Monday, October 2, 2017

Your Microbiome has Circadian Rhythms

We humans have internal clocks; we experience daily changes in our energy, mood, appetite  and sleepiness based on time of day, light and dark, temperature and sleep patterns. These changes are known as circadian rhythms. Microbes in our gut, the so-called ‘microbiome’, have also been found to have circadian rhythms. Our gut bacteria make small rhythmical movements throughout the day and night. In so doing they impact our physiology and affect tissues far away from the gut, such as the liver.  Gene expression in the liver can change in tandem with the microbiome’s rhythm changes, resulting in variations in important liver functions, such as drug metabolism and detoxification. 

The new findings in a paper from the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel, published 12/1/16 in the journal Cell, show that our circadian rhythms are deeply dependent on the oscillations of the gut microbes. Some of our daily rhythms are maintained but others are disrupted.  Previous work by the authors of this study, Eran Elinay and Eran Segal, showed that disrupting feeding times and sleep-wake patterns in mice induced changes in the gut microbiome.  Understanding more about this relationship could eventually help to find ways to intervene in obesity and it’s related metabolic problems, which are more common when circadian rhythms are disrupted due to shift work or jet lag.  Also, since most drugs, from Tylenol to chemotherapy, are metabolized by the liver, a better understanding of gut/liver rhythms could affect how and when medications are taken or given. According to Eran Segal “What we learned from this study is that there’s a very tight interconnectivity between the microbiome and the host.  We should think of it as one supraorganism that can’t be separated.  We have to fully integrate our thinking with regard to any substance we consume.” 
A take-home lesson from this study is that we should become more aware of our daily patterns of eating and sleeping, and try to keep them as regular as possible.  Eating during the day and letting the gut rest at night is desirable.  Also, remember that your gut microbiome thrives on the fiber found in vegetables and fruits. Think of yourself as a ‘supraorganism.’ !
Sadja Greenwood, MD, MPH  back issues on this blog


Monday, September 18, 2017

Lower Your Risk of Colorectal Cancer

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A new report from the American Institute for Cancer Research finds evidence that physical activity and eating whole grains lowers the risk of cancer of the colon and rectum, while processed meats increase the risk.   Edward Giovannucci, professor of nutrition and epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health, wrote “Colorectal cancer is one of the most common cancers, yet this report demonstrates there is a lot people can do to dramatically lower their risk.”  The new report evaluated scientific research worldwide, analyzing 99 studies that included data on 29 million people, of whom over a quarter million had colorectal cancer.  Risk factors included consuming hot dogs, bacon and other processed meats regularly, eating high amounts of red meat such as beef or pork, being overweight or obese, and consuming two or more daily alcoholic drinks, such as wine or beer.  On the other hand, eating about three servings of whole grains daily, such as brown rice, whole wheat or rye bread, quinoa (actually a seed, but good source of fiber) and other non-refined grains will lower the risk of colorectal cancer.  A higher risk was observed with low intakes of non-starchy vegetables intakes.  Lower risks were seen with fish and foods containing vitamin C, such as oranges, strawberries and spinach. According to Alice Bender, Director of Nutrition Programs for the American Institute of Cancer Research, “Replacing some of your refined grains with whole grains and eating mostly plant foods, such as fruits, vegetables and beans, will give you a diet packed with cancer protective compounds and help you manage your weight, which is so important to lower risk.” 

The most common cancers in the U.S, today are breast, lung, prostate and colorectal.  Factors that reduce the risk of colorectal cancer, as suggested in this column, are also helpful in lowering the risk of breast, lung and prostate cancers.  Maximize your intake of vegetables and fruits, go for varied colors, think fiber, keep your blood sugar low and even, and get yourself, and your dog, out for a walk.    Next week – I’ll report on how the bacteria in your gut – your microbiome,  show subtle movements throughout the 24 hour cycle and influence your metabolism.  If possible, keep a steady sleep schedule in tune with nature’s light and dark.  
Sadja Greenwood, MD, MPH  search this website for back issues 

