Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Wisdom Wednesday: RNA

Ribonucleic acid or RNA acts as a messenger between DNA and the protein synthesis complexes known as ribosomes, forms vital portions of ribosomes, and acts as an essential carrier molecule for amino acids to be used in protein synthesis.

RNA is very similar to DNA, but differs in a few important structural details: RNA is single stranded, while DNA is double stranded. Also, RNA nucleotides contain ribose sugars while DNA contains deoxyribose and RNA uses predominantly uracil instead of thymine present in DNA.

RNA is transcribed from DNA by enzymes called RNA polymerases and further processed by other enzymes. RNA serves as the template for translation of genes into proteins, transferring amino acids to the ribosome to form proteins, and also translating the transcript into proteins.

RNA is a polymer with a ribose and phosphate backbone and four different bases: adenine, guanine, cytosine, and uracil. The first three are the same as those found in DNA, but in RNA thymine is replaced by uracil as the base complementary to adenine.

Uracil is energetically less expensive to produce than thymine, which may account for its use in RNA. Having thymine as the normal base in DNA makes detection and repair of incipient mutations more effective. Thus uracil is appropriate for RNA, where quantity is important but lifespan is not, whereas thymine is appropriate for DNA where maintaining sequence with high fidelity is more critical.

Monday, June 24, 2019

Decaf Coffee

Decaffeinated coffee, or "decaf," is similar in taste and appearance to regular coffee but contains very little caffeine. There is no evidence to suggest that drinking decaf is bad for a person's health, and it may even share some of the health benefits of regular coffee.

According to a 2017 research review, decaf coffee is similar in composition to regular coffee but contains little or no caffeine. To remove the caffeine, manufacturers soak or steam unroasted coffee beans using a combination of water and other chemicals, such as: activated charcoal, supercritical carbon dioxide, methylene chloride and ethyl acetate. Manufacturers use water because caffeine is a water-soluble substance. However, using water by itself may remove other compounds, such as proteins and sugar, from the coffee beans. Using additional chemicals speeds up the decaffeination process, which minimizes the loss of noncaffeine compounds and helps preserve the distinct coffee flavor.

One 2-17 study reviewed 201 meta-analyses of observational research into coffee consumption. Its authors concluded that decaf coffee does not appear to have any harmful health effects. However, the use of methylene chloride in the decaffeination process has raised some concern among members of the coffee community as well as some consumers.

Inhaling even small amounts of methylene chloride — around 200 parts per million (ppm) in the air — can temporarily slow down the central nervous system and affect a person's attention and hand-eye coordination. Mild exposure can also lead to symptoms such as: headache, drowsiness, lightheadedness, irritability, coughing or wheezing

Friday, June 21, 2019

Gut bacteria: The surprising impact of viruses

The microbiome plays a vital role in health. A recent study has investigated how viruses that kill gut bacteria influence these microbes. The findings make an already complicated picture much more so. The microbiome is both fascinating and fashionable.
The increase in public interest has provided a boost in funding to study the interactions between us and our gut bacteria. Scientists have now found relationships between the microbiome and a range of conditions, from diabetes and obesity to Parkinson's and depression.

Thanks to gut bacteria's high profile, grocery stores shelves are now brimming with probiotic products. Despite their wide availability and popularity, however, there is little evidence to suggest that they provide many benefits outside a small number of specific conditions. Although scientists know that the microbes within us are vital, designing a way to moderate them to improve health and fight disease is still a long way off.

The primary reason for this is the dazzling complexity of the microbiome. It is not a single, homogenous entity, but a world of microscopic beings that interact, influence, and inhibit their neighbors, capable of killing, nourishing, and communicating with each other. Already, at this point, we can see the vast difficulties in understanding the ins and outs of the microbiome, but some researchers are examining the next level of complexity: bacteriophages.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Wisdom Wednesday: Research Study on the Effectiveness of Stem Cell Injections

Between June 2014 and February 2017, data from 233 patients with knee osteoarthritis treated with BMAC injection at a single center were retrospectively evaluated. Only patients with idiopathic osteoarthritis were included. Exclusion criteria were post-traumatic osteoarthritis, previous knee surgery, age less than 50 years old or more than 85 years old, active infection, uncontrolled diabetes mellitus, rheumatological or other systemic disease, malignancy, or treatment with immunosuppressive drugs. Bone marrow from the iliac crest was aspirated/concentrated with a standardized technique using a single-spin manual method. Patients were evaluated before and after the procedure, using the numeric pain scale (NPS) and Oxford knee score (OKS). Mean follow-up period was 11 months, range (6e30 months).

A total of 121 of 233 patients had completed data as previously defined and were included in the statistical analysis. There were 85 females and 36 males, with mean age 70 years (range 50e85). Compared to baseline, the mean NPS decreased from 8.33 to 4.49 (p 0.001) and the mean OKS increased from 20.20 to 32.29 (P 0.001) at final follow-up. There were no complications.

