Friday, March 30, 2012

The link between fast food and depression has been confirmed

The link between fast food and depression has been confirmed

According to a recent study headed by scientists from the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria and the University of Granada, eating commercial baked goods (fairy cakes, croissants, doughnuts, etc.) and fast food (hamburgers, hotdogs and pizza) is linked to depression.

Published in the Public Health Nutrition journal, the results reveal that consumers of fast food, compared to those who eat little or none, are 51% more likely to develop depression.

Furthermore, a dose-response relationship was observed. In other words this means that "the more fast food you consume, the greater the risk of depression," explains Almudena Sánchez-Villegas, lead author of the study, to SINC.

The study demonstrates that those participants who eat the most fast food and commercial baked goods are more likely to be single, less active and have poor dietary habits, which include eating less fruit, nuts, fish, vegetables and olive oil. Smoking and working more than 45 hours per week are other prevalent characteristics of this group.

A long-term study

With regard to the consumption of commercial baked goods, the results are equally conclusive. "Even eating small quantities is linked to a significantly higher chance of developing depression," as the university researcher from the Canary Islands points out.

The study sample belonged to the SUN Project (University of Navarra Diet and Lifestyle Tracking Program). It consisted of 8,964 participants that had never been diagnosed with depression or taken antidepressants. They were assessed for an average of six months, and 493 were diagnosed with depression or started to take antidepressants.

This new data supports the results of the SUN project in 2011, which were published in the PLoS One journal. The project recorded 657 new cases of depression out of the 12,059 people analysed over more than six months. A 42% increase in the risk associated with fast food was found, which is lower than that found in the current study.

Sánchez-Villegas concludes that "although more studies are necessary, the intake of this type of food should be controlled because of its implications on both health (obesity, cardiovascular diseases) and mental well-being."

Bad science here. There's a link, maybe, but what causes what? People who eat junk food are also more likely to be single and work 45 hours or more a week. Does eating fast food cause THOSE things as well? Correlation is not causation. So the real scientist would next do a randomized double blind study to see if the theory generated here about depression and fast food is a real one. Until then this is all speculation. Too bad the media falls for this over and over again. Fail.

Why Fast? Part 1 – Weight Loss

Why Fast? Part 1 – Weight Loss Mark's Daily Apple

So, yes: it works. But does fasting work solely through caloric restriction, or is it doing something special?http://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gif

That’s the real question. There’s no question that fasting causes weight loss through caloric restriction. Obviously, when you don’t eat anything, your body turns to its own stored energy reserves, reserves that take up physical space and have mass. Depletion of those energy stores reduces mass and thus weight. Total and absolute caloric restriction. That’s elementary stuff and the studies from the 1960s show that.

To dig a bit deeper, let’s look at how weight loss occurs during a fast. I’ll stick to research involving humans only (sorry, rodent personal trainers).

Secretion of growth hormone, one of the premier fat burning hormones, increases during a fast. In a five-day fasting protocol, men experienced increased GH secretion on day one and day five (the only two days where GH was measured). A later study showed that during two-day fasting sessions, growth hormone secretions increased in both frequency and intensity in men. They experienced more frequent GH bursts and each burst secreted a higher mass of GH. A more recent study found that 24-hour fasts increased GH by 1300% in women and almost 2000% in men.

Fasting decreases fasting insulin levels. The presence of insulin inhibits lipolysis, the release of stored triglycerides (body fat). Without lipolysis actually releasing stored body fat, it’s rather difficult to, well, burn that body fat for energy. During a fast, fasting insulin decreases and lipolysis increases. This insulin-blunting aspect of fasting quite literally allows the fast to be successful, because without the ability to access stored body fat for energy, making it through a period of zero caloric intake will be nigh impossible.

Fasting improves insulin sensitivity. 20-hour fasts were enough to improve insulin sensitivity in men.

Fasting increases the catecholamines, both adrenaline (epinephrine) and noradrenaline (norepinephrine). Both catecholamines increase resting energy expenditure during a fast, and guess where your fasting body finds the energy to expend? From body fat. Catecholamines activate hormone sensitive lipase present in adipose tissue, spurring the release of said fat. This makes intuitive sense, doesn’t it? If you’re hungry in the wild, you need to hunt (or gather, or fish, or somehow procure food) and you need energy to do it. The catecholamines help provide some of that energy while burning fat in the process.

