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Blueberry Extract To Fight Gum Disease

Here’s a novel approach that may help prevent gum inflammation caused by plaque, a sticky film of bacteria that forms on teeth and creates an environment that can damage gums and cause tooth decay. Gingivitis, the earliest form of gum disease, can lead to periodontitis, which is more severe and a may require treatment with antibiotics. Recently, dental researchers at Quebec’s Université Laval have found that wild blueberry extract could help prevent formation of plaque by inhibiting one of the main species of bacteria linked to periodontitis. When they tested wild lowbush blueberry extracts against the target bacteria, Fusobacterium nucleatum in the lab, they found that it successfully inhibited the growth of the organism as well as its ability to form harmful biofilms. The researchers reported that the blueberry extract, which is rich in polyphenols (antioxidant compounds), also blocked a molecular pathway involved in inflammation, which is key to gum disease. They are now working on an oral device that could slowly release the blueberry extract after deep cleaning to help treat periodontitis.  

Help Moderate Inflammation with Ginger

Chronic inflammation can take its toll on the body – but taking ginger may help counteract the risks and symptoms. Find out what makes ginger a good choice, and how much to take.

Chronic low-grade inflammation has been linked to the development of many age-related health conditions. Although this process may not be noticed physically, there are things you can do to prevent or delay health issues related to inappropriate inflammation. Consider following an anti-inflammatory diet and taking ginger, a natural anti-inflammatory herb that may help to lessen the risks and/or symptoms of many inflammation-related disorders. Dried ginger preparations are actually more powerful than fresh because of a chemical conversion of its constituents on drying. Capsules of dried, powdered ginger are now commonly sold in health food stores; use only those that are standardized for their content of active components. The recommended starting dose is one gram per day (usually two capsules), taken after a meal to avoid stomach irritation. There is no toxicity and you can stay on it indefinitely.

5 Reasons to Eat Sage

Sage is a well-known culinary herb that imparts depth and complexity to sauces and stuffings. But it also has medicinal benefits as well. From sore throats to asthma, find out more about the conditions sage may help to relieve.

Sage (Salvia officinalis) is an herb known for both its culinary and medicinal uses. A good source of vitamin K, sage has known anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects, and has been used to help relieve:

1.    Sore throats (try drinking sage tea).

2.    Respiratory problems, including bronchitis, congestion and sinusitis, when used in a steam inhaler.

3.    Excessive perspiration - herbalists commonly recommend sage for menopausal women troubled with night sweats.

4.    Inflammatory conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, asthma and atherosclerosis.

5.    Cognitive issues such as Alzheimer’s disease and depression.

So why not add sage to your next meal? It provides a subtle, savory flavor that works as a seasoning in sauces, stuffings and marinades. It is available fresh or dried, but fresh is the better choice when it comes to cooking for the most appealing flavor – it is also a fairly hearty herb and can be grown indoors during colder months.

Try the Miso Pate recipe, which uses sage!


How’s Your Circadian Rhythm Treating You?

If your sleep schedule and mealtimes are irregular, you can upset the balance of your circadian rhythm, which is responsible for the 24-hour cycle of our physiology. Add poor diet to that and you may risk triggering harmful inflammation in your body, a recent study suggests.

Researchers at Rush University Medical Center looked at the effect of circadian rhythm disruptions in male mice fed two different diets. To alter circadian patterns, investigators reversed the cycles of exposure to light and dark in the test mice. Then they fed some of the mice regular mouse chow, and put the others on a high-fat, high-sugar diet. The combination of the circadian rhythm disruption and the high-fat, high-sugar diet led to higher concentrations of bacteria known to promote inflammation in the digestive systems of that group of mice. No such changes occurred in the mice that stayed on the usual mouse diet despite the same alteration of their circadian rhythm. The researchers concluded that to trigger inflammation a “second hit” (such as poor diet) must be present along with circadian rhythm disruption. They suggest that humans whose circadian rhythms are out of sync with daylight because of shift work or “social jet lag” (a normal schedule during the week but late nights and sleeping late on weekends) might mitigate risks of inflammatory damage by eating and sleeping on a regular schedule, and by taking prebiotics or probiotics to “normalize the effects of circadian rhythm disruption on the intestinal microbiota to reduce the presence of inflammation.”

My take? Almost without exception, wherever I am and whatever I am doing, I go to bed early enough to get eight hours of sleep and wake up at dawn. I could still get my eight hours by retiring later and rising later, but the pattern I follow does more than just give me sufficient sleep - it syncs my own circadian rhythms with those of the sun. I have found that this routine is best for my overall energy and well-being. My colleague, sleep expert Rubin Naiman, Ph.D., tells me that most people are underexposed to darkness by night and get insufficient light by day, particularly in the morning. He adds that most of us spend the bulk of our waking hours indoors in what is relatively dampened light, while healthy levels of light naturally energize us, drawing us outward into the world. Healthy patterns of light exposure also help us maintain normal circadian cycles, Dr. Naiman reports.

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Robin N. Voigt et al, “Circadian Disorganization Alters Intestinal Microbiota,” PLOS One DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0097500

Cutting Carbs to Reduce Inflammation

A low carbohydrate diet might not pare more pounds than a low fat diet, but Swedish researchers found that it works better to lower inflammation in individuals with type 2 diabetes. Over the two-years of a clinical trial with 61 type 2 diabetes patients, investigators at Sweden’s Linköping University found reduced levels of inflammatory markers only in those who followed a low carb diet. When the trial began, the patients were randomly assigned to either a low carb or a traditional low fat diet and were given menu suggestions and advice by a dietician. At the outset of the investigation, levels of inflammation in the diabetes patients were found to be significantly higher than those of healthy individuals without diabetes. However, after six months, inflammation was significantly reduced among the patients on the low carb diet; no changes were seen in the patients who had followed the low fat diet. Both groups lost about the same amount of weight, 4 kilograms (about 8.8 pounds). Inflammation is believed to be a primary contributor to the higher risks of heart disease and other complications seen in patients with type 2 diabetes.

Hans Guldbrand and Fredrik Nystrom et al, “Advice to follow a low-carbohydrate diet has a favourable impact on low-grade inflammation in type 2 diabetes compared with advice to follow a low-fat diet,” Annals of Medicine May 2014 Vol. 46, No. 3 doi:10.3109/07853890.2014.894286

Reprogramming Inflammation with Meditation

We know that over time chronic, imperceptible, low-level inflammation can contribute to serious, age-related diseases including heart disease, cancer and neurodegenerative conditions such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases. A new study from the University of Wisconsin shows that meditation can actually affect the genes that cause inflammation. Researchers measured the effects of a day of intensive mindfulness meditation in a group of experienced mediators and compared them with those of quiet, non-meditative activities by a group of untrained volunteers. After eight hours of meditation, the researchers found altered levels of gene-regulating compounds and reduced activity levels of the pro-inflammatory genes in the experienced meditators. These changes were correlated with faster physical recovery from a stressful situation, the investigators explained. They reported that these findings are the first to show that mediation can inhibit production of proteins by some genes that cause inflammation and noted that at the study’s outset there were no differences in the genes tested in both groups. They also reported that the positive changes were seen in genes that are the targets of anti-inflammatory and pain killing drugs.

Perla Kaliman et al, “Rapid changes in histone deacetylases and inflammatory gene expression in expert meditators”. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 40, 96–107