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High consumption of red meat and poultry tied to diabetes

Consuming red meat or meat from poultry may be linked with higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes, according to a population study from Singapore. The study also says that higher levels of consumption is tied to higher risk of developing the disease.

This is one of the largest trials to investigate the link between meat consumption and risk of diabetes in Asian populations.

Type 2 diabetes is a chronic condition which arises when the body doesn’t use insulin properly or it doesn’t produce enough insulin. Insulin is a hormone made by the pancreas that lets our body to use sugar for energy or store it for future use. Insulin controls our blood sugar levels and keeps it from getting too high.

Common risk factors for developing type 2 diabetes are obesity, lack of exercise, family history and sedentary lifestyle.

In recent years, many studies revealed that plant-based diets, rather than diets consisting of high amount of meat, are healthier.

Several existing studies have associated meat consumption with an increased risk of developing diabetes.

This new study from the Duke-NUS Medical School in Singapore backs previous findings and tries to explain why consuming too much meat increases an individual’s chances of developing diabetes.

The study was led by Prof. Woon-Puay Koh, a professor of clinical sciences at the Duke-NUS.

Prof. Koh and her team assessed the connection between meat, poultry, fish, shellfish consumption and developing type 2 diabetes, taking into account the effect of heme iron. Heme iron is iron content absorbed from meat intake.

The team analysed data of 63,257 adults aged 45-74, who were recruited between 1993 and 1998. The participants were part of the Singapore Chinese Health Study. They were followed-up through two interviews: one in 1999 to 2004, and the other in 2006 to 2010.

Read more Compound found in coffee may stave off type 2 diabetes

The researchers found that people who consumed higher amount of red meat or poultry had an increased risk of developing diabetes. However, fish and shellfish consumption did not pose any risk.

Adults who ate the highest amount of red meat had a 23% higher risk of diabetes compared to those who ate less red meat. In the case of poultry consumption, researchers found that higher amount of poultry consumption was associated with a 15% increase in diabetes risk.

The increased risk, however, was lowered when meat was replaced with fish or shellfish.

In this setting, the team also examined the effect of heme iron on the link between meat consumption and diabetes. They discovered that a higher amount of heme iron intake was linked with an increased risk of developing diabetes.

Next, the team tested whether or not adjusting for the content of heme iron intake in the individuals’ diets would impact the risk in any way. They found that the link between red meat intake and diabetes risk remained statistically significant, while the link between poultry intake disappeared.

“We don’t need to remove meat from the diet entirely. Singaporeans just need to reduce the daily intake, especially for red meat, and choose chicken breast and fish/shellfish, or plant-based protein food and dairy products, to reduce the risk of diabetes,” Prof. Koh says.

While her study was targeted at the dietary habits of Singaporeans, the results are relevant on a global level; they back previous research on the health impact of high meat consumption.

The research was published in the American Journal of Epidemiology.

24/09/2017 / by / in
High and low levels of magnesium raises dementia risk

People who have both high and low levels of magnesium in their blood face a higher risk of developing dementia, suggests a new study from the Netherlands.

“These results need to be confirmed with additional studies, but the results are intriguing,” says first author of the study Brenda C.T. Kieboom, MD, MSc, of Erasmus University Medical Center in Rotterdam.

Dr. Kieboom and her team measured serum magnesium levels in 9,569 participants with an average age of 65 who did not have dementia at the study onset (between 1997 and 2008). The participants were followed for 8 years, until 2015.

The researchers divided the participants into 5 groups based on magnesium levels in their blood.

Low serum magnesium levels were defined as 0.79 millimoles or lower per liter, while high levels were defined as equal to or above 0.90 millimoles per liter.

The participants’ sex, age, education, cardiovascular disease risk, kidney function, and other comorbidities were adjusted for.

The participants were followed for an average of eight years. During the follow-up period, 823 participants were diagnosed with dementia. Of those, 662 individuals had Alzheimer’s disease.

The team discovered that participants in both high and low group were markedly more likely to develop dementia than those in the middle group. To be specific, people in both the high and low-magnesium group were found to have a 30% increase in risk of developing dementia compared with those in the middle group.

The number of participants in the low-magnesium group were 1,771. Of these individuals, 160 developed dementia. On the other hand, of the 1,748 people in the high-magnesium group, 179 developed dementia.

The middle group, comprising of 1,387 participants, saw 102 individuals developing dementia.

