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Probiotics could help women lose weight

Researchers have found that certain probiotics could help women lose weight and keep it off.

Studies have already demonstrated that the intestinal flora of obese individuals differs from that of thin people. That difference may be due to the fact that a diet high in fat and low in fiber promotes certain bacteria at the expense of others.

Universite Laval Professor Angelo Tremblay and his team tried to determine if the consumption of probiotics could help reset the balance of the intestinal microbiota in favor of bacteria that promote a healthy weight.

To test their hypothesis, researchers recruited 125 overweight men and women. The subjects underwent a 12-week weight-loss diet, followed by a 12-week period aimed at maintaining body weight. Throughout the entire study, half the participants swallowed 2 pills daily containing probiotics from the Lactobacillus rhamnosus family, while the other half received a placebo.

 After the 12-week diet period, researchers observed an average weight loss of 4.4 kg in women in the probiotic group and 2.6 kg in the placebo group. However, no differences in weight loss were observed among males in the two groups.

After the 12-week maintenance period, the weight of the women in the placebo group had remained stable but the probiotic group had continued to lose weight, for a total of 5.2 kg per person.

In short, women consuming probiotics lost twice as much weight over the 24-week period of the study. Researchers also noted a drop in the appetite-regulating hormone leptin in this group, as well as a lower overall concentration of the intestinal bacteria related to obesity.

New molecule to lower diabetics’ risk of dementia

Researchers have created a molecule that has the potential to lower diabetic patients’ higher risk of developing dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.

The research group led by Prof Daphne Atlas, of the Department of Biological Chemistry in the Alexander Silberman Institute of Life Sciences at the Hebrew University, experimented with diabetic rats to examine the mechanism of action that may be responsible for changes in the brain due to high sugar levels. The researchers found that diabetic rats displayed high activity of enzymes called MAPK kinases, which are involved in facilitating cellular responses to a variety of stimuli, leading to inflammatory activity in brain cells and early death of cells.

Using the diabetic rat model, they explored a novel approach that would lower the activation of these enzymes in the brain, and decrease neuronal cell death. In the last few years, Prof. Atlas developed a series of molecules that mimic the action of thioredoxin called thioredoxin-mimetic peptides (TXM), whose role is to protect the cells from early death through activating inflammatory pathways. The TXM peptides were effective in different animal models and were able to prevent the activation of the damaging MAPK kinases. Applied to the diabetic Zucker rats, one of the molecules, TXM-CB3, significantly reduced the activity of these enzymes, and lowered the accelerated brain cell death.

Preterm birth ups risk of wheezing disorders

A new study has found that children who are born preterm have an increased risk developing asthma and wheezing disorders during childhood.

The research by Jasper Been, from the Maastricht University Medical Centre (Netherlands) and The University of Edinburgh (UK), and colleagues at Harvard Medical School (US) is a systematic review and meta-analysis of 30 unique studies that collectively involved approximately 1.5 million children.

The authors found that children born preterm (before 37 weeks of gestation) were about 46 percent more likely to develop asthma or a wheezing disorder during childhood.

The authors also found that children born very preterm were at even higher risk of developing asthma or a wheezing disorder, almost three times as likely as children born at full term. The authors estimate that if no preterm births had occurred, there would have been more than a 3.1 percent reduction in childhood wheezing disorders.

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