 Baje su riesgo de cáncer colorrectal
Un nuevo informe del Instituto Americano para la Investigación del Cáncer encuentra pruebas de que la actividad física y comer granos enteros reduce el riesgo de cáncer de colon y recto, mientras que las carnes procesadas aumentan el riesgo. Edward Giovannucci,
profesor de nutrición y epidemiología de la Escuela de Salud Pública de Harvard, escribió que "el cáncer colorrectal es uno de los cánceres más comunes, pero este informe demuestra que hay mucha gente que puede hacer para reducir drásticamente su riesgo". la investigación científica en todo el mundo, analizando 99 estudios que incluían datos sobre 29 millones de personas, de las cuales más de un cuarto de millones tenían cáncer colorrectal. Los factores de riesgo incluyen el consumo de perritos calientes, tocino y otras carnes procesadas regularmente, comiendo grandes cantidades de carne roja como la carne de res o de cerdo, el sobrepeso u obesidad, y el consumo de dos o más bebidas alcohólicas diarias, como el vino o la cerveza. Por otro lado, el consumo de tres porciones de granos enteros al día, como el arroz integral, el trigo integral o el pan de centeno, la quinua (en realidad una semilla, pero buena fuente de fibra) y otros granos no refinados reducirá el riesgo de cáncer colorrectal . Se observó un riesgo mayor con la ingesta baja de ingestas de hortalizas no almidonadas. Menores riesgos se observaron con los pescados y los alimentos que contienen la vitamina C, tales como naranjas, fresas y espinaca. Según Alice Bender, Directora de Programas de Nutrición del Instituto Americano de Investigación del Cáncer, "Reemplazar algunos de sus granos refinados con granos enteros y comer principalmente alimentos vegetales, como frutas, verduras y frijoles, le dará una dieta llena de proteínas protectoras del cáncer compuestos y ayudarle a manejar su peso, que es tan importante para reducir el riesgo ". 

Los cánceres más comunes en los Estados Unidos son el de mama, pulmón, próstata y colorrectal. Los factores que reducen el riesgo de cáncer colorrectal, como se sugiere en esta columna, también son útiles para reducir el riesgo de cánceres de mama, pulmón y próstata. Maximice su consumo de verduras y frutas, opte por colores variados, piense en fibra, mantenga su nivel de azúcar en la sangre bajo e incluso, y consiga que usted y su perro salgan a pasear.  La próxima semana - voy a informar sobre cómo las bacterias en su intestino - su microbioma, mostrar movimientos sutiles a lo largo del ciclo de 24 horas e influir en su metabolismo. Si es posible, mantenga un horario de sueño estable en sintonía con la luz y la oscuridad de la naturaleza.
 Sadja Greenwood, MD para los números anteriores 

Monday, August 14, 2017

Walnuts - an Update

Readers are probably aware that we have trillions of bacteria in our intestinal tract, which can protect us from infection if they are the beneficial kind.  These helpful bacteria are nourished by a diet high in plant fiber, such as vegetables, whole grains and fruit. Research from Louisiana State University School of Medicine has found that eating walnuts can change the makeup of bacteria in the gut in a beneficial way. The findings are published this year in The Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry.  “Walnuts have been called a ‘superfood’ because they are rich in the omega-3 fatty acid, alpha-linoleic acid and fiber, and they contain one of the highest concentrations of antioxidants” writes Dr. Lauri Bylerly, the chief author on the paper.  “Now an additional superfood benefit of walnuts may be their beneficial changes to the gut microbiota.”
The research team worked with rodents, adding walnuts to the diet of one group but not the other.  They measured the types and numbers of bacteria in the descending colon in both groups.  “We found that walnuts in the diet increased the diversity of bacteria in the gut, and other non-related studies have associated less bacterial diversity with obesity and other diseases like inflammatory bowel disease.  Walnuts increased several bacteria, like Lactobacillus, typically associated with probiotics suggesting walnuts may act as a prebiotic.”   Probiotics are foods containing beneficial bacteria, such as yogurt,, kefir, and fermented foods such as sauerkraut, and kimchi.  Readers may know that prebiotics are foods that promote the numbers of beneficial bacteria – such as garlic, onions, leeks, dandelion greens, asparagus, bananas and now – walnuts.  “Researchers are finding that greater bacterial diversity may be associated with better health outcomes.”  In previous studies, eating walnuts has been associated with reduced cardiovascular disease risk, slower tumor growth in animals and improved brain health.
This research was supported by the American Institute for Cancer Research and the California Walnut Commission.  The American Institute for Cancer Research is a non-profit organization that funds research to help people prevent and survive cancer.  The California Walnut Commission is funded by mandatory assessments of growers.  It represents growers and handlers of California walnuts and conducts health research.
Sadja Greenwood, MD, MPH   past columns on this blog

