Air Pollution May be to Blame for 20% of Dementia Cases

A new study in Translational Psychiatry suggests that women who are exposed to air heavily polluted by vehicle exhaust and other sources of fine particulate matter have a significantly higher risk of developing dementia.

For the new study, researchers tracked the cognitive health of 3,647 women ages 65-79 for 10 years. All of the women were dementia-free at the beginning of the study. As part of the Women’s Health Initiative Memory Study (WHIMS), researchers assessed the participants’ cognitive function annually.

The researchers used EPA data to estimate the women’s daily particulate matter 2.5 (PM2.5) where they lived. PM2.5 are fine particles that are up to 2.5 micrometers in diameter. They are made up of solid and liquid droplets which are emitted from power plants and motor vehicles, and other sources of combustion.

Read: Toxic Nanoparticle Air Pollution Found in Human Brain Tissue

The miniscule size of PM2.5 makes them easy to inhale, and inhalation of the particles can increase the risk of heart disease, asthma, reduced lung function, and other health problems.

High Levels of Pollution, High Levels of Risk

The team found that women who live in areas exposed to high PM2.5 levels had an 81% increased risk of global cognitive decline and a 92% increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias compared to women who live in areas with low PM2.5 levels.

Researchers also looked at the brain tissue of lab mice and discovered amyloid beta protein clumps – the hallmark signature of Alzheimer’s disease – and the die-off of cells in the brain’s hippocampus, where memories are formed.

Air pollution was also shown to affect a woman’s cognitive abilities even more dramatically if she carries APOE-e4, a gene variant which puts them at higher risk for Alzheimer’s disease.

Using air pollution standards set by the EPA, researchers found major differences on all those measures between those who breathed clean air and those exposed to pollution levels deemed unsafe.

In the lab mice, breathing air collected over the 10 Freeway in Los Angeles led to denser brain concentrations of amyloid protein which were more likely to form dangerous clumps than breathing air that met EPA standards pre-2012.

Read: Toxic Air Affects 90% of World’s Population

 

Are we seeing this in real-time in China?

Approximately 54% of the world’s population lived in urban areas as of 2014, according to the United Nations. In China, where air pollution is extreme, more than 55% of the population live in the city.

Interestingly, a 2013 study published in the Lancet showed that the number of people in that country with Alzheimer’s disease soared from 3.7 million in 1990 to 9.2 million in 2010. These are eclipsing figures from the 2012 World Alzheimer’s Reportwhich predicted an estimated 5.4 million dementia cases in China in 2010.

Potential Legal Ramifications?

The authors of the study, geriatric and environmental health specialists at USC, estimate that prior to the 2012 air pollution standards set by the EPA, about 21% of new cases of dementia and of accelerated cognitive decline could likely have been the result of exposure to air pollution.

Here’s where things get tricky.

When the EPA devises its pollution standards, the agency is required to consider the impact they will have on the health of “vulnerable populations.” The EPA is also tasked with using its regulatory authority to protect those populations. The standards set in 2012 clearly do not adequately protect women (and mice) who are genetically predisposed to developing Alzheimer’s disease.

Though air pollution has been decreasing since 2012, Dr. Jiu-Chiuan Chen, an environmental health specialist at USC’s Keck School of Medicine and the study’s senior author, said it’s not clear that even current standards are safe for aging brains, or for brains that are genetically vulnerable to Alzheimer’s.

It would behoove the Trump administration to look over this latest study, as President Trump has indicated that it will either trash or overhaul Obama administration regulations that tightened emissions from power plants and established tougher fuel efficiency standards for cars in an effort to fight climate change and cut air pollution.

Chen said:

“If people in the current administration are trying to reduce the cost of treating diseases, including dementia, then they should know that relaxing the Clean Air Act regulations will do the opposite.”

Sources:

[1] Medical News Today

[2] Los Angeles Times


Storable Food


Could This Popular All-Natural Sweetener Beat Lyme Disease?

Stevia, a highly-popular natural sugar substitute, may be good for more than just sweetening your coffee. Tests conducted by a Connecticut professor and her students showed that Stevia effectively treated Lyme disease. [1]

Professor Eva Sapi, chairwoman of University of New Haven’s Department of Biology and Environmental Science, and her students found that the liquid, whole-leaf Stevia extract prevented the tick-borne bacteria better than other antibiotics, including doxycycline, cefoperazone, and daptomycin.

