The Gary Null Show Notes – 03.23.23


1.Woke Cambridge Students HATE Historian’s FACTS – Rafe Heydel-Mankoo (start @ 0:32)

Meta-analysis affirms weight management benefit for chili pepper compound

Zhengzhou University (China), March 22 2023. 

A systematic review and meta-analysis published in the British Journal of Nutrition supported a benefit for capsaicin, a compound derived from chili peppers, in weight management.

“Capsaicin, as the most important compound of chili pepper, is the major pungent principle in various species of capsicum fruits such as hot chili peppers and has long been globally used as an ingredient of spices, preservatives and medicines,” Wensen Zhang and colleagues at Zhengzhou University in China wrote. “Animal studies showed that dietary capsaicin may reduce the prevalence of obesity by suppressing inflammatory responses and enhancing fatty acid oxidation in adipose tissue and liver.”

The meta-analysis included 15 randomized trials that involved a total of 762 overweight or obese men and women. The trials compared the effects of encapsulated capsaicin or capsaicin as a food ingredient to a placebo. 

Body mass index, body weight and waist circumference were significantly reduced among participants who were given capsaicin in comparison with the placebo groups. No significant effect for capsaicin on waist to hip ratio was determined. As possible mechanisms, Zhang and colleagues cited studies that revealed an increase in energy expenditure in association with the intake of capsaicin. Other research found that chili consumption promotes fat oxidation, lowers appetite and accelerates energy metabolism. 

“This systematic review and meta-analysis demonstrated that capsaicin intake has the potential to reduce body mass index, body weight, waist circumference, but did not affect waist to hip ratio,” the authors concluded. “The results suggest that dietary capsaicin supplementation could be considered as part of the weight management program for overweight or obese individuals.”

Omega-3 fatty acids help prevent cancer and improve survival rates 

University of North Carolina, March 8, 201623

Are you getting enough omega-3 fatty acids in your diet? A recent study found that breast cancer patients had a lowered mortality rate as many as 15 years after initial testing if they increased their intake of omega-3polyunsaturated fatty acids.

Omega-3s are already linked with numerous health benefits, and this study indicates dramatically improved survival rates following a breast cancer diagnosis. Omega-3s are linked with lowered occurrences of many types of cancer and seem to play a role in preventing them.

One-way study participants increased their levels was by eating oily fish, as many types are well-known omega-3 foods. However, omega-3s are also available in supplement form.

The breast cancer study was led by the University of North Carolina’s Nikhil K. Khankari, PhD, MPH and colleagues, who looked at data from 1,463 breast cancer patients. This study tracked fish and omega-3 fatty acid intake of ALA, DPA, EPA, DHA and omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids (arachidonic acid and linoleic acid).

In 14.7 years, those in the group who consumed the most omega-3 foods (in this case, fish) were 25 to 29 percent more likely to survive. An analysis of the omega-3 fatty acids found that EPA and DHA in particular seemed to impact survival rates in a positive way.

Follow up study showed that reductions in mortality rates ranged from 16 to as high as 34 percent after 15 years when higher levels of the omega-3s DHA and EPA were consumed in both fish and supplement form. The research group concluded that long-chain omega-3 fatty acids were highly effective in improving survival rates following a breast cancer diagnosis.

The benefits of omega-3 fatty acids are numerous, with this study adding more confirmation of their efficacy. In addition to cancer-fighting properties, these potent compounds can produce an anti-inflammatory effect, leading to lowered blood pressure, as well as healthier cholesterol and triglyceride levels. They assist in regulating heart rhythms and protecting against coronary heart disease. They have also been linked with improving mood and attention disorders, such as depression and ADHD.

How fit is your gut microbiome? 

New research shows duration and not intensity of exercise is most important

University of Calgary, March 22, 2023

Exercise has many benefits – strengthening muscles and bones, preventing disease and extending lifespan. It is also known to change the composition and activity of the trillions of microbes in our guts known as the microbiome.

It is well known that the microbiomes of athletes are different from those who are sedentary. This is not overly surprising according to the author and PhD student Shrushti Shah. “Athletes are often lean and follow strict diet and training schedules – these factors alone can explain the different microbiomes of athletes,” says Shah, a Kinesiology PhD student specializing in Nutrition, Metabolism and Genetics.

To investigate how exercise shapes the gut microbiota in non-athletes, the study assessed information on the type, time and intensity of exercise in relation to microbiomes in a large cohort of middle-aged adults. Information on body weight, diet and hand-grip strength were also collected.

“Encouragingly, the study found that physical activity of moderate duration (≥150 minutes per week) increased both the richness and diversity of the gut microbiomes compared to study participants that exercised less,” says Jane Shearer, PhD, a professor  in the Faculty of Kinesiology and the Cumming School Medicine. “Given this, more exercise appears to be important in improving microbiome health and individuals should aim to meet the Health Canada recommended 150 min of moderate-intensity physical activity per week.”

When exercise intensity was examined, results showed that how long a person exercised was more important than how hard they exercised during each workout in improving microbes in the gut. Reasons for this are not known and are a topic of future work in the laboratory.

The study also showed that changes in the microbiome were not the same between different groups of individuals. The most beneficial changes were seen in those individuals of normal weight compared to those who were overweight. According to study investigator Dr. Chunlong Mu, PhD, a postdoctoral associate in Kinesiology, this is because “being overweight exerts its own influences on the gut microbiome independently of exercise. In this case, poor dietary habits outweigh some of the beneficial influences of exercise on the gut microbes.”

With this in mind, the best advice appears not only to exercise more, but also take steps to maintain a healthy weight to achieve a healthy and optimally functioning gut microbiome

Researchers find that older adults suffering from depression age faster than their peers

University of Connecticut, March 22, 2023

Older adults with depression are actually aging faster than their peers, UConn Center on Aging researchers report.

