The Gary Null Show Notes – 08.20.21
Study shows millets can reduce risk of developing cardiovascular disease
International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics, August 18, 2021
The consumption of millets can reduce total cholesterol, triacylglycerols (commonly known as triglycerides) and BMI according to a new study that analyzed the data of 19 studies with nearly 900 people. The latest study was undertaken by five organizations and led by International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT).
The results published in Frontiers in Nutrition bring critically needed scientific backing to the efforts to popularize and return millets to diets, especially as staples, to combat the growing prevalence of obesity and being overweight in children, adolescents and adults.
The study showed that consuming millets reduced total cholesterol by 8%, lowering it from high to normal levels in the people studied. There was nearly a 10% decrease in low- and very low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (commonly viewed as ‘bad cholesterol’) and triacylglycerol levels in blood. Through these reductions, the levels went from above-normal to normal range. In addition, consuming millets decreased blood pressure with the diastolic blood pressure decreasing by 5%.
Dr S Anitha, the study’s lead author and Senior Nutritionist at ICRISAT, explained, “We were very surprised by the number of studies that had already been undertaken on the impact of millets on elements that impact cardiovascular diseases. This is the very first time anyone has collated all these studies and analyzed their data to test the significance of the impact. We used a meta-analysis, and results came out very strongly to show significant positive impact on risk factors for cardiovascular disease.”
The study also showed that consuming millets reduced BMI by 7% in people who were overweight and obese (from 28.5 ± 2.4 to 26.7 ± 1.8 kg/m2), showing the possibility of returning to a normal BMI (<25 kg/m2). All results are based on consumption of 50 to 200 g of millets per day for a duration ranging from 21 days to four months.
These findings are influenced by comparisons that show that millets are much higher in unsaturated fatty acids, with 2 to 10 times higher levels than refined wheat and milled rice as well as being much higher than whole grain wheat.
“This latest review further emphasizes the potential of millets as a staple crop that has many health benefits. It also strengthens the evidence that eating millet can contribute to better cardiovascular health by reducing unhealthy cholesterol levels and increasing the levels of whole grains and unsaturated fats in the diet,” said Professor Ian Givens, a co-author of the study and Director at University of Reading’s Institute of Food, Nutrition and Health (IFNH) in the UK.
“Obesity and being overweight are increasing globally in both wealthy and poorer countries, so the need for solutions based on healthier diets is critical. This new information on the health benefits of millets further supports the need to invest more in the grain, including in its whole value chain from better varieties for farmers through to agribusiness developments,” said Dr Jacqueline Hughes, Director General, ICRISAT.
The study identified a number of priority future research areas including the need to study all different types of millets, understand any differences by variety alongside the different types of cooking and processing of millets and their impact on cardiovascular health. Given the positive indicators to date, more detailed analysis on the impact of millets on weight management is also recommended. All relevant parameters are also recommended to be assessed to gain a deeper understanding of the impacts millets consumption on hyperlipidemia and cardiovascular disease.
“A key recommendation from the study is for government and industry to support efforts to diversify staples with millets, especially across Asia and Africa. Given that millets are hardy and climate smart, returning to this traditional staple makes a lot of sense and is a critical solution that could be the turning point of some major health issues,” highlighted Ms Joanna Kane-Potaka, a co-author and Executive Director of the Smart Food initiative, ICRISAT.
How people manipulate their own memories
Ruhr University Bochum (Germany), August 18, 2021
People remember past experiences through the so-called episodic memory system. In the process, they can manipulate their memories on three levels, describe Dr. Roy Dings and Professor Albert Newen from the Institute of Philosophy II at Ruhr-Universität Bochum in a theoretical paper. It has been published online in the journal Review of Philosophy and Psychology on 13. August 2021. The researchers explain how people recall past experiences and modify them in the process. “We often construct memories of important events in a way that suits us,” outlines Albert Newen.
