchers looked at previous research that examined the use of vitamin D versus a placebo over at least three years. The studies included almost 80,000 cancer patients with an average age of 68.

They found that those who took vitamin D supplements for three years and more had a 13 percent reduced risk of cancer-related death.

“The difference in the mortality rate between the vitamin D and placebo groups was statistically significant enough that it showed just how important it might be among the cancer population,” said lead author Tarek Haykal of the Michigan State University and the Hurley Medical Center in Flint, Michigan.

In another study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, researchers randomly assigned half of 25,800 participants to vitamin D supplementation and the other half to a placebo. They were followed up for an average of five years.

The researchers found that cancer-related deaths in the vitamin D group were reduced by 17 percent compared to the placebo group. When participants had been taking vitamin D for more than two years, deaths were reduced by 25 percent.

These findings illustrate that vitamin D can help reduce the risk of dying from cancer.

 

 

Mango Leaf Extract's brain-boosting capabilities revealed after 5 year R&D study

Northumbria University (UK), September 16, 2020

A new study has been published that builds upon previous research showing ‘experiential’ benefits from the Zynamite ingredient platform. The new clinical trial, led by Professor David Kennedy, Director of the Brain, Performance and Nutrition Research Centre at Northumbria University and published in Nutrients, suggests a rapid and sustained boost for a wide range of cognitive functions after a single use of the ingredient. Zynamite is a patent-pending, proprietary Mangifera indica extract, standardized to ≥ 60% mangiferin, developed from sustainably harvested mango leaves. A self-affirmed GRAS ingredient, it has a portfolio of safety data and has been the subject of three pre-clinical and now seven clinical studies that demonstrate performance enhancement in both cognitive and physical performance. 

The new study is indicative of a robust and continuing program of scientific study supporting Zynamite and underscores its potential as a leading ingredient for cognitive and physical performance. A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled crossover study, published in 2019, was conducted to determine whether a single dose of Zynamite administered one hour before exercise would increase cycle-sprint performance. Subjects performed three Wingate sprint tests interspaced by 4 minutes and a final 15-second sprint after induced ischemia (blood flow restriction, which simulates exhaustion). Peak power was improved by 3.8% in one hour compared to placebo in subjects who took just one dose of Zynamite. Of note, the amount of quercetin in Zynamite (140 mg) is significantly lower than amounts of quercetin shown to produce ergogenic effects in previous studies, suggesting that this combination may have synergistic effects.

 

 

Study links rising stress, depression in US to pandemic-related losses, media 

University of California at Irvine, September 19, 2020

Experiencing multiple stressors triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic—such as unemployment—and COVID-19-related media consumption are directly linked to rising acute stress and depressive symptoms across the U.S., according to a groundbreaking University of California, Irvine study.

The report appears in Science Advances.

"The pandemic is not hitting all communities equally," said lead author E. Alison Holman, UCI professor of nursing. "People have lost wages, jobs and loved ones with record speed. Individuals living with chronic mental and physical illness are struggling; young people are struggling; poor communities are struggling. Mental health services need to be tailored to those most in need right now."

In addition, the research highlights the connection between mental health and exposure to media coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic, suggesting the need to step away from the television, computer or smartphone to protect psychological well-being.

"The media is a critical source of information for people when they're faced with ambiguous, ongoing disasters," said Roxane Cohen Silver, professor of psychological science and one of the study's principal investigators. "But too much exposure can be overwhelming and lead to more stress, worry and perceived risks."

With funding from a National Science Foundation RAPID grant, Holman, Silver, and co-investigators Dana Rose Garfin and Rebecca R. Thompson conducted a national survey of more than 6,500 U.S. residents in March and April 2020, as illness and deaths were rising around the country. Using the NORC AmeriSpeak panel, the study was the first of its kind to examine early predictors of rising mental health problems across the nation. The design let researchers evaluate the effects of the pandemic as it was unfolding in real time.

"Over the course of the study, the size of the pandemic shifted dramatically," Holman said. Accordingly, people surveyed later in the study period reported the highest rate of acute stress and depressive symptoms.

The UCI team's findings offer insights into priorities for building community resilience in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic:

  • Those with pre-existing mental and physical conditions are more likely to show both acute stress and depressive symptoms.
  • Secondary stressors—job and wage loss, a shortage of necessities—are also strong predictors in the development of these symptoms.
  • Extensive exposure to pandemic-related news and conflicting information in the news are among the strongest predictors of pandemic-specific acute stress.

"It's critical that we prioritize providing resources to communities most in need of support right now—the unemployed, poor or chronically ill people, and young people," Holman said. "We also encourage the public to limit exposure to media as an important public health intervention. It can prevent mental and physical health symptoms and promote resilience."

 

Curcumin protects bone properties and microarchitecture in type 2 diabetes with osteoporosis

Zhaoqing Medical College (China) and Inner Mongolia Medical University, September 17, 2020

 

According to news reporting originating in Guangdong, People’s Republic of China, research stated, “Type 2 diabetic osteoporosis (T2DOP) has become a common secondary cause of osteoporosis that accelerates bone loss and leads to bone fractures. The aim of the current study was to investigate the association between the anti-osteoporotic effect of curcumin (Cur) and the transforming growth factor (TGF)beta /Smads signaling pathway.”

The news reporters obtained a quote from the research from the Department of Pharmacy, “Male Sprague-Dawley rats were used in the experiments. The type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) animals were treated with Cur for 8 weeks and blood lipid markers, bone microstructure and bone biomechanics were then evaluated. The mRNA expression levels of TGF beta 1, type I TGF beta receptor (T beta RI), T beta RII and Smad2/3 were determined using reverse transcription-quantitative PCR (RT-qPCR) and immunohistochemistry. The body weight of rats with type 2 diabetes-induced osteoporosis increased (P <0.05), while the lipid (total cholesterol, triglyceride and low-density lipoprotein) and fasting blood glucose levels were decreased by Cur (P <0.05). In addition, Cur significantly improved bone biomechanical properties (maximum load, breaking load, elastic load and the bone rigidity coefficient) and preserved bone microarchitecture (P <0.05). The RT-qPCR and IHC results revealed that Cur increased TGF <beta >1, T beta RI, T beta RII and Smad2/3 expression levels and promoted Smad2/3 phosphorylation in bones.”

According to the news reporters, the research concluded: “The present results also indicated that Cur regulated lipid and glucose levels, improved bone biomechanical properties and preserved bone microarchitecture, and that these effects may be mediated via TGF beta /Smad2/3 pathway activation.”

 

 

20 Minutes in Nature a Day Is Your Ticket to Feeling Better

University of Michigan, September 19, 2020

 

Nature soothes our stressed-out souls. We instinctively know nature is the best prescription, but research is revealing how little time we need to set aside to reap the benefits.

In one study, published in the journal Frontiers in Psychology, researchers tried to identify the most effective "dose" of nature within the context of normal daily life. As more doctors prescribe nature experiences for stress relief and other health benefits — sometimes referred to as a "nature pill" — the study's authors hoped to clarify the details of these treatments. More biophilia is generally better for us, but since not everyone can spend all day in deep wilderness, the study looked for a sweet spot.

