Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Understanding Intestinal Microbiota to Regain Balance in the Gut

Article from MedicalXpress, by Natalie Duggan. The human gut is its own ecosystem, hosting close to a thousand microorganisms, many of which are helpful and necessary. When you take antibiotics, some of the beneficial germs can be wiped out, leaving you more vulnerable to diarrheal infections—infections, in some cases, that are antibiotic resistant and life-threatening.

MyAchingKnees comment: Not only can anti-biotics, and certainly the over use or abuse of anti-biotics, destroy beneficial mircoorganisms in the gut where our immune systems begin leading to gastrointestinal infections, our whole immune system can be compromised.  I take a probiotic supplement that contains Lactobacillius rhamnosus and Bifidobacterium, twice a week just to ensure healthy bacteria is maintained in my gut.   

Fecal transplants are proving to be a highly effective, antibiotic-free tool to cure Clostridium difficile, known as C diff, often a health care acquired infection that is more common among the elderly or those who take frequent antibiotics.

Colleen Kraft, medical director of Emory's clinical microbiology laboratory and assistant professor in the Department of Pathology and the Division of Infectious Diseases, started the intestinal microbiota program to treat and understand these infections. "Now that we as a medical community have a better understanding of the damage we do to the intestinal microbiota with antibiotic therapy, this understanding became the motivation to restore the balance to improve health," Kraft

In a fecal transplant, a sample is taken from a healthy donor, mixed with saline, and transplanted into the small intestine or colon of the ill patient, where the good bacteria repopulates and restores the healthy microbiota. Tanvi Dhere, director of inflammatory bowel diseases at the Emory Clinic, performs the transplant via colonoscopy and follows up with the patients in the Emory GI clinic. There have been 81 fecal transplants since the program began in 2012.

Donors need to meet stringent requirements, including not having school-aged children, not traveling internationally, and not having taken any antibiotics for at least one year; the sample is screened for HIV/AIDS, hepatitis, STDs, parasites, and more. Patients are offered the option of having a family member screened for donor eligibility, but few have requested this after the standardized donor program was started.

Pathology residents Ryan McCormick and Drew Davis are two of Emory's donors.

"During clinical rotations, we saw C diff cases on the wards," Davis says. "It's important to recognize how bad conditions like C diff and colitis actually are."

"For the record, I don't think it's as gross as it sounds," McCormick says, laughing. "My reason for donating is to have more direct involvement in patient care."

Of the 336,000 C diff cases in the US each year, 14,000 result in death, often because the standard course of antibiotic treatment failed.

Kraft and Dhere are enrolling participants for a clinical trial in which they will examine the microbiome of the sample at the mucosal level. "A patient's gut microbiome is changed after undergoing a fecal transplant," Dhere says. "We want to know what specifically is allowing patients to recover."

Collaborative research with other departments is ongoing, including a study with the Department of Surgery on the efficacy of fecal transplants in treating pouchitis, a gastrointestinal condition that may require chronic antibiotics and affects more than 40% of patients with ulcerative colitis who have had a colonic resection. The team, led by Virginia Shaffer, has been granted an investigational new drug designation from the FDA. Fecal transplantation is also showing promise for treating C diff in organ transplant recipients, who must take drugs to keep their immune systems from rejecting the transplanted organ.

The intestinal microbiota program has a success rate of more than 90%. "We receive a lot of thank-you cards from patients and their families," Dhere says. "The quality of life that patients get after the procedure speaks volumes for this treatment."

The video below helps explain not only probiotics but prebiotics as well.

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Friday, December 12, 2014

The Dangers of Off The Shelf Supplements

The following is an article posted in Yahoo! Health, written by Jenna Birch with the title "Death By Raspberry Ketones And Caffeine Powder: The Dangers Of OTC Supplements". It highlights the dangers of taking off the shelf (aka Over The Counter) supplements which cannot be guaranteed for purity, lack of toxins, efficacy, nor can you be assured that what is in the label is in the bottle.

Cara Reynolds, 24, took her first dose of Forza raspberry ketone supplements in February 2013 to help with a new weight-loss regimen. She went to her dad soon after with complaints about heart palpitations.

“She’d only taken the recommended amount of pills but was scared because her heart was going 10 to the dozen,” her father told The Daily Mail. “That’s when she said she wasn’t going to take them for weight loss any more — it had really worried her.”

However, after a split from her fiancé the following month, the British healthcare worker took a lethal dose of the supplements she had bought off Amazon for under $40.

Doctors tried 44 times to resuscitate Reynolds, but were unable bring her back.

Raspberry ketones are the chemical compound that give the fruit its scent, and have been touted by the media and personalities like Dr. Oz and Kim Kardashian as weight-loss wonders. Although a few preliminary studies have shown ketones may help with weight loss, the evidence of its effectiveness is mixed at best. Outside a few animal and test-tube studies, there’s little science that proves ketones really work for slimming down.

Along with raspberry ketones, Forza supplements combine resveratrol and caffeine. These tablets contain up to 250 milligrams of caffeine per pill, or roughly the same amount you’d get from four cans of Red Bull or seven cans of Coke. The dose Reynolds consumed was likely the equivalent of 2.5 cans of Red Bull.

