266 CNO REPORT FOR STAFF TESTING 14 SEP 2019

266 CNO REPORT FOR STAFF TESTING 14 SEP 2019

Compiled by Ralph Turchiano

266CNO14AUG2019

 

In This Issue:

  1. TART CHERRY JUICE MAY JUICE UP THE BRAIN
  2. COMPOUND FOUND IN RED WINE OPENS DOOR FOR NEW TREATMENTS FOR DEPRESSION, ANXIETY
  3. VITAMIN D SUPPLEMENTATION MAY SLOW DIABETES PROGRESSION
  4. HIGHER VITAMIN A INTAKE LINKED TO LOWER SKIN CANCER RISK
  5. DIETARY CHOLINE ASSOCIATES WITH REDUCED RISK OF DEMENTIA
  6. RYE IS HEALTHY, THANKS TO AN INTERPLAY OF MICROBES
  7. IS IT SAFE TO USE AN ELECTRIC FAN FOR COOLING?
  8. WALNUTS SHOW PROTECTION AGAINST ULCERATIVE COLITIS IN EARLY STUDY
  9. APPLES, TEA AND MODERATION — THE 3 INGREDIENTS FOR A LONG LIFE
  10. THE SUBSTANCE FOUND IN BROWN COAL CAN HELP COMBAT VIRUSES
  11. Prescription omega-3 fatty acid medications effectively lower high triglycerides
  12. Study examines maternal exposure to fluoride in pregnancy, kids’ IQ scores
  13. RESEARCHERS SHOW HOW PROBIOTICS BENEFIT VAGINAL HEALTH
  14. VEGETABLE-RICH DIET LOWERS FATIGUE IN MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS PATIENTS BY RAISING GOOD CHOLESTEROL
  15. NEW PAPER CREATES OMEGA-3 CALCULATOR FOR RESEARCHERS TO SPECIFY EPA+DHA DOSES IN STUDIES
  16. GINKGO BILOBA MAY AID IN TREATING TYPE 2 DIABETES
  17. LOWER LEVELS OF DIETARY VITAMINS AND ANTIOXIDANTS ARE LINKED TO FRAILTY IN OLDER ADULTS
  18. DIETARY ZINC PROTECTS AGAINST STREPTOCOCCUS PNEUMONIAE INFECTION
  19. CAN POMEGRANATE JUICE PROTECT THE INFANT BRAIN?
  20. LOW LEVELS OF VITAMIN D IN ELEMENTARY SCHOOL COULD SPELL TROUBLE IN ADOLESCENCE
  21. MARATHONERS, TAKE YOUR MARKS…AND FLUID AND SALT!
  22. DIETARY SUPPLEMENT MAY HELP WITH SCHIZOPHRENIA
  23. WORLD’S LARGEST EVIDENCE REVIEW: NUTRITIONAL SUPPLEMENTS FOR MENTAL HEALTH
  24. COFFEE MAY PROTECT AGAINST GALLSTONES
  25. EATING MUSHROOMS MAY HELP LOWER PROSTATE CANCER RISK
  26. MOUTHWASH USE COULD INHIBIT BENEFITS OF EXERCISE, NEW RESEARCH SHOWS

 

NEWS RELEASE 28-JUL-2019

 

Tart cherry juice may juice up the brain

Tart cherry juice may improve cognitive function in older adults

UNIVERSITY OF DELAWARE

Montmorency tart cherry juice has long been coveted by gout sufferers, athletes for exercise recovery, and those seeking a good night’s sleep. Now there’s evidence that this polyphenol-rich beverage may help improve cognitive performance in older adults.

In a new study published in the journal Food & Function, researchers at the University of Delaware found daily intake of Montmorency tart cherry juice improved memory scores among adults, ages 65 to 73 years. In this randomized-controlled trial, 34 participants were assigned to consume either 16 ounces (480 mL) of Montmorency tart cherry juice or the same amount of a placebo drink, half in the morning and half in the evening, every day for 12 weeks.

All participants were generally healthy (not heavy smokers, no prior diagnosis of heart disease, diabetes, cancer, psychiatric disorders, etc.), were not taking any medications that could affect brain function and were asked to maintain their regular diet and physical activity levels for the duration of the study. Before and after the 12-week trial, researchers analyzed cognitive function and subjective memory scores via a series of questionnaires and tests.

After 12 weeks, those drinking Montmorency tart cherry juice exhibited improved scores in both cognitive function and subjective memory. Specifically, the tart cherry group showed a 5% increase in satisfaction with their ability to remember things, a 4% reduction in movement time (a measurement of speed of response to visual stimuli) and a 23% reduction in errors made during an episodic visual memory task (which assesses visual memory and new learning) compared to placebo. They also exhibited a 3% improvement in visual sustained attention (which measures visual information processing) and an 18% reduction in errors made during a spatial working memory task (which assesses memory and strategy use) compared to baseline values.

“Cognitive function is a key determinant of independence and quality of life among older adults,” said lead author Sheau Ching Chai, assistant professor of behavioral health and nutrition at the University of Delaware. “The potential beneficial effects of tart cherries may be related to the bioactive compounds they possess, which include polyphenols, anthocyanins and melanin. They may also be related to tart cherry’s potential blood-pressure lowering effects, outlined in a previous study we conducted in the same population, as blood pressure can influence blood flow to the brain.”

Compliance rate throughout the 12-week trial was high (94.2%), suggesting tart cherry juice twice a day was a manageable addition to these participants’ daily routine.

The sample size of this study was small, and larger, longer studies are warranted to confirm its findings.

Montmorency tart cherries are the most common variety of tart cherries grown in the U.S.

NEWS RELEASE 26-JUL-2019

Compound found in red wine opens door for new treatments for depression, anxiety

Resveratrol, found in grape skin, shuts down depression-causing enzyme in brain

UNIVERSITY AT BUFFALO

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Like to unwind with a glass of red wine after a stressful day? Don’t give alcohol all the credit.

New research has revealed that the plant compound resveratrol, which is found in red wine, displays anti-stress effects by blocking the expression of an enzyme related to the control of stress in the brain, according to a University at Buffalo-led study.

The findings shed light onto how resveratrol impacts neurological processes. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, depression and anxiety disorders affect 16 and 40 million people respectively in the United States.

“Resveratrol may be an effective alternative to drugs for treating patients suffering from depression and anxiety disorders,” says Ying Xu, MD, PhD, co-lead author and research associate professor in the UB School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences.

The study, published on July 15 in the journal Neuropharmacology, was also led by Xiaoxing Yin, PhD, professor at Xuzhou Medical University in China.

Protection Against Extreme Stress

Resveratrol, which has been linked to a number of health benefits, is a compound found in the skin and seeds of grapes and berries. While research has identified resveratrol to have antidepressant effects, the compound’s relationship to phosphodiesterase 4 (PDE4), an enzyme influenced by the stress hormone corticosterone, was unknown.

Corticosterone regulates the body’s response to stress. Too much stress, however, can lead to excessive amounts of the hormone circulating in the brain and, ultimately, the development of depression or other mental disorders.

These unknown physiological relationships make drug therapy complex. Current antidepressants instead focus on serotonin or noradrenaline function in the brain, but only one-third of patients with depression enter full remission in response to these medications, says Xu.

In a study on mice, researchers revealed that PDE4, induced by excessive amounts of corticosterone, causes depression- and anxiety-like behavior.

The enzyme lowers cyclic adenosine monophosphate — a messenger molecule that signals physiological changes such as cell division, change, migration and death — in the body, leading to physical alterations in the brain.

Resveratrol displayed neuroprotective effects against corticosterone by inhibiting the expression of PDE4. The research lays the groundwork for the use of the compound in novel antidepressants.

Although red wine contains resveratrol, consumption of alcohol carries various health risks, including addiction.

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Additional UB investigators include visiting scholar Xia Zhu and graduate student Victor Zheng in the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences; and James O’Donnell, PhD, dean and professor of the School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, whose research is focused on identifying novel molecular targets that mediate antidepressant, anti-anxiety and memory-enhancing effects on behavior.

NEWS RELEASE 25-JUL-2019

Vitamin D supplementation may slow diabetes progression

Peer-reviewed, randomized controlled study, people

EUROPEAN SOCIETY OF ENDOCRINOLOGY

Vitamin D supplementation may slow the progression of type 2 diabetes in newly diagnosed patients and those with prediabetes, according to a study published in the European Journal of Endocrinology. The study findings suggest that high-dose supplementation of vitamin D can improve glucose metabolism to help prevent the development and progression of diabetes.

Type 2 diabetes is an increasingly prevalent disease that places a huge burden on patients and society and can lead to serious health problems including nerve damage, blindness and kidney failure. People at high risk of developing type 2 diabetes (prediabetes) can be identified by several risk factors including obesity or a family history of the disease. Although low vitamin D levels have previously been associated with an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes, some studies have reported no improvement in metabolic function. However, these often had a low number of participants or included individuals with normal vitamin D levels at the start who were metabolically healthy, or who had long-standing type 2 diabetes. Whether vitamin D supplementation has any beneficial effect in patients with prediabetes or with newly diagnosed diabetes, especially in those who have low vitamin D levels, remains uncertain.

In this study, Dr Claudia Gagnon, and colleagues from Université Laval in Quebec, examined the effect of vitamin D supplementation on glucose metabolism in patients newly diagnosed with type 2 diabetes or identified as at high risk of developing the condition. Markers of insulin function and glucose metabolism were measured before and after six months of high-dose vitamin D supplementation (approximately 5-10 times the recommended dose). Although only 46% of study participants were determined to have low vitamin D levels at the start of the study, supplementation with vitamin D significantly improved the action of insulin in muscle tissue of participants after six months.