"We know that spending time in nature reduces stress, but until now it was unclear how much is enough, how often to do it, or even what kind of nature experience will benefit us," says lead author MaryCarol Hunter, an associate professor at the University of Michigan's School for Environment and Sustainability, in a statement. "Our study shows that for the greatest payoff, in terms of efficiently lowering levels of the stress hormone cortisol, you should spend 20 to 30 minutes sitting or walking in a place that provides you with a sense of nature."

A nature pill can be a low-cost, low-risk way to curb the negative health effects of urbanization and indoor lifestyles. To find the most efficient dosage, Hunter and her co-authors asked 36 city dwellers to have nature experiences of at least 10 minutes three times per week over eight weeks. (A nature experience was defined as "anywhere outside that, in the opinion of the participant, made them feel like they've interacted with nature," Hunter explains.) Every two weeks, the researchers collected saliva samples to measure levels of the stress hormone cortisol, both before and after the participants took their nature pill.

The data showed that just a 20-minute nature experience was enough to significantly reduce cortisol levels. The effect was most efficient between 20 to 30 minutes, after which benefits continued to accrue but at a slower rate. Researchers in the United Kingdom who analyzed the routines of roughly 20,000 people came up with a similar prescription: 2 hours a week totalspent in a park or woodland setting will improve your health.

Nature Time Doesn't Have to Mean Exercise, Either 

Those results dovetail with the findings of other studies, one of which found that spending 20 minutes in an urban park can make you happier, regardless of whether you use that time to exercise. That study was published in the International Journal of Environmental Health Research,

"Overall, we found park visitors reported an improvement in emotional well-being after the park visit," lead author and University of Alabama at Birmingham professor Hon K. Yuen said in a statement. "However, we did not find levels of physical activity are related to improved emotional well-being. Instead, we found time spent in the park is related to improved emotional well-being."

For this study, 94 adults visited three urban parks in Mountain Brook, Alabama, completing a questionnaire about their subjective well-being before and after their visit. An accelerometer tracked their physical activity. A visit lasting between 20 and 25 minutes demonstrated the best results, with a roughly 64 percent increase in the participants' self-reported well-being, even if they didn't move a great deal in the park. That last point is particularly positive since it means almost anyone can benefit from visiting a nearby park, regardless of age or physical ability.

The study's co-author and another UAB professor, Gavin Jenkins, acknowledges the study pool was small, but its findings illustrate the importance of urban parks.

"There is increasing pressure on green space within urban settings," Jenkins said in the statement. "Planners and developers look to replace green space with residential and commercial property. The challenge facing cities is that there is increasing evidence about the value of city parks but we continue to see the demise of these spaces."

In another review published in Frontiers in Psychology, researchers at Cornell University examined the results of 14 studies that focused on the impact of nature on college students. They found that you might not even need the full 20 minutes to reap the benefits of some outdoor time. The studies showed that as little as 10–20 minutes of sitting or walking in nature can help college students feel happier and less stressed.

“It doesn’t take much time for the positive benefits to kick in,” said lead author Gen Meredith, associate director of the Master of Public Health Program and lecturer at the College of Veterinary Medicine, in a statement. “We firmly believe that every student, no matter what subject or how high their workload, has that much discretionary time each day, or at least a few times per week.”

 

 

Astaxanthin Supplementation Reduces Depression and Fatigue in Healthy Subjects

BGG North America and BGG, Beijing, August 26 2020

Objective: Natural Astaxanthin from Haematococcus pluvialis microalgae (NAX) has been researched in hundreds of clinical trials, pre-clinical animal studies and in-vitro surveys for various bioactive properties that indicate potential preventive and therapeutic health benefits. Among the most widely-researched properties of astaxanthin in the literature are broad-spectrum anti-inflammato- ry activity and powerful antioxidant capacity. In addition, both human and animal research have revealed a wide range of potential benefits for neurological and eye health, cardiovascular function, exercise endurance, enhancement of the immune response and skin health. This study’s goal was to explore the effects of a daily dose of 12 mg per day of NAX on psychological mood state in healthy subjects.

Abstract

Methods: This study employed placebo control and parallel design under double blind conditions. A total of 28 healthy subjects, half male and half female, with a median age of 42, supplemented with 12 mg per day of NAX or placebo. Before Day 0 and again at the end of the 8-week supplementation period, subjects completed a validated Profile of Mood States (POMS) survey to assess global mood state (GM) and related subscales: Vigor (V), Tension (T), Depression (D), Anger (A), Fatigue (F) and Confusion (C).

Results: Significant improvements were found in the NAX treatment group for positive mood state parameters: GM (+11%, p < 0.05) and V (+5%, NS); and negative mood state parameters: D (-57%, p < 0.05), F (-36%, p < 0.05), T (-20%, NS), A (-12%, NS), and C (-28%, NS).

Conclusions: While previous studies have shown NAX supplementation to improve parameters associated with brain health (neuro- inflammation and cognition), these data are the first to suggest that natural astaxanthin supplementation reduces negative mood state parameters (depression and fatigue) and improves global mood state and thus supports mental wellness.

 
 

 

Excessive exercise may tire your mind and body, reveals study

Pitie Salpetgriere University (France), September 18, 2020

 

Too much exercise can make your brain tired too, suggests a study published in the journal Current Biology.

French researchers found a form of mental fatigue among athletes subjected to a heavy training load. The athletes acted impulsively, having sought immediate rewards instead of bigger ones that take longer to achieve.

This form of mental fatigue affected a region of the brain that was previously linked to decreased cognitive control, said the researchers.

“The lateral prefrontal region that was affected by sport-training overload was exactly the same that had been shown vulnerable to excessive cognitive work in our previous studies,” said co-author Mathias Pessiglione of Pitie-Salpetriere University Hospital in Paris.

These findings demonstrate that mental and physical activity both require cognitive control, a finding that can benefit not only athletes but also policymakers, economic leaders, students and dieters.

Poorer decision-making due to fatigue

The researchers came up with the study after observing athletes training under the National Institute of Sport, Expertise and Performance in France, a public organization that runs elite sports programs in preparation for the Olympics.

According to the researchers, some athletes experienced an “overtraining syndrome,” in which performance levels drop as a trainee experiences an overwhelming sense of fatigue. The team wanted to know whether the syndrome was caused by the same kind of cognitive fatigue that was linked to excessive intellectual work.

For the study, they enlisted 37 competitive male endurance athletes with a mean age of 35 years. They were assigned either to continue normal training or undergo increased training intensity that went up by 40 percent per session over a three-week period. The team administered physical and behavioral tests and elicited the participants’ subjective experience of fatigue through questionnaires every two days.

Results showed that the athletes subjected to increased training intensity reported feeling more fatigued compared to the control group. They also acted more impulsively in standard tests used to evaluate economic decision-making by favoring immediate over delayed rewards. The researchers examined their brain activity as they made those choices and found diminished activity in the lateral prefrontal cortex.

“Our findings draw attention to the fact that neural states matter: you don’t make the same decisions when your brain is in a fatigue state,” said Pessiglione.

The study’s findings apply to a broad range of disciplines that include sports medicine, economics, politics, education and nutrition. According to the authors, it may be important to monitor fatigue levels in order to prevent bad decisions from being made. In turn, this can help people choose the right foods, improve study habits and manage finances better, among other applications.

