. Scientific Frontline: Nutritional Science
Showing posts with label Nutritional Science. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Nutritional Science. Show all posts

Tuesday, February 20, 2024

Could Ultra-Processed Foods Be the New ‘Silent’ Killer?

Hundreds of novel ingredients never encountered by human physiology are now found in nearly 60 percent of the average adult’s diet and nearly 70 percent of children’s diets in the U.S.
Photo Credit: Nico Smit

From fizzy drinks to cereals and packaged snacks to processed meat, ultra-processed foods are packed with additives. Oil, fat, sugar, starch and sodium, as well as emulsifiers such as carrageenan, mono- and diglycerides, carboxymethylcellulose, polysorbate and soy lecithin continue to strip food of healthy nutrients while introducing other ingredients that could also be detrimental to human health.

Hundreds of novel ingredients never encountered by human physiology are now found in nearly 60 percent of the average adult’s diet and nearly 70 percent of children’s diets in the United States.

While obesity and lack of physical activity are well recognized contributors to avoidable morbidity and mortality in the U.S., another emerging hazard is the unprecedented consumption of these ultra-processed foods in the standard American diet. This may be the new “silent” killer, as was unrecognized high blood pressure in previous decades.

Physicians from Florida Atlantic University’s Schmidt College of Medicine explored this hypothesis and provide important insights to health care providers in a battle where the entertainment industry, the food industry and public policy do not align with their patients’ needs. Their findings are published in a commentary in The American Journal of Medicine.

Thursday, December 28, 2023

Novel food regulations are a barrier for edible insects

Photo Credit: SatyaPrem

Edible insects could be the key to a more sustainable food system, yet Novel Food Regulations could be restricting alternative environmentally-friendly sources of protein for consumers, a new report has found.

  • Edible insect companies could play a part in a more sustainable food system by providing an alternative and environmentally sustainable source of protein, relative to conventional forms of meat
  • Research shows that there are still regulatory barriers for the production of edible insects that need to be addressed
  • Although not a familiar part of European diets, edible insects are regularly consumed elsewhere in the world
  • New report from the University of Sheffield’s Institute for Sustainable Food and the UK Edible Insect Association shows professionally farmed edible insects pose no more risks than commonly eaten foods such as chicken, pork, or shellfish
  • Edible insects could be the key to a more sustainable food system, yet Novel Food Regulations could be restricting alternative environmentally-friendly sources of protein for consumers, a new report has found.

Wednesday, December 20, 2023

Natto Consumption Suppresses Arteriosclerosis

Photo Credit: Seiya Maeda

Natto is widely recognized for inhibiting arteriosclerosis, yet its underlying mechanism remains elusive. Researchers led by the University of Tsukuba studied the effects of natto on arteriosclerosis in mice. The findings showed that consuming natto induced changes in the intestinal microflora, suppressing inflammation and preventing arteriosclerosis.

Atherosclerosis, a chronic condition characterized by the accumulation of lipid and inflammatory cells within the blood vessel walls, causes cardiovascular diseases, such as heart disease and stroke. Natto, a food rich in vitamin K2, has shown promise in mitigating cardiovascular diseases by enhancing arterial flexibility and modulating inflammatory responses. However, the reason why natto suppresses arteriosclerosis remains elusive.

Monday, December 18, 2023

Algae as a surprising meat alternative and source of environmentally friendly protein

Photo Credit: Fraugun

With more of us looking for alternatives to eating animals, new research has found a surprising environmentally friendly source of protein – algae.

The University of Exeter study has been published in The Journal of Nutrition and is the first of its kind to demonstrate that the ingestion of two of the most commercially available algal species are rich in protein which supports muscle remodeling in young healthy adults. Their findings suggest that algae may be an interesting and sustainable alternative to animal-derived protein with respect to maintaining and building muscle.

Researcher Ino Van Der Heijden from the University of Exeter said: “Our work has shown algae could become part of a secure and sustainable food future. With more and more people trying to eat less meat because of ethical and environmental reasons, there is growing interest in nonanimal-derived and sustainably produced protein. We believe it’s important and necessary to start looking into these alternatives and we’ve identified algae as a promising novel protein source.”

Foods rich in protein and essential amino acids have the capacity to stimulate muscle protein synthesis, which can be measured in the laboratory by determining the incorporation of labelled amino acids into muscle tissue proteins and translated to a rate over time. Animal-derived protein sources robustly stimulate resting and post-exercise muscle protein synthesis.

