The Gary Null Show Gary takes on the real issues that the mainstream media is afraid to tackle. Tune in to find out the latest about health news, healing, politics, and the economy.

March 3, 2021  

Chaga mushrooms, a natural way to regrow hair? 

Tokushima University (Japan), February 28 2021

Alopecia areata is a condition characterized by hair falling out in patches. Research suggests it is caused by the immune system attacking the hair follicles, causing them to shrink and slow down hair production. Because of this, alopecia is called an autoimmune disorder.

According to statistics, alopecia is a common autoimmune disorder that affects about 6.8 million people in the U.S. alone. One in five people who suffer from alopecia has a family member with the same condition. Hair loss, however, can vary from nothing more than a few patches to complete loss of hair on the scalp or the entire body.

There are currently no mainstream cures for alopecia, and the reason why the immune system attacks hair follicles is still unknown. But in a recent study, researchers at Tokushima University in Japan reported a natural medicine that can potentially reverse the effects of alopecia. Inonotus obliquuscommonly known as chaga, is a parasitic fungus that grows on birch and other trees. It is traditionally used to treat gastrointestinal diseases as well as to maintain healthy hair in many countries in Asia.

The researchers screened chaga mushrooms for useful phytochemicals and found that it contains plenty of potential anti-alopecia agents. They discussed their findings in detail in an article published in the Journal of Natural Medicines.

Compounds in chaga mushroom promote proliferation of hair follicles

Chaga mushrooms refer to the resting body, or sclerotium, of I. obliquus. In countries like China, Korea, Japan and Russia, these mushrooms are known for their favorable effects on lipid metabolism and cardiac function. Research has also found that they possess antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and anti-tumor properties, and even exhibit antiviral properties against the hepatitis C virus and the human immunodeficiency virus.

On the other hand, phytochemical analysis of chaga mushrooms reveal that they are rich in polysaccharides, triterpenes and polyphenols. They also contain two components commonly derived from birch trees, namely, betulin (or betulinol) and betulinic acid. Studies show that betulin can help lower cholesterol levels and increase insulin sensitivityin mice, while betulinic acid can activate signaling pathways that lead to cancer cell death.

According to Japanese researchers, chaga mushrooms are used in Mongolia to make shampoo that helps with the maintenance of strong, healthy hair. This prompted them to investigate whether chaga mushrooms can be used for the treatment of alopecia. Bioassay-guided fractionation of chaga mushroom extracts allowed them to identify five lanostane-type triterpenes whose structures they confirmed using spectroscopy.

The researchers then conducted proliferation assays using human follicle dermal papilla cells (HFDPCs) and found that four of the five triterpenes can promote the proliferation of HFDPCs. The compounds were identified as lanosterol, inotodiol, lanost-8,24-diene-3B,21-diol and trametenolic acid. The researchers also reported that these lanostane-type triterpenes were more potent than minoxidil, a conventional treatment for male-pattern baldness that’s used to promote hair growth.

Based on these findings, the researchers concluded that the lanostane-type triterpenes in chaga mushrooms are potent anti-alopecia agents that can be used to stimulate hair growth naturally. 

 

 

Association of serum folate, vitamin A and vitamin C levels with greater bone mineral density

Tiajin Fifth Central Hospital (China), February 22, 20221

According to news originating from the Tianjin Fifth Central Hospital research stated, “The conclusions on the associations of specific vitamin levels with bone mineral density (BMD) were controversial. Therefore, the aims of this study were to examine the associations of serum vitamins levels with BMD and the modified effect of race/ ethnicity on these associations in the US adults.”

The news editors obtained a quote from the research from Tianjin Fifth Central Hospital: “This study was from the third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. All participants aged 18 years with complete data were eligible. Serum vitamins A, B9, B12, C, and E levels were assayed using the Quantaphase II Radioassay Kit (Bio-Rad). Dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry was employed to measure BMD, including femur neck and the total hip. There were 6023 participants included in the final analysis. Serum folate, vitamins A and C levels were positively associated with BMD. No significant associations of serum vitamins B12 and E levels with BMD were observed. There were positive associations of serum folate level (b = 0.00027 and 0.00032; and 95% CI: 0.00002-0.00057 and 0.00002-0.00063, respectively), vitamin A level (b = 0.01132 and 0.01115; and 95% CI: 0.00478-0.01787 and 0.00430-0.01799, respectively), and vitamin C level (b = 0.00027 and 0.00029; and 95% CI: 0.00012-0.00042 and 0.00013-0.00045, respectively) with BMD at femur neck and the total hip only in the Not Hispanic participants.”

According to the news editors, the research concluded: “Elevated serum folate, vitamins A and C levels were associated with a higher BMD. Furthermore, sex and race/ ethnicity modified the associations of serum vitamins levels with BMD.”

 

 

Study shows mother's diet may boost immune systems of premature infants

Johns Hopkins University, February 25, 2021

Medical researchers have long understood that a pregnant mother's diet has a profound impact on her developing fetus's immune system and that babies -- especially those born prematurely -- who are fed breast milk have a more robust ability to fight disease, suggesting that even after childbirth, a mother's diet matters. However, the biological mechanisms underlying these connections have remained unclear.

Now, in a study published Feb. 15, 2021, in the journal Nature Communications, a Johns Hopkins Medicine research team reports that pregnant mice fed a diet rich in a molecule found abundantly in cruciferous vegetables -- such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts and cauliflower -- gave birth to pups with stronger protection against necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC). NEC is a dangerous inflammatory condition that destroys a newborn's intestinal lining, making it one of the leading causes of mortality in premature infants.

The team also found that breast milk from these mothers continued to confer immunity against NEC in their offspring. 

Seen in as many as 12% of newborn babies weighing less than 3.5 pounds at birth, NEC is a rapidly progressing gastrointestinal emergency in which normally harmless gut bacteria invade the underdeveloped wall of the premature infant's colon, causing inflammation that can ultimately destroy healthy tissue at the site. If enough cells become necrotic (die) so that a hole is created in the intestinal wall, the bacteria can enter the bloodstream and cause life-threatening sepsis.

In earlier mouse studies, researchers at Johns Hopkins Medicine showed that NEC results when the underdeveloped intestinal lining in premature infants produces higher-than-normal amounts of a protein called toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4). TLR4 in full-term babies binds with bacteria in the gut and helps keep the microbes in check. However, in premature infants, TLR4 can act like an immune system switch, with excess amounts of the protein mistakenly directing the body's defense mechanism against disease to attack the intestinal wall instead.

"Based on this understanding, we designed our latest study to see if indole-3-carbinole, or I3C for short, a chemical compound common in green leafy vegetables and known to switch off the production of TLR4, could be fed to pregnant mice, get passed to their unborn children and then protect them against NEC after birth," says study senior author David Hackam, M.D., Ph.D., surgeon-in-chief at Johns Hopkins Children's Center and professor of surgery at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. "We also wanted to determine if I3C in breast milk could maintain that protection as the infants grow." 

In the first of three experiments, Hackam and his colleagues sought to induce NEC in 7-day old mice, half of which were born from mothers fed I3C derived from broccoli during their pregnancies and half from mothers fed a diet without I3C. They found that those born from mothers given I3C throughout gestation were 50% less likely to develop NEC, even with their immune systems still immature at one week after birth.

The second experiment examined whether breast milk with I3C could continue to provide infant mice with protection against NEC. To do this, the researchers used mice genetically bred without the binding site on intestinal cells for I3C known as the aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AHR).

When AHR-lacking pups were given breast milk from mice fed a diet containing I3C, they could not process the compound. Therefore, they developed severe NEC 50% more frequently than infant mice that had the I3C receptor. 

The researchers say this shows in mice -- and suggests in humans -- that AHR must be activated to protect babies from NEC and that what a mother eats during breastfeeding -- in this case, I3C -- can impact the ability of her milk to bolster an infant's developing immune system. 

In confirmatory studies, Hackam and his colleagues looked at the amounts of AHR in human tissue obtained from infants undergoing surgery for severe NEC. They found significantly lower than normal levels of the receptor, suggesting that reduced AHR predisposes infants to the disease.

Finally, the researchers searched for a novel drug that could be given to pregnant women to optimize AHR's positive effect and reduce the risk of NEC in the event of premature birth. After screening in pregnant mice a variety of compounds already approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for other clinical uses, the researchers observed that one, which they called A18 (clinically known as lansoprazole, a drug approved for the treatment of gastrointestinal hyperacidity), activates the I3C receptor, limits TLR4 signaling and prevents gut bacteria from infiltrating the intestinal wall. 

To show the relevance of what they saw in mice, the researchers tested A18 in the laboratory on human intestinal tissue removed from patients with NEC and found the drug produced similar protective results.

"These findings enable us to imagine the possibility of developing a maternal diet that can not only boost an infant's overall growth, but also enhance the immune system of a developing fetus and, in turn, reduce the risk of NEC if the baby is born prematurely," says Hackam.

 

Plant-based diets improve cardiac function, cognitive health

Boston University Medical School, February 25, 2021

What if you could improve your heart health and brain function by changing your diet? Boston University School of Medicine researchers have found that by eating more plant-based food such as berries and green leafy vegetables while limiting consumption of foods high in saturated fat and animal products, you can slow down heart failure (HF) and ultimately lower your risk of cognitive decline and dementia.

Heart failure (HF) affects over 6.5 million adults in the U.S. In addition to its detrimental effects on several organ systems, presence of HF is associated with higher risk of cognitive decline and dementia. Similarly, changes in cardiac structure and function (cardiac remodeling) that precede the appearance of HF are associated with poor cognitive function and cerebral health. 

The adoption of diets, such as the Mediterranean diet (MIND) and the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH), which are characterized by high intakes of plant-based foods are among lifestyle recommendations for the prevention of HF. However, whether a dietary pattern that emphasizes foods thought to promote the maintenance of neurocognitive health also mitigates changes in cardiac structure and function (cardiac remodeling) has been unclear until now.

The researchers found the MIND diet, which emphasizes consumption of berries and green leafy vegetables while limiting intakes of foods high in saturated fat and animal products, positively benefited the hearts' left ventricular function which is responsible for pumping oxygenated blood throughout the body.

The researchers evaluated the dietary and echocardiographic data of 2,512 participants of the Framingham Heart Study (Offspring Cohort), compared their MIND diet score to measures of cardiac structure and function and observed that a dietary pattern that emphasizes foods thought to promote the maintenance of neurocognitive health also mitigates cardiac remodeling.

According to the researchers previous studies have highlighted the importance of diet as a modifiable risk factor for cognitive decline and dementia. "Our findings highlight the importance of adherence to the MIND diet for a better cardiovascular health and further reduce the burden of cardiovascular disease in the community," explained corresponding author Vanessa Xanthakis, PhD, assistant professor of medicine and biostatistics at BUSM and an Investigator for the Framingham Heart Study.

Although Xanthakis acknowledges that following a healthy diet may not always be easy or fit with today's busy schedules, people should make a concerted effort to adhere to healthy eating to help lower risk of disease and achieve better quality of life.

 

 

 

 

Fear of memory loss impacts well-being and quality of life

Trinity College Dublin, February 23, 2021

Research from the Global Brain Health Institute (GBHI) at Trinity College suggests that experiencing high levels of fear about dementia can have harmful effects on older adults' beliefs about their memory and general well-being.

To date, few studies have measured the impact of dementia-related fear on daily functioning, despite its clinical relevance. In this new study, published in the journal Aging and Mental Health, researchers investigated if fear of memory decline predicted increased memory failures and poorer quality of life in older adults.

Dr. Francesca Farina, Atlantic Fellow for Equity in Brain Health at GBHI, in collaboration with researchers at the University of Cambridge, University of Maastricht and Northwestern University developed a novel scale—known as the Fear of Memory Loss (FAM) scale—to capture different components of fear related to memory loss.

Using the scale, healthy older adults aged 55+ were assessed with respect to the different dimensions of fear. Questions probed specific fears like becoming dependent on others, being treated differently by friends or colleagues, and loss of identity, as well as coping strategies like avoiding social situations for fear of embarrassment.

Findings from the study showed that having higher levels of fear about dementia was associated with reporting more memory lapses and a lower quality of life. Notably, these results were independent of performance on memory tests and the level of reported anxiety. That is, fears about dementia had a negative influence on peoples' beliefs regardless of how they performed on an objective lab-based memory test, or how they rated their anxiety levels.

Key findings:

  • Heightened fear of memory loss significantly predicted lower quality of life and increased self-reported memory failures, after controlling for objective memory performance and general anxiety.
  • There was no difference in the level of fear expressed between those with and without a family history of dementia. Though surprising, this result is consistent with evidence of widespread fear of dementia among the general population.
  • Over half of respondents (57%) said they worried about losing their memory and feared how people would treat them if this happened.
  • The novel FAM scale highlights the important role played by avoidance behaviors in maintaining fear, along with subjective experiences and cognitions.
  • Findings also have important healthcare implications. Fear of dementia is a psychological process that can be modified using interventions such as psycho-education and psychotherapy.

The researchers propose a preliminary fear-avoidance model, where perceived changes in memory result in fear, which over time, creates avoidance and social withdrawal. This combination of fear and avoidance has a negative impact on everyday functioning, which then impairs mood and sense of self.

Identifying effective ways to challenge fears about dementia could prove beneficial to individuals and society. On the individual level, reducing fear could lead to improvements in how people view their memory function and quality of life. At the societal level, acknowledging and addressing fears about dementia would help to eliminate stigma associated with the condition.

Dr. Francesca Farina, Atlantic Fellow at GBHI, and lead author said: "Almost 80% of the general public are concerned about developing dementia, according to the World Alzheimer Report 2019. Evidence also suggests that these fears increase with age. Given global population aging and the increased visibility of dementia, it is crucial that we find ways to address peoples' fears. Understanding and tackling these fears will serve to promote brain health and well-being, and reduce societal stigma for people living with disease and their carers."

Tackling Fear and Stigma Through Art

Data from the study inspired "Remembering What I Have Forgotten': a fictional diary written from the perspective of someone experiencing symptoms of dementia. Created by Irish artist Aoibheann Brady, student at the National College of Art and Design, the diary aims to capture the feelings and perspectives of people experiencing memory loss. Through the medium of a diary, "Remembering What I Have Forgotten' offers a realistic insight into the experience of dementia, with entries such as "I feel more withdrawn and am not going out or connecting" and "I am anxious that I will make mistakes."

This diary, however, was not written by a person—but by a software application known as a chatbot, which had been trained on anonymous interviews with healthcare professionals and carers of people living with dementia.

Aoibheann Brady, creator of "Remembering What I Have Forgotten' said: "With this project, I aimed to create work that is a crossover between art and science. I hope it helps demonstrate, to younger generations and members of the art world, that dementia is something that should be considered more in artistic practices."

 


 

Diet of fish and olive oils beneficially modifies membrane properties in striatal rat synaptosomes

National Institute of Neurology & Neurosurgery (Mexico), February 25, 2021

According to news reporting originating in Mexico City, Mexico, research stated, “Essential fatty acids (EFAs) and non-essential fatty acids (nEFAs) exert experimental and clinical neuroprotection in neurodegenerative diseases. The main EFAs, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), nEFAs, and oleic acid (OA) contained in olive and fish oils are inserted into the cell membranes, but the exact mechanism through which they exert neuroprotection is still unknown.”

The news reporters obtained a quote from the research from the National Institute of Neurology & Neurosurgery, “In this study, we assessed the fatty acids content and membrane fluidity in striatal rat synaptosomes after fatty acid-rich diets (olive- or a fish-oil diet, 15% w/w). Then, we evaluated the effect of enriching striatum synaptosomes with fatty acids on the oxidative damage produced by the prooxidants ferrous sulfate (FeSO4) or quinolinic acid (QUIN). Lipid profile analysis in striatal synaptosomes showed that EPA content increased in the fish oil group in comparison with control and olive groups. Furthermore, we found that synaptosomes enriched with fatty acids and incubated with QUIN or FeSO4 showed a significant oxidative damage reduction.”

According to the news reporters, the research concluded: “Results suggest that EFAs, particularly EPA, improve membrane fluidity and confer antioxidant effect.”

This research has been peer-reviewed.

 

 

Soy intake is associated with lowering blood pressure in adults: A meta-analysis of randomized double-blind placebo-controlled trials

Shiraz University of Medical Sciences (Iran), February 24, 2021

Soy has several beneficial effects on cardiovascular disease (CVD); however, results of clinical trial studies are equivocal. Thus, the present study sought to discern the efficacy of soy intake on blood pressure.

Methods

The search process was conducted in PubMed, Scopus, Web of Science, and Cochrane Library, to ascertain studies investigating the efficacy of soy intake on blood pressure in adults, published up to June 2020. A random-effects model was applied to pool mean difference and 95% confidence intervals (CIs). Meta-regression analysis was performed to discern potential sources of heterogeneity. Begg’s and Egger’s methods were conducted to assess publication bias.

