A new study: Vitamin D, Fish Oil and Autoimmune Disease

Autoimmune diseases are a category of conditions where an individual’s immune system acts abnormally, often attacking and destroying healthy tissues by mistake. Many triggers can cause an individual’s body to start making components referred to as antibodies. Usually, antibodies help the body fight off infections. However, in patients with an autoimmune disease, they attack the body’s healthy tissues instead. These diseases include rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, psoriasis, or thyroid disease to name a few (possibly 80 of them) and usually affect women more than men. Symptoms vary, but can include pain, fatigue, skin problems, and other chronic conditions. A new study suggests that vitamin D and fish oil supplements may offer over 50 protection.

Study Methods

The study called the VITAL study was published Jan 26, 2022 in the BMJ and was a randomized controlled trial that included 25,871 racially diverse people over the age of 50 who were split into two groups. One group took 2,000 IU of vitamin D3 each day; those in another group took 1000 mg of fish oil and a third group took both. Another group took two placebos. The study was blinded – i.e. no one knew which group they were in.

Results

“During a five-year follow-up, participants reported any diagnoses of any autoimmune disease that were verified with medical records.

Compared with a placebo, vitamin D supplementation was associated with a 22% reduced risk of autoimmune disease overall. The improvement was greater (39%) after the first two years of treatment. Fish oil alone showed less robust results, but still showed fewer participants with confirmed autoimmune diagnoses compared with placebo.”

Toxicity

Both vitamin D and fish oil may have some effects due to the ability of each to regulate or tame the inflammatory response that “drive autoimmune disorders.” It is too soon based on one study to make recommendations that people take either vitamin D or fish oil supplements – but those with a strong family history should consult with their primary health care provider about these decisions. The vitamin D dose used in the study is more than twice the recommended daily intake of 600 IU or 800 IU for people 71 and older. The consequences of overdoses or toxicity can occur at 10,000 IU daily.

Harvard Women’s Health Watch, Volume 29, Number 10 June 2022.

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!!

PROS AND CONS OF TAKING PROBIOTICS

Probiotics and or prebiotics seem to be the hot new nutrition topic. Every supplement company and the yogurt industry is offering their own proprietary probiotic guaranteed to “fix “your microbiome. We don’t know why we have “sick” microbes, but we often do. Processed foods can be suspect – antibiotics, artificial sweeteners, emulsifiers, hormones, preservatives for long shelf lives are not ideal environments for keeping them healthy and happy. Just read an ingredient label and you will find a plethora of other candidates.

CLICK HERE.

CLICK HERE.

Species of bacteria found in Culturelle: Lactobacillus rhamnosus plus inulin (a prebiotic – not a bacteria)

Species of bacteria found in Align: Bifidobacterium longum

Also can find species on most yogurt products.

Warning; These products are quite expensive and as all dietary supplements have not met any regulation standards from the FDA. Please consult your physician before taking any probiotic or any other dietary supplement. Often, they are not what they claim.

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.

Omega-3 fatty acids and Cancer

Omega -3 fats were found to have no significant effect on total tumor burden or affect latency period, tumor weight, or tumor regression. (Sally J. Feltner. Influence of type and level of dietary polyunsaturated fat on incidence of chemically -induced mammary tumors and on selected immune responses in rats. (Unpublished dissertation, 1988)

These were the results of my dissertation a couple of decades ago; however a new study wakes us up to the possibility that omega 3 fish oils (EPA and DHA) may have an positive effect (less growth) of tumors when fed fish oils as an adjunct to immunotherapy in mice.

CLICK HERE.

What happened here?

In my study there were no effects on tumor incidence; the new study found that omega -3 fatty acids may have a positive benefit if they are used with certain cancer treatments with the ultimate suppression of tumor growth. In my study, however, “the animals fed a high or low fish oil diet (omega 3)) produced a significantly higher antibody titer in response to sheep red blood cells than those fed the low or high corn (omega 6) oil diet.” This indicates a positive effect on the immune system at least in animals.

