Eating walnuts may boost gut health, cut cancer risk

Consuming half a cup of walnut per day may help protect the digestive system by increasing the amount of probiotic bacteria in the gut and ward off risks of heart and brain disease as well as cancer, researchers say.

The findings, from the animal study, showed that a walnut-enriched diet reshapes the gut microbe community and causes a significant increase in beneficial bacteria including Lactobacillus, Roseburia, and Ruminococcaceae.

Walnuts act as a probiotic to help nourish and grow the bacteria that keeps the digestive system healthy, the researchers said.

“The health of the gut is related to overall health in the rest of the body. Our study is showing that walnuts change the gut, which could help explain why there are other positive health benefits to eating walnuts such as heart and brain health,” said lead researcher Lauri Byerley, Associate Professor at the Louisiana State University in the US.

Consuming walnuts also has been associated with health benefits including a reduced risk of heart disease and cancer, Byerley added.

walnuts, walnuts health benefits, walnuts health boost, walnut cut cancer risk, indian express, indian express newsThe bioactive components of walnuts may be contributing factors in providing these health benefits, the researchers explained in the paper appearing in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry.

“Greater bacterial diversity may be associated with better health outcomes, whereas low diversity has been linked to conditions such as obesity and inflammatory bowel disease,” Byerley noted.

Walnuts are the only nuts that contain a significant amount of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), the plant-based omega-3 fatty acid (2.5 grams per one ounce) and also offer protein (4 grams per one ounce) and fibre (2 grams per one ounce).

For the study, rats were randomly assigned to a diet containing ground walnuts, equivalent to about 2 ounces (1/2 cup) per day in humans, or a diet without walnuts for up to 10 weeks.

No kidding, your baby’s ‘poop’ could reveal their IQ level!

Parents love everything about their newborn, apart from one thing. No matter how adorable the little one’s every gesture is one thing makes every new parent a little squeamish.

Yes, their poop.

Are you one of those, who creep out every time your little one is done the deed and you need to change the nappy and dispose of them with disgust? Well, reading this might change your mind next time you see baby’s faecal matters.

Recent research has shown that faeces has an interesting link to baby’s IQ and their cognitive skills. According to a study published in Biological Psychiatry, researchers found an association between certain kinds of microbial communities and higher levels of cognitive development later stages of life.

“The big story here is that we’ve got one group of kids with a particular community of bacteria that’s performing better on these cognitive tests,” said Rebecca Knickmeyer, Associate Professor of Psychiatry, at the UNC School of Medicine who is leading the research. “This is the first time an association between microbial communities and cognitive development has been demonstrated in humans,” she said in a press release.

For the study, researchers sift through the stools of over 80 one-year-olds and then separated into three different categories to determine whether there might be a relationship between the gut microbiome (communities of microbes) and brain development.

The results showed babies in the group with relatively high levels of the bacterial genus ‘bacteroides’ had better cognitive scores compared to the other. (Source: Pixabay)

The results showed babies in the group with relatively high levels of the bacterial genus ‘bacteroides’ had better cognitive scores compared to the other. In addition, infants with highly diverse gut microbiomes didn’t perform as well as those with less diverse microbiomes.

So, the higher diversity of microbiomes in their stool, the lower cognitive skills, something Dr Knickmeyer says is quite surprising.

“We had originally predicted that children with highly diverse microbiomes would perform better — since other studies have shown that low diversity in infancy is associated with negative health outcomes, including type 1 diabetes and asthma. Our work suggests that an ‘optimal’ microbiome for cognitive and psychiatric outcomes may be different than an ‘optimal’ microbiome for other outcomes,” the report said.

For the moment, the team of researchers are still trying to figure out the mechanism linking gut bacteria communities to brain development.

Another group of researchers at the Case Western Reserve University in Ohio believes a newborn’s first stool may indicate if the child is at greater risk for future cognitive problems due to prenatal alcohol exposure.

Neuroticism may be linked with long life: Study

Individuals with higher levels of neuroticism — a personality trait associated with negative emotions — are likely to have longer lifespan and lower risk of mortality, regardless of their health conditions, a study has claimed.

Persons with high levels of neuroticism are more likely to experience negative emotions — including irritability, frustration, nervousness, worry, and guilt — compared with those who have lower levels of neuroticism. “Our findings are important because they suggest that being high in neuroticism may sometimes have a protective effect, perhaps by making people more vigilant about their health,” said lead researcher Catharine R. Gale from the University of Edinburgh.

