Archive | Diets and Foods for Optimal Health

RSS feed for this section

Paper: Enzyme that digests vitamin A also may regulate testosterone levels

Editor’s note:  To contact Joshua W. Smith, email joshuasmith@jhu.edu

To contact John Erdman, email jwerdman@illinois.edu

The paper “Mice lacking B-carotene-15,15’-dioxygenase (BCO1) exhibit reduced serum testosterone, prostatic androgen receptor signaling, and prostatic cellular proliferation” is available online from the publisher or from the News Bureau.

Original story posted here: 
https://news.illinois.edu/blog/view/6367/437718 

Comments are closed

Scientists identify genes that disrupt response to breast cancer treatment

Editor’s notes: To reach Zeynep Madak-Erdogan, call 217-300-9063; email  zmadake2@illinois.edu

The study “Era-XPO1 crosstalk controls tamoxifen sensitivity in tumors by altering ERK5 cellular localization” is available online from the journal Molecular Endocrinology or from the News Bureau.

Original story posted here:
https://news.illinois.edu/blog/view/6367/404190 

Comments are closed

Study confirms long-term effects of ‘chemobrain’ in mice

Editor’s notes:

To reach Catarina Rendeiro, email acnr@illinois.edu.

To reach Justin Rhodes, call 217-265-0021; email jrhodes@illinois.edu.

To reach William Helferich, call 217-244-5414; email helferic@illinois.edu.

The paper “Long-lasting impairments in adult neurogenesis, spatial learning and memory from a standard chemotherapy regimen used to treat breast cancer” is available online and from the News Bureau.

DOI: 10.1016/j.bbr.2016.07.043

Original story posted here:
https://illinois.edu/blog/view/6367/396468

Comments are closed

Berry wine, minus the alcohol, may offer help for those with diabetes

URBANA, Ill. – Blueberries, and berries in general, are among foods labeled as “diabetes superfoods” by the American Association of Diabetes. Food science researchers at the University of Illinois have found that fermenting berries may improve their antidiabetic potential even more.

Recent research at the U of I includes the development of an alcohol-free blueberry-blackberry “wine” that those suffering from diabetes—who typically must avoid alcohol—can enjoy, while potentially reducing the effects of Type 2 diabetes.

“Unfortunately the number of people with diabetes is increasing astronomically around the world,” says Elvira de Mejia, a food chemist in the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition at U of I. “There are 100 million people around the world who have diabetes and that is increasing, without counting the ones who may be pre-diabetic and not know it.”

Previous research has shown that dietary blueberries may play a role in reducing hyperglycemia in obese mice, therefore de Mejia and colleagues wanted to determine if a fermented, dealcoholized blueberry-blackberry beverage would enhance the potential of the phenolic compounds in the berries that are responsible for reducing diabetic markers.

A new study shows that the fermented berry beverage did reduce the development of obesity and blood glucose levels in mice on a high-fat diet.

The researchers had already determined that the berries, when fermented at low temperatures, resulted in an improved and higher concentration of anthocyanins. Anthocyanins, found in the pigments of fruits such as blueberries, grapes, and apples, have been shown to promote insulin sensitivity, decrease blood glucose levels in the blood, and enhance insulin secretion.

“We know that fruits, vegetables, cereals, legumes, and berries are good, but here we explain that after fermentation we improve and increase the concentration of these pigments [anthocyanins] and they are very high antioxidant components that benefit the body,” de Mejia says.

A previous cell culture study with the alcohol-free blueberry-blackberry wine, showed good results toward inhibiting enzymes related to glucose absorption.

“In this in vivo study, as we increased the concentration of these anthocyanin-enriched extractions from blueberries and blackberries we saw an improvement in the uptake of glucose, meaning that the animals with the increased concentration were not as much in a state of hyperglycemia as the other animals.”

The beverage included a ratio of 70 percent fermented blackberries to 30 percent fermented blueberries. The berries were collected from varieties grown at U of I’s Dixon Springs Agricultural Research Station in southern Illinois. Alcohol was removed from the beverage by rotoevaporation and was replaced with water. Some of the sugars left over after fermentation were also removed in the process.