Dr. Kieboom notes that among all the participants, almost all had magnesium levels in the normal range, and only 108 people had levels below normal and two individuals had levels above normal.

The study also had its drawbacks. The authors say that the research only used a single measurement of serum magnesium. Magnesium levels stay relatively stable over time, but it may change and such alterations may have biased the results.

Secondly, the study did not examine abnormally low or abnormally high magnesium levels, known as hypomagnesemia or hypermagnesemia. Instead, the reserachers only focused on normal levels of magnesium.

Read more Alzheimer’s memory loss may be reversed by blocking a key enzyme

Finally, since the study was purely observational, it cannot explain causality. However, the authors note that precautions against this vulnerability were taken.

“Since the current treatment and prevention options for dementia are limited, we urgently need to identify new risk factors for dementia that could potentially be adjusted. If people could reduce their risk for dementia through diet or supplements, that could be very beneficial,” notes Dr. Kieboom.

She also adds that if the results are confirmed, blood tests for magnesium levels could be used to screen for people at risk of dementia.

Foods rich in magnesium include almonds, spinach, cashews, whole grains, bananas, soy and black beans, avocados, and yogurt.

The study was published in the journal Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

23/09/2017 / by / in
Compound found in coffee may stave off type 2 diabetes

Keep enjoying your morning coffee, because it may help prevent type 2 diabetes, according to a new Danish research. In a mouse model study, researchers at the Department of Endocrinology and Internal Medicine at Aarhus University Hospital in Denmark found that a bioactive substance known as cafestol, which is found in coffee – elevated insulin secretion, decreased fasting glucose levels, and enhanced insulin sensitivity.

Type 2 diabetes occurs when our body can no longer make enough insulin or use it effectively. This results in a spike in blood glucose levels.

The symptoms of type 2 diabetes are not always obvious; many people could be suffering with the condition for years without knowing they have it.

There are approximately 4 million people living with diabetes in the UK. Across the country, 4,500 people are diagnosed with type 2 diabetes every week.

Read more Broccoli sprout extract may help treat type 2 diabetes

Around 30 million people in the U.S. are living with diabetes, and most of these cases are type 2 diabetes (around 90 to 95%).

Past studies also suggested that coffee drinking may reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Among these studies, some attributed this connection to caffeine – the well-known substance found in coffee, but other research has suggested that other compounds in the beverage might be responsible for this.

This new study backs the latter theory, after discovering that cafestol enhanced markers of type 2 diabetes in mice.

For their study, the researchers analysed 3 groups of mice. All these mice were at high risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

For 10 weeks, researchers fed one group 1.1 milligrams of cafestol daily; the second group was fed a daily dose of 0.4 cafestol, while the third group (the control group) wasn’t fed the substance.

After the 10-week study period, the team found that the two groups that received cafestol had a 28-30% decrease in blood glucose levels, compared with the third group (control group).

At the same time, the mice that received the higher dose of cafestol displayed a 42% improvement in insulin sensitivity, compared with the control group, and a 20% decrease in fasting glucagon – the hormone responsible for increasing blood glucose levels. [Read more Drinking coffee daily may lead to a longer life, new study shows]

Islets of Langerhans are the pancreatic cells that usually produce insulin. After the end of the 10-week study period, the team isolated these cells from each group of mice.

They discovered that there was a 75 to 87% increase in insulin production in the islets that were isolated from the cafestol fed mice, compared with islets isolated from the control group.

Study co-author Fredrik Brustad Mellbye, of the Department of Endocrinology and Internal Medicine at Aarhus University Hospital in Denmark, says their findings demonstrate that “cafestol possesses antidiabetic properties” in mice at high risk for type 2 diabetes.

“Consequently, cafestol may contribute to the reduced risk of developing T2D [type 2 diabetes] in coffee consumers and has a potential role as an antidiabetic drug,” Mellbye concludes.

The study was published in the Journal of Natural Products.

13/09/2017 / by / in
Reducing sitting time by 21 minutes each day can make you stay healthy

Researchers in Finland have found that reducing your sitting time by only 21 minutes each day can improve your health.

“This study shows that it is possible to reduce the sedentary time of people in a busy phase of life. […] This is important, because sedentary time tends to increase while we age. The effect was most visible during leisure time, where the sedentary time was already lower,” says first author of the study Dr. Arto Pesola, of the Neuromuscular Research Center at the University of Jyvaskyla in Finland.

