Your Next Drug Could Be A Pill Full Of Genetically Modified Bacteria

The latest approach to making new drugs is genetically modifying members of our own microbial ecosystems.

This summer, the Cambridge, Massachusetts-based biotech company Synlogic started a clinical trial studying the safety of pills filled with genetically modified Escherichia coli, the MIT Technology Review reports. The US Food and Drug Administration thought these pills were so promising they fast-tracked them from animal to human testing.

In theory, they’d work like probiotics, which are foods or pills that help balance the trillions of bacteria that live in our digestive tract beneficially. Along with this line of thought, we could add custom bacteria strains that provide additional specific benefits.

As your body goes about its business, it rids itself of waste that builds up over time, including ammonia. Normally, we’re able to excrete this chemical in our urine. However, a handful of rare genetic disorders prevent this from happening properly, and the concentration of extra ammonia must be managed through careful dieting.

Read the full article at Quartz Media

Getting A Break From Your Diet May Help You Lose Weight

For most people, dieting isn’t a particularly enjoyable experience. Usually, because diets involve ignoring the advice of nutritionists who suggest ‘everything in moderation’ is the key to weight loss, and instead encourage you to cut out entire food groups (mainly the ones you love).

But if you’re someone who’s ever endured the torture of a diet, you’ll be over the moon at this latest scientific discovery: scrapping your diet for a couple of weeks could actually help you lose weight.

How could ditching your diet lead to more weight loss? But according to the recent study published in the International Journal for Obesity, that’s exactly what they found.

The study took a group of clinically obese participants and split them into two groups. Both groups were instructed to follow a 16-week diet which saw their usual calorie intake reduced by a third, however, the groups differed in how they carried out this diet.

Read more at Cosmopolitan

STUDY FINDS: Weight Loss May Come Down To What’s In Your Poop

Wondering why a diet’s not working for you? Stop watching your waistline and consider something a little deeper — like the feces lodged in your intestines.

A study this month in the International Journal of Obesity found that a specific diet’s success may come down to the bacteria mix in one’s gut, as observed in stool samples.

The study shows that only about half of the population will lose weight if they eat in accordance with the Danish national dietary recommendations and eat more fruit, vegetables, fibers and whole grains,” said Mads F. Hjorth, a co-author of the study and nutrition professor at the University of Copenhagen.

Read more at USA Today

Public Still Can’t Swallow Concept Of GM Food

A new study has confirmed what pollsters already knew: the public remains skeptical about genetically modified foods.

About 62 percent of respondents said GM is acceptable for use in human medicine and 68 percent said it’s OK to use the technology to protect human health, such as genetically modified mosquitoes.

“In some ways, I can understand why people may be more cautious about what they’re ingesting on an ongoing basis.”

The Purdue results are similar to polls done in Canada, looking at public perceptions of GM foods:

• A 2012 Farmers Feed Cities survey found that only 41 percent of Canadians think GM foods are safe for consumption.
• An Insights West poll in 2014 found 50 percent of people in Alberta and 56 percent in British Columbia would support a ban on genetically modified foods in Canada.
• A 2013 Consumers’ Association of Canada poll found that 88 percent of Canadians think GMO labeling should be mandatory.

More of this news at The Western Producer

Milk Producers’ Group Goes After ‘Deceptive’ non-GMO Labeling

The National Milk Producers Federation’s “Peel Back the Label” campaign aims to combat “deceptive food labeling” from dairy brands like Dean Foods and Dannon — which have touted Non-GMO Project certification, according to a report in Food Navigator.

The Non-GMO Project claims that retailers carrying products featuring its seal of approval report “the fastest dollar growth trend in their stores this year,” with annual sales exceeding $19.2 billion. So it’s not surprising that food companies turning out dairy-based products want to get on that bandwagon. At the same time, some of these companies say they support conventional farming methods, including the use of GMO feed.

In the Food Navigator article, a Dean Foods spokesman called the new NMPF campaign “disappointing.”

“We encourage consumers and NMPF to enjoy a glass of milk and focus on building up dairy foods, not dragging them down,” Jamaison Schuler said.

DanoneWave CEO Mariano Lozano told Food Navigator that the company was surprised to be criticized for providing choices that consumers want. Soon after Non-GMO Project, Verified products started appearing on shelves, Dannon officials told Food Dive about their reasons for going that route.