Link between fatigue and poor cognitive health

Other studies also found that fatigue may have adverse effects on cognitive health.

One study examined the link between exercise and poor mental health. Participants were asked to self-report the number of days in the previous month when they felt mentally unwell. They were also asked how often they worked out during that period of time.

The researchers found that exercising for 45 minutes a day for three to five times a week offered the best mental health benefit. However, those who exercised for more than three hours a day displayed poorer mental health than even those who did not work out at all.

The researchers commented that people who exercise too much may be working themselves out to the point of exhaustion.

Meanwhile, another study looked at burnout and its effect on cognitive function. Researchers enlisted individuals who were clinically diagnosed with burnout and healthy individuals. All participants went through tests that measured their ability to regulate negative emotions.

The team found that burnout patients had a more difficult time modulating strong negative emotional responses compared to the healthy control group. (Related: Experts determine burnout and depression are closely linked.)

The findings of these studies serve as an important reminder that any physical and mental work should be done in moderation. Exhaustion has serious effects on brain health.

 

 

Headstand (Sirshasana) Does Not Increase the Blood Flow to the Brain

Saint-Petersburg State University (Russia) and Ohio State University, September 15, 2020

Abstract

Objectives: Most yoga practitioners believe that headstand (Sirshasana) results in increased cerebral perfusion. This, however, is not consistent with autoregulation of the cerebral blood flow. The intent of this study was to demonstrate the effect of Sirshasana on the blood flow to the brain through ultrasound examination of the internal carotid artery (ICA).

Design, location, and subjects: The ICA blood flow was measured with pulsed Doppler in 20 men and women aged 10 to 59 years (median 43) while performing the headstand (Sirshasana). Seventeen subjects were studied in 2018 in Spain at the altitude of 2,000 m, whereas the other three females were studied at sea level.

Results: Although the diameter of the artery under examination during the headstand remained almost unchanged, the decrease in peak flow velocities in systole and diastole caused a significant decrease in arterial blood flow to the brain, followed by return to baseline values immediately after the antiorthostatic postural effect, likely due to the expected consequences of the cerebral blood flow autoregulation of the cerebral blood supply as well as the intracranial pressure.

Conclusions: Contrary to popular belief, Sirshasana does not increase blood flow to the brain through the ICA, but results in predictable reduction in cerebral blood delivery in compliance with known mechanisms of autoregulation of cerebral blood flow. Moreover, increased ICA blood flow while performing the headstand is likely to be a contraindication to this exercise.

September 18, 2020  

Could breadfruit be the next superfood? researchers say yes

Breadfruit is sustainable, environmentally friendly and a high-production crop

University of British Columbia, September 17, 2020

 

A fruit used for centuries in countries around the world is getting the nutritional thumbs-up from a team of British Columbia researchers. 

Breadfruit, which grows in abundance in tropical and South Pacific countries, has long been a staple in the diet of many people. The fruit can be eaten when ripe, or it can be dried and ground up into a flour and repurposed into many types of meals, explains UBC Okanagan researcher Susan Murch.

"Breadfruit is a traditional staple crop from the Pacific islands with the potential to improve worldwide food security and mitigate diabetes," says Murch, a chemistry professor in the newly-created Irving K. Barber Faculty of Science. "While people have survived on it for thousands of years there was a lack of basic scientific knowledge of the health impacts of a breadfruit-based diet in both humans and animals." 

Breadfruit can be harvested, dried and ground into a gluten-free flour. For the project, researchers had four breadfruits from the same tree in Hawaii, shipped to the Murch Lab at UBC Okanagan. Doctoral student Ying Liu led the study examining the digestion and health impact of a breadfruit-based diet. 

"Detailed and systematic studies of the health impacts of a breadfruit diet had not previously been conducted and we wanted to contribute to the development of breadfruit as a sustainable, environmentally-friendly and high-production crop," Liu says.

The few studies done on the product have been to examine the glycemic index of breadfruit--with a low glycemic index it is comparable to many common staples such as wheat, cassava, yam and potatoes. 

"The objective of our current study was to determine whether a diet containing breadfruit flour poses any serious health concerns," explains Liu, who conducted her research with colleagues from British Columbia Institute of Technology's Natural Health and Food Products Research Group and the Breadfruit Institute of the National Tropical Botanic Garden in Hawaii.

The researchers designed a series of studies--using flour ground from dehydrated breadfruits--that could provide data on the impacts of a breadfruit-based diet fed to mice and also an enzyme digestion model. 

The researchers determined that breadfruit protein was found to be easier to digest than wheat protein in the enzyme digestion model. And mice fed the breadfruit diet had a significantly higher growth rate and body weight than standard diet-fed mice.

Liu also noted mice on the breadfruit diet had a significantly higher daily water consumption compared to mice on the wheat diet. And at the end of the three-week-trial, the body composition was similar between the breadfruit and wheat diet-fed mice.

"As the first complete, fully-designed breadfruit diet study, our data showed that a breadfruit diet does not impose any toxic impact," says Liu. "Fundamental understanding of the health impact of breadfruit digestion and diets is necessary and imperative to the establishment of breadfruit as a staple or as a functional food in the future."

The use of breadfruit is nutritious and sustainable and could make inroads in food sustainability for many populations globally, she adds. For example, the average daily consumption of grain in the United States is 189 grams (6.67 ounces) per day. Liu suggests if a person ate the same amount of cooked breadfruit they can meet up to nearly 57 per cent of their daily fibre requirement, more than 34 per cent of their protein requirement and at the same time consume vitamin C, potassium, iron, calcium and phosphorus.

"Overall, these studies support the use of breadfruit as part of a healthy, nutritionally balanced diet," says Liu. "Flour produced from breadfruit is a gluten-free, low glycemic index, nutrient-dense and complete protein option for modern foods."

 

 

Fructose and glucose in high fructose corn syrup deliver a one-two punch to health

New study links combination of the two sugars in high fructose corn syrup to heart health risks

University of California at Davis, September 17, 2020

 

Consuming high fructose corn syrup appears to be as bad for your health as consuming sugar in the form of fructose alone, according to a new study from researchers at the University of California, Davis. The study reports health risks related to the type of sugar consumed, but also reveals novel risks when sugars are combined, which has important implications for dietary guidelines.

When it comes to health risks, sugar in the form of fructose is clearly the bad guy. This is because a majority of fructose consumed ends up in the liver. When there is too much fructose, the liver produces uric acid and fat in the form of triglycerides, which increase the risk of fatty liver, heart disease and gout. But lead investigator Kimber Stanhope, a researcher with the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, says the new data shows that we shouldn't let glucose off the hook.

"It turns out that the combination of fructose and glucose found in high fructose corn syrup appears to be worse than fructose alone for some heart disease risk factors," said Stanhope. "When we planned this study, we didn't expect to find this."

Research has shown that fructose compared with glucose increases risk factors for heart disease and diabetes. This led to an assumption that the glucose in the high fructose corn syrup is benign. The new study, published in Metabolism Journal, tested this assumption by examining differences in health risk factors based on sugar type. Participants consumed beverages containing fructose, glucose, high fructose corn syrup, or an aspartame control, and researchers analyzed their blood for known risk factors for heart disease and diabetes.

