GMO purple tomato takes center stage in deregulation push
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International study links ultra-processed foods with IBD risk
- A spike in inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) prevalence worldwide parallels an uptick in Western dietary patterns.
- Clinicians have long conjectured that ultra-processed foods may compromise gastrointestinal (GI) tract health, but they lacked the evidence to confirm this link.
- A recent multinational study provides good evidence that regularly consuming highly processed foods and beverages is associated with inflammation and IBD.
IBD is more prevalent in affluent countries than in those with lower median incomes. However, cases are risingTrusted Source in developing nations where ultra-processed foods are increasingly available and popular.
For years, gastroenterologists have suspected that ultra-processed foods may contribute to inflammation and IBD. However, few clinical studies have evaluated this hypothesis on a large scale.
A recent multinational prospective cohort study explored the relationship between the consumption of ultra-processed food and the risk of developing IBD.
Ultra-processed foods include most mass-produced foods and beverages. These items contain food additives, such as emulsifiers, preservatives, added sweeteners and flavorings, trans fats, and colorings.
Prof. Tim Spector, an author and epidemiologist at the King’s College London in the United Kingdom and co-founder of the ZOE personalized nutrition program, shared his insights on ultra-processed foods with MNT.
Prof. Spector asserted that adults in the U.S. eat more highly processed foods than those living in any other country in the world. He stated that ultra-processed foods make up more than 60% of the caloric intake there.
Narula and his team assessed the medical data of more than 116,000 adults aged 35–70 years. The participants came from 21 low, middle, and high income nations across North America, South America, Europe, Africa, Middle East, South Asia, Southeast Asia, and China.
The participants completed a food frequency questionnaire at least every 3 years from 2003 to 2016.
They reported their consumption of “all types of packaged and formulated foods and beverages that contain food additives, artificial flavorings, colors, or other chemical ingredients.”
The study’s primary outcome was diagnoses of IBD following completion of the baseline questionnaire.
Participants in North America, South America, and Europe reported higher consumption of ultra-processed food than those in the other regions. The occurrence of IBD was greater in these three areas, as well.
Fermented red clover extract stops menopausal hot flushes and symptoms
Aarhus University (Denmark), July 14, 2021
The vast majority of women in the menopause are familiar with the status of Red Clover as an herbal medicine that soothes hot flush symptoms and hormonal fluctuations. This holds true, new research shows, if the red clover is taken in a fermented form. Fermented Red Clover extract is demonstrated to decrease significantly both the number and severity of daily hot flushes.
The study also found that the extract prevents the normally accelerated menopausal bone loss affecting one in three women over the age of 50 (e.g. results showed treatment blunted bone loss in the spine completely). These findings are very promising as the benefits take place without any of the side effects of traditionally proscribed hormone therapies that increase the risk of cancers and cardiovascular diseases.
The above is the most important information from the scientific article “Combined Red Clover isoflavones and probiotics potently reduce memopausal vasomotor symptoms”, that researchers at the Dept. of Endocrinology and Internal Medicine under the Dept. Clinical Medicine at Aarhus University/ Aarhus University Hospital have published in the journal PLOS One.
The study lead Professor Per Bendix Jeppesen has previously presented partial unpublished data to the media. These findings have rapidly been miss-reported to mean “Red Clover works”, which as Per Bendix Jeppesen and his colleague Ph.D. Max Norman Tandrup Lambert explain, “is an oversimplification that is very close to being incorrect”.
“It is the fermentation process of the Red Clover extract that makes the difference, as the lactic acid fermentation increases the bioavailability of the bioactive estrogen-like compounds (known as isoflavones or phytoestrogens) that Red Clover has in abundance,” explains Max Norman Tandrup Lambert.
“The challenge with isoflavones is that they can be difficult to digest as they naturally occur in the plant bound to sugar molecules which prevent absorption. Hence, a large proportion of the isoflavones that are consumed (e.g. as a pill or capsule) can pass through the intestine without entering circulation. This problem is bypassed when the Red Clover extract undergoes a fermentation process. To be technical the process separates the sugar molecules from the isoflavones, thereby increasing bioavailability,” explains Max Norman Tandup Lambert.
