Category Archives: News on Health & Science

A gut bacterium as a fountain of youth

Move over Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus. There’s a new health-promoting gut bacterium, and it’s called Akkermansia muciniphila.

You will not find its benefits at the bottom of a yogurt cup. But a new study has identified more than one way to nurture its growth in the gut, and offered evidence that it may maintain — and even restore — health as we age.

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Published this week in the journal Science Translational Medicine, the new research found that in mice and monkeys whose metabolisms had grown cranky with age, taking steps to boost A. muciniphila in the gut reduced the animals’ insulin resistance.

Insulin resistance is the gradual impairment of the body’s ability to efficiently use food for fuel. It is best known as a way station on a patient’s path to developing type 2 diabetes.

But insulin resistance is also linked to a rogue’s gallery of ills, from obesity and inflammation to the sagging immunity and frailty that comes with advancing age. If a readily available means of slowing or reversing insulin resistance could be identified, it might have broad and powerful anti-aging effects (in addition to protecting some of the world’s 650 million adults who are obese against developing type 2 diabetes).

First identified in 2004, Akkermansia muciniphila inhabits the large intestine and is thought to account for between 1% and 5% of all intestinal bacteria in adults. Scientists suspect it helps preserve the coat of mucus that lines the walls of our intestines. It may also play a role in making the polyphenols we eat in plant-based foods more available to our cells.

Evidence is mounting that A. muciniphila is involved in obesity, glucose metabolism and intestinal immunity.

For instance, a 2018 study of cancer patients suggests that it plays a role in immune response. Compared to patients who failed to be helped by a new generation of immunotherapy, those who did had a greater abundance of Akkermansia in their guts. When researchers took the stool of a patient who responded positively to the cancer-fighting therapy and transplanted it into lab animals with human cancers, the recipients became more likely to respond positively to the same treatment.

In the new research, a team from the National Institute on Aging examined the molecular chain of events that appears to result from A. muciniphila’s depletion in mice and macaque monkeys. And they assessed the effects of restoring this gut microbe to elderly animals.

First, they documented that the guts of older animals had markedly smaller populations of A. muciniphila than the guts of young animals, and that as A. muciniphila became more scarce, so did butyrate, one of the gut’s key protectors.

The deficiency of these two substances caused the mucous walls of the of the aged animals’ intestines to thin and grow leaky. That corrosive process unleashed a chain of events that touched off inflammation, prompted an immune response and, in a final step, increased insulin resistance.

Key to that final step was the accumulation in the gut of a specific kind of immune cell called 4BL cells. If the detrimental chain of events was to be disrupted, the accumulation of those 4BL cells probably had to be stopped, the researchers surmised.

The researchers also documented what appeared to be a role for A. muciniphila in fostering healthy diversity among the garden of other microbes that colonize the gut. In animals with scant populations of A. muciniphila, a host of other common gut bacteria — as well as their beneficial byproducts, particularly butyrate — also suffered.

When the researchers gave aged mice butyrate, the result was higher A. muciniphila levels and levels of insulin resistance that approached those seen in the younger animals.

They got the same results when they gave aged mice and macaque monkeys the antibiotic enrofloxacin, a broad-spectrum antibiotic used in veterinary medicine. In both animals, enrofloxacin — which is not considered safe for use in humans — routinely wiped out the 4BL cells that were thought to be a key link in the chain leading to insulin resistance. With them out of the picture, A. muciniphila levels rose and insulin resistance largely disappeared, demonstrating their pivotal role.

The results suggest “that the insulin resistance and other pathologies associated with aging and even frailty can be ameliorated by targeting” the cascade of events that flow from the depletion of of Akkermansia muciniphila, the study authors wrote.

Belgian researcher Patrice Cani, who is exploring a probiotic form of Akkermansia that could increase its presence in the human gut, said the new findings are “perfectly in line” with studies that have shown the bacteria’s impact on insulin sensitivity.

Finding the power of this gut bacteria in macaque monkeys is a particularly important step forward that supports “even more the need for future research in humans,” added Cani, who is based at the Catholic University of Louvain in Belgium.

Cani and his colleagues have just finished a small study in humans to investigate the safety and the feasibility of taking Akkermansia in a form that will boost its populations in the gut — a first. The results to date have been encouraging, he said.

Sources: The Los Angeles Times

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Diabetic Diet Myths

6 Diabetic Diet Myths as per Telegraph, Kolkata,India.

Diagnosed with high blood sugar and heartbroken because of all that food you have to give up? Don’t lose hope, says Sujata Mukherjee.

The first regret, as soon as a person knows he or she has diabetes, is all that yummy food you will be banned from having. Bye-bye deliciousness, hello bland diabetic diet. But that is just it — there is no such thing as a diabetic diet. Experts suggest diabetics stick to a normal, balanced diet — with carbohydrates, proteins, fats, minerals and vitamins in adequate proportions. That is not the only myth linked to blood sugar. Here are a few more that should really be debunked.

