Waseda University (Japan), July 20, 2021
Proteins constitute an essential dietary component that help in the growth and repair of the body. Composed of long chains of amino acids, proteins promote the growth of skeletal muscles, the group of muscles that help us move. Humans have been aware of the benefits of proteins for long. However, recent studies have shown that having the right amount of protein at the right time of the day is essential for proper growth. This is called 'Chrononutrition,' in which when you eat is as important as what and how you eat.
The reason behind this is the body's internal biological clock, called the 'circadian rhythm'. This rhythm is followed by all cells and controls life functions like metabolism and growth. Interestingly, protein digestion and absorption have been found to fluctuate across day and night according to this clock. Moreover, earlier studies have reported that intake of protein at breakfast and lunch promotes skeletal muscle growth in adults. However, details on the effect of the time of protein intake on muscle growth and function have remained elusive till date.
Fortunately, researchers from Waseda University, led by Professor Shigenobu Shibata, recently endeavored to understand the effect of the distribution of protein intake through the day on muscles. They fed laboratory mice two meals per day containing either high (11.5% by proportion) or low (8.5% by proportion) protein concentrations. The researchers noted that protein intake at breakfast induced an increase in muscle growth, determined by assessing induced hypertrophy of the plantaris muscle in the leg, when compared with the effects of protein intake at dinner. Specifically, the ratio of muscle hypertrophy determined against the growth of the control muscle was 17% higher in mice fed 8.5% protein at breakfast, than that in mice fed 11.5% protein at dinner, despite the former group consuming a low proportion of protein overall. They also found that intake of a type of protein called the BCCA, short for branched-chain amino acids, early in the day increased the size of skeletal muscles specifically.
To confirm the association of these effects with the workings of the circadian rhythm, the researchers next engineered whole-body mutant ClockΔ19 or muscle-specific Bmal1 knockout mice lacking the genes that control the biological clock. They repeated diet distribution experiments on these mice but did not observe similar muscle change, which confirmed the involvement of the circadian rhythm in muscle growth in the context of protein intake.
Excited about the findings of their study published in a recent issue of the Cell Reports, Prof. Shibata emphasizes, "Protein-rich diet at an early phase of the daily active period, that is at breakfast, is important to maintain skeletal muscle health and enhance muscle volume and grip strength."
To check if their findings were applicable to humans, the team recruited women in their study and tested if their muscle function, determined by measuring skeletal muscle index (SMI) and grip strength, varied with the timing of the protein-rich diet consumed. Sixty women aged 65 years and above who took protein at breakfast rather than at dinner showed better muscle functions, suggesting the possibility of the findings to be true across species. Additionally, the researchers also found a strong association between SMI and the proportion of protein intake at breakfast relative to total protein intake through the day.
Prof. Shibata is hopeful that the findings of their study will lead to a widespread modification in the current diet regime of most people across the Western and Asian countries, who traditionally consume low amounts of protein at breakfast. He therefore stresses, "For humans, in general, the protein intake at breakfast averages about 15 grams, which is less than what we consume at dinner, which is roughly 28 grams. Our findings strongly support changing this norm and consuming more protein at breakfast or morning snacking time."
Ginseng compound exerts neuroprotective effects
Gachon University (South Korea), July 16, 2021
According to news reporting from Gyeonggi Do, South Korea, research stated, “Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is a neurodegenerative disorder characterized by the accumulation of b-amyloid plaques and hyperphosphorylated tau proteins in the brain.”
The news correspondents obtained a quote from the research from Gachon University: “Cell signaling pathways such as PI3K/Akt are known to play an essential role in regulating cell survival, motility, transcription, metabolism, and progression of the cell cycle. Recent studies demonstrated that the disruption of these signaling pathways in neurodegenerative disorders leads to oxidative stress and cell death. Targeting these altered signaling pathways could be considered as the therapeutic approach for neurodegenerative disorders. Ginsenoside Rh1 is known to provide beneficial effects in various diseases such as cancer, diabetes, and inflammation. In this study, human neuroblastoma SH-SY5Y cells were treated with the b-amyloid oligomers alone or in combination with ginsenoside Rh1. We observed that ginsenoside Rh1 was able to attenuate b-amyloid induced oxidative stress and cell death by activating the PI3K/Akt signaling pathway.”
According to the news reporters, the research concluded: “Based on these findings, we suggest that ginsenoside Rh1 might be an efficacious therapeutic agent for AD.”
Many kinds of happiness promote better health, study finds
Weill Cornell University of Medicine, July 21, 2021
A new study links the capacity to feel a variety of upbeat emotions to better health.
The research suggests people who experience a range of positive emotions in their daily lives – from enthusiasm to cheerfulness and calm – have lower levels of inflammation, compared to those who experience a narrower range of emotions. Lower levels of inflammation are linked to a lower risk of premature death and chronic diseases like diabetes. The researchers drew on analytic approaches used to measure the biodiversity of ecosystems. Their study was published June 22 in the journal Emotion.
"There are many kinds of happiness, and experiencing a diversity of emotional states might reduce a person's vulnerability to psychopathology by preventing any one emotion from dominating their emotional life," said lead author Anthony Ong, professor of human development in the College of Human Ecology and professor of geriatrics and palliative medicine at Weill Cornell Medicine.
Little is known about the biological processes through which emotional experiences influence health outcomes. This study sought to fill a bit of that gap.
Specifically, the study sheds light on one potential biological pathway – systemic inflammation – through which diversity in everyday positive emotional experiences might "get under the skin" to influence long-term health.
Ong and his colleagues analyzed the connection between "emodiversity" – the breadth and abundance of different emotions people experience – and markers of inflammation in the body. A person with low emodiversity feels about the same through most of the day, with emotions concentrated in just a few categories. In contrast, a person with high emodiversity feels a range of emotions throughout the day, distributed evenly across the spectrum of feelings.
The researchers analyzed data from 175 people ages 40 to 65 who reported on their negative and positive emotions for 30 days. Each evening, they rated the extent to which they had experienced 16 positive emotions that day, from interested and determined to happy, excited, amused, inspired, alert, active and strong. They were also asked to rate their experience of 16 negative emotions, including scared, afraid, upset, distressed, jittery, nervous and ashamed. Their blood was drawn six months later and was tested for three inflammation markers that circulate in the blood.
Their range of negative emotions – regardless of whether it was narrow or wide – had no effect on inflammation.
But people in the study who reported a wide range of positive emotions had lower levels of inflammation than those who said they felt a narrower range.
"Emotions serve functional roles for individuals, helping them prioritize and regulate behavior in ways that optimize adjustment to situational demands," Ong said. "Our findings suggest that depletion or overabundance of positive emotions, in particular, has consequences for the functioning and health of one's emotional ecosystem."
Growing evidence from other research has linked emotional processes with systemic inflammation, which has been shown to contribute to poor health, such as atherosclerosis, diabetes, rheumatoid disease and osteoporosis, and leads to a number of processes that play a major role in premature death.
How can these findings help one achieve better health?
Label your good feelings as you experience them, Ong said.
"The simple daily practice of labeling and categorizing good feelings in specific terms may help us experience more differentiated emotions in different contexts," Ong said.