Changes in Diet May Help Ease Symptoms of Auto-immune Diseases
People afflicted by an auto-immune disease have their body’s immune system turned against them; the disease makes the normally guarding ‘defence’ cells mistakenly attack the body. There are numerous auto-immune diseases that have been discovered and classified; however, the reasons and cure for these diseases are not, yet, clear. Now, new research has uncovered how a dietary intervention could help prevent the development of the auto-immune disease, lupus.
 
Using the mouse models of lupus, the team from Yale University set out to test the role of diet and the microbiota and then dissect its mechanisms, as the role of commensal bacteria in auto-immunity remains unclear. “We dissected, molecularly, how diets work on the gut microbiome,” said senior author Dr Martin Kriegel, associate professor adjunct in the department of immunobiology at the Yale University School of Medicine. “We identified a pathway that is driving auto-immune disease and mitigated by the diet.”
 
The study, published in the science journal Cell Host & Microbe, reveals how the team first identified the bacterium, Lactobacillus reuteri, in the gut of the mice as the one that triggered an immune response leading to the disease. In lupus-prone mice, L. reuteri stimulated immune cells known as dendritic cells, as well as immune system pathways that exacerbated disease development. To investigate the potential impact of diet on the presence of this bacteria in the mice, lead author Daniel Zegarra-Ruiz, a graduate student in the lab, fed the mice ‘resistant starch’—a diet that mimics a high-fibre diet in humans. 
 
Foods that are high in resistant starch are rice, whole grains, such as oats and barley, beans, peas and lentils. The resistant starch is not absorbed in the small intestine but ferments in the large intestine, enriching good bacteria and causing the secretion of short-chain fatty acids. This helps in suppressing both, the growth and movement, of L. reuteri bacteria outside the gut that would, otherwise, lead to auto-immune disease. 
 
This study details an important link between diet, gut bacteria and auto-immunity. The researchers feel that more studies would be required to discern how the findings might apply to humans. This study is also important because it found an imbalance of gut microbes in a sub-set of lupus patients that was similar to what they observed in lupus-prone mice not given the starch diet. In this sub-set of lupus patients, a high-fibre diet could potentially be beneficial in preventing or alleviating the condition and other diseases that activate the same immune pathway can benefit.
 
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COMMENTS

Ramesh Poapt

6 months ago

a good one!

Fighting Obesity Is ‘Dirt’ Cheap Finds New Study
The fight against obesity is costing the global economy an estimated US$2 trillion annually and has been dubbed a modern health epidemic. However, new research has uncovered a possible cure for obesity that is, literally, as plain as dirt. 
 
While investigating how drug delivery in our bodies can be improved using clay materials, Tahnee Dening, a researcher and PhD candidate from the University of South Australia, accidentally discovered that the clay materials she was using had a unique ability to ‘soak up’ fat droplets in our gut. This accidental discovery could potentially be a cure for obesity. 
 
Explaining her discovery Ms Dening says. “I was investigating the capacity of specifically clay materials to improve the oral delivery and absorption of antipsychotic drugs, when I noticed that the clay particles weren’t behaving as I’d expected. Instead of breaking down to release drugs, the clay materials were attracting fat droplets and literally soaking them up. Not only were the clay materials trapping the fats within their particle structure, but they were also preventing them from being absorbed by the body, ensuring that fat simply passed through the digestive system.”
 
An overweight person is more likely to be affected with serious health conditions such as cardio-vascular disease, type-2 diabetes and some cancers. According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, obesity is increasing; almost two in three adults, and one in four children, are now overweight or obese. If this continues, nearly half the world’s population will be overweight or obese by 2030. There are very few effective drugs today that help in counteracting obesity and many companies are investing huge amounts of money to discover and develop alternative treatments for obesity. 
 
Ms Dening’s research investigated the effects of montmorillonite—a natural clay material, purified from dirt and laponite - a synthetic clay, in rats fed on a high-fat diet, comparing against a placebo and a leading weight-loss drug, Orlistat. Over a two-week period, she found that while both the engineered clay formulations and Orlistat delivered weight-loss effects, the clay material outperformed the drug.
 
Ms Denning says the finding offers new insights for obesity and weight management, particularly when used in combination with the commercial drug where there is potential for synergy. “Our processed clay has an unusually high surface area which means it has a huge capacity to interact with and soak up digested fats and oils present in the foods we eat,” she says. “Orlistat on the other hand, is an enzyme inhibitor that blocks up to 30 percent of dietary fat digestion and absorption, which leads to weight loss, but has unpleasant side effects such as stomach aches, bloating, flatulence and diarrhoea, which limits its use in weight loss as people choose to stop using it.”
 
