In the news – health and nutrition research

In this week’s article, we provide a roundup of some of the most recent health and nutrition related articles in the news, five items comprising:

  • Poor maternal vitamin D linked to increased childhood obesity
  • A revolution in microbiome analysis? Novel method offers ‘true’ quantitative analysis of gut bacteria
  • Coenzyme Q deficiency linked to pre-diabetes, finds study.
  • Largest study of its kind finds alcohol use biggest risk factor for dementia
  • Skipping sleep lowers the body’s protective antioxidant levels and induces epigenetic changes

Poor maternal vitamin D linked to increased childhood obesity

Vitamin D deficiency during early pregnancy may heighten the chance of producing overweight children according to a new study in Paediatric Obesity.

Women in the lowest tertile of vitamin D blood concentrations (<33.7 nanomoles/litre (nmol/l) (15.2 nanograms/millilitre (ng/ml)) gave birth to children who had larger waist circumferences and higher body mass index (BMI) at age 4 years.

The observed associations also persisted at age 6 years, noted the research team led by the Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California (USC).

Our findings support that very low vitamin D concentrations in the first half of pregnancy may increase offspring adiposity indices at preschool and school age,” commented senior author Professor Vaia Lida Chatzi.

At age 4 years, the difference in waist circumference between children of mothers in the lowest tertile versus other tertiles of maternal vitamin D concentration was 0.87 centimetres (0.34 inches).

This increased adiposity could have health could have health implications in later life, explained Chatzi.

“These increases may not seem like much, but we’re not talking about older adults. Even a half-inch increase in waist circumference is a big deal, especially if you project this fat surplus across their life span.”

Read the full article via this link.

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A revolution in microbiome analysis? Novel method offers ‘true’ quantitative analysis of gut bacteria

New methods to measure and accurately quantify the levels of gut bacteria in stool samples could be a revolution for researchers and companies looking to link our gut bacteria make up to specific issue of health and disease.

The novel method, published in Nature, uses a combination of microbiome sequencing and flow cytometry to give a ‘true’ quantitative microbiome profile given as numbers of cells per gram, rather than as a percentage as have previously been done.

Led by Professor Jeroen Raes of VIB-KU Leuven, the team behind the new method suggest that it allows for both fast and accurate measurement of the bacterial load in faecal samples.

Until now, proportional approaches have been the standard in microbiome research,” said Raes. “However, without quantitative data, percentages cannot tell you whether a particular bacterium is actually becoming more abundant under specific conditions.

A proportional increase could just as well imply that this species of interest is just maintaining initial levels, while all other taxa are declining,” he noted. “This makes it very difficult to link microbiome data to quantitative health parameters and infer disease mechanisms.

With Quantitative Microbiome Profiling, we are one step closer to solving this issue.

Read the full article via this link.

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Coenzyme Q deficiency linked to pre-diabetes, finds study 

Low levels of coenzyme Q 10 (CoQ10) in fat and muscle cells are associated with insulin resistance, a characteristic of pre-diabetes, according to a new study in eLife.

Levels of CoQ10 were reduced in insulin resistant body fat and muscle cells, found the research team, a multi-institution collaboration led by the University of Sydney.

CoQ10 is an enzyme found in the mitochondria of cells and is recognised as essential in converting nutrients such as fat and sugar into usable energy.

The scientists found a reduction in the mitochondrial CoQ10 levels in cellular in vitro experiments, mouse models and samples from insulin-resistant humans. Their investigations also revealed that the loss of mitochondrial CoQ10 induces insulin resistance via increased mitochondrial oxidants.

“CoQ10 is found in mitochondria, the power plants in the cells of our body, where it is required for the flow of electricity to the cell’s ‘motor’ which is responsible for energy production,” explained co-author Dr Daniel Fazakerley from the University of Sydney’s School of Life and Environmental Science and Charles Perkins Centre.

Read the full article via this link.

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Largest  study of its kind find alcohol use biggest risk factor for dementia. 

Alcohol use disorders are the most important preventable risk factors for the onset of all types of dementia, especially early-onset dementia. This according to a nationwide observational study, published in The Lancet Public Health journal, of over one million adults diagnosed with dementia in France.

The study looked specifically at the effect of alcohol use disorders, and included people who had been diagnosed with mental and behavioural disorders or chronic diseases that were attributable to chronic harmful use of alcohol.

Of the 57,000 cases of early-onset dementia (before the age of 65), the majority (57%) were related to chronic heavy drinking.

The world Health Organisation (WHO) defines chronic heavy drinking as consuming more that 60 grams pure alcohol on average per day for men (4-5 Canadian standard drinks) and 40 grams (about 3 standard drinks) per day for women.

As a result of the strong association found in this study, the author suggest that screening, brief interventions for heavy drinking, and treatment for alcohol use disorders should be implemented to reduce the alcohol-attributable burden of dementia.

Read the full article via this link.

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Skipping sleep lowers the body’s protective antioxidant levels and induces epigenetic changes  

Sleep is something that nearly all species need to survive. On a daily basis, humans need about 8 hours, dogs and cats recharge with around 12 hours, and the koala takes nearly the entire day – napping a whopping 22 hours. But unlike dogs, koalas, or most other animals, we humans don’t always get enough of our required Zzz’s.

Our lives are either too busy or filled with too many distractions that keep us up at night. Sometimes sleep is difficult because of an illness or changing work schedule. No matter the cause, consistent sleep deprivation is harmful to our health and numerous studies have linked it to impairments in cognitive performance as well as numerous physiological health problems like obesity, diabetes, and hypertension.

So exactly why is sleep, especially getting the right amount, so crucial to our health? The answer to this isn’t fully understood. However, it is known that sleep is essential for cellular repair and for the rejuvenation processes in the body, such as muscle repair and hormone regulation. Because many of these functions are regulated via the metabolic system, scientists are interested in researching this area to better understand how sleep deprivation affects the body on a molecular level.

One such study recently conducted at Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, Florida investigated the impact of sleep deprivation on systemic metabolism, including major redox metabolites as well as DNA methylation levels. Their results were published in the July issue of PLoS One.

Read the full article via this link.

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If you have any questions regarding the topics that have been raised, or any other health matters please do contact me (Clare) by phone or email at any time., 01684 310099

Clare Daley and the Cytoplan Editorial Team


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