Thursday, July 31, 2014

Vegetarians Require Extra Nutrients to Avoid Osteoporosis

Vegetarian diets should be used with caution for weight management. Vegetarians should increase intakes of vitamin B-12, zinc, increase intakes of calcium, magnesium, fiber, protein, and vitamins A, C, and E.

Some research suggests that vegetarian diets, especially vegan diets, are associated with lower bone mineral density (BMD). Oxalic acid and phytic acid can potentially interfere with absorption and retention of calcium and thereby have a negative effect on BMD. Impaired vitamin B-12 status also negatively affects BMD. 

The authors from the study in the July issue of American Journal of Clinical Nutrition suggest attention to the shortfall nutrients through the careful selection of foods or fortified foods or the use of supplements to help ensure healthy bone status to reduce fracture risk in individuals who adhere to vegetarian diets.

Biochemist Warns of Pulses From Wireless Devices

Antioxidants and Allergy, Asthma

The western diet is becoming more popular around the world even though it is characterized by a reduction of fresh fruits and vegetables with an increase of processed foods. As pulmonary and systemic oxidative stress increase allergic inflammation, dietary or supplemental antioxidants have been proposed to counteract the incidence and morbidity of allergic disease.

Studies of variable quality suggest associations of low dietary intake of antioxidants and increased asthma and allergy. High levels of antioxidants are found in the Mediterranean diet which is associated with a decrease in asthma and allergic disease suggesting high levels of antioxidants in the diet are beneficial. Antioxidant supplementation may be protective under certain conditions where vulnerable populations have a deficiency in dietary antioxidants and/or are exposed to environmental oxidants, as summarized in a study from the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology Blog on May 2014.

New Discovery: Why Antibiotics Don't Work

Researchers have discovered the link between antibiotics and bacterial biofilm formation leading to chronic lung, sinus and ear infections. The study results, published in the current issue of PLOS ONE, illustrate how bacterial biofilms can actually thrive, rather than decrease, when given low doses of antibiotics.

The research addresses the long standing issues surrounding chronic ear infections and why some children experience repeated ear infections even after antibiotic treatment. Once the biofilm forms, it becomes stronger with each treatment of antibiotics.

Biofilms are highly structured communities of microorganisms that attach to one another and to surfaces. The microorganisms group together and form a slimy, polysaccharide cover. This layer is highly protective for the organisms within it, and when new bacteria are produced they stay within the slimy layer. With the introduction of antibiotic-produced glycogen, the biofilms have an almost endless food source that can be used once antibiotic exposure has ended.

There are currently no approved treatments for biofilm-related infections. Therefore, bacteria forced into forming stronger biofilms will become more difficult to treat and will cause more severe chronic infections. Adults will suffer protracted lung infections as the bacteria hunker down into their protective slime, and children will have repeated ear infections. What may appear to be antibiotic resistance when an infection does not clear up may actually be biofilms at work.

Modern medicine needs to find ways of detecting and treating biofilm infections before the bacteria are able to form these protective structures.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Friday, July 25, 2014

Google's New Moonshot Project

Five Hour Energy Drink Sued

Two attorneys general from the Northwest have sued the companies responsible for the popular 5-Hour Energy drink, alleging they engaged in deceptive advertising.

The Oregon lawsuit filed Thursday in Portland contends 5-Hour Energy falsely claims customers get extra energy and focus from a unique blend of ingredients, when the boost actually comes from a concentrated dose of caffeine.

The suit also targets claims that users don't experience a crash when the effects subside and that the product is OK for adolescents.

Oregon has been part of a group leading a 33-state investigation into the accuracy of the product's claims. Washington state's attorney general filed a similar lawsuit Thursday in King County Superior Court in Seattle.

Other states are expected to file suit as well, said Kristina Edmunson, a spokeswoman for the Oregon Department of Justice.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Lipoic Acid Continues to Show Its Value

Researchers have discovered a possible explanation for the surprisingly large range of biological effects that are linked to a micronutrient lipoic acid: It appears to reset and synchronize circadian rhythms, or the "biological clock" found in most life forms.

The ability of lipoic acid to help restore a more normal circadian rhythm to aging animals could explain its apparent value in so many important biological functions, ranging from stress resistance to cardiac function, hormonal balance, muscle performance, glucose metabolism and the aging process.

The findings were published in Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications. The research was supported by the National Institutes of Health, through the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine.

Almost one-third of all genes are influenced by circadian rhythms, and when out of balance they can play roles in obesity, cancer, heart disease, inflammation, hormonal imbalance and many other areas.

Kids Actually Like Healthier Lunches Over Time

14 Fad Diets to Avoid

Battle for breakfast dollars and high protein takes hold

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Polyphenols and glucose

A diet rich in polyphenols, one that includes dark chocolate, green tea, coffee, and extra virgin olive oil, among other foods, significantly improved glucose metabolism in individuals at high risk for diabetes and cardiovascular disease. The results of the new study was presented at the European Atherosclerosis Society 2014 Congress.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Children with Autism Have Altered Gut Bacteria

Most gut bacteria are beneficial, aiding food digestion, producing vitamins, and protecting against harmful bacteria. If left unchecked, however, harmful bacteria can excrete dangerous metabolites or disturb a balance in metabolites that can affect the gut and the rest of the body, including the brain.

