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Studies have demonstrated that anthocyanins can function as antioxidants, reduce inflammation, and improve dyslipidemia. Tart cherries are anthocyanin-rich, making them particularly attractive as a functional food to improve cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk. There have been few published studies to date examining the impact of tart cherries on biomarkers of dyslipidemia and inflammation, particularly in overweight and obese individuals at high risk for these conditions. This study evaluated the effect of consuming 100% tart cherry juice daily on blood lipids including total cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C), calculated very low density lipoprotein cholesterol (VLDL-C), triglycerides (TG), high density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C), and the CVD risk ratios, as well as the inflammatory biomarkers interleukin 6 (IL-6), interleukin 10 (IL-10), tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha), C-reactive protein (CRP), monocyte chemotactic protein-1 (MCP-1), and erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR) following a 4-week period. Based on the high anthocyanin content of tart cherries, it was hypothesized that the lipid and inflammatory profiles would be significantly improved following the intervention. A total of 26 men and women completed this 4-week randomized, single-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover study. Participants were randomized to drink either 8 ounces of placebo beverage or tart cherry juice daily for 4 weeks. Following a 4-week washout period, the alternate beverage was consumed. Ultimately, this investigation demonstrated no statistically significant alterations in any of the lipid or inflammatory biomarkers when analyzed across time and between interventions (p > 0.05). As expected, glucose and insulin parameters remained stable over the duration of the study, as well as self-reported physical activity level, total calorie consumption, and macronutrient intake. However, trans-fat was reported to be significantly higher during the cherry arm of the study as compared to the placebo arm (p < 0.05), potentially confounding other results. Although the results of this study were equivocal, it is feasible that a higher dose, longer treatment duration, or more susceptible target population may be required to elicit significant effects. Consequently, further investigation is necessary to clarify this research.
Among the general US population, cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the main cause of mortality for Mexican-Americans. CVD is less prevalent among Mexican-Americans than non-Hispanic Whites or African Americans. However, there is limited research regarding the factors associated with increased CVD risk among Mexican-Americans. Thus, this cross-sectional study was conducted to evaluate the effects of non-biological factors (income, education, employment, acculturation) and diet on CVD risk factors in 75 Mexican-American adults (26 males, 49 females; age=37.6±9.3 y, BMI=28.9±5.3 kg/m2, systolic BP=117±11 mmHg, diastolic BP=73±9 mmHg, LDL cholesterol=114±32 mg/dL, HDL cholesterol=44±11 mg/dL, triglycerides=115±61 mg/dL, serum glucose=92±7 mg/dL). Aside from collecting anthropometric measurements, blood pressure, and measuring fasting blood lipids, glucose, and insulin, information about participants' socioeconomic status, income, employment, education, and acculturation were gathered using a survey. Diet data was collected using the Southwestern Food Frequency Questionnaire. Weight, BMI, and waist circumference were significantly greater for those with a monthly income of <$3000 than for those earning >$3000 (81±15 kg vs. 71±15 kg; 29.8±4.6 kg/m2 vs. 26.5±5.1 kg/m2; 98±12 cm vs. 89±14 cm; respectively) and with an education level of high school graduate or less than for those with some college (84±16 kg vs. 72±14 kg; 30.6±4.2 kg/m2 vs. 26.9±4.9 kg/m2; 100±11 cm vs. 91±13 cm; respectively). HDL-C was higher for those with a monthly income of >$3000 than those earning <$3000 (49±12 mg/dL vs. 41±10 mg/dL), those with some college education than those with high school or less (47±10 mg/dL vs. 37±9 mg/dL), and for those employed than those not employed (46±10 mg/dL vs. 40±12 mg/dL). There was no association between acculturation and CVD risk factors. Percent of energy consumed from fat was greater and percent of energy from carbohydrates was lower in those earning <$3000 monthly than those earning >$3000 (32±5% vs. 29±3%; 52±8% vs. 56±4%; respectively). Greater acculturation to the Anglo culture was negatively correlated with body fat percentage (r=-0.238, p=0.043) and serum glucose (r=-0.265, p=0.024). Overall, these results suggest that factors related to sociocultural and socioeconomic status may affect cardiometabolic disease risk in Mexican-Americans living in the Phoenix metropolitan area.
