The Gary Null Show Notes – 08.02.22

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HEALTH NEWS 

Lutein may counter cognitive aging, study finds
A stable gut helps elite athletes perform better
Could Spirulina modify the microbiome to protect against age-related damage?
It doesn’t matter much which fiber you choose—just get more fiber
Plant-based meat ‘healthier and more sustainable than animal products,’ according to new study
Pine Bark Extract Treats Meniere’s Disease

Lutein may counter cognitive aging, study finds

University of Illinois, July 25, 2022

Spinach and kale are favorites of those looking to stay physically fit, but they also could keep consumers cognitively fit, according to a new study from University of Illinois researchers.

The study, which included 60 adults aged 25 to 45, found that middle-aged participants with higher levels of lutein – a nutrient found in green leafy vegetables such as spinach and kale, as well as avocados and eggs — had neural responses that were more on par with younger individuals than with their peers. The findings were published in the journal Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience.

“Now there’s an additional reason to eat nutrient-rich foods such as green leafy vegetables, eggs and avocados,” said Naiman Khan, a professor of kinesiology and community health at Illinois. “We know these foods are related to other healthbenefits, but these data indicate that there may be cognitive benefits as well.”

Lutein is a nutrient that the body can’t make on its own, so it must be acquired through diet. Lutein accumulates in brain tissues, but also accumulates in the eye, which allows researchers to measure levels without relying on invasive techniques.

The Illinois researchers measured lutein in the study participants’ eyes by having participants look into a scope and respond to a flickering light. Then, using electrodes on the scalp, the researchers measured neural activity in the brain while the participants performed a task that tested attention.

“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,” Walk said. “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.”

Next, Khan’s group is running intervention trials, aiming to understand how increased dietary consumption of lutein may increase lutein in the eye, and how closely the levels relate to changes in cognitive performance.

A stable gut helps elite athletes perform better

Anglia Ruskin University, July 29, 2022

New research has found that microbial instability in the gut could hinder the performance of elite endurance athletes, and that short-term, high-protein diets are associated with this type of imbalance.

Researchers from across the UK analyzed the performance and gut health of a group of well-matched, highly trained endurance runners, to explore the impact of both high-protein and high-carbohydrate diets.

The study found that in those following a high-protein regime, this resulted in a disturbance in the stability of the gut microbiome. This was also accompanied by a 23.3% reduction in time trial performance.

Analysis found a significantly reduced diversity and altered composition of the gut phageome, as well as higher levels of certain types of virals and bacterial compartments. Those participants whose gut microbiome was more stable performed better during time trials.

Those following a high-carbohydrate diet resulted in an improved time trial performance of 6.5%.

Could Spirulina modify the microbiome to protect against age-related damage?

Louvain Drug Research Institute (Belgium), July 28, 2022

Spirulina might help protect against age-related liver inflammation by modifying pathways in the microbiome, say researchers.

Consumption of spirulina could help protect against hepatic inflammation in the elderly, according to the new animal research published in Nutrients.

Belgian researchers carried out tests on mice, which suggest that the algae Spirulina has an impact on the gut microbiota, which in turn activates the immune system in the gut and improves inflammation in the liver that is associated with ageing.

Led by senior author Professor Nathalie Delzenne from the Louvain Drug Research Institute in Belgium, the team said oral feeding of Spirulina was found to modulates several immunological functions involving, among others, the TLR4 pathway in old mice.

“The fact that its oral consumption can influence both gut immunity and systemic sites, such as the liver, suggests that its immune action is not confined to the gut immune system,” wrote the team – who said the findings open the way to new therapeutic tools “in the management of immune alterations in aging, based on gut microbe-host interactions.”

Furthermore, they suggested that improvement of the homeostasis in the gut ecosystem ‘could be essential’ during the aging process, “and, in this perspective, dietary manipulation of the gut microbiota of the elderly with Spirulina, may represent a tool for preserving a healthy gastrointestinal microbial community in addition to its beneficial effects on immune function.”

It doesn’t matter much which fiber you choose—just get more fiber

Duke University, July 30, 2022

That huge array of dietary fiber supplements in the drugstore or grocery aisle can be overwhelming to a consumer. They make all sorts of health claims too, not being subject to FDA review and approval. So how do you know which supplement works and would be best for you?

