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May 6, 2021  

Treatment with Rhodiola mimics exercise to resist high-fat diet-induced muscle dysfunction

Central South University (China), April 30, 2021

 

According to news reporting out of Changsha, People’s Republic of China, research stated, “Muscle dysfunction is a complication of high-fat diet (HFD)-induced obesity that could be prevented by exercise, but patients did not get enough therapeutic efficacy from exercise due to multiple reasons.”

The news reporters obtained a quote from the research from Xiangya Hospital of Central South University: “To explore alternative or supplementary approaches to prevent or treat muscle dysfunction in individuals with obesity, we investigated the effects of Rhodiola on muscle dysfunction as exercise pills. SIRT1 might suppress atrogenes expression and improve mitochondrial quality control, which could be a therapeutic target stimulated by exercise and Rhodiola, but further mechanisms remain unclear. We verified the lipid metabolism disorders and skeletal muscle dysfunction in HFD feeding mice. Moreover, exercise and Rhodiola were used to intervene mice with a HFD. Our results showed that exercise and Rhodiola prevented muscle atrophy and dysfunction in obese mice and activating the SIRT1 pathway, while atrogenes were suppressed and mitochondrial quality control was improved. EX-527, SIRT1 inhibitor, was used to validate the essential role of SIRT1 in salidroside benefit.”

According to the news editors, the research concluded: “Results of cell culture experiment showed that salidroside alleviated high palmitate-induced atrophy and mitochondrial quality control impairments, but these improvements of salidroside were inhibited by EX-527 in C2C12 myotubes. Overall, Rhodiola mimics exercise that activates SIRT1 signaling leading to improvement of HFD-induced muscle dysfunction.”

 
 

Prenatal exposure to pesticides increases the risk of obesity in adolescence

First study to analyse the long-term effects of persistent organic pollutants on cardiometabolic risk in adolescents

Barcelona Institute for Global Health (Spain), May 3, 2021

Exposure before birth to persistent organic pollutants (POPs)-- organochlorine pesticides, industrial chemicals, etc.--may increase the risk in adolescence of metabolic disorders, such as obesity and high blood pressure. This was the main conclusion of a study by the Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal), a research centre supported by the "la Caixa" Foundation. The study was based on data from nearly 400 children living in Menorca, who were followed from before birth until they reached 18 years of age. 

POPs are toxic, degradation-resistant chemicals that persist in the environment. Examples of such compounds are pesticides and organochlorine insecticides (DDT, etc.). POPs have adverse effects on both human health and the environment and their use is regulated globally.

Prenatal exposure to these substances has been associated with cardiometabolic risk factors in childhood, but there were previously no studies assessing whether such associations continue into adolescence, a developmental stage characterised by significant changes in the endocrine system and rapid increases in body mass.

The aim of this investigation, carried out within the framework of the INMA Project-Environment and Childhood, was to study the associations between prenatal exposure to POPs and body mass index (BMI) as well as other markers of cardiovascular risk in adolescence. Data from 379 children in Menorca was analysed. POP levels were measured in umbilical cord blood samples and the children were then seen periodically between the ages of 4 and 18 years. At these visits, BMI, body fat percentage and blood pressure were recorded as they grew. When the child reached 14 years of age, the scientists measured blood biomarkers of cardiometabolic risk (cholesterol, triglycerides, glucose, etc.).

The results of this study, published in the journal Environment International, suggest an association between prenatal POP exposure and a higher BMI in adolescence, particularly in the case of the fungicide hexachlorobenzene (HCB) and the insecticide compound dichloro-diphenyl-trichloroethane (DDT). 

Exposure to these two organochlorides--HCB and DDT¬--was also associated with higher blood pressure in childhood and adolescence and increased cardiometabolic risk at 14 years of age. 

ISGlobal researcher Núria Güil-Oumrait, the first author of the study, explains that "this is the first longitudinal study to analyse the relationship between persistent organic pollutants and cardiometabolic risk throughout childhood and adolescence. Our findings show that the association between these substances and infant BMI does persist into adolescence and that prenatal exposures are associated with the main risk factors for metabolic syndrome in adults, a condition that today affects one in four people worldwide.

With respect to the mechanisms that might explain this association, Güil-Oumrait points out that "it is thought that POPs may interact with hormone receptors or with the generation of free radicals, and the chief problem is that these pollutants accumulate in the fatty tissues of living organisms, where they can persist for years, even decades". 

Martine Vrijheid, study coordinator and head of the Childhood and Environment Programme at ISGlobal, highlights the fact that "some of these substances could be considered endocrine disruptors, that is, chemicals that interfere with hormonal regulation". In her view "more studies are needed in this field, especially focussing on childhood and adolescence, which are critical developmental stages characterised by particular vulnerability".

 

 

One cup of leafy green vegetables a day lowers risk of heart disease

Research has found that by eating just one cup of nitrate-rich vegetables each day people can significantly reduce their risk of heart disease.

Edith Cowan University (Australia), May 4, 2021

New Edith Cowan University (ECU) research has found that by eating just one cup of nitrate-rich vegetables each day people can significantly reduce their risk of heart disease.

The study investigated whether people who regularly ate higher quantities of nitrate-rich vegetables, such as leafy greens and beetroot, had lower blood pressure, and it also examined whether these same people were less likely to be diagnosed with heart disease many years later.

Cardiovascular diseases are the number one cause of death globally, taking around 17.9 million lives each year.

Researchers examined data from over 50,000 people residing in Denmark taking part in the Danish Diet, Cancer, and Health Study over a 23-year period. They found that people who consumed the most nitrate-rich vegetables had about a 2.5 mmHg lower systolic blood pressure and between 12 to 26 percent lower risk of heart disease.

Lead researcher Dr Catherine Bondonno from ECU's Institute for Nutrition Research said identifying diets to prevent heart disease was a priority.

"Our results have shown that by simply eating one cup of raw (or half a cup of cooked) nitrate-rich vegetables each day, people may be able to significantly reduce their risk of cardiovascular disease," Dr Bondonno said.

"The greatest reduction in risk was for peripheral artery disease (26 percent), a type of heart disease characterised by the narrowing of blood vessels of the legs, however we also found people had a lower risk of heart attacks, strokes and heart failure." 

Forget the supplements

The study found that the optimum amount of nitrate-rich vegetables was one cup a day and eating more than that didn't seem to give any additional benefits.

"People don't need to be taking supplements to boost their nitrate levels because the study showed that one cup of leafy green vegetables each day is enough to reap the benefits for heart disease," Dr Bondonno said.

"We did not see further benefits in people who ate higher levels of nitrate rich vegetables."

Smoothies are ok

Dr Bondonno said hacks such as including a cup of spinach in a banana or berry smoothie might be an easy way to top up our daily leafy greens.

"Blending leafy greens is fine, but don't juice them. Juicing vegetables removes the pulp and fibre," Dr Bondonno said.

The paper "Vegetable nitrate intake, blood pressure and incident cardiovascular disease: Danish Diet, Cancer, and Health Study" is published in the European Journal of Epidemiology. It is a collaboration between Edith Cowan University, the Danish Cancer Society and The University of Western Australia.

The research adds to growing evidence linking vegetables generally and leafy greens specifically with improved cardiovascular health and muscle strength. This evidence includes two recent ECU studies exploring cruciferous vegetables and blood vessel health and green leafy vegetables and muscle strength.

 

 

Mindfulness programs can boost children's mental health

 

University of Derby (UK), May 4, 2021

Mindfulness programs can improve the mental health of school-age children and help them to feel more optimistic, according to new research from the University of Derby and Derbyshire Educational Psychology Service.

More than 1,000 pupils aged between 9-12 years old across 25 schools in Derbyshire, received one 45-minute mindfulness session per week for nine weeks during the year-long project, which involved a collaboration between Dr. William Van Gordon, Associate Professor in Contemplative Psychology at the University, and Derbyshire Educational Psychology Service.

Mindfulness is an ancient meditation technique that involves focussing awareness on the present moment, as a means of fostering calm, wellbeing and insight. The weekly sessions involved activities such as practicing mindful breathing and paying attention to bodily sensations, as well as exercises intended to help cultivate attention skills and a greater awareness of emotions.

The impact of the sessions, which were delivered by teachers in a traditional classroom environment, was evaluated by comparing psychological assessments that the children completed before the classes began, with assessments undertaken after the program had concluded. Part of the evaluation measured children's emotional resiliency using The Resiliency Scale for Children, while wellbeing was rated using the Stirling Children's Wellbeing Scale.

Overall, the study found a significant improvement in positive emotional state, outlook and resiliency. There was also an increase in the different dimensions of resilience: optimism increased by 10%, tolerance was improved by 8% and self-efficacy, how a child feels they can cope with a situation based on the skills they have and the circumstances they face, improved by 11%.

Professor Van Gordon said: "Findings from the study indicate that mindfulness delivered by school teachers can improve wellbeing and resiliency in children and young people.

"This is consistent with wider evidence demonstrating the positive impact of mindfulness on school children's levels of emotional resiliency, emotional stability, wellbeing and stress.

"These findings are also in line with the view that preventative interventions given at a young age can help to reduce the incidence of mental health problems in young people."

 

Vitamin D levels higher in exercisers

Johns Hopkins University, May 01 2021 

The issue of the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism published the finding of researchers at Johns Hopkins University of a correlation between increased physical activity and higher levels of vitamin D. Higher levels of vitamin D and exercise was also associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease.

The study included 10,342 men and women who were free of coronary heart disease and heart failure upon enrollment in the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities study. Physical activity levels were assessed during follow-up visits that took place over a 19.3-year period. Stored serum samples obtained at the second visit were analyzed for 25-hydroxyvitamin D3.

Subjects who achieved American Heart Association recommended physical activity levels had average levels of vitamin D that were higher than those who had intermediate and poor levels of activity. Following adjustment for lifestyle and other factors, those who met the recommended levels had a 31% lower risk of being deficient in vitamin D than those with poor activity levels. Subjects in the recommended activity group with levels of vitamin D of 30 ng/mL or more had a 24% lower risk of cardiovascular disease.

The association between exercise and vitamin D was stronger in subjects of European ethnicity than among African Americans. The authors noted that European-Americans as well as those who engage in exercise are likelier to be supplement users. “We did find that vitamin D supplement use was higher among those with increased physical activity,” they observed.

"In our study, both failure to meet the recommended physical activity levels and having vitamin D deficiency were very common" stated coauthor Erin Michos, MD, MS, of Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. "The bottom line is we need to encourage people to move more in the name of heart health."

 

 

One teaspoon daily of trehalose can help maintain glucose homeostasis: a double-blind, randomized controlled trial 

Hayashibara Co. Ltd (Japan), April 24, 2021

Background

Trehalose is a natural disaccharide that is widely distributed. A previous study has shown that daily consumption of 10 g of trehalose improves glucose tolerance in individuals with signs of metabolic syndrome. In the present study, we determined whether a lower dose (3.3 g/day) of trehalose improves glucose tolerance in healthy Japanese volunteers.

Methods

This was a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study of healthy Japanese participants (n = 50). Each consumed 3.3 g of trehalose (n = 25) or sucrose (n = 25) daily for 78 days. Their body compositions were assessed following 0, 4, 8, and 12 weeks; and serum biochemical parameters were assayed and oral 75-g glucose tolerance tests were performed at baseline and after 12 weeks.

Results

There were similar changes in body composition and serum biochemistry consistent with established seasonal variations in both groups, but there were no differences in any of these parameters between the two groups. However, whereas after 12 weeks of sucrose consumption, the plasma glucose concentration 2 h after a 75-g glucose load was significantly higher than the fasting concentration, after 12 weeks of trehalose consumption the fasting and 2-h plasma glucose concentrations were similar. Furthermore, an analysis of the participants with relatively high postprandial blood glucose showed that the plasma glucose concentration 2 h after a 75-g glucose load was significantly lower in the trehalose group than in the sucrose group.

Conclusions

Our findings suggest that trehalose helps lower postprandial blood glucose in healthy humans with higher postprandial glucose levels within the normal range, and may therefore contribute to the prevention of pathologies that are predisposed to by postprandial hyperglycemia,, even if the daily intake of trehalose is only 3.3 g, an amount that is easily incorporated into a meal.

 

 

Coffee compound enhances autophagy to protect against cell injury

Chengdu University of Traditional Chinese Medicine (China), April 30, 2021

According to news reporting originating from Sichuan, People’s Republic of China, research stated, “Autophagy serves an important role in amyloid-beta (A beta) metabolism and tau processing and clearance in Alzheimer’s disease. The progression of A beta plaque accumulation and hyperphosphorylation of tau proteins are enhanced by oxidative stress.”

Our news editors obtained a quote from the research from the Chengdu University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, “A hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) injury cell model was established using SH-SY5Y cells. Cells were randomly divided into normal, H2O2 and chlorogenic acid (5-caffeoylquinic acid; CGA) groups. The influence of CGA on cell viability was evaluated using a Cell Counting Kit-8 assay and cell death was assessed using Hoechst 33342 nuclear staining. Autophagy induction and fusion of autophagic vacuoles assays were performed using monodansylcadaverine staining. Additionally, SH-SY5Y cells expressing Ad-mCherry-green fluorescent protein-LC3B were established to detect autophagic flow. LysoTracker Red staining was used to evaluate lysosome function and LysoSensor ™ Green staining assays were used to assess lysosomal acidification. The results demonstrated that CGA decreased the apoptosis rate, increased cell viability and improved cell morphology in H2O2-treated SH-SY5Y cells. Furthermore, CGA alleviated the accumulation of autophagic vacuoles, reduced the LC3BII/I ratio and decreased P62 levels, resulting in increased autophagic flux. Additionally, CGA upregulated lysosome acidity and increased the expression levels of cathepsin D. Importantly, these effects of CGA on H2O2-treated SH-SY5Y cells were mediated via the mTOR-transcription factor EB signaling pathway.”

According to the news editors, the research concluded: “These results indicated that CGA protected cells against H2O2-induced oxidative damage via the upregulation of autophagosomes, which promoted autophagocytic degradation and increased autophagic flux.”

This research has been peer-reviewed.

May 5, 2021  

Lycopene is a promising nutrient that can prevent gastric diseases associated with H. pylori

Yonsei University (Japan), April 30, 2021

Helicobacter pylori is a spiral-shaped bacterium that grows in your digestive tract. An opportunistic pathogen, it is considered to be the most successful colonizer of the human gastrointestinal tract, infecting the stomachs of roughly 60 percent of the world’s adult population.

In a recent study, researchers at Yonsei University in South Korea found that lycopene, a bioactive pigment with powerful antioxidant properties, can help prevent gastric diseases associated with H. pylori infection. Lycopene is a non-provitamin A carotenoid commonly found in bright red and orange produce, such as tomatoes, watermelons, papaya and pink grapefruit. This beneficial compound is extensively studied for its remarkable ability to scavenge free radicals, the unstable byproducts of cellular metabolism responsible for causing oxidative stress.

How lycopene prevents H. pylori-induced gastric cancer

According to studies, H. pylori infection promotes the hyperproliferation of gastric epithelial cells — the very cells that make up the stomach lining — by increasing the production of free radicals called reactive oxygen species (ROS). ROS then activates two signaling pathways — Wnt/B-catenin and JAK1/Stat3 — that influence cell fate decisions. While Wnt/B-catenin signaling is involved in the regulation of the self-renewal processes of cells, JAK1/Stat3 signaling is said to play a role in conferring malignant properties to cancer cells.

Due to the involvement of ROS, the South Korean researchers hypothesized that lycopene, which has antioxidant and anti-cancer properties, may be able to suppress H. pylori-induced hyperproliferation by inhibiting the activation of Jak1/Stat3 and Wnt/B-catenin signaling, as well as the expression of B-catenin target genes. B-catenin is a protein that accumulates due to the aberrant activation of Wnt/B-catenin signaling. The buildup of this protein promotes the expression of cancer genes (oncogenes) and the progression of tumors.

In an earlier study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, German researchers reported that lycopene is the most effective scavenger of singlet oxygen, a very strong oxidant and one of the major ROS produced by cells. To determine if it can prevent ROS-mediated hyperproliferation, South Korean researchers treated H. pylori-infected gastric epithelial cells with lycopene.  They measured the cells’ ROS levels and viability before and after treatment.

The researchers found that lycopene effectively reduced ROS levels and inhibited not only the activation of Jak1/Stat3 and Wnt/B-catenin signaling but also the expression of B-catenin target oncogenes and the proliferation of H. pylori-infected gastric epithelial cells. In addition, lycopene inhibited the increase in Wnt-1 (an oncogenic protein) and lipoprotein-related protein 5 (a protein involved in cancer progression) expression caused by H. pylori infection.

Based on these findings, the researchers concluded that lycopene can be used to prevent H. pylori-associated gastric cancer, thanks to its inhibitory effects on gastric cell hyperproliferation.

 

Too much salt suppresses phagocytes

Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine (Germany), May 4, 2021

For many of us, adding salt to a meal is a perfectly normal thing to do. We don't really think about it. But actually, we should. As well as raising our blood pressure, too much salt can severely disrupt the energy balance in immune cells and stop them from working properly.

Back in 2015, the research group led by Professor Dominik Müller of the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine in the Helmholtz Association (MDC) and the Experimental and Clinical Research Center (ECRC) found that elevated sodium concentrations in the blood affect both the activation and the function of patrolling monocytes, which are the precursors to macrophages. "But we didn't know exactly what was happening in the cells," says Dr. Sabrina Geisberger of the Berlin Institute for Medical Systems Biology (BIMSB) at the MDC. She is lead author of the study of an international research team led by MDC scientists together with colleagues from University of Regensburg and from Flanders Institute for Biotechnology (VIB) /Hasselt University in Belgium. It was funded by the German Center for Cardiovascular Research (DZHK) and has now been published in the journal Circulation

Salt disrupts the respiratory chain in cells

Working with biochemist and metabolomics expert Dr. Stefan Kempa of BIMSB, the researchers began in the lab by looking at the metabolism of immune cells that had been exposed to high salt concentrations. Changes appeared after just three hours. "It disrupts the respiratory chain, causing the cells to produce less ATP and consume less oxygen," explains Geisberger. ATP (adenosine triphosphate) is the universal fuel that powers all cells. It provides energy for the "chemical work" - synthesizing proteins and other molecules - required for muscle power and metabolic regulation. ATP is produced in the mitochondria, the cell's "power plant," using a complex series of biochemical reactions known as the respiratory chain. "Salt very specifically inhibits complex II in the respiratory chain."

This has consequences: The lack of energy causes the monocytes to mature differently. "The phagocytes, whose task is to identify and eliminate pathogens in the body, were able to fight off infections more effectively. But this could also promote inflammation, which might increase cardiovascular risk," explains Müller. 

Effects of salt are reversible

Professor Markus Kleinewietfeld of Hasselt University and VIB, and Professor Jonathan Jantsch of Universität Regensburg, were heavily involved in the work investigating human monocytes and macrophages. They were able to show that salt affects the functioning of human phagocytes in the same way.

Researchers at the ECRC, which is run jointly by the MDC and Charité - Universitätsmedizin Berlin, then conducted a study in which healthy male participants supplemented their usual diets with six grams of salt in tablet form every day for 14 days. In another clinical study, the researchers investigated a familiar scenario: eating a pizza delivered by an Italian restaurant. They then analyzed the monocytes in the participants' blood. The findings showed that the dampening effect on mitochondria doesn't just occur after an extended period of increased salt intake - it also happens after a single pizza. Data from the pizza experiment showed how long the effect lasted: Blood was taken from the participants after three and eight hours, and the effect was barely measurable in the second sample.

"That's a good thing. If it had been a prolonged disturbance, we'd be worried about the cells not getting enough energy for a long time," says Müller. The mitochondrial activity is therefore not permanently inhibited. That said, the continuous risk of sodium on mitochondrial function if a person eats very salty food several times a day cannot be ruled out, but needs to be tested in the future. The pizza, incidentally, contained ten grams of salt. Nutrition experts recommend that adults limit their daily intake to five or six grams at most. The calculation includes the salt that is hidden in processed foods.

Small ion, big effect

"The fundamental finding of our study is that a molecule as small as the sodium ion can be extremely efficient at inhibiting an enzyme that plays a crucial role in the respiratory chain," says Kempa. "When these ions flood into the mitochondria - and they do this under a variety of physiological conditions - they regulate the central part of the electron transport chain." It therefore appears to be a very fundamental regulatory mechanism in cells.

