Monday, October 21, 2019

Plant-based foods and Mediterranean diet associated with healthy gut microbiome


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IMAGE: This is a summary of the key findings in relation to food or food pattern and effect on the gut microbiota. view more 
Credit: UEG
A study presented at UEG Week 2019 has shown that specific foods could provide protection for the gut, by helping bacteria with anti-inflammatory properties to thrive.
Researchers from the University Medical Center Groningen, The Netherlands have found that certain foods including legumes, bread, fish, nuts and wine are associated with high levels of friendly gut bacteria that aids the biosynthesis of essential nutrients and the production of short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs), the main source of energy for cells lining the colon. The findings support the idea that the diet could be an effective management strategy for intestinal diseases, through the modulation of the gut bacteria.
The experts observed four study groups, the general population, patients with Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis and those with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). The researchers analysed a stool sample provided by each participant to reconstruct the host's microbiota and compared this with the results of a food frequency survey. The results identified 61 individual food items associated with microbial populations and 49 correlations between food patterns and microbial groups.
The experts found that:
  • Dietary patterns rich in bread, legumes, fish and nuts, were associated with a decrease in potentially harmful, aerobic bacteria. Higher consumption of these foods was also associated with lower levels of inflammatory markers in stool that are known to rise during intestinal inflammation
  • A higher intake of meat, fast foods or refined sugar was associated with a decrease in beneficial bacterial functions and an increase in inflammatory markers
  • Red wine, legumes, vegetables, fruit, cereals, fish and nuts were associated with a higher abundance of bacteria with anti-inflammatory functions
  • Plant-based diets were found to be associated with high levels of bacterial SCFA production, the main source of energy for cells lining the colon
  • Plant protein was found to help the biosynthesis of vitamins and amino acids as well as the breaking down of sugar alcohols and ammonium excretion
  • Animal-derived and plant-derived protein showed opposite associations on the gut microbiota
Gut microbiota:
Gut microbiota is the term given to the microbe population living in the intestine. Studies have shown that gut microbes play an important role in human health, including immune, metabolic and neurobehavioral traits. Links have also been made to obesity and a lack of diversity of the microbiota has been shown in people with inflammatory diseases such as IBD, psoriatic arthritis, diabetes, atopic eczema, coeliac disease and arterial stiffness. In these diseases, certain diets have been implicated as risk factors and this new research indicates that gut microbiota may help explain the link between diet and disease.
The burden of intestinal diseases:
Intestinal diseases represent a significant cost burden to the European economy, population and healthcare systems. Approximately 3 million people in Europe are affected by IBD and it has an estimated direct healthcare cost of up to €5.6 billion. Obesity presents an even bigger public health concern, with over 50% of the European population considered overweight or obese and associated costs of €81 billion each year.
Commenting, lead researcher Laura Bolte said, "We looked in depth at the association between dietary patterns or individual foods and gut microbiota. Connecting the diet to the gut microbiome gives us more insight into the relation between diet and intestinal disease. The results indicate that diet is likely to become a significant and serious line of treatment or disease management for diseases of the gut - by modulating the gut microbiome".
To conclude the dietary recommendations that could be derived from the study, Bolte added, "A diet characterised by nuts, fruits, greater vegetable and legume intake than animal protein, combined with moderate consumption of animal derived foods like fish, lean meat, poultry, fermented low fat dairy, and red wine, and a lower intake of red meat, processed meat and sweets, is beneficially associated with the gut ecosystem in our study."

Dairy products associated with higher risk of prostate cancer

Comprehensive review of studies shows decreased risks associated with plant-based diets

A high consumption of dairy products, like milk and cheese, appears to be associated with an increased risk of prostate cancer, according to research published in the Journal of the American Osteopathic Association.
Researchers note that prior studies have shown dairy products are the primary source of calcium in Western countries, where rates of prostate cancer are high. Conversely, there are lower rates of prostate cancer in Asian countries, where intake of dairy products is low.
The study authors found no clear association of increased risk of prostate cancer linked to other animal-based foods, including red and white meat, processed meats and fish. However, they identified a decreased risk of prostate cancer associated with plant-based diets.
"Our review highlighted a cause for concern with high consumption of dairy products," says John Shin, MD, a Mayo Clinic oncologist and lead author on this study. "The findings also support a growing body of evidence on the potential benefits of plant-based diets."
The researchers reviewed 47 studies published since 2006, comprising more than 1,000,000 total participants, to better understand the risks of prostate cancer associated with plant- and animal-based foods. While patterns of association emerged, Dr. Shin says more investigation is needed to understand the nature and strength of those associations.
The lifetime risk of prostate cancer in the U.S. is 11.6%. It has the highest incidence and second highest mortality rate of all cancers in men, with more than 30,000 deaths annually.

