Our Better Health

Diet, Health, Fitness, Lifestyle & Wellness


2 Comments

Are Eggs Healthy?

In some ways, eggs are very good for you.

First of all, they are a nutrient-dense food. They contain high-quality protein, meaning eggs offer all nine essential amino acids that can’t be made by humans and therefore must come from our diets. Protein in eggs can help build and preserve muscle as well as boost satiety, both of which are important for weight control.

Eggs are also one of the few food sources of vitamin D and a source of the nutrient choline, which may help protect against birth defects in infants. They contain vitamin A, vitamin B12, riboflavin (B2) and the antioxidant selenium, as well as lutein and zeaxanthin, which help keep our eyes healthy.

Most of an egg’s calories, vitamins and minerals are found in the yolk.

But what about the cholesterol in eggs? It’s true that eggs are high in dietary cholesterol, which is also found in the yolk, but they’re low in saturated fat, which is the bigger culprit when it comes to raising blood cholesterol levels. Because of this, eggs get the green light according to the government’s 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

In fact, one recent meta-analysis found that higher consumption of eggs (up to one egg per day) is not associated with increased risk of coronary heart disease or stroke. And a 2016 Finnish study involving more than 1,000 men concluded that egg or cholesterol intakes are not associated with increased risk of coronary artery disease, even in those who are genetically predisposed to experience a stronger effect of dietary cholesterol on blood cholesterol.

What is more likely to affect your health is how eggs are prepared, as well as which other foods you combine with them. One large poached egg has 71 calories and 2 grams of saturated fat, and an omelet made with spinach and one yolk is also a lean choice. But a serving of eggs Benedict with bacon and Hollandaise sauce has about 800 calories and 26 grams of saturated fat.

So feel free to enjoy eggs, but watch how you eat them. And balance eggs with other healthy fiber-rich foods such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains.

By Lisa Drayer, CNN     Fri April 14, 2017
 
Lisa Drayer is a nutritionist, author and health journalist.
 
source: www.cnn.com


Leave a comment

Still Cooking with Aluminum Foil? You’ll Want to Read This

Cooking and baking with aluminum foil is fast and convenient, and makes cleanup a cinch, but it’s not without health risks.

A lot has changed since aluminum arrived on the scene back in 1910, after the first aluminum foil rolling plant, Dr. Lauber, Neher & Cie, opened in Emmishofen, Switzerland. The first use of foil in the United States came about in 1913, when it was used to wrap Life Savers, candy bars, and gum. Eventually, aluminum foil made its way into American kitchens as a way to bake fish or roast vegetables on the barbecue, to line baking pans, and to trap steam when cooking.

And we’re using tons of it—so much that experts are getting concerned. Because according to research, some of the foil used in cooking, baking, and grilling leaches into your food, which can pose health problems over time.

According to the World Health Organization, human bodies are capable of properly releasing small amounts of aluminum efficiently, so it’s considered safe to ingest 40mg per kilogram of body weight of aluminum per day. Unfortunately, most people are ingesting far more than this.

Scientists have been looking at the potential threat that overexposure to aluminum may have on human health for years, and have found some disturbing results. For example, researchers have found high concentrations of aluminum in the brain tissue of patients with Alzheimer’s disease. Studies have also found that high aluminum intake may be linked to a reduction in the growth rate of human cells, and may be potentially harmful for patients with bone diseases or renal impairment.

A 2012 study published in the International Journal of Electrochemical Science investigated the amount of aluminum that leaches into food cooked with foil. The amount varied based on factors such as temperature and acidity (fish and tomatoes are highly acidic), but the findings showed conclusively that aluminum foil does leach into food cooked in foil. “Aluminum foil used in cooking provides an easy channel for the metal to enter the human body,” the study authors wrote. “The increase in cooking temperature causes more leaching. The leaching is also highly dependent on the pH value of the food solution, salt, and spices added to the food solutions.”