Sapi’s original research was published in 2015 in the European Journal of Microbiology and Immunology, but Stevia as a defense against Lyme disease continues to impress.

Read: Natural Sweetener Stevia may Reverse and Prevent Diabetes

Once diagnosed with the disease, Sapi said:

“We believe that nature put Borrelia (the bacterial species which causes Lyme disease) on this planet and nature will provide a solution for it, too.”

She said:

“It was just after I got my first full-time position teaching and doing research at the University of New Haven, and I started experiencing dizziness, nausea and fatigue. I even started having some memory issues and some problems talking.” [2]

She went on to say:

“I was terrified to learn that not much is known about what is really working for this disease. That was my goal, I was on a mission, I mean when I recovered I promised myself that we find something.

Just because it works in a test tube doesn’t mean it’s going to work in a human body so we didn’t stop.” [1]

If not caught and treated in a timely manner, the effects of Lyme disease can be devastating, as they are often life-long. The disease can cause fatigue, headaches, high body temperature, other flu-like symptoms, and more. [2]

Read: How Natural Sweeteners Can Eliminate Soaring Cancer and Obesity Rates Today

Fortunately, Sapi is in remission, and claims to have been treated by a variety of things, including a compound anti-microbiotic medicine, infrared sauna use, and an overall lifestyle change.

The study abstract actually concluded with:

“When Stevia and the three antibiotics were tested against attached biofilms, Stevia significantly reduced B. burgdorferi forms. Results from this study suggest that a natural product such as Stevia leaf extract could be considered as an effective agent against B. burgdorferi.”

Stevia is Being Studied for its Anti-Lyme Properties

Clinical trials of Stevia in human patients are currently being conducted in patients of Dr. Richard Horowitz, a doctor in Hyde Park, New York, who specializes in Lyme disease.

Sapi said:

“They’re going well as far as I’m aware. I got an e-mail from one of Dr. Horowitz’s patients, who said it appears to be working.”

Horowitz confirmed that the trials are going well.

“My research is looking at a pool of 200 people with the disease, and based on what we’ve seen so far all symptoms seem to have significantly improved in the patients.”

Fascinatingly, other studies have shown that sugar “wakes up” dormant bacteria, called persisters. This was also part of Sapi’s inspiration for the experiment. Her research found that these persisters are protected by a biofilm, which allows it to lay dormant and keeps antibiotics from killing it.

She explained:

“They are called sleepers and persisters because no combination of antibiotics were working, and there was no way to wake them up so they could be killed.”

The professor and her students then learned that Stevia has been used in Japan for centuries as a microbiotic agent.

Said Sapi:

“And every time we’ve tested it so far it’s worked, we just need to see the results from the chemical trials.”

Tens of thousands of people are stricken with Lyme disease every year, the majority of them in the northeast. In 2015, 95% of Lyme disease cases were documented in Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, and Wisconsin.

Lyme disease is usually treated with antibiotics, but if clinical trial results further prove that Stevia is effective against the condition, it will mean patients have a better shot at being cured without the side effects and risks of antibiotics.

Sources:

[1] Fox News

[2] Daily Mail


Storable Food


Heartburn Drugs Linked to up to 94% Increased Risk of Ischemic Stroke

Ads for heartburn medication are everywhere, with media being littered with ads for “the big guns” like Prilosec, Nexium, Prevacid, and Protonix. They must be safe, right? Well, it’s still important to know the risks – as one study shows that people who take proton pump inhibitors (PPI’s) have a higher risk of stroke.

Lead study author Dr. Thomas Sehested says that, overall, taking PPI’s increase your stroke risk by 21%. [1]

What are PPI’s?

This popular class of drugs works by reducing the amount of acid produced in the stomach, which cuts the amount of stomach acid that backs up into the esophagus, producing that all-too-familiar burning sensation.

Everyone has heartburn from time to time, but a person who experiences heartburn twice a week may have a condition called gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD. Over time, if GERD is not treated, it can cause serious illness and injury to the esophagus, including ulcers, scarring, and even cancer.