Friday, October 18, 2019

Increase health benefits of exercise by working out before breakfast


According to a new study, published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, health scientists at the Universities of Bath and Birmingham found that by changing the timing of when you eat and exercise, people can better control their blood sugar levels.
The six-week study, which involved thirty men classified as obese or overweight and compared results from two intervention groups (who ate breakfast before / after exercise) and a control group (who made no lifestyle changes), found that people who performed exercise before breakfast burned double the amount of fat than the group who exercised after breakfast.
They found that increased fat use is mainly due to lower insulin levels during exercise when people have fasted overnight, which means that they can use more of the fat from their fat tissue and the fat within their muscles as a fuel. To test proof-of-principle the initial study involved only men, but future studies will look to translate these findings for different groups including women.
Whilst this did not lead to any differences for weight loss over six weeks, it did have 'profound and positive' effects on their health because their bodies were better able to respond to insulin, keeping blood sugar levels under control and potentially lowering the risk of diabetes and heart disease.
Building on emerging evidence that the timing of meals in relation to exercise can shift how effective exercise is, the team behind this study wanted to focus on the impact on the fat stores in muscles for individuals who either worked out before or after eating and the effect this had on insulin response to feeding.
Dr Javier Gonzalez of the Department for Health at the University of Bath explained: "Our results suggest that changing the timing of when you eat in relation to when you exercise can bring about profound and positive changes to your overall health.
"We found that the men in the study who exercised before breakfast burned double the amount of fat than the group who exercised after. Importantly, whilst this didn't have any effect on weight loss, it did dramatically improve their overall health.
"The group who exercised before breakfast increased their ability to respond to insulin, which is all the more remarkable given that both exercise groups lost a similar amount of weight and both gained a similar amount of fitness. The only difference was the timing of the food intake."
Over the six-week trial, the scientists found that the muscles from the group who exercised before breakfast were more responsive to insulin compared to the group who exercised after breakfast, in spite of identical training sessions and matched food intake. The muscles from those who exercised before breakfast also showed greater increases in key proteins, specifically those involved in transporting glucose from the bloodstream to the muscles.
For the insulin response to feeding after the 6-week study, remarkably, the group who exercised after breakfast were in fact no better than the control group.
Co-author Dr Gareth Wallis of the University of Birmingham added: "This work suggests that performing exercise in the overnight-fasted state can increase the health benefits of exercise for individuals, without changing the intensity, duration or perception of their effort. We now need to explore the longer-term effects of this type of exercise and whether women benefit in the same way as men."

