Calorie restriction slows age-related epigenetic changes

Researchers found that calorie restriction slows age-related epigenetic changes in mice and monkeys. The findings suggest a mechanism for how calorie restriction extends lifespan.

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Ok….lets feel better about aging!

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Calorie restriction has been shown to extend lifespan in several different species, but the underlying reason isn’t known. During normal aging, epigenetic changes occur throughout cells in the body. These changes alter the way genes are switched on and off without changing the DNA sequence itself. Levels of one type of epigenetic modification, called DNA methylation, have been shown to roughly reflect a person’s age. To investigate whether caloric restriction affects DNA methylation, a team of scientists led by Dr. Jean-Pierra J. Issa at Temple University examined the epigenetic profiles of mice, rhesus monkeys, and humans at different ages. They then tested whether these changes were altered by a calorie-restricted diet in mice and monkeys.

The team first analyzed DNA methylation in blood from mice, rhesus monkeys, and humans at different ages. Each species showed similar changes in DNA methylation patterns as they aged. These changes are called methylation drift, or epigenetic drift. The rates of epigenetic drift were inversely correlated with lifespan. That is, the shorter the species lifespan, the faster the changes in DNA methylation. This finding suggests that DNA methylation helps regulate the effects of aging.

The team then tested whether a calorie-restricted diet could slow methylation drift by feeding a group of mice 40% fewer calories than controls starting when they were 0.3 years old until they were 2.7 to 3.2 years old. They also fed rhesus monkeys a diet with 30% fewer calories than controls starting at the age of 7–14 years old until they were 22 to 30 years old. The changes in DNA methylation patterns slowed for the animals fed a calorie-restricted diet. Monkeys on a calorie-restricted diet showed the same patterns of DNA methylation as monkeys who were 7 years younger but had eaten regular diets. This methylation age difference was even higher in mice.

The team then compared the rates of epigenetic drift to telomere shortening. Telomeres are molecular caps at the ends of chromosomes. Their length has previously been linked to the aging process. Calorie restriction had no measurable effect on telomere length. “The impacts of calorie restriction on lifespan have been known for decades, but thanks to modern quantitative techniques, we are able to show for the first time a striking slowing down of epigenetic drift as lifespan increases,” Issa says.

More studies are needed to better understand why age-related epigenetic changes occur faster in some people than others, and whether altering them could help prolong human life. The study was funded by National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) National Cancer Institute (NCI) and National Institute on Aging (NIA). Results appeared online on September 14, 2017, in Nature Communications.

Adapted from: Caloric restriction delays age-related methylation drift. Maegawa S, Lu Y, Tahara T, Lee JT, Madzo J, Liang S, Jelinek J, Colman RJ, Issa JJ. Nat Commun. 2017 Sep 14;8(1):539. doi: 10.1038/s41467-017-00607-3. PMID: 28912502.

Nutritional Nugget

Barely eat barley? This hearty whole grain can be used in soups, salads, risottos, or cooked like oatmeal for breakfast.

WOD Nugget

Jaded: Bored or lacking enthusiasm, typically after having had too much of something

Inspiration Nugget

The longer you wait for something, the more you appreciate it when it finally arrives. The harder you fight for something, the more priceless it becomes once you achieve it. The more pain you endure on your journey, the sweeter the arrival at your destination. Remember... all good things are worth waiting for and fighting for.



What Are the Benefits of a Raw Foods Diet?

It seems like everywhere you turn, the term “raw” appears on popular food labels. Natural food stores are stocking their shelves with commercial raw vegan products from “raw protein bars” to “raw almond butter,” “raw sugar,” and even “raw chocolate.” By some estimates, the raw foods industry has experienced double-digit growth over the past couple of years, and there are no signs of slowing down.

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The boom for the raw foods industry is not just limited to the grocery store aisles. Juice shops are opening up in cities across the country, promoting the benefits of consuming raw, fresh-pressed fruits and vegetables. Bottled, unpasteurized juices are becoming more readily available at mainstream stores and even coffee shop chains. With this influx of raw food and beverage options in the market, it can be difficult to discern what the optimal foods are if you want to follow a proper raw foods diet. Without adequate information, many consumers are often left wondering “is this diet truly healthy?”

Can I really survive on just vegetables?

Two of the very first questions curious minds may ask about a raw foods diet is, “What can I eat?” and “Can I really survive on just vegetables?” It is important to note that a healthy raw vegan diet consists of a wide variety of plant-based foods. This includes fresh vegetables, sprouts, nuts, seeds, grains, and fruits. These living foods are rich in antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and plant-based proteins. They supply the oxygen, alkalinity, and bioelectrical charges vital for cellular health, detoxifying the body, and for overall well-being.

