Food

Study Links Junk Food To Age Marker In Chromosomes

According to a study recently published in the peer-reviewed American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, presented at an online medical conference, those who consume a lot of industrially processed junk foods are more likely to exhibit a change in their chromosome that is linked to ageing.

Scientists at the European and International Conference on Obesity reported that those who consumed three or more ultra-processed foods per day were found to have doubled their odds of their DNA and telomere proteins being shorter when compared to those from people who rarely consume such foods.

Shorter telomeres are a proven marker of biological ageing at the cellular level, this study suggests that diet is a factor in driving cells to age faster. It was noted that although the correlation is very strong, the causal relationship between consuming highly processed foods and shrinking telomeres is speculative, additional research is required.

Every human has 23 pairs of chromosomes that house our genetic code. While telomeres don’t carry any genetic information, these are the protective end caps that are vital for preserving the stability and integrity of our chromosomes, and the DNA that all the cells within the body rely on to function. With age, telomeres shorten naturally as each time a cell divides a part of the telomere is lost, and this reduction in length is recognized as a marker of biological age.

Scientists from the University of Navarra Spain wanted to investigate the suspected connection between shrinking telomeres and regular consumption of highly processed junk food. Previous studies pointed to a possible link, but the findings were inconclusive.

Ultra-processed junk foods are industrially manufactured substances that are composed of some mix of oils, fats, sugars, starch, and proteins that contain very little if any whole or natural foods. The items will typically include artificial flavourings, emulsifiers, preservatives, colourings, and other additives to increase shelf life and profit margins. But these same compounds also mean that these types of foods are very nutritionally poor compared to less-processed options.

Previous studies have shown strong correlations between ultra-processed foods and obesity, type 2 diabetes, hypertension, depression, and some types of cancer. Such conditions are often age-related as they are linked to oxidative stress and inflammation which are both known to influence the length of telomeres.

In this study health data for nearly 900 people who were 55 years of age or older were involved in this study who provided DNA samples in 2008 and provided detailed data about the eating habits at that time as well as every two years after. Participants were equally divided into 4 groups depending on their consumption of ultra-processed foods from low to high.

Those in the high intake of ultra-processed foods group were found to be more likely to have a family history of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, abnormal blood fats, and snacked more in between meals. This group also consumed more fats, saturated fats, polyunsaturated fats, sodium, cholesterols, SSBs, fast food, and processed meats while intaking fewer carbs, protein, fibre, olive oil, fruits, vegetables, and other micronutrients. Those who consumed more ultra-processed foods were observed to be less likely to adhere to a Mediterranean style diet.

As the consumption of ultra-processed foods increased the likelihood of having shortened telomeres increased dramatically with each quartile above the lowest having a risk increase of 29% for the medium-low group, 40% for the medium to high group, and 82% for the high consumption of ultra-processed food group for having shortened telomeres. Consumption of ultra-processed foods was also associated with the risk of depression, hypertension, being overweight, obesity, and all-cause mortality, especially in those with low levels of physical activity.

“In this cross-sectional study of elderly Spanish subjects, we showed a robust strong association between ultra-processed food consumption and telomere length. Further research in larger longitudinal studies with baseline and repeated measures of TL is needed to confirm these observations,” concluded the authors.

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Source: WorldHealth.net.

Why You Should Consider Chia Seeds

Chia seeds may be small, but they are loaded with a wealth of important nutrients that can help to support a healthy and nutritious diet.

These versatile and nutritious tiny seeds are commonly ground, stirred, or sprinkled into smoothies, yogurt, pudding, salads, and oatmeal making them great for those on the go. The gel produced from the ground seeds can even be used as an egg substitute in pancakes and bake goodies.

One of the big pluses to chia seed is that although they are rich in nutrients they are very low in calories. Just two tablespoons contain 18% of the daily recommended value of calcium, 137 calories, 30% of the RDV for manganese and magnesium, as well as 27% of the RDV for phosphorus. They are also rich sources of zinc, potassium, and vitamin B, for all of these reasons, it makes them an extremely efficient source of nutrients.

To go along with the nutrient profile, chia seeds are a good source of fibre-containing 11 grams in that same 2 tablespoons. As most people don’t reach the DRV of 30 grams, adding chia seeds to your diet is a good option to help reduce the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, colorectal cancer, and regulate blood sugar levels.

Those looking to up intake of anti-ageing antioxidants that can help to prevent or delay certain types of cell damage may want to consider chia seeds as well as they are a rich source of antioxidants due to the presence of chlorogenic acid, caffeic acid, myricetin, quercetin, and kaempferol which are believed to help protect the heart and liver as well as having anti-ageing and anti-carcinogenic characteristics.