The findings showed that higher neuroticism is linked with slightly lower risk of death from all causes and cancer. However, “we found that this protective effect was only present in people who rated their health as fair or poor”, Gale explained.

“We found that people who scored high on one aspect of neuroticism related to worry and vulnerability had a reduced risk of death regardless of how they rated their health,” Gale said. For the study, published in the journal Psychological Science, the team examined data collected from 502,655 people aged between 37 and 73. Participants completed a validated personality assessment measuring neuroticism and indicated whether they thought they were in excellent, good, fair or poor health overall.

The data also included information on participants’ health behaviours (smoking, physical activity), physical health (body mass index, blood pressure), cognitive function, and medical diagnoses (heart problems, diabetes, cancer).

Keep hazardous dietary supplements, energy drinks at bay : Research

Dietary supplements, including energy drinks which have become a fad today, are not regulated and should not be consumed as these may cause severe health issues, especially in children, US-based researchers have advised.

The US Poison Control Centers receive a call every 24 minutes, on average, regarding dietary supplement exposures, according to researchers from the Center for Injury Research and Policy and the Central Ohio Poison Center, both at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Ohio. The dietary supplements with the highest proportion of serious medical outcomes were energy products, and botanical and cultural medicines.

Within the botanical category, “yohimbe” accounted for the largest proportion of serious medical outcomes (28.2 per cent). “Exposures to ‘yohimbe’ and energy products can be dangerous, suggesting the need for child-resistant packaging, caregiver education and FDA regulation of these substances,” said Henry Spiller, director of the Central Ohio Poison Center at Nationwide Children’s. ‘Yohimbe’ is taken for sexual problems, athletic performance and weight loss, among others.

Many consumers believe dietary supplements are held to the same safety and efficacy standards as over-the-counter medications. “However, dietary supplements are not considered drugs, thus they are not required to undergo clinical trials or obtain approval from the FDA prior to sale, unless the product is labelled as intended for therapeutic use,” noted Gary Smith, senior study author and director of the Center of Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children’s.

dietary drinks, side effect of aerated drinks, disadvantage of drinking dietary supplements, indian express, indian express newsThe study, published in the Journal of Medical Toxicology, found the rate of calls regarding dietary supplement exposures increased (46.1 per cent) during 2000-2002, decreased (8.8 per cent) during 2002-2005 and increased again (49.3 per cent) from 2005-2012. Seventy percent of dietary supplement exposure calls occurred among children younger than six-year-old and the majority of these were unintentional.

Most exposures (97.3 per cent) occurred at home, and in more than 97 percent of the cases, the child swallowed the substance. Serious medical outcomes accounted for 4.5 percent of exposures and the most serious outcomes (95 per cent) occurred among children six years and older.

Nearly 30 per cent of ‘yohimbe’ exposure calls resulted in moderate or major effects. ‘Yohimbe’ can cause heart beat rhythm changes, kidney failure, seizures, heart attack and death. Energy products, including drinks, advertised to increase energy and mental performance, can cause bad clinical effects as well, the researchers noted.

Data for this study were obtained from the National Poison Data System, which is maintained by the American Association of Poison Control Centers (AAPCC).

Maternal high-fat diet may affect kids’ mental health: Study

Babies whose mothers consumed a high-fat diet during their pregnancy may be at an increased risk of developing mental health disorders such as anxiety and depression, a study has warned. The findings, of an animal study, showed that an unhealthy diet not only creates health problems for expectant mothers, but also alters children’s’ development of the brain and endocrine system which may cause long-lasting mental health ramifications.

“Given the high level of dietary fat consumption and maternal obesity in developed nations, these findings have important implications for the mental health of future generations,” said Elinor Sullivan, assistant professor at the Oregon Health and Science University (OHSU) in the US.

Further, exposure to a high-fat diet during gestation and early in development impaired the development of neurons containing serotonin — a neurotransmitter that is critical in developing brains. On the other hand, introducing the child to a healthy diet at an early age also failed to reverse the effect, the researchers said.

pregnancy, pregnancy diet, affect of mother's diet on child, steps to be taken during pregnancy, indian express, indian express newsit’s not about blaming the mother,” but “about educating pregnant women about the potential risks of a high-fat diet in pregnancy and empowering them and their families to make healthy choices by providing support. We also need to craft public policies that promote healthy lifestyles and diets,” Sullivan noted.

For the study, published in the journal Frontiers in Endocrinology, the team tested the effect of a maternal high-fat diet on non-human primates, tightly controlling their diet in a way that would be impossible in a human population.