Now the task is to investigate whether salt can also influence this mechanism in other types of cells. Kleinewietfeld believes that this is extremely likely because mitochondria aren't just present in immune cells; with the exception of red blood cells, they exist in every cell of the body. They can be found in particularly high numbers wherever a lot of energy is consumed - in muscle cells, neurons, receptors, and egg cells. 

It is still not fully elucidated how different cell types regulate the influx of sodium into the mitochondria. Nevertheless, the study confirms that consuming too much salt can be bad for our health. "Of course the first thing you think of is the cardiovascular risk. But multiple studies have shown that salt can affect immune cells in a variety of ways. If such an important cellular mechanism is disrupted for a long period, it could have a negative impact - and could potentially drive inflammatory diseases of the blood vessels or joints, or autoimmune diseases," says Kleinewietfeld.

 

 

Ginkgo biloba extract improves cognitive function and increases neurogenesis by reducing amyloid beta pathology 

Xuzhou Medical University (China), May 1, 2021

According to news reporting from Jiangsu, People’s Republic of China, research stated, “Previous studies have indicated that the generation of newborn hippocampal neurons is impaired in the early phase of Alzheimer’s disease (AD). A potential therapeutic strategy being pursued for the treatment of AD is increasing the number of newborn neurons in the adult hippocampus.”

The news correspondents obtained a quote from the research from Xuzhou Medical University, “Recent studies have demonstrated that ginkgo biloba extract (EGb 761) plays a neuroprotective role by preventing memory loss in many neurodegenerative diseases. However, the extent of EGb 761’s protective role in the AD process is unclear. In this study, different doses of EGb 761 (0, 10, 20, and 30 mg/kg; intraperitoneal injections once every day for four months) were tested on 5xFAD mice. After consecutive 4-month injections, mice were tested in learning memory tasks, A beta, and neurogenesis in the dentate gyrus (DG) of hippocampus and morphological characteristics of neurons in DG of hippocampus. Results indicated that EGb 761 (20 and 30 mg/kg) ameliorated memory deficits. Further analysis indicated that EGb 761 can reduce the number of A beta positive signals in 5xFAD mice, increase the number of newborn neurons, and increase dendritic branching and density of dendritic spines in 5xFAD mice compared to nontreated 5xFAD mice.”

According to the news reporters, the research concluded: “It was concluded that EGb 761 plays a protective role in the memory deficit of 5xFAD mice.”

This research has been peer-reviewed.

 

 

Fasting lowers blood pressure by reshaping the gut microbiota

Baylor College of Medicine, April 30 2021

Nearly half of adults in the United States have hypertension, a condition that raises the risk for heart disease and stroke, which are leading causes of death in the U. S.

At Baylor College of Medicine, Dr. David J. Durgan and his colleagues are dedicated to better understand hypertension, in particular the emerging evidence suggesting that disruption of the gut microbiota, known as gut dysbiosis, can have adverse effects on blood pressure.

"Previous studies from our lab have shown that the composition of the gut microbiota in animal models of hypertension, such as the SHRSP (spontaneously hypertensive stroke-prone rat) model, is different from that in animals with normal blood pressure," said Durgan, assistant professor of anesthesiology at Baylor.

The researchers also have shown that transplanting dysbiotic gut microbiota from a hypertensive animal into a normotensive (having a healthy blood pressure) one results in the recipient developing high blood pressure.

"This result told us that gut dysbiosis is not just a consequence of hypertension, but is actually involved in causing it," Durgan said. "This ground work led to the current study in which we proposed to answer two questions. First, can we manipulate the dysbiotic microbiota to either prevent or relieve hypertension? Second, how are the gut microbes influencing the animal's blood pressure?"

Can manipulating the gut microbiota regulate blood pressure?

To answer the first question, Durgan and his colleagues drew on previous research showing that fasting was both one of the major drivers of the composition of the gut microbiota and a promoter of beneficial cardiovascular effects. These studies, however, had not provided evidence connecting the microbiota and blood pressure.

Working with the SHRSP model of spontaneous hypertension and normal rats, the researchers set up two groups. One group had SHRSP and normal rats that were fed every other day, while the other group, called control, had SHRSP and normal rats with unrestricted food availability.

Nine weeks after the experiment began, the researchers observed that, as expected, the rats in the SHRSP control had higher blood pressure when compared to the normal control rats. Interestingly, in the group that fasted every other day, the SHRSP rats had significantly reduced blood pressure when compared with the SHRSP rats that had not fasted.

"Next, we investigated whether the microbiota was involved in the reduction of blood pressure we observed in the SHRSP rats that had fasted," Durgan said.

The researchers transplanted the microbiota of the rats that had either fasted or fed without restrictions into germ-free rats, which have no microbiota of their own.

Durgan and his colleagues were excited to see that the germ-free rats that received the microbiota of normally fed SHRSP rats had higher blood pressure than the germ-free rats receiving microbiota from normal control rats, just like their corresponding microbiota donors.

"It was particularly interesting to see that the germ-free rats that received microbiota from the fasting SHRSP rats had significantly lower the blood pressure than the rats that had received microbiota from SHRSP control rats," Durgan said. "These results demonstrated that the alterations to the microbiota induced by fasting were sufficient to mediate the blood pressure-lowering effect of intermitting fasting."

How the microbiota regulates blood pressure

The team proceeded to investigate the second question of their project. How does the gut microbiota regulate blood pressure?

"We applied whole genome shotgun sequence analysis of the microbiota as well as untargeted metabolomics analysis of plasma and gastrointestinal luminal content. Among the changes we observed, alterations in products of bile acid metabolism stood out as potential mediators of blood pressure regulation," Durgan said.

The team discovered that the SHRSP hypertensive animals that were fed normally had lower bile acids in circulation than normotensive animals. On the other hand, SHRSP animals that followed an intermittent feeding schedule had more bile acids in the circulation.

"Supporting this finding, we found that supplementing animals with cholic acid, a primary bile acid, also significantly reduced blood pressure in the SHRSP model of hypertension," Durgan said.

Taken together, the study shows for the first time that intermittent fasting can be beneficial in terms of reducing hypertension by reshaping the composition of gut microbiota in an animal model. The work also provides evidence that gut dysbiosis contributes to hypertension by altering bile acid signaling.

"This study is important to understand that fasting can have its effects on the host through microbiota manipulation," Durgan said. "This is an attractive idea because it can potentially have clinical applications. Many of the bacteria in the gut microbiotaare involved in the production of compounds that have been shown to have beneficial effects as they make it into the circulation and contribute to the regulation of the host's physiology. Fasting schedules could one day help regulate the activity of gut microbial populations to naturally provide health benefits.

 

Study: Following healthy diets found to reduce the risk of acquired hearing loss by 30%

Brigham and Women's Hospital, April 30, 2021

A study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology suggests that following a healthy diet may help ward off acquired hearing loss. A team led by Brigham and Women’s Hospital researchers examined middle-aged women and found that the odds of developing hearing loss is 30 percent lower in those who adhere to a healthy diet.

Adherence to a healthy diet linked to lower risk of hearing loss

Acquired hearing loss refers to the total or partial inability to hear sounds that develop after birth. It occurs for various reasons, including ear infection, meningitis, measles, head injury, exposure to loud noise and aging.

Past studies linked higher intake of certain nutrients such as beta-carotene (found in carrots, legumes and other foods) and omega-3 fatty acids (found in fatty fish) to a lower risk of self-reported hearing loss. The researchers wished to learn more about this connection by tracking people’s diets and measuring changes in their hearing sensitivity over a long period of time.

To do so, the researchers studied 20 years of dietary intake information from over 3,000 women with a median age of 59 who were included in the Nurses’ Health Study II. Using this information, they examined how closely the women’s long-term diets resembled the Alternate Mediterranean diet (AMED), Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH diet) and Alternate Healthy Index-2010 (AHEI-2010). 

AMED is a version of the Mediterranean diet adapted to reflect eating patterns that are linked to a lower risk of chronic disease, while the DASH diet is intended to control and prevent high blood pressure. On the other hand, AHEI-2010 is based on the 2010 U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Dietary Guidelines for Americans and shares similar components with AMED and the DASH diet.

Past studies linked adherence to these diets to a lower risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, hypertension and premature death.

To measure the participants’ hearing sensitivity over the course of three years, the team put up 19 testing sites across the country and trained audiologists to measure changes in the participants’ pure-tone hearing thresholds – the lowest and highest pitch (frequency of a sound) that a person can detect in one ear.

The researchers found that the odds of hearing loss in the mid-frequencies were nearly 30 percent lower in the women whose dietary patterns resembled the three diets, compared to those whose diets least resembled them. Meanwhile, the odds of hearing loss in higher frequencies were up to 25 percent lower. The frequencies encompassed in these associations, according to the researchers, are critical for speech understanding.

“We were surprised that so many women demonstrated hearing decline over such a relatively short period of time,” said Sharon Curhan, a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and the lead researcher of the study.

After only three years, nineteen percent of the participants had low-frequency hearing loss, 38 percent had mid-frequency hearing loss, while nearly half had high-frequency hearing loss. (Related: Age-related hearing loss halted with folate nutrient.)

“The mean age of the women in our study was 59 years; most of our participants were in their 50s and early 60s. This is a younger age than when many people think about having their hearing checked,” she added.

The researchers plan to continue tracking the participants with repeated hearing tests and are currently investigating ways to collect high-quality information for future studies across diverse populations.

 

Thai ginseng found to improve erectile function in men

Life Extension Foundation, April 28, 2021

American researchers examined the effects of an ethanol extract derived from Kaempferia parviflora, also known as Thai ginseng, on erectile function in healthy middle-aged and older men. Their findings were published in the Journal of Integrative Medicine.

  • Sexual health positively correlates with overall well-being.
  • Current strategies that are meant to enhance male sexual health are limited by many factors, such as responsiveness, adherence and adverse effects.
  • Researchers understand the need for safe and effective interventions that could help preserve male sexual function.
  • K. parviflora, a plant from the Zingiberaceae (ginger) family, has been found to support cardiovascular health and has shown signs that it could ameliorate erectile dysfunction.
  • To investigate this, the researchers conducted an open-label, one-arm study involving 14 generally healthy males aged 50 to 68 years with self-reported mild erectile dysfunction.
  • The participants received 100 mg of an extract obtained from the rhizome of K. parviflora daily for 30 days.
  • Primary efficacy analyses included the International Index of Erectile Function (IIEF), while secondary efficacy analyses included the Global Assessment Question about erectile function.
  • The researchers reported that 13 of the 14 participants completed the study. Supplementation of the K. parviflora ethanol extract induced statistically significant improvements in erectile function, intercourse satisfaction and total scores on IIEF questionnaire.
  • The extract was well-tolerated by the participants and exhibited an excellent safety profile.

Based on these findings, the researchers concluded that K. parviflora can improve erectile function in healthy middle-aged and older men.

 

 

Curcumin Reduces Anxiety and Depression Even In People With Major Depression


Texas Christian University and University of Arkansas, May 1, 2021

 

Dietary supplements formulated with highly bioavailable curcumin may allow for faster recovery after competition-level training, and blunt training-related decreases in performance , says new data presented at Experimental Biology.

 

Powdered turmeric has been used for centuries to treat a host of illnesses. It inhibits inflammatory reactions, has anti-diabetic effects, reduces cholesterol among other powerful healtheffects. A recent study led by a research team in Munich showed that it can also inhibit formation of metastases

Dietary supplements formulated with highly bioavailable curcumin may allow for faster recovery after competition-level training, and blunt training-related decreases in performance , says new data presented at Experimental Biology.

Using OmniActive's supplement ingredient, scientists reported that supplementation for eight weeks resulted in significant reductions in levels of creatine kinase, a marker of muscle damage, while self-reported pain scores were also significantly lower 24 hours post-exercise.

A daily 200 mg dose of curcuminoids (in the form of 1,000 mg supplement) was also associated with a decrease in performance declines observed during

"These data suggest that high dose bioavailable curcumin (200 mg curcuminoids) attenuates performance decrements following downhill running, eccentric loading, which may improve subsequent adaptations to chronic training," wrote the researchers in the FASEB Journal .

Dr Ralf Jager from Wisconsin-based Increnovo and co-author on the study reports, explained that curcumin's sports nutrition benefits were linked to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory potential.

Muscle Damage Study

The researchers recruited 59 moderately trained men and 29 women with an average age of 21 to participate in their double-blind, randomized, placebo controlled parallel design study. The participants were randomly assigned to receive 250 mg or 1,000 mg of supplement or placebo per day for eight weeks.

The data indicated that, following muscle-damaging exercise, the high dose curcumin group experienced significantly lower pain scores, while increases in creatine kinase (CK) levels were also significantly reduced compared to placebo, when the baseline CK value is held constant at the mean.

"These data demonstrate curcuminoids reduce muscle damage and improve muscle soreness in healthy young subjects following a bout of muscle damaging exercise. Faster recovery allows for consistent training at competition intensity and might lead to enhanced adaptation rate and performance," they wrote in the FASEB Journal .

Performance

A separate analysis was done with 62 men and women randomly assigned to 250 mg or 1,000 mg of supplement per day or placebo. After eight weeks the subjects performced downhill running, which promotes muscle damage.

The results showed that performance declined significantly in both the placebo and low-dose curcumin group, but such declined were attenuated in the high-dose curcumin group.

"Further study is warranted in other exercise types (i.e. resistance training) and chronically," wrote the researchers.

May 4, 2021  
  1. Avocado discovery may point to leukemia treatment

    University of Guelph (Canada), May 1, 2021

    A compound in avocados may ultimately offer a route to better leukemia treatment, says a new University of Guelph study.

    The compound targets an enzyme that scientists have identified for the first time as being critical to cancer cell growth, said Dr. Paul Spagnuolo, Department of Food Science.

    Published recently in the journal Blood, the study focused on acute myeloid leukemia (AML), which is the most devastating form of leukemia. Most cases occur in people over age 65, and fewer than 10 per cent of patients survive five years after diagnosis.

    Leukemia cells have higher amounts of an enzyme called VLCAD involved in their metabolism, said Spagnuolo.

    “The cell relies on that pathway to survive,” he said, explaining that the compound is a likely candidate for drug therapy. “This is the first time VLCAD has been identified as a target in any cancer.”

    His team screened nutraceutical compounds among numerous compounds, looking for any substance that might inhibit the enzyme. “Lo and behold, the best one was derived from avocado,” said Spagnuolo.

    Earlier, his lab looked at avocatin B, a fat molecule found only in avocados, for potential use in preventing diabetes and managing obesity. Now he’s eager to see it used in leukemia patients.

    “VLCAD can be a good marker to identify patients suitable for this type of therapy. It can also be a marker to measure the activity of the drug,” said Spagnuolo. “That sets the stage for eventual use of this molecule in human clinical trials.”

    Currently, about half of patients over 65 diagnosed with AML enter palliative care. Others undergo chemotherapy, but drug treatments are toxic and can end up killing patients.

    “There’s been a drive to find less toxic drugs that can be used.”

    Referring to earlier work using avocatin B for diabetes, Spagnuolo said, “We completed a human study with this as an oral supplement and have been able to show that appreciable amounts are fairly well tolerated.”

    Supplement betaine treats schizophrenia in mice, restores healthy “dance” and structure of neurons

    University of Tokyo Graduate School of Medicine, April 19, 2021

    A simple dietary supplement reduces behavioral symptoms in mice with a genetic mutation that causes schizophrenia. After additional experiments, including visualizing the fluorescently stained dancing edge of immature brain cells, researchers concluded that the supplement likely protects proteins that build neurons’ cellular skeletons.

    The supplement betaine was first isolated from sugar beets and is often associated with sweetness or umami flavor. Healthy levels of betaine come from both external food sources and internal synthesis in the body. Betaine supplements are already used clinically to treat the metabolic disease homocystinuria. 

    “I don’t encourage anyone to take betaine for no reason, if a doctor has not recommended it. But, we know this drug is already used clinically, so repurposing it to treat schizophrenia should be safe,” said Project Professor Nobutaka Hirokawa, M.D., Ph.D., from the University of Tokyo Graduate School of Medicine who led the recent research project. Hirokawa has been a member of the Japan Academy, a national honorary organization recognizing scientific achievement, since 2004 and received a Person of Cultural Merit award from the Japanese government in 2013.

    Schizophrenia is estimated to affect about 1 in 100 people globally and is one of the top 15 leading causes of disability worldwide. 

    “There are treatments for schizophrenia, but they have side effects and unfortunately there is still no effective drug for patients to take that we can explain biochemically why it works,” explained Hirokawa.

    Genetic studies of people diagnosed with schizophrenia have found possible links between the disease and variations in the kinesin family 3b (kif3b) gene as well as another gene involved in the body’s internal synthesis of betaine.

    Hirokawa and his lab members have categorized all 45 members of the kinesin superfamily of genes in mammals, most of which encode motor proteins that move materials throughout the cell. Normally, the KIF3B protein links together with another kinesin superfamily protein and transports cargo throughout a neuron by traveling up and down the cell’s skeleton. 

    Mice used in the recent research had only one functional copy of the kif3b gene and are often used as an animal model of schizophrenia. These mice avoid social interactions and show the same weak response as human patients with schizophrenia in a test called prepulse inhibition, which measures how startled they are by a sudden, loud sound preceded by a quieter sound.

    Kif3b mutant mice raised on a diet supplemented with three times the normal amount of betaine had normal behavior, indicating that betaine supplements could treat schizophrenia symptoms. 

    To figure out why betaine had this effect on mice, researchers grew nerve cells with the kif3b mutation in the laboratory and added fluorescent labels so they could watch the cellular skeleton take shape.

    The shape of a healthy neuron is reminiscent of a tree: a cell body surrounded by branches, the dendrites, attached to a long trunk, the axon. Kif3b mutant neurons grown in the lab have an unusual, hyperbranched structure with too many dendrites. Similar hyperbranched neurons are also seen in brain samples donated by people with schizophrenia, regardless of what treatments or medications they took while they were alive. 

    During healthy neuron development, the main body of the cell fills with a skeleton component called tubulin. Meanwhile, the front growth cone of the cell builds outwards in a spiky, erratic dance due to the movements of another skeleton component called filamentous actin. In kif3b mutants, this dancing movement, which experts refer to as lamellipodial dynamics, is noticeably reduced and the division between tubulin and actin is blurred. 

    The actin in a neuron’s cellular skeleton is assembled in part by another protein called CRMP2. Chemical analyses of the brains of kif3b mutant mice and human schizophrenia patients reveal significant chemical damage to CRMP2, which causes the proteins to clump together.

    Betaine is known to prevent the type of chemical damage, carbonyl stress, that causes this CRMP2 dysfunction. 

    “In postmortem brains of schizophrenia patients, CRMP2 is the protein in the brain with the most carbonyl stress. Betaine likely eliminates the carbonyl stress portion of the schizophrenia equation,” said Hirokawa. 

    By protecting CRMP2 from damage, betaine treatment allows kif3b mutant neurons to build proper structures. With a structurally sound skeleton to navigate, the remaining functional KIF3B protein can shuttle cargo around the cell. Other test tube experiments revealed that KIF3B and CRMP2 can bind together, but their exact relationship remains unclear. 

    “We know that the amount of betaine decreases in schizophrenia patients’ brains, so this study strongly suggests betaine could be therapeutic for at least some kinds of schizophrenia,” said Hirokawa. 

    The UTokyo research team is planning future collaborations with pharmaceutical companies and clinical studies of betaine supplements as a treatment for schizophrenia.

    Study reveals your neighbourhood may affect your brain health

    University of Wisconsin School of Medicine, April 20, 2021

    Middle-aged and older people living in more disadvantaged neighbourhoods — areas with higher poverty levels and fewer educational and employment opportunities–had more brain shrinkage on brain scans and showed a faster decline on cognitive tests than people living in neighbourhoods with fewer disadvantages, according to a new study.

    The study published in the online issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology. Researchers say such brain ageing may be a sign of the earliest stages of dementia.

    “Worldwide, dementia is a major cause of illness and a devastating diagnosis,” said study author Amy J. H. Kind M.D., PhD, of the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health in Madison.