Ghada Bassioni, Associate Professor and Head of the Chemistry Division at Ain Shams University, conducted research with a group of colleagues that explored the use of aluminum for cooking and preparing food particularly at high temperatures. “The acidity of the food would enhance further leaching of aluminum into the meal,” she said, adding: “How aluminum will actually harm your body depends on many factors like your overall well-being and consequently how much your body can handle accumulation of it in relation to the allowable dosages set by the World Health Organization.”

So should you stop cooking with aluminum foil? It seems the general consensus is that we should, at the very least, cut way back.

For grilling veggies, you can get a stainless steel grilling basket, or even reusable skewers. Use a glass pan when roasting veggies in the oven; use a stainless steel cookie sheet under baking potatoes as opposed to aluminum foil to catch the mess; and even try replacing foil with banana leaves when wrapping foods for baking!

BY ALEXA ERICKSON
 
source: www.rd.com


Leave a comment

Trans Fat Bans May Have Cut Heart Attacks, Strokes

Pending FDA regulations should remove nearly all of this unhealthy substance from your diet, experts say

Could the contents of your cupcake affect your heart attack risk?

It seems so, according to a new study that found lower rates of heart attack and stroke in communities that restrict trans fats in foods.

Trans fats, which are found in products such as baked goods, chips, crackers and fried foods, have been linked to an increased risk of heart disease. In response, some U.S. cities have implemented policies to reduce trans fats in restaurant food.

“Our study highlights the power of public policy to impact the cardiovascular health of a population. Trans fats are deleterious for cardiovascular health, and minimizing or eliminating them from the diet can substantially reduce rates of heart attack and stroke,” said study author Dr. Eric Brandt. He’s a clinical fellow in cardiovascular medicine at the Yale School of Medicine.

The researchers compared 2002-13 data from New York counties with and without restrictions on trans fats.

The study found a 6 percent decline in hospitalizations for heart attack and stroke in areas with trans fat restrictions compared to those without within three years of implementing no trans fat policies.

“It is a pretty substantial decline,” Brandt said.

Although the study found a link between trans fat restrictions and a lower heart attack and stroke risk, it’s important to note that the study wasn’t designed to prove a direct cause-and-effect link.

In 2018, a U.S. Food and Drug Administration ban on partially hydrogenated oil in foods will nearly eliminate dietary trans fats nationwide.

The study findings suggest that the FDA’s move to restrict trans fats in all foods will have widespread benefits, according to Brandt.

“Even though some companies have reduced the amount of trans fat in food, current FDA labeling guidelines allow up to 0.49 grams of trans fat per serving to be labeled as 0 grams, leaving consumers to scour labels for hidden trans fats, usually labeled as partially hydrogenated oils,” Brandt explained in a Yale news release.
“With the upcoming FDA regulation, people need not be so vigilant. A nationwide trans fat ban is a win for the millions of people at risk for cardiovascular disease,” he said.

The study was published April 12 in the journal JAMA Cardiology.

SOURCE: Yale University, news release, April 12, 2017

 

By Robert Preidt       HealthDay Reporter
 
WEDNESDAY, April 12, 2017      HealthDay News       WebMD News from HealthDay
 
source: www.webmd.com


Leave a comment

Those Burgers Aren’t JUST Making Us Fat—They’re Messing With Our Immune Systems, Too

New research reveals that high-fat diets can impair memory and make our immune systems attack our own bodies.

A junk food diet is clearly not healthy. Burgers widen our waistlines, raise our cholesterol levels and tighten our arteries. But scientists now think that even before it shows up as additional pounds on the scale, junk food is changing our bodies in other, surprising ways. It’s actually a form of malnutrition that could be making our immune systems attack our own bodies.

In a recent study published in the Journal of Immunology, scientists at Australia’s University of New South Wales investigated a typical western diet—one that’s high in saturated, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids. Specifically, they looked at the diet’s impact on immune cells called T lymphocytes, or T cells.

The researchers fed mice a high-fat diet for nine weeks to see what effect it would have on the T cells before the mice gained weight. The results surprised study leader Abigail Pollock. “Despite our hypothesis that the T cell response and capacity to eliminate invading pathogens would be weakened we actually saw the opposite: the percentage of overactive T cells increased,” she explained.