Hmm, notice anything? All those mechanisms dealt with fat burning specifically. While there may be some weirdo out there who’s interested in reducing bone mineral density and muscle mass while maintaining fat tissue, I would wager that what most people mean by “weight loss” is “fat mass loss.” From the stuff I just linked, it looks like fasting burns fat, rather than just weight. But what about Conventional Wisdom which claims that fasting increases muscle wasting – maybe because your body will totally recognize the lethal nature of all that arterycloggingsaturated animal fat and choose to break down muscle instead? Is it true?

Let’s go to the research:

In one study, normal weight subjects ate just once a day without reducing overall caloric intake. Weight didn’t change, which isn’t really surprising, but body composition did change – and for the better. Body fat decreased and lean weight increased (in addition to a bunch of other beneficial changes) without an overall reduction in calories.

A recent review of the relevant literature found that while fasting and caloric restriction are “equally as effective in decreasing body weight and fat mass,” fasting is “more effective for the retention of lean mass.”

Conventional Wisdom strikes out again.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Intense Sweetness Surpasses Cocaine Reward

Intense Sweetness Surpasses Cocaine Reward
Magalie Lenoir,# Fuschia Serre,# Lauriane Cantin, and Serge H. Ahmed*

Conclusions
Our findings clearly demonstrate that intense sweetness can surpass cocaine reward, http://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gifeven in drug-sensitized and -addicted individuals. We speculate that the addictive potential of intense sweetness results from an inborn hypersensitivity to sweet tastants. In most mammals, including rats and humans, sweet receptors evolved in ancestral environments poor in sugars and are thus not adapted to high concentrations of sweet tastants. The supranormal stimulation of these receptors by sugar-rich diets, such as those now widely available in modern societies, would generate a supranormal reward signal in the brain, with the potential to override self-control mechanisms and thus to lead to addiction.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Hot pepper compound could help hearts

Hot pepper compound could help hearts

SAN DIEGO, March 27, 2012 — The food that inspires wariness is on course for inspiring even more wonder from a medical standpoint as scientists today reported the latest evidence that chili peppers are a heart-healthy food with potential to protect against the No. 1 cause of death in the developed world. The rephttp://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gifort was part of the 243rd National Meeting and Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS), the world's largest scientific society, being held here this week.

The study focused on capsaicin and its fiery-hot relatives, a piquant family of substances termed "capsaicinoids." The stuff that gives cayennes, jalapenos, habaneros and other chili peppers their heat, capsaicin already has an established role in medicine in rub-on-the-skin creams to treat arthritis and certain forms of pain. Past research suggested that spicing food with chilies can lower blood pressure in people with that condition, reduce blood cholesterol and ease the tendency for dangerous blood clots to form.

"Our research has reinforced and expanded knowledge about how these substances in chilies work in improving heart health," said Zhen-Yu Chen, Ph.D., who presented the study. "We now have a clearer and more detailed portrait of their innermost effects on genes and other mechanisms that influence cholesterol and the health of blood vessels. It is among the first research to provide that information."

Monday, March 26, 2012

The Case for Sleep Medicine

The Case for Sleep Medicine
By GAYLE GREENE

[...]http://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gif

The risks of sleeping pills are real, as I well know, having taken them for three decades. But so are the risks of chronic sleep loss. As the pioneering sleep scientist William Dement has argued, sleep is “the most important predictor of how long you will live — perhaps more important than smoking, exercise or high blood pressure.”

Sleep deprivation ratchets up the stress system, leaving you more susceptible to even relatively mild sources of strain. When University of Chicago researchers led by Eve Van Cauter deprived young, healthy people of a few hours of sleep for six nights, they produced in them the hormonal profiles of much older people: higher levels of stress hormones and lower levels of growth hormone (essential to cell repair). The study’s participants developed hormonal imbalances conducive to weight gain and levels of insulin resistance like those of people with diabetes.

