Friday, September 28, 2012

Regular Daily Exercise Alters DNA to Prevent Chronic Disease

Many people think the genes they inherited at birth are static and predetermine their fate for the remainder of their life. Extensive research into the science of epigenetics is providing startling evidence that this thought process is grossly outdated, and our individual DNA is dynamic and continually influenced by multiple lifestyle factors including diet, environment, stress and physical activity.

Researchers publishing the result of a study in the journal Cell Metabolism provide evidence that that when healthy but inactive men and women exercise for a matter of minutes, it produces a rather immediate change to their DNA. While we cannot change our core DNA code, exercise does influence the DNA molecules within our muscles. Scientists have found that DNA is chemically and structurally altered or expressed in very important ways that affect a myriad of metabolic processes that protect us from chronic disease.

Short Bursts of Moderate Intensity Exercise Positively Influences DNA Expression
The scientists found that DNA modifications signal precise genetic reprogramming in muscles that determine overall muscle strength as well as structural and metabolic benefits derived from physical activity. Study leader, Dr. Juleen Zierath noted “Our muscles are really plastic… muscle adapts to what you do. If you don't use it, you lose it, and this is one of the mechanisms that allows that to happen.”

Epigenetic modifications involve the addition or deletion of chemical markers on the DNA strand that change rapidly based on environmental influences such as the nutritional composition of your last meal, pollutants in the environment or the intensity of an exercise workout. Researchers found that DNA within skeletal muscle examined after a short burst of exercise bore fewer chemical markers (specifically methyl groups) than it did before exercise.

Fifteen to Twenty Minutes of Moderate Intensity Exercise Lower Disease Risk
The study team specifically determined that the DNA modifications occurred in stretches of DNA that are involved in expressing genes known to be important for muscular adaptation to exercise. This research clearly provides more evidence that our genetic constitution is continually evolving in an effort to protect us, and is positively influenced by short, moderate intensity bursts of physical activity. These alterations allow us to adapt quickly to the changing environment that surrounds us.

 Dr. Zierath concluded “Exercise is medicine… and it seems the means to alter our genome for better health may be only a jog away.” The finding of this study may explain recent research showing that the best form of exercise works our musculature in short bursts of moderate to full intensity (as measured by attaining maximum heart rate for your age range) for several minutes in duration, followed by a rest period and then another energy burst. Combining this evidence with an organic whole food diet will positively influence your genes toward optimal health.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Vitamin D and Curcumin Synergistically Clear Brain Tangles to Prevent Alzheimer’s Dementia

New diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease cases continue to mount at an unprecedented rate, threatening both the lives of those suffering from this dreaded illness and the health care system itself, as billions are spent to care for the millions suffering from this lifestyle-mediated disease. New hope is now offered by scientists from the University of California publishing in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, as they have identified the specific intracellular mechanism regulated by vitamin D3 that may help the body clear the brain of amyloid beta.

There has been scant evidence in the past to show that vitamin D and the curry-derived compound, curcumin help to prevent Alzheimer’s dementia. Researchers now provide solid research-based science to explain the precise pathway used by these two natural substances to help stimulate the immune system to activate key genes involved in clearing the amyloid-beta protein.

Vitamin D3 and Curcumin Works Together to Clear Deadly Brain Plaques
Chief study author, Dr. Milan Fiala noted “This new study helped clarify the key mechanisms involved, which will help us better understand the usefulness of vitamin D3 and curcumin as possible therapies for Alzheimer's disease.” Prior research has suggested a synergistic effect between the two compounds and clearance of deadly protein tangles, but no action pathway has ever been postulated until now.

To test their hypothesis, scientists took blood samples from a group of currently diagnosed Alzheimer’s disease patients and a control group of healthy volunteers. They then isolated the immune-stimulating component of the white blood cells called macrophages. These special cells are known to target and eliminate amyloid fibrils and other waste products that accumulate in the brain before they manifest into detectable disease conditions.