Many studies have shown that prolonged sedentary time poses serious health hazards, raising the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and premature death.

With office-based work becoming more prevalent in our modern society, sedentary lifestyle has become more common. We spend a lot of time being entertained by social media and streaming services.

A recent survey has shown that Americans spend an average of 13 hours per day sitting down.

However, not many studies have investigated whether it is possible to reduce sedentary time and whether the reduction will bring any health benefits for people who are already in good health.

The Finnish researchers set to examine just that.

For their study, the team recruited 133 office workers. The participants were divided into two groups – one group was given counseling on how to reduce their sedentary time, while the other group skipped the counseling. The participants were fitted with accelerometers to monitor their movement over the course of 1 year.

After 3 months, the participants in the counseling group reduced their sedentary time by 21 minutes per day. During the same time period, their fasting blood sugar levels significantly decreased as well.

According to the researchers, switching from sedentary to light activity can help enhance the process where your blood sugar is transported to the cells that need it.

At the one-year mark, the counseling group reduced their sitting time—just not to as large an extent. At that point, they were sitting about 8 minutes less per day than they were at the study onset.

Read more No need for physical activity, a leisurely walk can boost your mood

At 12 months, the counseling group displayed even more health benefits: They maintained leg muscle mass, whereas 0.5 percent more muscle mass were lost by those in the control group. They also showed improvements in a cholesterol marker called Apolipoprotein B-to-Apolipoprotein A-1 ratio, which may signal a reduction in heart disease risk.

So, the study revealed that it is in fact possible to reduce sitting time both at work and during leisure time. Participants, at baseline, spent around 5.6 hours at work sitting down and 3.8 hours during their leisure time.

However, after the counseling sessions, the subjects reduced the leisure time they spent sitting down every day by 21 minutes and spent more time in light-intensity physical activity and increased the number of breaks in-between sitting time.

Moreover, women were able to increase both light physical activity and the number of sitting breaks in the workplace. Men, on the other hand, failed to do so.

“This may reflect the demands of working life and that counseling targeted at individuals and their families is ineffective in changing the sitting time at work, at least in men,” he adds. “Instead, people may find more opportunities and freedom to reduce sedentary time and to participate in enjoyable family activities out of working hours,” says Dr. Pesola.

Reducing sitting time by just 21 minutes “may be beneficial for health in the long run,” he concludes

The study was published in the journal PLOS One.

05/09/2017 / by / in
Alzheimer’s memory loss may be reversed by blocking a key enzyme

Targeting an enzyme that interferes with memory-forming processes in Alzheimer’s patients can be an effective treatment for memory loss, according to a new study. A team of scientists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the U.S. found that it may be possible to reverse Alzheimer’s related memory loss with drugs that selectively impede the ability of the HDAC2 enzyme to interfere with the communication between brain cells.

Previously, scientists failed to target HDAC2 because the drugs that were used also impeded other roles of the enzyme, causing toxic side effects.

The new research has shown that blocking a molecule called sp3 that binds to HDAC2 might effectively stop them both from disrupting the communication between brain cells that is crucial for memory.

“If we can remove the blockade by inhibiting HDAC2 activity or reducing HDAC2 levels,” explains Senior author Prof. Li-Huei Tsai, director of the Picower Institute for Learning and Memory at MIT, “then we can remove the blockade and restore expression of all these genes necessary for learning and memory.”

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia, affecting around 850,000 people in the UK. This neurodegenerative disease gradually diminishes a person’s ability to remember, think, reason, and make decisions.

There is no cure for the disease and scientists do not know the causes of the disease. It is more common among people over 60 years, but it can affect younger people as well.

The new study focuses on the disruption of a process called synaptic plasticity, which is thought to be crucial for memory and learning.

Research has revealed that synapses – the connections between brain cells – are “plastic” and are not fixed as the soldered joints in electronic circuits.

Scientists define synaptic plasticity as a biological process whereby synapses change over time, depending on specific patterns of activity.

Scientists previously tested compounds that inhibit HDAC2, but most these produced side effects, such as interfering with HDAC1. HDAC1 is crucial for cell proliferation, especially in red and white blood cells.

Therefore, in this new study, Prof. Tsai and his team sought to find a way to target only the HDAC2 activity that impedes memory. The team searched for proteins that help the enzyme to bind to the relevant genes.

To find the diabolical pairing, the researchers examined the expression of genes in postmortem brain samples taken from people who didn’t have Alzheimer’s.

