Monday, April 29, 2019

Bill’s Blog Is On Vacation

My wife and I are in Europe celebrating our 25th wedding anniversary.
No internet and no blogs until Wisdom Wednesday, May 15th!

Friday, April 26, 2019

Researchers look at the link between gut bacteria and autism

New research looks to the gut microbiome to try to address some of the symptoms associated with autism, but this investigation comes with its own set of problems.

The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke explain that "autism spectrum disorder (ASD) refers to a group of complex neurodevelopment disorders characterized by repetitive and characteristic patterns of behavior and difficulties with social communication and interaction." They also point out that specialists use the term "spectrum," as autism is different in different individuals. The condition can incorporate a "wide range of symptoms, skills, and levels of disability in functioning."

Research has also found that autistic children often experience chronic gastrointestinal problems a lot more frequently than children without autism. This has led scientists from Arizona State University in Tempe to explore whether a fairly new form of therapy — microbiota transfer therapy (MTT) — can help solve gastrointestinal issues in autistic children. Also, they wanted to see whether this intervention could affect other autism markers. MTT involves collecting, processing, and freezing the fecal material of healthy people, and then administering it — orally or rectally — to the person receiving the treatment. Thus, the healthy bacteria should re-establish a balance in the gut microbiome of the person experiencing gastrointestinal problems.

The researchers explain that at the start of the study, autistic children had poorer bacterial diversity in the gut, compared with neurotypical children with healthy and balanced microbiota. More specifically, two beneficial bacterial strands — Bifidobacteria and Prevotella — were lacking in the microbiota of children on the spectrum. Following the initial MTT intervention, the autistic children experienced more gut bacterial diversity, including increased levels of Bifidobacteria and Prevotella. In the new clinical trial, which measured bacterial diversity in the gut after 2 years from the intervention, the children had even more bacterial diversity and a steady presence of healthful bacteria.

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Thyroidectomy Seems to Improve Quality of Life in Hashimoto Disease


Total thyroidectomy appears to improve quality of life in patients with Hashimoto disease, according to a study in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Roughly 150 adults with Hashimoto-related symptoms despite adequate hormone substitution were randomized to receive either total thyroidectomy with standard medical therapy or medical therapy alone. All had serum antithyroid peroxidase (anti-TPO) antibody titers above 1000 IU/mL at baseline.

At 18 months, surgery patients had significantly better health-related quality-of-life scores than did controls. Surgery patients also had improved fatigue scores, and their serum anti-TPO antibody levels were significantly lower.

My Take:
Hashimoto’s disease is an autoimmune disease of the thyroid gland. It is estimated that a third of all patients suffering from hypothyroidism have Hashimoto’s.

The condition often goes undiagnosed as the confirmatory tests – thyroid peroxidase and thyroid autoantibodies – are seldom performed. However, there is renewed interest in Hashimoto’s as evidenced by this study.

Traditional treatment of Hashimoto’s disease is limited to hormone replacement therapy using Synthroid. There is no medical approach to treat the underlying autoimmune disease. Even in this extreme treatment where the thyroid gland is surgically removed, the underlying disease is not addressed.

Monday, April 22, 2019

Review: The Role of Vitamin D and Lipoprotein Receptor-Related Protein in Amyloid Clearance and Brain Health

A review on the relationship between vitamin D and low-density lipoprotein receptor-related protein (LRP-1) has revealed that the two may work together to possibly clear amyloid-beta (Aβ), whose deposition is considered linked to the progression of neurological dysfunction.

LRP-1 is a large receptor present on the body’s cells and is widely expressed, or present in several tissues. It’s a member of the LDL receptor family, which plays various different roles related to enzyme activation, the entry of bacterial toxins and viruses into cells and the metabolism of proteins that transport and combine with fats in the blood.

But LRP-1 has also been identified as a Aβ scavenger receptor that can remove Aβ from the brain through the blood-brain barrier. However, its expression is decreased in patients with neurological dysfunction.

This review points to recent evidence that after supplementation with the active form of vitamin D, 1,25 (OH)2D3, LRP1 expression increases significantly both in-vivo and in-vitro. This is because so many vitamin D receptors are expressed in the brain.

Friday, April 19, 2019

Is it better to get nutrients from food or supplements?