Dr Claudia Gagnon comments, “The reason we saw improvements in glucose metabolism following vitamin D supplementation in those at high risk of diabetes, or with newly diagnosed diabetes, while other studies failed to demonstrate an effect in people with long-standing type 2 diabetes is unclear. This could be due to the fact that improvements in metabolic function are harder to detect in those with longer-term disease or that a longer treatment time is needed to see the benefits.”

Dr Gagnon suggests future studies should evaluate whether there are individual clinical or genetic factors that affect how different people respond to vitamin D supplementation and if the positive effect on metabolism is maintained in the longer term.

Dr Claudia Gagnon adds, “Type 2 diabetes and prediabetes are a growing public health concern and although our results are promising, further studies are required to confirm our findings, to identify whether some people may benefit more from this intervention, and to evaluate the safety of high-dose vitamin D supplementation in the long term. Until then I would suggest that current vitamin D supplementation recommendations be followed.

NEWS RELEASE 31-JUL-2019

Higher vitamin A intake linked to lower skin cancer risk

BROWN UNIVERSITY

PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — People whose diets included high levels of vitamin A had a 17 percent reduction in risk for getting the second-most-common type of skin cancer, as compared to those who ate modest amounts of foods and supplements rich in vitamin A.

That’s according to researchers from Brown University, who unearthed that finding after analyzing data from two long-term observational studies.

Cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma is the second-most-common type of skin cancer among people with fair skin. Vitamin A is known to be essential for the healthy growth and maturation of skin cells, but prior studies on its effectiveness in reducing skin cancer risk have been mixed, said Eunyoung Cho, an associate professor of dermatology and epidemiology at Brown.

“Our study provides another reason to eat lots of fruits and vegetables as part of a healthy diet,” said Cho, who is also an associate epidemiologist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. “Skin cancer, including squamous cell carcinoma, is hard to prevent, but this study suggests that eating a healthy diet rich in vitamin A may be a way to reduce your risk, in addition to wearing sunscreen and reducing sun exposure.”

The findings were published on Wednesday, July 31, in the Journal of the American Medical Association Dermatology.

The research team led by Cho looked at the diet and skin cancer results of participants in two large, long-term observational studies: the Nurses’ Health Study, which followed 121,700 U.S. women from 1984 to 2012, and the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study, which followed 51,529 U.S. men from 1986 to 2012.

Between the two studies, some 123,000 participants were white (and thus had significant risk of developing skin cancer), had no prior history of cancer and completed the dietary reports multiple times. Among these individuals included in the team’s subsequent analysis, a total of 3,978 cases of squamous cell carcinoma were reported and verified within the 24- or 26-year follow-up periods.

Both studies also asked the participants about hair color, the number of severe sunburns they had received in their lifetime and any family history of skin cancer, and the researchers adjusted for these and other factors. The studies did not, however, ask participants about their avoidance of mid-day sun, known to be a major risk factor for skin cancer.

After grouping the study participants into five categories by vitamin A intake levels, the researchers found that people in the category with the highest average daily total vitamin A intake were 17 percent less likely to get skin cancer than those in the category with the lowest total vitamin A intake.

Those in the highest category reported eating on average the amount of vitamin A equivalent to one medium baked sweet potato or two large carrots each day. Those in the lowest category reported eating a daily average amount of vitamin A equivalent to one-third cup of sweet potato fries or one small carrot, which is still above the U.S. Recommended Dietary Allowance of vitamin A.

The team also found that the majority of vitamin A came from the participants’ diets, particularly from fruits and vegetables, rather than from animal-based foods or vitamin supplements. Plant-based sources of vitamin A include not only sweet potatoes and carrots, but leafy green vegetables and fruits like apricots and cantaloupe. Milk, some types of fish and liver are rich sources of animal-based vitamin A.

Cho cautioned that too much vitamin A, particularly from supplements and animal sources, can lead to nausea, liver toxicity, increased risk of osteoporosis and hip fracture, and even birth defects. Side effects from high levels of plant-based vitamin A are minimal, she added.

The researchers also found that eating high levels of other plant-based pigments similar to vitamin A — such as lycopene, commonly found in tomatoes and watermelon — was associated with decreased risk of skin cancer.

Because the analysis was based on studies surveying a large number of people about the foods they ate and observing whether or not they got skin cancer, rather than a randomized clinical trial, it cannot establish cause and effect. It’s possible that another factor may have led to the differences — such as the fact that people who consumed more vitamin A also tended to drink less alcohol.

As a next step, Cho would like to conduct a clinical trial to see if vitamin A supplements can prevent squamous cell carcinoma. However, she added, conducting a dietary clinical trial is quite challenging on a technical level, as is ensuring that participants actually stick to the diet.

“If a clinical trial cannot be done, then a large-scale prospective study like this is the best alternative for studying diet,” Cho said.

NEWS RELEASE 6-AUG-2019

Dietary choline associates with reduced risk of dementia

UNIVERSITY OF EASTERN FINLAND

A new study by researchers at the University of Eastern Finland is the first to observe that dietary intake of phosphatidylcholine is associated with a reduced risk of dementia. Phosphatidylcholine was also linked to enhanced cognitive performance. The main dietary sources of phosphatidylcholine were eggs and meat. The findings were published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Choline is an essential nutrient, usually occurring in food in various compounds. Choline is also necessary for the formation of acetylcholine, which is a neurotransmitter. Earlier studies have linked choline intake with cognitive processing, and adequate choline intake may play a role in the prevention of cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s disease. In fact, choline is nowadays used in a multinutrient medical drink intended for the treatment of early Alzheimer’s.

The new study now shows that the risk of dementia was 28% lower in men with the highest intake of dietary phosphatidylcholine, when compared to men with the lowest intake. Men with the highest intake of dietary phosphatidylcholine also excelled in tests measuring their memory and linguistic abilities. These findings are significant, considering that more than 50 million people worldwide are suffering from a memory disorder that has led to dementia, and the number is expected to grow as the population ages. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia, for which no cure currently exists. The new findings may, therefore, play a vital role in the prevention of dementia. Successful dementia prevention is a sum of many things and in this equation, even small individual factors can have a positive effect on the overall risk, possibly by preventing or delaying the disease onset.

“However, this is just one observational study, and we need further research before any definitive conclusions can be drawn,” Maija Ylilauri, a PhD Student at the University of Eastern Finland points out.

The data for the study were derived from the Kuopio Ischaemic Heart Disease Risk Factor Study, KIHD. At the onset of the study in 1984-1989, researchers analysed approximately 2,500 Finnish men aged between 42 and 60 for their dietary and lifestyle habits, and health in general. These data were combined with their hospital records, cause of death records and medication reimbursement records after an average follow-up period of 22 years. In addition, four years after the study onset, approximately 500 men completed tests measuring their memory and cognitive processing. During the follow-up, 337 men developed dementia.

The analyses extensively accounted for other lifestyle and nutrition related factors that could have explained the observed associations. In addition, the APOE4 gene, which predisposes to Alzheimer’s disease and is common in the Finnish population, was accounted for, showing no significant impact on the findings. The key sources of phosphatidylcholine in the study population’s diet were eggs (39%) and meat (37%).

NEWS RELEASE 5-AUG-2019

Rye is healthy, thanks to an interplay of microbes

UNIVERSITY OF EASTERN FINLAND

 

Eating rye comes with a variety of health benefits. A new study from the University of Eastern Finland now shows that both lactic acid bacteria and gut bacteria contribute to the health benefits of rye. Published in Microbiome, the study used a metabolomics approach to analyse metabolites found in food and the human body.

Rye sourdough used for the baking of rye bread is rich in lactic acid bacteria. In addition to fermenting the dough, these bacteria also modify bioactive compounds found in rye. They produce branched-chain amino acids and amino acid-containing small peptides, which are known to have an impact on insulin metabolism, among other things.

Many of the compounds found in rye are processed by gut bacteria before getting absorbed into the body. The study found that gut microbes and microbes found in sourdough produce compounds that are partially the same. However, gut microbes also produce derivatives of trimethylglycine, also known as betaine, contained in rye. An earlier study by the research group has shown that at least one of these derivatives reduces the need for oxygen in heart muscle cells, which may protect the heart from ischemia or possibly even enhance its performance. The findings can explain some of the health benefits of rye, including better blood sugar levels and a lower risk of cardiovascular diseases.

The study used metabolomics as the primary method to carry out an extensive analysis of metabolites found in food and the human body. The effects of gut microbes were studied in mice and in an in vitro gastrointestinal model, mimicking the function of the human gut. Using these two models, the researchers were able to eliminate naturally occurring differences in the gut microbiome between different individuals, making it easier to detect metabolites actually originating from rye.

Rye can be traced back to what is now known as present-day eastern Turkey, from where it has spread to many cuisines across the world. In Finland, for example, rye has been consumed for thousands of years, and it was recently selected as the country’s national food.

Although the health benefits of rye are long known, the underlying mechanisms are still poorly understood. For instance, the so-called Rye Factor refers to the lower insulin response caused by rye than, for example, wheat bread. Eating rye makes blood sugar levels fall slower, which leads to beneficial effects on the health – for a reason that remains unknown.

A significant factor contributing to the health benefits of rye are its bioactive compounds, or phytochemicals, which serve as antioxidants. In addition, gut microbes seem to play an important role in turning these compounds into a format that can be easily absorbed by the body, making it possible for them to have a greater effect.

