All in your head

headache

Exercise-related headaches are common. Know when to seek medical help

Bengaluru-based marketing professional Vyom Bachani, 38, gets a headache after any vigorous exercise—running, skipping or elliptical training—coupled with a surge in body heat. Sometimes a cool-down keeps it at bay, sometimes it does not. He never has headaches otherwise.

Exercise headaches typically occur during or after strenuous workouts. The blood-starved muscles of the head, neck and scalp require more blood for circulation during any kind of physical exertion, including exercise. This results in the expansion of blood vessels, causing an exertional headache.

Doctors categorise exercise headaches into primary and secondary. While primary headaches are usually harmless, secondary headaches can be life-threatening and needs immediate medical attention.

Primary exertion headache or PEH: The majority of headaches are primary, often seen in people in the 20-40 years age group. Migraine and tension headaches are the common types. An exercise headache is a type of primary headache, usually linked to vigorous training in the heat, high altitude or humidity. “Primary exertion headache (PEH) is more common among men than women and is caused by exercises,” says Chennai-based Dr Dobson Dominic, medical director, s10 Health Sports Lounge. “The pain usually comes on suddenly, could be unilateral or bilateral and is often pulsatile and lasts from 10 minutes to 48 hours. Nausea, vomiting, phonophobia [sensitivity to sound], or photophobia [sensitivity to light] are a few symptoms that could also appear with a headache,” says Dobson, who is also sports medicine consultant, Chettinad Academy of Research and Institute and program chairman, MMSC sports and exercise medicine, Texila American University. “An exercise headache is common in people who have a history of migraine or who do strenuous workouts,” says Dr P.R. Krishnan, consultant neurologist, Fortis Hospital, Bengaluru.

Secondary headache: A headache is secondary when an underlying condition causes the pain. While some secondary headaches such as cervicogenic headache are not harmful, a few are serious in nature. “There can be different types of secondary headaches depending on the cause,” says Dr G.P. Dureja, director, Delhi Pain Management Centre. “Secondary headaches are not common, but if they occur, they need urgent medical attention. When there are frequent headaches that disturb the daily routine or when it causes problems in hearing or vision, it indicates secondary headache,” says Dr G.N. Goyal, interventional spine and pain management specialist, Delhi.

Not just exercise

Various triggers are perceived to cause headaches. “Exercise could dilate the arteries or veins, which are pain sensitive. It is prevalent in people with internal jugular vein valve incompetence (IJVVI). IJVVI results in backward venous [blood] flow, which leads to brain congestion and increases pressure within the skull leading to a headache,” says Krishnan. “PEH occurs due to muscle constriction because of increased blood supply to the affected muscles. This causes muscle spasm resulting in headaches,” says Dureja.

Several factors could trigger a primary headache. “PEH is more likely to occur due to high altitude, change in weather, or if there is an intake of alcohol or caffeine before exercise. Dehydration, increased blood pressure, holding of breath while lifting heavy weight or incorrect neck position may cause an exertional headache,” says Dobson. Goyal says unhealthy diet, stress, and lifestyle that does not balance work and rest are some of the triggers.

Secondary headaches are serious. The underlying cause could be medical problems such as infections, blockages, bleeding and abnormalities. “Secondary headaches can occur due to intracranial bleeding, rupture of blood vessels in the brain. Here, the headache is accompanied by nausea and vomiting. Secondary headaches do not respond to conventional medicines,” says Dureja.

“Bleeding because of trauma or a medical condition like hypertension, or structural changes in the brain that are prone to rupture of the blood vessels can lead to secondary headache,” says Goyal. A cervicogenic headache is a common and under-diagnosed problem, he says, where the pain could start from the neck and involves back of the head or vice versa.

“When there is a severe headache, which peaks suddenly, known as a thunderclap headache, it is because of blood leakage in the brain. A headache which progressively increases and continues for more than 48 hours or severe one-sided headache indicates structural issues. Evidence of fever, weakness of limbs, trouble with speech or balance, loss of consciousness, seizure, or a headache that wakes a person from sleep, weight loss that occurs along with a headache are a few signs that indicate the need for urgent medical attention,” says Krishnan.