Nueces (walnuts) - una actualización
 Los lectores son probablemente conscientes de que tenemos trillones de bacterias en nuestro tracto intestinal, que puede protegernos de la infección si son benéficas. Estas bacterias útiles se alimentan de una dieta rica en fibra vegetal, como verduras, granos enteros y frutas. Investigación de la Escuela de Medicina de Louisiana State University ha encontrado que comer nueces (walnuts) puede cambiar el maquillaje de las bacterias en el intestino de una manera beneficiosa. Los resultados se publican este año en The Journal of Nutritional Bioquímica. "Walnuts se han llamado un" superfood "porque son ricas en el ácido graso omega-3, el ácido alfa-linoleico y la fibra, y contienen una de las concentraciones más altas de antioxidantes" escribe el Dr. Lauri Bylerly, el autor principal en el papel. "Ahora un beneficio suplementario adicional de walnuts puede ser sus cambios beneficiosos para la microbiota intestinal". El equipo de investigación trabajó con roedores, añadiendo walnuts a la dieta de un grupo, pero no al otro. Medían los tipos y números de bacterias en el colon descendente en ambos grupos. "Encontramos que walnuts en la dieta aumentaron la diversidad de bacterias en el intestino, y otros estudios no relacionados han asociado menos diversidad bacteriana con la obesidad y otras enfermedades como la enfermedad inflamatoria intestinal. Los probióticos son alimentos que contienen bacterias beneficiosas, como yogur, kéfir y alimentos fermentados como el chucrut y el kimchi. Los lectores pueden saber que los prebióticos son alimentos que promueven el número de bacterias beneficiosas, como el ajo, las cebollas, los puerros, los verdes de diente de león, los espárragos, los plátanos y ahora las nueces. "En los estudios anteriores, comer walnuts se ha asociado con la reducción del riesgo de enfermedades cardiovasculares, el crecimiento del tumor más lento en los animales y la mejora de la salud del cerebro.
 Esta investigación fue apoyada por el Instituto Americano para la Investigación del Cáncer y la California Walnut Commission. El Instituto Americano de Investigación del Cáncer es una organización sin fines de lucro que financia la investigación para ayudar a las personas a prevenir y sobrevivir al cáncer. La California Walnut Commission es financiada por evaluaciones obligatorias de los productores. Representa a los productores y manipuladores de las nueces de California y realiza investigación en salud.

Sadja Greenwood, MD, MPH   past columns on this blog

How Leafy Green Vegetables May Help Your Brain

New research from the University of Illinois has found that men and women, ages 25-45, are helped to decrease brain aging by having green vegetables in their diet.  The nutrient known as lutien, found in leafy green vegetables, avocados and eggs, was measured in the eyes of research subjects. People with higher levels of lutein had brain responses similar to people of a younger age.

Lutein is a nutrient that must be obtained through what you eat – the body can’t make is on its own.  It is found in brain tissue and in the eye.  The researchers were able to measure levels in subjects’ eyes by looking at an area in the back of the eye, the retina, where the pigment containing lutein is found.  They also measured the subjects’ speed at completing various tests with electro-encephalograms. 

The researchers said that most previous studies of brain function and aging have focused on older adults.  This study looked at young to middle aged people to see if lutein made a difference in their thinking processes.  Dr. Anne Walk, the first author of the recent paper in Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience, wrote: “The neuro-electrical signature of older participants with higher levels of lutein looked much more like their younger counterparts than their peers with less lutein.  Lutien appears to have some protective role, since the data suggest that those with more lutein were able to engage more cognitive resources to complete the task.”  Others have pointed out that lutein also gives some protection against a type of blindness called macular degeneration.

Researchers on this study are continuing to study the effects of lutein on learning and memory, as well as how more dietary lutein may increase lutein in the eyes.    In the meantime, we should all take advantage of the summer’s bounty of spinach, kale, chard, lettuces and avocado, which have many health benefits in addition to those cited in this article. 

Sadja Greenwood, MD , MPH past articles on this blog

Cómo las verduras verdes frondosas pueden ayudar a su cerebro
Nueva investigación de la Universidad de Illinois ha encontrado que los hombres y las mujeres, edades 25-45, se ayudan a disminuir el envejecimiento del cerebro por tener verduras en su dieta. El nutriente conocido como lutien, que se encuentra en verduras de hojas verdes, aguacates y huevos, se midió a los ojos de los sujetos de investigación. Las personas con niveles más altos de luteína tenían respuestas cerebrales similares a las de una edad más temprana. 

