Finding the Root to Treat Aging through Dieting

Angel Mendez wrote . . . . . . . . .

Researchers at the University of Minnesota Medical School believe they discovered a new way in which diet influences aging-related diseases.

“Our healthcare as we age is analogous to a tree, and the way we go about it now, when a branch gets diseased, we go to a doctor, and they trim the branch. Then, we go to another doctor, and they trim another branch,” said Doug Mashek, PhD, a professor in the Departments of Medicine and Biochemistry, Molecular Biology and Biophysics. “It’s the roots that we need to be focused on—the common roots of all of these diseases. That’s why we are excited because this pathway has been linked to almost all of them. It’s the roots.”

The root is part of a special diet—one that Dr. Mashek and his team have studied over the last eight years with the help of multiple grants from the National Institutes of Health. Their research findings, recently published in Molecular Cell, focus on the Mediterranean diet. The diet, originally touted by U-famed American physiologist Ancel Keys, emerged during his “Seven Countries Study” when he helped link diet to cardiovascular disease for the first time.

Early studies suggested red wine was a major contributor to the health benefits of the Mediterranean diet because it contains a compound called resveratrol, which activated a certain pathway in cells known to increase lifespan and prevent aging-related diseases. However, work in Dr. Mashek’s lab suggests that it is the fat in olive oil, another component of the Mediterranean diet, that is actually activating this pathway.

“We didn’t start out by studying the Mediterranean diet; we first were focusing on fat,” Dr. Mashek said. “This fat is known to be protective against heart disease and many other aging-related diseases, so by identifying this pathway, it provides a new way of thinking about how consuming olive oil and the Mediterranean diet is actually linked to positive health benefits.”

Yet, merely consuming olive oil is not enough to elicit all of the health benefits. Dr. Mashek’s studies suggest that when coupled with fasting, limiting caloric intake and exercising, the effects of consuming olive oil will be most pronounced.

“We found that the way this fat works is it first has to get stored in microscopic things called lipid droplets, which is how our cells store fat. And then, when the fat is broken down during exercising or fasting, for example, is when the signaling and beneficial effects are realized,” he said.

The next steps for their research are to translate it to humans with the goal of discovering new drugs or to further tailor dietary regimens that improve health, both short-term and long-term.

“We want to understand the biology, and then translate it to humans, hopefully changing the paradigm of healthcare from you going to eight different doctors to treat your eight different disorders,” Dr. Mashek said. “These are all aging-related diseases, so let’s treat aging.”

Source: University of Minnesota

Curry Chicken with Pumpkin


3 to 4 fresh boneless chicken thighs
1/2 pumpkin (cut into irregular wedges)
1 to 2 kaffir lime leaves
3 stalks lemongrass
2 tbsp yellow curry paste
400 ml coconut milk (or coconut cream)
3 tbsp fish sauce
350 ml chicken broth
1-1/2 tbsps palm sugar


  1. Cut each chicken thigh into 6 pieces. Pan-fry over high heat until golden. Set aside.
  2. Bring the coconut milk to a boil over medium heat. Add curry paste. Stir until well incorporated.
  3. Add broth, fish sauce, palm sugar, lemongrass and kaffir lime leaves. Bring to a boil again and put in the pumpkin. Cook for about 15 minutes until the pumpkin is tender.
  4. Add chicken and simmer for 5 minutes.
  5. Garnish with Thai basil (optional) and serve hot.

Source: Delicacies at the Stage

New Character Sweets from Foresta Nature Doughnuts Japan for White Day

“Cinnamon” Character Donut

“Mocha” Character Donut

“Cinnamon” and “Cappuccino” Krokoro Donuts

The donuts are avaliable for a limited time period at 450 yen to 600 yen (plus tax) respectively.

Is Coronavirus Really Like the Flu? Here’s a Comparison

Dennis Thompson wrote . . . . . . . . .

President Donald Trump drew a direct comparison between the seasonal flu and the new coronavirus in his first press conference on COVID-19 last week, saying that Americans might have more to fear from flu than the headline-making virus.

But a closer comparison of the two viruses creates a more worrisome picture of what could happen if COVID-19 becomes widespread in the United States, infectious disease experts say.

The new coronavirus is more infectious than the flu and appears to strike with much more severity in certain vulnerable groups.

At the same time, there are no treatments on hand for COVID-19 as there are for the seasonal flu, experts added.

Initially, estimates on the death rate in China hovered around 2%, but a report published last week in the New England Journal of Medicine arrived at a death rate of 1.4%. And leading health experts wrote in an accompanying editorial that many mild cases have been missed, driving the death rate down closer to around 1%.

The death rate associated with a typical flu season is around 0.1%, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The apparent death rate of the new coronavirus is more in line with pandemic flu strains, where a new mutation causes the flu virus to become more contagious and dangerous, experts explained.

For example, the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic, caused by the first emergence of the H1N1 flu strain, had a death rate greater than 2.5%, according to the CDC.

“Influenza doesn’t have the same mortality rate right now as COVID-19,” said Dr. Aaron Glatt, an expert with the Infectious Diseases Society of America. “Both can be fatal. There’s an awful lot more flu around, but it’s thank God not as dangerous as COVID-19.”

Older folks much more at risk

There’s one important difference — COVID-19 appears to be most harmful to old people or those with underlying health problems that make them more susceptible to infection or pneumonia, Glatt added.

“No child has died of COVID-19,” Glatt said. “There have been hundreds of cases and not one child under the age of 10 has died from COVID-19.”

By comparison, 125 children in the United States have died from the flu this season, the CDC says.

One other important difference: The new coronavirus appears to be more infectious than the seasonal flu, experts said.

People carrying the new coronavirus appear to spread the infection, on average, to an additional 2.2 people, federal health officials said in a recent letter in the New England Journal of Medicine.

