December 15, 2021
Flavor your food with 'flavanols (flavan-3-ols)' to burn excess fat, new study suggests
Dietary intake of flavanols (flavan-3-ols), type of dietary polyphenolics, could help prevent obesity by sympathetic nervous system-induced browning of fat tissue
Shibaura Institute of Technology, December 13, 2021
In cold conditions, brown adipose tissue (BAT) or brown fat generates heat to keep the body warm. Compared with white adipose tissue, BAT has more mitochondria—subcellular organelles associated with energy production—which allows it to burn calories and produce heat by activating the mitochondrial uncoupling protein 1 (Ucp-1). The stimulation of the sympathetic nervous system (SNS) after cold exposure, exercise, and calorie restriction is well known to induce fat browning. Dietary polyphenols may also activate BAT, causing heat to be dissipated from our bodies. BAT activation and white fat browning are thus both therapeutically significant in the fight against cardiovascular diseases and their comorbidities.
A group of scientists examined the browning of fat induced by dietary administration of flavan 3-ols (FLs), a family of "catechin" containing polyphenols abundant in cocoa, apple, grapeseed, and red wine. In a new study published in the journal Nutrients, the team led by Professor Naomi Osakabe of Graduate School of Engineering and Science, Shibaura Institute of Technology, Japan proved that FLs enhance browning of adipose tissue by activating the SNS. The findings revealed a direct correlation between fat browning and FLs consumption, which could help researchers develop new treatments for obesity-related diseases.
The authors of this study had previously discovered that a single oral dose of FLs caused fat burning and increased skeletal muscle blood flow. Here, they investigated the effects of single and multiple dose administration of FLs in mouse adipose tissue and found that FLs activate fat browning via the SNS, which secretes "catecholamine" neurotransmitters such as adrenaline (AD) and noradrenaline (NA). They fed cocoa-derived FLs to distinct groups of mice in two independent sets of experiments. One group was given a single dose of FLs, and their urine excreted over 24 hours was collected for testing. The other group received repeated doses for 14 days before being dissected for the collection of brown and white fat. All adipose samples were tested for gene and protein markers that indicate fat browning, while the urine samples were tested specifically for AD and NA levels.
Higher concentrations of AD and NA in the urine following a single dose of FL clearly demonstrated SNS activation. Although the use of urine samples to evaluate SNS activation is still controversial in clinical research, it has been validated in stressed rodents. “Oral administration of FLs likely activate the SNS because they are considered stressors in these models,” explains Prof Osakabe.
The team then used the obtained adipose tissue to investigate the effects of long-term FL treatment. They were thrilled to discover that the white fat of mice who were fed FLs for 14 days eventually turned brown. Some of these cells also had notable structural changes, such as “multilocular phenotype,” and appeared to be smaller than normal cells. Since BAT dissipates heat energy, does long-term FL consumption change the amounts of heat-related proteins? To answer this question, the scientists showed that Ucp-1 levels, as well as other high temperature-linked proteins, increased in mice fed repeated doses of FLs. Browning markers, referred to as "beige markers" in this study, were also abundant in these mice. “All of these proteins work together to induce the development of the BAT phenotype,” exclaims Prof. Osakabe.
The team believes that the results of their study may contribute to the prevention of lifestyle-related diseases. Interestingly, this is not the first time FLs have worked wonders. Improvements in glucose and insulin tolerance have been seen after just one dose of FL-rich food administration. These findings taken together highlight the need of discussing both the acute and chronic aspects of the metabolic responses generated by FLs consumption.
It is evident from this research that the SNS activity in response to FLs intake caused the observed changes in mice fat. “Although the mechanism of adipose browning is not fully understood, it is possible that repeated administration of FLs may produce browning via catecholamines and its receptors,” explains Prof. Osakabe. “Further studies will be required to understand how this process is induced by FL-rich foods,” she concludes.
Discrimination increases risk for mental health issues in young adults
University of California at Los Angeles, November 9, 2021
A UCLA study has found that young adults who have experienced discrimination have a higher risk for both short- and long-term behavioral and mental health problems.
