Health news of note: tea/coffe is good; WHO urges tougher food marketing rules; Microbiome

  • Tea and Coffee Lower Blood Pressure.

Almost every day I have a latte. I prefer taste of an espresso drink, but also it is in fact a better choice than coffee. My husband and I love to have herbal tea in the evening. And yet I have to bring up moderation again, as good as tea and coffee may be for you, too much of a good thing is still bad 🙂

My almond milk latte

My almond milk latte

Large French retrospective analysis provides good news for caffeine lovers: investigators showed that drinking tea or coffee was associated with a small but statistically significant reduction in systolic and diastolic blood pressure. In addition, drinking tea and coffee was also associated with a significant reduction in pulse pressure and heart rate, although the heart-rate reductions were greater with tea.

Dr Bruno Pannier (Centre d’Investigations Préventives et Cliniques, Paris, France)  believes that tea is a major source of flavonoids in the diet, and these compounds can improve vasodilation. “The vasorelaxing compounds included in these beverages might be involved in these results, something that has been suggested by the experimental data,” he said.


  •  WHO Urges Tougher Food Marketing Rules to Curb Childhood Obesity.

Finally someone is actually doing something about this! Unfortunately as it often is, Europe is a step ahead of us, but it is a step in a right direction.


The marketing of unhealthy foods to children has proven “disastrously effective”, driving obesity by using cheap social media channels to promote fat-, salt- and sugar-laden foods, the World Health Organisation’s Europe office said on Tuesday. The United Nations health agency called for tighter controls on such marketing, saying tougher regulations were crucial to winning the fight against childhood obesity.

“Children are surrounded by adverts urging them to consume high-fat, high-sugar, high-salt foods, even when they are in places where they should be protected, such as schools and sports facilities,” said Zsuzsanna Jakab, director of the WHO’s regional unit for Europe.


  • Do Antibiotics Influence Obesity?

This is fascinating information on the study conducted at New York University on obesity and the relationship with the gut microbiome. I deeply believe that health of our gut is directly connected to our overall physical and even mental health.


Dr. Peterson: Another study that we’re involved in with scientists at New York University involves the study of obesity and the relationship with the gut microbiome.[1] This was prompted by a collaborator’s understanding or recognition of the fact that in the agricultural industry, for more than 50 years now, they’ve been feeding livestock low doses of antibiotics. That had the effect of increasing their body mass.

This was an agricultural trick that has obvious economic utility, but he got to wondering whether that could be used to establish a model of obesity in mice. So he developed a mouse model in which they fed mice low doses of antibiotics from a young age. Sure enough, they developed an increased fat percentage in their body. Their weight actually doesn’t increase as a result of the antibiotics, nor does their lean body mass, but their fat content and the percentage of fat in their body increases.

Dr. Rickert: So the mice are getting obese?

Dr. Peterson: Essentially, they’re getting obese, and it’s through this connection of altering and influencing the microbiome, through that low dose of antibiotics. It’s not wiping it out, but just altering it enough that it’s affecting the metabolism within the gut as a result of the change in the bacterial population. That affects the human host in the form of obesity.

This is a fascinating study. We’re learning a lot about things that have previously not been recognized from the host perspective — it is much better understood what happens in the obese individual compared with the lean individual. But connecting it now to the microbiome as a major influence of obesity is a new thing. We really are pleased with our initial findings with this antibiotic-treated mouse model.


  • Microbiome definition – The full collection of microbial genomes (bacterial, fungal, viral, etc.) that naturally exist within an organism.

The Microbiome: Linking Bacteria, Health, and Disease is a fascinating article about this research.


Dr. Rickert: What’s the potential for integrating your research into the clinic, and what do you think some of the obstacles might be?

Dr. Peterson: One of the most exciting stories that I’ve heard in a very long time represented an event that took place in a hospital. A woman who had a serious Clostridium difficile infection had lost many, many pounds and was very close to death. Because she was in such a critical state, her clinician decided to try something radical, which was a fecal microbiome transplantation.[3] He took the fecal microbiome from her husband and implanted it into her colon. Remarkably, whereas antibiotic treatment completely failed in this particular patient, the microbiome transplantation allowed the woman to recover within days to a state of health. She was literally near death and within 48 hours was showing a remarkable improvement in her state, just as a result of this microbiome transplant.

That’s one example. I think the critical nature of that particular case allowed the clinician to take this radical approach, but with so many diseases of the gut, such as Crohn disease, inflammatory bowel disease, and irritable bowel disease — all of these seem to me to be practical applications for a similar type of treatment. The list can go beyond the gut as well.

The idea that this would gain acceptance as a routine practice and get US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval is the challenge. Of course, it will require animal model testing and all sorts of things that clinicians as well as basic scientists are used to engaging in. It’s a process.

With respect to the sort of therapeutic compound approach that I referred to previously, that’s another mechanism where I can imagine the microbiome basic research programs entering into clinical practice. If my notion is correct, then there will be lots of drug-like molecules that are produced by the microbiome. The difficulty is, again, the complexity of the microbiome — there are hundreds and hundreds of species living in a particular environment.

We need to develop methods and mechanisms for identifying which microbes are producing therapeutic compounds — those that can improve human health or help to maintain human health, in the same way that we think of vitamins and herbal remedies helping to sustain human health. Then we can learn to recognize those molecules and find ways of harvesting them from the particular bacteria that produce them in the first place.


To your health,




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