Max and Per Bendix Jeppesen are aware that the research findings inadvertently provide an invaluable seal of approval to an ecological farmer and business owner Michael Mohr Jensen, who has patented the production process of the fermented Red Clover extract. Michael Mohr Jensen sells the product from his private company “Herrens Mark” on Fyn. Presumably, the goal from the researchers perspective is to promote research that can help women in the menopause that also has a commercial side.
“That characterization does not apply to me,” says Per Bendix Jeppesen. “For me, when I can see that research has a realistic use practically I get extra curious. The fact that the research we have contributed has direct practical application is a great positive, it doesn’t happen enough even with all the universities talking about becoming more business orientated and the necessity of collaboration with businesses,” says Per Bendix Jeppesen.
Interestingly, it was Michael Mohr Jensen who contacted Per Bendix Jeppesen to ask if he and other researchers from the Dept. of Endocrinology and Internal Medicine would investigate his hypothesis regarding fermented Red Clover extract as a healthier alternative to traditional estrogen therapy proscribed by doctors. In the ensuing collaboration it was Per Bendix Jeppesen and Max Norman Tandrup Lambert that advised the farmer in fine-tuning his Red Clover extract to improve the gastro-intestinal uptake of the active isoflavone compounds.
The fermentation development was a success and the results are now tested in Max Norman Tandrup Lambert’s Ph.D. project – a study that recruited 130 women with menopause symptoms, of which 60 were selected based on criteria of at least five severe hot flushes per day and blood tests (including FSH, that indicates the “stage” of menopause).
“The women were separated into two groups of 30, so 30 drank 150ml Red Clover extract per day for 12 weeks, whilst the other 30 drank a masked placebo product. After 12 weeks we tested again and were speechless about the data. There was a much greater effect than we had hoped for.” Says Max Norman Tandrup Lambert.
Per Bendix Jeppesen also emphasizes that the research project has avoided relying only on “self reports”, which can be a considerable source of error in investigations into whether a treatment works. For example in this study the women’s’ hot flush symptoms were measured using a so called ‘skin conductor’, a device that is applied to the underside of the wrist that can determine the number hot flush events and their severity objectively based on sweat secretion. Similarly, the effect of the Red Clover extract on bone health has been tested via so-called DXA scans of the spine and hips.
All measurements are taken in the same way before and after 12 weeks of treatment; this enhances the credibility of the findings, as menopause symptoms are particularly difficult to measure.
The effect of acute exercise in humans on cancer cell growth
Advent Health Cancer Institute, July 16, 2021
New research presented at The Physiological Society’s Annual Conference Physiology 2021 shows that molecules released into the bloodstream during exercise (such as small proteins) can act directly on bowel cancer cells to slow down their growth.
Previous research has shown that regular physical activity reduces the risk of developing bowel cancer. This is mainly thought to happen because physical activity can help individuals to maintain a healthy body weight.
This new research shows that being physically active may reduce the risk of getting bowel cancer, even if the physical activity does not lead to weight loss.
These are preliminary findings, but having a better understanding of the mechanisms linking physical activity and cancer risk will help develop the most effective exercise programmes for preventing cancer development.
It could also help develop drugs that can mimic some of the benefits of exercise.
Furthermore, this research could ultimately lead to exercise being part of standard care as part of bowel cancer screening programmes, which could reduce the number of people who develop cancer. ?
The study was done on 16 male participants who had lifestyle risk factors for bowel cancer (all participants were 50 years or older, had overweight or obesity, and did not regularly exercise).
The researchers collected blood samples from participants before and after 45 minutes of ‘moderate’ intensity indoor cycling, and before and after a non-exercise ‘control’ experiment.
They assessed whether exercise altered the concentration of specific proteins in the blood.
