Zinc helps the immune system fight infections, including the common cold

Ohio: A new scientific study has revealed how the mineral zinc stops the immune system from spiralling out of control, as happens when people develop life-threatening infections.
The researchers say the findings could also explain why taking zinc supplements at the start of a cold can prevent it becoming worse.

Zinc tablets

The researchers from Ohio State University had shown that zinc-deficiency could lead to excessive inflammation, which is what happens in  sepsis, when in response to a severe infection, the body goes into overdrive, with potentially fatal consequences.
Through further experiments in human cells and animal studies the researchers found that a protein called NF-kB lured zinc into the immune cells that responded fastest to fight infection.
Once inside, the zinc then put the brakes on further activity in the NF-kB pathway, slowing down the immune response and limiting the amount of inflammation, the study, in Cell Reports, indicated.
Study leader, Dr Daren Knoell, said: “The immune system has to work under very strict balance, and this is a classic example of where more is not always better.
“We want a robust inflammatory response, which is part of our natural programming to defend us against a bug.
“But if that is unchecked, and there is too much inflammation, then it not only attacks the pathogen but can also cause much more collateral damage.”
He added that the finding narrowed the gap in scientists’ understanding of the role zinc had in fighting infection, but that it was too early to make the leap to zinc as a treatment for sepsis.
Zinc has been shown to reduce the severity of the common cold in humans and possibly shorten its duration.
“Whether this is because of improved balance in immune function, similar to what we report with sepsis, remains to be proven but perhaps requires further study,” Dr Knoell said.
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Roquefort cheese may protect the heart, says new study

The French blue cheese, Roquefort, which is matured in caves,  has ‘anti-inflammatory properties’ that guard against cardiovascular disease, according to new research being carried out in the UK.
The discovery, by biotechnologists at Cambridge-based company Lycotec, say the cheese, which is matured in caves, may be the miracle food behind the French health paradox – eating a diet rich in fat but still remaining slim with the lowest rate of cardiovascular disease in Europe.
A process that occurs as the cheese ripens is good for a healthy gut, helps slow arthritis, and can slow the signs of ageing, such as cellulite, according to researchers Dr Ivan Petyaev and Dr Yuriy Bashmakov.
Researchers found that the properties of the blue cheese worked best in acidic environments, such as the lining of the stomach.
‘We hypothesise that cheese consumption, especially of moulded varieties, may contribute to the occurrence of the “French paradox,” they said in a report.
Their research concludes that regular consumption by the French of Roquefort, Camembert and other moulded fermented cheeses could be one of the reasons the nation has the lowest rate of cardiovascular mortality in the developed world. 
The experts said Roquefort’s properties could be extracted and used in pharmaceutical and anti-ageing products.
The report stated: ‘Observations indicate that consumption of red wine alone cannot explain the paradox and perhaps some other constituents of the typical French diet could be responsible for reduced cardiovascular mortality.”
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Vitamin D protects joints from arthritic inflammation, says new report

Los Angeles: The miracle of Vitamin D’s protection to the body continues – scientists have now found that it also helps prevent inflammation in joints.

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The discovery was made by scientists at the University of Florida who reviewed the blood vitamin D levels and health of 45 African American and 49 Caucasians between 45 and 71 years of age with osteoarthritis of the knee. The reason for looking at the two different ethnicities was because African Americans tend to have lower vitamin D levels.

Lead researcher, Toni Glover said the study examined the theory of whether long term micronutrient deficiencies trigger chronic inflammation. In turn, chronic inflammation leads to chronic health conditions, many of which are characterized by pain as a disabling symptom. 
African American participants reported more pain in comparison with Caucasian subjects. While half of the Caucasian participants had vitamin D levels that were lower than 30 nanograms per milliliter (ng/mL), these insufficient levels occurred in 84 percent of the African Americans. Average Caucasian vitamin D levels were 28.2 ng/mL, in contrast with 19.9 ng/mL among African Americans. “People associate vitamin D with good bone health,” stated Glover, who is a research nurse practitioner and doctoral candidate at the University of Florida. “Yet, not everyone is aware of what factors decrease vitamin D and how low levels could contribute to health issues, including chronic pain.”
“Our data demonstrate that differences in experimental pain sensitivity between the two races are mediated at least in part by variations in vitamin D levels,” she concluded. “However, further studies are needed to fully understand the link between low vitamin D levels and racial disparities in pain. Although rare, vitamin D toxicity is possible and older adults should consult with their primary care provider regarding supplementation. It may be warranted that older black Americans with chronic widespread pain be screened for vitamin D deficiency to reduce disparities in pain.”
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Persian saffron may hold cure for multiple sclerosis

Toronto: Researchers have found that a substance in Persian saffron may hold the key to reducing nerve inflammation in sufferers of multiple sclerosis.

