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An anti-inflammatory response to the vegan diet

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Here's one example of an anti-inflammatory response to a vegan diet study: Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients who eat a gluten-free vegan diet could be better protected against heart attacks and stroke in a recent study, "Gluten-free vegan diet induces decreased LDL and oxidized LDL levels and raised atheroprotective natural antibodies against phosphorylcholine in patients with rheumatoid arthritis- a randomized study," published in the journal Arthritis Research & Therapy, according to the March 17, 2008 news release, "An anti-inflammatory response to the vegan diet."

RA is a major risk factor for these cardiovascular diseases, but a gluten-free vegan diet was shown to lower cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein (LDL) and oxidizedLDL (OxLDL), as well as raising the levels of natural antibodies against the damaging compounds in the body that cause symptoms of the chronic inflammatory disease rheumatoid arthritis, such as phosphorylcholine.

The idea that we can influence our health by changing our eating habits has become a fashionable idea among lifestyle and consumer magazines

There is evidence that dietary changes can bring about health benefits but specific results are not widespread. In 2008, Johan Frostegard of the Rheumatology Unit at the Karolinska University Hospital in Stockholm and colleagues divided sixty-six RA patients randomly into two groups. They randomly assigned 38 of the volunteers to eat a gluten-free vegan diet, and the other 28 a well-balanced but non-vegan diet for one year. They analyzed the levels of fatty, lipid molecules in blood samples using routine analytical methods at regular periods. They also measured oxLDL and anti-phosphorylcholine (antiPC) factor at the beginning of the experiment, at 3 months and again at 12 months.

The researchers found that the gluten-free vegan diet not only reduced LDL and oxLDL levels and raised antiPC antibodies but lowered the body-mass index (BMI) of the volunteers in that group

Levels of other fatty molecules, including triglycerides and high-density lipoprotein (HDL) stayed the same. In contrast, none of the indicators differed significantly for the control groups on the conventional healthy diet. AntiPC antibodies are studied within CVDIMMUNE, an European consortium led by Dr Frostegard with the hypothesis that such antibodies can protect against cardiovascular disease and can be used as diagnostic and therapeutic factors.

Johan Frostegard and colleagues have now shown that diet could be used to improve the long-term health of people with rheumatoid arthritis. They concede that a bigger study group will be needed to discern which particular aspects of the diet help the most. Authors of that study are Ann-Charlotte Elkan, Beatrice Sjoberg, Bjorn Kolsrud, Bo Ringertz, Ingiald Hafstrom and Johan Frostegard.

Eating more raw vegan foods

If you're interested in eating more raw foods in the daytime, you may wish to prepare table of raw food salads can feature a raw vegetable and fruit salad with a dressing made of pureed cashew nuts blended with orange juice and strawberries or raspberries. Here's a carrot-cilanto-raisin-celery-mango-strawberry salad to serve for your raw vegan salads. You could have a table full of raw food salads or serve the salad as a side dish instead of mashed potatoes or string beans, which is the usual restaurant faire to accompany an entree of turkey, ham, or seafood. Here's how to make the raw vegetable salad.

First you put in a food processor or blender half filled with water, four stalks of cleaned, trimmed, and washed celery, a medium-sized bunch of fresh cilantro, 1/2 cup of baby spinach, and a small package of peeled baby carrots. Organic vegetables would be ideal. You grind or grate the vegetables and then drain off the water in a strainer. If you don't like the taste of cilantro, substitute finely chopped flat parsley instead.

Push the ground vegetables against the strainer until most of the water is drained off. Then put the vegetables in the strainer into a large glass or other serving bowl. Then add 1/4 cup of raisins, 1/2 cup of frozen chopped mangoes, 1/2 cup of frozen or fresh cleaned strawberries, either sliced in half or whole with the green tops removed.

Next, add the dressing. You can make a salad dressing by grinding up 1/2 cup of cashew nuts with one tablespoon of apple cider vinegar and 1/2 cup of fresh orange juice. Or use 2 tablespoons of grape seed oil Vegannaise (mayonnaise substitute) and 1 tablespoon of extra virgin cold pressed olive oil. Or make a fat-free dressing of 1/2 cup of water, 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar and pureed strawberries or raspberries. Put any homemade dressing in a jar and shake it before putting it over the raw fruit and vegetable salad.

Instead of turkey, the raw salad can be served next to several other cooked food salads such as seafood salads, or salads made of ground turkey breast or meat and poultry cooked leftovers diced and sprinkled with 1/4 cup of Parmesan cheese and then tossed with asparagus tips or other salad greens of your choice and sliced tomatoes. The salad can also be served as a side dish instead of cooked vegetables or as a complement to baked sweet potatoes or baked squash.