The researchers expected risk factors would be highest for fructose and lowest for glucose, with high fructose corn syrup somewhere in between. This is exactly what they saw for some of the risk factors. However, for others, including the risk factors many scientists believe are the most predictive for heart disease, the increases were highest for high fructose corn syrup due to an interaction of fructose and glucose.

CONSUMER CHOICES AND DIETARY GUIDELINES 

The results of the current study suggest that dietary guidelines and consumer choices should not be based on the assumption that all adverse effects from dietary sugars are due to fructose content.

"Our study shows that nutrition is more than looking at individual food components," said first author Bettina Hieronimus with the Department of Child Nutrition at the Max-Rubner Institut in Karlsruhe, Germany. "To understand the way our food affects our bodies, we need to study diets as a whole."

 

 

We are predisposed to forgive, new research suggests

Yale University and Oxford University, September 17, 2020

     

When assessing the moral character of others, people cling to good impressions but readily adjust their opinions about those who have behaved badly, according to new research.

 

This flexibility in judging transgressors might help explain both how humans forgive -- and why they sometimes stay in bad relationships, said the study's authors.

 

The research -- conducted by psychologists at Yale, University of Oxford, University College London, and the International School for Advanced Studies -- in the journal Nature Human Behaviour.

 

"The brain forms social impressions in a way that can enable forgiveness," said Yale psychologist Molly Crockett, senior author of the paper. "Because people sometimes behave badly by accident, we need to be able to update bad impressions that turn out to be mistaken. Otherwise, we might end relationships prematurely and miss out on the many benefits of social connection."

 

Across a series of experiments, more than 1500 subjects observed the choices of two strangers who faced a moral dilemma: whether to inflict painful electric shocks on another person in exchange for money. While the "good" stranger mostly refused to shock another person for money, the "bad" stranger tended to maximize their profits despite the painful consequences. The subjects were asked their impressions of the strangers' moral character and how confident they were about those impressions.

 

Subjects rapidly formed stable, positive impressions of the good stranger and were highly confident of their impressions. However, the subjects were far less confident that the bad stranger was truly bad and could change their minds quickly. For instance, when the bad stranger occasionally made a generous choice, subjects' impressions immediately improved -- until they witnessed the stranger's next transgression."

 

This pattern of impression updating may provide some insight into why people sometimes hold on to bad relationships, Crockett said. "We think our findings reveal a basic predisposition towards giving others, even strangers, the benefit of the doubt. The human mind is built for maintaining social relationships, even when partners sometimes behave badly."

 

The research also may eventually help shed light on psychiatric disorders involving social difficulties, such as Borderline Personality Disorder.

 

"The ability to accurately form impressions of others' character is crucial for the development and maintenance of healthy relationships" said Jenifer Siegel, an Oxford doctoral student and lead author of the paper. "We have developed newtools for measuring impression formation, which could help improve our understanding of relational dysfunction."

 

 

Intermittent Fasting Diet Improves Health Without Altering The Body’s Core Clock

University of Copenhagen, Australian Catholic University and Karolinska Institutet, September 17, 2020

 

When it comes to metabolic health, it’s not just what you eat, it’s when you eat it. Studies have shown that one effective means of losing weight and tackling obesity is to reduce the number of hours in the day that you eat. Time-restricted feeding – otherwise known as intermittent fasting – has also been shown to improve health even before weight loss kicks in.

The biological explanation for the phenomenon remains poorly understood. So scientists from the University of Copenhagen, the Australian Catholic University and Karolinska Institutet investigated the body’s early adaptations to time-restricted feeding. Their study identified a number of key changes in the genetic activity of muscles, as well as the content of muscle fats and proteins, which could explain the positive impact of time-restricted feeding.

Novel insights on short-term time-restricted feeding

The study is the first time scientists have examined the oscillations of metabolites in skeletal muscle and in blood, as well as gene expression in skeletal muscle after time-restricted feeding. By focusing on the short-term and early effects of time-restricted feeding, the goal was to disentangle the signals that govern health from those associated with weight loss.

“We observe that the rhythm of skeletal muscle core clock genes is unchanged by time-restricted feeding, suggesting that any differences are driven more by diet, rather than inherent rhythms,” says Postdoc Leonidas Lundell, from the Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Basic Metabolic Research (CBMR) at the University of Copenhagen.

“We also see that the metabolite profile of skeletal muscle switches from being predominantly lipid based, to amino acid based, after time-restricted feeding. This coincides with changes in rhythmicity of amino acid transporters, indicating that part of the amino acid profile could be due to absorption from the blood.”

Research Fellow Evelyn Parr from the Mary MacKillop Institute for Health Research at the Australian Catholic University, adds: “Our research is an important step towards understanding how time-restricted eating can improve metabolic health, while bridging the gap between animal models and human intervention studies. It was important to capture these early metabolic responses before assessing what changes might occur after a longer period following a time-restricted feeding pattern.”

Eating behavior does not impact the body’s core clock

In the study, 11 men with overweight/obesity were assigned one of two eating protocols for a period of five days, either unrestricted feeding, or eight-hours of time restricted feeding. On the fifth day, samples were taken every four hours for a full day. After a 10-day break, they repeated the experiment following the other eating protocol.

After each intervention, the team of scientists studied the gene expression in muscles, as well as the profile of metabolites – molecules that are formed through metabolic processes – in the blood and muscles.

They discovered that time-restricted feeding changed the rhythmic concentration of metabolites in blood and muscle. Time-restricted feeding also influenced the rhythmic expression of genes expressed by muscle, particularly those responsible for helping the transport of amino acids, the building blocks of proteins.

Critically, the study showed that time-restricted feeding did not alter the muscle’s core clock – the cell’s inbuilt metronome that regulates its daily cycle of activity. This suggests that the altered rhythmicity of metabolite and gene expression caused by time-restricted feeding could be responsible for the positive health impact.

“Our findings open new avenues for scientists who are interested in understanding the causal relationship between time-restricted feeding and improved metabolic health. These insights could help develop new therapies to improve the lives of people who live with obesity,” says Professor Juleen Zierath from Karolinska Institutet and CBMR at the University of Copenhagen.

 

 

 

Green soy extract could prevent cognitive dysfunction: Mouse data

University of Shizuoka (Japan), September 16, 2020

 

Intake of green soybean extract could help reverse cognitive dysfunction and its associated accumulation of beta-amyloid proteins in the brain, say researchers.

 

The accumulation of beta-amyloid proteins has long been linked to the development of brain stunting conditions including Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. 

 

The new findings come from a Japanese trial in mice with cognitive dysfunction.

 

Writing in the Journal of Functional Foods, the team revealed that brain functions were ‘significantly better-preserved’ in aged mice fed green soybean than age-matched control mice with or without yellow soybean feeding.

 

The molecular mechanisms of these beneficial effects on brain function were examined using transcriptome analysis. An increased expression of lipocalin-type prostaglandin Dsynthase (Ptgds) and a significant reduction in the amyloid precursor protein Aplp1 was reported by the team, led by Keiko Unno from the University of Shizuoka in Japan.

