Monday, July 30, 2012

Overeating Can Double the Risk of Memory Loss Leading to Cognitive Decline

Compelling research will be presented at the American Academy of Neurology's 64th Annual Meeting to explain how overeating may double the risk of memory loss, or mild cognitive impairment (MCI), among people aged 70 and older. Cognitive decline threatens the very nature of who we are and how we interact with others and the number of individuals experiencing the normal loss of thought and memory has been increasing over the past half century.

Loss of cognition and early stage dementia are both precursors to the devastating condition diagnosed as Alzheimer’s disease, said to affect nearly half of those aged 80 and above. Calorie restriction initiated early in life may be one of the most effective tools available to combat cognitive decline and memory loss leading to dementia.

High Caloric Intake is Shown to Double the Risk of Cognitive Decline in Seniors
The study was conducted using 1,233 individuals aged 70 to 89 who were free of dementia and living in Minnesota. Each participant filled out a questionnaire detailing the number of calories they ate or drank, and were then broken into three groups based on total caloric consumption. A third of the participants consumed between 600 and 1,526 calories per day, the middle third ranged between 1,526 and 2,143 and the top third consumed between 2,143 and 6,000 calories per day.

The lead study author, Dr. Yonas Geda noted of the initial findings, “We observed a dose-response pattern which simply means; the higher the amount of calories consumed each day, the higher the risk of MCI.” The team discovered that those consuming the highest number of calories (2,143 calories per day and up) more than doubled their risk for developing MCI. The researchers adjusted for history of stroke, diabetes, amount of education, and other factors that can affect risk of memory loss to reach their conclusion.

Dietary Restriction Lowers Oxidative Damage to Delicate Brain Structures
It is important to note that participants in the lower two-thirds experienced no increased risk of MCI, leading to the conclusion that the body is able to metabolize calories to an individual set point before cognition is impaired. Dr. Geda commented “excessive caloric intake may lead to oxidative damage leading to structural changes in the brain… cutting calories and eating foods that make up a healthy diet may be a simpler way to prevent memory loss as we age”.

It comes as no surprise to those following healthy lifestyle principles that caloric intake is yet another lifestyle factor found to affect the brain and impact normal thinking and memory processes as we age. Researchers have known for decades that calorie restriction is the only demonstrated mechanism to extend healthy lifespan, as it is shown to stress the body’s natural survival mechanism toward longevity. Cutting 20% of your daily calories in the form of hydrogenated and trans fats, refined carbohydrates and excess animal protein will not only help you maintain a normal body weight, but may help prevent cognitive decline in your senior years.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Green Tea Helps Maintain Cognitive Ability as We Age

Green tea has long been hailed as a cardio-protective beverage due to its ability to lower levels of oxidized LDL cholesterol, an established heart disease risk factor. It has also been shown to promote brain health because the active compound, EGCG (Epigallocatechin gallate) freely crosses the blood-brain barrier to provide antioxidant support and lower damaging levels of brain inflammation.

Researchers from Japan reporting in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition demonstrate that regular green tea consumption lowers the risk of developing functional disabilities that lead to problems with daily chores and activities, such as bathing or dressing. Drinking up to five cups of green tea each day can lower the risk of developing functional disabilities as we age by nearly one half.

Daily Green Tea Consumption Significantly Lowers Risk of Functional Decline
Prior studies have determined that consuming green tea lowers the risk of diseases associated with functional disability, such as osteoporosis, cognitive impairment and stroke. To date, no formal studies have been conducted to confirm the impact of green tea consumption on functional ability. Researchers from Tohoku University Graduate School of Medicine in Japan modeled this study to affirm the positive results associated in the past with drinking green tea.

To design this research work, scientists handed out questionnaires to nearly 14,000 respondents aged 65 or older. The participants answered questions about general diet, green tea consumption and lifestyle. After a period of five years, researchers were able to find a close inverse link between functional disability risk and the consumption of green tea. Higher intake of green tea was associated with a dramatically lower risk of functional disability in the group studied.