Potato as effective as carbohydrate gels for boosting athletic performance


Consuming potato puree during prolonged exercise works just as well as a commercial carbohydrate gel in sustaining blood glucose levels and boosting performance in trained athletes, scientists report.
"Research has shown that ingesting concentrated carbohydrate gels during prolonged exercise promotes carbohydrate availability during exercise and improves exercise performance," said University of Illinois kinesiology and community health professor Nicholas Burd, who led the research. "Our study aim was to expand and diversify race-fueling options for athletes and offset flavor fatigue."
"Potatoes are a promising alternative for athletes because they represent a cost-effective, nutrient-dense and whole-food source of carbohydrates," the researchers reported in the Journal of Applied Physiology. "Furthermore, they serve as a savory race fuel option when compared (with) the high sweetness of (carbohydrate) gels."
The scientists recruited 12 participants who were healthy and devoted to their sport, averaging 165 miles (267 kilometers) per week on their bicycles. All had been training for years. To qualify for the trials, the cyclists had to reach a specific threshold for aerobic fitness and complete a 120-minute cycling challenge followed by a time trial.
Participants were randomly assigned to one of three conditions during the experiments: They would consume either water alone, a commercially available carbohydrate gel or an equivalent amount of carbohydrates obtained from potatoes.
The researchers standardized what the 12 cyclists ate for 24 hours before repeating the 120-minute cycling challenge and time trial, which was designed to mirror typical race conditions. Throughout the exercise, the team measured participants' blood glucose, core body temperature, exercise intensity, gastric emptying and gastrointestinal symptoms. The researchers also measured concentrations of lactate, a metabolic marker of intense exercise, in participants' blood.
"We found no differences between the performance of cyclists who got their carbohydrates by ingesting potatoes or gels at recommended amounts of about 60 grams per hour during the experiments," Burd said. "Both groups saw a significant boost in performance that those consuming only water did not achieve."
Plasma glucose concentrations went up by a similar amount in those consuming potatoes and gels. Their heart rates increased by a similar amount over the water-only cyclists, and they were speedier on the time trial.
Those consuming potatoes experienced significantly more gastrointestinal bloating, pain and flatulence than the other groups, however. This may be a result of the larger volume of potatoes needed to match the glucose provided by the gels, Burd said.
"Nevertheless, average GI symptoms were lower than previous studies, indicating that both (carbohydrate) conditions were well-tolerated by the majority of the study's cyclists," the researchers wrote.
"All in all, our study is a proof-of-concept showing that athletes may use whole-food sources of carbohydrates as an alternative to commercial products to diversify race-fueling menus," Burd said.

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Fathers-to-be should avoid alcohol six months before conception



Aspiring parents should both avoid drinking alcohol prior to conception to protect against congenital heart defects, according to research published today in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology, a journal of the European Society of Cardiology (ESC).
Drinking alcohol three months before pregnancy or during the first trimester was associated with a 44% raised risk of congenital heart disease for fathers and 16% for mothers, compared to not drinking. Binge drinking, defined as five or more drinks per sitting, was related to a 52% higher likelihood of these birth defects for men and 16% for women.
'Binge drinking by would-be parents is a high risk and dangerous behaviour that not only may increase the chance of their baby being born with a heart defect, but also greatly damages their own health,' said study author Dr Jiabi Qin, of Xiangya School of Public Health, Central South University, Changsha, China.
Dr Qin said the results suggest that when couples are trying for a baby, men should not consume alcohol for at least six months before fertilisation while women should stop alcohol one year before and avoid it while pregnant.
Congenital heart diseases are the most common birth defects, with approximately 1.35 million babies affected every year. These conditions can increase the likelihood of cardiovascular disease later life, even after surgical treatment, and are the main cause of perinatal death. Alcohol is a known teratogen and has been connected with fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD). Around one in four children with FASD have congenital heart disease, indicating that alcohol might also be implicated in these disorders.
Previous studies investigating the link between alcohol and congenital heart disease have focused on prospective mothers, with inconclusive results. This is the first meta-analysis to examine the role of paternal alcohol drinking.
The researchers compiled the best data published between 1991 and 2019, which amounted to 55 studies including 41,747 babies with congenital heart disease and 297,587 without. The analysis showed a nonlinear dose-response relationship between parental alcohol drinking and congenital heart diseases.
Dr Qin said: 'We observed a gradually rising risk of congenital heart diseases as parental alcohol consumption increased. The relationship was not statistically significant at the lower quantities.'
Regarding specific defects, the study found that compared to abstinence, maternal drinking was correlated to a 20% greater risk of tetralogy of Fallot, a combination of four abnormalities in the heart's structure.
The authors noted that this was an observational study and does not prove a causal effect, nor does it prove that paternal drinking is more harmful to the fetal heart than maternal drinking. The data cannot be used to define a cut-off of alcohol consumption that might be considered safe.
Dr Qin said: 'The underlying mechanisms connecting parental alcohol and congenital heart diseases are uncertain and warrant further research. Although our analysis has limitations -- for example the type of alcohol was not recorded -- it does indicate that men and women planning a family should give up alcohol.'