Goyal explains that nausea and vomiting are common in primary and secondary headaches. It is a red flag for a secondary headache if there is persistent vomiting. Seizures, changes in vision, hearing or speech are also a few warning signs of a secondary headache. “Seek medical attention if the frequent headaches are not responding to painkillers and rest,” says Dureja.

Block the way

Benign exertional headaches are manageable with lifestyle modifications and change in exercise routine. “You can reduce the occurrence of exertion headaches with good warm-up exercises, cooling and ventilation in training settings, adequate sleep, nutrition and hydration,” says Dobson.

Krishnan mentions that lowering the intensity of the workout and being well hydrated are useful in the prevention of exertional headaches. “Finding the headache trigger is very critical to managing a primary headache. A person can maintain a pain diary where he can log the severity, period, food taken, any other condition that he experiences during a headache. Such a journal is useful in narrowing down the cause and preventing primary headaches,” says Goyal. Relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, meditation and yoga help prevent primary headaches.

According to Dobson, following can help in avoiding PEH:

Breathe well: Avoid Valsalva maneuver (forceful exhalation with mouth and nose firmly closed) during multiple repetitions of weight lifting. Exhale during the positive phase (when you raise the weight) and inhale during the negative phase (when you lower the weight).

Neutral spine: Maintain a neutral spinal alignment to allow proper circulation through the arteries and veins. It is not essential to keep the back straight when you look up during a squat or a deadlift. Keep the neck and head in a neutral position.

Safety: Larger compound leg movements at the beginning of the workout are safer because exhaustion, exercise induced dehydration and peaking heart rate won’t trigger at the start of the training.

Fitness: Develop cardio respiratory fitness with regular cardiovascular training. General conditioning along with interval training reduces the risk of exertion headaches by developing a healthy cardiovascular system to handle stress. It is necessary to build proper cardiovascular health, stay hydrated and maintain a neutral spine.

 Source: http://www.theweek.in/features/lifestyle/exercise-related-headaches-are-common.html


What are the symptoms of Zika virus?

zika

Fifteen cases of locally transmitted Zika have now been confirmed in South Florida, prompting the CDC to issue an advisory warning pregnant women to avoid travel to the one-square mile area of Miami where most of the infections occurred.

The virus, which is primarily spread through mosquito bites, has been spreading at epidemic levels in Latin America and the Caribbean throughout the last year.

Though Zika virus produces only mild symptoms — or none at all — in most people who are infected, it is particularly worrisome for pregnant women, because it has been found to cause a severe birth defect called microcephaly in babies.

There is no vaccine or cure for the virus.

With news of Zika’s arrival in the mainland U.S., many people have questions about who’s at risk, how Zika spreads, and the warning signs to look out for.

How is Zika transmitted?

Zika is primarily transmitted through the bites of Aedus Agypti mosquitoes. When one of these mosquitoes bites an infected person, it can pick up the virus and then spread it others when it bites them.

The species can bite four or five people in one blood meal, meaning it has the potential to spread the virus rapidly, CDC director Dr. Tom Frieden has said.

What are the symptoms of Zika?

Signs of Zika infection may include:

  • Mild fever

  • Skin rash

  • Muscle or joint pain

  • Conjunctivitis

Symptoms appear within 14 days of the initial infection.

However, about four out of five people who are infected with Zika do not experience any symptoms at all and probably don’t know they have it.

“It’s very important to understand that those who are experiencing symptoms aren’t necessarily a good estimate of how many people have been infected,” Dr. Ricardo Lopez, an OBGYN with Orlando Health, told CBS News.

In a small number of patients, the virus can cause more serious neurological problems including temporary paralysis — a condition called Guillain-Barre syndrome.