These drugs are supposed to help with that.

Mapping the PPI-Stroke Link

In the study, Sehested and colleagues analyzed data from 244,679 adults from Denmark (average age 57) who underwent endoscopy to determine the cause of their stomach pain or indigestion.

During the average of 6 years of follow-up, 9,489 patients experienced a first-time ischemic stroke.

The researchers looked at the patients’ use of 1 of 4 PPI’s – omeprazole (Prilosec), pantoprazole (Protonix), lansoprazole (Prevacid), and esomeprazole (Nexium) – to see if use of the medications was associated with ischemic stroke risk, which occurs when a blood clot blocks the flow of blood to the brain.

Overall, the researchers found that individuals were at 21% greater risk of ischemic stroke when they were using PPI’s compared to when they were not using the drugs.

The team found that there was little or no greater risk of stroke with low doses of PPI’s. What’s more, another group of medications used to treat heartburn – called H2 blockers – were not linked to increased stroke risk.

People taking lansoprazole (Prevacid) had the greatest increased risk of ischemic stroke – 94%. Lansoprazole (Prevacid) fared the best, increasing the risk of ischemic stroke 30%. [2]

In previous studies, PPI use has been associated with heart disease, heart attacks, and dementia. [1]

Cause-and-Effect Not Proven

Because the study was observational, the researchers could not prove cause and effect between PPI use and increased stroke risk. However, the increased risk remained after the team accounted for possible confounding factors, including age, gender, high blood pressure, atrial fibrillation, and use of medications that have been linked to poorer cardiovascular health.

The scientists said that people should be cautious about taking PPI medications, which are now available over the counter.

Sehested said that doctors, too, should be cautious when deciding to prescribe PPI medications to patients, and for how long. He added:

“We know that from prior studies that a lot of individuals are using PPIs for a much longer time than indicated, which is especially true for elderly patients.”

Sehested said it’s not clear why PPI’s may be harmful to cardiovascular health. He did point out that the medications might reduce levels of biochemicals which are vital to the maintenance of blood vessels. A lack of these biochemicals in the body could cause hardening of the arteries. [2]

PPI’s have also been linked to increased risks of bone fractures and malabsorption, as well as Clostridum difficile (C. diff), a bacteria known to cause severe, sometimes fatal, diarrhea and inflammation of the colon.

Source: SteadyHealth

If you’re a heartburn sufferer, there are natural ways to get rid of your pain. A 2007 study in Molecular Research and Food Nutrition, researchers found that ginger got rid of heartburn 8 times better than Prevacid. Other people have had success with drinking apple cider vinegar, or consuming a mixture of 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda dissolved in 4 ounces of water.

Sources:

[1] Medical News Today

[2] Chicago Tribune

Steady Health


Storable Food


Have You Heard of the Low-Fat “SlimCado?” Avocado Incoming!

One of the healthiest aspects of an avocado is its fat content. Even though a 1-cup serving of avocado contains 22 grams of fat, eating avocados has been shown to lower the risk of heart disease, improve LDL cholesterol, and decrease levels of oxidative stress in the bloodstream. The monounsaturated fat in avocados, especially oleic acid, plays a role in these cardiovascular benefits. [1]

Rachael Hartley, a dietitian in South Carolina, said:

“Avocados, they have that great healthy fat. Fat is an often overlooked nutrient, but it is definitely important for keeping us full or keeping us satisfied.”

I guess not everyone got the message.

The SlimCado is an avocado grown in Florida that, according to The Wall Street Journal, is trying to compete with the Hass variety, which is grown in California. Hass avocados account for 95% of the American avocado market and 80% of global demand.

However, SlimCados contain half the fat of a Hass avocado; and if that sounds gross, well, that seems to be the general consensus.

Here are a few fast facts about the “slim” avocados:

  • SlimCados can weigh up to 3 pounds – nearly 6 times the size of a Hass avocado.
  • Aside from containing half the fat of regular avocados, SlimCados contain 35% fewer calories than a Hass.
  • SlimCados offer a “subtle tropical flavor similar to papaya.”
  • Many native Floridians grew up eating SlimCados.
  • SlimCados are much more fibrous and contain much more water (some describe the texture as “slimy”).
  • A SlimCado leeches water in a big way when you salt it. [2]

Corinne Zmoos, an avocado lover in Boston, tweeted:

“I’ve never felt so betrayed by a piece of food in my life.”

