Higher omega-3 levels linked with lower risk of death during 16-year period
The Fatty Acids and Outcomes Research Consortium, April 28 2021.
An analysis of prospective studies published on April 22, 2021 in Nature Communications uncovered a decreased risk of mortality during an average of 16 years among men and women who had higher red blood cell or plasma levels of omega-3 fatty acids.
The analysis was conducted by William S. Harris and The Fatty Acids and Outcomes Research Consortium (FORCE). Dr Harris is a codeveloper of the Omega-3 Index, which measures omega 3 levels in red blood cell membranes. The team examined 17 prospective studies that evaluated associations between the risk of death from all causes and levels of the omega-3 fatty acids alpha linolenic acid (ALA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), docosapentaenoic acid (DPA), docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), and EPA plus DHA.
During the studies’ follow-up periods, 15,720 deaths occurred among a total of 42,466 men and women. Subjects whose EPA, DPA, DHA, and EPA plus DHA levels were among the top 10% of participants experienced a 9% to 13% reduction in mortality from all causes during follow-up compared to men and women whose levels were among the lowest 10%. When cause-specific mortality was examined, having EPA, DPA, DHA, or EPA plus DHA levels among the highest 10% was associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular mortality, cancer mortality and mortality from all other causes combined (with the exception of the association between DHA and reduced cancer mortality, which was not considered significant).
"Since all of these analyses were statistically adjusted for multiple personal and medical factors (i.e., age, sex, weight, smoking, diabetes, blood pressure, etc., plus blood omega-6 fatty acid levels), we believe that these are the strongest data published to date supporting the view that over the long-term, having higher blood omega-3 levels can help maintain better overall health," Dr Harris concluded.
New study shows tree nuts may play a role in both weight loss and weight maintenance
University of California at Los Angeles, May 4, 2021
In a randomized, controlled study* published online in the journal, Nutrients, researchers found that including mixed tree nuts in a weight management program resulted in significant weight loss and improved satiety.
Researchers at UCLA compared 95 overweight/obese men and women (BMI 27.0-35.0 kg/m2) ages 30-68 years who consumed either 1.5 ounces of mixed tree nuts or a pretzel snack. Both snacks provided the same number of calories, as part of a hypocaloric weight loss diet (500 calories less than resting metabolic rate) over 12 weeks. This was followed by an isocaloric weight maintenance program for an additional 12 weeks.
Participants experienced significant weight loss (12 weeks: -1.6 kg and -1.9 kg and 24 weeks: -1.5 kg and -1.4 kg) in the tree nut and pretzel snack groups, respectively. Both groups also showed a significant decrease in BMI at 12 weeks, compared to baseline. However, satiety was significantly higher at the end of week 24 in the mixed tree nut group, and there was a trend toward greater weight maintenance compared to the pretzel group. Moreover, the dropout rate was significantly lower in the mixed tree nut group (16.4%) compared to the pretzel (35.9%) group. And, heart rate was decreased significantly, compared to baseline, in those consuming tree nuts, but not pretzels.
"Tree nuts (almonds, Brazil nuts, cashews, hazelnuts, macadamias, pecans, pine nuts, pistachios and walnuts) are a great source of protein, healthy fats and fiber," explained lead researcher, Zhaoping Li, MD, PhD, Professor of Medicine and Chief of the Division of Clinical Nutrition at UCLA. "This makes them so satiating and may be a major reason why we saw less weight gain in the tree nut group during weight maintenance, and a significantly lower dropout rate compared to the pretzel group."
Recent research has shown that more than 40 percent of Americans are overweight or obese.** During the past year many Americans have gained weight while sheltering in place, partly due to less exercise and more snacking. One study estimates a weight gain of 1.5 pounds per month.*** "We know most people get about 25% of their calories each day from snacks and a large proportion come from desserts, sugar-sweetened beverages, sweets and salty snacks," states Dr. Li. "By replacing just one of those snacks with 1.5 ounces of tree nuts may result in a positive impact on weight and overall health."
