Thanks for visiting! My goal here is to discuss the latest scientific research to separate the good from all that "guff" in nutritional sciences and all aspects of human health. Because the more you Know, well...the more you Know!

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Bisphosphonates Linked to Kidney Damage & Death

Happy Halloween!
Osteoporotic fractures are a significant cause of disability and healthcare expenditures from postmenopausal women. The most commonly used drugs for osteoporosis are bisphosphonates, which inhibit cells called osteoclasts from breaking-down bone (a normal and necessary part of bone health, just not so good if the osteoblasts, the bone-building cells, are not as active).

Orally administered bisphosphonates (like alendronate and risedronate) have been shown to reduce osteoporotic non-vertebral and hip fractures, but adherence/compliance is poor.

Zoledronic acid is an injectable bisphosphonate administered every 1-2 years, which improves compliance.

However, zoledronic acid (brand name, Reclast), is now contraindicated for patients with low kidney function, according to a label change announced last week by the US FDA. The revision, comes in the wake of continued cases of fatal acute renal failure associated with the drug.

Patients who take zoledronic acid and have underlying moderate to severe kidney impairment are at risk for kidney failure — a rare adverse event — and this risk increases with age, according to the FDA. Other risk factors for renal failure are severe dehydration occurring before or after infusion with zoledronic acid, and concurrent use of kidney-damaging or diuretic medications

A 2009 postmarket safety review by the FDA identified 5 patients who died of acute kidney failure after being treated with zoledronic acid. Another review earlier this year identified 11 more fatal cases of acute kidney failure after zoledronic acid infusion, as well as 9 cases of kidney damage that required dialysis.

Well, there's some more guff for you on Halloween.

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Doctors Discharge Patients for Refusing Vaccines

I haven't discussed any "guff" in a while, but here's something that's upsetting... 21% percent of paediatricians in the Midwest US said they've discharged families from their practices for refusing vaccines.

To explore paediatricians' attitudes about vaccine refusal in kids their by parents, the study's investigators surveyed members of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) in 9 Midwestern states. The results revealed that the vaccines with the highest rates of refusal or deferment were measles/mumps/rubella (MMR), human papillomavirus (HPV), and influenza. The most frequently cited reasons were fear of autism, too many shots, and serious adverse effects.

38% of physicians in Iowa discharged families from their practices for continuing to refuse vaccines, compared to only 0.9% of paediatricians in Minnesota. Overall, 21% of doctors said they discharged families for refusing all immunizations.

Instead of pouting and discharging patients for something like this, why don't the doctors educate themselves on alternatives. Even just simple social hygiene can go a long way. What a bunch of pretentious *******!

Source: Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA) 49th Annual Meeting: Abstract 634, presented October 21, 2011

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Honey May Improve Postmenopausal Memory

A daily spoonful of Malaysian honey may help improve memory in postmenopausal women, researchers say in a new report.

In the study, 102 healthy women were randomly assigned to ingest 20 grams of honey a day, take hormone-replacement therapy containing estrogen and progesterone, or do nothing. After 4 months, those who took honey or hormone pills recalled about one extra word out of 15 presented on a short-term memory test.

"The immediate memory improvement in the honey group is probably best explained by improvement in concentration and overall well-being after honey supplement," the lead author states.

Source: Improvement in immediate memory after 16 weeks of tualang honey (Agro Mas) supplement in healthy postmenopausal women

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Healthy Diet Reduces Risk of Depression & Anxiety

It really amazes me the lack of common sense sometimes in "educated" populations. Whoever says diet doesn't have an effect on health has gone completely sideways. Dermatologists are the worst for this. I don't know how many times I've heard them say that acne has no relationship to diet. Does that even make sense?! Your diet affects E...VER...Y...THING.

Anyway, here is a new study that backs this up for depression and anxiety. This cross-sectional study included 5731 men and women aged 46-49 and 70-74 years.

After adjustments for confounding variables (including age, education, income, physical activity, smoking, and alcohol consumption), a healthy diet was inversely related to depression and anxiety.

The authors conclude, "in this study, those with better quality diets were less likely to be depressed, whereas a higher intake of processed and unhealthy foods was associated with increased anxiety" 

This growing body of evidence hints at the possibility of dietary approach to preventing and treating common mental illnesses, including depression and anxiety. At this time, only about 30% of patients with depression respond to antidepressant medication, and a similar proportion respond to psychotherapy, claims the study's author.

