TAG: "Nutrition"

Nutrition influences metabolism through circadian rhythms


Reprogramming of liver “clock” may contribute to metabolic disorders, UC Irvine study finds.

Paolo Sassone-Corsi, UC Irvine

Paolo Sassone-Corsi, UC Irvine

A high-fat diet affects the molecular mechanism controlling the internal body clock that regulates metabolic functions in the liver, UC Irvine scientists have found. Disruption of these circadian rhythms may contribute to metabolic distress ailments, such as diabetes, obesity and high blood pressure.

There’s good news, though. The researchers also discovered that returning to a balanced, low-fat diet normalized the rhythms. This study reveals that the circadian clock is able to reprogram itself depending on a diet’s nutritional content – which could lead to the identification of novel pharmacological targets for controlled diets.

UC Irvine’s Paolo Sassone-Corsi, the Donald Bren Professor of Biological Chemistry and one of the world’s leading researchers on the genetics of circadian rhythms, led the study, which appears in Cell.

Circadian rhythms of 24 hours govern fundamental physiological functions in virtually all organisms. The circadian clocks are intrinsic time-tracking systems in our bodies that anticipate environmental changes and adapt themselves to the appropriate time of day. Changes to these rhythms can profoundly influence human health. Up to 15 percent of people’s genes are regulated by the day-night pattern of circadian rhythms, including those involved with metabolic pathways in the liver.

A high-fat diet reprograms the liver clock through two main mechanisms. One blocks normal cycles by impeding the clock regulator genes called CLOCK:BMAL1. The other initiates a new program of oscillations by activating genes that normally do not oscillate, principally through a factor called PPAR-gamma. Previously implicated in inflammatory responses and the formation of fatty tissue, this factor oscillates with a high-fat diet.

It’s noteworthy, Sassone-Corsi said, that this reprogramming takes place independent of the state of obesity; rather, it’s solely dependent upon caloric intake – showing the remarkable adaptability of the circadian clock.

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Minorities’ health would benefit most from beverage sugar tax


UCSF research team concludes that tax would result in lower rates of diabetes, heart disease.

Kirsten Bibbins-Domingo, UC San Francisco

Kirsten Bibbins-Domingo, UC San Francisco

Taxing sugar-sweetened beverages is likely to decrease consumption, resulting in lower rates of diabetes and heart disease, and these health benefits are expected to be greatest for the low-income, Hispanic and African-American Californians who are at highest risk of diabetes, according to a new analysis led by researchers at UC San Francisco.

Over the course of the next decade, lowered incidence of these diseases would save over half a billion dollars in medical costs, concluded the research team, which includes members from Oregon State University and the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University.

The researchers previously modeled the national health effects of a penny-per-ounce tax over the course of 10 years and found that it would reduce consumption among adults by 15 percent, modestly lower the prevalence of diabetes and obesity and prevent tens of thousands of coronary heart events, strokes and premature deaths. The new study considered a range of reductions in sugary beverage consumption among Californians.

In the new study, assuming a decline of 10 to 20 percent in the consumption of soda and other sugary beverages from the tax, researchers concluded that new cases of diabetes and coronary heart disease would drop statewide, and those health benefits would be greatest in poor and minority communities. The analysis, published Dec. 11 in the online journal PLOS ONE, predicted that overall, one in 20,000 Californians would avoid diabetes. This estimate would double for Hispanics and poor Californians and triple for African Americans.

”Poor and minority communities in California and nationally have very high rates of diabetes, a chronic condition with potentially devastating health complications,” said Kirsten Bibbins-Domingo, M.D., Ph.D., UCSF professor of medicine and director of the UCSF Center for Vulnerable Populations at San Francisco General Hospital and Trauma Center. “Although many steps are needed to reverse the rising diabetes trends in the state, our study suggests that efforts to curb sugary beverage consumption can have a significant positive impact, particularly in those most likely to be affected.”

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UCLA helping change the way a community eats, one store at a time


Euclid Market is latest store to be transformed.

Transformation of Euclid Market's exterior

Transformation of Euclid Market's exterior

Big chain grocery stores, farmers markets and other sources of healthy foods are usually in short supply in low-income communities. Public health experts refer to these areas as “food swamps” for their lack of available nutritious foods.