Through a representative, Forza issued a statement regarding Reynolds, saying, “This is a tragic and understandably upsetting situation for her family and friends, but it could have been effected through the misuse of any supplement. Forza products meet vigorous health and safety standards and have clear labeling and directions for safe usage.” The representative also said that it is “regrettable” that the overdose of a supplement “potentially contributed to Miss Reynolds’ suicide,” but that our client entirely rejects any implication that an inherent safety issue with its products is responsible.”

A report just submitted to the British Medical Journal cited Reynolds’ case as an example of the dangerous side effects associated with untested supplements. The FDA placed raspberry ketones on their “generally recognized as safe” list all the way back in the 1960s, but only for use in very small amounts in food as an additive, not as a weight-loss aid.

That you can get supplements with a potent dose of additives like caffeine over the counter and online is disconcerting, highlighting the need for better regulation of these types of substances.

There’s been a recent boom in advocacy about the dangers posed by unexpected, unregulated substances. Reynolds’ parents are telling their daughter’s story in hopes that the untested ketone supplements will be taken off the market. And the parents of Logan Stiner — the 18- year-old who died last May after suffering from a caffeine overdose — were on Capitol Hill yesterday, pushing lawmakers to ban the sale of caffeine powder.

Stiner ingested 23 times the amount of the stimulant that you’d find in a standard coffee drink. While not a supplement, the powder is often marketed as a weight-loss helper. It is also legally and easily obtained, even though just a teaspoon can deliver a deadly punch of caffeine. The FDA’s investigation into the powder is ongoing.

Part of the problem with supplements in particular is that they’re regulated much differently than drugs. “They’re regulated more like foods,” says Eliseo Guallar, MD, DrPH, a professor of epidemiology and medicine at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. “They don’t have as tough a standard, and some of the claims reflect that.” Think: miracle weight loss.

This is unsupported, however. “Very often they don’t have the studies to back up their claims, and then they start moving the target to fix that — like the study was on the wrong population,” Guallar explains.

In general, distinct populations are all supplements should be used for — and not the ones that claim big slim-downs and the fountain of youth.

Guallar, who has studied the widespread effects of supplements like daily vitamins, says even these common mineral forms have no clear evidence that they work to prevent disease or provide substantial health benefits for the general population. “They might work for a certain population, perhaps for overcoming a deficiency, but I can’t say any of these compounds work to reduce general risk of chronic diseases like obesity and cardiovascular disease,” he explains. “And half of adults in the adults in the United States take a daily vitamin.”

Big results are unlikely. In fact, a 2012 study published in the International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism did not find that any specific supplement promoted significant weight loss, only that some like green tea, fiber, and calcium supplements could “complement a healthy lifestyle.” But in particular, author Melinda Manore, PhD, RD, called out products containing substances like caffeine, ephedra and synephrine as “likely to produce adverse side effects,” saying that they “should be avoided.” This would include Forza supplements.

However, some are still under the impression that, because they’re “supplements,” they can’t possibly hurt — which underscores the need for more regulation in the U.S. — but in the meantime, we should heed the warnings.

Like Guallar says, there are many different kinds of supplements, and even “natural” substances can be harmful. The biggest danger might ultimately be in the idea that they’re not dangerous. “I think people have the idea that these supplements are safe, because you can buy them at the supermarket,” Guallar says. “And then they think, ‘If one is good, then why not take two?’”

So, beware and be smart: Over-the-counter supplements are not without dangers, and they can be just potent as the drugs prescribed by your doc.

Perhaps more so.

Correction Notice: A previous version of this article incorrectly compared the amount of caffeine in Red Bull with the amount of caffeine consumed by Reynolds through the Forza supplements. The piece has been updated to reflect that she consumed the equivalent amount of caffeine in 2.5 cans of Red Bull.

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Thursday, December 4, 2014

The 10 Best Nutrition Tips Ever

This article came from Yahoo! Health. If it can help one person lose some weight and regain some quality of life and reduce pain, especially in joints where additional weight is usually felt, then I'm for this article. However, losing weight is simple, just not easy. Simple in the regard that you have to minimize the bad food and maximize the good; lead a physical lifestyle boosting your metabolism. Not easy in the fact, the people just don't like change or discomfort of a diet - getting rid of their comfort foods.

Diet advice is a lot like fashion. Trends come—wedge sneakers, drop-crotch pants, those skirts that are short in the front and long in the back—and a year or two later they seem hopelessly out of date. But the truly stylish always look smart; you’ll never see a photo of Pharrell Williams wearing crocs or Victoria Beckham in a meat dress. Here at Eat This, Not That! we see the same thing with the lean and fit: Those who stay slim don’t follow diets or nutrition trends. They follow common sense eating strategies that keep them looking fit for life.

Giving up gluten, throwing back shots of apple cider vinegar, juicing everything in sight—try them if you think they make sense. (And if you need a little boost to get you back on track, try our Ultimate One Day Detox.) But when those of-the-moment diet fads are gathering dust in the back of your metaphorical closet, the simple, smart, sensible approaches will be there like a favorite pair of jeans or a perfect little black dress—look-great staples guaranteed to never go out of style.