La luteína es un nutriente que debe obtenerse a través de lo que come - el cuerpo no puede hacer por sí mismo. Se encuentra en el tejido cerebral y en el ojo. Los investigadores fueron capaces de medir los niveles en los ojos de los sujetos mirando a un área en la parte posterior del ojo, la retina, donde se encuentra el pigmento que contiene luteína. También midieron la velocidad de los sujetos al completar varios ensayos con electroencefalogramas.

 Los investigadores dijeron que la mayoría de los estudios anteriores de la función cerebral y el envejecimiento se han centrado en los adultos mayores. Este estudio examinó a jóvenes de mediana edad para ver si la luteína hizo una diferencia en sus procesos de pensamiento. La Dra. Anne Walk, la primera autora del reciente artículo en Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience, escribió: "La firma neuroeléctrica de participantes mayores con niveles más altos de luteína se parecía mucho más a sus homólogos más jóvenes que a sus compañeros con menos luteína. Lutien parece tener algún papel protector, ya que los datos sugieren que aquellos con más luteína fueron capaces de involucrar más recursos cognitivos para completar la tarea ". Otros han señalado que la luteína también da cierta protección contra un tipo de ceguera llamada degeneración macular. 

Los investigadores de este estudio continúan estudiando los efectos de la luteína en el aprendizaje y la memoria, así como cómo la luteína más dietética puede aumentar la luteína en los ojos. Mientras tanto, todos debemos aprovechar la abundancia de espinacas, col rizada, acelgas, lechugas y aguacate del verano, que tienen muchos beneficios para la salud además de los citados en este artículo.
 Sadja Greenwood, MD artículos anteriores en este blog

Monday, July 31, 2017

A New Way to Control Stressful Emotions

The simple act of talking to yourself by using your own name, rather than thinking of yourself as ‘I’, may help you control difficult or painful emotions more easily.  Studies done at Michigan State University and the University of Michigan, and published online in Scientific Reports in July, 2017, have shown that such third person self-talk may constitute a  relatively effortless form of self-control. 

Here’s an example – Robin is feeling angry and hurt after and argument with a former friend.  Her ordinary thinking would have involved inchoate feelings that, put into words, would revolve around the pronoun  ‘I’ – I’m so mad at her – she was horrible to me – I’m feeling sick about what happened – I’m going to give her a piece of my mind tomorrow etc. 

However, if Robin has trained herself to talk to herself in the third person, she might ask “I see that Robin is very upset.  How can I help her understand what happened?  How can I help her feel better about this?  What’s my advice to her?”  Robin is giving advice to herself as she would to a friend.  This technique helps Robin gain a tiny bit of psychological distance from her experience , which can be helpful in regulating her emotions.

The researchers on this study, which was funded by the National Institutes of Health and the John Templeton Foundation, carried out two experiments to test the hypothesis that third person thinking would help with stress.  Participants – mainly healthy young men and women – viewed neutral and then disturbing images and reacted to the images in both the first and third person while their brain activity was monitored by an electroencephalograph.  When reacting to a frightening image, their emotional brain activity decreased almost immediately when they referred to themselves in the third person.  The researchers found that using the third person was no more effortful than using first person self-talk in terms of effort related brain activity.

In the second experiment, participants reflected on painful experiences from their past, using first and third person languages while their brain activity was measured using functional magnetic resonance imaging.  When they used third person self-talk, their brains showed less activity in a region commonly implicated in reflecting on painful emotional experiences.  Again, third person self-talk required no more effort-related brain activity than using first person.

University of Michigan psychology professor Ethan Kross, who directs the Emotion and Self-Control Lab, had this to say about the studies:  “What’s really exciting here is that the brain data from these two complimentary experiments suggest that third person self-talk may constitute a relatively effortless form of emotional regulation.  If this ends up being true – we won’t know until more research is done – there are lots of important implications these findings have for our basic understanding of how self-control works, and for how to help people control their emotions in daily life.”   The research teams are continuing to explore how third person self-talk compares to other emotion regulation strategies.