Of these samples some brains had high and some had low levels of HDAC2, which helped the researchers to identify more than 2,000 genes that might be involved with HDAC2 activity.

Next, a technique called gene knockdown was used to prevent the expression of HDAC2 and other genes in mice. This narrowed down the search to a gene that made the protein Sp3.

Fragments of HDAC2 were used to connect with Sp3 in the mice. This effectively mopped up the proteins and prevented them from forming a complex with complete HDAC2 enzymes.

This clean-up was useful and it helped restore mice’s nerve functions, providing evidence that the enzyme and its helper were both required to latch onto the histones and DNA and prevent them from working.

The study was published in the journal Cell Reports.

20/08/2017 / by / in
Vegetable nutrient may rejuvenate cognitive functions

A nutrient found in leafy vegetables may effectively revitalise cognitive functions, according to a new study. Researchers in the U.S. have discovered that lutein, an organic pigment and nutrient found in spinach, kale, avocados, and eggs, may be effective in rejuvenating cognitive functions.

Nutritionists have long discussed health benefits of green foods such as spinach, kale and other leafy vegetables.

A recent study found that lutein may decrease inflammation from heart disease.

The new research was conducted by researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, in collaboration with the University of Georgia in Athens, in the U.S. Dr. Naiman A. Khan, of the Department of Nutritional Sciences at the University of Illinois, led the research.

Dr. Khan and colleagues based their study on the assumption that cognitive ageing becomes evident earlier in life than one might expect.

While, past studies monitored cognitive ageing in elderly adults only, researchers on this new study sought a different approach. [Read more Eating turmeric, red grapes, apple peels could help ‘starve’ prostate cancer cells]

“As people get older, they experience typical decline. However, research has shown that this process can start earlier than expected. You can even start to see some differences in the 30s,” says first study author Anne Walk, a postdoctoral researcher also at the University of Illinois.

For their study, the team enrolled 60 adults aged between 25-45, to investigate whether or not lutein intake may impact cognition.

Lutein, the vegetable nutrient, is a naturally occurring compound that cannot be synthesised in the human body, explain the researchers. Therefore, it must be absorbed from foods that synthesise it, such as kale and other green leafy vegetables, or through food supplements.

Once lutein is incorporated in the body, it can be detected in the brain tissue and in the retinas of the eyes. This makes the assessment of lutein levels more appropriate and enables taking of non-invasive measurements.

“If lutein can protect against decline, we should encourage people to consume lutein-rich foods at a point in their lives when it has maximum benefit,” says Walk.

In the study, the participants were asked to respond to flickering light stimuli, so that the researchers could measure lutein levels. [Read more Chocolate may boost cognitive skills within hours]

The team assessed the neural activity in the brains of the subjects through electrodes attached to the scalp. Each individual was assigned an attention-related exercise. These exercises were designed to test their selective attention, attentional inhibition (the ability to ignore irrelevant stimuli), or response inhibition (the ability to suppress inappropriate impulses).

The team discovered that the participants who showed higher levels of lutein were cognitively more similar to younger individuals than they were to individuals of the same age with lower lutein levels.

“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. Lutein 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,” explains Walk.

Next, the researchers plan to investigate how consuming a larger amount of vegetable nutrient lutein may impact the level of the carotenoid accumulated in the retina, and to what degree lutein levels actually influence cognitive capacity.

“In this study we focused on attention, but we also would like to understand the effects of lutein on learning and memory,” concludes Dr. Khan.

The study was published in the journal Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience.

06/08/2017 / by / in
Too much sugar linked to increased depression risk in men

High intake of sugar is linked to increased risk of depression in men, according to a new study. Scientists at the University College London (UCL) in the UK, found that men who consumed more than 67gms of sugar each day – the equivalent of two cans of Coke – were at an increased risk of developing depression, anxiety, and other common mental disorders after 5 years, compared with men who consumed less than 39.5 gms of sugar.

“High sugar diets have a number of influences on our health but our study shows that there might also be a link between sugar and mood disorders, particularly among men. There are numerous factors that influence chances for mood disorders, but having a diet high in sugary foods and drinks might be the straw that breaks the camel’s back,” says lead study author Anika Knuppel, of the Institute of Epidemiology and Health at UCL.

Read more Vegetable compound may decrease inflammation from heart disease

Consuming too much sugar may heighten the risk of a range of health problems, including type 2 diabetes, tooth decay, obesity, and heart disease.