Those looking to add more plant-based protein to their diet may find chia seeds to be a good option as they are approximately 14% protein, and they are a complete protein containing all of the essential amino acids that are required for human nutrition including isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, histidine, and valine which help build proteins, grow muscle, and transport nutrients.

Another plus is that gram for gram chia seeds contain more omega-3 fatty acids than salmon does which has various anti-inflammatory properties and may also help to support better brain and heart health as well as improve stress response.

The rich calcium, magnesium and protein content will also help to support healthy bones which again is good news for those looking to increase intake of more plant-based options as 25 grams of chia seeds contains 157 grams of calcium which is more than the content of 100 ml of dairy milk.

Studies suggest that regular consumption of chia seeds could significantly reduce blood pressure for those with hypertension, and the rich omega-3 content can work as a blood thinner reducing overall blood pressure. The reductions can support overall heart health and may help to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and all-cause mortality. It is worth noting that those taking medications should consult with their physician as very large quantities of chia seeds could potentially interact with certain blood pressure or blood sugar medications.

The body digests chia seeds slowly which will provide slow-release energy and help to keep blood sugar levels stable throughout the day, while the fibre content can slow the absorption of sugar into the blood and decrease overall blood sugar levels.

Additionally, the high concentration of soluble fibre makes chia seeds expand in the stomach which can help to keep you feeling fuller for longer and reduce snacking which can help to support healthy weight loss as part of a healthy diet when combined with exercise.

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Source: WorldHealth.net.

Medicinal Herbs Found to Have Antioxidant & Anti-Tumor Effects

A study published in The American Journal of Chinese Medicine has revealed that medicinal plants including ginkgo biloba, jujube, ginseng, and astragalus have antioxidant and anti-tumor properties.

The mentioned medicinal plants have a history of use in traditional medicine, are commonly available, and are said to not have any adverse effects when consumed. Clinical studies have shown polysaccharides from plants to have antioxidant, anti-inflammation, cell viability promotion, immune regulation, and anti-tumor effects in disease models.

Researchers from Shenzhen Third People’s Hospital and Jinan University investigated the antioxidant and antitumor properties of the polysaccharides from these medicinal plants, and identified the signaling pathways involved in the initiation and progress of diseases that are associated with cancer and oxidative stress.

These plant polysaccharides were found to have potential to fight oxidative stress and cancer related disorders in both animal and cell models as well as in clinical cases. The polysaccharides treat oxidative stress and cancer through ROS centered pathways and transcription factor related pathways with or without further involvement of inflammatory and death receptor pathways; some may also affect tumorigenic pathways to have their antitumor roles.

A review suggesting using polysaccharides as anti-cancer agents published in Carbohydrate Polymers focusing on research within the last 5 years, proposed mechanisms of action, and anti-cancer activity compared to conventional anti-cancer drugs found them to have exhibited good anti-cancer activity across a variety of cancer cell lines that could be used as alternatives to existing chemotherapeutic cancer agents which had selective activity against tumor cells with minimal toxic side effects.

The polysaccharides in the review were isolated from plants, microorganisms, fungi, and marine sources that have been shown to act on cancer cells by inducing programmed cell death, and kills cancer cells via preventing their spread by acting on DNA damage, cell cycle arrest, disruption of mitochondrial membrane, and production of nitric oxide.

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Source: WorldHealt.net

When It Comes To Chocolate Darker Is Healthier

Those with a sweet tooth will be happy to know that in moderation, dark chocolate is good for cardiovascular health, according to a study collaborative study between Polytechnic Institute of Coimbra and the University of Gothenburg that was published in the journal Nutrition.

A few squares of dark chocolate, especially those containing 90% cocoa content can help to greatly improve blood pressure and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, according to this study.

30 healthy participants between the ages of 18-27 were divided into 2 groups: one group eating 20g of chocolate containing 55% cocoa content, and the other eating 20g of chocolate with 90% cocoa content. Participant blood pressure was taken at baseline, then again after 30 days.

Eating chocolate was found to improve blood pressure, but those in the 90% group had more dramatic results; those in the 90% group after one month showed an average reduction of 3.5 mmHg in systolic and 2.3 mmHg in diastolic blood pressure, while those in the 55% group had an average reduction of 2.4 mmHg in systolic and 1.7 mmHg in diastolic blood pressure.

Based on their findings the team concluded that eating small amounts of dark chocolate can be of benefit to the cardiovascular system regardless of age, but they noted while the findings provide a positive correlation between dark chocolate and cardiovascular biomarkers how they affect other factors of a healthy lifestyle requires further research.

“The extent to which cocoa may interact with other healthy lifestyle strategies remains to be explored, and further research is needed to clarify the underlying mechanisms and to define optimal amounts of regular cocoa-rich dark chocolate intake,” says lead author Dr. Telmo Pereira.