The juicing benefits of wheatgrass, discovered by Ann Wigmore, have been popping up in many health facilities and institutes. These organizations are taking the raw foods diet a step further by incorporating wheatgrass as a central component of their living foods program, as well as using wheatgrass as a dietary supplement and healing tool.

Wheatgrass: Nature’s greatest healer

Wheatgrass is considered nature’s ”greatest healer” and is a complete food with an ideal alkaline-acid balance. Just one ounce of wheatgrass contains 103 vitamins, minerals, and amino acids. Wheatgrass is also a powerful detoxifier and cleanses the blood due to its high chlorophyll content (your liver; however, is you BEST detoxifier). It helps rid the body of heavy metals, pollutants, and other toxins that become stored in the body’s tissues and organs over the years. Those who are proponents will often drink daily shots of wheatgrass, taken on an empty stomach first thing in the morning, in addition to eating a rich raw vegan diet.

Raw foods are prepared using cold-pressed oils and are heated or dehydrated at low temperatures, if at all. You may also find them made using organic oils such as olive, hemp, and raw sesame. Instead of vinegar – lemon, limes, and herbs may also be used. As a rule, for foods to be raw, they must be “cooked” at temperatures lower than 115 degrees. Our bodies need all the enzymes available in the food we eat, and heating food above 115 degrees destroys most of the plant’s nutrients and causes the food to be unrecognizable to our bodies.

Reversing disease with a raw foods diet

A living foods diet may provide enormous health benefits for those looking to improve their general health and for those who want to prevent premature aging or help reverse certain diseases. Living foods are so beneficial because they contain four essential elements that support the immune system: Hormones, oxygen, phytochemicals, and enzymes. By nourishing your body with these immune-boosting elements, instead of toxins and chemicals, people who adopt a proper raw vegan diet often experience increased vitality, energy, and mental clarity, to name just a few benefits. A living-foods diet may also help reverse some ailments and diseases.

While the benefits of a raw foods diet are numerous, getting started can be overwhelming at first, so below are some tips for transitioning to a raw foods diet. No matter where you are on your health journey, everyone can begin with these easy steps: Follow them and your life may begin to transform.

First Tip: Find a local juice bar where you can get a big dose of veggie nutrition (or purchase a juicer for home use).

Juicing is the fastest and best way for the body to get all the essential vitamins and nutrients it needs. Within 20 minutes of drinking fresh vegetable juice, your body begins to absorb all the nutrients it just consumed, meaning you can start feeling better immediately. You may choose to sip on a gallon of green juice throughout the day or start with a shot a day (or half a shot a day) and work yourself up to four ounces each day.  One signature drink that has shown promise for its health benefits is a green juice containing five ounces each of sunflower sprouts, pea sprouts, cucumber, and celery. If you visit the local juice bar, make sure to include that shot of wheatgrass. It provides the full range of vitamins and minerals and is also a complete source of protein.

Second Tip: Stay away from freeze-dried and powered alternatives.

Some research shows that wheatgrass supplements and freeze-dried powders are only two percent as efficient as fresh-juiced wheatgrass consumed within 15 minutes of juicing. The nutrients in wheatgrass begin to oxidize or break down, very quickly after that 15-minute period.

Third Tip: Try and make at least one meal each day a big salad full of fresh vegetables.

The benefits of eating fresh, unprocessed vegetables are many. Make sure to add plenty of green vegetables to your salad, as they are the foods most commonly missing in our modern diet. Greens are very high in calcium, magnesium, iron, potassium, phosphorous, zinc, as well as fiber, folic acid, chlorophyll, and other micronutrients and phytochemicals. Try experimenting with greens such as bok choy, kale, mustard greens, broccoli rabé, or dandelion root.

If you are feeling particularly adventurous, you may also want to try adding sprouted lentils, sprouted broccoli rabé, or sprouted alfalfa to your salad. Sprouts contain a super concentration of natural enzymes that are easily digestible, making them up to 30 times more nutritious than even organic vegetables.

Take it slow

Transitioning to a raw vegan diet can be challenging; the critical thing to remember is to take it slow. Try one thing at a time and continue to build on each success.

Adapted from: Brian Clement Ph.D., NMD, CN

Nutrition Nugget

Make it a combo! Combine food groups for a satisfying snack— low-fat yogurt and berries, apple with peanut butter, whole-grain crackers with turkey and avocado.

WOD Nugget

Gesellschaft: Social relations based on impersonal ties, such as a duty to a society or organization (an example of society).

Inspiration Nugget

Common sense is a flower that doesn't grow in everyone's garden.




10 Nutrition Myths Dietitians Hate The Most

The pros say it’s time to stop believing these misconceptions about healthy eating and weight loss.