    “There are currently no treatments to cure the disease, so identifying possible modifiable risk factors is important. Compelling evidence exists that the social, economic, cultural and physical conditions in which humans live may affect health. We wanted to determine if these neighbourhood conditions increase the risk for the neurodegeneration and cognitive decline associated with the earliest stages of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.”

    For the study, researchers identified 601 people from two larger studies of Wisconsin residents. Participants had an average age of 59 and no thinking or memory problems at the start of the study, although 69% had a family history of dementia. They were followed for 10 years.

    Participants had an initial MRI brain scan and then additional scans every three to five years. With each scan, researchers measured brain volume in areas of the brain linked to the development of Alzheimer’s dementia. Participants also took thinking and memory tests every two years, including tests that measured processing speed, mental flexibility and executive function.

    Researchers used the residential address of each participant and a measure called the Area Deprivation Index to determine if each participant lived in an advantaged or disadvantaged neighbourhood. Neighbourhoods in the index are determined by census areas of 1,500 residents. The index incorporates information on the socio-economic conditions of each neighbourhood and its residents, ranking neighbourhoods based on 17 indicators including income, employment, education and housing quality.

    Of all participants, 19 people lived in the 20% of most disadvantaged neighbourhoods in their state and 582 people lived in 80% of all other neighbourhoods in their state. People in the first group were then matched one to four to people in the second group for race, sex, age and education and compared.

    At the start of the study, there was no difference in brain volume between people living in the most disadvantaged neighbourhoods and those in other neighbourhoods. But in the end, researchers found brain shrinkage in areas of the brain associated with dementia in people in the most disadvantaged neighbourhoods, while there was no shrinkage in the other group. Researchers also found a higher rate of decline on tests that measure the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.

    “Our findings suggest that increased vigilance by healthcare providers for early signs of dementia may be particularly important in this vulnerable population,” said Kind. “Some possible causes of these brain changes may include air pollution, lack of access to healthy food and healthcare and stressful life events. Further research into possible social and biological pathways may help physicians, researchers and policymakers identify effective avenues for prevention and intervention in Alzheimer’s disease and related dementia.”

    Limitations of the study included a small number of participants from highly disadvantaged neighbourhoods and a limited geographic setting. Future studies should involve larger and more diverse groups of people over longer periods of time.

    Alpha-lipoic acid increases collagen synthesis and deposition in nondiabetic and diabetic kidneys

    University of Belgrade (Serbia), April 21, 2021

    According to news originating from Belgrade, Serbia, research stated, “Alpha-Lipoic acid (ALA) is widely used as a nutritional supplement and therapeutic agent in diabetes management. Well-established antioxidant and hypoglycemic effects of ALA were considered to be particularly important in combating diabetic complications including renal injury.”

    Our news journalists obtained a quote from the research from the University of Belgrade, “The present study evaluated the potential of ALA to affect profibrotic events in kidney that could alter its structure and functioning. ALA was administered intraperitoneally (10 mg/kg) to nondiabetic and streptozotocin-induced diabetic male Wistar rats for 4 and 8 weeks. The effects of ALA were assessed starting from structural/morphological alterations through changes that characterize profibrotic processes, to regulation of collagen gene expression in kidney. Here, we demonstrated that ALA improved systemic glucose and urea level, reduced formation of renal advanced glycation end products (AGEs), and maintained renal structural integrity in diabetic rats. However, profibrotic events provoked in diabetes were not alleviated by ALA since collagen synthesis/deposition and expression of transforming growth factor-beta 1 (TGF-beta 1) and alpha-smooth muscle actin (alpha-SMA) remained elevated in ALA-treated diabetic rats, especially after 8 weeks of diabetes onset. Moreover, 8 weeks treatment of nondiabetic rats with ALA led to the development of profibrotic features reflected in increased collagen synthesis/deposition. Besides the TGF-beta 1 downstream signaling, the additional mechanism underlying the upregulation of collagen IV in nondiabetic rats treated with ALA involves decreased DNA methylation of its promoter that could arise from increased Tet1 expression.”

    According to the news editors, the research concluded: “These findings emphasize the therapeutic caution in the use of ALA, especially in patients with renal diabetic complication.”

    Obesity, high-salt diet pose different cardiovascular risks in females, males

    Medical College of Georgia at Augusta University, April 30, 2021

    Obesity and a high-salt diet are both bad for our hearts but they are bigger, seemingly synergistic risks for females, scientists report.

    “We see younger and younger women having cardiovascular disease and the question is: What is the cause?” says Dr. Eric Belin de Chantemele, physiologist in the Vascular Biology Center and Department of Medicine at the Medical College of Georgia at Augusta University. “We think the fact that females are more salt sensitive and more sensitive to obesity are among the reasons they have lost the natural protection youth and estrogen are thought to provide.” 

    His message to women based on the sex differences they are finding: “First reduce your consumption of salt, a message the American Heart Association has been pushing for years, which should also result in a reduction in your intake of highly processed, high-calorie food and drink.”

    Belin de Chantemele, whose research team has been exploring why so many young women are now getting cardiovascular disease, is presenting their findings during the Henry Pickering Bowditch Award Lectureship at the American Physiological Society Annual Meeting at Experimental Biology 2021 this week. The award, which honors the scientist who created the first physiology lab in the country and was the American Physiological Society’s first president, recognizes original and outstanding accomplishments in the field of physiology by a young investigator. 

    The sex hormone estrogen, which has some protective powers like keeping blood vessels more flexible, is considered a natural protection for premenopausal women yet, along with soaring rates of severe obesity in young women, heart disease is now the third leading cause of death in females between the ages 20-44 — fourth for males in that age group — then moves up to second place for the next 20 years in both sexes, and is the number one killer for both men and women looking at all ages, according to the National Vital Statistics Reports. 

    While he refers to bad nutrition as the “world’s biggest killer” and obesity as a major risk factor for hypertension in both sexes, his lab has mounting evidence that obesity and high salt intake are even bigger risks for females, who have naturally higher levels of two additional hormones, leptin and aldosterone, setting the stage for the potentially deadly cardiovascular disparities. 

    Many of us likely think of leptin as the “satiety hormone” that sends our brain cues to stop eating when our stomach is full, but in obesity, the brain typically stops listening to the full message but the cardiovascular system of women starts getting unhealthy cues. 

    Belin de Chantemele has shown that in females leptin prompts the adrenal glands, which make aldosterone, to make even more of this powerful blood vessel constrictor. Like leptin, females, regardless of their weight, already have naturally higher levels of aldosterone and actually bigger adrenal glands as well. 

    A result: Obesity actually produces larger blood pressure increases in females, and studies indicate that females also are more prone to obesity associated vascular dysfunction — things like more rigid blood vessels that are not as adept as dilating. On the other hand, leptin actually increases production of the vasodilator nitric oxide — which reduces blood pressure — in the male mice, one of many cardiovascular differences they are finding between males and females. 

    Here’s another. “The major role of aldosterone is to regulate your blood volume,” Belin de Chantemele says. Increased salt intake should suppress aldosterone, and it does work that way in males, Belin de Chantemele says. But in females it appears to set them up for more trouble. 

    Aldosterone is the main mineralocorticoid, a class of hormones that helps maintain salt balance, and Belin de Chantemele and his team reported in 2019 in the journal Hypertension that the hormone progesterone, which enables pregnancy, also enables high levels of these mineralocorticoid receptors for aldosterone in the endothelial cells that line blood vessels in both female lab animals and human blood vessels. 

    When they removed the ovaries, which make estrogen and progesterone, from the female lab animals it equalized the mineralocorticoid receptor number, helping confirm that progesterone regulates the expression of the receptor in the females’ blood vessels. When they deleted either the mineralocorticoid or progesterone receptor in the females, it prevented the blood vessel dysfunction that typically follows, and just knocking out the progesterone receptor also suppressed the aldosterone receptor.

    The bottom line is that progesterone is key to the sex difference in aldosterone receptor expression on endothelial cells, which predisposes females to obesity associated, high-leptin driven endothelial dysfunction and likely high blood pressure, Belin de Chantemele says. 

    They reported a few years before in the same journal that higher leptin levels produced by more fat prompts the adrenal glands to make more aldosterone in females. “If you have higher aldosterone levels you will retain sodium and your blood volume will be higher,” he says. 

    They’ve also reported, as have others, that females are more salt sensitive than males. High sodium intake is known to raise blood pressure, by increasing fluid retention, and both pre- and postmenopausal females are more salt sensitive than males, Black females even more so, he says. 

    They’ve shown, for example, that in just seven days on a high-salt diet, the ability of female mice to relax blood vessels decreased as blood pressure increased. Treatment with the aldosterone agonist eplerenone helped correct both. 

    Because females already make more aldosterone, and the normal response of the body when you eat a lot of salt is to make even more aldosterone to help eliminate some of it, his team now proposes that females appear to have an impaired ability to reduce both the levels of the enzyme that makes aldosterone and the hormone itself, which makes them more salt sensitive. 

    One thing that means is that salt raises females’ blood pressure without them actually retaining more salt than the males. It also means that they think that blood vessels are more important in blood pressure regulation in females than males, which means they may need different treatment than males. To further compound the scenario, high salt increases the adrenal leptin receptor in the females, providing more points of action for leptin, which probably helps explain why aldosterone levels don’t decrease in females like they do in males. 

    A new $2.6 million grant (1R01HL155265-01) from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute is enabling them to further investigate, in both lab animals and human tissue, the female’s unique responses to a high-salt diet, include the specific contributions of the failure of aldosterone levels to drop, along with the increased expression of aldosterone and leptin receptors. 

    While trends in being overweight in about the last 50 years have held pretty steady for men and women, with decreases for men in the last handful of years, rates of severe obesity have been climbing, with women far outpacing men. 

    “We want to continue to put the puzzle together with the goal of helping restore protection from cardiovascular disease to young women, when a healthy diet and increased physical activity do not,” Belin de Chantemele says. 

    His research team includes Galina Antonova, research assistant; Dr. Reem Atawia, postdoctoral fellow; Simone Kennard, research associate; Taylor Kress and Candee Barris, graduate students; Vinay Mehta, undergraduate student at AU, Laszlo Kovacs, assistant research scientist; and Dr. Jessica Faulkner, postdoctoral fellow.

    Just 10 minutes of meditation helps anxious people have better focus

    University of Waterloo (Canada) May 1, 2021 

    Just 10 minutes of daily mindful meditation can help prevent your mind from wandering and is particularly effective if you tend to have repetitive, anxious thoughts, according to a study from the University of Waterloo.

    The study, which assessed the impact of meditation with 82 participants who experience anxiety, found that developing an awareness of the present moment reduced incidents of repetitive, off-task thinking, a hallmark of anxiety.

    “Our results indicate that mindfulness training may have protective effects on mind wandering for anxious individuals,” said Mengran Xu, a researcher and PhD candidate at Waterloo. “We also found that meditation practice appears to help anxious people to shift their attention from their own internal worries to the present-moment external world, which enables better focus on a task at hand.”

    The term mindfulness is commonly defined as paying attention on purpose, in the present moment, and without judgement.

    As part of the study, participants were asked to perform a task on a computer while experiencing interruptions to gauge their ability to stay focused on the task. Researchers then put the participants into two groups at random, with the control group given an audio story to listen to and the other group asked to engage in a short meditation exercise prior to being reassessed.

    “Mind wandering accounts for nearly half of any person’s daily stream of consciousness,” said Xu. “For people with anxiety, repetitive off-task thoughts can negatively affect their ability to learn, to complete tasks, or even function safely.

    “It would be interesting to see what the impacts would be if mindful meditation was practiced by anxious populations more widely.”

    The study, co-authored by Waterloo psychology professors Christine Purdon and Daniel Smilek and Harvard University’s Paul Seli, was published in Consciousness and Cognition.

    Researchers find breastfeeding linked to higher neurocognitive testing scores

    University of Rochester Medical Center, April 27, 2021

    New research finds that children who were breastfed scored higher on neurocognitive tests. Researchers in the Del Monte Institute for Neuroscience at the University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC) analyzed thousands of cognitive tests taken by nine and ten-year-olds whose mothers reported they were breastfed, and compared those results to scores of children who were not.

    “Our findings suggest that any amount of breastfeeding has a positive cognitive impact, even after just a few months.” Daniel Adan Lopez, Ph.D. candidate in the Epidemiology program who is first author on the study recently published in the journal Frontiers in Public Health. “That’s what’s exciting about these results. Hopefully from a policy standpoint, this can help improve the motivation to breastfeed.”

    Hayley Martin, Ph.D., a fourth year medical student in the Medical Scientist Training Program and co-author of the study, focuses her research on breastfeeding. “There’s already established research showing the numerous benefits breastfeeding has for both mother and child. This study’s findings are important for families particularly before and soon after birth when breastfeeding decisions are made. It may encourage breastfeeding goals of one year or more. It also highlights the critical importance of continued work to provide equity focused access to breastfeeding support, prenatal education, and practices to eliminate structural barriers to breastfeeding.”

    Researchers reviewed the test results of more than 9,000 nine and ten-year-old participants in the Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development (ABCD) study. Variations were found in the cumulative cognitive test scores of breastfed and non-breastfed children. There was also evidence that the longer a child was breastfed, the higher they scored. 

    “The strongest association was in children who were breastfed more than 12 months,” said Lopez. “The scores of children breastfed until they were seven to 12 months were slightly less, and then the one to six month-old scores dips a little more. But all scores were higher when compared to children who didn’t breastfeed at all.” Previous studies found breastfeeding does not impact executive function or memory, findings in this study made similar findings.

    “This supports the foundation of work already being done around lactation and breastfeeding and its impact on a child’s health,” said Ed Freedman, Ph.D., the principal investigator of the ABCD study in Rochester and lead author of the study. “These are findings that would have not been possible without the ABCD Study and the expansive data set it provides.”

May 3, 2021  

The day the world ended began like any other day. People woke up, had their coffee, checked their social media, kissed their loved ones, went to work.

Nobody knew it was coming. The news reporters and pundits hadn’t been informing them that the US and its allies had been simultaneously ramping up aggressions against two nuclear-armed nations in a way that could easily lead to something going catastrophically wrong, or explained to them what this could mean for them and their loved ones. The mass media had never let the truth interfere with the military agendas of their government before, and, as it turns out, they never would.

Nobody knew it was coming, so nobody opposed the dangerous acts of brinkmanship that led up to it. Nobody resisted as the Democrats manufactured consent for escalation after escalation against Russia. Nobody resisted as the Republicans manufactured consent for escalation after escalation against China. Nobody objected as war ships were moved, as troops were deployed, as Nuclear Posture Reviews became more and more hawkish and aggressive, as new armageddon weapons were manufactured and fielded, as proxy conflicts were backed, as war planes encroached upon sovereign airspace, as missiles were readied for swift deployment.

So it simply did not feature in anyone’s mind that this could be the day they and their loved ones die in a nuclear holocaust.

They just went about their day, like it was any other day. Working, texting, thinking pointless thoughts, arguing about nonsense with strangers on the internet.

Then it happened. A nuclear weapon was deployed by one side, setting off a chain reaction that had been set in place ready to be triggered long ago, from which there was no coming back.

And the funny thing is, it was an accident. Just a stupid, innocent mistake. One of the thousands of people responsible for the operation of those horrific weapons got a little careless with their part in the day-to-day management of the imperfect technology used in an international nuclear standoff that had become increasingly tense and confusing amid rapidly rising cold war chaos.

That’s all it took. Nothing grand or dramatic. Just a bad decision, made at the wrong time.

One minute it seemed fine. The next minute it was the end. The end of everything.

Nothing rearranges your mental priorities like looking outside and seeing a mushroom cloud growing on the horizon. Suddenly your particular political ideology doesn’t feel so significant anymore. Your personal beef with your coworker loses its importance. That heated argument you were having online slips forgotten from your mind. In fact, nearly everything you’d spent your mental mental energy on that day up until that point feels like a ridiculous, pathetic joke.

There was fear of course. Panic of course. People ran. People hid. But the realization spread very quickly that there was no escaping this one. That this was the end.

And, in that brief moment of helpless surrender to the inevitable, humanity was the most awake it’s ever been. The most tuned in. The most compassionate. The most loving. The most united. If there’d been anyone outside of it to witness it, the beauty of our species in that moment would have taken their breath away.

The earth shook. The flames spread. Black carbon was hurled into the stratosphere for decades. All the earth’s creatures perished in the darkness and radiation.

And then it was all still. Still and silent.

It was a mistake. A stupid, silly mistake, just like all the other stupid silly mistakes we’ve made since the moment we first stood upright. It’s just that this mistake was our last one.

The only difference between our final mistake and all the innumerable others which preceded it was that there was nobody left to fix this one. To try and course correct. To say “Ah, I see where you went wrong there, let’s make some adjustments and try a different approach.”

No one left to recognize the mistake, to grow as a result of that recognition, and to rise above it. No one left to realize how staggeringly insane it was to flirt with the end of the world for the sake of power, how arrogant it was to think that we could remain in perfect control of all those weapons for decades on end without something going wrong amid our reckless games of nuclear chicken.

No one left to realize there’s no good reason we need to live in a world where governments brandish such weapons at each other just because a few sociopaths decided that US unipolar domination needs to be preserved at all cost. No one left to realize we could all just lay down our weapons and get along with each other, and begin collaborating with each other toward a peaceful and harmonious world.

It would be so, so wonderful if that had happened. But it didn’t. And now it’s all gone.

And it’s too late to fix our mistake.

April 30, 2021  

The Weaponization of the CDC Against Public Health

Richard Gale and Gary Null

Progressive Radio Network, April 30, 2021

 

What if you were to know that a cabal of corrupt bureaucrats and scientists at the heart of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) have known for almost two decades that vaccines, including the MMR, can lead to autism and other neurological disorders? Most people are unaware that the CDC is a militarized federal agency further influenced by private pharmaceutical interests. Due to the politicization of national immunization, vaccine efficacy and safety has become all but irrelevant.  Its policies drive profits for itself and its partners. Now the agency is committed to have as many Americans mandated to be fully vaccinated as soon as possible, irrespective of how many lives are destroyed.  The very mindset and disregard for human life that created the notorious Tuskegee experiment is alive and thriving in the innards of the CDC. 

 

It is time to take a hard look at the advocates of compromised pharmaceutical science and the motivations that compel the CDC and it’s vaccine network to systematically mislead the public for personal benefit, power, and greed.  We need to begin to understand that the agency operates as an independent “deep state,” secretive, non-transparent, and conducting itself in covert ways behind the disguise of heralding public health. When the brilliant journalist I.F. Stone wrote, “Every government is run by liars, and nothing they say should be believed,” he may have just as well been speaking about the CDC and its alliance with the pharmaceutical industry, many medical journals, and the mainstream media.

 

The money-driven institutions of evidence-based medicine and science, which have hijacked America's health agencies--the CDC, FDA, Health and Human Services (HHS), National Institutes of Allergies and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), National Institutes of Mental Health, the National Cancer Institute, and the USDA-- have plunged a stake into the heart of authentic scientific inquiry, knowledge and innovative medical progress.  Its efforts to hermetically seal and silence the debate on vaccination safety with propaganda, coercion, erroneous and deceptive research, and blatant criminality have succeeded in transforming modern vaccinology into an egregious pseudo-science that is today destroying the lives of millions of infants, children and their families. 

 

The deep-seated problems that reside in the CDC are not going unnoticed by a growing number of Americans. A Rand Corporation survey of public trust in the agency during the Covid-19 pandemic found a 10 percent decline. For decades distrust in the CDC has been high among Black Americans; today, levels of trust among non-Hispanic whites and Hispanic respondents are comparable.  One of the fundamental reasons for Americans’ mistrust and skepticism has been the agency’s culture of muddying the lines between scientific facts and compromised opinions that support gross and deep-seated conflicts of interest.  

 

This problem has also entered the ranks of CDC personnel.  A group of CDC scientists who called themselves SPIDER (Scientists Preserving the Integrity, Diligence and Ethics in Research) became anonymous whistleblowers after releasing a written complaint criticizing the agency for operating as a tax-funded subsidiary of the drug industry in partnership with the FDA.  And after a Congressional Government Reform Committee brought CDC officials to testify before legislators, the Committee concluded the agency had routinely allowed scientists with conflicts of interest with pharmaceutical companies to serve on its two advisory committees that make recommendations on vaccine policy

 

The blurring of the lines between the pharmaceutical industry and our federal health agencies has been a scandal evolving over the course of several decades. The revolving door between private interests and top government employees never ceases to gyrate.  For example, former CDC director Julie Gerberding left government to become president of Merck's vaccine division, a move that has since earned her upwards to $3 million in stock options.  This may seem to be a modest reward for Gerberding heading the agency now irrefutably responsible for the cover-up of the CDC's own studies proving the MMR vaccine increases the risk of autism in African American boys.  The MMR is manufactured by Merck.