Scientists know that if you take more than 300 mg of resveratrol, it inhibits an enzyme in the liver

The May, 2010 issue of Dr. Sherry Rogers' Total Wellness newsletter has a "resveratrol warning" on page 8, basically, there are still unanswered research questions. Only scientists don't know as yet what purpose that liver enzyme has that the resveratrol is turning off. Some people take high doses of resveratrol without knowing what it's doing and how effective it is at various doses. Even at lower doses, resveratrol can turn off the adrenal or 'stress' gland and use up nutrients that your body uses to detoxify itself.

The word 'detox' has become a buzz word that some doctors tell patients to be aware of so when they hear the word, their knee-jerk reaction is to think 'quack.' But what detox actually means is when your body gets rid of toxic substances such as mercury and lead by itself.

That it is cleanses itself, using the vitamin C and other nutrients already in your body from food. Think in terms of how your body cleansed itself before the days of vitamin and mineral supplements. That's what the word 'detox' actually means--a cleansing process your body uses.

Regarding resveratrol, check out the study, "Phytoestrogen resveratrol suppresses steroidogenesis by rat adrenocortical cells by inhibiting cytochrome P450 c21-hydroxylase." The authors are Supornsilchai V, Svechnikov K, Seidlova-Wuttke D, Wuttke W, Söder O, published in Hormone Research in Pediatrics, 64:280-86, 2005. (Pediatric Endocrinology Unit, Q 2:08, Department of Woman and Child Health, Karolinska University Hospital, Stockholm, Sweden.)

A Swedish study looked at the effects of resveratrol on rats. But rats are used in scientific studies to see how a substance reacts also with humans, since the genes are not as far apart as you'd believe

The main point of the resveratrol study that you should be aware of is that resveratrol is a phytoestrogen. As a phytoestrogen, it's going to act like a phytoestrogen in your body. The phytoestrogen resveratrol is found in grapes, mulberries and peanuts, all of which are consumed regularly by humans.

Resveratrol is also used in chemotherapy against cancer and aging and as a cardioprotectant. The aim of the present study had focused on characterizing the effects of resveratrol on rat adrenal steroidogenesis and to study the underlying mechanism.

If you're curious about how the scientists tested the resveratrol, they began by isolating the adrenocortical cells from the adrenal glands of normal male rats (in vitro) and from male rats administered resveratrol in their diet for 12 weeks (ex vivo).

No changes in cell viability or morphology were caused by exposure to resveratrol in both ex vivo and in vitro experiments. So basically, the study concluded that resveratrol suppresses corticosterone production by primary rat adrenocortical cell cultures in vitro and ex vivo by inhibiting cytochrome P450 c21-hydroxylase.

The big picture for us humans is that we have to consider, do we want our corticosterone production suppressed? And do we want our cytochrome inhibited?

If these natural functions are inhibited, what happens to the rest of our body--our cells, organs, and blood? Is it good or bad to have something in our body's normal function suppressed or inhibited? Now the question remains, does the rat experiment transfer over to humans?

Will the same situation happen in people? What happens when and if the adrenal or stress gland might be turned off? How can we know it will happen in humans because it happened in rats? Are the genes pretty much the same at that basic level? And what type of detox nutrients will the resveratrol use up?

Those are the types of questions you have to ask when you're told to take resveratrol to increase your life span. You want the big picture--more facts. And how much should you take? If only 20 mg is effective, why are people being sold bottles of 250 mg of resveratrol when scientists know at 300 mg one of your liver enzymes is inhibited? Think about it.

As yourself, with all the various brands of resveratrol, how do you find out which sources are best? Is resveratrol surrounded by too much marketing? Where is the health information on side effects made available to the average consumer?

Is resveratrol on a marketing bandwagon ever since one company had been features on the television news program, 60 Minutes several years ago? Where can you find the information in plain language about what resveratrol can do in what doses?

On the other hand, check out the 2006 study reported in the Harvard Medical School newsletter article of how resveratrol extended the life span of obese mice, "Small Molecule Increases Lifespan and 'Healthspan' of Obese Mice."The resveratrol mimicked caloric restriction. The article reported, "After six months, resveratrol essentially prevented most of the negative effects of the high calorie diet in mice."