Loss of sleep also compromises immune resistance and leaves you more vulnerable to everything from the common cold to cancer. In a University of Chicago study led by Karine Spiegel, participants whose sleep was restricted to four hours a night for six nights had, when vaccinated for influenza, less than half the immune response of those who had slept well. Michael Irwin and colleagues at the University of California, Los Angeles found that even modest sleep loss — only one night, between 3 and 6 a.m. — significantly reduced white blood cell activity, a crucial line of defense against infection and cancer.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

High protein intake does NOT harm your bones or kidneys- new study reveals

Protein intake, calcium balance and health consequences
Abstract

High-protein (HP) diets exert a hypercalciuric effect at constant levels of calcium intake, even though the effect may depend on the nature of the dietary protein. Lower urinary pH is also consistently observed for subjects consuming HP diets. The combination of these two effects was suspected to be associated with a dietary environment favorable for demineralization of the skeleton. However, increased calcium excretion due to HP diet does not seem to be linked to impaired calcium balance. In contrast, some data indicate that HP intakes induce an increase of intestinal calcium absorption. Moreover, no clinical data support the hypothesis of a detrimental effect of HP diet on bone health, except in a context of inadequate calcium supply. In addition, HP intake promotes bone growth and retards bone loss and low-protein diet is associated with higher risk of hip fractures. The increase of acid and calcium excretion due to HP diet is also accused of constituting a favorable environment for kidney stones and renal diseases. However, in healthy subjects, no damaging effect of HP diets on kidney has been found in either observational or interventional studies and it seems that HP diets might be deleterious only in patients with preexisting metabolic renal dysfunction. Thus, HP diet does not seem to lead to calcium bone loss, and the role of protein seems to be complex and probably dependent on other dietary factors and the presence of other nutrients in the diet.


J Calvez1, N Poupin1, C Chesneau2, C Lassale3 and D Tomé1

1AgroParisTech, CRNH-IdF, UMR914 Nutrition Physiology and Ingestive Behavior, Paris, France
2Bongrain SA, 42 rue Rieussec, Viroflay, France
3Unité de Recherche en Epidémiologie Nutritionnelle, UMR U557 Inserm/U1125 Inra/Cnam/Paris 13, CRNH IdF, SMBH Paris 13, Bobigny Cedex, France

Correspondence: Professor D Tomé, Life Sciences and Health, AgroParisTech, 16 rue Claude Bernard, 75005 Paris, France. E-mail: tome@agroparistech.fr

Received 27 April 2011; Revised 10 August 2011; Accepted 11 August 2011
Advance online publication 30 November 2011
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Researchers discover why humans began walking upright

The George Washington University's Brian Richmond and team of researchers say chimps use 2 legs to reach and carry scarce resources
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WASHINGTON—Most of us walk and carry items in our hands every day. These are seemingly simple activities that the majority of us don't question. But an international team of researchers, including Brian Richmond at the George Washington University, have discovered that human bipedalism, or walking upright, may have originated millions of years ago as an adaptation to carrying scarce, high-quality resources. This latest research was published in this month's "Current Biology."

The team of researchers from the U.S., England, Japan and Portugal investigated the behavior of modern-day chimpanzees as they competed for food resources, in an effort to understand what ecological settings would lead a large ape - one that resembles the 6 million-year old ancestor we shared in common with living chimpanzees - to walk on two legs.

"These chimpanzees provide a model of the ecological conditions under which our earliest ancestors might have begun walking on two legs," said Dr. Richmond, an author of the study and associate professor of anthropology at GW's Columbian College of Arts and Sciences. "Something as simple as carrying—an activity we engage in every day—may have, under the right conditions, led to upright walking and set our ancestors on a path apart from other apes that ultimately led to the origin of our kind."

Brain insulin resistance contributes to cognitive decline in Alzheimer's disease

Brain insulin resistance contributes to cognitive decline in Alzheimer's disease

PHILADELPHIA – Insulin resistance in the brain precedes and contributes to cognitive decline above and beyond other known causes of Alzheimer's disease, according to a http://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gifnew study by researchers from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. Insulin is an important hormone in many bodily functions, including the health of brain cells. The team identified extensive abnormalities in the activity of two major signaling pathways for insulin and insulin-like growth factor in non-diabetic people with Alzheimer's disease. These pathways could be targeted with new or existing medicines to potentially help resensitize the brain to insulin and possibly slow down or even improve cognitive decline.

