Intermittent fasting can help manage metabolic disease
Salk Institute, September 22, 2021
Eating your daily calories within a consistent window of 8-10 hours is a powerful strategy to prevent and manage chronic diseases such as diabetes and heart disease, according to a new manuscript published in the Endocrine Society’s journal, Endocrine Reviews.
Time-restricted eating is a type of intermittent fasting that limits your food intake to a certain number of hours each day. Intermittent fasting is one of the most popular diet trends, and people are using it to lose weight, improve their health and simplify their lifestyles.
“People who are trying to lose weight and live a healthier lifestyle should pay more attention to when they eat as well as what they eat. Time-restricted eating is an easy-to-follow and effective dietary strategy that requires less mental math than counting calories,” said Satchidananda
In the manuscript, the researchers explore the science behind time-restricted eating, recent clinical studies and the scope for future research to better understand its health benefits. Recent research has revealed that genes, hormones and metabolism rise and fall at different times of the 24-hour day. Aligning our daily habit of when we eat with the body’s internal clock can optimize health and reduce the risk or disease burden of chronic conditions like diabetes, heart disease and liver disease.
“Eating at random times breaks the synchrony of our internal program and make us prone to diseases,” said Panda. “Intermittent fasting is a lifestyle that anyone can adopt. It can help eliminate health disparities and lets everyone live a healthy and fulfilling life.”
Other authors of the study include: Emily Manoogian of the Salk Institute for Biological Studies; Lisa Chow of the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, Minn.; Pam Taub of the University of California, San Diego, in La Jolla, Calif.; and Blandine Laferrère of the Columbia University Irving Medical Center in New York, N.Y.
The study received funding from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), the National Institute on Aging, the National Cancer Institute, the Larry l. Hillblom Foundation, the Wu Tsai Human Performance Alliance, the U.S. Department of Defense and the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
Virginia Tech biochemists dip into the health benefits of olives and olive oil
Virginia Tech University, September 16, 2021
The health benefits of olives– and associated natural products such as olive oil–have long been recognized and touted by proponents of the Mediterranean diet.
However, little was previously known about what specific compounds and biochemical interactions in the fruit contribute to its medical and nutritional benefits such as weight loss and prevention of type 2 diabetes.
A Virginia Tech research team discovered that the olive-derived compound oleuropein helps the body secrete more insulin, a central signaling molecule in the body that controls metabolism. The same compound also detoxifies another signaling molecule called amylin that over-produces and forms harmful aggregates in type 2 diabetes. In these two distinct ways, oleuropein helps prevent the onset of disease.
The findings were recently published in the journal Biochemistry as a Rapid Report, which is reserved for timely topics of unusual interest, according to the journal.
“Our work provides new mechanistic insights into the long-standing question of why olive products can be anti- diabetic,” said Bin Xu, lead author, assistant professor of biochemistry in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, and a Fralin Life Science Institute affiliate. “We believe it will not only contribute to the biochemistry of the functions of the olive component oleuropein, but also have an impact on the general public to pay more attention to olive products in light of the current diabetes epidemic.”
The discovery could help improve understanding of the scientific basis of health benefits of olive products and develop new, low-cost nutraceutical strategies to fight type 2 diabetes and related obesity.
Next steps include testing the compound in a diabetic animal model and investigation of additional new functions of this compound, or its components, in metabolism and aging.
Eating less fat may save your hair
Tokyo Medical University, September 21, 2021
It’s well known that obesity is linked to the development of numerous diseases in humans. Heart disease, diabetes, and other ailments are extremely common in obese individuals. However, it’s not fully clear how body organs specifically deteriorate and lose functionality from chronic obesity. In a recent article published in Nature, a group of researchers from Tokyo Medical and Dental University (TMDU) used mouse model experiments to examine how a high-fat diet or genetically induced obesity can affect hair thinning and loss. The authors found that obesity can lead to depletion of hair follicle stem cells (HFSCs) through the induction of certain inflammatory signals, blocking hair follicle regeneration and ultimately resulting in loss of hair follicles.
Normally, HFSCs self-renew every hair follicle cycle. This is part of the process that allows our hair to continuously grow back. As humans age, HFSCs fail to replenish themselves leading to fewer HFSCs and therefore hair thinning. Although overweight people has higher risk of androgenic alopecia, whether obesity accelerates hair thinning, how and the molecular mechanisms have been largely unknown. The TMDU group aimed to address those qeustions and identified some of the mechanisms.