Researchers grouped a total of 65 female Japanese macaques into two groups, one given a high-fat diet and one a control diet during pregnancy. They subsequently measured and compared anxiety-like behaviour among 135 offspring and found that both males and females exposed to a high-fat diet during pregnancy exhibited greater incidence of anxiety compared with those in the control group.

Physical exercise prevents dementia: Research

Regular physical exercise not only enhances fitness but also has a positive impact on brain metabolism, researchers say. The findings showed that physical activity prevented an increase in choline — a macronutrient that’s important for liver function, normal brain development, nerve function, muscle movement, supporting energy levels and maintaining a healthy metabolism.

The concentration of this metabolite often rises as a result of the increased loss of nerve cells, which typically occurs in the case of Alzheimer’s disease, said Johannes Pantel, Professor at the Goethe University Frankfurt in Germany. In the study, physical exercise led to stable cerebral choline concentrations in the training group, whereas choline levels increased in the control group. The participants’ physical fitness also improved and they showed increased cardiac efficiency after the training period.

physical exercise, importance of exercise, ways to prevent dementia, advantages of exercise, indian express, indian express newsOverall, these findings suggest that physical exercise not only improves physical fitness but also protects cells. To understand the positive influence of physical activity on the brain, gerontologists and sports physicians examined the effects of regular exercise on brain metabolism and memory of participants aged between 65 and 85 on movement-related parameters, cardiopulmonary fitness and cognitive performance.

The participants were asked to mount an exercise bike three times a week over a period of 12 weeks for 30-minute training sessions.Magnetic resonance tomography (MRT) and magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS) were used to measure brain metabolism and brain structure. The results showed that regular physical exercise seems beneficial in the prevention of cognitive impairment and dementia in old age.

US doctors reverse brain damage in drowned toddler

Doctors in the US have successfully reversed brain damage in a two-year-old who became unresponsive to all stimuli after a drowning accident. The girl experienced cardiac arrest after a cold water drowning accident in a swimming pool. After resuscitation at Arkansas Children’s Hospital in the US, MRI revealed deep brain injury as well as grey and white matter loss.

She had no speech, gait or responsiveness to commands, and was constantly squirming and shaking her head. Since hyperbaric oxygen therapy was not available in the patient’s location, doctors at Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center in the US began a bridging treatment to prevent permanent tissue degeneration until they could get the patient to a hyperbaric treatment center.

Fifty-five days post-drowning, they began short duration treatment with 100 per cent normobaric oxygen for 45 minutes twice a day through a nasal cannula. The girl became more alert, awake and stopped squirming, doctors said.

Her rate of neurological improvement increased amd she started laughing, increased movement of arms, hands, and taking some food orally. She also showed pre-drowning speech level, but with diminished vocabulary.

The patient and family then traveled to New Orleans 78 days after drowning, where doctors began treating her with hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT). She “dove” in a hyperbaric chamber for 45 minutes a day, five days a week for 40 sessions.

“At the beginning of each session, the patient showed visually apparent and/or physical examination-documented neurological improvement,” doctors said.

doctors reverse brain damage, Doctors reverse brain damage in toddler, Doctors reverse brain damage, Medical news, Medical science, International news, world news“After 10 HBOT sessions, the patient’s mother reported that her daughter was “near normal” except for gross motor function, and physical therapy was re-instituted,” they said.

After 39 HBOT sessions, the patient exhibited assisted gait, speech level greater than pre-drowning, near normal motor function, normal cognition, improvement on nearly all neurological exam abnormalities, discontinuance of all medications, as well as residual emotional, gait and temperament deficits.

Gait improvement was documented immediately upon returning home. An MRI at 27 days following HBOT session 40 and 162 days post-drowning demonstrated mild residual injury and near-complete reversal of grey and white matter loss.

The synergy of increased oxygen and increased oxygen with pressure in the hormone-rich environment in a child’s growing brain is consistent with the synergy of growth hormones and hyperbaric oxygen caused by normobaric and hyperbaric oxygen-induced activation of genes that reduce inflammation and promote cell survival.

“The startling regrowth of tissue in this case occurred because we were able to intervene early in a growing child, before long-term tissue degeneration,” said Paul Harch, Director of Hyperbaric Medicine at LSU Health.

“Such low-risk medical treatment may have a profound effect on recovery of function in similar patients who are neurologically devastated by drowning,” said Harch.

The case was reported in the journal Medical Gas Research.

Depression may alter brain structure

An individual suffering from depression may be at an increased risk of developing changes in the structure of the brain associated with communication and thinking skills, researchers say. The findings showed that alterations were found in parts of the brain known as white matter, which contains fibre tracts that enable brain cells to communicate with one another by electrical signals.