Source: http://www.cbsnews.com/news/zika-virus-symptoms-how-do-you-know-if-youre-infected/


Michael Bloomberg named World Health Organization ambassador

health minister

The World Health Organization has appointed billionaire philanthropist and former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg as a global ambassador to help spur governments and donors to tackle prevalent diseases such as cancer, diabetes and heart and lung disease.

WHO Director General Margaret Chan said in Wednesday’s announcement that she was “absolutely delighted” that he will be WHO’s Global Ambassador for Non-communicable Diseases.

She cited Bloomberg’s longtime support for WHO efforts to control smoking and tobacco use, improve road safety and prevent drowning.

Chan said Bloomberg will help mobilize global action to prevent and treat non-communicable diseases and combat injuries, which together account for almost 80 percent of deaths worldwide.

Bloomberg expressed excitement that by replicating effective measures globally, “we can save many millions of lives.”

Source: http://www.foxnews.com/health/2016/08/17/michael-bloomberg-named-world-health-organization-ambassador.html


Is it safe to reuse a water glass before washing it?

glass

The situation: You’ve got a water glass in the bathroom, at your desk, and on your nightstand, which means you’re chugging plenty of H2O (high-five for hydration and props for passing on plastic!). But with all the focus on getting the recommended 8 cups a day, some of those glasses have gone unwashed for days—you just keep dumping them out and filling them up.

What you’re worried about: “Microorganisms need a moist environment to survive, right? So not only have I created a perfect breeding ground for bacteria, microbes, parasites, and who knows what, I’ve gone and ingested them, obviously setting myself up for any number of dreadful diseases.”

The very worst that could happen: It’s true that bacteria and other potentially dangerous microorganisms (think viruses and intestinal parasites) grow really well in moist environments. So yes, that unwashed glass is a petri dish of possibility. Every time you take a sip, you’re transferring the microbes in your mouth to the glass.

If you’re ill and deposit a nasty bug in that glass and it doesn’t dry properly before you use it again, there might be enough time for that bug to replicate enough to cause your illness again,” said Aaron Margolin, PhD, a professor of microbiology at the University of New Hampshire

The source of the water you’re sipping can also make a difference: Unlike tap water, bottled and well water don’t automatically come with added chlorine to help halt the growth of bacteria. And if it’s a shared cup, look out! All those bacteria, viruses, and intestinal parasites passing back and forth could mean stomach ulcers (courtesy of Helicobacter pylori bacteria) or projectile vomiting and explosive diarrhea (courtesy of norovirus).

“The more people who use that same cup, the greater the probability that one of those people carry bacteria that might make you sick,” Margolin warned.

What will probably happen: A whole lotta nothing, especially if you’re the only one using the glass.

“It’s important to mention that pathogens—those organisms that make you sick—don’t just appear out of nowhere; they have to be introduced by someone or something,” Margolin said.

The fact that it’s a glass, not a plastic cup, means it won’t degrade over time, creating nooks and crannies where bacteria can build up. Plus, glass is more likely to completely dry, and drying, also known as desiccation, is an excellent way to halt the growth of bacteria, Margolin added. What’s more, if you’re filling up with tap water, most treatment plants use chlorine to zap dangerous contaminants that work both on the water and your saliva.

Bottom line: “If you restrict the usage of the cup to a single individual and you make sure that the water is clean, then you are not going to get sick if you use the same cup over and over,” Margolin said.

Source: http://www.foxnews.com/health/2016/08/18/is-it-safe-to-reuse-water-glass-before-washing-it.html


How to reverse the health risks of sitting all day

sitting in office

Sitting too much can take a serious toll on your health, even raise your risk of early death. But if you’re stuck in your chair at a desk job all day, don’t despair — a new study suggests there is something you can do to reverse the damage.

It comes down to fitting in an hour of walking or other physical activity a day. It doesn’t have to be a super-intense fitness routine to offer benefits, say the authors of a new study.

Researchers from the Norwegian School of Sports Sciences in Oslo, Norway, and the University of Cambridge in the U.K. analyzed data on more than one million people drawn from 16 different studies. Their goal was to find out how many hours of physical activity would be needed to counteract the negative health effects of sitting on your tush all day at the typical eight-hour-a-day office job.