One such area is in the Boyle Heights neighborhood of East Los Angeles, where fast food reigns and meals are frequently purchased at corner markets. These small stores tend to be rundown, uninviting and focused on selling the bane of healthy eating — junk food.

At noon on Saturday, Dec. 14, the UCLA–USC Center for Population Health and Health Disparities (CPHHD) and the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health will join with local community members in Boyle Heights to celebrate the grand reopening of the neighborhood’s Euclid Market, which has been transformed into the opposite of what most corner markets are.

Instead of drab, there is fresh paint. Instead of the prominent placement of junk food and beer, the front of the store now highlights healthy foods like fresh fruits and vegetables, bottled water and nutritious snacks.

The Euclid Market is the third store in the East Los Angeles–Boyle Heights area to undergo a CPHHD-supported transformation. The first opened in November 2011, the second in February 2012.

The latest conversion, funded by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health and led by the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health, is part of a collaborative strategy with community members to change eating habits and reduce disease risk among the area’s dominant Latino population, which is plagued by high rates of obesity-related chronic diseases. Obesity stands as one of the nation’s most significant public health problems.

“Both of the existing transformed stores in the East L.A. area are reporting increased profits and greater foot traffic, so that’s good news for the small business owner,” said Alex Ortega, the director of the CPHHD and a professor of public health at the Fielding School.

“But it’s even better news for the people in those areas because having access to nutritious food that’s convenient to buy will help folks change their bad eating habits,” he added. “The goal, of course, is to see improvements in the overall health of our underserved communities.”

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Unhappy meals?


Majority of very young children in California eat fast food at least once a week.

UCLA Center for Health Policy ResearchA surprisingly large percentage of very young children in California, including 70 percent of Latino children, eat fast food regularly, according to a new policy brief by the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research.

The study found that 60 percent of all children between the ages of 2 and 5 had eaten fast food at least once in the previous week.

The majority of the state’s young children also do not eat enough fruits and vegetables, with only 57 percent of parents reporting that their child ate at least five fruit and vegetable servings the previous day.

“A weekly happy meal is an unhappy solution, especially for toddlers,” said Susan Holtby, the study’s lead author and a senior researcher at the Public Health Institute. ”Hard-working, busy parents need support to make healthy food selections for their kids.”

The new study used data from several cycles of the California Health Interview Survey (CHIS) to examine dietary behaviors of very young children, including their consumption of fast food, sugar-sweetened beverages, fruits and vegetables, and to gauge how much influence parents have over what their children eat.

The study’s authors found that in both 2007 and 2009, about two-thirds of children between the ages of 2 and 5 ate at least one fast food meal during the previous week, and 29 percent ate two or more. About 10 percent of children in this age group ate three or more fast food meals the previous week.

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You are what you eat


Low-fat diet changes prostate cancer tissue.

William Aronson, UCLA

William Aronson, UCLA

Men with prostate cancer who ate a low-fat diet and took fish oil supplements had lower levels of pro-inflammatory substances in their blood and a lower cell cycle progression score — a measure used to predict cancer recurrence — than men who ate a typical Western diet, UCLA researchers found.

The findings are important because lowering the cell cycle progression (CCP) score may help prevent prostate cancers from becoming more aggressive, said lead study author William Aronson, a clinical professor of urology at UCLA and chief of urologic oncology at the West Los Angeles Veterans Affairs Medical Center.

“We found that CCP scores were significantly lower in the prostate cancer of men who consumed the low-fat fish oil diet, as compared to men who followed a higher-fat Western diet,” Aronson said. “We also found that men on the low-fat fish oil diet had reduced blood levels of pro-inflammatory substances that have been associated with cancer.”

The study appears in the early online edition of Cancer Prevention Research, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Association for Cancer Research.

This study is a follow-up to a 2011 study by Aronson and his team that found that compared to a traditional, high-fat Western diet, a low-fat diet with fish oil supplements eaten for four to six weeks prior to prostate removal slowed the growth of cancer cells in human prostate cancer tissue.

