In many parts of the world early autumn sees trees in the hedgerows hang heavy with deeply coloured elderberries. There are several species of elder, but Sambucus nigra, or European elder (also called black elder), is the one used most often for medicinal purposes.
The tree, which is common throughout Europe, North America and Asia, was once regarded as a complete medicine chest. All parts of the plant can be used medicinally, however in today’s kitchen it is the fruits and flowers which are most commonly consumed.
Such is the plant’s repute that elderberries are fast becoming accepted a functional food, especially in parts of Europe such as Austria, Germany and the UK where it is gradually being incorporated into more foods and supplements.
A versatile plant
The elder (Sambucus nigra) belongs to the same broad family of fruiting trees as blackcurrants. In folk medicine, the berries have been used for their diaphoretic (promotes sweating), laxative and diuretic properties and to treat various illnesses such as stomach ache, sinus congestion, constipation, diarrhoea, sore throat, common cold, and rheumatism.
The flowers are said to have diaphoretic, anti-catarrhal, expectorant, circulatory stimulant, diuretic, and topical anti-inflammatory actions.
The leaves and inner bark have also been used for their purgative, emetic, diuretic, laxative, topical emollient, expectorant, and diaphoretic action.
Some of these uses seem justified since elderberry contains tannins and viburnic acid, both known to have a positive effect on diarrhoea, nasal congestion, and to improve respiration.
Ancient belief has been borne out by recent research. Elderberries contain concentrated amounts of Vitamin C and beta carotene, flavonoids, fruit acids, and antioxidant polyphenols, flavonoids and anthocyanins. Levels of these nutrients are comparable and in some cases exceed those found in blueberries and strawberries, and research suggests these are better absorbed than those from blackcurrants
It is believed that the anthocyanins in elderberries enhance immune function by boosting the production of cytokines, proteins acting as messengers in the immune system to help regulate immune response.
Help for colds & flu
Evidence shows that elderberries contain potent antiviral compounds as well as high amounts of bioflavonoids and that extracts of the fruit can help fight the flu. The extract is most often taken as a syrup and elderberry syrup is a widely researched and proven way to boost immunity at any time but especially against colds and flu.
Tested in the lab, elderberry syrup worked better than echinacea-containing formulations to stimulate a healthy immune response by increasing inflammatory and anti-inflammatory reactions.
Research proves it to be effective in shortening the duration and lessening symptoms of influenza A and B. A double-blind placebo-controlled trial conducted during an outbreak of influenza B Panama found that within two days there were significant improvements in symptoms, including fever, among 93.3% of those taking an elderberry syrup. A complete cure was achieved within 2 to 3 days in nearly 90% of the elderberry group compared to 6 days in the placebo group.
Likewise, research from Norway, found that flu symptoms disappeared four days faster in patients given Sambucol. On average, patients taking it recovered in 4 days earlier compared to those given placebo.
Inactivating viruses and more
Elderberry syrup works in a very specific way. A virus enters cells by puncturing their walls with tiny spikes that cover its surface. The active ingredients in elderberry bind to and cover the spikes, preventing them from piercing the cell membrane. The viral spikes are also covered with an enzyme that the virus uses to break down the cell wall. Elderberries have high concentrations of bioflavonoids, which appear to inhibit the action of this enzyme.
For this reason the elderberry has shown some promising results in preliminary trials involving other viruses, including Epstein-Barr, herpes simplex, and HIV.
Other evidence suggests that it can have a small beneficial effect on blood lipids and with a knock on effect of lowering the risk of heart disease.
Scientists from the Austrian University of Graz showed that elderberry extractreduces oxidation of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol. Oxidation of LDL cholesterol is implicated in atherogenesis (the development of plaques on the artery walls), contributing to cardiovascular disease.
Don’t forget the flowers
The flowers are a traditional remedy for relieving lung congestion. They promote sweating and so can cool fevers. They also have an anti-inflammatory action that can help reduce swelling in mucous membranes in the sinuses, helping to relieve nasal congestion.
Other preliminary research shows that an extract of the flowers has an insulin-like effect that could be beneficial in the treatment of diabetes.
Incorporating the flowers into your daily routine is simple if you brew them as a tea. Add 2-4 fresh elderflower heads (or 2 tsp of dried herb per cup) to a teapot, pour in boiling water to cover, leave to infuse for a few minutes, strain, and drink.