She continues, "Given that the majority of mental health problems start before age 25, and the enormous burden of illness of depression and anxiety in young people, and given that nutrition is so critical to adequate development, we think these data have enormous significant implications for public health."

The same research team has applied for funding to conduct a randomized controlled trial of diet and mental health outcomes.

"So far we know exercise is a very effective treatment strategy for depression, but we have yet to determine whether dietary improvement is an effective treatment strategy," she said. However, she added, even in the absence of intervention studies, it is not too soon for physicians to raise the issue of diet with patients suffering from anxiety and depression.

...common sense.

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Low Omega-3s Linked to Children with ADHD and Learning Difficulties

In this newly published study, the researchers compared levels of polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) in red blood cells in children who have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) with learning difficulties (LD) and those without LD.

The results support emerging indications that LD children with ADHD may be responsive to omega-3 fatty acids supplementation. ADHD children provided blood samples and underwent cognitive assessments and parents completed questionnaires and Conners' Rating Scales.

Students with higher levels of omega 3 fatty acids EPA/DHA reported less anxiety and better word recall compared to children with higher omega-6 levels, who had measurable attention deficits that correlated to lower reading and spelling levels. 36% of the children with learning difficulties had lower DHA levels than those without LD.

Researchers conclude that suboptimal omega-3 levels may contribute to attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and related developmental problems.

Source: Polyunsaturated fatty acids, cognition and literacy in children with ADHD with and without learning difficulties

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CoQ10 for Brain/Head Trauma

In this new study, researchers analyzed the role of CoQ10 in the treatment of head trauma. This was only a study in rats, but does offer some compelling insight into a possible new role for CoQ10 in humans.

Administration of CoQ10 after trauma was shown to be protective because it significantly lowered the amount of malondialdehyde, a compound that increases significantly after brain trauma. CoQ10 treatment also showed various other improvements related to vascular congestion, neuronal loss, nuclear pyknosis, nuclear hyperchromasia, cytoplasmic eosinophilia, and axonal edema (in plain understandable language: the results were positive).

The researchers concluded that, "neuronal degenerative findings and the secondary brain damage and ischemia caused by oxidative stress are decreased by CoQ10 use...  These results suggest that coenzyme Q10 may exert a protective effect against brain injury related neuronal damage."

Other posts discussing new CoQ10 studies:

Source: Effect of Coenzyme Q10 on ischemia and neuronal damage in an experimental traumatic brain-injury model in rats

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Vitamin D for Tuberculosis

I'm going to keep this one as short as possible. I'm away all weekend to Toronto for the CHFA show (Canada's largest healthfood food), so I've scheduled this post ahead of time (as I do with most of my posts).

Prior to our understanding of vitamin D's roll in the immune system, exposure to sunshine was used for centuries to treat tuberculosis (TB). At that time, no one knew why, but sun exposure seemed to help the patients.

Now this new study investigated the mechanisms on how vitamin D can help treat patients infected with the bacteria that causes TB.

Control of TB worldwide depends on our understanding of human immune mechanisms, which combat the infection. This study's results suggest a mechanism in which vitamin D is required for acquired immunity to overcome the ability of intracellular pathogens to evade our defenses and cause infections. The present findings underscore the importance of adequate amounts of vitamin D--whether through "smart" sun exposure or supplements--in all human populations for sustaining both innate and acquired immunity against infection.

Well, that's it for this week. Enjoy your weekend!

Source: Vitamin D Is Required for IFN-γ–Mediated Antimicrobial Activity of Human Macrophages

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Vitamin D3 Helps Women with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome

Women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) frequently suffer from metabolic disturbances, in particular from insulin resistance. Accumulating evidence suggests that vitamin D deficiency may contribute to the development of insulin resistance. Therefore, the researches of this study aimed to examine the effect of vitamin D supplementation on metabolic and endocrine parameters in PCOS women.

PCOS women received 20,000 IU of vitamin D3 weekly for 24 weeks (almost 3000 IU daily). At the end, 25-hydroxyvitamin D (blood measurement of vitamin D status) levels significantly increased, and was correlated with a significant decrease of fasting and stimulated glucose and C-peptide levels after vitamin D treatment. Triglyceride and estradiol levels also significantly decreased. There were no changes in androgens.

