Calorie Restriction and Immune Response

Can food restriction affect immune health?

 A new study says yes. Research reported in the journal Science investigated the relationship of eating fewer calories, immune response, and inflammation.

Some undifferentiated cells from the bone marrow, proceed to the thymus gland to become T cells (T stands for thymus). The thymus is large at birth and increases until puberty, when it begins to shrink. Mature T cells become immunocompetent  (educated) meaning they colonize in the lymph nodes, spleen, and tonsils where potential interactions can occur with pathogens and other immune system cells.

With aging, the thymus gland accumulates fat that interferes with thymus function.  Fewer T cells are produced; thus immune function decreases.  

Study participants restricted their caloric intake about 14% for two years. Using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) less thymus fat accumulated compared to a control group with no caloric restriction. Although no changes of gene expression were detected in the T cells DNA; changes in the fat tissue showed that expression that encodes a protein involved with inflammation was inhibited by the calorie restriction.

Editor’s Note: “Moderately decreased food intake that does not cause malnutrition has beneficial effects on healthspan and lifespan in model organisms.” The authors stated.

Science. 2002 Feb 11;375(6581):671-677.

Drinking for Longevity

From the Blue Zones: 9 Lessons for Living Longer from the people who’ve lived the longest by Dan Buettner, page xxii. “Scientific studies suggest that only about 25% of how long we live is dictated by genes, according to famous studies of Danish twins. The other 75% is determined by our lifestyles and the everyday choices we make.” What we drink is only one of them.

CLICK HERE.

Olive Oil and Longevity?

Adding more olive oil to your diet may help prevent an early death.

A recent study from the researchers at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health was published online Jan. 10, 2022 by the Journal of the American College of Cardiology. Data from 90,000 men and women, free of cardiovascular disease and cancer were asked to complete a dietary questionnaire every four years. At the end of the data collecting, 36,856 of the participants had died.

From the diet questionnaires, it was found that those who routinely consumed the most olive oil – averaging more than one half a tablespoon a day – had the lowest risk of dying during the 28 – year old follow-up period compared with people who rarely or never consumed olive oil.

Olive oil consumers had :

A 19% lower overall risk of death

A 19% lower risk of cardiovascular disease

A 17% lower risk of cancer-related disease

A 29% lower risk of death related to a neurodegenerative condition

A  18% lower risk of death related to a respiratory disease

This may explain why olive oil as a major component of the Mediterranean diet has consistently shown health benefits in numerous studies. The results also suggest that when used as a substitute for products containing animal fat such as butter, we see the same healthy benefits. Bon appetit!!

Is Your Liver Fat?

Most people have never heard of NAFLD, a.k.a. non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, HOWEVER, nearly one in four adults in the U.S. has NAFLD. NAFLD is more common in obesity and diabetes type 2.

In the long term, NAFLD can cause fibrosis (scarring) of the liver that eventually can cause impairment of normal liver function. Advanced scarring can lead to cirrhosis, an irreversible condition that can lead to liver failure. The only long-term treatment is a liver transplant. No drugs are currently approved to treat it.

The emphasis should then be on prevention with the usual recommendations: Eat less processed foods, lose a little weight if necessary, and more exercise comes to mind – healthier lifestyles in general, e.g. less alcohol.

Normally most of the blood draining from the GI tract (gut) travels directly to the liver before entering general circulation. This exposes the liver to toxins that may cause oxidative stress and chronic inflammation.

There are new clinical trials on subjects diagnosed with NAFLD to investigate the influence of probiotics on the microbiome residing in the GI tract. These findings suggest that the probiotic – prebiotic blends can stop the progression of liver disease, liver damage and liver inflammation when compared to a placebo. Interesting???

Richard Moore. Life Extension: The Science of a Healthier Life, May, 2022.

CLICK HERE.

The Gut Microbiome

All About Probiotics

SHOULD YOU TAKE A PROBIOTIC?

Lately there’s a lot of buzz about taking probiotics that is becoming a household word on food labels; everyone wants to get in on the claims made to benefit them and the microbiome with a simple pill.

First of all what is the microbiome ? Everyone has one that is individual to them. It refers to our personal colony of micro -organisms, mostly bacteria, in our body that outnumbers our human cells. It is crucial to our digestion and integrity of the intestinal lining; it determines how and when and where things are absorbed into the bloodstream, participates in our metabolism and plays a role in our immune defenses. In the gastrointestinal tract the bacteria in the microbiome digest things we couldn’t digest otherwise like high fiber foods.

Mark Bittman and David L. Katz, MD – How to Eat: All Your Food and Diet Questions Answered. 2020 

Eat probiotic foods along with prebiotic foods since rebiotics are the food that bacteria eat and what sustains good bacteria long-term. They include foods like oatmeal, bananas, berries, asparagus and beans.