If you want to use the fresh berries foraging is still the way most people find them. Once washed and separated from their stems, they can be made into syrups, jams, compotes or smoothies or as an addition to fruit-based recipes.
Scientists are describing a plant compound called Salvestrols as one of the most significant breakthroughs in nutritional science since the discovery of vitamins.
Salvestrols are naturally occurring compounds (phytonutrients) which fight fungi in fruit and vegetables, are essential for human wellbeing and are being hailed as having a significantly powerful impact on fighting disease.
Salvestrols were discovered by Professor Gerry Potter, Professor of Medicinal Chemistry and Director of the Cancer Drug Discovery Group at Leicester’s De Montfort University and Professor Dan Burke, a pharmacologist and former Dean of Science at the UK’s Sunderland University.
Professor Potter had spent almost 20 years designing synthetic cancer drugs and discovered that plants have similar compounds that could prove beneficial in the treatment of diseased cells in humans.
Salvestrols emerged out of a cancer drug discovery programme which has delivered several key pharmaceutical products (including Abirateronea, a breakthrough treatment for prostate cancer).
Salvestrols’ effect on humans has since been backed by other prominent scientists. Case studies on diseased patients who have used Salvestrols with positive outcomes have been published in respected medical journals.
South African medical practitioners and patients are also increasingly discovering the incredibly positive effects of Salvestrols on disease.
During his research, Prof Burke discovered that diseased cells contain a unique enzyme protein called CYP1B1. He found that Salvestrols have a deadly effect on this enzyme while leaving healthy cells intact.
In collaboration with Prof Potter, they discovered that Salvestrols exert similar effects to those they were seeking through synthetic pharmaceuticals. As a result, their focus and research is now entirely dedicated to Salvestrols.
Potter then coined the name Salvestrols from the Latin word salve, meaning ‘to save’ and Burke has described Salvestrols as “probably the most significant breakthrough in nutrition since the discovery of vitamins”.
More than $30 million has gone into the research of Salvestrols over the last 15 years and Salvestrols food supplements are now available worldwide including Europe, Australia, the UK, Canada, Japan and now in Southern Africa.
Salvestrols are found in the skin of fruit and vegetables but due to modern farming practices — in particular the use of fungicides – their levels have diminished in commercially produced crops. Organic fruit and vegetables have a higher salvestrol content.
Salvestrols was voted as “the no 1 big idea of the year” in health by Dr John Briffa (www.drbriffa.com) in the Observer Magazine. He wrote in the Observer newspaper that Salvestrols could play a key role in cancer research.
The British Daily Mail dedicated an article to Salvestrols and quoted the results of research by Burke and Potter which were published in the British Naturopathic Journal.
Various other studies relating to Salvestrols have been undertaken over the last two decades. Below are the most prominent with case studies to be found in point 2:
021 785 3683
I was not that surprised by this discovery, as my midwife Sharon Marsay went to great lengths to help us find ways to boost oxytocin prior to birth, since it not only makes birth easier, but helps the mother bond to her child and produce milk for it following birth. She suggested lots of hugging, snuggling, smooching, sex, dark chocolate, cake baking and laughter prior to birth, particularly in early labour. She is onto a good thing, not just for birth, but for life. We who enjoy high levels of oxytocin should make it our mission to 'spread the love' wherever we can, by causing surges in others by hugging people, smiling at strangers, and sharing our chocolate. You help people be better people by doing so!
by Dr Mark Hyman
Sourced on June 27th, 2013 from http://drhyman.com/blog/2013/06/27/5-clues-you-are-addicted-to-sugar/#lightbox/0/
Debate has raged recently about whether junk food, the hyper-processed, hyper-palatable food that has become our SAD (standard American diet) is addictive in the same way that heroin or cocaine is addictive. A new study published in theAmerican Journal of Clinical Nutrition suggests that, in fact, higher sugar, higher glycemic foods can be addictive.
David Ludwig, author of Ending the Food Fight, and his colleagues at Harvard, in a very sophisticated study, showed that foods with more sugar, foods that raise blood sugar even more than table sugar such as white flour, white potatoes and refined starch have what is called a high glycemic index, trigger a special region in the brain called the nucleus accumbens that is known to be “ground zero” for conventional addiction, such as gambling or drug abuse.
I stopped by CBS This Morning recently to talk about this groundbreaking study. Watch the interview here.
