The Gary Null Show is here to inform you on the best news in health, healing, the environment.
Antioxidant-rich powders from blueberry, persimmon waste could be good for gut microbiota
Polytechnic University of Valencia (Italy), July 24, 2020
Feeding the world’s growing population in a sustainable way is no easy task. That’s why scientists are exploring options for transforming fruit and vegetable byproducts — such as peels or pulp discarded during processing — into nutritious food ingredients and supplements. Now, researchers reporting in ACS’ Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry have shown that blueberry and persimmon waste can be made into antioxidant-rich powders that might have beneficial effects on gut microbiota.
In recent years, fruit and vegetable powders have become popular as a way to add beneficial compounds, such as polyphenols and carotenoids (two types of antioxidants), to the diet, either by consuming the powders directly or as an ingredient in food products. However, in many cases these healthful compounds are present at similar or even higher levels in byproducts compared to those in other parts of the fruit or vegetable. Noelia Betoret, María José Gosalbes and colleagues wanted to obtain powders from persimmon and blueberry wastes, and then study how digestion could affect the release of antioxidants and other bioactive compounds. They also wanted to determine the effects of the digested powders on gut bacterial growth.
The researchers obtained powders from persimmon peels and flower parts, and from the solids left behind after making blueberry juice. The type of powder, drying method, fiber content and type of fiber determined the release of antioxidants during a simulated digestion. For example, freeze-drying preserved more anthocyanins, but these were more easily degraded during digestion than those in air-dried samples. Then, the team added the powders to a fecal slurry and conducted a mock colonic fermentation, sequencing the bacteria present before and after fermentation. Incubation with the fruit powders resulted in an increase in several types of beneficial bacteria, and some bacteria grew better with one powder compared to the other. These findings indicate that persimmon and blueberry waste powders could be included in food formulations to boost the content of carotenoids and anthocyanins, which could have a positive impact on human health, the researchers say.
Plant-based diets shown to lower blood pressure even with limited meat and dairy
Consuming a plant-based diet can lower blood pressure even if small amounts of meat and dairy are consumed too, according to new research
University of Warwick (UK), July 27, 2020
Consuming a plant-based diet can lower blood pressure even if small amounts of meat and dairy are consumed too, according to new research from the University of Warwick.
Published online by a team from Warwick Medical School in the Journal of Hypertension today (25 July), they argue that any effort to increase plant-based foods in your diet and limit animal products is likely to benefit your blood pressure and reduce your risk of heart attacks, strokes and cardiovascular disease. They conducted a systematic review of previous research from controlled clinical trials to compare seven plant-based diets, several of which included animal products in small amounts, to a standardised control diet and the impact that these had on individuals’ blood pressure.
Plant-based diets support high consumption of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds, limiting the consumption of most or all animal products (mainly meat and diary). (See Notes to Editors for further details)
High blood pressure is the leading risk factor globally for heart attacks, strokes and other cardiovascular diseases. A reduction in blood pressure has important health benefits both for individuals and for populations. Unhealthy diets are responsible for more deaths and disabilities globally than tobacco use, high alcohol intake, drug use and unsafe sex put together. An increased consumption of whole grains, vegetables, nuts and seeds, and fruit, as achieved in plant-based diets, could avert up to 1.7, 1.8, 2.5 and 4.9 million deaths globally respectively every year according to previous research.
Vegetarian and vegan diets with complete absence of animal products are already known to lower blood pressure compared to omnivorous diets. Their feasibility and sustainability are, however, limited. Until now, it has not been known whether a complete absence of animal products is necessary in plant-based dietary patterns to achieve a significant beneficial effect on blood pressure.
Lead author Joshua Gibbs, a student in the University of Warwick School of Life Sciences, said: “We reviewed 41 studies involving 8,416 participants, in which the effects of seven different plant-based diets (including DASH, Mediterranean, Vegetarian, Vegan, Nordic, high fibre and high fruit and vegetables) on blood pressure were studied in controlled clinical trials. A systematic review and meta-analysis of these studies showed that most of these diets lowered blood pressure. The DASH diet had the largest effect reducing blood pressure by 5.53/3.79 mmHg compared to a control diet, and by 8.74/6.05 mmHg when compared to a ‘usual’ diet.