“We optimized the best ratio between blueberries and blackberries. Blackberries are very unique and I think that’s one of the reasons why we selected a high concentration of them in this study. Blackberries have a very specific profile of anthocyanins, and that was amazing at lowering the absorption of glucose in this case,” de Mejia says.

During the study, groups of mice with diet-induced obesity and hyperglycemia were given the fermented berry beverage or the beverage with higher or lower enriched concentrations of the anthocyanins (0.1x, 1x, or 2x). Another group was given sitagliptin, a commonly used medication for diabetes, and another group was given water only. All groups ate the same diet, calories, and amount of sugars otherwise.

While benefits were seen in all groups drinking the fermented beverage, de Mejia says the group on the highest concentration of anthocyanins (2x) showed the greatest results, comparable to what was observed in the group on sitagliptin. This included no increase in body weight, which de Mejia says was a surprise.

“That was not our objective really, we were just looking for markers of diabetes,” she says. “But it was very impressive to see.”

The researchers also observed that glucose was deposited into tissue more than absorbed by and present in the blood, as well. “You want to avoid high glucose in the blood stream, and you want uptake into muscle, liver, and organs, and to keep the level in plasma and blood normal. We saw a reduction of glucose in the blood with the beverage, even in the beverage before it was enhanced,” de Mejia says.

They also saw an effect on oxidative stress in the obese mice.  “We saw that in the animals on 2x the enriched anthocyanins, the oxidative species went down, meaning they were kind of protected against oxidation. From that stand point, it was very positive looking at the oxidative stress of the animals because that can damage protein and DNA.”

Regarding the mechanism of action in reducing the diabetic effects, de Mejia says that the antioxidant power of the anthocyanins plays a very important role. “Markers of inflammation went down too. That’s very, very, important. They are correlated. With obesity, less fat means less inflammation, and less oxidative stress. I think it is more toward that pathway of lowering oxidative stress and inflammation and lowering fat.  It was very surprising to us,” she adds.

Producing this berry wine, complete with the benefits of fermentation but without the alcohol, provides an opportunity for wine makers, de Mejia says.

“There are some bigger wineries/companies that are producing dealcoholized wine for diabetics, but from grapes. It is available in California, for example.  I think the novelty of this work is mainly the combination of the blackberries and blueberries and the concentration of anthocyanins as part of the pigment. But it is perfectly doable and I hope that companies can see that there is a market. And it’s delicious,” she adds.

While the berry wine may not be able to replace medications for diabetics, de Mejia says it could help reduce the amount of medication needed; always under the doctor’s supervision and approval.

“There needs to be more studies to see how the anthocyanins work in the presence of medication, to see if they work synergistically, for example. Then, maybe, you could decrease the amount of the drug. All of these drugs for diabetes have adverse effects after so many years of use, even the safest ones.

“We need to consider diet, exercise, lowering body weight, and all the different strategies that the American Association of Diabetes recommends, and maybe in the long run, of course with approval of a physician, you could decrease the level of the drug to keep glucose under control.”

“Alcohol-free fermented blueberry-blackberry beverage phenolic extract attenuates diet-induced obesity and blood glucose in C57BL/6J mice” is published in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry. Co-authors include Michelle H. Johnson, Matthew Wallig, Diego A. Luna Vital, and Elvira G de Mejia. The paper can be accessed online athttp://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jnutbio.2015.12.013.

Original story posted here:

Comments are closed

Study shows broccoli may offer protection against liver cancer

URBANA, Ill. – Consumption of broccoli has increased in the United States over the last few decades as scientists have reported that eating the vegetable three to five times per week can lower the risk of many types of cancer including breast, prostate, and colon cancers.

A new study from the University of Illinois reports that including broccoli in the diet may also protect against liver cancer, as well as aid in countering the development of fatty liver or nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) which can cause malfunction of the liver and lead to hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), a liver cancer with a high mortality rate.

“The normal story about broccoli and health is that it can protect against a number of different cancers. But nobody had looked at liver cancer,” says Elizabeth Jeffery, a U of I emeritus professor of nutrition. “We decided that liver cancer needed to be studied particularly because of the obesity epidemic in the U.S. It is already in the literature that obesity enhances the risk for liver cancer and this is particularly true for men. They have almost a 5-fold greater risk for liver cancer if they are obese.”

