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September 18, 2020  
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Could breadfruit be the next superfood? researchers say yes

Breadfruit is sustainable, environmentally friendly and a high-production crop

University of British Columbia, September 17, 2020

 

A fruit used for centuries in countries around the world is getting the nutritional thumbs-up from a team of British Columbia researchers. 

Breadfruit, which grows in abundance in tropical and South Pacific countries, has long been a staple in the diet of many people. The fruit can be eaten when ripe, or it can be dried and ground up into a flour and repurposed into many types of meals, explains UBC Okanagan researcher Susan Murch.

"Breadfruit is a traditional staple crop from the Pacific islands with the potential to improve worldwide food security and mitigate diabetes," says Murch, a chemistry professor in the newly-created Irving K. Barber Faculty of Science. "While people have survived on it for thousands of years there was a lack of basic scientific knowledge of the health impacts of a breadfruit-based diet in both humans and animals." 

Breadfruit can be harvested, dried and ground into a gluten-free flour. For the project, researchers had four breadfruits from the same tree in Hawaii, shipped to the Murch Lab at UBC Okanagan. Doctoral student Ying Liu led the study examining the digestion and health impact of a breadfruit-based diet. 

"Detailed and systematic studies of the health impacts of a breadfruit diet had not previously been conducted and we wanted to contribute to the development of breadfruit as a sustainable, environmentally-friendly and high-production crop," Liu says.

The few studies done on the product have been to examine the glycemic index of breadfruit--with a low glycemic index it is comparable to many common staples such as wheat, cassava, yam and potatoes. 

"The objective of our current study was to determine whether a diet containing breadfruit flour poses any serious health concerns," explains Liu, who conducted her research with colleagues from British Columbia Institute of Technology's Natural Health and Food Products Research Group and the Breadfruit Institute of the National Tropical Botanic Garden in Hawaii.

The researchers designed a series of studies--using flour ground from dehydrated breadfruits--that could provide data on the impacts of a breadfruit-based diet fed to mice and also an enzyme digestion model. 

The researchers determined that breadfruit protein was found to be easier to digest than wheat protein in the enzyme digestion model. And mice fed the breadfruit diet had a significantly higher growth rate and body weight than standard diet-fed mice.

Liu also noted mice on the breadfruit diet had a significantly higher daily water consumption compared to mice on the wheat diet. And at the end of the three-week-trial, the body composition was similar between the breadfruit and wheat diet-fed mice.

"As the first complete, fully-designed breadfruit diet study, our data showed that a breadfruit diet does not impose any toxic impact," says Liu. "Fundamental understanding of the health impact of breadfruit digestion and diets is necessary and imperative to the establishment of breadfruit as a staple or as a functional food in the future."

The use of breadfruit is nutritious and sustainable and could make inroads in food sustainability for many populations globally, she adds. For example, the average daily consumption of grain in the United States is 189 grams (6.67 ounces) per day. Liu suggests if a person ate the same amount of cooked breadfruit they can meet up to nearly 57 per cent of their daily fibre requirement, more than 34 per cent of their protein requirement and at the same time consume vitamin C, potassium, iron, calcium and phosphorus.

"Overall, these studies support the use of breadfruit as part of a healthy, nutritionally balanced diet," says Liu. "Flour produced from breadfruit is a gluten-free, low glycemic index, nutrient-dense and complete protein option for modern foods."

 

 

Fructose and glucose in high fructose corn syrup deliver a one-two punch to health

New study links combination of the two sugars in high fructose corn syrup to heart health risks

University of California at Davis, September 17, 2020

 

Consuming high fructose corn syrup appears to be as bad for your health as consuming sugar in the form of fructose alone, according to a new study from researchers at the University of California, Davis. The study reports health risks related to the type of sugar consumed, but also reveals novel risks when sugars are combined, which has important implications for dietary guidelines.

When it comes to health risks, sugar in the form of fructose is clearly the bad guy. This is because a majority of fructose consumed ends up in the liver. When there is too much fructose, the liver produces uric acid and fat in the form of triglycerides, which increase the risk of fatty liver, heart disease and gout. But lead investigator Kimber Stanhope, a researcher with the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, says the new data shows that we shouldn't let glucose off the hook.

"It turns out that the combination of fructose and glucose found in high fructose corn syrup appears to be worse than fructose alone for some heart disease risk factors," said Stanhope. "When we planned this study, we didn't expect to find this."

Research has shown that fructose compared with glucose increases risk factors for heart disease and diabetes. This led to an assumption that the glucose in the high fructose corn syrup is benign. The new study, published in Metabolism Journal, tested this assumption by examining differences in health risk factors based on sugar type. Participants consumed beverages containing fructose, glucose, high fructose corn syrup, or an aspartame control, and researchers analyzed their blood for known risk factors for heart disease and diabetes.

