Friday, October 07, 2011

Fitness fanatics should reach for the mustard and NOT spinach if they want to look like Popeye (?)

This was a rodent study only. People not involved

Fitness fanatics looking to build muscle should consider reaching for the mustard, a study has found. The steroid homobrassinolide, found in the mustard plant, increases muscle mass, the size of muscle fibres and appetite, research suggests.

In addition, the effect when tested on rats was similar to anabolic steroids, which promote the growth of muscle and which are used illegally by athletes to improve performance.

A team of scientists exposed rat muscle cells to different amounts of homobrassinolide and measured protein synthesis – the process in which cells build proteins – in cell culture. The result was increased production – vital for building muscles – and decreased breakdown of protein in the cells.

Researcher Dr Slavo Komarnytsky, at North Carolina State University, said: ‘We hope that one day brassinosteroids may provide an effective, natural, and safe alternative for age and disease-associated muscle loss, or be used to improve endurance and physical performance.’

'Because some plants we eat contain these compounds, like mustards, in the future we may be able to breed or engineer these plants for higher brassinosteroid content, thus producing functional foods that can treat or prevent diseases and increase physical performance.'

Dr Gerald Weissmann, editor of the FASEB Journal, in which the study was published, added: 'The temptation is to see this discovery as another quick fix to help you go from fat to fit, and to a very small degree, this may be true. ‘This study identifies an important drug target for a wide range of conditions that cause muscle wasting.’

During the research healthy rats then received an oral dose of homobrassinolide daily for 24 days and changes in body weight, food consumption and body consumption were measured.

Rats receiving the steroid gained more weight and slightly increased their food intake. Body composition was measured and showed increased lean body mass in the animals treated. This study was repeated in rats fed high protein diets and similar results were seen.

Results also showed increased grip strength and an increase in the number and size of muscle fibres crucial for increased physical performance.


Premature births are 30% higher in cities because of pollution (?)

All this shows, as far as I can see, is that rich people avoid polluted areas -- and rich people have better health generally. It was NOT a straight city/country comparison but rather a study of pollution-monitoring sites

Expectant mothers living in large towns or cities are a third more likely to give birth prematurely because of pollution, research suggests. Traffic fumes are the biggest culprit, with chemicals called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH), a by-product of petrol, producing a 30 per cent increase in risk.

Ammonium nitrate from agriculture and industry heightened the threat of premature birth by a fifth – 21 per cent – while benzene, a petrochemical, and diesel fumes caused a 10 per cent increase.

Researchers also noted the concentrations of pollutants were higher in winter than in summer, and coastal cities had cleaner air than those further inland.

Study author Dr Beate Ritz said: ‘Air pollution is known to be associated with low birth weight and premature birth. ‘Our results show traffic-related PAH are of special concern as pollutants and that PAH sources besides traffic contributed to premature birth. ‘The increase in risk due to ammonium nitrate particles suggests secondary pollutants are also negatively impacting the health of unborn babies.’

Researchers from the University of California looked at 100,000 births within a five-mile radius of air quality monitoring stations in the state, where Los Angeles is notorious for car-related air pollution.

The results, published in the journal Environmental Health, revealed that an increased concentration of PAH, benzene or diesel could increase the risk of giving birth prematurely.

Dr Ritz said: ‘Some pollutants were area-specific, relating to industry and urbanisation. However, overall exposure to critical pollutants such as PAH resulted in up to a 30 per cent increase in the risk of premature birth.

‘Other toxic substances, such as benzene and fine particulate matter from diesel fumes, were associated with a 10 per cent increase, while ammonium nitrate fine particles were associated with a 21 per cent increase.’


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