Posts tagged: health impact

Broccoli Sprout Extract Found By USA Study To Control Blood Sugar Levels

Broccoli Sprout Extract Found By USA Study To Control Blood Sugar Levels
Image © shutterstock.com (under license)

Facts About Diabetes

Diabetes is characterized by persistently high post-prandial blood glucose (post-prandial means after eating). For people who are not affected by diabetes, their metabolism typically works like this:

1. Food enters the gastrointestinal tract, where glucose from food enters the bloodstream;
2. Glucose in the blood then stimulates the production of insulin;
3. Glucose is then taken in by cells, lowering blood glucose levels;
4. The cells use the glucose to produce energy which is needed by the body to function.

Diabetes has two types: Type 1 (previously known as juvenile diabetes because it typically appears among children and adolescents) and Type 2 (which is lifestyle-induced).

In Type 1 diabetes, the body has a physiologic problem: it doesn’t produce enough insulin to meet the needs of the body. Without insulin to stimulate glucose-uptake by the cells, blood glucose levels remain high despite a healthy diet. People affected by type 1 diabetes would need regular insulin injection to manage their blood glucose levels. [1]

Type 2 diabetes is much more common, because it is caused entirely by bad diets and lifestyle choices. People who eat too much sweets and carbohydrates, basically a diet that constantly keeps their blood sugar levels high, can be diagnosed with this type of diabetes. Your unhealthy diet causes persistently high blood sugar levels which can cause the body’s cells to become resistant to insulin (or to stop producing it altogether). [2]

The global burden of diabetes affects millions of people, from 108 million in 1980 to 422 million in 2014, according to the World Health Organization. The prevalence of the disease among adults aged 18 years and older has almost doubled since 1980, from 4.7% to 8.5% in 2014. The WHO also notes that prevalence is higher in middle and low-income countries.However, the numbers don’t stop there. In 2016, an estimated 1.6 million mortalities all over the world were directly attributed to diabetes, with 2.2 million mortalities directly attributed to high blood glucose (not necessarily diabetes) in 2012. [3]

Typically, diabetes is managed with two ways: lifestyle adjustments which involve diet and exercise and medication. Doctors will typically prescribe either oral hypoglycemic agents (OHAs) like metformin and/or insulin injections. But like every other medication on the market, these medications have side effects to watch out for. So what choice do we have?

Broccoli Sprouts And Diabetes

In 2017, a study was published in the American Association for the Advancement of Science that focused on diabetes and what could be used to manage it aside from conventional medications. The researchers delved into the genetic expression of diabetes, using 50 genes against 3800 drug signatures. They zoned in on a substance called sulforaphane (taken from broccoli), which was able to suppress glucose products from liver cells, reversing the disease in diabetic animals who suffered from increased glucose production and glucose intolerance. [4]

Out of the thousands of drugs included in the study, sulforaphane ranked first. However, the researchers emphasized that sulforaphane was unable to improve insulin signaling in the subjects, but instead was able to target glucose production specifically in affected cells. It was able to reduce the expression of genes involved in glucose production, not only reducing the risk for diabetes, but also reversing it.

The researchers who published the study found positive results in a trial they conducted on people who were affected by type 2 diabetes. A total of 97 subjects were able to complete the study; out of the 97, 60 had well-managed diabetes and 94 subjects were taking metformin. After baseline tests for fasting blood glucose, HbA1c, and OGTT were taken from the subjects, they were given oral broccoli extract once a day for 12 weeks, against a control group that was given a placebo. The results were conclusive; the extract was able to significantly improve fasting blood glucose in the experimental group. In fact, the subjects who benefited the most from the treatment were obese patients with poorly managed diabetes.