Researchers examined a decade’s worth of health data on 1,834 Americans who were between 18 and 28 years old when the study began. They found that the effects of discrimination may be cumulative — that the greater number of incidents of discrimination someone experiences, the more their risk for mental and behavioral problems increases.
The study also suggests that the effects of discrimination in young adults are connected with disparities in care for mental health concerns and institutional discrimination in health care overall, including inequities in diagnoses, treatment and health outcomes.
The study was published today in the journal Pediatrics.
Previous studies have linked discrimination — whether due to racism, sexism, ageism, physical appearance or other biases — to a higher risk for mental illness, psychological distress and drug use. While previous research has examined the correlation in childhood or later adulthood, this new study is the first to focus on the transition to adulthood and to follow the same group of individuals over time.
“With 75% of all lifetime mental health disorders presenting by age 24, the transition to adulthood is a crucial time to prevent mental and behavioral health problems,” said Yvonne Lei, a medical student at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and the study’s corresponding author.
Lei also said the findings are particularly relevant in light of the stresses young adults are facing nationwide today.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has brought to the forefront new mental health challenges — particularly for vulnerable populations,” she said. “We have the opportunity to rethink and improve mental health services to acknowledge the impact of discrimination, so we can better address it to provide more equitable care delivery.”
Researchers used data spanning 2007 to 2017 from the University of Michigan’s Transition to Adulthood Supplement of the Panel Study of Income Dynamics survey. Approximately 93% of the people in the study reported experiencing discrimination; the most common factors they cited were age (26%), physical appearance (19%), sex (14%) and race (13%).
The analysis showed that participants who experienced frequent discrimination, defined as a few times per month or more, were roughly 25% more likely to be diagnosed with a mental illness and twice as likely to develop severe psychological distress than those who had not experienced discrimination or had experienced it a few times per year or less. Overall, people who experienced any amount of discrimination had a 26% greater risk for poor health than people who said they did not experience discrimination.
During the 10-year period, young adults in the study who had experienced multiple successive years of high-frequency discrimination showed a much more pronounced, cumulative risk for mental illness, psychological distress, drug use and worse overall health.
The findings shed light on the multidimensional impact of discrimination on mental and behavioral health and overall well-being.
“The associations we found are likely also intertwined with mental health care service disparities — including inequities in care access, provider biases and structural and institutional discrimination in health care — leading to inequities in diagnoses, treatment and outcomes,” said the study’s senior author, Dr. Adam Schickedanz, an assistant professor of pediatrics at the Geffen School of Medicine.
Saffron: A Safe and Effective Treatment for Postpartum Depression
Mashhad University of Medical Sciences (Iran) December 11, 2021
Postpartum depression is a mood disorder that affects as many as 1 in 7 new mothers. Characterized by deep mood swings, low energy, and a loss of interest in daily activities, postpartum depression may be caused by the sudden drops in estrogen and progesterone that occur in a woman’s body immediately after giving birth. Currently, the only approved medical treatments for postpartum depression are talk therapy and psychiatric medications. If a mother wishes to breastfeed, the pharmaceutical path is contraindicated due to contaminating breast milk with medication metabolites. Now, thanks to an exotic spice, there is another choice that demonstrates the power of nature to heal from within.
In the journal Phytomedicine published the results of a clinical trial on saffron stigma for treating mothers suffering from postpartum depression. Saffron stigma are crimson-covered threads that are produced by the flowers of Crocus sativus L., commonly referred to as “saffron crocus.” A highly valued cooking spice, saffron is one of the world’s most expensive spices by weight. Beyond saffron’s delicate flavor, often described as sweet and “hay like”, and rich golden hue used in traditional dyes, saffron’s use as a medicinal herb has been documented for more than 4,000 years.