1. TOTAL BAN OF SUGAR
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You don’t have to give up your morning cup of sweetened tea. Half-a-spoon of sugar in your tea will help you feel satiated and fight a day-long sugar craving. Sugar triggers the satiety centre in the brain while sugar substitutes do not. You can also have sweets, cookies and ice-cream once in a while. Adjust calories consumed by decreasing the amount of carbohydrate-rich food accordingly.

2.AVOID CARBOHYDRATES
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Diabetics do not actually have to give up carbohydrates altogether. Just ensure that not more than 50 per cent of your calories come from carbs, preferably from fibre-rich, complex ones. Choose wholegrain atta over flour (maida), brown or wild rice, multigrain bread and whole fruits instead of juice. Have 100gm of fruits and vegetables daily, unpeeled when possible. You can also have small portions of mangoes or bananas.

 

3.FINISHED WITH FATS
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Don’t cut down on friendly fats. Eat almonds, walnuts, linseed, seeds of sunflower or ash gourd, dry roasted peanuts, avocado or olive oil in small amounts. Eat sea fish at least twice a week. Full fat milk is also healthy as are cheese and yoghurt. Mustard, sunflower, ricebran and olive oil are all healthy; use any two of them in everyday cooking but stick to three teaspoonfuls a day.

4.NO MORE POTATOES
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Where 100gm of rice or wheat has 340 calories, 100gm potatoes has only 100. It also has a chemical called chlorogenic acid, which reduces insulin resistance. “Potato has a high glycaemic index (GI). As a result it raises blood sugar rapidly,” says endocrinologist Satinath Mukhopadhyay. “But if unpeeled potato is cooked with a lot of vegetables, the fibre in the greens bring down the GI of the dish.” If you love boiled potatoes, mix in boiled bitter gourd, brinjal or parwal. “If you love hash browns, have it with sautéed vegetables and 4-5 almonds,” he says.

5.SUPER FOODS ARE  BETTER THAN PILLS
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Doctors don’t think the so-called super foods can actually replace a balanced diet or medication. More research is needed to find out how amla, garlic, spinach, fenugreek, tomato, almond, bitter gourd and turmeric help in diabetes, what the active ingredients and how much you should have daily and in what way. Take fenugreek. Should you have it raw or drink fenugreek-soaked water? Should one have boiled bitter gourd or raw juice?

Bitter gourd is believed to help bile juice flow and aid digestion. It’s loaded with soluble fibre and full of charantin, a chemical that helps bring down blood sugar and metabolise glucose. If you have it juiced, you are likely to ingest pesticide residue. So have it boiled or in a mixed vegetable (shukto). If you use powdered or whole fenugreek as spice, it slows down fat, carb and cholesterol absorption, which is good for type 2 diabetes. Fenugreek-soaked water is unlikely to be beneficial.

6.SAY NO TO ALCOHOL
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As in everything else, moderation is the key here. A drink or two once in a month should be fine. Remember to pair them with healthy snacks. “Never drink on an empty stomach; eat enough fruits and vegetables for fibre. Otherwise, blood sugar will rise all of a sudden,” warns Dr Mukhopadhyay.

Now it is time for a new diet chart for  Diabetic Patient

Resources:  The Telegraph (Kolkata, India)

Latest News on Saturated fat and cholesterol

Saturated fat and cholesterol have little to do with the development of heart disease. Data shows two-thirds of people admitted to hospitals with acute myocardial infarction have completely normal cholesterol levels.

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Fats can be harmful, but it’s important to be specific. Fats that contribute to heart disease are primarily trans fats and highly refined and/or heated polyunsaturated vegetable oils (PUFAs), which are high in damaged omega-6

For optimal health, seek to get 75 to 85 percent of your total calories as healthy fat, primarily monosaturated and saturated. Limit PUFAs to 10 percent and omega-6 fats to 5 percent.

Resources:
http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2016/06/05/saturated-fat-heart-disease-risk.aspx?utm_source=dnl&utm_medium=email&utm_content=mv1&utm_campaign=20160612Z3&et_cid=DM108227&et_rid=1525559635

Fight Glaucoma With Leafy Green Vegetables

Think about this the next time you fill your plate with kale or spinach: a study published recently in JAMA Ophthalmology, found that boosting leafy green vegetable intake is associated with a reduced risk of developing glaucoma, a leading cause of blindness.