“A blood pressure reduction of the scale caused by a higher consumption of plant-based diets, even with limited animal products would result in a 14% reduction in strokes, a 9% reduction in heart attacks and a 7% reduction in overall mortality.
“This is a significant finding as it highlights that complete eradication of animal products is not necessary to produce reductions and improvements in blood pressure. Essentially, any shift towards a plant-based diet is a good one.”
Senior author Professor Francesco Cappuccio of Warwick Medical School said: “The adoption of plant-based dietary patterns would also play a role in global food sustainability and security. They would contribute to a reduction in land use due to human activities, to global water conservation and to a significant reduction in global greenhouse gas emission.
“The study shows the efficacy of a plant-based diet on blood pressure. However, the translation of this knowledge into real benefits to people, i.e. its effectiveness, depends on a variety of factors related to both individual choices and to governments’ policy decisions. For example, for an individual, the ability to adopt a plant-based diet would be influenced by socio-economic factors (costs, availability, access), perceived benefits and difficulties, resistance to change, age, health status, low adherence due to palatability and acceptance.
“To overcome these barriers, we ought to formulate strategies to influence beliefs about plant-based diets, plant food availability and costs, multisectoral actions to foster policy changes focusing on environmental sustainability of food production, science gathering and health consequences.”
Health and happiness depend on each other
Georgetown University, July 22, 2020
Good health and a happy outlook on life may seem like equally worthy yet independent goals. A growing body of research, however, bolsters the case that a happy outlook can have a very real impact on your physical well-being.
New research published in the journal Psychological Science shows that both online and in-person psychological interventions — tactics specifically designed to boost subjective well-being — have positive effects on self-reported physical health. The online and in-person interventions were equally effective.
“Though prior studies have shown that happier people tend to have better cardiovascular health and immune-system responses than their less happy counterparts,” said Kostadin Kushlev, a professor in Georgetown University’s Department of Psychology and one of the authors of the paper, “our research is one of the first randomized controlled trials to suggest that increasing the psychological well-being even of generally healthy adults can have benefits to their physical health.”
Intervention for Healthy Outcomes
Over the course of six months, Kushlev and his colleagues at the University of Virginia and the University of British Columbia examined how improving the subjective well-being of people who were not hospitalized or otherwise undergoing medical treatment affected their physical health.
A group of 155 adults between the ages of 25 and 75 were randomly assigned either to a wait-list control condition or a 12-week positive psychological intervention that addressed three different sources of happiness: the “Core Self,” the “Experiential Self,” and the “Social Self.”
The first 3 weeks of the program focused on the Core Self, helping individuals identify their personal values, strengths, and goals. The next 5 weeks focused on the Experiential Self, covering emotion regulation and mindfulness. This phase also gave participants tools to identify maladaptive patterns of thinking. The final 4 weeks of the program addressed the Social Self, teaching techniques to cultivate gratitude, foster positive social interactions, and engage more with their community.
The program, called Enduring Happiness and Continued Self-Enhancement (ENHANCE), consisted of weekly modules either led by a trained clinician or completed individually using a customized online platform. None of the modules focused on promoting physical health or health behaviors, such as sleep, exercise, or diet.
Each module featured an hour-long lesson with information and exercises; a weekly writing assignment, such as journaling; and an active behavioral component, such as guided meditation.
“All of the activities were evidence-based tools to increase subjective well-being,” Kushlev noted.
When the program concluded, the participants were given individual evaluations and recommendations of which modules would be most effective at improving their happiness in the long term. Three months after the conclusion of the trial, researchers followed up with the participants to evaluate their well-being and health.
A Happy Future
Participants who received the intervention reported increasing levels of subjective well-being over the course of the 12-week program. They also reported fewer sick days than control participants throughout the program and 3 months after it ended.
The online mode of administering the program was shown to be as effective as the in-person mode led by trained facilitators.
“These results speak to the potential of such interventions to be scaled in ways that reach more people in environments such as college campuses to help increase happiness and promote better mental health among students,” Kushlev said.
Rely on gut feeling? New research identifies how second brain in gut communicates
Finders University (Australia), July 24, 2020
You’re faced with a big decision so your second brain provides what’s normally referred to as ‘gut instinct’, but how did this sensation reach you before it was too late?
The Enteric Nervous System (ENS) is an extensive network of neurons and transmitters wrapped in and around the human gut with the prime function of managing digestion, but researchers at Flinders University are delving into the complexity of this brain like system to uncover it’s secret capabilities.