Jeffery says that the majority of the U.S. population eats a diet high in saturated fats and added sugars. However, both of these are stored in the liver and can be converted to body fat. Consuming a high-fat, high-sugar diet and having excess body fat is linked with the development of NAFLD, which can lead to diseases such as cirrhosis and liver cancer.

“We called this a Westernized-style diet in the study because we wanted to model how so many of us are eating today,” Jeffery says.

Previous research suggests that broccoli, a brassica vegetable containing bioactive compounds, may impede the accumulation of fat in the liver and protect against NAFLD in mice. Therefore, Jeffery and her team wanted to find out the impact of feeding broccoli to mice with a known liver cancer-causing carcinogen. The researchers studied four groups of mice; some of which were on a control diet or the Westernized diet, and some were given or not given broccoli.

“We wanted to look at this liver carcinogen in mice that were either obese or not obese,” Jeffery explains. “We did not do it using a genetic strain of obese mice, but mice that became obese the way that people do, by eating a high-fat, high-sugar diet.”

Although the researchers were predominantly interested in broccoli’s impact on the formation and progression of cancerous tumors in the liver, Jeffery explained that they also wanted to observe the health of the liver and how the liver was metabolizing lipids because of the high-fat diet. “There is almost no information about broccoli and high-fat associated diseases,” she says.

The study shows that in mice on the Westernized diet both the number of cancer nodules and the size of the cancer nodules increased in the liver. But when broccoli was added to the diet, the number of nodules decreased. Size was not affected.

“That was what we really set out to show,” Jeffery says. “But on top of that we were looking at the liver health. There are actually two ways of getting fatty liver; one, by eating a high-fat, high-sugar diet and the other by drinking too much alcohol. In this case, it is called non-alcoholic fatty liver, because we didn’t use the alcohol. And it is something that is becoming prevalent among Americans. This disease means you are no longer controlling the amount of fat that is accumulating in your liver.”

With NAFLD, lipid globules form on the liver. During the study, the researchers observed these globules in the livers of the mice on the Westernized diet.

“We found that the Westernized diet did increase fatty liver, but we saw that the broccoli protected against it. Broccoli stopped too much uptake of fat into the liver by decreasing the uptake and increasing the output of lipid from the liver,” she says.

Jeffery notes that adding broccoli to the diet of the mice did not make them “thin,” or affect their body weight, but it did bring the liver under control, ultimately making them healthier. “This is one of the things that makes this very exciting for us,” she says.

“I think it’s very difficult, particularly given the choices in fast food restaurants, for everybody to eat a lower-fat diet. But more and more now you can get broccoli almost everywhere you go. Most restaurants will offer broccoli, and it’s really a good idea to have it with your meal,” Jeffery adds.

Jeffery’s previous research shows that eating broccoli freshly chopped or lightly steamed is the best way to get to the vegetables’ cancer-fighting compound, sulforaphane.

Although the researchers only used broccoli in the study, Jeffery adds that other brassica vegetables, such as cauliflower or Brussel sprouts, may have the same effect.

“Dietary broccoli lessens development of fatty liver and liver cancer in mice given diethylnitrosamine and fed a Western or control diet,” is published in the Journal of Nutrition. Co-authors include Yung-Ju Chen, previously of the U of I, and Matthew Wallig and Elizabeth Jeffery of the U of I.

Funding was provided by the National Cancer Institute (National Institutes of Health).

Comments are closed

Graphical display of nutrition information helps keep health-conscious eaters on target

URBANA, Ill. – Diseases such as obesity, diabetes, and heart disease can often be prevented or treated by managing the intake of certain nutrients. However, in a time-constrained situation, such as standing in line at a cafeteria or restaurant, it can be difficult for consumers to quickly calculate and use numerical nutrition information—beyond the amount of calories—provided for menu items.

A new study from the University of Illinois found that when consumers are shown a graphical display of select nutrients on a 2-dimensional plot when ordering in a café setting, they purchase healthier, not just lower-calorie, menu items as a meal.