This might sound great, but having more T cells doesn’t necessarily mean your immune system is stronger. In fact, when the immune system goes into overdrive, it attacks healthy parts of the body, resulting in autoimmune diseases like type 1 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis and inflammatory bowel disease.

Cell membranes—the bags that hold cells together—are made up of layers of fatty lipid molecules. Looking closely at the T cells, the scientists found that having extra fats in the diet actually changed the amount of lipid molecules in the cell membrane, which in turn, said Pollock, “changes the structure of the cell, altering the responsiveness of the T cells and changing the immune response.”

Altering immunity

The team had shown previously that altering the lipid content of T cell membranes affects how they signal and activate each other, but this is the first time the effect has been shown in a living animal. More research is needed, they say, to figure out exactly what’s happening and determine which fats we could avoid to make sure our immune systems don’t go into overdrive.

Indeed, this is not the first study to show that a high-fat diet impacts the immune system; almost 20 years ago, scientists at the University of Oxford in the U.K. studied rats on diets rich in different fats. They found that the lymphocytes of rats fed a high-fat diet rich in palmitic acid grew more, whereas natural killer cells—another type of immune cell—of rats on a high-fat diet rich in stearic acid grew much less.

More recently, scientists at the University of Ulsan in South Korea compared obese mice on a high-fat diet and non-obese mice on a normal diet, and found that the obese mice had significantly lower levels of immune cells, including T cells, in their lymph nodes, where the immune cells wait until they are needed by the body. The lymph nodes near the intestine were much lighter in the obese mice and contained far fewer T cells than those of the control mice.

The scientists concluded that the accumulation of fat around the organs—visceral fat—due to a high-fat diet causes cells in the lymph nodes to self-destruct: “Dietary fat-induced visceral obesity may be crucial for obesity-related immune dysfunction,” they explained.

A high-fat diet won’t only affect your immune system; it could also impair your memory—and that of your kids. When they fed pregnant mice a diet high in lard, scientists at Capital Medical University in China found that the fat in their offspring’s brain was altered. The authors explain in their study: “Our research demonstrated that long-term high lard diet […] changed the brain fatty acids composition and damaged the memory and learning ability of mice.”

What’s in your burger and fries?

A junk food diet is rich in fat, but there are all sorts of other harmful things lurking in there too. Firstly, junk food is highly palatable—it tastes good. This makes us eat more and more, which is an even bigger problem because it’s also very high in calories. A small cheeseburger is 300 calories, the same as a whole (nutritious) meal. And you would rarely just eat a cheeseburger; adding fries (230 calories) and a soda (170 calories) takes the total to a whopping 700.

An excessive calorie intake leads to obesity, which has an impact on the immune system. Norwegian researchers found that being overweight led to inflammation—a sign of an overactive immune response. They studied this on a molecular level, to establish a link between metabolism, inflammation, heart attack and stroke. Their theory is that overeating provides our cells with too much energy and the tiny cellular engines—mitochondria—can stall.

“We believe that long-term stress on the mitochondria may cause metaflammation,” explained Dr. Arne Yndestad of Oslo University Hospital. “A metaflammation is a low-grade chronic inflammation over many years, and unfortunately it’s a condition that’s difficult to detect.”

There’s more. According to World Action on Salt and Health (WASH) we eat on average 8.1 grams of salt a day—about a third more than the recommended 6 grams. Junk food is high in salt; a junk food meal can tip you over the limit of your daily intake.

What’s the problem? Salt is implicated in making our immune systems go haywire. In three separate studies published in Nature, scientists showed that high salt intake increase production of T cells, taking them to harmful levels. One of the studies showed that feeding mice with multiple sclerosis a high salt diet made their disease progress faster.

One of the researchers, Dr. Vijay Kuchroo of Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts, points out that the evidence is not yet definitive, but “is building a very interesting hypothesis [that] salt may be one of the environmental triggers of autoimmunity” and that it’s not yet possible to predict the effect salt has on autoimmunity and the development of diseases like type 1 diabetes.

