Archive for the 'research' Category

Nuts lower cholesterol

 

Eating nuts may help lower cholesterol levels, US research suggests.

The review of 25 studies, involving nearly 600 people, showed eating on average 67g of nuts – a small bag – a day reduced cholesterol levels by 7.4%.

The US Loma Linda University team believes nuts may help prevent the absorption of cholesterol.

UK experts said the research showed nuts were an important part of a healthy diet, but warned against eating nuts covered in sugar or salt.

Previous work has indicated eating nuts regularly is beneficial, but the Archives of Internal Medicine study set out to put an accurate figure on the effect.

The effects of nut consumption were dose related, and different types of nuts had similar effects

Lead researcher Joan Sabate

The people involved ate 67g of nuts a day on average, over a period of three to eight weeks.

As well as improving cholesterol levels, it also reduced the amount of triglyceride, a type of blood fat that has been linked to heart disease.

more via BBC News – Eating nuts can lower cholesterol, say experts.

via Nuts lower cholesterol.

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Phosphorous in sodas accelerates signs of aging

 

 

 

 

ScienceDaily (Apr. 26, 2010) — Here’s another reason to kick the soda habit. New research published online in the FASEB Journal shows that high levels of phosphates may add more “pop” to sodas and processed foods than once thought. That’s because researchers found that the high levels of phosphates accelerate signs of aging. High phosphate levels may also increase the prevalence and severity of age-related complications, such as chronic kidney disease and cardiovascular calcification, and can also induce severe muscle and skin atrophy.

“Humans need a healthy diet and keeping the balance of phosphate in the diet may be important for a healthy life and longevity,” said M. Shawkat Razzaque, M.D., Ph.D., from the Department of Medicine, Infection and Immunity at the Harvard School of Dental Medicine. “Avoid phosphate toxicity and enjoy a healthy life.”

To make this discovery, Razzaque and colleague examined the effects of high phosphate levels in three groups of mice. The first group of mice was missing a gene (klotho), which when absent, causes mice to have toxic levels of phosphate in their bodies. These mice lived 8 to 15 weeks. The second group of mice was missing the klotho gene and a second gene (NaPi2a), which when absent at the same time, substantially lowered the amount of phosphate in their bodies. These mice lived to 20 weeks. The third group of mice was like the second group (missing both the klotho and NaPi2a genes), except they were fed a high-phosphate diet. All of these mice died by 15 weeks, like those in the first group. This suggests that phosphate has toxic effects in mice, and may have a similar effect in other mammals, including humans.

“Soda is the caffeine delivery vehicle of choice for millions of people worldwide, but comes with phosphorous as a passenger” said Gerald Weissmann, M.D., Editor-in-Chief of the FASEB Journal. “This research suggests that our phosphorous balance influences the aging process, so don’t tip it.”

 Phosphorous in sodas and processed foods accelerates signs of aging, study suggests.

Brown rice and cardiovascular protection

from ScienceDaily

 ScienceDaily (Apr. 26, 2010) — Rice is generally thought to be a healthy addition to the diet because it is a source of fiber. However, not all rice is equally nutritious, and brown rice might have an advantage over white rice by offering protection from high blood pressure and atherosclerosis (“hardening of the arteries”), say researchers at the Cardiovascular Research Center and Department of Physiology at Temple University School of Medicine in Philadelphia.

New research by Satoru Eguchi, Associate Professor of Physiology, suggests that a component in a layer of tissue surrounding grains of brown rice may work against angiotensin II. Angiotensin II is an endocrine protein and a known culprit in the development of high blood pressure and atherosclerosis.

The findings are contained in a study conducted by Dr. Eguchi and his colleague at the Temple lab, Akira Takaguri. The research team is also composed of Hirotoshi Utsunomiya and Ryohei Kono of the Department of Pathology, School of Medicine, Wakayana Medical University, Wakayama, Japan; and Shin-ichi Akazawa, Department of Materials Engineering, Nagaoka National College of Technology, Nagaoka, Japan. Dr. Takaguri will present the team’s findings at the annual 2010 Experimental Biology conference in Anaheim, CA on April 24-28. This presentation is sponsored by The American Physiological Society.

