Protein-Pacing Caloric Restriction.

P-CR And Detox.

Research by Skidmore College exercise scientist Paul Arciero has found that a balanced, protein-pacing, low-calorie diet that includes intermittent fasting not only achieves long-term weight loss, but also helps release toxins in the form of PCBs from the body fat stores, in addition to enhancing heart health and reducing oxidative stress.

Arciero’s findings add to a growing body of evidence on the benefits of a ‘protein-pacing’ caloric restriction (P-CR) diet, which cuts back on calories and features four-six meals a day, each of which includes 20 to 25 grams of protein. Participants in Arciero’s study also engaged in intermittent fasting.

His research results are discussed in “Serum Polychlorinated Biphenyls Increase and Oxidative Stress Decreases with a Protein-Pacing Caloric Restriction Diet in Obese Men and Women,” which is published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health (Arciero-Protein-Pacing & Toxins).

A professor of health and exercise sciences at Skidmore, Arciero also is director of the college’s Human Nutrition and Metabolism Laboratory. Skidmore students, health services staff and other colleagues assisted with the P-CR diet research.

The International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health article is the third publication in recent months to report on Arciero’s findings on the impact of a P-CR diet. Previous articles, including the July 30 edition of Nutrients (Arciero-Protein-Pacing & Body Composition) and the August 29 edition of Frontiers in Physiology (Arciero-Protein-Pacing & Heart Health), highlighted improvements in body composition and vascular health, respectively.

In each case, Arciero first compared the results of the P-CR diet between obese men and women following a 12-week weight loss diet and subsequently compared the P-CR diet with those achieved by the heart-healthy diet over a 52-week period. The 12-week P-CR diet was equally effective at reducing body weight (>24 lbs, 10%), oxidative stress (25%), and arterial stiffness (12%) and increasing toxin release (25%) in women and men. Following the 52-week phase, P-CR demonstrated improvements over the traditional heart-healthy diet in maintaining weight loss; reducing artery stiffness; and releasing toxins.

“The heart-healthy diet has proven health benefits,” Arciero said, “but it’s important to continue to research and identify additional dietary strategies that may help improve individual and public health.”

His findings on toxins can help allay concerns that weight loss, which releases toxins into the blood, could have a negative effect on dieters’ health.

Environmental pollutants and other toxins are stored in fatty tissue. During weight loss, fat breaks down and toxins are discharged into the bloodstream. Scientists have expressed concern that the released toxins could increase dieters’ oxidative stress and their risk of developing serious conditions, including hormone (endocrine) disruption (reproductive and fertility problems), heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease.

Arciero’s research findings, that a P-CR diet does not increase disease markers and in fact, can aid detoxification and reduce oxidative stress, help reduce those fears. Furthermore, the findings suggest that those who are not overweight or obese could also benefit from a P-CR diet.

“Although weight loss typically leads to improved health, we know that in those who are overweight and obese and therefore storing excessive toxins, there is the potential for the release of toxins to impact the body in negative ways,” Arciero explained. “We wanted to capture the release of those toxins and the body’s response.

“What we found was that the body compensated by increasing antioxidants. In response to this flood of PCBs, the body was coming to its own defense, scavenging and squelching the toxins. We had a healthy weight-loss intervention,” Arciero added.

The objective of the first 12-week phase was to assess the ability of a P-CR diet to achieve successful weight loss (defined as 10 percent of starting body weight) and this was achieved, with a mean weight loss of over 25 pounds.

During this phase, women consumed 1,200 calories per day and men, 1,500. Of those, 30 percent came from lean protein, 45 percent from unrefined carbohydrates, and 25 percent from healthy fat. One day a week, participants followed an intermittent fast/cleanse, consisting of 300 to 450 calories from antioxidant rich plant-food sources.