Green Tea Drinking Lowers Risk of Functional Disability in the Elderly
The research team concluded that nearly 13% of the participants consuming the lowest amount of green tea (one cup or less each day) developed moderate to severe degrees of functional disability. By contrast, only 7% of those consuming the highest amount of green tea (5 cups or more each day) were classified with any degree of functional decline. The highest level of green tea consumption was shown to cut the risk of functional and cognitive decline by close to one-half.

The researchers noted that those consuming five or more cups of green tea each day also ate more fruit and vegetables, consumed more fish, were less likely to smoke, had fewer strokes or heart attacks, and tended to have a higher level of education. Improved dietary and lifestyle considerations are synergistic factors that compliment green tea consumption and likely contribute to the positive results in this study. Health-minded individuals already follow strict dietary principles to maintain brain health and functional abilities. Drinking 5 or more cups of green tea each day are shown to boost the healthy benefits associated with proper nutrition and lifestyle.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Vitamin and Mineral Supplementation Reduces Colon Cancer Risk by Eighty Percent

Researchers publishing in the Canadian Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology (CJPP) have found that a diet enhanced with vitamin and mineral supplementation can lower the risk of developing precancerous colon cancer lesions by up to 84%. Colon cancer is the second most common form of the disease affecting men and women in the US, with nearly 150,000 new diagnoses each year.

Nutrition experts and alternative practitioners understand that cancer is largely a disease caused by poor lifestyle behaviors including a diet lacking an optimal intake of vitamins and minerals. Chronic illnesses including colon cancer are the result of many years and decades of low nutritional status, as support for a healthy immune response is suppressed. Scientists now provide compelling evidence in support of whole-food based vitamin and mineral supplementation to dramatically lower the risk of colorectal cancer.

Vitamin and Mineral Supplements Help Significantly Lower Colorectal Cancer Risk
The study authors used rats that were fed a high fat diet (20% fat intake) for a period of 32 weeks. Rats are commonly used for this type of research because they develop colon cancer polyps and tumors in a manner parallel to humans. The rats were divided into six groups and were subsequently exposed to different combinations of carcinogens and nutritional supplements.

The researchers found that the animals fed a high-fat, low fiber diet and exposed to a carcinogen developed pre-cancerous lesions of the colon along a pathway similar to that found in humans. The group of animals that underwent a similar treatment and diet, but were supplemented with a daily vitamin and mineral supplement showed an 84% reduction in the formation of pre-cancerous lesions and did not develop tumors.

Building a Multi-Nutrient Base Over Time Dramatically Lowers Disease Rate
This study is important as it demonstrates the importance of building a solid nutrient base over time to saturate cells and tissues to prevent common diseases such as colon cancer. The research authors concluded “multivitamin and mineral supplements synergistically contribute to the cancer chemo-preventative potential, and hence, regular supplements of multivitamins and minerals could reduce the risk of colon cancer.”

Health-minded individuals know the importance of obtaining a full range of vitamins and minerals from fresh, raw or minimally cooked foods to promote health. Extensive research is now mounting to suggest that higher amounts of nutrients obtained from a whole food organic vitamin and mineral supplement may be necessary to achieve optimal health and convey maximum protection against colon cancer.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Grape Seed Extract Targets Destruction of Cancer Cells by Targeting DNA

Researchers from the Colorado Cancer Center reporting in the prestigious journal Carcinogenesis explain the unique mechanism exerted by grape seed extract to destroy cancer cells that target the head and neck. More than half a million people worldwide will fall victim to squamous cell carcinoma involving the head and neck, and 12,000 will die in the US alone. In an experimental model using mice, scientists have found that grape seed extract triggers DNA damage in the cancer cells and inhibits the necessary repair mechanism used by the cells to regenerate and multiply.

Grape seed extract has been the subject of multiple studies that demonstrate the polyphenols ability to support brain health, improve cognition and lower the risk of dementia. Regular consumption of red grapes or supplementation with grape seed extract is now found to be an important ally in the war against cancer.

