“Obese Microbiota” in Men linked to Lead Exposure

Lead (Pb) is a persistent environmental contaminant that is toxic to humans, primarily in the developmental stages of life. It is believed that environment and nutrition play a role in determining health. Most recently, it has been recognized by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences that the interaction between pathogens and toxic agents may contribute to disease development in humans. In fact, epidemiological studies suggest that there may be a correlation between lead exposure and obesity in children and that this effect may be long-lasting, resulting in adulthood obesity.

Perinatal lead exposure in mice

The microbiome has recently been recognized as contributing to health and disruptions in gut microbiota constitution as been associated with chronic illnesses. To investigate the phenomena of Pb-induced obesity, mice were exposed to lead during the perinatal period.  Researchers studied how lead exposure around the time of birth impacted gut microbiota, and then watched to observe whether changes to the microbiome influenced bodyweight.micescale

Microbiome Imbalance

They found that exposure to lead early in development did alter the bacterial composition of the digestive tract.  Pb affected the resilience and diversity of bacteria normally present in the gut; disrupting the balance between aerobic and anaerobic bacterium. Continue reading

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Fat is Alive & Talks to Your Brain

Fat Is Alive

Most people think of fat as being inert, having no real purpose in the body than to keep you warm, and to prevent you from ever having the perfect summer body. The role of fat in the body is so under-appreciated, that when the doctor says, “you need to lose weight”, people often see it as an issue of “body shaming” rather than one of health. This is because fat is not seen as being alive, but as a by-product of too much sugar and starch. While the reality is that fat IS alive, in fact the fat in our bodies is made up of cells called adipocytes, and these cells comprise the functional unit of adipose tissue. Adipocytes and adipose tissue are a part of the endocrine and central nervous system.

Adiocytes – Living Fat

Adipocyte are specialized cells within adipose tissue that contain lipids in the form of multiple round droplets of triglycerides. Triglycerides are the building blocks of fats, as amino acids are the foundation of proteins. Adipocytes simply put are fat cells that transport and produce fat.

There are three types of fat cells: Continue reading

SEEDLESS BANANAS ARE NOT GMO

The banana’s we eat don’t have seeds, they are a result of a naturally occurring mutation that was subsequently exploited by human selection for breeding. Banana’s are a cultivar; they are a domesticated crop, reproduced in manner that selects for and maintains certain desired characteristic, such as, being seedless.  Banana’s reproduce vegetatively through an asexually process known as parthenocarpy, in which no fertilization is required for their propagation. Parthenocarpy is a genetic trait or characteristic imparted  by a gene, but this process has nothing to do with genetic modification, and banana’s are not genetically modified organisms (GMO) — at least not yet. Continue reading

Natural Food Contaminant: Aflatoxin

textgram_1503617864Aflatoxins are potential health hazard for human and animals, as it is a common natural contaminant of food and feed. Its prevalence is greatest in parts of the world where the climate is hot and humid. The Aspergillus fungi which produce the mycotoxins survive best in heat and humidity. As a result, although the prevalence of Aflatoxin is greatest in the developing world, climate change and global warming may lead to an increase in the occurrence of both the fungi and its toxic metabolites in parts of the world with temperate climates, like Europe and the United States.

Aflatoxin Toxicity

There are thousands of metabolites produced by filamentous fungi within the Aspergillus family, some of which are beneficial. However, approximately 400 of these metabolites have been deemed mycotoxins and are hazardous. There are four major types of Aflatoxin: B1, B2, G1, and G2; according to their fluorescent color under ultraviolet light (blue or green). Aspergillus parasiticus produces all four, while Asperigillus Flavus  produces strains B1 and B2. They are mutagenic, carcinogenic, and teratogenic; causing cancer and reproductive and development toxicity.Bio-Shield-Total-1

Commonly Contaminated Crops

Major sources of Aflatoxin in the food supply are peanuts, pistachios, Brazil nuts, cottonseed and maize. Aflatoxin is also a common contaminant of cereals (oats, rice, wheat, corn, and rye), dried fruit, coffee and cocoa beans, and cassava. Spices and herbs are often contaminated but to a lesser extent, and the toxin can be found in fermented beverages such as beer, wine, and fruit juices. Aflatoxin can enter the meat and dairy food supply through contaminated animal feed.

