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Omega-3s May Protect Infants Against Common Disorders

August 3, 2011 by  

Researchers at Emory University have discovered that consuming these compounds during pregnancy may protect babies against diseases that can occur in infancy.

Even more benefits of omega-3 fatty acids have been found this week. Researchers at Emory University have discovered that consuming these compounds during pregnancy may protect babies against diseases that can occur in infancy.

“This is a large scale, robust study that underscores the importance of good nutrition during pregnancy,” said researcher Usha Ramakrishnan, Ph.D. “Our findings indicate that pregnant women taking 400 mg of DHA (omega-3s) are more likely to deliver healthier infants.”

Babies whose mothers took omega-3 supplements saw a 25 percent reduction in cold symptoms during their first month of life. After three months, the babies spent 14 percent less time ill. By the time they reached 6 months of age, the children were experiencing less difficulty breathing and shorter incidences of fever.

All of the infants who participated in the study were breastfed. Researchers also found increased levels of omega-3s in the breast milk, suggesting that may be why the babies experienced the effects of the omega-3s long even after being born.

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  • http://marcum1@wildblue.net coal miner
  • http://marcum1@wildblue.net coal miner

    Science News Lifestyles of the Old and Healthy Defy Expectations
    ScienceDaily (Aug. 3, 2011) — People who live to 95 or older are no more virtuous than the rest of us in terms of their diet, exercise routine or smoking and drinking habits, according to researchers at Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University.

    Calorie restricted diet
    Overweight
    Their findings, published August 3 in the online edition of Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, suggests that “nature” (in the form of protective longevity genes) may be more important than “nurture” (lifestyle behaviors) when it comes to living an exceptionally long life. Nir Barzilai, M.D., the Ingeborg and Ira Leon Rennert Chair of Aging Research and director of the Institute for Aging Research at Einstein, was the senior author of the study.

    Dr. Barzilai and his Einstein colleagues interviewed 477 Ashkenazi Jews who were living independently and were 95 and older (95-112, 75 percent of them women). They were enrolled in Einstein’s Longevity Genes Project, an ongoing study that seeks to understand why centenarians live as long as they do. (Descended from a small founder group, Ashkenazi Jews are more genetically uniform than other populations, making it easier to spot gene differences that are present.)

    The elderly participants were asked about their lifestyles at age 70, considered representative of the lifestyle they’d followed for most of their adult lives. They answered questions about their weight and height so that their body mass index (BMI) could be calculated. They also provided information about their alcohol consumption, smoking habits, physical activity, and whether they ate a low-calorie, low-fat or low-salt diet.

    To compare these long-lived individuals with the general population, the researchers used data from 3,164 people who had been born around the same time as the centenarians and were examined between 1971 and 1975 while participating in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES I).

    Overall, people with exceptional longevity did not have healthier habits than the comparison group in terms of BMI, smoking, physical activity, or diet. For example, 27 percent of the elderly women and an equal percentage of women in the general population attempted to eat a low-calorie diet. Among long-living men, 24 percent consumed alcohol daily, compared with 22 percent of the general population. And only 43 percent of male centenarians reported engaging in regular exercise of moderate intensity, compared with 57 percent of men in the comparison group.

    “In previous studies of our centenarians, we’ve identified gene variants that exert particular physiology effects, such as causing significantly elevated levels of HDL or ‘good’ cholesterol,” said Dr. Barzilai, who is also professor of medicine and of genetics at Einstein. “This study suggests that centenarians may possess additional longevity genes that help to buffer them against the harmful effects of an unhealthy lifestyle.”

    The research did find, however, that overweight centenarians tended to have lower rates of obesity than the control group. Although male and female centenarians were just as likely to be overweight as their counterparts in the general population, the centenarians were significantly less likely to become obese: only 4.5 percent of male centenarians were obese vs. 12.1 percent of controls; and for women, 9.6 percent of centenarians were obese versus 16.2 percent of controls. Both of these differences are statistically significant.