She went on:

“I have not given them another chance. They broke my heart.”

Related: Avocados Deemed a Perfect Food Due to Countless Benefits

The 22-year-old grad student describes the low-fat avocados as having a watery texture that produced a soupy guacamole that lacked the beloved rich, creamy flavor of regular avocados.

SlimCados are trademarked by Brooks Tropicals LLC. The reportedly unpalatable fruits are available for 8 months each year starting in June, and actually consist of several Florida varieties. In 2003, Brooks began selling them as SlimCados so that they wouldn’t be confused with the Hass avocados.

Brooks has gotten accustomed to customer complaints. Mary Ostlund, a Brooks Tropicals spokeswoman, said:

“I get a lot of people from California absolutely emailing me and calling me saying, ‘What the heck are you doing?’’

The magazine Cooking Light gave the avocados a giant thumbs-down as well. Kimberly Holland, a Cooking Light editor, said in a text message to the magazine’s nutrition editor, Sidney Fry:

“I tried the SlimCado tonight. Please let’s never ever recommend it. Ever.”

Fry agreed, responding:

“Omg I hated it! Watery slimy. Gross.”

Well, I think they sound nasty, but some people love them. Delores Curtis, of Waldorf, Maryland, lost 180 pounds when she changed her diet, which included incorporating SlimCados. When she first brought a SlimCado home, her husband was skeptical. But for her, it was love at first bite. She recalled:

“He said, ‘Slim what? Slim who? Slim Jims?’ I put it on almost anything. I just love it.”

People still believe that fat is bad for you, but science tells another story. A study published in 2010 in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that “there is no significant evidence for concluding that dietary saturated fat is associated with an increased risk of CDH [coronary heart disease] or CVD [cardiovascular disease].” A 1-cup serving of regular avocado contains 3.1 grams of saturated fat.

Read: Study Finds Avocado-Eaters to Be Especially Healthy

blog_Ingredient-Spotlight
Source: Chosen Foods

In another study, researchers found that healthy fats, such as those found in avocados, may help men with prostate cancer extend their lives. Those who reported eating more vegetable fats were less likely to develop fatal tumors or die from other causes than those who ate carbohydrate- and animal-fat filled diets.

Those are just a few examples of literally tons of studies showing the importance of eating healthy fats, and especially vegetable fats like those found in avocados.

No need to eat gross, flavorless, slimy substitutes!

Sources:

[1] The World’s Healthiest Foods

[2] Delish

Melanie Cooks

Chosen Foods


Storable Food


Poor Diet Caused Nearly Half of All Deaths in the U.S. in 2012

A study released earlier this year reveals that some 45% of all deaths in the U.S. in 2012 were due to “cardiometabolic disease,” or CMD – all because of the average diet. CMD encompasses heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes. [1]

Researchers say that the largest number of diet-related CMD deaths are due to high consumption of sodium, processed meats, and sugar-sweetened drinks, and low intake of nuts and seeds, seafood omega-3 fats, and fruits and vegetables.

Related: Drinking ANY Sugar Increases Your Risk of Diabetes

Says first author Renata Micha, R.D., Ph.D., assistant research professor, Tufts Friedman School of Nutrition Science & Policy in Boston, Massachusetts:

“These results should help identify priorities, guide public health planning, and inform strategies to alter dietary habits and improve health.

Increased intakes of specific minimally processed foods, such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, whole grains, fish, vegetable oils, and decreased intakes of salt, processed meats and sugar-sweetened beverages appear to be key relevant priorities for dietary and policy recommendations. Future studies should evaluate the potential effects of specific interventions to address the diet-related cardiometabolic mortality and reduce disparities.” [2]

Published on 7 March 2017 in JAMAthe study found that more men than women die from diet-related causes. The researchers say that, generally speaking, the findings are consistent with the fact that men tend to have unhealthier eating habits. Additionally, there were a greater number of diet-related deaths among African-Americans and Hispanics compared with non-Hispanic whites. [1], [3]

According to Micha, the estimated number of deaths that were linked to not getting enough of the healthy foods listed was at least as substantial as the number of deaths associated with eating too much of the unhealthy foods listed.

