Yearly Archives: 2010

Getting to know my readers (survey)

Greetings, I started this blog a little over a year ago with no expectations or real direction.  It was meant first and foremost as a personal journey to organize my thoughts as I dig deep into various areas of nutrition research, and second as an outlet against what is a frustrating system of mainstream media reporting on how research contributes to our understanding of nutritional topics. 71 posts later, I see consistent traffic to the blog, but still don't get many comments.  I have a decent Read more [...]

An increase in mitochondrial superoxide extends lifespan in C. elegans but not by hormesis?

Edit: I was forwarded a convincing skeptical argument that because C. elegans lacks dividing cells and DNA repair genes that function like higher organisms likely because it doesn't live as long, it might have a greater protective response to superoxide. Longer-living organisms have cancer to worry about so cells may allow senescence to occur to freeze cells in a non-dividing state. Rate of ageing theories have evolved significantly over the years but now frequently centralize around the involvement Read more [...]

Dietary nitrate reduces oxygen cost of running and walking

Andrew Jones and his group at the University of Exeter are certainly busy lately.  I've reported on two of their papers on nitrate and exercise performance here and here.  They just published another in the Journal of Applied Physiology. In their last 2 papers, they used beetroot juice as the source of nitrate, leaving a little room that it was other compounds in the juice that were having an effect.  The first study, done by another group (Larsen et al.; see my first post on the topic) used Read more [...]

Gut flora is mostly influenced by species, not diet

Do diet and other environmental factors largely influence microbial composition in the gut, or is this mostly determined by the species of the host? This is a question that has supportive research on each side, but a new paper by Ochman et al. offers more clarity on the issue. The authors chose great apes (and 2 humans) as their study subjects.  They obtained gut microbial samples and sequenced mitochondrial DNA of the hosts from fecal samples of eastern and western lowland gorillas, bonobos, Read more [...]

Neolithic European farmers came from the East?

Noteworthy from PLoS Biology, a genetics paper published yesterday adds a lot to the debate on which population established European farming, suggesting that the farmers migrating from the Near East and Anatolia established farming in Europe rather than adoption by indigenous hunter-gatherers or interbreeding. The article summary: The transition from a hunter–gatherer existence to a sedentary farming-based lifestyle has had key consequences for human groups around the world and has profoundly Read more [...]

McDonald’s buys advertising on twitter

Every once in awhile I notice a food company trying something new on a social media platform.  As i've discussed previously, I think this is a bad news trend for several reasons.  McDonald's is the first food company i've seen to buy a "promoted tweet" advertisement on Twitter. This of course shows up on Twitter.com in the trending topics for millions of potential views: Interestingly, as of now it seems to be getting generally poor reactions from twitter users.  In a totally non-scientific Read more [...]

Bee-havioral epigenetics

A great debate right now that is very relevant to nutrition is to what extent genes vs. environment (or genes in the context of certain environments) influence health and behavior.  The following is an extreme example that cannot be extrapolated to humans, but highlights an interesting co-evolution with dietary constituent(s) that is critical to a species' survival. Two years ago, Kucharski et al. provided an explanation for why the honey bee, Apis mellifera is able to develop into a queen or Read more [...]

Trick, treat, or toy? Children will appreciate the latter too

It is a cultural norm in various countries to give children candy for Halloween.  While I don't have kids or generalized advice on controlling their candy intake around this holiday, the flip side are the ethics of doling out junk if you allow them to come to your house.  The simplest choice would be not to allow them (but traditions are difficult to break, and adults enjoy seeing the pleasure the children get out of it), or healthy alternatives could be given instead (packages of nuts for example), Read more [...]

Evidence for paternal programming from obesity?

It is well understood that the diet and health status of mothers can affect offspring by epigenetic mechanisms (see this recent review for example).  This is often called "fetal programming." A recent study (published yesterday) suggests there may be a paternal influence as well- epigenetic programming on the offspring based on the health status of the father.  Maybe.  This study has major limitations and it only found an effect on female offspring, and the results certainly aren't anywhere close Read more [...]

Dietary nitrate ameliorates metabolic syndrome in mice

I became interested in nitrate because early studies have been consistently showing that it may improve exercise performance by lowering the oxygen cost of exercise, and this research is in humans.  Reading through other literature, it seems there is a paradigm shift occurring from the thought of nitrate as undesirable and toxic toward an understanding of an under-appreciated metabolic role by this bioactive molecule from food.  After all, it can be found in high amounts in some vegetables. A Read more [...]