 

“As Ptgds binds and transports small lipophilic molecules (…) it has been proposed as the endogenous Aβ chaperone,” noted the team, adding that lower levels of the usually abundant protein “may play an important role in the development of dementia and of Alzheimer's disease (AD).”

“Furthermore, the amount of beta-amyloid 40 and 42 was reduced in the insoluble fraction of cerebral cortex,” the team noted.

 

Unno and colleagues noted that previous research has suggested several beneficial effects of soybean components such as so isoflavones, including previous suggestions of benefits for cognitive function and the prevention of oxidative damage.

 

In the current study, the isoflavones found to be present in soybean extracts were mostly the glycosides genstin and daidzin.

 

“The levels of genistein and daizein, aglycones of genstin and daidzin, respectively, were very low or not detected,” reported the team – adding that the content of oligo sugars, especially sucrose, was significantly higher in green soybean than in yellow. Furthermore, the contents of saponin and carotene in green soybean were found to be slightly higher in the green than in yellow, however the contents of other components were not different between green and yellow soybeans.

 

“Soybean feeding did not change the weight of body, liver or cerebrum,” Unno and colleagues said – adding that the average food consumptions of each group were also not different. 

 

 

 

Coffee associated with improved survival in metastatic colorectal cancer patients

Dana Farber Cancer Institute, September 17, 2020

 

In a large group of patients with metastatic colorectal cancer, consumption of a few cups of coffee a day was associated with longer survival and a lower risk of the cancer worsening, researchers at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and other organizations report in a new study.

The findings, based on data from a large observational study nested in a clinical trial, are in line with earlier studies showing a connection between regular coffee consumption and improved outcomes in patients with non-metastatic colorectal cancer. The study is being published today by JAMA Oncology.

The investigators found that in 1,171 patients treated for metastatic colorectal cancer, those who reported drinking two to three cups of coffee a day were likely to live longer overall, and had a longer time before their disease worsened, than those who didn't drink coffee. Participants who drank larger amounts of coffee - more than four cups a day - had an even greater benefit in these measures. The benefits held for both caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee.

The findings enabled investigators to establish an association, but not a cause-and-effect relationship, between coffee drinking and reduced risk of cancer progression and death among study participants. As a result, the study doesn't provide sufficient grounds for recommending, at this point, that people with advanced or metastatic colorectal cancer start drinking coffee on a daily basis or increase their consumption of the drink, researchers say.

"It's known that several compounds in coffee have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and other properties that may be active against cancer," says Dana-Farber's Chen Yuan, ScD, the co-first author of the study with Christopher Mackintosh, MLA, of the Mayo Clinic School of Medicine. "Epidemiological studies have found that higher coffee intake was associated with improved survival in patients with stage 3 colon cancer, but the relationship between coffee consumption and survival in patients with metastatic forms of the disease hasn't been known."

The new study drew on data from the Alliance/SWOG 80405 study, a phase III clinical trial comparing the addition of the drugs cetuximab and/or bevacizumab to standard chemotherapy in patients with previously untreated, locally advanced or metastatic colorectal cancer. As part of the trial, participants reported their dietary intake, including coffee consumption, on a questionnaire at the time of enrollment. Researchers correlated this data with information on the course of the cancer after treatment.

They found that participants who drank two to three cups of coffee per day had a reduced hazard for death and for cancer progression compared to those who didn't drink coffee. (Hazard is a measure of risk.) Those who consumed more than four cups per day had an even greater benefit.

"Although it is premature to recommend a high intake of coffee as a potential treatment for colorectal cancer, our study suggests that drinking coffee is not harmful and may potentially be beneficial," says Dana-Farber's Kimmie Ng, MD, MPH, senior author of the study.

"This study adds to the large body of literature supporting the importance of diet and other modifiable factors in the treatment of patients with colorectal cancer," Ng adds. "Further research is needed to determine if there is indeed a causal connection between coffee consumption and improved outcomes in patients with colorectal cancer, and precisely which compounds within coffee are responsible for this benefit."

 

 

Research links increased omega-3 intake to improved cardiovascular outcomes

Ochsner Medical Center in New Orleans, Sept. 17, 2020 

 

A new study, the most comprehensive analysis of the role of omega-3 dosage on cardiovascular prevention to date, provides compelling evidence for consuming more EPA and DHA (eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid, respectively) omega-3 fats. Published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings, the meta-analysis is an in-depth review of 40 clinical trials. According to the research, EPA and DHA omega-3 intake is associated with reduced risk of coronary heart disease (CHD) events, the cause of 7.4 million deaths globally each year, and reduced risk of myocardial infarction (heart attack), including fatal heart attack.  

Specifically, the study found that EPA+DHA supplementation is associated with a statistically significant reduced risk of:

  • myocardial infarction (13%) 
  • fatal myocardial infarction (35%) 
  • CHD events (10%) 
  • CHD mortality (9%)

"The study supports the notion that EPA and DHA intake contributes to cardioprotection, and that whatever you're getting through the diet, you likely need more," said Carl "Chip" Lavie, MD, a cardiologist at Ochsner Health in New Orleans and one of the study authors.

Cardiovascular benefits appear to increase with dosage. The researchers found that adding an extra 1000 mg of EPA and DHA per day decreased the risk of cardiovascular disease and heart attack even more: risk of cardiovascular disease events decreased by 5.8% and risk for heart attack decreased by 9.0%. The study looked at dosages of up to 5500 mg/day.

This research corroborates the results of an earlier meta-analysis from Harvard School of Public Health, published in October 2019, that looked at EPA and DHA dosage using the 13 largest clinical studies. This new paper encompasses more than triple the number of studies, which is the totality of the evidence to date.

"When separate analyses arrive at similar results, that's not only validating; it also underscores the science base needed to inform future intake recommendations," said co-author Aldo Bernasconi, PhD, Vice President of Data Science for the Global Organization for EPA and DHA Omega-3s (GOED), which commissioned this study. "Because this paper included more studies and all dosages, the estimates for a dose-response are more precise and the conclusions stronger."

EPA and DHA omega-3s are long-chain, marine-based fatty acids. Eating fish, particularly fatty fish such as salmon, anchovies and sardines, is the optimal way to get EPA and DHA omega-3s, since fish also provides other beneficial nutrients. However, most people around the world eat much less than the amount of fish recommended, so supplementing with omega-3s helps close the gap. 

"People should consider the benefits of omega-3 supplements, at doses of 1000 to 2000 mg per day – far higher than what is typical, even among people who regularly eat fish," added Dr. Lavie. "Taking omega-3 supplements is a relatively low-cost, high-impact way to improve heart health with few associated risks."

September 17, 2020  

Turmeric may help ease the pain of a dodgy knee

University of Tasmania, September 11, 2020

An extract of Curcuma longa (CL), commonly known as turmeric, was found to be more effective than placebo for reducing knee pain in patients with knee osteoarthritis. However, CL did not affect structural aspects of knee osteoarthritis, such as swelling or cartilage composition assessed using MRI. Findings from a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial are published in Annals of Internal Medicine.

Despite its large disease burden, no approved disease-modifying drugs currently are available to treat osteoarthritis. Common treatments, such as acetaminophen and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs have only mild to moderate effects and are associated with adverse events. As such, an urgent need exists for safer and more effective drugs to treat osteoarthritis.

