Salt makes overweight people age faster

Scientists have discovered that overweight teenagers who eat too much salt have shorter telomeres, the ends of the chromosome which protect the cells from harm

Eating too much salt may speed up the ageing process, scientists have discovered for the first time.
Although sodium is known to raise the blood pressure, which can lead to fatal heart attacks and strokes, it is the first time it has been linked to cellular ageing.

Scientists found that overweight or obese teenagers who had a high salt diet had shorter ‘telomeres’ – the protective caps at the end of chromosomes – compared with those who ate a low salt diet. Telomeres have been compared with the plastic tips that stop shoe laces fraying.

Each time a cell divides the telomeres get shorter and when they get too short the cell stops dividing and dies.

The same genetic process has been linked to conditions associated with old age such as heart disease, cancer, type-2 diabetes and dementia. High levels of body fat were already known to hasten the shortening of telomeres.

But the new study found that sodium in salt seems to work hand-in-hand with obesity to speed the effect up still further.
Lead scientist Dr Haidong Zhu, from Georgia Regents University in Augusta, US, said: “Even in these young people, we can already see the effect of high sodium intake, suggesting that high sodium intake and obesity may act synergistically to accelerate cellular ageing.

“Lowering sodium intake, especially if you are overweight or obese, may slow down the cellular ageing process that plays an important role in the development of heart disease.

“The majority of sodium in the diet comes from processed foods, so parents can help by cooking fresh meals more often and by offering fresh fruit rather than potato chips for a snack.”

Dr Zhu’s team divided 766 teenagers aged 14 to 18 into different groups according to their reported sodium intake.

Low-intake teens consumed an average of around 5g of salt a day, compared with more than 10g grams for the high-intake group. In Britain the recommended intake is 6g. A recent study showed the majority of teenagers exceed their daily limit, mainly through eating bread and cereal.

Researchers found that overweight or obese teenagers who at the most salt had significantly shorter telomeres than those who ate the least. But high sodium intake did not have a significant effect on telomere shortening in normal-weight teens.

Although the salt link was only found in obese people it is the first time that salt has been shown to affect cellular ageing.
The research, presented at an American Heart Association meeting in San Francisco, suggests a possible link with inflammation, said the scientists. Inflammation is known to hasten telomere shortening and is linked to obesity. It also increases a person’s sensitivity to salt.

Katherine Jenner, Campaign Director at Consensus Action on Salt and Health said: “Lowering your salt intake is essential to lower your risk of not just heart disease, but also stroke, heart attack and chronic kidney disease.

“As you might expect, teenagers often have a high salt diet, but it’s not just pizza, crisps and chips that are the culprits, every day foods such as breads, breakfast cereals and sauces can be surprisingly high in salt.” Nutritionist Sonia Pombo added: “Children are eating a worryingly high amount of salt.

“Dietary habits in childhood and adolescence are likely to influence eating patterns in later life.
“Liking salt and salty foods is a learned taste preference and the recommendation that the adult population reduce their sodium intake will be more successful if children do not develop a preference for salt in the first place.”

Source: telegraph

New drug can lower salt intake without any dietary changes

Sodium: An important dietary element that the body needs to function. But too much of the chemical can potentially be deadly.

Given current diet trends, a significant majority of Americans consume too much sodium from their food, contributing to an overall increase in cardiovascular disease and poor kidney function. But soon, a new drug may be able to solve this growing problem – by lowering an individual’s salt absorption without affecting his or her diet.

The medication could potentially help the millions of Americans who suffer from chronic kidney disease (CKD) and hypertension, but who have a hard time adhering to a low-sodium diet.

Developed by researchers at drug manufacturer Ardelyx, the drug, tenapanor, works by blocking a membrane transporter called NH3, which is responsible for most of the reuptake of sodium in the body. By inhibiting this protein, the majority of sodium is prevented from seeping into the bloodstream and instead remains in the gut.

“It’s a small molecule that’s been designed to remain within the gut, acting on this transporter that is expressed in the mucosa in the GI (gastrointestinal) tract,” lead researcher Dominique Charmot, co-founder and chief scientific officer at Ardelyx, told “And in doing so, what it does is divert sodium from going into the blood to going into the stool. So that increases sodium in the stool and avoids building up too much sodium in the body.”