Other related studies: An earlier study was published by Gu, et. al. in 2016, which also focused on sulforaphane and diabetes, specifically diabetic cardiomyopathy. One of the major complications that could arise from diabetes is the development of diabetic cardiomyopathy, wherein the persistently high glucose levels damage the muscles of the heart, causing cardiac dysfunction and even failure. The study found that sulforaphane was able to protect the heart from diabetic cardiomyopathy through the upregulation of antioxidants like metallothionein which in turn protected cardiac tissue. [5]

A recent publication by Mazarakis, et. al. in 2019 focused on the significant anti-inflammatory abilities of l-sulforaphane, which could treat various chronic inflammatory disease affecting the world’s population. After reviewing clinical studies and trials on l-sulforaphane, the researchers found that the substance was able to significantly improve conditions like breast cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or COPD, and diabetes. [6]

References:

[1] Mayo Clinic. Type 2 diabetes. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/type-2-diabetes/symptoms-causes/syc-20351193

[2] World Health Organization. Diabetes. https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/diabetes

[3] American Diabetes Association. Type 1 Diabetes. http://www.diabetes.org/diabetes-basics/type-1/

[4] Axelsson, A., et. al. (2017). Sulforaphane reduces hepatic glucose production and improves glucose control in patients with type 2 diabetes. https://stm.sciencemag.org/content/9/394/eaah4477

[5] Gu, J. et. al. (2017). Metallothionein Is Downstream of Nrf2 and Partially Mediates Sulforaphane Prevention of Diabetic Cardiomyopathy. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27903744

[6] Mazarakis, N. et. al. (2019). The potential use of l-sulforaphane for the treatment of chronic inflammatory diseases: A review of the clinical evidence. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0261561419301360?via%3Dihub

CDC Sounds Alarm Over Exploding Diabetes Epidemic Impacting 100 Million In USA Alone While Food Companies Keep Selling Junk Food

CDC Sounds Alarm Over Exploding Diabetes Epidemic Impacting 100 Million In USA Alone While Food Companies Keep Selling Junk Food
Image © shutterstock.com (under license)

All over the world, diabetes affects over 400 million people of various ages, young and old. According to the World Health Organization, the numbers rose from 108 million in 1980 to over 422 million in 2014. That is a fourfold increase in global prevalence for diabetes; these numbers continue to rise each year especially in middle- and low-income countries where access to healthcare and healthy food choices is quite limited. [1]

A publication by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in 2017 was alarming to say the least. The numbers were practically catastrophic; out of the projected 321 million population in the US in 2015, more than 100 million Americans were living with diabetes or prediabetes. The CDC estimated over 30.2 million people of all ages in the US had diabetes in 2015, with 23 million being diagnosed diabetics and the remaining 7.2 percent being undiagnosed diabetics. [2]

The scariest part is the number of prediabetics, which came up to a whopping 84.1 million people. The statistics also showed that nearly half of the adult population in the US 65 years and older were likely to be prediabetic. Prediabetics are people with high fasting blood glucose or HbA1C levels, indicative of the body being unable to absorb the excess glucose circulating in the blood. [2]

How Do You Get Diabetes

Getting diagnosed with diabetes isn’t as easy as blaming one thing, like an unhealthy diet (though that may be the case for some). A person becomes diabetic because of various risk factors. While genes may indeed play a role in increasing your risk for diabetes, modifiable risk factors such as a person’s lifestyle choices play an even bigger part.

The following are risk factors among diabetics in the US aged 18 years and older. [2]

1. Smoking, 15.9 percent of diagnosed diabetics were current smokers while 34.5 percent were past smokers who had had at least 100 cigarettes in their entire life.

2. Being overweight or obese, 87.5 percent of diagnosed diabetics were either overweight or obese, meaning they had a body mass index of 25 or higher. To breakdown the percentage further, 26.1 percent were overweight with a BMI of 25 to less than 30, 43.5 percent were obese with a BMI of 30 to less than 40, and 17.8 percent were severely obese with a BMI of 40 and higher.

3. Sedentary lifestyle or physical inactivity was a risk factor in 40.8 percent of diagnosed diabetics in the US. A sedentary lifestyle was characterized by less than 10 minutes a week of moderate or vigorous physical activity (either in work, leisure time, or transportation).