Memories are not photographic representations
Adults mainly remember significant experiences that were linked to very positive or very negative feelings, such as a unique experience on holidays, a driving test or a wedding. The memory is not a photographic excerpt of the past, but a construct that is fed by the perception of a past event; however, when the perceived situation is stored and, above all, recalled, a variety of construction processes take place. “To paraphrase Pippi Longstocking, you might say: I make the past world the way I like it,” as Roy Dings illustrates.
People can influence the construction of a past scenario on three processing levels – something that usually happens automatically and unconsciously. The source of influence is the narrative self-image: “When we talk to friends, we tell about ourselves the things that are important to us,” says Roy Dings. “We refer to these aspects as the narrative self-image.”
The constructive model of memory recall
The authors, as well as all members of the Bochum-based research group “Constructing Scenarios of the Past”, work on the assumption that a memory is formed when a memory trace is activated by a stimulus: the wedding invitation card on the pinboard, for example, activates a memory trace of the wedding table. However, according to the Bochum model of episodic memory, the situation is then augmented by general background knowledge that is available in semantic memory. When the memory trace and background knowledge merge, a vivid memory picture emerges, for example of the bride’s greeting, and, eventually, the person talks about the event the way they experienced it.
Three levels of influence
The process of scenario construction includes the stimulus that triggers the memory, the actual processing, and the result, i.e. the memory image and the associated description. People can be influenced by all three components. Firstly, they tend to specifically look for the triggering stimulus for positive memories and avoid it for negative memories. For example, they put a wedding photo on the office desk, but avoid encounters with people with whom unpleasant memories are associated.
Secondly, the self-image can also influence what background information is drawn upon to augment the sparse memory trace into a vivid memory; this is what determines the rich memory image in the first place.
Thirdly, the description associated with a memory image can be either very concrete or rather abstract. The memory image can be described in concrete terms either as the beginning of the bride’s address or in more abstract terms as the beginning of the growing together of two families. The more abstract the associated description, the more likely a person is to remember the experience from an observer’s perspective, i.e. as an object in the scene; in this case, the feelings associated with the experience are less intense. The level of description chosen by the self-image influences the memory image and how it is experienced – and in particular, in what form it is then recorded.
“Essentially, this means we shape our memories in such a way that we protect our positive self and tend to mitigate the challenges posed by negative memories that do not fit our self-image,” concludes Albert Newen.
Study findings suggest adherence to healthy lifestyle may slow biological aging in middle-aged and older adults
Peking University (China), August 16, 2021
According to news reporting originating from Beijing, People’s Republic of China, research stated, “Little is known about the effects of lifestyle modification on biological aging in population-based studies of middle-aged and older adults. We examined the individual and joint associations of multiple lifestyle factors with accelerated biological aging measured by change in frailty index (FI) over 8 years in a prospective study of Chinese adults.”
Our news editors obtained a quote from the research from Peking University, “Data were obtained on 24,813 participants in the China Kadoorie Biobank (CKB) on lifestyle factors and frailty status at baseline and at 8 years after baseline. Adherence to healthy lifestyle factors included non-smoking or quitting smoking for reasons other than illness, avoidance of heavy alcohol consumption, daily intake of fruit and vegetables, being physically active, body mass index (BMI) of 18.5-23.9 kg/m 2, and waist-to-hip ratio (WHR) <0.90 (men)/0.85 (women). FI was constructed separately at baseline and resurvey using 25 age- and health-related items. Overall, 8,760 (35.3%) individuals had a worsening frailty status. In multivariable-adjusted logistic regression analyses, adherence to healthy lifestyle was associated with a lower risk of worsening frailty status. Compared with robust participants maintaining 0-1 healthy lifestyle factors, the corresponding OR (95% CI) was 0.93 (0.83-1.03), 0.75 (0.67-0.84), 0.68 (0.60-0.77), and 0.55 (0.46-0.65) for robust participants with 2, 3, 4, and 5-6 healthy lifestyle factors. The decreased risk of frailty status worsening by adherence to healthy lifestyle factors was similar in both middle-aged and older adults, and in both robust and prefrail participants at baseline.”