I’ve been trying out self-talk since reading about these studies, often silently, as I experience painful emotions.   It’s interesting to call yourself by your own name, and give yourself soothing and practical advice.  I have found that I can achieve balance with less despair or upset.  Give it a try! 

Sadja Greenwood, MD, MPH  past issues on this blog

Monday, July 3, 2017

Osteoporosis and Yogurt

A recent study from Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland is the largest observational study to date of bone measurements in older men and women and dairy intake.  After taking into account traditional risk factors for bone strength or frailty, the researchers found that increased yogurt intake was associated with higher hip bone density and a significantly reduced risk of osteoporosis in older Irish men and women. 
The study analyzed a wide ranged of factors that could contribute to bone strength or weakness, such as BMI, kidney function, physical activity or inactivity, servings of milk or cheese, calcium and vitamin D supplements, smoking, and alcohol use. After adjusting for these factors, total hip and femoral neck bone density in women were 3.1 – 3.9% higher among those with the highest yogurt intakes compared to the lowest.  In men, the biomarker of bone breakdown was 9.5% lower in those with the highest yogurt intakes compared to the lowest – showing reduced bone turnover.  Vitamin D supplements were also associated with significantly reduced risk in both men and women.
Lead author of the study and research fellow at the Centre for Medical Gerontology, Trinity, Dr Eamon Laird said: "Yogurt is a rich source of different bone promoting nutrients and thus our findings in some ways are not surprising. The data suggest that improving yogurt intakes could be a strategy for maintaining bone health but it needs verification through future research as it is observational."
Dr Miriam Casey, senior investigator of this study and Consultant Physician at St James's Hospital Dublin said: "The results demonstrate a significant association of bone health and frailty with a relatively simple and cheap food product. What is now needed is verification of these observations from randomized controlled trials as we still don't understand the exact mechanisms which could be due to the benefits of micro-biota or the macro and micro nutrient composition of the yogurt."
The study included 1,057 women and 763 men who underwent a bone-mineral-density (BMD) assessment and 2,624 women and 1,290 men who had their physical function measured. Yogurt consumption information was obtained from a questionnaire and categorized as never, 2-3 times per week and more than one serving per day.
The Irish study did not look at the type of yogurt eaten, and whether it was sweetened or unsweetened.  However, it is wise to consider the fat and sugar content of the yogurt you eat if you are planning to increase your intake.  A study done by Kaiser Permanente researchers suggests that women with breast cancer should avoid high-fat dairy foods, which may contain more estrogen from the cows’ milk fat.  Avoiding too much sugar in your diet, a smart move for all of us, may mean that you find ways to enjoy plain yogurt with fruit, or eat it as they do in India, with spicy lentils (dal).
Previous studies on milk intake and osteoporosis have shown mixed results in terms of fractures and bone density.  One study showed benefits from both milk and yogurt in the diet.  This is the first large study to show that yogurt may be more beneficial than other dairy products.
Sadja Greenwood,  MD, MPH

The Benefits of Mind-Body Interventions – Take a deep breath and read!

Mind-body interventions (MBIs) such as mindfulness, yoga, Tai Chi, Qigong, the relaxation response, and breath regulation were studied by researchers in Coventry University in England and Radboud University in the Netherlands.  They looked at published studies that examined changes in gene expression in MBIs  and explored how these changes are related to health.  They found and analyzed 18 relevant studies ,  including 848 participants, publishing their findings in Frontiers in Immunology, June, 2017.  

Overall, the studies indicated that MBI practices are associated with a pattern in the molecular changes that happen in the body, and how these changes may benefit our mental and physical health.  Research on stress and inflammation has looked at nuclear factor kappa B (NF-kB), which is produced when stress activates the sympathetic nervous system (fright/flight/fight).  NF-kB translates stress into inflammation.  Lower activity of NF-kB  suggests reduced inflammation. 

While acute inflammation is a short-lived adaptive response that enables the immune system to fight injury or infections, chronic inflammation is maladaptive because it persists when there is no actual threat to the body.  According to the study, it is associated with increased risk for some types of cancer, neurodegenerative diseases, asthma, arthritis, cardiovascular diseases, and psychiatric disorders such as depression and posttraumatic stress. 

The study found that people who practice MBIs have been found to have a decrease in the production of pro-inflammatory gene expression.  The authors caution that the studies they looked at did not have control groups and measured the MBI interventions for varying amounts of time.  More exacting research is needed. 