4. Hypertension was present in 73.6 percent of diagnosed diabetics, making diabetes and hypertension likely coexisting morbidities in one person. Hypertension was characterized by systolic blood pressure of 140 or higher or diastolic blood pressure of 90 or higher.

5. Hyperlipidemia or high cholesterol was seen in 58.2 percent of diagnosed diabetics aged 21 years and older who did not report a cardiovascular comorbidity and 66.9 percent of diagnosed diabetics aged 21 and older who self-reported a cardiovascular comorbidity.

6. Hyperglycemia is the golden standard among these risk factors, meaning an HbA1C value higher than 9 percent was seen in 15.6 percent of diagnosed diabetics in the US in 2015.

Other statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reveal that diabetes was seventh on a top 15 list of leading causes of mortalities in the US, based on data from 2016. Diabetes was estimated to have caused 80, 058 deaths in 2016, which was 2.9 percent of the population during that year. [3]

Despite these harrowing numbers, diabetes remains largely a preventable disease that could be managed efficiently with the right lifestyle changes and choices. While most diabetics will need to be managed with medications and even insulin injections, a healthy lifestyle is still needed in conjunction with any sort of medical treatment for any effect to take place.

Diabetes Risk Reduction By Lifestyle Choices

1. Regular exercise: The American Heart Association recommends that you undertake 150+ minutes per week of of moderate aerobic activity (that’s about 30 minutes each day for five out of the week) or 75 minutes weekly of vigorous aerobic exercise. [4]

Examples of moderate intensity activities include brisk walking, water aerobics, dancing, gardening, doubles tennis, or biking slower than 10 miles per hour. Vigorous intensity activities include hiking uphill or with weights, running, swimming laps, aerobics, yardwork like digging, singles tennis, cycling fasted than 10 miles per hour, or jumping rope. [4]

2. Changing your diet: A healthy diet free from processed and junk food is probably your best weapon in lowering your blood sugar and fighting diabetes, or if you already have been diagnosed with diabetes, a healthy diet will make sure your blood sugar levels are kept in check. Avoid fast food, canned sodas and instant fruit juices, and processed snacks and canned meats. While these unhealthy food choices may be cheaper and less time consuming that preparing your own meal from scratch, they will help keep you healthier in the long run, preventing trips to the doctor and being prescribed medications that will hamper not only your budget but your lifestyle as well.

In 2016, the conclusion of a study published in the Canadian Journal of Diabetes was that a diet high in processed foods was related to an increased risk for type 2 diabetes. Contrarily, the researchers concluded that reducing consumption of processed food items and eating fresh local produce could potentially reduce your risk for diabetes. [5] Similarly, a study published in 2015 concluded that consuming sugar sweetened beverages, artificially sweetened beverages, and fruit juice increased your risk for diabetes as well. [6]

While the marketing for junk food and fast food restaurants is quite appealing and would likely convince you to purchase them on your next grocery run or day out, better think again and make better choices for yourself and your family. Companies who want you to buy their products don’t care about your health, they only care about that money you will spend on their products. Keep that in mind.

References:

[1] World Health Organization. Diabetes key facts. https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/diabetes

[2] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. National Diabetes Statistics Report, 2017. https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/pdfs/data/statistics/national-diabetes-statistics-report.pdf

[3] National Vital Statistics Reports. Deaths: Final Data for 2016. https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nvsr/nvsr67/nvsr67_05.pdf

[4] American Heart Association. American Heart Association Recommendation for Physical Activity in Adults and Kids. https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/fitness/fitness-basics/aha-recs-for-physical-activity-in-adults

[5] Reeds, J., et. al. Dietary Patterns and Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus in a First Nations Community. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27374251

[6] Imamura, F., et. al. (2015). Consumption of sugar sweetened beverages, artificially sweetened beverages, and fruit juice and incidence of type 2 diabetes: systematic review, meta-analysis, and estimation of population attributable fraction. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26199070