It appears part of the reason almost 70 percent of Americans are overweight or one in two Americans has pre-diabetes or Type 2 diabetes may not be gluttony, lack of willpower or absence of personal responsibility but plain old, garden variety biological addiction.
Many previous studies have shown how this region of brain, the pleasure center, lights up in response to images or eating sugary, processed or junk food. But many of these studies used very different foods as a comparison. If you compare cheesecake to boiled vegetables, there are many reasons the pleasure center can light up. It tastes better or it looks better. This is interesting data, but it’s not hard proof of addiction.
This new study took on the hard job of proving the biology of sugar addiction. The researchers did a randomized, blinded, crossover study using the most rigorous research design to ward off any criticism (which will inevitably come from the $1 trillion food industry).
They took 12 overweight or obese men between the ages of 18 and 35 and gave each a low sugar or low glycemic index (37 percent) milkshake, and then, four hours later, they measured the activity of the brain region (nucleus accumbens) that controls addiction. They also measured blood sugar and hunger.
Then, days later, they had them back for another milkshake. But this time they switched the milkshakes. They were designed to taste exactly the same and be exactly the same in every way except in how much and how quickly it spiked blood sugar. The second milkshake was designed to be high in sugar with a high glycemic index (84 percent). The shakes had exactly the same amount of calories, protein, fat and carbohydrate. Think of it as a trick milkshake. The participants didn’t know which milkshake they were getting, and their mouth couldn’t tell the difference, but their brains could.
Each participant received a brain scan and blood tests for glucose and insulin after each version of the milkshake. They were their own control group. Without exception, they all had the same response. The high sugar or glycemic index milkshake caused a spike in blood sugar and insulin and an increase in reported hunger and cravings four hours after the shake. Remember — exactly the same calories, sweetness, texture and macronutrient content.
This finding was not surprising and has been shown many times before.
But the breakthrough finding was this: When the high glycemic shake was consumed, the nucleus accumbens lit up like a Christmas tree. This pattern occurred in every single participant and was statistically significant.
This study showed two things.
First, the body responds quite differently to different calories, even if the protein, fat and carbs (and taste) are exactly the same.
And second, foods that spike blood sugar are biologically addictive.
This game-changing study must force a shift in the conversation about obesity in America. There are 600,000 processed foods in the marketplace, 80 percent of which have added hidden sugar. The average American consumes 22 teaspoons of sugar a day, mostly hidden, and the average teenage boy has 34 teaspoons a day (more than two 20 ounce sodas). One serving of Prego tomato sauce has more sugar than a serving of Oreo cookies. Sweetened yogurts can have more sugar than a can of soda.
Sugar is the core ingredient used by the food industry to make bad ingredients (processed flour and chemicals) taste good. Our consumption has increased from 10 pounds per person in 1800 to 140 pounds per person per year today.
Each year, the average American also consumes 133 pounds of white or wheat flour, which raises blood sugar more than table sugar (sucrose).
When a 12-year-old boy needs a liver transplant after a steady diet of soda and white flour, or when a 2-year-old can’t walk because he is too fat at 50 pounds, we can no longer point to personal responsibility as the solution to our obesity epidemic.
What if Kobe Bryant or LeBron James went on national television promoting the benefits of “cocaine water” to increase sports performance? Would you allow heroin dispensers in your kid’s school? Think heroin lollipops or morphine muffins. This is exactly what’s happening in America today.
No one wants to be fat or become a drug addict. No one wants their life destroyed by disability and illness. We have policies and laws that protect people from alcohol, tobacco and illegal drugs of abuse. Sugar and flour (and too much starchy white potatoes and white rice) or products containing them appear to be no different. In fact, some animal studies show that sugar is eight times as addictive as cocaine.
It is time to stop blaming the fat person. Can we really blame our children if we freely give them drugs of abuse in the school lunch line or as after school snacks? Can we really blame the average overweight person? The nutritional landscape in America is a food carnival.
Kelly Brownell from Yale’s Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity has created a validated food questionnaire to help you determine if you are a food addict. He recently also published a textbook, Food and Addiction, that lays out the science of how our hyper-processed, hyper-palatable, hyper-sweet industrial food has hijacked our brain chemistry and biology.
Here are five clues you may be addicted to sugar, flour and processed food:
There are resources to help you break your food addiction and stop the cravings.
Now, I would love to hear from you.
Have you experienced uncontrollable cravings for sugar and refined foods?