 

Not-so-happy meals

As if that wasn’t bad enough, it’s a bleak picture for kids too. In 2015, WASH carried out an international study on the salt content of children’s meals, concluding that 8 out of 10 meals had more than 1 gram of salt per serving, tipping the maximum recommended serving per meal.

“The more salt you eat as a child, the more likely you are to have serious health issues in later life,” said Prof. Graham MacGregor, WASH chairman and professor of cardiovascular medicine at Queen Mary University of London. “This can include high blood pressure, increased risk of stroke, heart disease, osteoporosis and kidney disease. That is why it is vitally important that children do not get used to the taste of salt.”

Unfortunately, our kids might be at a disadvantage from the outset: the gut bacteria they inherit can have an impact on their immune health. Babies get their gut bacteria—their microbiota—from their mothers at birth and this continues to be shaped through breastfeeding. The microbiota is known to have an impact on our immunity; Spanish researchers found that children with type 1 diabetes had different gut bacteria compared to healthy children.

In his review “Fast food fever: reviewing the impacts of the Western diet on immunity,” Dr. Ian Myles of the National Institutes of Health gives an overview of what we know about the effects of a western diet on the immune system. The bacteria found in children’s intestines can have a surprisingly big impact, he says. “Our bodies are a kind of mini-ecosystem, and anything that disturbs our bacteria can alter our health in profound ways,” he said in an interview with Time.

They might also be inheriting a genetic preference for unhealthy food. Researchers at Imperial College London have identified a gene linked to cravings for high-calorie foods. They asked 45 people to look at photos of high- and low-calorie foods and rate how appealing they were, and monitored their brain activity. They found that people with a particular genetic change near a gene called FTO who preferred high calorie foods had more activity in parts of the brain linked to pleasure. This, say the researchers, means people with this genetic trait will find it harder to avoid junk food. And if it’s written in our DNA, there’s a chance we can pass it on to our kids.

Even more reason to stop bombarding them with adverts for junk food. Children’s food choices are strongly influenced by advertising, and many countries are already responding by restricting advertising to kids.

Immune-boosting alternatives

Switching off the TV is one way to cut junk food cravings and intake, and therefore protect our immune systems. And the same researchers who found the genetic variants that cause food cravings also found a dietary supplement that can stop those cravings. But there are plenty of other things that can boost our immunity.

The problem with junk food isn’t just the bad ingredients it contains; it’s also the good ingredients it doesn’t contain. You won’t find vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage in a fast food meal, but a study by U.K. scientists revealed that these vegetables switch on immune cells in the intestines, which they say explains the link between diet and immunity.

Junk food is also low in fiber, which is known to boost immunity. According to one study, dietary fiber encourages friendly bacteria to grow in the intestine. These lactic acid bacteria can boost immunity, so eating foods that help them grow—like fiber-rich prebiotics, fermented vegetables and raw garlic—could strengthen your immune system.

Immune-boosting antioxidants are also hard to find in your hamburger (unless it’s topped with mushrooms), so eating plenty of sweet potato, elderberry and low-fat yogurt will help.

In his review on fast food fever, Dr. Myles wrote: “While today’s modern diet may provide beneficial protection from micro- and macronutrient deficiencies, our over abundance of calories and the macronutrients that compose our diet may all lead to increased inflammation, reduced control of infection, increased rates of cancer, and increased risk for allergic and auto-inflammatory disease.”

So the next time you’re tempted by a meal deal, consider cooking up some vegetables with chicken and a refreshing yogurt and berry dessert instead. Your immune system—and your memory—will thank you for it.

By Lucy Goodchild Van Hilten / AlterNet September 30, 2016
Lucy Goodchild van Hilten is a freelance writer. Read more of her work at telllucy.com.


Leave a comment

10 Canned Goods You Should Stop Buying—and Healthier Alternatives

Yes, they’re made of metal. But canned goods are commonly lined with Bisphenol a, better known as BPA, which has potential health complications ranging from weight gain to cancer. And, guess what? In the U.S., the primary source of BPA are canned foods. Here’s how you can find better-for-you options.