Like individual organisms, complex social groups are able to maintain predictable trajectories of growth, from initial colony foundation to mature reproductively capable units. They do so while simultaneously responding flexibly to variation in nutrient availability and intake. Leafcutter ant colonies function as tri-trophic systems, in which the ants harvest vegetation to grow a fungus that, in turn, serves as food for the colony. Fungal growth rates and colony worker production are interdependent, regulated by nutritional and behavioral feedbacks. Fungal growth and quality are directly affected by worker foraging decisions, while worker production is, in turn, dependent on the amount and condition of the fungus. In this dissertation, I first characterized the growth relationship between the workers and the fungus of the desert leafcutter ant Acromyrmex versicolor during early stages of colony development, from colony foundation by groups of queens through the beginnings of exponential growth. I found that this relationship undergoes a period of slow growth and instability when workers first emerge, and then becomes allometrically positive. I then evaluated how mass and element ratios of resources collected by the ants are translated into fungus and worker population growth, and refuse, finding that colony digestive efficiency is comparable to digestive efficiencies of other herbivorous insects and ruminants. To test how colonies behaviorally respond to perturbations of the fungus garden, I quantified activity levels and task performance of workers in colonies with either supplemented or diminished fungus gardens, and found that colonies adjusted activity and task allocation in response to the fungus garden size. Finally, to identify possible forms of nutrient limitation, I measured how colony performance was affected by changes in the relative amounts of carbohydrates, protein, and phosphorus available in the resources used to grow the fungus garden. From this experiment, I concluded that colony growth is primarily carbohydrate-limited.
Birds have plasma glucose levels that are 1.5-2 times greater than mammals of similar body mass in addition to higher free fatty acid concentrations, both of which would typically impair endothelium-dependent vasodilation if observed in mammals. Endothelium-dependent vasodilation can be stimulated in mammals through the use of acetylcholine (ACh), which primarily acts through nitric oxide (NO) and cyclooxygenase (COX)-mediated pathways, with varying reliance on endothelial-derived hyperpolarizing factors (EDHFs). Very few studies have been conducted on small resistance systemic arteries from birds. The hypothesis was that because birds have naturally high glucose and free fatty acid concentrations, ACh-induced vasodilation of isolated arteries from mourning doves (Zenaida macroura) would be independent of endothelial-derived factors and resistant to high glucose-mediated vascular dysfunction. Small resistance mesenteric and cranial tibial (c. tibial) arteries were pre-constricted to 50% of resting inner diameter with phenyleprine then exposed to increasing doses of ACh (10-9 to 10-5 μM) or the NO donor, sodium nitroprusside (SNP; 10-12 to 10-3 μM). For both vessel beds, ACh-induced vasodilation occurred mainly through the activation of potassium channels, whereas vasodilation of mesenteric arteries additionally occurred through COX. Although arteries from both vessel beds fully dilated with exposure to sodium nitroprusside, ACh-mediated vasodilation was independent of NO. To examine the effect of high glucose on endothelium-dependent vasodilation, ACh dose response curves were conducted following exposure of isolated c. tibial arteries to either a control solution (20mM glucose) or high glucose (30mM). ACh-induced vasodilation was significantly impaired (p = 0.013) when exposed to high glucose, but normalized in subsequent vessels with pre-exposure to the superoxide dismutase mimetic tiron (10 mM). Superoxide concentrations were likewise significantly increased (p = 0.0072) following exposure to high glucose. These findings indicate that dove arteries do not appear to have endogenous mechanisms to counteract the deleterious effects of oxidative stress. Additional studies are required to assess whether endogenous mechanisms exist to protect avian vascular reactivity from systemic hyperglycemia.