You also could check out the site of the National Institute on Aging's Laboratory of Experimental Gerontology, Aging, Metabolism, and Nutrition Unit. Basically, when it comes to resveratrol, continue research is required so that the public as well as scientists can better understand resveratrol's roles and the best applications for it.

UC Davis studies the health benefits associated with a variety of berries, fruits, vegetables, and specific plant foods. Latest scientific studies on how nutrition influences longevity genes currently focuses on a plant extract related to resveratrol called pterostilbene, pronounced terro-STILL-bean. Basically, pterostilbene is extracted from blueberries, grapes, and also the bark of a tree that grows in India called the Kino.

UC Davis also studied how resveratrol mimicks caloric restriction

You also could check out the site of the National Institute on Aging's Laboratory of Experimental Gerontology, Aging, Metabolism, and Nutrition Unit. Basically, when it comes to resveratrol, continue research is required so that the public as well as scientists can better understand resveratrol's roles and the best applications for it. Also see, UC Davis M.I.N.D. Institute.

How limited are researchers' knowledge of what's helpful and what's subtoxic when it comes to taking polyphenols? In the latest study of the health effects of polyphenols, there were concerns with the work on cell uptake of quercetin and resveratrol.

Several years ago, in the Sacramento-Davis area, one of the results of a UC Davis study on resveratrol, a polyphenol, was a reduced incidence of diabetes in the mice studied. In humans, high calorie diets usually mean increased glucose and increased insulin levels that may lead to diabetes or frequent high-glucose (sugar) spikes.

Primary adipocytes were incubated with the polyphenols, but it is not clear whether or not the concentrations used were subtoxic. So as research continues, would you keep taking your resveratrol and quercetin supplements? Or would you try to get as polyphenols from fruits?

According to a December 23, 2010 news article from the Boston University Medica Center, "Study on effects of resveratrol and quercetin on inflammation and insulin resistance," a new study on the effects of resveratrol and quercetin on inflammation and insulin resistance opened up the question of how phytochemicals work in the human body to stop inflammation.

The researachers looked at resveratrol and quercetin from a clinical point of view, to study the role of phytochemicals acting as antioxidants and anti-inflammatory agents

Can resveratrol and quercetin from foods be extremely important in inflammation-associated chronic conditions such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and cancer? Quercetin and resveratrol may indeed play an important role in this regard, according to the latest study. These phytochemicals from plants need to be investigated further to establish the clinical importance of natural dietary compounds in the prevention of chronic degenerative conditions.

A study was carried out to examine the extent to which quercetin and trans-resveratrol (RSV) prevented inflammation or insulin resistance in primary cultures of human adipocytes treated with tumor necrosis factor-a (TNF-a)—an inflammatory cytokine elevated in the plasma and adipose tissue of obese, diabetic individuals.

Cultures of human adipocytes were pretreated with quercetin and trans-RSV followed by treatment with TNF-a. Subsequently, gene and protein markers of inflammation and insulin resistance were measured.

The authors report that quercetin, and to a lesser extent trans-RSV, attenuated the TNF-a–induced expression of inflammatory genes such as interleukin (IL)-6, IL-1b, IL-8, and monocyte chemoattractant protein-1 (MCP-1) and the secretion of IL-6, IL-8, and MCP-1.

Forum members were concerned about certain aspects of the study, especially the extrapolation of in vitro results to in vivo situations. The in vitro conditions the authors describe are minimally representative of an in vivo condition.

In vivo, after consumption of quercetin or resveratrol, these compounds undergo extensive metabolism, leading to glucuronidated, sulphated or methylated compounds. In a previous study, quercetin 3-glucoside was transformed to 3,4-dihydroxyphenylacetic acid, acetate and butyrate in cells from human gut; only 3'-methylquercetin has been detected in human plasma, present at a concentration of 0.1 to 0.2 µM after 3 h. The authors of the current paper are using concentrations up to 60 µM, concentrations which have not been found in vivo.

In a study on resveratrol and quercetin, most researcher's current knowledge is limited about local concentration of the molecules scientists are studying in subcellular compartments, their interaction with alternative targets, and eventually their transformation into products that could be more or less active on a given specific pathway.

The real difficult and important issue is the identification of a reasonable convergence -- if not agreement -- between data originating from extremely distant approaches. In this case, the notion that metabolic diseases are related to a homeostatic imbalance in adipose tissue, linked to a different redox status, linked to activation of specific pathways, and that different redox sensitive polyphenols do have a protective effect, encompasses the evidence produced by extremely distant approaches.

