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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Gut's Bacterial Diversity Linked to Eczema

Ok, last post for 2011. This study found that the greater the diversity of bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract, the lower the risk of eczema (an allergic reaction that manifests through skin lesions) in children.

It's believed that the greater number of bacteria an infant is exposed to in early childhood, the lower the risk of eczema. We need to be exposed to microorganisms to activate the immune system and allow it to mature. Interestingly, the rise in allergies and auto-immune diseases have a peculiar correlation to the rise of the anti-bacteria craze.

So, the authors of this new study looked to test this hypothesis.What they found was that infants with IgE-associated eczema had a lower diversity of the total microbiota at 1 month and a lower diversity of the bacterial phylum Bacteroidetes and the genus Bacteroides at 1 month and the phylum Proteobacteria at 12 months of age. The microbiota was less uniform at 1 month than at 12 months of age, with a high interindividual variability. At 12 months, when the microbiota had stabilized, Proteobacteria, comprising gram-negative organisms, were more abundant in infants without allergic manifestation

To paraphrase, the greater types of bacteria we have, the better.

Hope you enjoy the last couple days of 2011, and wishing you health and happiness in 2012...and beyond.

Source: Low diversity of the gut microbiota in infants with atopic eczema

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Proton Pump Inhibitors Linked to Pneumonia

Well, I've got some feedback on my blog as of late, and I guess it has been rather Christian-centric. So recognizing that the holiday season is not just about the Christians, I'm posting this video of everyone's favourite Hanukkah song. Better late than never.

Ok so, this new study is almost common sense stuff. Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) are a class of drugs that prevent our bodies from producing stomach acid. They've been linked to a number of infections because our bodies' ability to destroy invading pathogens with stomach acid is diminished.

For this post, let's even forget about how our bodies need stomach acid to digest food and release nutrients our bodies need, or the increased risk of hip fractures (we need acid to absorb minerals, like calcium), heart problems, etc...

And since it's the holiday season and most of you are probably in no mood to read this stuff anyway, I'll skip right to the conclusion. Basically, this study found that the use of a PPI is associated with a 30-40% increase in risk of pneumonia.

The interesting thing here is that pneumonia affects the lungs. Typically it's gastrointestinal infections that result from PPI usage (like H. pylori, C. difficile, etc.).

Unfortunately, PPI drugs are among the best-selling drugs, and it's questionable whether they're even needed in most cases. But hey, buying more drugs employs more people, and getting sick from those drugs employs even more people. So overall, I guess it's good for the economy, no? Just not so good for all those altruistic people who sacrifice their hard-earned money and health to keep the economy running.

Source: Risk of Community-Acquired Pneumonia in Veteran Patients to Whom Proton Pump Inhibitors Were Dispensed

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L-Carnitine May Reduce Inflammation in Hemodialysis Patients

Ok, so this is the fourth and last post in my L-carnitine binge, that commemorates this amino acid finally being legal for sale OTC in Canada.

In this study, researchers evaluated the effects of L-carnitine supplementation on lipid parameters, apoproteins and inflammatory and nutritional markers in maintenance hemodialysis (MHD) patients. Patients with end-stage renal disease on MHD for a period of 2 to 5 years were divided into 2 groups: the carnitine group received 1 g supplementation intravenously three times a week after each hemodialysis session, and the control group received no supplementation with L-carnitine. Highly sensitive C-reactive protein (hsCRP), total protein, albumin, lipid profile and apoprotein AI and B were determined at baseline and at the end of the study.

A significant decrease in the hsCRP levels was observed in the carnitine-supplemented group, which suggests that L-carnitine supplementation may reduce inflammation in MHD patients.

Source: The effect of L-Carnitine supplementation on lipid parameters, inflammatory and nutritional markers in maintenance hemodialysis patients (full-text)

This is also my last post before I take time off for the holidays. So I'll leave you with this video a friend sent...

Related posts on L-carnitine:

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L-Carnitine May Reduce Oxidative Damage

So here's a study on L-carnitine for a condition that's a little more obscure than the typical health conditions I discuss, but I include it here to illustrate the breadth of therapeutic benefits of this amino acid. In this study, researchers investigated the relationship between butyrylcholinesterase (BuChE) activity and lipid oxidative damage in patients with disorders of propionate metabolism, before and after treatment with protein restriction and L-carnitine.