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When it comes to hot-button topics, proper nutrition is near the top of the list. Regularly, Registered Dietitian Nutritionists (RDN’s) hear clients continuously tell them they’re fed up with hearing conflicting nutrition information and don’t know what to believe. Dietitians are with you on this one! Everyone seems to think they are a nutrition expert these days, which results in widespread nutrition confusion. Here are the top 10 nutrition myths that dietitians cannot stand, and the truths they want you to know.

Myth #1: Superfoods are exotic and expensive.

This myth is a pet peeve for many RDN’s. While most dietitians love learning about nutrient-packed foods from around the world, they want people to know that local, everyday foods are superfoods, too, and are far less expensive! Eating a diet that’s high in processed foods but then adding in some goji berries and spirulina doesn’t mean you have a healthy diet. You’ll save money and be much more robust if you focus on eating more whole foods and “everyday superfoods” like spinach, mushrooms, squash, blueberries, oranges, apples, lentils, whole grains, and nuts. These familiar foods are packed with antioxidants and fiber and won’t blow your budget like that small bag of acai powder will.

When a new exotic superfood comes on the market and becomes super popular, keep in mind that it’s probably just a fad. There will never be one food that’s better than all the others. Remember: Variety is essential when it comes to eating well. Ask yourself if spending money on the superfood of the moment is the best way to enhance your health, or if other parts of your diet could use a tune-up.

Myth #2: Being slim means you’re healthy.

This myth is a tough one to let go of because our society is so focused on body size. Everywhere we look, society seems to tell us that being slender is more desirable. Luckily, this myth is starting to dissolve. “We really have very little control over the size and shape of our bodies, and these things don’t determine our health,” says Kaleigh McMordie, RDN, of Lively Table. Research suggests that overweight people who are active can be healthier and live longer than slimmer people who don’t exercise. We all have different body types, and it’s about time we stopped focusing on size and shifted our focus to developing healthier habits.

Dietitians want to see people choosing foods based on their nutritional benefits, not just thinking about calories. For example, having salmon on a salad is a more nutritious choice than having processed chicken breast strips loaded with artificial flavors, colors, and preservatives.

Myth #3: Vegetarians and vegans don’t get enough protein.

This one has been around for a long time, and plant-based dietitians have had enough. There is no substantial evidence that people must have meat to survive. “A well-balanced plant-based diet with a variety of plant foods is healthful and nourishing to the body,” says Jennifer Rodriguez, RDN, of Food Is Vida. “It can provide all amino acids needed when caloric needs are met for an individual.” As Amy Gorin, RDN, a dietitian in New York City, explains, “You have to plan out your meals and make sure to incorporate good sources of protein. Pulses such as beans, lentils, chickpeas, and dried peas are a good source of protein, offering about 8 grams per ½ cup cooked serving. I like to pair them with sautéed veggies and brown rice or even use them as a pizza topping.”

A well-planned vegetarian or vegan diet may also lower the risk of type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and some types of cancer. However, if you want to follow a vegetarian or vegan diet, it’s a great idea to meet with a dietitian to make sure you’re getting all of the nutrients you need.

Myth #4: You should avoid all sugar—even fruit.

Sugar-free diets are all the rage right now, but there’s a difference between sugar found in whole foods such as fruit and vegetables and the refined sugar found in processed foods. Those whole foods naturally come with fiber to help slow down your body’s absorption of their natural sugars. “The 2015 Dietary Guidelines explicitly calls for limiting added sugars, the type of sweeteners found in cookies, cake, candy, and sweet beverages, to 10% of your daily calories or less,” explains Elizabeth Ward, MS, RD, of Better Is The New Perfect. “That recommendation doesn’t include naturally sweet foods, which are sources of important vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients.”

If you want to cut back on sugar, it makes far more sense to limit added sugars instead of cutting nutrient-packed foods out of your diet. Food companies disguise added sugars under many different names so be cautious when at the grocery. (See Here are 56—yikes!—to recognize.) Clearly, fruit, vegetables, yogurt, and kefir are in a different category than soda and baked goods. The latter are high in added sugars and calories and low in nutrients.

Myth #5: Soy is full of female hormones.

Are you worried that eating soy foods or soy protein will make men grow breasts or increase your cancer risk? The research on soy says these are myths. “What I want people to know is that there is a huge difference between estrogen (the hormone in your body) and phytoestrogen (the much weaker type found in soy),” stresses Nita Sharda, RDN, of Carrots & Cake. “When we review the literature, there is no significant effect on human health when soy is consumed. In fact, eating 2-3 servings of whole soy foods a day can have a protective effect.”

