Visceral fat is a type of body fat that’s stored within the abdominal cavity. It’s located near several vital organs, including the liver, stomach, and intestines. It can also build up in the arteries.
Individuals with COVID-19 who are admitted to the ICU or treated with invasive mechanical ventilation have more visceral fat than those who are admitted to the hospital, but are not in critical condition, according to study data.
“Our most important finding is that visceral fat area was higher in patients admitted to the ICU and requiring invasive mechanical ventilation, which draws attention to the importance of abdominal adiposity in COVID-19,” Andrea Szentesi, PhD, operative director of the interdisciplinary research support group at the Institute for Translational Medicine at University of Pécs Medical School in Hungary, and colleagues wrote in a study published in Obesity. “A recent meta-analysis by Huang et al has come to the same conclusion; they have found higher visceral adipose tissue values in patients with critical condition, as well. However, their search interval was shorter, and we included two additional studies in the meta-analyses.”
Researchers conducted a meta-analysis and systemic review of six studies involving 560 individuals with COVID-19 who were admitted to the ICU or treated with invasive mechanical ventilation. All the studies included data on the distribution of body fat mass. Researchers evaluated the association between COVID-19 ICU admission or mechanical ventilation and quantified fat mass.
In quantitative analysis, individuals with COVID-19 admitted to the ICU had a higher visceral fat area value than those who were hospitalized but not admitted to the ICU (standardized mean difference, 0.46; 95% CI, 0.2-0.71; P < .001). Individuals treated with mechanical ventilation also had more visceral fat than patients not treated with ventilation (standardized mean difference, 0.38; 95% CI, 0.05-0.71; P = .022).
In analyses adjusted for age and sex, two studies found increased visceral fat was associated with a higher risk for ICU admission. According to one study, visceral fat of more than 100 mm2 was not a significant risk factor for ICU admission, and a fourth study found that individuals admitted to the ICU had a higher visceral fat thickness compared with those in the general ward.
Two studies examined subcutaneous adipose tissue mass and its association with COVID-19 severity. Both studies did not find an association between subcutaneous fat mass and a higher risk for ICU admission, but one of the studies found an association between a high visceral fat to subcutaneous fat ratio and an increased risk for ICU admission.
In one study evaluating total fat area in COVID-19 patients, every 10 cm2 of total fat area increased the odds for ICU admission and invasive mechanical ventilation. Another study stated total fat area was a risk factor for ICU admission.
“In summary, we found that visceral fat area values were significantly higher in patients with critical condition,” the researchers wrote. “In light of the high prevalence of obesity, this area of research should be further investigated. Besides the distribution of body fat, adipose tissue-related substances as potential pharmacological targets might be worth studying as well.”
- Researchers say a new “green” Mediterranean diet is healthier for you than even the traditional Mediterranean diet.
- The green version replaces the minimal amount of red meat allowed in the traditional Mediterranean diet with plant-based protein.
- Experts say plant proteins have additional health benefits that include anti-inflammatory characteristics.
The “green” Mediterranean diet may be even healthier for you than the traditional Mediterranean diet.
That’s according to a new study published online in the journal Heart.
Researchers said they found that people who consumed higher amounts of plant-based proteins and less red meat and poultry experienced increased cardiovascular and metabolic benefits.
The researchers randomly assigned 294 sedentary people with moderate obesity (defined as a BMI of 31) into three dietary groups.
A significant majority of participants were male. Their average age was 51.
The first group received guidance on boosting physical activity and basic guidelines for achieving a healthy diet.
The second group received the same physical activity guidance plus advice on following a calorie-restricted, traditional Mediterranean diet.
Their menu was low in simple carbohydrates, rich in vegetables, and with poultry and fish replacing red meat.
The third group received all of the above, plus 3 to 4 cups of green tea as well as 28 grams of walnuts per day.
Their daily menu also included 100 grams of frozen Wolffia globosa (cultivated Mankai strain) cubes, a high protein form of the aquatic plant duckweed.
The cubes were taken as a green plant-based protein shake as a partial substitute for animal protein.