The second phase (52 weeks) of the research compared the results of the P-CR diet and a more traditional heart-healthy diet. All dieters consumed roughly the same number of calories: approximately 1,900 for both groups. P-CR dieters fasted/cleansed either once every two weeks or once a month. Those on the heart-healthy diet followed the guidelines of the National Cholesterol Education Program, consuming 35 percent of calories as fat and 50 to 60 percent as carbohydrates. Heart-healthy dieters also ate 20 to 30 grams per day of fiber and consumed fewer than 200 milligrams per day of dietary cholesterol.

At the end of the 12-month period, the results for the two groups deviated significantly, with the P-CR diet outperforming the heart-healthy diet for both maintaining weight loss, reduced blood vessel stiffness and eliminating toxins.

Research participants who remained on the P-CR diet regained about 1.5 pounds of the weight they’d lost and continued to eliminate toxins. Those on the heart-healthy diet, however, regained 12 pounds. Most of it was fat and that fat may likely have (re-)stored toxins.

“We have scientific evidence that it’s the quality of your diet that matters,” Arciero said. “Through diet alone, we can favourably impact the detoxification process, decrease oxidative stress levels, reduce blood vessel stiffness and enhance weight loss. That’s an important public health message.”





Weight And Activity

An international study led by Loyola University Chicago is providing compelling new evidence that exercise may not be the key to controlling weight.

Researchers who studied young adults from the United States and four other countries, found that neither physical activity nor sedentary time were associated with weight gain/loss.

“Our study results indicate that physical activity may not protect you from gaining weight,” said lead author Lara R. Dugas, PhD, MPH. Dugas is an assistant professor in the Department of Public Health Sciences of Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine.

The study is published in the journal PeerJ.

Physical activity has many proven health benefits, ranging from reducing the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and cancer to improving mental health and mood. People who are physically active tend to be healthier and live longer. But while physical activity burns calories, it also increases appetite, and people may compensate by eating more or by being less active the rest of the day.

Some experts have suggested that a decline in physical activity, especially in the workplace, has been a key contributor to the obesity epidemic. But research such as the new Loyola study, in which physical activity is objectively measured and participants are followed over time, has not found a meaningful relationship between weight gain and physical activity.

The Loyola study is one of the primary outcomes of the Modeling the Epidemiologic Transition Study (METS). In METS, researchers followed adults aged 25 to 40 living in five countries: the United States, Ghana, South Africa, Jamaica and Seychelles (an island country east of Africa). The U.S. adults live in the Chicago suburb of Maywood. Participants are predominantly of African descent and represent a broad range of social and economic development. Principal investigator of METS and senior author of the Loyola study is Amy Luke, PhD, professor and vice chair of Loyola’s Department of Public Health Sciences.

Previous research has found that when people are asked about their physical activity, they tend to overstate the amount they do. To provide a more objective measure, participants wore tracking devices called accelerometers on their waists for a week. The devices measured the wearers’ energy expenditure and step count. Researchers also measured participants’ weight, height and body fat. After an initial exam, participants were asked to return one year and two years later.

At the initial visit, Ghana participants had the lowest average weights (139 pounds for both men and women), and Americans the highest weights (202 pounds for women, 206 pounds for men). Ghanaians also were fitter than Americans. Seventy-six percent of Ghanaian men and 44 percent of Ghanaian women met the U.S. Surgeon General physical activity guidelines, while only 44 percent of American men and 20 percent of American women met the guidelines. The guidelines recommend doing at least two and a half hours of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise (such as brisk walking) per week.

Surprisingly, total weight gain in every country was greater among participants who met the physical activity guidelines. For example, American men who met the guidelines gained a half pound per year, while American men who did not meet the guideline lost 0.6 pounds.

Researchers did not find any significant relationships between sedentary time at the initial visit and subsequent weight gain or weight loss. The only factors that were significantly associated with weight gain were weight at the initial visit, age and gender.



Health Plan

For Preventive And Chronic Care.

As Washington grapples with the fate of the Affordable Care Act, a pair of health care researchers has proposed a new way to design health insurance plans that could win bipartisan support.

In an invited commentary in JAMA Internal Medicine, the University of Michigan’s Mark Fendrick, M.D., and Harvard University’s Michael Chernew, Ph.D., put forth the framework for what they call a “high-value health plan.”