“High-fat diet feeding accelerates hair thinning by depleting HFSCs that replenish mature cells that grow hair, especially in old mice. ” says lead author of the study Hironobu Morinaga. “We compared the gene expression in HFSCs between HFD-fed mice and standard diet-fed mice and traced the fate of those HFSCs after their activation. “We found that those HFSCs in HFD-fed obesed mice change their fate into the skin surface corneocytes or sebocytes that secrete sebum upon their activation. Those mice show faster hair loss and smaller hair follicles along with depletion of HFSCs”.
“Even with HFD feeding in four consecutive days, HFSCs shows increased oxidative stress and the signs of epidermal differentiation.”
“The gene expression in HFSCs from the high-fat–fed mice indicated the activation of inflammatory cytokine signaling within HFSCs” describes Emi K. Nishimura, senior author. “The inflammatory signals in HFSCs strikingly repress Sonic hedgehog signaling that plays crucial role in hair follicle regeneration in HFSCs.
The researchers confirmed the activation of the Sonic hedgehog signaling pathway in this process can rescue the depletion of HFSCs. “This could prevent the hair loss brought on by the high-fat diet. “said Nishimura.
This study provides interesting new insights into the specific cellular fate changes and tissue dysfunction that can occur following a high-fat diet or genetically induced obesity and may open the door for future prevention and treatment of hair thinning as well as for understanding of obesity-related diseases.
Pomegranate improves mitochondria function and counters age-related disorders
Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne (Switzerland) September 23, 2021
With their vibrant scarlet color and sweet-but-tart flavor, pomegranate has become an increasingly popular (and delicious) addition to salads, dressings, beverages and desserts. They are also a proven superfood, credited by researchers with the potential to prevent and help resolve many disease conditions.
Now, a new Swiss study shows that urolithin A, a molecule produced when pomegranate is digested, could hold the key to rejuvenating cell mitochondria – and even prolonging the quality of your life. Let’s take a closer look at urolithin A – and its amazing restorative potential.
Mitochondria are tiny structures inside of cells that have the all-important task of turning fuel into energy. Over time, however, they can degrade and deteriorate.
In young, healthy cells, these aging and damaged mitochondria are swiftly broken down and eliminated. This beneficial process, known as mitophagy, helps to ensure optimal cellular function.
Mitophagy becomes less efficient with age, causing malfunctioning mitochondria to accumulate in cells – where they weaken muscle tissues and impair cellular health. Researchers believe that these deposits of mitochondrial debris can trigger degenerative disorders such as Parkinson’s disease, as well as decreased mobility and frailty in elderly people.
This is where pomegranates come in…
A molecule called urolithin A is produced by the body upon the digestion of two polyphenols – punicalagins and ellagitannins – that exist naturally in pomegranates. In cell and animal studies, this newly-discovered molecule was shown to induce mitophagy, and prevent the accumulation of dysfunctional mitochondria.
In fact, new research supports the ability of urolithin A to actually rejuvenate cell mitochondria – not only increasing muscle function, but extending life.
In a study published in Natural Medicine, researchers found that urolithin A maintained mitochondrial respiratory capacity and extended the lifespan of C. elegans – a short-lived worm commonly used in longevity studies – by a stunning 45 percent.
And that isn’t all.
In another phase of the study, researchers administered urolithin A to aging mice, and found that it improved muscle function by 57 percent and running endurance by 42 percent.
And it was not only aging mice that benefited from urolithin A. The substance increased the running capacity of young, healthy mice – by a dramatic 65 percent.
The research suggests that boosting levels of urolithin A – through consuming pomegranate extracts – can enhance mitochondrial function, thereby improving muscle quality.
Researchers noted that this finding holds particular significance for elderly people. By helping to enhance muscle function, urolithin A may help ward off the loss of mobility and general decline that can accompany weakened muscle tissue.
Calling urolithin A a “promising approach to improving mitochondrial and muscle function in the aging population,” the team called for further research.
The new study is not the first to reveal important health benefits from pomegranates – these tasty members of the berry family have been impressing researchers with their ability to combat serious degenerative diseases.