Most of the people studied were over 45 and from the U.S., Western Europe and Australia. The scientists divvied up data on them into four groups according to how active they were, ranging from those who were in motion less than five minutes a day to those who were able to fit in 60 to 75 minutes of physical activity per day. Their activities included brisk walking (at about a 3.5 mph pace) or cycling for pleasure (at almost a 10 mph pace).

The increased risk of death linked with sitting for eight hours a day was eliminated for people who were physically active for at least one hour a day.

What’s more, the eight-hour-a-day sitters who exercised had a significantly lower risk of death compared to people who sat for fewer hours a day but weren’t active, the authors found.

Those who sat for most of the day were at the highest risk for death.

The researchers say what they found was a simple recipe for better health. “Our message is a positive one: it is possible to reduce – or even eliminate – these risks if we are active enough, even without having to take up sports or go to the gym,” the study’s lead researcher, Ulf Ekelund, of the Norwegian School of Sport Sciences, said in a statement.

But he noted that, unfortunately, only 25 percent of the people in the study exercised one hour a day or more.

This is just the latest research to look at the health issues raised by sedentary lifestyles. A study out last year in the Annals of Internal Medicine showed less rosy results. It found sitting for prolonged periods of time increased the risk for heart disease, diabetes, cancer and early death even in people who got half an hour to an hour of exercise a day. It found sitting for prolonged periods raised the risk of cardiovascular disease by 14 percent, cancer by 13 percent, and diabetes by a whopping 91 percent.

Another 2014 study in Mayo Clinic Proceedings found that prolonged sitting affected people’s fitness levels, regardless of whether they exercised or not. Two hours of sitting cancelled out the benefits of 20 minutes of exercise when it came to cardio-respiratory fitness, the authors said.

Heart expert Dr. Suzanne Steinbaum, a preventive cardiologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, said any exercise is good for you. It can improve cardiovascular health and help fend off health problems such as diabetes and obesity.

“Our lives have become so sedentary. Often people’s sitting time is significantly more than eight hours a day,” said Steinbaum, who noted that the size of the latest study makes its findings especially significant.

“I love this study because it really is showing that we can do something. There were a lot of people involved. It shows how relevant exercise is in our lives. It’s no longer a leisure activity, and it’s not just a treat to get a workout in, it’s not an option not to. It’s something we have to put in our lives,” she said.

Steinbaum said the study also showed that you don’t have to go to the gym and follow a hard-core fitness regimen to reap benefits; just walking at a brisk pace — enough to get your heart rate up — is an option, too.

“It’s not hanging out and window shopping, but it’s a really nice walk and it can help with stress reduction. You can go outside with a friend and get your heart rate up for one hour and talk about life and laugh,” she said.

The researchers also looked at six studies on daily television watching in half a million people and found that watching for more than three hours a day was linked with an increased risk of death in all but the most active people. The death rate was significantly higher in people who watched TV for five hours or more a day.

Study author Ekelund added, “For many people who commute to work and have office-based jobs, there is no way to escape sitting for prolonged periods of time. For these people in particular, we cannot stress enough the importance of getting exercise, whether it’s getting out for a walk at lunchtime, going for a run in the morning or cycling to work. An hour of physical activity per day is the ideal, but if this is unmanageable, then at least doing some exercise each day can help reduce the risk.”

Source : http://www.cbsnews.com/news/one-hour-of-exercise-reverses-health-risks-of-sitting-all-day/


Ginger: Helpful or harmful for the stomach?

Ingwertee

Ginger is one of the best-known remedies for relieving cold symptoms— it can actually kill the rhino virus that causes a cold. Plus, it’s been known to help with motion sickness and to calm an upset stomach. We checked in with our alternative medicine expert, The Medicine Hunter, for more:

“Ginger stimulates the production of bile and so as such it’s a beneficial digestive aid. But if you don’t have anything in your stomach— as it turns out this particular woman was drinking ginger tea on an empty stomach— it can sometimes cause… enough gastric stimulation that you can get some digestive distress,”  “It’s not a typical reaction. In fact, it’s rather uncommon, but it can happen.”