 

Robert Kennedy Jr, one of the nation’s expert watchdogs in the corporatization of our federal medical establishment, has called the CDC "a cesspool of corruption." Unlike the FDA, which has a contract with the American public to assure warnings about health risks and contraindications of registered drugs and medical devices, the CDC has no such contract with the nation's citizenry.  It seemingly holds no ethical standard and abides by no mandated rules of law. For this reason it may be best regarded as an intelligence agency rather than an institution committed to public health.

 

One recent example of the CDC's covert activities took place in 2016. Across the mainstream media, journalists en masse denounced the documentary film Vaxxed: From Cover-up to Catastrophe. The film recounted the events of CDC whistle-blower Dr. William Thompson and his agency's intentional cover-up and destruction of documents of scientific evidence proving the MMR vaccine caused autism. Rather than denouncing the nation's vaccine agenda, the film uncovers massive corruption in the CDC's vaccine division.  But a problem with the media-wide demonization of the film arose, which included outlets such as ABC, CNN, MSNBC, the Guardian, the Washington Post and the New York Times, Forbes, Rolling Stone and many others. The media blitzkrieg occurred before the film's actual release. None of the journalists had watched it. None knew the underlying story line aside from what could be gleaned from a 3 minute trailer. Our investigative article, "Why is the CDC petrified of the film Vaxxed" uncovered a template for an editorial script upon which all of these reviews were based.  They originated from a single source, and the tracks led to the halls of the CDC. The CDC's partnership and fellowship programs with the Association of Health Care Journalists is nothing less than an intelligence indoctrination program to train journalists to be the mouthpieces of the CDC's fake science. The curriculum held at the CDC's Atlanta campus includes propaganda in federal health policies, epidemiology (no authentic gold standard biological science), pandemic preparedness, vaccine safety and autism. Journalists are also instructed to access CDC publications and databases to peruse federal resources, public relations kits, and propaganda. 

 

Vaccine policy and the development and promotion of the childhood vaccine schedule is only one of the CDC's many corporate tasks. It is not exclusively concerned with the physical and mental health of the nation. It is also engaged in the design and development of biological weapons and threats of bioterrorism. Because vaccines are biological drugs that may be weaponized, they fall under the CDC's purview and jurisdiction. Consequently the Centers work closely with the Department of Defense and the intelligence agencies such as the National Security Agency with whom there is the exchange of data collection and sharing of classified information.  In its April 21, 2000 MMWR report entitled "Biological and Chemical Terrorism: Strategic Plan for Preparedness and Response" the CDC reported that for "the first time the CDC has joined with law enforcement, intelligence and defense agencies in addition to traditional CDC partners to address a national security threat." 

 

This may have been the turning point when the Centers morphed into a pseudo-intelligence agency and assumed a “deep state” role by adopting an inquisitional task of population surveillance and information data collection as a matter of intelligence gathering instead of improving healthcare. During the past years, this has further grown into spying and covert operations against the critics of our national health and immunization policies. Immunization, as described on the CDC's website, is now a matter of national and global security.  Therefore, no longer are vaccines simply a public health intervention. In fact, immunization has been removed from science altogether and consequently can only rely upon flawed and unreliable research to support policy templates and recommendations that get enacted at state levels. These policies are left for politicians to debate, which is rarely done, and is no longer open for discussion among expert medical researchers outside of the CDC’s ranks and its network of trolls, shills and medical puppets spewing disinformation into the public sector.  This alone is sufficient incentive for targeting and silencing voices challenging vaccine safety and efficacy and who demand a reevaluation of vaccination and its toxic ingredients. 

 

Few people realize that the CDC owns 56 vaccine patents; these patents are licensed to drug makers with royalties who later buy and distribute $4.6 billion worth of vaccines through its Vaccines for Children Program, which accounts for 40% of its budget. This has given rise to a 2015 British Medical Journalinvestigative report accusing the CDC of becoming a lapdog for commercial interests. 

 

The CDC also controls a separate non-profit institution known as the CDC Foundation, which operates like an astro turf organization. Founded in 1992 through an amendment inserted into the George H.W. Bush’s Preventative Health Act, the Foundation operates outside of Congressional oversight. This is clearly stated in its documentation:  

 

“The Foundation shall not be an agency or instrumentality of the Federal Government, and officers, employees and members of the board of the Foundation shall not be officers of the Federal government…. The purpose of the Foundation shall be to support and carry out activities for the prevention and control of diseases, disorders, injuries and disabilities, and for promotion of public health… the Foundation shall establish a fund for providing endowments for positions that are associated with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention…”

 

In other words, the Foundation has been established as a recruiting service, funded by non-Federal sources, which can include private corporations and drug makers, for the sole purpose to serving the tax-funded CDC.  Moreover, endowments to the Foundation are “unrestricted,” which means they can be spent solely based upon the discretion of the donator and to support the giver’s vested interests.  Among the CDC Foundation’s list of partners we find all of the large vaccine makers – Glaxo, Merck, Novartis, Pfizer, and Sanofi Pasteur – and of course the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. A Freedom of Information Act submission discovered that the CDC had been providing guidance to the companies for influencing authorities on sugar and beverage policies. For example, the CDC Foundation receives large donations from Pepsi and Coca Cola, and thereby exerts its influence to taint national guidelines about diabetes, liver disease and other illnesses. In another example, Roche, the manufacturer of the drug Tamiflu against influenza infection, donated $193,000 to the Foundation in return for the CDC’s advocating the drug’s benefits for relieving flu symptoms.  This completely undermines the FDA’s own ruling that Tamiflu’s clinical trial data does not support the claims that the drug saves lives or lessens hospitalization. 

 

It has been through the Foundation that Bill Gates’ faux philanthropy has bought off the CDC. Gates has given tens of millions of dollars to the CDC Foundation over the years.  In 2013, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation gave $13.5 million to support the CDC’s efforts to undertake surveillance and increase meningitis and rotavirus vaccination rates in Sub-Sahara Africa. 

 

Furthermore, the Centers' activities are no longer limited to the US' domestic health; after 911, its mission expanded, far beyond its original mandate, and today the agency is globally engaged.  On the Centers’ website, it defines itself as America's "Global Health Protection Agency" in charge of "implementing global health security" and works in partnership with other nations. Since 2006, the CDC claimed it had trained over 115,000 professional personnel in its interpretation of health issues. It’s Global Rapid Response Team of over 400 experts "can deploy in as little as 48 hours" to respond to local and regional health emergencies. In brief, the Centers are immersed in the technology of surveillance, information gathering and analysis. These are among the defining characteristics of an intelligence agency. 

 

Other intelligence activities often associated with a “deep state” and now undertaken by the CDC include pressuring peer-reviewed medical journals to retract studies that challenge their ideology or endanger the agency's reputation.  In 2014, Prof Brian Hooker, a biochemist at Simpson University, reevaluated the CDC's own data showing a 350% increase in autism among African American boys receiving the MMR. Initially approved for publication by the journal Translational Neurodegeneration, the study was shortly thereafter suspended after the CDC pressured the journal with fabricated claims against Dr. Hooker. This is a textbook case of intelligence sabotage of a critic by false accusation.  

 

Similar to the Pentagon and the CIA, the CDC has also infiltrated Hollywood. Hidden within the corridors on the University of Southern California campus is the relatively unknown organization Hollywood Health and Society. Its top funders include the CDC, the National Cancer Institute, the Office of National Drug Control Policy and the largest private funder of vaccines, The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.  The small organization's mission is to provide "briefings and consultations with experts, case examples, panel discussions about timely health issues" for Hollywood script writers and producers. Among the main topics listed on its website are influenza, smallpox and autism, all official propaganda stamped with the CDC's seal of approval. 

 

Among the trove of classified national security documents released by NSA whistle-blower Edward Snowden, were several regarding the government's intelligence agencies' infiltration of the internet in order to manipulate information, deceive the public and destroy personal reputations of opponents, including independent journalists.  Among the documents was a manual, "The Art of Deception: Training for Online Covert Operations." One of its stated missions is to flood the internet with false information and data to destroy the reputation of its opponents.  Furthermore, the manual provides instructions on taking control of online public discourse in order to generate allegiance to the intelligence agency's false point of view. 

 

Vaccine opponents often complain about the blogosphere being riddled with anonymous trolls, most who would be unable to debate their way out of cardboard box on scientific issues regarding vaccines, but who nevertheless follow the intelligence manual's strategies to disparage vaccine critics.  Bill Gates, who is on record condemning parents who refuse vaccines and who is no stranger to the higher echelon of executives in the vaccine industry and department heads at the CDC, funded a professor at the University of Connecticut to develop a monitoring system to track all anti-vaccine internet traffic. Given Gate's utter disdain towards voices speaking out against vaccines, we can be certain this was not for humanitarian, research purposes but as part of intelligence gathering in the CDC's war against the health of the nation.  Others who have been CDC mouthpieces yet are viewed as respectable and medically credentialed kingpins, such as Paul Offit, Peter Hotez, Senator Richard Pan, and others are welcomed by the media as the foremost authorities and final voices on vaccine topics. 

 

To our peril, federal agencies take full advantage of the average American's scientific illiteracy.  An important survey conducted by Michigan State University found that only 4% of American adults had an understanding about stem cells. Seventy percent could "not read or understand" the science section in the New York Times.  An earlier study funded by the US National Science Foundation noted that about half of Americans understood that the earth rotates once around the sun annually, 45% of people had an "acceptable" understanding of DNA, and only 22% knew what a molecule was.  Although scientific illiteracy is an enormous threat to a functioning democracy and an informed public, nevertheless it is a boon for the CDC and the vaccine industry. Manipulating this ignorance with heavy doses of fear tactics, such as revealed through the CDC's press model to guide the mainstream media's role in increasing vaccine compliance, health officials have managed to successfully thwart many efforts to educate the public to evaluate the pros and cons of vaccination. 

 

Along with the corporatization of Washington's three branches of government, and the emergence of a surveillance state watching over the shoulders of every citizen, the politicization of medicine, particularly vaccines, is another sign of the further decay of the nation towards totalitarianism. For almost two decades, fake news and bureaucratic deception, anger, hatred and disproportional distrust has taken the spotlight as the nation's health further erodes. Annually, the quality of Americans' health is declining and this is most evident in the younger generations who have received the bulk of vaccines. While the CDC and its allies conjure distorted statistics with no sound scientific basis from thin air in order to convince us that vaccines have saved countless lives, in fact these screeds are no more scientifically reliable than visiting the local gypsy soothsayer to have your palm read. A doctorate in science or a medical degree from Harvard does not excuse a person from duplicitous chicanery. 

 

The good news is that the tide is slowly turning. The populace is steadily losing its faith in government. Autism rates continue to rise and parents are able to access extensive independent medical research to understand the real dangers of vaccines. A fundamental reason why parents increasingly refuse to vaccinate themselves and their children is quite simple; the cartel of pharmaceutical-friendly bureaucrats writing the nation's healthcare policies has been losing the public's trust. There is no secret why federal health officials and their absolutist claims to mandate vaccine compliance are untrustworthy. In 2016 over 1500 medical researchers surveyed by the prestigious journal Nature failed to reproduce another scientist's experimental results. Over half were unable to reproduce their own experiments. The article concludes that the potential reasons for this lack of scientific confirmation are numerous. However, most important is that no single scientific study or paper can claim to be the final word on any medical issue, and this is especially true with vaccine research. The complexities of the human immune system, its biomolecular mechanisms and epigenetic relationships with external environmental factors are not fully understood.  And there remains much more to discover and digest.  Modern immunology still has a long ways to go and needs frequent revision as new discoveries emerge. In contrast, vaccine science continues to rely partially upon an antiquated understanding of the body's immune system focused almost exclusively on antibody generation.

 

One example of medical negligence has been the rising epidemic of citizens who are immune-compromised and therefore most susceptible to adverse vaccine reactions. When a severe condition of immunosuppression is clearly diagnosed, it is not uncommon for physicians to withhold vaccinations.  But how many Americans are immune-compromised?  When this question was posed to a researcher at Johns Hopkins University in 2015, to his surprise Theo Schall discovered there were no population accurate statistics and none of our federal health agencies nor medical institutions were tracking it.  Not only are these people at higher risk for vaccine injury, they are also at a higher risk for infection from wild viruses. Federal vaccine policies do not differentiate the population with weakened immune systems from healthier individuals. The CDC' immunization schedule is a one-size-fits-all paradigm/ Its bottom line demands that everyone should and must be vaccinated. 

 

After reviewing the different immune-compromised populations (eg, immunosenescence or weakened immunity due to age in the senior population, malnourishment, cancer patients, people with AIDS and HIV, transplant recipients, patients under immunosuppressive drugs with autoimmune conditions, and primary genetic immunodeficiency disorders, Schall estimated there were approximately 122.6 million Americans with a weakened immune system and stand at higher risk for infections. Our revaluation of the available figures places this figure now at 130.4 million, over one-third of the US population.

 

The question whether 130 million people, including hundreds of thousands of children, should be subject to injections with infectious viruses-- live, attenuated or killed – or now the new generation of mRNA Covid-19 vaccines that have no prior precedence for observing long-term adverse effects, is never discussed. Volumes of medical and biochemical research confirming the severe vaccine ingredients are also ignored. Nor is any consideration given to the number of vaccines administered and the risks due to the accumulative levels of toxic ingredients when multiple vaccines are given simultaneously or within short time intervals. Nor do pediatricians routinely evaluate the state of children's immunological health before determining whether or not to administer vaccines. There is no profit from delaying or postponing vaccination.  No perks are received from insurance companies for increasing vaccination compliance.  And finally, physicians and pediatricians are largely as ignorant as the general public about the scientific evidence supporting and debunking vaccine safety and efficacy myths.  Their primary source of information is channeled through the CDC and its disinformation campaign. 

 

The CDC has yet to conduct or fund definitive and legitimate studies to determine once and for all individual vaccine safety and whether or not vaccines as exogenous factors are contributing to the onslaught of illnesses ravishing the country. Yes, such gold standard studies, which remain absent from the pro-vaccine arsenal, would be very costly.  But that would be the price to pay to bring sanity to the irrational conclusions of the CDC’s decision makers on our nation’s national advisory vaccine committee. Nevertheless, the cumulative financial cost of all previous government sponsored fake science would be a small price to pay for the future well-being of children.  

 

During Congressional proceedings in 2002 into the causes for the unaccountable rise in autism in the United States, CDC officials confirmed no studies have been undertaken to compare the quality of health between vaccinated and unvaccinated children. Yet the subcommittee was assured by the CDC that such studies would be conducted. A decade later, when the CDC was again yanked back into a subcommittee, still no studies had been conducted, and again, Congress was assured such studies were forthcoming. 

 

We should not hold our breath. Officials at the CDC and Department of Health and Human Services know perfectly well that vaccinated children are susceptible to far more allergies and illnesses than their unvaccinated peers.  Their greatest fear is a thorough long-term study to see whether unvaccinated children are indeed healthier. Otherwise, the necessary research to prove the health advantages of vaccines would have been conducted long ago. 

 

Yet there are reasons why such studies are not mandated nor funded. Health agencies are fully aware that vaccines are a scourge. Instead they pump out ecological and epidemiological cohort studies, notorious for subjective manipulation, confounders and biases to support their dogma. Such studies, which are little more than algorithmic equations for sifting, shifting and fudging data, are scientifically invalid for determining any medical truth.  Nevertheless, epidemiological studies remain the most cited articles by the most vocal proponents of vaccination and vaccine mandates. 

 

However, corruption at the CDC is not limited to national vaccine policies and the deceptive manipulation of scientific data to further advance a national vaccination regime. The agency has also been discovered to mislead the nation on other health issues that in turn shape government policies. Earlier it was accused of inflating numbers of rapes in the US. The CDC estimated 2 million rapes occurred within a single year (2011); however, the Justice Department's crime statistics recorded only 238,000. Later Time magazine reported that the manner the CDC gathered its information was extremely flawed and biased.

 

In 2016 The Hill reported that the CDC misled Congress with its WISEWOMAN project --  a national screening and evaluation project to help reduce heart disease risks in women between 40-64 and to promote healthier lifestyles.  The CDC's data of the project was all "cooked" to make the results look better than it was and that the project was larger and more inclusive than it actually was

 

The writings of Hannah Arendt over fifty years ago about the origins of totalitarian ideologies and states have never been more poignant and prophetic than today.  She worried deeply about the language of absolutism, and particularly in the realm of science, which is now the underlying mission of the CDC to politicize immunization. The attempt to reduce all of human life to well-defined processes, to predictable patterns and primitive linear reductionism, was in Arendt's view both self-defeating and extremely dangerous for a healthy society. In a totalitarian state, objectivity is tyrannical. Scientific objectivity that threatens the official policy even more so. In the case of vaccines, the entire industry is a creed that has institutionalized a denial of the most fundamental principles of science and fact finding. And worse, the CDC's ongoing war of terror against the unvaccinated has become lawful.  And this is what gives rise to a totalitarian culture of science. 

 

Arendt was certain that a fascist worldview does not necessarily have to be framed in nationalism, religious doctrine nor based upon race and ethnicity. She worried that science, and its technologies, once they become politicized, would give rise to new forms of totalitarianism and persecution in the future. And today this totalitarian stench breathes through many scientific institutions and universities, throughout the private vaccine industry, and its most pungent odor of rot and decay fills the halls of the CDC. 

April 29, 2021  

Anti-aging compound improves muscle glucose metabolism in people

Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, April 26, 2021

 

A natural compound previously demonstrated to counteract aspects of aging and improve metabolic health in mice has clinically relevant effects in people, according to new research at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.

A small clinical trial of postmenopausal women with prediabetes shows that the compound NMN (nicotinamide mononucleotide) improved the ability of insulin to increase glucose uptake in skeletal muscle, which often is abnormal in people with obesity, prediabetes or Type 2 diabetes. NMN also improved expression of genes that are involved in muscle structure and remodeling. However, the treatment did not lower blood glucose or blood pressure, improve blood lipid profile, increase insulin sensitivity in the liver, reduce fat in the liver or decrease circulating markers of inflammation as seen in mice.

The study, published online April 22 in the journal Science, is the first randomized clinical trial to look at the metabolic effects of NMN administration in people.

Among the women in the study, 13 received 250 mg of NMN orally every day for 10 weeks, and 12 were given an inactive placebo every day over the same period.

"Although our study shows a beneficial effect of NMN in skeletal muscle, it is premature to make any clinical recommendations based on the results from our study," said senior investigator Samuel Klein, MD, the William H. Danforth Professor of Medicine and Nutritional Science and director of the Center for Human Nutrition. "Normally, when a treatment improves insulin sensitivity in skeletal muscle, as is observed with weight loss or some diabetes medications, there also are related improvements in other markers of metabolic health, which we did not detect in our study participants."

The remarkable beneficial effects of NMN in rodents have led several companies in Japan, China and in the U.S. to market the compound as a dietary supplement or a neutraceutical. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is not authorized to review dietary supplement products for safety and effectiveness before they are marketed, and many people in the U.S. and around the world now take NMN despite the lack of evidence to show clinical benefits in people.

The researchers studied 25 postmenopausal women who had prediabetes, meaning they had higher than normal blood sugar levels, but the levels were not high enough to be diagnosed as having diabetes. Women were enrolled in this trial because mouse studies showed NMN had the greatest effects in female mice.

NMN is involved in producing an important compound in all cells, called nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD). NAD plays a vital role in keeping animals healthy. Levels of NAD decline with age in a broad range of animals, including humans, and the compound has been shown to contribute to a variety of aging-associated problems, including insulin resistance in studies conducted in mice. Supplementing animals with NMN slows and ameliorates age-related decline in the function of many tissues in the body. 