Friday, December 15, 2023

The keto diet protects against epileptic seizures. Scientists are uncovering why

Photo Credit: Jenna Hamra

The high-fat, low-carbohydrate ketogenic diet is more than just a trendy weight-loss tactic. It has also been known to help control seizures in children with epilepsy, particularly those who don’t respond to first-line anti-seizure medications.

In a new UCLA study published in the journal Cell Reports, researchers demonstrate that the changes the diet causes in the human gut microbiome — the trillions of bacteria and other microorganisms that live in the digestive tract — can confer protection against seizures in mice.

Understanding how the function of the microbiome is altered by the diet could aid in the development of new therapeutic approaches that incorporate these beneficial changes while avoiding certain drawbacks of the diet, said the study’s lead author, Gregory Lum, a postdoctoral researcher in the laboratory of UCLA professor Elaine Hsiao.

The ketogenic diet is not recommended as a primary anti-seizure option because patients are often averse to drastic changes in their food intake or have trouble staying on the diet due to its strict requirements and potential side effects like, nausea, constipation and fatigue.

Thursday, December 14, 2023

New study eyes nutrition-rich chia seed for potential to improve human health

Chia seeds.
Photo Credit: Pankaj Jaiswal.

Oregon State University scientists have sequenced the chia genome and in doing so provided a blueprint for future research that capitalizes on the nutritional and human health benefits of the plant.

In the just-published paper, the researchers identified chia genes associated with improving nutrition and sought after properties for pharmaceuticals that could be used to treat everything from cancer to high blood pressure. The seeds of the chia plant have received widespread attention in recent years because of the nutritional punch they pack.

Others have sequenced the chia genome, but this paper provides a more detailed look at the molecular level and the potential of genetic data mining with a keen focus on human health applications.

“This research opens up possibilities for scientists to study chia seed through the lens of improving human health while at the same time continuing to further our knowledge of all the nutritional benefits of chia,” said Pankaj Jaiswal, a professor in the Department of Botany and Plant Pathology in the College or Agricultural Sciences at Oregon State.

Tuesday, December 12, 2023

Clinical trial proves that the ketogenic diet is effective at controlling polycystic kidney disease

Photo Credit: David B Townsend

It’s official
: The ketogenic diet proved to be effective at controlling polycystic kidney disease (PKD) in the first randomized controlled clinical trial of ketogenic metabolic therapy for PKD.

“I’m really happy about these clinical trial results,” said UC Santa Barbara biologist Thomas Weimbs, whose lab was part of an international collaboration to investigate the effect of the fasting response known as ketosis on the cysts that are the hallmark of the disease. “We now have the first evidence in humans that the cysts really don’t like to be in ketosis and that they don’t seem to grow.”

The researchers’ study is published in the journal Cell Reports Medicine.

Nurture over nature

For PKD patients, these findings represent an opportunity to control a genetic disease that leads to a progressive condition, causing pain and robbing them of their quality of life, and often resulting in the need for dialysis and kidney transplantation as the cysts destroy the kidneys’ ability to effectively filter and remove waste from the body.

“If you have PKD, the dogma is that it’s a genetic disease,” Weimbs said. “And no matter what you do, you progress toward kidney failure and diet doesn’t make any difference, which unfortunately most patients are told to this day.” 

Thursday, November 9, 2023

Antibodies to Cow’s Milk Linked to Increased Risk of Cardiovascular Death

Corinne Keet, MD, PhD, pediatric allergy and immunology professor in the UNC Department of Pediatrics
Photo Credit: Courtesy of University of North Carolina School of Medicine

Sensitivity to common food allergens such as cow’s milk and peanuts could be an important and previously unappreciated cause of heart disease, new research suggests – and the increased risk for cardiovascular death includes people without obvious food allergies.

In a paper published in The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology that describes analyses led by Corinne Keet, MD, PhD, pediatric allergy and immunology professor in the UNC Department of Pediatrics of two longitudinal studies, the authors show that the people who produced IgE antibodies to cow’s milk and other foods were at significantly increased risk of cardiovascular mortality. This was true even when traditional risk factors for heart disease, such as smoking, high blood pressure, and diabetes were accounted for. The strongest link was for cow’s milk, but IgE to other allergens such as peanut and shrimp were also significant among those who eat the foods.

This troubling finding represents the first time that IgE antibodies to common foods have been linked to increased risk of cardiovascular mortality, the researchers report. The findings do not conclusively prove that food antibodies are causing the increased risk, but the work builds on previous studies connecting allergic inflammation and heart disease.