According to Maureen Ternus, M.S., R.D.N, Executive Director of the International Tree Nut Council Nutrition Research & Education Foundation (INC NREF), "This latest study adds to a growing body of evidence showing that nut consumption may be a useful tool in weight management."
Green tea compound and coconut oil may help improve depression in multiple sclerosis patients
Catholic University of Valencia (Spain), April 30. 2021
According to news reporting originating from Valencia, Spain, research stated, “Multiple sclerosis (MS) is pathogenically characterized by high oxidative stress and symptomatically by progressive muscle loss and increased body fat associated with the presence of depression. Epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) (particularly present in green tea) and ketone bodies (in particular beta-hydroxybutyrate (BHB)), whose main source is coconut oil, have shown emotional benefits and body fat loss.”
The news journalists obtained a quote from the research from Catholic University of Valencia: “The aim of this study was to assess the impact of EGCG and coconut oil on cortisol activity related to fat loss and depression in MS patients. The study involved 51 MS patients who were randomly divided into an intervention group or a control group. The intervention group received 800 mg of EGCG and 60 mL of coconut oil, which were included in their daily diet for four months. The control group received placebo and all patients followed an isocaloric diet. A blood sample was collected before and after the four-month period, and levels of cortisol, albumin and BHB were measured in serum. In addition, immediately before and after the intervention, anthropometric variables were measured: waist-to-hip ratio (WHR), body fat mass percentage, fat weight, total weight, and muscle mass percentage. Depression was assessed with the Beck Depression Inventory II (BDI-II). No significant changes were obtained in cortisol levels in any of the groups, and there was a significant increase in albumin in the blood of the intervention group only that could lead to a decrease in serum free cortisol. In addition, it was observed a significant decrease in levels of depression and abdominal fat.”
According to the news reporters, the research concluded: “EGCG combined with coconut oil increase the concentration of albumin in blood and produce less depression in MS patients.”
Vulnerable older people at greater risk of depression and anxiety during pandemic
University of Manchester (UK), May 5, 2021
Older people who are clinically vulnerable to COVID-19 are at greater risk of deterioration in health and social well-being during the pandemic, according to a new study.
The research, published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, found that older people were more likely to report worse health outcomes than those with no clinical vulnerabilities, including greater depression and anxiety and lower quality of life, even when taking into account pre-pandemic levels of health and social well-being.
The findings highlight the need for policymakers to consider the mental and physical health consequences of the pandemic for those at higher risk from coronavirus, particularly for those asked to shield.
Professor Debora Price from The University of Manchester and Dr. Giorgio Di Gessa from UCL compared data from 2020's English Longitudinal Study of Aging with data from the previous year. They analyzed responses from over 5000 people aged 52 and over in private households in England.
The study revealed that during the pandemic, respondents classified as clinically vulnerable were more likely to report poor self-rated health, lower levels of physical activity, depression, anxiety, lower quality of life as well as loneliness and receipt of care, compared to those without clinical vulnerabilities.
This was true within each age group. Among people in their 70s, the odds of being depressed and anxious for those clinically vulnerable were around 50% higher than for those without clinical vulnerabilities. Those in their 80s—regardless of clinical vulnerability—were much more likely to have unmet care needs and to have little contact with friends and family by text, email, or videocall.
Although older adults' health and social well-being have been impacted by shielding, the researchers found that it was those who were clinically vulnerable and shielding who reported the most substantial rises in anxiety, depression, poor self-rated health and receipt of formal care, as well as decreases in well-being and physical activity.
"Older people with underlying health conditions, even before the pandemic, faced challenges in terms of access to healthcare services and social contact," said Professor Debora Price. "They also experienced greater emotional distress, higher risk of loneliness and poorer quality of life than non-vulnerable individuals."
"While policies focusing on shielding clinically vulnerable older people reduce rates of hospitalization and death from COVID-19, policymakers need to acknowledge that there may be adverse consequences of this measure and address the wider needs of these vulnerable groups," added Dr. Giorgio Di Gessa.
"It's vital that policymakers are aware that when advised to stay at home, a host of health and social risks for this group, already poor, are likely to be exacerbated."