Grape Seed Extract Lowers the Growth Rate of Certain Cancers by up to 67%
The lead researcher, Dr. Rajesh Agarwal and his team determined that supplementing mice with grape seed extract (GSE) reduced the growth of certain cancers by up to 67%, lowered the rate of progression of deadly tumors and DNA damage while inducing apoptosis (programmed cell death) of the cancer cells. Mice have been used to study specific cancer cell lines because they parallel tumor progression and metastasis in a manner similar to humans.

The researchers found that GSE created an environment that is unfavorable for cancer cell growth. Cancer cells require a specific environment, blood supply and metabolic nutrients to be able to propagate. If any of these pathways are disrupted, cancer cell death occurs. The scientists commented “Cancer cells are fast-growing cells… not only that, but they are necessarily fast growing. When conditions exist in which they can't grow, they die.”

Grape Seed Extract Destroys the Metabolic Pathway Used by Cancer Cells
The team determined that GSE both damages cancer cells' DNA (via increased reactive oxygen species) and stops the pathways that allow repair. Most important, they found there was no toxicity from supplementation. GSE killed the cancer cells by knocking out one of several vulnerable paths necessary for growth, and left the healthy tissue untouched. Dr. Agarwal concluded “I think the whole point is that cancer cells have a lot of defective pathways and they are very vulnerable if you target those pathways. The same is not true of healthy cells.”

Though this study focused specifically on GSE as a therapeutic agent for cancers of the head and neck, prior research has shown the natural compound effective against leukemia and tumors affecting the skin, breast, colon, lung, stomach and prostate. Nutrition experts recommend supplementation with an organically harvested grape seed extract (150 mg per day) to support brain health and fight cancerous tumor development.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Flavonoids from Fruits and Vegetables Lower Vascular Disease Risks by Twenty Percent

Heart disease and stroke will account for more than a third of all deaths annually, a number that continues to rise as dietary and lifestyle factors that contribute to these illnesses are made worse through a never ending barrage of advertising and marketing sleight of hand. Research published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition has found that consuming moderate amounts of food containing health promoting flavonoids can provide antioxidant support to help lower the risk of heart attack or stroke by close to twenty percent.

The compounds found in a wide range of plant foods, including many fruits, vegetables, nuts, dark chocolate, tea and red wine fights systemic inflammation and protects the body’s cellular structures from damage that causes chronic disease. Six to ten servings of vegetables and fruit each day provides a defensive shield against heart disease and stroke.

Flavonoids from Fresh Vegetables and Fruits Lower Vascular Disease Risk
To conduct the study, researchers analyzed the dietary intake of nearly 100,000 older adults (average age 70 years) from the US and divided them into five groups based on their reported flavonoid consumption. The participants were tracked for a period of seven years and assessed for associations between total flavonoid ingestion, seven specific flavonoid classes and development of heart disease or cardiovascular mortality.

After compiling the data, scientists determined that those individuals with the highest consumption of flavonoids (top fifth) were eighteen percent less likely to die of heart disease or stroke compared to those eating the lowest amount of flavonoids. Any intervention that can lower the risk of either of these chronic and potentially fatal diseases by close to twenty percent should be considered relevant and can make a big difference when considered as part of a population level analysis.

Flavonoids Lower Heart Disease Risk by Lowering Inflammation and Providing Antioxidant Support
The lead researcher from the American Cancer Society, Marjorie L. McCullough commented “Flavonoid-rich foods also contain many other healthful nutrients, so it's hard to know whether the compounds, themselves, deserve all the credit for the lower cardiovascular risks.” A wealth of prior studies have found that a diet rich in fresh vegetables and fruits is beneficial to vascular health, in part due to the myriad of flavonoid compounds and also due to the high content of B vitamins and other carotenoids known to lower disease risk.