However, the researchers were encouraged by the results they found.  Lead investigator Ivana Buric from the Brain, Belief and Behavior Lab at Coventry University said “Millions of People around the world already enjoy the health benefits of mind-body interventions like yoga or meditation, but what they perhaps don’t realize is that these benefits begin at a molecular level and can change the way our genetic code goes about its business.  These activities are leaving what we call a molecular signature in our cells, which reverses the effect that stress or anxiety would have on our body by changing how our genes are expressed. Put simply, MBIs cause the brain to steer our DNA processes along a path that improves our wellbeing.  More needs to be done to understand these effects in greater depth, for example how they compare with other healthy interventions like exercise or nutrition.  But this is an important foundation to build on to help future researchers explore the benefits of increasingly poplar mind-body activities.”

Here is West Marin we are fortunate to have great classes in yoga, Tai Chi, Qigong and meditation.  I have found a computer class called Mindfulness Daily with Jack Kornfield and Tara Brach from Soundstrue, which is helping me.   There’s something for everyone. 

Sadja Greenwood, MD, MPH

All About Olive Oil and Your Brain

Researchers from the Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University (Philadelphia) have identified a specific ingredient in extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO) that protects against cognitive decline.  In a study published online in the Annals of Clinical and Translational Neurology, June 21st, 2017, researchers found that  EVOO protects memory and learning ability by reducing the formation of classic markers of Alzheimer’s disease in the brain – amyloid-beta plaques and neurofibrillary tangles.  The Temple team, led by Dr.Practico, identified the mechanisms by which EVOO is effective: “We found that olive oil reduces brain inflammation but most importantly activates a process known as autophagy.” Autophagy is the process by which cells break down and clear out intracellular debris and toxins, such as amyloid plaques and tau tangles.

"Brain cells from mice fed diets enriched with extra-virgin olive oil had higher levels of autophagy and reduced levels of amyloid plaques and phosphorylated tau," Dr. Praticò said. Phosphorylated tau is responsible for neurofibrillary tangles, which are suspected of contributing to the nerve cell dysfunction in the brain that is responsible for Alzheimer's memory symptoms.

Previous studies have suggested that the widespread use of extra-virgin olive oil in the diets of people living in the Mediterranean areas is largely responsible for the many health benefits linked to the Mediterranean diet. "The thinking is that extra-virgin olive oil is better than fruits and vegetables alone, and as a monounsaturated vegetable fat it is healthier than saturated animal fats," according to Dr. Praticò.

The Mediterranean diet, as you probably know, consists of primarily plant-based foods such as vegetables and fruits, whole grains, legumes and nuts.  Butter is replaced by olive oil.  Herbs and spices flavor foods, so that less salt is used.  Red meat is limited to no more than a few times a month, while fish and poultry are eaten at least twice a week.  Red wine is used in moderation if desired (not to exceed one glass for women, two for men).  In previous studies, this diet has been associated with a decrease in high blood pressure, heart attack and stroke, and intestinal polyps. 

In order to investigate the relationship between extra-virgin olive oil and dementia, Dr. Praticò and colleagues used a well-established Alzheimer's disease mouse model. Known as a triple transgenic model, the animals develop three key characteristics of the disease: memory impairment, amyloid plagues, and neurofibrillary tangles. The researchers divided the animals into two groups, one that received a chow diet enriched with extra-virgin olive oil and one that received the regular chow diet without it. The olive oil was introduced into the diet when the mice were six months old, before symptoms of Alzheimer's disease begin to emerge in the animal model.

In overall appearance, there was no difference between the two groups of animals. However, at age 9 months and 12 months, mice on the extra virgin olive oil-enriched diet performed significantly better on tests designed to evaluate working memory, spatial memory, and learning abilities. Studies of brain tissue from both groups of mice revealed dramatic differences in nerve cell appearance and function.

"One thing that stood out immediately was synaptic integrity," Dr. Praticò said. The integrity of the connections between neurons, known as synapses, were preserved in animals on the extra-virgin olive oil diet. In addition, compared to mice on a regular diet, brain cells from animals in the olive oil group showed a dramatic increase in nerve cell autophagy activation, which was ultimately responsible for the reduction in levels of amyloid plaques and phosphorylated tau.