Increasing evidence suggests that children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) have altered gut bacteria. In order to identify possible microbial metabolites associated with ASD researchers looked for and compared the compounds in fecal samples from children with and without ASD. They found that children with ASD had significantly different concentrations of seven of the 50 compounds they identified.

Most of the seven metabolites play a role in the brain, working as neurotransmitters or controlling neurotransmitter biosynthesis. They suspect that gut microbes may alter levels of neurotransmitter-related metabolites affecting gut-to-brain communication and/or altering brain function."

Of particular interest was the significantly higher glutamine/glutamate ratio in children with ASD. Glutamine and glutamate are further metabolized to gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), an inhibitory neurotransmitter. An imbalance between glutamate and GABA transmission has been associated with ASD-like behaviors such as hyper-excitation.

Children with ASD also harbored distinct and less diverse gut bacterial composition. The study was presented in May at the American Society for Microbiology.

Greatest Impact on a Child's Beneficial Bacteria?

The factor that has the greatest impact on the development of a child's gut flora is whether the child is breastfed, according to a new study from Applied and Environmental Microbiology. The study shows that breastfeeding promotes the growth of beneficial lactic acid bacteria in the baby's gut flora, which are beneficial to the development of the child's immune system.

A number of studies have shown that breastfed babies grow slightly slower and are slightly slimmer than children who are fed with infant formula. Children who are breastfed also have a slightly lower incidence of obesity, allergies, diabetes and inflammatory bowel disease later in life. This may be due to the fact that breastfeeding promotes the development of beneficial bacteria in the baby's gut.

There are significant changes in the intestinal bacterial composition from nine to 18 months following cessation of breastfeeding and other types of food being introduced. However, a child's gut microbiota continues to evolve right up to the age of three, as it becomes increasingly complex and also more stable.

Steve: This probably means that there is a 'window' during those early years, in which intestinal bacteria are more susceptible to external factors than what is seen in adults.

Gluten May Contribute to Depression

The aim of a recent Alimentary Pharmacology & Therapeutics study was to investigate the major effect of gluten on mental state and not necessarily on gastrointestinal symptoms. The researchers found that gluten ingestion was associated with higher overall depression scores compared to placebo.

Exercise benefits the good bugs in our gut

Thursday, July 10, 2014

MS and the gut

Researchers are making some intriguing discoveries about the gut of patients with multiple sclerosis.

One new study has identified both pro- and anti-inflammatory epigenetic factors in the intestinal microbiome of patients with MS that may contribute to disease pathogenesis. The new findings was presented at the American Academy of Neurology Annual Meeting.

There were no significant differences in dietary patterns between patients with MS and control patients. About 13% of the MS and 24% of the control groups had a history of vegetarian dieting, 52% of both groups had high milk consumption, and 67% of the MS and 48% of control groups had a high level of yogurt consumption.

The researchers found two organisms with anti-inflammatory properties that were lower in MS vs control patients and that increased with treatment.

There were differences in gut microbes associated with other autoimmune diseases. For example, patients with new-onset rheumatoid arthritis are enriched for Prevotella copri, and in inflammatory bowel disease, butyrate producers are depleted.

Food as Medicine Celebrated

This year’s Institute for Functional Medicine conference on ‘Food and Nutrition as the Ultimate Upstream Medicine’ reminds us that besides humans, food-as-medicine is the way all other animal species do it.  It’s also the way we’ve done it throughout our evolutionary history, barring the most recent 0.004%.

Here are some takeaways from the conference:

  • This year, for the first time in human history, more people will die worldwide from obesity than from starvation, much of it caused by excess consumption of sugars and other refined carbohydrates.
  • The recent focus by the food industry and governments on low-fat products and cholesterol have increased, not reduced, the obesity epidemic.
  • Modern interpretations of the paleo diet go a long way to helping people to avoid refined carbs
  • Declining vegetable intakes in recent years are causing serious phytochemical deficiencies which in turn contribute to higher disease burdens.
  • The food industry is corrupt and knowingly exploits the ‘bliss point’ for the sake of profit, in the knowledge that it is contributing to the epidemic of obesity and other chronic diseases.

More Evidence Healthy Lifestyle = Healthy Life

Live longer thanks to fruit, an active lifestyle, limited alcohol and no cigarettes. This is the conclusion of a study by public health physicians in the journal Preventive Medicine, who documented for the first time the impact of behavioral factors on life expectancy in numbers.

An individual who smokes, drinks a lot, is physically inactive and has an unhealthy diet has 2.5 fold higher mortality risk in epidemiological terms than an individual who looks after his health. Or to put it simply: a healthy lifestyle can help you stay ten years younger.