PCOS women previously affected by menstrual disturbances (30.4% of subjects) reported improvement of menstrual frequency, and those who were oligo- or amenorrhoeic at the start (half of the subjects) reported improvement.

These results suggest that vitamin D treatment might improve glucose metabolism and menstrual frequency in PCOS women

Source: Effect of vitamin D3 treatment on glucose metabolism and menstrual frequency in PCOS women-a pilot study

Related posts:
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L-Carnitine Helps Treat Autism Spectrum Disorders

Previously, L-carnitine was proposed as a potential treatment for patients diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) to improve mitochondrial dysfunction, but no prior randomized controlled trials had been conducted.

This is the basis behind why this study was conducted. Subjects diagnosed with an ASD were randomly assigned to receive a standardized regimen of L-carnitine 50 mg L-carnitine/kg bodyweight/day) or placebo for 3 months.

Measures included changes in professionally completed Childhood Autism Rating Scale (CARS), hand muscle testing, and modified (CGI) forms; parent completed (ATEC), treatment adherence measurement (TAM), frequency and intensity of side effect rating (FISER)/global rating of side effect burden (GRSEB)/patient report of incidence of side effects (PRISE) forms; and lab testing.

After 3 months, the L-carnitine group showed significant improvements in Childhood Autism Rating Scale, clinical global impression, and Autism Treatment Evaluation Checklist scores. Significant correlations between changes in serum free-carnitine levels and positive clinical changes were observed for hand muscle strength, cognitive scores, and Childhood Autism Rating Scale scores. Study subjects were protocol-compliant (average adherence was >85%) and the L-carnitine therapy was generally well-tolerated.

Source: A prospective double-blind, randomized clinical trial of levocarnitine to treat autism spectrum disorders

Judging by the proposed mechanism of action (improving mitochondrial dysfunction), I'd say another essential therapeutic agents would include CoQ10 (ideally ubiquinol), magnesium, a B-complex (especially B1 and B2), alpha-lipoic acid (stabilized), creatine monohydrate, L-arginine, and D-ribose... all in a daily cocktail to help the mitochondria function as efficiently as possible.

Related posts on L-carnitine:

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Coffee Polyphenols Benefit Post-Meal Sugar & Fat Metabolism

Postprandial (the time period after a meal) energy metabolism, including postprandial hyperglycaemia, hyperinsulinaemia and hyperlipidaemia (the increase in blood sugar, insulin, and fats after eating) is related to the risk for developing obesity and cardiovascular disease.
This new animal study on coffee examined the effects of coffee polyphenols (CPP) on postprandial carbohydrate and lipid metabolism, and whole-body oxidation.

In mice that co-ingested CPP with a lipid–carbohydrate (sucrose or starch)-mixed emulsion, the respiratory quotient determined by indirect calorimetry was significantly lower than that in control mice, whereas there was no difference in VO2 (energy expenditure), indicating that CPP modulates postprandial energy partitioning. CPP also suppressed postprandial increases in plasma glucose, insulin, glucose-dependent insulinotropic polypeptide and triglyceride levels.

Inhibition experiments on digestive enzymes revealed that CPP inhibits maltase and sucrase, and, to a lesser extent, pancreatic lipase in a concentration-dependent manner.

These results suggest that CPP modulates whole-body substrate oxidation by suppressing postprandial hyperglycaemia and hyperinsulinaemia, and these effects are mediated by inhibiting digestive enzymes.

Source: Coffee polyphenols modulate whole-body substrate oxidation and suppress postprandial hyperglycaemia, hyperinsulinaemia and hyperlipidaemia

As the regular readers or subscribers know, I've covered a number of coffee studies in the last few months. For further reading, here are some other studies I've covered on coffee:
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N-Acetyl-Glucosamine May Stop Multiple Sclerosis

Before I get to today's study, take a look at this article regarding the new crime bill our Canadian Conservative government, under Stephen Harper (AKA. a smarter version of George W. Bush, for those unfamiliar with Canadian politics) is about to push through into law.
Potheads Fare Worse Than Child Rapists in Canadian Crime Bill

On the way to the office earlier this week, one of the radio stations I listen to while driving had Theo Fleury as their guest, who said current stats show 1 in 3 girls and 1 in 6 boys will be sexually molested by the time they're 18 years old.
...and Stephen Harper is more worried about a relatively benign botanical that actually has incredible medicinal properties, than protecting children. Fail.

Ok, now...