Results

Pooled effects from 17 studies revealed a significant improvement in systolic blood pressure (SBP) (-1.64; -3.25 to -0.04 mmHg; I2 = 50.5 %) and diastolic blood pressure (DBP) (-1.21; -2.29 to -0.12 mmHg, I2 = 50.7 %) following soy consumption, in comparison with controls. Subgroup analysis demonstrated a reduction in both SBP and DBP in younger participants with lower baseline blood pressure and intervention durations of <16 weeks.

Conclusion

In the present study, pooled effect sizes from 17 studies revealed a significant improvement in SBP and DBP in adults following soy consumption, in comparison with controls. In addition, subgroup analysis indicated a further reduction in both SBP and DBP in younger participants with lower baseline blood pressure and intervention durations < 16 weeks. Thus, increases to soy consumption could be considered as an alternative or complementary approach to improving BP outcomes among adults, and particularly among younger adults.

March 2, 2021  

the covi-19 pandemic and legal questions against its orchestrators. 

Dr. Reiner Fuellmich is a German-American attorney and the founding chairman of the Investigative Corona Committee that is proceeding with class action lawsuits against some of the architects of the coronavirus panic. In the past Dr. Fuellmich was a faculty member o the Georg August University in Gottingen where he received his doctorate, and worked in the legal aspects of corporate banking at Deutsche Bank in Germany and Japan.  He also has a background in medical law and in the 1980s was a research assistant at the Research Center for Medical and Pharmaceutical Law. For many years he has been practicing and has published papers on patient rights adn civil responsibility in the pharmaceutical industry.

March 1, 2021  

Curcumin for amyloidosis and lipid metabolism -- a novel insight

Shinshu University (Japan), February 26, 2021

Curcumin is a polyphenol compound produced by plants of the Curcuma longa species and has been reported to have many physiological activities, which include anti-oxidation, anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, and anti-amyloid properties. However, the mechanism and network of action are not completely clear. Amyloidosis is a group of diseases characterized by abnormal aggregates of proteins, known as amyloid fibrils, and subsequent deposition in various tissues and organs, such as Alzheimer's disease, immunoglobulin light chain amyloidosis.

In previous studies, curcumin has been shown to suppress the aggregation and cytotoxicity of many amyloid proteins in vitro, such as amyloid ß (Aß), α-synuclein, transthyretin, and prion protein, and has also been reported to inhibit the deposition of Aß fibrils in a mouse model of Alzheimer's disease. The group investigated amyloid deposition and molecular changes in a mouse model of amyloid apolipoprotein A-II (AApoAII) amyloidosis, in which mice were fed a curcumin-supplemented diet. In this research, it was found that curcumin intake elevated ApoA-II and HDL-cholesterol concentration in plasma by activating the peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor alpha (PPARα) signaling pathway, resulting in increased AApoAII amyloid deposition and peroxisome proliferation. These findings demonstrate the novel agonistic effect of curcumin on PPARα, which is an important transcription factor for lipid metabolism, and may have far-reaching significance for the treatment of amyloidosis and other metabolic disorders.

It was reported that high-fat diet supplement aggravates a variety of amyloid deposition including Aß in Alzheimer's disease model mice, but a link between lipid metabolism and the development of amyloidosis has not been completely established. These results provide a promising molecular target to understand the molecular mechanism of amyloidogenesis, which the activation state of PPARα pathway may be a bridge to connect the change of lipid metabolism level and the degree of amyloid deposition. In addition, it has been regarded that curcumin, as an agonist of PPARγ, exerts anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer and antioxidant activities in the past. However, this study demonstrates that curcumin is a PPARα/γ dual activator and may affect expression levels of proteins involved in amyloid deposition and other metabolism functions in a complex manner. By focusing on the PPARα pathway, the group hope to provide an opportunity to reconsider the mechanism of the physiological effects of curcumin.

In the next stage, the group would like to clarify how curcumin activates the PPARα signaling pathway in vitro and confirm whether the activation of PPARα can affect amyloid deposition on other types of amyloidosis in vivo (Alzheimer's disease, ATTR amyloidosis etc.). The goal in this research is to elucidate the molecular pathways involved in the pathogenesis of amyloidosis in vivo and to develop effective therapeutic or preventive methods against the development of amyloidosis. As a future study, the group hopes to fully understand the molecular fluctuations of PPARα-activated cells and verify the effectiveness of interventions in these pathways for various metabolic diseases.

 

 

Older women who ate more plant protein had lower risk of premature, dementia-related death

University of Iowa, February 24, 2021 

Postmenopausal women who ate high levels of plant protein had lower risks of premature death, cardiovascular disease and dementia-related death compared with women who ate less plant proteins, according to new research published today in the Journal of the American Heart Association, an open access journal of the American Heart Association.

Previous research has shown an association between diets high in red meat and cardiovascular disease risk, yet the data is sparse and inconclusive about specific types of proteins, the study authors say.

In this study, researchers analyzed data from more than 100,000 postmenopausal women (ages 50 to 79) who participated in the national Women's Health Initiative study between 1993 and 1998; they were followed through February 2017. At the time they enrolled in the study, participants completed questionnaires about their diet detailing how often they ate eggs, dairy, poultry, red meat, fish/shellfish and plant proteins such as tofu, nuts, beans and peas. During the study period, a total of 25,976 deaths occurred (6,993 deaths from cardiovascular disease; 7,516 deaths from cancer; and 2,734 deaths from dementia).

Researchers noted the levels and types of protein women reported consuming, divided them into groups to compare who ate the least and who ate the most of each protein. The median percent intake of total energy from animal protein in this population was 7.5% in the lowest quintile and 16.0% in the highest quintile. The median percent intake of total energy from plant protein in this population was 3.5% in the lowest quintile and 6.8% in the highest quintile.

Among the key findings:

  • Compared to postmenopausal women who had the least amount of plant protein intake, those with the highest amount of plant protein intake had a 9% lower risk of death from all causes, a 12% lower risk of death from cardiovascular disease and a 21% lower risk of dementia-related death.
  • Higher consumption of processed red meat was associated with a 20% higher risk of dying from dementia.
  • Higher consumption of unprocessed meat, eggs and dairy products was associated with a 12%, 24% and 11% higher risk of dying from cardiovascular disease, respectively.
  • Higher consumption of eggs was associated with a 10% higher risk of death due to cancer.
  • However, higher consumption of eggs was associated with a 14% lower risk of dying from dementia, while higher poultry consumption was associated with a 15% lower risk.

"It is unclear in our study why eggs were associated with a higher risk of cardiovascular and cancer death," said lead study author Wei Bao, M.D., Ph.D., an assistant professor of epidemiology at the University of Iowa in Iowa City. "It might be related to the way people cook and eat eggs. Eggs can be boiled, scrambled, poached, baked, basted, fried, shirred, coddled or pickled or in combinations with other foods. In the United States, people usually eat eggs in the form of fried eggs and often with other foods such as bacon. Although we have carefully accounted for many potential confounding factors in the analysis, it is still difficult to completely tease out whether eggs, other foods usually consumed with eggs, or even non-dietary factors related to egg consumption, may lead to the increased risk of cardiovascular and cancer death."

Researchers noted that substitution of total red meat, eggs or dairy products with nuts was associated with a 12% to 47% lower risk of death from all causes depending on the type of protein replaced with nuts.

"It is important to note that dietary proteins are not consumed in isolation, so the interpretation of these findings could be challenging and should be based on consideration of the overall diet including different cooking methods," said Yangbo Sun, M.D., Ph.D., co-author of the study, a postdoctoral research scholar at the University of Iowa in Iowa City and currently an assistant professor of epidemiology at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center.

The analysis also revealed that women who ate the highest amount of animal protein such as meat and dairy were more likely to be white and have a higher education and income, and they were more likely to be past smokers, drink more alcohol and be less physically active. Moreover, these women were more likely to have Type 2 diabetes at the start of the study, a family history of heart attacks and a higher body mass index -- all risk factors for cardiovascular disease.

"Our findings support the need to consider dietary protein sources in future dietary guidelines," said Bao. "Current dietary guidelines mainly focus on the total amount of protein, and our findings show that there may be different health influences associated with different types of protein foods."

2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, jointly published by the U.S. Departments of Agriculture (USDA) and Health and Human Services (HHS), recommend eating a variety of protein foods: low-fat meat, low-fat poultry, eggs, seafood, beans, peas, lentils, nuts, seeds and soy products including at least 8 ounces of cooked seafood per week.

The AHA's 2020 Dietary Cholesterol and Cardiovascular Risk advisory notes that given the relatively high content of cholesterol in egg yolks, it remains advisable to limit intake. Healthy individuals can include up to one whole egg or the equivalent daily.

The study had several limitations including that it was observational, based on self-reported data at the beginning of the study and lacked data on how the proteins were cooked. In addition, the findings may not apply to younger women or men.

 

 

Citrus Flavonoid May Help to Improve Metabolic and Inflammatory Markers

Sao Paulo State University (Brazil), February 20, 2021

The researchers from Sao Paulo State University and the US Horticultural Research Laboratory associated the citrus flavonoid with a significant reduction in levels of cholesterols and triglycerides which are markers of insulin resistance at low (10 and 25 mg/kg BW) and high ( 100 mg/kg BW) doses, with the best results being observed at 25 mg per kg of body weight. 

The study authors wrote, “Therefore, our results showed that low doses of dietary eriocitrin are able to counteract the deleterious effects of high-fat diet and prevent risk factors of metabolic syndrome and chronic disease related to obesity.” 

“Further, the use of lower doses may help to prevent unintended complications possibly occurring at much higher doses of potent antioxidant supplements such as eriocitrin.”

“As a leading supplier of citrus flavonoids, we put great importance into the continual development of research into these powerful ingredients,” said Rob Brewster who is the President of Ingredients by Nature (IBN). “Eriocitrin is not as commonly recognized as other fruit-derived flavonoids, but the science shows that it is a potent source of health support for a variety of health complications. We look forward to seeing what future research will continue to reveal about it.”

During this study 40 male mice were fed a high-fat diet for 4 weeks to induce obesity, then they were divided at random into four different groups for an additional 4 weeks and given doses of eriocitrin at 0, 10, 25, or 100 mg per kg of body weight, while a control group was fed a standard diet for the 8 weeks. 

The researchers reported the best results being observed in the eriocitrin group taking 25 mg/kg with reductions in triglycerides of 31%, total cholesterol of 6%, and liver triacylglycerols of 28% compared to the control group. Eriocitrin at 25 mg/kg was associated with a reduction in lipid peroxidation of 19%, and markers of insulin resistance including resistin and the insulin resistance index also significantly decreased. Additionally, serum glucose levels also significantly decreased by 25%, insulin levels by 35% in this same group. 

“Most studies on eriocitrin haven’t explored its effect on obesity induces metabolic disturbances and, because the global rate of obesity continues to increase, we felt that it was important to examine the topic further,” said the corresponding author Dr. Thais Cesar who is also an associate professor of nutrition at Sao Paulo State University. “Eriocitrin significantly improved metabolic, inflammatory, and oxidative stress parameters across multiple biomarkers, showing potential to delay the development of inflammatory complications. We look forward to performing additional research on eriocitrin in the future.”

This study was sponsored by IBM, and also showed that eriocitrin was effective in terms of glucose and lipid metabolism, especially with blood glucose reduction, along with delivering a strong antioxidant defense by directly helping the uptake of oxygen radicals and promoting the activation of endogenous defense mechanisms. This effect has been reported in previous studies including with the lemon flavonoid blend Eriomin, which is made up primarily of eriocitrin. Last year, the company also received patent approval from the USPTO for IBN’s use of eriocitrin as a method of reducing blood glucose levels

 

Resveratrol may be an effective intervention for lung aging

The Saban Research Institute (Los Angeles), February 22, 2021

 

In a study led by Barbara Driscoll, PhD, of The Saban Research Institute of Children's Hospital Los Angeles, researchers demonstrate, for the first time that inhaled resveratrol treatments slow aging-related degenerative changes in mouse lung. Lung aging, characterized by airspace enlargement and decreasing lung function, is a significant risk factor for chronic human lung diseases. The study is published online in the journal Thorax.

 

"We believe that ours is the first study to demonstrate a beneficial effect of lung-directed resveratrol treatments on aging lung function," said Driscoll.

 

Resveratrol (RSL), a chemical found in red wine, is an antimicrobial chemical substance produced by plants to protect against infection and stress-related changes. It has previously been shown to support muscle metabolism when delivered orally.

 

RSL prophylaxis by inhalation was a novel measure taken by the research team as a potential approach for slowing age-related deterioration of lung function and structure by preserving alveolar epithelial type 2 cells (AEC2) which line alveoli (the tiny air sacs in the lungs through which the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide takes place) and produce surfactant which is vital for efficient breathing.

 

In healthy young adults, breathing is an essential, efficient process, but natural aging of the lung occurs at a steady and irreversible rate, as measured by a decline in lung function. This natural deterioration leads to a significantly reduced quality of life, over a time frame dependent on genetic and environmental factors. Although some available therapies can ameliorate symptoms, aging-related lung failure is generally irreversible and is accompanied by high rates of morbidity and mortality due to increased disease risk, including development of COPD, with accompanying emphysema and chronic bronchitis.

 

Using a rapidly aging mouse model, the research team investigated whether the accumulation of age-related degenerative changes in the lung could be slowed by inhaled RSL. Treatment cohorts received either RSL or vehicle by intratracheal (IT) instillation monthly for three months. One month following the final treatment, whole lung function and injury-related gene expression in AEC2 were assessed.

 

The research team found that inhaled, prophylactic resveratrol treatments can slow the rate of lung function decline, alveolar enlargement and alveolar epithelial type 2 cell DNA damage that occurs in the early stages of lung aging. They concluded that administration of resveratrol directly to the lungs may be an effective intervention for lung aging, which is a significant risk factor for development of chronic lung disease.

 

"While the natural deterioration of the human lung generally occurs over decades, the injury to lung cells is analogous to the lung cell damage that occurs in premature infants who experience respiratory distress before their lungs have fully developed," added Driscoll. "Identifying a way to protect and strengthen young lungs before significant damage occurs is the goal of our research."

 

 

Deficient magnesium levels prevalent in an older population

Kathmandu Medical College (Nepal), February 19, 2021

According to news reporting out of Kathmandu Medical College research stated, “Magnesium deficiency is common in the elderly and critically ill population and has been associated with a prolonged ICU stay. The knowledge of hypomagnesemia is essential as it could have prognostic and therapeutic implications in the elderly population.”

The news correspondents obtained a quote from the research from Kathmandu Medical College: “This study aimed to estimate the prevalence of hypomagnesemic in the elderly population visiting a tertiary care center. This descriptive cross-sectional study was conducted in a tertiary care hospital from March 21, 2020 to September 21, 2020. After obtaining ethical clearance from the institutional review committee (Ref. 2003202008), convenience sampling was done. Data were collected and entered in Microsoft Excel version 2007. Point estimate at 95% Confidence Interval was calculated along with frequency and proportion for binary data. Out of 384 participants, 174 (45%) participants were found to have deranged magnesium levels, in which 111 (29%) (31.3-26.7 at 95% Confidence Interval) were found to be hypomagnesemia. Among them, 62 (29.4%) males and 49 (28.5%) females were hypomagnesemia. The average level of serum magnesium was 2.02±0.76 mg/dl ranging from 0.03 to 4.71. The mean age of participants was 70.31±8.13 years, among which the participants between the age group of 71-80 years presented with a maximum percentage of hypomagnesemia.”

According to the news reporters, the research concluded: “The present study has shown that an apparently-healthy elderly population may have a magnesium deficiency that may need to be identified and treated for optimizing clinical care. Further multicentric studies with a greater sample size should be done in this field, which will benefit the elderly population.”

 

 

Researchers identify mechanism by which exercise strengthens bones and immunity

University of Texas Medical Center, February 24, 2021

Scientists at the Children's Medical Center Research Institute at UT Southwestern (CRI) have identified the specialized environment, known as a niche, in the bone marrow where new bone and immune cells are produced. The study, published in Nature, also shows that movement-induced stimulation is required for the maintenance of this niche, as well as the bone and immune-forming cells that it contains. Together, these findings identify a new way that exercise strengthens bones and immune function.

Researchers from the Morrison laboratorydiscovered that forces created from walking or running are transmitted from bone surfaces along arteriolar blood vessels into the marrow inside bones. Bone-forming cells that line the outside of the arterioles sense these forces and are induced to proliferate. This not only allows the formation of new bone cells, which helps to thicken bones, but the bone-forming cells also secrete a growth factor that increases the frequency of cells that form lymphocytes around the arterioles. Lymphocytes are the B and T cells that allow the immune system to fight infections.

When the ability of the bone-forming cells to sense pressure caused by movement, also known as mechanical forces, was inactivated, it reduced the formation of new bone cells and lymphocytes, causing bones to become thinner and reducing the ability of mice to clear a bacterial infection. 

"As we age, the environment in our bone marrow changes and the cells responsible for maintaining skeletal bone mass and immune function become depleted. We know very little about how this environment changes or why these cells decrease with age," says Sean Morrison, Ph.D., the director of CRI and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator. "Past research has shown exercise can improve bone strength and immune function, and our study discovered a new mechanism by which this occurs."