Carrie Daniel-MacDougall, Ph.D, M.P.H., a nutritional epidemiologist at MD Anderson who studies diet and the microbiome says:

“Unless your doctor is prescribing probiotics for a specific person purpose, stick to getting them from foods like yogurt that may have other nutrients like calcium.”

In some cases, probiotics from food or supplements may help individuals with irritable bowel syndrome or Crohn’s disease. There is also potential for harm if used improperly or in combination with other medications. Your doctor or a certified nutritionist can help you find the one that’s right for you. Sometimes the probiotic could even disrupt or displaced some of the good bacteria you already have. McDougall says.

Metabolics: The Facts

We’re Number One: In Morbidity, Mortality, and Expense

“U.S. has the best doctors, hospitals, and medical technologies, the most innovative surgery, the newest drugs and spends the most per capita on healthcare of all the countries on the globe.”

Are Americans healthier? Do we enjoy better healthcare? Do we live longer? The answer to each of these questions is an unequivocal NO. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. Americans have the worst health out comes of any country of the 37 richest countries – the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). In several of the most lethal chronic diseases, Americans rank amount the worst of the developed countries in the world: #1 in diabetes, #2 in Alzheimer’s disease, #5 in cancer, and #6 in cardiovascular disease.

What is metabolic (met) syndrome?

It started to “rear” its head in the 1980’s – every one is at risk for three noncommunicable diseases associated with the met syndrome – hypertension, diabetes and heart disease are due to abnormal metabolism in different cells in different organs.

For example: What about diabetes –in 1976, diabetes was rare; only 5% of people in the US over age 65 had it, and the prevalence in the general population was 2.5%. By 2000, estimates said 151 million diabetics were walking the planet and the prediction was, by 2010, there would be 221 million. In fact there were 285 million. By 2014, 422 million, 2019, 463 million- predictions 568 million by 2030.

Lustig, Robert, MD, MSL Metabolical: The Lure and the Lies of Processed Food, Nutrition, and Modern Medicine, 2021

How are we doing? Not so well. Metabolical is a wonderful book to begin to understand why diet with its predominance on processed foods makes a difference in our quest for heath.

Working for an extension of a Healthy Lifespan

In the News

Hippocampus

Memory Loss, Dementia, Mediterranean Diet

A Mediterranean-style diet could protect against memory loss and dementia, according to a study published in the journal, Neurology.

The 512 participants, with an average age of 70, completed food frequency questionnaires and then given brain scans to determine brain volume, and neurological tests to examine their cognitive abilities and biomarkers for beta amyloid and tau  proteins that are thought to characterize Alzheimer’s disease.

People who ate an unhealthy diet (not identified in abstract) had higher markers of amyloid beta and tau proteins in their cerebrospinal fluid, compared to those who followed a Mediterranean diet.

The unhealthy –diet eaters also performed worse on memory tests than those who ate healthy foods.

Editor’s Note:

Participants who did not eat a healthy, Med-style diet were also found to have a smaller hippocampus volume (the area of brain responsible for thinking and memory) than those who did. The hippocampus is known to atrophy (shrink) in those with Alzheimer’s disease.

Source:

Life Extension, September, 2021

Eating Fish for Brain Health

A study published in Neurology found that 1623 people over the age of 65 who eat more fish have lower risks of brain disease like vascular dementia, stroke, and a lower incidence of brain vessel damage. The researchers analyzed MRI brain scans and completed a diet questionnaire. Note: This association was strongest in people ages, 65-69, compared to older participants in the study.

Neurology, 2021.

Diabetes Screening Age Lowered from 40 to 35 for Overweight and Obese People.

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force has lowered the age at which overweight and obese people should begin screening for diabetes from 40 to 35. According to the Task Force, there is a spike in the prevalence of both diabetes and prediabetes around age 35. Lowering the screening age could help identify or prevent diabetes by adopting a healthier diet, exercise more, and lose weight.

Note: Diabetes is the leading cause of kidney failure and new cases of blindness among adults in the U.S.

JAMA, 2021; 326 (8):736-743

NEW RESEARCH ON CALORIE RESTRICTION

“QUESTION: Humans aren’t genetically designed to eat three meals a day?

“In the Stone Age, people would eat what they could find when they could find it. Sometimes they couldn’t find much of anything.

We have good reason to believe that intermittent feast (and famine) was native to the human condition. We are actually quite well adapted to periods of fasting.

A word of warning: Fasting is not safe for everyone, especially those on medication, e.g. insulin or blood pressure meds”,

Check with your doctor when you change your diet or take any supplements. The supplements are not regulated by the FDA. (SJF).