A study published in Heart investigating the health benefits of chocolate involving 21,000 participants taking note of eating habits also observed cumulative evidence between chocolate intake and the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Flavanols found within dark chocolate may be responsible for a lot of these health benefits as multiple studies have shown direct links between eating flavonoid rich foods and human health. Many foods contain flavonoids which have been explored for antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antitumor properties.

Choose your chocolate with scrutiny as not as types of chocolate have flavanols, which are also what gives chocolate the slightly bitter taste. Many commercially available chocolates have been stripped of the beneficial flavanols in favor of more mellow taste.

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Source: WorldHealth.net

Machine Learning Identifies Potential Anti-Cancer Molecules in Food

The internet is rife with myths and articles making dubious claims about certain foods and their anti-cancer properties. We have all seen the articles of questionable scientific merit gracing social media suggesting that such-and-such foods can cure cancer, the majority of which are highly questionable. A new study offers a unique kind of insight into the potential true effectiveness of food in fighting cancer.

Investigating molecules in food with machine learning

There is no doubt that there are many foods that contain a myriad of active molecules, and perhaps some of these food myths may have a grain of truth to them. A team of researchers decided to do some real myth-busting and put a variety of bioactive molecules found in foods to the test to see if they might potentially help to combat cancer.

The research team chose to use the power of machine learning to help assess a total of 7,962 biologically active compounds encountered in dietary sources. These molecules were compiled into a database and fed into a machine learning algorithm, which determined that of these compounds, there were 110 molecules that appeared to have anti-cancer properties.

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Source: Life Extension Advocacy Foundation

 

Vitamin D Is A Cardiovascular Key

Support.Vitamin.DRecently published studies report that vitamin D is important for cardiovascular health, with low levels linked to increased risk of stroke and heart attack. Markus Juonala, from the University of Turku (Finland), and colleagues analyzed data collected on 2,148 subjects enrolled in the Cardiovascular Risk in Young Finns Study, ages 3 to 18 years at the study’s start; subjects were re-examined at ages 30 to 45 years. Childhood levels of vitamin D were measured from stored serum. Carotid intima-thickness (IMT) – a marker of structural atherosclerosis, which correlates with cardiovascular risk factors, and predicts cardiovascular events – was measured on the posterior wall of the left carotid artery using ultrasound technology.

Data analysis revealed that the study subjects with 25-OH vitamin D levels (a marker of vitamin D) in the lowest quartile in childhood had subclinical atherosclerosis over 25 years later in adulthood. The study authors submit that: “Low 25-OH vitamin D levels in childhood were associated with increased carotid intima-thickness in adulthood.”

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Source: WorldHealth.net

Sugar Triggers Memory Problems and Neuroinflammation

Food.Sugar1Results of a study conducted at the University of Southern California (USC) has shown that adolescent rats that freely consumed large quantities of liquid solutions containing sugar or high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) in concentrations comparable to popular sugar-sweetened beverages experienced memory problems and brain inflammation, and became pre-diabetic.

Scott Kanoski, an assistant professor at USC’s Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences, and colleagues investigated the effects of sugar and HFCS on 76 rats. Adolescent or adult male rats were given 30-day access to chow, water, and either (1) 11% sucrose solution, (2) 11% HFCS solution, or (3) an extra bottle of water (control). Approximately 35-40% of the rats’ daily calories were obtained from sugar or HFCS. The rats then underwent a series of tests.

Results showed that in adolescent rats, HFCS intake impaired hippocampal-dependent spatial learning and memory in a Barne’s maze, whilst moderate learning impairment was also observed in the rats in the sucrose group. Further investigation revealed that protein expression of the pro-inflammatory cytokines interleukin 6 and interleukin 1β was increased in the hippocampus of the adolescent rats fed HFCS, while liver interleukin 1β and plasma insulin levels were elevated in both adolescent-exposed sugar groups. On the other hand, intake of HFCS or sucrose in adults did not impact spatial learning, glucose tolerance, or neuroinflammatory markers. “The brain is especially vulnerable to dietary influences during critical periods of development, like adolescence,” said Kanoski, “Consuming a diet high in added sugars not only can lead to weight gain and metabolic disturbances, but can also negatively impact our neural functioning and cognitive ability.”

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Source: WorldHealth.net

MIND Diet Repeatedly Ranked Among Best

Food.Diet.ListA diet created, studied and reported on by researchers at Rush University Medical Center has been ranked the easiest diet to follow and the second best overall diet (tying in both categories) for 2016 by U.S. News & World Report. The MIND diet also tied for third for best diet for healthy eating and was ranked in the top five in five categories.