How has it affected your life?
Have you blamed yourself for your behavior?
Do you think we should change food policy to protect children from marketing of foods proven to be addictive?
Want to detoxify your personal care routine, but don't know know where to start? Read the labels, and steer clear of products with these noxious chemicals!
DEA (Diethanolamine), MEA (Monoethanolamine), TEA (Triethanolamine)
These three hormone-disrupting chemicals that can form cancer-causing agents — research indicates a strong link to liver and kidney cancer. They are commonly found in shampoos, soaps, bubble baths and facial cleansers.
Phthalates and Parabens
Banned by the European Union in 2003, phthalates and parabens are a group of chemicals commonly used as preservatives in cosmetics and pharmaceuticals. They keep hairsprays sticky and bacteria and keep fungus out of things like nail polish and perfume. Both have been shown to be carcinogenic and particularly linked to breast cancer.
FD&C Color Pigments
Most FD&C color pigments are made from coal tar and studies show that almost all of them are carcinogenic.These are found in products such as foundation or eyeshadow. Many of these pigments cause skin sensitivity and irritation, or even oxygen depletion in the blood. FD&C Red #4 is no longer available for use in foods because of a known threat to the adrenal glands and urinary bladder.
“Fragrance” is a euphemism for nearly 4,000 different ingredients. Most “fragrances” are synthetic and are either cancer-causing or otherwise toxic. Exposure to fragrances has been shown to affect the central nervous system. “Fragrances” are found in most shampoos, deodorants, sunscreens, skincare and body care products.
Imidazolidinyl Urea and DMDM Hydantoin
These are formaldehyde donors, which means that they are derivatives of the formaldehyde, which is what scientists and morticians use to preserve corpses and body parts. (Remember dissecting frogs in school?) These chemicals are linked to allergies, chest pain, chronic fatigue, depression, dizziness, ear infections, headaches, joint pain, loss of sleep, and can trigger asthma. They can weaken the immune system, and, surprise surprise, cause cancer. Imidazolidinyl Urea and DMDM Hydantoin are used in skin, body and hair products, antiperspirants and nail polish.
Quarternium-15 commonly causes allergic reactions and dermatitis, and breaks down into formaldehyde. Quarternium-15 is used as a preservative in many skin and hair care products.
Isopropyl Alcohol is used in hair color rinses, body rubs, hand lotion and aftershave lotions as well as in your car’s antifreeze and shellac! Scientists believe that it has the ability to destroy intestinal flora, leaving the body’s major organs open to parasites, and thus to cancers. Beyond attacking the intestinal flora, isopropyl alcohol can cause headaches, dizziness, mental depression, nausea, vomiting, and coma.
Mineral oil is a petroleum derivative that coats the skin like saran wrap, which prevents the skin from breathing, absorbing and excreting. It also slows the skin’s natural cell development, causing the skin to age prematurely. Note that baby oil is 100% mineral oil – and 100% bad for your baby’s sensitive skin.
PEG (Polyethylene Glycol)
PEG’s are most commonly used in spray-on oven cleaners and in many hair and skin products. PEG’s main fuctions are to dissolve oil and grease. Thus, on the body, they take the protective oils off the skin and hair, making them more vulnerable to other toxins.
Propylene Glycol is the active ingredient in antifreeze. It is also used in makeup, toothpaste and deodorant. Stick deodorants have a higher concentration of PG than is allowed for most industrial use! Direct contact can cause brain, liver and kidney abnormalities. The EPA requires workers to wear protective gloves, clothing and goggles when working with it. And yet, the FDA says we can put it in our mouths!!
Sodium Lauryl Sulfate and Sodium Laureth Sulfate
Sodium Lauryl Sulfate and Sodium Laureth Sulfate are the most toxic ingredients on this list. When used in combination with other chemicals, they can form nitrosamines, a deadly class of carcinogen. They are used to clean engines, garage floors and at car washes. AND still the most popular ingredients for makeup, shampoo and conditioner and toothpaste. Exposure causes eye damage, depression, diarrhea and many other ailments.
This is a synthetic antibacterial ingredient that has been compared to nothing less than Agent Orange. The Environmental Protection Agency registers it as a pesticide, highly toxic to any living organism. It is also classified as a chlorophenol. In other words, it is in a cancer causing chemical class. Triclosan disrupts hormones, can affect sexual function and fertility and may foster birth defects. Triclosan has been linked to paralysis, suppression of the immune system, brain hemorrhages, and heart problems. It's widely used in antibacterial cleansers, toothpaste, and household products.