Researchers then incubated some of the extracted immune cells for a 24 hour period in a solution containing the active form of vitamin D3 (1a, 25-dihydroxyvitamin D3). Other cells were exposed to a standardized curcumin extract. Past studies have shown that there are two types of macrophages, Type I and Type II that independently perform different functions, yet must work together to effectively remove amyloid protein in the brain.

Supplement with Vitamin D Daily to Attain Optimal Blood Saturation Levels
The scientists found that Type I macrophage activity is greatly enhanced with optimal saturation of vitamin D3, and Type II immune cells are supported by the presence of curcumin. Researchers found that the action of both Type I and II macrophages are greatly enhanced by the synergistic application of vitamin D3 and curcumin together. Dr. Fiala concluded “Our findings demonstrate that active forms of vitamin D3 (and curcumin) may be an important regulator of immune activities of macrophages in helping to clear amyloid plaques.”

Proof positive now exists to support maintaining optimal blood saturation levels (50 to 70 ng/mL) of vitamin D as measured using the simple and inexpensive 25(OH)D test. Most people will need to supplement with 5,000 to 7,000 IU of vitamin D3 per day or rely on sun exposure to obtain ideal levels. Adding curcumin to your regular diet using natural curry-enriched foods or supplementing (300 to 500 mg per day standardized to 95% total curcuminoids) will provide a synergistic effect shown to help clear brain tangles and prevent Alzheimer’s dementia.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Heart Disease Risks Controlled by Five Critical Lifestyle Modifications

Cardiovascular disease is the leading killer of adults in all western cultures. Many people believe their fate has been sealed through the inheritance of ‘bad’ genes, and no degree of healthy living will have any effect on their risk of an untimely and early demise. More evidence that this thought process could not be more flawed is underscored by the work of researchers at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine as published in the journal Circulation.

Scientists have found that maintaining a healthy lifestyle from childhood and into your 40’s and beyond can have a profound effect on reduced risk of developing cardiovascular disease as you grow older.  Consuming a heart healthy diet, regular physical activity, stress and blood pressure reduction and maintaining a normal body weight combine to dramatically lower heart disease risks compared to hereditary influences.

Five Modifiable Risk Factors Significantly Lower Heart Disease Risk in Later Life

The lead study author, Dr. Kiang Liu observed “In this study, even people with a family history of heart problems were able to have a low cardiovascular disease risk profile if they started living a healthy lifestyle when they were young.” Many people engage in unhealthy and potentially deadly lifestyle activities as they age that increasingly tip the scales toward the early development of heart disease.

Researchers indentified five independent lifestyle factors that directly influence the development of cardiovascular disease. These modifiable factors include maintaining a lean body mass index (BMI), no excess alcohol intake, no smoking, a healthy diet and regular physical activity. Individuals able to modify these risk markers were able to significantly lower heart disease risk in their middle-aged years and beyond.

Following Key Lifestyle Factors Significantly Reduce Heart Disease Risk

The study found that when the study participants were in their mid-twenties (average age of 24), nearly 44 percent had a low cardiovascular disease risk profile. After a period of twenty years, only 24 percent fell into the low risk category. Researchers found that sixty percent of the participants that maintained a lifestyle optimized in all five established risk factors remained in the low risk classification, compared to only five percent that followed none of the healthy lifestyles.

Dr. Liu concluded “Many studies suggest that people who have low cardiovascular risk in middle age will have a better quality of life and will live longer in their older age… there are a lot of benefits to maintaining a low-risk profile.” It will come as no surprise to those following healthy lifestyle patterns that small changes early in life can dramatically impact risk of chronic disease and overall lifespan. This research provides further evidence that children, teenagers and young adults must pay special attention to lifestyle factors including diet, alcohol and smoking to significantly reduce heart disease risk in later life.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Broccoli Delivers a Powerful Punch against Cancer

Broccoli is a super star member of the cruciferous family, well known and documented as an immune boosting food that supports the healthy clearance of aberrant cancer cells before they multiply and develop into detectable tumors. Researchers reporting in the journal Clinical Epigenetics have found that the bioactive compound in broccoli, sulforaphane provides a multi-modal attack against cancer cell development and proliferation through the complex mechanism of epigenetics.

