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: NOVEMBER 2018

Lab-Grown Meat Gaining Traction

More and more meat is being grown in labs from cultured cells. Several start-ups, such as Mosa Meat, Memphis Meats, SuperMeat and Finless Foods, are developing lab-grown beef, pork, poultry and seafood. This burgeoning niche industry is attracting millions in funding; Memphis Meats gobbled

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FOOD BITES: JANUARTY 2020

Liquid Salt Prevents Fat Absorption


Orally administered liquid salt can reduce the absorption of fats from foods with no obvious side effects in rats. It also reduced the rats’ total body weight by about 12 percent. “[That] is like getting a human from 200 pounds down to 176 – a significant change,” said study first author Md Nurunnabi, Ph.D., an assistant professor of pharmaceutical sciences at the University of Texas at El Paso. Some years ago, Samir Mitragotri, Ph.D., core faculty member at Harvard’s Wyss Institute, created a liquid salt called Choline and Geranate (CAGE) in an effort to improve the body’s absorption of medicines. Last year, Mitragotri’s lab published a paper about CAGE’s properties. When taken orally, it enhanced the uptake of insulin. They also found CAGE bound to a small hydrophobic molecule and prevented it from being absorbed. “That led us to wonder if there were any contexts in which we would want to prevent the uptake of this type of molecule,” said Mitragotri. “We realized CAGE could potentially be of interest as a medical treatment for obesity.” His team performed a series of experiments. A key finding was CAGE causes the omega-3 fat (DHA) to form large particles about the size of a cell’s nucleus. Healthy rats with a CAGE-DHA mixture added to their intestines had significantly reduced permeation of DHA into the intestinal tissue over six hours. There were no side effects or inflammation. Bio-distribution studies showed CAGE-DHA reduced DHA presence in the rats’ livers, suggesting CAGE prevents DHA from leaving the

gastrointestinal tract. The study also suggested CAGE may have an effect on enzymes that regulate digestion. Their next phase of research will focus on finding exactly how CAGE binds to fats and where the unabsorbed fat goes. Their research was reported in the journal PNAS (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences) in November 2019.


The Epigenetic Couch Potato Mouse


Epigenetics – molecular mechanisms that determine which genes are turned on or off in different cell types – play a key role in determining the drive to exercise, according to researchers at Baylor College of Medicine. Since epigenetic mechanisms are more malleable than genetics, it may be possible to program people to enjoy being more physically active. “We study developmental programming, which refers to how the environment during development can have a long-term impact on risk of disease,” said co-author Dr. Robert A. Waterland of USDA/ARS Children’s Nutrition Research Center at Baylor and Texas Children’s Hospital. “Our earlier findings suggested establishment of one’s physical activity set point can be affected by the early environment, and this may involve epigenetics.” In this study, Waterland and his colleagues created an “epigenetic

couch potato” mouse and designed an experiment to directly test whether DNA methylation in the brain affects energy balance. The mice could run as much as normal mice, but lacked the desire to do so. “Our findings suggest epigenetic mechanisms, such as DNA methylation, that are established in the brain during fetal or early postnatal life, play a major role in determining individual propensity for exercise,” said Waterland. The results were published in the journal Nature Communication on Dec. 4.

ANGELA S. HOOVER

Angela is a staff writer for Health & Wellness magazine.

more articles by Angela s. hoover