Another obesity edition – This week in science for holistic health – 21May2016


Table of Contents

Welcome to This Week in Science for Holistic Health!

I scour the science news for interesting and relevant research for a holistic approach to health to keep you up-to-date!

This issue:

  • Food & Eating – Is fat the sixth taste?

  • Supplements & Nutrients – How important is selenium, really?

  • Disease Prevention – Obesity from mom’s microbes and epigenetics?


Food & Eating

Preserving Brain Function in Aging: The Anti-glycative Potential of Berry Fruit.

Advanced glycation end products (AGEs) are naturally occurring macromolecules that are formed in vivo by the non-enzymatic modification of proteins, lipids, or nucleic acids by sugar, even in the absence of hyperglycemia. In the diet, AGEs are found in animal products, and additional AGEs are produced when those foods are cooked at high temperatures. Studies have linked AGEs to various age-related physiological changes, including wrinkles, diabetic complications, and neurodegenerative disease, including Alzheimer’s disease. Dietary berry fruits have been shown to reduce the severity or slow the progression of many physiological changes and disease pathologies that accompany aging. Emerging evidence has shown that the phytochemicals found in berry fruits exhibit anti-glycative activity. In this review, we briefly summarize the current evidence supporting the neuroprotective anti-glycative activity of berry fruits and their potential to preserve cognitive function during aging.

Berries can preserve brain function in aging! #berries #brain #cognitive #aging #age Click To Tweet

 Lipids and obesity: Also a matter of taste?

Obesity is undoubtedly one of the major public health challenges worldwide because of its rapid progression and deleterious effects of associated diseases. The easier access to tasty and energy-dense foods is thought to greatly contribute to this epidemic. Studies also report that obese subjects and animals (rats and mice) preferentially consume foods rich in fat when they can choose. The origin of this eating behavior remains elusive. Over the last decade, the existence of a taste of fat, besides textural and olfactory cues, was supported by a growing number of studies. The existence of a sixth taste modality devoted to the detection/perception of dietary lipids might offer additive information on the quality of food. While the sense of taste is recognized to be a driving-force guiding food choice, interest in the putative relationships between lipids, gustation and obesity is only now emerging. This mini-review will attempt to summarize our current knowledge on this new field of research.

Fat - the sixth taste? #fat #lipid #taste #obesity Click To Tweet


Supplements and Nutrients

Current Knowledge on the Importance of Selenium in Food for Living Organisms: A Review.

Selenium is one of the elements classified within the group of micronutrients which are necessary in trace amounts for the proper functioning of organisms. Selenium participates in the protection of cells against excess H₂O₂, in heavy metal detoxification, and regulation of the immune and reproductive systems as well. It also ensures the proper functioning of the thyroid gland. Selenium induces the occurrence of the selenoprotein synthesis process involved in the antioxidant defense mechanism of the organism. Recent years have brought much success in the studies on selenium. Anticarcinogenic properties of selenium against some cancers have been reported. Supplementation is increasingly becoming a solution to this problem. A large number of different supplementation methods are promoting studies in this area. Slight differences in the selenium content can result in excess or deficiency, therefore supplementation has to be done carefully and cautiously.

How important is selenium? #selenium #antioxidant #detox #immune #thyroid Click To Tweet


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Diseases/Conditions and Prevention/Treatments

Systematic review with meta-analysis: effect of fibre supplementation on chronic idiopathic constipation in adults.

BACKGROUND:  Chronic idiopathic constipation is a common symptom-based gastrointestinal disorder responsible for a substantial economic health service burden. Current guidelines recommend the use of fibre as a first-line treatment.

AIM:  To investigate the effect of fibre (including prebiotic) supplementation on global symptom response, stool output, gut microbiota composition and adverse events in adults with chronic idiopathic constipation.


CONCLUSIONS:  This meta-analysis demonstrates that fibre is moderately effective, but also causes moderate gastrointestinal side effects. However, these findings need to be treated with caution due to a high risk of bias. Accordingly, further large, methodologically rigorous trials are required, before any definitive recommendation regarding its risk-benefit profile can be made

Fibre for constipation? Yes or no? #fibre #constipation #moreresearchneeded Click To Tweet

Assessing the potential impact on the thyroid axis of environmentally relevant food constituents/contaminants in humans.

Occurrence and mode of action of potentially relevant goitrogens in human nutrition and their mode of action (MOA) are reviewed, with special focus on the anionic iodine uptake inhibitors perchlorate (PER), thiocyanate (SCN) and nitrate (NO3). Epidemiological studies suggest persistent halogenated organic contaminants and phthalates as well as certain antimicrobials to deserve increased attention. This also applies to natural goitrogens, including polyphenols and glucosinolates, food constituents with limited data density concerning human exposure. Glucosinolates present in animal feed are presumed to contribute to SCN transfer into milk and milk products. PER, SCN and NO3 are well-investigated environmental goitrogens in terms of MOA and relative potency. There is compelling evidence from biomarker monitoring that the exposure to the goitrogens SCN and NO3 via human nutrition exceeds that of PER by orders of magnitude. The day-to-day variation in dietary intake of these substances (and of iodide) is concluded to entail corresponding variations in thyroidal iodide uptake, not considered as adverse to health or toxicologically relevant. Such normal variability of nutritional goitrogen uptake provides an obvious explanation for the variability in radioactive iodine uptake (RAIU) measurements observed in healthy individuals. Based on available data, a 20 % change in the thyroidal uptake of iodide is derived as threshold value for a biologically meaningful change induced by perchlorate and other goitrogens with the same MOA. We propose this value to be used as the critical effect size or benchmark response in benchmark dose analysis of human RAIU data. The resulting BMDL20 is 0.0165 mg/kg bw/day or 16.5 μg/kg bw/day. Applying a factor of 4, to allow for inter-human differences in toxicokinetics, leads to a TDI for perchlorate of 4 μg/kg bw/day.