Researchers from the University of Tasmania, Australia randomly assigned 70 participants with symptomatic knee osteoarthritis and ultrasound evidence of effusion (swelling inside the knee joint) to receive either two capsules per day of CL (n = 36) or matched placebo (n = 34) for 12 weeks to determine the efficacy CL for reducing knee symptoms and joint swelling. Changes in pain and knee effusion-synovitis volume were assessed by standardized questionnaire and MRI, respectively, over 12 weeks. The researchers also looked for changes in cartilage composition, pain medication usage, quality of life, physical performance measures, and adverse events. 

After 12 weeks, they found that patients taking the turmeric supplements reported less pain than those in the placebo group with no adverse events. Besides, participants in the turmeric group consumed fewer pain medications compared to the participants in the placebo group. There was no difference in the structural aspects of knee osteoarthritis between the groups. Due to the modest effect of the turmeric extracts on knee pain, small sample size of the study, short-duration of follow-up and the single research center, the researchers suggest that multicenter trials with larger sample sizes and long duration of follow-up are needed to assess the clinical significance of their findings.

 

Pine bark supplements fight the harmful effects of oxidative stress after exercise: Research

University of Louisiana, September 15, 2020

Researchers from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette said that taking pine bark supplements led to lower levels of malonaldehyde (MDA), a toxic compound that serves as a biomarker for oxidative stress. This effect was seen 48 hours after exercise among individuals who took the supplements for at least two weeks.

The researchers noted that high physical activity often spurs higher levels of oxidative stress. But by taking pine bark supplements, individuals can benefit from an enhanced healing process.

“[Maritime] pine extract as compared to placebo was effective at affording protection from oxidative stress post-exercise,” wrote the researchers.

Pine bark extract protects against oxidative stress

Pine bark extract is an herbal extract that comes from the tree Pinus pinaster, or maritime pine. It grows abundantly in France, where its medicinal uses date back to the 14th century. French sailors used pine bark to combat scurvy, a condition caused by vitamin C deficiency, as they sailed from France to the New World.

Aside from being rich in vitamin C, pine bark extract is also packed with phytochemicals – natural plant compounds that contribute to the color, taste and smell of vegetables. The phytochemicals found in pine bark supplements include procyanidins and flavonoids, both of which lower inflammation and protect from oxidative stress. Previous research also linked pine bark extract to a host of health benefits such as boosting brain function, balancing blood sugar levels and improving blood flow.

In the study, the researchers looked at the effects of pine bark supplements on 20 healthy men. They were randomly assigned to either 200 mg of the extract or a placebo and took these for 14 days prior to the first exercise trial and for 2?days post-exercise. After a seven-day washout period, the men were asked to take the other medication.

Results showed that MDA levels significantly decreased among the pine bark group compared to the placebo group. The placebo group also displayed significant increases in MDA levels before and 48 hours after the exercise.

Given these findings, the researchers recommended further research to evaluate the effects of pine bark extract among individuals who practice intense training. Furthermore, they see great potential in pine bark extract for helping treat metabolic syndrome, a group of diseases that are influenced by oxidative stress.

 

Researchers use soy to improve bone cancer treatment

Washington State University, September 15, 2020

 

Researchers in recent years have demonstrated the health benefits of soy, linking its consumption to reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, obesity, cancer and improved bone health. 

Now, WSU researchers are hoping to use the health benefits of the popular legume to improve post-operative treatment of bone cancer. 

Reporting in the journal, Acta Biomaterialia, graduate student Naboneeta Sarkar and Professor Susmita Bose in WSU's School of Mechanical and Materials Engineering showed that the slow release of soy-based chemical compounds from a 3D-printed bone-like scaffold resulted in a reduction in bone cancer cells while building up healthy cells and reducing harmful inflammation. 

"There is not much research in this area of natural medicinal compounds in biomedical devices," Bose said. "Using these natural medicines, one can make a difference to human health with very minimal or no side effects, although a critical issue remains composition control." 

Although rare, osteosarcoma occurs most often in children and young adults. Despite medical advances, patients with osteosarcoma and metastatic bone cancer experience a high rate of recurrence, and osteosarcoma is second leading cause of cancer death in children. 

Treatment involves surgery to remove the tumor as well as pre- and post-operative chemotherapy. Large areas of bone need to be removed and repaired, and patients often experience a significant amount of inflammation during bone reconstruction, which slows healing. High doses of chemotherapy before and after surgery can also have harmful side effects.

Researchers would like to develop gentler treatment options, especially after surgery when patients are trying to recover from bone damage at the same time that they are taking harsh drugs to suppress tumor growth. Bose's team has been studying bone tissue engineering as an alternative strategy to repair the bone, using materials science principles and advanced manufacturing techniques to develop effective biomedical devices. 

As part of this study, the researchers used 3D printing to make patient-specific, bone-like scaffolds that included three soy compounds and then slowly released the compounds into samples containing bone cancer as well as healthy bone cells. Soybeans contain isoflavones, plant-derived estrogens that have been shown to impede cancer cell growth for many types of cancer without being toxic to normal cells. Isoflavones have also been shown to improve bone health and possibly prevent osteoporosis. 

One of the soybean compounds caused a 90% reduction in bone cancer cell viability in their samples after 11 days. Two other soy compounds, meanwhile, significantly improved the growth of healthy bone cells. Furthermore, using the soy compounds in animal models also reduced inflammation, which could benefit bone health as well as overall recovery. 

"These results advance our understanding in providing therapeutic approaches in using synthetic bone grafts as a drug delivery vehicle," Bose said. 

The researchers are continuing the unique area of research, studying the specific pathways of the genetic expression of natural compounds and the benefits of integrating them in biomedical technology. More detailed long-term studies are needed, using animal research as well as other malignant cells, she said.

 

 

Broccoli extract found to significantly improve autism symptoms; sulforaphane molecule is powerful natural medicine

Mass General Hospital for Children, September 14, 2020

A powerful anti-cancer nutrient found naturally in cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli and cauliflower could help significantly improve health outcomes in autistic men and boys. Research published in the journal The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences reveals that sulforaphane, an antioxidant compound, is capable of reversing many of the most common symptoms associated with autism spectrum disorders (ASD).

Although the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) claims that there are no medications currently on the market that can treat or cure ASD, a placebo-controlled, randomized, double-blind pilot study suggests otherwise. Present most richly in broccoli sprouts, sulforaphane has been shown to help drastically improve social interactions and verbal communication in ASD-diagnosed men and boys as well as reduce hyperactivity, irritability and other ASD symptoms.

Conducted on 44 males aged 13 to 27, the study found that after 18 weeks of consuming sulforaphane-rich broccoli sprout extract, more than half of the men saw significant health improvements. Behavioral abnormalities also decreased significantly as a result of the treatment, as did lipid peroxidation and neuroinflammation. These same men also saw improvements in antioxidant capacity, glutathione synthesis, mitrochondrial function and oxidative phosphorylation.

"Sulforaphane, which showed negligible toxicity, was selected because it upregulates genes that protect aerobic cells against oxidative stress, inflammation, and DNA-damage, all of which are prominent and possibly mechanistic characteristics of ASD," the authors wrote.