 

Brown Rice and Angiotensin II

 

The subaleurone layer of Japanese rice, which is located between the white center of the grain and the brown fibrous outer layer, is rich in oligosaccharides and dietary fibers, making it particularly nutritious. However, when brown rice is polished to make white rice, the subaleurone layer is stripped away and the rice loses some of its nutrients. The subaleurone layer can be preserved in half-milled (Haigamai) rice or incompletely-milled (Kinmemai) rice. These types of rice are popular in Japan because many people there believe they are healthier than white rice.

The Temple team and their colleagues at the Wakayama Medical University Department of Pathology and the Nagaoka National College of Technology Department of Materials Engineering in Japan sought to delve into the mysteries of the subaleurone layer and perhaps make a case for leaving it intact when rice is processed. Because angiotensin II is a perpetrator in such lethal cardiovascular diseases, the team chose to focus on learning whether the subaleurone layer could somehow inhibit the wayward protein before it wreaks havoc.

First, the team removed the subaleurone tissue from Kinmemai rice. Then they separated the tissue’s components by exposing the tissue to extractions of various chemicals such as ethanol, methanol and ethyl acetate. The team then observed how the tissue affected cultures of vascular smooth muscle cells. Vascular smooth muscle cells are an integral part of blood vessel walls and are direct victims of high blood pressure and atherosclerosis.

During their analysis, the team found that subaleurone components that were selected by an ethyl acetate extraction inhibited angiotensin II activity in the cultured vascular smooth muscle cells. This suggests that the subaleurone layer of rice offers protection against high blood pressure and atherosclerosis. It could also help explain why fewer people die of cardiovascular disease in Japan, where most people eat at least one rice-based dish per day, than in the U.S., where rice is not a primary component of daily nutrition.

“Our research suggests that there is a potential ingredient in rice that may be a good starting point for looking into preventive medicine for cardiovascular diseases,” said Dr. Eguchi. “We hope to present an additional health benefit of consuming half-milled or brown rice [as opposed to white rice] as part of a regular diet.”

 Brown rice and cardiovascular protection.

Why acupuncture aids spinal recovery

Does the placebo effect affect rats?

from the New Scientist written by Wendy Zuckerman

Rats with damaged spines can walk again thanks to acupuncture. But it’s not due to improvements in their energy flow or “chi”. Instead, the ancient treatment seems to stop nerve cell death by reducing inflammation.

Acupuncture’s scientific credentials are growing. Trials show that it improves sensory and motor functions in people with spinal cord injuries.

To find out why, Doo Choi and his colleagues at Kyung Hee University in Seoul, South Korea, damaged the spines of 75 rats. One-third were given acupuncture in two locations: Shuigou – between their snout and mouth, and Yanglingquan – in the upper hind leg. Others received no treatment or “simulated acupuncture”.

After 35 days, the acupuncture group were able to stand at a steeper incline than the others and walk better. Staining their paws with ink revealed that their forelimb-hindlimb coordination was fairly consistent and that there was very little toe dragging, whereas the control groups still dragged their feet.

Inflamed spines

The rats in the acupuncture group also had less nerve cell death and lower levels of proteins known to induce inflammation after spinal cord injury and make neural damage worse.

One explanation is that sharp needles prompt a stress response that dampens down inflammation. In humans, the inflammation that follows spinal cord injury is known to be responsible for nerve cell death.

Zhen Zheng of the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology in Australia says the results are “very encouraging”. But she says we don’t yet know if the results will apply to humans.

For example, the acupuncture treatment on the rats was given almost immediately after injury, but most patients don’t seek acupuncture until at least three months after damage to their spines.

Journal reference: Neurobiology of Disease, DOI: 10.1016/j.nbd.2010.04.003

via Why acupuncture aids spinal recovery – health – 26 April 2010 – New Scientist.

Mosquitos like beer drinkers

Are you a mosquito magnet?  The cure may be worse than the problem but according to this research, perhaps you should cut out beer drinking.

from the Body in Mind blog

 

Malaria and alcohol consumption both represent major public health problems. Alcohol consumption is rising in developing countries and, as efforts to manage malaria are expanded, understanding the links between malaria and alcohol consumption becomes crucial. Our aim was to ascertain the effect of beer consumption on human attractiveness to malaria mosquitoes in semi field conditions in Burkina Faso.

