February 22, 2021
Gary takes on the real issues that the mainstream media is afraid to tackle. Tune in to find out the latest about health news, healing, politics, and the economy.
Study: Ashwagandha extract can be used to improve sleep quality and relieve stress Patil University School of Medicine (India), February 19, 2021 Ashwagandha, also known as Withania somnifera or Indian ginseng, is a medicinal herb native to India and North Africa. It has been used for over 3,000 years to relieve stress, as well as to increase energy levels and improve concentration. A recent study published in the journal Cureus suggests it may hold the key to treating insomnia. A team of researchers from Patil University School of Medicine, Vedantaa Institute of Medical Sciences and Prakruti Hospital conducted a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study to determine the effects of ashwagandha root extract in patients with insomnia and anxiety. A total of 60 participants were randomly divided into two groups: 40 were placed in the test group and given a capsule containing 300 mg of high-concentration ashwagandha root extract, while the remaining 20 formed the placebo group. Those in the placebo group received capsules containing starch twice a day over a period of ten weeks. The researchers used Sleep Actigraphy to assess sleep onset latency (SOL), total sleep time (TST), sleep efficiency (SE) and wake after sleep onset (WASO). Other factors that the research team looked at were total time in bed, mental alertness on rising, sleep quality, Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI) and the Hamilton Anxiety Rating Scale. According to the researchers, SOL, SE and sleep quality were visibly improved after ashwagandha treatment, along with other sleep parameters. (Related: Ashwagandha: Discover the health benefits of this popular ancient adaptogen.) Their findings suggest that ashwagandha can be used to improve sleep in patients with insomnia and anxiety, although further large-scale studies are needed. Omega-3 supplements may reduce muscle soreness after exercise, study finds University of Westminster (UK), February 18, 2021 Researchers at the University of Westminster have found that taking omega-3 supplements may help to reduce muscle soreness after exercise. The findings may be important for people who avoid exercise because of the soreness associated with it. Omega-3 fatty acids are polyunsaturated fatty acids that play important roles in our bodies and may provide a number of health benefits. These are essential fats as our bodies cannot produce them and we must get them from our diet, primarily from oily fish. They have anti-inflammatory functions, can help maintain a healthy heart, reduce the risk of heart disease and may have incredible effects on brain and mental health. Previous studies have looked at the effect of omega-3 fish oils on muscle damage recovery and muscle inflammation following exercise. Whilst evidence is mixed, it has been shown that sustained omega-3 intake in your diet may lead to small gains in recovery for athletes following intense exercise and possibly small gains in exercise performance too. In this study, the researchers gave people omega-3 capsules three times a day for four weeks, or a matching placebo, to build up their levels. They then took part in a very intense exercise program aimed at causing severe muscle pain and physiologically safe muscle damage. The researchers then measured blood levels of inflammation and muscle damage markers, physical pain and the ability of the participants to do forceful muscle contractions every day for the next three days. They found a lower inflammatory response and decreased muscle damage after exercise in the fish oil group. However, the omega-3 did not seem to change the amount of force reduction in future muscle contractions, suggesting that omega-3 supplementation had limited impact on muscle function, recovery and subsequent performance, but it did reduce the pain participants experienced. Talking about the study, Ph.D. researcher and lead author Yvoni Kyriakidou, from the University of Westminster's School of Life Sciences, said: "Whilst the omega-3 supplementation didn't seem to enhance performance, it did reduce the pain participants experienced which we suggest is useful in itself as people don't like exercise because it hurts. If it doesn't hurt as much, maybe more people will keep doing it?" Higher intake of carotenoid beta cryptoxanthin associated with lower risk of osteoporosis Seoul National University (South Korea), February 12, 2021 According to news reporting out of Seoul, South Korea, research stated, “Many studies have analyzed the effects of * * b* * -cryptoxanthin (BCX) on osteoporosis and bone health. This systematic review and meta-analysis aimed at providing quantitative evidence for the effects of BCX on osteoporosis.” The news journalists obtained a quote from the research from Seoul National University: “Publications were selected and retrieved from three databases and carefully screened to evaluate their eligibility. Data from the final 15 eligible studies were extracted and uniformly summarized. Among the 15 studies, seven including 100,496 individuals provided information for the meta-analysis. A random effects