Bad Fat May Hurt Brain Function Over Time…

... But researchers report that ‘good’ fat may help preserve thinking and memoryobesity

This study supports others that have found an association between saturated fats, the incidence of Alzheimer’s disease and an increased decline in brain function, Samantha Heller, a dietitian, nutritionist, exercise physiologist and clinical nutrition coordinator at the Center for Cancer Care at Griffin Hospital in Derby, said.

“… it appears that the effects of eating a lot of saturated fat and the foods associated with it, such as red and processed meats, cheese and butter, over time creates a cascade effect of ill health.” Read the whole article

Source: HealthDay.com / Picture Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Vegetarian Diet, Seventh Day Adventists and Risk of Cardiovascular Mortality

Vegetarian diet, Seventh Day Adventists and risk of cardiovascular mortality: A systematic review and meta-analysis.

Aus der MMW Fortschritte der Medizin 13. Nov. 2014 / Sonderheft 2 Seite 7

“Studien, die sich mit vegetarischer Ernährung befassen, nehmen oft Personen in den Blick, die aus weltanschaulichen Gründen auf tierische Nahrungsmittel verzichten, wie etwa die Siebenten-Tags-Adventisten.
Forscher der Universität Manchester (1) haben in einer Metaanalyse von acht Studien zum Vegetarismus mit insgesamt mehr als 180.000 Probanden gezeigt, dass sich die religiöse Ausrichtung durchaus auf die Resultate auswirken könnte. So führte vegetarische Nahrung hinsichtlich der Gesamtmortalität in allen drei Studien, die Adventisten einbezogen, zu Risikoreduktionen zwischen 20% und 50% im Vergleich zu Nichtvegetariern. Waren hingegen keine Adventisten vertreten – wie etwa in der EPIC-Oxford-Studie von 2013 oder der Vegetarierstudie des Deutschen Krebsforschungszentrums von 2005 -, ließen sich keine positiven Effekte der vegetarischen Diät nachweisen. Gleiches galt bezüglich zerebrovaskulären Erkrankungen.
Die Autoren erklären dies damit, dass der Adventismus nicht nur aus Essensvorschriften bestehe. Adventisten rauchen auch seltener und leben insgesamt gesünder. Sie werden zum Alkohol- und Drogenverzicht, zu regelmäßiger körperlicher Betätigung, genügend Schlaf und stabilen psychosozialen Beziehungen ermuntert.
“Zusammengefasst geht die Verminderung von KHK und Gesamtsterblichkeit unter vegetarischer Ernährung hauptsächlich auf die Adventistenstudien zurück”, so die Autoren. Studien in anderen Populationen hätten weniger überzeugende Belege geliefert.”

(1) Kwok CS et al. Int J Cardiol 2014;176: 680-686

Meat and cheese may be as bad for you as smoking

meat cheese

That chicken wing you’re eating could be as deadly as a cigarette. In a new study that tracked a large sample of adults for nearly two decades, researchers have found that eating a diet rich in animal proteins during middle age makes you four times more likely to die of cancer than someone with a low-protein diet—a mortality risk factor comparable to smoking.

“There’s a misconception that because we all eat, understanding nutrition is simple. But the question is not whether a certain diet allows you to do well for three days, but can it help you survive to be 100?” said corresponding author Valter Longo, the Edna M. Jones Professor of Biogerontology at the USC Davis School of Gerontology and director of the USC Longevity Institute.

Not only is excessive  consumption linked to a dramatic rise in cancer mortality, but middle-aged people who eat lots of proteins from animal sources—including meat, milk and cheese—are also more susceptible to early death in general, reveals the study to be published March 4 in Cell Metabolism. Protein-lovers were 74 percent more likely to die of any cause within the study period than their more low-protein counterparts. They were also several times more likely to die of diabetes. But how much protein we should eat has long been a controversial topic – muddled by the popularity of protein-heavy diets such as Paleo and Atkins. Before this study, researchers had never shown a definitive correlation between high  and . Continue reading

Why Artificial Sweetener Can Be Dangerous

Aspartam

When you buy a diet coke, or any other consumables containing the artificial sweetener aspartame, you’ll see a warning against consuming the product if you have phenylketonuria, an inherited metabolic disorder.

“Artificial” sweeteners, such as NutraSweet and Equal, are not saccharides – the simple carbohydrates we call sugars. Instead, the sweetener aspartame is a methyl ester 2comprising two joined amino acids: aspartic acid and phenylalanine (Phe) – this is important for later so keep it in mind. The safety of aspartame for general consumption has attracted attention since its discovery in 1965, but there’s no evidence of association with adverse effects. The warning on products containing aspartame is specifically for those with the severe disorder known as phenylketonuria.

Genetic basis

For someone to have phenylketonuria, they have to inherit an incorrect copy of a gene involved in Phe breakdown from each parent. Typically, the parents of an affected person (known as carriers) each have one correct and one incorrect copy of the gene, so are unaffected themselves. The main feature of the condition is the body’s inability to break down excess Phe (recall that this one of the two amino acids in aspartame). Now, this part gets complicated but stay with me.

Amino acids can join linearly and fold into three dimensional shapes to construct functional proteins that perform a wide range of roles in our bodies. We produce some amino acids ourselves, but others, including Phe, must be obtained directly from our diet. Amino acids can’t be stored by the body if we consume them in excess (unlike fats, for instance, and carbohydrates), so we need a constant supply. They also can’t be directly eliminated from the body, which means when excess amino acids are ingested, each type has to be broken down in a specific sequence of steps before excretion.