Aflatoxin B1

Of the major four, Aflatoxin B1 is of principal concern to human health. It is classified as a Group 1 carcinogen, meaning it definitely causes cancer in humans.
Specifically, Aflatoxin B1 causes Hepatic (liver) cancer. When ingested by ruminant animals like cows, Aflatoxin B1 is metabolized in the liver to Aflatoxin M1, which may be excreted into the milk. Aflatoxin M1, is a Group 2B carcinogen, in that it is possibly carcinogenic to humans. There are set limits on the amount of Aflatoxin B1 that is allowed in the foods to which they normally contaminate, since it is not possible to completely remove them. In the case of milk and other dairy products no amount of Aflatoxin B1 should be present, trace amounts of its metabolite Aflatoxin M1 however are permissible.

Aflatoxin Mechanism of Action

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The toxic mechanism of action for all aflatoxin involve oxidative stress, lipid peroxidation, mitochondrial damage, and cell death as a result of apoptosis (versus necrosis).

Toxic exposure may be an acute single exposure at high levels, or a chronic with low but  persistent levels—chronic exposure is most common. In addition to causing liver cancer, Aflatoxin may also have adverse affects on the immune system. It is also known that when Aflatoxin and infection with Hepatitis B are present at the same time, they cooperate to induce Hepatocellular carcinoma. Hepatitis B is the leading cause of Hepatocellular carcinoma, which is the fifth greatest malignancy worldwide, and is most prevalent in developing countries. As such the presence of Aflatoxin in the food supply, primarily in developing regions of the world, make it a significant pubic health concern.

Decontamination

Various treatment methods have been devised for the removal of Aflatoxin from contaminated food and feed. The amount of aflatoxin can be greatly reduced, but it does not appear that it can be completed removed. Physical methods of reduction include milling, microwave heating, and irradiation (ultra-violet or gamma). Chemical treatments involve using binders and sequestering agents or ozonation. However, ozonation is a rather expensive chemical process. Lastly, biodegradation can be used to decontaminate crops. Biodegradation is a biological method involving the use bacteria to detoxify aflatoxins. Flavobacterium aurentiacum as well as Mycobacterium are capable of this. However, lactobacillus does not metabolize aflatoxins, it only binds the toxin.

Summary

Aflatoxin are a family of toxic metabolites which contaminate crops used for food and feed, in humans and animals respectively.  Aflatoxin contamination and the fungi that produce the toxin are most common in developing nations and regions of the world where the climate is hot and humid. However, food supplies are regularly and increasing imported due to globalization. Likewise, global warming and climate change, may make it so that the environment here in the United States or parts of Europe favor the growth of aspergillus fungi, increasing the burden of their toxic metabolites in the environment, and food supply. Therefore, the public should have an awareness and an understanding of the presence of this natural toxin in the foods supply chain, especially with the increase in organic, vegetarian, and vegan dietary patterns.

 

 

 

 

 

Cellular Agriculture: Vegans Dream or Meat-eaters Nightmare?

The day is coming when there will be a more efficient supply chain for the production of meat and meat by-products. A new field of science known as Cellular Agriculture is using bioengineering technology to produce meat, poultry, eggs, dairy, and leather, in a laboratory instead of on a farm. You could drink cow’s milk, and eat eggs, meat, and poultry without the unwanted saturated fats, cholesterol, hormones, and antibiotics. Tissue engineering is even being employed in biofabrication of leather and fur, negating moral issues of raising animals for clothing and luxury. All of this without the use or slaughter of  animals.

What is Cellular Agriculture? 

Cellular agriculture is a new way to cultivate foods normally produced through traditional agriculture. Instead of raising livestock for meat, dairy, and other meat by-products, these items are produced in a lab, without the slaughter and continuous use of animals. Foods like eggs, milk, and beef can be bioengineered ex-vivo – using cell culture methods. Cellular agriculture can produce both cellular and acellular products. Cellular products, like beef, chicken, and turkey, are made by culturing cells derived from the original animal. Acellular products on the other hand do not contain any mammalian cells, and are derived from bioengineered microbes. Continue reading

Film on Apples and Why Fruits Spoil

So, I was tagged in a users video on Facebook captioned “Look what happens when you pour boiling water over an apple! Is this wax? What do you think it is?”

