Afternoon Tea Set of Afternoon Tea Tea Room in Japan

Celebrate the 40th Anniversary of the Tea Room

Wake Up and Smell the Cell-Cultured Coffee!

Coffee cells have been successfully produced by scientists in Finland using cellular agriculture. The innovation, coming from the land that drinks the most coffee per capita in the world, could help make the future production of coffee considerably more sustainable.

Scientists at the VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland produced the coffee cells in a bioreactor utilizing cellular agriculture – the process in which cell cultures floating in bioreactors can be filled with nutrient medium and used to produce various animal- and plant-based products. The team claims that the first batches produced smell and taste like conventional coffee.

Increasing demand, coupled with sustainability challenges and ethical concerns, is rendering traditional coffee agriculture wholly unsustainable. Development and market entry of such cellular agriculture, however, currently hinges on regulatory approval. At present, Singapore is the only state with advanced legislature, while Qatar is also not far behind. In the US, the USDA has called on stakeholders in the cell-cultured field to present comments and information while labeling legislation is reviewed.

“At VTT, this project has been part of our overall endeavor to develop the biotechnological production of daily and familiar commodities that are conventionally produced by agriculture. For this, we use many different hosts, such as microbes, but also plant cells,” stated Research Team Leader, Dr. Heiko Rischer from VTT.

“In terms of smell and taste, our trained sensory panel and analytical examination found the profile of the brew to bear similarity to ordinary coffee. However, coffee making is an art and involves iterative optimization under the supervision of specialists with dedicated equipment. Our work marks the basis for such work,” added Rischer.

Source: Vegconmist

Alcohol Can Cause Immediate Risk of Atrial Fibrillation

Elizabeth Fernandez wrote . . . . . . . . .

A single glass of wine can quickly – significantly – raise the drinker’s risk for atrial fibrillation, according to new research by UC San Francisco.

The study provides the first evidence that alcohol consumption substantially increases the chance of the heart rhythm condition occurring within a few hours. The findings might run counter to a prevailing perception that alcohol can be “cardioprotective,” say the authors, suggesting that reducing or avoiding alcohol might help mitigate harmful effects.

The paper is published in Annals of Internal Medicine.

“Contrary to a common belief that atrial fibrillation is associated with heavy alcohol consumption, it appears that even one alcohol drink may be enough to increase the risk,” said Gregory Marcus, MD, MAS, professor of medicine in the Division of Cardiology at UCSF.

“Our results show that the occurrence of atrial fibrillation might be neither random nor unpredictable,” he said. “Instead, there may be identifiable and modifiable ways of preventing an acute heart arrhythmia episode.”

Atrial fibrillation (AF) is the most common heart arrhythmia seen clinically, but until now research has largely focused on risk factors for developing the disease and therapies to treat it, rather than factors that determine when and where an episode might occur. AF can lead to loss of quality of life, significant health care costs, stroke and death.

Large studies have shown that chronic alcohol consumption can be a predictor of the condition, and Marcus and other scientists have demonstrated that it is linked to heightened risks of a first diagnosis of atrial arrhythmias.

The research centered on 100 patients with documented AF who consumed at least one alcoholic drink a month. The patients were recruited from the general cardiology and cardiac electrophysiology outpatient clinics at UCSF. People with a history of alcohol or substance use disorder were excluded, as were those with certain allergies, or who were changing treatment for their heart condition.

Each wore an electrocardiogram (ECG) monitor for approximately four weeks, pressing a button whenever they had a standard-size alcoholic drink. They were also all fitted with a continuously recording alcohol sensor. Blood tests reflecting alcohol consumption over the previous weeks were periodically administered. Participants consumed a median of one drink per day throughout the study period.

Researchers found that an AF episode was associated with two-fold higher odds with one alcoholic drink, and three-fold higher odds with two or more drinks within the preceding four hours. AF episodes were also associated with an increased blood alcohol concentration.

The authors note study limitations, including that patients might have forgotten to press their monitor buttons or that they minimized the number of button presses due to embarrassment, although these considerations would not have affected alcohol sensor readings. Additionally, the study was limited to those with established AF, not to the general population.

“The effects seem to be fairly linear: the more alcohol consumed, the higher the risk of an acute AF event,” said Marcus. “These observations mirror what has been reported by patients for decades, but this is the first objective, measurable evidence that a modifiable exposure may acutely influence the chance that an AF episode will occur.”

Source: UCSF

Daily Coffee May Protect the Heart

Steven Reinberg wrote . . . . . . . . .

The latest buzz on coffee? It may be good for your heart, a new, large study suggests.

Drinking light to moderate amounts — up to three cups a day — may lower the risk of stroke, fatal heart disease and all-cause death, researchers found.

“Regular coffee consumption of up to three cups per day is associated with a lower risk of all-cause mortality, cardiovascular mortality and stroke,” said lead researcher Dr. Judit Simon, from the Heart and Vascular Center at Semmelweis University in Budapest, Hungary.

These benefits might be partly explained by positive alterations in heart structure and function, she said.

Better yet, all types of coffee — caffeinated, decaf, brewed and instant — may offer heart benefits, Simon said.

“In a sub-analysis on types of mostly consumed coffee, decaffeinated coffee was associated with lower risk of all-cause and cardiovascular deaths, but not with lower stroke incidence, suggesting that caffeine is not the main or only component that is responsible for these favorable outcomes,” she said.