“The major role played by gut microbes in human health has become more and more evident over the past decades, and this is why gut microbes should be taken very good care of. It’s a good idea to avoid unnecessary antibiotics and feed gut microbes with optimal food – such as rye,” Researcher Ville Koistinen from the University of Eastern Finland notes.

NEWS RELEASE 5-AUG-2019

Is it safe to use an electric fan for cooling?

Public health guidance on fans not evidence-based

UNIVERSITY OF SYDNEY

The safety and effectiveness of electric fans in heatwaves depend on the climate and basing public health advice on common weather metrics could be misleading, according to a new study from the University of Sydney.

The research calls into question current guidelines from most public health authorities, including the World Health Organization, that suggest fans may not be beneficial when the temperature rises above 35 degrees Celsius (95°F), as well as recommendations based on heat index caps.

Researchers from the University’s Thermal Ergonomics Laboratory simulated heatwave conditions to examine the effect of electric fan use on an individual’s core temperature, cardiovascular strain, risk of dehydration and comfort levels.

The results, published today in Annals of Internal Medicine, show that in a hot, humid condition with a heat index of 56 °C (133°F) fans lowered core temperature and cardiovascular strain, and improved thermal comfort.

However, fans were detrimental for all measures in very hot, dry conditions despite a lower heat index of 46 °C (115°F).

Heat index is a commonly used weather metric that expresses both air temperature and relative humidity. It was designed to help convey how hot weather conditions feel to the average person.

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) states that fan use above a heat index of 37.2°C (99°F) “actually increases the heat stress the body must respond to.”

Senior author Associate Professor Ollie Jay of the Faculty of Health Sciences and Charles Perkins Centre said recent conditions in Europe and the United States reinforce the urgent need for evidence-based health advice to help protect people against heat-related illness.

“Our results suggest that under environmental conditions that represent the vast majority of peak heatwaves in the United States and Europe fans should be recommended and the guidelines issued by most public health authorities are unnecessarily conservative,” said Associate Professor Jay.

“It is only when the air temperature is very high and humidity is very low that fans are detrimental, which can be seen in arid conditions such as Phoenix or Las Vegas in the US, or Adelaide in South Australia.”

Methods

Twelve healthy male volunteers were monitored for thermal strain (rectal temperature), cardiovascular strain (heart rate and blood pressure), risk for dehydration (whole body sweat rate), and thermal comfort (assessed using 120-mm visual analogue scale) over a two-hour exposure to simulated peak conditions of two types of heat waves.

One was very hot and dry replicating the peak conditions of the California heatwave in July 2018, and the other was cooler but more humid with a higher heat index representing the peak conditions during the Chicago heatwave in July 1995, and Shanghai heatwave in July 2017.

Next steps

Associate Professor Jay said while larger studies are needed, the current research and earlier work published in the Journal of the American Medical Association suggests that neither temperature or heat index caps are the best basis for public health advice on the use of fans.

His team is currently examining the effectiveness of a range of different low-resource cooling strategies that can be easily implemented in different heatwave conditions by the elderly and people with medical conditions like coronary artery disease. They are also assessing the impact of different prescription medications on the type of advice that should be issued to the general public in advance of extreme heat events.

 

NEWS RELEASE 12-AUG-2019

Walnuts show protection against ulcerative colitis in early study

New study by researchers at UConn Health and Texas A&M University

UNIVERSITY OF CONNECTICUT

Walnut consumption may offer protection against ulcerative colitis, according to a new study by researchers at UConn Health and Texas A&M University.

Through their complex array of natural compounds and phytochemicals, walnuts have been shown to provide a multitude of health benefits, including protection against in?ammation and colon cancer.

The latest findings from a study of mice, published in the journal Nutrients, found that walnut consumption also offered protection against experimentally-induced ulcerative colitis.

Ulcerative colitis is a form of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) characterized by chronic inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract. In 2015, an estimated 3 million U.S. adults reported being diagnosed with IBD — either Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

The current study, led by Dr. Daniel Rosenberg, professor of medicine, and Masako Nakanishi, assistant professor, at the Center for Molecular Oncology at UConn Health, assessed the effects of walnut dietary supplementation in a colitis model, where colonic mucosal injury is induced by the ulcerogenic agent dextran sodium sulfate. Walnuts accounted for 14 percent of the daily diet in the study — equivalent of 20 to 25 walnuts in a human.

When mice were given walnuts for about two weeks, they suffered much less injury to their colons during an episode of ulcerative colitis and the repair process of the colonic mucosa seemed to be enhanced following the walnut supplementation. The process is referenced as a pre-conditioning of the colon by walnut ingestion. Although it could not be determined whether the pre-conditioned colon was resisting the initial ulcerogenic (ulcer-inducing) damage or facilitating the repair of the damage, the extent of injury in the walnut-treated mice was far less than in the non-treated mice.

Further, when changes in metabolites in the fecal stream and tissue were assessed — after two weeks of being fed walnuts — a number of alterations were observed. This additional discovery, conducted by Cory Klemashevich, assistant research scientist at Texas A&M University, showed some changes in metabolites which could be key in further understanding how walnuts may be metabolized and working in the colon.

“We are continuing our work to understand whether those metabolic changes are part of the protection,” says Rosenberg. “We are not suggesting that people with ulcerative colitis be maintained on a large walnut diet between active flares. But, we are hoping that we’ll be able to determine the active compounds — nutrients, phytochemicals — in walnuts that cause protection.”

More research is being done to understand the impact on humans. Currently, Rosenberg’s lab is running a clinical trial conducted by Bruno S. Lemos, postdoctoral fellow. Participants are consuming two ounces of walnuts daily for three weeks before a scheduled colonoscopy. Their metabolites and gut microbiota will be analyzed, and their biomarkers assessed.

NEWS RELEASE 13-AUG-2019

Apples, tea and moderation — the 3 ingredients for a long life

EDITH COWAN UNIVERSITY

Consuming flavonoid-rich items such as apples and tea protects against cancer and heart disease, particularly for smokers and heavy drinkers, according to new research from Edith Cowan University (ECU).

Researchers from ECU’s School of Medical and Health Sciences analysed data from the Danish Diet, Cancer and Health cohort that assessed the diets of 53,048 Danes over 23 years.

They found that people who habitually consumed moderate to high amounts of foods rich in flavonoids, compounds found in plant-based foods and drinks, were less likely to die from cancer or heart disease.

No quick fix for poor habits

Lead researcher Dr Nicola Bondonno said while the study found a lower risk of death in those who ate flavonoid-rich foods, the protective effect appeared to be strongest for those at high risk of chronic diseases due to cigarette smoking and those who drank more than two standard alcoholic drinks a day.

“These findings are important as they highlight the potential to prevent cancer and heart disease by encouraging the consumption of flavonoid-rich foods, particularly in people at high risk of these chronic diseases,” she said.

“But it’s also important to note that flavonoid consumption does not counteract all of the increased risk of death caused by smoking and high alcohol consumption. By far the best thing to do for your health is to quit smoking and cut down on alcohol.

“We know these kind of lifestyle changes can be very challenging, so encouraging flavonoid consumption might be a novel way to alleviate the increased risk, while also encouraging people to quit smoking and reduce their alcohol intake.”

How much is enough?

Participants consuming about 500mg of total flavonoids each day had the lowest risk of a cancer or heart disease-related death.

“It’s important to consume a variety of different flavonoid compounds found in different plant based food and drink. This is easily achievable through the diet: one cup of tea, one apple, one orange, 100g of blueberries, and 100g of broccoli would provide a wide range of flavonoid compounds and over 500mg of total flavonoids”.

Dr Bondonno said while the research had established an association between flavonoid consumption and lower risk of death, the exact nature of the protective effect was unclear but likely to be multifaceted.

“Alcohol consumption and smoking both increase inflammation and damage blood vessels, which can increase the risk of a range of diseases,” she said.

“Flavonoids have been shown to be anti-inflammatory and improve blood vessel function, which may explain why they are associated with a lower risk of death from heart disease and cancer.”.

Dr Bondonno said the next step for the research was to look more closely at which types of heart disease cancers were most protected by flavonoids.

NEWS RELEASE 19-AUG-2019

The substance found in brown coal can help combat viruses

Scientists from Russia demonstrated a novel approach leveraging the combination of high-resolution mass spectrometry and chemoinformatics to identify biologically active molecular components of humic substances extracted from coal, and discovered substances with antiviral activity against the tick-borne encephalitis virus. The results of their study were published in the Scientific Reports journal.

Natural multicomponent mixtures, such as humic substances found in soil, peat and coal are a very important source of biologically active compounds. Understanding their composition and extracting active components can be a great help in creating new drugs. However, finding a specific compound in these environments is a highly challenging task that requires advanced methods capable of differentiating and separating one substance from another.

A joint study conducted by scientists from the Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology (Skoltech), M.P. Chumakov Federal Scientific Center for Research and Development of Immune-and-Biological Products of the RAS, and M.V. Lomonosov Moscow State University revealed that humic substances inhibit the reproduction of a dangerous human pathogen, tick-borne encephalitis virus. The authors relied on high-resolution mass spectrometry to study the composition of humic samples and chemoinformatics to analyze their findings. They compared the results against extensive databases of chemical compounds and identified the compounds’ structural features which may be responsible for their virucidal activity. The data analysis results clearly attest to the importance of natural central fragments of flavonoids and polyphenols, two classes of natural compounds with wide-ranging biological activity.