The study authors said in a press release that their findings suggest further limiting meat intake while increasing plant-based, protein-rich foods may benefit the cardiometabolic state even more.
And it may reduce cardiovascular risk beyond the known beneficial effects of the traditional Mediterranean diet.
After 6 months, the “green Med” diet surpassed the other two dietary plans in associated health benefits.
Participants on either type of Mediterranean diet lost more weight. The green Med group lost a total of 6.2 kilograms, the traditional Mediterranean diet group lost 5.4 kilograms, and the healthy diet group lost 1.5 kilograms.
Waist circumference shrank by an average of 8.6 centimeters among those on the green Med diet compared with 6.8 centimeters for those on the Mediterranean diet and 4.3 centimeters for those on the healthy diet.
The green Med group also saw the greatest reduction in LDL (bad) cholesterol with a nearly 4 percent decrease.
The equivalent figures were nearly 1 percent for those in the Mediterranean diet group and even less than that for those in the healthy diet group.
Participants following Mediterranean-based diets also reaped additional health benefits that included decreases in diastolic blood pressure, insulin resistance, and an important marker of inflammation, C-reactive protein, which has an essential role in artery hardening.
The ratio of HDL (good) cholesterol to LDL (bad) cholesterol also increased.
My GIR mask is now the only one I wear! They run a tad small and I ordered a medium, which fits me perfectly. BUT they run small!
All of you who follow my blog know that I very rarely endorse products. However I have to share this! We are 11 months in to the pandemic and I now have a fabulous collection of masks. But wearing glasses with them is tricky and so is he fact that every single mask has to be modified because my face and especially my nose is SO tiny. I wear children’s glasses and my nose width at the tip of my nose is only 1/2 an inch wide. I have long been a fan of GIR kitchen utensils. As a Chef and an environmentalist I do not use plastic and love the well designed silicone utensils.
And then when the epidemic started they added a mask to their repertoire. HOLY COW, it is perfect! The silicone seals the mask around my face, the ear straps are perfect and the cleaning is a cinch. Just wash with soap and hot water and you are set to go. All of my cloth masks are wearing out at this point, this solves that problem. My glasses do not fog up because no moist are is escaping EXCEPT through the vent in the front of the mask. That means I am breathing in and out completely filtered air!
The filters are great but are pricy, so I use my own charcoal masks with 2 non-woven paper filters.
The Underrated Anti-Inflammatory Nutrient That Will Help You Live Longer, According to a Functional Medicine DoctorPosted: December 10, 2020
As one of the top functional medicine doctors in the country, Frank Lipman, MD, is asked a wide range of health-related questions every single day. Sometimes they’re tied to something specific trending in the wellness space: Is collagen overrated? (Nope.) Is oat milk? (Possibly.) Other times, it’s about how to get a better night’s sleep. But all the queries seem to be rooted in an even bigger question: how to live a long, healthy life.
Longevity seems to be at the heart of every question he’s asked, so Dr. Lipman decided to write a whole book dedicated to the topic: The New Rules of Aging Well: A Simple Program For Immunity Resilience, Strength, and Vitality ($20), out October 27, 2020. Tucked in the pages are some “rules” you’re likely familiar with, like cutting back on sugar and having a strong sense of purpose. But there are also some surprising things that have been scientifically linked to longevity that aren’t as widely talked about. One of those truth bombs is centered around an anti-inflammatory compound called quercetin.
Never heard of it? Quercetin is a polyphenol derived in plants that is connected to lowering inflammation, supporting the immune system, and, yes, longevity. “Besides curcumin, quercetin is one of the most important supplements for both immunity and longevity,” Dr. Lipman says. Looks like turmeric has some competition.
What is quercetin?
Before we dig deep into all the benefits quercetin boasts, it’s helpful to know what the heck it actually is. Dr. Lipman explains that quercetin is a type of polyphenol, which are micronutrients with antioxidant properties found in plants. Some foods that have this particular type of polyphenol are apples, onion, raspberries, red grapes, and cherries.