In a new study published in the eNeuro journal, Professor Nick Spencer’s laboratory has identified a particular type of neuron in the gut wall that communicates signals to other neurons outside the gut, near the spinal cord and up to the brain.
“There is significant interest in how the gut communicates with the brain as a major unresolved issue because of growing evidence that many diseases may first start in the gut and then travel to the brain, an example of which is Parkinson’s Disease,” says Professor Spencer.
“The new study has uncovered how viscerofugal neurons provide a pathway so our gut can “sense” what is going on inside the gut wall, then relay this sensory information more dynamically than was previously assumed to other organs, like the spinal cord and brain which influence our decisions, mood and general wellbeing.”
The results reveal why the ENS might play an increasingly important part on human health, and could shed light on potential new treatments for conditions like Parkinson’s disease.
This study represents a big step towards understanding ENS functions and the complexity of the gut and brain connection through the neurons that allow communication in the body.
Professor Spencer says there is increasing interest in understanding how the nervous system in the gut (ENS) communicates with the brain, to give us all those sensations we know of.
“What is particularly exciting about the gut, is that it is unlike all other internal organs (e.g. heart, liver, bladder) because the gut has its own nervous system, which can function independently of the brain or spinal cord. Understanding how the gut communicates and controls other organs in the body can lead to important breakthroughs for disease treatment and this is an important step in the right direction.”
The role of functional foods in treating chronic diseases
Wuhan Sports University (China), July 24, 2020
In this study, researchers at Wuhan Sports University in China summarized several widely investigated bioactive components used as functional foods and their role in autophagy. Their review was published in the journal Food Science and Human Wellness.
- Functional foods, which could be either natural or processed foods that contain bioactive compounds, can provide health-promoting effects beyond basic nutrition.
- These foods also offer the benefit of preventing or treating chronic diseases.
- The bioactive components in functional foods often have pleiotropic effects, such as antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, hypolipidemic (cholesterol-lowering), blood sugar-regulating, cytoprotective and neuroprotective functions.
- Autophagy is a highly conserved cellular process used by the body to eliminate aberrant components in eukaryotic cells.
- It also plays an essential role in promoting health and preventing or treating several chronic diseases.
- When cells are in a stressful condition, autophagy accelerates the clearance of damaged or toxic cellular protein aggregates or dysfunctional cell organelles to maintain homeostasis.
In this review, the researchers focused on several bioactive components of functional foods, such as resveratrol, epigallocatechin-
Combination of vitamin E and Lactobacillius plantarum reverses mercuric chloride-induced neurotoxicity
King Saud University, July 23, 2020
According to news originating from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, by NewsRx editors, the research stated, “Mercury is the third most hazardous heavy metal and its toxicity causes a severe health risk through unfavorable detrimental pathological and biochemical effects. Mercury is widely found in many ecological and certain occupational settings.”
Our news editors obtained a quote from the research from King Saud University: “The aim of this study is to elucidate the neuroprotective role of vitamin E (VE) and Lactobacillus plantarum (LTB) either alone or in combination against a toxic sublethal dose of Mercuric chloride (MC). First group served as a normal control group; rats from the second group were intoxicated with (5 mg/kg MC once daily); the third group was treated with VE; the fourth group was treated with LTB; and the fifth group was treated with VE and LTB. All treatments were given daily along with MC for fourteen days. The results of the current study confirmed that MC prompted an elevation in serum TNF-a, IL-6 and brain lipid peroxides, protein expression of mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) and mRNA expression of Bax and caspase-3 level as well as DNA degradation. However, Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) and cAMP response element-binding (CREB) protein expressions, GSH level and SOD activity were down-regulated. The intake of LTB and/or VE along with MC intoxication significantly mitigated the alteration in all the previous parameters. Moreover, histopathological analysis of brain sections confirmed that MC-induced brain injury and LTB or VE alone or together were capable of ameliorating brain artitechture.”
According to the news editors, the research concluded: “The combination of LTB and VE was an effective therapy in the management of MC-induced neuroioxicity and this combination can be considered a useful therapeutic candidate against brain injury induced by MC. BDNF, MAPK and CREB protein expressions are implicated in MC -induced brain injury and its treatment.”
