Sugar and the immune system

Glucose is used by every cell in our body for fuel, including immune system cells. During an immune response there is an increased need for glucose by the immune system. However, researchers from Trinity College Dublin looking at how our immune system utilises glucose have found dendritic cells (part of our first line defence system) that are starved of glucose are better at stimulating immune responses and also starve their immediate microenvironment of nutrients. They believe this could hold the key to developing new therapies to tackle a range of immune-related diseases and cancers by regulating immune responses.

Eating late linked to increased diabetes risk

Chronobiology is a rapidly developing area of research, which focuses on our internal biological clock. New findings presented at SLEEP 2017 show that eating late at night (delayed eating) promotes weight gain and increases insulin levels both of which are known factors that contribute to the development of metabolic disorders. This comes as no surprise given that it’s well known that subjecting your body to digestion late in the day results in weight gain. Eating late impacts and disrupts the cellular mechanisms that control energy utilisation and storage such as signaling proteins, mTOR (mechanistic target of rapamycin) and AMPK (activated protein kinase). This makes perfect sense if you look through an evolutionary biology lens. As we evolved we didn’t have the luxury of 24hr food availability and are therefore perfectly adapted to endure periods of starvation such as those experienced overnight or through fasting.

Cannabidiol and schizophrenia treatment

Schizophrenia is a debilitating condition that affects approximately 1% of the population. Interest in the use of cannabidiol (CBD), an extract of the cannabis plant that doesn’t contain the active substance that intoxicates (THC), as a treatment for schizophrenia has increased recently. This is largely down to the vastly reduced side effects of using natural cannabidiol as against schizophrenia drugs. In new research rats, engineered to develop schizophrenic behaviors, treated with CBD oil experienced significantly improved recognition, working memory and social interactions. In a positive move, the New Zealand Government has announced it will be easing the restrictions around CBD Oil, which allow it to be prescribed by doctors.

Antibiotic resistant bacteria in fresh foods

Antibiotics were once hailed as miracle drugs, but after intense and prolonged over- and misuse, their efficacy is dwindling. They have been over-used to the point of bacterial resistance. Recent research conducted by a team of undergraduate student researchers at California State University – Northridge has found antibiotic resistant bacteria in dairy foods, and on fruit and vegetables that do not go through a ‘kill’ step such as cooking. The team looked at both organic and conventional produce bought locally. Eight different antibiotics (ciprofloxacin (ciproxin), tetracycline, erythromycin, chloramphenicol, gentamicin, ampicillin, cefotaxime and colistin) were tested against bacteria found on the different foods. The highest level of resistance was against cefotaxime and the last resort antibiotic, colistin. It is thought that the higher level of resistant bacteria found on fruits and vegetables than that in the dairy products was due to soil contamination. Concerns over the use of antibiotics in farming were highlighted in a recent report from the Review on Antimicrobial Resistance. The use of antibiotics worldwide needs radical reform given the current situation where people are dying due to antibiotic resistance.