Canned tomatoes and sauces

Acidic foods leach out the BPA more than other foods, which means canned tomatoes and tomato sauces tend to test higher in BPA content according to Consumer Reports. Alternate packaging, such as tomato sauces in glass jars or chopped tomatoes in boxed containers lessen the amount of BPA content. For example, the brands Pomi and Cirio package their chopped tomatoes and tomato sauce in boxes. Many marinara varieties are available in glass jars. Tomato paste, although not shown to be high in BPA, can be purchased in tubes rather than cans—look for the brands San Marzano, Mutti, Amore, and Cento.

Tuna

Health Canada, the government health department, reported that canned tuna contained the highest amount of BPA among a wide variety of canned foods. Fortunately for tuna lovers, shelf-stable pouches provide an alternative to the canned version. Popular brands Chicken of the Sea, Bumble Bee, and Starkist sell tuna pouches.

Veggies

Canned green beans and corn tested higher in BPA than other vegetables. Better choices for your family include fresh or frozen green beans and corn, and as a bonus—fresh and frozen contain more fiber than the canned variety. Here are 30 more ways to sneak fiber in your diet.

Infant formula

A study reported in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry found BPA in all liquid baby formulas tested, even after diluted with water. To avoid this, purchase the powdered formulas in plastic containers, or the liquid formula in boxed packages.

Soda

Multiple research studies show canned soft drinks contain BPA, and that goes for diet varieties, too, reports Health Canada. Highest BPA levels were found in Diet 7-up and Mountain Dew. Glass bottles are a safer bet—or better yet, trade your soda for one of these flavored waters.

Beans

To avoid BPA in your chili and burritos, choose dried beans over canned. While they take a bit longer to prepare, your pinto and black beans will be healthier. Try using a pressure cooker to reduce cooking time of dried beans. Or, cook dried beans in bulk and freeze in one to two cup portions for later use. Dried beans boast high nutrition content in an economical choice.

Soups and stews

Due to the variety of ingredients and recipes for canned soups, stews and entrees, the BPA content varies widely. Health Canada reported the highest BPA levels in Campbell’s brand of canned soups. Consumer Reports found that packaging soups in juice-box-type or plastic containers with peel-off metal lids decreases, but does not eliminate BPA from the food. Tomato-based pasta soups, such as Chef Boyardee’s Beef Ravioli in Tomato Meat Sauce and Spaghetti and Meatballs, contain BPA despite the type of packaging. In fact, the plastic container of the beef ravioli had more BPA than the canned variety. Steer clear of these processed soups and choose homemade healthier soups and stews.

Salsa

The Environmental Working Group’s comprehensive database includes organic and non-organic canned or bottled salsa on their list of foods that may contain BPA. With the acidic contents of salsa (think tomatoes, onions, and peppers), even the metal jar top appears to contribute to the BPA present in the popular condiment. Homemade salsa from fresh ingredients is your best bet.

Beer

Although fancy artsy canned beer is making a resurgence in popularity among craft breweries, the BPA may not be worth it. Reports in the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture and the Journal of Food Protection demonstrated BPA in beer from cans. Opt for glass bottled beer or draught. Did you know you can do more with beer than drink it? Check out these unexpected uses for beer.

Aerosol cans

Those super fun aerosol spray cans of whipped cream contain BPA, per the Environmental Working Group. Other foods in aerosol cans, such as squirty processed cheese and cooking oil sprays, may contain BPA. Select fresh cheese for your snacks, liquid oils to grease your pans, and make your own fresh whipped cream. Find out what your favorite cheese says about your personality.

BY JENNIFER BOWERS, PHD, RD
source: www.rd.com


Leave a comment

The Most Addicting Foods on the Planet, According to Science

Chips, chocolate, cheese. There are some foods we simply can’t get enough of.
And turns out there’s good reason why we’re hooked.