The researchers expected risk factors would be highest for fructose and lowest for glucose, with high fructose corn syrup somewhere in between. This is exactly what they saw for some of the risk factors. However, for others, including the risk factors many scientists believe are the most predictive for heart disease, the increases were highest for high fructose corn syrup due to an interaction of fructose and glucose.

CONSUMER CHOICES AND DIETARY GUIDELINES 

The results of the current study suggest that dietary guidelines and consumer choices should not be based on the assumption that all adverse effects from dietary sugars are due to fructose content.

"Our study shows that nutrition is more than looking at individual food components," said first author Bettina Hieronimus with the Department of Child Nutrition at the Max-Rubner Institut in Karlsruhe, Germany. "To understand the way our food affects our bodies, we need to study diets as a whole."

 

 

We are predisposed to forgive, new research suggests

Yale University and Oxford University, September 17, 2020

     

When assessing the moral character of others, people cling to good impressions but readily adjust their opinions about those who have behaved badly, according to new research.

 

This flexibility in judging transgressors might help explain both how humans forgive -- and why they sometimes stay in bad relationships, said the study's authors.

 

The research -- conducted by psychologists at Yale, University of Oxford, University College London, and the International School for Advanced Studies -- in the journal Nature Human Behaviour.

 

"The brain forms social impressions in a way that can enable forgiveness," said Yale psychologist Molly Crockett, senior author of the paper. "Because people sometimes behave badly by accident, we need to be able to update bad impressions that turn out to be mistaken. Otherwise, we might end relationships prematurely and miss out on the many benefits of social connection."

 

Across a series of experiments, more than 1500 subjects observed the choices of two strangers who faced a moral dilemma: whether to inflict painful electric shocks on another person in exchange for money. While the "good" stranger mostly refused to shock another person for money, the "bad" stranger tended to maximize their profits despite the painful consequences. The subjects were asked their impressions of the strangers' moral character and how confident they were about those impressions.

 

Subjects rapidly formed stable, positive impressions of the good stranger and were highly confident of their impressions. However, the subjects were far less confident that the bad stranger was truly bad and could change their minds quickly. For instance, when the bad stranger occasionally made a generous choice, subjects' impressions immediately improved -- until they witnessed the stranger's next transgression."

 

This pattern of impression updating may provide some insight into why people sometimes hold on to bad relationships, Crockett said. "We think our findings reveal a basic predisposition towards giving others, even strangers, the benefit of the doubt. The human mind is built for maintaining social relationships, even when partners sometimes behave badly."

 

The research also may eventually help shed light on psychiatric disorders involving social difficulties, such as Borderline Personality Disorder.

 

"The ability to accurately form impressions of others' character is crucial for the development and maintenance of healthy relationships" said Jenifer Siegel, an Oxford doctoral student and lead author of the paper. "We have developed newtools for measuring impression formation, which could help improve our understanding of relational dysfunction."

 

 

Intermittent Fasting Diet Improves Health Without Altering The Body’s Core Clock

University of Copenhagen, Australian Catholic University and Karolinska Institutet, September 17, 2020

 

When it comes to metabolic health, it’s not just what you eat, it’s when you eat it. Studies have shown that one effective means of losing weight and tackling obesity is to reduce the number of hours in the day that you eat. Time-restricted feeding – otherwise known as intermittent fasting – has also been shown to improve health even before weight loss kicks in.

The biological explanation for the phenomenon remains poorly understood. So scientists from the University of Copenhagen, the Australian Catholic University and Karolinska Institutet investigated the body’s early adaptations to time-restricted feeding. Their study identified a number of key changes in the genetic activity of muscles, as well as the content of muscle fats and proteins, which could explain the positive impact of time-restricted feeding.

Novel insights on short-term time-restricted feeding

The study is the first time scientists have examined the oscillations of metabolites in skeletal muscle and in blood, as well as gene expression in skeletal muscle after time-restricted feeding. By focusing on the short-term and early effects of time-restricted feeding, the goal was to disentangle the signals that govern health from those associated with weight loss.

“We observe that the rhythm of skeletal muscle core clock genes is unchanged by time-restricted feeding, suggesting that any differences are driven more by diet, rather than inherent rhythms,” says Postdoc Leonidas Lundell, from the Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Basic Metabolic Research (CBMR) at the University of Copenhagen.

“We also see that the metabolite profile of skeletal muscle switches from being predominantly lipid based, to amino acid based, after time-restricted feeding. This coincides with changes in rhythmicity of amino acid transporters, indicating that part of the amino acid profile could be due to absorption from the blood.”

