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What You Eat Can Prevent Arsenic Overload

ScienceDaily (June 29, 2012) — Millions of people worldwide are exposed to arsenic from contaminated water, and we are all exposed to arsenic via the food we eat. New research published in BioMed Central’s open access journal Nutrition Journal has demonstrated that people who ate more dietary vitamin B12 and animal protein had lower levels of arsenic (measured by deposition in toenails). Total dietary fat, animal fat, vegetable fat and saturated fat were also all associated with lower levels of arsenic, while omega 3 fatty acids, such as those found in fish oil, were associated with increased arsenic.—Long term exposure to high levels of arsenic is known to cause skin lesions, cancer and cardiovascular disease, and also affects fetal development. Even low concentrations of arsenic are potentially dangerous. Arsenic is found in some water supplies, but more people are exposed via their diet. Staples such as rice contain arsenic, especially the toxic inorganic forms, while fish, although high in total arsenic, contains organic forms which are thought to be less toxic.[U1]—Inside the body arsenic is methylated to aid excretion in urine but arsenic also has an affinity for keratin and can be deposited in hair and nails as they grow. Consequently levels of arsenic preserved in nails or hair can be used as a biomarker for arsenic exposure over periods of months to years.—Researchers from Dartmouth College and the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth looked at the levels of arsenic in toenails of residents of New Hampshire who all use private groundwater wells as their household water source.—Results of the study showed that arsenic in nails was positively associated with both alcohol and omega 3 fatty acids, however, lower levels of arsenic were found for people who ate greater amounts of vegetable and animal fat. Prof Kathy Cottingham, who directed the study, explained, “While there may be a direct interaction between fats and arsenic preventing absorption or binding to keratin in nails, the results may simply reflect dietary preference, with people who eat a diet rich in fats not eating foods high in arsenic, such as rice.”—Joann Gruber, who led the study, noted that, “Humans can be very efficient at removing arsenic from the body. Improved methylation reduces the amount of inorganic arsenic circulating in the body. Surprisingly, we didn’t see a reduction in toenail arsenic with other dietary factors known to be necessary for arsenic methylation such as folic acid. This may be because the population we sampled had adequate amounts of these factors in their diet.”—The authors are currently working on similar studies in children, through the Children’s Environmental Health and Disease Prevention Center at Dartmouth.–Story Source-The above story is reprinted from materials provided by BioMed Central. —Journal Reference-Joann F Gruber, Margaret R Karagas, Diane Gilbert-Diamond, Pamela J Bagley, M Scot Zens, Vicki Sayarath, Tracy Punshon, J Steven Morris and Kathryn L Cottingham. Associations between toenail arsenic concentration and dietary factors in a New Hampshire population. Nutrition Journal, 2012; (in press) [link]—

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Caffeine Boosts Power for Elderly Muscles

Caffeine helps muscles to produce more force, new study shows.—ScienceDaily (June 29, 2012) — A new study to be presented at the Society for Experimental Biology meeting on 30th June has shown that caffeine boosts power in older muscles, suggesting the stimulant could aid elderly people to maintain their strength, reducing the incidence of falls and injuries.—For adults in their prime, caffeine helps muscles to produce more force. But as we age, our muscles naturally change and become weaker.–Sports scientists at Coventry University looked for the first time at whether these age-related changes in muscle would alter the effect of caffeine. They found that caffeine continued to enhance muscle performance in two different muscles from mice, although it was less effective in older muscles.—Jason Tallis, the study’s primary author, said: “Despite a reduced effect in the elderly, caffeine may still provide performance-enhancing benefits.”-For adults in their prime, caffeine helps muscles to produce more force. But as we age, our muscles naturally change and become weaker. So, sports scientists at Coventry University looked for the first time at whether these age-related changes in muscle would alter the effect of caffeine.–Caffeine’s effect was smallest for juvenile muscles, suggesting caffeine may not have an enhancing effect in developing muscles.–The decline in muscle strength that occurs as we age contributes to injuries and reduces quality of life. The process is not well understood, but it is clear that preserving muscle tone is key.—Tallis said: “With the importance of maintaining a physically active lifestyle to preserve health and functional capacity, the performance-enhancing benefit of caffeine could prove beneficial in the aging population.”—The researchers isolated muscles from mice ranging in age from juvenile to elderly, then tested their performance before and after caffeine treatment. They looked at two different skeletal muscles, which are the muscles we can control voluntarily. The first was the diaphragm, a core muscle used for respiration; the second was a leg muscle called the extensor digitorum longus (EDL), used for locomotion.—Story Source-The above story is reprinted from materials provided by Society for Experimental Biology, via EurekAlert!, a service of AAAS.

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Light Weights Are Just as Good for Building Muscle, Getting Stronger, Researchers Find

Lifting less weight more times is just as effective at building muscle as training with heavy weights, a finding by McMaster researchers that turns conventional wisdom on its head. —ScienceDaily (Apr. 30, 2012) — Lifting less weight more times is just as effective at building muscle as training with heavy weights, a finding by McMaster researchers that turns conventional wisdom on its head.—The key to muscle gain, say the researchers, is working to the point of fatigue.—“We found that loads that were quite heavy and comparatively light were equally effective at inducing muscle growth and promoting strength,” says Cam Mitchell, one of the lead authors of the study and a PhD candidate in the Department of Kinesiology.—The research, published in the Journal of Applied Physiology, challenges the widely accepted dogma that training with heavy weights — which can be lifted only six to 12 times before fatigue — is the best avenue to muscle growth.–“Many older adults can have joint problems which would prevent them training with heavy loads,” says Mitchell. “This study shows that they have the option of training with lighter and less intimidating loads and can still receive the benefits.”—For the study, a series of experiments were conducted on healthy, young male volunteers to measure how their leg muscles reacted to different forms of resistance training over a period of 10 weeks.–The researchers first determined the maximum weight each subject could lift one time in a knee extension. Each subject was assigned to a different training program for each leg.–In all, three different programs were used in combinations that required the volunteers to complete sets of as many repetitions as possible with their assigned loads — typically eight to 12 times per set at the heaviest weights and 25-30 times at the lowest weights.—The three programs used in the combinations were:

one set at 80% of the maximum load
three sets at 80% of the maximum
three sets at 30% of the maximum
After 10 weeks of training, three times per week, the heavy and light groups that lifted three sets saw significant gains in muscle volume — as measured by MRI — with no difference among the groups. Still, the group that used heavier weights for three sets developed a bit more strength.—The group that trained for a single set showed approximately half the increase in muscle size seen in both the heavy and light groups.—“The complexity of current resistance training guidelines may deter some people from resistance training and therefore from receiving the associated health benefits,” says Stuart Phillips, a professor in the Department of Kinesiology and supervisor of the study. “Our study provides evidence for a simpler paradigm, where a much broader range of loads including quite light loads can induce muscle growth, provided it is lifted to the point where it is difficult to maintain good form.”–Story Source–The above story is reprinted from materials provided by McMaster University, via Newswise. –Journal Reference—C. J. Mitchell, T. A. Churchward-Venne, D. D. W. West, N. A. Burd, L. Breen, S. K. Baker, S. M. Phillips. Resistance exercise load does not determine training-mediated hypertrophic gains in young men. Journal of Applied Physiology, 2012; DOI: 10.1152/japplphysiol.00307.2012

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Building Muscle Without Heavy Weights

ScienceDaily (Apr. 26, 2012) — Weight training at a lower intensity but with more repetitions may be as effective for building muscle as lifting heavy weights says a new opinion piece in Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism.–“The perspective provided in this review highlights that other resistance protocols, beyond the often discussed high-intensity training, can be effective in stimulating a muscle building response that may translate into bigger muscles after resistance training,” says lead author Nicholas Burd. “These findings have important implications from a public health standpoint because skeletal muscle mass is a large contributor to daily energy expenditure and it assists in weight management. Additionally, skeletal muscle mass, because of its overall size, is the primary site of blood sugar disposal and thus will likely play a role in reducing the risk for development of type II diabetes.”—The authors from McMaster University conducted a series of experiments that manipulated various resistance exercise variables (e.g., intensity, volume, and muscle time under tension). They found that high-intensity muscle contractions derived from lifting heavy loads were not the only drivers of exercise-induced muscle development. In resistance-trained young men a lower workout intensity and a higher volume of repetitions of resistance exercise, performed until failure, was equally effective in stimulating muscle proteins as a heavy workout intensity at lower repetition rates. An additional benefit of the low-intensity workout is that the higher repetitions required to achieve fatigue will also be beneficial for sustaining the muscle building response for days.—Story Source—The above story is reprinted from materials provided by Canadian Science Publishing (NRC Research Press), via EurekAlert!, a service of AAAS.

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Tannic acid inhibited norovirus binding to HBGA receptors, a study of 50 Chinese medicinal herbs.

Bioorg Med Chem. 2012 Feb 15;20(4):1616-23

Authors: Zhang XF, Dai YC, Zhong W, Tan M, Lv ZP, Zhou YC, Jiang X

Abstract
Noroviruses (NoVs) are the leading cause of viral acute gastroenteritis affecting people of all ages worldwide. The disease is difficult to control due to its widespread nature and lack of an antiviral or vaccine. NoV infection relies on the interaction of the viruses with histo-blood group antigens (HBGAs) as host receptors. Here we investigated inhibition effects of Chinese medicinal herbs against NoVs binding to HBGAs for potential antivirals against NoVs. Blocking assays was performed using the NoV protrusion (P) protein as NoV surrogate and saliva as HBGAs. Among 50 clinically effective Chinese medicinal herbs against gastroenteritis diseases, two herbs were found highly effective. Chinese Gall blocked NoV P dimer binding to type A saliva at IC(50)=5.35 μg/ml and to B saliva at IC(50)=21.7 μg/ml. Similarly, Pomegranate blocked binding of NoV P dimer to type A saliva at IC(50)=15.59 μg/ml and B saliva at IC(50)=66.67 μg/ml. Literature data on preliminary biochemistry analysis showed that tannic acid is a common composition in the extracts of the two herbs, so we speculate that it might be the effective compound and further studies using commercially available, highly purified tannic acid confirmed the tannic acid as a strong inhibitor in the binding of NoV P protein to both A and B saliva (IC(50)≈0.1 μM). In addition, we tested different forms of hydrolysable tannins with different alkyl esters, including gallic acid, ethyl gallate, lauryl gallate, octyl gallate and propyl gallate. However, none of these tannins-derivatives revealed detectable inhibiting activities. Our data suggested that tannic acid is a promising candidate antiviral against NoVs.—PMID: 22285570 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]

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Tea, nettle, wood, berries, Chinese galls. Oak wood is very rich in tannic acid. When wine is kept in oak kegs some tannic acid will migrate into the wine. High levels of tannic acid are found in some plant galls. These are formed by plants when they are infected by certain insects. These insects pierce the plant leaves and when the egg hatches out into a larva the plant produces a gall which surrounds the larva.—- Tannic acid has anti-bacterial, anti-enzymatic and astringent properties. Tannic acid has constringing action upon mucous tissues such as tongue and inside of mouth. The ingestion of tannic acid caused constipation and can be used to treat diarrhoea (in the absence of fever or inflammation). The anti-oxidant and anti-mutagenic properties of tannic acid are beneficial.— Externally, tannic acid is used to treat ulcers, toothache and wounds