Quercetin has lots of benefits, but Dr. Lipman is most excited about its connection with longevity. “One is that it affects longevity gene pathways in a positive way, specifically activating AMPK [a protein enzyme],” he says. AMPK helps regulate cellular metabolism; when cellular energy is low, AMPK is called in for backup to keep the body running as it should. It also controls cellular autophagy, aka the clearing out of damaged cells. And recent research suggests that the enzyme can potentially delay the aging process as well. One paper published in the journal Discoveries states that AMPK activation increased the life of fruit flies by as much as 30 percent.
“Quercetin is anti-inflammatory, anti-viral, and immunity-boosting,” Dr. Lipman adds—properties that are important for longevity. To his point, chronic inflammation is associated with many age-related health problems, including cognitive decline and cancer, so managing inflammation is often seen as crucial for living a longer, healthier life. Meanwhile, the immune system weakens with age, making it harder for the body to fight off illness, so keeping it in tip-top shape is critical. Quercetin also supports gut health; since a huge portion of the immune system lies in the gut, “keeping your gut healthy is very important to immunity,” says Dr. Lipman.
Don’t worry curcumin, we still love you. Watch the video below to see why it’s so powerful:
Despite quercetin being in such a wide range of plant-based foods, Dr. Lipman says most people don’t consume enough of it to truly benefit. Part of this is because most Americans don’t eat enough fruits and vegetables, but even foods that naturally contain quercetin don’t have very high doses of the polyphenol. This is why Dr. Lipman often recommends a quercetin supplement. (He actually has his own, Superpowder, $54, which he created for The Well as its chief medical officer.)
Other tips Dr. Lipman wants everyone to know about longevity
While certainly more studies need to be done on quercetin (particularly on humans, not fruit flies or rats), the evidence that suggests its connection to longevity is compelling. But Dr. Lipman reiterates that it, like anything else, certainly isn’t a silver bullet for being a healthy octogenarian.
“One of the most important things for longevity is getting enough sleep,” he says. “We have a lymphatic system in the brain, which is the brain’s self-cleaning mechanism, and it only works when you’re asleep.” Not getting enough sleep makes it harder for the lymphatic system to do its clean-up job, which over time can lead to cognitive decline, Dr. Lipman says.
He also emphasizes the importance of having a sense of purpose, regular exercise, and eating healthy overall. Doubling down on apples and onions or popping a daily quercetin supplement is no replacement for a healthy diet. “When you look at Blue Zones, where people regularly live into old age in good health, they eat foods that are close to nature and not overly processed, they have a good support system, and aging is actually revered,” Dr. Lipman says. “These things matter.”
When it comes to longevity, it’s not only about what you put into your body, but is also about what’s in your heart. While the benefits may be outward-facing, when you get down to it, longevity truly is an inside job.
Whether it’s a belly full of turkey from the recent Thanksgiving holiday or just a really big meal, we have all experienced the sedative effects that come along with the feasting. While there are a host of potential factors that span the relationship between food and sleep, the microbiota of the gut is an area that is getting more of the recognition that it rightfully deserves. As such, a team of investigators from the University of Tsukuba has recently published their detailed findings in mice that revealed the extent to which bacteria can change the environment and contents of the intestines, which ultimately impacts behaviors like sleep.
Results from the new study were published recently in Scientific Reports through an article titled, “Gut microbiota depletion by chronic antibiotic treatment alters the sleep/wake architecture and sleep EEG power spectra in mice.”
The research team set up very simple yet straightforward experiments that gave a group of mice a powerful cocktail of antibiotics for four weeks, which depleted them of intestinal microorganisms. They then compared intestinal contents between these mice and control mice who had the same diet. The scientists found significant differences between metabolites in the microbiota-depleted mice and the control mice.
“We found more than 200 metabolite differences between mouse groups,” noted senior study investigator Masashi Yanagisawa, MD, PhD, professor at the University of Tsukuba and UT Southwestern Medical Center. “About 60 normal metabolites were missing in the microbiota-depleted mice, and the others differed in the amount, some more and some less than in the control mice.”