Researchers have found that nutrients from food may be linked to lower risks of death, while excess intake of certain supplements may have the opposite effect.

Taking supplements leads to an increased level of total nutrient intake. Dietary supplements include vitamins, minerals, herbs, amino acids, and enzymes. Suppliers sell them in different forms, including tablets, capsules, powders, and liquids. Common dietary supplements include calcium, fish oil, and vitamin D.

According to the 2018 consumer survey conducted by the Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN), consumer confidence in products and trust in the dietary supplement industry is strong among people in the U.S. The survey found that 75 percent of U.S. individuals take dietary supplements, as opposed to just 65 percent in 2009. "This year's data provide further evidence that dietary supplements are mainstays in modern day health and wellness regimens," explains Brian Wommack, the senior vice president of communications at the CRN. Vitamin and mineral supplements such as vitamin D and calcium remain the most popular types. However, the use of herbals and botanicals — especially turmeric — has significantly increased during the past 5 years.

The main reason that U.S. individuals take dietary supplements is overall health and wellness, according to the survey. Although many people use dietary supplements, a recent study found that multivitamins, vitamin D, calcium, and vitamin C showed no advantage or added risk in the prevention of cardiovascular disease or premature death. However, folic acid alone and B vitamins with folic acid may reduce the risk of heart disease. The team, from the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University in Medford, MA, conducted a study to evaluate the association between dietary supplement use and all-cause mortality. The researchers have published their results in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Wisdom Wednesday: Mineral Water versus Tap Water


Mineral water comes from underground reservoirs. Unlike regular drinking water, mineral water does not undergo chemical processing. As the name suggests, mineral water contains high quantities of minerals, especially magnesium, calcium, and sodium. But is mineral water better than regular water, and what are its benefits?

This article discusses some possible health benefits associated with drinking mineral water.

All living organisms need water to survive. Not only does water support essential physical functions, it also provides vital nutrients that the body does not produce on its own. While most people in the United States have access to clean drinking water, many people choose bottled mineral water for its perceived purity and potential health benefits.
How does mineral water compare with regular water? Based on the current evidence, the differences are not very significant. The water in household taps comes either from surface or underground sources.

In the U.S., tap water must meet the Safe Drinking Water Act standards established by the
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). These regulations limit the number of contaminants present in water supplied to homes. Public water suppliers move water from its source to treatment plants, where it undergoes chemical disinfection. The clean water ultimately gets delivered to households through a system of underground pipes.

Monday, April 15, 2019

How to Understand Your Lab Results

A laboratory (lab) test is a procedure in which a health care provider takes a sample of your blood, urine, other bodily fluid, or body tissue to get information about your health. Some lab tests are used to help diagnose, screen, or monitor a specific disease or condition. Other tests provide more general information about your organs and body systems. Lab tests play an important role in your health care. But they don't provide a complete picture of your health. Your provider will likely include a physical exam, health history, and other tests and procedures to help guide diagnosis and treatment decisions.

Lab tests are used in many different ways. Your health care provider may order one or more lab tests to:
Diagnose or rule out a specific disease or condition

Screen - A screening test can show if you are at a higher risk for getting a specific disease. It can also find out if you have a disease, even if you have no symptoms.

Monitor a disease and/or treatment - If you've already been diagnosed with a disease, lab tests can show if your condition is getting better or worse. It can also show if your treatment is working.
Check your overall health - Lab tests are often included in a routine checkup.

Lab results are often shown as a set of numbers known as a reference range. A reference range may also be called "normal values." You may see something like this on your results: "normal: 77-99mg/dL". Reference ranges are based on the normal test results of a large group of healthy people. The range helps show what a typical normal result looks like. But not everyone is typical. Sometimes, healthy people get results outside the reference range, while people with health problems can have results in the normal range. If your results fall outside the reference range, or if you have symptoms despite a normal result, you will likely need more testing. Your lab results may also include one of these terms:
  • Negative or normal, which means the disease or substance being tested was not found
  • Positive or abnormal, which means the disease or substance was found
  • Inconclusive or uncertain, which means there wasn't enough information in the results to diagnose or rule out a disease. If you get an inconclusive result, you will probably get more tests. Tests that measure various organs and systems often give results as reference ranges, while tests that diagnose or rule out diseases often use the terms listed above.