To avoid gastric upset while still getting anti-inflammatory benefits,  those with a sensitive digestive system have a bit of food in their stomachs and only drink modest amounts of ginger tea— one cup at a time.

Source : http://www.foxnews.com/health/2016/07/26/ginger-helpful-or-harmful-for-stomach.html

 


Blood clot deaths tied to hours of daily TV time

TV

People who watch television for five or more hours a day have more than twice the risk of those who watch half as much TV to die of a blood clot in the lung, a large Japanese study suggests.

There are more than 200,000 cases of pulmonary embolism, which usually begins as a blood clot in the leg that travels to the lung, in the U.S. each year, according to the National Library of Medicine. It can permanently damage lung tissue, other organs, or cause death, but many people who have it have no symptoms.

Pulmonary embolism is less common in Japan than in Western countries, said study coauthor Dr. Hiroyasu Iso, professor of public health at Osaka University Graduate School of Medicine, but Japanese people are becoming increasingly sedentary.

“We were surprised about the strength of the effect of television watching compared with the effects of advancing age, history of hypertension and diabetes mellitus, or body mass index in this study,” Iso told Reuters Health by email. “We speculated that leg immobility during television watching had increased their risk of fatal pulmonary embolism.”

In a number of studies of long haul travelers, the association between prolonged sitting and increased risk of pulmonary embolism did not vary by ethnicity, Iso said.

Other past studies have looked back at the lifestyle factors common to pulmonary embolism cases, but none had followed people over time to see if there was a link between their TV-watching time and their risk for embolisms, the study team writes in Circulation.

Between 1988 and 1990 Iso and colleagues asked more than 85,000 adults 40 to 79 years old in Japan how many hours they spent watching TV, then followed them for the next 19 years looking for deaths from pulmonary embolism. They also collected information on obesity, diabetes, cigarette smoking and high blood pressure, and tried to rule these factors out in the relationship between TV and blood clots.

Only 59 people in the sample died of pulmonary embolism, but compared to people who watched two and a half hours of TV or less per day, those who watched five or more hours were 2.5 times as likely to die of a clot.

Researchers calculated that among people who watched less than two and a half hours of TV, the rate of deaths from pulmonary embolism were 2.8 per 100,000 people per year, compared to a rate of 8.2 deaths per 100,000 per year for those who watched five or more hours daily.

Risk of pulmonary embolism death increased by 40 percent for each additional two hours of daily TV watching, they found.

“Time spent watching TV is a pretty reliable way to measure how much time people spend sedentary, or inactive,” said Dr. Christopher Kabrhel, an Associate Professor of Emergency Medicine at Harvard Medical School in Boston who was not part of the new study. “If being sedentary puts you at risk for pulmonary embolism, and I believe it does, then it likely also puts you at risk of death from pulmonary embolism, as this study showed.”

After TV watching time, obesity was the next most important factor predicting risk of death from pulmonary embolism, the authors found.

Since U.S. adults watch more TV than Japanese adults, the results may be even more important to Americans, the authors said in a statement accompanying the study.

“Nowadays, with online video streaming, the term ‘binge-watching’ to describe viewing multiple episodes of television programs in one sitting has become popular,” lead author Dr. Toru Shirakawa, a research fellow in public health at Osaka University Graduate School of Medicine, wrote.

Travelers on long plane flights and people watching TV for long periods of time can stand up, stretch, walk around, or tense and relax their leg muscles for five minutes to reduce the risk of blood clots, they wrote.

“The results do not seem to be country-specific,” Kabrhel told Reuters Health by email. “Being sedentary is bad for you wherever you live.”

Source: http://www.foxnews.com/health/2016/07/27/blood-clot-deaths-tied-to-hours-daily-tv-time.html


Mental illness: Could brain size be a risk factor?

brain

A study published in the journal PLOS Biology could explain why large brains are more vulnerable to brain disorders such as schizophrenia and Alzheimer’s disease.