If you look at the December 23, 2010 news article, "Study on effects of resveratrol and quercetin on inflammation and insulin resistance," you can note that contributions to that critique by the International Scientific Forum on Alcohol Research were provided by the following members: David Vauzour, PhD, Dept. of Food and Nutritional Sciences The University of Reading, UK. But what's happening in the Sacramento area regarding the study of resveratrol?

In the Sacramento-Davis regional area, UC Davis studies resveratrol.

Several years ago, Biotivia provided high quality resveratrol to researchers in the Sacramento/Davis area at the University of California, Davis, Albert Einstein Medical School, the Canadian Health Ministry and many other researchers, either at no charge or at a large discount for their human trials, according to the diet.blog.com forum posting under the article, "Fountain of Youth or Waste of Money."

Where is the data on human patients? See the January 8, 2008 Reuters ( Biotivia news) resveratrol news article, "Resveratrol-Like Drug Works in Humans--Sirtris." Also see the UC Davis article, "Resveratrol improves health and survival of mice on a high-calorie diet."

One of the results of the UC Davis study was a reduce incidence of diabetes in the mice studied. In humans, high calorie diets usually mean increased glucose and increased insulin levels that may lead to diabetes.

That article and blog forum also gives some reasons why human trials aren't progressing fast enough on the effects of resveratrol on aging. There will be a human study conducted by the National Institute on Aging - but the results won't be available for a couple of years, according to that article. Will the complex human body produce the same results as test tube studies? Also see, Nutrition Action Healthletter, March, 2009.

If you're familiar with your adrenal gland, you'll realize that it's also sometimes called the stress gland. The biochemical experiments are still being done with resveratrol to answer some of the questions about how safe is it and what's a dose that's safe and still works.

How scientists in various universities discovered this plant extract, resveratrol is by examining Ayurvedic medicine, the folkloric medical treatments used in India based on plant extracts. The purpose of looking at these plant extracts is that when tested on animals such as mice, the blueberry and grape extracts used in laboratories appears to make the mice live longer by switching on their longevity gene tags in such a way that it imitates caloric restriction. Most veterinarians know that by restricting calories, but not essential nutrients/nutrition, animals live longer when they eat better while eating less.

If you look at pterostilbene and resveratrol, you'll notice that both compounds have similar structures

They have similar, but not exactly the same functions. But when you combine pterostilbene with resveratrol, the both together work exceptionally well to simulate certain beneficial conditions produced by caloric restriction. Remember that caloric restriction is not fasting or starving. The person or animal gets the essential nutrition with fewer calories.

What scientists found was that pterostilbene and resveratrol taken together or combined in one supplement translate into more benefits that by taking resveratrol by itself. You can check out all the scientific studies listed at the end of the latest article in the Special Winter Edition of Life Extension Magazine (2009), "The 'Other' Resveratrol: A Novel Method to Simulate the Genetic Effects of Caloric Restriction," by Tiesha D. Johnson, RN, BSN.

According to that article, "resveratrol activates genes close the the beginning of the molecular cascade precipitated by caloric restriction." This starts as an 'upstream' action. What happens next is that the activated genes using the pterostilbene then continue to activate numerous disease-preventing genes in a 'downstream' process from the sites connected with resveratrol's upstream action. So as resveratrol works in an upstream action, pterostilbene works the genes in a downstream action.

Pterostilbene amplifies and complements resveratrol's ablity to help turn off those 'epigenetic' gene tags that switch off the cancer and diabetes causing gene tags and switch on the longevity gene tags that support healthy blood fats (lipids)

It's all happening during the normal cycle of gene expression. Basically, the pterostilbene, made from blueberry and/or grape extracts, mimics the beneficial effects of calorie restriction at the molecular level. The idea, scientists report, is that caloric restriction is supposed to suppress cancer development, according to studies.

Does calorie reduction/restriction change your gene expression all over the metabolic process? What the plant extracts do is increase activity of fat-sensing complexes that lower blood fats and sugar levels. Basically, scientists are using plant extracts from fruits for chemoprevention. Is it the antioxidants in resveratrol or the anti-inflammatory actions in pterostilbene?

If you look at both resveratrol and pterostilbene, both are called stillbenes. They've been used for hundreds of years in India as folkoric cures for illness in Ayurvedic medicine that is now being studied by Western scientists to see how these plant extracts change gene expression.

The extracts are being tested to see which are good for helping to prevent cancer, lower cholesterol, enhance insulin sensitivity, or increase life span of humans and/or animals

These plant extracts mimic caloric restriction at your molecular level, say recent studies. See, "Identification of molecular pathways affected by pterostilbene, a natural dimethylether analog of resveratrol." The way these plant extracts work is by mimicking caloric restriction. Resveratrol and pterostilbene both act at different locations in the body to control gene expression. They complement each other. Can they increase the quantity of life or the quality of life?