According to Charmot, current medications to control sodium include diuretics and antihypertensive drugs, which either increase water excretion or control high blood pressure. However, these drugs require patients to adhere to a diet very low in sodium – a feat that can be difficult given the high prevalence of the chemical in typical American diets. But since tenapanor remains in the gut, the drug can remove the sodium while patients continue to eat their normal diet.

To test the effectiveness of tenapanor, Charmot and lead study author Andrew Spencer, senior director for research and development at Ardelyx, administered the drug to rats that had fractions of their kidneys removed, in order to emulate patients with CKD. They also continued feeding the rats a high-sodium diet to see how it interfered with the drug’s success.

“What we’ve shown in this rat model is it protects against hypertension and hypertrophy (an increase in volume) of the heart; and it protects against further damage of the kidney, which is shown by the presence of protein in the urine,” Charmot said.

Additionally, tenapanor was given to patients with CKD in a phase 1 proof of concept study. After taking the medication, patients showed an increase of sodium in their stools and no presence of the drug was detected in their bloodstreams – proving the drug adhered to its design and function.

Charmot and his team hope that their drug will benefit many in the United States, especially given Americans’ widespread consumption of sodium on a daily basis. The U.S. Dietary Guidelines recommend people should limit their sodium to less than 2,300 milligrams a day, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that the average American eats more than 3,300 milligrams daily. In fact, the CDC found that more than 90 percent of Americans over the age of 2 eat too much sodium.

Experts believe these dietary trends have contributed to the rising incidence of chronic diseases in the United States. The CDC states that 26 million Americans suffer from CKD and approximately 67 million people have high blood pressure – equating to 1 in 3 U.S. citizens.

And the sodium-related health problems don’t simply stop there, according to Charmot.

“A new body of science is emerging which tells us that sodium, independent of blood pressure, is bad. There’s a lot of animal data showing salt can induce scar tissue in the kidneys and in the vasculature – something that’s seen, for example, by the thickness of the arteries.”

Because of sodium’s potential to contribute to so many diseases, the researchers believe tenapanor can help many individuals stay healthy while enjoying a normal dietary routine.

“It’s fair to say that asking patients to maintain a low-sodium diet is very hard to do,” Charmot said. “…Most of the food additives contain sodium; people who eat in restaurants cannot control sodium; plus, food is bland without sodium. Also there’s a risk if you go too low in sodium, you also diminish nutrient composition which is needed for you to thrive. So we believe this drug can help patients comply with a more normal diet.”

The research on tenapanor was published online in the journal Science.

Source: health medicine

Healthy Benefits of Hummus

Hummus is a popular dish that originated in the Middle East. It is a spread, dip, or paste made of chickpeas and tahini that is usually eaten with pita or any other flat bread, often during breakfast. It has a texture and consistency similar with peanut butter. This Middle Eastern favorite is widely used in countries like Syria, Israel, Turkey, Greece, Cyprus and Lebanon. Its popularity is rooted not only from its delicious taste but also from its great nutritional value.

Several ingredients are used in making hummus but the primary ingredients are chickpeas and tahini. Chickpeas, which are more popularly known as garbanzo beans, are high-protein legumes cultivated in the Middle East since thousands of years ago. Tahini, on the other hand, refers to sesame paste. It has a strong flavor, which is why most people only use this ingredient sparingly. Other ingredients of hummus include lemon juice, salt, fresh garlic, paprika, and olive oil. To make this dish, all the ingredients are simply ground down until they form a smooth paste. Seasonings are added to taste.

1. Health Benefits of Chickpeas

The nutritional benefits of hummus can be rooted down from each of its ingredients. For one, chickpeas are very healthy because they do not contain any cholesterol or saturated fats. They are also rich in protein. This makes hummus a favorite among vegetarians. Chickpeas are also known to be effective in preventing build up of cholesterol in the blood vessels. Apart from that, it can maintain correct blood sugar levels.

