TAG: "Nutrition"

Probiotics and preemies


All probiotics not same in protecting premature infants from common, life-threatening illness.

Mark Underwood, UC Davis

Mark Underwood, UC Davis

Treating premature infants with probiotics, the dietary supplements containing live bacteria that many adults take to help maintain their natural intestinal balance, may be effective for preventing a common and life-threatening bowel disease among premature infants, researchers at UC Davis Children’s Hospital have found.

The study, “A comparison of two probiotic strains of bifidobacteria in premature infants,” was recently published online in the Journal of Pediatrics. The bowel disease, necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC), is the second most common cause of death among premature infants, said Mark Underwood, lead study author, neonatologist and professor in the Department of Pediatrics at UC Davis Children’s Hospital. It affects 3 to 10 percent of premature infants; about 25 percent of those with the severe form of NEC succumb to the infection.

Underwood and his collaborators evaluated the effectiveness and safety of two types of probiotics of known purity and composition in a clinical trial that included nine breastmilk- and 12 formula-fed premature infants in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at UC Davis Children’s Hospital.

The products tested in the study were two genetically different strains of bifidobacteria, normal inhabitants of the gastroentestinal tract that inhibit the growth of harmful pathogens and bacteria: Bifidobacterium longum subspecies infantis (B. infantis) and Bifidobacterium animalis lactis (B. lactis).

Laboratory analysis of bacteria of fecal samples from the infants found that B. infantis was more effective at colonizing bifidobacteria, the healthy bacteria, in the newborns’ gastrointestinal tracts than B.lactis. The highest fecal levels of bifidobacteria were found in the infants who were breastmilk-fed and received the B. infantis probiotic, Underwood said.

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Reducing your cancer risk


UC Davis expert offers simple changes for a healthier life.

SaladApproximately 572,000 Americans die annually from cancer, and about one-third of the deaths are linked to poor diet, lack of physical activity and being overweight.

The more body fat you carry, the greater your risk of cancer, while the more physically active you are, the less likely you are to get cancer, according to Larry Kushi, co-leader of Population Sciences and Health Disparities at UC Davis and member of the National Cancer Institute-designated UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Kushi, who chaired the American Cancer Society committee on nutrition and physical activity guidelines for cancer prevention,  explains that excess weight results in the production and circulation of more estrogen and insulin, two hormones that can encourage cancer growth.

When it comes to diet and exercise, Kushi says you can lower your cancer risk if you follow these guidelines:

Choose plant-based foods such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, beans and whole grains. Up to 50 percent of preventable cancers are due to foods, which is why eating five to nine servings daily of fruits and vegetables can go a long way in lowering your cancer risk.

Eat more fiber. Why? Because your body doesn’t digest fiber, and it moves cancer-causing compounds out of your system. The best source of fiber is found in plant foods, especially those that are unrefined. Eat a minimum of 30 to 40 grams of fiber each day; for instance, a medium apple, banana or orange has 3 grams of fiber, while one-half cup of cooked black beans has 8 grams.

Eat less red meat (beef, lamb and pork). The American Institute for Cancer Research recommends limiting your diet to 18 ounces of red meat a week. Red meat has no fiber and often is high in fat, contributing to the production of hormones and increasing the risk of cancers, including colorectal, breast and prostate. Bake or broil meat, but if you fry or grill it, do so at lower temperatures for a longer time. Cooking at high temperatures can result in the formation of cancer-causing chemicals.

Limit your daily alcohol consumption. For women, limit it to one drink a day and for men, keep it at two. Guidelines define a drink as 5 ounces of wine, 12 ounces of regular beer or 1.5 ounces of 80-proof liquor.

Get physically active and control your weight. Physical activity will help you control your weight and keep hormone levels normal by quickly moving cancer-causing toxins out of your body. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends engaging in moderate-intensity physical activity for at least 30 minutes, five or more days per week or vigorous-intensity physical activity for at least 20 minutes, three or more days per week.

Don’t rely on supplements. It’s believed supplements don’t make a difference, and taking excess vitamins may actually increase your cancer risk. Sticking to natural vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals found in healthy foods is best in preventing cancer.

“Food and exercise are effective tools in fighting cancer,” Kushi says. “Choose your foods wisely, and keep moving to reduce the risks of cancer in your life.”

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Eating for health


A UCSF guide to good nutrition airs on UCTV.