Next, Yanagisawa and his colleagues set out to determine what these metabolites normally do. Using metabolome set enrichment analysis, they found that the biological pathways most affected by the antibiotic treatment were those involved in making neurotransmitters, the molecules that cells in the brain use to communicate with each other. For example, the tryptophan-serotonin pathway was almost totally shut down; the microbiota-depleted mice had more tryptophan than controls but almost zero serotonin. This shows that without important gut microbes, the mice could not make any serotonin from the tryptophan they were eating. The team also found that the mice were deficient in vitamin B6 metabolites, which accelerate the production of the neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine.
“We examined the effects of the gut microbiota on sleep/wake regulation. C57BL/6 male mice were treated with broad-spectrum antibiotics for four weeks to deplete their gut microbiota,” the authors wrote. “Metabolome profiling of cecal contents in antibiotic-induced microbiota-depleted (AIMD) and control mice showed significant variations in the metabolism of amino acids and vitamins related to neurotransmission, including depletion of serotonin and vitamin B6, in the AIMD mice. Sleep analysis based on electroencephalogram and electromyogram recordings revealed that AIMD mice spent significantly less time in non-rapid eye movement sleep (NREMS) during the light phase while spending more time in NREMS and rapid eye movement sleep (REMS) during the dark phase.”
Yanagisawa and his team also analyzed how the mice slept by looking at brain activity in EEGs. They found that compared with the control mice, the microbiota-depleted mice had more REM and non-REM sleep at night—when mice are supposed to be active—and less non-REM sleep during the day—when mice should be mostly sleeping. The number of REM sleep episodes was higher both during the day and at night, whereas the number of non-REM episodes was higher during the day. In other words, the microbiota-depleted mice switched between sleep/wake stages more frequently than the controls.
“We found that microbe depletion eliminated serotonin in the gut, and we know that serotonin levels in the brain can affect sleep/wake cycles,” Yanagisawa concluded. “Thus, changing which microbes are in the gut by altering diet has the potential to help those who have trouble sleeping.”
Whether you’re spending the holidays with family, a few close friends, or on your own this year, desserts are certainly a festive highlight. Sure, it’s important to limit sugar and other inflammatory foods to keep your immune system strong, but new research makes a brain-healthy case for eating cocoa.
The small study, published in Scientific Reports, found the antioxidant flavanols in cocoa can support brain vascular function and cognitive performance in young, healthy adults.
How researchers tested brain vascular function.
Researchers from the University of Birmingham and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign looked at 18 nonsmoking adults with no history of brain, heart, vascular, or respiratory diseases. Each of the participants identified as male and was between 18 and 45 years old.
This triple-masked study randomly divided participants into two groups: One group consumed flavanol-rich cocoa, and the other consumed processed cocoa with very low levels of flavanols—neither group knew which type of cocoa they were consuming.
Two hours after consuming the cacao, participants were asked to breathe air containing 5% carbon dioxide. “This is a standard method for challenging brain vasculature to determine how well it responds,” co-author Gabriele Gratton, Ph.D., said in a news release. The body’s normal response is to increase blood flow to the brain, bringing in more oxygen and allowing the brain to eliminate more carbon dioxide, he explained.
The link between cocoa and brain health.
Those who ate the flavanol-concentrated cacao were better able to defend against the excess carbon dioxide. In other words, the oxygenation process (increasing oxygen, decreasing CO2) was much faster for that group.
More specifically, “the levels of maximal oxygenation were more than three times higher in the high-flavanol cocoa versus the low-flavanol cocoa, and the oxygenation response was about one minute faster,” lead researcher Catarina Rendeiro, Ph.D., said.
When taking cognitive tests, the flavanol-rich group outperformed their baseline performance and the reduced flavanol group by 11%.
So, what are flavanols exactly? “Flavanols are small molecules found in many fruits and vegetables, and cocoa, too,” Rendeiro stated. “They give fruits and vegetables their bright colors, and they are known to benefit vascular function.”