Ginger Hultin, dietitian and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, states, “Soy will not cause feminizing effects in men, it is safe and healthy for children to eat, and it does not cause or promote cancer. There is evidence that it is good for bone health and the cardiovascular system and it is a nutritionally dense, protein-rich food source.” It is best to choose whole soy foods like soybeans (edamame) and fermented soy such as tempeh and miso for gut health. These types of soy are the least processed and will be highest in nutrients.

Myth #6: You need to ban carbs to lose weight.

Ok, this one is my pet peeve! This nutrition myth has been around for years, and it drives myself and dietitians like Kristen Smith, RDN, founder of 360FamilyNutrition, nuts. “Don’t be afraid to eat carbohydrate-containing foods, but try to keep the portions in check,” Smith says. “One of the best options for keeping portions of carbohydrates in check is to follow the USDA’s MyPlate method: Fill 1/2 of your plate with fruits and vegetables, 1/4 with whole grains, and 1/4 with a lean protein source.” Christina Fitzgerald, RD, owner of Fitzgerald Nutrition, agrees: “When thinking about nutrition and weight, the bigger picture of overall quality and quantity of food choices is much more important. Eating more than your body needs will cause weight gain, not one nutrient alone.”

Swapping out refined grains like white bread for carbs that provide slow-burning energy, such as steel-cut oats, sweet potatoes, and quinoa is a healthy move, but banning all carbs from your diet is not necessary. At worst, it could lead to more carb cravings, and weight regains once you go off your low-carb plan.

Myth #7: The diet that works for models and celebrities will work for you.

So your favorite celebrity drank nothing but tuna water and asparagus juice and lost 15 pounds in two days. Does that mean you should try the same thing and expect to get the same results? Of course not! Thinking that celebrity diets will work for you is a myth dietitians hate. First of all, consider the source of this extreme diet information. Is it helping to sell magazines or get more page views? As The Plant-Powered Dietitian Sharon Palmer, RDN, says, “You have no idea if the purported diet is really what the celebrity consumes.”

Celebrities are usually chosen based on their good looks and slender body types, which are genetic gifts. Palmer notes, “People have tremendous genetic variability in body type and metabolism, making it very difficult for many people to achieve the magazines’ portrayal of what they consider beauty.” I like to remind myself and my clients that models and other celebrities have tons of help running their lives. That means they’re okay to spend a couple of days not functioning well thanks to a crash diet. You probably don’t have the same luxury, or a full-time doctor at your beck and call when things go wrong. Not to mention the negative impacts on your health and metabolism over time. Get your nutrition and diet advice from people who are experts, not celebrities.

Myth #8: Natural sugar isn’t sugar.

So you’re trying to cut down on added sugars, and you’ve switched out your white sugar for honey, agave, or maple syrup. You may be getting a few antioxidant benefits from the honey or maple syrup, but otherwise, your body similarly metabolizes them and other sugars. Rebecca Clyde, RDN, owner of Nourish Nutrition, has had people tell her they’re following a sugar-free diet, but they still have agave or honey. “Honey, agave, and other types of sugar are not sugar-free, and they are still processed to some degree,” she points out. “They aren’t healthier than cane sugar. Let’s stop villainizing sugar and honoring honey and other sweeteners and just count them all as equal.”

Myth #9: High-fat foods are bad for you.

Think eating fat makes you fat? Research suggests this is a myth. A lower calorie eating plan that includes healthy fats can help people lose more weight than a similar diet that’s low in fat, according to a study in the International Journal of Obesity. That’s because fat helps you enjoy your food more and prevents you from going hungry. Both of these are key to losing weight and keeping it off.

“While fat definitely has more calories per gram than protein and carbs (9 calories per gram versus 4 calories per gram), it’s not the enemy,” assures Natalie Rizzo, RDN, a registered dietitian in New York City. “An observational study suggests that replacing 5% of your total calories from saturated fat with unsaturated fat actually decreases death rates by 27%. In other words, don’t be scared of the healthy fats found in foods like walnuts, olive oil, and avocados.” Include some healthy fats at each meal to help you feel satisfied and stay full longer. Add avocado to smoothies, wraps, oatmeal, and salads along with nuts and seeds. You can also use it in salad dressings combined with extra virgin olive oil.

Myth #10: Mixing carbs with protein and fat is bad for digestion.

The myth that mixing different types of foods is hard on our digestive system has been around for decades. Initially, it was referred to as “food combining,” and it’s now experiencing a resurgence as “the Dissociated Diet.” The idea is that you need to eat protein-rich foods such as eggs at one meal and carbohydrate-rich foods such as toast at another meal, but never together. “This myth makes no scientific sense because once food reaches your stomach, your stomach acid begins breaking down all types of food.,” says Lindsey Pine, RDN, owner of TastyBalance Nutrition. “In fact, it’s beneficial to mix carbs, protein, and fat in the same meal or snack because you’ll get a wide range of nutrients, avoid insulin spikes, and the protein and fat will help with satiety.” Could you imagine never having berries with your yogurt or cheese with crackers ever again? Your digestive system is designed to handle a variety of foods.