Talc has been linked to ovarian and testicular cancer. It can be found in makeup, baby and adult powders and foundation.
Petrolatum is a petrochemical that contains two well-known carcinogens: Benzo-A-Pyrene and Benzo-B-Fluroanthene. As you might imagine from a petroleum derivative, petrolatum prevents the skin breathing and excreting.
This list was taken from my book REVIVE: Stop Feeling Spent and Start Living Again (2009) (previously called SPENT).
Photo Credit: Shutterstock.com
Sourced from: http://www.dramymyers.com/2013/04/12/the-dangers-of-dairy/dairy/
The Dangers of DairyAll of those “Got Milk?” ads from the last decade or so would have us believe that dairy is a cornerstone of the healthy diet, providing essential nutrients, fortifying our bones, and knocking out osteoporosis left and right. But, is this true? Is consuming dairy necessary or even healthy for most people?
The truth is, dairy can lead to countless health issues and, for many, can cause more harm than good, here’s why.
It’s Highly InflammatoryDairy causes inflammation in a large percent of the population resulting in digestive issues such as bloating, gas, constipation, and diarrhea, as well as other symptoms including acne, and a stronger presentation of autistic behaviors. I believe dairy is one of the most inflammatory foods in our modern diet, second only to gluten.
What is it about dairy that causes an inflammatory response? Is everyone with a dairy sensitivity lactose intolerant? There are two components of dairy that tend to cause issues for people, the sugar and the proteins. People who are lactose intolerant don’t produce the lactase enzyme, which is required to break down lactose, a sugar found in milk, causing digestive issues whenever they consume dairy products. People who do produce the lactase enzyme but still react poorly to milk are responding to the two proteins found in milk, casein and whey. Casein is a protein with a very similar molecular structure to gluten and 50% of people who are gluten intolerant are casein intolerant as well.
It’s Acid FormingOur bodies like to maintain a neutral pH balance, not too much acidity, not too much alkalinity. Milk, like most animal products, is an acid forming food, meaning whenever you consume dairy your body must compensate for the increased acidity in order to restore a neutral pH balance.
It does this by pulling from the alkaline “reserves” it keeps on hand in the form of calcium, magnesium, and potassium, that are stored in your bones. Pulling from these reserves weakens your bones, leaving them more susceptible to fractures and breaks, meaning milk might not be such a great preventative tool against osteoporosis as we’re told. In fact, research has shown that countries with the highest rate of dairy consumption also have the highest rate of osteoporosis.
It’s Often Full of Hormones and AntibioticsMany times when people drink milk they’re consuming far more than just milk. American dairy farmers have long been injecting cows with a genetically engineered bovine growth hormone called rBGH to increase milk production. This forced increase in milk production often leads to an udder infection in cows called mastitis, which is then treated with courses of antibiotics, which can make their way into your dairy products.
All of these concerns about the health benefits and safety of dairy can lead to even more questions. Is all dairy bad, are alternative sources of dairy any better? Where will I get my calcium if not from dairy? Let’s take a look at these.
What About Goat’s Milk and Sheep’s Milk?Some people who choose to eliminate cow’s milk from their diet still enjoy goat or sheep milk, as they find it much easier to tolerate. Although they have a similar lactose content to cow’s milk, meaning they will not be any easier to digest if you are lactose intolerant, they do have a different type of casein protein, which makes them easier for casein sensitive people to handle.
Casein exists in two variants, A1 beta-casein and A2 beta-casein, which are differentiated only by a single amino acid in their protein chains. A2 is considered the original beta-casein because A1 only appeared a few thousand years ago after a mutation occurred in European cow herds, and it’s often the A1 beta-casein that people react poorly to. Goat’s milk and sheep’s milk lack the A1 beta-casein, which is what makes them more tolerable, but because the A1 and A2 proteins are so similar, these milks can still cause problems for some.
What About Organic and Raw Milk?If you aren’t casein sensitive, and still want to consume cow’s milk, organic and raw milk can certainly be a healthier and less chemical laden route to go. Organic and raw milk comes from cows that have not been injected with rGBH and have not been treated with antibiotics, which eliminates the concern that these chemicals will find their way into your milk.