Read the full article at Food Dive

4 Wellness Trends You Need To Know About

The Wellness space has exploded like wildfire. According to the Global Wellness Institute, space is valued at 3.72 trillion and is growing by 10% each year. As we grow busier and more connected, the desire to unplug, recharge and invest in our well-being skyrockets. While wellness used to be confined to the domains of fitness and food, the definition has recently expanded to encapsulate a more holistic vision of well-being. Here are 5 interesting new players in the wellness space. 1. Stretching Labs Dedicated stretch studios are on the rise. As the name suggests, these spaces are designed exclusively to stretch you and work with your body to help repair and restore it. Founders Tim Trost and Saul Janson started the lab after noticing that there was nowhere to get stretched unless you had a personal trainer. 2. Upgraded Vitamins Vitamins, in many ways, are becoming treated like a beauty or candy product. Suddenly they are being treated with thoughtful design, beautiful packaging, and romantic copy. Olly Vitamins have made the category easy to navigate and beautiful to look at, and Ritual, take this one step further. They are not only designing a beautiful product made just for women (clear pill, with gold flecks) they are also making the whole process transparent. Read more at Forbes

Preventing Gout Attacks with Right Diet

More than 2,000 years ago, “Hippocrates described gout as a disease of kings primarily because it was the wealthy who could afford the ‘rich’ foods, which seemed to precipitate gouty attacks.” Today, however, we can all eat like kings and acquire some diseases of royalty ourselves.

Gout is caused by needle-sharp crystals of uric acid in our joints. Uric acid comes from the breakdown of purines, which are the breakdown product of genetic material—DNA, the foundation of all life. So, “there is no such thing as a purine-free diet, but foods do vary in their purine content.”

The Harvard Health Professionals Follow-Up Study, which followed about 50,000 men for a dozen years, found that alcohol intake was “strongly associated with an increased risk of gout.” In terms of food, they found “an increased risk of gout with higher meat consumption or seafood consumption,” but not with higher consumption of purine-rich plant foods.

Lack of association between purine-rich vegetables and the rate could be due to the co-packaging of these “beneficial plant components (such as vitamin C, dietary fiber or some phytochemicals), which may have masked an effect of purine on [uric acid].

Read the full article at Care2

Botanical Transparency: How DNA Technology Can Complement Traditional Identity Tests

There has been a great deal of focus on transparency both in finished products and raw materials at the worldwide level. This debate followed actions by the New York Attorney General’s, who after an agency investigation found four out of five tested herbal products did not contain any of the herbs promised in their labels, called for the producers to conduct advanced genetic testing.

These tests are intended to ensure the herbal products actually contain the ingredients promised on the label.

For plants, there is no universal DNA testing methodology and the choice of a particular technique is often a compromise that depends on a number of factors.

Each plant needs a dedicated method, developed on its own genome. DNA sequencing-based tests are emerging as highly reliable and powerful tools to authenticate botanicals to complement other available tests. They can even be used to identify new species and to create herbal products.

Accordingly, they have to be part of a complete quality testing toolbox, which constitutes a reliable authentication platform.

Read more at Nutra Ingredients

STUDY: Even non-GMO Foods Contain Genes?

More than one-third of Americans do not know that foods with no genetically modified ingredients contain genes, according to the new nationally representative Food Literacy and Engagement Poll we recently conducted at Michigan State University. For the record, all foods contain genes, and so do all people.

The full survey revealed that much of the U.S. public remains disengaged or misinformed about food. These findings are problematic because food shapes our lives on a personal level, while consumer choices and agricultural practices set the course for our collective future in a number of ways, from food production impacts to public health.

Informing food discussions

The Food Literacy and Engagement Poll, which we plan to conduct annually, is part of Food@MSU, a new initiative based in Michigan State University’s College of Agriculture and Natural Resources. Food@MSU’s mission is to listen to consumers, promote dialogue and help the public make more informed choices about food.

Meanwhile, the proliferation of online content with conflicting messages makes it hard for Americans to separate valid nutritional information from fads and fraud. Influential multinational corporations push ideas that aren’t always based on science but rather intended to promote their own products.

Continue reading at The Genetic Literacy Project

Cigarettes Consumption May Cause Infertility, Try these Natural Remedies to Curb the Behavior

This goes without saying that tobacco consumption in any form can have adverse effects on your health. Many recent studies have linked tobacco consumption to infertility in men and women. Some of them indicate that as compared to the non-smokers, active smokers are 14 percent more likely to be infertile and 26 percent women more likely to have early menopause.

Smoking during pregnancy increases the risk of pregnancy complications, low birth weight, and birth defects. Risk of miscarriages may increase with regular smoking. Similarly, men may also face an of health problems such as hormonal issues, erectile dysfunction, and reduced libido. Since prevention is always better than cure, here are some natural ways to kick the butt and quit tobacco.

1. Drink lots of fluids

Drinking plenty of water can help curb the habit of chewing or smoking tobacco as it will flush out nicotine faster. Other fluids like green tea, black tea and coffee may be very effective during the withdrawal period.

2. Dried ginger and lemon

Ginger is known to contain sulfur compounds that help in reducing symptoms of tobacco addiction. All you need to do is to soak small pieces of ginger in lemon juice and mix it with pepper and store it in a container. Suck a piece whenever you feel the urge to smoke or chew tobacco.

More of this article at NDTV