According to the news editors, the research concluded: “Adherence to a healthy lifestyle may attenuate the rate of change in biological aging in middle-aged and older Chinese adults.”
This research has been peer-reviewed.
Uterine fibroid treatment with vitamin D combined with ECGC and vitamin B6: a controlled pilot study
Hospital Santa Maria (Portugal), August 16, 2021
According to news reporting originating from the Hospital Santa Maria research stated, “Uterine fibroids are the most common benign tumor in women and a specific treatment is not available. The combination of epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), vitamin D and B6 in treating uterine fibroids (UFs) recently showed a promising efficacy.”
The news journalists obtained a quote from the research from Hospital Santa Maria: “Here we tried to evaluate the efficiency of the combination to improve gynaecologycal and cardiological parameters. 43 women with a diagnosis of UF were enrolled and divided into two groups: a) study group, treated twice a day with 150 mg EGCG, 25 g vitamin D and 5 mg vitamin B6, for 4 months; b) control group, with no intervention. Volume, number of UFs, menstrual bleeding, pelvic discomfort, anemia and hypertension were monitored and analyzed. One UF developed in the control group, but none in the treated group. UF size significantly decreased from 10.73 ± 5.52 cm3 at baseline to 7.98 ± 4.00 cm3 after 4 months of treatment (p < 0.0001), while it remained unchanged in the control group (10.21 ± 5.83 cm3 at T0 to 10.62 ± 6.28 cm3 at T1). Menstrual bleeding and anemia ameliorated only in the treated women.”
According to the news reporters, the research concluded: “Supplementation with EGCG, vitamin D and B6 is a safe and novel approach for the management of UFs, reducing volume and improving menstrual bleeding and anemia of women presenting such symptoms.”
One Acupuncture Treatment Drops Blood Pressure For Over a Month Without Medication
Susan Samueli Center for Integrative Medicine, August 20, 2021
Emerging evidence from a research study shows acupuncture may be an effective treatment for hypertension. Acupuncture regulates blood pressure, blood flow and body temperature. Patients with hypertension treated with acupuncture experienced drops in their blood pressure that lasted up to a month and a half, researchers with the Susan Samueli Center for Integrative Medicine have found.
Their work is the first to scientifically confirm that this ancient Chinese practice is beneficial in treating mild to moderate hypertension, and it indicates that regular use could help people control their blood pressure and lessen their risk of stroke and heart disease.
The reports of side effects show that acupuncture works, says Dr. Marc Micozzi, editor of the textbook Fundamentals of Complementary Alternative Medicine and executive director of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia. He says, “People need to understand that part of taking alternative medicine seriously is to take a look at and understand the side effects.”
“This clinical study is the culmination of more than a decade of bench research in this area,” said Dr. John Longhurst, a University of California, Irvine cardiologist and former director of the Samueli Center. “By using Western scientific rigor to validate an ancient Eastern therapy, we feel we have integrated Chinese and Western medicine and provided a beneficial guideline for treating a disease that affects millions in the U.S.”
Participants were treated at UCI’s Institute for Clinical & Translational Science. Study results appear in Medical Acupuncture.
Longhurst and his UCI colleagues Dr. Peng Li and Stephanie Tjen-A-Looi conducted tests on 65 hypertensive patients who were not receiving any hypertension medication. Separated randomly into two groups, the subjects were treated with electroacupuncture – a form of the practice that employs low-intensity electrical stimulation – at different acupoints on the body.
“In the hands of a trained professional, acupuncture is very safe and effective. Like everything else, acupuncture is not effective for everything. Certainly, it has demonstrated itself as effective for pain that does not respond well to even high doses of medication or chronic pain,”says Bruce Dubin, dean of Ohio University’s College of Osteopathic Medicine.