2. Nutritional Value of Tahini

Tahini, meanwhile, is full of fat and calories. However, the fact that it is used sparingly in most hummus recipes and that it mostly contains unsaturated fat means there is not much to worry about. Like chickpeas, tahini is also high in protein. Apart from that, it is a great source of calcium.

3. Healthy Ingredients in Olive Oil

Another healthy ingredient found in hummus is olive oil. As most people know, olive oil is a healthy fat. It has high monounsaturated fat content but low in saturated fat. This oil can thus help regulate cholesterol and protect the heart from various diseases.

4. Health Benefits of Garlic and Lemon Juice

Garlic and lemon juice, meanwhile, are filled with antioxidants that reduce oxidative stress in the body. They also work to improve immune functions and fight of bacteria and viruses.

5. General Health Benefits of Hummus

Hummus as a whole contains plenty of Omega 3 fatty acids, which are great for improving intelligence and maintaining a healthy heart. On top of it all, this dish also has iron, vitamin B6, manganese, copper, folic acid, and amino acids. Tryptophan, phenylalanine, and tyrosine are the amino acids found in hummus that can promote good quality sleep and uplift one’s mood.

Humus is loaded with nutrients that can contribute to a healthy lifestyle. Include this in your diet by using it as spread on sandwiches and wraps, as dressing to your salad or pasta, as dip for raw vegetables, or as side dish for main courses.

Source: 3fc


Red light, green labels: Food choice made easier

In March 2010, Massachusetts General Hospital’s cafeteria got an overhaul. Healthy items were labeled with a “green light,” less healthy items were labeled with a “yellow light,” and unhealthy items were labeled with a “red light.” Healthier items were also placed in prime locations throughout the cafeteria, while unhealthy items were pushed below eye level.

The “Green Light, Red Light, Eat Right” method is a favorite among experts fighting childhood obesity. But doctors at Massachusetts General wanted to know if the colors could really inspire healthier eating habits among adults long-term.

The results of their study were published Tuesday in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

The study

A cash register system tracked all purchases from the hospital’s large cafeteria between December 2009 and February 2012. The first three months of data were used as a baseline for comparison purposes. In March 2010, all food and beverages were labeled with a visible green, yellow or red sticker. Those with a green sticker were put at eye level and in easier-to-reach places.

Signs, menu boards and other promotions were used to explain the changes around the hospital.

The cafeteria had an average of 6,511 transactions daily. Approximately 2,200 of those were from hospital employees who used the cafeteria regularly. Twelve months into the study, researchers analyzed the number of purchases from each color group, and compared them to the baseline totals. They did the same at the end of the 24-month period.

The results

The number of red items purchased during the study period decreased from 24% at the baseline to 21% at both the 12 and 24-month follow-ups. The biggest decrease was seen in red-labeled beverages (such as regular soda) – from 27% at baseline to 18% at 24 months.

Sales of green items increased from 41% to 46%.

In other words, cafeteria-goers bought more water and purchased healthier food items during the study period than they did before the traffic light system went into place.

Employees showed the biggest improvement; their purchases of red items decreased by about 20%.


“These results suggest that simple food environment interventions can play a major role in public health policies to reduce obesity,” the study authors write.

Lead study author Dr. Anne Thorndike wasn’t sure that the changes seen early in the study would last over the two-year period. The consistent results at 24 months suggest people won’t grow tired of or immune to helpful food labels, she says.

Thorndike does not believe the color coding system can replace more detailed nutrition information, but says the labels “convey some basic nutrition information in a format that can be quickly interpreted and understood by individuals from diverse backgrounds.”

It’s unclear if the traffic light system produced the change in consumers’ behavior or if it was the rearrangement of items in the cafeteria.

Use it at home

“Families could utilize this concept by categorizing foods in the household as ‘green’ or red,'” Thorndike says. “For example, you could have a ‘green’ snack drawer or shelf on the refrigerator that the kids could freely choose from, and you could designate a ‘red’ drawer in which the kids would need to ask permission before taking a snack.”

Parents can also rearrange their cupboards to put healthier snacks front and center. Sorry, cookies – it’s the dark corner up top for you.

Source: the chart