Researchers find obesity linked to reduced blood flow to the brain
Trinity College Dublin (Ireland), May 5, 2021
A new study from scientists at The Irish Longitudinal Study on Aging (TILDA) at Trinity College Dublin reveals important findings, indicating that being overweight or obese significantly reduces blood flow in the brain. The study also shows that increased physical activity can positively modify, or even negate, this reduction in brain blood flow.
The study contains relevant information which is of great interest to the general public; since reduced blood flow in the brain, or 'cerebral hypoperfusion," is an early mechanism in vascular dementia and Alzheimer's disease.
Obesity and health challenges
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), obesity is a worsening health crisis that has reached epidemic proportions globally, with over 1 billion adults overweight—and at least 300 million clinically obese. It continues to be a major contributor to global rates of chronic disease and disability, affecting overall quality of life, while placing increased strain on the immune system which is of the upmost importance given the current COVID-19 situation. Obesity is also a significant public health concern given its negative impact on physiological function, especially as we age. Finding easily implemented and cost-effective ways to tackle the impact of obesity is particularly important to help protect against negative health outcomes in later life.
What are the findings of the TILDA study?
The study investigates three different measures of obesity—body mass index (BMI), waist-to-hip ratio and waist circumference, as well as physical activity, in adults over 50 years.
Brain blood flow was measured using cutting-edge MRI scanning and analysis techniques. The findings reveal that being overweight or obese is associated with reduced blood supply to the brain. Whereas brain blood flow is known to decline with age, in this study the negative influence of obesity on brain blood flow was shown to be greater than that of age. However, being physically active helps to cancel out the negative effects of obesity on brain blood flow.
ncreased BMI, waist-to-hip ratio, and waist size are associated with less blood supply to the brain.
A waist size increase of +1cm is associated with the same reduction in brain blood flow as +1 year of age.
Higher levels of physical activity modify the associations between reduced brain blood flow and obesity.
The study recommends at least 1.5 to two hours of 'being active' throughout the day, engaging in activities that require moderate effort. These include activities that cause one to breathe harder than normal, such as fast walking or cycling. However, any increase in physical activity, particularly if integrated into daily or weekly habits, such as gardening, should help maintain and potentially improve brain blood flow.
Dr. Silvin Knight, Research Fellow at TILDA and lead author, said:
Consistent, healthy blood supply to the brain is critical, as it ensures that the brain is provided with enough oxygen and nutrients to function correctly. If brain blood flow becomes impaired, it can lead to serious health issues as we age, such as increasing the risk of dementia and Alzheimer's disease. We know that obesity can predispose a person to age-related conditions, illness, and disease, and even reduce life expectancy by up to six years in men and seven years in women, after the age of forty. Our study reveals clear associations between obesity and reduced blood supply to the brain in an older population. The study also shows the importance of being physically active for older overweight or obese individuals, as this may help to protect against reduced brain blood flow and the poor health outcomes that can arise from this.
Professor Rose Anne Kenny, Principal Investigator of TILDA, and co-author of the study, said: "Many experts have shown that obesity and aging have very similar effects on the biology of aging; diseases associated with obesity are similar to those of aging and age-related diseases—heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, kidney failure, arthritis, susceptibility to infections- including COVID-19."
Our study not only shows that there is a link between obesity and reduced brainblood flow, but also that it is possible to protect against the negative consequences of obesity through regular physical exercise. Whereas these findings are of relevance in the global context, because of the rapidly evolving global burden of obesity, the research is especially important to Irish adults because obesity and being overweight is a considerable health issue in Ireland.
Previous TILDA research has shown that over one-third of Irish adults aged 50 and older are obese and a further 43% overweight. As we prepare our society for a growing aging population, we can use this evidence to prepare meaningful public health policies that will promote impactful and positive lifestyle habits, such as regular physical activity, to mitigate against some of the negative consequences of the growing obesity crisis.