In this study, researchers wanted to identify a non-pharmaceutical treatment option for breastfeeding mothers suffering from mild-to-moderate postpartum depressive disorder (PPD). A double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial was conducted on 60 new mothers diagnosed with PPD using the Beck Depression Inventory-Second Edition (BDI-II). Participants were randomly assigned to either saffron or placebo group, with saffron group receiving a 15-mg per day dose of the powdered herb. After 8 weeks, new BDI-II scores were taken and compared to the baseline scores. Results showed that the saffron group experienced a 96% remission rate for postpartum depression, more than double the remission rate of placebo group. BDI-II scores decreased significantly for the women consuming saffron (from 20.3 ± 5.7 to 8.4 ± 3.7), while the placebo group experienced only a modest decrease in symptom scores (19.8 ± 3.2 to 15.1 ± 5.4). Researchers concluded that saffron can have a safe and significant mood-elevating impact for those suffering from postpartum depression who want to safely breast-feed their newborns.
Other researchers have produced similarly encouraging findings about saffron’s potential as a natural antidepressant. A 2014 meta-analysis titled “Saffron for depression: a systematic review of clinical studies and examination of underlying antidepressant mechanisms of action” analyzed six studies on saffron for treating depression. Researchers determined conclusively that “saffron had large treatment effects” on depression. When compared with antidepressant medications, saffron was found to have similar efficacy - without the side effects. Saffron's antidepressant properties have been attributed to its “serotonergic, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, neuro-endocrine, and neuroprotective effects.”
It is a commonly held misbelief that holistic treatments for depression are only viable when a person is experiencing mild-to-moderate depression symptoms. Another meta-analysis of saffron for major depressive disorders dispels this concern. In this 2013 review of five studies on saffron for major depressive disorder, researchers noted that a “large effect” was seen in saffron-treated patients versus placebo, concluding that “saffron supplementation can improve symptoms of depression in adults with major depressive disorder.”
Saffron’s impressive ability to elevate mood is backed-up by at least seven additional proven health benefits. Rich in B vitamins and manganese, adding this beautiful spice to your diet also provides a nutritional boost.
Regular exercise reduces the risk of and death from pneumonia, study suggests
University of Bristol, December 7, 2021
People who exercise regularly can reduce their risk of developing and dying from pneumonia, new research has found. The study, led by the University of Bristol and published in GeroScience, analysed, for the first time, ten population cohort studies with over one million participants.
The benefits of regular exercise are well-known and can reduce the risk, length or severity of infectious diseases. Previous research has suggested that regular exercise might be associated with a reduced risk of pneumonia, but the studies have had mixed findings with some reporting evidence of a relationship and others no evidence.
The researchers carried out a pooled analysis of all published studies to re-evaluate the relationship between regular exercise and the risk of developing pneumonia.
The questions the study aimed to answer included:
- Is there an association between regular physical activity and future risk of pneumonia?
- If there is an association, what is the strength and nature of the association?
- If there is an association, is it stronger or weaker in specific groups of people?
The study found people who exercise regularly have a lower risk of developing pneumonia and pneumonia-related death compared to those who were the least or not physically active. The relationship was shown for pneumonias that did not result in death and those that resulted in death. The results did not change on taking into account known factors that can affect pneumonia such as age, sex, body mass index, socioeconomic status, alcohol consumption, smoking, and pre-existing diseases. The strength of the association did not vary by age or sex.
Dr Setor Kunutsor, Senior Lecturer in Evidence Synthesis in the Bristol Medical School: Translational Health Sciences (THS) and corresponding author on the paper, said: “In this first-ever pooled analysis of all studies conducted on the topic, we found strong and convincing evidence of a relationship between regular exercise and reduction in a person’s risk of developing pneumonia as well as death from the disease.
"Though our study could not determine the amount and intensity of physical activity, which is essential to prevent pneumonia, some of the results suggest that walking for 30 minutes once a week has a protective effect on death due to pneumonia.
“During the winter months and with COVID-19 still circulating, developing severe pneumonia from COVID-19 and other respiratory diseases is a common occurrence. Taking regular physical activity could reduce the risk of respiratory diseases such as COVID-19 especially in at-risk groups like older adults and those with underlying health conditions.”
The research does not prove cause and effect and further studies are needed to show if the associations demonstrated are causal. Also, additional work should be carried out to confirm the amount and intensity of physical activity, which is essential for the prevention of pneumonia or pneumonia-related deaths.