In a recent review published in Advanced Biomedical Research, the authors noted that pomegranate can help prevent or treat a veritable laundry list of dangerous conditions known to trigger potentially life-threatening diseases – including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, oxidative stress, high blood sugar, atherosclerosis and inflammation.
Interestingly, in some cases pomegranate has been found to work in much the same way as pharmaceutical medications. For instance, pomegranate extracts help to suppress pro-inflammatory COX-2 and tumor necrosis factor-alpha – much as anti-inflammatory drugs do. And, when it comes to regulating blood pressure, pomegranate extracts seem to function like ACE inhibitors, a group of pharmaceutical hypotensive medications.
Pomegranates also have been shown in studies to reduce incidence of tumors, reduce the number and size of cancerous stem cells, and induce apoptosis – or cancer cell death. Pomegranate extracts are currently used to treat a variety of cancers, including those of the prostate, breast, colon, lung and skin.
Finally, pomegranate extracts have protective effects against neurodegenerative conditions. Research has shown that they help to prevent accumulations of beta-amyloid, a protein associated with Alzheimer’s disease.
Pomegranates owe much of their potent disease-fighting powers to their extraordinary antioxidant capabilities.
The juice of a single pomegranate contains more than 40 percent of the RDA of vitamin C – itself a potent antioxidant and immune system booster. Pomegranates are also rich in beneficial amino acids, polyphenols and anthocyanins – natural pigments that give the pulp its intense scarlet color. These colorful flavonoids also contribute to pomegranate’s ability to scavenge free radicals and prevent oxidative damage in cells and tissues.
And, wait, there’s more good news about pomegranates: no side effects or adverse changes have been reported – even in a clinical study in which participants received 1, 420 mgs a day of pomegranate fruit extract.
However, the researchers noted that pomegranate could interact with certain prescription drugs. Before supplementing with pomegranate extracts, consult a trusted, healthcare provider.
You can consume pomegranates in the form of various beverages – such as juice or tea – or nibble the luscious seeds out of hand as a snack. Pomegranate extracts are also available in the form of capsules and tablets.
By rejuvenating fragile, indispensable cell mitochondria, pomegranate can help combat the muscle weakness and frailty often associated with aging – leading to a stronger, longer life.
Study shows healthy diets reduce cardiovascular risk factors in overweight children
If children are obese, their obesity and disease risk factors are likely to be more severe in adulthood
Cleveland Clinic, September 21st, 2021, Cleveland:
A Cleveland Clinic-led research team found that statistically overweight children who followed a healthy eating pattern significantly improved weight and reduced a variety of cardiovascular disease risks. The study, which published today in the Journal of Clinical Pediatrics, paired parents and children together throughout the trial.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, obesity now affects 1 in 5 children and adolescents in the United States. Children who are obese are more likely to have high blood pressure and high cholesterol which are risk factors for cardiovascular disease. Adult obesity is associated with increased risk of several serious health conditions including heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and cancer.
For one year, researchers studied changing cardiovascular disease risk markers associated with three healthy eating patterns in 96 children between the ages of 9 and 18 years old with a body mass index (BMI) greater than 95%. BMI is calculated by dividing a person’s weight in kilograms by the square of height in meters, but for children and teens, BMI is age- and sex-specific and is often referred to as BMI-for-age.
The three healthy eating patterns studied were the American Heart Association Diet, Mediterranean Diet, and Plant-based diet. All three emphasized whole foods, fruits and vegetables and limited added salt, red meat and processed foods. Parent and child pairs attended weekly educational sessions for four weeks which covered suggested foods to eat and avoid, how to read package labels, proper portion sizes and shopping tips. Fasting blood tests were used to access biomarkers of cardiovascular risk. All three diets were associated with improvements in weight, systolic and diastolic blood pressure, total cholesterol, and low-density lipoprotein.
“This study helps show the importance of starting healthy eating patterns as young as possible. We know that cardiovascular disease begins in childhood, and children’s eating patterns are easier to mold than adolescents and adults,” said lead author Michael Macknin, M.D., Professor Emeritus of Pediatrics of Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine.