That short-term study also found that the men on the low-fat fish oil diet were able to change the composition of their cell membranes in both the healthy cells and the cancer cells in the prostate. They had increased levels of omega-3 fatty acids from fish oil and decreased levels of the more pro-inflammatory omega-6 fatty acids from corn oil in their cell membranes, which may directly affect the biology of the cells, Aronson said.

“These studies are showing that in men with prostate cancer, you really are what you eat,” Aronson said. “The studies suggest that by altering the diet, we may favorably affect the biology of prostate cancer.”

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UC Davis to lead program to develop safer chickens for Africa


USAID program to develop disease-resistant, heat-tolerant chickens.

The program's goal is to dramatically increase chicken production among Africa’s rural households and small farms, advancing food security, human nutrition and personal livelihoods.

The program's goal is to dramatically increase chicken production among Africa’s rural households and small farms, advancing food security, human nutrition and personal livelihoods.

A new program that will identify genes crucial for breeding chickens that can tolerate hot climates and resist infectious diseases — specifically the devastating Newcastle disease — has been launched under the leadership of the University of California, Davis.

The global economic impact of virulent Newcastle disease is enormous. The project is particularly important for Africa, where infectious diseases annually cause approximately 750 million poultry deaths. Newcastle disease, a global threat to food security, first appeared in 1950 in the United States. In 2002 it resulted in the death of 4 million birds at more than 2,600 California locations and cost $160 million to eradicate.

The new effort, called the Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Genomics to Improve Poultry, aims to dramatically increase chicken production among Africa’s rural households and small farms, advancing food security, human nutrition and personal livelihoods. The innovation lab recently was established with a $6 million grant from the U.S. Agency for International Development as part of Feed the Future, the U.S. government’s global hunger and food security initiative.

Huaijun Zhou, principal investigator for the program and an associate professor of animal science in the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences at UC Davis, noted that disease resistance is one of the most economically important traits for poultry production but also challenging to achieve through genetic selection and traditional breeding alone.

“We are thrilled by the opportunity to apply cutting-edge technology and advanced genomics to solve this problem in poor, developing countries,” said Zhou, whose research focuses on the relationship between genetics and the immune system.

“Developing a chicken that can survive Newcastle disease outbreaks is critical to increase poultry, meat and egg production in Africa and in other regions of the world,” said David Bunn, director of the new innovation lab. “Increasing the production of chickens and eggs can have a dramatic impact on the livelihoods of poor rural communities.”

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New study finds spike in sugary drink consumption among California teens


Sugary beverage consumption has dropped in children under 12, but “teens are in trouble.”

Still bubbling overWhile consumption of soda and other sugary drinks among young children in California is starting to decline, a new study released today shows an alarming 8 percent spike among adolescents, the biggest consumers of these beverages.

Based on interviews with more than 40,000 California households conducted by the California Health Interview Survey (CHIS), the study, “Still Bubbling Over: California Adolescents Drinking More Soda and Other Sugar-Sweetened Beverages,” provides a comprehensive look at youth (2- to 17-year-olds) consumption of sugary drinks, charting consumption patterns from 2005–07 to 2011–12 .

The study, which also provides county-by-county youth consumption rates, was produced collaboratively by the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research and the California Center for Public Health Advocacy.

The most encouraging finding was the dramatic drop in the proportion of young children drinking sugary beverages daily over the seven-year period. Only 19 percent of 2- to 5-year-olds drink a sugary beverage daily, a 30 percent decline from the 2005–07 reporting period. Among 6- to 11-year-olds, 32 percent were daily consumers in 2011–12, representing a 26 percent drop since 2005–07.

Of greatest concern, however, is the significant rise among the biggest consumers of sugary drinks — adolescents (12- to 17-year-olds). Today, a full 65 percent of California adolescents drink sugary beverages daily, an 8 percent climb since 2005–07. And while the study’s authors point out that roughly the same proportion of these youth are drinking soda, 23 percent more are consuming energy and sports drinks every day.

“California has made real progress in reducing the consumption of sugary beverages among young children,” said Susan Babey, Ph.D., the report’s lead author. “But teens are in trouble. Soda or sports drinks should be an occasional treat, not a daily habit. If this trend isn’t reversed, there may be costly consequences for teens, their families and the health care system in the form of increased obesity and diabetes.”

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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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