Previous studies have also linked high sugar intake to increased risk of depression, though the researchers had suggested the association may be down to “reverse causation.”

“Reverse causation refers, in this context, to the possibility that a mood disorder may lead to higher sugar intake, so that the diet-mental health association is wholly or partly the result of poor mental health rather than of high sugar intake,” the authors explain. [Read more Drinking coffee daily may lead to a longer life, new study shows]

For the new study, Knuppel and colleagues set out to investigate whether sugar consumption might influence the development of mental health problems.

The team analysed data of 10,308 participants, of whom 66.9 percent were men. All participants were aged between 35-55 years and were part of the Whitehall Study II in the 1980s.

Over the follow-up period of 22 years, the subjects completed food frequency questionnaires at four time points. The information from these questionnaires were used to calculate the participants’ daily sugar consumption from 15 sweetened foods and beverages, which included cakes, soda, tea and coffee.

During the follow-up, the participants also completed general health questionnaires and interviews at numerous time points. These information were used to identify the individuals’ development of common mental health disorders, such as anxiety and depression.

The researchers found that the men who had the highest amount of daily sugar intake (more than 67 grams) were 23% more likely to develop common mental disorder five years later, compared with men who consumed 39.5 grams daily. [Read more ]

This finding remained even after the researchers accounted for several likely confounding factors, which included other dietary factors, sociodemographic factors, and the presence of other health problems. [Read more Adherence to a Mediterranean diet linked to lesser chance of developing ADHD]

The team did not find any link between sugar intake and mental health disorders in women.

Now, why the results were much stronger in men than women? One of the reasons, Knuppel explains, could be that women aren’t represented strongly in the research, which recruited civil servants in the 1980s. But according to national dietary surveys, men consume more sugar than women do, in spite of the popular assumptions about “Bridget Jones sitting there with her ice-cream bucket.”

The researchers also discovered that compared with participants who consumed low amount of sugar, the individuals with mood disorders who consumed high amount of sugar daily were more likely to develop depression after 5 years. But, this link subsided once the researchers considered sociodemographic and other dietary and health factors.

“Our findings provide yet further evidence that sugary foods and drinks are best avoided … The physical and mental health of British people deserves some protection from the commercial forces which exploit the human ‘sweet tooth’,” says co-author Professor Eric Brunner, also from UCL.

The findings were published in the journal Scientific Reports.

29/07/2017 / by / in
Breastfeeding mothers may have reduced risk of Multiple sclerosis

Mothers who breastfeed for 15 months or longer may be less likely to develop multiple sclerosis (MS) compared with those who breastfeed up to 4 months or do not breastfeed at all, according to a new study.

As women are twice as likely as men to develop MS, it is crucial to understand if aspects of motherhood is any way tied to the development of MS.

“This is another example of a benefit to the mother from breastfeeding,” says study author Annette Langer-Gould, MD, PhD, with Kaiser Permanente in the U.S.

“Other health benefits include a reduced risk of breast cancer, ovarian cancer, type 2 diabetes and heart attack.”

Women with Multiple sclerosis have significantly fewer relapses during pregnancy or while the child is nourished through breastfeeding only.

Read more Progression of Multiple Sclerosis may be stopped by resetting immune system

“Many experts have suggested that the levels of sex hormones are responsible for these findings, but we hypothesized that the lack of ovulation may play a role, so we wanted to see if having a longer time of breastfeeding or fewer total years when a woman is ovulating could be associated with the risk of MS,” Langer-Gould said.

For their study, the researchers recruited 397 women with an average age of 37. All of the women had recently been diagnosed with MS or with clinically isolated syndrome (CIS). CIS can eventually lead to the development of Multiple sclerosis.

The team compared the results of this group with the results of another group of 433 women who did not have MS. The researchers matched the healthy women for race and age with their counterparts.

The women were given in-person questionnaires about pregnancy period, breastfeeding, hormonal contraceptive use and other factors.

The team found that women who had breastfed for a cumulative amount with one or more children for 15 months or more were 53% less likely to develop MS or CIS than women who had not breastfed of breastfed for four months or less.

A total of 85 of the healthy female respondents had breastfed for 15 months or more, compared to 44 of the female respondents with MS. In contrast, 110 of the healthy women breastfed for zero to four months, compared to 118 of the women with MS.