Co-investigator Shin-ichiro Imai, MD, PhD, a professor of developmental biology and of medicine who has been studying NMN for almost two decades and first reported on its benefits in mice said, "This is one step toward the development of an anti-aging intervention, though more research is needed to fully understand the cellular mechanisms responsible for the effects observed in skeletal muscle in people."

Insulin enhances glucose uptake and storage in muscle, so people who are resistant to insulin are at increased risk for developing Type 2 diabetes. But the researchers caution that more studies are needed to determine whether NMN has beneficial effects in the prevention or management of prediabetes or diabetes in people. Klein and Imai are continuing to evaluate NMN in another trial involving men as well as women.

 

 

N-acetylcysteine for depression in adolescents and young adults at risk for bipolar disorder

University of Cincinnati, April 23, 2021

According to news reporting originating from Cincinnati, Ohio, by NewsRx correspondents, research stated, “To investigate the mechanism of action of N-acetylcysteine (NAC) in depressive symptoms in young individuals at familial risk for bipolar disorder. We conducted an 8-week open label clinical trial of NAC 2400 mg/days in 15-24 years old depressed offspring of a bipolar I disorder parent, with baseline and endpoint proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy acquired within the left ventrolateral prefrontal cortex (VLPFC).”

Our news editors obtained a quote from the research from the University of Cincinnati, “Nine participants were enrolled and finished the study. NAC significantly improved depressive and anxiety symptom scores, and clinical global impression (all p< .001). There was a non-significant reduction in glutamate levels in the left VLPFC. Reduction in depressive symptom scores was positively associated with reduction in glutamate levels in the left VLPFC (p = .007).”

According to the news editors, the research concluded: “This pilot study suggests that NAC might be efficacious for depressive symptoms in at-risk youth, and that its mechanism of action involves the modulation of glutamate in the left VLPFC.”

This research has been peer-reviewed.

 

 

Soda consumption linked to accelerated aging and increased mortality risk

University of California at San Francisco, April 26, 2021

A recent study by researcher from the University of California, San Francisco says that drinking soda can increase the risk of all-cause mortality and accelerate aging. The findings build on mounting evidence of the adverse effects drinking soda and other sugary beverages have on the body, which include obesity, Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, dental caries and gout.

The team collated data from the National Health and Examination Surveys, an annual program for assessing the health and nutrition of American adults and children. They gathered data from over 5,300 participants between 1999 and 2002, all of whom had no history of diabetes or cardiovascular disease. 

In particular, they looked at stored DNA data from the participants – measuring telomere length and comparing it with their consumption of sugar-sweetened soda. The researchers found that those who regularly drank sugar-sweetened soda had shorter telomeres than those who didn’t.

Research has shown that telomeres have been previously associated with lifespan. Having shorter telomere length, for instance, has been linked to cardiovascular disease, diabetes and even certain types of cancer.

The team reported in their study that consuming even just eight ounces of soda every day can accelerate aging by nearly two years. Meanwhile, 20 ounces of soda can accelerate aging by up to 4.6 years when consumed daily. In fact, drinking sugar-sweetened soda can reduce telomere length at a rate similar to smoking.

The UCSF study is also the first to link regular consumption of sugar-sweetened soda to telomere shortening. According to study co-author Elissa Epel, drinking sugar-sweetened soda adds strain to the body by metabolizing these sugars and accelerates cellular aging in tissues.

“This finding held regardless of age, race, income and education level. Telomere shortening starts long before disease onset,” Epel added. ” Although we only studied adults here, it is possible that soda consumption is associated with telomere shortening in children, as well.”

Sugary sodas linked to rising all-cause deaths

In another study, European experts revealed that drinking sugary sodas and other sweetened drinks increases the risk of all-cause deaths. The researchers collected data from more than 450,000 individuals enrolled in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) study, a large-scale cohort study for biochemical and genetic markers for cancer and other chronic diseases.

A follow-up revealed that more than 40,000 participants from the original study had already died. Using their data, the team found a strong link between regular soda consumption and all-cause mortality. Those who regularly drank more than two glasses of sugary drinks increased their risk of dying from circulatory diseases, while those who drank at least one glass of sugary drinks increased their risk of dying from digestive diseases and Parkinson’s disease.

“Our results … provide additional support for the possible adverse health effects of sugar-sweetened soft drinks and to replace them with other healthier beverages, preferably water,” explained co-author Neil Murphy. “For artificially-sweetened soft drinks, we now need a better understanding of the mechanisms that may underlie this association and research such as ours will hopefully stimulate these efforts.”

The findings appeared in JAMA Internal Medicine.

 

 

Curcumin concoction could combat colitis: Study

Baylor University, April 25, 2021

A formula that blends curcumin and turmeric oils can prove effective against the activity and inflammatory burden of colitis, a study has determined.

Published in Nature Scientific Reports, the study identifies the efficacy of a specific curcumin preparation containing essential turmeric oils (ETO-curcumin) in reducing colitis symptoms.

These turmeric oils, aromatic-tumerones (ar-tumerones), alpha-turmerones, beta-turmerones, alpha-santalene and aromatic curcumene, appear to be responsible for an anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant action, the study suggests.

The combination also appeared to exert higher bioactivity than stand-alone curcumin – a feature that could prove valuable in using turmeric for other intestinal conditions.

“The therapeutic benefits of turmeric can be attained at its best by combining curcumin with turmerone, an active compound derived from essential oil of turmeric,” said P.J. Kunjachan, chairman and managing director for Arjuna Natural Extracts

“This new finding provides our customers an added value for promoting their BCM-95-based formulations in an increasingly crowded curcumin market,” added Dr Benny Antony, joint managing director for Arjuna.

BCM-95 often combines curcumin with other turmeric compounds as its poor bioavailability has been cited as a barrier to its use in other disorders.

Obstacles are not limited to curcumin's chemical properties. Despite the 17 claims for its anti-inflammatory and digestive health properties, there are currently no approved health claims for curcumin in the EU.

These claims are featured on the 2000+ list of on-hold botanical claims yet to be processed by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA).

As well as Arjuna, other manufacturers with an interest in curcumin include herbal manufacturers Sabinsa and Italian botanicals firm Indena.

Led by Dr Shusuke Toden, research associate from Baylor University in the US, the trial compared ETO-curcumin preparations  against standard curcumin at three specific doses (0, 5, 25 or 50 milligrams per kilogram (mg/kg)).

These doses were administered to an animal model with induced colitis for seven days.

The research team found that ETO-curcumin improved disease activity index (DAI) dose-dependently, while the anti-inflammatory efficacy of standard curcumin remained constant.

“This suggests that ETO-curcumin may provide superior anti-inflammatory efficacy compared to standard curcumin,” the study explained.

“ETO-curcumin associated anti-inflammatory effects were particularly pronounced at higher doses.”

Further findings revealed that anti-inflammatory proteins produced included IL-10 and IL-11 as well as FOXP3, which increased in number in the colon by ETO-curcumin.

 

Study examines association between lifestyle patterns and BMI in early childhood

Results support obesity prevention efforts early in life

Deakin University (Australia), April 26, 2021

 

A new Australian study reveals that changes in lifestyle patterns were longitudinally associated with concurrent changes in body mass index (BMI) z scores, and maternal pre-pregnancy BMI, maternal dietary patterns and television viewing time are significant determinants, according to a paper published online in Obesity, The Obesity Society's (TOS) flagship journal. This is the first study that used multi-trajectory modeling to examine the longitudinal relationship between concurrent changes in lifestyle patterns and BMI z scores in early childhood. 

"The findings will inform early childhood obesity prevention intervention and policy, and will be of great interest to pediatricians, researchers, policymakers and the general public," said Miaobing Zheng of the Institute for Physical Activity and Nutrition, School of Exercise and Nutrition Sciences, Deakin University, in Geelong, Australia. Zheng is the corresponding author of the study. 

Experts explain that longitudinal studies investigating the association between lifestyle patterns and obesity in children are scarce. An association between a healthy lifestyle pattern and lower obesity risk has, however, been previously reported in a few cross-sectional studies. In the present study, the co-occurrence of stable healthy lifestyle patterns along with a concurrent normal BMI z score trajectory of one unit from 18 to 60 months in about half of the children provides new longitudinal evidence supporting that children with healthy lifestyles were more likely to concurrently have normal BMI z score development. 

Data of 439 children were used from the Melbourne Feeding Activity and Nutrition Trial (InFANT) program. This longitudinal cohort of children commenced in 2008 as a 15-month parent-focused cluster randomized controlled trial aiming to reduce obesity risk behaviors in children until 18 months. Additional follow-ups without interventions occurred for children aged 42 and 60 months. Multi-trajectory modeling identified groups of children following similar lifestyle patterns and BMI z score trajectories and multi-nomial logistic regression assessed the determinants of the trajectory groups. 

Three trajectory groups of child lifestyle patterns and BMI z scores were identified and distinguished, showing a mixture of healthy and unhealthy lifestyle behaviors and BMI zscores. Compared to Groups 1 "Unhealthy lifestyle pattern, Low BMI z" and 3 "Unhealthy lifestyle pattern, High BMI z", Group 2 "Healthy lifestyle pattern, Mid BMI z" revealed the most distinctive trajectories across lifestyle patterns and BMI z scores. Group 2 comprised nearly 53 percent of children and followed a stable and low trajectory for an unhealthy lifestyle pattern characterized by energy-dense and nutrient poor discretionary food consumption and television viewing time and a high and rising trajectory for a healthy lifestyle pattern of fruit and vegetable intakes and time outdoors, along with a mean BMI z score of +1 unit over time.

Groups 1 and 3 shared similar high trajectories for an unhealthy lifestyle pattern of discretionary food consumption and television viewing time, and low trajectories for a healthy lifestyle pattern of fruit and vegetable intakes and time outdoors. The two groups however differed in BMI z score trajectories, showing stable patterns but at mean scores of 0 and +2 units, respectively. Child sex, breastfeeding duration and maternal physical activity were not associated with the identified trajectory groups.

The study's authors note that the co-occurrence of stable lifestyle patterns and BMI z score trajectories in early childhood highlight the importance of initiating lifestyle obesity prevention early in life, and such interventions could target both children and the mother. A multi-behavior approach to simultaneously target healthy diet, physical activity and sedentary behaviors could be adapted.

"Young children learn by imitating that which they see daily. There is no doubt that children copy the behaviors observed in the presence of parents: healthy and unhealthy," said Liliana Aguayo, PhD, MPH, a childhood obesity expert, TOS member and research assistant professor from the Hubert Department of Global Health at Emory University in Atlanta, Ga. "Evidence from this study highlights the importance of early childhood as a critical period for development of obesity. More research is needed to identify effective approaches to simultaneously address parent and child health behaviors." Aguayo was not associated with the research.

 

 

DDT exposure in grandmothers linked to obesity, earlier periods in granddaughters

Young women today may face increased health risks linked to breast cancer due to effects from the banned toxic pesticide lasting over three generations

University of California at Davis, April 16, 2021

In the first study to report on the health effects of exposure to a toxic environmental chemical over three human generations, a new study has found that granddaughters whose grandmothers were exposed to the pesticide DDT have higher rates of obesity and earlier first menstrual periods. This may increase the granddaughters' risk for breast cancer as well as high blood pressure, diabetes and other cardiometabolic diseases. 

The research by the Public Health Institute's Child Health and Development Studies (CHDS) and the University of California at Davis was published today in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research. It suggests that effects from the pesticide DDT -- despite being banned in the U.S. nearly 50 years ago -- may contribute to the falling age of first periods and increases in obesity rates among young women today.

The study found that the risk of obesity in young adult granddaughters was 2 to 3 times greater when their grandmothers (who were not overweight) had higher levels of o,p'-DDT (a contaminant of commercial DDT) in their blood during or just after pregnancy. Granddaughters were twice as likely to have earlier first menstrual periods when their grandmothers had higher o,p'-DDT blood levels. DDT and its related chemicals, including o,p'-DDT, are known to be endocrine disrupting chemicals, compounds that can alter and interfere with natural hormones that are essential for development. 

"We already know that it's nearly impossible to avoid exposures to many common environmental chemicals that are endocrine disruptors. Now our study shows for the first time in people that environmental chemicals like DDT may also pose health threats to our grandchildren," said Barbara Cohn, director of CHDS and senior author of the study. "In combination with our on-going studies of DDT effects in the grandmother's and mother's generations, our work suggests we should take precautionary action on the use of other endocrine disrupting chemicals, given their potential to affect generations to come in ways we cannot anticipate today." 

The Child Health and Development Studies is a unique project that has followed 20,000 pregnant women and their families for more than 60 years. CHDS enrolled and began following pregnant women in the Bay Area between 1959 and 1967, a time of high pesticide use before DDT was banned in 1972. These "founding grandmothers" in the study gave blood samples at each trimester during pregnancy and one sample shortly after birth. The blood samples were tested for levels of DDT and its related chemicals, including active ingredients, contaminants and their metabolites. The study today focused on o,p'-DDT as it has previously been linked to breast cancer, obesity and other harmful health effects in daughters, and is believed to be the most sensitive biomarker for exposures before and immediately after birth. Since granddaughters' exposure would occur via their mothers' in utero egg cell development, o,p'-DDT levels are a potential predictor of granddaughters' exposure outcomes. 

"These data suggest that the disruption of endocrine systems by DDT initiates in immature human eggs, decades before the eggs are fertilized," said Michele La Merrill, associate professor at UCD who was co-lead author of the study.

The CHDS study included interviews, home visits and questionnaires from the daughters and granddaughters of the original enrollees. During home visits, blood pressure and height and weight measurements were taken. The study today is based on 365 adult granddaughters who completed questionnaires, participated in a home visit, had available DDT measures from grandmothers' serum, and (for 285 of them) had available information on body mass index (BMI) in all three generations. Information on the age of first period for all three generations was available from 235 granddaughters.

Previous CHDS studies have shown that mothers' DDT exposure during pregnancy or immediately after birth correlates with increased daughters' risk of breast cancer and the prevalence of breast cancer risk factors, including obesity, among adult daughters. Other prior studies have linked DDT exposure to birth defects, reduced fertility and an increased risk of diabetes.

A commentary in the journal Reproductive Toxicology last year called CHDS "a national treasure that keeps on giving" and noted that "There are no other U.S. studies as well defined, sampled, and followed as the CHDS....The CHDS provides unique and essential value in understanding health effects of environmental exposures as they relate to life-stage sensitivity."

 

 

 

Capsaicin analog could help treatment-resistant lung cancer

Small cell lung cancer cells exposed to synthetic analog of chili pepper compound responded better to chemotherapy

Marshall University, April 27, 2021

A new study found that non-pungent synthetic analog of capsaicin -- the compound that makes chili peppers hot -- made small cell lung cancer cells more responsive to treatment. Small cell lung cancer is a very aggressive form of cancer with a low survival rate. 

Cisplatin-based combination chemotherapy is typically the first-line treatment for small cell lung cancer patients. Although patients initially respond very well to this chemotherapy, the tumor usually comes back within a year in a form that doesn't respond to treatments. Patients with relapsed small cell lung cancer have very few treatment options. 

"Irinotecan is the only FDA approved second-line drug for small cell lung cancer, but less than 3% of patients respond to it," said research team leader Piyali Dasgupta, PhD, from Marshall University. "Therefore, agents that improve the anti-cancer activity of irinotecan would be of great value to these patients."

Jamie Friedman, a former doctoral student in Dasgupta's lab will present the new findings at the American Society for Investigative Pathology annual meeting during the virtual Experimental Biology (EB) 2021 meeting, to be held April 27-30. 

The natural compound capsaicin has been shown to have anti-cancer effects, but its heat can also cause a burning sensation, stomach cramps, gut pain and nausea. In the new work, the researchers studied arvanil, a synthetic capsaicin analog without capsaicin's undesirable side effects. 

When the researchers exposed two cisplatin-resistant lung cancer cell lines to a low concentration of arvanil, they saw no growth-inhibitory activity. However, when they treated the cells with varying concentrations of SN38 -- the active ingredient irinotecan -- they observed that the presence of arvanil greatly enhanced the ability of SN38 to slow cancer cell growth. Statistical analysis showed that the interaction between arvanil and SN38 was synergistic in nature. 

"Because arvanil enhanced the anti-cancer activity of SN38 in human small cell lung cancer cells, arvanil-based combination therapies may be useful for patients with relapsed small cell lung cancer cells," said Friedman. "We hope that this work will pave the way for novel therapies for relapsed and cisplatin-resistant small cell lung cancer."

 

 

Five Therapeutic Properties of Medicinal Mushrooms

GreenMedInfo, April 25, 2021

 

Mushrooms have recently gained popularity in culinary circles, but their far-reaching therapeutic properties should get your attention for a longer and healthier life.

Although mushrooms have been part of the healer’s toolbox since ancient times, the medicinal power of mushrooms is gaining momentum in evidence-based journals.

Medicinal mushrooms come in a wide variety and shapes such as white button, reishi, maitake, shiitake, oyster, cordyceps, cauliflower, tiger tail and lion’s mane, and most have health benefits that range from fighting cancer and boosting your immunity and memory to preventing diseases like diabetes and arthritis.

1. Anticancer

Reishi (in Japanese) or lingzhi (in Chinese) mushrooms are well known in Asia for their anticancer properties. In a meta-analysis by scientists of 23 trials involving 4,246 cancer patients, reishi mushrooms enhanced longevity and quality of life in cancer patients.[i]

Therapy with white button mushrooms impacted prostate-specific antigen (PSA) levels and inhibited prostate cancer by decreasing immunosuppressive factors.[ii]

Polysaccharides from Cordyceps cicadae mushrooms inhibited the growth of cancer cells and induced cancer cell deaths showing its effectiveness as a low cost and safe treatment for cervical cancer.[iii]

A peptide from the shiitake mushroom showed promising results in growth arrest, cell death and cleaning out damaged cells in a breast cancer in vitro study.[iv] In both in vitro and in vivo studies, results showed that mice with induced testicular cancer treated with the Cordyceps sinensis mushroom had significantly smaller and fewer tumors than the control group.[v]

Cordyceps cicadae mushroom treatment prevented testicular damage and tumors caused by the chemotherapy drug cisplatin via inhibition of oxidative stress and inflammation in rats.[vi]

In a lung cancer-induced study of mice, treatment with reishi mushrooms inhibited cell viability and mobility of lung cancer cells in vitro.[vii] In a cell study of reishi mushroom extract, the treatment offered high antitumor and liver protection with low toxicity on human liver cancer cells.[viii]

2. Immunomodulatory

In a meta-analysis of 20 animal disease studies, grifola frondosa, or maitake mushroom, polysaccharide showed strong immune function by enhancing T cells, natural killer cells and macrophages in mice and increasing the secretion of two important immune factors, TNF-α and INF-γ.[ix]

In a clinical study of 105 cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy or radiation treatments, a combination of reishi mushroom extract and geraniums improved immunity and fought the cancer and secondary infections that could have compromised treatment and health.[x]

In a study of 18 patients diagnosed with low and intermediate myelodysplastic syndrome, which can lead to leukemia if not managed well, maitake mushroom extract treatment of three milligrams (mg) twice a day for 12 weeks increased immunity, positively affecting neutrophil, monocyte and free radical production.[xi]

In a clinical study of asymptomatic children from 3 to 5 years old, treatment with beta glucans from reishi mushrooms showed increased immune system cells in the peripheral blood — signaling a strong defense against childhood infections.[xii]

Reviewing in vivo and in vitro studies on mice and human cell lines using lion’s mane (Hericium erinaceus) and tiger tail (Trametes versicolor) mushrooms, treatments showed immunomodulatory, anticancer, anti-inflammatory and neuroregenerative effects.[xiii]

3. Antioxidant

Polysaccharide beta glucan extracted from reishi mushroom was shown to be a powerful antioxidant in 37 high risk and 34 stable angina patients; those who were treated with 750 mg per day for three months had significantly decreased oxidative radicals and improved progression of atherosclerosis.[xiv]

In a study of 42 healthy subjects, another intervention with beta glucan from reishi mushrooms of 225 mg per day for three months demonstrated its antioxidative effects — enhanced total antioxidant capacity and enzyme activities as well as reduced mild fatty liver condition to normal by suppressing oxidative stress were observed.[xv]

4. Anti-inflammatory 

Crohn’s disease is a chronic inflammatory disease of the gastrointestinal tract. Treatment with a triterpene compound from reishi mushrooms showed that the inflammatory cytokines were significantly inhibited in a study of children with Crohn’s disease.[xvi]