The American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Nutrition recommends that healthy children age 2 and older follow a diet low in fat (30 percent of calories from fat). These are the same recommendations for healthy adults. In the study, dietary compliance rates averaged 65% in week 4 and 55% in week 52 suggesting small improvements in diets can still be very beneficial.
“Because the process of heart disease begins in childhood, prevention should begin there as well,” said W.H. Wilson Tang, M.D., study author and research director in the section of heart failure and cardiac transplantation medicine in the Sydell and Arnold Miller Family Heart, Vascular & Thoracic Institute at Cleveland Clinic. “A large majority of heart disease is due to modifiable or controllable risk factors, so it’s important for children to understand that they are in large part responsible for their health.”
A year of committed exercise in middle age reversed worrisome heart stiffness
University of Texas Southwestern, September 21 2021
A year of exercise training helped to preserve or increase the youthful elasticity of the heart muscle among people showing early signs of heart failure, a small study shows.
The new research, published Monday in the American Heart Association journal Circulation, bolsters the idea that “exercise is medicine,” an important shift in approach, the researchers wrote.
The study focused on a condition called heart failure with preserved ejection fraction, which affects about half of the 6 million people in the United States with heart failure. Characterized by increasing stiffness of the heart muscle and high pressures inside the heart during exercise, the condition is largely untreatable once established and causes fatigue, excess fluid in the lungs and legs, and shortness of breath.
“It is considered by some to be one of the most important virtually untreatable diseases in cardiovascular medicine,” said Dr. Benjamin Levine, the study’s senior author. He is a professor of internal medicine at UT Southwestern and director of the Institute for Exercise and Environmental Medicine at Texas Health Presbyterian Dallas. “So, of course, if there are no therapies, then the most important thing to do is to figure out how to prevent it from happening in the first place.”
Previous studies show prolonged exercise training could improve heart elasticity in younger people, but that it had no effect on heart stiffness in people 65 and older. So, the researchers wondered if committed exercise could improve heart stiffness in healthy, sedentary men and women ages 45 to 64.
The study, funded in part by the AHA, included 31 people who showed some thickening of the heart muscle and an increase in blood biomarkers associated with heart failure, even though they had no symptoms such as shortness of breath.
Eleven were randomly assigned to a control group and prescribed a program of yoga, balance and strength training three times a week. The rest were assigned to an individually tailored exercise regimen of walking, cycling or swimming that built gradually until the participants were doing intensive aerobic interval training for at least 30 minutes at least twice a week, plus two to three moderate-intensity training sessions and one to two strength training sessions each week. Everyone had a personal trainer or exercise physiologist to monitor their training.
After a year, the people doing the vigorous exercise training showed a physiologically and statistically significant improvement in measures of cardiac stiffness and cardiorespiratory fitness, compared to no change in the control group.
The results suggest late middle age may be a “sweet spot” for using exercise to prevent heart failure with preserved ejection fraction, before the heart gets too stiff, Levine said. He compared the heart muscle to a rubber band. A new one stretches easily and snaps right back.
“That’s a youthful cardiovascular system,” he said. “Now, stick it in a drawer and come back 30 years later—it doesn’t stretch, and it doesn’t snap back. And that’s one of the things that happens to the circulation, both the heart and the blood vessels as we age, particularly with sedentary aging.”
Researchers can’t determine from the new study whether these people will go on to develop heart failure; larger studies will be needed for that. In addition, it isn’t easy for people to stick to an exercise program, and the intensive intervention studied may be difficult and expensive to replicate on a large scale.
“That may be a challenge, but I think this study is a good first step,” said Dr. Shannon M. Dunlay, an advanced heart failure and transplant cardiologist who was not involved in the study. She is a professor of medicine at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. “Heart failure is a tough thing to live with, and if we’re able to prevent it with exercise—if additional studies also show that—that’s really useful information.”
Since this type of heart failure can be so hard to treat, the new results could help clinicians in counseling their patients, she said. “This gives us more information to say to a patient, you already have these early findings that you are at risk for heart failure, and exercise could help your heart to become less stiff.”
Levine said physical activity, with its profound health benefits, should be woven into our everyday lives.
“I tell my patients, you brush your teeth every day, take a shower, change your underwear, have dinner,” he said. “These are things you do for your health and your personal hygiene. Exercise needs to be part of that process. And that’s how we can stay as healthy as possible throughout the lifespan.”
