Participants in the Why WAIT (Weight Achievement and Intensive Management) program lost substantial amounts of weight, and even those who maintained relatively little loss of weight after five years demonstrated reduced risks of cardiovascular disease.
Scientists have shown in mice that excess pounds can simply be melted away by converting unwanted white fat cells into energy-consuming brown slimming cells. In a recent study, the university researchers show why the inflammatory responses that often occur in overweight people block this kind of fat cell conversion.
Research by exercise scientists has found that a balanced, protein-pacing, low-calorie diet that includes intermittent fasting not only achieves long-term weight loss, but also helps release toxins in the form of PCBs from the body fat stores, in addition to enhancing heart health and reducing oxidative stress.
A common antioxidant found in human breast milk and foods like kiwi fruit can protect against nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) in the offspring of obese mice.
Children of obese parents may be at risk for developmental delays, according to a new study. Children of obese mothers were more likely to fail tests of fine motor skill. Children of obese fathers were more likely to fail measures of social competence, and those born to extremely obese couples also were more likely to fail tests of problem solving ability.
New research shows that a high-fiber diet likely inhibits gout-related inflammation caused by monosodium urate (MSU) crystals.
Pediatric patients with active Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis can reach remission with diet alone.
Researchers at Oregon State University and other institutions have discovered an important link between the immune system, gut bacteria and glucose metabolism — a “cross-talk” and interaction that can lead to type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome when not functioning correctly.
The findings, published in Nature Communications, are one example of how different mammalian systems can affect each other in ways not previously understood.
A better understanding of these systems, researchers say, may lead to new probiotic approaches to diabetes and other diseases.
The research also shows the general importance of proper bacterial functions in the gut and the role of one bacteria in particular — Akkermansia muciniphila — in helping to regulate glucose metabolism.
This bacteria’s function is so important, scientists say, that it has been conserved through millions of years of evolution to perform a similar function in both mice and humans.
“We’re discovering that in biology there are multiple connections and communications, what we call cross-talk, that are very important in ways we’re just beginning to understand,” said Dr. Natalia Shulzhenko, an assistant professor in the OSU College of Veterinary Medicine, and one of the corresponding authors on this study.
“It’s being made clear by a number of studies that our immune system, in particular, is closely linked to other metabolic functions in ways we never realized. This is still unconventional thinking, and it’s being described as a new field called immunometabolism. Through the process of evolution, mammals, including humans, have developed functional systems that communicate with each other, and microbes are an essential part of that process.”
It had been previously observed that an immune mediator — one type of interferon, or signaling protein called IFN-y — can affect the proper function of glucose metabolism. IFN-y helps fight several pathogens and infections, but a decrease in its levels can lead to improvement in glucose metabolism. However, this actual process has not been understood.
“Before this, no one had a clue exactly how IFN-y affected glucose tolerance,” said Andrey Morgun, an assistant professor in the OSU College of Pharmacy and also a corresponding author on the study. “The involvement of microbes had not really been considered. But with the help of a statistical model and an approach we call a transkingdom network, we were able to pinpoint some likely bacterial candidates.”
The bacteria A. muciniphila, was found to play a critical role in this communication process — in their study, the scientists called it a “missing link.” Research showed that mice specially bred with reduced levels of IFN-y had higher levels of A. muciniphila, and significantly improved glucose tolerance. When IFN-y levels increased, A. muciniphila levels declined, and glucose tolerance was reduced.
Similar observations were also made in humans. It’s been observed, for instance, that athletes who are extremely fit have high levels of the gut bacteria A. muciniphila, which is a mucus-degrading bacteria. The research makes clear that two systems once believed to be functionally separate — immunity and glucose metabolism — are, in fact, closely linked, and the bridge can be provided by gut bacteria.
There’s probably more than one bacteria involved in this process of communication and metabolic control, researchers said. The gut harbors literally thousands of microbes that appear to function almost as a metabolically active organ, emphasizing the critical importance of gut bacterial health.
Bacteria-mediated communication, of course, is just one part of complex human systems — issues such as proper diet, exercise, and appropriate weight control are all still important, the researchers said.
Materials provided by Oregon State University. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.
Women over the age of 50 who follow a high-protein diet could be at higher risk for heart failure, especially if much of their protein comes from meat, according to preliminary research presented at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions 2016.
Researchers evaluated the self-reported daily diets of 103,878 women between the ages of 50 and 79 years, from 1993 to 1998. A total of 1,711 women developed heart failure over the study period. The rate of heart failure for women with higher total dietary protein intake was significantly higher compared to the women who ate less protein daily or got more of their protein from vegetables.
While women who ate higher amounts of vegetable protein appeared to have less heart failure, the association was not significant when adjusted for body mass.
