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February 4, 2021  
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Grapes could protect against sun damage, say dermatologists

University of Alabama, February 3, 2021

Grapes may help protect against damage to the skin caused by the sun's ultraviolet radiation in healthy adults, according to a new study by researchers in the University of Alabama at Birmingham's Department of Dermatology.

In research published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, a 74.8 percent increase in natural protection of the skin was shown when 19 healthy human subjects orally ingested a powder of freeze-dried grapes for 14 days.

The study found that a group of natural compounds—polyphenols, found in grapes as well as other fruits and vegetables—can reduce acute UV radiation damage in healthy adults, which was previously demonstrated in mouse models. Additionally, it can decrease proteins in the body that promote inflammation. This is the first study showing that oral ingestion of table grapes has a photoprotective effect on the sunburn response in humans.

"Study results indicate that oral consumption of grapes has systemic beneficial effects in healthy adults," said Allen Oak, M.D., a dermatologist in the UAB School of Medicine and a lead author of the study. "These benefits include inhibition of inflammation and repair of DNA damage." 

In addition to consumption of the powder, the study also showed that the application of a topical extract made from a grape seed polyphenol, proanthocyanidin, can reduce sunburn cell formation.

Furthermore, preliminary results suggest that grapes may help to prevent skin cancers as well, although more studies need to be conducted in this area before drawing conclusions.

"Grape consumption may act as an 'edible sunscreen,'" Oak said. "This does not mean that grapes should be used in lieu of sunscreen, but they may offer additional protection which we are eager to continue learning more about. This research is exciting because our current findings provide building blocks for additional studies that may eventuate in an oral photoprotective product from a natural source."

 

Meta-analysis links higher magnesium levels with lower risk of premature mortality from all causes among kidney disease patients

Vrije University (Netherlands), January 26, 2021

A systematic review and meta-analysis published on December 26, 2020 in Clinical Nutrition found an association between higher plasma or serum magnesium levels and a lower risk of cardiovascular mortality and events and all-cause mortality during follow-up among men and women with chronic kidney disease.

Researchers at Vrije University in Amsterdam selected 33 studies that included 348,059 patients for the analysis. Subjects’ plasma or serum magnesium concentrations were obtained at the beginning of the studies and all-cause mortality, cardiovascular mortality and cardiovascular events, and/or other outcomes were documented during follow-up periods that varied from an average of 11.7 months to 278 months.

Each 0.1 millimole per liter increase in magnesium was associated with a 15% lower risk of experiencing a cardiovascular event or dying from cardiovascular disease, and a 10% lower risk of dying from any cause during follow-up. “This review and meta-analysis demonstrate that plasma magnesium concentration is inversely associated with all-cause mortality and cardiovascular mortality and events in patients with CKD including those on dialysis,” Nicoline J. J. Leenders and colleagues wrote. “The inverse association between magnesium and all-cause mortality not only exists for normal compared to low magnesium, but also for magnesium above the reference range compared to normal magnesium.”

The authors suggest the initiation of clinical trials to determine if plasma magnesium concentrations can be safely increased and to confirm the mineral’s effect on cardiovascular events and mortality and all-cause mortality. “In these trials, the intervention should ideally consist of an increase of dialysate magnesium in patients on dialysis, and dietary intervention or oral magnesium…in patients with CKD not on dialysis,” they recommended.

 

 

Bleeding gums may be a sign you need more vitamin C in your diet

University of Washington, February 1, 2021

Current advice from the America Dental Association tells you that if your gums bleed, make sure you are brushing and flossing twice a day because it could be a sign of gingivitis, an early stage of periodontal disease. And that might be true. So if you are concerned, see your dentist. However, a new University of Washington study suggests you should also check your intake of vitamin C. 

"When you see your gums bleed, the first thing you should think about is not, I should brush more. You should try to figure out why your gums are bleeding. And vitamin C deficiency is one possible reason," said the study's lead author Philippe Hujoel, a practicing dentist and professor of oral health sciences in the UW School of Dentistry.

Hujoel's study, published Feb. 1 in Nutrition Reviews, analyzed published studies of 15 clinical trials in six countries, involving 1,140 predominantly healthy participants, and data from 8,210 U.S. residents surveyed in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. The results showed that bleeding of the gums on gentle probing, or gingival bleeding tendency, and also bleeding in the eye, or retinal hemorrhaging, were associated with low vitamin C levels in the bloodstream. And, the researchers found that increasing daily intake of vitamin C in those people with low vitamin C plasma levels helped to reverse these bleeding issues.

Of potential relevance, says Hujoel, who is also an adjunct professor of epidemiology in the UW School of Public Health, both a gum bleeding tendency and retinal bleeding could be a sign of general trouble in one's microvascular system, of a microvascular bleeding tendency in the brain, heart and kidneys.

The study does not imply that successful reversing of an increased gingival bleeding tendency with vitamin C will prevent strokes or other serious health outcomes, Hujoel stresses. However, the results do suggest that vitamin C recommendations designed primarily to protect against scurvy -- a deadly disease caused by extremely low vitamin C levels -- are too low, and that such a low vitamin C intake can lead to a bleeding tendency, which should not be treated with dental floss.