Eating for healthFew topics receive more attention in the media and in our own conversation than food. Everyone loves to eat! But how do we know what to eat to stay healthy, prevent and treat common illnesses, preserve our planet, and fully enjoy our food? This course, designed for all who love to eat, is taught by UC San Francisco nutrition experts from the schools of medicine and nursing. The course will provide the latest scientific evidence supporting healthy food choices and provide practical advice on preventing and treating common illnesses with nutrition.

UCTV programs include:

Principles of a Healthy Diet: How Do We Know What to Eat?
First air date: Oct. 7

Obesity: Facts and Fictions
First air date: Oct. 14

Fat Chance: Fructose 2.0
First air date: Oct. 21

Dietary Fiber: The Most Important Nutrient?
First air date: Oct. 22

Vitamins and Supplements: An Evidence-Based Approach
First air date: Nov. 5

Dietary Fats: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
First air date: Nov. 7

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Calorie and sodium levels in chain restaurant entrees remain the same overall


Study finds restaurant industry takes one step forward, one step back in menu nutrition.

UC Davis Medical CenterAlthough a number of chain restaurants have announced healthy menu changes over the years, the overall calorie and sodium levels in main entrées offered by top U.S. chain restaurants assessed from 2010 to 2011 have remained the same, according to a study published today (Oct. 1) in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

Rhe study, “Changes in the Energy and Sodium Content of Main Entrées in U.S. Chain Restaurants from 2010 to 2011,” evaluated the nutritional content changes of more than 26,000 regular menu entrées in a year by 213 major U.S. chain restaurants nationwide. It also looked at entrées among restaurants that included children’s menus.

“Restaurant menus did not get any healthier over time,” said Helen Wu, a policy and research analyst at the Institute for Population Health Improvement at UC Davis Health System.

Between the spring of 2010 and spring of 2011, Wu and Roland Sturm, senior economist at the RAND Corp., reviewed restaurant websites for nutrition information. They found that, even with all the substitutions and reformulations eateries made to their menus, restaurants made no meaningful nutrition changes overall. The average entrée in 2010 contained 670 calories and remained at 670 calories one year later. Sodium levels only dropped from 1,515 milligrams per entrée to 1,500 milligrams at follow-up.

“Across the restaurant industry, we see a pattern of one step forward, one step back,” Wu said. “Restaurants make changes to their menus regularly, but they may make both healthy and unhealthy changes simultaneously. This study provides objective evidence that overall, we did not see a new wave of healthier entrées come in to replace less healthy ones.”

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Study finds link between high-fat, high-calorie diet and pancreas cancer


UCLA results support low-fat, low-calorie diet as preventive measure against disease.

Guido Eibl, UCLA

Guido Eibl, UCLA

Researchers at UCLA’s Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center have found that mice made obese by high-calorie, high-fat diets develop abnormally high numbers of lesions known to be precursors to pancreas cancer.

This is the first study to show a direct causative link in an animal model between obesity and risk of this deadly cancer.

The study, published today (Sept. 30) in the journal Cancer Prevention Research, was led by Dr. Guido Eibl, a member of the Jonsson Cancer Center and a professor in the department of surgery at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA.

Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma, or cancer of the pancreas, is one of the most deadly forms of cancer in humans. Overall five-year survival rates are approximately 3 to 5 percent, and the average survival period after diagnosis is just four to six months. It is a particularly aggressive disease, one that is often beyond the point of effective treatment by the time symptoms appear.

Since current treatments are limited in quantity and effectiveness, researchers are turning to prevention strategies to try to make headway against the disease before it reaches advanced stages.

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Breastfeeding not easy for most first-time mothers


Strategies should be developed for evaluating infant breastfeeding and alleviating concerns.

Caroline Chantry, UC Davis

Caroline Chantry, UC Davis

Breastfeeding problems are extremely common among first-time moms, often causing them to introduce formula or completely abandon breastfeeding within two months, report researchers at the University of California, Davis, and the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center.

Strategies should be developed for evaluating infant breastfeeding and alleviating the concerns of the new, breastfeeding mothers soon after birth, recommend the researchers, who report their findings online this week in the journal Pediatrics.

“Findings from our study indicate that certain breastfeeding problems or concerns are experienced almost universally by first-time mothers, and some of those problems greatly increase the chances they will stop breastfeeding earlier than they planned,” said study co-author Caroline Chantry, a pediatrician at the UC Davis Medical Center, where the research with the first-time mothers was based.