Manabu T. Nakamura, an associate professor of nutrition at U of I, said understanding how to best present nutrition information is an important, new area of research for him and his lab. “We have researched how fats or carbs metabolize and are regulated, for example. Based on this kind of research, the message of what nutrients we should eat is pretty set. The important thing is learning how you select the right foods. We need to provide a way to communicate what foods to select for certain health problems.

“Current nutrition labels provide comprehensive nutrient information, but unfortunately they’re not working for consumers to help them make decisions in restaurants and grocery stores,” he said.

As part of the Affordable Care Act, chain restaurants and retail food establishments with 20 or more locations are required to provide nutrition information for menu items. But Nakamura said most people, except those who have specific health concerns or food allergies, don’t ask to see this information or don’t know how to use the information provided.

Previous research has been done showing that a “traffic light” labeling system in which menu items are designated as green, yellow, or red based on calories had some effect on diners’ choice of foods. But Nakamura explained that even that system had no effect on consumers’ purchases when multiple nutrients are color coded.

In order to see if presenting the nutrition information graphically would change diners’ purchasing behavior, Nakamura, along with doctoral student, Nathan Pratt, and a team of other researchers set up two experiments using a visual, 2-dimensional plot showing the values of fiber and protein per calorie for each menu item. The graph also includes a target box that represents the recommended dietary amounts of those nutrients per calorie of food.

The researchers chose to plot fiber and protein per calorie values because these two nutrients are closely tied to weight management. Fiber has been linked to greater satiety and lean protein has been linked to improving body fat loss. “Promoting fiber intake is important. It could help in preventing overeating. Only 10 percent of the U.S. population meets the fiber recommendation. So there’s a long way to go.”

“Most people would agree that these are two nutrients most relevant for managing weight,” Nakamura said. “Of course sodium, saturated fat, and all vitamins and minerals are also important for overall health. But we had to limit the number of nutrients in order to have an impact on decision making in a time-constrained condition.”

He added that other combinations of nutrients, depending on specific dietary needs, could also be plotted using the graph.

The team began with an experiment to see how well participants could recall nutrition information when shown the information for foods either using the 2-dimensional graph or numerical information. The participants were then asked to recall the information. Recall accuracy improved by up to 43 percent when they were shown the information graphically versus numerically.

The second experiment was a 12-week study of purchasing behavior in U of I’s Bevier Café. In this setting customers stand in line to order and pay for their food at registers near the entrance of the café.

During some weeks of the study, menu items were plotted either on the 2-dimensional graph according to their fiber, protein, saturated fat, and sodium per calorie values with the information signposted where customers could see before ordering, or other weeks, nutrition information was displayed numerically. Facts about managing a healthy weight, such as keeping calories in a healthy range, limiting saturated fat and sodium, and increasing fiber and protein was also signposted near where food was ordered.

How did having a visual target to shoot for when ordering a meal work for consumers?

Ultimately, when nutrition information was provided on the 2-dimensional graph, consumers purchased fewer calories, but purchased more protein per calorie and more items that were rated high as healthy on the plot. Nakamura calls this a “clear success.”

“This may be the first study that shows unambiguous purchasing changes from displaying the nutrition information,” he said.

During the weeks in which nutrition information was displayed graphically, calories purchased from entrees decreased by 10 percent compared to when no information was displayed, and decreased by 13 percent compared to when numerical information was provided. During the graphical stage, calories from side items purchased decreased from 43 percent compared to when no label was displayed, and 47 percent from the numerical stage.

Protein per calorie increased by nearly 24 percent when the graph was present compared to when no nutrition label was provided, and 20 percent from the numerical stage.

“If you are looking at just calories when choosing food, that’s not enough. If you stop eating something, you can certainly reduce calorie intake. But the important thing is that you when you make your meal healthy, it’s not just about calories, you have to think about other nutrients, too,” Nakamura said. “In terms of weight maintenance, you can reduce calories but increase the protein per calorie and the same with fiber, a fiber per calorie increase. These two things have to be maintained or it’s a bad diet that you can’t maintain.”