model was applied to integrate the odds ratio (OR) to compare the risk of osteoporosis and osteoporosis-related complications between the groups with high and low intake of BCX. A high intake of BCX was significantly correlated with a reduced risk of osteoporosis (OR = 0.79, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.70-0.90, * * p* * = 0.0002). The results remained significant when patients were stratified into male and female subgroups as well as Western and Asian cohorts. A high intake of BCX was also negatively associated with the incidence of hip fracture (OR = 0.71, 95% CI 0.54-0.94, * * p* * = 0.02).” According to the news reporters, the research concluded: “The results indicate that BCX intake potentially reduces the risk of osteoporosis and hip fracture. Further longitudinal studies are needed to validate the causality of current findings.” Being male, having overweight and depression can influence aging Vrije University (Netherlands) and Virginia Commonwealth University, February 15, 2021 Scientists are using biology to more accurately measure how quickly humans age. One factor is the length of an individual’s telomeres, stretches of DNA and proteins at the ends of our chromosomes that shorten as we age. An epigenetic clock, meanwhile, looks at the changes in gene function that do not make alterations to the genetic code, or genome. Another aging clock is based on transcriptomes, a collection of all the gene readouts in a cell. Scientists also measure age with metabolomics, the study of the chemical processes that involve metabolites, small molecules produced by and during metabolic processes. In addition, scientists use what they call a proteomic clock, which measures levels of proteins in the blood. For a new study, now published in the journal eLife, researchersset out to learn whether a composite biological clock outperforms individual biological clocks in predicting health. “To develop a better understanding of the mechanisms underlying biological aging, we wanted to examine how indicators of biological aging relate to each other, how they link to determinants of physical and mental health, and whether a combined biological clock, made up of all age indicators, is a better predictor of health,” says co-lead author Dr. Rick Jansen, an assistant professor in the department of psychiatry at Amsterdam UMC, in the Netherlands. Examining biological aging indicators The researchers used blood samples from 2,981 individuals aged 18–65 years who took part in the Netherlands Study of Depression and Anxiety. Of the participants, 74% had a diagnosis of a depressive disorder, an anxiety disorder, or both, while 26% were healthy control participants. The participants were recruited from medical facilities and the general population between September 2004 and February 2007. The team used computer modeling to examine whether five measures of biological aging — telomere length and the epigenetic, transcriptomic, proteomic, and metabolomic clocks — were interrelated and associated with mental and physical health. The researchers then took the five indicators and incorporated them into an analysis that also included sex, lifestyle factors, physical ability, and known health conditions. What makes people age faster? The scientists found that being male was associated with more advanced biological aging according to four of the five biological clock measurements. This is consistent with the understanding that in most places, women outlive men. Other factors associated with more advanced biological aging according to at least four of the five measures were: having a high body mass index, smoking, and having metabolic syndrome. The researchers also discovered that depression is linked to more advanced biological aging. In addition, they noted associations between medication use and this aging. However, they could not determine whether this was due to the medication itself or the underlying physical or mental illness requiring treatment. Meanwhile, the study allowed the researchers to infer that some biological clocks show overlap, but most seem to be tracking different aspects of the aging process. They write: “This provides further support for the hypothesis that not one biological clock sufficiently captures the biological aging process and that not all clocks are under the control of one unitary aging process.” Vitamin B3 prevents glaucoma in laboratory mice Jackson Laboratory, February 16, 2021 In mice genetically predisposed to glaucoma, vitamin B3 added to drinking water is effective at preventing the disease, a research team led by Jackson Laboratory Professor and Howard Hughes Medical Investigator Simon W.M. John reports in the journal Science. The vitamin administration was surprisingly effective, eliminating the vast majority of age-related molecular changes and providing a remarkably robust protection against glaucoma. It offers promise for developing inexpensive and safe treatments for glaucoma patients. Glaucoma is one of the most common neurodegenerative diseases, affecting an estimated 80 million people worldwide. In most glaucoma patients, harmfully high pressure inside the eye or intraocular pressure leads to the progressive dysfunction and loss of retinal ganglion cells. Retinal ganglion cells are the