BuChE activity and malondialdehyde (MDA, a marker of oxidative stress) were measured in plasma of all subjects. The control group comprised of untreated patients at diagnosis, the treatment group received treatment with protein restriction and L-carnitne supplementation.

Researchers verified a reduction of BuChE activity as well as an increased MDA formation in the plasma of untreated patients.

Treated patients presented MDA and BuChE activity similar to controls. In these patients, BuChE activity was negatively correlated with MDA concentrations.

These results suggest that treatment with L-carnitine (and low-protein diet) may prevent this BuChE-related free-radical damage.

Source: Reduction of butyrylcholinesterase activity in plasma from patients with disorders of propionate metabolism is prevented by treatment with L-carnitine and protein restriction

To review the other posts on L-carnitine:

So BTW, today is winter solstice--the darkest day of the year for us in the Northern hemisphere. This means from this point on, for the next 6 months, the days are just going to get brighter and brighter. I'll take that as a reason to celebrate. Well, if you know me, you'll know I use any excuse to celebrate.  ;)

Correction (posted 2011-12-22): My mistake...today (Dec 22) is winter solstice. So tonight, I celebrate again.

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Advantages of L-carnitine in Treating Hepatitis C

Yesterday, I covered a study that suggested L-carnitine protects mitochondrial function in liver cells. In my second post of my L-carnitine binge, researchers evaluated the efficacy of L-carnitine on alleviating anemia, thrombocytopenia and leukopenia, and minimizing dose reductions in patients with chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) in treatment with Interferon a (IFN-a) plus ribavirin.

HCV patients were divided into two groups over a 12 month period. Group A received Peg-IFN-a 2b plus ribavirin plus L-carnitine, and Group B received Peg-IFN-a and ribavirin. Red cell count, hemoglobin, white cell count, platelets, bilirubin, alanine aminotransferase (ALT), aspartate aminotransferase (AST), and viremia were tested in all subjects.

After 12 months, group A compared to group B differences were observed in AST, ALT, viremia, hemoglobin, red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets. In group A compared to group B there was improvement of sustained virological response, while relapses were also fewer.

The researchers concluded, "L-carnitine supplementations may modulate erythropoiesis, leucopoiesis and thrombocytopoiesis, and may be useful in patients treated for HCV. L-carnitine treatment may have the potential to offer sustained virological response while preventing over treatment."

So the last two studies I covered would seem to suggest L-carnitine could be beneficial to those with various liver issues.

Source: L-carnitine supplementation improves hematological pattern in patients affected by HCV treated with Peg interferon-α 2b plus ribavirin (full-text)

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L-Carnitine May Protect Mitochondrial Function in Liver

This may not be exciting news for my American readers, where L-carnitine has been legal for years, but in Canada, our regulations for Natural Health Products has just made L-carnitine legal for sale OTC. This is great news for Canadians since L-carnitine has so many therapeutic benefits. It's especially important to the mitochondria, and while it's not mentioned in the video I share with you today, it is a part of meat, which is our main source of this wonderful amino acid.

To commemorate this great news, the next few posts I'll be publishing will be on recent studies on L-carnitine.

In this first study I'll cover, authors examined the preventive and therapeutic effect of L-carnitine (LC) on non-alcoholic fatty liver disease type 2 diabetic mice. The mice were randomly divided into five groups: control group, diabetic group, pre-treatment group (125 mg/kg BW), low-dose (125 mg/kg BW) therapeutic group and high-dose (250 mg/kg BW) therapeutic group.

LC and ALC (acetyl L-carnitine) concentrations in the liver were determined by high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC). Liver weight, insulin levels and free fatty acid (FFA) and triglyceride (TG) levels in the liver and plasma were measured. Researchers found average liver LC and ALC levels were 33.7% and 20% lower, respectively, in diabetic mice compared to control mice.

After preventive and therapeutic treatment with LC, less hepatocyte steatosis (fatty liver cells), clearer crista and fewer glycogen granules in the mitochondria were observed. Decreased liver weight, TG levels, and FFA concentrations in the liver were observed after treatment with LC in diabetic mice.