It is important to note that the people in the top fifth of participants consumed 24 servings of vegetables and 20 servings of fruits each week, demonstrating that large quantities are not necessary for maximum benefits. McCullough concluded “So even adding one serving of flavonoid-rich food a day could be beneficial.” Although this study did not make specific note of sugar and processed food consumption, these foods are classified as ‘anti-nutrients’ and negate the positive benefits of flavonoids and other plant-based nutrients to lower the risk of heart disease and stroke.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Cocoa from Dark Chocolate Lowers Risk of Colon Cancer

Colon cancer is the third leading cause of cancer deaths annually, a statistic that remains constant despite increased awareness of the deadly disease. Researchers from the Science and Technology Institute of Food and Nutrition in Spain have published the result of a study in the journal Molecular Nutrition & Food Research detailing the potent anti-carcinogenic effect of the natural chocolate compound, cocoa.

Scientists determined for the first time that regular consumption of cocoa negates the inflammatory effect of digestive oxidative stress that results in intestinal complaints and is a precursor to the genesis of colon cancer. Cocoa is now considered a ‘superfood’ as it has been shown to improve blood lipids and help prevent cardiovascular disease in past research. The result of this current study demonstrates that a daily dose of the compound can help prevent colon cancer progression.

Cocoa Polyphenols from Dark Chocolate Significantly Lower Colon Cancer Risk
Researchers studied rats that had been fed a cocoa-rich diet consisting of twelve percent cocoa, as compared to a control group that received the same diet with the chocolate compound enrichment. Both groups were exposed to a chemical known to induce colon cancer. Animals such as mice and rats have been used for decades to conduct this type of research because they exhibit a similar line of carcinogenesis that is comparable to humans.

The study leader, Dr. Maria Angeles Martin Arribas notedBeing exposed to different poisons in the diet like toxins, mutagens and pro-carcinogens, the intestinal mucus is very susceptible to pathologies… foods like cocoa, which is rich in polyphenols, seems to play an important role in protecting against disease.” After a period of eight weeks, the scientists were able to confirm the protective effect of cocoa polyphenols in protecting against this insidious form of digestive cancer.

Cocoa is a Potent Antioxidant Shown to Neutralize the Effect of Dietary Carcinogens
The study results showed a marked decrease in the number of pre-malignant neoplastic crypts in the lining of the colon in the cocoa treated group as compared to the control animals. Further, the researchers found a rise in antioxidant defenses in the supplemented rats and a decrease in oxidative stress biomarkers that are known to be protective against chemical exposure and the prevention of colorectal cancer.

The team concluded that the protective effect of the bioactive compounds in cocoa stopped cell-signaling pathways that typically promote cell proliferation and lead to tumor development. The treated animals also exhibited a much higher degree of apoptosis, or normal programmed cell death of potentially cancerous tissues. It is important to note that milk chocolate is not a good source of cocoa due to its low concentration of the polyphenol and high sugar content, known to promote cancer. Choose a dark chocolate with a minimum 70% cocoa content to significantly lower the risk associated with colorectal cancer.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Fructose Increases Cardiovascular and Diabetes Risk in Children

Researchers at the Medical College of Georgia at Georgia Health Sciences University have published evidence that cardiovascular disease and diabetes risk is present in the blood fractions of adolescents who consume a lot of fructose, a scenario that worsens in the face of excess belly fat. Publishing in the Journal of Nutrition, scientists determined that high dietary fructose consumption results in lower levels of cardiovascular protectors such as HDL cholesterol and adiponectin, due in part to how the body metabolizes the fruit-based mega-sweetener at the cellular level.

Excess body fat accumulated around the mid-section, a rapidly growing problem in adolescents, compounds the problem when compared to those with less visceral fat deposits. A wealth of scientifically validated research studies now highlight the importance of eliminating fructose in all its forms from the diet of both adults and children alike to dramatically reduce risk of diabetes and heart disease.