neuronal cells that connect the eye to the brain via the optic nerve. Increasing age is a key risk factor for glaucoma, contributing to both harmful elevation of intraocular pressure and increased neuronal vulnerability to pressure-induced damage. "We wanted to identify key age-related susceptibility factors that change with age in the eye," John says, "and that therefore increase vulnerability to disease and in particular neuronal disease." By understanding general age-related mechanism, there is the potential to develop new interventions to generally protect from common age-related disease processes in many people. Conducting a variety of genomic, metabolic, neurobiological and other tests in mice susceptible to inherited glaucoma, compared to control mice, the researchers discovered that NAD, a molecule vital to energy metabolism in neurons and other cells, declines with age. "There's an analogy with an old motorbike," John says. "It runs just fine, but little things get less reliable with age. One day you stress it: you drive it up a steep hill or you go on really long journey and you get in trouble. It's less reliable than a new bike and it's going to fail with a higher frequency than that new bike." The decrease in NAD levels reduces the reliability of neurons' energy metabolism, especially under stress such as increased intraocular pressure. "Like taking that big hill on your old bike, some things are going to fail more often," John says. "The amount of failure will increase over time, resulting in more damage and disease progression." In essence, the treatments of vitamin B3 (nicotinamide, an amide form of vitamin B3, also called niacinamide) boosted the metabolic reliability of aging retinal ganglion cells, keeping them healthier for longer. "Because these cells are still healthy, and still metabolically robust," says JAX Postdoctoral Associate Pete Williams, first author of the study, "even when high intraocular pressure turns on, they better resist damaging processes." The researchers also found that a single gene-therapy application of Nmnat1 (the gene for an enzyme that makes NAD from nicotinamide) prevented glaucoma from developing in this mouse model. "It can be a problem for patients, especially the elderly, to take their drugs every day and in the correct dose," Williams says. "So gene therapy could be a one-shot, protective treatment." He notes that gene therapies, through injections into the eye, have been approved for a handful of very rare, human genetic eye disorders, and their demonstration of an important age-dependent factor may enable gene therapy for more common eye disease. John says that the team is pursuing clinical partnerships to begin the process of testing the effectiveness of vitamin B3 treatment in glaucoma patients. They are also exploring potential applications for the treatment in other diseases involving neurodegeneration. Even short periods of being sedentary is bad for your heart, caution researchers University of Liverpool, February 18, 2021 Researchers from the University of Liverpool in the U.K. found that short periods of being sedentary can worsen cardiometabolic health. In a study published in the journal Diabetologia, the researchers revealed that reducing physical activity for at least two weeks can lead to a rise in blood sugar levels, disrupt cholesterol levels and impair cardiorespiratory fitness. Increased sedentary behavior worsens cardiometabolic health It’s no secret that physical inactivity is bad for health. Research shows that physical inactivity and sedentary behavior are major risk factors for obesity, insulin resistance and Type 2 diabetes. But little is known about the consequences of short-term physical inactivity. For their study, the researchers examined the metabolic consequences of short-term increased sedentary behavior in 45 healthy adults with a mean age of 36 years. All of the participants have a mean daily step count of more than 10,000 steps and were asked to reduce their daily step count to around 1,500 steps for two weeks. The researchers measured the participants’ cardiorespiratory fitness, body composition and multi-organ insulin sensitivity at baseline, after the two-week step reduction and two weeks after the participants resumed their normal physical activity. The team found that the participants developed “metabolic derangements” after two weeks of increased sedentary behavior. Their blood sugar and bad cholesterol levels rose, and their insulin sensitivity declined. In addition, the participants lost a little muscle mass in their legs and gained fat around their liver and abdomen. (Related: Twice as many deaths are caused by physical inactivity compared to obesity, stunning study finds.) Fortunately, these changes were reversed after the participants resumed their normal routine. For some reason, however, some participants failed to return to quite the same level of exercise they had engaged in prior to the study. These participants now completed fewer minutes of vigorous activity each week and exhibited slight but lasting symptoms of insulin resistance. While this lasting effect might be due to the participants’ lower levels of vigorous activity, the researchers are also open to the possibility that this stemmed from genetic factors.