Wednesday, October 25, 2023

A Comprehensive Picture of Health Benefits of Eggs

Farm fresh eggs
Photo Credit: Couleur

Are eggs good for you?

Scientists have been studying this divisive question for years. Some have found that egg intake increases LDL, or “bad” cholesterol, and inflammatory markers associated with heart disease and diabetes, while others have highlighted the benefits of egg consumption thanks to their nutritional density.

Catherine J. Andersen, associate professor of nutritional sciences in the College of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources, recently published a study in Nutrients that provides a broader perspective on the nutritional outcomes of egg consumption in healthy young adults.

Most existing research articles that evaluate the health effects of eggs tend to focus on a more limited range of standard clinical measurements, looking at biomarkers for heart disease, diabetes, body composition, inflammation, immune health, and anemia in isolation, rather than all together. Participants in these studies also tend to have pre-existing risk factors for chronic disease. They typically also follow additional dietary regimen changes like weight loss plans. These factors can complicate interpretations of how eggs affect health markers in the general or young, healthy population.

Tuesday, October 24, 2023

U of M study suggests even more reasons to eat your fiber

Photo Credit: Melissa Belanger

Health professionals have long praised the benefits of insoluble fiber for bowel regularity and overall health. New research from the University of Minnesota suggests even more reasons we should be prioritizing fiber in our regular diets. In a new study published in Nutrients, researchers found that each plant source of insoluble fiber contains unique bioactives — compounds that have been linked to lower incidence of cardiovascular disease, cancer and Type 2 diabetes — offering potential health benefits beyond those of the fiber itself. 

“People understand the need for fiber and how it relates to gut health — an area of wellness that is becoming increasingly important as scientific research continues to reveal its impact on overall health and wellbeing,” said Joanne Slavin, co-author of the paper and a professor in the College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences at the University of Minnesota. “Fiber is the marker of health that is included in our dietary guidelines and found on product labels, but our research indicates that we need to ensure the other valuable components of fiber-containing plant sources — the bioactives — are also recognized as providing valuable benefits for human health.” 

The study aggregated the available literature on the health benefits of bioactives in plant sources of insoluble dietary fiber.

Small but mighty: the hidden power of broccoli sprouts

The study revealed that the total polysulfide content of broccoli sprouts was significantly higher than that of mature broccoli   
Photo Credit: Osaka Metropolitan University

Broccoli sprouts have been discovered to contain seven times more polysulfides than mature broccoli

Scientists investigated how germination impacts the polysulfide content and composition of broccoli sprouts

Remember when your parents used to say, “Eat your greens, they are good for you”? Well, they were really onto something. Several studies have shown that higher intakes of cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, one of the most widely consumed vegetables in the United States, are associated with reduced risks of diseases such as diabetes and cancer, thanks to their organosulfur compounds, such as glucosinolates and isothiocyanates that exhibit a broad spectrum of bioactivities including antioxidant activity. However, few studies have focused on the endogenous content of polysulfide in broccoli sprouts.

A research team led by Assistant Professor Shingo Kasamatsu and Professor Hideshi Ihara of the Graduate School of Science at Osaka Metropolitan University, investigated the amount of polysulfides in broccoli sprouts during the process of their germination and growth. Building upon their previous work, the research team demonstrated the abundance of polysulfide molecules in cruciferous vegetables.

Friday, October 13, 2023

Calorie restriction in humans builds strong muscle and stimulates healthy aging genes

NIH study suggests a small reduction in daily calories is beneficial for wellness.
Photo Credit: rawpixel

Reducing overall calorie intake may rejuvenate your muscles and activate biological pathways important for good health, according to researchers at the National Institutes of Health and their colleagues. Decreasing calories without depriving the body of essential vitamins and minerals, known as calorie restriction, has long been known to delay the progression of age-related diseases in animal models. This new study, published in Aging Cell, suggests the same biological mechanisms may also apply to humans.

Researchers analyzed data from participants in the Comprehensive Assessment of Long-Term Effects of Reducing Intake of Energy (CALERIE), a study supported by the National Institute on Aging (NIA) that examined whether moderate calorie restriction conveys the same health benefits seen in animal studies. They found that during a two-year span, the goal for participants was to reduce their daily caloric intake by 25%, but the highest the group was able to reach was a 12% reduction. Even so, this slight reduction in calories was enough to activate most of the biological pathways that are important in healthy aging.

