Could dairy protect against diabetes and hypertension?

A study including almost 150,000 participants has found that a higher intake of dairy products, particularly whole fat varieties, is linked with a lower risk of high blood pressure and diabetes.
Rates of type 2 diabetes and hypertension, or high blood pressure, are rising in the United States.

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Kicking the Tobacco Habit

Herbal and nutritional supplementation, along with behavior and lifestyle modification, can provide the holistic health support needed to quit smoking and begin to repair the damage it causes.
While the ginger tea steeps, my long-time friend Elizabeth and I get caught up on each other’s lives. By the time I pour our second cup of tea, we’re deep into the personal stuff. She’s telling me about her husband Charlie and his unsuccessful attempts at trying to quit smoking.

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Best and Worst Foods for Your Liver

Food with lots of fiber can help your liver work at its best. Want one that's a great way to start your day? Try oatmeal. Research shows it can help you shed some extra pounds and belly fat, which is a good way to keep away liver disease.

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Get the Protein You Need

The Power of Protein
Everybody needs protein. But when you’re over 50, you need to eat more of it than you used to. That’s because your body isn’t as good at using protein to build and maintain muscle as it once was. Not only does it protect your muscles, protein can also help:
Strengthen skin
Boost your body’s defenses against illness
Keep hearing sharp as you age

How Much Protein Do You Need?
The recommended daily amount for adults is 0.36 grams per pound of body weight. But research shows older people do better with at least 0.45 grams per pound. (That’s 67.5 grams for a 150-pound person.) To get that, you could eat:
1 medium chicken breast
1 cup of Greek yogurt, and
2 tablespoons of peanut butter
 You may need more if you have muscle loss, or less if you have kidney disease. Talk to your doctor about what’s right for you.

Poultry and Eggs
Chicken breasts are a go-to for many of us. They’re inexpensive, cook fast, and have 25 grams of protein per 3-ounce serving. Bored with them? Try portion-size slices of turkey breast. A large egg has 6.24 grams of protein and just 71 calories. It also has 184 mg of cholesterol. But that’s not a problem if you’re healthy. If you have high cholesterol, heart disease, or diabetes, ask your doctor or dietitian about eggs. Or just eat egg whites.  

Even some people who think they don’t like fish fall for salmon. What’s not to love? It’s got moist texture, mild flavor, and 29 grams of protein in a 4-ounce serving. It’s also low in saturated fat and high in heart-healthy, brain-boosting omega-3 fatty acids. If salmon isn’t your thing, tuna, sardines, or trout will do the trick. Aim for 4 ounces of fish two times a week.

Vegetarians have known the secret for years. Soybeans have a lot of protein. Four ounces packs 29 grams, more than a 3-ounce steak. And soy milk has nearly as much protein as the dairy type. Soybeans contain a type of plant estrogen. But eating normal amounts won’t make your own hormones go haywire. If you’re on hormone therapy or have had breast cancer, check with your doctor before using soy supplements or powders.    

Vegetables and Beans
Beans, be they red, black, or white, are plant-based protein powerhouses. One cup can have 15 grams of protein or more. The versatile, inexpensive bean is also a great source of fiber. They’re filling and heart-healthy. Other veggies get in on the act, too. A cup of peas has 8.5 grams of protein, and a medium baked potato, 4.5 grams.

Nuts and Seeds
Nuts, seeds, and nut butters pack lots of protein into a small, convenient package. You can get 8 grams of protein from:
2 tablespoons peanut butter
¼ cup almonds
⅓ cup pistachios or cashews
½ cup walnuts
Nuts are high in calories. But one study showed that eating small amounts instead of other snacks could actually make you less likely to gain weight. Eating them several times a week also cuts your risk of a heart attack.

Red Meat
It gets a bad rap, but it’s OK for meat lovers to enjoy the occasional serving of beef, lamb, or pork. A 3-ounce portion of red meat sets you up with 22 grams of protein. Go for lean types like sirloin, tenderloin, and top round. Watch your portion size, too. Three ounces is about the size of a deck of cards.    