This is the first study to directly demonstrate that insulin resistance occurs in the brains of people with Alzheimer's disease. The study is now online in the Journal of Clinical Investigation.

"Our research clearly shows that the brain's ability to respond to insulin, which is important for normal brain function, is going offline at some point. Insulin in the brain not only modulates glucose uptake, but also promotes the health of brain cells – their growth, survival, remodeling, and normal functioning. We believe that brain insulin resistance may be an important contributor to the cognitive decline associated with Alzheimer's disease," said senior author, Steven E. Arnold, MD, professor of Psychiatry and Neurology.

Monday, March 19, 2012

BPA's Diabetes Link Strengthened by New Study

BPA's Diabetes Link Strengthened by New Study

Growing evidence suggests that even minuscule amounts of BPA (used in everything from pesticides to water bottles) can scramble hormone signals, and trick fat cells into taking in more fat or mislead the pancreas into secreting excess insulin....
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Among the most ubiquitous and scrutinized of these so-called endocrine disruptors is bisphenol, better known as BPA. The chemical is a common ingredient in plastics and food-can linings.
[...]

Nadal's latest research, finds that the chemical triggers the release of almost double the insulin actually needed to break down food. High insulin levels can desensitize the body to the hormone over time, which in some people may then lead to weight gain and Type 2 diabetes.

To achieve this feat, BPA fools a receptor into thinking it is the natural hormone estrogen, an insulin regulator.

[...]

"That pretty much nails it," Bruce Blumberg of the University of California, Irvine, who was not involved in the new study, told The Huffington Post. He notes that despite the prior associations made between BPA and metabolic problems, including obesity and diabetes, doubt had lingered because of a lack of understanding about how the phenomenon occurred. Long-term studies of children -- tracking BPA exposures and health outcomes -- remain ongoing around the world.

An estimated 90 percent of people in developed countries have BPA circulating in their blood at levels often higher than the threshold for causing hormone disruption used in Nadal's study. This high incidence is due not only to exposures from leaching food packages but also BPA-infused cash register receipts, dental sealants and toilet paper.

Frederick vom Saal, another expert in endocrine disruptors at the University of Missouri-Columbia stated that, "People are seeing effects of BPA down to 1000-fold below [Nadal's threshold]." "It takes so little of this chemical to cause harm."

I've been watching this issue for a while, and it is interesting to see this new study lend more credence to the hypothesis that BPA causes diabetes.

Losing Belly Fat, Whether From a Low-Carb or a Low-Fat Diet, Helps Improve Blood Vessel Function

Losing Belly Fat, Whether From a Low-Carb or a Low-Fat Diet, Helps Improve Blood Vessel Function

Released: 3/12/2012 11:45 PM EDT
Embargo expired: 3/13/2012 8:00 PM EDT
Source: Johns Hopkins Medicine

Newswise — Overweight people who shed pounds, especially belly fat, can improve the function of their blood vessels no matter whether they are on a low-carb or a low-fat diet, according to a study being presented by Johns Hopkins researchers at an American Heart Association scientific meeting in San Diego on March 13 that is focused on cardiovascular disease prevention.

In the six-month weight-loss study, Hopkins researchers found that the more belly fat the participants lost, the better their arteries were able to expand when needed, allowing more blood to flow more freely. The researchers also found that participants in the study who were on a low-carb diet lost about ten pounds more, on average, than those who were on a low-fat diet. Being overweight increases the risk of cardiovascular disease, especially if the fat is accumulated in the belly above the waist.

Exercise and DNA

Exercise changes your DNA

You might think that the DNA you inherited is one thing that you absolutely can't do anything about, but in one sense you'd be wrong. Researchers reporting in the Marchttp://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gifh issue of Cell Metabolism, a Cell Press publication, have found that when healthy but inactive men and women exercise for a matter of minutes, it produces a rather immediate change to their DNA. Perhaps even more tantalizing, the study suggests that the caffeine in your morning coffee might also influence muscle in essentially the same way.