“We made an attempt at understanding the structural reasons behind the antiviral activity of the molecular components of humic substances. Aware that standard methods of complex mixture separation do not work for humic substances, we looked at some known structures matching the molecular compositions determinable by mass spectrometry and noticed that some structures correspond to compounds often extracted from natural sources, for example, flavonoids. We undertook further mass spectrometry experiments, which suggest that there can indeed be a match between the types of structures we found in the databases and the molecular components of humic systems,” says one of the authors of the study and Research Scientist at Skoltech, Alexander Zherebker, PhD.

The results of the study can serve as a stepping stone towards detailed research into the molecular mechanisms of biological activity exhibited by humic substances and other natural inseparable multicomponent mixtures and assessment of their pharmaceutical potential.

NEWS RELEASE 19-AUG-2019

Study examines maternal exposure to fluoride in pregnancy, kids’ IQ scores

JAMA PEDIATRICS

Bottom Line: An observational study of 601 mother-child pairs from six cities in Canada hints at an apparent association between maternal exposure to fluoride during pregnancy and lower IQ scores measured in children ages 3 to 4. Community water has been fluoridated for decades to prevent tooth decay; a majority of U.S. residents are supplied with fluoridated water, as are more than one-third of Canadian residents and about 3% of European residents. This study analyzed two measures of fluoride exposure during pregnancy. Data on maternal urinary fluoride concentrations and children’s IQ were available for 512 mother-child pairs, and self-reported consumption of tap water and other water-based drinks (tea and coffee) and IQ scores were available for 400 of the 601 mother-child pairs. After accounting for factors associated with fluoride metabolism and children’s intellectual abilities, a 1-mg/L increase in maternal urinary fluoride was associated with a 4.5-point lower IQ score in boys without a statistically significant association with IQ score in girls. A 1-mg higher intake of fluoride was associated with a 3.7 lower IQ score among boys and girls. The study’s conclusions are limited by its observational design, which can’t account for unmeasured factors that could explain the results, and there was no assessment of children’s fluoride exposure during infancy. An accompanying podcast discusses the meaning and implications of the findings.

Author: Christine Till, Ph.D., of York University, Toronto, Canada, is the corresponding author.

(doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2019.1729)

Editor’s Note: The article contains conflict of interest and funding/support disclosures. Please see the article for additional information, including other authors, author contributions and affiliations, financial disclosures, funding and support, etc.

NEWS RELEASE 19-AUG-2019

Prescription omega-3 fatty acid medications effectively lower high triglycerides

American Heart Association Science Advisory

AMERICAN HEART ASSOCIATION

DALLAS, August 19, 2019 — Prescription omega-3 fatty acid medication reduces triglyceride levels by 20-30% among the majority of people who require treatment for high triglyceride levels, according to a science advisory from the American Heart Association.

“From our review of the evidence from 17 randomized, controlled clinical trials on high triglyceride levels, we concluded that treatment with 4 grams daily of any of the available prescription choices is effective and can be used safely in conjunction with statin medicines that lower cholesterol,” said Ann Skulas-Ray, Ph.D., an author of the new science advisory published in the American Heart Association journal Circulation.

There are two prescription omega-3 fatty acid medications available. One combines two types of fatty acids, EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid). The other medication provides EPA only. Since there have been no head-to-head comparisons of the two different formulations at prescription dosing, the advisory does not recommend one over the other.

Triglycerides are fats that circulate in the blood. Some studies have shown that elevated levels of triglycerides (above 200 mg/dL) can lead to atherosclerosis (narrowing of the arteries) which increases the risk of heart attack and stroke. In addition to cardiovascular risk, very high levels of triglycerides (above 500 mg/dL) can also cause pancreatitis, an inflammation of the pancreas.

Skulas-Ray points out that people with high triglyceride levels should not try to treat the condition themselves with non-prescription, omega-3 fatty acid fish oil supplements.

“Dietary supplements containing omega-3 fatty acids are not regulated by the FDA. They should not be used in place of prescription medication for the long-term management of high triglycerides,” said Skulas-Ray, who is an assistant professor in the Department of Nutritional Sciences at the University of Arizona in Tucson. In a 2017 science advisory, the American Heart Association noted that there is a lack of scientific research to support clinical use of omega-3 fatty acid supplements to prevent heart disease in the general population.

The effective dose for prescription omega-3 fatty acids is four grams per day taken with food. Currently, the FDA has approved prescription omega-3 fatty acid medications only for treating very high triglyceride levels above 500 mg/dL.

Healthy lifestyle choices, such as getting regular physical activity, losing weight, avoiding sugar and refined carbohydrates, limiting alcohol as well as choosing healthier fats from plants in place of saturated fats can help reduce triglycerides. It is also important to treat or eliminate conditions such as poorly controlled type 2 diabetes, hypothyroidism and obesity that may contribute to high triglyceride levels before turning to medication.

Fish is a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, and the American Heart Association recommends eating fatty fish – such as salmon, mackerel, herring and albacore tuna – at least two times per week.

In analyzing the current scientific data, the advisory panel found:

  • For most people with high triglycerides (200 to 499 mg/dL), prescription doses of omega-3 fatty acids using drugs with either EPA+DHA or EPA alone can reduce triglyceride by 20 to 30%.
  • Contrary to common perception, the formula that contains both EPA and DHA does not increase the “bad” form of cholesterol (LDL-C) among most people with high triglyceride levels (200-499 mg/dL). However, when the drug is given to people with very high triglyceride levels at 500 mg/dL or greater, LDL-C may increase.
  • The panel’s review found that the prescription omega-3 drugs are effective in reducing triglyceride levels regardless of whether people are on statin therapy.
  • In a recent large, randomized placebo-controlled study called REDUCE-IT, researchers found that the EPA-only medication combined with statin medication resulted in a 25% reduction in major cardiovascular events (heart attack, stroke and cardiovascular death) among people with high triglycerides.

Elevated triglycerides are relatively common among people in the United States, and the prevalence is increasing due to growing rates of obesity and diabetes. Both of those conditions raise triglyceride levels. About 25% of adults in the U.S. have a triglyceride level above 150 mg/dL, which is considered borderline high.

NEWS RELEASE 16-AUG-2019

Researchers show how probiotics benefit vaginal health

AMERICAN SOCIETY FOR MICROBIOLOGY

Washington, DC – August 16, 2019 – Researchers have shown that three genes from a probiotic Lactobacillus species, used in some commercial probiotic vaginal capsules, are almost certainly involved in mediating adhesion to the vaginal epithelium. This is likely critical to how this species benefits vaginal health.

“These results could help us screen for better probiotic candidates in the future,” said principal investigator Harold Marcotte, PhD. The research is published this week in Applied and Environmental Microbiology, a journal of the American Society for Microbiology.

“An imbalance of the normal microbiota, and particularly a loss of lactobacilli, predisposes women to urogenital infections such as bacterial vaginosis,” said Dr. Marcotte, who is Associate Professor, Division of Clinical Immunology and Transfusion Medicine, Department of Laboratory Medicine, Karolinska Institute, Stockholm, Sweden. In such cases, “administration of selected probiotic lactobacilli that adhere more strongly to the vaginal walls might help to restore a healthy microbiota.” That, he explained, could prevent pathogens from infecting those tissues.

Despite a wealth of clinical data showing health benefits from probiotic capsules containing these bacteria, “there is still a lack of understanding of the molecular mechanisms underlying their probiotic activities,” said Dr. Marcotte. “Recently, we developed a new tool that allows us to edit the genome of lactobacilli, enabling us to inactivate genes.” Inactivating genes can reveal their function.

Inactivating the three genes from the probiotic strain Lactobacillus gasseri resulted in a 30-40 percent reduction in the strength of the mutant L. gasseri’s adherence to vaginal epithelial cells as compared to the wild-type strain. That is powerful evidence that the proteins these genes encode, which include a novel adhesion factor, are all involved in adhesion to vaginal epithelial cells,” said Dr. Marcotte.

“We chose Lactobacillus gasseri DSM 14869 as a model organism since this strain, contained in the commercial probiotic vaginal capsules, called EcoVag, was initially selected as a probiotic due to its high adherence capacity and was subsequently shown to colonize the vagina following capsule administration,” said Dr. Marcotte.

“We are planning to functionally analyze other Lactobacillus genes that are potentially involved in probiotic activity such as those involved in the synthesis of antimicrobial compounds,” said Dr. Marcotte.

NEWS RELEASE 15-AUG-2019

Vegetable-rich diet lowers fatigue in multiple sclerosis patients by raising good cholesterol

Fatigue affects majority of MS patients, impacting quality of life and ability to work full time

UNIVERSITY AT BUFFALO

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Higher levels of blood high-density lipoprotein (HDL) — or good cholesterol — may improve fatigue in multiple sclerosis patients, according to a new University at Buffalo-led study.

The pilot study, which investigated the effects of fat levels in blood on fatigue caused by multiple sclerosis, found that lowering total cholesterol also reduced exhaustion.

The results, published recently in PLOS ONE and led by Murali Ramanathan, PhD, professor in the UB School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, highlight the impact that changes in diet could have on severe fatigue, which impacts the majority of those with multiple sclerosis.

Fatigue is a frequent and debilitating symptom for people with multiple sclerosis that affects quality of life and ability to work full time. Despite its prevalence and the severity of its impact, treatment options for fatigue are limited. The medications used to treat severe fatigue often come with unwanted side effects.

“Fatigue in people with multiple sclerosis has been viewed as a complex and difficult clinical problem with contributions from disability, depression and inflammation. Our study implicates lipids and fat metabolism in fatigue,” said Ramanathan. “This is a novel finding that may open doors to new approaches for treating fatigue.”