Drink a cup of skim milk, and you’ll add 8 grams of protein to your daily total. Or up your game with a carton of fat-free Greek yogurt, with up to 20 grams. Three daily servings of fat-free or low-fat dairy will boost your bones and slow muscle loss. If you follow a plant-based diet or can’t digest dairy, soy milk is a good protein option (6.3 grams per cup). Almond, coconut, and rice milks all have 1 gram of protein or less. 

Protein Drinks
For best results, get your protein from foods. Also, space them through the day instead of loading up at one meal. But if you have trouble eating enough, protein shakes, powders, bars, and supplements can help. To control sugar and additives, make your own protein drink. Blend ½ cup fat-free Greek yogurt, ½ cup soy or skim milk, and ½ cup fruit to get about 14 grams. Add a tablespoon of peanut butter to amp the protein up to 18 grams.


Viruses can steal our genetic code to create new human-virus genes

Like a scene out of "Invasion of the Body Snatchers," a virus infects a host and converts it into a factory for making more copies of itself. Now researchers have shown that a large group of viruses, including the influenza viruses and other serious pathogens, steal genetic signals from their hosts to expand their own genomes.

This finding is presented in a study published online and in print June 25 in Cell. The cross-disciplinary collaborative study was led by researchers at the Global Health and Emerging Pathogens Institute at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York, and at the MRC-University of Glasgow Centre for Virus Research in the UK.

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The effects of lutein on cardiometabolic health

The antioxidant lutein is suggested as being beneficial to cardiometabolic health because of its protective effect against oxidative stress, but evidence has not systematically been evaluated.

We aimed to evaluate systematically the effects of lutein (intake or concentrations) on cardiometabolic outcomes in different life stages.

Seventy-one relevant articles were identified that included a total of 387,569 participants. Only 1 article investigated the effects of lutein during pregnancy, and 3 studied lutein in children. Furthermore, 31 longitudinal, 33 cross-sectional, and 3 intervention studies were conducted in adults. Meta-analysis showed a lower risk of coronary heart disease (pooled RR: 0.88; 95% CI: 0.80, 0.98) and stroke (pooled RR: 0.82; 95% CI: 0.72, 0.93) for the highest compared with the lowest tertile of lutein blood concentration or intake. There was no significant association with type 2 diabetes mellitus (pooled RR: 0.97; 95% CI: 0.77, 1.22), but higher lutein was associated with a lower risk of metabolic syndrome (pooled RR: 0.75; 95% CI: 0.60, 0.92) for the highest compared with the lowest tertile. The literature on risk factors for cardiometabolic diseases showed that lutein might be beneficial for atherosclerosis and inflammatory markers, but there were inconsistent associations with blood pressure, adiposity, insulin resistance, and blood lipids.

Conclusions: Our findings suggest that higher dietary intake and higher blood concentrations of lutein are generally associated with better cardiometabolic health. However, evidence mainly comes from observational studies in adults, whereas large-scale intervention studies and studies of lutein during pregnancy and childhood are scarce.


Source: The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition


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Natural Compound In Vegetables Helps Fight Fatty Liver Disease

A new study led by Texas A&M AgriLife Research scientists shows how a natural compound found in many well-known and widely consumed vegetables can also be used to fight fatty liver disease.

The study demonstrates how non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, or NAFLD, can be controlled by indole, a natural compound found in gut bacteria – and in cruciferous vegetables such as cabbage, kale, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts. It also addresses how this natural compound may lead to new treatments or preventive measures for NAFLD. The study was recently published in Hepatology.

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Molecules that reduce ‘bad’ gut bacteria reverse narrowing of arteries in animal study

LA JOLLA, CA —Scientists at Scripps Research have developed molecules that can remodel the bacterial population of intestines to a healthier state and they have shown—through experiments in mice—that this reduces cholesterol levels and strongly inhibits the thickened-artery condition known as atherosclerosis.

The scientists, who report their findings in Nature Biotechnology, created a set of molecules called peptides that can slow the growth of less-desirable species of gut bacteria. In mice that develop high cholesterol and atherosclerosis from a high-fat diet, the peptides beneficially shifted the balance of species in the gut microbiome, which refers to the trillions of bacteria that live inside the digestive system. This shift reduced cholesterol levels and dramatically slowed the buildup of fatty deposits in arteries—symptoms that are the hallmarks of atherosclerosis.