The researchers also examined the lengths and histories of the participants’ menstrual cycles to see if ovulation held any relevance in the study results.

They found that women who were aged 15 or older at the time of their first menstrual cycle were 44% less likely to develop MS or CIS compared with females who had got their first period at age 11 or earlier.

Among the group of healthy women, 44 were 15 years or older at their first menstruation, compared with 27 women from the MS group. Also, 120 women from the healthy group were 11 years or younger at first menstruation than 131 women from the MS group.

The total number of years a female ovulated was not linked with risk of MS. Neither were other factors that would be part of that number, such as number of pregnancies, use of hormonal contraceptives and age at first birth.

Despite finding a correlation between breastfeeding for a long period and reduced risk of MS, the scientists warn against making any quick judgment. They insist that the correlation doesn’t imply causation.

Yet, they see the findings as a sign that mothers should be encouraged to breastfeed.

“This is another example of a benefit to the mother from breastfeeding,” says Dr. Langer-Gould.

The study also has its limitations. The women had to recall incidents that occurred several years ago, therefore there might be mistakes made by the participants. Additionally, reasons behind women’s breastfeeding, or for breastfeeding only for a limited period, were not looked into.

The study was published in the journal Neurology.

15/07/2017 / by / in
Poor sleep increases Alzheimer’s brain proteins

A single night of poor sleep can cause a spike in brain proteins linked to Alzheimer’s disease, a new study reports.

Researchers from the U.S. and the Netherlands have found that sleep helps the body clear away two compounds in the brain, called amyloid and tau, and interrupted, poor sleep may cause too much of them to build up.

While the study doesn’t show that poor sleep causes Alzheimer’s, it adds one more piece to the puzzle of what causes dementia.

The team believes that the findings back the notion that chronic poor sleep in midlife could elevate the risk of developing Alzheimer’s later in life.

Read more People with prolonged sleeping patterns may be at higher risk of dementia

“When people had their slow-wave sleep disrupted, their amyloid levels increased by about 10 percent,” says study leader Dr. Yo-El Ju of Washington University in St. Louis.

Although scientists knew there was a connection between dementia and poor sleep, it wasn’t clear whether dementia was driving insomnia or vice versa.

The study was jointly conducted by researchers from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis; Stanford University in California, in the U.S., and Radboud University Medical Centre in the Netherlands.

Alzheimer’s disease is a neurodegenerative disease that progresses rapidly. It is the most common cause of dementia, accounting for about 70% of all dementia cases. The disease affects memory, decision-making, language, thinking, and speech.

The brains of people with Alzheimer’s disease feature two hallmarks of the disease – plaques of amyloid protein and tangles of tau protein. These plaques and tangles causes neuron cells to die.

In the UK, around 850,000 people are currently living with dementia, and the majority have Alzheimer’s disease, for which there is no cure. Although the number of dementia cases is dropping as people adopt healthier lifestyles, the number of people living with the illness is expected to rise to 1.2 million by 2040 because of the ageing population. [Read more What causes aging? Can the process be slowed?]

More than a third of Britons also sleep for less than 6 hours a night, according to The Sleep Council.

For their study, the researchers sought to identify the most important phase of sleep.

poor sleep“What we did was allow people to sleep a normal amount of time, but we prevented them from getting deep sleep or what is called slow-wave sleep,” Ju told NBC News.

“When we interrupted just the slow-wave sleep part, they still had an increase in amyloid. So this tells us it’s getting the deep slow-wave sleep that’s important for reducing the levels of amyloid.”

Ju and colleagues recruited 22 healthy adults aged between 35 and 65. All the participants reported experiencing no sleep problems and had no cognitive impairments.

The participants showed up in a controlled sleep lab. Half were allowed to sleep normally, while the other half were constantly kept in shallow sleep. [Read more Ingredient found in red wine may slow Alzheimer’s]

“As soon as they got into slow-wave sleep, they got a beep. And the beeps got louder and louder and louder until they came out of the deep sleep,” says Prof. Ju.

“It was pretty harsh.”

The participants didn’t realise their sleep had been interrupted, and this went on for the entire night.

The participants’ spinal fluid were analysed in the morning.

“When people had their slow wave sleep disrupted, their amyloid levels increased by about 10 percent,” Prof. Ju says.