Study results of omega-3/6 fatty acids can be complex resulting in conflicting results in both human and animal studies.

This may be due to the imbalance of intake between the 3’s and the 6’s. in the Standard American diet. The optimal ratio of omega-3 fats in the diet is in a range of 2:1 to 4:1 (6s to 3s). The typical ratio in the U.S. diet is 16:1 – that is bad!! This means that inflammation can “run rampant”, increasing your risk of heart disease, diabetes, and arthritis. We simply eat too many omega-6 and not enough omega-3 fatty acids. Additional studies are planned. Very interesting.!

In the News

In the News: Updates

Mediterranean Diet Can Lower Risk Of Sudden Death by 25-26%.

Either a Mediterranean Diet (vegetables, fruits, legumes, cereals, and fish) or U.S. Southern Diet pattern (added fats, fried food, eggs, organ meats, processed meats, and sugar-sweetened beverages) was given to 21, 069 men and women 45 years and older and compared for adherence to each diet using diet scores.

The results showed that 402 sudden cardiac deaths occurred during an average of 9.8 years of follow-up. People whose Mediterranean scores placed them among the top third of participants had a 25-26% lower risk of sudden cardiac deaths than subjects whose scores were among the lowest third. People whose Southern dietary pattern scores was among the top quarter of participants had a 46% higher risk of sudden cardiac death than those among the lowest quarter.

J. Am Heart Association 2021 July 6;10:e019158.

At a Glance

  • A study found that a diet high in added fats, fried foods, processed meats, and sugary drinks was associated with a greater risk of sudden cardiac death, while a Mediterranean diet was associated with a lower risk.
  • The findings provide evidence that adopting a healthier diet may decrease the risk of sudden cardiac death.

What Do We Know About Diet and Prevention of Alzheimer’s Disease?

Changes in the brain can occur years before the first symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease occur.  It also should be noted that the focus of diet factors on diseases should be the prevention or delay of the disease in question and not a “cure.” Unlike other risk factors for Alzheimer’s that we cannot change such as age and genetics, the current thought is that with lifestyle choices such as diet, exercise and cognitive training, many chronic diseases can possibly be avoided adding health to our lifespans.

How could our diet affect our brains?

“It’s possible that certain diet patterns affects biological mechanisms, such as oxidative stress and inflammation that underlie many chronic diseases. Or perhaps diet works indirectly by affecting other disease risks, such as diabetes, obesity, and heart disease. A new avenue of research focuses on the relationship between gut microbes in the digestive system and aging-related processes that lead to Alzheimer’s.”

Reference: National Institute on Aging

Several diet patterns show some promise. One is the Mediterranean Diet or its variations, the MIND diet (Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay) or the DASH diet. (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension), a risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease. All are based on leafy green vegetables and colorful vegetables, berries, fish, poultry, beans, nuts, wine (1 glass a day), whole grains and preferably olive oil.

“For example, two recent studies suggest that, as part of the Mediterranean diet, eating fish may be the strongest factor influencing higher cognitive function and slower cognitive decline. In contrast, the typical Western diet increases cardiovascular disease risk, possibly contributing to faster brain aging.”

The problem with the research is that most is called observational (subject to recall from the participants). To rectify this, several organizations like National Institute of Aging are conducting clinical trials (considered the gold standard of medical proof to shed more light on any cause and effect.

What About Supplements?

Clinical trials in humans have had mixed results, some with positive effects, others with negative results. These types of studies often attempt to measure the effects of omega-3 fatty acids in the diet. However, at this time: despite early findings of possible benefits for brain health, no vitamin or supplement has been proven to work in people. Overall, evidence is weak as many studies were too small or too short to be conclusive.