Previous work from the Morrison laboratory discovered the skeletal stem cells that give rise to most of the new bone cells that form during adulthood in the bone marrow. They are Leptin Receptor+ (LepR+) cells. They line the outside of blood vessels in the bone marrow and form critical growth factors for the maintenance of blood-forming cells. The Morrison lab also found that a subset of LepR+ cells synthesize a previously undiscovered bone-forming growth factor called Osteolectin. Osteolectin promotes the maintenance of the adult skeleton by causing LepR+ to form new bone cells.

In the current study, Bo Shen, Ph.D., a postdoctoral fellow in the Morrison laboratory, looked more carefully at the subset of LepR+ cells that make Osteolectin. He discovered that these cells reside exclusively around arteriolar blood vessels in the bone marrow and that they maintain nearby lymphoid progenitors by synthesizing stem cell factor (SCF) - a growth factor on which those cells depend. Deleting SCF from Osteolectin-positive cells depleted lymphoid progenitors and undermined the ability of mice to mount an immune response to bacterial infection.

"Together with our previous work, the findings in this study show Osteolectin-positive cells create a specialized niche for bone-forming and lymphoid progenitors around the arterioles. Therapeutic interventions that expand the number of Osteolectin-positive cells could increase bone formation and immune responses, particularly in the elderly," says Shen.

Shen found that the number of Osteolectin-positive cells and lymphoid progenitors decreased with age. Curious if he could reverse this trend, Shen put running wheels in the cages so that the mice could exercise. He found the bones of these mice became stronger with exercise, while the number of Osteolectin-positive cells and lymphoid progenitors around the arterioles increased. This was the first indication that mechanical stimulation regulates a niche in the bone marrow. 

Shen found that Osteolectin-positive cells expressed a receptor on their surfaces - known as Piezo1 - that signals inside the cell in response to mechanical forces. When Piezo1 was deleted from Osteolectin-positive cells of mice, these cells and the lymphoid progenitors they support became depleted, weakening bones and impairing immune responses.

"We think we've found an important mechanism by which exercise promotes immunity and strengthens bones, on top of other mechanisms previously identified by others," says Morrison.

 

Long-term iodine nutrition associated with longevity in older adults: a 20 year follow-up of the Randers-Skagen Study

Aalborg University (Denmark), February 23, 2021

According to news reporting originating in Aalborg, Denmark, research stated, “Iodine intake affects the occurrence of thyroid disorders. However, the association of iodine intake with longevity remains to be described.”

The news reporters obtained a quote from the research from Aalborg University Hospital, “This led us to perform a 20 years’ follow-up on participants from the Randers-Skagen (RaSk) study. Residents in Randers born in 1920 (n 210) and Skagen born in 1918-1923 (n 218) were included in a clinical study in 1997-1998. Mean iodine content in drinking water was 2 mu g/l in Randers and 139 mu g/l in Skagen. We collected baseline data through questionnaires, performed physical examinations and measured iodine concentrations in spot urine samples. Income data were retrieved from Danish registries. We performed follow-up on mortality until 31 December 2017 using Danish registries. Complete follow-up data were available on 428 out of 430 of participants (99 center dot 5 %). At baseline, the median urinary iodine concentration was 55 mu g/l in Randers and 160 mu g/l in Skagen residents. Participants were long-term residents with 72.8 and 92.7 % residing for more than 25 years in Randers and Skagen, respectively. Cox regression showed that living in Skagen compared with Randers was associated with a lower hazard ratio (HR) of death in both age- and sex-adjusted analyses (HR 0.60, 95 % CI 0.41, 0.87, P = 0.006), but also after adjustment for age, sex, number of drugs, Charlson co-morbidity index, smoking, alcohol and income (HR 0.60, 95 % CI 0.41, 0.87, P = 0.008). Residing in iodine-replete Skagen was associated with increased longevity.”

According to the news reporters, the research concluded: “This indicates that long-term residency in an iodine-replete environment may be associated with increased longevity compared with residency in an iodine-deficient environment.”

This research has been peer-reviewed.

February 26, 2021  

The effects of lycopene supplementation on serum insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1) levels and cardiovascular disease

Ganzhou People’s Hospital (China), February 22, 2021
 

The results of human studies assessing the efficacy of lycopene on insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1) levels are inconsistent. Thus, we performed a systematic review and meta-analysis to examine the effects of lycopene supplementation on serum IGF-1 levels and cardiovascular disease.

Methods

The literature published up to January 2020 was searched using the electronic databases Scopus, PubMed/Medline, Web of Science, Embase and Google Scholar.

Results

Seven qualified trials were included in the current meta-analysis. IGF-1 levels were non-significantly decreased in lycopene group compared to the control (WMD: −6.74 ng/mL, 95 % CI: −23.01 to 9.52, p = 0.42; I2 = 94.3 %). Subgroup analysis revealed a significantly decrease in IGF-1 levels upon lycopene supplementation at doses ≥15 mg/d (WMD: −6.40 ng/mL), intervention period <12 weeks (WMD: −6.49 ng/mL), and subjects aged ≥60 years (WMD: −24.98 mg/dl). In addition, lycopene intake significantly reduced IGF-1 levels upon healthy conditions (WMD: −25.59 ng/mL) when compared with cancer patients (WMD: 0.35 ng/mL). In addition, the effect of lycopene supplementation was significant in patients diagnosed with cardiac disorders.

Conclusion

Overall, lycopene intake was not associated with reduced serum IGF-1 levels. However, association was significant when lycopene was administrated at doses >15 mg/d, for <12 weeks, as well as for healthy conditions and patients aged ≥60 years. In addition, lycopene supplementation exhibited potential health benefits in the management of patients with cardiac disorders.

 

Vitamin B6 may help keep COVID-19's cytokine storms at bay

Vitamin B6 may help calm cytokine storms and unclog blood clots linked to COVID-19's lethality. 

Hiroshima University (Japan), February 26, 2021

Who would have thought that a small basic compound like vitamin B6 in the banana or fish you had this morning may be key to your body's robust response against COVID-19?

Studies have so far explored the benefits of vitamins D and C and minerals like zinc and magnesium in fortifying immune response against COVID-19. But research on vitamin B6 has been mostly missing. Food scientist Thanutchaporn Kumrungsee hopes their paper published in Frontiers in Nutrition can be the first step in showing vitamin B6's potential in lowering the odds of patients becoming seriously ill with the coronavirus. 

"In addition to washing your hands, food and nutrition are among the first lines of defense against Covid-19 virus infection. Food is our first medicine and kitchen is our first pharmacy," Kumrungsee, an associate professor at Hiroshima University's Graduate School of Integrated Sciences for Life, said.

"Recently, many scientists have published papers regarding the role of diets and nutrients in the protection against COVID-19. However, very few scientists are paying attention to the important role of vitamin B6," she added.

In their paper, she and her fellow researchers pointed out growing evidence showing that vitamin B6 exerts a protective effect against chronic illnesses such as cardiovascular diseases and diabetes by suppressing inflammation, inflammasomes, oxidative stress, and carbonyl stress.

"Coronaviruses and influenza are among the viruses that can cause lethal lung injuries and death from acute respiratory distress syndrome worldwide. Viral infections evoke a 'cytokine storm,' leading to lung capillary endothelial cell inflammation, neutrophil infiltration, and increased oxidative stress," they said.

Kumrungsee explained that thrombosis (blood clotting) and cytokine storm (hyper inflammation) might be closely linked to the graveness of COVID-19. Cytokine storms happen when the immune system dangerously goes into overdrive and starts attacking even the healthy cells. Meanwhile, blood clots linked to COVID-19 can block capillaries, damaging vital organs like the heart, lungs, liver, and kidneys. 

Vitamin B6 is a known anti-thrombosis and anti-inflammation nutrient. Deficiency in this vitamin is also associated with lower immune function and higher susceptibility to viral infections.

"Vitamin B6 has a close relationship with the immune system. Its levels always drop in people under chronic inflammation such as obesity, diabetes, and heart diseases. We can see from the news that obese and diabetic people are at high risk for COVID-19," Kumrungsee said.

"Thus, our attempt in this paper is to shed light on the possible involvement of vitamin B6 in decreasing the severity of COVID-19."

The associate professor said she is looking forward to clinical trials that would test their hypothesis.

"It is of great interest to examine if vitamin B6 exerts protection against novel types of virus infection and pneumonia which will be encountered in the future. At present, there is few information regarding the protective role of nutrients against pneumonia and lung diseases," she said.

"After COVID-19, we should develop the area of nutrition for lung diseases such as pneumonia and lung cancer."

 

 

Mushrooms add important nutrients when included in the typical diet

Mushroom Council, February 24, 2021 

The second study published in as many months has identified another reason to add more mushrooms to the recommended American diet. The new research , published in Food & Nutrition Research (February 2021), examined the addition of mushrooms to U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food Patterns resulting in the increase of several micronutrients including shortfall nutrients, while having a minimal to zero impact on overall calories, sodium or saturated fat. 

Dr. Victor L. Fulgoni III and Dr. Sanjiv Agarwal looked at the nutritional effect of substituting a serving of various foods recommended to be moderated in the diet by the 2015-2020 U.S. Dietary Guidelines with an 84-gram serving of mushrooms on nutrient profiles in USDA's Healthy US style, Mediterranean-style and Vegetarian Eating Patterns. This is a similar approach that the USDA used for determining its Dietary Guidelines . For the mushroom serving, researchers looked at a composite of white, crimini and portabella mushrooms at a 1:1:1 ratio; one scenario including UV-light exposed mushrooms; and one scenario including oyster mushrooms.

"Simply adding an 84-gram serving, or what would be the equivalent of 5 medium white mushrooms, to USDA Food Patterns increased several shortfall nutrients including potassium as well as other B vitamins and minerals and had minimal to no impact on overall calories, sodium or saturated fat," said Dr. Fulgoni. 

Depending on the pattern type and calorie level, key findings include:

 

  • The addition of a serving (84 g) of mushrooms to the diet resulted in an increase in potassium (8%-12%), copper (16%-26%), selenium (11%-23%), riboflavin (12%-18%) and niacin (11%-26%), but had no impact on calories, carbohydrate, fat or sodium.
  • The addition of a serving (84 g) of oyster mushrooms increased vitamin D (8%-11%) and choline (10%-16%) in USDA Food Patterns. 
  • Mushrooms exposed to UV-light to increase vitamin D levels to 200 IU/serving also increased vitamin D by 67%-90% in USDA Food Patterns. 
  • A composite of white, crimini and portabella mushrooms at a 1:1:1 ratio would be expected to add 2.24 mg ergothioneine and 3.53 mg glutathione, while oyster mushrooms would provide 24.0 mg ergothioneine and 12.3 mg glutathione. (Note: the USDA Food Patterns as well as USDA FoodData Central do not include analytical data either of these antioxidants at this time).

 

Results Mirror Similar Modeling Study

Drs. Fulgoni and Agarwal also modeled the addition of mushrooms to National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 2011-2016 dietary data looking at a composite of white, crimini and portabella mushrooms at a 1:1:1 ratio; one scenario including UV-light exposed mushrooms; and one scenario including oyster mushrooms for both 9-18 years and 19+ years of age based on an 84g or ½ cup equivalent serving . Similar to the USDA Food Patterns, the NHANES data found the addition of a serving (84 g) of mushrooms to the diet resulted in an increase in dietary fiber (5%-6%), copper (24%-32%), phosphorus (6%), potassium (12%-14%), selenium (13%-14%), zinc (5%-6%), riboflavin (13%-15%), niacin (13%-14%), and choline (5%-6%) in both adolescents and adults; but had no impact on calories, carbohydrate, fat or sodium.

Looking specifically at vitamin D, the study shows that when commonly consumed mushrooms are exposed to UV-light to provide 5 mcg vitamin D per serving, vitamin D intake could meet and slightly exceed the recommended daily value (98% - 104%) for both the 9 -18 year and 19+ year groups as well as decrease inadequacy of this shortfall nutrient in the population. In addition, a serving of UV-light exposed commonly consumed mushrooms decreased population inadequacy for vitamin D from 95.3% to 52.8% for age group 9-18 years and from 94.9% to 63.6% for age group 19+ years.

Mushrooms Role in the Dietary Guidelines

Mushrooms are fungi - a member of the third food kingdom - biologically distinct from plant and animal-derived foods that comprise the USDA food patterns yet have a unique nutrient profile that provides nutrients common to both plant and animal foods. Although classified into food grouping systems by their use as a vegetable, mushrooms' increasing use in main entrees in plant-based diets is growing, supporting consumers' efforts to follow food-based dietary guidance recommendations to lower intake of calories, saturated fatty acids, and sodium while increasing intake of under-consumed nutrients including fiber, potassium and vitamin D.

When considering mushrooms' role in diet quality and helping consumers achieve healthy eating patterns, a previous analysis of NHANES 2001-2010 data discovered that mushroom intake was associated with higher intakes of several key nutrients and thus better diet quality . However, intake was low - about 21g per day among mushroom consumers. Because of mushrooms' culinary versatility and unique nutrient profile, greater recognition of mushrooms in dietary guidance is an opportunity to improve diet quality, particularly to increase consumption of vegetables. 

"Results from this current research on modeling the nutritional impact of mushrooms on USDA healthy eating patterns are now available for consideration by the 2025-2030 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee," said Mary Jo Feeney, MS, RD, FADA and nutrition research coordinator to the Mushroom Council. 

Mushrooms: A Nutrient Powerhouse

Often grouped with vegetables, mushrooms provide many of the nutrient attributes of produce, as well as attributes more commonly found in meat, beans or grains. According to the USDA's FoodData Central , one serving (5 medium/90g) of white, raw mushrooms contains 20 calories, 0g fat, 3g protein and is very low in sodium (0mg/<1% recommended daily value). Few foods naturally contain vitamin D, and mushrooms are unique in that they are the only food in the produce aisle that contain vitamin D. Specifically, one serving of raw, UV-exposed, white (90g) and crimini (80g) mushrooms contains 23.6mcg (118% RDA) and 25.52mcg (128% RDA) of vitamin D, respectively. 

More Research from the Mushroom Council Still to Come

With mushrooms growing in awareness and consideration among consumers nationwide, in 2019, the Mushroom Council made a $1.5 million multi-year investment in research to help broaden understanding of the food's nutritional qualities and overall health benefits.

In addition to the analysis of mushrooms for bioactives/ergothioneine for inclusion in USDA FoodData Central database, additional research projects approved include:

 

  • Health promoting effects of including mushrooms as part of a healthy eating pattern. 
  • Mushrooms' relationship with cognitive health in older adults.
  • Mushrooms' impact on brain health in an animal model.

 

Since 2002, the Council has conducted research that supports greater mushroom demand by discovering nutrient and health benefits of mushrooms. Published results from these projects form the basis for communicating these benefits to consumers and health influencers.

 

 

Israeli researchers say spirulina algae could reduce COVID mortality rate

Matis Research Institute (Iceland) & IDC Herzliya School of Sustainability (Israel), February 24m 2021

A team of scientists from Israel and Iceland have published research showing that an extract of spirulina algae has the potential to reduce the chances of COVID-19 patients developing a serious case of the disease.

The research, published in the peer-reviewed journal Marine Biotechnology, found that an extract of photosynthetically manipulated Spirulina is 70% effective in inhibiting the release of the cytokine TNF-a, a small signaling protein used by the immune system.

The research was conducted in a MIGAL laboratory in northern Israel with algae grown and cultivated by the Israeli company VAXA, which is located in Iceland. VAXA received funding from the European Union to explore and develop natural treatments for coronavirus.

Iceland’s MATIS Research Institute also participated in the study.

In a small percentage of patients, infection with the coronavirus causes the immune system to release an excessive number of TNF-a cytokines, resulting in what is known as a cytokine storm. The storm causes acute respiratory distress syndrome and damage to other organs, the leading cause of death in COVID-19 patients.

“If you control or are able to mitigate the excessive release of TNF-a, you can eventually reduce mortality,” said Asaf Tzachor, a researcher from the IDC Herzliya School of Sustainability and the lead author of the study.

During cultivation, growth conditions were adjusted to control the algae’s metabolomic profile and bioactive molecules. The result is what Tzachor refers to as “enhanced” algae.

Tzachor said that despite the special growth mechanism, the algae are a completely natural substance and should not produce any side effects. Spirulina is approved by the US Food and Drug Administration as a dietary substance. It is administrated orally in liquid drops.

“This is natural, so it is unlikely that we would see an adverse or harmful response in patients as you sometimes see in patients that are treated with chemical or synthetic drugs,” he said.

The algae have been shown to reduce inflammation. Tzachor said that if proven effective, spirulina could also be used against other coronaviruses and influenza.

The flu also induces a cytokine storm.

“If we succeed in the next steps,” said Dr. Dorit Avni, director of the laboratory at MIGAL, “there is a range of diseases that can be treated using this innovative solution – as a preventative treatment or a supportive treatment.”

Moreover, because it is a treatment against the effect of the virus on the body, its impact should not be affected by virus mutations.
“In this study, it was exciting to discover such activity in algae that was grown under controlled conditions, using sustainable aquaculture methods,” said MATIS’s Dr. Sophie Jensen. “Although active ingredients have not yet been identified with absolute certainty, the extract opens a space for clinical trials that offer a variety of anti-inflammatory treatments, for COVID-19 and beyond.”