Based on these findings, cocoa may support brain health and cognitive functioning in most people. Those who didn’t see improvements (4/18) already had high oxygenation responses prior to the study. “This may indicate that those who are already quite fit have little room for improvement,” Rendeiro said.
Quality cocoa high in flavanols may have brain-supporting benefits—so if you needed an excuse to make a rich dark chocolate dessert, now you have one. Start with this R.D.-approved chocolate smoothie, a nutritional psychiatrist’s chocolate mousse, or one of these 36 brownie recipes.
The information in this article is based on the findings of one study and is not intended to replace medical advice. While the results seem promising, more research is needed to validate the findings of this study.
hort bursts of physical exercise induce changes in the body’s levels of metabolites that correlate to an individual’s cardiometabolic, cardiovascular, and long-term health, a study by Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) has found.
In a paper published in Circulation, the research team describes how about 12 minutes of acute cardiopulmonary exercise affected more than 80 percent of circulating metabolites, including pathways linked to a wide range of favorable health outcomes, thus identifying potential mechanisms that could contribute to a better understanding of cardiometabolic benefits of exercise.
“What was striking to us was the effects a brief bout of exercise can have on the circulating levels of metabolites that govern such key bodily functions as insulin resistance, oxidative stress, vascular reactivity, inflammation, and longevity,” said investigator Gregory Lewis, section head of Heart Failure at MGH and senior author of the study.
The MGH study drew on data from the Framingham Heart Study to measure the levels of 588 circulating metabolites before and immediately after 12 minutes of vigorous exercise in 411 middle-aged men and women.
The research team detected favorable shifts in a number of metabolites for which resting levels were previously shown to be associated with cardiometabolic disease. For example, glutamate, a key metabolite linked to heart disease, diabetes, and decreased longevity, fell by 29 percent. And DMGV, a metabolite associated with increased risk of diabetes and liver disease, dropped by 18 percent. The study further found that metabolic responses may be modulated by factors other than exercise, including a person’s sex and body mass index, with obesity possibly conferring partial resistance to the benefits of exercise.
35 minutes a day of physical activity may protect against new episodes, even in the genetically vulnerable
After six weeks, mice had lower levels of inflammatory leukocytes
“Intriguingly, our study found that different metabolites tracked with different physiologic responses to exercise, and might therefore provide unique signatures in the bloodstream that reveal if a person is physically fit, much the way current blood tests determine how well the kidney and liver are functioning,” notes co-first author Matthew Nayor of the Heart Failure and Transplantation Section in the Division of Cardiology at MGH. “Lower levels of DMGV, for example, could signify higher levels of fitness.”
The Framingham Heart Study, which began in 1948 and now embraces three generations of participants, allowed MGH researchers to apply the same signatures used in the current study population to stored blood from earlier generations of participants. By studying the long-term effects of metabolic signatures of exercise responses, researchers were able to predict the future state of an individual’s health, and how long they are likely to live.
“We’re starting to better understand the molecular underpinnings of how exercise affects the body and use that knowledge to understand the metabolic architecture around exercise response patterns,” says co-first author Ravi Shah of the Heart Failure and Transplantation Section in the Division of Cardiology at MGH. “This approach has the potential to target people who have high blood pressure or many other metabolic risk factors in response to exercise, and set them on a healthier trajectory early in their lives.”
Lewis is associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and director of the Cardiopulmonary Exercise Testing Laboratory at MGH. Nayor is a cardiologist at MGH and instructor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, and Shah is a cardiologist at MGH and assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School. Other co-authors include Ramachandran Vasan, professor of medicine at Boston University and principal investigator of the Framingham Heart Study, and Clary Clish, senior director of Metabolomics at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard.
The study was supported by the American Heart Association’s Grand Challenge Award and the National Institutes of Health.
November 10, 2020
In our series “Simple Steps to Sustainability,” experts from around the world give us their tips and tricks on how to live more sustainably.
Sustainable living is hard enough, now add the pressures of a global pandemic and all bets are off.
So we tracked down some experts and asked: What can we do to reduce waste?