In previous studies, Terry Wahls, MD, clinical professor of internal medicine and neurology and creator of the Wahls Protocol diet, and her team of researchers at the University of Iowa, showed that a diet-based intervention accompanied by exercise, stress reduction and neuromuscular electrical stimulation (NMES) is effective at lowering fatigue. However, the physiological changes underlying the improvements were unknown.

The researchers examined changes in body mass index (BMI), calories, total cholesterol, HDL, triglycerides, and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) — commonly known as bad cholesterol. Fatigue was measured on the Fatigue Severity Scale.

The study followed 18 progressive multiple sclerosis patients over the course of a year who were placed on the Wahls diet, which is high in fruits and vegetables. The diet encourages the consumption of meat, plant protein, fish oil and B vitamins. Gluten, dairy and eggs are excluded.

Participants also engaged in a home-based exercise program that included stretches and strength training, NMES to stimulate muscle contraction and movement, and meditation and self-massages for stress reduction. However, adherence to the diet was the main factor associated with reductions in fatigue.

“Higher levels of HDL had the greatest impact on fatigue,” said Ramanathan, “possibly because good cholesterol plays a critical role in muscle, stimulating glucose uptake and increasing respiration in cells to improve physical performance and muscle strength.”

Patients consumed fewer calories and experienced decreases in BMI and triglyceride and LDL levels as well. However, these factors were found unrelated to changes in fatigue.

The results provide the basis for a larger study that could examine the effects of metabolic changes on fatigue.

NEWS RELEASE 26-AUG-2019

New paper creates omega-3 calculator for researchers to specify EPA+DHA doses in studies

Certain EPA+DHA doses are needed to achieve a healthy omega-3 index and meet study endpoints

WRIGHT ON MARKETING & COMMUNICATIONS

A new study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition will make it possible for researchers to calculate how much omega-3 EPA and DHA they need to use in their studies in order for subjects to reach a healthy Omega-3 Index.

Until now, there has been very little guidance about what dose of EPA and DHA should be tested in a study. And with the wide differences in study results in recent years, it is likely that dose played a role in the relative success or failure of omega-3 studies. In other words, if the dose of EPA and DHA in a study isn’t high enough to make an impact on blood levels (i.e. the Omega-3 Index), there may be no effect on the desired endpoint, leading to a neutral result.

When it comes to cardiovascular disease (CVD) in particular, the literature supporting the benefits of omega-3s EPA and DHA has been mixed. On one hand, a 2018 meta-analysis concluded that current evidence does not support a role for omega-3s in CVD risk reduction.

On the other hand, three major randomized trials reported in late 2018 showed that omega-3s significantly reduced risk for vascular death, myocardial infarction, and major adverse cardiovascular events. The latter study was particularly compelling because it used 4 grams of EPA (as opposed to the usual 0.84 grams of EPA and DHA) in statin-treated patients and found a 25% risk reduction in CVD events.

According to Kristina Harris Jackson, PhD, RD, who was the co-lead author on this latest paper, “A low dose could make a study show no effect of EPA and DHA, which makes the literature more indecisive and the medical community more skeptical of omega-3 benefits,” she said. “Hopefully, ensuring the dose of EPA and DHA is high enough to reach a target Omega-3 Index level will clarify whether or not EPA and DHA are effective.”

How to Use the Calculator

The model equation developed in this paper can be used to estimate the final Omega-3 Index (and 95% CI) of a population given the omega-3 EPA and DHA dose and baseline Omega-3 Index. As an example, a population with a baseline Omega-3 Index of 4.9% that is given 840 mg EPA and DHA per day (as a 1-gram ethyl ester capsule) would achieve a mean Omega-3 Index of 6.5% (95% CI: 6.3%, 6.7%).

Rearranging the equation, one can calculate the approximate EPA/DHA doses (of triglyceride forms) needed to achieve a mean Omega-3 Index of 8% in 13 weeks. This would require about 2200 mg of EPA and DHA for a baseline Omega-3 Index of 2%, approximately 1500 mg for a baseline Omega-3 Index of 4%, and roughly 750 mg of EPA and DHA for a baseline Omega-3 Index of 6%.

Using this example, Jackson and her colleagues predicted that the minimum dose of EPA and DHA necessary to be 95% certain that the mean baseline Omega-3 Index of 4% will increase to 8% (in 13 weeks) is 1750 mg per day of a triglyceride formulation or 2500 mg per day of an ethyl ester formulation. Both of these forms are common in fish oil preparations.

So in order for 95% of subjects (not just 50%) to achieve a desirable Omega-3 Index from a baseline of 4%, roughly 2000 mg per day of EPA and DHA (depending on the chemical form) would likely be required.

Do Researchers Still Need the Omega-3 Index if They Have a Calculator?

The calculator presented in this paper does not eliminate the need for Omega-3 Index testing. In fact, establishing a baseline Omega-3 Index is essential to use the calculator.

“The recommended doses are simply average responses, but individual responses to EPA and DHA are still very difficult to predict,” said Dr. Jackson. “In a recent consumer cohort, we found individuals spanned the full range of Omega-3 Index despite reporting the same amount of fish intake and supplement use.”

This paper showed that if people want to reach 8% in a relatively short amount of time, such as three to four months, they would need 1-2 grams EPA and DHA per day, depending on their starting Omega-3 Index.

“As noted, the equation developed [in this paper] can aid in predicting population Omega-3 Index changes, but because of the large interindividual variability in the Omega-3 Index response to EPA and DHA supplementation, it will likely be less useful in the clinical setting where direct testing of the Omega-3 Index would be the preferred approach to assessing EPA and DHA status,” the study authors explained.

NEWS RELEASE 22-AUG-2019

Ginkgo biloba may aid in treating type 2 diabetes

University of Cincinnati researcher finds promising results in rats

UNIVERSITY OF CINCINNATI

CINCINNATI–The extract of the leaves of Ginkgo biloba, a popular dietary supplement, may offer some therapeutic benefits in fighting Type 2 diabetes, according to a study co-authored by a researcher at the University of Cincinnati (UC) College of Medicine.

“In diabetic rats Ginkgo biloba had a very good effect on the beta cells of Langerhans–cells in the pancreas responsible for insulin secretion–by creating a restorative effect similar to what we see in healthy non-diabetic rats,” says Helal Fouad Hetta, PhD, a postdoctoral fellow and scientist in the UC Division of Digestive Diseases. Hetta is also on faculty at Egypt’s Assiut University College of Medicine in the Department of Medical Microbiology and Immunology.

The study in animal models by an international team of 13 researchers was published in the journal Diabetes, Metabolic Syndrome and Obesity: Targets and Therapy and is available online. The first author on the research is Ahmed Saleh, PhD, Jazan University in Saudi Arabia.

“The extracts derived from Ginkgo biloba have been frequently used in traditional medicine and have been shown to exhibit antioxidant potency,” says Hetta. “Magnetized water, which has been passed through a magnetic field, has also been reported to reduce blood glucose, improve antioxidant status and lipid profiles in diabetic rat models.”

In this study, Type 2 Diabetes was induced by feeding rats a high-fat-diet for eight weeks followed by intra-peritoneal injection of a single low dose of streptozotocin, explains Hetta. Forty rats were randomly assigned to four groups: a non-diabetic control group and three diabetic groups. One diabetic group served as a positive control (diabetic), while the other two groups were orally administered with water extract of Ginkgo biloba leaves and magnetized water for four weeks, respectively.

The pancreatic beta cells of diabetic rats are reduced and insulin secretion is curtailed. After having Ginkgo biloba and magnetized water added to their diets, the mass of the pancreatic beta cells and the amount of insulin in these cells was shown to increase markedly, almost back to normal levels, particularly in the Ginkgo biloba-treated group, says Hetta.

In addition, both Ginkgo biloba and magnetized water improved the anti-oxidant status and reduced the oxidative stress associated with type 2 diabetes by down regulation of the two antioxidant enzymes, glutathione and superoxide dismutase 2, in the pancreatic tissue, says Hetta.

These findings for Ginkgo biloba’s impact on Type 2 diabetes are preliminary, says Hetta.

“We still need more evidence about possible benefits for Type 2 diabetes so there is ongoing research,” says Hetta. “Our findings need to be tested in human clinical trials of large sample size.

“Gingko biloba is one of the oldest living tree species,” says Hetta. “Most Ginkgo products are made with extract prepared from leaves. Most research on Gingko focuses on its effects on dementia and age-related memory impairment such as Alzheimer’s disease and pain caused by too little blood flow or claudication. It is commonly available as an oral tablet, extract, capsule or tea. It is not toxic when used in low dosages, but can interact with other medicines.”

“I would not recommend eating raw or roasted Ginkgo seeds because they can be poisonous,” says Hetta. “It should be taken as a capsule or in tablets if used. Also, if you are currently taking medications please consult with your physicians before considering Ginkgo biloba.”

Collaborators on the study include Mamdouh Anwar, Ahmed E. Zayed, Gamal Afifi, Emad Shaheen, and Hassien Alnashiri, all from Jazan University in Saudi Arabia. Additional co-collaborators, all from Assiut University in Egypt include Manal El Sayed Ezz Eldeen, Asmaa MS Gomaa, Mahmoud Abd-Elkareem, Alaa Sayed Abou-Elhamd, Ghada Mohamed and Ahmed M. Kotb.

The work was funded by the Deanship of Scientific Research, Jazan University, Saudi Arabia, Grant # 37/7/00110.

The authors of the study report no conflicts of interest in this work.