Finally, they then added the liquid portion of each blood sample that contains the proteins (known as serum) to bowel cancer cells in a laboratory and monitored cancer cell growth over 48 hours.
The main limitation of this research is that the cancer cells were grown in a dish under tightly-controlled laboratory conditions. Cancer tumours in humans are more complex and interact with the environment around them, such as surrounding blood vessels and immune cells. This means that the findings may not necessarily apply to real-life cancer tumours – this is something the researchers will investigate in the future.
Dr Sam Orange, the presenter and lead author of this research said: Following on from this research, we want to understand a few more things, including which specific molecules in the blood are responsible for reducing the growth of the bowel cancer cells, and whether exercise performed at a high-intensity has a more pronounced effect on bowel cancer cell growth than exercise performed at a moderate-intensity.
Study shows diet causes 84% drop in troublesome menopausal symptoms–without drugs
Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, July 16, 2021
A new study, published by the North American Menopause Society in the journal Menopause, found a plant-based diet rich in soy reduces moderate-to-severe hot flashes by 84%, from nearly five per day to fewer than one per day. During the 12-week study, nearly 60% of women became totally free of moderate-to-severe hot flashes. Overall hot flashes (including mild ones) decreased by 79%.
The study, called the WAVS trial–the Women’s Study for the Alleviation of Vasomotor Symptoms-shows that diet changes can be much more powerful for treating hot flashes than scientists had thought. Vasomotor symptoms refer to night sweats, hot flashes, and flushes.
The study used no hormone medications or extracts. Instead, the research team tested a combination of a low-fat plant-based diet plus 1/2 cup of ordinary soybeans added to a salad or soup each day.
“This is a game changer for women aged 45 and over, most of whom we now know can get prompt relief from the most severe and troubling menopause symptoms without drugs,” says lead researcher Neal Barnard, MD, president of the Physicians Committee and adjunct professor at the George Washington University School of Medicine.
As many as 80% of postmenopausal women suffer from hot flashes. Heat wells up from the chest, causing flushing, sweating, and chills. At night, hot flashes interfere with sleep. Estrogen-based medications were once routinely used to treat hot flashes but have been shown to increase the risk of breast cancer and other serious problems. Isoflavone extracts from soybeans work only modestly, leaving women and their doctors with few effective options.
Postmenopausal women reporting two or more hot flashes per day were randomly assigned to either an intervention group–consisting of a low-fat, vegan diet, including half a cup of cooked soybeans daily–or to a control group that made no diet changes for 12 weeks. Frequency and severity of hot flashes were recorded using a mobile application, and vasomotor, psychosocial, physical, and sexual symptoms were assessed using the Menopause Specific Quality of Life Questionnaire (MENQOL).
Each participant was given a digital self-calibrating scale to track body weight day by day, a mobile app to track hot flashes in real time, and an Instant Pot to prepare soybeans at home. Each week, the group got together with the research team via Zoom.
“Previous studies have shown that soy could be beneficial, so we decided to put a diet change to the test,” says study author Hana Kahleova, MD, PhD, director of clinical research for the Physicians Committee. “We believe that the combination is what is important. By the end of the study, the majority of women on a plant-based diet rich in soy reported that they no longer experienced moderate-to-extreme hot flashes at all and that they experienced significant improvements in their quality of life.”
Total hot flashes decreased by 79% and moderate-to-severe hot flashes decreased by 84% in the intervention group. At the study’s conclusion, 59% of intervention-group participants reported becoming free of moderate and severe hot flashes. There was no change in this variable in the control group.
In previous randomized trials, soy products have been shown to modestly reduce the frequency of hot flashes. The researchers theorize that the effect may be a result of soy products containing isoflavones, which can be metabolized by gut bacteria into equol–a nonsteroidal compound that has been shown in some studies to reduce the incidence and severity of hot flashes. Previous studies have also shown that those following vegetarian or vegan diets produce higher levels of equol. The new study showed a more robust response, using the combination of a plant-based diet plus soy.