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In experiments conducted by scientists in Alberta,  the use of a compound called crocin, contained in the saffron,  suppressed both inflammation and certain cell stresses, resulting in decreased neurological impairment in lab models and cell cultures with MS.
The results of the research, recently published in the Journal of Immunology by a group of medical researchers at the University of Alberta have found that an active ingredient in the Persian spice saffron may be used to treat diseases involving neuroinflammation, such as multiple sclerosis.
Chris Powell, from the university said: “We found there is a compound in saffron, known as crocin, that exerts a protective effect in brain cell cultures and other models of MS. It prevented damageto cells that make myelin in the brain.”
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Selenium deficiency link to diseases of ageing



Elderly people in care homes are more likely to be deficient in the anti-inflammatory mineral selenium, according to a report in The Journal of Nutrition, Health & Aging.
Researchers in Taiwan studied 336 men and women between the ages of 65 and 101 years who were residents of long-term health facilitie.
Blood samples were analysed for the inflammatory cytokine interleukin-6 (IL-6), selenium and other factors.
MR W Y Lin, who led the research team said: “The ageing process has been demonstrated to be associated with oxidative damage and increased production of inflammatory cytokines.
“The inappropriate presentation of inflammatory cytokines, including tumor necrosis factor-alpha, interleukin (IL)-1, and IL-6, characterizes a chronic inflammatory state in the elderly. Meanwhile, it has been reported that the increase in serum inflammatory cytokines, especially IL-6, is related to the development of sarcopenia, functional disability, frailty, and increased morbidity and mortality.”
Selenium deficiency, defined as having a serum selenium level of less than 80 micrograms per liter (mcg/L), was detected in 35.6 of the men and 43.2 percent of the women participating in the study. An increased risk of deficiency was associated with rising levels of IL-6. Among those whose IL-6 levels were among the top 25 percent of participants, the risk of deficiency was more than double that of subjects whose IL-6 levels were among the lowest quarter.
The authors attribute the finding to selenium’s antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, and note that decreases in serum selenium as well as increases in interleukin-6 have been linked with chronic diseases involving inflammation, including cardiovascular disease and high blood pressure. They remark that chronic inflammatory diseases could be a consequence rather than a cause of the relationship between selenium and IL-6; however, the design of the study prohibited exploration of causality. “Future studies should aim to further clarify the linkage between selenium and IL-6, and possible benefits and disadvantages of intervention,” they conclude.
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Monica Reinagel – nutrionist and best-selling author


Monica Reinagel is author of The Inflammation Free Diet Plan. You can write to her at monica@inflammationfreediet.com

Find out how to manage your stress with expert help


London: From full inboxes and bleeping blackberries to lengthy commutes and automated messages, modern technology in the 21st Century doesn’t always make life easier. We’re working longer hours, sleeping less than ever and with global markets creating competition beyond our borders, pressure at work has never been so stark.

With so much on our plate, it’s hardly surprising that stress levels are rising. The number of working days lost due to stress in 2006-07 is estimated to be 13.7 million according to the latest statistics from the Health and Safety Executive. That’s a significant rise on last year so what are we getting so wrong?

Wednesday 7th November is National Stress Awareness Day and in a working world that never sleeps, it’s important to ensure we don’t neglect ourselves.

A recent study conducted by Philip Stein TESLAR, in association with the International Stress Management Association and Goldsmiths the jeweller, examined 25 stressed out entrepreneurs eager to reduce the stress in their lives. The participants took part in a Heart Rate Variability (HRV) test with Dr. Nyjon Eccles, BSc PhD MBBS MRCP, at his Harley Street practice. Each participant was given a Philip Stein TESLAR watch – a watch that contains a special de-stressing technology. After 5 weeks of wearing the watch, the participants received a second HRV test to discover the effects.

Benefits of wearing the watch include a more restful night time sleep, a reduction in stress and jet lag, improved concentration, increased levels of energy and an overall improvement of wellbeing.

Joining us online to discuss the findings is participant, Andy Henderson, a Derivatives Trainer, RFU Referee and Actor, Dermot Dennehy, UK MD of Philip Stein TESLAR and Jane Thomas, Chair of the International Stress Management Association, who will also be offering some top tips on how to manage our stress levels.

Dermot Dennehy, Andy Henderson and Jane Thomas join us online at web chat on Wednesday 7th November at 9am (GMT) to help us unwind with some top stress-busting tips.

Other useful links: www.philipsteinteslar.com

International Stress Management Association www.nationalstressawarenessday.co.uk