Sixty patients with moderate persistent asthma were studied and those who took the cordyceps sinensis mushroom capsule for two months had reduced airway inflammation caused by their chronic asthma.[xvii] Cordycepin from medicinal mushrooms showed strong effects on many anti-inflammatory diseases.[xviii]

In a study of 32 patients with active rheumatoid arthritis, supplementation of medicinal mushroom and Chinese herbs — reishi (4 grams) and San Miao San (2.4 grams) daily — lowered arthritic pain for patients.[xix] The data in a mice study support a model where white button mushrooms regulate immunity in vitro and protect the colon from inflammation-induced injuries in vivo.[xx]

The brain is susceptible to inflammation as well. In an Alzheimer’s disease model of rats, treatment with medicinal mushroom extracts delayed disease progression, improved learning and memory functions and stopped neural cell deaths and brain atrophy.[xxi]

Chaga mushrooms administered to mice successfully protected against Alzheimer’s disease by modulating oxidative stress, Nrf2 signaling and mitochondrial cell deaths while improving memory and cognition.[xxii] Cordycepin from the Cordyceps sinensis mushroom alleviated Parkinson’s disease motor disorder symptoms by lowering oxidative stress and inflammation in vivo and in vitro.[xxiii]

Lion’s mane mushrooms were supplemented for 12 weeks and were effective in preventing dementia and cognitive decline.[xxiv] Lion’s mane supplementation for four weeks in a study of 30 females also reduced depression and anxiety.[xxv]

5. Antidiabetic

Dyslipidemia, high blood cholesterol and triglycerides is often a harbinger of future diabetes. In a rat model, white button mushrooms and a probiotic were found to lower dyslipidemia and decrease oxidative stress.[xxvi] In a study of 89 diabetic patients, oyster mushroom consumption significantly reduced blood glucose, blood pressure, triglycerides and cholesterol without ill effects on the liver or kidneys.[xxvii]

Polyphenols from Phellinus igniarius, or willow bracket, mushroom extract were used in vitro and in vivo studies of induced Type 2 diabetes mice and showed improved glucose tolerance, reduced hyperglycemia and normalized insulin levels.[xxviii]

Diabetic nephropathy, kidney disease caused by Type 2 diabetes, was studied in vitro with disease-induced rats and treatment with Cordyceps cicadae resulted in improved insulin resistance and glucose tolerance, suppressed inflammation and balanced gut microbiome thus stopping the diabetes-related progression of renal disease and tumors.[xxix]

In an animal study, maitake mushroom prevented the progression of kidney fibrosis in diabetic nephropathy rats, significantly decreased fasting blood glucose levels, reduced inflammatory cytokines and lowered renal fibrosis indexes indicating its effectiveness in the treatment or prevention of nephropathy.[xxx]

In their meta-analysis of 623 articles and 33 randomized controlled experiments using cauliflower mushroom extract (S. Crispa), researchers found statistically significant differences in diabetic symptoms including decreased serum insulin levels and wound rates and an increase in nutrient intake content.[xxxi]

Mushrooms and Their Medicinal Powers

Medicinal mushrooms are widely researched and used as treatment in the prevention and progression of many diseases from cancer and asthma to diabetes and dementia. Mushrooms protect you due to their anti-inflammatory, antitumor, antidiabetic, immune boosting and antioxidant activities. To learn more, see GreenMedInfo.com’s database on mushrooms.

 

 

 

 

 

April 28, 2021  

Compound found in some vegetables may reduce diabetes-related kidney damage

Phenethyl isothiocyanate, derived from watercress and other cruciferous vegetables, shows benefits

Al-Maarefa University (Saudi Arabia), April 27, 2021

New research conducted in rats suggests a compound that gives some cruciferous vegetables their pungent taste could help to reverse kidney problems associated with diabetes. 

It is estimated that about one-quarter of people with diabetes will eventually develop diabetic nephropathy, a gradual loss of kidney function eventually requiring dialysis. The condition is a leading cause of chronic kidney disease in the U.S. and is also associated with a high risk of heart disease. There is currently no cure. 

For the new study, researchers assessed the effects of phenethyl isothiocyanate (PEITC) in rats with diabetic nephropathy. PEITC is found in several types of vegetables but is most concentrated in watercress. 

"Our study provides, for the first time, evidence that PEITC might be effective as a naturally occurring agent to reverse serious kidney damage in people with diabetes," said lead study author Mohamed El-Sherbiny, PhD, a postdoctoral fellow at AlMaarefa University in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. "Our study introduces mechanistic evidence of how PEITC might manage kidney injury associated with diabetes by targeting multiple interconnected pathways involved in diabetic nephropathy, including inflammation, glycation and oxidative status."

El-Sherbiny will present the research at the American Association for Anatomy annual meeting during the Experimental Biology (EB) 2021 meeting, held virtually April 27-30. 

Previous studies have suggested sulforaphane, a related compound in cruciferous vegetables, also helps reduce diabetes-associated kidney damage. The new study bolsters the evidence that eating more vegetables containing these compounds could help people with diabetes to stave off kidney problems. 

"PEITC seems to manage one of the most serious and painful diabetic complications. Luckily, PEITC is naturally present in many dietary sources, importantly watercress, broccoli, turnips and radish," said El-Sherbiny. 

Since the research was conducted in animal models, further studies will be needed to confirm the findings and understand how the results could translate to new treatments or dietary recommendations for people with diabetes.

 

Eating probiotic foods helps improve bone health in women

Kyung Hee University (South Korea), April 23, 2021

A recent study by researchers at Kyung Hee University (KHU) in South Korea presents a good example of how powerful probiotics are and how they can be used for medicinal purposes. The researchers examined the effects of probiotics on vaginosis caused by the bacterium, Gardnerella vaginalisand osteoporosis induced by ovariectomy. They reported that probiotics, specifically, anti-inflammatory bacteria isolated from kimchi, caused significant improvements in female mice with the above-mentioned conditions.

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

Probiotics from fermented food offer substantial benefits for women

Bacterial vaginosis (BV) is a type of inflammation caused by the overgrowth of bacterialike G. vaginalis, which naturally reside in the vagina. Normally, good bacteria outnumber bad bacteria and keep them in check; but certain activities, such as frequent douching or unprotected sex, can disrupt the microbial balance in the vagina and promote the growth of bad bacteria.

Osteoporosis, also called “porous bone,” is a disease characterized by either the loss of too much bone in the body, a decreased formation of bone, or both. These events cause the bones to become weak and more likely to break from a fall, a minor bump or even from sneezing. According to statistics, osteoporosis is more common in women, with one in three over the age of 50 experiencing bone fractures because of it, while only one in five men experience the same. Genetics and age can play a part in osteoporosis development, along with low calcium intake, thyroid problems, inflammatory conditions and the use of corticosteroid medications.

In their study, the team from KHU noted that the excessive expression of tumor necrosis factor-(TNF-a), a signaling protein (cytokine) secreted by inflammatory cells, is known to aggravate BV and osteoporosis. To determine if probiotics can influence the expression of TNF-and alleviate these conditions, they isolated anti-inflammatory Lactobacillus plantarum NK3 and Bifidobacterium longum NK49 from kimchi as well as from human fecal samples. They then tested the effects of these good bacteria in female mice with BV and osteoporosis.

The researchers reported that oral gavage of NK3 alone or in combination with NK49 significantly alleviated GV-induced vaginosis and decreased GV population in the vagina. The probiotics also inhibited the activation of NF-kB, a transcription factor that increases the production of inflammatory cytokines, and TNF-a expression in the vagina and uterus of the female mice.

The researchers also found that treatment with NK3 alone or in combination with NK49 alleviated ovariectomy-induced osteoporosis and obesity. Moreover, it increased blood calcium, phosphorus and osteocalcin levels, as well as suppressed weight gain. NK3 and/or NK49 treatment also reduced TNF-a expression and NF-kB activation in the colon and restored optimal gut microbiota composition.

Based on these findings, the researchers concluded that the probiotics present in fermented foods like kimchi can alleviate BV and osteoporosis by reducing inflammation and regulating gut microbial composition.

 

 

Chronic stress may reduce lifespan in wild baboons, according to new multi-decadal study

Duke University, April 21, 2021

Female baboons may not have bills to pay or deadlines to meet, but their lives are extremely challenging. They face food and water scarcity and must be constantly attuned to predators, illnesses and parasites, all while raising infants and maintaining their social status.

A new study appearing April 21 in Science Advances shows that female baboons with high life-long levels of glucocorticoids, the hormones involved in the 'fight or flight' response, have a greater risk of dying than those with lower levels.

Glucocorticoids are a group of hormones that help prepare the body for a challenge. While these hormones have many functions in the body, persistently high levels of glucocorticoids in the bloodstream can be a marker of stress.

To understand the relationship between stress responses and survival, scientists studied 242 female baboons in Amboseli National Park, in Kenya. For more than 20 years, they measured glucocorticoid levels in the baboons' feces, a task that drew upon one of the world's largest collections of data from a wild primate population.

Females with higher levels of glucocorticoids in their feces, either due to more frequent exposure to different types of challenges, or more intense stress responses, tended to die younger.

The researchers then used these real values of hormone levels and risk of death to simulate a comparison between females that lived at opposite ends of the stress spectrum. The model showed that a hypothetical female whose glucocorticoid levels were kept very elevated would die 5.4 years sooner than a female whose glucocorticoid levels were kept very low.

If they reach adulthood, female baboons have an expected lifespan of about 19 years, so 5.4-years represents a 25% shorter life. Five years more life can also represent enough time to raise one or two more infants.

The team's simulations represent extreme values that are unlikely to be maintained throughout the females' lives, said Fernando Campos, an assistant professor at the University of Texas San Antonio and lead author of the study. Nonetheless, the link between exposure to stress-associated hormones and survival is clear.

"Whether it's due to your environment or your genes or something that we are not measuring, having more glucocorticoids shortens your life," said Susan Alberts, a professor of biology and chair of evolutionary anthropology at Duke and senior author on the paper.

The variation in glucocorticoid levels observed by Campos, Alberts, and their team shows that some females have it worse than others.

Glucocorticoid levels may vary due to environmental factors, such as growing up in very hot and dry years, social factors, such as living in an unusually small or large group, and individual differences, such as being pregnant more often.

"Those are the things we know about," said Alberts, "there's a whole bunch of horrible things that happen to animals that we just can't measure."

"Whatever is exposing you to the glucocorticoids is going to shorten your life," Alberts said. "The more hits you get, the worse your outcome."

Glucocorticoids play all sorts of vital roles in our bodies. They regulate our immunity, help our bodies access energy from sugars and fats, and modulate metabolic reactions to prepare the body for a challenge.

But being constantly prepared for a challenge has high costs: maintenance processes get shut down, and fight or flight processes stay active for longer. Over time, these effects accumulate.

"This chronic activation of the stress response leads to a caustic downstream physiological environment of not enough immune system, and not enough attention to maintenance," said Alberts.

Associations between stress and survival are extremely difficult to test in a natural scenario. They require very frequent data collection for a very long period of time, in this case through the Amboseli Baboon Research Project, which was launched in 1971.

Amboseli females are followed daily from birth to death, their activity is monitored, big events in their lives are recorded, and their feces are periodically collected.

"In my lab we have one of the largest collections of primate behavioral data in the world," said Alberts, "and also one of the biggest primate poop collections." More than 14,000 fecal samples were used in this study.

Poop is a very valuable, if slightly smelly, repository of information. By measuring hormone levels in feces rather than in blood or saliva, researchers avoid handling and stressing the animals, which could influence hormone levels.

"People have long hypothesized that glucocorticoids play a role in how long you live," said Campos, "but to our knowledge this is the first direct evidence that chronic exposure to glucocorticoids strongly predicts survival in wild primates."

 

Smoking cannabis significantly impairs vision, study finds

Smoking cannabis significantly impairs vision but many users are unaware of it

University of Granada (Spain), April 15, 2021

A study carried out by the University of Granada indicates that smoking cannabis significantly alters key visual functions, such as visual acuity, contrast sensitivity, three-dimensional vision (stereopsis), the ability to focus, and glare sensitivity

Yet, more than 90% of users believe that using cannabis has no effect on their vision, or only a slight effect

A group of researchers from the Department of Optics of the University of Granada (UGR) has studied the effects of smoking cannabis on various visual parameters compared to the effect that the users themselves perceive the drug to have on their vision.

This study, led by Carolina Ortiz Herrera and Rosario González Anera, has been published in the journal Scientific Reports. Its main author, Sonia Ortiz Peregrina, explains that cannabis use is on the rise despite being an illegal drug. According to the national Survey on Alcohol, Drugs and Other Addictions in Spain 2019-2020, cannabis use nationally has increased since 2011, with 37% of Spanish adults having used this drug at some time. Approximately 10% consumed it in the last year. 

In this study, which had the approval of the Human Research Ethics Committee of the UGR (ref. 921/CCEIH/2019), an exhaustive visual trial was conducted on 31 cannabis users, both when they had not consumed any substance in advance and also when they were under the effect of the drug. The researchers also studied the participants' perception of the visual effects of having consumed this drug.

The results showed that, following consumption, visual aspects such as visual acuity, contrast sensitivity, three-dimensional vision (stereopsis), the ability to focus, and glare sensitivity significantly worsened. Despite this, not all subjects reported a worsening of their vision after smoking cannabis. Indeed, 30% reported that their vision had not suffered at all, while 65% responded that it had worsened only slightly. The authors note that the visual parameter that could be most strongly linked to users' perception of the visual effect is contrast sensitivity.

The study found a negative effect on all of the visual parameters evaluated, with the effect of cannabis on some of the parameters being analysed for the first time in this research. These results, together with the lack of awareness that the participants presented about the visual impairment caused by smoking cannabis, indicate the need to carry out awareness-raising campaigns, as this visual deterioration can pose a danger when performing everyday tasks.

 

Poor iodine levels in pregnancy poses risks to fetal intellectual development

 

University of South Australia, April 23, 2021

A growing number of young Australian women are at increased risk of having children born with impaired neurological conditions, due to poor iodine intake.

Dietary changes, including a growing trend towards the avoidance of bread and iodised salt, as well as a reduced intake of animal products containing iodine can contribute to low iodine levels.

A small pilot study undertaken by the University of South Australia (UniSA) comparing iodine levels between 31 vegan/plant-based participants and 26 omnivores has flagged the potential health risk.

Urine samples showed iodine readings of 44 ug/L in the plant-based group, compared to the meat eaters' 64 ug/L level. Neither group came close to the World Health Organization's recommended 100 grams per liter.

Participants from both groups who chose pink or Himalayan salt instead of iodised salt had severely deficient iodine levels, averaging 23 ug/L.

The findings have been published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health.

While the study was undertaken in South Australia, it builds evidence on a 2017 US study (1) that found nearly two billion people worldwide were iodine deficient, resulting in 50 million experiencing clinical side effects.

UniSA research dietitian Jane Whitbread says adequate iodine is essential for fetal intellectual development.

"Mild to moderate iodine deficiency has been shown to affect language development, memory and mental processing speeds," Ms Whitbread says.

"During pregnancy, the need for iodine is increased and a 150mcg supplement is recommended prior to conception and throughout pregnancy. Unfortunately, most women do not take iodine supplements before conceiving. It is important to consume adequate iodine, especially during the reproductive years."

Dietary sources of iodine include fortified bread, iodized salt, seafoods including seaweeds, eggs, and dairy foods.

Concerns about the link between poor iodine status and impaired neurological conditions in newborns prompted the mandatory fortification of non-organic bread with iodised salt in 2009 in Australia.

It has since been reported that women who consume 100g of iodine-fortified bread every day (approximately three pieces) have five times greater chance of meeting their iodine intake compared to women who don't consume that much. The average amount of bread consumed by women in this study was one piece of bread.

The growing preference of Himalayan salt over iodized table salt may also be problematic, Ms Whitbread says. A quarter of women in the study reported using the pink salt which contains an insignificant level of iodine.

Another issue is that plant-based milks have low levels of iodine and are not currently fortified with this nutrient.

Neither group met the estimated average requirement (EAR) for calcium.

The vegan/plant-based group also did not reach the recommended levels for selenium and B12 without supplementation, but their dietary intake of iron, magnesium, vitamin C, folate and fibre was higher than the meat eaters. This reflects the inclusion of iron-rich soy products, wholemeal foods, legumes, and green leafy vegetables in their diet.

The researchers recommended that both new salts and plant milks be fortified with iodine as well as a campaign to raise awareness about the importance of iodine in the diet, especially for women in their reproductive years.

They also called for a larger study sample to determine iodine status of Australian women.

 

Taking vitamin D could lower heart disease risk for people with dark skin

Racial disparities in heart disease may be linked to vitamin D deficiency

Penn State University, April 26, 2021

New research suggests a simple step could help millions of people reduce their risk of heart disease: make sure to get enough vitamin D. Elucidating linkages between skin pigmentation, vitamin D and indicators of cardiovascular health, the new study, combined with evidence from previous research, suggests vitamin D deficiency could contribute to the high rate of heart disease among African Americans. 

"More darkly-pigmented individuals may be at greater risk of vitamin D deficiency, particularly in areas of relatively low sun exposure or high seasonality of sun exposure," said S. Tony Wolf, PhD, a postdoctoral fellow at the Pennsylvania State University and the study's lead author. "These findings may help to explain some of the differences that we see in the risk for developing blood vessel dysfunction, hypertension and overt cardiovascular disease between ethnic groups in the United States. Although there are many factors that contribute to the development of hypertension and cardiovascular disease, vitamin D supplementation may provide a simple and cost-effective strategy to reduce those disparities."

Wolf noted that the need for vitamin D supplementation depends on a variety of factors, including where you live, how much time you spend in the sun, your skin pigmentation and your age. 

Wolf will present the research at the American Physiological Society annual meeting during the Experimental Biology (EB) 2021 meeting, held virtually April 27-30. 

Melanin, which is more concentrated in darker skin, is known to inhibit the process our bodies use to make vitamin D in the presence of sunlight. As a result, darkly pigmented people may make less vitamin D, potentially leading to vitamin D deficiency.

For the study, Wolf and colleagues measured skin pigmentation, vitamin D and the activity of nitric oxide in the small blood vessels beneath the skin in 18 heathy adults of varying skin tones. Nitric oxide is important for blood vessel function, and reduced nitric oxide availability is thought to predispose an individual to the development of hypertension or cardiovascular disease. Previous studies suggest vitamin D helps to promote nitric oxide availability. 

Study participants with darker skin had lower levels of vitamin D and lower nitric oxide availability. In addition, the researchers found that lower levels of vitamin D were related to reduced nitric oxide-mediated blood vessel function. The results align with those of a separate study by the same research group, which found that vitamin D supplementation improved blood vitamin D levels and nitric oxide-mediated blood vessel function in otherwise healthy, young African American adults.

"Vitamin D supplementation is a simple and safe strategy to ensure vitamin D sufficiency," said Wolf. "Our findings suggest that promoting adequate vitamin D status in young, otherwise healthy adults may improve nitric oxide availability and blood vessel function, and thereby serve as a prophylactic to reduce risk of future development of hypertension or cardiovascular disease."

 

Men's loneliness linked to an increased risk of cancer

University of Eastern Finland, April 27, 2021

A recent study by the University of Eastern Finland shows that loneliness among middle-aged men is associated with an increased risk of cancer. According to the researchers, taking account of loneliness and social relationships should thus be an important part of comprehensive health care and disease prevention. The findings were published in Psychiatry Research.

"It has been estimated, on the basis of studies carried out in recent years, that loneliness could be as significant a health risk as smoking or overweight. Our findings support the idea that attention should be paid to this issue," Project Researcher Siiri-Liisi Kraav from the University of Eastern Finland says. 

The study was launched in the 1980s with 2,570 middle-aged men from eastern Finland participating. Their health and mortality have been monitored on the basis of register data up until present days. During the follow-up, 649 men, i.e. 25% of the participants, developed cancer, and 283 men (11%) died of cancer. Loneliness increased the risk of cancer by about ten per cent. This association with the risk of cancer was observed regardless of age, socio-economic status, lifestyle, sleep quality, depression symptoms, body mass index, heart disease and their risk factors. In addition, cancer mortality was higher in cancer patients who were unmarried, widowed or divorced at baseline. 