Why we can’t get enough

What is it about the three Cs: Chocolate, cheese, and chips? For some reason, we can never get enough of them. But wanting to chow on a particular food is one thing, being addicted to it is another. Fact is, you can become addicted to a certain food, and you can blame your brain’s response to it. That’s because certain foods elicit a release of dopamine in the brain, which can lead to more cravings for that particular treat, especially when it comes to foods that are high in sugar, salt, and/or fat. Addictive foods are ones that hit your brain right in its pleasure center, ostensibly telling you that you need more, more, more. “When this pleasure/reward center is stimulated, the brain starts secreting dopamine and other chemicals that make us enjoy the experience even more,” says Ashvini Mashru, a registered dietitian in Malvern, Pennsylvania. “Because your brain loves the sensation caused by that dopamine release, it seeks more of it by creating cravings, that if listened to can cause a vicious cycle of addiction.”

Chocoholics take note

That bowl of M&Ms sitting on your office mate’s desk is a delicious temptation, a crunchy chocolatey treat that’s hard to resist. What we know is that chocolate is one of the most addictive foods around because it binds to the same pleasure centers in the brain as alcohol and certain drugs, according to a 2011 study conducted by Drexel University. It also boasts a nice “mouth feel,” which stimulates oxytocin production, another feel-good hormone, according to Dan DeFigio, author of Beating Sugar Addiction for Dummies. “Over time, our brains start looking for that dopamine hit, and every time we eat chocolate, it reinforces that ‘wiring,'” he says. You’ll feel less guilty munching on these next-level chocolates with added superfoods.

More cheese please

If you’ve hovered over a cheese platter and piled up the cubes, you’ll be relieved to know that it’s not just you. Cheese, which is generally high in fat and cholesterol, also contains a substance called casomorphin that binds to the opioid or feel-good receptors in the brain. “Casomorphins attach to neurotransmitters in our brains and release dopamine, feel-good chemicals, that often lead us to wanting more,” says Neal Barnard, MD, author of The Cheese Trap, adding that the average American today consumes 30 pounds more cheese per year than we did 100 years ago. “While cheese does have its health benefits, it also can be seriously addictive.” (If you’re having some wine with your cheese, here are the best pairings to try.)

Carb fix

Reach into that bowl of potato chips, tortilla chips, or pretzels over and over again, and you’ll know something is happening on the addiction front. And, while there’s no particular compound in these foods that bind to specific brain receptors to cause a euphoric, stimulating, or addictive behavior, there’s something else at play. “Simple carbohydrates are seen as ‘addictive’ because they cause a quick glucose release, and this quickly increases a person’s energy, says Celina Jean, a nutritionist in Austin, Texas. “This energy will quickly be used up, and then you’ll be forced to eat more simple carbohydrates to keep your blood sugar raised.” These are the silent signs you’re eating too many carbs.

Oh, sweet sips

Not only do sugary sodas (also lemonade and sweet tea) provide us with very little nutrients, but one 12-ounce can contain a staggering 35 grams of sugar. Like sugary treats, soda can stimulate the release of dopamine too. Add caffeine and you’re getting a double-energy hit. “Once you’re hooked on caffeine, you can suffer symptoms of withdrawal if you try to stop, including sluggishness, headaches, and emotional distress,” says Mashru.

Pass the French fries

French fries are typically crisp, hot, and salty. This is a triple-threat that signals the tongue and the brain to eat more, Mashru says. The fat content in French fries triggers receptors in our mouths that send a signal to our brain and gut reinforcing the desire to eat more. “These little potato sticks are also a comfort food,” Mashru says. “Therefore, every time you go through the line in a restaurant and see them on the menu, you may find the urge to order them as a side to your entrée irresistible.”

Ice cream you scream

Cravings for ice cream can be insatiable—it’s all about the sugar content and creamy texture, and researchers agree that foods like ice cream, which is basically cream and milk, stimulate the brain in the same way drugs do, inducing behaviors that resemble addiction, says Keri Glassman, RD, a dietitian in New York City. “The sugar ‘highs’ and ‘lows’ you experience are consistent with sugar ‘dependency,'” she says. “When your body gets used to sugar, you feel out of sorts when you consume less, which causes you to eat more.” Here’s how to crack your sugar addiction.