Plant-based diets high in carbs improve type 1 diabetes, according to new case studies
Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, July 24, 2020
Plant-based diets rich in whole carbohydrates can improve insulin sensitivity and other health markers in individuals with type 1 diabetes, according to two case studies published by researchers from the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine in the Journal of Diabetes & Metabolism.
Both case studies followed individuals with type 1 diabetes who adopted plant-based diets rich in whole carbohydrates–including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes. The patients’ health care teams tracked their blood sugar control, heart disease risk factors, and other health measurements before and after the diet change.
One case study followed a female patient who was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in 2018. At the time, her A1c was 8.7%. She initially adopted a low-carbohydrate (less than 30 grams of carbohydrate per day), high-fat diet that was high in meat and dairy. Her blood sugar stabilized, but she required more insulin per gram of carbohydrate consumed. Her total cholesterol also increased from 175 to 221 mg/dL. In January 2019, she switched to a plant-based diet, eliminating dairy products, eggs, and meat. The patient was able to decrease her insulin dosage, maintain her A1c level at 5.4%, and drop her cholesterol level to 158 mg/dL.
“This study challenges the misconception that carbs are the enemy when it comes to diabetes,” says study author Hana Kahleova, MD, PhD, director of clinical research at the Physicians Committee. “The patient in this case study experienced the opposite: Adding more healthful carbohydrates to her diet stabilized her glycemic control, reduced her insulin needs, and boosted her overall health.”
The other individual–a 42-year-old man who had been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at age 25–eliminated animal products from his diet and switched to a whole food, plant-based diet. He increased his consumption of carbohydrates from 150 grams to 400-450 grams per day. After adopting a carbohydrate-rich plant-based diet, he lost weight, required less insulin, and reduced his A1c–a measure of blood sugar levels over a 3-month period–from 6.2% to a range between 5.5-5.8%.
The authors note that a previous small study supported the case studies’ results, finding that a high-carbohydrate, high-fiber diet improved glycemic control in 10 people with type 1 diabetes. As a next step, the authors suggest that randomized clinical trials are needed to verify the case studies’ findings, assess their generalizability, and quantify the effectiveness of plant-based diets in the management of type 1 diabetes.
Previous studies have found that low-fat, plant-based diets can be beneficial for those with type 2 diabetes. Research has also shown that those eating a plant-based diet have approximately half the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, compared with non-vegetarians.
“Decades of research has proven that a plant-based diet can be beneficial for those with type 2 diabetes. Now, these groundbreaking case studies are offering hope that the same may be true for those with type 1 diabetes,” adds Dr. Kahleova.
Raised iron levels linked to reduced life expectancy
Imperial College London, July 24, 2020
Having too much iron in the body puts your long term health at risk but it could also take years off your life.
These are the findings of a study using large scale genetic data to assess the impacts across a population of having naturally raised levels of iron, in terms of years of life expectancy.
According to the researchers, the findings—which help to cut through the noise caused by confounding factors such as age, sex or diet—add to the increasingly complex picture of iron’s role in our health and highlight the risks of having raised levels of iron.
Dr. Dipender Gill, from Imperial’s School of Public Health and who supervised the study, said: “We have known for a long time that having too much or too little iron in your system can have serious impacts on your health, and that effectively modifying iron levels can help many people with underlying conditions. Our findings build on previous work to clarify that picture further, showing that people who have genetic predisposition to slightly raised levels of iron in the body have reduced life expectancy on average. While we did not look directly at the impact of taking supplements, our results suggest that there is a need to better understand the health implications of people boosting their iron levels with supplements when they don’t need to.”
Iron is used by the body to make red blood cells, which carry oxygen. Most people without underlying health conditions should be able to get enough iron from their diet. But disrupting the balance can lead to a host of health implications: too little iron is associated with fatigue and impaired immune system, while too much can cause liver failure, and in high enough doses can even be fatal.
A number of studies suggest small changes in iron levels can have protective and detrimental effects for different diseases, such as heart disease, stroke and infections. But the net effect of varying iron levels on life expectancy remains unclear.
In the latest study, published this month in the journal Clinical Nutrition, Dr. Gill and Mr. Iyas Daghlas from Harvard Medical School used a statistical technique called Mendelian randomization to try to explore the effect of increasing levels of iron on health—using people’s genetic variation as an indicator of their iron levels.