Instant coffee was associated with a lower risk of all-cause death, while ground coffee was linked with reduced risk of all-cause and cardiovascular death and lower stroke incidence, she said.

For the study, Simon and her colleagues collected data on nearly 470,000 men and women listed in the U.K. Biobank. At the study’s start, participants had no signs of heart disease and were an average age of 56. They were followed for up to 15 years.

Compared with non-coffee drinkers, those who drank light to moderate amounts had a 12% lower risk of all-cause death. Their odds for stroke were reduced by 21% and fatal heart disease by 17%, the researchers found, though only an association rather than a cause-and-effect link was seen.

The findings remained after the researchers accounted for age, sex, weight, height, smoking status, physical activity, high blood pressure, diabetes, cholesterol, income and diet.

Using cardiac MRIs, Simon’s group also looked at the effect daily coffee consumption had on the structure and function of the heart among nearly 31,000 people who were followed for 11 years on average.

They found that compared with not drinking coffee regularly, those who drank coffee daily had healthier, better-functioning hearts.

One U.S. heart expert looked over the findings.

“A significant number of observational studies have suggested that regular consumption of coffee is associated with lower risk of cardiovascular events, cardiovascular death and all-cause mortality,” said Dr. Gregg Fonarow, director of the Ahmanson-UCLA Cardiomyopathy Center in Los Angeles.

These findings add to the body of evidence that coffee consumption, even three to five cups a day, appears to be safe and associated with cardiovascular benefits, he said.

“Potential mechanisms which may account for potential benefits include improved insulin sensitivity, reduced inflammation, improved liver function and antioxidant effects,” Fonarow said. “However, it is important to note that these findings have not been established by prospective randomized clinical trials, so should be interpreted with caution.”

The findings were presented online at the annual meeting of the European Society of Cardiology, but should be considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed medical journal. The study received no funding from the coffee industry.

Source: American Heart Association

Why Water Is Key to Your Heart’s Health

Alan Mozes wrote . . . . . . . . .

Everyone knows that drinking plenty of water every day can improve your health in a myriad of ways, but here’s a lesser-known benefit: New research suggests that middle-aged adults can lower their long-term risk for heart failure by simply drinking enough water on a daily basis.

The finding follows an analysis that stacked heart health up against blood salt levels — an indicator for overall fluid intake — among nearly 16,000 middle-aged men and women over a 25-year period.

“The importance of hydration has been on the cardiovascular radar for a long time,” noted study author Natalia Dmitrieva, a senior researcher with the U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.

Dmitrieva said it has to do with the way the lack of liquid intake can affect an individual’s sodium (salt) balance, hormone levels and kidney function in ways that may ultimately undermine proper heart function.

Specifically, she cited problems that can begin when a lack of fluid intake ends up driving a person’s blood salt levels above a specific threshold (namely, 142 millimoles per liter [mmol/L]).

For their study, Dmitrieva and her colleagues used that threshold as a reliable indicator of an individual’s overall hydration status, even though by current standards that level would typically be deemed to be within the “normal range” for blood sodium.

But the study team settled on that trigger point because when salt levels exceed that, a “hormone is secreted from the brain. This hormone acts on the kidney to activate water preservation mechanisms,” Dmitrieva said.

The result: urine excretion drops, setting in motion a spike in high blood pressure risk.

And elevated blood pressure isn’t the only cardiovascular threat posed by dehydration, she noted. Because over time, insufficient fluid intake can also directly undermine the cellular integrity of the heart muscle itself.

But the good news is that the “study suggests that maintaining good hydration can prevent or at least slow down the changes within the heart that lead to heart failure,” Dmitrieva noted.

All the study participants were between the ages of 44 and 66 when they were first enrolled in the study.

Each participant’s salt levels were evaluated five times over the following 25 years, as participants aged up to between 70 and 90 years.

Participants were then grouped into five different blood sodium level categories, according to their results, ranging from a low of between 135 to 139.5 mmol/L to a high of between 144 to 146 mmol/L.

The study team then tracked heart failure incidence — along with problems with the heart’s left ventricular pumping capacity — over the ensuing years.

The result: those whose blood sodium levels had exceeded 142 mmol/L in middle age saw their risk for both heart issues surge when they hit age 70 and older.

Going forward, said Dmitrieva, the hydration threshold identified by her team could “potentially be used by physicians during regular physical exams to identify patients who should be evaluated for their drinking habits, and to make recommendations to increase the intake of fluids if this evaluation finds that the patient’s liquid consumption is low.”

So how much liquid should middle-aged men and women ideally drink on a daily basis to protect their hearts?

“Recommendations vary in different countries,” Dmitrieva stressed, with the Institute of Medicine in the United States recommending a liquid intake at just under 3.2 quarts for men, and just over 2 quarts for women.

Still, Dr. Robert Eckel, past president of the American Heart Association and immediate past president of medicine and science at the American Diabetes Association, suggested that the findings should be interpreted with caution.

“These data in the abstract are interesting,” said Eckel, but are not definitive proof that drinking more water is protective of cardiovascular health.

The findings “are only hypothesis-generating to address whether more fluid intake would reduce the risk for left-ventricle health and heart failure,” he noted, warning that “too much fluid in the wrong patient could be harmful.”

Dmitrieva and her colleagues were scheduled to present their findings at the virtual annual meeting of the European Society of Cardiology. Research presented at medical meetings should be viewed as preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.

Source: HealthDay