Researchers report that the highest number of deaths was linked to high sodium intake; about 66,500 CMD deaths in 2012 were linked to eating too much salt, followed by (in order):

  • Not eating enough nuts and seeds (59,000 deaths)
  • Eating too much processed meats (58,000 deaths)
  • Eating too little seafood omega-3s (55,000 deaths)
  • Not eating enough vegetables (53,000 deaths)
  • Not eating enough fruits (52,500 deaths)
  • Drinking too many sugar-sweetened beverages (52,000 deaths) [1]

Read: Omega-3 Fatty Acids May Be the Key to Preventing Most Disease

The study did have its limitations. For instance, the studies the researchers used were observational, which don’t prove cause-and-effect. In addition, other dietary factors may have been at play, such as saturated fat and added sugar. And some dietary factors are potentially linked, like sodium and processed meats.

On a positive note, the researchers say that from 2002 to 2012, there were fewer diet-related CMD deaths due to insufficient polyunsaturated fats, nuts and seeds, and to excess sugary drinks. [1]

Sources:

[1] Live Science

[2] Medscape

[3] CNN


Storable Food


Fend off Illness by Fueling Your Own Disease-Fighting Stem Cells

The popular view of stem cells is typically that of high-tech treatments reserved for “the future,” far-off foreign clinics the “authorities” usually tell us to avoid. But there is being a lot of progress in the stem cell world for treating numerous conditions. What’s more, studies are showing that we may be able to harness the power of our own stem cells, using nutrients that are already accessible in ways that are more in line with traditional natural medicine than science fiction.

One of the underlying drivers of aging is a decline in the number and function of our own stem cells, which we need to aid in tissue regeneration. Of course, one way to fight aging is therefore to protect and nourish these stem cells.

Research is showing now that extracts from green tea and berries, carnosine, and vitamin D, are actually able to influence gene expression in ways that assist these cells. One of these studies is based on other research showing that substances in older animals’ blood can speed aging in younger animals, and young blood can fight aging in older animals.

This time, both young and old rats were given either a mixture of blueberry extract, green tea extract, carnosine, and vitamin D, or a placebo. Their blood serum was then administered to cultures of rat stem cells to compare their effects.

While the blood of old rats on the control diet had harmful effects on the stem cells, that of the younger (and the older) supplemented rats did not. These nutrients have protective effects on cells, where older animals’ blood is likely to contain high levels of oxidizing, inflammatory substances that cause damage.

In another study using the same nutrient combination, supplemented rats were showing a great amount of changes in gene expression, including changes that reduce the production of pro-inflammatory chemicals and increase the amount of anti-inflammatory ones. This could have significant protective effects on stem cells, guarding their ability to repair tissue.

The researchers also found another amazing discovery: this combination boosted the expression of genes that trigger stem-like cells in brain tissue to become adult neurons – creating healthy, new neurons that could replace damaged and dying cells. Properties like this could be tremendously beneficial for people living with neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.

Another similar nutrient combination has seen success in human clinical trials. This time, it was a commercially-available formula of green tea, astragalus and goji berry extract, with vitamin D3, ellagic acid, beta-1,3 glucan and food-derived Lactobacillus fermentum (probiotics).

Eighteen adults aged 20-72 took 2 capsules twice daily for 2 weeks, and their levels of immune cells, haematopoietic and endothelial progenitor cells were measured at several points.

Even just one day after supplementation began, their numbers of 2 types of immune cells and the 2 types of partially-transformed stem cells significantly increased, and stayed that way over the 2 weeks.

A previous pilot study also showed that endothelial progenitor cells significantly rose after supplementation began. Besides being a natural, accessible alternative to experimental procedures, it could also be much more cost-effective. The difficulty in producing growth factors or directly injecting stem cells means that only a few specialized institutions are able to pull it off, and commercial viability can be poor.

Overall, these nutrient combinations may be an effective way to fight aging, targeting multiple causes such as oxidative stress, inflammation and stem cell degeneration.

Additional Sources:

LifeExtension


Storable Food