As the water was poured over the apple, a filmy substance began to whiter away from the skin of the apple.  Some people were genuinely shocked to discover that a wax was overlaid on the surface of the apple (in all actuality it did appear alarmingly gross and disconcerting). This wax is what is referred to in the food industry as edible surface coatings or biopolymers.

Why are fruits and vegetables coated?

To explain why fruits and vegetables are coated, it first needs to be explained why fruits spoil or decay. People often don’t think of it this way, but fruits and vegetables are alive. They are literally living tissue just like you and I, and they undergo respiration. Once fruits and vegetables are picked or harvested, they continue to respire. Apart from the “vine” they no longer have an external source of energy; they cannot eat or drink. Instead they used up their internal supply of stored starches and sugars. As they use up this supply they begin to age and decay. Essentially they die!  Continue reading

The U.N. Admits What Science Already Proved about Cholera in Haiti

January 12, 2010 Haiti was hit with a massive and devastating earthquake. It’s expected that following such a natural disaster, homes, public buildings, and roads would be damaged, and many lives lost in the rubble. One can even imagine that people will be without lights, food, and housing for extended periods of time, but what is forgotten is that in the aftermath of  an earthquake, there comes flooding. Flooding of rivers and land, and the flooding of humanitarian aid workers from afar. Tragically, this flooding has led to the introduction of a pathogen into Haiti that has claimed the lives of many and complicated the recovery from the 2010 earthquake, that leveled the country. The pathogen responsible is Vibrio Cholerae, which causes Cholera. Although pandemic, Cholera had not been seen in Haiti in over a century.

Since Haiti had not been touched by this disease in a century, then where did the  Cholera come from?

Recently, the United Nations has publicly acknowledged and taken responsibility for the outbreak in Haiti; though it had already been researched and reported that Cholera entered Haiti with the influx of U.N. troops from parts of the world where Cholera is endemic.

 

The first victims lived near a base housing 454 United Nations peacekeepers freshly arrived from Nepal, where a cholera outbreak was underway, and waste from the base often leaked into the river. Numerous scientists have since argued that the base was the only plausible source of the outbreakNew York Times

 

Continue reading

Honey I Have Bad News: Bee Still Vanishing!

 

Who doesn’t love honey? Even if you don’t LOVE honey, you must acknowledge that the Honey bee is the most important pollinator insect contributing to our food supply. In case you didn’t know, one-third of our diet is derived from plants that have been pollinated by insects, and Honey bees are responsible for 80% of that work. Not only do Honey bees pollinate crops and wild plants, and produce honey, but beeswax, royal jelly, and propolis are also derived from their labor. These products have been used in food, cosmetics, and medicine.

As economically valuable as they are, unfortunately the Honey bee has been vanishing in a mysterious phenomenon that leaves hives full of honey, but devoid of all adult worker bees. What’s more astonishing is that there are no dead bees found in or around the hive.

The situation has gotten so dire, that even the bee from General Mills produced Honey Nut Cheerios cereal box has gone missing. Continue reading

Corrosive Water and the Flint Michigan Crisis

By now we have all know about the water crisis in Flint Michigan. Tons of articles have been written discussing the politics surrounding the Lead contaminated water.  As a result many misconceptions have arisen, for example; many people assume that when it is said that the water was “corrosive” that, that meant the Flint River water was contaminated with lead already. This however is not the case. What if I told you that water sources such as rivers and lakes  can be naturally corrosive? What if I told you that lead is not the only  substance in the Flint water that residents should be concerned about? Continue reading

Genetically Modified Fish for Human Consumption: the FACTS!

Atlantic Salmon

Genetically modified crops have been on the market for decades in the United States, and other parts of the world. However, this fall the FDA (U.S. Food and Drug Administration) has approved the first-ever genetically modified animal for human consumption, and there is much public push-back and concern. AquAdvantage fish are Atlantic Salmon produced by the AquaBounty Technologies Corporation (formerly AquaBounty Farms). So, what’s all the concern really about? Read on to find out what you need to know Continue reading