Sulforaphane in broccoli sprouts regulates cellular health, energy production and detoxification

Depending on their individual weights, the men and boys were assigned to take either 232 mg (for those who weighed 100 pounds or less), 464 mg (101 to 199 pounds), or 696 mg (more than 200 pounds) of sulforaphane-rich broccoli extract daily. Such amounts are difficult to obtain from eating broccoli sprouts whole, but many supplement manufacturers offer capsules containing concentrated extract levels in this range or even higher.

This is good news for parents who are trying to help their autistic children achieve a better quality of life naturally. Sulphorane is an antioxidant nutrient with no negative side effects, meaning it can only help an ASD-afflicted child. Likewise, whole broccoli sprouts are a "superfood," not a drug, so parents do not have to worry that it will harm their children in any way.

As an added benefit, sulforaphane might also help ameliorate a number of other genetic disorders by activating the body's "stress proteome." The stress proteome is responsible for regulating processes such as glutathione synthesis, mitochondrial function (cellular health), and neurological inflammation.

When ASD patients stopped taking sulforaphane, their symptoms returned

In order for sulforaphane to work, however, ASD patients need to continue taking it. At the 22-week reassessment, which took place one month after study participants ceased taking the broccoli sprout extract, most (but not all) of their improvements had waned or disappeared. The researchers involved say this change only reinforces their finding that sulforaphane was directly responsible for the positive improvements observed throughout the study.

"When we broke the code that revealed who was receiving sulforaphane and who got the placebo, the results weren't surprising to us, since the improvements were so noticeable," stated Dr. Andrew Zimmerman, M.D., one of the study's authors and a physician at MassGeneral Hospital for Children (MGHfC).

"The improvements seen on the Social Responsiveness Scale were particularly remarkable, and I've been told this is the first time that any statistically significant improvement on the SRS has been seen for a drug study in autism spectrum disorder," he added, noting that the consensus among the research team was that sulforaphane likely activates the Nrf2 pathway, reducing inflammation in the brain and promoting increased antioxidant protection.

 

 

 

Exercise's Surprising Potential To Treat People With Multiple Chronic Conditions

University of Southern Denmark, September 11, 2020

 

Hundreds of millions of people of all ages worldwide live with two or more chronic conditions – commonly defined as multimorbidity. Those living with it are found to have poorer physical and mental health, higher risk of being admitted to hospital, and higher risk of dying prematurely compared to people with only one chronic condition.

Given that the number of people living with multimorbidity is only expected to rise in the future, finding better treatments is considered the next major health priority. But despite multimorbidity being a leading cause of disability, research on treatments are still in its infancy. Few studies have investigated treatment options – and unfortunately the results of these studies most often offer negligible improvements.

People with multimorbidity want treatments that will improve their physical, mental, emotional, and social health. Our research found that exercise may actually be a surprising treatment for those living with multimorbidity, and offer many of these improvements patients want.

Currently, multimorbidity is managed by treating each chronic conditions separately using available medicines. However, this might not reduce symptoms sufficiently, and can have many adverse health effects. Many people consult several health care providers and also end up taking multiple drugs (often at least one for each condition) which carries a risk of adverse events and can be inconvenient and unsatisfactory for patients.

Exercise as medicine

Research has shown exercise is an effective treatment for 26 chronic conditions, including osteoarthritis, depression and type 2 diabetes. Research also shows exercise could potentially prevent 35 chronic conditions from developing.

Thanks to its overall effects on health (such as lowering blood pressureimproving joint health and cognitive function, exercise therapy can benefit a range of chronic conditions. It also has a lower risk of negative side effects compared to pharmacological treatments. At the same time, exercise requires physical effort, and like pharmacological treatments, the effects will diminish if you stop exercising.

But could exercise therapy benefit people with multiple chronic conditions as well? This is what our recent review aimed to investigate.

We assessed the effect of exercise therapy on the physical and mental health of people with at least two of the following chronic conditions: osteoarthritis of the knee or hip, hypertension, type 2 diabetes, depression, heart failure, ischemic heart disease, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. We found 23 studies that looked at adults aged 50 to 80 years old.

The exercise therapy interventions used in the studies were at least partially supervised by a physiotherapist or an exercise physiologist. Most lasted 12 weeks on average and exercise was performed two to three times a week, starting from low intensity and progressing to moderate to high intensity. The exercise therapies included were aquatic exercise, strength training, aerobic training and tai chi.

Our review showed exercise therapy improved quality of life and reduced anxiety and depression symptoms. The benefits were higher in younger patients and patients who had higher depression symptoms before starting exercise therapy. This highlights that people with severe depression – often considered ineligible for exercise due to their depression severity – may benefit highly from exercise therapy.

Patients who participated in exercise therapy were also able to walk longer. Those taking part walked on average 43 metres more than those not taking part in the exercise interventions, over six minutes. This improvement appears to be important for the patient and it reduced their disability.

Exercise therapy also didn’t increase risk of non-serious side effects, such as knee, arm, or back pain, or falls and fatigue. What’s more, it reduced the risk of hospitalisation, pneumonia, and extreme fatigue.

As such, exercise could be a safe and effective therapy instead of increasing drug prescription in people with multiple chronic conditions. The benefits were similar across all the combinations of chronic conditions included in our study. However these findings need to be confirmed in future trials to have a more definitive answer.

Together with patients and healthcare professionals, we are developing and testing an exercise therapy and self-management programme in the MOBILIZE project. This trial will help us understand whether personalised exercise therapy and self-management is effective in managing and treating multimorbidity.

In the meantime, people with multimorbidity can improve mental and physical health by exercising two to three times a week. Aerobic workouts, strength training or a combination of the two can promote similar health benefits, regardless of the conditions a person live with. However, it’s important that the exercise therapy sessions are supervised and that the intensity of the session progresses based on patient capabilities.

 

Plant-based diets found to relieve symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis

George Washington University, September 14, 2020

 

In a major breakthrough, a team of researchers from the George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences and the non-profit health organization Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) looked at recent studies that assessed the impact of diet on the risk of rheumatoid arthritis.

The group found that certain foods, such as red meat, milk and milk products, could exacerbate the condition. In contrast, diets rich in plant-based foods like fruits, grains and legumes help reduce pain and inflammation in rheumatoid arthritis patients.

In all, these findings suggest that a simple menu change could help patients better manage their disease, said co-author and PCRM clinical research director Hana Kahleova. Sticking to a plant-based diet could also keep the disease in remission for long periods. Their findings appeared online in the journal Frontiers in Nutrition.

Plant-based diets can benefit rheumatoid arthritis patients

Numerous studies indicate that plant-based diets could help decrease the risk of chronic autoimmune conditions like rheumatoid arthritis. In patients, adopting a plant-based diet could help in better management of the disease for the long-term.

There are a number of possible mechanisms behind these beneficial effects. For instance, results of randomized clinical trials (RCT) indicate that a plant-based diet could reduce total cholesterol and induce weight loss better than conventional calorie-restricted diets.