Many study participants also reported improvements in sexual symptoms, mood, and overall energy.
“This was basically a lifesaver for me,” said one study participant. “I’ve got my quality of life back.” Another said, “I am sleeping better, and my hot flashes diminished tremendously.” Several participants also noticed significant weight loss and better digestion.
“Before you jump to any kind of medication, I would try this route, because it’s easy,” a study participant said. “Anybody can do it.”
The study was based on the new approach to menopausal symptoms described by Dr. Barnard in his book Your Body in Balance. After the book was released in 2020, a reader contacted Dr. Barnard to let him know that his method eliminated her hot flashes within five days. Rather than using isoflavone extracts or soy foods such as soy milk or tofu, she used whole soybeans.
The Effects of Reiki and Back Massage on Women’s Pain and Vital Signs Post–Abdominal Hysterectomy: A Randomized Controlled Trial
Background: Using Reiki and back massage to support pharmacological treatments is increasingly common in nursing. This study aimed to determine the effects of Reiki and back massage on pain, analgesic use, and vital signs among women who had undergone an open abdominal hysterectomy.
Methods: This experimental study involved a single, blinded, pretest-posttest design. The study population comprised women who had undergone an abdominal hysterectomy at the obstetrics clinics of XXXX Training and Research Hospital and XXXX University Hospital between July 2017 and February 2018. Patients were divided into three groups: a Reiki group, a back massage group, and a control group. Each group comprised 34 patients. Reiki or back massage was applied to patients in the respective non-control groups for 20 minutes once a day. Data were collected using a patient information form, the “Numeric Pain Rating Scale,” and the “Vital Signs and Postoperative Analgesic Follow-up Form.”
Results: Statistically significant differences in pain intensity and analgesic use were observed between the women in the Reiki group and the women in the back massage and control groups (p < 0.001). Significant differences in vital signs were observed between the groups before and after their respective procedures; in the Reiki group, they tended to decrease, while in the back massage and control groups, they tended to increase.
Conclusion: This study’s findings confirmed that pain, analgesic use, and vital signs decreased after Reiki among women who had undergone an abdominal hysterectomy.
Blueberries and insulin protect microglial cells against high glucose-induced inflammation and restore glut-1
University of Grenoble-Alpes (France), July 15, 2021
According to news reporting out of Grenoble, France, research stated, “Growing evidence suggests that hyperglycemia could be harmful for cognitive function. That insulin (INS) has a neuro-modulatory role is supported by various findings, but its effect on microglia, the innate immune cells in the brain, is largely unknown.”
Our news journalists obtained a quote from the research from the University of Grenoble-Alpes, “Blueberries have been shown to reduce neuro-inflammation. We hypothesized that high glucose stimulated an inflammation in microglia and that BB and INS were able to reduce it and both might act through GLUT-1 transporter. We examined the effects of low (5 mM), medium (25 mM), or high (50 mM) glucose, stimulated or not with lipopolysaccharide (LPS; 100 nM) with either BB extract (2 mg/ml) and/or INS, on inflammatory responses in a microglia cell line. Nitric oxide (NO) production and the expression levels of iNOS, TNF-alpha, NOX4 and glucose transporter protein-1 (GLUT1) were assessed. We observed that treatment with BB, similarly to INS treatments, reduced the high glucose concentration-induced response on oxidative stress and inflammation, and that this protective effect is more important with LPS added to glucose media. Interestingly, both BB and INS attenuated the LPS-induced inflammatory response on GLUT1. Increasing glucose concentration triggers inflammation by microglia. BB as well as INS protected microglia from high glucose levels, by reducing inflammation and altering glucose transport in microglia. These preliminary data compared for the first time BB to Insulin on microglia. Blueberries are promising dietary intervention to prevent diabetic neuropathy.”
According to the news editors, the research concluded: “Our preliminary results suggest a possible new mechanism involving GLUT-1 by which BB has insulin-like effects.”