“The single biggest source of waste that goes to municipal landfills is wasted food,” Peter Wright, the Assistant Administrator of the EPA’s Office of Land and Emergency Management, told Newsy.
“If food waste was a country, it would be the third biggest polluter after the U.S. and China,” Lucie Basch, the co-founder of Too Good To Go, said. “It’s 50% of people who don’t even know that there are several dates. The ‘best before’, for example, means that the quality is going to be perfect until that date. But it doesn’t mean after that date you can’t eat the product anymore.”
“To reduce your waste, you want to start looking at refusing taking things you’re going to have to throw away in the first place,” Alexander Furey, the founder of Zero Waste Mindset, said.
“Stock up on maybe some pantry staples in such a way that rather than getting a bunch of small bags of things wrapped in plastic, you could get one thing that you then divide up among your community,” Jocelyn Quarrell, the CEO and owner of Go Box, said.
“Maybe doing a waste audit of your home,” Furey said. “And every time you put something in the black bin, in the rubbish bin, write down what you put in. And then after a week, go back and look at your list and see if you can see patterns of the kinds of things you’re throwing away.”
For more videos on how to live sustainably, visit newsy.com/sustainability.
Contrary to popular belief, ‘ghee’ — a kind of clarified butter made by gently heating cow milk till it leaves behind liquid fat — which is often considered an unhealthy, fattening food item that creates hurdles in losing weight, is an Indian superfood which you must include in your diet.
In fact, the benefits of ghee are so many that even nutritionists, dieticians and other lifestyle coaches have started advising fitness enthusiasts to include it in their diet. Even renowned celebrity nutritionist Rujuta Diwekar has spoken on the benefits of ghee time and again on various platforms including her own social media handles which has thousands of followers.
On a healthier note, natural and free of unhealthy preservatives and trans fats, ghee not only has healing powers but is rich in omega 3 and 6 fatty acids, vitamin A, E and cholesterol and helps in boosting immunity. It consists of fat-soluble vitamins, which aid weight loss.
Besides this, it plays an imperative role in balancing hormones and maintaining healthy cholesterol. And beyond all the health benefits that ghee provides, the age-old ayurvedic ingredient has a special space as far as haircare and skincare rituals are concerned.
So here, we will make an attempt to find out what the benefits of ghee are and the reasons why we must include this Indian superfood in our diet. And for this, we at DNA spoke with Dr Rohini Patil, MBBS, Dietitian and CEO of Nutracy Lifestyle, who shared with us some pointers that list out the benefits of ghee.
Check them out here:
Strengthens the immune system
Ghee includes high butterfat, vitamins and protein that helps in the absorption of nutrients. It includes butyric acid which boosts immunity and also prevents the formation of cancer cells. Along with this, it includes vitamin D, A, K and E.
Keeps constipation at bay
Ghee promotes and strengthens the digestive functions. Taking one teaspoon of ghee in a glass of hot milk before sleeping helps in relieving constipation. It works as lubricator that helps to flush out waste. Also, it neutralizes acids in intestines that prevents stomach pain and acidity.
Source of healthy fats
Ghee is rich in omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids that have many health benefits. These fatty acids help in weight loss as it mobilizes fat cells to burn for energy. It also helps to remove toxins from cells and improves metabolism in the body.
Ghee is a really effective remedy for the treatment of cough. Due to its medical properties, it is being used for many years in Ayurveda. For the cure of cough, have one teaspoon of warm ghee directly or mix with ginger powder.
Powerful antioxidants and anti-inflammatory abilities
Ghee includes anti-inflammatory properties that treat various diseases. It maintains cholesterol level and is good for the heart as well. It contains vitamin E which is a powerful antioxidant. It also prevents tissue and cell damage.
Ghee promotes learning, memory and recalling functioning of the brain. It strengthens the nervous system. It is an important detoxifying agent and improves the strength of the brain.
Along with health benefits, it is also beneficial for applying on skin. Ghee is suitable for all skin types. It provides hydration to skin cells and moisturises dry skin, especially during winters. It also includes anti-ageing properties and is also good for chapped lips. So, add ghee to your diet for healthy living!