Wednesday, October 4, 2023

Study raises concerns over powdered infant formula preparation machines

Photo Credit: Lucy Wolski

A study by Swansea University academics into powdered infant formula preparation safety has revealed that 85% of the 74 infant formula preparation machines tested by parents in UK homes did not appear to produce water that would be hot enough to kill all harmful bacteria in infant formula, and this could pose a serious risk to infant health.

This was compared to 69 parents in the study who used a kettle to heat the water used to prepare infant formula, where 22% reported water temperatures that were not hot enough to kill all harmful bacteria.

Almost three quarters of infants in the UK are fed infant formula in the first six weeks of life and this rises to 88% by six months of age. 

Formula-fed infants have a higher risk of gastrointestinal infections compared to breastfed infants1 which can be attributed, in part, to bacterial contamination from: the powdered infant formula itself (which cannot be made sterile), the equipment used for feeding, and also preparing infant formula with unclean hands. To help reduce the risk of such infections, the NHS has adopted the World Health Organization (WHO) recommendation that water used to make infant formula should be boiled and cooled, so that it is at a temperature of at least 70oC to eliminate bacteria.

Thursday, June 15, 2023

Dietary supplementation shown to improve nutrition biomarkers in study of older men

Photo Credit: Andrea

A six-month study of healthy older men demonstrated that daily multivitamin/multimineral supplementation had a positive effect on key nutrition biomarkers.

The research led by Oregon State University’s Tory Hagen and Alexander Michels also showed that the changes in nutrition status could have direct connections to cellular function, measured by the oxygen consumption of the study participants’ blood cells.

The findings, published in the journal Nutrients, suggest that supplementation may be a key tool to help people stay healthier as they age.

“Many older adults take multivitamins, thinking it will help them stay healthy,” said Michels, a research associate at OSU’s Linus Pauling Institute. “However, previous studies have shown mixed results when it comes to multivitamins and disease risk. We wanted to know why there was so much uncertainty. Is it possible that multivitamins aren’t as effective at changing nutrition biomarkers in older adults?”

Tuesday, April 25, 2023

Study links nutrients, brain structure, cognition in healthy aging

In a study of older adults, a research team led by, from left, Christopher Zwilling, Tanveer Talukdar and Aron Barbey found that blood markers of two saturated fatty acids, along with certain omega-6, -7 and -9 fatty acids, correlated with better scores on tests of memory and were associated with larger brain structures in the frontal, temporal, parietal and insular cortices. 
Photo Credit: Fred Zwicky

In a new study, scientists explored the links between three measures known to independently predict healthy aging: nutrient intake, brain structure and cognitive function. Their analysis adds to the evidence that these factors jointly contribute to brain health in older adults. 

Reported in the Journal of Nutrition, the study found that blood markers of two saturated fatty acids, along with certain omega-6, -7 and -9 fatty acids, correlated with better scores on tests of memory and with larger brain structures in the frontal, temporal, parietal and insular cortices. 

While other studies have found one-to-one associations between individual nutrients or classes of nutrients and specific brain regions or functions, very little research takes a comprehensive look at brain health, cognition and broad dietary patterns overall, said Aron Barbey, a professor of psychology, bioengineering and neuroscience at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign who led the study with postdoctoral researcher Tanveer Talukdar and psychology research scientist Chris Zwilling. The three co-authors are all affiliated with the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology at the U. of I. 

Thursday, March 30, 2023

Vegan protein supports muscle building as effectively as animal protein

Photo Credit: Daniela

Fungi-derived mycoprotein is just as effective at supporting muscle building during resistance training as animal protein, according to the findings of a new study from the University of Exeter.

The study, published in the Journal of Nutrition, is the first to explore if a vegan diet rich in mycoprotein – the naturally high-fiber fungi that is best known as Quorn – can support muscle growth during resistance training to the same extent as an omnivorous diet. It comes as a growing number of adults are eating less meat1, with latest figures showing that there are approximately 7.2m adults who now follow a meat free diet2.

The randomized trial was split into two phases: in the first phase, 16 healthy young adults completed a three-day diet where their protein was derived from either omnivorous or exclusively vegan (predominantly Quorn’s mycoprotein) sources, whilst detailed measures of metabolism were taken. In phase two, 22 healthy young adults completed a 10-week high volume progressive resistance training program while consuming a high protein omnivorous diet or a vegan diet rich in mycoprotein.