    While longevity genes may protect centenarians from bad habits, healthy lifestyle choices remain critical for the vast majority of the population. The U.S. Census Bureau estimates there were nearly 425,000 people aged 95 and older living in the U.S. in 2010 − a fraction (.01) of the 40 million U.S. adults 65 and over.

    “Although this study demonstrates that centenarians can be obese, smoke and avoid exercise, those lifestyle habits are not good choices for most of us who do not have a family history of longevity,” said Dr. Barzilai. “We should watch our weight, avoid smoking and be sure to exercise, since these activities have been shown to have great health benefits for the general population, including a longer lifespan.”

    Researchers also asked study participants why they believed they had lived so long. Most did not attribute their advanced age to lifestyle factors. One-third reported a history of family longevity, while 20 percent believed that physical activity also played a role in their lifespan. Other factors included positive attitude (19 percent), busy or active life (12 percent), less smoking and drinking (15 percent), good luck (8 percent), and religion or spirituality (6 percent).

    • http://marcum1@wildblue.net coal miner

      Science News
      Can Eggs Be a Healthy Breakfast Choice?
      ScienceDaily (Aug. 2, 2011) — Eggs, one of the most commonly consumed breakfast foods in the United States, have long been a subject of controversy. Are they healthy or are they a high-cholesterol trap? The answer depends on what the hen eats, says a Tel Aviv University researcher.

      Dr. Niva Shapira of Tel Aviv University’s School of Health Professions says that all eggs are not created equal. Her research indicates that when hens are fed with a diet low in omega-6 fatty acids from a young age — feed high in wheat, barley, and milo and lower in soy, maize and sunflower, safflower, and maize oils — they produce eggs that may cause less oxidative damage to human health. That’s a major part of what determines the physiological impact of the end product on your table.

      Her findings were published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

      Cholesterol oxidation: an industry standard?

      Eggs high in omega-6 fatty acids heighten cholesterol’s tendency to oxidize, which forms dangerous plaque in our arteries. Dr. Shapira’s research shows that eggs laid by hens with healthier feed can lessen oxidation of LDL (low density lipoprotein), the body’s “bad cholesterol.”

      But healthier eggs are likely to cost more, Dr. Shapira says. The price of chicken feed varies from region to region, and in many areas, feed containing products high in omega-6 fatty acids, such as maize, soy, and their oils, are much cheaper for egg producers to purchase.

      To test the effect of a healthier feed on the eventual composition of the egg, Dr. Shapira and her fellow researchers designed feeds that were high in anti-oxidants and lower in omega-6 fatty acids, based on wheat, barley, and milo. The specialized feed was given to young hens who had not yet accumulated n-6 fatty acids in their tissues, and the composition of their eggs was then tested. When researchers achieved the desired composition of low omega-6 and high anti-oxidants, the eggs were given to test participants, who were instructed to eat two of these special eggs daily. Their results were measured against daily intake of two standard grocery store eggs, and a weekly intake of only two to four standard eggs.

      There were vast differences in outcome among the treatments. Daily consumption of two industry-standard eggs, high in omega-6, caused a 40 percent increase in LDL oxidizability in participants. After eating two per day of the specially-composed eggs, with both high anti-oxidant and low omega-6 levels, however, LDL oxidation levels were similar to the control group eating only two to four eggs a week.

      Surprisingly, with the “healthier” eggs, we might be able to eat more than twice today’s generally recommended egg intake and still maintain a healthy level of LDL oxidation, Dr. Shapira concludes.

      Demanding a better product

      The drawback is that these eggs aren’t being widely produced. For now, consumers can only buy what the grocery store stocks.

      Dr. Shapira recommends that consumers demand “health-oriented agriculture.” “In addition to factoring in the cost of the chicken feed, farmers need to think about the health of the consumer,” she says. To produce healthy foods, they need support from local authorities and increased consumer awareness. That would help to expand access to better foods.

      As her study demonstrates, consumers should beware of egg studies that draw a single conclusion about the health value of all eggs, Dr. Shapira cautions, because the outcome could have a lot to do with how the egg was produced. In Europe, corn and soy are less commonly used in chicken feed, whereas in North America, these two ingredients often make up the bulk of the hen’s diet.

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