Eat what you enjoy and what makes you feel good. Do not base your eating regimen on the latest fad diet!

Adapted from: 

Nutritional Nugget

Create a work of art! Add color to salads with baby carrots, shredded red cabbage, or green beans. Include seasonal veggies for variety throughout the year.

WOD Nugget

Patria: One’s native country or homeland

Inspirational Nugget

When thinking about life, remember this: No amount of guilt can solve the past, and no amount of anxiety can change the future.



A daily serving of 5 prunes helps slow bone loss and lowers the risk of osteoporosis

Approximately 1.4 million Canadians and 10 million Americans are living with osteoporosis,  a condition characterized by low bone mass and deterioration of bone tissue. Now, scientific research has found that just eating a serving of five prunes a day may help slow and prevent bone loss.

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Research published in the journal Osteoporosis International studied postmenopausal women with low bone density, who ate 5 to 6 prunes (50g) per day, for a six-month period. The research suggests that this level of consumption was as effective in preventing bone loss as a previous study where postmenopausal women consumed 10 to 12 prunes (100g) per day for one year. “This research is extremely compelling since women can lose 1 to 1.5 percent of their bone density annually following menopause,” says Dr. Shirin Hooshmand, Ph.D. and lead researcher, of the study, at the School of Exercise and Nutritional Sciences at San Diego State University. In April 2017, a comprehensive review of 24 studies on prunes and bone health published in Nutrients. The author found that prunes enhanced bone formation and exerted beneficial effects on bone mineral density.

Prunes are rich in nutrients that are vital for bone health including vitamin K and potassium. Naturally sweet and delicious, a serving of about five prunes is only 100 calories and is a source of dietary fiber. “Healthy bones are vital to overall wellbeing,” says Cara Rosenbloom, RD. “It’s excellent news that prunes, a flavorful dried fruit, and a convenient snack may be helpful for bone health.”

The evidence continues to grow and support the fact that incorporating prunes as a regular part of a nutritious diet seems to offer long-term bone health benefits, particularly in postmenopausal women. A more extensive clinical trial is currently underway, to further explore prunes’ effect on bone density and estimated bone strength in postmenopausal women. Research continues to discover the potential mechanism and compounds in prunes that support healthy bones. In addition to supporting healthy bones, prunes also help promote heart and digestive health. Prunes have a low glycemic index, which along with fiber, helps manage blood sugar levels.

Nutrition Nugget

Stop Eating 2 Hours Before Bedtime! Eating fuels our body to be used as energy, which we don’t need right before going to sleep. While you’re sleeping, your body uses a natural sleeping metabolism to help you burn fat. Plus, not eating two hours before bed will help you cut out unnecessary calories!

WOD Nugget

Platitudinous: (of a remark or statement) used too often to be interesting or thoughtful; overused

Inspirational Nugget

Peace. It does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble or hard work. It means to be in the midst of those things and still be calm in your heart.






Sugary drink sales plummeted after price increase, study says

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From Colombia to South Africa, France to India, governments around the globe are exploring whether taxes on sugar-sweetened beverages (SSB) might curb obesity rates. Do these fines actually work to prevent people from choosing sweet drinks? Adding a small fee to the price tag of SSB’s at one UK restaurant chain most likely contributed to a decline in their sales, according to a study (published Oct. 2017) in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health. Jamie’s Italian, a chain created by celebrity chef Jamie Oliver, launched its own health campaign in September 2015. Along with adding 10 pence (about 13 cents) per drink to SSB, the chain offered new lower-sugar beverages and redesigned its menus.

After the fee was introduced, the chain observed an 11% decline in the number of sugar-sweetened beverages sold per customer during the first 12 weeks, according to the researchers. Over a six-month period, after the levy was charged, the number of sugary drinks had declined by 9.3% per customer. “Sugar taxes are currently prevalent policies to curb obesity rates and improve population diet,” said Steven Cummins, senior author of the study and a professor of population health at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine. “There’s actually very little evidence that they work in practice. There’s only a couple of studies that assess the impact of these kinds of (taxes) in real life on real customers.” Cummins and his colleagues analyzed Jamie’s Italian health campaign to add to this knowledge base.