That slice of ‘za

Whether it’s the stringy salty mozzarella cheese, the fluffy dough or the sugar in the tomato sauce, pizza ranks first in food addiction, according to a recent University of Michigan study. That’s because when you eat it, your blood sugar zip up quickly and then when it drops, you feel hungry again and want more. These are the healthier pizza crusts that won’t blow your diet.

BY LAMBETH HOCHWALD
 
source: www.rd.com


Leave a comment

Targeting Gut Bacteria May Be The Key To Preventing Alzheimer’s

Diet could be a powerful mode of prevention.

A new study suggests that a gut-healthy diet may play a powerful role in preventing one of the most feared diseases in America.

Mounting research continues to show the links between the health of the gut and that of the brain. Now, a new study from Lund University in Sweden finds that unhealthy intestinal flora can accelerate the development of Alzheimer’s disease.

The report, published Feb. 8 in the journal Scientific Reports, demonstrates that mice with Alzheimer’s have a different gut bacterial profile than those that do not have the disease.

The gut microbiome is highly responsive to dietary and lifestyle factors. This suggests that a gut-healthy diet may play a powerful role in preventing one of the most feared diseases in America.

“Alzheimer’s is a preventable disease and in the near future we will likely be able to give advice on what to eat to prevent it,” study author Dr. Frida Fak Hållenius, associate professor at the university’s Food for Health Science Centre, told The Huffington Post. “Take care of your gut bacteria, by eating lots of whole-grains, fruits and vegetables.”

In the new study, Hållenius and her colleagues revealed a direct causal association between gut bacteria and signs of Alzheimer’s in mice. When a group of bacteria-free mice were colonized with the bacteria of rodents with Alzheimer’s, they developed brain plaques indicative of Alzheimer’s. When the bacteria-free mice were colonized with the bacteria of the healthy rodents, however, they developed significantly fewer brain plaques.

Beta-amyloid plaques between nerve cells in the brain are a central marker of the disease. These sticky protein clumps accumulate between the brain’s neurons, disrupting signals and contributing to the gradual killing off of nerve cells.

“We don’t yet know how bacteria can affect brain pathology, we are currently investigating this,” Hållenius said. “We think that bacteria may affect regulatory T-cells in the gut, which can control inflammatory processes both locally in the gut and systemically ― including the brain.”

The contributions of microbes to multiple aspects of human physiology and neurobiology in health and disease have up until now not been fully appreciated.

The gut microbiome is intimately connected with the immune system, since many of the body’s immune cells are found in this area of the stomach, Hållenius added.

Anything that happens in the digestive tract can affect the immune system, she explained. “By changing the gut microbiota composition, you affect the immune system of the host to a large extent.”

The findings suggest that Alzheimer’s may be more more preventable than health experts previously thought. The composition of bacteria in the gut is determined by a mix of genetics and lifestyle factors. Diet, exercise, stress and toxin exposure all play a huge role in the gut’s bacterial makeup.

Now, the researchers can begin investigating ways to prevent the disease and delay its onset by targeting gut bacteria early on. And in the meantime, anyone can adopt a plant-based, whole foods diet and probiotic supplementation as a way to improve the health of their microbiome.

“The diet shapes the microbial community in the gut to a large extent, so dietary strategies will be important in prevention of Alzheimer’s,” Hållenius said. “We are currently working on food design that will modulate the gut microbiota towards a healthier state.”

The study is far from the first to show a connection between gut bacteria and Alzheimer’s. In a 2014 paper published in the journal Frontiers in Cellular Neuroscience, researchers listed 10 different ways that the microbiome may contribute to the development of Alzheimer’s disease, including fungal and bacterial infections in the intestinal tract and increased permeability of the blood-brain barrier.

“The contributions of microbes to multiple aspects of human physiology and neurobiology in health and disease have up until now not been fully appreciated,” that study’s authors wrote.

By Carolyn Gregoire      Feb 21, 2017