Cleaning a Dirty Sponge Only Helps Its Worst Bacteria, Study Says

Cleaning a Dirty Sponge Only Helps Its Worst Bacteria, Study Says
Image © shutterstock.com (under license)

Since the advent of dishwashers, there are homes that don’t use sponges to clean their eating utensils and cookware anymore. However, in homes that do still use the old sponge, dishwashing soap, and running water, keeping your sponge “clean” is an anomaly in itself. Since the sponge is constantly washed with soap and water shouldn’t it be always clean? Wrong. A sponge is the perfect breeding ground for bacteria, which requires two important things to thrive: a (1) warm (check!) and (2) wet (check!) environment.

If you do a web search on how to sanitize your sponge, you will find various articles that cite microwaving it can kill off most of its bacteria. Michigan State University and the US Department of Agriculture actually encourage sanitizing sponges by microwaving, which reportedly kills 99.9 percent of bacteria living on it. However, a recent study by found that while microwaving, boiling, or other similar methods of cleaning the sponge may indeed kill off bacteria, it can only kill the weaker, heat-susceptible bacteria. The stronger strains of bacteria like the Moraxella osloensis lives on despite microwaving and will actually spread to the areas where the weak bacteria used to be. This is precisely why sponges will eventually start to smell or emit a foul odor despite sanitizing them regularly. [1]

The study was led by Markus Egert and his team and they analyzed the microbiome found in kitchen sponges. Driven initially by their interest in the microbial diversity of the organisms found in kitchen environments, the team actually found that kitchen sponges harbored abundant numbers of pathogens. Furthermore, they found that microwaving sponges affected the microbiome greatly… and (your health) negatively. [2]

The Pathogens In Your Kitchen Sponge

In any home, there are two places that are used the most: the kitchen and the bathroom. The researchers focused on these two because of their potential as “microbial incubators” because of how innately warm and moist they are. The kitchen sponge is actually a good representation of a kitchen or bathroom, because of its warm and moist environment. Furthermore, the sponge is constantly in contact with food and skin, which can carry pathogenic organisms that stick to and colonize in the sponge. The researchers were able to identify 362 different species of bacteria in 14 sponges, where there were roughly 82 billion bacteria in one cubic inch of sponge.

Analysis of kitchen sponges revealed three recurring bacteria: Acinetobacter, Moraxella, and Chryseobacterium species, all of which are pathogenic or pose a threat to human health. The second specie, Moraxella¸ was also commonly found on kitchen surfaces like the sink, faucet, refrigerator doors, and stoves — which exponentially increase human risk of being contaminated by them because those four things in the kitchen are the most touched and used (especially by kids!). Moraxella osleonsis is responsible for a number of infections that affect the skin and respiratory tract (including pneumonia). [2][3]

Because the population has become more conscious of our environment, you may turn your nose up at the thought of disposing of an item that can still be used and creating waste. However, your sponge is a lost cause. The more you try to clean it, the dirtier it actually gets! You can kill weak bacteria but that only allows the stronger, more dangerous pathogenic organisms to thrive all over the spaces the weak bacteria used to live. By trying to save your sponge, you are exposing yourself and your loved ones to the risk of a health-threatening infection. So think twice before tossing your dirty kitchen sponge in the microwave or washing machine to be “cleaned”. It’s safest just to get yourself a new sponge.

Sponges (the typical non-natural type) don’t biodegrade readily. For environmental reasons, look into natural or biodegradable sponges (not the easiest to find!) that will cut down on environmental pollution.

References:

[1] Sanitizing kitchen sponges. Michigan State University. https://www.canr.msu.edu/news/sanitizing_kitchen_sponges

[2] Cardinale, M. (2017). Microbiome analysis and confocal microscopy of used kitchen sponges reveal massive colonization by Acinetobacter, Moraxella and Chryseobacterium species. https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-017-06055-9

[3] Maruyama, Y., et. al. (2017). Bacteremia due to Moraxella osloensis: a case report and literature review. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S141386701730778X