NEWS RELEASE 22-AUG-2019

Lower levels of dietary vitamins and antioxidants are linked to frailty in older adults

TRINITY COLLEGE DUBLIN

Researchers from The Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing (TILDA) at Trinity College Dublin have shown in the largest study to date that lower levels of specific dietary vitamins and antioxidants are associated with frailty.

Frailty is a common chronic syndrome which affects up to 25% of adults over 65 years and over half of adults over 80. Frailty is characterised by an overall decline in physical function and a loss of ability to bounce back after experiencing a stressful event such as infection, a fall or surgery. It is associated with poor health, disability and death. The TILDA study examined the association of vitamin B12, folate, vitamin D, lutein and zeaxanthin levels with frailty.

The B vitamins (B12 and folate) are important for several cellular processes throughout the body including DNA repair and energy metabolism. Vitamin D is essential for bone metabolism, muscle strength and mood. Lutein and zeaxanthin have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties important in eye health and brain health. Low levels of all of these vitamins and antioxidants is common among Irish adults.

In this new research lower levels of lutein, zeaxanthin, and vitamin D were consistently associated with not only frailty but also earlier stages of ‘pre-frailty’ (a subclinical precursor of frailty). Low levels of B vitamins were associated with pre-frailty. Furthermore, the accumulation of micronutrient insufficiencies – having low levels of more than one micronutrient – was progressively associated with severity stages of frailty.

This data raises the question of the role of dietary supplementation and contributes to the ongoing policy discussions regarding fortification.

Lead author of the study and Senior Research Fellow at TILDA, Dr Aisling O’Halloran, said: “We have presented evidence in the largest study to date that lower levels of specific vitamins and antioxidants – and having low levels of more than one micronutrient – is consistently and progressively associated with the most commonly used methods for measuring frailty. Our data suggest that low micronutrient status may act as an easily modified marker and intervention target for frailty among adults aged 50 years and over”.

Principal Investigator of TILDA, Professor Rose-Anne Kenny said:

“Frailty occurs when a number of systems in the body lose reserve capacity and therefore the ability to ‘bounce back’ after even trivial illnesses. It is an important and challenging state; commonly associated with ageing but also common in patients of any age who have major surgery, cancer treatments and severe infections. The hall mark of frailty is muscle weakness. If it is recognised in its early stages, it can be reversed. However, the longer it is present, the more difficult is it to ‘bounce back’ and generalised weakness and fatigue become progressively worse. This research suggests new potential treatments for a common and important condition.”

Co-author of the study Dr Eamon Laird said “Again we see that micronutrients (including vitamin D) are associated with better health outcomes in older adults. However we still lack a food fortification policy in Ireland and whilst this continues, we miss the opportunity of a cost-effective strategy to prevent and intervene in the progression of these conditions. As of yet there is no sign that the Irish government or the FSAI (Food Safety Authority Ireland) intend to advise or implement on such a strategy”.

NEWS RELEASE 22-AUG-2019

Dietary zinc protects against Streptococcus pneumoniae infection

UNIVERSITY OF MELBOURNE

Researchers have uncovered a crucial link between dietary zinc intake and protection against Streptococcus pneumoniae, the primary bacterial cause of pneumonia.

Globally, it is estimated that nearly two billion people suffer from zinc deficiency, but why this increases susceptibility to bacterial infection has not been well understood – until now.

University of Melbourne Associate Professor Christopher McDevitt, a laboratory head at the Doherty Institute, led an interdisciplinary team using state-of-the-art imaging techniques to reveal how the immune system uses zinc as an antimicrobial for protection during attack by Streptococcus pneumoniae.

Published today in PLOS Pathogens, the team which included University of Adelaide Research Fellow Dr Bart Eijkelkamp, from the Research Centre for Infectious Diseases compared infections in mice fed with different levels of zinc.

They found that mice with lower zinc intake succumbed to infection up to three times faster because their immune systems had insufficient zinc to aid in killing the bacteria.

“Dietary zinc is associated with immune function and resistance to bacterial infection, but how it provides protection has remained elusive,” Dr Eijkelkamp said.

“Our work shows that zinc is mobilised to sites of infection where it stresses the invading bacteria and helps specific immune cells kill Streptococcus pneumoniae.”

This work also translated its findings by showing that specific human immune cells could use zinc to enhance their killing of invading Streptococcus pneumoniae.

“The findings in this paper are a direct result of application of novel elemental imaging technology to uncover relationships that have previously been hidden to analysis, and a testament to cross-disciplinary collaboration,” said Professor Philip Doble, Director of the Elemental Bio-imaging Facility at the University of Technology Sydney, and a co-author of the study.

Pneumonia accounts for more than one million deaths every year, with the greatest health burden in countries where zinc deficiency frequently remains a major social challenge.

“Our findings highlight the importance of ensuring dietary zinc sufficiency as part of any population-wide strategy to control the burden of pneumococcal disease in conjunction with vaccination and other antimicrobial approaches,” Associate Professor McDevitt said.’

NEWS RELEASE 21-AUG-2019

Can pomegranate juice protect the infant brain?

Study provides preliminary evidence that drinking polyphenol-rich pomegranate juice during pregnancy may improve brain development, connectivity in at-risk newborns

BRIGHAM AND WOMEN’S HOSPITAL

Boston, MA — When it comes to protecting the newborn brain, taking steps to mitigate risk before birth may be critical. Some newborns, such as those with intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR), are at heightened risk. Being able to intervene before birth to aid in protecting the newborn brain may prevent the often-devastating effects of brain injury. In ongoing investigations, clinical researchers from Brigham and Women’s Hospital are exploring whether pomegranate juice intake during pregnancy can have a protective effect. In a paper appearing in PLOS One, the team presents its preliminary findings from a clinical trial of expectant mothers whose babies were diagnosed with IUGR. The exploratory study, supported by National Institute of Health Grants, The Foundation for Barnes-Jewish Hospital and an unrestricted gift from POM Wonderful, shows promise, with evidence of better brain development and brain connectivity in infants born to mothers who consumed pomegranate juice daily. A second, larger clinical trial is currently underway at the Brigham to validate these findings.

“Our study provides preliminary evidence suggesting potential protective effects for newborns exposed to pomegranate juice while in utero,” said senior author Terrie Inder, MBCHB, chair of the Department of Pediatric Newborn Medicine at the Brigham. “These findings warrant continued investigation into the potential neuroprotective effects of polyphenols in at-risk newborns, such as those with hypoxic-ischemic injury.”

In cases of IUGR, a baby in the womb is measuring small for its gestational age, often because of issues with the placenta, which brings oxygen and nutrients to the growing fetus. One out of every 10 babies is considered to have IUGR. The process of birth itself can further decrease blood flow or oxygen to the baby, including to the baby’s brain. If this is very severe, it can result in a condition known as hypoxic-ischemic injury, which contributes to almost one-quarter of newborn deaths worldwide.

Polyphenols, which include tannic acid and ellagitannins, are part of a class of antioxidants found in many foods and beverages, including nuts, berries, red wine and teas. Pomegranate juice is a particularly rich source of these molecules. Polyphenols are known to cross the blood-brain barrier, and studies in animal models have demonstrated protective effects against neurodegenerative diseases. To date, no clinical studies had evaluated the potential effects of giving pregnant women pomegranate juice to protect the brains of at-risk newborns.

The current randomized, controlled, double-blinded study enrolled 78 mothers from Barnes-Jewish Hospital obstetric clinic in St. Louis with IUGR diagnosed at 24-43 weeks’ gestation. Women were randomized to receive 8 ounces of pomegranate juice daily or a taste/calorie matched placebo that was polyphenol free. Women drank the juice daily from enrollment until delivery. The team measured several aspects of brain development and injury, including infant brain macrostructure, microstructural organization and functional connectivity.

While the team did not observe differences in brain macrostructure, they did find regional differences in white matter microstructure and functional connectivity.

“These measures tell us about how the brain is developing functionally,” said Inder. “We saw no difference in brain growth and baby growth, but we did see improvement in cabling network and brain development measured by synchronous blood flow and visual development of the brain.”

The authors note that the findings warrant the need for a larger, rigorously designed clinical trial to allow continued investigation into the potential neuroprotective effects of polyphenols. Such a study is now underway at the Brigham.

“We plan to continue investigating these exciting findings,” said Inder. “While the preliminary evidence shows promise, additional study and replication is needed.”

NEWS RELEASE 20-AUG-2019

Low levels of vitamin D in elementary school could spell trouble in adolescence

UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN

ANN ARBOR — Vitamin D deficiency in middle childhood could result in aggressive behavior as well as anxious and depressive moods during adolescence, according to a new University of Michigan study of school children in Bogotá, Colombia.

Children with blood vitamin D levels suggestive of deficiency were almost twice as likely to develop externalizing behavior problems–aggressive and rule breaking behaviors — as reported by their parents, compared with children who had higher levels of the vitamin.

Also, low levels of the protein that transports vitamin D in blood were related to more self-reported aggressive behavior and anxious/depressed symptoms. The associations were independent of child, parental and household characteristics.

“Children who have vitamin D deficiency during their elementary school years appear to have higher scores on tests that measure behavior problems when they reach adolescence,” said Eduardo Villamor, professor of epidemiology at the U-M School of Public Health and senior author of the study appearing in the Journal of Nutrition.

Villamor said vitamin D deficiency has been associated with other mental health problems in adulthood, including depression and schizophrenia, and some studies have focused on the effect of vitamin D status during pregnancy and childhood. However, few studies have extended into adolescence, the stage when behavior problems may first appear and become serious conditions.

