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SUBJECT: Reading notes, 2015 from Roc Nutrition Investigator

Here are answers to reader' questions and notes from other readings related to nutrition, aging, and brains.

In July, I met with Mohsen and Simin Meydani, former and current Director of the Tufts USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging. Here are notes from the Summer newsletter: Healthy food intake increased in high- and low-income countries globally, but so did unhealthy food, with the latter trend outpacing healthy changes… A study in AJCN of 120,000 US health professionals showed that processed and red meat and refined carbs were associated with weight gain, while fish, nuts, and whole grains were associated with weight loss. Full fat dairy like milk, cheese, and butter were not associated with gain, and yogurt was associated with weight loss.  If you take vitamin D, you will absorb 32% more if you take it with food with fat.  People who get enough sleep have healthier body weights than those who skimp on sleep. Older women who sleep more eat fewer carbs and more unsaturated fats. Kids who slept less ate more saturated fat.  If scientists had their say, it would be “less meat, less sugar, and please, eat your veggies.”  Half your plate should be green and orange veggies.
Readers’ question- Is berberine beneficial? Unlikely - Neither the Linus Pauling Institute nor Mayo Clinic have noticed it.  Web MD lists many studies in second rank peer reviewed journals. These show it to have possible benefits and likely hazardous effects.  It may alter the efficacy of medications.  It inhibits cytochromes that degrade harmful substances in the diet.  One article does comment on antidiabetic effects.  See a long list of references at  A conservative view is that there is much evidence to be cautious. I would not use it.

readers’ question- nutrition for the thyroid - I found nothing to help the thyroid, except being sure to have enough iodine, which we get in the US using regular salt, which has iodine. Checking the Mayo Clinic site, it claims there is no diet to aid the thyroid.  Avoid taking your thyroid hormone at the same time as: Walnuts. Soybean flour, Cottonseed meal, Iron supplements or multivitamins containing iron, Calcium supplements, Antacids that contain aluminum or magnesium, Some ulcer medications, such as sucralfate (Carafate), and some cholesterol-lowering drugs.

Reader question: Does vitamin B1 repel misquitoes? Sorry, no. The authors of a June 2005 review article published in the "Journal of the American Mosquito Control Association" reported that of the scientific studies performed testing B vitamins as repellents, none found them to have significant repellent ability against mosquitoes. An older study suggested it might: Vitamin B1, or thiamin, makes up an important part of the vitamin B complex. While there are conflicting reports within the scientific community regarding whether B1 actually repels insects, researchers believe [but provided no evidence-just an opinion] that it works by producing a skin odor that's not noticeable by humans, but that biting bugs greatly dislike (Pediatric Clinics of North America, 16:191, 1969). 

Citrulline caution: a reader notes it is likely to activate viruses like Herpes simplex. "As an occasional  sufferer of cold sores caused by the Herpes Simplex virus which as you know lies dormant in the body's nerve cells and is reliant for replication on L Arginine I would be concerned with raising the blood levels of citrulline if one is infected with the Herpes virus. I find that restricting foods that are rich in L Arginine and raising the levels of Lysine in the blood stream through the consumption of Lysine rich foods and supplements is very effective in limiting cold sore outbreaks.  A little known danger of the Herpes Simplex virus is that it can infect the eyes and over a period of time will cause loss of vision which happened to a work colleague of mine a number of years ago."

Science 3 July 2015 pg 18 - “The liver is your body’s traffic cop” One way obesity does irreversible harm before you notice…A fit 70-kg man will carry about 14 kg of body fat-and only 125 g in the liver. Lots of health problems accompanies fat buildup, including obesity and diabetes. But the liver’s fat doesn’t normally kill. About 1/3 of people with fatty liver disease develop NASH (non-alcoholic steatohepatitis), likely caused by inflammation and oxidative stress.  Doctors recommend little but to eat less and exercise more, [though vitamin D and fish oil reduce inflammation and vitamins C and E reduces oxidative stress].  One NASH drug being tested is vitamin E.
Ten things we (including patients!) have to do to achieve precision medicine - Today, we engage in preventative medicine—including the use of pharmaceuticals with pleiotropic, often unwanted, effects (such as statins)—on the basis of a handful of biomarkers.  Similarly, the bias in clinical annotations (i.e., billing codes) designed to maximize reimbursement for services must be overcome. The opportunity remains sizable for innovative entrants into the market to automate support for doctor's decisions to provide for precision medicine. It also requires a greater recognition that, in many instances, patients will be precision medicine experts, and, therefore, can be instrumental in collaboratively applying unique knowledge resources in precisely their own medical challenges.  Who will participate in addressing these challenges to drive precision medicine from conception to practice? At a minimum, the stakeholders must include the public, individual patients, and organizations representing patients. Then, there are (i) the health care system that will deliver precision diagnostics and therapeutics and (ii) the scientists who will develop the principles, infrastructure, and specific insights for precision medicine.

From AARP - A study of 140,000 adults in 17 countries found a link between grip strength and death from any cause, esp. heart disease. Grip is likely a marker for physical health, so be sure to get enough exercise. 

Science 17 July page 244: The ancient Greeks, Thomas Jefferson, and current agroecologists have all claimed that small farmers are the foundation for democracy and equality.  By patenting seeds and dominating global markets, a few multinational companies have wrested decisions about how to farm from small growers and thus diminished their power to shape rural economies and politics. Thompson argues that these and other doubts about GMOs warrant continued skepticism about expanding their use. Also, are the business models of PepsiCo and McDonald's ethical when they depend on persuading individuals to consume highsugar, -fat, and -calorie products that are associated with costly diet-related diseases? 

Science 17 July page 237: How inflammation (caused by four-legged meat and stress that promote chronic low levels of inflammation) causes atherosclerosis: When stimuli persist and inflammation is not resolved, neutrophils and monocytes continue to accumulate, presumably inflicting the irreversible damage that characterizes chronic inflammation. Warnatsch et al.  report that neutrophils prime macrophages for inflammatory responses that aggravate atherosclerosis. Thus armed, macrophages present in atherosclerotic plaques carry out inflammatory and plaque-destabilizing functions. Ultimately, these processes induce thrombotic complications that interrupt arterial blood supply to downstream tissues, causing myocardial infarction and stroke.

- Roc, Nutrition Investigator
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Food to the indolent is poison, not sustenance- Life and Times of Frederick Douglass

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