Smoking seems to be the most harmful. Compared with a group of non-smokers, smokers have a 57 percent higher risk of dying prematurely. The impact of an unhealthy diet, not enough sport and alcohol abuse results in an elevated mortality risk of around 15 percent for each factor. The probability of a 75-year-old man with all risk factors surviving the next ten years is, for instance, 35 percent, without risk factors 67 percent -- for a woman 47 and 74 percent respectively.

FDA set to act on sodium reductions in food

The FDA intends to issue voluntary guidelines for food producers to reduce sodium levels.

Today’s U.S. food supply has 35% more sodium per person than it did in the early 1900s based on Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion data.

It is important to note that sodium plays many functional roles in foods, including texture improvement, color enhancement and microbial control. Restoring these qualities when reducing sodium is challenge enough for food developers, but that is only part of the equation. Consumers will judge low-sodium products by their flavor, and that could make or break a product.

For example, in 2010, the Campbell Soup company announced it would lower the sodium content across more than half of its condensed canned soup line by as much as 45%—in some cases dropping totals from 800 mg of sodium per serving to 480 mg. The initiative earned widespread praise from constituencies ranging from public health advocates and government officials to members of the medical community. But the general consensus from consumers was a resounding "yuck". Just a year and a half later, facing sagging sales of its reformulated products, Campbell's reversed course and brought the salt back.

Bonnie: A perfect example for how difficult it is to change the public's taste buds when they have so conditioned to taste sweet, salty, and fatty! However, there are plenty of examples of companies that use spices to make foods wonderfully tasty! Trader Joes makes an olive oil potato chip that is higher in potassium than sodium.

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

10 Things Dogs Teach Us About What Matters Most

Update on Pregnancy and Eating Carbs, Fish

An upcoming study in the August issue of American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that higher maternal dietary glycemic index and glycemic load in early pregnancy are associated with greater risk of obesity in childhood. Grain carbohydrates and added sugars are the foods most indicated for high GI and GL.

FDA, along with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), issued a draft updated advice on fish consumption to include a recommended minimum amount of low-mercury fish for women who are pregnant, breastfeeding or may become pregnant, as well as young children.

FDA and EPA previously recommended maximum amounts of fish that these groups should consume, but had not recommended a minimum amount. However, the importance of appropriate amounts of fish in the diets of pregnant and breastfeeding women, and young children is undeniable. All we can say is, "it's about time".

Choices lower in mercury include some of the most commonly eaten fish, such as shrimp, pollock, salmon, canned light tuna, tilapia, catfish and cod.

Thursday, July 03, 2014

Magnesium Lowers CRP

A clinical randomized double-blind placebo-controlled trial in the May 7, 2014 issue of the Archives of Medical Research found that oral magnesium supplements lowered C-Reactive Protein levels in prediabetic patients.

This is not the first time low blood levels of magnesium have been found to be correlated with elevated high-sensitivity C-reactive protein levels, a marker for inflammation.

Sacchromyces boulardii for diarrhea

The probiotic Saccharomyces boulardii may be used safely to relieve acute diarrhea in children, according to a recent report in Pediatrics.

Fluid and electrolyte replacement is the treatment of choice for dehydration caused by diarrhea, but S. boulardii has also been shown in numerous trials to be effective in the management of diarrhea.

The daily dose of S. boulardii for most of the trials was 1 to 10 billion colony-forming units, and the duration of treatment ranged from 5 to 10 days.

The use of S. boulardii was associated with a 19.7-hour shorter duration of diarrhea.

Steve: Clients familiar with our recommendations will not be surprised by this finding.

High Mercury fish making into school lunches

Growing Doubt on Statin Drugs: A Doc's View (may need to sign up first)

Yet another weight loss plan?

A new study, published in the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports, suggests that minimal calories and maximal exercise can significantly reduce body fat in just four days — and the loss lasts for months. The catch, of course, is that those four days are pretty grueling.

Researchers in Spain and Sweden had 15 healthy but overweight Swedish men restrict their calories to about 360 a day, a reduction of approximately 1,800 calories. What calories they did ingest came in liquid form: Some men drank mostly sugary carbohydrates, others a high-protein drink. The men also exercised — a lot. Their days began with 45 minutes of cranking an arm-pedaling machine for an upper-body workout. Then, as a group, the men strolled for eight hours across the Swedish countryside, with only a 10-minute break every hour. They were allowed as much of a low-calorie, sports-type beverage as they wanted during their walks.

After four days, the men had each lost almost 11 pounds, with nearly half of that coming from body fat; the rest of the loss came primarily from muscle mass.

But given the doleful statistics on weight loss — most people regain everything they lose dieting and more — these results are startling. They also, at the moment, are inexplicable. “The only explanation we can offer” for the sustained loss, the researchers say, is that the men were inspired by their hypercompressed success to change their lifestyles. The men moved more and ate less than before.