FOOD BITES: JUNE 2018

Vegetables Harvested in Antarctica Without Sun, Soil or Pesticides

Scientists in Antarctica have harvested the first crop of vegetables grown without soil, daylight or pesticides as part of a project designed to help astronauts cultivate fresh food on other planets. Researchers at Germany’s Neumayer Station III say eight pounds of salad greens, 18 cucumbers and 70 radishes....

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FOOD BITES: JULY 2018

Magnesium Treats Depression

As little as 248 mg of magnesium per day leads to an astounding reversal of depression syndrome, according to research conducted at the Larner College of Medicine at the University of Vermont and published in the journal PLoS One in June 2017.

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FOOD BITES: AUGUST 2018

Source of Yuma E. Coli Romaine Found

Federal officials first announced on April 13 an E. coli outbreak linked to romaine lettuce grown and produced in the Yuma, Ariz., area. Federal investigators found the source of the outbreak of E. coli O157:H7 on July 28: canal water.

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FOOD BITES: APRIL 2018

DNA Diet Matching Doesn’t Work

A new study finds it doesn’t matter whether people try low-fat or low-carb diets for weight loss, even when their DNA suggests otherwise. The study’s results shed doubt on claims about diets that purport to be tailored to people’s specific genetic needs or predispositions. “It doesn’t really matter because it doesn’t really work,” said Christopher Gardner, who has been studying the effects of various diets at Stanford University Medical School for decades. Gardner and his colleagues looked at three genes closely linked with metabolism in 609 overweight volunteers. These genes were PPARG (involved with how the body metabolizes fats); ADRB2 (which plays a role in burning fat); and FABP2 (it plays a role in metabolism and helps control how the body uses cholesterol and triglycerides). The volunteers were randomly assigned to either a low-fat or low-processed-carb diet for a year. After a year, the low-fat dieters reduced their fat intake by 30 grams; the low-carb dieters reduced their carbs by 115 grams; and both groups lost an average of 13 pounds. Some people actually gained weight. But how weight was lost had almost nothing to do with genetic pattern or which diet the subjects were on. There were also no differences in blood pressure, insulin levels, blood sugar levels or cholesterol, except the volunteers in the low-carb group on average saw increases in their LDL (bad) cholesterol levels. The results were published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Repeated Mild Food Poisoning Can Trigger Chronic Disease

Small bacterial infections that may go unnoticed because the body easily clears them without treatment, such as mild food poisoning, can start a chain of events that leads to chronic inflammation and potentially life-threatening colitis, say researchers who have worked for eight years to investigate the origin of chronic inflammatory diseases such as colitis and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). It has become increasingly evident that an individual’s genetic makeup plays a limited role in the onset of common inflammatory diseases. Twins show relatively small concordance for both individuals developing IBS. This implies an unknown environmental factor for the disease origins. Additionally, the researchers noted seasonal bacterial infections in humans were correlated with increased diagnoses of IBS. Theorizing that recurrent low-grade bacterial infections may be the unknown environmental trigger to the onset of chronic inflammation, the team developed a model of mild human food poisoning. Healthy mice received a very low dose of Salmonella Typhimurium, a common, widespread bacterial pathogen in the environment that is a leading cause of human foodborne illness and disease. The majority of these infections are likely unreported, which suggests the number of infections among individuals over a lifespan is greatly

underestimated. “This type of study had never been done before and the results were shocking,” said lead author Won Ho Yang, Ph.D. “We observed the onset of a progressive and irreversible inflammatory disease caused by previous infections. That was quite surprising because the pathogen had been easily cleared by the host.” By the fourth infection, separated months apart from the first, the inflammation had steadily increased and colitis was now present in all subjects. “Salmonella have figured out a way to disrupt a previously unknown protective mechanism in the gut that normally prevents intestinal inflammation,” said project lead Jamey Marth, Ph.D. The disease mechanism was linked to an acquired deficiency of intestinal alkaline phosphate (IAP), an enzyme produced in the duodenum of the small intestine. Salmonella infection elevated neuraminidase activity in the small intestine, which in turn accelerated the molecular aging and turnover of IAP, resulting in IAP deficiency in the colon. There are ways to boost IAP levels and inhibit neuraminidase activity. IAP augmentation can be as simple as adding the enzyme to drinking water. The study was published in the journal Science last December.

ANGELA S. HOOVER

Angela is a staff writer for Health & Wellness magazine.

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