The underlying genetic code in human muscle isn't changed with exercise, but the DNA molecules within those muscles are chemically and structurally altered in very important ways. Those modifications to the DNA at precise locations appear to be early events in the genetic reprogramming of muscle for strength and, ultimately, in the structural and metabolic benefits of exercise.

"Our muscles are really plastic," says Juleen Zierath of Karolinska Institutet in Sweden. "We often say "You are what you eat." Well, muscle adapts to what you do. If you don't use it, you lose it, and this is one of the mechanisms that allows that to happen."

The DNA changes in question are known as epigenetic modifications and involve the gain or loss of chemical marks on DNA over and above the familiar sequence of As, Gs, Ts, and Cs. The new study shows that the DNA within skeletal muscle taken from people after a burst of exercise bears fewer chemical marks (specifically methyl groups) than it did before exercise. Those changes take place in stretches of DNA that are involved in turning "on" genes important for muscles' adaptation to exercise.

When the researchers made muscles contract in lab dishes, they saw a similar loss of DNA methyl groups. Exposure of isolated muscle to caffeine had the same effect.

Friday, March 16, 2012

White rice link seen with Type 2 diabetes, says study

White rice link seen with Type 2 diabetes, says study

Health researchers said on Thursday they had found a troubling link between higher http://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gifconsumption of rice and Type 2 diabetes, a disease that in some countries is becoming an epidemic.

Further work is need to probe the apparent association and diets that are notoriously high in sugar and fats should remain on the no-go list, they cautioned.

"What we've found is white rice is likely to increase the risk of Type 2 diabetes, especially at high consumption levels such as in Asian populations," Qi Sun of the Harvard School of Public Health told AFP.

[...]

In the British Medical Journal (BMJ), Sun's team said the link emerged from an analysis of four previously published studies, carried out in China, Japan, Australia and the United States.

These studies followed 350,000 people over a timescale from four to 22 years. More than 13,000 people developed Type 2 diabetes.

In the studies carried out in China and Japan, those who ate most rice were 55 percent likelier to develop the disease than those who ate least. In the United States and Australia, where consumption of rice is far lower, the difference was 12 percent.

Participants in the two Asian countries ate three or four servings of rice a day on average, compared to just one or two servings a week in the Western countries.

White rice is the dominant form of rice eaten in the world.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Acid trip could help treat alcoholism, report suggests

Acid trip could help treat alcoholism, report suggests

By Linda Thrasybule
MyHealthNewsDaily MSNBC

The mind-altering drug LSD could be used to treat alcoholism, a new report says.

LSD prevented alcoholics from relapsing during treatment, according to researchers in Norway who analyzed six previous studies of alcoholism treatment.

The studies involved 536 heavy drinkers in all, two-thirds of whom were given LSD while others received comparison treatments. Fifty-nine percent of the LSD users avoided relapsing into alcohol abuse, compared with 38 percent of the others, the new study noted.
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"LSD worked in an entirely different way than any current psychiatric drugs," said study researcher Teri Krebs of the Norwegian University of Science and Technology. "Many patients said they had gained a new appreciation for their alcohol problem and new motivation to address it."

The study appeared Thursday (Mar. 8) in the Journal of Psychopharmacology.

Too Often, Doctors Overlook Narcolepsy By JANE E. BRODY, Columnist

Too Often, Doctors Overlook Narcolepsy
By JANE E. BRODY, Columnist
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In someone without a sleep disorder, it typically takes about 12 minutes to fall asleep; the rapid eye movement stage of sleep, so-called dream sleep, occurs after more than an hour of non-R.E.M. sleep. Clea’s test showed that she fell asleep almost immediately and quickly lapsed into R.E.M. sleep.

In normal R.E.M. sleep, muscles become paralyzed in a sense to prevent people from acting out their dreams. In someone with narcolepsy, the R.E.M. stage is often accompanied by muscle movements that result in restlessness and frequent awakenings.