Research Fellow Evelyn Parr from the Mary MacKillop Institute for Health Research at the Australian Catholic University, adds: “Our research is an important step towards understanding how time-restricted eating can improve metabolic health, while bridging the gap between animal models and human intervention studies. It was important to capture these early metabolic responses before assessing what changes might occur after a longer period following a time-restricted feeding pattern.”

Eating behavior does not impact the body’s core clock

In the study, 11 men with overweight/obesity were assigned one of two eating protocols for a period of five days, either unrestricted feeding, or eight-hours of time restricted feeding. On the fifth day, samples were taken every four hours for a full day. After a 10-day break, they repeated the experiment following the other eating protocol.

After each intervention, the team of scientists studied the gene expression in muscles, as well as the profile of metabolites – molecules that are formed through metabolic processes – in the blood and muscles.

They discovered that time-restricted feeding changed the rhythmic concentration of metabolites in blood and muscle. Time-restricted feeding also influenced the rhythmic expression of genes expressed by muscle, particularly those responsible for helping the transport of amino acids, the building blocks of proteins.

Critically, the study showed that time-restricted feeding did not alter the muscle’s core clock – the cell’s inbuilt metronome that regulates its daily cycle of activity. This suggests that the altered rhythmicity of metabolite and gene expression caused by time-restricted feeding could be responsible for the positive health impact.

“Our findings open new avenues for scientists who are interested in understanding the causal relationship between time-restricted feeding and improved metabolic health. These insights could help develop new therapies to improve the lives of people who live with obesity,” says Professor Juleen Zierath from Karolinska Institutet and CBMR at the University of Copenhagen.

 

 

 

Green soy extract could prevent cognitive dysfunction: Mouse data

University of Shizuoka (Japan), September 16, 2020

 

Intake of green soybean extract could help reverse cognitive dysfunction and its associated accumulation of beta-amyloid proteins in the brain, say researchers.

 

The accumulation of beta-amyloid proteins has long been linked to the development of brain stunting conditions including Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. 

 

The new findings come from a Japanese trial in mice with cognitive dysfunction.

 

Writing in the Journal of Functional Foods, the team revealed that brain functions were ‘significantly better-preserved’ in aged mice fed green soybean than age-matched control mice with or without yellow soybean feeding.

 

The molecular mechanisms of these beneficial effects on brain function were examined using transcriptome analysis. An increased expression of lipocalin-type prostaglandin Dsynthase (Ptgds) and a significant reduction in the amyloid precursor protein Aplp1 was reported by the team, led by Keiko Unno from the University of Shizuoka in Japan.

 

“As Ptgds binds and transports small lipophilic molecules (…) it has been proposed as the endogenous Aβ chaperone,” noted the team, adding that lower levels of the usually abundant protein “may play an important role in the development of dementia and of Alzheimer's disease (AD).”

“Furthermore, the amount of beta-amyloid 40 and 42 was reduced in the insoluble fraction of cerebral cortex,” the team noted.

 

Unno and colleagues noted that previous research has suggested several beneficial effects of soybean components such as so isoflavones, including previous suggestions of benefits for cognitive function and the prevention of oxidative damage.

 

In the current study, the isoflavones found to be present in soybean extracts were mostly the glycosides genstin and daidzin.

 

“The levels of genistein and daizein, aglycones of genstin and daidzin, respectively, were very low or not detected,” reported the team – adding that the content of oligo sugars, especially sucrose, was significantly higher in green soybean than in yellow. Furthermore, the contents of saponin and carotene in green soybean were found to be slightly higher in the green than in yellow, however the contents of other components were not different between green and yellow soybeans.

 

“Soybean feeding did not change the weight of body, liver or cerebrum,” Unno and colleagues said – adding that the average food consumptions of each group were also not different. 

 

 

 

Coffee associated with improved survival in metastatic colorectal cancer patients

Dana Farber Cancer Institute, September 17, 2020

 

In a large group of patients with metastatic colorectal cancer, consumption of a few cups of coffee a day was associated with longer survival and a lower risk of the cancer worsening, researchers at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and other organizations report in a new study.

The findings, based on data from a large observational study nested in a clinical trial, are in line with earlier studies showing a connection between regular coffee consumption and improved outcomes in patients with non-metastatic colorectal cancer. The study is being published today by JAMA Oncology.

The investigators found that in 1,171 patients treated for metastatic colorectal cancer, those who reported drinking two to three cups of coffee a day were likely to live longer overall, and had a longer time before their disease worsened, than those who didn't drink coffee. Participants who drank larger amounts of coffee - more than four cups a day - had an even greater benefit in these measures. The benefits held for both caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee.

