Adding herbs and spices to meals may help lower blood pressure
Texas Tech University, November 8, 2021
In a controlled-feeding study, the researchers found that seasoning foods with 6.5 grams, or about 1.3 teaspoons, of herbs and spices a day was linked with lower blood pressure after four weeks. The findings offer people a simple way to help improve their heart health.
For the study, the researchers recruited 71 people with risk factors for heart disease. Every participant consumed every spice diet—one low, one moderate, and one high in herbs and spices—in a random order for four weeks each, with a two-week break between each diet period. Blood samples were drawn from each participant at the beginning of the study as well as after each diet period.
The doses included a blend of 24 different herbs and spices, ranging from basil and thyme to cinnamon and turmeric, designed to simulate the way people use different herbs and spices throughout the day while cooking.
The researchers found that after consuming the diet including a high dose of herbs and spices, participants had lower systolic blood pressure than after the diet with the medium dose. Participants also had lower diastolic blood pressure after the diet with a high dose of herbs and spices than after the diet with a low dose.
Bitter melon can lower blood sugar levels and even prevent cancer
University of Colorado Cancer Center, November 11, 2021
Bitter melon (Momordica charantia), also known as bitter gourd and balsam pear in other parts of the world, is one of those foods that meet more than your senses of sight and taste. A study conducted by researchers from the University of Colorado Cancer Center demonstrated the vegetable’s ability to fight pancreatic cancer, one of the hardest cancers to treat.
It found that treating pancreatic cancer tumors in mice with 5 milligrams of freeze-dried bitter melon juice every day reduces the tumors’ size and makes them 64 percent smaller than those in untreated mice. What more, bitter melon proved more effective than a common chemotherapy drug used in a similar study, which reduced the tumor size by only 52 percent. The researchers noted that the dosage used in the study caused no adverse effects on the mice and may be adapted for human consumption.
In another study, bitter melon caused apoptosis – cellular death – in four pancreatic cancer cell lines, reducing the viability of two lines by 90 percent and the other two by an impressive 98 percent. It also halted the metastasis and re-growth of the cancer cells. Further research has shown the vegetable’s activity against other types of cancer as well, including blood, colon, liver, stomach, and breast cancers.
If you really don’t think you can take the vegetable’s flavor, you can take it in capsule form. Do note that some studies showing its benefits for blood sugar control used dosages as high as 2,000 mg a day. To ensure that bitter melon supplements are the best for your condition, it would be best to consult with your healthcare provider before taking them.
Flame retardants linked to autistic-like behavior
University of California at Riverside, November 7, 2021
Polybrominated diphenyl ethers, or PBDEs, are a class of fire-retardant chemicals that are ubiquitous. They are found on upholstery, carpets, curtains, electronics, and even infant products. Flame retardants migrate out of products into dust that humans contact and can ingest. Considered to be global environmental pollutants, they have been detected in water, soil, air, food products, animals, and human tissues. They are found, too, in breast milk of women all over the world.
A research team has found that when female mice exposed to PBDEs pass on these neuroendocrine-disrupting chemicals to their developing offspring, the female offspring show traits relevant to autism spectrum disorders, or ASD. Their short-term social-recognition ability and long-term social memory is reduced significantly and the offspring show exaggerated “marble burying” behavior — repetitive behavior reminiscent of human compulsive behavior, a core symptom of ASD.
“Humans mostly rely on faces to recognize people and most autistics show deficits in face-identity processing,” Curras-Collazo explained. “Mice, on the other hand, rely on smell for social recognition. The female offspring of mother mice exposed to PBDEs showed olfactory deficits that dampened their ability to recognize other mice. In effect, these offspring do not distinguish new mice from familiar ones. Humans with ASD also show abnormal olfactory ability.”
To the authors’ knowledge, their study is the first to show autistic-relevant behavior and brain changes in female offspring from maternal transfer of environmental pollutants. The behaviors were also tested in exposed mothers, but they were largely unaffected. ype and social neuropeptide alterations in female mice offspring induced by maternal transfer of PBDE congeners in the commercial mixture DE‑71.”
Two omega-3s in fish oil may boost brain function in people with heart disease
Harvard Medical School , November 8, 2021
Two omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil may help improve brain function in older adults who have a type of heart disease known to put people at risk for cognitive decline.