The researchers trawled genetic data from almost 49,000 people to find genetic variants linked to iron levels. They focused on three points in the genome where a single “letter” difference in the DNA—called a single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP)—can slightly increase or reduce a person’s iron level.
When these same SNPs were then screened in a larger dataset combing lifespan data for more than one million people, they found that the genetic markers for higher iron levels on average associated with reduced life expectancy.
The analysis revealed that for every one point of standard deviation increase in genetically predicted serum iron above baseline, people had an estimated 0.7 fewer years of lifespan.
Furthermore, the findings were unlikely to be biased by lifestyle factors.
A body of work
The work builds on a number of previous studies by Dr. Gill, which have used genetic data to investigate the role of iron in hundreds of diseases.
A 2017 study revealed the link between high iron levels and lower risk of heart disease. Further studies from 2019 showed naturally higher iron levels were associated with a lower risk of high cholesterol levels, reducing the risk of arteries becoming furred with a build-up of fatty substances, but also carried with it a higher risk of blood clots and skin infections. Taken together, the studies build a complex picture of iron status in health.
The authors stress that the genetic markers themselves do not indicate reduced life expectancy or risk in the wider context, but are a tool to study how iron levels relate to health without the influence of a number of complex confounding factors such as diet, economic background, or smoking status. They add that the findings should not currently be applied clinically, at the individual level.
Dr. Gill explained: “It’s important to put these findings in context. Our analysis is indirect and uses genetic data as a proxy for raised iron levels. But the clinical implications warrant further investigation and could be important for long-term health at the population level.”
Mr Iyas Daghlas, from Harvard Medical School, said: “These findings should not yet be extrapolated to clinical practice, but they further support the idea that people without an iron deficiency are unlikely to benefit from supplementation, and that it may actually do them harm. We emphasize that these results should not be applied to patient populations with a compelling reason for iron supplementation, such as patients with symptomatic iron deficiency anemia, or in patients with heart failure.”
Seven reasons to eat more watermelon
Life Extension, July 22, 2020
There’s a reason why summer is the season for watermelon. Not only does this favorite fruit reach its peak flavors during the warmer months, watermelon is also even more nutrient-rich this time of year. From being a great source of raw lycopene to its hydrating nature, here are seven reasons to eat more watermelon. Lycopene is the pigment that gives red and pink fruits, such as tomatoes, watermelons and pink grapefruit, their characteristic color. Lycopene has been linked to health benefits ranging from heart health to protection against sunburns and certain types of cancers.
1. Watermelon is a top source of lycopene. Tomatoes get the glory when it comes to lycopene, but watermelon actually has more ? about 40 percent more, on average. Our bodies also absorb lycopene from watermelon more easily. Unlike tomatoes, which need to be cooked in order to maximize lycopene absorption, we can effectively absorb and reap the benefits of lycopene from raw watermelon.
2. It’s hydrating.No surprise here. (It is called watermelon, after all!) But you may find it interesting that watermelon is 92 percent water, so by enjoying it, you really are eating your way toward better hydration.
3. It may improve blood pressure; is a top source of citrulline, which can help to improve blood flow and blood pressure
4. Because it’s so sweet, watermelon has a reputation for being high in sugar, but most fruits arenaturally high in sugar, but they’re also rich in nutrients. However, compared to sweet potatoes, watermelon has only one-fourth of the carbs and only half the sugar.
5. All of the goodness of watermelon (lycopene, beta carotene, vitamin C, vitamin A, fiber and overall antioxidants) gets better with age. The redder the fruit’s flesh, the higher the nutrient concentration.
6. Most of us eat the red flesh and leave the rinds, but the rinds are entirely edible (just remove the outer peel), and are as nutritious as the flesh itself. The rinds can be sliced and added to your favorite stir-fry recipe, juiced or pureed for chilled soups.
7. It can be prepared in countless creative ways.Simply slice it and eat it plain, or with a sprinkle of salt. Or go with the classic pairing of watermelon: fresh mint and feta (or goat cheese, for a lower-sodium option). Make watermelon salsa, using watermelon in place of some (or all) of the tomatoes in your favorite salsa recipe. Grill it. Juice it. Puree it, rind and all, for soups and mocktails. The options are endless!
Molly Kimball, RD, CSSD, registered dietitian with Ochsner Health System, manages the nutrition department of Ochsner Fitness Center and is founder of the Ochsner Eat Fit nonprofit restaurant initiative.