Atherosclerosis is the condition that leads to heart attacks and strokes, the two leading causes of death among humans.
“It was surprising to us that simply remodeling the gut microbiome can have such an extensive effect,” says study co-senior author Reza Ghadiri, PhD, professor in the Department of Chemistry at Scripps Research.


Gut microbes shape our health

The gut microbiome, which includes hundreds of bacterial species, evolved long ago as part of a fundamental symbiosis: The bacteria get a place to live and plenty to eat, and in return they assist their animal hosts, largely by helping them digest food.
In the past two decades, these symbiotic bacteria have become a focus of intense study around the world, as scientists have discovered that the microbes—in part by their production of molecules called metabolites—not only help digest food, but play a role in metabolism, immunity and other important functions.
Scientists also have learned that this symbiosis can have a downside for the bacteria’s human hosts. When people overuse antibiotics or consume “Western” diets rich in carbs, fats and sugar, the gut microbiome can be altered in ways that promote disease.
Indeed, it now appears that the increased risks of obesity, diabetes, hypertension, and atherosclerosis that are conferred by the Western diet are due in part to adverse changes in the microbiome.
That recognition has led researchers to look for ways to remodel the microbiome, with the goal of rolling back those adverse changes to restore good health. Ghadiri and his team have been working on a method that involves delivering small molecules to kill or slow the growth of bad gut bacteria without affecting good gut bacteria.
 “Our approach, using small molecules called cyclic peptides, is inspired by nature,” says co-senior author Luke Leman, PhD, an assistant professor in the Department of Chemistry at Scripps Research. “Our cells naturally use a diverse collection of molecules including antimicrobial peptides to regulate our gut microbe populations.”


A screening system to identify microbiome remodelers

Prior to the experiments, the team already had a small collection of cyclic peptides that had been made using chemistry techniques. For the study, they set up a screening system to determine if any of those peptides could beneficially remodel the mammalian gut microbiome by suppressing undesirable gut bacterial species.
Using mice that are genetically susceptible to high cholesterol, they fed the animals a Western-type diet that swiftly and reliably produces high blood cholesterol and atherosclerosis, as well as adverse shifts in the gut microbiome. The researchers then sampled the animals’ gut contents and applied a different cyclic peptide to each sample. A day later, they sequenced the bacterial DNA in the samples to determine which peptides had shifted the gut bacteriome in the desired direction.
The scientists soon identified two peptides that had significantly slowed the growth of undesirable gut bacteria, shifting the species balance closer to what is seen in mice that are fed a healthier diet. Using these peptides to treat atherosclerosis-prone mice that were eating a high-fat Western diet, they found striking reductions in the animals’ blood levels of cholesterol compared to untreated mice—about 36 percent after two weeks of treatment. They also found that after 10 weeks, the atherosclerotic plaques in the arteries of the treated mice were about 40 percent reduced in area, compared to those in untreated mice.
“These were really remarkable effects,” Ghadiri says.
The cyclic peptides used in the study apparently interact with the outer membranes of certain bacterial cells in ways that slow or stop the cells’ growth. Ghadiri and his team have been researching these peptides for years and have put together a set of dozens that show no toxicity to the cells of mammals. The molecules also transit through the gut without entering the bloodstream. In the study, the peptides were delivered to the mice in drinking water and were not associated with any adverse side effects.
Cheered by the proof-of-principle demonstration, the researchers are now testing their peptides in mice that model diabetes, another common condition that has been linked to an unhealthy microbiome.

“Directed remodeling of the mouse gut microbiome inhibits the development of atherosclerosis” was written by Poshen Chen, Audrey Black, Adam Sobel, Yannan Zhao, Purba Mukherjee, Bhuvan Molparia, Nina Moore, German Muench, Jiejun Wu, Weixuan Chen, Antonio Pinto, Bruce Maryanoff, Alan Saghatelian, Pejman Soroosh, Ali Torkamani , Luke Leman and Reza Ghadiri.

Funding was provided by the National Institutes of Health (R01HL118114, UL1TR001114, U54GM114833) and the Skaggs Institute of Chemical Biology.


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