"This is an exciting finding for us," explained Dr. Praticò. "Thanks to the autophagy activation, memory and synaptic integrity were preserved, and the pathological effects in animals otherwise destined to develop Alzheimer's disease were significantly reduced. This is a very important discovery, since we suspect that a reduction in autophagy marks the beginning of Alzheimer's disease."

Dr. Praticò and colleagues plan next to investigate the effects of introducing extra-virgin olive oil into the diet of the same mice at 12 months of age, when they have already developed plaques and tangles. "Usually when a patient sees a doctor for suspected symptoms of dementia, the disease is already present," Dr. Praticò added. "We want to know whether olive oil added at a later time point in the diet can stop or reverse the disease."

Sadja Greenwood, MD, MPH

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Antibiotics in Poultry; Q Tips and Ear Injuries; Ways to Cook Rhubarb with Minimal Sweeteners

Antibiotics in Poultry
Here’s the latest from Marion Nestle, a former Professor in the Department of Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Health at New York University, She is currently a Professor of Sociology at NYU and Visiting Professor of Nutritional Sciences at Cornell.  She writes a weekly column called Food Politics.

The International Poultry Council (IPC) will soon issue a statement advising the poultry industry to
  • Stop using antibiotics critical to human medicine to promote livestock growth and prevent disease,
  • Only use these drugs when prescribed by a veterinarian for treatment of disease,
  • Be transparent about the amount of antibiotics it uses and why.
The poultry industry routinely uses antibiotics in feed and water despite major efforts to stop this practice.
Government agencies concerned about increasing resistance to animal antibiotics have long wanted their use stopped or managed appropriately.
  • The FDA’s policy is to do what the IPC is now advising.
  • The CDC has long complained that widespread misuse of antibiotics promotes the growth of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
  • The Union of Concerned Scientists has an excellent background paper on the topic.
  • Consumers Union also has an excellent position paper.
Trying to stop misuse of animal antibiotics has a long history. The animal agriculture industry has fought all attempts to curtain antibiotic use.
The following is an addition to Dr. Nestle’s writing.  You should know that the only way to be sure that antibiotics were not used on the eggs that become organic chickens is to find the words “no antibiotics” in addition to the organic label. 
Q Tips and Ear Injuries
According to a new study from the Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, almost three dozen children end up in U.S. hospital emergency departments every day thanks to injuries that result from using cotton-tipped swabs to clean their ears. The injuries can range from minor to severe – about 30% of children were found to have something stuck in their ears, 25% were diagnosed with broken eardrums, and another 23% had injuries to the tissues of the ear canal. Bleeding and pain were common problems. These injuries happened at home, mainly to children under the age of 8.  "It highlights the misconception that adults and children need to clean the ear canal in the home setting," said senior author Dr. Kris Jatana, a pediatric ear, nose and throat surgeon. "While cotton-tipped applicators may seem harmless, there are certainly a lot of potential risks to using them to clean the ears”.  The number of emergency room visits for ear injuries in children has decreased somewhat in recent years, but the problem remains.
Recipes for cooking Rhubarb with Minimal Sweeteners
Last week I wrote a short article on the history of rhubarb’s travel from China to the west, and the plant’s medicinal properties.  You can find it on this blog.  I promised to publish any recipes from readers on ways to prepare rhubarb with minimal sweeteners.  Here are the replies (including mine). 
Vickisa -Take rhubarb stocks about eight and cut off the leaves and the bottoms and wash them and then cut them up into small chunks, add strawberries or cut up half or whatever you like put a little bit of vanilla in there and some maple syrup to taste or maple sugar to taste cook it down till it's a little bit soft but not smushed
Put it with yogurt and cottage cheese. I like Nancy's or Wallabies. You can add cereal; you can add some chocolate sauce; you can eat it on toast; you can eat it with cheese; you could just eat it anytime you want .

Sadja – cut rhubarb stalks into small pieces, add plenty of raisins and a cinnamon stick, cover with water and cook until the rhubarb pieces are soft.  Add honey and/or maple syrup to taste while the mixture is hot.   I found I could use less honey or maple syrup this way – previously I cooked the rhubarb in honey and used a lot more to keep the mixture moist.  The raisins add their own sweetness, and taste good in the final compote.

Barbara MacDonald  also sent in a recipe for a rhubarb cake from Jane Brody’s Good Food Book .  I can’t format it correctly for this column; leave me a message if you want to see it and I will send it to you.

Sadja Greenwood MD,MPH