Monday, March 30, 2015


Break that wind habit
...with black pepper :

Did you know that a powerful addition to your healthy weight loss plan is very likely already in your kitchen? No, we’re not talking about coconut oil - although that one is amazing too. Draw your attention to your pepper mill. That’s right, it’s black pepper, the most potent of all peppercorns.

Not only does black pepper play a starring role in seasoning our meals today, it has been prized throughout history and was extensively used to treat many ailments, including those rooted in inflammation, as well as digestive disturbances. It can also be instrumental to healthy weight loss.

So what is the connection between black pepper, soothing digestion and promoting weight loss? As it turns out, the benefits are manifold. A 2001 study published in the journal Planta Medica found that piperine, a compound found in black pepper, could help to soothe diarrhoea symptoms. It has also been found to stimulate the stomach’s secretion of hydrochloric acid, which is necessary for proper digestion. It is likely due to black pepper’s ability to increase hydrochloric acid secretion that makes it known for its ability to quell gas symptoms. This ability also promotes a healthy gut environment, because when digestion is running smoothly, toxins are more easily eliminated from the gut. As far as weight loss, a 2012 study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry found that piperine has the ability to block fat cells from forming, and to promote the breakdown of existing fat cells. On their results, the study authors wrote:

“Overall, these results suggest that piperine, a major component of black pepper, attenuates fat cell differentiation… thus leading to potential treatment for obesity-related diseases.”

According to the researchers, piperine may also have other effects on the metabolism that promote fat loss/lessened accumulation of fat, although more research needs to be done on this. Additionally, black pepper is laden with antioxidants, which along with supporting the overall health of the entire body play an important role in healthy digestion and gut balance.

On top of it’s digestive and weight loss potential, black pepper is highly nutritious - it contains vitamin K, and the minerals calcium, copper, chromium, iron and manganese, along with fibre. Black pepper is also known for its decongestant abilities, and research from the University of Michigan Cancer Centre has linked it with aiding in breast cancer prevention - especially when combined with turmeric.

So, whether you’re trying to amplify your fat loss, want to kickstart your digestive health, or just wish to provide your body with some great minerals and antioxidants - all with great flavour - never underestimate the power of black pepper.

Mechanism to stop ageing !

As medicine has improved, increasing our ability to treat disease, so our longevity. The deterioration of the body with age, though, is a whole other matter.

But apparently, all that might be needed is some “house-keeping” of the brain, according to research just published in an early edition of the journal PNAS by a Portuguese team from the Centre for Neuroscience and Cell Biology (CNC) of the University of Coimbra.
The researchers might have also solved a 70-year old mystery: how can calorie restriction (a diet with low calories without malnutrition) delay ageing and increase longevity in animals from dogs to mice.

In their new study, Claudia Cavadas and her group have discovered that the key to this diet appears to be its ability to increase autophagy - the mechanism that recycles unwanted molecules in the cells, avoiding their “clogging and malfunction - in the hypothalamus (which has just been identified as the “control centre” for ageing). They also have identified the molecule that controls the process - called Neuropeptide Y (NPY) - raising the possibility that NPY could be used to develop ways to control ageing (instead of just treat its consequences, like we now do).

The discovery can prove especially important to stop the emergence of age-related neurodegenerative diseases - such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's - a huge step forwards considering that so far science has been incapable of treating, stopping or even fully understanding them.

And in a rapidly ageing world a better control of this kind of problems can prove crucial for everyone's survival.

In fact, according to the UN, in less than a decade 1 billion people will be older than 60. In Japan, already more than 30% of the population is older than 60 years old, and in Europe 16% of the population is over 65. So it is clear that our increasingly ageing population needs to be kept as healthy and active as possible, or it will be financially and socially impossible for the world to cope.

It is no surprise then, that research to understand and control the deteriorating effects of ageing is now a priority.

One thing that has been clear for a while now is that autophagy (or better, a reduction of it) is at the centre of the ageing process - low levels of autophagy (so cells with impaired “house-keeping”) are linked to ageing and age-related neurodegenerative disorders, such as Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and Huntington's diseases. This is easily explained as autophagy clears the cells “debris” keeping them in good working order.

That the process is so important in the brain is no surprise either, since neurons are the cells less able to replenish themselves once one dies/malfunctions.

But about a year ago there was a remarkable discovery that changed the field: hypothalamus, which is a brain area that regulates energy and metabolism, was identified as “the” control centre for the whole-body ageing.

To Cavadas and her group, which have worked on ageing and neurosciences for a long time, this was particularly exciting. Not only they knew that the only proved method to delay ageing and increase longevity - calorie restriction - increased autophagy in the hypothalamus but also that it did the same to NPY and that mice without NPY did not respond to calorie restriction. Furthermore NPY, like autophagy, diminishes with age.