The first step in the degradation of Phe is its conversion to tyrosine, an amino acid important in neurotransmission (when signalling molecules from one neuron bind to and activate another). This reaction requires an enzyme as well as the assistance of a sidekick (enzyme co-factor). The enzyme is produced through expression of its corresponding gene, and a problem arises when there are mutations in this gene.

There are 548 separate mutations recorded for this gene that lead to the production of a differing enzyme, which means the body may not be able to break Phe down. This differing enzyme has a reduced ability of perform the initial step in the breakdown of Phe, so the level of the amino acid in the body rises. And this has a toxic effect on neurons. Early detection of high Phe levels and intervention is vital to avoid severe mental disability.

Diagnosis and treatment

Phenylketonuria was first identified by Asbjorn Folling, a biochemist and physician, who noticed an unusual odour in the urine of some individuals with developmental delays. This smell was due to a molecule produced by the body when Phe accumulates. A diagnostic test that worked reliably from around eight weeks of age (a drop of ferric copper added to a wet nappy would turn green in a positive test) was developed in the late 1950s. The problem was that, by this age, untreated babies had often already suffered brain damage.

Only a few years later, a new, more sensitive method permitted detection from three days after birth. The Guthrie or heel-prick test requires only a drop of blood from an infant. This blood is spotted on a paper disk and placed on growth media featuring bacteria unable to synthesise Phe. Growing bacteria – because the Phe present in the blood spot supplements what they are unable to produce themselves – represents a positive result. The heel-prick test is widely performed as part of neonatal screening programs. But the diagnostic test now uses a technique called tandemmass spectrometry and screening includes a wide range of conditions.

In the 1950s, a low-Phe diet was introduced for people with this severe metabolic disorder and it continues to be the predominant treatment. Since Phe is found in most food sources, the diet involves getting most energy intake from a formula instead of meals, supplemented by a small amount of foods low in protein (such as fruit and vegetables). The restrictive nature of this diet means researchers are still looking for better treatments avenues. A synthetic form of the enzyme co-factor is one option, as it an enzyme able to break down Phe and gene therapy.

But the reason why people with phenylketonuria can’t have aspartame-sweetened food is because, during digestion, it can separate into its component amino acids (aspartic acid and Phe). And this is bad news for people with the disorder.

Source: LiveScience

Exercise Beats Diet in Reducing Breast Cancer Risk

exercise

Women who lose weight by exercising and eating better may reduce their risk of breast cancer more than women who lose the same amount of weight through diet alone, according to a new study of postmenopausal women. 

Both exercising and eating better are thought to reduce women’s risk of breast cancer by decreasing body fat and levels of the sex hormones related tobreast cancer, according to the researchers. But the researchers investigated whether there is any additional benefit to exercising, beyond the effect of weight loss in reducing cancer risk.

The results suggest exercising has a stronger effect on breast cancers fueled by hormones, compared with dieting, and also offers additional benefits such as preserving lean body mass, said study researcher Anne Maria May, of the University Medical Center Utrecht, in the Netherlands. “Exercise is the preferred weight loss strategy to decrease breast cancer risk,” May said. [7 Cancers You Can Ward Off with Exercise]

About 240 overweight women, ages 50 to 69, who didn’t regularly exercise participated in the study, presented here this week at the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO). The women’s goal was to lose 11 to 13 pounds (5 to 6 kilograms) over 16 weeks. About one-third of the women dieted, whereas another third enrolled in an endurance and strength training program, working out for four hours weekly. They also followed a slightly healthier diet, with a small decrease in their calorie intake. The rest of the participants didn’t change their habits, and served as controls for the study.

By the end of the study, women in both the exercising and dieting groups achieved their weight-loss goals. However, the exercising participants preserved their lean body mass (which includes muscles and bones), and reduced more of their body fat, compared with the dieting participants.

Moreover, blood tests showed the exercising participants reduced their levels of estrogen more than dieting participants did. (Many breast cancers need estrogen to grow.) Compared with women in the control group, the exercising women showed decreases in all types of estrogen in the body, whereas women in the diet group showed a decrease in only one type of estrogen, according to the study.

The researchers also found the exercising group showed a benefit in levels of other breast cancer related hormones, such as testosterone. It is likely that physical activity influences sex hormone levels mainly through reducing body fat, May said. The findings demonstrate the importance of exercising for postmenopausal women, she said. Previous studies have shown that lack of physical activity is one of the risk factors for developing breast cancer. Other than influencing the sex hormones, it is possible that exercising affects women’s cancer risk by reducing inflammation in the body, or decreasing levels of the hormone insulin, studies have suggested.

Source: Live Science / Photo: The Prospect

What are the health benefits of mangoes?

mango

The mango is a member of the drupe family, a type of plant food in which an outer fleshy part surrounds a shell (what we sometimes call a pit) with a seed inside. Olives, dates and coconuts are also types of drupes.

There are many different kinds of mangoes that range in color, shape, flavor and seed size. While the skin color of mangoes can vary from green to red, yellow or orange, the inner flesh of the mango is mostly a golden yellow. They have a sweet and creamy taste and contain over 20 vitamins and minerals.

Mangoes have been named the most widely consumed fruit in the world. Some of the possible health benefits of consuming mango include a decreased risk of macular degeneration, a decreased risk of colon cancer, improvement in digestion and bone health and even benefits for the skin and hair.

This MNT Knowledge Center feature is part of a collection of articles on the health benefits of popular foods. It provides a nutritional breakdown of mangoes and an in-depth look at its possible health benefits, how toincorporate more mangoes into your diet and any potential health risks of consuming mangoes. Read more.

Source and Photo Credit: Medical News Today