It’s the first peer-reviewed publication to put forth the idea, which has also appeared in a bipartisan U.S. House bill introduced in the last Congress.

The idea combines the consumer-driven, market-based concepts of high deductible health plans linked to health savings accounts, with exemptions that enhance coverage for the clinical services that have been proven to benefit patients the most.

Currently, all HDHPs must cover certain preventive services without asking patients to pay for them out of their deductible. But existing regulations do not allow these plans to cover services to manage chronic disease.

As a result, patients with chronic illnesses such as diabetes, depression, or heart disease must pay the entire cost of their tests, appointments, and prescriptions until they meet their plan’s deductible. Many of these services are proven to keep their condition from getting worse, and in some cases have been found to lower total health care spending.

About 40 percent of privately insured Americans under age 65 have HDHPs, including many people who have bought insurance on the Healthcare . gov marketplace. Each year, these plans require an individual to pay at least $1,300 and a family the first $2,600, of their health costs before their benefit coverage kicks in. In many plans, deductibles are substantially higher than this, a frequently raised issue in health reform discussions.

Republican-supported health policy proposals aim to increase the use of HSAs, which give people a tax-free place to put cash aside to pay for their deductibles and other health expenses. But HSAs, which are available to anyone with a HDHP, have been criticized by Democrats as being mostly useful to people with higher incomes.

For two decades, Fendrick and Chernew have studied how out-of-pocket costs can cause lower-income people and those with chronic illness to skip needed care.

The new JAMA Internal Medicine includes two research articles about the impact of HDHPs on personal health care spending.

The High Value Health Plan concept that the pair proposes would require a change to the federal tax code, to give health insurance companies more flexibility in designing HDHPs.

“Allowing health plans the flexibility to voluntarily cover more services outside the deductible would enhance consumer choice,” says Fendrick, a professor in the U-M Medical School and School of Public Health who heads the Center for Value-Based Insurance Design (V-BID).

While the monthly premiums for HVHPs would need to be modestly higher than those for existing HDHPs, the HVHP premiums would be lower than for most traditional plans. He says, “The next generation health plan should be affordable, cover essential health care, and better engage consumers in their health care decisions.”



Oranges And Lemons

Vitamin C Therapy.

Vitamin C has a patchy history as a cancer therapy, but researchers at the University of Iowa believe that is because it has often been used in a way that guarantees failure.

Most vitamin C therapies involve taking the substance orally. However the UI scientists have shown that giving vitamin C intravenously and bypassing normal gut metabolism and excretion pathways, creates blood levels that are 100 – 500 times higher than levels seen with oral ingestion. It is this super-high concentration in the blood that is crucial to vitamin C’s ability to attack cancer cells.

Earlier work by UI redox biology expert Garry Buettner found that at these extremely high levels (in the millimolar range), vitamin C selectively kills cancer cells but not normal cells in the test tube and in mice. Physicians at UI Hospitals and Clinics are now testing the approach in clinical trials for pancreatic cancer and lung cancer that combine high-dose, intravenous vitamin C with standard chemotherapy or radiation. Earlier phase 1 trials indicated this treatment is safe and well-tolerated and hinted that the therapy improves patient outcomes. The current, larger trials aim to determine if the treatment improves survival.

In a study, published recently in the journal Redox Biology, Buettner and his colleagues have homed in on the biological details of how high-dose vitamin C (also known as ascorbate) kills cancer cells.

The study shows that vitamin C breaks down easily, generating hydrogen peroxide, a so-called reactive oxygen species that can damage tissue and DNA. The study also shows that tumour cells are much less capable of removing the damaging hydrogen peroxide than normal cells.

“In this paper we demonstrate that cancer cells are much less efficient in removing hydrogen peroxide than normal cells. Thus, cancer cells are much more prone to damage and death from a high amount of hydrogen peroxide,” says Buettner, a professor of radiation oncology and a member of Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of Iowa. “This explains how the very, very high levels of vitamin C used in our clinical trials do not affect normal tissue, but can be damaging to tumour tissue.”