‘Fat man of Europe’

Drinking sugar-sweetened beverages, including non-diet sodas, flavored juices, and some sports drinks, is associated with obesity, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cavities. In the UK, sugar-sweetened drinks may account for half of the excess calories consumed per day by children (two-thirds by U.S. children) while one in four British adults (one in three U.S.) are obese, according to a 2013 report from the United Nations.  The same report also found that obesity rates among adults have more than tripled in the past three decades. In 2015, the National Health Service made public its worries that the UK has become the “fat man of Europe.” Shortly after that, Jamie’s Italian decided, according to its website, to “raise awareness of how much sugar is present in certain soft drinks and make people think about their sugar intake, particularly that of their children” by adding 10 pence to the price tag.
Any profits raised by the fee were to be donated to The Children’s Health Fund in support of programs aimed at improving children’s health and food education, the campaign made clear. Cummins said he and his colleagues “had no control over the design or delivery” of Jamie’s Italian health intervention. Independently, the restaurant chain created and implemented the fee, made changes to its menu to explain the new price, introduced fruit spritzers (fruit juice mixed with water) and created promotional materials. “Jamie Oliver also broadcasted an hourlong documentary just a few days before the levy was introduced,” Cummins added. “So there was quite a lot of media coverage.”
The price increase can be seen as a complex “intervention” including a financial element in combination with non-fiscal components, the researchers said. Analyzing sales data from before and after the intervention, Cummins and his colleagues calculated the average number of sugar-sweetened beverage sales per customer in 37 Jamie’s Italian restaurants. In the 12 months prior, a total of 2,058,581 non-alcoholic beverages were sold in the restaurants, and 38% (775,230) of them were sugar-sweetened drinks. Adding a 10-pence fee to SSB was associated with significant declines (11.04%) in sales per customer, with the highest reductions in restaurants with higher SSB sales per customer (18.77%), the results indicated.
It could be that customers switched to water or other kinds of beverages, potentially fruit juices, or the adults might even choose alcoholic drinks, Cummins said. “We don’t exactly know what they’re substituting for; my guess is primarily water.”A longer follow-up period is required to assess whether the effects will be sustained, the researchers noted. “It’s a straightforward intervention, actually, and there’s no reason why other commercial restaurant chains cannot implement this kind of intervention,” Cummins said. “It wouldn’t require major changes or costs.”
That said, his experience of working with Jamie’s Italian suggested no harm regarding negative financial consequences. “There may be some financial impact, and we don’t know what it might be, but it’s likely not large,” Cummins said. “It may be that other types of chains that sell different types of food might have a larger impact economically” — but this is “fairly unlikely.”

Small changes

“A lot is going on here in this study,” said Jayson L. Lusk, a professor and head of the Department of Agricultural Economics at Purdue University, who did not participate in the research or the analysis. “It’s hard to conclude that the price change in sugar-sweetened beverages is the main cause of the changes being observed,” Lusk said, noting that bottled water and diet cola consumption fell at about the same rate as the increased-price sugary beverages after the intervention began. Meanwhile, the beverages introduced after the price increase introduce a “confound” into the experiment: an element that disrupts and adds confusion to the results. Overall, previous research on this topic suggests that such taxes will probably have small effects on consumption of taxed beverages and that people will merely substitute other high-calorie, non-taxed drinks and foods, Lusk said.
So, can sugar-sweetened beverage taxes lower SSB consumption? “Yes, by a small amount,” he said. “But that’s different than saying sugar-sweetened beverage taxes reduce caloric intake. “There’s also literature showing these taxes tend to be regressive, affecting lower-income households more than higher-income households,” Lusk said. Jason M. Fletcher, a professor of public affairs and sociology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, said some of the results from the new study suggest a “general weakness in the analysis.” Fletcher did not participate in the new study.
After the intervention, there was a reduction in sales of all types of beverages compared with before the intervention, Fletcher noted, and the authors did not adequately estimate the effects of the 10-pence levy for each beverage in their analysis. “In our own work, we find support for substitution effects in the U.S., where higher taxes on soda lead to two effects: (1) less consumption of soda and (2) more consumption of other high-calorie drinks,” Fletcher said. “Combining these effects can lead to no increase in health.” Americans consume more than 40 gallons of sugary drinks per capita each year, on average.
“Sugar taxes in England have not been proposed, but there is in legislation to be implemented next year as a proposal from Her Majesty’s Treasury on implementing a sugar tax of 20% on producers and manufacturers of sugar-sweetened beverages — so not to the consumer but to the producers themselves,” Cummins said. Some of the major manufacturers have announced that they are going to reformulate their products to avoid the tax. “So in one sense, the policy has already had an effect regarding persuading companies to reformulate their products to avoid the extra costs that will be levied upon them,” Cummins said. “Within the whole of the food system, there are a variety of different types of responses,” he said, adding that he hopes to study these responses. “We’re interested in capturing these kinds of systemwide effects.”
Nutrition Nugget
Eat Your Chocolate! Yes, you read that right! Having a small amount of dark chocolate – 70-85% cocoa – is rich in fiber, iron, and magnesium, among other minerals. Plus, it’s a great source of antioxidants which reduces free radicals in your body.
Word of the Nugget
 Analects: A collection of short literary or philosophical extracts.
Inspiration Nugget
People have to pretend you're a bad person so they don't feel guilty about the things they did to you.