Tzachor said that the team now hopes to run human clinical trials.

“If clinical trials confirm the efficacy of our suggested therapy at the rates reported, the substance can become available to the general population,” he said.

“We hope this research would urge the communities of regulators and investors and pharma companies to invest more resources and give more attention to natural-based therapies. The potential is unbelievable.”

 

 

 

Fish oil supplements could be 'as good as drugs' for treating ADHD in children with omega-3 deficiency

Kings College London, February 21, 2021

Omega-3 supplements could be just as effective as drugs for some children with ADHD, a study suggests.

Researchers found fish oil helped youngsters with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder to focus, if they were deficient in the nutrient. However, it did not help and even had the opposite effect in children who already had healthy or high levels of omega-3, which is most commonly got from fish. Scientists said their trial laid a path for 'nutritional interventions' but that parents should always check with a doctor first. 

Hundreds of thousands of children in the UK and around six million in the US are believed to have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and struggle to concentrate as a result.

King's College London researchers trialled omega-3 supplements on 92 children with ADHD between the ages of six and 18 in Taiwan.  

They focused on eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and gave all the children either that or a placebo for 12 weeks. Among the children who had naturally low EPA and got supplements, the scientists noticed 'improvements in focused attention and vigilance'.

There was no improvement, however, for children with normal starting levels of EPA, the academics found. And for those youngsters who naturally had a lot, they became more impulsive which suggested the supplements had an opposite effect to what was intended.

For those children with omega-3 deficiency, fish oil supplements could be a preferable option to standard stimulant treatments,' said Professor Carmine Pariante, a senior psychiatry researcher.

'Our study sets an important precedent for other nutritional interventions, and we can start bringing the benefits of "personalised psychiatry" to children with ADHD.'

In the UK children with ADHD who need medication are usually given drugs known by the brand names Ritalin, Vyvanse, Strattera or Tenex.

Although effective, these medicines can alter children's moods, lead to anxiety or depression, make people drowsy or give them sleep problems.

Signs of omega-3 deficiency include dry and scaly skin, eczema or dry eyes, which may be indicators the treatment could work for a child.

Low levels of omega-3 fatty acids have in the past been linked to higher rates of severe ADHD.

But past studies looking at the relationship between omega-3 supplements and ADHD found they didn't make much difference. 

This could be because only a specific subset of people are likely to find the treatment useful. 

Dr Jane Chang, one of the lead researchers, said: 'Our results suggest that fish oil supplements are at least as effective as conventional pharmacological treatments among those children with ADHD who have omega-3 deficiency.

'On the other hand, it is possible to have too much of a good thing, and parents should always consult with their children's psychiatrists since our study suggests there could be negative effects for some children.'

Omega-3 fatty acids could be useful for improving children's brain health because the body uses them to help construct cells around the body and inside the brain.

Evidence also suggests they can have antioxidant effects and reduce swelling, which may encourage healthier brain cells and reduce the risk of dysfunction.

Professor Kuan-Pin Su, from China Medical University in Taiwan, added: 'High blood-levels of EPA without using supplements can be achieved through a good diet with plenty of fish, which is common in some Asian countries like Taiwan and Japan.

'It is possible that EPA deficiency is more common among children with ADHD in countries with less fish consumption, such as in North America and many countries in Europe, and that fish oil supplementation could therefore have more widespread benefits for treating the condition than in our study.' 

Dr Jessica Agney-Blais, a psychiatry researcher at King's College London, was not involved with the research but didn't agree with Dr Chang's assessment of the study.

She said: 'The findings from this study offer the interesting suggestion that benefits of fish oil supplementation for performance on some neuropsychological measures of attention may be specific to those with lower levels of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) at baseline.   

'However, these findings remain suggestive given the small number of participants (29) with low baseline EPA levels (so, about 15 people in the fish oil group compared to about 15 in the placebo group).

'It is very important to keep in mind that this study did not find any benefit of fish oil supplementation over placebo on ADHD symptom levels or emotional problems among participants. 

'These are outcomes that many studies find do improve with conventional pharmacological treatments for ADHD. 

'Therefore, these findings do not suggest that fish oil supplementation is better – or as effective – as stimulant medication in treating ADHD symptoms.'

The research was published in the journal Translational Psychiatry, published by Nature.

 

 

Tai Chi and Qi Gong therapies as a complementary treatment in Parkinson’s disease – a systematic review

Jerzy Kukuczka Academy of Physical Education (Poland)
 
Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a progressive and one of the most prevalent neurodegenerative disorders, leading to the loss of motor and non-motor function as well as a reduction in quality of life.123 It is established that physical therapy is the most widely-used form of allied health care for PD, and it is considered as an integral part of PD treatment.4 Moreover, there is evidence that the conventional treatment provides great benefits to people with PD;5 however, its effectiveness in delaying the progression of the disorder is not sufficient. Based on previous studies, physical therapy in PD focuses on the most common motor impairments, including body transfers, posture, reaching and grasping (upper limb function), balance deficits (and falls), gait, and physical capacity.5678 However, the positive effects of exercise increase when mind-body therapies, such as Tai Chi, Qigong, Yoga, and Pilates, are added.9,10 Tai Chi and Qigong, as traditional Chinese mind-body therapies, have become a popular form of complementary and alternative medicine in PD.
 
The initial search retrieved a total of 1,387 articles from the databases. After the removal of duplicate articles, 151 potential articles were identified. After the abstract review, 75 full text articles were assessed for the eligibility criteria. Finally, 26 articles met all of the inclusion criteria and were included in the systematic review. Fig. 1presents a flowchart of the literature search process.
 
The current state of knowledge shows that both Tai Chi and Qigong interventions might offer a promising complementary therapy in PD. Due to their unique approach integrating body, mind, and spirit, these methods can be widely used in health care and in the treatment of specific functional dysfunctions, mainly in early and mild stages of Parkinson’s disease. However, due to methodological bias further large-scale trials are needed. Major questions waiting an answer include estimating the optimal frequency and duration of the Tai Chi or Qigong intervention as well as providing objective measurements of primary and secondary outcomes given the complex nature of PD.
February 25, 2021  

French maritime pine bark supplementation associated with improvements in diabetes complications

Tabriz University of Medical Sciences (Iran), February 24 2021. 

 

A randomized trial reported on February 18, 2021 in Complementary Therapies in Medicine resulted in improvement of several factors related to type 2 diabetes among men and women who were given supplements containing French maritime pine bark extract.

The trial included 46 diabetics between the ages of 30 and 65 years who were recruited from March 2018 to April 2019. Participants received two capsules that provided 50 milligrams each of French maritime bark extract or a placebo daily for eight weeks. Diet and medication use remained unchanged throughout the trial. Anthropometric factors, glycemic parameters, lipids and factors related to inflammation and kidney function were assessed at the beginning and end of the study. 

At eight weeks, waist circumference, waist to height ratio, hemoglobin A1c, total cholesterol, vascular cell adhesion molecule 1 (VCAM-1, an inflammatory cell that contributes to atherosclerosis), and urinary albumin to creatinine ratio (an early indicator of kidney disease) were lower at the end of the study among participants who received French maritime pine bark extract in comparison with the placebo. Serum fasting blood glucose levels were also lower at the end of the study in the group that received the extract; however, the reduction was not considered significant. 

“There is a growing body of evidence that suggests pine bark extract supplementation has some potentially beneficial metabolic properties such as anti-diabetic and hypoglycemic effects,” Elham Navval-Esfahlan and colleagues wrote.

“The present study indicated that daily supplementation with 100 mg of pine bark extract in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus and microalbuminuria had favorable effects on glycemic control, serum VCAM-1, and urinary albumin to creatine ratio level, as well as total cholesterol concentrations and abdominal obesity which could be helpful in the control of diabetes complications,” they concluded. 

 

 

 

Study finds association between supplementing with zinc and lower risk of Alzheimer's disease

University of Manchester (UK), February 22 2021

 

An epidemiologic study conducted at the University of Manchester found an association between zinc supplementation and a decreased risk of Alzheimer's disease as well as a reduction in the progression of cognitive decline in Alzheimer's disease patients. It was additionally determined that zinc deficiency accelerated memory deficits in an Alzheimer's disease mouse model compared to a control group, due to increased inflammation. The findings were reported in an article appearing on February 17, 2021 in the Journal of Neuroscience.

For the epidemiologic study, Jack Rivers-Auty and his associates utilized data from the Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative database, which included 1,631 men and women who were cognitively normal or diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment or early Alzheimer's disease. Subjects were evaluated upon enrollment, at six and 12 months, and yearly thereafter. Data obtained at the beginning of the study provided information concerning the use of nutritional supplements. 

Among those who reported supplementing with zinc, just 6% were diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease, in contrast with 26% of those who reported no supplement use. Calcium, iron and magnesium also appeared to be protective. Zinc use was additionally associated with a less rapid rate of cognitive decline during up to ten years of follow-up. 

Giving mice zinc deficient diets was associated with increased cognitive decline due to enhanced NLRP3-driven inflammation, which was reversed by giving the animals diets that contained a normal amount of zinc. “These data suggest that zinc deficiency is causally accelerating cognitive decline in Alzheimer’s disease and that these cognitive deficits are reversible,” Dr Rivers-Auty and colleagues wrote. 

“This research suggests that zinc status is linked to inflammatory reactivity and may be modified in people to reduce the risk and slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease,” they concluded.

 

 

Study finds low folate, vitamin B12 associated with worse cognitive function

University of Massachusetts, February 22, 2021

 

According to news reporting from Lowell, Massachusetts, research stated, “There is evidence that low plasma vitamin B-12 and folate individually, as well as an imbalance of high folic acid and low vitamin B-12 status, may be associated with lower cognitive function. We examined dietary and plasma folate and vitamin B12 status, and their interaction, in relation to cognitive function in a cohort of older Puerto Rican adults.”

The news correspondents obtained a quote from the research from the University of Massachusetts Lowell, “The design is cross-sectional, with 1408 participants from the Boston Puerto Rican Health Study (mean SD age: 57.1 +/- 7.9 y). Cognitive function was assessed with a comprehensive test battery and a global composite score was derived. Plasma folate, vitamin B12, and methylmalonic acid (MMA) were assessed in fasting blood samples. After adjusting for covariates, high plasma folate and high plasma vitamin B-12 were each positively associated with global cognitive score (beta: 0.063; 95% CI: -0.0008, 0.127; P = 0.053 and beta: 0.062; 95% CI: 0.009, 0.12; P = 0.023, respectively, for logged values, and beta: 0.002; 95% CI: 0.00005, 0.004; P-trend = 0.044 and beta: 0.00018; 95% CI: 0.00001, 0.0003; P-trend = 0.036, respectively, across tertiles). Nine percent of participants had vitamin B-12 deficiency (plasma vitamin B-12 148 pmol/L or MMA 271 nmol/L), but none were folate deficient (plasma folate < 4.53 nmol/L). Deficient compared with higher vitamin B-12 was significantly associated with lower cognitive score (beta: -0.119; 95% CI: -0.208, -0.029; P = 0.009). We could not examine the interaction for vitamin B-12 deficiency and high plasma folate, because there were too few individuals (<1% of the cohort) in this category to draw conclusions. Low plasma vitamin B-12 and low plasma folate were each associated with worse cognitive function in this population. Vitamin B-12 deficiency was prevalent and clearly associated with poorer cognitive function. More attention should be given to identification and treatment of vitamin B-12 deficiency in this population.”

According to the news reporters, the research concluded: “Additional, larger studies are needed to examine the effect of vitamin B-12 deficiency in the presence of high exposure to folic acid.”

This research has been peer-reviewed.

 

Structured exercise program, not testosterone therapy improved men's artery health

University of Western Australia, February 22, 2021 

 

Twelve weeks of exercise training improved artery health and function in middle-aged and older men (ages 50-70 years) with low-to-normal testosterone levels, while testosterone therapy provided no benefits to the arteries, according to new research published today in Hypertension, an American Heart Association journal.

The natural aging process for men includes decreased testosterone and physical activity levels decline with age, leading to declines in artery health and function. Testosterone replacement therapy is often used to combat the symptoms of decreasing testosterone levels, including low energy, reduced muscle mass and reduced vigor. In the absence of any new clinical indications, testosterone sales have increased 12-fold globally in the past decades.

"The global increase in testosterone use has been very large, particularly among middle-aged and older men who might see it as a restorative hormone to increase energy and vitality," said study author Daniel J. Green, Ph.D., Winthrop Professor and cardiovascular exercise physiology researcher in the School of Human Sciences at The University of Western Australia in Perth, Australia. "However, previous studies are mixed as to whether replacement testosterone is beneficial or not, or whether it provides additional benefit over and above the effects of an exercise program."

Green and colleagues evaluated men ages 50 to 70 years old, with no history of cardiovascular disease, higher than normal waist circumferences and testosterone levels that were in the low to normal range. The researchers also excluded current smokers, men currently on testosterone treatment or men on medications that would alter testosterone concentrations. At the beginning and end of the study, researchers measured artery function using a method that increases blood flow inside an artery. This assesses whether the inner lining of the artery is healthy and can help the artery to increase in size or dilate.

The 12-week study included 78 men randomized into four groups: 21 men received topical testosterone and completed a supervised exercise program including aerobic and strength exercises two to three times a week; 18 men received testosterone with no exercise; 20 men received a placebo and no exercise; and 19 men received a placebo with exercise. The exercise training was supervised in a research gymnasium at Fiona Stanley Hospital in Perth, and the program was overseen by an Accredited Exercise Physiologist (AEP).

The researchers found:

Testosterone treatment increased the levels of the hormone to above average levels in 62% of men in the groups that received the treatment.

Exercise training also increased testosterone level; however, the levels were highest among the men in the groups who received the testosterone supplement.

Artery function and health improved in the groups who received exercise training; but no improvement was found in those who received testosterone without exercise training.

Artery function in response to testing improved by 28% in the group who received exercise without testosterone, and by 19% in the group who received a combination of testosterone and exercise.

The researchers did not see changes in other tests that stimulated muscle cells in the middle of the artery wall, following exercise training, testosterone treatment or the combination of the two.

"The results of our study suggest that if you are a healthy but relatively inactive middle-aged or older man with increased abdominal girth, and you are worried about your risk of heart attack, stroke or diabetes, then an exercise program with some support and supervision can help to improve the function and health of your arteries," Green said. "Testosterone therapy may have some benefits, for example in increasing muscle mass in the legs, however, we didn't find any benefits in terms of artery function, which is a determinant of future cardiovascular risk."

Green noted that the study's small size is a limitation, and this research lays the foundation for larger studies that could lead to health recommendations for men.

 

Effects of yoga-based interventions on cognitive functioning in healthy older adults: a systematic review of randomized controlled trials

Karolinska Institute (Sweden), Imperial College London, Victoria University (Australia), February 11, 2021

 

The world's elderly population is growing. Physical activity has positive effects on health and cognition, but is decreasing among the elderly. Interest in yoga-based exercises has increased in this population, especially as an intervention targeting balance, flexibility, strength, and well-being. Recent interest has arisen regarding yoga’s potential benefits for cognition.

Objective

To systematically review evidence from randomized controlled trials (RCTs) examining the effects of yoga-based interventions on cognitive functioning in healthy adults aged 60 + . A secondary objective was to report the intervention characteristics.

Method

The review was conducted in accordance with PRISMA guidelines. Searches were performed from inception to June 2020 using the following electronic databases: (1) PubMed (NLM); (2) Embase (Elsevier); (3) Cochrane Central (Wiley); (4) PsycINFO (EBSCOhost); and (5) Cinahl (EbscoHost). Inclusion criteria: RCTs of yoga-based interventions assessing cognition in healthy adults ≥60 years. Risk of bias was assessed using the revised Cochrane risk of bias tool.

Results

A total of 1466 records were initially identified; six studies (5 unique trials) were included in the review. Four of the six articles reported significant positive effects of yoga-based interventions on cognition, including gross memory functioning and executive functions. Intervention characteristics and assessment methods varied between studies, with a high overall risk of bias in all studies.

Conclusion

Yoga-based interventions are associated with improvements in cognition in healthy older adults. Adequately powered RCTs with robust study designs and long-term follow-ups are required. Future studies should explicitly report the intervention characteristics associated with changes in cognitive function.

 

Fruit and veg-rich diet linked to much lower risk of chronic lung disease

Karolinksa Institute (Sweden), February 22, 2021

 

A diet rich in fruit and vegetables is linked to a significantly lower risk of developing chronic lung disease (COPD) in former and current smokers, finds research published online in the journal Thorax.

 

Each additional daily serving was associated with a 4-8% lower risk, the findings show. COPD, short for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, is an umbrella term for respiratory conditions that narrow the airways, which include bronchitis and emphysema.

 

The primary risk factor for its development is smoking, and the World Health Organization predicts that COPD is set to become the third leading cause of death worldwide. Recent evidence suggests that diet may be an important factor in the development and/or prevention of COPD.

