21 February 2020 In General Health

OBJECTIVE: Ageing is accompanied by deterioration of multiple bodily functions and inflammation, which collectively contribute to frailty. We and others have shown that frailty co-varies with alterations in the gut microbiota in a manner accelerated by consumption of a restricted diversity diet. The Mediterranean diet (MedDiet) is associated with health. In the NU-AGE project, we investigated if a 1-year MedDiet intervention could alter the gut microbiota and reduce frailty.

DESIGN: We profiled the gut microbiota in 612 non-frail or pre-frail subjects across five European countries (UK, France, Netherlands, Italy and Poland) before and after the administration of a 12-month long MedDiet intervention tailored to elderly subjects (NU-AGE diet).

RESULTS: Adherence to the diet was associated with specific microbiome alterations. Taxa enriched by adherence to the diet were positively associated with several markers of lower frailty and improved cognitive function, and negatively associated with inflammatory markers including C-reactive protein and interleukin-17. Analysis of the inferred microbial metabolite profiles indicated that the diet-modulated microbiome change was associated with an increase in short/branch chained fatty acid production and lower production of secondary bile acids, p-cresols, ethanol and carbon dioxide. Microbiome ecosystem network analysis showed that the bacterial taxa that responded positively to the MedDiet intervention occupy keystone interaction positions, whereas frailty-associated taxa are peripheral in the networks.

CONCLUSION: Collectively, our findings support the feasibility of improving the habitual diet to modulate the gut microbiota which in turn has the potential to promote healthier ageing.

21 February 2020 In Cardiovascular System

OBJECTIVE: To examine how a healthy lifestyle is related to life expectancy that is free from major chronic diseases. DESIGN: Prospective cohort study.

SETTING AND PARTICIPANTS: The Nurses' Health Study (1980-2014; n=73 196) and the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study (1986-2014; n=38 366).

MAIN EXPOSURES: Five low risk lifestyle factors: never smoking, body mass index 18.5-24.9, moderate to vigorous physical activity (>/=30 minutes/day), moderate alcohol intake (women: 5-15 g/day; men 5-30 g/day), and a higher diet quality score (upper 40%).

MAIN OUTCOME: Life expectancy free of diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and cancer. RESULTS: The life expectancy free of diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and cancer at age 50 was 23.7 years (95% confidence interval 22.6 to 24.7) for women who adopted no low risk lifestyle factors, in contrast to 34.4 years (33.1 to 35.5) for women who adopted four or five low risk factors. At age 50, the life expectancy free of any of these chronic diseases was 23.5 (22.3 to 24.7) years among men who adopted no low risk lifestyle factors and 31.1 (29.5 to 32.5) years in men who adopted four or five low risk lifestyle factors. For current male smokers who smoked heavily (>/=15 cigarettes/day) or obese men and women (body mass index >/=30), their disease-free life expectancies accounted for the lowest proportion (</=75%) of total life expectancy at age 50.

CONCLUSION: Adherence to a healthy lifestyle at mid-life is associated with a longer life expectancy free of major chronic diseases.

28 March 2019 In General Health

INTRODUCTION: Moderate wine consumption is a characteristic of the Mediterranean diet. Studies around the world have shown a beneficial effect of moderate alcohol intake, especially wine, on health. This review aims to critically summarise the most recent studies that investigate the beneficial effects of moderate wine intake on human health.

METHODS: The PubMed database was comprehensively searched to identify trials published from 2013 to 2018 that investigated the association between moderate wine consumption and health.

RESULTS: The most recent studies confirm the valuable role of moderate wine consumption, especially red wine, in the prevention and treatment of chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, metabolic syndrome, cognitive decline, depression, and cancer. In the meantime, recent studies also highlight the beneficial role of red wine against oxidative stress and in favour of desirable gut bacteria. The beneficial role of red wine has been attributed to its phytochemical compounds, as highlighted by clinical trials, where the effect of red wine has been compared to white wine, non-alcoholic wine, other alcoholic drinks, and water.

CONCLUSIONS: Moderate wine intake, at 1(-)2 glasses per day as part of the Mediterranean diet, has been positively associated with human health promotion, disease prevention, and disease prognosis.

26 February 2019 In Drinking & Eating Patterns

Low-risk thresholds for alcohol use differ across various national guidelines. To assess the novel WHO risk drinking levels in light of alcohol-sensitive common laboratory tests, we analysed biomarkers of liver status, inflammation and lipid profiles from a population-based survey of individuals classified to abstainers and different WHO risk drinking levels defined in terms of mean alcohol consumption per day. The study included 22,327 participants aged 25-74 years from the National FINRISK Study. Data on alcohol use, health status, diet, body weight and lifestyle (smoking, coffee consumption and physical activity) were recorded from structured interviews. Alcohol data from self-reports covering the past 12 months were used to categorize the participants into subgroups of abstainers and WHO risk drinking categories representing low, moderate, high and very high risk drinkers. Serum liver enzymes (GGT, ALT), C-reactive protein (CRP) and lipid profiles were measured using standard laboratory techniques. Alcohol risk category was roughly linearly related with the occurrence of elevated values for GGT, ALT and CRP. Alcohol drinking also significantly influenced the incidence of abnormalities in serum lipids. Significantly higher odds for abnormal GGT, ALT and altered lipid profiles remained in alcohol drinkers even after adjustment for age, waist circumference, physical inactivity, smoking and coffee consumption. A more systematic use of laboratory tests during treatment of individuals classified to WHO risk drinking categories may improve the assessment of alcohol-related health risks. Follow-ups of biomarker responses may also prove to be useful in health interventions aimed at reducing alcohol consumption.

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