Having high cholesterol and being obese could lead to the onset of rheumatoid arthritis or exacerbate joint pain and inflammation in patients. Therefore, these findings suggest that a plant-based diet decreases the risk and eases the effects of rheumatoid arthritis thanks to its influence on weight and total cholesterol.

Furthermore, several observational studies found strong and consistent evidence that a plant-based diet can reduce inflammation linked to rheumatoid arthritis. In contrast, semi-vegetarian or omnivorous diets that still contained meat and animal products triggered inflammation in patients.

In particular, one RCT found that a gluten-free vegan diet reduced the amount of a pro-inflammatory antibody, called immunoglobulin G (IgG), in rheumatoid arthritis patients. Patients typically have higher than appropriate amounts of IgG in their blood and lymph fluid.

Moreover, another RCT found that a three-month Mediterranean dietary intervention improved rheumatoid arthritis symptoms. A Mediterranean diet is rich in monounsaturated fats that protect against inflammation and oxidative stress. Copious amounts of these fats can be found in plant-based foods like nuts and avocados.

In addition, the researchers found that the state of one’s gut health, which depends on diet and nutrition, could also influence the onset and progression of rheumatoid arthritis. For instance, a permeable intestinal barrier, a marker of poor gut health, allows for bacteria and other microbes to enter the bloodstream.

These harmful agents could then trigger inflammation and joint pain in rheumatoid arthritis patients. Research shows that a plant-based diet modulates the gut microbiome for better gut health. In turn, this leads to less intestinal inflammation, which some studies suggest is connected to joint inflammation.

The researchers attribute these effects to the fibers in many plant-based foods. Fiber feeds the beneficial bacteria in the gut, thus making it less prone to infection and inflammation. Enzymes and amino acids in plant-based foods also increase bacterial diversity in the gut, which rheumatoid arthritis patients often lack.

Taken together, these studies provide empirical evidence that a plant-based diet comprised of fruits, vegetables, grains and legumes could be incredibly beneficial for people with rheumatoid arthritis.

 

 

Researchers Report Recent Findings that Garlic Improves Visual Memory and Attention

University of Dhaka (Bangladesh), September 14, 2020

Researchers from University of Dhaka Report Recent Findings in Complementary and Alternative Medicine that  "Studies have shown that Allium sativum L.  or garlic protects amyloid-beta peptide-induced apoptosis, prevents oxidative insults to neurons and synapses, and thus prevent Alzheimer's disease progression in experimental animals. However, there is no experimental evidence in human regarding its putative role in memory and cognition."

The news correspondents obtained a quote from the research from the University of Dhaka, "We have studied the effect of garlic consumption by healthy human volunteers on visual memory, verbal memory, attention, and executive function in comparison to control subjects taking placebo. The study was conducted over five weeks and twenty volunteers of both genders were recruited and divided randomly into two groups: A Garlic and B (placebo). Both groups participated in the 6 computerized neuropsychological tests of the Cambridge Neuropsychological Test Automated Battery (CANTAB) twice: at the beginning and after five weeks of the study. We found statistically significant difference (p < 0.05) in several parameters of visual memory and attention due to AS ingestion. We also found statistically nonsignificant (p > 0.05) beneficial effects on verbal memory and executive function within a short period of time among the volunteers."

According to the news reporters, the research concluded: "Study for a longer period of time with patients suffering from neuro degenerative diseases might yield more relevant results regarding the potential therapeutic role of garlic."

 

 

 

Why You Should Eat Two Apples a Day

Green Med Info, September 12th 2020 

 

A 2020 study points to apples' ability to mediate significant gut microbial metabolic activity. All it takes: two apples a day. In light of the increasing link between gut microbiota and human wellness, this new association is worth exploring and further vouches for this fruit's superfood and super healer status

The old saying that eating an apple a day will keep the doctor away may have some scientific basis after all, as scientific literature is packed with findings that vouch for this fruit's healthful benefits.

Showing that the saying above goes beyond folk medicine fantasy, a study found that eating one apple a day for four weeks translated to lower blood levels of oxidized low-density lipoprotein//beta2-glycoprotein I complex, which may contribute to atherosclerosis, by 40% among healthy, middle-aged individuals.[i]

Apple consumption has also been the subject of a few studies on reducing cancer risk, including liver cancerbreast cancer and esophageal cancer.[ii] A study published in February 2020 points to apples' ability to mediate significant gut microbial metabolic activity. All it takes: two apples a day.

Study Findings

Apples are a frequently consumed fruit and a reliable source of polyphenols and fiber, an important mediator for their health-protective effects.[iii]

Validated biomarkers of food intake (BFIs) have recently been suggested as a good tool for assessing adherence to dietary guidelines. New biomarkers have[iv] surfaced in recent decades from metabolic profiling studies for different foods, yet the number of comprehensively validated BFIs remains limited.

BFIs offer an accurate measure of intake, independent of the memory and sincerity of the subjects as well as of their knowledge about the consumed foods.[v] They overcome food intake measurement with inherent limitations, such as self-reported dietary intake questionnaires, as they objectively assess food intake without biased self-reported assessment.

The researchers sought to identify biomarkers of long-term apple consumption, exploring how the fruit affects human plasma and urine metabolite profiles. In their randomized, controlled, crossover intervention study, they recruited 40 mildly hypercholesterolemiapatients and had them consume two whole apples or a sugar and energy-matched beverage daily for eight weeks.

At the end of the trial, they found 61 urine and nine plasma metabolites that were statistically significant after the whole apple intake compared to the control beverage. The metabolites included several polyphenols that could serve as BFIs.

Interestingly, the study allowed the group to explore correlations between metabolites significantly modulated by the dietary intervention and fecal microbiota species at genus level -- specifically interactions shared by Granulicatella genus and phenyl-acetic acid metabolites.

"[T]he identification of polyphenol microbial metabolites suggests that apple consumption mediates significant gut microbial metabolic activity which should be further explored," they wrote.[vi]

Gut Health Affects Your Whole Body

The link between the gut microbiota and human wellness is being increasingly recognized, where it is now well-established that healthy gut flora is a key part of your overall health.[vii]

Previous studies corroborate that the richness of the human gut microbiome correlates with metabolic markers. In a study on 123 non-obese and 169 obese Danish individuals, a group of scientists found two distinct groups displaying a difference in the number of gut microbial genes and thus the richness of gut bacteria in the two groups.[viii]

Individuals with a low bacterial richness had more marked overall adiposity and insulin resistance, for instance, compared with high bacterial richness subjects. The obese subjects among the lower bacterial richness group also tended to gain more weight over time.

A series of largely pre-clinical observations showed, too, that changes in brain-gut-microbiome communication may be involved in the pathogenesis and pathophysiology of irritable bowel syndromeobesity and several psychiatric and neurologic disorders.[ix]

Additional Apple Benefits

More benefits of apple intake are coming out of the medical literature, confirming its superfood and super healer status that shouldn't be missed out on.

These benefits include addressing common issues such as aging (reduced rate), allergies, alopecia or hair loss, diarrhea, insulin resistance, radiation-induced illness, and Staphylococcal infection. In the area of cancer treatment, apples have been found to both prevent and suppress mammary cancers in the animal model, while carotenoids extracted from the fruit have been found to inhibit drug-resistant cancer cell line proliferation.[x]

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