NUTRITION TIP #1. Hide your weakness.

If you see it, you’ll eat it. If you don’t see it, you’ll still eat it—but not so much. That’s what a study at Google’s New York office, dubbed “Project M&M” found. Office managers discovered that placing the chocolate candies in opaque containers as opposed to glass ones, and giving healthier snacks like nuts and figs more prominent shelf space, curbed M&M intake by 3.1 million calories in just seven weeks. A similar study published in the Journal of Marketing found that people are more likely to overeat small treats from transparent packages than from opaque ones. Out of sight, out of mind, out of mouth.

NUTRITION TIP #2. Use the 1 in 10 rule.

For every 10 grams of carbohydrate listed on the label, look for at least one gram of fiber. Why 10:1? That’s the ratio of carbohydrate to fiber in a genuine, unprocessed whole grain. The recommendation comes from a study published in the journal Public Health Nutrition that evaluated hundreds of grain products; foods that met the 10:1 ratio had have less sugar, sodium, and trans fats than those that didn’t. Getting your fiber-rich whole grains is one of these indispensible habits.

NUTRITION TIP #3. Boost flavor to cut calories.

Ever notice how everything inside a McDonald’s—the burgers, the fries, the shakes—smells exactly the same? That sameness of scent is actually a tactic that can inspire you to consume more calories. A study in the journal Flavour found that the less distinctive the scent of a particular food, the more you’ll eat of it. Adding herbs and sodium-free spice blends is an easy take advantage of sensory illusion that you’re indulging in something rich—without adding any fat or calories to your plate. Furthermore, a recent behavioral study that taught adults to spruce up meals with herbs instead of salt led to a decrease in sodium consumption by nearly 1000 mg a day (that’s more salt than you’ll find in 5 bags of Doritos!).

NUTRITION TIP #4. Chill pasta to melt fat.

You can gain less weight from a serving of pasta simply by putting it in the fridge. The drop in temperature changes the nature of the noodles into something called “resistant starch,” meaning your body has to work harder to digest it. Cold pasta is closer in structure to natural resistant starches like lentils, peas, beans, and oatmeal, which pass through the small intestine intact and are digested in the large intestine, where—well, it gets kinda gross from there on out. A study in the journal Nutrition & Metabolism found that adding resistant starch to a meal may also promote fat oxidation. Suffice it say, colder noodles = hotter you. But you’ve got to eat it cold: Once you heat the pasta up again, you destroy the resistant starch.

NUTRITION TIP #5. Dim the lights to get lighter.

A study of fast food restaurants published in the journal Psychological Reports found that customers who dined in a relaxed environment with dimmed lights and mellow music ate 175 fewer calories per meal than if they were in a more typical restaurant environment. That may not sound like a dramatic savings, but cutting 175 calories from dinner every night could save you more than 18 pounds in a year!

NUTRITION TIP #6. Eat, Don’t Drink, Your Fruit.

Juicing may be the rage, but like a certain Mr. Simpson, some juice can do more harm than good—including OJ. Researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health found that people who consumed one or more servings of fruit juice each day increased their risk of developing type 2 diabetes by as much as 21 percent. Conversely, those who ate at least two servings each week of certain whole fruits— particularly blueberries, grapes, and apples—reduced their risk for type 2 diabetes by as much as 23 percent.

NUTRITION TIP #7. Eat before you eat.

Eating an appetizer of a broth-based soup or even an apple can reduce total calorie intake over the course of the meal by up to 20 percent, according to a series of “Volumetrics” studies at Penn State. Consider that, according to the Journal of the American Medical Association, the average restaurant meal contains 1,128 calories. A 20 percent savings, just once a day, is enough to help you shed more than 23 pounds in a year.

NUTRITION TIP #8. Choose paper, not plastic.

Here’s a simple way to improve the health of your shopping cart: A series of experiments by Cornell University looked at the effects of payment method on food choice. When shoppers used credit cards, they bought more unhealthful “vice” foods than they did “virtue” foods. Researchers suggest that you’re less likely to impulsively buy junk food if it means parting with a hundred dollar bill than swiping plastic.

NUTRITION TIP #9. Water down the calories.

You’ve been told to drink 8 glasses of water a day, but why bother? Well, what if staying hydrated could strip pounds off your body? According to a study in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, after drinking approximately 17 ounces of water (about 2 tall glasses), participants’ metabolic rates increased by 30 percent. The researchers estimate that increasing water intake by 1.5 liters a day (about 6 cups) would burn an extra 17,400 calories over the course of the year—a weight loss of approximately five pounds!

NUTRITION TIP #10. Remind yourself to lose weight.

A recent study published online in Health Promotion Practice found that people who received weekly text reminders of their daily “calorie budget” and motivational emails made healthier meal and snack choices. A simple hack to help you slim down: set up reminders on your smartphone, so when 6 a.m. rolls around, it’s: You make 1200 calories-a-day look so good! And at lunchtime: Salad for the six-pack, baby!

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