Goitrogens & your thyroid #goitrogen #thyroid #iodine Click To Tweet

Prostate Cancer, Nutrition, and Dietary Supplements (PDQ®): Patient Version.

This PDQ cancer information summary has current information about the use of nutrition and dietary supplements for reducing the risk of developing prostate cancer or for treating prostate cancer. It is meant to inform and help patients, families, and caregivers. It does not give formal guidelines or recommendations for making decisions about health care.

The information in this patient summary was taken from the health professional version, which is reviewed regularly and updated as needed, by the PDQ Integrative, Alternative, and Complementary Therapies Editorial Board.

Prostate cancer - #nutrition & #supplements - #prostate #cancer Click To Tweet

Positive evidence for vitamin A role in prevention of type 1 diabetes.

Type 1 diabetes mellitus (T1DM) as one of the most well-known autoimmune disease, results from the destruction of β-cells in pancreas by autoimmune process. T1DM is fatal without insulin treatment. The expansion of alternative treatment to insulin is a dream to be fulfilled. Currently autoimmunity is considered as main factor in development of T1DM. So manipulation of the immune system can be considered as alternative treatment to insulin. For the past decades, vitamin A has been implicated as an essential dietary micronutrient in regulator of immune function. Despite major advantage in the knowledge of vitamin A biology, patients who present T1DM are at risk for deficiency in vitamin A and carotenoids. Applying such evidences, vitamin A treatment may be the key approach in preventing T1DM.

Vit A for type 1 diabetes? #vitaminA #carotenoid #diabetes #T1DM #autoimmune Click To Tweet

Obesity and overweight: Impact on maternal and milk microbiome and their role for infant health and nutrition.

Obesity, particularly in infants, is becoming a significant public health problem that has reached “epidemic” status worldwide. Obese children have an increased risk of developing obesity-related diseases, such as metabolic syndromes and diabetes, as well as increased risk of premature death and adverse health outcomes later in life. Experimental data shows that maternal obesity has negative effects on the offspring’s health in the short and long term. Increasing evidence suggests a key role for microbiota in host metabolism and energy harvest, providing novel tools for obesity prevention and management. The maternal environment, including nutrition and microbes, influences the likelihood of developing childhood diseases, which may persist and be exacerbated in adulthood. Maternal obesity and weight gain also influence microbiota composition and activity during pregnancy and lactation. They affect microbial diversity in the gut and breast milk. Such microbial changes may be transferred to the offspring during delivery and also during lactation, affecting infant microbial colonisation and immune system maturation. Thus, an adequate nutritional and microbial environment during the peri-natal period may provide a window of opportunity to reduce the risk of obesity and overweight in our infants using targeted strategies aimed at modulating the microbiota during early life.

Mom's microbes help babies #microbiota #maternal #babies #obesity Click To Tweet

Prenatal nutrition and the risk of adult obesity: Long-term effects of nutrition on epigenetic mechanisms regulating Gene expression.

Solid epidemiological evidence indicates that part of the risk of obesity in adulthood could be programmed during prenatal development by the quality of maternal nutrition. Nevertheless, the molecular mechanisms involved are mostly unknown, which hinders our capacity to develop effective intervention policies. Here, we discuss the hypothesis that mechanisms underlying prenatal programming of adult risk are epigenetic and sensitive to environmental cues such as nutrition. While the information encoded in DNA is essentially stable, regulatory epigenetic mechanisms include reversible, covalent modifications of DNA and chromatin, such as methylation, acetylation etc. It is known that dietary availability of methyl donors has an impact on the patterns of gene expression by affecting DNA methylation at regulatory regions, a likely basis for reprogramming developmental plasticity. The Agouti and Axin-fused genes, as well as the embryonic growth factor IGF2/H19 locus are examples of diet-induced modulation of phenotypic traits by affecting methylation of gene-regulatory regions. Recent work has evidenced an unsuspected role for chromatin as metabolic sensor. Chromatin is susceptible to a number of post-translational modifications that modulate gene expression, among them the GlcNAcylation of histone proteins and other epigenetic regulators. Intracellular levels of the precursor molecule UDP-GlcNAc, and hence the degree of global chromatin GlcNAcylation, depend on the energetic state of the cell, making GlcNAcylation a functional link between nutrition and regulation of gene expression. Dietary interference with these regulatory mechanisms could effectively counteract the early-life programming of adult risk.

How can your diet change your 'obesity genes'? #obesity #epigenetics Click To Tweet

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Inclusion Criteria for This Week in Science for Holistic Health posts:

  • Studies must be published in a peer-reviewed medical journal or highly credible website (e.g. within the last few weeks,
  • Articles must be relevant to a holistic approach to health (specifically nutrition & lifestyle factors),
  • Studies were done on people unless noted otherwise (animal and tissue studies have unknown relevance to people),
  • I also include new science-based books that look interesting (’cause I LOVE reading!).
  • None of the above applies if it’s a response to something in the media. 😉
  • P.S. – The titles are hyperlinked to the actual studies, so feel free to “geek out”. 🙂

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Leesa Klich is a science-based holistic nutritionist living at the intersection of science and holistic health (it’s really, really interesting here!) 🙂 At NutritionInteractions she helps holistic-minded people taking medications maximize the benefits of good nutrition. She also helps holistic health professionals find and understand science-based health information. She has a MSc in Toxicology and Nutritional Science, over a decade experience in drug/supplement safety, and is also a Registered Holistic Nutritionist. For a list of free health resources, click here.


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