Mammals exhibit an extensive range of brain sizes, reflecting their adaptation to the varied environments in which they live.

The cerebral cortex in all mammals is the thin layer of gray matter – neural tissue of the brain that is composed of nerve cell bodies and nerve fibers – that covers the brain.

Gray matter is responsible for processing information in the brain, including thoughts, high-level brain functions, such as storing and retrieving memories, calculating, language, and consciousness.

Comparing the cortical networks in the brains of mammals of differing sizes provides data on what features of the brain are preserved through evolution and what processing structures are unique to a particular species.

Zoltán Toroczkai, from the University of Notre-Dame, IN, Mária Ercsey-Ravasz, from Babes-Bolyai University, Romania, and Henry Kennedy, from the University Lyon, France, and colleagues previously combined tracing studies in macaques (which visualize connections in the brain) with network theory. The results showed that macaques’ cortical network is regulated by the exponential distance rule (EDR).

EDR describes a consistent relationship between distances and connection strength. EDR predicts that there are fewer long-range axons than short axons.

Although comparing cortical networks across species can be problematic, the researchers found that by using area tracing data from a macaque, a mammal with a large cortex, and a mouse, which has a significantly smaller cortex, they could introduce a standard model framework that enabled them to make comparisons.

The team used a general organization principle – based on an EDR and cortical geometry – to carry out comparisons within the same model framework.

Regardless of the differing cortex size between species and cortex organization, the researchers noted that all the statistical features of all cortical networks followed EDR.

Long-range connections weaker in primates’ brains than rodents’

In terms of the cortical areas examined by the tracing studies – such as visual cortex or auditory cortex – the closer the two areas were together, the more connections there were between them.

Although the cortical networks in primates and rodents are similar, the long-distance connections in the primates’ brains were considerably weaker.

Source: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/311844.php


Bolus and Basal Injections and What You Need to Know

insulin-2

The bolus-basal insulin injection regime for those living with diabetes works like your body should, but may not be a suitable fit for everyone.

If you have insulin dependent diabetes, you’re very familiar with bolus insulin, the type of insulin that is short-acting, typically taken with meals. However, not as many people with diabetes are as familiar with the other kind, basal insulin or, for that matter, the bolus-basal insulin regime. Read on to learn the difference between bolus and basal injections and why a bolus-basal routine might be right for you.

The bolus-basal routine involves taking multiple insulin injections throughout the day. It requires the use of a longer acting form of insulin, basal insulin, to keep blood glucose levels stable through periods of not eating, where cells convert glucose into energy. Basal literally means “background” so this is the type of insulin that remains in the background of the bloodstream and is taken once or twice a day. Bolus insulin is the shorter acting insulin taken at mealtime to prevent rises in blood glucose levels as a result of eating.

The bolus-basal regime is an attempt to emulate how a completely healthy body would deliver insulin. The routine is applicable to people with both Type I and Type II diabetes.

Advantage

The main advantage of a bolus-basal regimen is that it allows you to fairly closely match how your own body would release insulin if it was able. Another big advantage is that it allows for greater flexibility when scheduling meals and for how many carbohydrates you can consume per meal since insulin is adjusted and injected throughout the day. This can be a large perk for adults with busy schedules and less control over meal times and type of food available.

Disadvantages

If there are advantages, there must also be disadvantages. One downside to the regime is that it requires more frequent insulin injections every day. This may be a bigger issue for some more than others, like children who must grow accustomed to the habit.

Of course, not every type of routine is right for everyone. Consult your doctor if you think the bolus-basal injection regime might work for you.