 

To try and find out if fruit and vegetable intake might have a dietary role, the researchers tracked the respiratory health of more than 44,000 men aged between 45 and 79 for 13 years.

 

They were also quizzed about other potentially important factors, such as educational attainment, weight, height, physical activity and inactivity levels and how much, and how often, they drank alcohol. And they were asked how many daily cigarettes they smoked, on average, between the ages of 15 and 20; 21 and 30; 31 and 40; 41 and 50; and 51 and 60.

 

Almost two thirds of the men (nearly 63%) had smoked at some point; around one in four (24%) were current smokers; and nearly four out of 10 (38.5%) had never smoked.

 

During the monitoring period, 1918 new cases of COPD were diagnosed. The number of new cases in current and former smokers was estimated to be 1166 and 506/100,000 people, respectively, among those eating fewer than 2 daily portions of fruit and vegetables; but in those eating more than 5, the equivalent figures were 546 and 255.

 

In all, those eating 5 or more daily servings were 35% less likely to develop lung disease than those eating 2 or fewer daily servings. And when the data were stratified by smoking, current and former smokers eating 5 or more portions of fruit and vegetables every day were, respectively, 40% and 34%, less likely to develop COPD.

 

Each additional serving was associated with a 4% lower risk of COPD in former smokers and an 8% lower risk in current smokers. 

 

Compared with those who had never smoked and who ate 5 or more portions of fruit and vegetables, current and former smokers eating fewer than 2 daily portions were, respectively, 13.5 times and 6 times more likely to develop COPD.

Those at the high end of the consumption scale were 7.5 times (current smokers), and more than 3.5 times (former smokers), as likely to develop COPD.

 

Apples or pears; green leafy vegetables; and peppers seemed to exert the strongest influence on risk, but no such associations were seen for berry fruits; bananas; citrus fruits; cruciferous and root vegetables; tomatoes; onions; garlic; or green peas.

As oxidative tissue stress and inflammation may be involved in COPD development, and smoking is a potent trigger of these processes, the antioxidants abundant in fruit and vegetables may curb their impact, suggest the researchers, who add that smoking cessation should still continue to be promoted as the mainstay of prevention.

 

But in a linked editorial, Drs Raphaelle Varraso and Seif Shaheen emphasise that as this is an observational study, no firm conclusions can be drawn about cause and effect; a clinical trial would be needed for that.

But they write: "it could be argued that there is nothing to be lost by acting now. We would argue that clinicians should consider the potential benefits of a healthy diet in promoting lung health, and advocate optimising intake of fruits and vegetables, especially in smokers who are unable to stop smoking."

 

 

 

Do gluten-free diets provide a cure-all for celiac disease?

University of Oslo (Norway), February 24, 2021

A new study provides insights into the curative effects of gluten-free diets in celiac patients. Results from the proteomics-based research suggests not.

Celiac disease is a highly prevalent disorder characterized by a harmful immune reaction to dietary gluten proteins in the upper small intestine. The disease is caused when CD4+ T-cells in a patient respond to gluten, mounting an immune reaction that causes intestinal damage.

Tracking celiac disease: intestinal biopsies

Disease diagnosis and monitoring are typically performed via expert analysis of intestinal biopsies by medical professionals. The only current effective treatment for celiac disease is complete and permanent removal of gluten from patients' diets. For the vast majority of patients, biopsies reveal that avoiding gluten in this way is very effective and that the intestine regains its normal architecture after some time.

Treated patients (those who have remained off gluten and have a healthy intestine according to biopsy analysis) are sometimes re-exposed to gluten (gluten challenge) in the clinic to confirm diagnosis or to track drug efficacy in clinical trials.

Varied response to gluten challenge

For reasons that are not completely understood, upon gluten challenge, some treated patients develop strong mucosal inflammation while others do not. This suggests that there are subtle differences between treated patients that are not easy to detect by visual inspection of intestinal biopsies alone, and that a more detailed picture of tissue status is needed to fully understand the connection between gluten exposure and disease severity.

That was the aim of the new study, led by Jorunn Stamnæs at the KG Jebsen Coeliac Disease Research Centre (JCoDiRC) at the University of Oslo.

Collaboration with NAPI

Jorunn collaborated with staff at the NAPI Proteomics Core Facility at Oslo University Hospital to perform mass spectrometry-based proteomics analysis of intestinal samples from a cohort of 19 well-treated celiac disease patients subjected to gluten challenge.

Although the 19 patients all were categorized as well treated prior to gluten challenge, they react very differently to the gluten—with strong mucosal changes in some patients and no observable changes in other patients.

The researchers used biopsies from all patients both before and after short-term gluten exposure, which allowed unbiased global analysis of the protein profiles associated with the different levels of inflammatory response.

Proteomics paints clearer picture

The proteomic approach revealed that patients with a strong inflammatory response had signs of ongoing 'basal' inflammation before re-exposure to gluten. This coincided with increased levels of gluten-specific T cells in the intestine, as well as a low-level presence of inflammatory proteins in the blood.

Although all patients in this cohort were considered well-treated by a standard gluten-free diet, gluten-related inflammation could still be ongoing at low level in the patients that responded strongly to gluten re-exposure. As these patients had a 'head start' they rapidly developed clear mucosal destruction.

Alternative approaches to categorize patients

These findings provide valuable new insights into celiac disease mechanisms, and raise the question as to whether a standard gluten-free diet is sufficient to fully 'cure' all celiac patients.

The research also suggests that, whilst manual inspection of intestinal biopsies is a valuable tool to broadly categorize disease status and response to gluten, alternative approaches such as proteomics could help to better define which patients still demonstrate low-level gluten-specific immune responses. A significant number of patients previously thought to be well-treated by a gluten-free diet may in fact require additional interventions to fully curb their gut inflammation.

Researchers at JCoDiRC are now investigating whether activated gluten-specific CD4+ T cells are present also in some celiac patients on long-term gluten free diet.

February 24, 2021  

Gary takes on the real issues that the mainstream media is afraid to tackle. Tune in to find out the latest about health news, healing, politics, and the economy. 

 
L-theanine improves neurophysiologic measures of attention in dose-dependent manner University of Peradeniya (Sri Lanka), February 22, 2021 According to news reporting originating from Peradeniya, Sri Lanka,research stated, “L-theanine, a non-proteinic amino acid found in tea, is known to enhance attention particularly in high doses, with no reported adverse effects. We aimed to determine whether oral administration of L-theanine acutely enhances neurophysiological measures of selective attention in a dose-dependent manner.” Our news editors obtained a quote from the research from the University of Peradeniya, “In a double-blind, placebo-controlled, counterbalanced, 4-way crossover study in a group of 27 healthy young adults, we compared the effects of 3 doses of L-theanine (100, 200 and 400 mg) with a placebo (distilled water) on latencies of amplitudes of attentive and pre-attentive cognitive event-related potentials (ERPs) recorded in an auditory stimulus discrimination task, before and 50 min after dosing. Compared to the placebo, 400 mg of theanine showed a significant reduction in the latency of the parietal P3b ERP component (p < 0.05), whereas no significant changes were observed with lower doses. A subsequent exploratory regression showed that each 100-mg increase in dose reduces the P3b latency by 4 ms (p < 0.05). No dose-response effect was observed in P3b amplitude, pre-attentive ERP components or reaction time. The findings indicate L-theanine can increase attentional processing of auditory information in a dose-dependent manner.” According to the news editors, the research concluded: “The linear dose-response attentional effects we observed warrant further studies with higher doses of L-theanine.” This research has been peer-reviewed.
 
Lost your appetite? Nutmeg oil can bring it back Kyoto University (Japan), February 21 2021 Loss of appetite is treated by directly addressing its cause. However, depending on the condition it’s associated with, treatment can be expensive. But in a recent study, researchers at Kyoto University investigated a potential treatment for loss of appetite that’s both inexpensive and easy to administer. Myristica fragrans, from which this natural medicine is derived, is an evergreen tree native to the Moluccas, or Spice Islands, of Indonesia. The seeds of this exotic plant are the main source of two popular culinary spices, namely, nutmeg and mace. According to previous studies, the oil derived from the fruits and seeds of the nutmeg tree has appetite-enhancing properties. Nutmeg oil is also traditionally used to treat digestive issues, such as bloating, gastrointestinal distress and decreased appetite. The researchers explored the beneficial properties and active components of nutmeg oil in an article published in the Journal of Natural Medicines. Nutmeg oil shows appetite-enhancing effects in vivo The spice known as nutmeg is popular for its warm, nutty flavor that goes well with sweet and savory dishes. It is widely used today in the culinary world and can be found in almost every kitchen around the world. In Asian countries, nutmeg is not only used as an ingredient, but it also has a long history of use as herbal medicine that can improve a person’s appetite. (Related: Nutmeg exhibits powerful anti-diabetes properties, concludes study.) According to previous studies, nutmeg oil contains two active phytochemicals, myristicin and methyl eugenol. Myristicin is also present in parsley, black pepper, carrots and dill, and is said to have anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antioxidant, anti-proliferative, anti-cholinergic and hepatoprotective properties. Methyl eugenol, meanwhile, is a compound present in various essential oils. It has been reported to have antibacterial, antifungal, insecticidal, anesthetic and antioxidant properties. In one animal study, researchers found that inhalation of myristicin and methyl eugenol increased the appetite mice. Because of this, the two compounds have attracted the attention of healthcare professionals who care for older people with dementia. Loss of appetite is not unusual for these patients since they tend to suffer from hypophagia, or a reduction in food intake and feeding behavior. Hypophagia, if left unaddressed, leads to frailty, and patients end up bedridden. Hence, inexpensive appetite-enhancing agents that are easy to administer are particularly desirable. In their study, the Japanese researchers found that inhalation of nutmeg oil, myristicin and methyl eugenol produced appetite-enhancing effects in mice. However, only methyl eugenol exerted both appetite-enhancing and locomotor-reducing effects at the same dose. According to a previous study, benzylacetone, an attractant compound found abundantly in flowers, also exerted the same effects at the same dose, and even increased the bodyweight of mice significantly. Methyl eugenol, however, did not have the same effect on body weight because the mice experienced olfactory habituation — reduced behavioral response due to repeated exposure — after several inhalations. The researchers believe that their study provides crucial information for identifying suitable compounds that can be used for the long-term treatment of appetite loss.
 
Case Study Shows Cannabis Led To Remarkable Improvement In Childhood Autism Symptoms Caleo Health Clinic (Canada) and Alberta Children's Hospital, February 21, 2021 An extremely promising case study was recently published in the Journal of Medical Case Reports illustrating the positive effects of cannabis extract and its association with improved autism related behavioral symptoms. According to the authors, “the pharmacological treatment for autism spectrum disorders is often poorly tolerated and has traditionally targeted associated conditions, with limited benefit for the core social deficits. We describe the novel use of a cannabidiol-based extract that incidentally improved core social deficits and overall functioning in a patient with autism spectrum disorder, at a lower dose than has been previously reported in autism spectrum disorder.” The case study focused on a child with autism who was switching out prescription seizure medicine for his epilepsy with a very low cannabidiol-based extract dose. The study found that not only did the cannabidiol extract help with his seizures, but he also “experienced unanticipated positive effects on behavioral symptoms and core social deficits,” according to the study. Researchers pointed out that to modify disruptive behaviors and improve social communication skills, often times children with autism are prescribed psychopharmacologic medications that target specific ASD core behaviors (for example, repetitive behaviors) and associated behaviors (for example, hyperactivity, aggression, anxiety, and sleep disturbances), but do not treat core social communication deficits. They explain that these medications are known for producing “substantial side effects.” For example, aripiprazole and risperidone, the only two medications approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat irritability and agitation in ASD, frequently cause somnolence, increased appetite, and weight gain. These factors have led to families seeking alternative treatments outside of the psychopharmacologic realm. One of the newest forms of these alternative medicines is cannabidiol-based extract. Researchers reported that the patient’s symptoms improved within six-months of treatment, and that he has maintained “positive effects on his behavioral symptoms, anxiety, sleep, and social deficits” since that time. The results of CBE treatments, according to the case study, were nothing short of remarkable. He became more motivated and energetic, starting his own vegetarian diet and exercise programs, ultimately losing 6.4 kg after starting CBE for a calculated BMI of 21.33 kg/m2. He was able to start his first part-time job helping customers and interacting with them. He was instructed to fill out the self-administered Adult AQ which resulted in a normal score of 10. His mother stated he now also has a girlfriend. “This case report provides evidence that a lower than previously reported dose of a phytocannabinoid in the form of a cannabidiol-based extract may be capable of aiding in autism spectrum disorder-related behavioral symptoms, core social communication abilities, and comorbid anxiety, sleep difficulties, and weight control,” authors concluded. “Further research is needed to elucidate the clinical role and underlying biological mechanisms of action of cannabidiol-based extract in patients with autism spectrum disorder.” According to a report in Norml, these finding back up previous research published last year by investigators at Tufts University in Boston who similarly reported that the oral administration of cannabis-based products is associated with improvements in autistic symptoms in patients with self-injurious behaviors and co-morbid epilepsy, Several small clinical trials – such as those reported here, here, here, and here – have also previously reported that plant-derived cannabis extracts are effective and well-tolerated in mitigating various symptoms in patients with ASD, including hyperactivity, seizures, anxiety, and rage attacks.
 
High Homocysteine Levels May Increase Risk Of Heart Attack, Stroke, & Alzheimer’s Disease Temple University, February 14, 2021 There is a strong need for increased awareness, better prevention, detection, and treatment of Alzheimer’s disease with well over 5 million Americans currently suffering from this debilitating brain-wasting disease, and this number is projected to triple over the next few decades Research has found a link between Alzheimer’s disease and elevated levels of homocysteine. A recent study from Temple University has revealed another important connection between specific vitamin deficiencies and high homocysteine. Elevated homocysteine can increase the risk of dementia up to tenfold, and the list of ways this can affect the brain is long and damaging. This can include but is not limited to the formation of plaque in blood vessels that supply blood to the brain, development of chronic inflammation in the brain, and shrinkage of areas in the brain associated with memory. Additionally, excess homocysteine promotes the neurofibrillary tau tangles and harmful beta-amyloid plaques that are associated with AD, and it can interfere with the DNA repair process needed for brain cell maintenance. The harmful effects of elevated levels of homocysteine can all take a toll on brain function. For example, a study published in the Annals of Neuroscience found that elevated levels of homocysteine are associated with a 4.2-10.5 fold increased risk for vascular dementia, and the higher homocysteine rises the more damage it can cause. The study reported elevations in homocysteine were found to correspond closely to the degrees of cognitive impairment experienced by the participants. A report published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease classified elevated homocysteine as a risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, and cognitive decline. The researchers noted that the risk from elevated homocysteine was modifiable, meaning that reducing these levels could help to reduce the risk of brain damage. The recent study published in the journal Molecular Psychiatry describes the dangers of B-complex vitamin shortfalls in relation to homocysteine which is produced in the body in response to the breakdown of proteins and is normally detoxified by B-complex vitamins. Mice were deprived of vitamins B6, B9, and B12 for eight months, the animals were found to display elevated levels of homocysteine and 50% more tau tangles in the brain. The increased levels also caused increased levels of the pro-inflammatory chemical 5-LOX. The animals also displayed considerable difficulty with learning and remembering a water maze compared to the control group. The brain is not the only thing affected by high levels of homocysteine, this condition can also cause harm to the cardiovascular system including but not limited to damaging the lining of blood vessels, promoting deposits of plaque in the arteries that can cause a clog and increases the risk of heart attack or stroke. Research has shown that high levels of homocysteine is linked to a 42% increase in the risk of constricted carotid arteries which is a major risk factor for strokes. Elevated levels of homocysteine and poor arterial function can combine to interfere with the ability of the body to counter dangerous clotting inside of the arteries as well as with the ability of the heart to adapt to a blocked vessel by creating a new pathway. Elevated levels of homocysteine are dangerous to those with existing cardiovascular disease. A study involving over 3,000 participants with chronic heart disease found that elevated levels were associated with a 2.5 fold increased risk for coronary events. The researchers discovered a formula for measuring the risk, and suggested that every additional 5 micromoles per liter of homocysteine results in a 25% risk increase. As a product of less efficient detoxification functions levels of homocysteine tends to increase with aging. Genetics, stress, and the use of prescription drugs can also affect homocysteine levels. Experts suggest that a shortage in vitamins B2, B6, B9, and B12 that normally detoxify the amino acid are often the reason behind increasing levels of homocysteine. If you are concerned about your levels of homocysteine, or vitamin levels consult with your physician or certified medical professionals who may be able to address your concerns with a simple blood test. If you have reached or are approaching elderhood, with degenerative chronic conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease and heart disease on the rise it may be better to err on the side of caution and get checked rather than guess. Experts suggest that B complex vitamins are involved in breaking down homocysteine in the blood. These vitamins can be supplemented, but it is always best to obtain them via natural sources such as is found in eating a diet that is rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. For example, vitamin B9 can be obtained in leafy greens and lentils; and B6 can be obtained in potatoes, chickpeas, and bananas; while B12 can be obtained in dairy products and organ meats.
 