Methodology/Principal Findings

We used a Y tube-olfactometer designed to take advantage of the whole body odour (breath and skin emanations) as a stimulus to gauge human attractiveness to Anopheles gambiae (the primary African malaria vector) before and after volunteers consumed either beer (n = 25 volunteers and a total of 2500 mosquitoes tested) or water (n = 18 volunteers and a total of 1800 mosquitoes). Water consumption had no effect on human attractiveness to An. gambiae mosquitoes, but beer consumption increased volunteer attractiveness. Body odours of volunteers who consumed beer increased mosquito activation (proportion of mosquitoes engaging in take-off and up-wind flight) and orientation (proportion of mosquitoes flying towards volunteers’ odours). The level of exhaled carbon dioxide and body temperature had no effect on human attractiveness to mosquitoes. Despite individual volunteer variation, beer consumption consistently increased attractiveness to mosquitoes.

via Don’t Drink in the Dark.

Weight gain and High Fructose Corn Syrup

There are reasons to be concerned about the widespread use of high fructose corn syrup(HFCS) within the US food supply.  This article is about the effect on rats.  

It is true that people are not rats and so we must be cautious about the results.  Nevertheless, this does provide increasing support for very moderate use of HFCS.

A Princeton University research team has demonstrated that all sweeteners are not equal when it comes to weight gain: Rats with access to high-fructose corn syrup gained significantly more weight than those with access to table sugar, even when their overall caloric intake was the same. 

In addition to causing significant weight gain in lab animals, long-term consumption of high-fructose corn syrup also led to abnormal increases in body fat, especially in the abdomen, and a rise in circulating blood fats called triglycerides. The researchers say the work sheds light on the factors contributing to obesity trends in the United States.

“Some people have claimed that high-fructose corn syrup is no different than other sweeteners when it comes to weight gain and obesity, but our results make it clear that this just isn’t true, at least under the conditions of our tests,” said psychology professor Bart Hoebel, who specializes in the neuroscience of appetite, weight and sugar addiction. “When rats are drinking high-fructose corn syrup at levels well below those in soda pop, they’re becoming obese — every single one, across the board. Even when rats are fed a high-fat diet, you don’t see this; they don’t all gain extra weight.”

more via Princeton University – A sweet problem: Princeton researchers find that high-fructose corn syrup prompts considerably more weight gain.

Wolfberries (gou ji berries) and the eyes

It is always a delight to me when a researcher here in the U.S. starts finding value in herbs and foods used for many hundreds of years and sometimes thousands of years in Oriental Medicine.

This article explores the value of gou ji berries in support vision health.

ScienceDaily (Apr. 1, 2010) — A Kansas State University researcher is exploring the use of Chinese wolfberries to improve vision deficiencies that are common for type-2 diabetics.

Dingbo “Daniel” Lin, K-State research assistant professor of human nutrition, is studying wolfberries and their potential to improve damage to the retina. His findings show that the fruit can lower the oxidative stress that the eye undergoes as a result of type-2 diabetes.

“I would not say that wolfberries are a medicine, but they can be used as a dietary supplement to traditional treatments to improve vision,” Lin said. “Wolfberries have high antioxidant activity and are very beneficial to protect against oxidative stress caused by environmental stimuli and genetic mutations.”

Lin has experience in biochemistry and eye research, and he wanted to bridge his current work in nutrition with vision. In a conversation about the eye and phytochemicals Lin had with his father, a traditional medical doctor in China, Lin decided to explore the use of wolfberries for vision improvement.

“In our culture’s history, we have traditional medicine literature that describes things like the wolfberry and its functions,” Lin said.

Wolfberries are bright orange-red, oblong-shaped and grown in China. Lin said the fruit is known to help rebalance homeostasis, boost the immune system, nourish the liver and kidneys and improve vision. He wanted to understand the mechanisms of the wolfberry’s effects on vision and started the project in July 2008.

Lin and his colleagues have found that wolfberries have high levels of zeaxanthin, lutein, polysaccharides and polyphenolics, which have been shown to improve vision, including the prevention of age-related macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy…

…The research is part of a fast-moving field called nutrigenomics, which studies the effects of food on gene expression and disease. Nutrients have been shown to affect gene expression, and by understanding the roles of specific nutrients and how they might cause diseases, scientists could recommend specific foods for an individual based on his or her genetics… more at link

Chinese wolfberries may improve vision imperfections caused by type-2 diabetes.