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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Coffee: Friend or Foe?

Here are two interesting and almost contradictory studies on coffee. In the first study, researchers report that heavy coffee consumption of more than 28 cups weekly (an average of 4 cups daily) was associated with an increased risk of "all-cause" mortality among men. This association was more pronounced for those under 55 years of age.

Previous studies had suggested an association between heavy coffee consumption and all-cause mortality and coronary heart disease, but many of these older studies are compromised, because heavy coffee drinkers were also smokers, two habits that went hand in hand in the yesteryears. When adjusted for smoking, coffee didn't appear to be too harmful, and in fact, most of the more recent studies suggested that coffee consumption offers a number of potential benefits as I discussed in a number of posts in the last few years:


You'll See It When You Believe It

Did I get that backwards?! Nope. While many people will know it as "I'll believe when I see it," the title of this post is becoming more and more a reality. This lends some scientific backing to movies like The Secret, What the Bleep Do We Know, and the whole Law of Attraction thing. So while not necessarily related to health and nutrition, understanding the implications of this study has direct relevance to keeping us healthy or over-coming illnesses.

Our brains perceive incoming information from our senses, which on their own is just meaningless or ambiguous. Our brains take that information and puts it into context of what we know, have experienced in the past, or what we expect.

To show how profoundly words can influence perception, American researchers used a technique called continuous flash suppression to render a series of objects invisible to a group of volunteers. In one eye, each person was shown a static picture of a familiar object--such as a chair, a pumpkin or a kangaroo. At the same time, their other eye saw a series of flashing, squiggly lines (which served as visual noise), and because of the patterns, high-contrast, and motion, this "noise" dominated, suppressing the image flashed in the other eye.


Warfarin Patients Treated with Vitamin K

Warfarin is a popular anticoagulant commonly prescribed in people with atrial fibrillation. It works by inhibiting the recycling of vitamin K, so that it's not able to activate the clotting factors that depend on it for proper functioning. However, as we now know, vitamin K is also needed for various other functions in the body, and those taking warfarin are known to be at high risk of osteoporotic fractures (and cardiovascular disease by way of arterial calcification).

Hip fractures are common in the elderly population, and many also take warfarin. Surgical treatment of these fractures within the first 48 hours decreases morbidity and mortality, but because warfarin is a blood thinner, surgery within this short time-frame is difficult--it's important that the coagulation is "normal" before surgery. Therefore, the researchers behind this study sought to determine the effect of vitamin K on hip fracture patients treated with warfarin.


High Blood Sugar Linked to Dementia

It's been commonly suggested that type 2 diabetics have a higher risk of dementia (the most common form of dementia being Alzheimer's disease). In fact, newer research is suggesting Alzheimer's is a form of "type 3 diabetes." This new study shows it's just not diabetics with the higher risk, but just simply higher blood sugar (even without a diagnosis of diabetes).

Researchers analyzed 2067 participants who took part in the Adult Changes in Thought (ACT) study. All had at least one follow-up visit and at least five measurements of blood glucose or glycated hemoglobin (HbA1C) over the course of at least 2 years before entering the study. Blood sugar levels were averaged over a five-year period were and then analysed for and links to the risk of dementia.


Exercise REVERSES Mild Cognitive Impairment

Another study has linked exercise to cognitive health, but this time it was shown to reverse cognitive decline! In this new study, researchers recruited adults aged 60 to 88 years who reported that they engaged in fewer than 3 days of moderate-intensity physical activity per week. 17 of them had mild cognitive impairment (MCI, the precursor to Alzheimer's disease), and 18 were normal age-matched control participants.


Drinking Chocolate for Brain Health

Okay, so I started the weekend with a chocolate study, and I'll finish with the same. This new study showed that drinking cocoa, whether rich in flavonoids or not, appears to boost the effect of blood flow on neuronal activity in the brain, known as neurovascular coupling (NVC). It also showed that a higher NVC is associated with better cognitive performance (logically) and greater cerebral white matter structural integrity in elderly patients with vascular risk factors.


Should Diabetics & Heart Failure Patients Eat Chocolate?

Here's a quick post to send you off on your weekend. Type 2 diabetes (T2D) and heart failure (HF) are associated with high levels of skeletal muscle (SkM) oxidative stress (OS). Previously, health benefits attributed to flavonoids have been ascribed their antioxidant effects. However, for flavonoids with similar antioxidant potential, end-biological effects vary widely suggesting other mechanistic avenues for reducing OS. Decreases in OS may follow the modulation of key regulatory pathways including antioxidant levels (e.g. glutathione) and enzymes such as mitochondrial superoxide dismutase (SOD) and catalase.


Probiotics Don't Prevent Antibiotic-Associated Diarrhoea?

Well, here is a bit of "guff" that needs some explanation. A newly published study on probiotics determined that they don't work to prevent antibiotic-associated diarrhoea (AAD) in elderly patients. However, the conclusion made by these researchers, including any media misrepresenting the data, just simple goes to show how little most people understand bacteria and probiotics.

Let's first look at the study details to understand why the results are almost meaningless. This was a well-designed (multi-centre, randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled) study in nearly 3000 people. All participants were hospital inpatients aged 65 or over and had been prescribed one or more antibiotics. About half were asked to take a capsule containing a fixed dose of live bacteria (two strains of Lactobacillus acidophilusBifidobacterium bifidum, and Bifidobacterium lactis) per day for 21 days, and between antibiotic doses where possible. The other half formed the control group received a placebo with the same dosing instruction.


L-Carnitine Improves Sperm Motility

As I mentioned on Wednesday, today I'll discuss another L-carnitine study that showed it can improve fertility in men. This isn't new, since it's been studied with positive results in the past, but this does add more confirmation into its benefits.