Gut bacteria from wild mice boost health in lab mice

Laboratory mice that are given the gut bacteria of wild mice can survive a deadly flu virus infection and fight colorectal cancer dramatically better than laboratory mice with their own gut bacteria; researchers report (October 19, 2017) in the journal Cell.

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The immunological benefits from the wild mice’s gut bacteria may, in part, explain a persistent problem in disease research: Why disease experiments in lab mice, such as vaccine studies, turn out very differently in humans or other animals. “We think that by restoring the natural ‘microbial identity’ of laboratory mice, we will improve the modeling of complex diseases of free-living mammals, which includes humans and their diseases,” said Barbara Rehermann, M.D., senior author of the paper. Rehermann is chief of the Immunology Section, Liver Diseases Branch, of the NIH’s National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK). “By being so different, natural microbiota will help us to discover protective mechanisms that are relevant in the natural world and absent in the laboratory,” said Stephan Rosshart, M.D., first author of the paper and NIDDK postdoctoral fellow.

Mammals, humans included, depend on their microbiota, the collection of microorganisms they host in and on their bodies. Evolution shapes each animal’s microbiota, favoring populations of organisms that help the animal survive their environment and diseases they encounter. However, laboratory mice are not random house mice plucked from a field or basement. Laboratory mice are carefully bred, fed, and raised in tightly controlled conditions so that each mouse has predictable traits and genetics. This is an excellent advantage in basic biology research, but creating that predictability means that a controlled environment, and not the survival pressures of the outside world, shaped the microbiotas of laboratory mice.

“We hypothesized that this might explain why laboratory mice, while paramount for understanding basic biological phenomena are limited in their predictive utility for modeling complex diseases of humans and other free-living mammals,” said Rosshart. Therefore, the researchers tried to give laboratory mice back what they have lost: A naturally co-evolved wild mouse gut microbiota. The researchers trapped more than 800 wild mice from eight locations across Maryland and the District of Columbia to find healthy, suitable candidates for a gut microbiota donation. They then tested and compared the gut microbiomes (collective genomes of the gut microbiota) of the wild mice (Mus musculus domesticus) and a standard strain of laboratory mice, called C57BL/6, from multiple sources. The researchers confirmed that C57BL/6 mice had distinct gut microbiomes from wild mice.

Researchers then introduced (engrafted) the microbiota of wild mice to pregnant, germ-free C57BL/6 mice. Germ-free mice are raised in a sterile environment and don’t have microbiomes of their own. For a control group comparison, the researchers also engrafted microbiota from regular C57BL/6 mice into a separate group of pregnant, germ-free mice. Four generations later, the mice still carried either the wild microbiomes or the control laboratory microbiomes passed down from their foremothers.

When exposed to a high dose of influenza virus, 92 percent of the laboratory mice with wild microbiomes survived, whereas only 17 percent of laboratory mice and mice in the control group survived. In other experiments, the laboratory mice with wild microbiomes had better outcomes in the face of induced colorectal tumors, whereas the other mice had a higher number of tumors and more severe disease. The beneficial effects of the wild microbiota were associated with reduced inflammation in both models.

The researchers note that more work and evaluation is needed for definitive results, and they hope to improve and expand upon the method of using natural microbiomes in laboratory mice. “We are planning to create a complete microbiological fingerprint of natural microbiota and its potential trans-kingdom interaction by describing all components of the microbiome — for example, viruses and fungi — in parallel and at various body sites,” Rehermann said.

So, it’s ok not to be a germaphobe and let the little critters run free, every now and then!

Adapted from: Rosshart et al. Wild Mouse Gut Microbiota Promotes Host Fitness and Improves Disease ResistanceCell, 2017 DOI: 10.1016/j.cell.2017.09.016

Nutrition Nugget

Use A Vegetable Substitute! Love spaghetti? Try spaghetti squash. Sure it’s not pasta but just try it, you may like it! Love mashed potatoes? Try mashed cauliflower (OMG it’s heavenly! You will never go back to potatoes). Mix in some Greek yogurt to give it a thick, creamy texture like regular mashed potatoes. While vegetables most likely won’t be the carbs you know and love, they’re a good way to make your favorite meals healthier!

Inspirational Nugget

Even when things seem hopeless, life has a way of defying the odds, overcoming the obstacles and coming back strong. So never give up, regardless of how hopeless things may seem. There is ALWAYS a way.



The 8 Most Nutritious Nightshade Fruits and Vegetables

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What are nightshade fruits and veggies?