Researchers assert that LC supplements ameliorated fatty liver in type 2 diabetic mice by increasing fatty acid oxidation and may protect mitochondrial function in liver.

Source: L-carnitine ameliorated fatty liver in high-calorie diet/STZ-induced type 2 diabetic mice by improving mitochondrial function (full-text)

Subscribers or regular readers of my blog may remember I covered another study on L-carnitine a couple months ago--this one being for autism spectrum disorders.

I see L-carnitine being almost as great therapeutically as CoQ10/ubiquinol. In fact, the combination of CoQ10 with L-carnitine makes a LOT of sense and the combination has been clinically shown to offer significant benefits.

An early Christmas present from Health Canada to all Canadians.

Other related posts on L-carnitine:

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Dabigatran May Cause More Deaths than Warfarin

Dabigatran (marketed in Canada as Pradax) is an anticoagulant drug (in a class called Direct Thrombin Inhibitors) and was approved by Health Canada (and other regulatory bodies in other countries) within the past year.

This new drug showed a lot of promise as a safer alternative to warfarin, which is notorious for a number of serious side-effects, many of them leading to death. In fact, I believe it was earlier this year that the Canadian Cardiovascular Society released a position statement now recommending dabigatran as the first-line therapy to prevent blood clots in those with atrial fibrillation.

Dabigatran was suppose to be safer--resulting in less major bleeding, and complications than warfari (including being easier to use than warfarin, which has many drug-drug/nutrient/food interactions, requires constant monitoring, takes up huge healthcare resources for testing, physicians' time, etc.).

I initially thought this was great news because, IMO, warfarin is one of the worst drugs to be taking, specifically because it inhibits the activity of vitamin K (read the discussion HERE). However, it now seems that the honeymoon is over for dabigatran. Recent reports are suggesting that the drug causes even more deaths than warfarin, and is now under a safety review by the US FDA.

In the big picture, dabigatran may still be preferred over warfarin (again, just IMO...though many may disagree), but it's definitely not good news for the drug.

Source: FDA Drug Safety Communication: Safety review of post-market reports of serious bleeding events with the anticoagulant Pradaxa (dabigatran etexilate mesylate)

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Walnuts for Cognitive Health

Here is a great example of the Doctrine of Signatures in action. Since the walnut looks like a brain, according to the Doctrine of Signatures--which is a long-held belief/principle/theory common to various forms of traditional medicine (in which a plant's physical appearance gives clues as to its medicinal uses)--it would make sense that walnuts would be healthy for the brain. Well, this new study suggests that's true.

In this study, the authors sought to determine the effects of walnuts on verbal and non-verbal reasoning, memory, and mood.

College students were randomly assigned to two treatment sequences in a crossover fashion: walnuts-placebo or placebo-walnuts. Baseline data were collected for non-verbal reasoning, verbal reasoning, memory and mood states. Data were collected again after 8 weeks of intervention. After 6 weeks of washout, the intervention groups followed the diets in reverse order. Data were collected once more at the end of the 8-week intervention period.

Results showed that eating walnuts significantly increased inferential verbal reasoning by 11.2 %. However, no significant increases were detected for mood, non-verbal reasoning or memory in the walnut-supplemented diet. The authors conclude that "in healthy young adults, walnuts may have the ability to increase inferential reasoning."

Source: Effects of walnut consumption on cognitive performance in young adults

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Diabetic Drug Increases Risk of Bladder Cancer

Here's a short "guff" post to start the month of December...

Pioglitazone is a drug indicated in multiple clinical settings as an adjunct to diet and exercise to improve blood sugar control in adults with type 2 diabetes.

A recent US FDA safety review suggests that use of pioglitazone for more than 12 months is associated with an increased risk for bladder cancer. Observational studies and a review by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) have supported this conclusion.

The labels have now been updated to state that pioglitazone should not be started in patients with active bladder cancer and should be used with caution in patients with a prior history of bladder cancer.

Further, the new labels state that patients should contact their doctors if they either experience blood or see a red color in their urine. Patients should also be aware of other symptoms that might be due to bladder cancer, including new or worsening urinary urgency or pain on urination since starting pioglitazone.

Source: FDA Drug Safety Communication: Updated drug labels for pioglitazone-containing medicines

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