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Harvard researchers analyzed the dietary information reported by more than 100,000 men and women in two long-term studies, each lasting more than 25 years. Those who ate the most leafy greens had a risk of developing glaucoma that was 20% to 30% lower than that of those who ate the least. What’s the link? Glaucoma causes damage to the optic nerve, through increased pressure from fluid in the eye or impaired blood flow to the optic nerve. Leafy greens are loaded with nitrate, which the body converts to nitric oxide. “Nitric oxide is important for maintaining optimal blood flow, and possibly for keeping eye pressure low” speculates Dr. Jae Hee Kang, the lead author of the study and a Harvard Medical School assistant professor. The study doesn’t prove that leafy greens reduce glaucoma risk; it only shows an association between the two. Eating leafy greens is also linked to lower rates of inflammation, cancer, heart disease, and even macular degeneration.

Sources: Harvard researchers

Abdominal fat or belly fat

As people go through their middle years, their proportion of fat to body weight tends to increase. Extra pounds tend to park themselves around the midsection. At one time, we might have accepted this as an inevitable fact of aging. But we’ve now been put on notice that as our waistlines grow, so do our health risks. Abdominal, or visceral fat is of particular concern because it’s a key player in a variety of health problems. The good news is that visceral fat yields fairly easily to exercise and diet, with benefits ranging from lower blood pressure to more favorable cholesterol levels.

Though the term  abdominal fat  or belly fat might sound dated, “middle-age spread” is a greater concern than ever. As people go through their middle years, their proportion of fat to body weight tends to increase — more so in women than men. Extra pounds tend to park themselves around the midsection.
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At one time, we might have accepted these changes as an inevitable fact of aging. But we’ve now been put on notice that as our waistlines grow, so do our health risks. Abdominal, or visceral fat is of particular concern because it’s a key player in a variety of health problems — much more so than subcutaneous fat, the kind you can grasp with your hand. Visceral fat, on the other hand, lies out of reach, deep within the abdominal cavity, where it pads the spaces between our abdominal organs.

Visceral fat has been linked to metabolic disturbances and increased risk for cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. In women, it is also associated with breast cancer and the need for gallbladder surgery.

Are you pear-shaped or apple-shaped?…….CLICK & SEE….

Fat accumulated in the lower body (the pear shape) is subcutaneous, while fat in the abdominal area (the apple shape) is largely visceral. Where fat ends up is influenced by several factors, including heredity and hormones. As the evidence against abdominal fat mounts, researchers and clinicians are trying to measure it, correlate it with health risks, and monitor changes that occur with age and overall weight gain or loss. .

The good news is that visceral fat yields fairly easily to exercise and diet, with benefits ranging from lower blood pressure to more favorable cholesterol levels. Subcutaneous fat located at the waist — the pinchable stuff — can be frustratingly difficult to budge, but in normal-weight people, it’s generally not considered as much of a health threat as visceral fat is.

Research suggests that fat cells — particularly abdominal fat cells — are biologically active. It’s appropriate to think of fat as an endocrine organ or gland, producing hormones and other substances that can profoundly affect our health. Although scientists are still deciphering the roles of individual hormones, it’s becoming clear that excess body fat, especially abdominal fat, disrupts the normal balance and functioning of these hormones.

Scientists are also learning that visceral fat pumps out immune system chemicals called cytokines — for example, tumor necrosis factor and interleukin-6 — that can increase the risk of cardiovascular disease. These and other biochemicals are thought to have deleterious effects on cells’ sensitivity to insulin, blood pressure, and blood clotting.

One reason excess visceral fat is so harmful could be its location near the portal vein, which carries blood from the intestinal area to the liver. Substances released by visceral fat, including free fatty acids, enter the portal vein and travel to the liver, where they can influence the production of blood lipids. Visceral fat is directly linked with higher total cholesterol and LDL (bad) cholesterol, lower HDL (good) cholesterol, and insulin resistance.

Insulin resistance means that your body’s muscle and liver cells don’t respond adequately to normal levels of insulin, the pancreatic hormone that carries glucose into the body’s cells. Glucose levels in the blood rise, heightening the risk for diabetes. Now for the good news.

Exercise and dieting can help you get rid of belly fat:

So what can we do about tubby tummies? A lot, it turns out. The starting point for bringing weight under control, in general, and combating abdominal fat, in particular, is regular moderate-intensity physical activity — at least 30 minutes per day (and perhaps up to 60 minutes per day) to control weight. Strength training (exercising with weights) may also help fight abdominal fat. Spot exercising, such as doing sit-ups, can tighten abdominal muscles, but it won’t get at visceral fat.

Diet is also important. Pay attention to portion size, and emphasize complex carbohydrates (fruits, vegetables, and whole grains) and lean protein over simple carbohydrates such as white bread, refined-grain pasta, and sugary drinks. Replacing saturated fats and trans fats with polyunsaturated fats can also help.

Scientists hope to develop drug treatments that target abdominal fat. For example, studies of the weight-loss medication sibutramine (Meridia), have shown that the drug’s greatest effects are on visceral fat.

For now, experts stress that lifestyle, especially exercise, is the very best way to fight visceral fat.
Source: Harvard Health Publication

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