“These patients show evidence of accelerated biological aging, and poor physical and brain health,” which are the main drivers of this association, says Breno Diniz, a UConn School of Medicine geriatric psychiatrist and author of the study, which appears in Nature Mental Health.

Diniz and colleagues from several other institutions looked at 426 people with late-in-life depression. They measured the levels of proteins associated with aging in each person’s blood. When a cell gets old, it begins to function differently, less efficiently, than a “young” cell. It often produces proteins that promote inflammation or other unhealthy conditions, and those proteins can be measured in the blood. Diniz and the other researchers compared the levels of these proteins with measures of the participants’ physical health, medical problems, brain function, and the severity of their depression.

To their surprise, the severity of a person’s depression seemed unrelated to their level of accelerated aging. However, they did find that accelerated aging was associated with worse cardiovascular health overall. People with higher levels of aging-associated proteins were more likely to have high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and multiple medical problems. The accelerated aging was also associated with worse performance on tests of brain health such as working memory and other cognitive skills.

“Those two findings open up opportunities for preventive strategies to reduce the disability associated with major depression in older adults, and to prevent their acceleration of biological aging,” says Diniz, who is from the UConn Center on Aging.

Too much cholesterol speeds up formation of toxic plaques that cause Alzheimer’s disease

Texas A&M University, March 14, 2023

Poor cholesterol levels are not only dangerous for your heart, a new study finds they may also increase your risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease as well. Researchers from Texas A&M University say that cholesterol increases toxic proteins linked to the onset of the disease.

Typically, Alzheimer’s disease causes the brain to shrink and its cells to die. It’s the most common cause of dementia, a condition which makes people slowly lose their memory, thinking ability, and other skills until they ultimately are unable to function. Scientists consider amyloid beta proteins to be one of the substances most responsible for the disease’s progression. Over time, they can clump together to form harmful plaques that then lead to the brain damage.

“Amyloid peptides, including amyloid beta, are known to interact with lipids in the brain,” Kurouski explains. “These interactions can play a role in the formation of amyloid plaques and the pathology of Alzheimer’s disease.”

In this study by Kurouski’s team, three different fats — phosphatidylcholine, cardiolipin, and cholesterol — strongly accelerated the rate of plaque formation compared to the rate without them. Results also revealed that cardiolipin, a fat implicated in blood clots, caused for the quickest formation of these harmful buildups. Nonetheless, all of the fats structurally altered amyloid beta aggregates in their own way. More formations and aggregates mean more toxicity in the body.

Kuroski says that these results mean that a diet lower in cholesterol, specifically low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL), can help prevent these reactions from happening.

“In the convergence of nutrition and human health, a diet that limits the amount of cholesterol, especially low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, and phospholipids can be important in reducing the ability of these lipids to react with the amyloid beta peptides,” the study author says.

On the flip side, omega-3 fats, commonly found in foods like oily fish and nuts, have been shown to help protect neurons in the brain. Eating omega-3-rich foods can support cognition and limit Alzheimer’s progression, studies show. Kuroski mentions that this study only looked at a few types of fats, and that there could be others that play a role too.

Study finds ‘considerable uncertainty’ around effectiveness and safety of analgesics for low back pain

Brunel University London (UK), March 23, 2023

Despite nearly 60 years of research, there is still a lack of high-certainty evidence on the effectiveness and safety of commonly used painkillers (analgesics) for short bouts of low back pain, finds an analysis of the evidence published by The BMJ.

The researchers say that until higher-quality trials comparing analgesics with each other are published, “clinicians and patients are advised to take a cautious approach to manage acute non-specific low back pain with analgesic medicines.”

Analgesics such as paracetamol, ibuprofen, and codeine are widely used to treat acute non-specific low back pain, defined as pain lasting less than six weeks. But evidence for their comparative effectiveness is limited.

From an initial 124 relevant trials, they included 98 randomized controlled trials published between 1964 and 2021 in their analysis. These involved 15,134 participants aged 18 and over and 69 different medicines or combinations.

The trials included non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, paracetamol, opioids, anti-convulsant drugs, muscle relaxants and corticosteroids. The researchers assessed their risk of bias using a validated risk tool.

The researchers noted low or very low confidence in evidence for reduced pain intensity after treatment with muscle relaxant tolperisone, anti-inflammatory drug aceclofenac plus muscle relaxant tizanidine, and the anti-convulsant drug pregabalin, compared with placebo.

Very low confidence was also noted in evidence for large reductions in pain intensity (around 20 points) for four medicines, such as the muscle relaxant thiocolchicoside and anti-inflammatory drug ketoprofen; moderate reductions (10-20 points) for seven medicines, including anti-inflammatory drugs aceclofenac, etoricoxib and ketorolac; and small reductions (5-10 points) for three medicines including ibuprofen and paracetamol.

Low or very low confidence evidence suggested no difference among the effects of several of these medications.

The researchers noted moderate to very low confidence evidence for increased adverse events, such as nausea, vomiting, drowsiness, dizziness, and headache, with tramadol, paracetamol plus sustained release tramadol, baclofen, as well as paracetamol plus tramadol compared to placebo. Moderate to low confidence evidence also suggested that these medications could increase the risk of adverse events compared to other medications.

This was a comprehensive review based on a thorough literature search, but the researchers acknowledge that most included studies had concerns related to risk of bias, which alongside other limitations, may have influenced the findings.

“Our review of analgesic medicines for acute non-specific low back pain found considerable uncertainty around effects for pain intensity and safety,” they write. As such, they say clinicians and patients “are advised to take a cautious approach to the use of analgesic medicines.”