Mark Bittman, and David Katz, MD. “How to Eat: All Your Food and Diet Questions Answered. 2020.

CLICK HERE

Diet and Aging: Can We Eat Meat?

Aging and Diet: Should We Eat Meat?

“Most of us have more control over how long we live than we think. In fact, experts say that if we adopted the right lifestyle, we could add a good 10 years and suffer a fraction of the diseases that kill us prematurely.”

In his book, the Blue Zones, 9 Lessons for Living Longer, Dan Buettner and his team from the National Institute of Health set out to visit 5 regions on our globe that had a long record of longevity. From those lessons, a balanced diet became paramount in life extension. Here is what Robert Kane, MD, director of the Center on Aging at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis said:

“One of the goals to a healthy lifestyle is moderation in all things. The best diet is basically one of moderation. You hear about all these people that live on legumes and plant foods and that’s probably okay, but I don’t think it’s necessary… as far as meat, it’s a question of eating meat a couple of times a week or are you eating it every day for two meals a day (typical of the Standard American Diet).  Are you eating processed meats that are filled with fat? Or are you eating good cuts of fairly lean meat?”

In Okinawa (one of the Blue Zones) “while centenarian Okinawans do eat some pork, it is traditional to only eat it in small amounts and for special occasions.

Reference: The Blue Zones: 9 Lessons for Living Longer from the people who’ve lived the longest. Dan Buettner, 2012.

Looking for a New Resolution?

A healthy new YEAR’S RESOLUTION is simple; TRY THE MEDITERRANEAN DIET – a diet pattern that offers variety as well as many health benefits and a great way to begin the year.

Highlights of the Mediterranean diet – source Life Extension, Dec. 2021 Michael Ozner, MD

There is no one Mediterranean diet. In thousands of studies, the Med diet has been reported to be one of the best lifestyle strategies for extending longevity and avoiding the common disorders of aging, including heart disease and cancer.

In 1990s, the first Mediterranean Pyramid was created by a non-profit group called the Oldways Preservation Trust, in cooperation with the Harvard School of Public Health and the World Health Organization. It was based on food patterns seen in  the Mediterranean areas of the olive-growing countries surrounding the Mediterranean Sea, Spain and southern France in the 1960’s.

A clinical trial showed that those who adhered most closely to a traditional Med diet appeared less likely to suffer sudden cardiac death than those who at least had a better chance of healthy aging, defined as living to 70 years or older with no major physical or mental impairments. For diet details, search this blog as Mediterranean Diet.

Components of the Med Diet to show proven health benefits:

Extra Virgin Olive Oil 

Omega-3 Fatty acids

 Vegetables and fruits

Whole Grains

Clinical trials and observational studies have found particularly strong evidence that the Med Diet protects the heart and lowers the risk of heart attacks, strokes, and cardiovascular death.

However, this diet pattern is beginning to show that the diet can reduce the risk for other chronic diseases associated with aging.

Metabolic Syndrome

A meta analysis of 50 studies including nearly 535 people found that following the Med Diet was associated with a reduced risk of metabolic syndrome. The metabolic syndrome is a cluster of symptoms associated with heart disease that include:

  • Decreased HDL (“good cholesterol”)
  • Increased waist circumference
  • Increased blood pressure
  • High glucose levels
  • Increased triglyceride levels

Diabetes type 2

Another study of subjects with a high cardiovascular risk showed that a Med Diet compared to a low fat diet reduced the risk of developing diabetes type 2 by 52% .

Alzheimer’s Disease

In a study lasting four years, in patients showing no signs of dementia at baseline, greater adherence to the Med Diet was associated with a significant reduction in risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.

Cancer

In a meta-analysis of 83 studies that included 2, 130, 753 subjects, the highest adherence to a Med diet was associated with the lowest rates of many cancers, including colon, breast, stomach, liver, and prostate and a lowest risk of cancer mortality. The diet’s benefits were attributed to a higher intake of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, i.e. a plant based diet.

 Longevity

Several studies have specifically shown that the Med Diet increases longevity.

One study analyzed the diets of 10,670 women in mid-life with a median age of 59 years. Greater adherence to the Med Diet was related to 46% greater odds of surviving to 70 years or older with no major impairments in physical function or mental health.

Another study of adults 65 and over also found that closer adherence to the Med Diet was associated with prolonged survival. Many components of the Med Diet including omega-3 fatty acids from fish oil and polyphenols from fruits and vegetables have been shown to reduce chronic inflammation. Be sure and search Food, Facts, and Fads for diet and disease as well as the Mediterranean diet for more details about this powerful message.