Background: Obesity is considered one of the most serious public health issues worldwide. Small, feasible lifestyle changes are necessary to obtain and maintain weight loss. Clinical evidence is inconclusive about whether meal preloading is an example of a small change that could potentially increase the likelihood of weight loss and weight maintenance. Objective: The aim of this study is to determine if consuming 23 grams of peanuts, as a meal preload, before a carbohydrate-rich meal will lower post prandial glycemia and insulinemia and increase satiety in the 2 hour period after a carbohydrate-rich meal. Design: 15 healthy, non-diabetic adults without any known peanut or tree nut allergies were recruited from a campus community. A randomized, 3x3 block crossover design was used. The day prior to testing participants refrained from vigorous activity and consumed a standard dinner meal followed by a 10 hour fast. Participants reported to the test site in the fasted state to complete one of three treatment meals: control (CON), peanut (NUT), or grain bar (BAR) followed one hour later by a carbohydrate-rich meal. Satiety, glucose and insulin were measured at different time points throughout the visit. Each participant had a one-week washout period between visits. Results: Glucose curves varied between treatments (p=.023). Blood glucose was significantly higher one hour after ingestion of the grain bar compared to the peanut and control treatments (p<.001). At 30 minutes after the meal, the control glucose was significantly higher than for the peanut or grain bar (p=.048). Insulin did vary significantly between treatments (p<.001). The insulin change one hour after grain bar consumption was significantly higher than after the peanut or control at the same time point (p<.001). The change in insulin one hour after peanut consumption was significantly higher than for the control treatment (p=.002). Overall satiety, expressed as the 180 minute AUC, differed significantly between treatments (p=.001). One hour after preload consumption, peanut and bar consumption was associated with greater satiety than the water control (p<.001). At 30 minutes post-meal, the grain bar was associated with greater satiety versus the water control (p=.049). The bar was also associated with greater satiety versus peanut and control at 60 and 90 minutes post-meal (p=.003 and .034, respectively). At 120 minutes post-meal, the final satiety measurement, the bar was still associated with greater satiety than the peanut preload (p=.023). Total energy intake, including test meal, on treatment days did not differ significantly between treatment (p=.233). Conclusions: Overall satiety, blood glucose and blood insulin levels differed at different time points depending on treatment. Both meal preloads increased overall satiety. However, grain bar ingestion resulted in sustained satiety, greater than the peanut preload. Grain bar ingestion resulted in an immediate glycemic and insulinemic response. However, the response was not sustained after the test meal was ingested. The results of this study suggest that a low-energy, carbohydrate-rich meal preload may have a positive impact on weight maintenance and weight loss by initiating a sustained increase in overall satiety. More research is needed to confirm these findings.
The popularization of energy drink use as a supplement to exercise is steadily increasing, especially among young adult males. However, the effects of energy drinks on muscular performance in young adults have yet to be clearly elucidated. Eight male subjects (mean age: 23.3 ± 4.3 yrs, height: 181.0 ± 5.3 cm, fat percent 17.8 ± 5.2%, and weight 85.3 ± 12.6 kg) completed this randomized double-blinded cross over study. The purpose of this study was to determine differences in acute muscular strength and endurance and Profile of Mood States (POMS) scores between three treatments (RockStar, sugar-free RockStar, and sugar-free caffeine-free Placebo). It was hypothesized that there would be no significant differences in acute peak torque and endurance of the knee extensors and flexors or on fatigue and vigor subscores from the POMS questionnaire. Each man was tested randomly at least 1 week apart. Diet and time of day were held constant across trials. Peak torque of knee extensors and flexors at 60, 180, 240 degress/second and fatigue index and total work were calculated by performing 50 repetitions at 240 degrees/second. There were no significant differences in peak torque, fatigue index, or total work measures or in subjective measures of fatigue or vigor from the POMS between the treatments. This study indicates that RockStar energy drinks have no acute ergogenic effects in young men performing isokinetic strength or endurance testing.
Food deserts are the collection of deprived food environments and limit local residents from accessing healthy and affordable food. This dissertation research in San Lorenzo, Paraguay tests if the assumptions about food deserts in the Global North are also relevant to the Global South. In the Global South, the recent growth of supermarkets is transforming local food environments and may worsen residential food access, such as through emerging more food deserts globally. This dissertation research blends the tools, theories, and frameworks from clinical nutrition, public health, and anthropology to identify the form and impact of food deserts in the market city of San Lorenzo, Paraguay. The downtown food retail district and the neighborhood food environment in San Lorenzo were mapped to assess what stores and markets are used by residents. The food stores include a variety of formal (supermarkets) and informal (local corner stores and market vendors) market sources. Food stores were characterized using an adapted version of the Nutrition Environment Measures Survey for Stores (NEMS-S) to measure store food availability, affordability, and quality. A major goal in this dissertation was to identify how and why residents select a type of food store source over another using various ethnographic interviewing techniques. Residential store selection was linked to the NEMS-S measures to establish a connection between the objective quality of the local food environment, residential behaviors in the local food environment, and nutritional health status. Using a sample of 68 households in one neighborhood, modeling suggested the quality of local food environment does effect weight (measure as body mass index), especially for those who have lived longer in poorer food environments. More generally, I find that San Lorenzo is a city-wide food desert, suggesting that research needs to establish more nuanced categories of poor food environments to address how food environments emerge health concerns in the Global South.