The findings enabled investigators to establish an association, but not a cause-and-effect relationship, between coffee drinking and reduced risk of cancer progression and death among study participants. As a result, the study doesn't provide sufficient grounds for recommending, at this point, that people with advanced or metastatic colorectal cancer start drinking coffee on a daily basis or increase their consumption of the drink, researchers say.

"It's known that several compounds in coffee have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and other properties that may be active against cancer," says Dana-Farber's Chen Yuan, ScD, the co-first author of the study with Christopher Mackintosh, MLA, of the Mayo Clinic School of Medicine. "Epidemiological studies have found that higher coffee intake was associated with improved survival in patients with stage 3 colon cancer, but the relationship between coffee consumption and survival in patients with metastatic forms of the disease hasn't been known."

The new study drew on data from the Alliance/SWOG 80405 study, a phase III clinical trial comparing the addition of the drugs cetuximab and/or bevacizumab to standard chemotherapy in patients with previously untreated, locally advanced or metastatic colorectal cancer. As part of the trial, participants reported their dietary intake, including coffee consumption, on a questionnaire at the time of enrollment. Researchers correlated this data with information on the course of the cancer after treatment.

They found that participants who drank two to three cups of coffee per day had a reduced hazard for death and for cancer progression compared to those who didn't drink coffee. (Hazard is a measure of risk.) Those who consumed more than four cups per day had an even greater benefit.

"Although it is premature to recommend a high intake of coffee as a potential treatment for colorectal cancer, our study suggests that drinking coffee is not harmful and may potentially be beneficial," says Dana-Farber's Kimmie Ng, MD, MPH, senior author of the study.

"This study adds to the large body of literature supporting the importance of diet and other modifiable factors in the treatment of patients with colorectal cancer," Ng adds. "Further research is needed to determine if there is indeed a causal connection between coffee consumption and improved outcomes in patients with colorectal cancer, and precisely which compounds within coffee are responsible for this benefit."

 

 

Research links increased omega-3 intake to improved cardiovascular outcomes

Ochsner Medical Center in New Orleans, Sept. 17, 2020 

 

A new study, the most comprehensive analysis of the role of omega-3 dosage on cardiovascular prevention to date, provides compelling evidence for consuming more EPA and DHA (eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid, respectively) omega-3 fats. Published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings, the meta-analysis is an in-depth review of 40 clinical trials. According to the research, EPA and DHA omega-3 intake is associated with reduced risk of coronary heart disease (CHD) events, the cause of 7.4 million deaths globally each year, and reduced risk of myocardial infarction (heart attack), including fatal heart attack.  

Specifically, the study found that EPA+DHA supplementation is associated with a statistically significant reduced risk of:

  • myocardial infarction (13%) 
  • fatal myocardial infarction (35%) 
  • CHD events (10%) 
  • CHD mortality (9%)

"The study supports the notion that EPA and DHA intake contributes to cardioprotection, and that whatever you're getting through the diet, you likely need more," said Carl "Chip" Lavie, MD, a cardiologist at Ochsner Health in New Orleans and one of the study authors.

Cardiovascular benefits appear to increase with dosage. The researchers found that adding an extra 1000 mg of EPA and DHA per day decreased the risk of cardiovascular disease and heart attack even more: risk of cardiovascular disease events decreased by 5.8% and risk for heart attack decreased by 9.0%. The study looked at dosages of up to 5500 mg/day.

This research corroborates the results of an earlier meta-analysis from Harvard School of Public Health, published in October 2019, that looked at EPA and DHA dosage using the 13 largest clinical studies. This new paper encompasses more than triple the number of studies, which is the totality of the evidence to date.

"When separate analyses arrive at similar results, that's not only validating; it also underscores the science base needed to inform future intake recommendations," said co-author Aldo Bernasconi, PhD, Vice President of Data Science for the Global Organization for EPA and DHA Omega-3s (GOED), which commissioned this study. "Because this paper included more studies and all dosages, the estimates for a dose-response are more precise and the conclusions stronger."

EPA and DHA omega-3s are long-chain, marine-based fatty acids. Eating fish, particularly fatty fish such as salmon, anchovies and sardines, is the optimal way to get EPA and DHA omega-3s, since fish also provides other beneficial nutrients. However, most people around the world eat much less than the amount of fish recommended, so supplementing with omega-3s helps close the gap. 

"People should consider the benefits of omega-3 supplements, at doses of 1000 to 2000 mg per day – far higher than what is typical, even among people who regularly eat fish," added Dr. Lavie. "Taking omega-3 supplements is a relatively low-cost, high-impact way to improve heart health with few associated risks."

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