Normal cells have several ways to remove hydrogen peroxide, keeping it at very low levels so it does not cause damage. The new study shows that an enzyme called catalase is the central route for removing hydrogen peroxide generated by decomposing vitamin C. The researchers discovered that cells with lower amounts of catalase activity were more susceptible to damage and death when they were exposed to high amounts of vitamin C.

Buettner says this fundamental information might help determine which cancers and which therapies could be improved by inclusion of high-dose ascorbate in the treatment.

“Our results suggest that cancers with low levels of catalase are likely to be the most responsive to high-dose vitamin C therapy, whereas cancers with relatively high levels of catalase may be the least responsive,” he explains.

A future goal of the research is to develop methods to measure catalase levels in tumours.



Feral Cats

Feral cats cover over 99.8% of Australia’s land area, including almost 80% of the area of its islands.

These are just some of the findings of new research which looks at the number of feral cats in Australia.

The research was undertaken by over 40 of Australia’s top environmental scientists and brings together evidence from nearly 100 separate studies across the country.

“Australia’s total feral cat population fluctuates between 2.1 million when times are lean, up to 6.3 million when widespread rain results in plenty of available prey,” said Dr Sarah Legge from The University of Queensland.

The study also looked at what causes variation in cat densities. Cat densities are higher on islands, especially smaller islands.

Inland areas with low rainfall and more open vegetation had higher cat densities than most coastal, wetter areas, but only after extensive rain.

In a worrying finding for conservation managers, cat densities were found to be the same both inside and outside conservation reserves, such as National Parks, showing that declaring protected areas alone is not enough to safeguard the native wildlife.

“Our study highlights the scale and impacts of feral cats and the urgent need to develop effective control methods, and to target our efforts in areas where that control will produce the biggest gains” says Dr Legge.

“At the moment feral cats are undermining the efforts of conservation managers and threatened species recovery teams across Australia.

“It is this difficulty which is pushing conservation managers into expensive, last resort conservation options like creating predator free fenced areas and establishing populations on predator-free islands.

“These projects are essential for preventing extinctions, but they are not enough, they protect only a tiny fraction of Australia’s land area, leaving feral cats to wreak havoc over the remaining 99.8% of the country.”

The research has been funded by the Australian Government’s National Environmental Science Programme and will be important to developing effective strategies for controlling cats and their impacts.

“This new science shows that the density of feral cats in Australia is lower than it is in North America and Europe, and yet feral cats have been devastating for our wildlife,” said Mr Gregory Andrews, Australia’s Threatened Species Commissioner.

“Australia is the only continent on Earth other than Antarctica where the animals evolved without cats, which is a reason our wildlife is so vulnerable to them. This reinforces the need to cull feral cats humanely and effectively.

“With feral cats having already driven at least 20 Australian mammals to extinction, I’m so glad the Threatened Species Strategy is investing in science like this.

“This science reaffirms the importance of the ambitious targets to cull feral cats that I am implementing with the support of Minister Frydenberg under the Threatened Species Strategy,” said Mr Andrews.

According to Dr Legge, “As well as strategically targeting areas for cat control in bushland to maximise the conservation outcomes, we also need to address the issue of feral cats living in heavily urbanised areas, where their densities can be 30 times greater than in natural environments.

“As well as preying on the threatened species that occur in and near urban areas, these urban feral cats may provide a source of feral cats to bushland areas.”

The research was funded by the Threatened Species Recovery Hub of the Australian Government’s National Environmental Science Programme.

It has been published in the research journal Biological Conservation.



Vale Erin Moran

Erin Marie Moran Fleischmann.

Erin was an American actress, best known for playing Joanie Cunningham on the sitcom Happy Days and its spin-off Joanie Loves Chachi.

As Joanie, Erin convincingly portrayed growing up in the Fifties and enjoyed a worldwide and appreciative audience.

Happy Days

18 October 1960 – 22 April 2017

“This business is very unpredictable. A lot of it is luck and being in the right place at the right time.”