Raw milk, although contentiously debated, does have many health benefits that pasteurized milk lacks. The pasteurizing process, which is intended to kill harmful bacteria, kills many of the helpful enzymes that occur naturally in milk as well. In fact, one of the enzymes present in raw milk that is missing in pasteurized milk is the lactase enzyme, meaning people who are lactose intolerant are actually able to drink raw milk because it contains the enzyme needed to break down lactose their body is unable to produce.
Ultimately the decision of whether or not to consume dairy and from what source rests with your body. Try eliminating dairy from your diet altogether and pay attention to how your body reacts, then try reintroducing dairy in its different forms and sources and notice how you respond.
If you do decide to eliminate dairy, fear not, there are plenty of other natural sources of calcium you can incorporate into your diet!
10 Non-Dairy Sources of Calcium1. Almonds
4. Collard Greens
8. Enriched rice, almond, hemp and coconut milks
9. Sesame seeds
Photo credit: MindBodyGreen
Originally published on MindBodyGreen
Link Between Heart Disease and Red Meat: New Understanding of Cardiovascular Health Benefits of Vegan, Vegetarian Diets
Fresh meat at the butcher. (Credit: © Andres Rodriguez / Fotolia)
Sourced from: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/04/
Apr. 7, 2013 — A compound abundant in red meat and added as a supplement to popular energy drinks has been found to promote atherosclerosis -- or the hardening or clogging of the arteries -- according to Cleveland Clinic research published online this week in the journal Nature Medicine.
The study shows that bacteria living in the human digestive tract metabolize the compound carnitine, turning it into trimethylamine-N-oxide (TMAO), a metabolite the researchers previously linked in a 2011 study to the promotion of atherosclerosis in humans. Further, the research finds that a diet high in carnitine promotes the growth of the bacteria that metabolize carnitine, compounding the problem by producing even more of the artery-clogging TMAO.
The research team was led by Stanley Hazen, M.D., Ph.D., Vice Chair of Translational Research for the Lerner Research Institute and section head of Preventive Cardiology & Rehabilitation in the Miller Family Heart and Vascular Institute at Cleveland Clinic, and Robert Koeth, a medical student at the Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine of Case Western Reserve University.
The study tested the carnitine and TMAO levels of omnivores, vegans and vegetarians, and examined the clinical data of 2,595 patients undergoing elective cardiac evaluations. They also examined the cardiac effects of a carnitine-enhanced diet in normal mice compared to mice with suppressed levels of gut microbes, and discovered that TMAO alters cholesterol metabolism at multiple levels, explaining how it enhances atherosclerosis.
The researchers found that increased carnitine levels in patients predicted increased risks for cardiovascular disease and major cardiac events like heart attack, stroke and death, but only in subjects with concurrently high TMAO levels. Additionally, they found specific gut microbe types in subjects associated with both plasma TMAO levels and dietary patterns, and that baseline TMAO levels were significantly lower among vegans and vegetarians than omnivores. Remarkably, vegans and vegetarians, even after consuming a large amount of carnitine, did not produce significant levels of the microbe product TMAO, whereas omnivores consuming the same amount of carnitine did.
"The bacteria living in our digestive tracts are dictated by our long-term dietary patterns," Hazen said. "A diet high in carnitine actually shifts our gut microbe composition to those that like carnitine, making meat eaters even more susceptible to forming TMAO and its artery-clogging effects. Meanwhile, vegans and vegetarians have a significantly reduced capacity to synthesize TMAO from carnitine, which may explain the cardiovascular health benefits of these diets."
Prior research has shown that a diet with frequent red meat consumption is associated with increased cardiovascular disease risk, but that the cholesterol and saturated fat content in red meat does not appear to be enough to explain the increased cardiovascular risks. This discrepancy has been attributed to genetic differences, a high salt diet that is often associated with red meat consumption, and even possibly the cooking process, among other explanations. But Hazen says this new research suggests a new connection between red meat and cardiovascular disease.
"This process is different in everyone, depending on the gut microbe metabolism of the individual," he says. "Carnitine metabolism suggests a new way to help explain why a diet rich in red meat promotes atherosclerosis."
While carnitine is naturally occurring in red meats, including beef, venison, lamb, mutton, duck, and pork, it's also a dietary supplement available in pill form and a common ingredient in energy drinks. With this new research in mind, Hazen cautions that more research needs to be done to examine the safety of chronic carnitine supplementation.