That’s again on par with the pandemic 1918 Spanish flu, in which each infected person, on average, passed the virus on to between two and three people, said Dr. Waleed Javaid, director of infection prevention and control at Mount Sinai Downtown in New York City.

That figure for the regular seasonal flu is around 1.3 new people infected for every person with the flu, according to a 2014 paper in BMC Infectious Diseases.

The 1957 (1.6), 1968 (1.8) and 2009 (1.5) influenza pandemics also had lower infection rates than the coronavirus, according to data from that paper.

People also shouldn’t assume that the coronavirus will fade as winter turns to spring turns to summer, as happens with the seasonal flu, said Marc Lipsitch, a professor of epidemiology with the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

“As a virus new to humans, [the coronavirus] will face less immunity and thus transmit more readily even outside of the winter season,” Lipsitch added. “Changing seasons and school vacation may help, but are unlikely to stop transmission.

“Like pandemic flu, it might transmit widely outside of season,” Lipsitch noted.

Both the new coronavirus and the flu spread in the same way, mainly through droplet transmission, Javaid said.

“If I sneeze or I cough, small respiratory particles fly into the air about 3 to 6 feet and fall to the ground,” Javaid said. “Within those 3 to 6 feet, people can get exposed.”

When those droplets land on a surface, they can be picked up by someone’s hand touching that surface. If the person touches their eyes, nose or mouth, the virus can be transmitted thorough the mucous membranes, Javaid explained.

“We all touch our faces more than 20 times an hour. Every four or five minutes we are touching our face. I touched my face twice talking to you, already,” Javaid said.

Carriers without symptoms

In another similarity, people carrying either virus can walk around without showing any active symptoms.

As many as 3 out of 4 people carrying the seasonal flu have no symptoms, according to a 2014 British study published in The Lancet.

People infected with either virus might be contagious before symptoms develop, making it difficult to control their spread, Javaid said.

When symptoms occur, COVID-19 appears to be more akin to the common cold than the flu. Coronavirus symptoms include fever, cough and shortness of breath, all of which may appear between two and 14 days after exposure, the CDC says.

The flu has those symptoms as well as sore throat, muscle aches, headaches and fatigue, the CDC says.

People with the flu have one important advantage, in that antiviral drugs like Tamiflu are available to reduce the length and severity of their illness, Glatt noted.

No similar antiviral is yet available to treat COVID-19. However, a coalition of European researchers found there are as many as 31 approved antiviral drugs that could potentially be effective against COVID-19.

Repurposing these drugs as a COVID-19 therapy would have “a substantially higher probability of success to market as compared with developing new virus-specific drugs and vaccines, and a significantly reduced cost and timeline to clinical availability,” the researchers wrote in the International Journal of Infectious Disease.

Glatt said he’s not optimistic that an antiviral that’s effective against the coronavirus will be found quickly.

“I doubt, although there’s a lot of effort being put into it, that we’re going to come up with an antiviral right away for the treatment of COVID-19,” Glatt said. “Who knows, but I wouldn’t count on that.”

By the same token, there’s a vaccine for the flu, but a vaccine for coronavirus won’t be available for a year at the earliest, according to Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

Given that, the best prevention for the coronavirus appears to be the same as for the common cold, experts said — wash your hands frequently, avoid contact with sick people, cover your cough or sneeze with your elbow to prevent hand contamination, and stay home if you’re ill.

People who have chronic illnesses should make sure their disease is under control, to prevent their infection risk, Javaid said. For example, people who have diabetes should make sure their diabetes is under control.

Source: HealthDay

Surgeons Successfully Treat Brain Aneurysms Using a Robot

Using a robot to treat brain aneurysms is feasible and could allow for improved precision when placing stents, coils and other devices, according to late breaking science presented today at the American Stroke Association’s International Stroke Conference 2020 . The conference, Feb. 19-21 in Los Angeles, is a world premier meeting for researchers and clinicians dedicated to the science of stroke and brain health.

Robotic technology is used in surgery and cardiology, but not for brain vascular procedures. In this study, Canadian researchers report the results of the first robotic brain vascular procedures. They used a robotic system specifically adapted for neurovascular procedures. Software and hardware adaptations enable it to accommodate microcatheters, guidewires and the other devices used for endovascular procedures in the brain. These modifications also provide the operator additional precise fine-motor control compared to previous system models.

“This experience is the first step towards achieving our vision of remote neurovascular procedures,” said lead researcher Vitor Mendes Pereira, M.D., M.Sc., a neurosurgeon and neuroradiologist at the Toronto Western Hospital, and professor of medical imaging and surgery at the University of Toronto in Canada. “The ability to robotically perform intracranial aneurysm treatment is a major step forward in neuro-endovascular intervention.”

In the first case, a 64-year-old female patient presented with an unruptured aneurysm at the base of her skull. The surgical team successfully used the robot to place a stent and then, using the same microcatheter, entered the aneurysm sac and secured the aneurysm by placing various coils. All intracranial steps were performed with the robotic arm. Since this first case, the team has successfully performed five additional aneurysm treatments using the robot, which included deploying various devices such as flow-diverting stents.

“The expectation is that future robotic systems will be able to be controlled remotely. For example, I could be at my hospital and deliver therapy to a patient hundreds or even thousands of kilometers away,” Mendes Pereira said. “The ability to deliver rapid care through remote robotics for time-critical procedures such as stroke could have a huge impact on improving patient outcomes and allow us to deliver cutting-edge care to patients everywhere, regardless of geography.”

“Our experience, and that of future operators of this technology, will help develop the workflows and processes necessary to implement successful robotic programs, which will ultimately help establish remote care networks in the future,” Mendes Pereira said.

Source: American Heart Association

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