A rigorous examination of the gut microbes of study participants who were fed three different kinds of supplements in different sequences concludes that people who had been eating the least amount of fiber before the study showed the greatest benefit from supplements, regardless of which ones they consumed.

“The people who responded the best had been eating the least fiber to start with,” said study leader Lawrence David, an associate professor of molecular genetics and microbiology at Duke University.

When your gut bugs are happily munching on a high-fiber diet, they produce more of the short-chain fatty acids that protect you from diseases of the gut, colorectal cancers and even obesity. And in particular, they produce more of a fatty acid called butyrate, which is fuel for your intestinal cells themselves. Butyrate has been shown to improve the gut’s resistance to pathogens, lower inflammation and create happier, healthier cells lining the host’s intestines.

“We didn’t see a lot of difference between the fiber supplements we tested. Rather, they looked interchangeable,” David said during a tour of his sparkling new lab in the MSRB III building

Plant-based meat ‘healthier and more sustainable than animal products,’ according to new study

University of Bath (UK), July 30, 2022

Plant-based dietary alternatives to animal products are better for the environment and for human health when compared with the animal products they are designed to replace, say the authors of a new study.

A new paper published in Future Foods argues that because these foods are “specifically formulated to replicate the taste, texture, and overall eating experience of animal products,” they are a much more effective way of reducing demand for meat and dairy than simply encouraging people to cook vegetarian whole foods.

The study, conducted by psychologists at the University of Bath, concludes that plant-based meat and dairy alternatives “offer a healthier and more environmentally sustainable solution which takes into account consumer preferences and behavior.”

The review examined 43 studies into the health and environmental impacts of plant-based foods, as well as consumer attitudes. One study found that almost 90% of consumers who ate plant-based meat and dairy were in fact meat-eaters or flexitarians; another found that plant-based products with a similar taste, texture, and price to processed meat had the best chance of replacing meat.

The paper also found that these plant-based products caused lower levels of greenhouse gas emissions than the animal products they were replacing. One paper found replacing 5% of German beef consumption with pea protein could reduce CO2emissions by up to eight million tons a year. Another found that compared to beef burgers, plant-based burgers were associated with up to 98% less greenhouse gas emissions.

Studies focusing on the healthiness of plant-based products also found they tend to have better nutritional profiles compared to animal products, with one paper finding that 40% of conventional meat products were classified as ‘less healthy’ compared to just 14% of plant-based alternatives based on the UK’s Nutrient Profiling Model.

Others found plant-based meat and dairy were good for weight loss and building muscle mass, and could be used to help people with specific health conditions. Food producers may be able to add ingredients such as edible fungi, microalgae or spirulina to plant-based foods, boosting properties such as amino acids, vitamins B and E and antioxidants. Future innovations in processing and ingredients are likely to lead to further nutritional improvements.

Pine Bark Extract Treats Meniere’s Disease

University of Chieti-Pescara (Italy), July 17, 2022 

Research from Italy’s University of Chieti-Pescara has found that a patented pine bark extract significantly treats Meniere’s disease.

Ménière’s disease is a type of vertigo caused by a condition of the inner ear, discovered by the French doctor, Prosper Ménière in the mid-nineteenth century.

Dr. Ménière found the vertigo disorder, which produces a low-pitched tinnitus of varying intensity depending upon the person and the degree of the condition; can eventually result in a complete loss of hearing. Symptoms include periodic headaches, dizziness, nausea and vomiting along with vertigo attacks that can last hours to weeks.

The researchers studied 107 patients with Ménière’s disease – each with varying intensity of symptoms.

The researchers split the 120 patients into two groups and for six months, and both groups were given conventional treatment.

In addition, one group was given 150 milligrams per day of Pycnogenol – a patented pine bark extract from the French Maritime pine tree.

They found that after three months of treatment, the pine bark extract group showed significantly better improvement than the control group. A full 45 percent of the pine bark extract group had a complete recovery after three months compared to 23 percent of the placebo group.

After six months, a full 87 percent of the pine bark extract group experienced recovery – became asymptomatic. Meanwhile, 34 percent of the control group (conventional treatment) recovered after six months.

The patients were given 200 milligrams per day of Pycnogenol for 8 weeks and crossed over with a placebo.