This led her to consider researching a synergistic approach with both the clay material and Orlistat; the drug blocks the enzyme that digests fat molecules and the clay particles trap these fats so they’re excreted out of the body without causing gastro-intestinal disturbances. She explained, “We’re essentially attacking fat digestion and absorption in two different ways and we hope this will lead to greater weight loss with fewer side-effects.”
 
University of South Australia’s professor Clive Prestidge, and Ms Denning’s research supervisor, says the research has already captured the attention of potential investors. “This is a significant discovery that provides new and exciting avenues for weight loss research which naturally attracts potential commercial partners,” Prof Prestidge says. “With a finding like this, people will naturally be keen to find out when they can try it. Given that the material is generally considered safe and is widely used in food and nutraceutical products, it is feasible that human clinical trials could start reasonably soon.”
 
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Removing Candy from the Checkouts Can Promote Healthier Eating Habits
In these modern times, people have become more health conscious and try to maintain healthy eating habits. However, a person still has to step away from the temptation of making unhealthy purchases in the supermarket. Plenty of people have gone into stores shopping for one thing and have, somehow, walked out with a candy bar or a bag of chips in tow! These items, though never really on the shopping list, become harder to resist when they are positioned right at the checkout. Now, a new study has revealed that removal of sweets from checkout counters directly influences the amount of unhealthy purchases made by customers. 
 
“Many snacks picked up at the checkout may be unplanned, impulse buys - and the options tend to be confectionary, chocolate or crisps,” says Dr Jean Adams from the Centre for Diet and Activity Research at the University of Cambridge. “Several supermarkets have now introduced policies to remove these items from their checkouts and we wanted to know if this had any impact on people’s purchasing choices.” Published in the journal PLOS Medicine, the study aimed to examine how unhealthy purchases at the store could be limited. 
 
Generally, research shows that positioning of products at the checkout, or on the end of the aisles, increases their sales. When policies aimed at removing sweets and chips from checkouts are implemented in stores, there is a dramatic reduction in the amount of unhealthy foods purchased. To examine the effect that implementation of checkout food policies in stores has on shoppers’ purchasing habits, Dr Adams led a team of researchers, at the Universities of Cambridge, Stirling and Newcastle, who analysed data from the Kantar Worldpanel’s Consumer panel for food, beverages and household products. 
 
The research team first looked at how purchases of less healthy common checkout foods brought home changed after implementation of checkout policies. Data from over 30,000 UK households from 12 months before to 12 months after implementation were used. They found that implementation of a checkout food policy was associated with an immediate 17% reduction in purchases. After a year, shoppers were still purchasing over 15% fewer of the items compared to when no policy was in place. 
 
Researchers then looked at data from 7,500 shoppers who recorded food bought and eaten ‘on-the-go’ during 2016-17 from supermarkets with and without checkout food policies. Purchases made on-the-go are, often, impulsive and can perhaps be the result of children pestering their parents. Researchers found that shoppers made 76% fewer annual purchases of less healthy common checkout food items from stores with checkout food policies compared to those without. 
 
“Our findings suggest that by removing sweets and crisps from the checkout, supermarkets can have a positive influence on the type of purchases their shoppers intake,” said Dr Katrine Ejlerskov, the lead author on the study. “This would be relatively simple intervention with the potential to encourage healthier eating. Many of these purchases may have been impulse buys, so if the shopper doesn’t pick up a chocolate bar at the till, it may be one less chocolate bar that they consume.” Dr Adams added, “It may seem obvious that removing unhealthy food options from the checkout would reduce the amount that people buy, but it is evidence such as this that helps build the case for government interventions to improve unhealthy behaviours.”
 
It is important to note that this study was not a randomised control trial and, as such, it was not possible to definitively say that changes in purchasing behaviour were due to checkout food policies. It is possible that stores that chose to have checkout food policies may have been different from those that did not. Furthermore, shoppers may have changed to purchasing larger packages from the same stores or similar products from stores that are not supermarkets. 
 
Regardless, this study should serve as a good example for governments across the globe to implement such checkout policies in their respective countries. 
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COMMENTS

Rajan Vaswani

6 months ago

Candy business will be adversely impacted. It should be there only. One way to encourage children to enter a store and get the money to the Candyman first. :-).

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