“If we can enable mothers to achieve their breastfeeding goals, we will have a healthier nation,” Chantry said. She noted that although 75 percent of mothers in the United States initiate breastfeeding, only 13 percent of those women ultimately breastfeed exclusively for the recommended first six months of the child’s life.

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What is the normal range of salt intake for humans?


Salt intake physiologically set in humans, new study finds.

Salt and blood pressureDon’t toss your saltshaker out just yet. A new study led by scientists affiliated with the University of California, Davis, adds further credence to the notion that concern about the amount of salt you consume may be misplaced.

The study documents in humans what neuroscientists have reported for some time: animals’ sodium (salt) intake is controlled by networks in the brain and not by the salt in one’s food. The findings have important implications for future U.S. nutrition policy directed at sodium intake.

Findings from the new study, entitled “Normal Range of Human Dietary Sodium Intake: A Perspective Based on 24-hour Urinary Sodium Excretion Worldwide,” will be published online in advance of the print edition of the American Journal of Hypertension, appearing today (Aug. 26).

For decades, U.S. health policies have emphasized the importance of limiting salt consumption in order to lower the risks of cardiovascular disease related to high blood pressure. This new scientific review, however, found that people have a very predictable and narrow range of daily sodium intake (approximately 2,600 mg to 4,800 mg per day) that has remained quite constant during more than 50 years and across at least 45 countries.

“Our data clearly demonstrate that humans’ sodium (salt) intake is regulated within a relatively narrow ‘normal’ range that is defined by the body’s physiology and biological need rather than by the food supply,” said the study’s lead author David McCarron, a physician and adjunct professor in the UC Davis Department of Nutrition. “The nation’s future health policies and guidelines should be developed based on that biologically determined range.”

He noted that these findings were recently presented to an Institute of Medicine committee, which prepared the report “Sodium Intake in Populations — Assessment of Evidence.”

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For healthier kids, focus on lifestyle changes, not weight loss, study suggests


UCLA findings underscore need to focus on changing diet and increasing exercise.

Christian Roberts, UCLA

Christian Roberts, UCLA

A UCLA School of Nursing study has found that both healthy-weight and obese children who participated in an intensive lifestyle modification program significantly improved their metabolic and cardiovascular health despite little weight loss.

“These findings suggest that short-term lifestyle modifications through changing diet and exercise can have an immediate impact on improving risk factors such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes,” said Christian Roberts, an associate research professor at the UCLA School of Nursing and the study’s lead author. “This work underscores the need to focus on changing lifestyle as opposed to focusing on body weight and weight loss.”

This study is believed to be the first to compare the effects of changing diet and exercise in both normal-weight and obese children. The article is published online in the American Journal of Physiology.

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45 Bing cherries a day may keep doctor away


Small, in-depth study finds levels for nine biomarkers of inflammation improved.

Cherry fruitAdding 45 sweet Bing cherries to the diet each day has been shown to lower levels of a variety of indicators for chronic inflammatory diseases such as arthritis, high blood pressure, diabetes and cardiovascular disease, a small, in-depth study by researchers at UC Davis School of Medicine has found.

The researchers found that cherry consumption selectively improved circulating blood levels for nine biomarkers of inflammatory disease. The work suggests that cherries  may be an important addition to the diet to improve health, especially for individuals at risk for inflammatory diseases.

Researchers have increasingly linked chronic inflammation — the body’s immune response to injury, infection and other harmful stimuli that damage cells — to some of the most common diseases of aging. They also have associated reduced levels of certain biomarkers with reduced severity of symptoms.

Elevated C-reactive protein, for example, is a known risk factor for cardiovascular disease, diabetes and metabolic syndrome, and the potent vasoconstrictor endothelin-1 (ET-1) has known proliferative, profibrotic and proinflammatory properties that may contribute to many facets of diabetic vascular disease. Studies conducted in rats also have associated reduced C-reactive protein and tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNFa) levels and increased interleukin-1 receptor antagonist (IL-1RA) levels with a lessening of arthritis symptoms. In fact, TNFa drugs are now licensed for treating rheumatoid arthritis and inflammatory bowel disease.

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Eating right, exercise may help prostate cancer patients reduce aggressive tumor risk


Cancer-prevention recommendations may also help those already diagnosed with the disease.