Consequently, Hujoel does recommend people attempt to keep an eye on their vitamin C intake through incorporation of non-processed foods such as kale, peppers or kiwis into your diet, and if you can't find palatable foods rich in vitamin C to consider a supplement of about 100 to 200 milligrams a day. 

If someone is on a specialized diet, such as a paleo diet, it's important that they take a look at their vitamin C intake, Hujoel said. "Vitamin C-rich fruits such as kiwis or oranges are rich in sugar and thus typically eliminated from a low-carb diet." 

This avoidance may lead to a vitamin C intake that is too low and is associated with an increased bleeding tendency. People who exclusively eat lean meats and avoid offal, the vitamin-rich organ meats, may be at a particularly high risk for a low vitamin C intake.

The association between gum bleeding and vitamin C levels was recognized more than 30 years ago. In fact, two studies co-authored by former dean of the UW School of Dentistry Paul Robertson (published in 1986 and 1991) identified gum bleeding as a biological marker for vitamin C levels. 

However, this connection somehow got lost in dental conversations around bleeding gums.

"There was a time in the past when gingival bleeding was more generally considered to be a potential marker for a lack of vitamin C. But over time, that's been drowned out or marginalized by this overattention to treating the symptom of bleeding with brushing or flossing, rather than treating the cause," Hujoel said. 

Hujoel's literature review also determined that "retinal hemorrhaging and cerebral strokes are associated with increased gingival bleeding tendency, and that (vitamin C) supplementation reverses the retinal bleeding associated with low (vitamin C) plasma levels."

So, missing the possible connection between gum bleeding and low levels of vitamin C has the potential to have serious health consequences.

The study authors write: "A default prescription of oral hygiene and other periodontal interventions to 'treat' microvascular pathologies, even if partially effective in reversing gingival bleeding as suggested in this meta-analysis, is risky because it does not address any potential morbidity and mortality associated with the systemic microvascular-related pathologies."

 

 

Neonatal antibiotic use associated with reduced growth in boys

Bar-Illan University (Israel), January 26, 2021

Exposure to antibiotics in the first days of life is thought to affect various physiological aspects of neonatal development. A new study, led by Bar-Ilan University's Azrieli Faculty of Medicine, reveals that antibiotic treatment within 14 days of birth is associated with reduced weight and height in boys - but not girls -- up to the age of six. 

By contrast, the study showed significantly higher body mass index (BMI) in both boys and girls following antibiotic use after the neonatal period, and within the first six years of life. 

The findings, published in the journal Nature Communications on January 26, 2021, may be the result of changes in the development of the gut microbiome.

The impact of neonatal antibiotic exposure was investigated in a cohort of 12,422 children born between 2008-2010 at the Turku University Hospital in Turku, Finland. The babies had no genetic abnormalities or significant chronic disorders affecting growth and did not need long-term antibiotic treatment. Antibiotics had been administered within the first 14 days of life to 1,151 (9.3%) of the neonates in the study.

The authors found that boys exposed to antibiotic treatment exhibited significantly lower weight as compared to non-exposed children throughout the first six years. They also exhibited significantly lower height and BMI between the ages of two and six. This observation was replicated in a German cohort.

Further, antibiotic exposure during the first days of life was found to be associated with disturbances in the gut microbiome up until the age of two. Infants exposed to neonatal antibiotics exhibited significantly lower gut microbiome richness as compared to non-exposed infants at the age of one month. Interestingly, at the age of six months, the infants treated with antibiotics reached the bacterial richness level of a control group of infants, and at the ages of 12 and 24 months, the antibiotic-treated subjects gained significantly higher levels of bacterial richness as compared to the control subjects.

In additional experiments led by PhD student Atara Uzan, the researchers demonstrated that germ-free male mice who were given the gut microbiome of antibiotic-exposed infants also displayed growth failure. These findings suggest a potential link between neonatal antibiotic exposure and impaired childhood growth, which may be a result of alterations caused by antibiotics in the composition of the gut microbiome. 

"Antibiotics are vitally important and life-saving medications in newborn infants. Our results suggest that their use may also have unwanted long-term consequences which need to be considered," said Prof. Omry Koren, of the Azrieli Faculty of Medicine of Bar-Ilan University, who led the study together with Prof. Samuli Rautava, of the University of Turku and University of Helsinki. 

Follow up research will aim to investigate other potential adverse outcomes related to neonatal antibiotic exposure.