Fructose Metabolism Increases Risk from Metabolic and Fatty Liver Disease
The study detailed an analysis of 559 adolescents, aged 14 to 18 and detailed cardiovascular risk factors including high blood pressure, fasting glucose, insulin resistance and blood inflammatory factors. Excess fat around the midsection was found to exacerbate the identified risk factors, as compared to those with generalized fat right beneath the skin known as subcutaneous fat, where an association was not evident.

Consumption of fructose is higher in children and adolescents, placing them at increased risk for heart disease and metabolic disorders such as diabetes. Fructose or simple fruit sugar is naturally found in fruits and vegetables where it is closely bound with fiber and is slowly released into the blood stream. Many processed food and drink manufacturers use liberal quantities of pure high fructose corn syrup extract that is metabolized through a different pathway as compared to glucose or table sugar.

Fructose is Metabolized in the Liver Where it Causes Metabolic Dysfunction in Excess
One of the study authors, Dr. Norman Pollock noted “Fructose itself is metabolized differently than other sugars and has some byproducts that are believed to be bad for us… there's something in the syrup processing that plays a role in the bad byproducts of metabolism.” The Corn Refiners Association, through a never ending barrage of advertisements, wants you to believe that there is no difference between high fructose corn syrup and regular sugar. Medical research has documented that fructose is processed primarily in the liver where it wreaks havoc, leading to fatty liver disease and even cirrhosis after excessive and repeated exposure.

Parents and caregivers to children will want to dramatically curb or eliminate fructose in the diet by removing processed foods and sugary beverages. Limit fruit consumption and natural fruit juices that can lead to excess consumption of the fruit sugar. It is especially important to read nutritional labels as fructose and high fructose corn syrup appear in many unsuspecting food sources. Nutrition experts recommend limiting natural fructose consumption to no more than 25 grams per day at an early age to minimize the risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes in later life.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Luteolin Blocks Cellular Pathways to Reduce Colon Cancer Risk

The result of a body of research published in the journal BMC Gastroenterology has found that consumption of the plant flavonoid, luteolin is able to inhibit the activity of cell signaling pathways (known as IGF and PI3K) important for the growth of colon cancer. Extensive research has preceded this study to confirm the health-promoting and disease-fighting nature of natural plant compounds for a wide variety of vegetables and fruits consumed raw or minimally cooked.

Colon cancer is the second most frequent cause of cancer-related deaths in western populations. Any natural compound that can significantly lower the risk from this deadly illness without any side effect should warrant special consideration in the diet of any health-minded individual.

Luteolin Blocks Cell Signaling Pathway to Halt Colon Cancer Progression
Colon cancer cells express elevated markers of an inflammatory protein known as insulin-like growth factor II (IGF-2) as compared to normal colon cancer tissue. Researchers believe that it is this inflammatory factor that is responsible for driving uncontrolled cell division and cancer growth.
Researchers from Korea found that in a controlled setting, application of the flavonoid luteolin to colon cancer cells blocked the secretion of IGF-II within a time period of two hours.

By blocking cell receptors for the IGF-II protein, scientists found that cancer cell growth was halted and additional cell signaling pathways that normally trigger metastatic growth were inhibited. Luteolin was shown to trigger apoptosis (programmed cell death) by arresting the normal cell cycle that typically results in uncontrolled growth.

Natural Plant Compounds are Essential Prevent Disease and Promote Human Health
The study leader, Professor Jung Han Yoon Park found that luteolin affected cell signaling pathways which are activated by IGF-I in cancer. He commented of the finding “Blocking these pathways stops cancer cells from dividing and leads to cell death.” Luteolin is one of a number of natural plant-derived compounds that are known to exhibit powerful anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and anti-cancer properties.

Professor Park concluded “Our study, showing that luteolin interferes with cell signaling in colon cancer cells, is a step forward in understanding how this flavonoid works.” As further studies are planned to better understand the impact of luteolin on colon cancer progression, most adults will want to ensure a regular intake by consuming plenty of vegetables including celery hearts, hot peppers, parsley or spinach or supplement with a full-spectrum multi-vitamin containing the flavonoid.