For breakthroughs in slowing aging, scientists must look beyond biology University of Southern California, February 22, 2021 A trio of recent studies highlight the need to incorporate behavioral and social science alongside the study of biological mechanisms in order to slow aging. The three papers, published in concert in Ageing Research Reviews, emphasized how behavioral and social factors are intrinsic to aging. This means they are causal drivers of biological aging. In fact, the influence of behavioral and social factors on how fast people age are large and meaningful. However, geroscience--the study of how to slow biological aging to extend healthspan and longevity--has traditionally not incorporated behavioral or social science research. These papers are by three pioneers in aging research and members of the National Academy of Medicine who study different aspects of the intersection of biology and social factors in shaping healthy aging through the lifespan. Improving translation of aging research from mice to humans Exciting biological discoveries about rate of aging in non-human species are sometimes not applicable or lost when we apply them to humans. Including behavioral and social research can support translation of geroscience findings from animal models to benefit humans, said Terrie Moffitt, the Nannerl O. Keohane University Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience at Duke University. "The move from slowing fundamental processes of aging in laboratory animals to slowing aging in humans will not be as simple as prescribing a pill and watching it work," Moffitt said. "Compared to aging in laboratory animals, human aging has many behavioral/social in addition to cellular origins and influences. These influences include potential intervention targets that are uniquely human, and therefore are not easily investigated in animal research." Several of these human factors have big impacts on health and mortality: stress and early life adversity, psychiatric history, personality traits, intelligence, loneliness and social connection, and purpose in life are connected to a variety of late-life health outcomes, she explained. These important factors need to be taken into account to get a meaningful prediction of human biological aging. "Geroscience can be augmented through collaboration with behavioral and social science to accomplish translation from animal models to humans, and improve the design of clinical trials of anti-aging therapies," Moffitt said. "It's vital that geroscience advances be delivered to everyone, not just the well-to-do, because individuals who experience low education, low incomes, adverse early-life experiences, and prejudice are the people who age fastest and die youngest." Social factors associated with poor aging outcomes "Social hallmarks of aging" can be strongly predictive of age-related health outcomes - in many cases, even more so than biological factors, said USC University Professor and AARP Chair in Gerontology Eileen Crimmins. While the aging field commonly discusses the biological hallmarks of aging, we don't tend to include the social and behavioral factors that lead to premature aging. Crimmins has called the main five factors below "the Social Hallmarks of aging" and poses that these should not be ignored in any sample of humans and the concepts should be incorporated where possible into non-human studies. Crimmins examined data that was collected in 2016 from the Health and Retirement Study, a large, nationally representative study of Americans over the age of 56 that incorporates both surveys regarding social factors and biological measurements, including a blood sample for genetic analysis. For the study, she focused the five social hallmarks for poor health outcomes: low lifetime socioeconomic status, including lower levels of education adversity in childhood and adulthood, including trauma and other hardships being a member of a minority group adverse health behaviors, including smoking, obesity and problem drinking adverse psychological states, such as depression, negative psychological outlook and chronic stress The presence of these five factors were strongly associated with older adults having difficulty with activities of daily living, experiencing problems with cognition, and multimorbidity (having five or more diseases). Even when controlling for biological measurements - including blood pressure, genetic risk factors, mitochondrial DNA copy number and more - the social differences, as well as demographic factors such as age and gender, explained most of the differences in aging outcomes between study subjects, she said. However, biological and social factors aren't completely independent from one another, Crimmins added, which is why she advocates for further incorporation of social and behavioral factors in aging biology research. "Variability in human aging is strongly related to the social determinants of aging; and it remains so when extensive biology is introduced as mediating factors. This means that the social variability in the aging process is only partly explained by the biological measures researchers currently use," she said. "Our hypothesis is that if we could fully capture the basic biological mechanisms of aging, they would even more strongly explain the social variability in the process of aging, as social factors need to 'get under the skin' through biology." Understanding stress and stress resilience Elissa Epel, professor and vice chair in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at UC San Francisco, detailed how research on stress and resilience needs to incorporate psychosocial factors in order to understand how different kinds of stress affect aging. Not all types of stress are equal and in fact some are salutary. The social hallmarks of aging can shape the rate of aging in part through toxic stress responses, she said. While acute responses to minor or moderate stressors, including infection or injury, is critical to survival, chronic exposure to high amounts of stress--including long-term psychological stressors such as abuse--can prove toxic and result in poor health outcomes. "Brief, intermittent, low-dose stressors can lead to positive biological responses, improving resistance to damage, which is called hormesis," Epel explained. For example, physiological hormetic stressors include short term exposure to cold, heat, exercise, or hypoxia. Hormetic stress turns on mechanisms of cell repair and rejuvenation. "In contrast, a high dose of a chronic exposure can override these mechanisms, resulting in damage or death," she added. Thus, toxic stress can accelerate biological aging processes, whereas hormetic stress can slow aging. However, the types, timing, and frequency of hormetic stress need to be better delineated in order to be useful to human aging research and interventions, Epel said. "Stress resilience, an umbrella term including hormetic stress, can be measured across cellular, physiological, and psychosocial functioning," she said. "Developing a deeper understanding of stress resilience will lead to more targeted innovative interventions." Stress resilience can also include social interventions that protect from the malleable social hallmarks of aging, including safe neighborhoods to reduce trauma and violence, and social support programs to combat loneliness and depression. Geroscience is now more important than ever, both to our aging global demography but also to the health challenges we face going forward, and stress resilience is an especially important topic at the moment, Epel added. "In our new era, we have dramatically increasing temperature extremes, wildfires and small particle pollution, and new zoonotic viruses to contend with intermittently," she said. "Reducing social disparities, improving stress resilience and bolstering immune function have become critical public health goals." In sum, the three papers together point to a promising decade ahead for aging research. Humans, as complex social mammals, age together in response to social conditions and behavioral factors that are partly malleable. Epel explains "As we discover and test biological processes of aging that we can manipulate, we can do this in tandem with capitalizing on the natural levers of healthy aging that are powerful, interactive, and cannot be ignored. In this way, the fountain of youth becomes more attainable."
 
Up to 10 portions of fruit and vegetables a day may prevent 7.8 million premature deaths Imperial College London, February 22, 2021 A fruit and vegetable intake above five-a-day shows major benefit in reducing the chance of heart attack, stroke, cancer and early death. This is the finding of new research, led by scientists from Imperial College London, which analysed 95 studies on fruit and vegetable intake. The team found that although even the recommended five portions of fruit and vegetables a day reduced disease risk, the greatest benefit came from eating 800g a day (roughly equivalent to ten portions - one portion of fruit or vegetables if defined as 80g). The study, which was a meta-analysis of all available research in populations worldwide, included up to 2 million people, and assessed up to 43,000 cases of heart disease, 47,000 cases of stroke, 81,000 cases of cardiovascular disease, 112,000 cancer cases and 94,000 deaths. In the research, which is published in the International Journal of Epidemiology, the team estimate approximately 7.8 million premature deaths worldwide could be potentially prevented every year if people ate 10 portions, or 800 g, of fruit and vegetables a day. The team also analysed which types of fruit and vegetables provided the greatest protection against disease. Dr Dagfinn Aune, lead author of the research from the School of Public Health at Imperial explained: "We wanted to investigate how much fruit and vegetables you need to eat to gain the maximum protection against disease, and premature death. Our results suggest that although five portions of fruit and vegetables is good, ten a day is even better." The results revealed that even a daily intake of 200g was associated with a 16 per cent reduced risk of heart disease, an 18 per cent reduced risk of stroke, and a 13 per cent reduced risk of cardiovascular disease. This amount, which is equivalent to two and a half portions, was also associated with 4 per cent reduced risk in cancer risk, and 15 per cent reduction in the risk of premature death. Further benefits were observed with higher intakes. Eating up to 800g fruit and vegetables a day - or 10 portions - was associated with a 24 per cent reduced risk of heart disease, a 33 per cent reduced risk of stroke, a 28 per cent reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, a 13 per cent reduced risk of total cancer, and a 31 per cent reduction in dying prematurely. This risk was calculated in comparison to not eating any fruit and vegetables. The team were not able to investigate intakes greater than 800 g a day, as this was the high end of the range across studies. An 80g portion of fruit and vegetables equals approximately one small banana, apple, pear or large mandarin. Three heaped tablespoons of cooked vegetables such as spinach, peas, broccoli or cauliflower count as a portion. The researchers also examined the types of fruit and vegetables that may reduce the risk of specific diseases. They found the following fruits and vegetables may help prevent heart disease, stroke, cardiovascular disease, and early death: apples and pears, citrus fruits, salads and green leafy vegetables such as spinach, lettuce and chicory, and cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower. They also found the following may reduce cancer risk: green vegetables, such as spinach or green beans, yellow vegetables, such as peppers and carrots, and cruciferous vegetables. Similar associations were observed for raw and cooked vegetables in relation to early death, however, additional studies are needed on specific types of fruits and vegetables and preparation methods. The team say the number of studies was more limited for these analyses, and the possibility that other specific fruits and vegetables may also reduce risk cannot be excluded. Dr Aune said that several potential mechanisms could explain why fruit and vegetables have such profound health benefits: "Fruit and vegetables have been shown to reduce cholesterol levels, blood pressure, and to boost the health of our blood vessels and immune system. This may be due to the complex network of nutrients they hold. For instance they contain many antioxidants, which may reduce DNA damage, and lead to a reduction in cancer risk." He added that compounds called glucosinolates in cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli, activate enzymes that may help prevent cancer. Furthermore fruit and vegetables may also have a beneficial effect on the naturally-occurring bacteria in our gut. The vast array of beneficial compounds cannot be easily replicated in a pill, he said: "Most likely it is the whole package of beneficial nutrients you obtain by eating fruits and vegetables that is crucial is health. This is why it is important to eat whole plant foods to get the benefit, instead of taking antioxidant or vitamin supplements (which have not been shown to reduce disease risk)." In the analysis, the team took into account other factors, such as a person's weight, smoking, physical activity levels, and overall diet, but still found that fruit and vegetables were beneficial. Dr Aune added: "We need further research into the effects of specific types of fruits and vegetables and preparation methods of fruit and vegetables. We also need more research on the relationship between fruit and vegetable intake with causes of death other than cancer and cardiovascular disease. However, it is clear from this work that a high intake of fruit and vegetables hold tremendous healthbenefits, and we should try to increase their intake in our diet."
 
Alpha-lipoic acid an effective antioxidant for healthy adult dogs Hills Pet Nutrition Research, February 19, 2021 According to news reporting originating from the Hill’s Pet Nutrition research stated, “This study was designed to determine the effect of alpha-lipoic acid on the glutathione status in healthy adult dogs.” Our news reporters obtained a quote from the research from Hill’s Pet Nutrition: “Following a 15 month baseline period during which dogs were fed a food containing no alpha-lipoic acid, dogs were randomly allocated into four groups. Groups were then fed a nutritionally complete and balanced food with either 0, 75, 150 or 300 ppm of alpha-lipoic acid added for 6 months. Evaluations included physical examination, body weight, food intake, hematology, serum biochemistry profile and measurements of glutathione in plasma and erythrocyte lysates. Throughout, blood parameters remained within reference ranges, dogs were healthy and body weight did not change significantly. A significant increase of 0.05 ng/mL of total glutathione in red blood cell (RBC) lysate for each 1 mg/kg bodyweight/day increase in a-LA intake was observed. In addition, a significant increase was observed for GSH, GSSG and total glutathione in RBC lysate at Month 6.” According to the news editors, the research concluded: “We conclude that alpha-lipoic acid, as part of a complete and balanced food, was associated with increasing glutathione activity in healthy adult dogs.”
February 23, 2021  

Gary takes on the real issues that the mainstream media is afraid to tackle. Tune in to find out the latest about health news, healing, politics, and the economy. 

February 22, 2021  

Gary takes on the real issues that the mainstream media is afraid to tackle. Tune in to find out the latest about health news, healing, politics, and the economy. 

