Eating Tree Nuts Results in ‘Modest Decreases’ in Blood Fats and Sugars

TORONTO — Eating tree nuts appears to help reduce two of the five markers for metabolic syndrome, a group of factors that raise the risk for heart disease and other health problems such as diabetes and strokes, a new research paper says.

The paper found a “modest decrease” in blood fats known as triglycerides and blood sugars among people who added tree nuts to their diets compared to those who ate a control diet.

The paper, by Dr. John Sievenpiper, a physician and researcher in the Clinical Nutrition and Risk Factor Modification Centre of St. Michael’s Hospital, was published recently in the journal BMJ Open.

British Medical Journal

Dr. Sievenpiper said he believes this is the first systematic review and meta-analysis examining all of the collective evidence of randomized clinical trials on the effect of tree nuts on metabolic syndrome. After screening 2,000 articles published in peer-reviewed journals, he found 49 randomized control trials with 2,000 participants.

A person is considered to have metabolic syndrome if he or she has three of the following risk factors: low levels of “good” cholesterol; high triglycerides; high blood pressure; high blood sugar; extra weight around the waist.

Dr. Sievenpiper said the biggest reductions in triglycerides and blood glucose were seen when tree nuts replaced refined carbohydrates rather than saturated fats. He said there was no adverse impact on the other risk factors for metabolic syndrome or weight gain, even though nuts are high in calories. Nuts also have a high fat content, but it’s good, or unsaturated, fat.

Tree nuts are such things as almonds, Brazil nuts, cashews, chestnuts, coconuts, hazelnuts, pecans, macadamia nuts, walnuts, pine nuts and pistachios. They do not include peanuts, which are legumes.

In the randomized control studies, patients ate about 50 grams of nuts a day or about 1-1/2 servings. One serving of tree nuts is about ¼ cup or 30 grams. He said that people in North America consume on average less than one serving a day, so this is one way they can adapt their diets to take advantage of the metabolic benefits.

“Fifty grams of nuts can be easily integrated into a diet as a snack or as a substitute for animal fats or refined carbohydrates,” Dr. Sievenpiper said.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has granted tree nuts a qualified health claim for cardiovascular disease risk reduction. Tree nuts are also recommended as part of the Mediterranean, Portfolio and DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diets for cardiovascular disease prevention and management based on their ability to reduce bad cholesterol.

- MFP News Services
- 2/23/15

Healthy Living Could Prevent Stress-Related Cell Aging

A new study from UC San Francisco is the first to show that while the impact of life’s stressors accumulate overtime and accelerate cellular aging, these negative effects may be reduced by maintaining a healthy diet, exercising and sleeping well.

UC San Fran

“The study participants who exercised, slept well and ate well had less telomere shortening than the ones who didn’t maintain healthy lifestyles, even when they had similar levels of stress,” said lead author Eli Puterman, PhD, assistant professor in the department of psychiatry at UCSF. “It’s very important that we promote healthy living, especially under circumstances of typical experiences of life stressors like death, caregiving and job loss.”

The paper will be published in Molecular Psychiatry, a peer-reviewed science journal by Nature Publishing Group.

Telomeres are the protective caps at the ends of chromosomes that affect how quickly cells age. They are combinations of DNA and proteins that protect the ends of chromosomes and help them remain stable. As they become shorter, and as their structural integrity weakens, the cells age and die quicker. Telomeres also get shorter with age.

In the study, researchers examined three healthy behaviors –physical activity, dietary intake and sleep quality – over the course of one year in 239 post-menopausal, non-smoking women. The women provided blood samples at the beginning and end of the year for telomere measurement and reported on stressful events that occurred during those 12 months. In women who engaged in lower levels of healthy behaviors, there was a significantly greater decline in telomere length in their immune cells for every major life stressor that occurred during the year. Yet women who maintained active lifestyles, healthy diets, and good quality sleep appeared protected when exposed to stress – accumulated life stressors did not appear to lead to greater shortening.

“This is the first study that supports the idea, at least observationally, that stressful events can accelerate immune cell aging in adults, even in the short period of one year. Exciting, though, is that these results further suggest that keeping active, and eating and sleeping well during periods of high stress are particularly important to attenuate the accelerated aging of our immune cells,” said Puterman.

In recent years, shorter telomeres have become associated with a broad range of aging-related diseases, including stroke, vascular dementia, cardiovascular disease, obesity, osteoporosis diabetes, and many forms of cancer.

Research on telomeres, and the enzyme that makes them, telomerase, was pioneered by three Americans, including UCSF molecular biologist and co-author Elizabeth Blackburn, PhD. Blackburn co-discovered the telomerase enzyme in 1985. The scientists received the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 2009 for their work.

“These new results are exciting yet observational at this point. They do provide the impetus to move forward with interventions to modify lifestyle in those experiencing a lot of stress, to test whether telomere attrition can truly be slowed,” said Blackburn.

- MFP News Services
- 2/5/15

Hepatitis C Genotype 1 Proves to be Most Prevalent Worldwide

In one of the largest prevalence studies to date, researchers from the U.K. provide national, regional, and global genotype prevalence estimates for the hepatitis C virus (HCV). Findings published in Hepatology, a journal of the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases, indicate that genotype 1 is the most prevalent worldwide, with over 83 million patients infected of which one-third reside in East Asia. Genotype 3, at just over 54 million cases, is the next most prevalent, followed by genotypes 2, 4, 6, and 5.

Despite efforts to control HCV, it remains one of the most prevalent diseases globally, with up to 150 million patients living with chronic infection according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Previous research shows that chronic HCV leads to the development liver cirrhosis, hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) or liver cancer, liver failure and death. WHO reports that 350,000 to 500,000 deaths each year are caused by liver diseases related to HCV.

University of Oxford

“While the HCV infection rate is decreasing in developed countries, deaths from liver disease secondary to HCV will continue increasing over the next 20 years,” explains lead co-author Dr. Jane Messina with the University of Oxford in the U.K. “Understanding the global trends in the genetic makeup of HCV is the focus of our study and imperative in developing new treatment strategies that may save millions of lives around the world.”

Researchers identified 1,217 medical studies between 1989 (the year HCV was discovered) and 2013 that reported HCV genotypes. The data were then combined with HCV prevalence estimates from the WHO Global Burden of Disease project. Roughly 90% of the global population, representing 117 countries was included in this study.

Analysis shows that HCV genotype 1 is the most prevalent at 46% of all HCV cases, followed by genotype 3 at 30%; genotypes 2, 4, and 6 with a combined total of 23% and genotype 5 at less than 1%. Researchers highlight that genotypes 1 and 3 are most dominant regardless economic status, but found lower-income countries had larger concentrations of genotypes 4 and 5.

- MFP News Services
- 2/4/15