Lenore Arab, UCLA

Lenore Arab, UCLA

Researchers at UCLA’s Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center have shown for the first time that men with prostate cancer who closely adhere to World Cancer Research Fund lifestyle recommendations have a significantly reduced risk of highly aggressive prostate tumors.

The nine WCRF recommendations suggest desirable ranges for body mass index and physical activity and provide guidelines for the consumption of foods of low caloric density, fruits and non-starchy vegetables, salt, legumes and unrefined grains, and red meat.

While the recommendations are intended to decrease individuals’ overall risk of cancer and are also recommended for cancer survivors, the current study shows that adherence may also benefit men who have recently been diagnosed with prostate cancer, said Lenore Arab, a member of the Jonsson Cancer Comprehensive Center and a professor in the UCLA departments of medicine and biological chemistry.

The study is currently available online in the journal Nutrition and Cancer and will be published in an upcoming print edition.

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Six months of fish oil reverses liver disease in kids with intestinal failure


UCLA study finds promising results with fish oil.

Isabella Piscione following her fish oil treatment

Isabella Piscione following her fish oil treatment

Children who suffer from intestinal failure, most often caused by a shortened or dysfunctional bowel, are unable to consume food orally. Instead, a nutritional cocktail of sugar, protein and fat made from soybean oil is injected through a small tube in their vein.

For these children, the intravenous nutrition serves as a bridge to bowel adaptation, a process by which the intestine recovers and improves its capacity to absorb nutrition. But the soybean oil, which provides essential fatty acids and calories, has been associated with a potentially lethal complication known as intestinal failure–associated liver disease, which may require a liver and/or intestinal transplant. Such a transplant can prevent death, but the five-year post-transplant survival rate is only 50–70 percent.

Previous studies have shown that replacing soybean oil with fish oil in intravenous nutrition can reverse intestinal failure–associated liver disease. However, the necessary duration of fish oil treatment had not been established in medical studies.

Now, a clinical trial conducted at the Children’s Discovery and Innovation Institute at Mattel Children’s Hospital UCLA has found that, compared with soybean oil, a limited duration (24 weeks) of fish oil is safe and effective in reversing liver disease in children with intestinal failure who require intravenous nutrition. The researchers believe that fish oil may also decrease the need for liver and/or intestinal transplants — and mortality — associated with this disease.

The researchers’ study, “Six Months of Intravenous Fish Oil Reverses Pediatric Intestinal Failure Associated Liver Disease,” is published online in the Journal of Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition.

“With this particular study, we set out to determine if a finite period of six months of intravenous fish oil could safely reverse liver damage in these children, and we have had some promising results,” said lead author Dr. Kara Calkins, an assistant professor in the department of pediatrics in the division of neonatology and developmental biology at UCLA. “But because intravenous fish oil is not yet approved by the Food and Drug Administration and is much more costly than soybean oil, it is typically not covered by insurance. As a result, this oil is considered experimental and is currently available only under special protocols. If it proves safe and effective for patients, we hope it would eventually be available for wider use.”

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Formula-fed babies may be more susceptible to chronic disease


Study finds formula-fed infants face metabolic stress that may hold consequences later.

Formula-fed infant rhesus monkeys grew faster but also had higher insulin levels than breast-fed monkeys.

Formula-fed infant rhesus monkeys grew faster but also had higher insulin levels than breast-fed monkeys.

Formula-fed infants experience metabolic stress that could make them more susceptible than breast-fed infants to a wide range of health issues such as obesity, diabetes, liver problems and cardiovascular disease, according to new research at the University of California, Davis.

A study by biochemists Carolyn Slupsky and Bo Lönnerdal, both of the UC Davis Department of Nutrition, sheds new light on the link between infant formula feeding and increased risk of chronic diseases later in life. The findings were reported in the June issue of the Journal of Proteome Research.

“We’re not saying formula-fed babies will grow up with health issues, but these results indicate that choice of infant feeding may hold future consequences,” said Slupsky, lead author of the study and also a faculty member in the UC Davis Department of Food Science and Technology.

Slupsky and her colleagues used nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy to look at how diet affects compounds in blood and urine in infant rhesus monkeys, which provide an animal model similar to humans in this type of research. After just four weeks, the formula-fed infants were larger than their breast-fed counterparts, had developed distinct bacterial communities in their gut, had higher insulin levels and were metabolizing amino acids differently.

“Our findings support the contention that infant feeding practice profoundly influences metabolism in developing infants and may be the link between early feeding and the development of metabolic disease later in life,” Slupsky said.

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