Study: Ashwagandha extract can be used to improve sleep quality and relieve stress Patil University School of Medicine (India), February 19, 2021 Ashwagandha, also known as Withania somnifera or Indian ginseng, is a medicinal herb native to India and North Africa. It has been used for over 3,000 years to relieve stress, as well as to increase energy levels and improve concentration. A recent study published in the journal Cureus suggests it may hold the key to treating insomnia. A team of researchers from Patil University School of Medicine, Vedantaa Institute of Medical Sciences and Prakruti Hospital conducted a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study to determine the effects of ashwagandha root extract in patients with insomnia and anxiety. A total of 60 participants were randomly divided into two groups: 40 were placed in the test group and given a capsule containing 300 mg of high-concentration ashwagandha root extract, while the remaining 20 formed the placebo group. Those in the placebo group received capsules containing starch twice a day over a period of ten weeks. The researchers used Sleep Actigraphy to assess sleep onset latency (SOL), total sleep time (TST), sleep efficiency (SE) and wake after sleep onset (WASO). Other factors that the research team looked at were total time in bed, mental alertness on rising, sleep quality, Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI) and the Hamilton Anxiety Rating Scale. According to the researchers, SOL, SE and sleep quality were visibly improved after ashwagandha treatment, along with other sleep parameters. (Related: Ashwagandha: Discover the health benefits of this popular ancient adaptogen.) Their findings suggest that ashwagandha can be used to improve sleep in patients with insomnia and anxiety, although further large-scale studies are needed. Omega-3 supplements may reduce muscle soreness after exercise, study finds University of Westminster (UK), February 18, 2021 Researchers at the University of Westminster have found that taking omega-3 supplements may help to reduce muscle soreness after exercise. The findings may be important for people who avoid exercise because of the soreness associated with it. Omega-3 fatty acids are polyunsaturated fatty acids that play important roles in our bodies and may provide a number of health benefits. These are essential fats as our bodies cannot produce them and we must get them from our diet, primarily from oily fish. They have anti-inflammatory functions, can help maintain a healthy heart, reduce the risk of heart disease and may have incredible effects on brain and mental health. Previous studies have looked at the effect of omega-3 fish oils on muscle damage recovery and muscle inflammation following exercise. Whilst evidence is mixed, it has been shown that sustained omega-3 intake in your diet may lead to small gains in recovery for athletes following intense exercise and possibly small gains in exercise performance too. In this study, the researchers gave people omega-3 capsules three times a day for four weeks, or a matching placebo, to build up their levels. They then took part in a very intense exercise program aimed at causing severe muscle pain and physiologically safe muscle damage. The researchers then measured blood levels of inflammation and muscle damage markers, physical pain and the ability of the participants to do forceful muscle contractions every day for the next three days. They found a lower inflammatory response and decreased muscle damage after exercise in the fish oil group. However, the omega-3 did not seem to change the amount of force reduction in future muscle contractions, suggesting that omega-3 supplementation had limited impact on muscle function, recovery and subsequent performance, but it did reduce the pain participants experienced. Talking about the study, Ph.D. researcher and lead author Yvoni Kyriakidou, from the University of Westminster's School of Life Sciences, said: "Whilst the omega-3 supplementation didn't seem to enhance performance, it did reduce the pain participants experienced which we suggest is useful in itself as people don't like exercise because it hurts. If it doesn't hurt as much, maybe more people will keep doing it?" Higher intake of carotenoid beta cryptoxanthin associated with lower risk of osteoporosis Seoul National University (South Korea), February 12, 2021 According to news reporting out of Seoul, South Korea, research stated, “Many studies have analyzed the effects of * * b* * -cryptoxanthin (BCX) on osteoporosis and bone health. This systematic review and meta-analysis aimed at providing quantitative evidence for the effects of BCX on osteoporosis.” The news journalists obtained a quote from the research from Seoul National University: “Publications were selected and retrieved from three databases and carefully screened to evaluate their eligibility. Data from the final 15 eligible studies were extracted and uniformly summarized. Among the 15 studies, seven including 100,496 individuals provided information for the meta-analysis. A random effects model was applied to integrate the odds ratio (OR) to compare the risk of osteoporosis and osteoporosis-related complications between the groups with high and low intake of BCX. A high intake of BCX was significantly correlated with a reduced risk of osteoporosis (OR = 0.79, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.70-0.90, * * p* * = 0.0002). The results remained significant when patients were stratified into male and female subgroups as well as Western and Asian cohorts. A high intake of BCX was also negatively associated with the incidence of hip fracture (OR = 0.71, 95% CI 0.54-0.94, * * p* * = 0.02).” According to the news reporters, the research concluded: “The results indicate that BCX intake potentially reduces the risk of osteoporosis and hip fracture. Further longitudinal studies are needed to validate the causality of current findings.” Being male, having overweight and depression can influence aging Vrije University (Netherlands) and Virginia Commonwealth University, February 15, 2021 Scientists are using biology to more accurately measure how quickly humans age. One factor is the length of an individual’s telomeres, stretches of DNA and proteins at the ends of our chromosomes that shorten as we age. An epigenetic clock, meanwhile, looks at the changes in gene function that do not make alterations to the genetic code, or genome. Another aging clock is based on transcriptomes, a collection of all the gene readouts in a cell. Scientists also measure age with metabolomics, the study of the chemical processes that involve metabolites, small molecules produced by and during metabolic processes. In addition, scientists use what they call a proteomic clock, which measures levels of proteins in the blood. For a new study, now published in the journal eLife, researchersset out to learn whether a composite biological clock outperforms individual biological clocks in predicting health. “To develop a better understanding of the mechanisms underlying biological aging, we wanted to examine how indicators of biological aging relate to each other, how they link to determinants of physical and mental health, and whether a combined biological clock, made up of all age indicators, is a better predictor of health,” says co-lead author Dr. Rick Jansen, an assistant professor in the department of psychiatry at Amsterdam UMC, in the Netherlands. Examining biological aging indicators The researchers used blood samples from 2,981 individuals aged 18–65 years who took part in the Netherlands Study of Depression and Anxiety. Of the participants, 74% had a diagnosis of a depressive disorder, an anxiety disorder, or both, while 26% were healthy control participants. The participants were recruited from medical facilities and the general population between September 2004 and February 2007. The team used computer modeling to examine whether five measures of biological aging — telomere length and the epigenetic, transcriptomic, proteomic, and metabolomic clocks — were interrelated and associated with mental and physical health. The researchers then took the five indicators and incorporated them into an analysis that also included sex, lifestyle factors, physical ability, and known health conditions. What makes people age faster? The scientists found that being male was associated with more advanced biological aging according to four of the five biological clock measurements. This is consistent with the understanding that in most places, women outlive men. Other factors associated with more advanced biological aging according to at least four of the five measures were: having a high body mass index, smoking, and having metabolic syndrome. The researchers also discovered that depression is linked to more advanced biological aging. In addition, they noted associations between medication use and this aging. However, they could not determine whether this was due to the medication itself or the underlying physical or mental illness requiring treatment. Meanwhile, the study allowed the researchers to infer that some biological clocks show overlap, but most seem to be tracking different aspects of the aging process. They write: “This provides further support for the hypothesis that not one biological clock sufficiently captures the biological aging process and that not all clocks are under the control of one unitary aging process.” Vitamin B3 prevents glaucoma in laboratory mice Jackson Laboratory, February 16, 2021 In mice genetically predisposed to glaucoma, vitamin B3 added to drinking water is effective at preventing the disease, a research team led by Jackson Laboratory Professor and Howard Hughes Medical Investigator Simon W.M. John reports in the journal Science. The vitamin administration was surprisingly effective, eliminating the vast majority of age-related molecular changes and providing a remarkably robust protection against glaucoma. It offers promise for developing inexpensive and safe treatments for glaucoma patients. Glaucoma is one of the most common neurodegenerative diseases, affecting an estimated 80 million people worldwide. In most glaucoma patients, harmfully high pressure inside the eye or intraocular pressure leads to the progressive dysfunction and loss of retinal ganglion cells. Retinal ganglion cells are the neuronal cells that connect the eye to the brain via the optic nerve. Increasing age is a key risk factor for glaucoma, contributing to both harmful elevation of intraocular pressure and increased neuronal vulnerability to pressure-induced damage. "We wanted to identify key age-related susceptibility factors that change with age in the eye," John says, "and that therefore increase vulnerability to disease and in particular neuronal disease." By understanding general age-related mechanism, there is the potential to develop new interventions to generally protect from common age-related disease processes in many people. Conducting a variety of genomic, metabolic, neurobiological and other tests in mice susceptible to inherited glaucoma, compared to control mice, the researchers discovered that NAD, a molecule vital to energy metabolism in neurons and other cells, declines with age. "There's an analogy with an old motorbike," John says. "It runs just fine, but little things get less reliable with age. One day you stress it: you drive it up a steep hill or you go on really long journey and you get in trouble. It's less reliable than a new bike and it's going to fail with a higher frequency than that new bike." The decrease in NAD levels reduces the reliability of neurons' energy metabolism, especially under stress such as increased intraocular pressure. "Like taking that big hill on your old bike, some things are going to fail more often," John says. "The amount of failure will increase over time, resulting in more damage and disease progression." In essence, the treatments of vitamin B3 (nicotinamide, an amide form of vitamin B3, also called niacinamide) boosted the metabolic reliability of aging retinal ganglion cells, keeping them healthier for longer. "Because these cells are still healthy, and still metabolically robust," says JAX Postdoctoral Associate Pete Williams, first author of the study, "even when high intraocular pressure turns on, they better resist damaging processes." The researchers also found that a single gene-therapy application of Nmnat1 (the gene for an enzyme that makes NAD from nicotinamide) prevented glaucoma from developing in this mouse model. "It can be a problem for patients, especially the elderly, to take their drugs every day and in the correct dose," Williams says. "So gene therapy could be a one-shot, protective treatment." He notes that gene therapies, through injections into the eye, have been approved for a handful of very rare, human genetic eye disorders, and their demonstration of an important age-dependent factor may enable gene therapy for more common eye disease. John says that the team is pursuing clinical partnerships to begin the process of testing the effectiveness of vitamin B3 treatment in glaucoma patients. They are also exploring potential applications for the treatment in other diseases involving neurodegeneration. Even short periods of being sedentary is bad for your heart, caution researchers University of Liverpool, February 18, 2021 Researchers from the University of Liverpool in the U.K. found that short periods of being sedentary can worsen cardiometabolic health. In a study published in the journal Diabetologia, the researchers revealed that reducing physical activity for at least two weeks can lead to a rise in blood sugar levels, disrupt cholesterol levels and impair cardiorespiratory fitness. Increased sedentary behavior worsens cardiometabolic health It’s no secret that physical inactivity is bad for health. Research shows that physical inactivity and sedentary behavior are major risk factors for obesity, insulin resistance and Type 2 diabetes. But little is known about the consequences of short-term physical inactivity. For their study, the researchers examined the metabolic consequences of short-term increased sedentary behavior in 45 healthy adults with a mean age of 36 years. All of the participants have a mean daily step count of more than 10,000 steps and were asked to reduce their daily step count to around 1,500 steps for two weeks. The researchers measured the participants’ cardiorespiratory fitness, body composition and multi-organ insulin sensitivity at baseline, after the two-week step reduction and two weeks after the participants resumed their normal physical activity. The team found that the participants developed “metabolic derangements” after two weeks of increased sedentary behavior. Their blood sugar and bad cholesterol levels rose, and their insulin sensitivity declined. In addition, the participants lost a little muscle mass in their legs and gained fat around their liver and abdomen. (Related: Twice as many deaths are caused by physical inactivity compared to obesity, stunning study finds.) Fortunately, these changes were reversed after the participants resumed their normal routine. For some reason, however, some participants failed to return to quite the same level of exercise they had engaged in prior to the study. These participants now completed fewer minutes of vigorous activity each week and exhibited slight but lasting symptoms of insulin resistance. While this lasting effect might be due to the participants’ lower levels of vigorous activity, the researchers are also open to the possibility that this stemmed from genetic factors.
February 19, 2021  

Gary takes on the real issues that the mainstream media is afraid to tackle. Tune in to find out the latest about health news, healing, politics, and the economy. 

Gut microbiome implicated in healthy aging and longevity

Data from over 9,000 people reveal a distinct gut microbiome signature that is associated with healthy aging and survival in the latest decades of life

Institute for Systems Biology (Seattle), February 18, 2021

The gut microbiome is an integral component of the body, but its importance in the human aging process is unclear. ISB researchers and their collaborators have identified distinct signatures in the gut microbiome that are associated with either healthy or unhealthy aging trajectories, which in turn predict survival in a population of older individuals. The work is set to be published in the journal Nature Metabolism.

The research team analyzed gut microbiome, phenotypic and clinical data from over 9,000 people - between the ages of 18 and 101 years old - across three independent cohorts. The team focused, in particular, on longitudinal data from a cohort of over 900 community-dwelling older individuals (78-98 years old), allowing them to track health and survival outcomes. 

The data showed that gut microbiomes became increasingly unique (i.e. increasingly divergent from others) as individuals aged, starting in mid-to-late adulthood, which corresponded with a steady decline in the abundance of core bacterial genera (e.g. Bacteroides) that tend to be shared across humans.

Strikingly, while microbiomes became increasingly unique to each individual in healthy aging, the metabolic functions the microbiomes were carrying out shared common traits. This gut uniqueness signature was highly correlated with several microbially-derived metabolites in blood plasma, including one - tryptophan-derived indole - that has previously been shown to extend lifespan in mice. Blood levels of another metabolite - phenylacetylglutamine - showed the strongest association with uniqueness, and prior work has shown that this metabolite is indeed highly elevated in the blood of centenarians.

"This uniqueness signature can predict patient survival in the latest decades of life," said ISB Research Scientist Dr. Tomasz Wilmanski, who led the study. Healthy individuals around 80 years of age showed continued microbial drift toward a unique compositional state, but this drift was absent in less healthy individuals. 

"Interestingly, this uniqueness pattern appears to start in mid-life - 40-50 years old - and is associated with a clear blood metabolomic signature, suggesting that these microbiome changes may not simply be diagnostic of healthy aging, but that they may also contribute directly to health as we age," Wilmanski said. For example, indoles are known to reduce inflammation in the gut, and chronic inflammation is thought to be a major driver in the progression of aging-related morbidities.

"Prior results in microbiome-aging research appear inconsistent, with some reports showing a decline in core gut genera in centenarian populations, while others show relative stability of the microbiome up until the onset of aging-related declines in health," said microbiome specialist Dr. Sean Gibbons, co-corresponding author of the paper. "Our work, which is the first to incorporate a detailed analysis of health and survival, may resolve these inconsistencies. Specifically, we show two distinct aging trajectories: 1) a decline in core microbes and an accompanying rise in uniqueness in healthier individuals, consistent with prior results in community-dwelling centenarians, and 2) the maintenance of core microbes in less healthy individuals."

This analysis highlights the fact that the adult gut microbiome continues to develop with advanced age in healthy individuals, but not in unhealthy ones, and that microbiome compositions associated with health in early-to-mid adulthood may not be compatible with health in late adulthood.

"This is exciting work that we think will have major clinical implications for monitoring and modifying gut microbiome health throughout a person's life," said ISB Professor Dr. Nathan Price, co-corresponding author of the paper. 

 

 

Rosmarinic acid suppresses cognitive decline in Alzheimer disease mouse model

University of Tokyo (Japan), February 15, 2021

 

According to news originating from the University of Tokyo , research stated, “Rosmarinic acid (RA), a polyphenol found in Lamiaceae herbs, is a candidate of preventive ingredients against Alzheimer’s disease (AD) as it potently suppresses the aggregation of amyloid b (Ab); however, the effect of RA on tau phosphorylation and cognitive dysfunction remains unclear.”

Financial supporters for this research include Japan Society for the Promotion of Science; Japan Agency for Medical Research and Development; Cross-Ministerial Strategic Innovation Promotion Program.

The news editors obtained a quote from the research from University of Tokyo: “The present study revealed that RA intake inhibited the pathological hallmarks of AD, including Ab and phosphorylated tau accumulation, and improved cognitive function in the 3 x Tg-AD mouse model. Additionally, RA intake suppressed hippocampal inflammation and led to the downregulation of the JNK signaling pathway that induces tau phosphorylation. Feeding with RA exerted an anti-inflammatory effect not only in the central nervous system but also in the periphery.”

According to the news editors, the research concluded: “Downregulation of the JNK signaling pathway in hippocampus may be a potential mechanism underlying the inhibition of progression of pathology and cognitive deficit by RA feeding.”

 

 

 

Excess fatty tissue accumulated in the neck increases the chances of suffering heart problems, according to a new study

University of Granada (Spain), February 15, 2021

Researchers from the University of Granada warn that an accumulation of fatty tissue in the neck (both the double chin and the deeper deposits, located between muscles and around the cervical vertebrae) is a predictor of central and overall adiposity, cardiometabolic risk, and a pro-inflammatory profile in sedentary young adults.

Traditionally, the accumulation of visceral adipose tissue has been considered one of the factors most strongly related to cardiometabolic risk and chronic (low-grade) inflammation in humans. However, this well-established association has led researchers to neglect, to some degree, the study of other fatty deposits and their clinical/biological relevance.

"Curiously, several studies have demonstrated that the accumulation of fat in the neck (both superficial deposits such as the double chin or jowls and the deeper deposits, located between the muscles and around the cervical vertebrae) increases in direct proportion to the weight or adiposity of the individual and that it follows specific accumulation patterns, according to gender," explains María José Arias Téllez, a researcher at the UGR and one of the main authors of this work. 

In fact, a greater accumulation of fat in certain neck tissue compartments, particularly the deeper ones, is linked to a greater likelihood of cardiometabolic risk. Arias Téllez says, "However, the evidence accumulated to date has been based on experiments performed on patients with benign/malignant tumors or other chronic conditions, and it remains to be seen whether it can be generalized to relatively healthy adults."

The study carried out at the UGR is part of the ACTIBATE project (Activating Brown Adipose Tissue through Exercise—seeprofith.ugr.es/actibate). The research was led by Jonatan Ruiz Ruiz and its results have been published in the International Journal of Obesity.

The study shows that the accumulation of fat in the neck—measured with computed tomography scanning—as well as its distribution in different compartments, is associated with greater overall and central adiposity, greater cardiometabolic risk, and a greater inflammatory status among healthy young adults, regardless of the amount of total and visceral fat. In addition, among the most relevant findings, the researchers observed that this accumulation of fat in the neck was as powerful a factor (in terms of direction and magnitude) as the accumulation of visceral fat in the prediction of cardiometabolic risk and inflammatory status, especially in men.

"Therefore, these results underline the need for further research in this new direction, to better understand the effect of fat accumulation in the upper part of the trunk (including the neck) and its clinical repercussions, especially in cardiometabolic riskand inflammation," explains Francisco Miguel Acosta Manzano, one of the main authors of the research.

"We still have much work to do. We need to investigate the adipose tissue of the neck in greater depth, to understand its pathogenic role in obesity and associated comorbidities, as well as its biological importance. Furthermore, we only have scant knowledge about the morphological or molecular characteristics of the adipocytes in these deposits, and here basic studies are required. As we increase our knowledge of this deposit, we can also determine whether specific interventions (for example, physical exercise and/or restricted calorie intake) could help reduce the accumulation of fat in the neck (as well as total fat) and implement them clinically," explain Arias Téllez and Francisco Miguel Acosta Manzano, both Ph.D.s students on the Biomedicine program of the UGR's International School for Postgraduate Studies 

 

Effects of saffron extract supplementation on mood, well-being and response to a psychosocial stressor in healthy adults

Northumbria University (UK), February 16, 2021

According to news reporting originating from Newcastle upon Tyne, United Kingdom, research stated, “Anxiety, stress, and low mood are closely related and may contribute to depressive symptoms. Among non-pharmacological solutions to improve subclinical mood symptoms and resilience to stress, natural products such as saffron-identified as promising following preliminary beneficial effects in major depressive disorder-represent a relevant strategy.”

Our news reporters obtained a quote from the research from Northumbria University: “This study aimed to assess the efficacy of 8 weeks’ supplementation with 30 mg standardized saffron extract on emotional well-being in healthy adults with subclinical feelings of low mood and anxiety and/or stress and evaluate the acute effect of saffron in response to a lab-based psychosocial stressor. The study adopted a double-blind, randomized, parallel groups design in which 56 healthy male and female individuals (18-54 years) received either a saffron extract or a placebo for 8 weeks. Chronic effects of saffron on subjective anxiety, stress, and depressive feelings were assessed using a questionnaire battery [including Profile of Mood State-2, (POMS)] and acute effects in response to a lab-based psychosocial stressor were measured through psychological and physiological parameters. Urinary crocetin levels were quantified. Participants who received the saffron extract reported reduced depression scores and improved social relationships at the end of the study. Urinary crocetin levels increased significantly with saffron supplementation and were correlated with change in depression scores. The typical stress-induced decrease in heart rate variability (HRV) during exposure to the stressor was attenuated following acute saffron intake.”

According to the news editors, the research concluded: “Saffron extract appears to improve subclinical depressive symptoms in healthy individuals and may contribute to increased resilience against the development of stress-related psychiatric disorders. Clinical trials number: NCT03639831.”

 

 

The science of siestas: New research reveals the genetic basis for daytime napping

Massachusetts General Hospital and University of Murcia (Spain), February 13, 2021

 

How often a person takes daytime naps, if at all, is partly regulated by their genes, according to new research led by investigators at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) and published in Nature Communications. In this study, the largest of its kind ever conducted, the MGH team collaborated with colleagues at the University of Murcia in Spain and several other institutions to identify dozens of gene regions that govern the tendency to take naps during the day. They also uncovered preliminary evidence linking napping habits to cardiometabolic health

Napping is somewhat controversial,” says Hassan Saeed Dashti, Ph.D., RD, of the MGH Center for Genomic Medicine, co-lead author of the report with Iyas Daghlas, a medical student at Harvard Medical School (HMS). Dashti notes that some countries where daytime naps have long been part of the culture (such as Spain) now discourage the habit. Meanwhile, some companies in the United States now promote napping as a way to boost productivity. “It was important to try to disentangle the biological pathways that contribute to why we nap,” says Dashti. 