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Hip and knee steroid injections more dangerous than thought



A new study reveals that commonly given hip and knee steroid intra-articular injections may be harmful in some patients with at-risk conditions or may cause complications that are not well understood.
Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) researchers have found accelerated arthritis and joint destruction can be the unintended result of intra-articular corticosteroid injections.
Osteoarthritis of the hip and knee is among the most common joint disorders. A frequently (thousands per day worldwide) performed treatment for osteoarthritis and other joint related pain syndromes are intra-articular corticosteroid injections, yet there is conflicting evidence on their potential benefit.
The researchers conducted a search on patients they had injected during (2018) in the hips and knees and found out that eight percent had complications, with 10 percent in the hips and four percent in the knees.
"We are now seeing these injections can be very harmful to the joints with serious complications such as osteonecrosis, subchondral insufficiency fracture and rapid progressive osteoarthritis," said corresponding author Ali Guermazi, MD, PhD, chief of radiology at VA Boston Healthcare System and professor of radiology at BUSM. "Intra-articular corticosteroid injection should be seriously discussed for pros and cons. Critical considerations about the complications should be part of the patient consent which is currently not the case right now," he added.
Given that intra-articular corticosteroid injections are increasingly performed for treatment of pain in hip and knee osteoarthritis, researchers suggest that the radiologic community should actively engage in high-quality research about this topic, to better understand potential at-risk conditions prior to intervention and to better understand potential adverse joint events following these procedures to avoid possible complications.
These findings appear online in the journal Radiology.

Taking vitamin D by oral spray just as effective as taking a tablet



Taking vitamin D by oral spray is just as effective as taking a tablet, research from the University of Sheffield has found.
Researchers from the University of Sheffield partnered with industry to test the efficacy of vitamin D oral sprays.
The head-to-head clinical trial compared the rate of change of vitamin D status in response to a vitamin D3 (3000IU per day) dose, in both capsule and oral spray (sublingual) methods of delivery. Healthy volunteers took vitamin D over the course of six weeks in 2017 during the height of winter - a time when many people's stores from the summer months are depleted.
Now published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition the study - which formed part of a three-year research project - concluded that the oral spray method of vitamin D was equally effective as taking a capsule and supported the same rate of improvement in vitamin D levels amongst the trial volunteers.
Dr Bernard Corfe, Senior Lecturer in Molecular Gastroenterology at the University of Sheffield and Principal Investigator for the trial, said: "All participants achieved adequate levels of vitamin D after just 21 days of using an oral spray, with those individuals who were considered severely deficient at the beginning of the trial (with levels lower than 25(OH)D) experiencing the most effective uptake of the supplement."
A 2016 Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition report, highlighted the need for all UK adults and children to take a vitamin D supplement throughout the winter months, and the National Institute for Health Care Excellence extended this recommendation for children and young people to take a vitamin D supplement all year round.
"Vitamin D is essential to keep bones, teeth and muscles healthy, and is especially important for children's development," Dr Corfe added. "It's difficult for people to get enough vitamin D through their diet, and during the winter the sun isn't strong enough to help the body boost its levels.
"There is now more awareness of the need for people to supplement their vitamin D, but only around 40 per cent of adults in the UK are considered to have sufficient levels. So this research is the opportunity to highlight the importance of this essential vitamin in supporting overall health, and in providing a valuable alternative source for those who may struggle to, or prefer not, to take tablets."
Of the participants that expressed a preference, 70 per cent said they preferred taking vitamin D by an oral spray for ease of use and better taste.
Dr Corfe said: "Often people can forget, or don't want to take a daily supplement, especially those who take multiple medications. Children and people who have trouble swallowing due to medical conditions also can also have difficulty taking tablets, so to find that a spray is just as effective at raising people's vitamin D levels provides a real alternative for those whose vitamin D levels are low."
The trial was conducted through an industry partnership with BetterYou - based in South Yorkshire - who previously developed the UK's first vitamin D oral spray.
Claire Williams, PhD researcher and a registered nutritionist, conducted the trial under the leadership of Dr Corfe. She said: "It has been a wonderful experience working with an industry partner that is evidence-driven. The outcome that an oral spray is as effective as a capsule is a great result, which gives people a viable alternative for tablets."
Claire Williams will be presenting the clinical testing of the relationship between vitamin D and irritable bowel syndrome at the 13th annual European Nutrition Conference in Dublin this October.