Note: A deficiency in vitamin B12 or folate due to aging or strictly following a vegan diet may cause memory problems that are reversible with proper treatment. Please consult with your physician. If you are over 65, it may be prudent to have your Vitamin B12 status checked. Sometimes, the deficiency may be due to problems with absorption of the vitamin, not the intake. Also, healthy humans are equipped with a number of adaptive mechanisms that partially protect the body from poor health due to fluctuations in dietary intake. Vitamin B12 can be stored within body tissues for later use. Meats and seafood are good sources

Omega-3, Omega 6 and Breast Cancer

Note: I personally conducted animal research using high or low omega-3 or omega-6 diets on breast cancer incidence. The study was repeated two times and no significant differences in breast cancer incidence, tumor weight or immune system parameters were found between the study groups. This content is partly provided by the NIH National Institute on Aging (NIA) scientists and other experts review this content, so it is accurate and up to date. This content was reviewed November 27, 2019.

Influence of Type and Level of Dietary Polyunsaturated Fat on Incidence of Chemically-induced Mammary Tumors and on Selected Immune Responses in Rats. Sally J. Feltner, June, 1988.

The Mind-Gut Connection

The Mind-Gut Connection teaches us how to make simple changes to diet and lifestyle to achieve balance that can help us achieve optimal health.

The gut is a large storage area for specialized cells and signaling systems. It functions as a large sensory organ that when spread out fills the size of a basketball court. Its job is to communicate between the gut and the brain using hormones, bidirectional nerve communication channels, and inflammatory signaling molecules. When this communication channel is not functioning or suffers from dysbiosis, major health problems can occur in both the mind and body that can result in food sensitivities, allergies, digestive disorders, obesity, depression and anxiety.

“The gut and the brain are closely linked through pathways that include nerves, hormones, and inflammatory molecules. Rich sensory information generated in the gut reaches the brain (gut sensations) and the brain sends signals back to the gut to adjust its function (gut reactions). The close interactions of these pathways play a critical role in the generation of emotions and in optimal gut function. The two are intricately linked.”

Emeran Mayer, MD. The Mind-Gut Connection, How the Hidden Conversation Within Our Bodies Impacts ouor Mood, Our Choices, and Our Overall Healh. 2016. This book is highly recommended.

What is Nutrigenomics? What is epigenetics?

Nutrigenomics is the scientific study of the way specific genes and bioactive food components interact. It provides a basis for understanding how the health consequences of eating behaviors may vary across individuals. This information is key to a personalized approach to nutrition in a clinical environment. Because epigenetic events such as methylation can be changed, they offer another explanation for how environmental factors such as diet, can influence biological processes and phenotypes. Search Food,FactsandFads for more on Epigenetics.

CLICK HERE.

What is epigenetics? “Think of this way: Epigenetics is the on-off switch to the dimmer on your dining-room chandelier. The gene is the lightbulb, the epigene is the

light switch. If the lightbulb is defunct or the switch is frozen in the “off” position, the dimmer function is useless. Likewise, epigenes control the effect to which the gene turns on.

Altered nutrition also appears to be the primary driver of altered epigenetics. For example, the vitamin, folate is a necessary cofactor for the enzymes called DNA methyltransferases, which add a methyl group to DNA to alter whether genes are being activated. Folic acid is so important to normal fetal development in order to prevent the occurrence of spina bifida that the FDA and mandated to be added to store – bought bread.

Other nutrients at work here – vitamin B12, B complex vitamins, retinoic acid (vitamin A). circumin, sulforaphane, and polyphenols and others that moderate this process.”

Source: Lustig, Robert, H. MD. Metabolical, 2021, Page 120.

The New Food Culture? Plant-based Diets

“So many people are confused about food; the eating plan of the moment changes and suddenly there are new rules to follow. But with plant-based eating, there is [more] freedom to eat what you want.” —Cassidy Gundersen, holistic nutritionist.

This article is quite long but worth reading to reflect on what type of food culture may be waiting for the future. Interesting topic!!

CLICK HERE.