In one group of 33 receiving electroacupuncture on both sides of the inner wrists and slightly below each knee, the researchers found a noticeable drop in blood pressure rates in 70 percent of participants – an average of 6 to 8 mmHg for systolic blood pressure (the high number) and 4 mmHg for diastolic blood pressure (the low number). These improvements persisted for a month and a half.
Also in this group, the team identified significant declines in blood concentration levels of norepinephrine (41 percent), which constricts blood vessels and increases blood pressure and glucose levels; and renin (67 percent), an enzyme produced in the kidneys that helps control blood pressure. In addition, the electroacupuncture decreased aldosterone (22 percent), a hormone that regulates electrolytes.
No consequential blood pressure changes were found in the group of 32 who received electroacupuncture at other acupoints along the forearm and lower leg.
Although the blood pressure reductions in the first cohort were relatively small – mostly in the 4-to-13-mmHg range – the researchers noted that they were clinically meaningful and that the technique could be especially useful in treating systolic hypertension in patients over 60.
“Because electroacupuncture decreases both peak and average systolic blood pressure over 24 hours, this therapy may decrease the risk for stroke, peripheral artery disease, heart failure and myocardial infarction in hypertensive patients,” Longhurst said.
Research uncovers how fructose in the diet contributes to obesity
Weill Cornell Medical College, August 19, 2021
Eating fructose appears to alter cells in the digestive tract in a way that enables it to take in more nutrients, according to a preclinical study from investigators at Weill Cornell Medicine and NewYork-Presbyterian. These changes could help to explain the well-known link between rising fructose consumption around the world and increased rates of obesity and certain cancers.
The research, published August 18 in Nature, focused on the effect of a high-fructose diet on villi, the thin, hairlike structures that line the inside of the small intestine. Villi expand the surface area of the gut and help the body to absorb nutrients, including dietary fats, from food as it passes through the digestive tract. The study found that mice that were fed diets that included fructose had villi that were 25 percent to 40 percent longer than those of mice that were not fed fructose. Additionally, the increase in villus length was associated with increased nutrient absorption, weight gain and fat accumulation in the animals.
“Fructose is structurally different from other sugars like glucose, and it gets metabolized differently,” said senior author Dr. Marcus DaSilva Goncalves, the Ralph L. Nachman Research Scholar, an assistant professor of medicine in the Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism and an endocrinologist at NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center. “Our research has found that fructose’s primary metabolite promotes the elongation of villi and supports intestinal tumor growth.”
The investigators didn’t plan to study villi. Previous research from the team, published in 2019, found that dietary fructose could increase tumor size in mouse models of colorectal cancer, and that blocking fructose metabolism could prevent that from happening. Reasoning that fructose might also promote hyperplasia, or accelerated growth, of the small intestine, the researchers examined tissues from mice treated with fructose or a control diet under the microscope.
The observation that the mice on the high-fructose diet had increased villi length, which was made by first author Samuel Taylor, a Tri-Institutional M.D.-Ph.D. Program student in Dr. Goncalves’ lab, was a complete surprise. And once he made the discovery, he and Dr. Goncalves set out to learn more.
After observing that the villi were longer, the team wanted to determine whether those villi were functioning differently. So they put mice into three groups: a normal low-fat diet, a high-fat diet, and a high-fat diet with added fructose. Not only did the mice in the third group develop longer villi, but they became more obese than the mice receiving the high-fat diet without fructose.
The researchers took a closer look at the changes in metabolism and found that a specific metabolite of fructose, called fructose-1-phosphate, was accumulating at high levels. This metabolite interacted with a glucose-metabolizing enzyme called pyruvate kinase, to alter cell metabolism and promote villus survival and elongation. When pyruvate kinase or the enzyme that makes fructose-1-phospate were removed, fructose had no effect on villus length. Previous animal studies have suggested that this metabolite of fructose also aids in tumor growth.
According to Taylor, the observations in mice make sense from an evolutionary perspective. “In mammals, especially hibernating mammals in temperate climates, you have fructose being very available in the fall months when the fruit is ripe,” he said. “Eating a lot of fructose may help these animals to absorb and convert more nutrients to fat, which they need to get through the winter.”