Now in its sixth year, the annual “Best Diets” list provides the facts about 35 chosen eating plans and ranks them on a range of levels, from their heart healthiness to their likelihood to help with weight loss. To create the annual rankings, U.S. News editors and reporters spend months winnowing potential additions to the diet roster and then mine medical journals, government reports and other resources to create in-depth profiles. Each profile explains how the diet works, whether or not its claims are substantiated, scrutinizes it for possible health risks and examines what it’s like to live on the diet, not just read about it.

Eating away at Alzheimer’s risk

The MIND diet is a research-based diet developed by Martha Clare Morris, ScD, a Rush nutritional epidemiologist, and her colleagues. In recent studies, the MIND diet showed that it helped lower the risk of Alzheimer’s by as much as 53 percent in participants who adhered to the diet rigorously, and by about 35 percent in those who followed it moderately well.

“One of the more exciting things about this is that people who adhered even moderately to the MIND diet had a reduction in their risk for Alzheimers,” Morris says. The researchers also have found that adhering to the diet may slow cognitive decline among aging adults, even when the person is not at risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease

The name of the MIND diet is short for Mediterranean-DASH Diet Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay. The diet is a hybrid of the Mediterranean and DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diets. Both diets have been found to reduce the risk of cardiovascular conditions, like hypertension, heart attack and stroke. Some researchers have found that the two older diets provide protection against dementia as well.

A wine and no cheese party

The MIND diet has 15 dietary components, including 10 “brain-healthy food groups” and five unhealthy groups – red meat, butter and stick margarine, cheese, pastries and sweets, and fried or fast food.

To adhere to and benefit from the MIND diet, a person would need to eat at least three servings of whole grains, a green leafy vegetable and one other vegetable every day — along with a glass of wine — snack most days on nuts, have beans every other day or so, eat poultry and berries at least twice a week and fish at least once a week. In addition, the study found that to have a real shot at avoiding the devastating effects of cognitive decline, he or she must limit intake of the designated unhealthy foods, especially butter (less than 1 tablespoon a day), sweets and pastries, whole fat cheese, and fried or fast food (less than a serving a week for any of the three).

Berries are the only fruit specifically to be included in the MIND diet. “Blueberries are one of the more potent foods in terms of protecting the brain,” Morris says, and strawberries also have performed well in past studies of the effect of food on cognitive function.

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Source: ScienceDaily January 5, 2016.

Cocoa for Cardiovascular Health

Food.Chocolate.DarkEuropean Union Consortium researchers report two studies that suggest that consuming cocoa flavanols – plant-derived bioactives from the cacao bean – may help to improve cardiovascular function and lessen the burden on the heart that comes with the aging and stiffening of arteries.

In the first study, Christian Heiss, from the University Duesseldorf  (Germany), and colleagues enrolled two groups of 22 young (under 35 years) and 20 older (50-80 years) healthy men, to consume either a flavanol-containing drink, or a flavanol-free control drink, twice a day for two weeks. The researchers then measured the effect of flavanols on hallmarks of cardiovascular aging, such as arterial stiffness (as measured by pulse wave velocity), blood pressure and flow-mediated vasodilation (the extent to which blood vessels dilate in response to nitric oxide).  The team observed that vasodilation was significantly improved in both age groups that consumed flavanols over the course of the study (by 33% in the younger age group and 32% in the older age group over the control intervention). As well, among the older age group, a statistically and clinically significant decrease in systolic blood pressure of 4 mmHg over control was also seen.

In the second study, Roberto Sansone, from the University Duesseldorf (Germany), and colleagues , enrolled 100 healthy middle-aged men and women (ages 35 to 60 years) with low risk of cardiovascular disease.  The participants were randomly and blindly assigned into groups that consumed either a flavanol-containing drink or a flavanol-free control drink, twice a day for four weeks. The researchers also measured cholesterol levels in the study groups, in addition to vasodilation, arterial stiffness and blood pressure. The team observed that cocoa flavanols increased flow-mediated vasodilation by 21%.; as well as decreased blood pressure (systolic by 4.4 mmHg, diastolic by 3.9 mmHg), and decreased  total cholesterol (by 0.2 mmol/L), LDL cholesterol (by 0.17 mmol/L), and raised HDL cholesterol (by 0.1 mmol/L).

Taken collectively, the Consortium submits that flavanols are effective at mitigating age-related changes in blood vessels, and could thereby reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease in healthy individuals.

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Source: WorldHealth.net

Wheat in Diet: Study on Health Impact of Wheat Challenges Stone Age Myths

Food.WheatA review, undertaken by scientists at the University of Warwick, of the current evidence on the dietary and health impact of whole grain cereal consumption finds that many of the myths attributed to wheat free diets are just that – myths, and that whole grains such as wheat are beneficial for the majority of people.

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Source: University of Warwick. “Wheat in diet: Study on health impact of wheat challenges Stone Age myths and costly diets, providing you go whole grain.” ScienceDaily.