“Higher calibrated total dietary protein intake appears to be associated with substantially increased heart failure risk while vegetable protein intake appears to be protective, although additional studies are needed to further explore this potential association,” said Mohamad Firas Barbour, M.D., study author and internist at the Alpert Medical School of Brown University, Memorial Hospital of Rhode Island, in Pawtucket.
The findings were true regardless of age, race or ethnicity, level of education, or if the women had high blood pressure (2.9 percent), diabetes (8.3 percent), coronary artery disease (7.1 percent), anemia (3.4 percent), or atrial fibrillation (4.9 percent).
The subjects were all participants in the Women’s Health Initiative, an ongoing, long-term national dietary survey investigating strategies for reducing heart disease, breast and colorectal cancer, and osteoporosis.
Researchers said other studies have found a link between increased protein from meat and cardiovascular risk in women.
“Our findings should be interpreted with caution, but it appears that following a high-protein diet may increase heart failure risk,” Barbour said.
Because dietary self-reporting can be unreliable, the team also used special biomarker data to accurately calibrate daily protein intake — doubly labeled water and urinary nitrogen. Doubly labeled water uses non-radioactive tracers to evaluate a person’s metabolic energy while urinary nitrogen is used to determine actual amounts of dietary protein.
“We used self-reported intakes of total dietary protein, and the quantity of protein women obtained from meat and vegetables based upon the Food Frequency Questionnaire,” Barbour said.
The Food Frequency Questionnaire is the most common dietary assessment tool used in large epidemiologic studies of diet and health. A self-administered booklet asks participants to report the frequency of consumption and portion size of approximately 125 items over a defined period.
“While a better understanding of dietary risk is still needed, it appears that heart failure among postmenopausal women is not only highly prevalent but preventable by modifying diet,” Barbour said. “Heart failure is highly prevalent, especially in post-menopausal women; therefore, a better understanding of nutrition-related factors associated with heart failure is needed.”
The American Heart Association recommends that people eat a dietary pattern that emphasizes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy products, poultry, fish, and nuts while limiting red meat and sugary foods and beverages. For people who eat meat, choose lean meats and poultry without skin and eat fish at least twice a week — preferably fish high in omega-3 fatty acids such as salmon, trout, and herring.
Inherited differences in taste perceptions may help explain why some people eat more salt than recommended, according to preliminary research presented at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions 2016.
“Genetic factors that influence taste aren’t necessarily obvious to people, but they can impact heart health by influencing the foods they select,” said lead author Jennifer Smith, B.S.N., R.N., a Ph.D. student at the University of Kentucky College of Nursing.
Previous research, according to the authors, showed that people who have one of the two most common variants of a gene (TAS2R38) that enhances bitter taste perception are likely to avoid heart-healthy foods with bitter properties, such as broccoli and dark leafy greens. In the current study, researchers sought to determine whether that bitter-enhancing genetic variations would also influence other food choices.
Researchers analyzed the diet habits of 407 people (average age 51, 73 percent female) who have two or more heart disease risk factors and were participating in a cardiovascular risk-reduction study in rural Kentucky.
Comparing those with one or two of the TAS2R38 gene variants that enhances bitter taste perception to those without this variant, researchers found that people who taste bitterness more strongly were nearly twice (1.9 times) as likely to eat more than the minimum recommended daily limit of sodium. Currently, the American Heart Association recommends a minimum reduction of sodium to no more than 2,300 milligrams (mg) a day and an ideal limit of no more than 1,500 mg per day. Too much sodium, found mostly in dietary salt from processed, prepacked, and restaurant foods, is a risk factor for developing high blood pressure, which can lead to heart attacks and strokes.
The study participants with the bitter-enhancing gene variants were no more likely to consume more than the recommended daily amounts of sugar saturated fats or alcohol, all of which can have a negative impact on heart health.
“There is some research suggesting that individuals who taste bitter more intensely may also taste salt more intensely and enjoy it more, leading to increased sodium intake. Another theory is that they use salt to mask the bitter taste of foods and thus consume more sodium,” Smith said.
Information about genetic influences on taste perception may some day help people select heart-healthy foods they can enjoy rather than trying to fight against their inborn preferences.
“By identifying which gene variant a person has, we may be able to help them make better food choices through education that is personally tailored to them,” Smith said.
In the analysis, the investigators controlled for other factors that might affect taste and dietary intake, such as age, weight, smoking status, and the use of blood pressure medications known to alter taste perception.
The authors noted that although the study participants were mostly white, the results are likely to be similar in other ethnic groups because more than 90 percent of the U.S. population has one of the two gene variants they studied. The researchers plan to extend their work to include an ethnically diverse group.