The subjects were also fitted with sleep monitors to measure their sleep at home. Participants who experienced poor sleep at home were found to have higher levels of a second Alzheimer’s related protein called tau. [Read more Long daytime naps may increase risk of diabetes]

Prof. Ju says they were not surprised to see that tau levels didn’t increase after only one night of poor sleep whereas this did cause amyloid levels to rise, since tau levels tend to change more slowly.

“But we could see, when the participants had several bad nights in a row at home that their tau levels had risen,” she adds.

Prof. Ju concludes by saying:

“At this point, we can’t say whether improving sleep will reduce your risk of developing Alzheimer’s. All we can really say is that bad sleep increases levels of some proteins that are associated with Alzheimer’s disease. But a good night’s sleep is something you want to be striving for anyway.”

Next, the team plans to study whether treating obstructive sleep apnea will improve people’s slow-wave sleep and affect amyloid levels. Sleep apnea is a common cause of sleep disruption. People with this condition have a higher risk of developing dementia.

The study was published in the journal Brain.

11/07/2017 / by / in
Vegetable compound may decrease inflammation from heart disease

A vegetable compound known as lutein can decrease chronic inflammation in coronary artery disease patients, according to a new study from Sweden. Lutein, the compound gives some plants and egg yolks their color.

The scientists from Linkoping University (LiU) in Sweden, also discovered that this vegetable compound is taken up and stored by certain immune system cells.

Coronary artery disease (CAD) is the most common form of heart disease in the world. Each year, approximately 3.8 million men and 3.4 million women die from CAD, worldwide. It is estimated that this disease will claim the lives of 11.1 million people globally.

Read more Eating grapes can reduce bowel cancer risk

Coronary artery disease develops due to buildup of plaques in the walls of arteries. This condition is known as atherosclerosis. As a result, the arteries become narrower and partially or totally blocks blood flow to the heart. When the heart muscle doesn’t get enough blood, it causes chest pain, known as angina. Coronary artery disease can also cause heart failure.

From advances in basic science, researchers have discovered that atherosclerosis isn’t just a process where fat-deposits in the arteries; it also involves an ongoing inflammatory response that affects all stages of the disease.

vegetable compoundThe researchers at LiU note that in many aspects of CAD, such as angina and heart attack, inflammation plays a crucial part. [Read more Eating apples and green tomatoes could hinder symptoms of aging]

“We know that chronic inflammation is associated with a poorer prognosis,” says study leader Lena Jonasson, a cardiology consultant and LiU professor in medical and health sciences.

“We know that chronic inflammation is associated with a poorer prognosis.”

She explains that a remarkable number of patients, who suffered a heart attack continue to experience constant low-level inflammation in their bodies, even after successful treatments with drugs and lifestyle changes. [Read more Drinking beet juice boosts muscle strength in heart failure patients]

Prof. Jonasson and colleagues point to previous studies that have suggested that our diet can affect inflammation in our bodies. They underline a group of compounds called carotenoids, which are “antioxidants with potential anti-inflammatory properties.”

Carotenoids are vegetable compounds, also found in animal foods. They give color to other materials.

Foods that are rich in the vegetable compound lutein – the carotenoid at the center of the new study – include dark green leafy vegetables such as parsley, spinach, and kale. Lutein is also present in egg yolk.

For their study, the researchers recruited 193 patients with coronary artery disease. They started by investigating the association between carotenoids and inflammation in these patients.

They measured blood levels of six of the most common carotenoids and compared them with blood levels of an inflammation marker known as interleukin-6 (IL-6). [Read more Drinking beet juice before workout boosts brain power in older adults]

However, lutein was found to be the only carotenoid to have a connection with levels of IL-6: “the higher the level of lutein in the blood, the lower the level of IL-6.”

“The patients were receiving the best possible treatment for their disease according to clinical guidelines, but even so, many of them had a persistent inflammation. At the same time, the patients had lower levels of lutein,” comments Prof. Jonasson.

The researchers then investigated what might be happening at the cell level to produce this effect. They studied immune cells isolated from the blood of patients with coronary artery disease, and found that treatment with the vegetable compound reduced the cells’ inflammation activity.

The team now plans to find out whether eating more foods rich in this vegetable compound lutein can reduce inflammation in coronary artery disease patients.

“Our study confirms that one particular carotenoid, lutein, can suppress long-term inflammation in patients with coronary artery disease. We have also shown that lutein is absorbed and stored by the cells of the immune system in the blood.”

The research was published in the journal Atherosclerosis.

08/07/2017 / 2 Comments / by / in