A new study found that DHA and EPA, given in a combined supplement at prescription levels, improved cognitive function in older adults with coronary artery disease, or CAD. It is a common type of heart disease that occurs when plaque builds up in the arteries and hinders proper blood flow. Studies have shown people with CAD have a 45% increased risk for cognitive decline.
The largest improvements in brain function were seen when higher levels of both types of omega-3 fatty acids were present in the bloodstream. When analyzed individually, DHA levels were a better predictor for cognitive improvement than EPA, suggesting the presence of one type of omega-3 fatty acid was more important than the other, the authors concluded.
"The study showed EPA adds additional benefit when DHA levels are already high," said study researcher Dr. Francine Welty, an associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School in Boston. "But EPA levels alone had no predictive ability for cognitive improvement."
Despite understanding the concept of mindfulness, people are applying it incorrectly, research finds
University of Waterloo (Canada), November 8, 2021
Mindful awareness is about both accepting and engaging with life's challenges, and that's what popularized concepts of mindfulness tend to miss, new research has found.
Studying popular concepts of mindfulness, the researchers found most laypeople are confusing the practice with passive acceptance of problem—a misconception scientists say ignores the important work of engaging with them. Originating in Buddhist religious practice, much of the mindfulness movement's popularity grew from clinical research affirming its potential for reducing stress and related health disorders.
It is, in fact, the engagement with stressors that ultimately results in stress relief. More specifically, mindfulness includes two main dimensions: awareness and acceptance.
"While we found that people seem to conceptually understand that mindfulness involves engagement, the general public is not walking the talk. Our results suggest that laypeople may understand what awareness is, but the next step of acceptance may not be well understood—limiting potential for engaging with problems," said Ellen Choi, lead author on the paper.
Bacterial pneumonia far more dangerous to the heart than viral pneumonia, study finds
Intermountain Medical Center (Utah), November 11, 2021
Heart complications in patients diagnosed with bacterial pneumonia are more serious than in patients diagnosed with viral pneumonia, according to new research.
In the study of nearly 5,000 patients, researchers found that patients diagnosed with bacterial pneumonia had a 60 percent greater risk of a heart attack, stroke, or death than patients who had been diagnosed with viral pneumonia.
"We've always known pneumonia was a risk factor for a major adverse cardiac event, like a heart attack, within the first 90 days of being diagnosed," said J. Brent Muhlestein, MD, a cardiovascular researcher with the Intermountain Heart Institute at Intermountain Medical Center. "What we didn't know was which type of pneumonia was more dangerous. The results of this study provided a clear answer, which will allow physicians to better monitor patients and focus on reducing their risk of a major adverse cardiac event."
Nearly 80 percent of the patients were diagnosed with bacterial pneumonia, and 34 percent (1,270 patients) of them had a major cardiovascular event within 90 days. At the same time, 21 percent of the patients were diagnosed with viral pneumonia, and 26 percent (258 patients) had a major adverse event within the 90-day window.
"The likely underlying cause is that bacterial pneumonia causes greater inflammation of the arteries compared to viral pneumonia," said Dr. Muhlestein.
Researchers find exposure to microplastics may alter cellular function
Florida State University, November 11, 2021
Pollution from miniscule pieces of plastic, or microplastics, have been a growing concern for scientists, public health advocates and environmentalists as these nondegradable items have increasingly made their way into waterways and even the air we breathe.
Now, a team researchers found that exposure to microplastics for only a few days caused human lung cells to slow down their metabolism and growth, change shapes, and decluster so that gaps exist in what is typically a solid sheet of cells. The findings raise questions about the long-term effects of microplastics on human health, particularly for those who already have respiratory conditions.
The team exposed lung cells in a petri dish to small amounts of polystyrene at levels that are commonly found in the environment and found that though the plastic didn’t cause cell death, it caused some interesting changes. After only a few days, they found that the cell’s metabolic processes had slowed down, cell proliferation was inhibited, the shape of the cell morphed and the delustering had occurred. Additionally, the team found that the microplastic particles were uptaken by the cells and had formed a ring around the nucleus in the cell.