In the News – Health and Nutrition Research

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

  • Scientists identify genes connected to well-being, depression and neuroticism
  • Type 2 diabetes is reversible – study findings mark ‘paradigm shift’
  • Protein injection hope for Alzheimer’s
  • Early introduction of peanuts and eggs cuts allergy risk, study finds
  • Fast food may expose consumers to harmful chemicals called phthalates


Scientists identify genes connected to well-being, depression and neuroticism

“An international group of more than 190 scientists who analysed the genomes of 298,420 individuals have found genetic variants that may influence our sense of well-being, depression and neuroticism.

The study, to be published April 18 by the journal ‘Nature Genetics’, is one of the largest genomic studies to date on behavioural genetics.

“We have known for a long time that these traits have a genetic component, but until now, we had identified only a few specific genetic variants related to these traits,” said Daniel Benjamin, corresponding author and an associate professor of the Centre for Economic and Social Research in the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences.

Benjamin said that the genetic variants do not determine whether someone develops depressive symptoms, neuroticism or have a poor sense of well-being.

“Psychological well-being is jointly influenced by genes and environment,” he said. “The genetic variants that we found account for a small fraction of these genetic associations.”

The scientists found three genetic variants associated with “subjective well-being” – how happy or satisfied a person reports feeling about his or her life – based on an analysis of roughly 300,000 people.

The researchers also found two genetic variants associated with depressive symptoms, based on an analysis of nearly 180,000 people, and 11 genetic variants associated with neuroticism, based on an analysis of 170,000 people. The depression results were replicated through an analysis of another sample of nearly 370,000 people.”

Full article here.

Anne Pemberton, a recognised expert in the field of nutrigenomics, will be speaking at our Seminar in July on the topic of Nutrigenomics and how to implement it into your health practice. To find out more about this event and to book tickets, please follow this link.

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Type 2 diabetes is reversible – study findings mark ‘paradigm shift’

“Significant weight loss through extreme low-calorie diet can reverse type 2 diabetes, the first findings of a five-year study has found.

The Diabetes Remission Clinical Trial (DiRECT) – backed by an unprecedented £2.4m grant from charity Diabetes UK – sought to test if a very low calorie diet could reverse type 2 diabetes mellitus and return glucose control to normal.

In these first results a continuing remission of at least six months was seen in 40% of the participants who followed the eight-week weight loss programme – questioning the widely held belief that type 2 diabetes is an irreversible chronic condition.

Co-author and professor of medicine and metabolism at Newcastle University, Roy Taylor, told us the data clearly shows when total body fat is decreased, people can store this fat safely under the skin and diabetes goes away.”

Full article here.

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Protein injection hope for Alzheimer’s

“Scientists believe injections of a natural protein may lessen the symptoms and progress of Alzheimer’s dementia after promising early trials in mice.

The treatment – IL 33 – appeared to improve memory and help clear and prevent brain deposits similar to those seen in people with Alzheimer’s.

Tentative human studies of the treatment will soon begin, but experts say it will take many years to know if it could help patients in real life.

The work is published in PNAS journal.

Interleukin 33, or IL 33 for short, is made by the body as part of its immune defence against infection and disease, particularly within the brain and spinal cord.

And patients with Alzheimer’s have been found to have lower amounts of IL 33 in their brains than healthy adults.

The researchers from the University of Glasgow and the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology tested what effect a boost of IL 33 might have on mice bred to have brain changes akin to Alzheimer’s.

The rodents rapidly improved their memory and cognitive function to that of the age-matched normal mice within a week of having the injections.”

Full article here.

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Early introduction of peanuts and eggs cuts allergy risk, study finds

“Scientists have found that introducing babies to peanuts, eggs and other potentially allergy-causing foods at an early age could prevent serious reactions later in life.

The study for the Food Standards Agency (FSA) found that children who were introduced to peanut and egg-white proteins from the age of three months had a lower chance of developing food allergies than those who were only introduced to them at six months old – but only if the recommended quantity of allergenic food was consumed.

Scientists found that weekly consumption of the equivalent of approximately one-and-a-half teaspoons of peanut butter and one small boiled egg would lead to the prevention of an allergy to those food substances.

The research compared those infants who were breastfed and consumed allergenic foods from three months with those solely breastfed and given foods at six months.

When the scientists looked at those mothers who had stuck strictly to the early introduction regime, the relative risk of developing a food allergy was 67% lower than for children who had just been breastfed to six months.

More specifically, the results reveal that prevalence of egg allergies was far lower, with just 1.4% of those exposed to them from the age of three months developing an egg-allergy, compared with 5.5% of those who were breastfed to six months.

For peanuts the effect was even greater: none of the 310 children in the early introduction group developed a peanut allergy, versus 13 of the 525 children who developed an allergy having been introduced to them from the age of six months.”

PLEASE NOTE (as mentioned at the end of The Guardian article) “While this study will be of interest to parents, we would advise them to continue to follow existing government infant feeding advice. It should also be emphasised that this research was carried out under guidance of allergy professionals.”

Full article here.

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Fast food may expose consumers to harmful chemicals called phthalates

“People who reported consuming more fast food in a national survey were exposed to higher levels of potentially harmful chemicals known as phthalates, according to a study published by researchers at Milken Institute School of Public Health (Milken Institute SPH) at the George Washington University. The study, one of the first to look at fast-food consumption and exposure to these chemicals, appears in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives.

“People who ate the most fast food had phthalate levels that were as much as 40 percent higher,” says lead author Ami Zota, ScD, MS, an assistant professor of environmental and occupational health at Milken Institute SPH. “Our findings raise concerns because phthalates have been linked to a number of serious health problems in children and adults.”

Phthalates belong to a class of industrial chemicals used to make food packaging materials, tubing for dairy products, and other items used in the production of fast food. Other research suggests these chemicals can leach out of plastic food packaging and can contaminate highly processed food.”

Full article here.


If you have any questions regarding the health topics raised in this article then please do get in touch via phone (01684 310099) or e-mail (amanda@cytoplan.co.uk)

Amanda Williams & The Cytoplan Editorial Team: Joseph Forsyth, Clare Daley and Simon Holdcroft


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