 

Previously, co-senior author Richa Saxena, Ph.D., principal investigator at the Saxena Lab at MGH, and her colleagues used massive databases of genetic and lifestyle information to study other aspects of sleep. Notably, the team has identified genes associated with sleep duration, insomnia, and the tendency to be an early riser or “night owl.” To gain a better understanding of the genetics of napping, Saxena’s team and co-senior author Marta Garaulet, Ph.D., of the Department of Physiology at the University of Murcia, performed a genome-wide association study (GWAS), which involves rapid scanning of complete sets of DNA, or genomes, of a large number of people. The goal of a GWAS is to identify genetic variations that are associated with a specific disease or, in this case, habit.

 

For this study, the MGH researchers and their colleagues used data from the UK Biobank, which includes genetic information from 452,633 people. All participants were asked whether they nap during the day “never/rarely,” “sometimes” or “usually.” The GWAS identified 123 regions in the human genome that are associated with daytime napping. A subset of participants wore activity monitors called accelerometers, which provide data about daytime sedentary behavior, which can be an indicator of napping. This objective data indicated that the self-reports about napping were accurate. “That gave an extra layer of confidence that what we found is real and not an artifact,” says Dashti.

 

Several other features of the study bolster its results. For example, the researchers independently replicated their findings in an analysis of the genomes of 541,333 people collected by 23andMe, the consumer genetic-testing company. Also, a significant number of the genes near or at regions identified by the GWAS are already known to play a role in sleep. One example is KSR2, a gene that the MGH team and collaborators had previously found plays a role in sleep regulation.

 

Digging deeper into the data, the team identified at least three potential mechanisms that promote napping:

  • Sleep propensity: Some people need more shut-eye than others.
  • Disrupted sleep: A daytime nap can help make up for poor quality slumber the night before.
  • Early morning awakening: People who rise early may “catch up” on sleep with a nap.

 

“This tells us that daytime napping is biologically driven and not just an environmental or behavioral choice,” says Dashti. Some of these subtypes were linked to cardiometabolic health concerns, such as large waist circumference and elevated blood pressure, though more research on those associations is needed. “Future work may help to develop personalized recommendations for siesta,” says Garaulet. 

Furthermore, several gene variants linked to napping were already associated with signaling by a neuropeptide called orexin, which plays a role in wakefulness. “This pathway is known to be involved in rare sleep disorders like narcolepsy, but our findings show that smaller perturbations in the pathway can explain why some people nap more than others,” says Daghlas.

 

One or more soda a day could decrease chances of getting pregnant

Boston University School of Public Health,  February 13, 2021

The amount of added sugar in the American diet has increased dramatically over the last 50 years. Much of that increase comes from higher intake of sugar-sweetened beverages, which constitute approximately one-third of the total added sugar consumption in the American diet. While consumption of these beverages has been linked to weight gain, type 2diabetes, early menstruation, and poor semen quality, few studies have directly investigated the relationship between sugary drinks and fertility.

Now, a new study led by Boston University School of Public Health (BUSPH) researchers has found that the intake of one or more sugar-sweetened beverages per day—by either partner—is associated with a decreased chance of getting pregnant.

The study was published in Epidemiology.

"We found positive associations between intake of sugar-sweetened beverages and lower fertility, which were consistent after controlling for many other factors, including obesity, caffeine intake, alcohol, smoking, and overall diet quality," says lead author Elizabeth Hatch, professor of epidemiology. "Couples planning a pregnancy might consider limiting their consumption of these beverages, especially because they are also related to other adverse health effects."

About 15 percent of couples in North America experience infertility. Identifying modifiable risk factors for infertility, including diet, could help couples conceive more quickly and reduce the psychological stress and financial hardship related to fertility treatments, which are associated with more than $5 billion in annual US healthcare costs.

Through the Pregnancy Study Online (PRESTO), an ongoing web-based prospective cohort study of North American couples, the researchers surveyed 3,828 women aged 21 to 45 living in the United States or Canada and 1,045 of their male partners. Participants completed a comprehensive baseline survey on medical history, lifestyle factors, and diet, including their intake of sugar-sweetened beverages. Female participants then completed a follow-up questionnaire every two months for up to 12 months or until pregnancy occurred.

Both female and male intake of sugar-sweetened beverages was associated with 20 percent reduced fecundability, the average monthly probability of conception. Females who consumed at least one soda per day had 25 percent lower fecundability; male consumption was associated with 33 percent lower fecundability. Intake of energy drinks was related to even larger reductions in fertility, although the results were based on small numbers of consumers. Little association was found between intake of fruit juices or diet sodas and fertility.

"Given the high levels of sugar-sweetened beverages consumed by reproductive-aged couples in North America, these findings could have important public healthimplications," the authors concluded.

February 18, 2021  

Gary takes on the real issues that the mainstream media is afraid to tackle. Tune in to find out the latest about health news, healing, politics, and the economy. 

Becoming an Essentialist

Prevent memory loss with a powerful nutrient in cucumbers

Salk Institute for Biological Studies, February 16, 2021

The results of a recent study are offering new hope that avoiding memory loss related to aging as well as Alzheimer’s disease could be as simple as eating more cucumbers.

Many older adults resign themselves to memory loss as part of the aging process. However, a study out of the the Salk Institute for Biological Studies has shown that this doesn’t have to be the case. The health benefits of cucumbers are many, and one of them seems to be better memory and even the prevention of Alzheimer’s disease.

Researchers working with mice that normally developed the symptoms of Alzheimer’s (including memory loss) discovered that a daily dose of a flavonol called fisetin prevented these and other related impairments. This improvement occurred despite the continued formation of amyloid plaques, the brain proteins commonly blamed for Alzheimer’s.

A natural food cure for memory loss

The compound fisetin is found in numerous vegetables and fruits but is especially concentrated in strawberries and cucumbers. This flavonol is quite effective in stopping memory loss in mice and holds hope for humans as well.

In the past, the main approach to treating Alzheimer’s symptoms was to target amyloid plaques in the brain. The findings of this study call into question the assumption that these proteins are largely responsible for the effects of Alzheimer’s.

Even in animals with no signs of Alzheimer’s and otherwise normal functioning, fisetin has been shown to improve memory. However, its ability to prevent memory loss associated with Alzheimer’s disease could have profound implications for humans.

Cucumbers protect the brain from inflammation

Fisetin works by switching on a cellular pathway associated with the process of retrieving memories in the brain. Over a decade ago, other researchers discovered the compound fisetin assists in protecting the neurons of the brain from agingand its associated effects. It was found that this potent compound has both anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects on brain cells.

The list of health benefits of cucumbers, strawberries and other fruits and vegetables containing fisetin now include brain and memory improvements. By extension, fisetin has properties that can be highly beneficial for those at risk for Alzheimer’s.

Other health benefits of cucumbers

In addition to improving memory and potentially protecting against Alzheimer’s, the cucumber fruit has a range of additional nutritional and health benefits. They are low in calories (a cup of cucumbers contains just 16 calories) and assist in hydration (they are comprised of 95 percent water). They also provide flavonoids, triterpenes and lignans which offer anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and cancer-preventing benefits.

The peel and seeds in cucumbers contain beta-carotene for eye health and are the most nutrient-dense portions of the fruit. Cucumber seeds contain calcium and the skin and seeds are also excellent sources of fiber. Other vitamins include potassium, vitamin C, magnesium and manganese.

 

 

Testosterone levels increased significantly after DHEA administration among older women

Jiangxi University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, February 14, 2021

According to news originating from Jiangxi, People’s Republic of China, research stated, “Despite the fact that numerous clinical studies have evaluated the positive effects of dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) supplementation on testosterone concentrations and on the body mass index (BMI), more evidence is needed to certify that DHEA is a BMI-reducing agent in the elderly. This meta-analysis aims to clarify the various incompatible results and investigate the impact of DHEA supplementation on serum testosterone levels and lean body mass in elderly women.”

Our news journalists obtained a quote from the research from the Jiangxi University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, “Four scientific databases (EMBASE, PubMed/MEDLINE, Scopus and Web of Science) were searched from inception until 20 August 2020 for trials comparing DHEA with placebo. Results were presented as weighted mean differences (WMDs) and 95 % confidence intervals (CIs) based on the random effects model (DerSimonian-Laird approach). Nine arms with 793 subjects reported testosterone as an outcome measure. The overall results demonstrated that testosterone levels increased significantly after DHEA administration in elderly women (WMD: 17.52 ng/dL, 95 % CI: 6.61, 28.43, P = 0.002). In addition, DHEA administration significantly decreased the BMI (WMD:-0.39 kg/m(2), I-2 = 0.0 %).”

According to the news editors, the research concluded: “The results of the current meta-analysis support the use of DHEA supplementation for increasing testosterone concentrations in elderly women.”

This research has been peer-reviewed.

 

How healthy lifestyle behaviours can improve cholesterol profiles

Harvard School of Public Health, February 15, 2021

Combining healthy lifestyle interventions reduces heart disease through beneficial effects on different lipoproteins and associated cholesterols, according to a study published February 9 in eLife.

Having a healthy lifestyle has long been associated with a lower risk of developing heart disease. The new study provides more detailed information on how healthy lifestyles improve cholesterol, and suggests that combining cholesterol-lowering medications and lifestyle interventions may yield the greatest benefits to heart health.

Cholesterol-lowering medications such as statins help reduce heart risks by lowering levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, the so-called "bad" cholesterol. Healthy lifestyle interventions, including exercising regularly, having a healthy diet, lowering alcohol consumption and maintaining a healthy weight, have also been shown to lower LDL as well as increase "healthy" high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol.

"Until now, no studies have compared the lipid-lowering effects of cholesterol-lowering medications and healthy lifestyle interventions side by side," says lead author Jiahui Si, Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the Department of Epidemiology at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts, US.

To address this gap, Si and colleagues used a technique called targeted nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy to measure 61 different lipid markers in blood samples from 4,681 participants in the China Kadoorie Biobank, including cases of stroke, coronary heart disease and healthy individuals. They studied lipid markers in the blood of participants who had multiple healthy lifestyle habits and compared them to those of participants with less healthy habits. They found 50 lipid markers associated with a healthy lifestyle.

When the team looked at a subset of 927 individuals who had coronary heart disease in the next 10 years and 1,513 healthy individuals, they found 35 lipid markers that showed statistically significant mediation effects in the pathway from healthy lifestyles to the reduction of heart disease. Together, the combined beneficial effects of the lipid changes associated with healthy lifestyle practices were linked to a 14% reduced risk of heart disease. Specifically, very-low-density lipoprotein (VLDL) and HDL levels in the blood were linked to the heart-protecting benefits of healthy lifestyles.

"Using a genetic scoring technique, we could compare the effect of cholesterol-lowering drugs with that of lifestyle side by side in the study participants," says co-senior author Liming Liang, Associate Professor of Statistical Genetics in the Department of Epidemiology at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. "Our analysis confirmed that cholesterol-lowering drugs would have the expected effect in lowering LDL cholesterol, but this is much weaker compared to the effect of healthy behaviours on VLDL cholesterol which also increases the risk of heart disease."

Overall, they found that taking cholesterol-lowering medications and engaging in multiple healthy lifestyles would likely help individuals to achieve the greatest heart-protecting benefits because of the complementary effects of the drugs and healthy behaviours.

"Lifestyle interventions and lipid-lowering medications may affect different components of the lipid profile, suggesting they are not redundant strategies but could be combined for improved benefits," concludes co-senior author Jun Lv, Professor at the Department of Epidemiology & Biostatistics at the School of Public Health, Peking University Health Science Center, Beijing, China.

 

Role of Diet in Colorectal Cancer IncidenceUmbrella Review of Meta-analyses of Prospective Observational Studies

University of Utah, February 16

Question  How credible is the evidence behind the association of dietary factors with colorectal cancer (CRC) risk in published meta-analyses of prospective observational studies?

Findings  This umbrella review of 45 meta-analyses describing 109 associations found convincing evidence for an association between lower CRC risk and higher intakes of dietary fiber, dietary calcium, and yogurt and lower intakes of alcohol and red meat.

Meaning  This study suggests that dietary factors may have a role in the development and prevention of CRC, but more research is needed on specific foods for which the evidence remains suggestive.

Abstract

Importance  Several meta-analyses have summarized evidence for the association between dietary factors and the incidence of colorectal cancer (CRC). However, to date, there has been little synthesis of the strength, precision, and quality of this evidence in aggregate.

Objective  To grade the evidence from published meta-analyses of prospective observational studies that assessed the association of dietary patterns, specific foods, food groups, beverages (including alcohol), macronutrients, and micronutrients with the incidence of CRC.

Data Sources  MEDLINE, Embase, and the Cochrane Library were searched from database inception to September 2019.

Evidence Review  Only meta-analyses of prospective observational studies with a cohort study design were eligible. Evidence of association was graded according to established criteria as follows: convincing, highly suggestive, suggestive, weak, or not significant.

Results  From 9954 publications, 222 full-text articles (2.2%) were evaluated for eligibility, and 45 meta-analyses (20.3%) that described 109 associations between dietary factors and CRC incidence were selected. Overall, 35 of the 109 associations (32.1%) were nominally statistically significant using random-effects meta-analysis models; 17 associations (15.6%) demonstrated large heterogeneity between studies (I2 > 50%), whereas small-study effects were found for 11 associations (10.1%). Excess significance bias was not detected for any association between diet and CRC. The primary analysis identified 5 (4.6%) convincing, 2 (1.8%) highly suggestive, 10 (9.2%) suggestive, and 18 (16.5%) weak associations between diet and CRC, while there was no evidence for 74 (67.9%) associations. There was convincing evidence of an association of intake of red meat (high vs low) and alcohol (≥4 drinks/d vs 0 or occasional drinks) with the incidence of CRC and an inverse association of higher vs lower intakes of dietary fiber, calcium, and yogurt with CRC risk. The evidence for convincing associations remained robust following sensitivity analyses.

Conclusions and Relevance  This umbrella review found convincing evidence of an association between lower CRC risk and higher intakes of dietary fiber, dietary calcium, and yogurt and lower intakes of alcohol and red meat. More research is needed on specific foods for which evidence remains suggestive, including other dairy products, whole grains, processed meat, and specific dietary patterns.

 

 

Pizza, burgers and the like: A single high-fat meal can damage  metabolism

Deutsches Diabetes-Zentrum (Germany), February 16, 2021

 

The global proliferation of overweight and obese people and people with type 2 diabetes is often associated with the consumption of saturated fats. Scientists at the German Diabetes Center (Deutsches Diabetes-Zentrum, DDZ) and the Helmholtz Center in Munich (HMGU) have found that even the one-off consumption of a greater amount of palm oil reduces the body's sensitivity to insulin and causes increased fat deposits as well as changes in the energy metabolism of the liver. The results of the study provide information on the earliest changes in the metabolism of the liver that in the long term lead to fatty liver disease in overweight persons as well as in those with type 2 diabetes.

 

In the current issue of the "Journal of Clinical Investigation", DZD researchers working at the German Diabetes Center, in conjunction with the Helmholtz Center in Munich and colleagues from Portugal, published a scientific investigation conducted on healthy, slim men, who were given at random a flavored palm oil drink or a glass of clear water in a control experiment. The palm oil drink contained a similar amount of saturated fat as two cheeseburgers with bacon and a large portion of French fries or two salami pizzas. The scientists showed that this single high-fat meal sufficed to reduce the insulin action, e.g. cause insulin resistance and increase the fat content of the liver. In addition, changes in the energy balance of the liver were proven. The observed metabolic changes were similar to changes observed in persons with type 2diabetes or non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). NAFLD is the most common liver disease in the industrial nations and associated with obesity, the so-called "metabolic syndrome," and is associated with an increased risk in developing type 2 diabetes. Furthermore, NAFLD in advanced stages can result in severe liver damage.

 

"The surprise was that a single dosage of palm oil has such a rapid and direct impact on the liver of a healthy person and that the amount of fat administered already triggered insulin resistance", explained Prof. Dr. Michael Roden, scientist, Managing Director and Chairman at the DDZ and the German Center for Diabetes Research (Deutsches Zentrum für Diabetesforschung, DZD). "A special feature of our study is that we monitored the liver metabolism of people with a predominantly non-invasive technology, e.g. by magnetic resonance spectroscopy. This allows us to track the storage of sugar and fat as well as the energy metabolism of the mitochondria (power plants of the cell)." Thanks to the new methods of investigation, the scientists were able to verify that the intake of palm oil affects the metabolic activity of muscles, liver and fatty tissue. The induced insulin resistance leads to an increased new formation of sugar in the liver with a concomitant decreased sugar absorption in the skeletal muscles - a mechanism that makes the glucose level rise in persons afflicted with type 2 diabetes and its pre-stages. In addition, the insulin resistance of the fatty tissue causes an increased release of fats into the blood stream, which in turn continues to foster the insulin resistance. The increased availability of fat leads to an increased workload for the mitochondria, which can in the long term overtax these cellular power plants and contribute to the emergence of a liver disease.

 

The team of Prof. Roden suspects that healthy people, depending on genetic predisposition, can easily manage this direct impact of fatty food on the metabolism. The long-term consequences for regular eaters of such high-fat meals can be far more problematic, however.

 

 

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