Newsletter #053: Ketones on the Brain, & Resistant Starch for Strong Bones 💪🏻
Welcome to the latest edition of the humanOS newsletter! Here is where we share our work, and the various studies and media that captured our attention this week. 🤓
This Week’s Research Highlights
Researchers analyzed data from 51896 participants in NHANES on the prevalence of sitting (watching TV or videos), computer use outside of work or school, and total sitting time. The researchers found that the estimated total sitting time had increased substantially from 2007 to 2016 - rising from 7.0 up to 8.2 hours per day among adolescents and from 5.5 up to 6.4 hours per day among adults. Time spent watching television or videos remained high and stable; leisure time usage of computers increased among all age groups.
Researchers examined the effects of acute morning exercise (on a treadmill) on aspects of cognition, combined with brief low-intensity walking breaks throughout the day. The physical activity was associated with boosts in working memory and executive function. In addition, serum brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) - a protein that helps generate new brain cells and strengthen existing ones - rose substantially in the exercising participants.
Mice that had their ovaries removed were fed diets with varying doses of resistant starch (control, 6.8%, and 12%). The groups fed resistant starch showed increased fecal abundance of Bifidobacterium species, and the group fed the highest amount of resistant starch showed reduced bone loss associated with ovariectomy. This was seemingly due to alterations in microbiota and immune status in bone marrow. The rodents on the 12% resistant starch diet showed upregulated mRNA expression of IL-10 (an anti-inflammatory cytokine, and downregulated expression of receptor activator of nuclear factor kappa-B ligand and IL-7 receptor genes in the bone marrow.
Researchers examined a sample of 11028 women who completed food frequency questionnaires at the beginning of the study. The authors found an inverse association between intake of certain phenolic acids and breast cancer risk. Women in the highest tertile of hydroxycinnamic acid intake had a breast cancer risk 62% lower than that of the lowest tertile. Similarly, women in the highest tertile of chlorogenic acid intake were 75% less likely to develop breast cancer than the lowest tertile. The researchers suggest this may be mediated by reductions in adipose tissue inflammation, oxidative stress, or insulin resistance.
Rats were randomly assigned to experience chronic unpredictable mild stress, either with or without curcumin. After stress exposure, the rodents (predictably) exhibited depressive-like behaviors, which was effectively relieved by the curcumin. Curcumin’s antidepressant activity appeared to be linked to reduced neuroinflammation. The supplement was shown to decrease the expression of pro-inflammatory cytokines (IL-1β, IL-6, and TNF-α), as well as suppress activation of NF-κB. Curcumin also inhibited activation of the NLRP3 inflammasome and kynurenine pathway, both of which are relevant to stress-induced depression.
Videos We Loved This Week
- Tania Singer: The Neuroscience of Compassion. Via the World Economic Forum.
- Tom Malterre: Broccoli - The DNA Whisperer. Via TEDxBellingham.
Products We Are Enjoying
Ginny says: This has a pretty awesome electrolyte ratio (where else can you get a powder with 500 mg of potassium in one serving?). I believe it was originally devised for preventing “keto flu” - as someone who isn’t keto, I certainly can’t speak to that claim. But it also seems perfect for fighting off cramps and other nasty effects when exercising in the heat, which is a growing concern as we plunge into the summer months. It does taste a bit salty, but if you’re tired and thirsty you probably won’t mind it. Solid product.
New humanOS Content
- humanOS Radio: Is the Ketone beta-Hydroxybutyrate Good for Memory? Podcast with Professor John Newman from UCSF and The Buck Institute.
This week on humanOS Radio, Dan interviewed John Newman. Dr. Newman is a geriatrician at UCSF, as well as a professor at the Buck Institute for Research on Aging. He is the chief investigator at the Newman Lab, where he is exploring ways to harness metabolic signals to promote health and resilience, particularly in older adults.
Much of his work has focused on maintaining cognition through the aging process - and nothing could be more important. The remarkable capacity of the human brain defines us as a species. Without a robustly functioning memory, our ability to interact with the world – and to relate to one another – is shattered. This is one reason why large surveys of the public often find that dementia is the most feared disease – because our mind and our memory so profoundly define us.
Another reason why diseases associated with aging and the brain are so feared is because they are recalcitrant to treatment. For example, drugs developed to address Alzheimer’s disease have the highest failure rate of any disease area. And the situation isn’t much better for other neurodegenerative conditions, or for age-related cognitive decline in general. We need a new approach, which is why Dr. Newman’s work examining the impact of ketogenic diets on memory through aging is so exciting. Ketones, of course, have other effects as well. In the podcast, Dan and Dr. Newman discuss:
- How beta-hydroxybutyrate influences gene expression – turning on or off genes
- How gene expression goes awry in the aging process
- How BHB functions as a signaling molecule to regulate inflammation
- Why animals on ketogenic diets live longer and exhibit better memory as they age
- Why exogenous ketones are intriguing but we need more time to fully understand their therapeutic potential
- And more!