White matter is a key component of the brain’s wiring and its disruption has been linked to problems with emotion processing and thinking skills, the researchers said. Further, people with symptoms indicative of depression also had reductions in white matter integrity — a quality of the matter, which was not seen in people who were unaffected. “This study shows that people with depression have changes in the white matter wiring of their brain,” said Heather Whalley, senior research fellow at the University of Edinburgh.

Depression is the world’s leading cause of disability, affecting around a fifth of UK adults over a lifetime. Symptoms include low mood, exhaustion and feelings of emptiness. For the study, published in Scientific Reports, the team analysed 3461 people using an MRI-based neuroimaging technique to map the structure of white matter. “There is an urgent need to provide treatment for depression and an improved understanding of it mechanisms will give us a better chance of developing new and more effective methods of treatment,” Whalley said.

“Our next steps will be to look at how the absence of changes in the brain relates to better protection from distress and low mood,” he added.

Cow antibodies bring hope for effective AIDS vaccine soon

In a significant find, a team of researchers has reported for the first time elicitation of powerful, HIV-blocking antibodies in cows in a matter of weeks — a process that usually takes years in humans — paving the way for developing a broadly effective AIDS vaccine in the near future. According to the study, published in the prestigious journal Nature, the unexpected discovery in cows is providing clues for important questions at a moment when new energy has infused HIV vaccine research.
“One approach to a preventive HIV vaccine involves trying to elicit broadly neutralising antibodies in healthy people, but so far the experiments have been unsuccessful, in both human and animal studies,” said lead author Devin Sok, Director, Antibody Discovery and Development at the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI).
“This experiment demonstrates that not only is it possible to produce these antibodies in animals, but we can do so reliably, quickly, and using a relatively simple immunisation strategy when given in the right setting,” Sok added.
Scientists have known that some people living with chronic HIV infection produce broadly neutralising antibodies (bnAbs), which can overcome the high levels of diversity of HIV. One type of bnAb uses long, arm-like loops that are capable of reaching concealed areas on the virus’s surface to block infection. The scientists had a question: what would happen if they immunise cows with an HIV immunogen? “The answer began with a single protein on HIV’s surface that serves as a bnAb target — develop an antibody that recognises variants of this protein on different HIV viruses and you’ll likely be protected from all of them,” the study said.
One of the many tricks that HIV uses to prevent humans from developing the right antibodies is to display irrelevant forms of this protein to distract the immune system. Scientists thought they had overcome this challenge by developing an immunogen called “BG505 SOSIP”, which closely mimics the protein target. In the new study, four cows immunised with “BG505 SOSIP” elicited “bnAbs” to HIV within 35-52 days.
In comparison, it takes HIV-positive humans multiple years to develop comparable responses, and only 5-15 per cent even develop them at all. “Cows cannot be infected with HIV, of course. But these findings illuminate a new goal for HIV vaccine researchers: by increasing the number of human antibodies with long loops, we might have an easier chance of eliciting protective bnAbs by vaccination,” the researchers noted.
There is no doubt that cows’ ability to produce bNAbs against a complicated pathogen like HIV in a matter of weeks, highlights even broader significance, particularly for emerging pathogens.
Sok is an affiliate of IAVI’s Neutralising Antibody Center (NAC), a part of The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) where multiple groups of scientists work collectively on an antibody-based HIV vaccine.

Research shows a big breakfast daily may help you stay slim

Want to reduce that ever-burgeoning waistline? Make breakfast the largest meal of the day as it may help maintain your body mass index (BMI), researchers say. A study showed that people who ate more than three meals daily and made dinner their largest meal were at the risk of developing a higher BMI — associated with increased of risks of various diseases.

Eating breakfast and lunch, skipping supper, avoiding snacks, making breakfast the largest meal of the day and fasting overnight for up to 18 hours may be the practical weight-management strategy, said Hana Kahleova, from Loma Linda University (LLU) in California. The findings confirm the ancient nutritional maxim “eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dinner like a pauper”, Kahleova added. For the study, published in the Journal of Nutrition, the team examined more than 50,000 participants.

Irrespective of meal pattern, there was, on average, an increase in weight gain year-by-year until participants reached the age of 60. After 60, most participants experienced a weight loss each year, said co-author Gary Fraser, Professor at LLU. “Before age 60, those eating calories earlier in the day had less weight gain,” Fraser said, adding that after age 60, the same behaviour tended to produce a larger rate of weight loss than average.