San Francisco General Hospital, September 22, 2021
From 2000 to 2015, half a million people died from prescription drug overdoses. Stories continue to roll in daily about the lives claimed by prescription and non-prescription drug overdoses. Cannabis is not only excluded from the overdose drug list, but it reduces the use of dangerous prescription drugs.
Raw cannabis is considered by many experts as a dietary essential. As a powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant, some classify it as one of the most important plants on earth. The biggest benefits from the plant may come not by smoking it, but rather by consuming it in its raw and natural form.
“If cannabis were discovered in an Amazon rainforests today, people would be clambering to make as much use as they could out of the potential benefits of the plant,” said Donald L. Abrams, MD, Chief of Hematology and Oncology at San Francisco General Hospital and Professor of Medicine at the University California. Dr. Abrams is widely known for his research on medical cannabis applications. “Unfortunately, it carries with it a long and not so long history of being a persecuted plant,” he added.
“The potential for addiction and health risks associated with using multiple scheduled drugs places additional direct monetary and health costs on patients and healthcare systems due to an increased number of side effects, risky drug interactions, dependency, and overdose” stated University of New Mexico researchers Jacob Miguel Vigil and Sarah See Stith, of a new study titled, Effects of Legal Access to Cannabis on Scheduled II-V Drug Prescriptions, which will be soon released in an upcoming issue of the Journal of American Medical Directors Association.
The study resulted from insights provided by co-investigator Dr. Anthony Reeve, a pain specialist from the Industrial Rehabilitation Pain Clinics, Albuquerque, N.M. and also one of the first physicians to authorize the use of cannabis for patients with chronic pain in the state of New Mexico.
Reeve observed a number of his patients coming back to see him, not only less frequently after enrolling in the New Mexico Medical Cannabis Program (MCP), but anecdotally, they would often claim that they were not only reducing their pain medications, but other types of prescription medications as well.
In their historical cohort study the researchers compared individuals that enrolled in the medical cannabis program to individuals with a similar diagnosis that chose not to enroll in the medical cannabis program but were offered the same authorization, to measure the effect of enrollment in a state-authorized United States’ MCP on Scheduled II-V drug prescription patterns.
They compared 83 chronic pain patients, who enrolled in the New Mexico Medical Cannabis Program during a five+ year period from April 2010 to October 2015, to 42 non-enrolled patients over a 24 month period (starting 6 months prior to enrollment for the MCP patients) using the Prescription Monitoring Program.
Using outcome variables including baseline levels and pre- and post-enrollment monthly trends in the numbers of drug prescriptions, distinct drug classes, dates prescription drugs were filled, and prescribing providers, the researchers found that 28 cannabis program enrollees (34 percent) and one comparison group patient (2 percent) ceased the use of all scheduled prescription medications by the last six months of the observation period.
Age and gender-adjusted regressions show that, although no statistically significant differences existed in pre-enrollment levels and trends, the post-enrollment trend among MCP patients is statistically significantly negative for all four measures of scheduled drug medication usage, while the post-enrollment trend is zero among the comparison group. The cannabis program enrollees showed statistically significantly lower levels across all four measures in comparison to the non-enrollees by 10 months post-enrollment. The researchers hypothesize that legal access to cannabis may reduce the use of multiple classes of dangerous prescription medications in certain patient populations.
“Our current opioid epidemic is the leading preventable form of death in the United States, killing more people than car accidents and gun violence,” said Vigil, the senior author and Associate Professor in the Department of Psychology. “No one has ever died from smoking too much cannabis. Therefore, the relative safety and efficacy of using cannabis in comparison to that of the other scheduled medications should be taken by the health providers and legislators, and may very well to have been considered by the patients in our study.”
The authors state that increased patient access to MCPs could impact prescription drug activity in numerous ways. “Potentially, MCPs might drive increased prescribing of medications as a result of side effects of cannabis use, including agitation or somnolence. Alternatively, access to cannabis could lead to a reduction in scheduled prescription drug use, if it treats patients’ underlying condition(s) more effectively than scheduled drugs requiring a prescription.”
The researchers are currently employing naturalistic studies to identify how older patients use and are affected by opioids, benzodiazepines, and medical cannabis for treating significant and societally expensive health conditions.