In the future, the researchers hope the graph can be used to present nutrition information in restaurants, grocery stores, and dining halls, as well as in households for recipe analysis. Nakamura said future studies on this graphical method may look at more diverse populations, menus that offer a greater variety in fiber offerings, and more nutrient combinations.

Another possibility Nakamura is excited about is the possibility of creating mobile apps with the graph that consumers can use to plot nutrients in menu items as they order during time-constrained situations.

“We are hoping this system can be quickly understood and can provide the information needed to make a decision,” Nakamura said.

“Improvements in recall and food choices using a graphical method to deliver information of select nutrients” was published in Nutrition Research. Co-authors include Nathan S. Pratt, Brenna D. Ellison, Aaron S. Benjamin, and Manabu T. Nakamura, all of the University of Illinois.

The authors acknowledge the Bevier Café for hosting the study.

Comments are closed

In new study, Illinois scientists trace activity of cancer-fighting tomato component

URBANA, Ill. – Years of research in University of Illinois scientist John Erdman’s laboratory have demonstrated that lycopene, the bioactive red pigment found in tomatoes, reduces growth of prostate tumors in a variety of animal models. Until now, though, he did not have a way to trace lycopene’s metabolism in the human body.

“Our team has learned to grow tomato plants in suspension culture that produce lycopene molecules with a heavier molecular weight. With this tool, we can trace lycopene’s absorption, biodistribution, and metabolism in the body of healthy adults. In the future, we will be able to conduct such studies in men who have prostate cancer and gain important information about this plant component’s anti-cancer activity,” said John W. Erdman Jr., a U of I emeritus professor of nutrition.

The U of I team began developing the tomato cultures that would yield heavier, traceable carbon molecules about 10 years ago. Erdman, doctoral student Nancy Engelmann, and “plant gurus” Randy Rogers and Mary Ann Lila first learned to optimize the production of lycopene in tomato cell cultures. They then grew the best lycopene producers with non-radioactive carbon-13 sugars, allowing carbon-13 to be incorporated into the lycopene molecules. Because most carbon in nature is carbon-12, the lycopene containing heavier carbon atoms is easy to follow in the body.

Soon after the carbon-13 technology was established, Engelmann, now Moran, took a postdoctoral research position at Ohio State University in the lab of medical oncologist Steven K. Clinton, and scientists at Illinois and Ohio State initiated human trials.

In this first study, the team followed lycopene activity in the blood of eight persons by feeding them lycopene labeled with the non-radioactive carbon-13. The researchers then drew blood hourly for 10 hours after dosing and followed with additional blood draws 1, 3, and 28 days later.

“The results provide novel information about absorption efficiency and how quickly lycopene is lost from the body. We determined its half-life in the body and now understand that the structural changes occur after the lycopene is absorbed,” Erdman explained.

“Most tomato lycopene that we eat exists as the all-trans isomer, a rigid and straight form, but in the bodies of regular tomato consumers, most lycopene exists as cis isomers, which tend to be bent and flexible. Because cis-lycopene is the form most often found in the body, some investigators think it may be the form responsible for disease risk reduction,” Moran explained.

“We wanted to understand why there is more cis-lycopene in the body, and by mathematically modeling our patients’ blood carbon-13 lycopene concentration data, we found that it is likely due to a conversion of all-trans to cis lycopene, which occurs soon after we absorb lycopene from our food,” she added.

The plant biofactories that produce the heavier, traceable lycopene are now being used to produce heavier versions of other bioactive food components. In another trial, phytoene, a second carbon-13–labeled tomato bioactive molecule, has been produced and tested in four human subjects.

“Our most recent project involves producing a heavy carbon version of lutein, found in green leafy vegetables and egg yolks. Lutein is known to be important for eye and brain health. In this case, we began with carrot suspension cultures and have already produced small quantities of ‘heavy-labeled’ lutein for animal trials,” Rogers said.

Right now, though, the Illinois–Ohio State team is excited about the new information the lycopene study has yielded. “In the future, these new techniques could help us to better understand how lycopene reduces prostate cancer risk and severity. We will be able to develop evidence-based dietary recommendations for prostate cancer prevention,” Erdman said.