In silico screening of Chinese herbal medicines with the potential to directly inhibit 2019 novel coronavirus
Shanghai Health Commission Key Lab of Artificial Intelligence (AI)-Based Management of Inflammation and Chronic Diseases, May 2, 2021
In this study we execute a rational screen to identify Chinese medical herbs that are commonly used in treating viral respiratory infections and also contain compounds that might directly inhibit 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV), an ongoing novel coronavirus that causes pneumonia.
There were two main steps in the screening process. In the first step we conducted a literature search for natural compounds that had been biologically confirmed as against sever acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus or Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus. Resulting compounds were cross-checked for listing in the Traditional Chinese Medicine Systems Pharmacology Database. Compounds meeting both requirements were subjected to absorption, distribution, metabolism and excretion (ADME) evaluation to verify that oral administration would be effective. Next, a docking analysis was used to test whether the compound had the potential for direct 2019-nCoV protein interaction. In the second step we searched Chinese herbal databases to identify plants containing the selected compounds. Plants containing 2 or more of the compounds identified in our screen were then checked against the catalogue for classic herbal usage. Finally, network pharmacology analysis was used to predict the general in vivo effects of each selected herb.
Of the natural compounds screened, 13 that exist in traditional Chinese medicines were also found to have potential anti-2019-nCoV activity. Further, 125 Chinese herbs were found to contain 2 or more of these 13 compounds. Of these 125 herbs, 26 are classically catalogued as treating viral respiratory infections. Network pharmacology analysis predicted that the general in vivo roles of these 26 herbal plants were related to regulating viral infection, immune/inflammation reactions and hypoxia response.
Of course, it should be pointed out that Chinese herbs that have not been identified through this screening process may still have beneficial effects. Further, considering that the biologically validated natural compounds reported in the literature cannot cover all antiviral natural compounds, and the natural compounds included in the Chinese medicine database are not complete, the process that we have followed may have excluded herbs that would be well suited to this treatment. Nevertheless, the purpose of this screening was to provide a rational approach for selecting Chinese herbal medicines with a high potential efficacy in treating 2019-nCoV and related viruses. The specific dosage and usage of each herb should be determined based on patients’ manifestations. Finally, the key step in this screening was molecular docking. The 3D structures of the proteins used here are based on reported gene sequences. If the virus mutates during transmission, a new screening is recommended.
In conclusion, this work has identified several Chinese medicinal plants classified as antiviral/pneumonia-effective that might directly inhibit the novel coronavirus, 2019-nCoV. Additionally, we propose screening principles and methods which may provide guidance in screening antiviral drugs from other natural drug databases.
Ginkgolide B monotherapy reverses osteoporosis by regulating oxidative stress-mediated bone homeostasis
Chinese University of Hong Kong, May 4, 2021
According to news reporting from Hong Kong, People’s Republic of China, research stated, “Osteoporosis is characterized by reductions in bone mass, which could be attributed to the dysregulation of bone homeostasis, such as the loss of balance between bone-resorbing osteoclasts and bone-forming osteoblasts. Elevated levels of oxidative stress increase bone resorption by promoting osteoclastogenesis and inhibiting the osteogenesis.”
The news correspondents obtained a quote from the research from the Chinese University of Hong Kong, “Ginkgolide B (GB), a small natural molecule from Ginkgo biloba, has been reported to possess pharmacological activities by regulating reactive oxygen species (ROS) in aging-related degenerative diseases. Herein, we assessed the therapeutic effects of GB on the bone phenotypes of mice with osteoporosis induced by (I) aging, (II) ovariectomy, and (III) glucocorticoids. In all three animal models, oral gavage of GB significantly improved bone mass consistent with the increase in the OPG-to-RANKL ratio. In the in vitro experiments, GB promoted osteogenesis in aged mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) and repressed osteoclastogenesis in aged macrophages by reducing ROS. The serum protein profile in GB-treated aged mice revealed moderate rejuvenating effects; signaling pathways associated with ROS were also regulated. The anabolic and anti-catabolic effects of GB were illustrated by the reduction in ROS. Our results indicate that GB is effective in treating osteoporosis.”
According to the news reporters, the research concluded: “The use of GB in patients with osteoporosis is worthy of further clinical investigation.”
This research has been peer-reviewed.