A single intra-articular injection of BMAC is a safe and reliable procedure that results in clinical improvement of knee OA.

My Take:
This is just the summary of the full article which Apex was kind enough to send to me. The published study listed any conflicts of interest, financial support and most importantly limitations of the study. The study was self-supported by the clinic in Greece that performed all the procedures without any outside financial support.

Monday, June 17, 2019


Sedentary lifestyles, nutrient-poor diets, chemical exposure, and an excess of sugar and refined foods are wreaking havoc on and in our bodies more than ever before. And the effects aren’t just cosmetic – beyond bulging waistlines, the incidence of high blood pressure, high blood sugar, and high cholesterol associated with metabolic syndrome are all on the rise, along with the rate of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD).

As the name implies, NAFLD (casually pronounced “naffled”) is a condition in which the liver stores excess fat occurring in those who drink little to no alcohol. Over time NAFLD can not only increase the risk of cardiovascular disease, but can also lead to further ailments of the liver like cirrhosis and liver cancer – conditions also seen in heavy alcohol consumers, but now more commonly seen in non-drinkers. In fact, NAFLD is the leading cause of liver disease in the West, often concurrent with other metabolic conditions: approximately 40 to 80% of people with the disease also have type 2 diabetes, and 30 to 90% are obese. As with metabolic syndrome, the incidence of NAFLD is also on the rise among children, affecting an estimated 3 to 12% of children with normal body mass and an alarming 40 to 80% of obese children.

The umbrella term NAFLD encompasses two sub-categories: nonalcoholic fatty liver (NAFL), which is characterized by fatty liver with little to no inflammation; and nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), which is the more harmful of the two and is defined as fatty liver with inflammation. It’s estimated that 30 to 40% of American adults have NAFL and about 3 to 12% have NASH.

Friday, June 14, 2019

Almond, hemp, oat, soy, and cow's milk: Which is best?

The number of people choosing nondairy, plant-based alternatives to cow's milk appears to be growing. So, how do these different milks compare nutritionally? Research from 2018 says that eating and drinking milk that comes from cows has been falling, with interest in alternative milks rising.

One of the main medical reasons why people choose plant-based milk products is to avoid symptoms of lactose intolerance or a cow milk protein allergy. Doctors estimate the incidence of this allergy is 2 to 5% in children under 3 years old. The incidence is lower in adults.
Some people may also choose plant-based milk products because they believe they are more sustainable, ethical, or healthful options compared to cow's milk.

Almond milk is one of the most widely consumed plant-based milk variety in North America, the European Union, and Australia. Researchers have suggested that almond milk is an effective alternative for children and adults who suffer with allergies or intolerances to milk. Compared to cow's milk, almond milk has less saturated fat and more unsaturated fats. The healthful fats in almond milk may help people lose weight and keep it off. Almond milk is low in calories and protein, which may not be suitable for all people, especially children.

Some manufacturers add calcium to almond milk to better resemble the nutritional content in cow's milk. People may not be able to absorb as much of this calcium as they would from dairy, so they should be sure to consume plenty of other calcium sources, such as dark green vegetables. Almond milk is available in flavored varieties. Some of these products have added sugar to extend the shelf life and improve the flavor and texture.

Unflavored hemp beverages are also low in calories and protein compared with cow's milk. There is, however, more protein in hemp beverages than in almond milk. Hemp seeds are also high in polyunsaturated fats, similarly to almond milk. Research shows that replacing saturated fats with these more healthful fats can help lower a person's overall cholesterol.

Monday, June 10, 2019

Common heartburn drug linked with fatal conditions

New research suggests that drugs commonly used for heartburn, acid reflux, and ulcers may raise the risk of numerous fatal conditions, including heart disease and stomach cancer. Physicians often prescribe proton pump inhibitors(PPIs) to treat gastrointestinal conditions that involve an excess of acid production. Nexium, Aciphex, Zegerid, Dexilant, Prevacid, Prilosec, and Protonix are only some of the brand names that PPIs have taken over the years.

More than 15 million people in the United States take prescription PPIs, according to the most recent statistics available, and even more may be taking over-the-counter PPIs.
A new study, appearing in the journal The BMJ, suggests that these drugs may increase the risk of death from various chronic health conditions.

Dr. Ziyad Al-Aly, an assistant professor of medicine at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, MO, is the senior investigator of the study. For the new study, Dr. Al-Aly and colleagues examined data from the medical records of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

The researchers looked at data available from mid-2002 to mid-2004, a period during which 157,625 people in the cohort received PPI prescriptions from their physicians and 56,842 people received H2 blockers, another kind of acid suppressant.

The scientists clinically followed the participants — who were predominantly male, Caucasian, and 65 years old or older — for up to a decade. They used the data to build a statistical model of a clinical trial, which would see the participants randomly assigned to take either PPI or H2 blockers. This allowed them to estimate that during the follow-up period, there would be 45.2 excess deaths per every 1,000 individuals taking PPIs.