This new journal article represents the most thorough study of lycopene metabolism that has been done to date, he added.

“Compartmental and non-compartmental modeling of ¹³C-lycopene absorption, isomerization, and distribution kinetics in healthy adults” appears pre-publication online in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Authors are Nancy E. Moran, Morgan J. Cichon, Elizabeth M. Grainger, Steven J. Schwartz, Kenneth M. Riedl, and Steven K. Clinton of The Ohio State University; Janet A. Novotny of the USDA’s Human Nutrition Research Center; and John W. Erdman Jr. of the University of Illinois. The study was funded by the National Institutes of Health.

Comments are closed

Maternal protein deficiency during pregnancy ‘memorized’ by fetal muscle cells


Editor’s notes: To reach Huan Wang, call 217-417-8655; email wang327@illinois.edu.

To reach Yuan-Xiang Pan, call 217-333-3466; email yxpan@illinois.edu

The paper “Induction of autophagy through the activating transcription factor 4 (ATF4)-dependent amino acid response pathway in maternal skeletal muscle may function as the molecular memory in response to gestational protein restriction to alert offspring to maternal nutrition” is available online or from the News Bureau.

Original article by Sharita Forrest, Illinois News Bureau, on 9/18/15:
https://news.illinois.edu/blog/view/6367/249355

Comments are closed

U of I researchers receive USDA grant to develop childhood obesity intervention programs

URBANA, Ill. – University of Illinois researchers have been awarded a USDA grant that aims to decrease childhood obesity rates in Hispanic populations.

The grant, funded under the 2014 Farm Bill through the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) for nearly $500,000, intends to continue support up to five years for a total of $3.4 million.

The program, Abriendo Caminos, is a six-week workshop series that promotes healthy dietary behavior patterns and basic knowledge of nutrition; positive family interactions, including shared family mealtimes; and active living in low-literacy, low-income Hispanic families. It specifically targets 6- to 18-year-old children of Mexican and Puerto Rican heritage in five locations across the country.

Abriendo Caminos was developed by two faculty members in the U of I’s College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences. The program is directed by Margarita Teran-Garcia, a U of I assistant professor of nutrition and Extension specialist for Hispanic health programs. Angela Wiley, a U of I associate professor in family studies, co-directs the project.

Affiliated with Abriendo Caminos at other sites are Amber Hammons at California State University, Fresno; Kimberly Greder of Iowa State University; Maria L. Plaza and Nancy J. Correa at the University of Puerto Rico, Mayaguez; and Sylvia Crixell of Texas State University.

The research team intends to generate a diverse community of scholars who will develop and disseminate programs to decrease gaps in health inequality, including Hispanic university students, who will meet the specific needs of this population.

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, in announcing the funding, said that one-third of American children are overweight or obese, making this issue one of the greatest health challenges facing our nation.

Teran-Garcia stressed that Spanish-speaking families are at increased risk of obesity and its associated metabolic diseases. “Abriendo Caminos has been successful in changing the behaviors that lead to childhood obesity in this growing segment of the U.S. population,” she said.

“Our preliminary findings indicate that participants in Abriendo Caminos eat more fruits and vegetables and drink less sugary beverages after participating in the program,” Wiley said.


News Sources:
Margarita Teran-Garcia, 217-244-2025
Angela Wiley, 217-265-5279

Comments are closed

Innovations to Achieve Nutrition Security in Low-income Countries, Prof. Juan Andrade, Feb. 10, 2015

“Innovations to Achieve Nutrition Security in Low-income Countries,” Juan Andrade, Ph.D, Professor, Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition (fshn.illinois.edu), University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. 

Lecture slides: 
http://intlprograms.aces.illinois.edu…

Event: Food Systems for Food Security Symposium
February 10, 2015, ACES Library, Information and Alumni Center, Urbana, Illinois
http://intlprograms.aces.illinois.edu
http://intlprograms.aces.illinois.edu/content/food-systems-food-security-symposium

Sponsor: International Food Security at Illinois
College of Agriculture, Consumer and Environmental Sciences
University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign

Comments are closed