Finally, because regular exercise was self-reported, the values could be biased so future studies should focus on accurately assessing physical activity with the use of accelerometers or pedometers.
Pneumonia is an infection of the lung tissue usually caused by bacteria or viruses and is a leading cause of death among older people, the young, and people with pre-existing health conditions. In 2016 the disease was the fourth leading cause of death in the world.
Pneumonia is also associated with ill health, reduced quality of life, and high healthcare costs. Smoking, heavy drinking, respiratory conditions such as asthma, and chronic diseases such as diabetes and kidney disease, are well known to increase the risk of pneumonia, which is a preventable cause of death and disability.
The study’s findings add to the well documented evidence that regular physical activity has the potential to reduce the risk of several chronic diseases, infectious diseases such as pneumonia, as well as death. Physical activity has huge benefits on overall health, as well as reducing healthcare costs caused by pre-existing health conditions.
A daily dose of yoghurt could be the go-to food to manage high blood pressure
University of South Australia and University of Maine, December 7, 2021
Whether it’s a dollop on your morning cereal or a simple snack on the go, a daily dose of yoghurt could be the next go-to food for people with high blood pressure, according to new research from the University of South Australia.
Conducted in partnership with the University of Maine, the study examined the associations between yoghurt intake, blood pressure and cardiovascular risk factors, finding that yoghurt is associated with lower blood pressure for those with hypertension.
Globally, more than a billion people suffer from hypertension (high blood pressure), putting them at greater risk of cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) such as heart attack and stroke.
CVDs are the leading cause of death worldwide – in the United States, one person dies from CVD every 36 seconds; in Australia, it’s every 12 minutes.
UniSA researcher Dr Alexandra Wade says this study provides new evidence that connects yoghurt with positive blood pressure outcomes for hypertensive people.
“High blood pressure is the number one risk factor for cardiovascular disease, so it’s important that we continue to find ways to reduce and regulate it,” Dr Wade says.
“Dairy foods, especially yoghurt, may be capable of reducing blood pressure.
“This is because dairy foods contain a range of micronutrients, including calcium, magnesium and potassium, all of which are involved in the regulation of blood pressure.
“Yoghurt is especially interesting because it also contains bacteria that promote the release of proteins which lowers blood pressure.
“This study showed for people with elevated blood pressure, even small amounts of yoghurt were associated with lower blood pressure.
“And for those who consumed yoghurt regularly, the results were even stronger, with blood pressure readings nearly seven points lower than those who did not consume yoghurt.”
The study was conducted on 915 community-dwelling adults from the Maine–Syracuse Longitudinal Study. Habitual yogurt consumption was measured using a food frequency questionnaire. High blood pressure was defined as being greater than or equal to 140/90 mmHg (a normal blood pressure level is less than 120/80 mmHg).
Researchers say that future observational and intervention studies should continue to focus on at-risk individuals to examine the potential benefits of yogurt.
Infrared sauna helps remove heavy metals and prevent cancer
University of Munich, December 13, 2021
You’re about to discover the underappreciated health benefits of infrared sauna therapy. (Share this news with your healthcare provider)
Every day, our bodies are besieged by toxins, including heavy metals and industrial chemicals – a non-stop bombardment that can threaten to overwhelm the body’s natural defense system. In fact, the Environmental Protection Agency notes that the average American has over 700 chemicals in his or her system – including arsenic, lead, mercury, aluminum and cadmium.
The accumulation of these toxic substances can set the stage for a host of serious diseases, including cancer and dementia. Fortunately, there is a safe and effective way to rid the body of heavy metals and other pollutants, relieving the burden on your immune system and helping to prevent and even treat cancer.
Infrared saunas detoxify and heal the body with therapeutic radiant heat
Traditional saunas, which use steam to induce sweating, require high temperatures – something many users find uncomfortable. In contrast, infrared sauna rays use radiant heat similar to that of the sun – but minus the harmful ultraviolet rays – allowing the infrared rays to penetrate the skin, heating from the inside out as well as on the surface.
Experts advise temperatures of 105 to 130 degrees Fahrenheit as optimal for infrared saunas. The result is a higher comfort level and the ability to remain in the sauna longer for maximum therapeutic effects.