Current treatments and emerging oral therapies for Multiple Sclerosis (MS) are limited by ineffectiveness, cost and/or toxicity. Genetic and environmental factors alter the branching of certain sugars and result in T cell hyperactivity,  which promotes spontaneous inflammatory demyelination and neurodegeneration seen in MS. The compound N-acetylglucosamine (NAG) enhances branching and inhibits T cell activity.

In this newly published animal study, the researchers report that oral NAG inhibits multiple mechanisms that lead to MS-symptoms, and as a result attenuates the clinical severity of MS-like symptoms and it's progression. The data suggests that oral NAG may provide an inexpensive and non-toxic oral therapeutic agent for MS that directly targets an underlying molecular mechanism causal of disease.

Source: N-acetylglucosamine inhibits T-helper 1 (Th1) / T-helper 17 (Th17) responses and treats experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis

For my Canadian readers, have an amazing Thanksgiving long weekend, and truly take a moment to think about all those things we should be thankful for. For real.

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Related posts:


Fermented Psyllium Kills Colon Cancer Cells

Several studies have suggested that the partially fermentable fibre called psyllium (Plantago ovata) husk may have a protective effect on colorectal cancer (CRC). This new research just published studied the potentially pro-apoptotic effect (promoting cell death, usually in reference to malignant cells) of psyllium and the implicated mechanisms in CRC cells after its fermentation by bacteria present in the human colon.

The fermentation products of psyllium induced apoptosis (cell death) in all primary tumour and metastatic cell lines. These findings suggest that psyllium could potentially be a useful chemotherapy adjuvant.

These results also point to how important it is that we all have a good balance of probiotic species/strains in our digestive tract. In fact, as more research on probiotics' effect on nutrients comes out, I think you're going to see how important "biotransformation" is (where the bacteria chemically/molecularly alter the nutrients or other compounds which result in new beneficial compounds, which are actually the ones our health benefits from).

A quick aside here... one of the companies I used to consult for wanted to develop a ginseng extract using Ontario ginseng (AKA Canadian ginseng or American ginseng). In my research, I discovered that bacteria in the gut alter the chemistry of the ginsenosides (which are commonly thought to be the beneficial compounds in ginseng). It were these compounds that result from the biotransformation that elicited the positive health benefits of ginseng. This could potentially explain why some people get great health benefits from ginseng (or other botanicals/food) whereas others will not see much benefit despite ingesting the same thing -- perhaps it's their bacterial population in the intestines were different. Anyway, very interesting stuff. Hey, how did this post on psyllium transform into a discussion on probiotics?

Source: Stool-fermented Plantago ovata husk induces apoptosis in colorectal cancer cells independently of molecular phenotype

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Water Requirements as We Age

A newly published study on water! I'm cognizant about the volume of water I drink and try to drink sufficient amounts every day. However, there's a lot of confusion around just how much water you need daily. This study may shed some light on water requirements as we age.

Mild dehydration, defined as a 1–2 % loss in body mass caused by fluid deficit, is associated with risks of functional impairments and chronic diseases. Since it's unclear whether water requirements change with increasing age, the aim of the study was to quantify hydration status and its complex determining factors from young to older adulthood. The data was then analyzed according to age-related alterations, and this was used to provide a reliable database for the derivation of dietary recommendations.

Urine samples collected over a 24 h period and dietary records from 1528 German adults (18–88 years; sub-sample of the first National Food Consumption Survey) were used to calculate water intake (beverages, food and metabolic water) and water excretion parameters (non-renal water losses (NRWL), urine volume, obligatory urine volume) and to estimate hydration status (free-water-reserve) and ‘adequate intake (AI).’

Median total water intake (2483 and 2054 mL/d, for men and women, respectively), decreased with increasing age only in males. Obligatory urine volume increased in both sexes due to decreased renal concentration capacity. The latter was balanced by a decrease of NRWL (primarily a decrease is perspiration with aging), leaving the free-water-reserve and therefore hydration status almost unchanged.

Calculated ‘AI’ of total water was the same for young (18–24 years) and elderly ( ≥ 65 years) adults (2910 and 2265 ml/d, for men and women, respectively). Take note of this, and aim to achieve it. 

The present study is the first population-based examination showing that total water requirements do not change with age although ageing affects several parameters of water metabolism.

Source: Water balance throughout the adult life span in a German population

Related posts on water consumption:

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