This research has been peer-reviewed.
Lower hemoglobin is good for health after all? It may protect against obesity and metabolic syndrome
University of Oulu (Finland), July 15, 2021
A new study led by the University of Oulu in Finland refutes the belief that high hemoglobin levels are always desirable for health. A study based on two large human cohorts as well as experimental work supported that lower hemoglobin levels may protect against both obesity and metabolic syndrome. The phenomenon may be related to the body’s response to low-oxygen conditions and is used, for example, by endurance athletes in high-altitude training.
Hemoglobin is a protein in the blood that is responsible for transporting oxygen to the tissues of the body. Hemoglobin levels vary from one individual to another, with normal levels in Finnish population ranging from 117 to 155 grams per liter in females and 134 to 167 grams per liter in males.
A recent study published in the high-profile scholarly journal Science Advances showed that individual differences in hemoglobin levels are strongly associated with metabolic health in adulthood. The hemoglobin levels were associated with body mass index, glucose metabolism, blood lipids and blood pressure, with subjects having lower hemoglobin levels being healthier in terms of metabolic measures. The study examined hemoglobin values within the normal range.
“We found a clear association between hemoglobin levels and key cardiovascular traits, and the associations became more pronounced as the subjects aged,” say the principal investigators, Professor Juha Auvinen, doctoral student Joona Tapio and postdoctoral researcher Ville Karhunen.
The effect of lower hemoglobin observed in the study is related to a mild oxygen deficiency in the body and the corresponding response (so-called HIF response) which is activated as a result. The research team of Professor Peppi Karppinen is internationally known for its studies on this phenomenon. The finding reinforces the understanding of the central role that the HIF response has in regulating the body’s energy metabolism.
“Hemoglobin levels are a good measure of the body’s ability to carry oxygen. A mild lack of oxygen activates the HIF response, which makes the body’s energy metabolism less economical and thus may protect against obesity and unfavorable metabolism,” explains Karppinen, who led the study.
Working at the Faculty of Biochemistry and Molecular Medicine and Biocenter Oulu, Karppinen’s team has already shown in previous research that activation of the hypoxia response protects mice from obesity, metabolic syndrome, fatty liver and atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries). The study now published is the first in which the link between oxygen deficiency and wide range of metabolic health markers is demonstrated in humans as well.
“Although this study uses multiple methods to establish links between lower body oxygen levels and metabolic health, it is very challenging to establish causality for the observed associations in human data. However, combining evidence from different components of the study, the results support that hypoxia response may also play an important role in peoples’ metabolic health,” explains further Professor Marjo-Riitta Järvelin, co-leader of the study from Imperial College London, UK and University of Oulu, Finland.
“We also already know that in people living high above sea level, low oxygen levels in the habitat cause long-term activation of the HIF response. These people are slimmer, and they have better sugar tolerance and a lower risk of cardiovascular death,” says Karppinen.
A key question in the future is therefore: how to reduce the body’s oxidation levels if needed, so as to achieve a permanent low-level activation of the HIF response and thus protection against obesity? According to Karppinen, the HIF enzymes that cause a hypoxic response could potentially be used as targets of obesity and metabolism drugs in humans. Currently they are being used in Asia to treat renal anemia.
The study was based on a large cohort of people born in Northern Finland in 1966. In the study, the health and well-being of more than 12,000 people has been regularly monitored since birth. The results were also replicated in The Cardiovascular Risk in Young Finns Study cohort material, five multicentre study in Finland, which covers in the present study a total of more than 1,800 individuals. This work was conducted especially in collaboration between researchers from Universities of Turku and Tampere in Finland and from Imperial College London, UK.
Obesity and metabolic syndrome are major health problems worldwide, connected with numerous comorbidities and premature mortality. Half of Finnish adults are overweight and a quarter have metabolic syndrome. Childhood obesity is also increasing, and the same phenomenon can be seen globally. New ways of preventing and treating obesity are urgently needed.