Dr. Goncalves added that humans did not evolve to eat what they eat now. “Fructose is nearly ubiquitous in modern diets, whether it comes from high-fructose corn syrup, table sugar, or from natural foods like fruit,” he said. “Fructose itself is not harmful. It’s a problem of overconsumption. Our bodies were not designed to eat as much of it as we do.”
Future research will aim to confirm that the findings in mice translate to humans. “There are already drugs in clinical trials for other purposes that target the enzyme responsible for producing fructose-1-phosphate,” said Dr. Goncalves, who is also a member of the Sandra and Edward Meyer Cancer Center. “We’re hoping to find a way to repurpose them to shrink the villi, reduce fat absorption, and possibly slow tumor growth.”
- reuteri supplements may modulate gut insulin metabolism: RCT
Heinrich-Heine University (Germany), August 20, 2021
Consumption of Lactobacillus reuteri probiotics may boost insulin release in healthy people, says a new study.
Tablets containing Nutraceutix’s L. reuteri strain (ATCC strain SD-5865) and its patented BIO-tract delivery technology were found to increase insulin secretion by 49%, according to findings published in Diabetes Care.
Daily administration of L. reuteri tablets for four weeks was also associated with 76% and 43% increases in glucose-stimulated glucagon-like peptides (GLP)-1 and -2 release, wrote researchers from Germany, Denmark and the US. GLP-1(incretin) is known to play a key role in insulin secretion and beta-cell function in the pancreas, while GLP-2 is reported to enhance intestinal function.
“[A]dministration of probiotic L. reuteri increased insulin secretion and incretin release in humans,” wrote the researchers, led by Prof Michael Roden from Heinrich-Heine University in Dusseldorf. “This effect was not caused by a modulation of the fecal microbiota, suggesting a direct effect of the Lactobacilli on host physiology.
“The increase of the intestinotrophic gut peptide, GLP-2, which may contribute to intestinal integrity, was accompanied by stable concentrations of endotoxin and immune mediators.
“Therefore, administration of a specific bacterial strain might have clinical implications by improving incretin-mediated beta-cell function in individuals with impaired glucose homeostasis and therefore warrants further studies on specific bacterial strains in type 2 diabetes.”
Prof Roden and his co-workers recruited 11 lean and 10 obese glucose tolerant people with an average age of 50 to participate in their prospective, double-blind, randomized trial. Participants received a daily L. reuteri dose of 20 billion colony forming units (CFUs) per day or placebo for four weeks. The probiotic was encapsulated by Nutraceutix using its BIO-tract technology, which is protected by US Patents 8,540,980 and 8,007,777 , and other international patents
Results showed that, in addition to the increases in insulin sectretion, GLP-1, and GLP-2 levels, the probiotic supplements were also associated with a 55% increase in C-peptide secretion. C-peptide is a protein that joins the A- and B-chains of insulin. It is secreted in equal measure to insulin and is seen as an important measure of insulin secretion.
“An increase of GLP-2 secretion most probably enhances the expression of tight junctions in the intestinal wall, with the consequence of decreased gut permeability and leakage of endotoxin,” they explained. “It has been suggested that low-grade metabolic inflammation driven by endotoxin translocation is the proposed mechanism by which the microbiota may contribute to systemic inflammation in obesity due to increased intestinal permeability.
“Lactobacilli may have the capability to improve intestinal integrity in rodents, which may diminish the LPS [lipopolysaccharide, an endotoxin] overflow from the gut to the circulation and thereby reduce the systemic concentrations of inflammatory markers.”
However, the researchers did not find any significant effects for systemic inflammation or oxidative stress in the study participants over four weeks, nor were there any impacts on insulin sensitivity, body mass, or levels of circulating cytokines.
The study was co-funded by the Heinrich-Heine University, the German Center for Diabetes Research, and the Danone Institute for Nutrition and Health.