The disordered nights are reflected in excessive daytime sleepiness, which in turn can cause mental fogginess, difficulty concentrating, lack of energy, depression, extreme exhaustion and sometimes memory lapses.

After their unavoidable naps, people with narcolepsy are only briefly refreshed. Within an hour or two, the uncontrollable sleepiness recurs.

Many Missed Diagnoses

Studies suggest that narcolepsy is far more common than most doctors realize. The Center for Narcolepsy at Stanford University estimates that the condition affects one person in 2,000. Most cases are undiagnosed and untreated. Misdiagnosis is very common, as well, with narcolepsy mistaken for laziness, depression, schizophrenia or an attention disorder.

Scientists explain marijuana short-term memory loss: Marinol

Scientists explain marijuana short-term memory loss

By
Charles Cooper

(CNET) -- Scientists have long been puzzled to explain short-term memory loss that results from marijuana smoking. But while an open-and-shut explanation still remains elusive, a couple of neuroscientists may be getting close.

Writing in the journal Cell, Xia Zhang of the University of Ottawa Institute of Mental Health Research, and Giovanni Marsicano of the University of Bordeaux, France, came up with a working explanation by focusing on a kind of signalling mechanism called astrocytes that previously had only been considered important for protecting neurons.

http://en.wikipedia.orghttp://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gif/wiki/Marinol#Dronabinol

Dronabinol

Dronabinol is the International Nonproprietary Name (INN) for a pure isomer of THC, (–)-trans-Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol, which is the main isomer in cannabis.[81] It is sold as Marinol (a registered trademark of Solvay Pharmaceuticals). Dronabinol is also marketed, sold, and distributed by PAR Pharmaceutical Companies under the terms of a license and distribution agreement with SVC pharma LP, an affiliate of Rhodes Technologies. Synthesized THC may be generally referred to as dronabinol. It is available as a prescription drug (under Marinol[82]) in several countries including the United States and Germany. In the United States, Marinol is a Schedule III drug, available by prescription, considered to be non-narcotic and to have a low risk of physical or mental dependence. Efforts to get cannabis rescheduled as analogous to Marinol have not succeeded thus far, though a 2002 petition has been accepted by the DEA. As a result of the rescheduling of Marinol from Schedule II to Schedule III, refills are now permitted for this substance. Marinol has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the treatment of anorexia in AIDS patients, as well as for refractory nausea and vomiting of patients undergoing chemotherapy, which has raised much controversy as to why natural THC is still a schedule I drug.[83]

Will There Be “Pink Slime” in Your Child’s School Lunch?

March 9, 2012, 6:47 pm
Will There Be “Pink Slime” in Your Child’s School Lunch?
By KJ DELL'ANTONIA

“Pink Slime:” it’s tasty (well, probably not), nutritious (oops, not that either) and cheap (got that right) and it’s probably found in a hamburger near you. Most particularly, in the hamburger or cheeseburger that almost certainly graced the lunch menu at your child’s school this month.

“Pink Slime” is the appetizing term for a ground-up amalgam of beef scraps, cow connective tissues, and other beef trimmings, once useful only for dog food and cooking oil, that are treated with ammonia to kill pathogens and then added to stretch the use of “traditional” ground beef (what most people once called simply “ground beef”).

[..]

As The Times described in 2009, faced with a glut of fat, connective tissue and other once largely unsaleable remnants, the company’s founder developed a process that turned those slaughterhouse trimmings, which were more prone to contamination with E. coli and salmonella, into desirable (to hamburger-makers) filler by compressing them and exposing them to ammonia gas, killing the pathogens.

The term “pink slime” came from one of two whistle-blowing former U.S. Department of Agriculture scientists who are on a crusade against the stuff, and particularly against its unlabeled inclusion in everything from school lunches to, according to ABC News, up to 70 percent of all supermarket ground beef. It’s “not nutritionally equivalent,” Carl S. Custer told The Daily. This is “economic fraud,” Gerald Zirnstein told ABC News. “It’s a cheap substitute.”

This at a time when the lunchbox police see fit to tell us the food we serve our kids does not meet their high standards.