Basically, if you eat a cup of blueberries, you get 20mcg of pterostilbene. Yes, even at that level, the blueberries provide some benefits. But how much more pterostilbene do you need? What is a safe level? A dose of 3 mg daily of pterostilbene in a supplement provides the equivalent of 140 cups of blueberries daily. No one eats like that. So should you take a supplement with pterostilbene or resveratrol combined with pterostilbene? How much is science and how much is marketing?

You only need a small dose of pterostilbene, say recent studies. So in various supplements, it is being added to resveratrol and other supplements. You will probably want to read more about the studies. For further information, you can see the March, 2008 article at BMC Medical Genemics, 20;1:7. See, "Identification of molecular pathways affected by pterostilbene, a natural dimethylether analog of resveratrol."

The conclusion of the 2008 UC Davis study, reported that, "Using transcript profiling, we have identified the cellular pathways targeted by pterostilbene, an analog of resveratrol. The observed response in lipid metabolism genes is consistent with its known hypolipidemic properties, and the induction of mitochondrial genes is consistent with its demonstrated role in apoptosis in human cancer cell lines. Furthermore, our data show that pterostilbene has a significant effect on methionine metabolism, a previously unreported effect for this compound."

That 2008 study, "Identification of molecular pathways affected by pterostilbene, a natural dimethylether analog of resveratrol." also reported the following: "Pterostilbene is a naturally-occurring phytoalexin identified in several plant species. It belongs to a group of phenolic compounds known as stilbenes, and is found in the heartwood of sandalwood (Pterocarpus santalinus) [1] and P. marsupium [2].

For further information on the healthful benefits of blueberries, see my other Examiner articles, "Does an alkaline diet with added blueberries increase your bone density?" and regarding resveratrol, see, "How to find reliable information on resveratrol."

Regarding resveratrol, check out the study, "Phytoestrogen resveratrol suppresses steroidogenesis by rat adrenocortical cells by inhibiting cytochrome P450 c21-hydroxylase." The authors are Supornsilchai V, Svechnikov K, Seidlova-Wuttke D, Wuttke W, Söder O, published in Hormone Research in Pediatrics, 64:280-86, 2005. (Pediatric Endocrinology Unit, Q 2:08, Department of Woman and Child Health, Karolinska University Hospital, Stockholm, Sweden.)

The Swedish study looked at the effects of resveratrol on rats. But rats are used in scientific studies to see how a substance reacts also with humans, since the genes are not as far apart as you'd believe. Mice share 90% of their DNA with humans.

The main point of the resveratrol study that you should be aware of is that resveratrol is a phytoestrogen

As a phytoestrogen, it's going to act like a phytoestrogen in your body. The phytoestrogen resveratrol is found in grapes, mulberries and peanuts, all of which are consumed regularly by humans. Resveratrol is also used in chemotherapy against cancer and aging and as a cardioprotectant. The aims of the recent studies on resveratrol as a phytoestrogen had focused on characterizing the effects of resveratrol on rat adrenal steroidogenesis and to study the underlying mechanism.

The big picture for us humans is that we have to consider, do we want our corticosterone production suppressed? And do we want our cytochrome inhibited? If these natural functions are inhibited, what happens to the rest of our body--our cells, organs, and blood? Is it good or bad to have something in our body's normal function suppressed or inhibited? Now the question remains, does the rat experiment transfer over to humans?

Will the same situation happen in people? What happens when and if the adrenal or stress gland might be turned off? How can we know it will happen in humans because it happened in rats? Are the genes pretty much the same at that basic level? And what type of detox nutrients will the resveratrol use up?

Those are the types of questions you have to ask when you're told to take resveratrol to increase your life span. You want the big picture--more facts. And how much should you take? If only 20 mg is effective, why are people being sold bottles of 250 mg of resveratrol when scientists know at 300 mg one of your liver enzymes is inhibited? Think about it.

As yourself, with all the various brands of resveratrol, how do you find out which sources are best? Is resveratrol surrounded by too much marketing? Where is the health information on side effects made available to the average consumer? On the other hand, check out on of the 'older' studies from 2006. That study reported in the Harvard Medical School newsletter article of how resveratrol extended the life span of obese mice, "Small Molecule Increases Lifespan and 'Healthspan' of Obese Mice."

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