Source : www.diabetespharmacist.com

 


Pomegranate finally reveals its powerful anti-aging secret

pomegranatef

Intestinal bacteria transform a molecule contained in the fruit with spectacular results

Are pomegranates really the superfood we’ve been led to believe will counteract the aging process? Up to now, scientific proof has been fairly weak. And some controversial marketing tactics have led to skepticism as well. A team of scientists from EPFL and the company Amazentis wanted to explore the issue by taking a closer look at the secrets of this plump pink fruit. They discovered that a molecule in pomegranates, transformed by microbes in the gut, enables muscle cells to protect themselves against one of the major causes of aging. In nematodes and rodents, the effect is nothing short of amazing. Human clinical trials are currently underway, but these initial findings have already been published in the journal Nature Medicine.

As we age, our cells increasingly struggle to recycle their powerhouses. Called mitochondria, these inner compartments are no longer able to carry out their vital function, thus accumulate in the cell. This degradation affects the health of many tissues, including muscles, which gradually weaken over the years. A buildup of dysfunctional mitochondria is also suspected of playing a role in other diseases of aging, such as Parkinson’s disease.

One molecule plays David against the Goliath of aging

The scientists identified a molecule that, all by itself, managed to re-establish the cell’s ability to recycle the components of the defective mitochondria: urolithin A. “It’s the only known molecule that can relaunch the mitochondrial clean-up process, otherwise known as mitophagy,” says Patrick Aebischer, co-author on the study. “It’s a completely natural substance, and its effect is powerful and measurable.”

The team started out by testing their hypothesis on the usual suspect: the nematode C. elegans. It’s a favorite test subject among aging experts, because after just 8-10 days it’s already considered elderly. The lifespan of worms exposed to urolithin A increased by more than 45% compared with the control group.

These initial encouraging results led the team to test the molecule on animals that have more in common with humans. In the rodent studies, like with C. elegans, a significant reduction in the number of mitochondria was observed, indicating that a robust cellular recycling process was taking place. Older mice, around two years of age, showed 42% better endurance while running than equally old mice in the control group.

Human testing underway

Before heading out to stock up on pomegranates, however, it’s worth noting that the fruit doesn’t itself contain the miracle molecule, but rather its precursor. That molecule is converted into urolithin A by the microbes that inhabit the intestine. Because of this, the amount of urolithin A produced can vary widely, depending on the species of animal and the flora present in the gut microbiome. Some individuals don’t produce any at all. If you’re one of the unlucky ones, it’s possible that pomegranate juice won’t do you any good.

For those without the right microbes in their guts, however, the scientists are already working on a solution. The study’s co-authors founded a start-up company, Amazentis, which has developed a method to deliver finely calibrated doses of urolithin A. The company is currently conducting first clinical trials testing the molecule in humans in European hospitals.

Darwin at your service: parallel evolution makes good dinner partners According to study co-author Johan Auwerx, it would be surprising if urolithin A weren’t effective in humans. “Species that are evolutionarily quite distant, such as C elegans and the rat, react to the same substance in the same way. That’s a good indication that we’re touching here on an essential mechanism in living organisms.”

Urolithin A’s function is the product of tens of millions of years of parallel evolution between plants, bacteria and animals. According to Chris Rinsch, co-author and CEO of Amazentis, this evolutionary process explains the molecule’s effectiveness: “Precursors to urolithin A are found not only in pomegranates, but also in smaller amounts in many nuts and berries. Yet for it to be produced in our intestines, the bacteria must be able to break down what we’re eating. When, via digestion, a substance is produced that is of benefit to us, natural selection favors both the bacteria involved and their host. Our objective is to follow strict clinical validations, so that everyone can benefit from the result of these millions of years of evolution.”

The EPFL scientists’ approach provides a whole new palette of opportunities to fight the muscular degeneration that takes place as we age, and possibly also to counteract other effects of aging. By helping the body to renew itself, urolithin A could well succeed where so many pharmaceutical products, most of which have tried to increase muscle mass, have failed. Auwerx, who has also published a recent discovery about the anti-aging effects of another molecule in the journal Science, emphasizes the game-changing importance of these studies. “The nutritional approach opens up territory that traditional pharma has never explored. It’s a true shift in the scientific paradigm.”

Source: http://bit.ly/29DRnHW