"Carnitine is not an essential nutrient; our body naturally produces all we need," he says. "We need to examine the safety of chronically consuming carnitine supplements as we've shown that, under some conditions, it can foster the growth of bacteria that produce TMAO and potentially clog arteries."
This study is the latest in a line of research by Hazen and his colleagues exploring how gut microbes can contribute to atherosclerosis, uncovering new and unexpected pathways involved in heart disease. In a 2011 Nature study, they first discovered that people are not predisposed to cardiovascular disease solely because of their genetic make-up, but also based on how the micro-organisms in their digestive tracts metabolize lecithin, a compound with a structure similar to carnitine.
The above story is reprinted from materials provided by Cleveland Clinic, via EurekAlert!, a service of AAAS.
Note: Materials may be edited for content and length. For further information, please contact the source cited above.
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Cleveland Clinic (2013, April 7). New link between heart disease and red meat: New understanding of cardiovascular health benefits of vegan, vegetarian diets.ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 15, 2013, from http://www.sciencedaily.com /releases/2013/04/130407133320.htm
Disclaimer: This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of ScienceDaily or its staff.
Feb. 1, 2013 — Sugars are needed to provide us with energy and in moderate amounts contribute to our well-being. Sustained high levels of sugars, as is found in diabetics, damages our cells and now is shown that can also increase our chance to get cancer: The dose makes the poison as Paracelsus said.
It is well known that obesity is a leading cause of diabetes, a disease where the body fails to control blood sugar levels. High blood sugar levels are characteristic in obesity and diabetes. What is less well known is that diabetes and obesity are also linked to an increase in cancer risk. That is, the diabetic population has up to double chances to suffer pancreatic or colon cancer among others, according to well sustained epidemiological studies. With obesity in British and Spanish children reaching 16%, the highest in Europe, this epidemic has major health implications. How obesity or diabetes increase cancer risk has been a major health issue.
Scientists led by Dr. Custodia Garcia-Jimenez at the University Rey Juan Carlos in Madrid have uncovered a key mechanism that links obesity and diabetes with cancer: high sugar levels, which increase activity of a gene widely implicated in cancer progression.
Dr Garcia Jimenez's laboratory was studying how cells in the intestine respond to sugars and signal to the pancreas to release insulin, the key hormone that controls blood sugar levels. Sugars in the intestine trigger cells to release a hormone called GIP that enhances insulin release by the pancreas.
In a study published in Molecular Cell, Dr Garcia Jimenez's team showed that the ability of the intestinal cells to secrete GIP is controlled by a protein called β-catenin, and that the activity of β-catenin is strictly dependent on sugar levels.
Increased activity of β-catenin is known to be a major factor in the development of many cancers and can make normal cells immortal, a key step in early stages of cancer progression. The study demonstrates that high (but not normal) sugar levels induce nuclear accumulation of β-catenin and leads to cell proliferation. The changes induced on β-catenin, the molecules involved and the diversity of cancer cells susceptible to these changes are identified.
Dr. Custodia García said "We were surprised to realize that changes in our metabolism caused by dietary sugar impact on our cancer risk. We are now investigating what other dietary components may influence our cancer risk. Changing diet is one of easiest prevention strategies that can potentially save a lot of suffering and money."
Colin Goding, Professor of Oncology at the University of Oxford, UK said 'Previously we were unsure about how increased blood sugar found in diabetes and obesity could increase cancer risk. This study identifies a key molecular mechanism through which high blood glucose would predispose to cancer. It opens the way for potential novel therapies aimed at reducing cancer risk in the obese and diabetic populations.'
Estimations published by the World Health Organisation (WHO): Obesity predisposes to diabetes and its prevalence is doubling every 20 years worldwide. More than 1 in 10 adults worldwide (12%) are obese (BMI>30). 1 in 6 children in UK and Spain suffer obesity.
Diabetes caused 4.6 million deaths in 2011, more than 2 deaths per hour in Spain, more in USA. Worldwide, 1 in 10 adults (10%) suffered from diabetes in 2010 and more than one-third of individuals with diabetes are unaware they suffer from the disease. The national cost of diabetes or cancer is in the order of billions of pounds or euros in Spain or England.
More than half (63%) of premature deaths worldwide are due to non communicable diseases (NCD) of which cancer and diabetes are among the 4 causes more frequent. At least 1 in 3 of the main cancers (27-39%) can be prevented by improving diet, physical activity and body composition.