Dietary self-monitoring has been shown to be a predictor of weight loss success and is a prevalent part of behavioral weight control programs. As more weight loss applications have become available on smartphones, this feasibility study investigated whether the use of a smartphone application, or a smartphone memo feature would improve dietary self-monitoring over the traditional paper-and-pencil method. The study also looked at whether the difference in methods would affect weight loss. Forty-seven adults (BMI 25 to 40 kg/m2) completed an 8-week study focused on tracking the difference in adherence to a self-monitoring protocol and subsequent weight loss. Participants owning iPhones (n=17) used the 'Lose It' application (AP) for diet and exercise tracking and were compared to smartphone participants who recorded dietary intake using a memo (ME) feature (n=15) on their phone and participants using the traditional paper-and-pencil (PA) method (n=15). There was no significant difference in completion rates between groups with an overall completion rate of 85.5%. The overall mean adherence to self-monitoring for the 8-week period was better in the AP group than the PA group (p = .024). No significant difference was found between the AP group and ME group (p = .148), or the ME group and the PA group (p = .457). Weight loss for the 8 week study was significant for all groups (p = .028). There was no significant difference in weight loss between groups. Number of days recorded regardless of group assignment showed a weak correlation to weight loss success (p = .068). Smartphone owners seeking to lose weight should be encouraged by the potential success associated with dietary tracking using a smartphone app as opposed to the traditional paper-and-pencil method.
ABSTRACT Despite significant advancements in drug therapy, cardiovascular disease (CVD) is still the leading cause of death in the United States. Given this, research has begun to seek out alternative approaches to reduce CVD risk. One of these alternative approaches is Vitamin D supplementation. Current research has shown a link between Vitamin D status and CVD risk in both healthy and diseased populations. Among the possible mechanisms is a positive effect of Vitamin D on vascular endothelial function, which can be measured with noninvasive techniques such as flow-mediated dilation (FMD) of conduit vessels using high-resolution ultrasound. This dissertation is comprised of two studies. The first examines whether Vitamin D supplementation can improve FMD in older adults within a time period (two weeks) associated with peak increases in plasma Vitamin D concentrations after a single-dose supplementation. The second examines the effect of Vitamin D supplementation in people with Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA). The reason for looking at an RA population is that CVD is the leading cause of early mortality in people with RA. In the first study 29 Post-Menopausal Women received either 100,000 IU of Vitamin D3 or a Placebo. Their FMD was measured at baseline and 2 weeks after supplementation. After 2 weeks there was a significant increase in FMD in the Vitamin D group (6.19 + 4.87 % to 10.69 + 5.18 %) as compared to the Placebo group (p=.03). In the second study, 11 older adults with RA were given 100,000 IU of Vitamin D or a Placebo. At baseline and one month later their FMD was examined as well as plasma concentrations of Vitamin D and tumor necrosis factor-alpha; (TNF-alpha;). They also filled out a Quality of Life Questionnaire and underwent a submaximal exercise test on the treadmill for estimation of maximum oxygen uptake (VO2max). There was no significant change in FMD in Vitamin D group as compared to the Placebo group (p=.721). Additionally, there was no significant improvement in either plasma Vitamin D or TNF-alpha; in the Vitamin D group. There was however a significant improvement in predicted VO2max from the submaximal exercise test in the group receiving Vitamin D (p=.003). The results of these studies suggest that a single 100,000 IU dose of Vitamin D can enhance FMD within two week in older adults, but that a similar dose may not be sufficient to increase FMD or plasma Vitamin D levels in older adults with RA. A more aggressive supplementation regimen may be required in this patient population.
ABSTRACT Deciding what to eat can be difficult. There are multiple different diets which are popular today, and all of them say different things about which foods optimize health, and which foods are destructive. The situation become more complicated when the suggestions are all purportedly based on relevant science, and all have had demonstrated positive impacts on overall wellbeing. Even when we do have good information, financial factors, geography, and time constraints can prevent us from acting on it. In an attempt to portray the difficulties involved in eating well, I start by analyzing what each of six diets - The Paleo Diet, The Perfect Health Diet, the vegetarian diet, the vegan diet, the Mediterranean Diet, and the Traditional Asian Diet - says about what we should be eating. I then explore what the science says about what we should be eating, and whether this science lines up with the diets, by discussing an extensive review of books and literature on nutrition. Lastly, in order to gain an understanding of factors which discourage us from eating well, I tracked my consumption habits for a week using My Fitness Tracker, and noted any reasons that I chose to eat or not eat certain foods. I supplemented this with a discussion of the shortcomings of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, and the types of factors that prevent people from acting on information. In conclusion, diets should be praised for attempting to align American eating habits with the best scientific information, but the vast amount of information and the difficulty involved in eating well may ultimately prevent people from doing so.