In 2006, Villamor’s team recruited 3,202 children aged 5-12 years into a cohort study in Bogotá, Colombia, through a random selection from primary public schools. The investigators obtained information on the children’s daily habits, maternal education level, weight and height, as well as the household’s food insecurity and socioeconomic status. Researchers also took blood samples.

After about six years, when the children were 11-18 years old, the investigators conducted in-person follow-up interviews in a random group of one-third of the participants, assessing the children’s behavior through questionnaires that were administered to the children themselves and their parents. The vitamin D analyses included 273 of those participants.

While the authors acknowledge the study’s limitations, including a lack of baseline behavior measures, their results indicate the need for additional studies involving neurobehavioral outcomes in other populations where vitamin D deficiency may be a public health problem.

NEWS RELEASE 29-AUG-2019

Marathoners, take your marks…and fluid and salt!

Study suggests losses of both may lead to post-marathon kidney injury

JOHNS HOPKINS MEDICINE

Legend states that after the Greek army defeated the invading Persian forces near the city of Marathon in 490 B.C.E., the courier Pheidippides ran to Athens to report the victory and then immediately dropped dead. The story — and the distance Pheidippides covered — inspired the modern marathon, a grueling 26.2-mile contest that attracts some 1.3 million runners annually to compete in the more than 800 races held worldwide.

While Pheidippides’ demise was more likely brought about by a 300-mile run he reportedly made just prior to his “marathon,” today’s long-distance runners face a mostly short-term but still serious physical threat known as acute kidney injury, or AKI. Now, results of a new study of marathon runners led by researchers at Johns Hopkins Medicine and Yale University suggest that sweat (fluid) volume and sweat sodium losses, rather than a rise in core body temperature, are the key contributors to post-race AKI.

“We knew from a previous study that a large number of marathoners developed short-term AKI following a race, so we wanted more specifically to pin down the causes,” says Chirag Parikh, Ph.D., director of the Division of Nephrology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and senior author of the new paper. “Our findings suggest that managing fluid volume and salt losses with a personalized regimen during the time period surrounding a marathon may help reduce the number or lessen the severity of AKI incidences afterward.”

The researchers say they also found that runners with AKI following a marathon had increased levels of a blood serum protein known as copeptin. If the connection is confirmed with future studies, they say, copeptin could be valuable as a biomarker during training for predicting post-marathon susceptibility to AKI.

AKI, as described by the National Kidney Foundation, is a “sudden episode of kidney failure or kidney damage that happens within a few hours or a few days.” It causes waste products to build up in the blood, making it hard for kidneys to maintain the correct balance of fluids in the body. Symptoms of AKI differ depending on the cause and may include: too little urine leaving the body; swelling in legs, ankles and around the eyes; fatigue; shortness of breath; confusion; nausea; chest pain; and in severe cases, seizures or coma. The disorder is most commonly seen in hospitalized patients whose kidneys are affected by medical and surgical stress and complications.

Similarly, a marathon subjects a runner to sustained physical stress, reduced blood flow to the kidneys and significant increases in the metabolic rate. Together, these events severely challenge the body’s ability to keep fluid volume, electrolytes and temperature levels — along with the regulatory responses to changes in all three — in balance. The result, as seen in 82% of the runners evaluated by the same researchers in a 2017 Yale University study, was AKI that averaged two days in duration.

For the latest study, the goal was to better define the risk factors and mechanism for the problem by examining 23 runners, ages 22-63, who competed in the 2017 Hartford Marathon in Connecticut.

Participants were volunteers recruited through local running clubs and the marathon’s registration process. Divided nearly equally between men and women, they were all experienced runners with a body mass index ranging between 18.5-24.9, and had completed at least four races longer than 20 kilometers (12.4 miles) within the previous three years.

Urine and blood samples were collected from the participants at three time points: 24 hours prior to the marathon, within 30 minutes of completing the race and 24 hours after. The researchers evaluated the samples for sodium levels; key biomolecules such as creatine phosphokinase, hemoglobin, urine protein and copeptin; and biomarkers associated with kidney injury such as interleukin-18 and kidney injury molecule-1.

Sweat collection patches were placed on the runners prior to the marathon and recovered at the 5-mile mark (because they became too saturated further in the race). Blood pressure, heart rate and weight were measured at all three time points, while a bioharness worn during the marathon continually recorded body temperature.

Twelve of the 23 runners (55%) developed AKI after the race, while 17 (74%) tested positive for markers indicating some injury to the renal tubules, the tiny portals in the kidneys where blood is filtered.

In the runners with post-race AKI, the researchers observed distinct sodium and fluid volume losses. The median salt loss was 2.3 grams, with some losing as much as 7 grams.

Fluid volume loss via sweat had a midpoint level of 2.5 liters (5.2 pints), up to a maximum of 6.8 liters (14.4 pints). For comparison, a 155-pound (70-kilogram) body contains about 42 liters (85 pints) of fluid.

Core body temperature, while significantly elevated throughout a marathon, was basically the same for all runners and therefore, was not considered a causal factor for AKI. However, the researchers say that the combination of high-body temperature along with fluid and salt losses may add to the development of kidney injury.

“Putting the sodium and fluid volume loss numbers into perspective, the median salt loss for the AKI runners was about 1 1/4 teaspoons, or the entire daily amount recommended by the American Heart Association,” Parikh says. “Their median fluid volume loss was equivalent to sweating out slightly more than a 2-liter soda bottle. Beyond that, we had evidence that runners weren’t adequately keeping up with those depletions.”

In turn, Parikh says, that failure to balance the sodium and fluid losses during a marathon may account for the new study’s other relevant finding: the higher levels of copeptin seen in runners with post-race AKI.

Copeptin is a precursor to the release of vasopressin, a hormone secreted by the pituitary gland in response to reduced blood volume. It tells our kidneys and blood vessels to hold on to water, preventing a sudden drop in blood pressure and physical collapse.

“In the runners who developed AKI, we found copeptin levels as much as 20 times higher than those who did not,” Parikh says. “This is biological evidence that the AKI sufferers were severely volume down.”

Because vasopressin reduces blood flow to the kidneys, and decreases renal filtration and urine output, he adds, it also may induce inflammation and injury to the kidney tissues if secreted for an extended period of time. This may explain why a large number of marathon runners get AKI while those competing at shorter distances do not.

Parikh says future studies, using larger samples, will need to evaluate whether optimizing fluid and salt volumes in marathon runners lowers rates or reduces the severity of post-race AKI. Additionally, he says, the researchers would like to follow runners who participate in multiple marathons to look for any cumulative kidney damage.

“The long-term goal will be to document an individual runner’s metabolic and sweat profile to develop a fluid and salt replacement regimen just for him or her,” he says. “Then, runners could consume this personalized drink during the race to better maintain fluid and salt balance.”

NEWS RELEASE 9-SEP-2019

Dietary supplement may help with schizophrenia

Peer-reviewed, editorial, people

UNIVERSITY COLLEGE LONDON

A dietary supplement, sarcosine, may help with schizophrenia as part of a holistic approach complementing antipsychotic medication, according to a UCL researcher.

In an editorial published in the British Journal of Psychiatry, Professor David Curtis (UCL Genetics, Evolution & Environment and QMUL Centre for Psychiatry) suggests the readily available product could easily be incorporated into treatment plans, while calling for clinical trials to clarify the benefit and inform guidelines.

“Sarcosine represents a very logical treatment and the small number of clinical trials so far do seem to show that it can be helpful. It certainly seems to be safe and some patients report feeling better on it,” he said.

“Sarcosine may be a helpful treatment for schizophrenia but we should be carrying out further studies in order to find out for sure.”

Sarcosine naturally occurs in foods such as egg yolks, turkey and legumes, and can be bought as a dietary supplement, sometimes promoted as a ‘brain health supplement’, with various claims being made that are not all backed up by adequate evidence.

Professor Curtis writes that there is now good evidence from multiple lines of study that some patients with schizophrenia may have defects in the functioning of receptors for glutamate, a common neurotransmitter in the brain, and that sarcosine can help glutamate receptors to work better.

Researchers have been accumulating evidence that if these glutamate receptors did not function properly then people could develop psychosis and other symptoms of schizophrenia.

Professor Curtis and colleagues have recently added to the evidence, showing that genetic variants which damage this receptor increase the risk of schizophrenia.

The only risk identified so far seems to be that some people taking sarcosine to treat schizophrenia who are also on antidepressants may experience hypomania (disinhibition and euphoria), which Professor Curtis says highlights the importance of consulting with health professionals before taking sarcosine.

“Some studies have used it on its own as a treatment but I think the obvious thing to try first would be for patients to take it alongside their regular antipsychotic medication, in order to produce further improvement,” said Professor Curtis.

He says that health professionals need to be aware of sarcosine so that they know how to respond if a patient asks them about it, given that it’s increasingly being used as an alternative therapy.

“I would encourage psychiatrists to review the evidence, and while they may reach different conclusions, it seems reasonable to conclude that suggesting sarcosine to a patient with schizophrenia would be defensible and evidence-based.

“Because it is freely available and fairly cheap, there is nothing to stop somebody with schizophrenia from buying it and trying it themselves, which underscores the need for health professionals to get our heads around it. I would certainly warn them not to stop their regular medication and to continue following the advice of their psychiatrist,” he said.

