04 May 2020 In Cardiovascular System

The effects of alcohol on cardiovascular health are heterogeneous and vary according toconsumption dose and pattern.

These effects have classically been described as having a J-shapedcurve, in which low-to-moderate consumption is associated with less risk than lifetime abstention,and heavy drinkers show the highest risk. Nonetheless, the beneficial effects of alcohol have beenquestioned due to the difficulties in establishing a safe drinking threshold.

This review focuses onthe association between alcohol consumption and cardiovascular risk factors and the underlyingmechanisms of damage, with review of the literature from the last 10 years.

21 February 2020 In General Health

OBJECTIVE: Ageing is accompanied by deterioration of multiple bodily functions and inflammation, which collectively contribute to frailty. We and others have shown that frailty co-varies with alterations in the gut microbiota in a manner accelerated by consumption of a restricted diversity diet. The Mediterranean diet (MedDiet) is associated with health. In the NU-AGE project, we investigated if a 1-year MedDiet intervention could alter the gut microbiota and reduce frailty.

DESIGN: We profiled the gut microbiota in 612 non-frail or pre-frail subjects across five European countries (UK, France, Netherlands, Italy and Poland) before and after the administration of a 12-month long MedDiet intervention tailored to elderly subjects (NU-AGE diet).

RESULTS: Adherence to the diet was associated with specific microbiome alterations. Taxa enriched by adherence to the diet were positively associated with several markers of lower frailty and improved cognitive function, and negatively associated with inflammatory markers including C-reactive protein and interleukin-17. Analysis of the inferred microbial metabolite profiles indicated that the diet-modulated microbiome change was associated with an increase in short/branch chained fatty acid production and lower production of secondary bile acids, p-cresols, ethanol and carbon dioxide. Microbiome ecosystem network analysis showed that the bacterial taxa that responded positively to the MedDiet intervention occupy keystone interaction positions, whereas frailty-associated taxa are peripheral in the networks.

CONCLUSION: Collectively, our findings support the feasibility of improving the habitual diet to modulate the gut microbiota which in turn has the potential to promote healthier ageing.

24 January 2020 In Liver Disease

OBJECTIVE: Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is the most common cause of chronic liver morbidity. This condition often is accompanied by obesity, diabetes, and metabolic syndrome (MetS). The aim of this study was to evaluate the connection between lifestyle factors and NAFLD in individuals with MetS.

METHODS: A cross-sectional study with 328 participants (55-75 y of age) diagnosed with MetS participating in the PREDIMED-Plus trial was conducted. NAFLD status was evaluated using the non-invasive hepatic steatosis index (HSI). Sociodemographic, clinical, and dietary data were collected. Adherence to the Mediterranean diet (mainly assessed by the consumption of olive oil, nuts, legumes, whole grain foods, fish, vegetables, fruits, and red wine) and physical activity were assessed using validated questionnaires.

RESULTS: Linear regression analyses revealed that HSI values tended to be lower with increasing physical activity tertiles (T2, beta = -1.47; 95% confidence interval [CI], -2.73 to -0.20; T3, beta = -1.93; 95% CI, -3.22 to -0.65 versus T1, Ptrend = 0.001) and adherence to the Mediterranean diet was inversely associated with HSI values: (moderate adherence beta = -0.70; 95% CI, -1.92 to 0.53; high adherence beta = -1.57; 95% CI, -3.01 to -0.13 versus lower, Ptrend = 0.041). Higher tertiles of legume consumption were inversely associated with the highest tertile of HSI (T2, relative risk ratio [RRR], 0.45; 95% CI, 0.22-0.92; P = 0.028; T3, RRR, 0.48; 95% CI, 0.24-0.97; P = 0.041 versus T1).

CONCLUSION: Physical activity, adherence to the Mediterranean diet, and consumption of legumes were inversely associated with a non-invasive marker of NAFLD in individuals with MetS. This data can be useful in implementing precision strategies aimed at the prevention, monitoring, and management of NAFLD.

26 February 2019 In Drinking & Eating Patterns

Low-risk thresholds for alcohol use differ across various national guidelines. To assess the novel WHO risk drinking levels in light of alcohol-sensitive common laboratory tests, we analysed biomarkers of liver status, inflammation and lipid profiles from a population-based survey of individuals classified to abstainers and different WHO risk drinking levels defined in terms of mean alcohol consumption per day. The study included 22,327 participants aged 25-74 years from the National FINRISK Study. Data on alcohol use, health status, diet, body weight and lifestyle (smoking, coffee consumption and physical activity) were recorded from structured interviews. Alcohol data from self-reports covering the past 12 months were used to categorize the participants into subgroups of abstainers and WHO risk drinking categories representing low, moderate, high and very high risk drinkers. Serum liver enzymes (GGT, ALT), C-reactive protein (CRP) and lipid profiles were measured using standard laboratory techniques. Alcohol risk category was roughly linearly related with the occurrence of elevated values for GGT, ALT and CRP. Alcohol drinking also significantly influenced the incidence of abnormalities in serum lipids. Significantly higher odds for abnormal GGT, ALT and altered lipid profiles remained in alcohol drinkers even after adjustment for age, waist circumference, physical inactivity, smoking and coffee consumption. A more systematic use of laboratory tests during treatment of individuals classified to WHO risk drinking categories may improve the assessment of alcohol-related health risks. Follow-ups of biomarker responses may also prove to be useful in health interventions aimed at reducing alcohol consumption.

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