 

 

Ten Days of Curcumin Supplementation Attenuates Subjective Soreness and Maintains Muscular Power Following Plyometric Exercise

Ohio University, February 1, 2021

 

Curcumin has become a popular product used to decrease inflammation and enhance recovery from exercise. Purpose: To determine the effects of curcumin supplementation on delayed onset muscle soreness and muscle power following plyometric exercise. Methods: Participants (n = 22; five females, 17 males) consumed either curcumin (500 mg) or placebo twice daily for 10 days (6 days pre, day of and 3 days post exercise). Participants completed 5 x 20 drop jumps on day 7. Blood sampling and recovery tests were assessed at pre-supplementation, 24-hours and immediately pre-exercise, and immediately post-, 24, 48 and 72-hours post-exercise. Blood markers included serum creatine kinase (CK) and erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR), while soreness was measured during a squat and post vertical jump. Results: Both groups experienced muscle damage post-exercise with elevated CK (403 ± 390 ul; p < 0.01), soreness with squatting (38 ± 29 mm; p < 0.01), and vertical jump (36 ± 30 mm; p < 0.01). Soreness was greater in placebo vs. curcumin 48 h and 72 h post-exercise (p < 0.01); however, CK was not significantly different between groups (p = 0.28) despite being >200 IU·L −1 greater 24 hr post exercise in placebo vs. curcumin. ESR was significantly greater immediately post-exercise (6.3 ± 5.6 vs. 3.4 ± 2.6 mm/hr; p = 0.03), however these were within the normal range for this test and not significantly different between groups (p = 0.25). Vertical jump decreased over time in the placebo, but not curcumin group (19.8 ± 4.8 vs. 21.4 ± 3.2 in; p = 0.01). Conclusion: These data suggest curcumin reduces soreness and maintains muscular power following plyometric exercise.

 

 

Vitamin C and vitamin C plus E improve immune function in study of older men and women

Complutense University (Spain), February 1, 2021

According to news reporting out of Madrid, Spain, research stated, “With aging the immune response is impaired. This immunosenescence, in which an alteration of the redox state of the immune cells appears, is involved in the rate of aging.”

Our news journalists obtained a quote from the research from Complutense University Madrid, “Since leukocyte function is a good marker of health and predictor of longevity, the effects of daily oral administration of the antioxidant vitamin C (500 mg), or both vitamin C (500 mg) and vitamin E (200 mg) on several blood neutrophil (adherence, chemotaxis, phagocytosis, and superoxide anion levels) and lymphocyte (adherence, chemotaxis, proliferation, interleukin-2 secretion and natural killer activity) functions were studied in healthy elderly men and women. These parameters were analysed before supplementation, after 3 months of supplementation, and 6 months after the end of supplementation. The results showed that vitamin C, in elderly participants, improved the immune functions studied which achieved values close to those of young adults. These effects were maintained in several functions after 6 months without supplementation.”

According to the news editors, the research concluded: “Similar effects were found in the elderly supplemented with both vitamin C and E. Thus, a short period of vitamin C or vitamin C and E ingestion, with the doses used, improves the immune function in elderly men and women and could contribute to a healthy longevity.”

This research has been peer-reviewed.

 

Cruciferous vegetables help the immune system to fight intestinal pathogens

 

Francis Crick Institute, February 2, 2021 

 

A study in mice shows that eating cruciferous vegetables—including broccoli, kale and cauliflower - helps the immune system to fight intestinal pathogens. The research might have implications for people with inflammatory bowel diseases.

 

A protein called the aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AhR) plays a crucial role in protecting us from external pollutants, toxins and pathogens at barrier sites in our body such as the skin, lungs and gut.

 

Studying the role of AhR in the gut, scientists at the Francis Crick Institute have discovered that another protein, known as Cyp1a1, regulates immunity in the gut by providing feedback on AhR signalling by degrading the molecules that activate AhR—known as AhR ligands. However, too much Cyp1a1 can deplete AhR ligands altogether. This could result in susceptibility to bacteria like pathogenic E. Coli and might play a role in conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease.

 

Dr Stockinger, who led the work, says: "We already knew that AhR deficiency causes many problems for the intestinal barrier. This is because the immune cells that protect us from our trillions of intestinal bacteria as well as from incoming intestinal pathogens require signals through AhR for their survival.

 

"Molecules that activate AhR can come from our diet, but also from our intestinal bacteria. Activation of AhR turns on enzymes such as Cyp1a1. Normally the function of these enzymes is to degrade the molecules that originally activated AhR and turn it back off."

 

The researchers created mice with overactive Cyp1a1—this depleted their AhR ligands and resulted in less of the immune cells that depend on AhR ligands. Unlike normal healthy mice, these mice were unable to fight off an infection with Citrobacter bacteria—the mouse version of human pathogenic E. Coli bacteria

 

Importantly, the increased activity of Cyp1a1 could be controlled by adding nutrients found in cruciferous vegetables to the food the mice were fed. This worked in two ways—by inhibiting Cyp1a1 and by providing extra AhR-activating molecules.

 

Dr Stockinger says: "Previous work has mostly focused on the consequences of complete absence of AhR itself in various cell types, but this is not a scenario that will apply to humans as AhR deficiency would not be compatible with life.

 

"However, as indicated in our study it is entirely conceivable that some people have mutant Cyp1a1 enzymes that have abnormally high activity. In humans, this could play a role in inflammatory intestinal diseases where people with genetically determined overactive Cyp1a1 would be particularly sensitive to infections. Such people could potentially improve their intestinal immune function by eating cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, kale and cauliflower, which are high in such Cyp1a1 inhibitors and molecules that activate AhR."

 

The paper, Feedback control of AHR signalling regulates intestinal immunity, is published in Nature.

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