Epigenetics refers to the way that diet, toxins and other environmental contributors can change which genes get activated, or "expressed" within our genetic code to guide the accurate replication essential to cellular metabolism and repair. This can play a powerful role in preventing and promoting many chronic illnesses from cancer to heart disease and other health issues. Consuming broccoli raw or lightly steamed several times each week can supply a potent dose of sulforaphane to help prevent many types of cancer.

Broccoli and Cruciferous Vegetables Directly Influence Genetic Expression to Inhibit Cancer
In past research bodies, scientists have documented the pathway utilized by sulforaphane to inhibit the action of an enzyme known as histone deacetylase (HDAC inhibitor) that helps restore proper balance and helps prevent the development of cancer. Researchers at the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University have uncovered a second mechanism, DNA methylation that works in concert with HDAC inhibitors that work to maintain proper cell function. Sulforaphane from broccoli and other crucifers stimulates both HDAC and DNA methylation pathways in a synergistic fashion to prevent cancer development.

The lead study author, Dr. Emily Ho commented regarding the sulforaphane-cancer connection “Cancer is very complex and it's usually not just one thing that has gone wrong… it's increasingly clear that sulforaphane is a real multi-tasker. The more we find out about it, the more benefits it appears to have."

Nutritionists Recommend Three to Five Servings of Broccoli Every Week
DNA methylation controls the healthy expression of genes. When this pathway is blocked scientists have found a significantly increased risk of conditions including cardiovascular disease, immune function, neurodegenerative disease and even aging. Foods that provide sulfur groups necessary for proper DNA methylation include onions, garlic, nuts and seeds. Sulforaphane from broccoli is found in this research to stimulate the methylation path to enable normal gene expression to thwart cancer cell genesis.

Nutrition experts recommend consuming one to two servings of broccoli (or other members of the crucifer family such as cabbage, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts or kale) several days of the week. A rapidly growing body of evidence demonstrates that the natural, active compounds found in these vegetables help to prevent cancer and other chronic disease by dealing a two-step knockout blow to influence gene expression.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Low Levels of Omega-3 Fats Accelerate Brain Aging and Dementia

Omega-3 fats including DHA and EPA are preferentially selected by the human body to form the critical cellular membrane boundary separating the cell nucleus and DNA with the surrounding extracellular environment. The precise fatty acid composition of the membrane determines permeability properties for the passage of essential materials such as oxygen, micronutrients and glucose required for proper cell function.

Researchers publishing in Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology, have found that a diet lacking in omega-3 fatty acids may cause your brain to age faster and lose some of its memory and cognitive capabilities. Regular fatty fish consumption or supplementing with a molecularly distilled form of fish oil is shown to improve memory and thought retention and may significantly lower the risk of cognitive decline associated with the progression of Alzheimer’s disease.

Low Blood Levels of Omega-3 Fats Impact Cognition and Learning Processes
An extensive volume of research over the past decade has demonstrated that eating fish several times each week or supplementing with fish oil standardized to provide equivalent  concentrations of the long chain fats, EPA and DHA improves brain development and improved levels of cognition as we age. Dr. Zaldy Tan of the Easton Center for Alzheimer's Disease Research at the University of California in Los Angeles noted “People with lower blood levels of omega-3 fatty acids had lower brain volumes that were equivalent to about two years of structural brain aging.”

Researchers assembled 1,575 individuals with an average age of 67 who were deemed free of dementia. The participants were given an MRI brain scan and took tests that measured mental function, body mass index (BMI) and the omega-3 fatty acid levels in their red blood cells. Scientists determined that those people in the lowest quartile of red blood cell DHA saturation had lower brain volume compared to people who had higher DHA levels. They also scored lower on tests of visual memory and executive function.