"Awareness of the health effects of loneliness is constantly increasing. Therefore, it is important to examine, in more detail, the mechanisms by which loneliness causes adverse health effects. This information would enable us to better alleviate loneliness and the harm caused by it, as well as to find optimal ways to target preventive measures."

 

 

How exercise and the simple act of moving your body can improve mental health

 

University of Toronto, April 26, 2021

Whether running around a track or simply stretching in your living room, physical activity can go a long way toward making you happier.

Catherine Sabiston, a professor in the University of Toronto's Faculty of Kinesiology & Physical Education, says the positive impact of exercise on mental health is well-documented.

"There is uncontested evidence that physical activity is conducive to mental health," she says.

For example, Sabiston co-authored a study in the Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology that adolescents who consistently participated in team sports during high school reported lower depression levels in early adulthood.

A Canada Research Chair in physical activity and mental health, Sabiston directs a lab that studies the connections between physical activity and mental health, developing and evaluating interventions to promote physical activity and mental wellness among people who are at risk of inactivity and mental health problems.

The lab also runs a six-week program called MoveU.HappyU that provides customized coaching and training aimed at reducing the stress and anxiety of students in the lab through physical movement.

She recently spoke with U of T News about why it's important to stay active during the pandemic—and how to feel good doing it.

How closely connected are physical activity and mental health?

Symptoms of mental illness such as anxiety and depression can impede physical activity and vice versa. When you are experiencing symptoms, you may also encounter feelings of low self-worth and an inability to be motivated. It's very hard to find a type of physical activity that you can engage in when you lack interest in most things. Many of the symptoms tied to mental illness are also barriers to physical activity.

On the flip side, there is uncontested evidence that physical activity is conducive to mental health. Physical activity prevents some forms of mental illness, and, for individuals who have been diagnosed with mental illness, physical activity can help reduce those symptoms and improve their quality of life. It holds its own weight in comparison to all other forms of treatment for mental illness, including psychotherapy and even medication.

Physical activity is a potential adjunct to any other form of preventative or treatment-focused therapy.

How exactly does exercise lift our mood?

There are a number of mechanisms at play, including physical activity effects that are tied to our brain activity and brain chemistry. Physical activity increases our body temperature. When we are warmer, we are given the sense that we are comfortable and cared for. Also, from a historical perspective, we know that humans were naturally much more active in the past than we are now. So, physical activity brings us closer to that core level of movement that human bodies are meant to be.

Moreover, physical activity can mimic mental health symptoms such as anxiety. When you exercise, you may sweat or feel your heart racing. That mimics the feeling of panic, so by engaging in exercise, you are producing a similar physical effect that can make you more accustomed to those symptoms. Exercise also provides you with an opportunity, whether for two minutes or 20, to break away from your usual routines or worries. This escape can help people better cope with their symptoms while experiencing a sense of purpose or accomplishment. In fact, feelings of mastery and accomplishment are also specific ways that physical activity impacts mental health. Small goals and activities inherent to physical activity offer plenty of opportunities for positive feedback, feeling successful and achieving, which helps stave off symptoms of mental illness.

Finally, physical activity is something you can partake in outdoors, which has a potentiating effect on mental health. That allows you to see other people, even if you are not interacting with them, and feel a sense of connectedness.

What are some ways people can stay active and motivated during the pandemic?

We want to dispel the myth that physical activity is just running, biking and lifting weights.

Physical activity can be any movement where your heart is increasing its work capacity and your body is moving. In "MoveU.HappyU," we coach students on day-to-day strategies for how to maintain a level of physical activity. Because the program is virtual now, we have trained students who are currently all over the world. Some students who had never spoken to their families about their mental health struggles are now actually having their whole families join in on the physical activities.

The physical activity you are doing should be something that you enjoy. If you don't enjoy it, you're not going to continue to do it.

We also want people to engage in physical activity to improve function rather than appearance. It's important to uncouple the relationship between physical activity for weight and body-size reasons and move towards physical activity for enjoyment and fun reasons. If it's fun, you are more likely to do it, and more likely to do it leads to more benefits.

Do you have any tips for people looking to boost physical activity at home?

There are many ways you can innovate physical activity to make it more varied, even when you are stuck in the same place. The best part of physical activity is thinking about the endless possibilities of ways your body can move. If you are purposeful about it, physical activity can be integrated into your everyday routines:

  • Set aside time as you would if you were going to the gym or commuting. Mark it in your calendar or set an alarm to give you an actual reminder.
  • Use your phone or a pedometer to measure your step count. Having something that measures how many steps you're taking gives you a baseline: If you know you walked a certain number of steps on day one, you can add five additional steps on day two. That way you'll have a tangible goal for increasing movement.
  • Consciously link items or places in your home to short bouts of movement. For example, if you use the toaster oven every morning, make a habit of doing squats while you're waiting for your bread. Or when you are wheeling from one room to another, add some extra distance.
  • When you're outside, use aspects of your environment to change up your physical activity. You can change the intensity of your walking or wheeling, for instance, each time that you pass a lamppost or see a blue car. Make it fun to change up the intensity, type, and timing of your activities.
  • Create movement challenges for yourself and your friends, family, colleagues, or students. Set goals for taking a certain number of steps or finishing a certain number of arm raises each day. Making physical activity more like a game is a proven strategy for increasing movement—and enjoying it.

 

 
April 27, 2021  

Anti-aging compound improves muscle glucose metabolism in people

Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, April 25, 2021

A natural compound previously demonstrated to counteract aspects of aging and improve metabolic health in mice has clinically relevant effects in people, according to new research at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.

A small clinical trial of postmenopausal women with prediabetes shows that the compound NMN (nicotinamide mononucleotide) improved the ability of insulin to increase glucose uptake in skeletal muscle, which often is abnormal in people with obesity, prediabetes or Type 2 diabetes. NMN also improved expression of genes that are involved in muscle structure and remodeling. However, the treatment did not lower blood glucose or blood pressure, improve blood lipid profile, increase insulin sensitivity in the liver, reduce fat in the liver or decrease circulating markers of inflammation as seen in mice.

The study, published online April 22 in the journal Science, is the first randomized clinical trial to look at the metabolic effects of NMN administration in people.

Among the women in the study, 13 received 250 mg of NMN orally every day for 10 weeks, and 12 were given an inactive placebo every day over the same period.

"Although our study shows a beneficial effect of NMN in skeletal muscle, it is premature to make any clinical recommendations based on the results from our study," said senior investigator Samuel Klein, MD, the William H. Danforth Professor of Medicine and Nutritional Science and director of the Center for Human Nutrition. "Normally, when a treatment improves insulin sensitivity in skeletal muscle, as is observed with weight loss or some diabetes medications, there also are related improvements in other markers of metabolic health, which we did not detect in our study participants."

The remarkable beneficial effects of NMN in rodents have led several companies in Japan, China and in the U.S. to market the compound as a dietary supplement or a neutraceutical. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is not authorized to review dietary supplement products for safety and effectiveness before they are marketed, and many people in the U.S. and around the world now take NMN despite the lack of evidence to show clinical benefits in people.

The researchers studied 25 postmenopausal women who had prediabetes, meaning they had higher than normal blood sugar levels, but the levels were not high enough to be diagnosed as having diabetes. Women were enrolled in this trial because mouse studies showed NMN had the greatest effects in female mice.

NMN is involved in producing an important compound in all cells, called nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD). NAD plays a vital role in keeping animals healthy. Levels of NAD decline with age in a broad range of animals, including humans, and the compound has been shown to contribute to a variety of aging-associated problems, including insulin resistance in studies conducted in mice. Supplementing animals with NMN slows and ameliorates age-related decline in the function of many tissues in the body.

Co-investigator Shin-ichiro Imai, MD, Ph.D., a professor of developmental biology and of medicine who has been studying NMN for almost two decades and first reported on its benefits in mice said, "This is one step toward the development of an anti-aging intervention, though more research is needed to fully understand the cellular mechanisms responsible for the effects observed in skeletal muscle in people."

Insulin enhances glucose uptake and storage in muscle, so people who are resistant to insulin are at increased risk for developing Type 2 diabetes. But the researchers caution that more studies are needed to determine whether NMN has beneficial effects in the prevention or management of prediabetes or diabetes in people. Klein and Imai are continuing to evaluate NMN in another trial involving men as well as women.

 

High dose of vitamin D fails to improve condition of moderate to severe COVID-19 patients

 

University of São Paulo's Medical School (Brazil), April 26, 2021

Can a high dose of vitamin D administered on admission to hospital improve the condition of patients with moderate or severe COVID-19? The answer is no, according to a Brazilian study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).

The article reports a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial, the kind of study considered the gold standard to evaluate drug efficacy. It was conducted with FAPESP's support by researchers at the University of São Paulo's Medical School (FM-USP), who recruited 240 patients treated at Hospital das Clínicas (HC), the hospitalcomplex run by FM-USP, and the Ibirapuera field hospital in São Paulo City in June-August 2020.

"In vitro studies or trials with animals had previously shown that in certain situations vitamin D and its metabolites can have anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial effects, as well as modulating the immune response. We decided to investigate whether a high dose of the substance could have a protective effect in the context of an acute viral infection, reducing either the inflammation or the viral load," Rosa Pereira, principal investigator for the project, told Agência FAPESP.

The volunteers were randomly divided into two groups, one of which was given vitamin D3 in a single dose of 200,000 units (IU) dissolved in a peanut oil solution. The other group was given only the peanut oil solution. All participants were treated according to the standard protocol for hospital treatment of the disease, which includes administration of antibiotics and anti-inflammatory drugs.

The main purpose was to see if acute supplementation would affect the length of hospital stay for these patients, but the researchers also wanted to find out whether it would mitigate the risks of admission to the intensive care unit (ICU), intubation and death.

No significant difference between the groups was observed for any of these clinical outcomes. According to Pereira, the study was designed above all to assess the impact on hospital stay and a larger number of volunteers would be needed to achieve a scientifically acceptable estimate of the effect on mortality.

"So far we can say there's no indication to administer vitamin D to patients who come to the hospital with severe COVID-19," she said.

For Bruno Gualano, a researcher at FM-USP and penultimate author of the article, the findings show that at least for now there is no "silver bullet" for the treatment of COVID-19. "But that doesn't mean continuous use of vitamin D can't have beneficial effects of some kind," he said.

Ideal dose

Pereira is currently leading a study at FM-USP to find out whether subjects with sufficient circulating levels of vitamin D combat infection by SARS-CoV-2 better than those with insufficient levels of the nutrient.

The ideal level of vitamin D in the blood and the daily supplementation dose vary according to age and overall health, she explained. Older people and patients with chronic diseases including osteoporosis should have more than 30 nanograms per milliliter of blood (ng/mL). For healthy adults, 20 ng/mL is an acceptable threshold.

"The ideal approach is case-by-case analysis, if necessary dosing the substance periodically by means of blood work, with supplementation if a deficiency is detected," Pereira said.

 
 
 
 

Sufficient serum vitamin D before 20 weeks of pregnancy reduced risk of gestational diabetes mellitus

Fudan University Obstetrics and Gynecology Hospital (China), April 16, 2021

A new study on Nutritional and Metabolic Diseases and Conditions - Obesity and Diabetes is now available. According to news originating from Shanghai, People’s Republic of China, by NewsRx correspondents, research stated, “Our aim was to evaluate the relationship between serum vitamin D levels before 20 weeks of pregnancy and the risk of gestational diabetes mellitus. This study is a retrospective study.”

Our news journalists obtained a quote from the research from Fudan University Obstetrics and Gynecology Hospital, “We analyzed the relationship between serum 25 (OH) D level before 20 weeks of pregnancy (first antenatal examination) and the risk of gestational diabetes mellitus. Age, parity and pre-pregnancy body mass index were used as confounding factors. 8468 pregnant women were enrolled in this study between January 2018 and March 2020 at the Obstetrics and Gynecology Hospital of Fudan University. Adjusted smoothing splinespline plots, subgroup analysis and multivariate logistic regression analysis was conducted to estimate the relative risk between 25(OH)D and gestational diabetes mellitus. After fully adjusting the confounding factors, serum vitamin D is a protective factor in gestational diabetes mellitus (OR=0.90). Compared with vitamin D deficiency, vitamin D insufficiency (OR=0.78), sufficience (OR=0.82) are a protective factor for gestational diabetes mellitus. Sufficience vitamin D before 20 weeks of pregnancy is a protective factor for gestational diabetes mellitus. Vitamin D>20 ng/mL can reduce the risk of GDM, which is not much different from the effect of >30 ng/mL.”

According to the news editors, the research concluded: “The protective effect of vitamin D is more significant in obese pregnant women.”

 

 

Review summarizes known links between endocrine disruptors and breast cancer risk

University of Eastern Finland, April 20, 2021

Exposure to certain endocrine-disrupting chemicals could elevate the risk of breast cancer, according to a new comprehensive systematic review of epidemiological research. However, for many chemicals, evidence is inconsistent or still limited. The review was carried out by researchers at the universities of Hong Kong and Eastern Finland and published in Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition.

Endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) can interfere with the body's hormonal system, also called the endocrine system, and are widely present in the environment. They originate from a variety of sources, including pesticides, plasticisers and other industrial and pharmaceutical chemicals, as well as natural sources. Humans are often exposed to EDCs through food, but other possible exposure routes include drinking water, skin contact and air.

Breast cancer accounts for the majority of women's cancers. There has been an increasing interest in the role of estrogene-mimicking EDCs, so called xenoestrogens, in the development of breast cancer. They comprise a broad range of pesticides, synthetic chemicals, phytoestrogens and certain mycotoxins. The researchers reviewed 131 epidemiological studies evaluating the link between xenoestrogen exposure and breast cancer. Most studies assessed exposures by measuring the EDCs and their metabolites in urine, serum, plasma or adipose tissues. 

Some may be genetically more vulnerable to EDCs

According to the review, the nowadays widely banned pesticide DDT is one of the most studied EDCs in relation to breast cancer risk. Out of 43 epidemiological studies, eleven reported positive associations between DDT or its metabolites in lipid, serum or plasma and breast cancer incidence. Nine reported higher DDT levels among women with breast cancer than among controls. In a few studies, DDT was linked to estrogen-positive breast cancer or the association to breast cancer risk depended on genotype. 

Polychlorinated biphenyls, PCBs, are a large group of compounds earlier much used in electrical devices, surface coatings and other purposes. The review of 50 studies found the association between total PCBs and breast cancer risk to be inconsistent. However, 19 studies linked certain PCBs to a higher breast cancer incidence. Similar to DTT, PCBs accumulate in the adipose tissue and in the food chain and can be excreted in breast milk. 

Perfluorooctanoid acid (PFOA) found in some food packaging and cookware was linked to breast cancer risk in three out of five epidemiological studies. Some studies found an association between cancer risk and certain genotypes both for PCBs and PFOAs.

DDT, PCBs ja PFOA are POP substances, persistent organic pollutants, the use of which is strictly regulated. DDT ja PCBs are old POP substances and their levels in the environment are decreasing. PFOA is a newer POP substance.

Phytoestrogens were found beneficial in some, but not all studies

Phytoestrogens are natural plant estrogens that have been suggested to prevent breast cancer. Genistein is a phytoestrogen found in soy products. The review included 29 epidemiological studies focusing on genistein, 18 of which linked it to a lower breast cancer risk, although some only in certain age groups or populations.

For most EDCs included in the review, the link to breast cancer has been investigated in only a few epidemiological studies. Phtalates and bisphenol A (BPA), for example, are used in plastic packaging and can transfer to food. According to the review, four out of six studies linked phthalates to increased breast cancer risk. BPA was linked to more aggressive tumours in one study, but two other epidemiological studies found no link to breast cancer.

Parabens are common preservatives in foods and cosmetic products and considered possible endocrine disruptors. The only epidemiological study on the topic reported a link between paraben exposures, breast cancer risk and mortality following breast cancer. 

Oral contraceptive use was linked to an increased breast cancer risk in seven out of eight epidemiological studies, but there were controversies on how duration or discontinuation of oral contraceptive use affected the risk.

The review also included the herbicide atrazine, the industrial by-product dioxine, mycotoxins produced by food and crop molds, and PBDEs found in household furniture coatings and appliances, but epidemiological studies on their links to breast cancer risk were still scarce and often inconsistent. 

The writers point out that for EDCs to disrupt endocrine functions, dose, time, duration and age at exposure all matter. In addition, as multiple EDCs coexist in the environment, more research is needed to evaluate their interactive effects on breast cancer risk.

The review also suggests that genotypes could determine whether EDC exposure affects breast cancer risk, and more research is needed on this topic. "One example is the polymorphism of the CYP1A1 gene, which is responsible for estrogen metabolism."

According to the writers, next-generation technologies, such as genome sequencing, proteomics or epigenomics, can help identify new exposure biomarkers with better sensitivity and specificity. "These technologies will also pave way to better assessment of past exposure and prediction of future risks, by taking into account an individual's genetic profile."

 

 

Grape seed extract may protect gut from inflammation: Study

Universitat Rovira i Virgili (Spain), April 25, 2021

Proanthocyanidin-rich grape seed extracts may protect the intestines from the deleterious effects of a high-fat/high-carbohydrate diet, according to data from a rat study.

A high-fat/high-carbohydrate diet or Western diet has been reported to produce changes in the intestine, explained researchers from the Universitat Rovira i Virgili in Tarragona, Spain.

“Concretely, several recent studies have provided compelling new evidence to suggest that changes in the epithelial barrier function and intestinal inflammation are associated with and could even lead to altered regulation of body weight and glucose homeostasis,” they added.

“The main consequence of the gut barrier dysfunction has been proposed to be the entry of toxins from the intestinal lumen, which can trigger local inflammation or gain access to the circulation and induce systemic inflammation through cytokine release.”

Their new research indicated that a grape seed proanthocyanidin extract (GSPE) may protect the gut from such harmful effects.

Study details

Data published in Molecular Nutrition and Food Research reveals that supplementing the diet of lab rats with medium or high-dose proanthocyanidins had beneficial impacts on intestinal inflammation, oxidative stress, and barrier function. The medium dose was 25 mg/kg, which is a dose similar to the dietary proanthocyanidin intake in humans, explained the researchers. The high dose (50 mg/kg) would exceed the dietary proanthocyanidin intake in humans.

Thirty-six week-old rats were fed a Western diet for 15 weeks and then divided into one of four supplementation groups, receiving 0 mg/kg (control), 5 mg/kg (low dose), 25 mg/kg, or 50 mg/kg for an additional three weeks.

Results showed that intestinal inflammation, assessed by measuring myeloperoxidase (MPO) activity, significantly increased in the control animals, but these increases were reduced in the rats receiving the grape seed extract.

In addition, significant reductions in plasma levels of reactive oxygen species were observed in the medium and high dose groups, compared to the control group.

Tight junctions

The researchers also examined the function of the intestinal barrier, and looked specifically at so-called tight junctions (TJ) between cells in the lining of the intestine – the epithelium. On one side is the intestinal cavity and on the other is a mass of cells and tissues. In a healthy system, materials in the cavity find their way into tissues by passing through the cells, which controls which substances pass through. In an unhealthy system, the tight junctions are not so tight and materials can bypass the cells and find their way into tissues via the tight junctions. This increase in intestinal permeability has been referred to as "leaky gut".

“Another point of interest in this study was to evaluate whether GSPE could modulate the alterations in the permeability of the intestinal barrier that are related to the state of intestinal inflammation,” wrote the researchers. “Our findings indicate that the TJ  proteins were negatively associated with measures of adiposity and with the circulating levels of [triglycerides]. These are not causal associations, but they suggest that increased adiposity is accompanied by lower expression of TJ components, which is in agreement with the hypothesis that obesity and a [high-fat diet] are associated with increased intestinal permeability. Then, given the importance of having a healthy barrier function, dietary interventions that can modulate the intestinal permeability might afford an effective tool for the prevention and treatment of metabolic diseases associated with obesity.”

The researchers concluded: “Our findings indicate that orally administered GSPE modulates the intestinal inflammation, oxidative stress, and possibly the barrier function. Based on these findings, our data suggest that nutritional and/or therapeutic interventions focused on gut health and modulation of the intestinal permeability should be extensively explored in the context of obesity.”