NEWS RELEASE 9-SEP-2019

World’s largest evidence review: Nutritional supplements for mental health

New international research published today in World Psychiatry

NICM HEALTH RESEARCH INSTITUTE, WESTERN SYDNEY UNIVERSITY

AUSTRALIA, Sydney – September 10, 2019 – We’ve all heard that ‘food is good for your mood’. Now a new study into mental health and nutrient supplementation has taken a leap forward by establishing the gold standard for which nutrients are proven to assist in the management of a range of mental health disorders.

As well as an established relationship between poor diet and mental illness, there is now a vast body of research examining the benefit of nutrient supplementation in people with mental disorders.

To unpack this research, an international team of scientists led by Sydney’s NICM Health Research Institute, Western Sydney University examined the ‘best of the best’ available evidence. The aim was to provide a clear overview of the benefit of specific nutrient supplements – including dosage, target symptoms, safety and tolerability – across different mental disorders.

The world’s largest review (a meta-synthesis) of top-tier evidence, published online today in World Psychiatry, examined 33 meta-analyses of randomised control trials (RCTs) and data from 10,951 people with mental health disorders including depression, stress and anxiety disorders, bipolar disorder, personality disorders, schizophrenia and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

Although the majority of nutritional supplements assessed did not significantly improve mental health, the researchers found strong evidence that certain supplements are an effective additional treatment for some mental disorders, supportive of conventional treatment.

All nutrient supplements were found to be safe when recommended dosages and prescriptive instructions were adhered to and there was no evidence of serious adverse effects or contraindications with psychiatric medications.

Summary of results:

  • The strongest evidence was found for omega-3 supplements (a polyunsaturated fatty acid) as an add-on treatment for major depression – reducing symptoms of depression beyond the effects of antidepressants alone.
  • There was some evidence to suggest that omega-3 supplements may also have small benefits for ADHD.
  • There was emerging evidence for the amino acid N-acetylcysteine as a useful adjunctive treatment in mood disorders and schizophrenia.
  • Special types of folate supplements may be effective as add-on treatments for major depression and schizophrenia, however folic acid was ineffective.
  • There was no strong evidence for omega-3 for schizophrenia or other mental health conditions.
  • There is currently a lack of compelling evidence supporting the use of vitamins (such as E, C, or D) and minerals (zinc and magnesium) for any mental disorder.

Lead author of the study, Dr Joseph Firth, Senior Research Fellow at NICM Health Research Institute, Western Sydney University and Honorary Research Fellow at The University of Manchester said the findings should be used to produce more evidence-based guidance on the usage of nutrient-based treatments for various mental health conditions.

“While there has been a longstanding interest in the use of nutrient supplements in the treatment of mental illness, the topic is often quite polarising, and surrounded by either over-hyped claims or undue cynicism,” Dr Firth said.

“In this most recent research, we have brought together the data from dozens and dozens of clinical trials conducted all over the world, in over 10,000 individuals treated for mental illness.

“This mass of data has allowed us to investigate the benefits and safety of various different nutrients for mental health conditions – on a larger scale than what has ever been possible before.”

Senior author on the study, NICM Health Research Institute’s Professor Jerome Sarris said as the role of nutrition in mental health is becoming increasingly acknowledged, it was vital that an evidence-based approach be adopted.

“Future research should aim to determine which individuals might benefit most from evidence-based supplements and to better understand the underlying mechanisms so we can adopt a targeted approach to supplement use in mental health treatment.” Professor Sarris said.

“The role of the gut microbiome in mental health is a rapidly emerging field of research, however more research is needed into the role of ‘psychobiotics’ in mental health treatment.”

NEWS RELEASE 5-SEP-2019

Coffee may protect against gallstones

WILEY

Drinking more coffee may help reduce the risk of developing gallstones, according to a new study published in the Journal of Internal Medicine.

Among 104,493 individuals, those who drank more than six cups of coffee per day had a 23% lower risk of developing symptomatic gallstones compared with individuals who did not drink coffee. Drinking one extra cup of coffee per day was associated with 3% lower risk. Also, individuals with certain genetic variants that have been linked to increased coffee consumption had a lower risk of gallstones.

Although the study only uncovered correlations, the authors highlighted several mechanisms by which coffee consumption might help prevent gallstones from forming.

NEWS RELEASE 5-SEP-2019

Eating mushrooms may help lower prostate cancer risk

A new study published in the International Journal of Cancer found an inverse relationship between mushroom consumption and the development of prostate cancer among middle-aged and elderly Japanese men, suggesting that regular mushroom intake might help to prevent prostate cancer.

A total of 36,499 men, aged 40 to 79 years who participated in the Miyagi Cohort Study in 1990 and in the Ohsaki Cohort Study in 1994 were followed for a median of 13.2 years. During follow-up, 3.3% of participants developed prostate cancer. Compared with mushroom consumption of less than once per week, consumption once or twice a week was associated with an 8% lower risk of prostate cancer and consumption three or more times per week was associated with a 17% lower risk.

“Since information on mushroom species was not collected, it is difficult to know which specific mushroom(s) contributed to our findings. Also, the mechanism of the beneficial effects of mushrooms on prostate cancer remains uncertain,” said lead author Shu Zhang, PhD, of the Tohoku University School of Public Health, in Japan.

NEWS RELEASE 3-SEP-2019

Mouthwash use could inhibit benefits of exercise, new research shows

This is a peer-reviewed, randomized, double-blind crossover study conducted in humans

UNIVERSITY OF PLYMOUTH

Exercise is known to reduce blood pressure – but the activity of bacteria in our mouths may determine whether we experience this benefit, according to new research.

An international team of scientists has shown that the blood pressure-lowering effect of exercise is significantly reduced when people rinse their mouths with antibacterial mouthwash, rather than water – showing the importance of oral bacteria in cardiovascular health.

The researchers now suggest that health professionals should pay attention to the oral environment when recommending interventions involving physical activity for high blood pressure.

The study was led by the University of Plymouth in collaboration with the Centre of Genomic Regulation in Barcelona (Gabaldon’s lab), Spain, and was published in the journal Free Radical Biology and Medicine.

Why did the research take place?

Lead author Dr Raul Bescos, Lecturer in Dietetics and Physiology at the University of Plymouth, said: “Scientists already know that blood vessels open up during exercise, as the production of nitric oxide increases the diameter of the blood vessels (known as vasodilation), increasing blood flow circulation to active muscles.

“What has remained a mystery is how blood circulation remains higher after exercise, in turn triggering a blood-pressure lowering response known as post-exercise hypotension.

“Previous research has suggested that nitric oxide was not involved in this post-exercise response – and only involved during exercise – but the new study challenges these views.

“It’s all to do with nitric oxide degrading into a compound called nitrate, which for years was thought to have no function in the body. But research over the last decade has shown that nitrate can be absorbed in the salivary glands and excreted with saliva in the mouth.

“Some species of bacteria in the mouth can use nitrate and convert into nitrite – a very important molecule that can enhance the production of nitric oxide in the body. And when nitrite in saliva is swallowed, part of this molecule is rapidly absorbed into the circulation and reduced back to nitric oxide. This helps to maintain a widening of blood vessels which leads to a sustained lowering of blood pressure after exercise.

“We wanted to see whether blocking nitrate’s ability to convert into nitrite by inhibiting oral bacteria would have any effect on post-exercise hypotension.”

What did the study involve?

Twenty-three healthy adults were asked to run on a treadmill for a total of 30 minutes on two separate occasions, after which they were monitored for two hours.

On each occasion at one, 30, 60 and 90 minutes after exercise they were asked to rinse their mouths with a liquid – either antibacterial mouthwash (0.2% chlorhexidine) or a placebo of mint-flavoured water. Neither the researchers nor the participants knew which liquid they were rinsing with.

Their blood pressure was measured and saliva and blood samples were taken before exercise and at 120 minutes after exercise. No food or drink except water was allowed during exercise and the recovery period, and none of the study participants had any oral health conditions.

What did the science show?

The study found that when participants rinsed with the placebo, the average reduction in systolic blood pressure was -5.2 mmHg at one hour after exercise. However when participants rinsed with the antibacterial mouthwash, the average systolic blood pressure was -2.0 mmHg at the same time point.

*Systolic blood pressure refers to the highest blood pressure level when the heart is squeezing and pushing the blood round the body.

These results show that the blood pressure-lowering effect of exercise was diminished by more than 60% over the first hour of recovery, and totally abolished two hours after exercise when participants were given the antibacterial mouthwash.

Previous views also suggested that the main source of nitrite in the circulation after exercise was nitric oxide formed during exercise in the endothelial cells (cells that line the blood vessels). However, the new study challenges this. When antibacterial mouthwash was given to the participants, their blood nitrite levels did not increase after exercise. It was only when participants used the placebo that nitrite levels in blood raised, indicating that oral bacteria are a key source of this molecule in the circulation at least over the first period of recovery after exercise.

What the authors say

Craig Cutler, study co-author who conducted the research as part of his PhD at the University of Plymouth, said: “These findings show that nitrite synthesis by oral bacteria is hugely important in kick-starting how our bodies react to exercise over the first period of recovery, promoting lower blood pressure and greater muscle oxygenation.

“In effect, it’s like oral bacteria are the ‘key’ to opening up the blood vessels. If they are removed, nitrite can’t be produced and the vessels remain in their current state.

“Existing studies show that, exercise aside, antibacterial mouthwash can actually raise blood pressure under resting conditions, so this study followed up and showed the mouthwash impact on the effects of exercise.

“The next step is to investigate in more detail the effect of exercise on the activity of oral bacteria and the composition of oral bacteria in individuals under high cardiovascular risk. Long-term, research in this area may improve our knowledge for treating hypertension – or high blood pressure – more efficiently.”

 

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