Eat Fatty Fish or Supplement with DHA Daily to Prevent Cognitive Decline
Dr. Tan and his team found a direct correlation between circulating levels of omega-3 fats and performing everyday tasks such as problem solving, multi-tasking and abstract thinking. The study team concluded “Lower RBC (red blood cell) DHA levels are associated with smaller brain volumes and a ‘vascular’ pattern of cognitive impairment even in persons free of clinical dementia.”

Nutrition experts recommend eating fatty fish at least three times per week to obtain adequate levels of the pre-formed omega-3 fats, DHA and EPA. Alternatively, you can supplement with distilled fish oil gel-caps providing between 1,200 and 2,400 mg of EPA/DHA fats (higher amounts indicated for optimal cardiovascular and brain health protection) to reduce the effects of brain aging and maintain normal brain volume as you age.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Vitamin D3 Halts Inflammation to Lower Cardiovascular Disease Risk

Thousands of research studies have demonstrated the powerful health-promoting properties of the prohormone compound, vitamin D3. Researchers publishing in The Journal of Immunology explain the specific molecular and signaling events by which vitamin D inhibits inflammation in the human body. In a very detailed analysis, scientists show that low blood circulating levels of vitamin D do not adequately inhibit the inflammatory cascade necessary to turn off this potentially destructive mechanism.

Low levels of inflammation, normally used by the body to fight pathogenic invaders, become a primary cause of heart disease, diabetes, many cancer lines and Alzheimer’s dementia.  Additional evidence reported in the British Journal of Nutrition demonstrates that adequate vitamin D levels reduce critical markers of cardiovascular health and can lead to significant reductions in body fat in overweight and obese people. It is critical to have your vitamin D level checked, and supplement as necessary to lower inflammation levels and risk of heart disease.

Vitamin D Lowers Inflammation to Prevent Chronic Disease and Stimulate Immune Response Systems
Dr. Elena Goleva, lead scientist from National Jewish Health, found that prior studies with vitamin D show a clear and positive link between blood levels of the prohormone and a variety of different health outcomes. Dr. Goleva and her team looked for specific mechanisms to explain precisely how vitamin D functions at the cellular level to prevent disease in the human body.

Dr. Goleva and her team of researchers noted that vitamin D is a catalyst that initiates “a clear chain of cellular events, from the binding of DNA, through a specific signaling pathway, to the reduction of proteins known to trigger inflammation.”  To test how vitamin D acts on immune and inflammatory pathways, team scientists exposed human white blood cells to varying levels of vitamin D and exposed them to an agent known to promote intense inflammatory responses and advance disease processes.

Vitamin D Lowers Inflammatory Markers and Increases Health-Promoting HDL Cholesterol
White blood cells that were incubated with no vitamin D or a solution of 15 ng/mL produced very high levels of the pro-inflammatory cytokines IL-6 and TNF-alpha. In vivo, these signaling messengers are known to be responsible for the development and progression of cardiovascular disease, certain forms of cancer and dementia. Cells incubated at a concentration of 30 ng/mL and above showed a significantly reduced response, while the highest level of inflammatory inhibition occurred at 50 ng/ml.

Supporting evidence for the health-promoting effect of vitamin D as reported in the journal BMJ shows marked improvement in cardiovascular biomarkers including HDL cholesterol. Additionally, researchers found the hormone-like substance lowered the risk of lipid peroxidation, the process responsible for making LDL cholesterol molecules sticky and prone to form atherosclerotic plaque. They also determined that high circulating levels of vitamin D were associated with “significant reductions in fat mass” in overweight and obese people.

There should be no doubt that the millions of people living with grossly sub-optimal vitamin D levels are dramatically increasing their risk of developing a plethora of potentially deadly illnesses. Health-minded individuals will ensure they maintain a circulating blood level of 50 to 70 ng/mL by means of a 25(OH)D blood test to regulate systemic inflammation and fight chronic disease.