Cancer prevention: Infrared saunas kill mutated cancer cells
Millions of mutated cells exist in every body, but the immune system is designed to kill them off before they have a chance to multiply and grow into tumors. However, an immune system overwhelmed by toxins may not do this effectively – hence, the development of cancer.
Because cancer cells have a poorer tolerance to heat than healthy cells, infrared light is just the ticket to kill them off – and stop potential cancers in their tracks. Dr Rolf Issels, M.D., Ph.D., of the University of Munich, notes that the heat produced in an infrared sauna can create “heat shock” proteins on the surfaces of cancer cells, causing them to be more vulnerable to attack by the immune system.
Heat therapy can help reduce the size of existing tumors
Research shows that heat therapy via infrared saunas activates natural killer cells, T-cells and macrophages – the body’s natural cancer-fighting defense troops. Raising body heat can speed the death of tumors, as well as helping clear the body of carcinogens that contributed to their formation in the first place.
Hyperthermia, or heat therapy, is acknowledged by the American Cancer Society as a “promising” way to improve cancer treatment, while the National Cancer Institute reports heat therapy has been shown to reduce tumor size is some cases.
In a review published in Lancet Oncology in 2002, researchers noted that heat therapy has shown a beneficial effect in controlling certain types of cancer – such as breast cancer and malignant melanoma – and boosting survival rates in patients.
But when it comes to treating cancer, an infrared sauna is not a magic bullet, or even a “single” bullet. It is merely one weapon in the cancer-fighting arsenal. Both mainstream and holistic practitioners agree: heat therapy must be combined with other forms of cancer treatment, for best results.
Infrared saunas use multiple actions to fight cancer
In addition to killing cancer cells outright, infrared saunas combat cancer by helping to improve oxygen-carrying blood flow – important because cancer cells can’t thrive in high-oxygen environments. Infrared saunas also promote weight loss and fight obesity – another anti-cancer effect, due to the fact that cancer-producing hormones and carcinogens accumulate in fatty tissues.
Other beneficial and chemoprotective effects of infrared sauna include increased wound healing, increased production of beneficial nitric oxide, and improved blood flow through dilation and widening of arteries.
Say “goodbye” to heavy metals and other dangerous toxins
Infrared saunas promote sweating that helps detoxify the body from heavy metals such as lead, mercury, arsenic, aluminum, cadmium and nickel – along with industrial chemicals such as pesticides and herbicides.
And they do it more effectively than traditional saunas. While sweat generated in a conventional hot rock sauna has been found to consist of 95 to 97 percent water, the sweat produced by infrared saunas contains only 80 to 85 percent water.
This means that the remaining 15 to 20 percent of the sweat should represent toxins that have been cleared from the system. And this fact was proven, in spades – the remainder was found to be laden with toxins such as heavy metals, sulfuric acid, uric acid and excess sodium – demonstrating that infrared saunas are more effective at eliminating toxins from the body.
And, by helping toxins exit the body via the skin, infrared heat helps relieve the eliminatory and detoxifying burden on the kidneys and liver.
What’s the difference between far infrared and near infrared saunas?
Although both have therapeutic benefits, far and near infrared have some key differences. While far infrared saunas use metallic, ceramic or black carbon elements, near infrared lamp saunas utilize 250-watt incandescent red heat lamps – the same type that can be seen heating French fries at burger outlets.
In addition, near infrared sauna rays penetrate the skin to a distance of 3 inches, while far infrared rays only penetrate 1.5 inches.
Proponents of near infrared saunas point to their absence of EMFs – electromagnetic frequencies – as a benefit; Although proponents of far infrared saunas acknowledge their saunas emit more EMFs, they say the effect is negligible.
In the end, only you can decide which is right for you.
Of course, always consult a trusted, knowledgeable holistic practitioner before using either type of sauna – especially if you suffer from a chronic disease condition. When you have the go-ahead, plan to limit your initial sessions to 20 minutes maximum to avoid dehydration, dizziness and faintness.
Then, relax in the healing, soothing and detoxifying rays.