The results demonstrated comparable increases in muscle mass and strength in response to both diets, with no significant differences between the two. The group on the high protein omnivorous diet gained 2.6 kg of whole-body lean mass, while the group on the vegan diet gained 3.1 kg. Both groups also increased the size of their thigh muscles by the same amount (8.3%) over the course of the trial.

Tuesday, March 28, 2023

Adipose tissue as a culprit: How obesity leads to diabetes

A high-fat diet leads to obesity and the development of diabetes.
Photo Credit: Muffin Creatives

A research team at the University of Basel has discovered that a high-fat diet alters the function of adipose tissue, thus impairing its ability to regulate blood sugar. This explains why a high-fat diet poses a significant health risk, particularly for diabetes.

Diabetes is a medical condition in which the body is unable to keep blood sugar in a healthy range. Normally, the pancreas produces sufficient insulin to regulate the blood sugar level and maintain homeostasis. However, in diabetics, the body has lost this ability, leading to hyperglycemia.

Blood sugar levels that are persistently too high can cause long-term damage to blood vessels and lead to severe complications such as blindness or kidney failure. It has been known for some time that obese patients are particularly at risk of developing type 2 diabetes and that adipose tissue plays a critical role in the onset of the disease. In their recent study, researchers led by Professor Michael N. Hall at the Biozentrum, University of Basel, revealed how a high-fat diet triggers diabetes.

Thursday, March 23, 2023

Tool developed to identify girls at risk of nutritional deficiency

Alexandra Pounds, Research Fellow at the University of Stirling's Institute of Aquaculture, in Bangladesh
Photo Credit: Courtesy of University of Stirling

A University of Stirling scientist has led a project which developed a new tool to identify girls in developing countries who are at risk of nutritional deficiency.

Professor Dave Little of the University’s world-renowned Institute of Aquaculture used the resource to discover that adolescent girls in Bangladesh are particularly vulnerable.

Aquaculture is a fast-growing food production sector in many low-income and food-deficit countries and whilst these ecosystems produce highly valuable and nutritious aquatic foods, local communities can still have a poor diet as a result of changes to the supply and accessibility of fish.

Professor Little said: “Adolescent girls represent a particularly vulnerable group in Bangladesh, with higher nutritional needs relative to energy requirements than other adult household members, and at the same time likely to have restricted access to food. 

“For this group, an optimal diet is critical for their own health and – in the case of early marriage and motherhood – for their infants.”

Wednesday, February 22, 2023

UrFU Chemists Found a Non-toxic Way to Obtain Piperine from Black Pepper

A new method of obtaining piperine from black pepper is more environmentally friendly than the traditional one.
Photo Credit: Anas Alhajj

An international research team of chemists from Russia (UrFU), the Republic of Congo, and India came up with an alternative to the traditional method of obtaining piperine from black pepper. The scientists used a natural solvent for extraction, which has no toxic properties because it consists of a composition from organic salts and acids that are well soluble in water. Moreover, the extract obtained using this technology has better antioxidant activity. The results of the study are published in the journal Sustainable Chemistry.

"Piperine is a bioactive substance that is found in black pepper. It has many useful properties. First of all, it causes that particular pungent taste. Piperine is used in food to increase the absorption of micro and macronutrients in the human body. For example, piperine may be added to yogurt and cheese. There are numerous studies about piperine, but the novelty of our work is the development of a new technology for extracting this substance from black pepper using natural, "green" solvents," - says Full Professor Elena Kovaleva from the UrFU Department of Organic Synthesis Technology.

Friday, January 27, 2023

Farming more seaweed for food, feed and fuel

Seaweed farmers in East Nusa Tenggara, Indonesia
Photo Credit: Eldo Rafael

A University of Queensland-led study has shown that expanding global seaweed farming could go a long way to addressing the planet’s food security, biodiversity loss and climate change challenges.

PhD Candidate Scott Spillias, from UQ’s School of Earth and Environmental Science, said seaweed offered a sustainable alternative to land-based agricultural expansion to meet the world’s growing need for food and materials.

“Seaweed has great commercial and environmental potential as a nutritious food and a building block for commercial products including animal feed, plastics, fibers, diesel and ethanol,” Mr. Spillias said.

“Our study found that expanding seaweed farming could help reduce demand for terrestrial crops and reduce global agricultural greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) by up to 2.6 billion tons of CO2-equivalent per year.”

Researchers mapped the potential of farming more of the 34 commercially important seaweed species using the Global Biosphere Management Model.

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