 

Antidepressant use in pregnancy tied to affective disorders in offspring; no causal link

 

Mount Sinai Hospital, April 12, 2021

Major depressive disorder is highly prevalent, with one in five people experiencing an episode at some point in their life, and is almost twice as common in women than in men. Antidepressants are usually given as a first-line treatment, including during pregnancy, either to prevent the recurrence of depression, or as acute treatment in newly depressed patients. Antidepressant use during pregnancy is widespread and since antidepressants cross the placenta and the blood-brain barrier, concern exists about potential long-term effects of intrauterine antidepressant exposure in the unborn child. 

Using the Danish National Registers to follow more than 42,000 singleton babies born during 1998-2011 for up to 18 years, researchers at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai investigated whether exposure to antidepressants in the womb would increase the risk of developing affective disorder like depression and anxiety in the child. In a study published April 5 in Neuropsychopharmacology,the scientists found that children whose mothers continued antidepressants during pregnancy had a higher risk of affective disorders than children whose mothers stopped taking antidepressants before pregnancy. However, to understand whether the underlying disorder for which the antidepressant was given or the medication itself was linked to the child's risk of developing an affective disorder, they also studied the effect of paternal antidepressant use during pregnancy and similarly, found that children of fathers who took antidepressants throughout pregnancy had a higher risk for affective disorders. Thus, the research team speculates that rather than being an intrauterine effect, the observed link is most likely due to the parental mental illness underlying the antidepressant use. 

"Approximately half of women who use antidepressants before pregnancy decide to discontinue use either before or during pregnancy due to concerns about the negative consequences for their child," said Anna-Sophie Romel, PhD, an instructor in the Department of Psychiatry at Icahn Mount Sinai and first author of the paper. "Our study does not provide evidence for a causal relationship between in-utero exposure to antidepressants and affective disorders in the child. So, while other long-term effects of intrauterine exposure to antidepressants remain to be investigated, our work supports antidepressant continuation for women with severe symptoms or a high risk of relapse because untreated psychiatric illness during pregnancy can have negative consequences on the health and development of the child. Women and their health care providers should carefully weigh all of the treatment options and jointly decide on the best course of action."

 

Staying Active Can Fight Declines in Cognitive Engagement
 
North Carolina State University, April 22, 2021
 

Preserving physical and mental health helps older adults experiencing cognitive impairment stave off declines in cognitive engagement, a new study suggests

“We found that declines in physical and mental health were associated with more pronounced cognitive disengagement,” says Shevaun Neupert, professor of psychology at North Carolina State University and corresponding author of the study published in Entropy.

“The impact of declines in physical health was particularly pronounced for study participants who had more advanced cognitive impairment to begin with.”

There’s a lot of research showing that cognitive engagement can help older adults maintain cognitive health. However, the vast majority of that work has been done on healthy adults.

“There’s very little work on cognitive engagement in people who are already cognitively impaired, such as people who have been diagnosed with dementia,” Neupert says. “Are they still capable of sustained cognitive engagement? What factors contribute to that engagement?”

To begin addressing those questions, the researchers enlisted 28 study participants. All of the participants were over 60 and had documented cognitive impairment.

Participants came to a testing site two times, six months apart. On each visit, researchers collected data on the physical and mental health of the study participants and performed a battery of tests designed to assess cognitive ability. They also connected participants to a device that tracked blood pressure continuously and then asked them to engage in a series of increasingly difficult cognitive tasks. This allowed researchers to track how cognitive engagement changed as the tasks become progressively harder.

Cognitive engagement means taking part in activities that are mentally challenging. Monitoring blood pressure allows the researchers to track how hard study participants are working to accomplish cognitive tasks. Specifically, blood pressure rises as more blood is pumped to the brain when participants work harder at these tasks.

Broadly speaking, the researchers found that if a participant’s cognitive ability, physical health, or mental health declined over the course of the six month study period, that participant became less cognitively engaged as the tasks became harder.

“Normally, you’d expect more engagement as the tasks became harder, but we found that some people essentially stopped trying,” says coauthor Claire Growney, a postdoctoral researcher at Washington University in St. Louis.

“The findings highlight the fact that well-being is holistic; physical health, mental health, and cognitive function can influence each other,” says coauthor Xianghe Zhu, a recent PhD graduate of NC State.

“In practical terms, it suggests that it may be particularly important for people to focus on mental and physical well-being during the early stages of cognitive decline,” Growney says. “Or, at the very least, don’t become so focused on addressing cognitive challenges that you ignore physical health, or create anxiety or emotional distress for yourself that leads to mental health problems.”

“Future research will be needed to determine how beneficial it might be for people to take part in cognitively engaging activities once they’ve started experiencing cognitive decline,” Neupert says.

“But we already know that there is an element of ‘use it or lose it’ to cognitive function in healthy adults. And while it’s understandable for people to want to avoid tasks that are difficult or challenging, it’s really important to continue challenging ourselves to take part in difficult cognitive activities.”

April 26, 2021  

To Lower Cancer Risks, Eat More Mushrooms

Eating more mushrooms is associated with lower risk of cancer, according to a new study

Penn State University, April 23, 2021

The systematic review and meta-analysis published in Advances in Nutrition examines 17 cancer studies from 1966 to 2020. Analyzing data from more than 19,500 cancer patients, researchers explore the relationship between mushroom consumption and cancer risk.

Mushrooms are rich in vitamins, nutrients, and antioxidants. The team’s findings show that mushrooms may also help guard against cancer. Even though shiitake, oyster, maitake, and king oyster mushrooms have higher amounts of the amino acid ergothioneine than white button, cremini, and portobello mushrooms, the researchers found that people who incorporated any variety of mushrooms into their daily diets had a lower risk of cancer.

According to the findings, individuals who ate 18 grams of mushrooms daily had a 45% lower risk of cancer compared to those who did not eat mushrooms.

“Mushrooms are the highest dietary source of ergothioneine, which is a unique and potent antioxidant and cellular protector,” says Djibril M. Ba, a graduate student in epidemiology at Penn State College of Medicine. “Replenishing antioxidants in the body may help protect against oxidative stress and lower the risk of cancer.”

When specific cancers were examined, the researchers noted the strongest associations for breast cancer as individuals who regularly ate mushrooms had a significantly lower risk of breast cancer. Ba explains that this could be because most of the studies did not include other forms of cancer. Moving forward, this research could be helpful in further exploring the protective effects that mushrooms have and helping to establish healthier diets that prevent cancer.

“Overall, these findings provide important evidence for the protective effects of mushrooms against cancer,” says coauthor John Richie, a Penn State Cancer Institute researcher and professor of public health sciences and pharmacology. “Future studies are needed to better pinpoint the mechanisms involved and specific cancers that may be impacted.”

 

 

Probiotic strain helps pregnant women maintain healthy iron levels

Probi AB (Sweden), April 21, 2021

A new study published in Acta Obstetricia et Gynecologica Scandinavica found that taking a particular probiotic strain improves iron levels in healthy pregnant women and may therefore help to prevent iron deficiency.

A total of 326 healthy women were randomized to receive a placebo or the probiotic strain Lactiplantibacillus plantarum 299v (Lp299v) administered with a low dose of iron, folic acid, and ascorbic acid. They took the placebo or the combination product twice daily during pregnancy. 

Compared with taking placebo, taking the probiotic product reduced the prevalence of iron deficiency (78% versus 59%) and iron deficiency anemia (21% versus 7.4%) towards the end of pregnancy. (When a person develops iron deficiency anemia, the body cannot get the amount of oxygen it needs.) 

Iron deficiency is common in women of childbearing age and is a global health problem. In a pregnant woman, this can lead to a number of complications for the mother and her child.

"We have previously shown that the Lp299v strain together with a low dose of iron increase iron absorption. With this study, we proved that this translates into an improved iron status in pregnant women," said lead author Ulrika Axling, PhD, of Probi AB, in Sweden. "Iron deficiency is especially common during pregnancy and high-dose iron supplements are often recommended. Since these typically come with side effects such as stomach pain and constipation, there is a need for new solutions. This probiotic product could offer a novel and safe approach for improving iron status during pregnancy."

 

 

Music improves older adults' sleep quality

National Yang Ming Chiao Tung University (Taiwan), April 21, 2021

Listening to music before going to be can improve sleep quality among older adults, according to an analysis of all relevant published clinical trials.

In the analysis, which is published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, five randomized trials met the investigators' criteria. Older adults who listened to music experienced significantly better sleep quality than those who did not listen to music. Also, older adults who listened to sedative music experienced a greater improvement in sleep quality than those who listened to more rhythmic music. Furthermore, listening to music for longer than four weeks was especially effective at improving sleep quality. 

"Music intervention is an effective strategy and is easy to administer by a caregiver or healthcare worker," the authors wrote. "Music therapy might be the first line of therapy to recommend in older adults with sleep disturbances, which would reduce the need for dependence on sedatives and sleeping medication."

 

Association low magnesium intake with greater risk of prefrailty in community-dwelling older women

Osaka Prefecture University (Japan), April 14, 2021

 

According to news reporting originating in Osaka, Japan, research stated, “We examined the association between nutrient intake and prefrailty. Data from 815 older people (63% women) who participated in a community-based health check survey (Tarumizu Study) were analyzed.”

The news reporters obtained a quote from the research from Osaka Prefecture University, “Prefrailty were defined using five parameters (exhaustion, slowness, weakness, low physical activity, and weight loss). Participants with one or more components were considered to belong to the prefrailty group. Nutrition intake was estimated from a validated brief-type self-administered diet history questionnaire. Among the participants, 154 men (52%) and 278 women (54%) were found to be in a status of prefrailty. In men, there were no significant associations between nutrient intake and prefrailty. In women, carbohydrate intake was slightly higher in prefrailty group. Vitamins K, B1, B2, folic acid, pantothenic acid, phosphorus, potassium, calcium, magnesium, iron, zinc, and copper intake was significantly lower in the prefrailty group. Among the nutrients, magnesium was identified as a significant covariate of prefrailty using a stepwise regression method. In women adjusted ORs (95%CI, p value) for prefrailty in the first, second, third, and fourth quartiles of magnesium intake were 1.00 (reference), 0.52 (0.29-0.92, 0.024), 0.51 (0.28-0.95, 0.033), and 0.38 (0.19-0.74, 0.005), respectively, by multivariate logistic regression analysis (variates: age, body mass index, energy intake, supplement use, osteoporosis, magnesium, and protein intake). Protein intake did not related to prefrailty. Protein intake might be sufficient to prevent prefrailty in the present study.”

According to the news reporters, the research concluded: “We propose magnesium to be an important micronutrient that prevents prefrailty in community-dwelling older Japanese women.”

This research has been peer-reviewed.

 

 

Gardens and green space linked to better mental health during pandemic, study shows

Cardiff University (UK), April 19, 2021

People with green space on their doorstep or access to a private garden reported better health and wellbeing during and after the first lockdown in the UK, according to a new study.

Researchers from Cardiff University and Cardiff Metropolitan University have shown that people with a garden and a park nearby were more likely to say they were feeling calm, peaceful and had a lot of energy as compared to those with no access to a garden or living further away from a green space.

Official figures show that around one in eight households in Great Britain had no access to a private or shared garden during the coronavirus pandemic, and that just a quarter of people in Great Britain live within a five-minute walk of a public park.

The researchers say the study is the first to assess the impact of green space during the pandemic, and that it highlights the huge benefits for both physical and mental health and making our communities more resilient.

In the study, published in the journal Landscape & Urban Planning, the researchers surveyed 5,556 people about their home and neighborhood, as well as their perceived mental health and wellbeing, at two intervals—the first in March/April 2020 during the first peak of the pandemic and again in June/July 2020 after the first peak had subsided.

For the first 2-3 months of the lockdown, individuals were only permitted to leave their home for essential travel, such as food shopping, and for outdoor exercise once a day.

The survey formed part of the COVID-19 Public Experiences (COPE) study, with most participants recruited through Health Wise Wales (HWW), an existing national longitudinal study funded by the Welsh Government.

Among a wide-range of topics, participants were specifically asked if they felt calm and peaceful and had a lot of energy, or if they felt downhearted and blue, with answers provided on a scale of zero to five. Similarly, the participants were asked how they would rate their health in general from one to five.

The participants were also asked about their access to a private garden and how far they lived from the nearest green space, such as a park, woodland or playing field.

Subjective wellbeing was shown to be significantly higher in the post-peak period when lockdown restrictions were being eased than in the first peak of the pandemic when lockdown restrictions came into force in the UK.

People living a five-to-10-minute walk or more than a 10-minute walk away from public green space had lower levels of subjective wellbeing than those living less than a five-minute walk away, whilst those with access to a private garden had higher levels of subjective wellbeing than those without a private garden.

The results further show that, during the first peak of the pandemic, access to green space was particularly important for households without private gardens. Being close to a public green space or private garden had a greater health protective effect for those who did not have access to a private garden.

Though a statistically significant link was found between access to a private gardenand the wellbeing of men, no evidence was found for specific groups benefitting more than others.

"What this shows is that both gardens and parks have been essential for people's health and wellbeing during the pandemic, especially when the toughest restrictions were in place," said lead author of the study Professor Wouter Poortinga, from Cardiff University's Welsh School of Architecture and School of Psychology.

"Public parks and other green spaces have been a lifeline for many in these difficult times."

"We have to make sure that everybody has access to such spaces, not only now but also in the future. This can be done by planting more trees and creating new parks, but also by protecting the few green spaces we have left."

Co-author of the study Dr. Rhiannon Phillips, from Cardiff Metropolitan University, said: "During the pandemic, green spaces have offered us a place to connect with nature, be physically active, and socialize when regulations allow. This has made spending time in private gardens and public green spaces vital to reducing the impact of the pandemic on people's health and wellbeing.

"Taking care of our green spaces is vitally important in enabling us to take care of ourselves. We need to value our green spaces and use them respectfully, making sure we don't damage these environments and take our litter home, so that they are there for all of us to enjoy."

 

 

Ashwagandha root extract may improve memory and cognitive functions

Institute of Pharmacological Technology (India), April 25, 2021

Compared to a placebo, adults supplemented with ashwagandha root extract had improved memory test scores, researchers in India found.

Dietary supplements that address cognitive function are increasingly in the limelight thanks to a growing aging population, as well as the gaming, tech, and fitness culture that’s making nootropics in vogue .

Ashwagandha root has been a part of the medicinal traditions of Ayurveda as a memory aid, wrote researchers of a new study published in the Journal of Dietary Supplements. In this current study, the researchers conducted what they claimed to be the first trial that looked at “the clinical impact of ashwagandha on the cognitive deficits seen in mild cognitive impairment.”

 

Participants: Selecting patients of mild cognitive impairment

The study was conducted over eight weeks using a random-assignment, parallel-group, double-blind, placebo-controlled design. Clinical visits all took place at one center, with participants being selected from different outpatient clinics in the city of Pune, India, who sought treatment for mild cognitive impairment.

To be included in the study, participants had to be aged 35 or older, have subjective sumptoms of memory impairment, a previous diagnosis of early dementia or a score a certain amount in a mini-mental state examination, and the ability and willingness to provide informed consent.

Excluded from the study are participants with severe memory impairment, known neuropsychiatric conditions, persistent endocrine disorders, and chronic medical conditions such as uncontrolled hypertension or diabetes mellitus.

Throughout the study period, other than ashwagandha root extract for the supplement group, the use of nootropic agents or anticholinesterase drugs were prohibited.

 

Measuring protocols and outcomes

Participants were assessed using standardized tests for several memory types: Immediate memory (the ability to remember a small amount of information over a few seconds), general memory (delayed recall of word lists, geometric designs, text, faces), working memory (capacity to store information received from eyes, ears, and other sense organs in the immediate term).

They were also assessed for visuospatial processing and response, executive function, attention, and speed of information processing.

Study outcomes revealed that the ashwagandha group fared significantly better than baseline and the placebo group participants in terms of immediate and general memory test scores. There was also a great uptick in executive function, sustained attention, and information-processing speed.

According to the researchers, this may be from ashwagandha’s sedative properties, which “may be indirectly involved in improving memory and cognition in human subjects, as stress, anxiety, and sleep disorders can affect normal cognitive function,” they wrote.

The small sample size was one drawback of the study, and the researchers recommend a follow-up that is longer and with a larger sample to “confirm the promising results of this study.”

 

Foods associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease and death in middle-age

Oxford University, April 23, 2021

Two common dietary patterns identified in British adults, which include high intakes of chocolate and confectionary, may be associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease and death in middle-age, according to a study published in the open access journal BMC Medicine.

Carmen Piernas, the corresponding author said: "Cardiovascular disease is one of the main causes of death and disability in the UK and poor diet is a major contributor to this. The most common dietary guidelines are based on the nutrients found in foods rather than foods themselves and this can be confusing for the public. Our findings help identify specific foods and beverages that are commonly eaten in Britain and that may increase the risk of cardiovascular disease and mortality."

Researchers from the University of Oxford, UK identified two diets that were associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease and death in middle-age in Britain. The first was high in chocolate, confectionary, butter and white bread and low in fresh fruit and vegetables. The second was high in sugar-sweetened beverages, fruit juice, chocolate, confectionary, table sugar and preserves and low in butter and higher-fat cheese.

The researchers found that those whose diet included higher amounts of chocolate, confectionary, butter and white bread, were more likely to be male, younger, experiencing economic deprivation, current smokers, less physically active, living with obesity or have hypertension compared to those whose diet did not include high amounts of these foods. In this group, individuals who were younger than 60 years old or living with overweight or obesity had a higher risk of cardiovascular disease than individuals who were older than 60 years or not living with overweight or obesity.

Those whose diet was high in sugar-sweetened beverages, fruit juice and preserves were found to have an increased risk for cardiovascular disease and mortality, even though they also tended to be physically active and less likely to be current smokers or living with obesity, hypertension, diabetes or high cholesterol, than those who did not eat this diet. Women, individuals who were younger than 60 years old or who lived with obesity in particular had a higher risk of cardiovascular disease, if they consumed a diet high in these foods.

To examine the effects of diet on the risk of cardiovascular disease and mortality, the authors analysed data collected from 116,806 adults from England, Scotland and Wales who were recruited to the UK Biobank between 2006 and 2010. Participants were aged between 37 and 73 years old, with an average age of 56 years old. Participants reported the food they ate during the previous 24 hours on between two and five occasions. The researchers then identified the nutrients and food groups eaten by participants. The incidence of cardiovascular disease and mortality was calculated using hospital admission and death registry records until 2017 and 2020, respectively.

The authors caution that the observational nature of the study does not allow for conclusions about a causal relationship between diet, cardiovascular disease and mortality. Additionally, as dietary data was taken from individual 24 hour assessments rather than a continuous period of time, it may not be representative of participants' lifetime diets. Future research could investigate the potential reasons for the associations between the two diets investigated in this study and cardiovascular disease and mortality.

Carmen Piernas said: "Our research suggests that eating less chocolate, confectionery, butter, low-fibre bread, sugar-sweetened beverages, fruit juice, table sugar and preserves could be associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease or death during middle-age. This is consistent with previous research which has suggested that eating foods that contain less sugar and fewer calories may be associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease. The findings of this study could be used to create food-based dietary advice that could help people eat more healthily and reduce their risk of cardiovascular disease."

April 23, 2021  

How the Big Food Industry threatens public health and its influence over public policies

Gary Ruskin is the co-founder and executive director of US Right to Know -- a non profit  that investigates corporate practices that threaten public health. US Right to Know has won prestigious awards, including the James Madison Freedom of Information Award.  Gary has been a leader in public interest advocacy over 30 years. For 14 years he directed the Congressional Accountability Project to monitor and oppose corruption in Congress. He also served as the executive director of Commercial Alert, an initiative he co-founded with Ralph Nader. In 2012, Gary was the campaign manager for California's Proposition 37 which was to get genetically modified food labeling on a statewide ballot. His articles and research have appeared in the Washington Post, the Nation, Environmental Health News, Journal of Public Health Policy, Public Health Nutrition and many other public and professional publications. His report on corporate espionage against non-profits exposed spy activities of the US Chamber of Commerce, Monsanto, Walmart, Bank of America, Coca-Cola, oil and chemical companies among others.  Gary graduated from Carleton College and received a graduate degree in public policy from Harvard University's John F Kennedy School of Government. The website for US Right to Know is USRTK.org.

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