Nightshade fruits and vegetables are a broad group of plants from the Solanum and capsicum families. Nightshade plants contain poisons, one called solanine. While ingesting nightshade plants can be fatal, fruits and vegetables in this same classification of plant, many of which you’ll find at your local grocery store, are actually safe to eat. This is because the amount of this toxic compound is lowered to nontoxic levels once the fruits and vegetables ripen. Still, the leaves and berries of the deadly nightshade plant are poisonous and shouldn’t be consumed. So, which nightshades are the most nutritious?


Tomatoes are a staple of many diets for numerous reasons. In addition to how easy they are to grow, they’re also packed with nutrition. This fruit is high in vitamins A and C and is also a good source of iron, potassium, vitamin B-6, manganese, and dietary fiber.

According to Penn State University’s Extension program, current research suggests that tomatoes contain carotenoids, powerful antioxidants that protect the body from certain types of cancers. Lycopene, the most common carotenoid found in tomatoes, may help reduce the risk for pancreatic, prostate, and digestive cancers.


Potatoes are one of the most abundantly grown foods used in the Western world. They’re also part of the perennial nightshade family that can be mildly poisonous when eaten before they’re ripe, while the skin is still green. Potatoes are excellent sources of vitamin C, which helps aid immunity. They also contain enough potassium, vitamin B-6, and fiber to make a healthier staple than you may realize. Moreover, they provide carotenoids, flavonoids, and caffeic acid, all forms of phytonutrients known to promote health benefits, according to the USDA.

There are also many different types of varieties, which have various health benefits. Potatoes are rich in vitamins A, B, C, and E, along with iron and zinc. They provide an easy way to get necessary, critical amounts of nutrients for people living in developing worlds. Potatoes aren’t as healthy when they’re prepared with high amounts of fats, salts, and oils, like french fries.

Bell peppers

If you need a boost of vitamin C, bell peppers are an excellent choice. One green pepper contains more vitamin C than an orange (who knew?). Bell peppers are one of the tastiest snacks in the nightshade family. You can slice them up and dip them in hummus, add them to a stir-fry, or ????? (You fill in the question marks).

Hot peppers

Hot peppers may be nightshades, but like the sun they can bring some heat, and if your tongue can endure the burn, these fiery devils contain proper nutrients. Common hot peppers, such as jalapenos, serrano peppers, and red or green chilies, are excellent sources of vitamins C and A as well as potassium. Capsaicin, what helps give spicy peppers their kick, has been shown to decrease inflammation, which can help people with joint disorders walk with less pain.


Eggplant is an excellent source of manganese, a mineral essential for both development and metabolism. Additionally, according to researchers, eggplant contains natural antioxidants that can help protect your skin from the oxidative stress of the sun’s ultraviolet radiation. Because of their meaty texture when cooked, they’re famous for vegetarians, think eggplant parmesan, as well as with vegans.


The tomatillo is a nightshade that grows in a husk and is similar to a tomato. Common in Central and South America, it’s a staple of Mexican green sauces and can be boiled, fried, or steamed. While not as nutritiously plentiful as your garden-variety red tomato, they contain antioxidants and can help you sneak some extra fiber into your diet without adding in too many extra calories.

Goji berries

To find fresh goji berries, you’ll have to visit a Chinese plantation. However, they’re also typically found at specialty food stores in dried form, sometimes labeled as wolfberries. Goji berries contain protein and many healthy amino acids such as tyramine. They’re high in antioxidants, which help immune function and cell health. If you’re trying them for the first time, know that it’s possible to be allergic to them. You’ll want to stop eating them should you develop a rash or become ill.


Blueberries contain solanine alkaloid like nightshade plants, though they aren’t technically a nightshade plant. Blueberries are often touted as a superfood because many believe they contain cancer-preventing ingredients. They’re high in antioxidants, which are known to reduce inflammation. With that in mind, blueberries are thought to prevent inflammatory diseases such as metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s, and cardiovascular disease.

According to researchers at the Gerontological Society of America, evidence from recent studies show that blueberries contain flavonoids, specifically one called anthocyanin, that’s directly associated with cognitive benefits. A cup of blueberries provides a quarter of your daily vitamin C needs, as well as supplying some dietary fiber. The fiber, when combined with probiotics in yogurt, can keep your gastrointestinal tract in good working order.

Adapted by: Debra Rose Wilson, Ph.D., MSN, RN, IBCLC, AHN-BC, CHT

Nutrition Nugget

Drink Plenty Of Water! Yes, you’ve heard that several times but are you taking the advice? Not only will water keep you hydrated but it will help you boost your metabolism. Drinking plenty of water improves your liver and kidney function, too!

Inspiration Nugget

It's better to be slapped by the truth than kissed with a lie. - Russian proverb