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Can Vitamin D Protect you Against Flu?

Can Vitamin D Protect you Against Flu?

Is there a Scientific basis?

Frontier Voice of Nutrition Remarks (January 20, 2013)

Nalin Siriwardhana, PhD, interviewed Professor Sunil Wimalawansa, M.D., Ph.D., M.B.A., F.A.C.E., F.A.C.P., FRCPath., DSc, Professor of Endocrinology, Metabolism & Nutrition from the University of Medicine and Dentistry, Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, New Jersey, USA.

As usual, Vitamin D has become a hot but a controversial topic during this flu time (US Winter 2013). In order to understand the scientific basis and interpret available scientific evidence, Nutrition Remarks invited Prof. Sunil Wimalawansa to produce this animated video. After carefully reviewing, available evidence, he summarized that “Though Vitamin D has promising immune boosting effects and known to reduce viral and bacterial infections, no conclusive scientific evidence are available to support that Vitamin D is a cure for currant the flu epidemic”.

Professor Sunil Wimalawansa is a University Professor, Professor of Medicine, Endocrinology, Metabolism, and Nutrition, and the former Chief of Endocrinology at the University of Medicine and Dentistry, Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, New Jersey, USA. He is also a Professor of Physiology and Integrative Biology at the University of Medicine and Dentistry, Graduate School Biomedical Sciences. He is the author of “Vitamin D: Everything you need to know” book. He is also the recipient of The Doctor of Science (D.Sc.) degree in 2001.

More about Prof. Wimalawansa and work







This news release was prepared by Nalin Siriwardhana, PhD.

Copyright © 2013 Nutrition Remarks. All rights reserved

Apples against body fat

Apples against body fat

Can an apple a day help to keep fat away?

Written by Emily Creasy, MS, RD, LD, (Nutrition Remarks writer), Reviewed by Nalin Siriwardhana, Ph.D.

Health News Highlights (April 26, 2012) <<< Print PDF>>>

Apples are a rich source of polyphenols that can help to promote weight loss and fat metabolism. A study by Nagasakome-Akazome, at the Fundamental Research Laboratory, Asahi Breweries, Ltd., Moriya-shi, Ibaraki, Japan, found that consuming 600 mg polyphenols each day can also decrease abdominal fat, total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol levels, which over time can help decrease your risk for heart disease. Because the polyphenol content of apples can vary, to achieve such results, an intake of approximately three apples per day is needed. According to a study by Dr. Maria Conceic¸a˜o de Oliveira, in Nutrition Journal, overweight females who consumed three apples per day over the course of 12 weeks lost approximately 2.6 pounds, while making no other significant changes to their diet or activity level. After the study, it was also observed that participants had significant decreases in blood glucose levels, suggesting that apple intake may help with diabetes management as well.

The polyphenols in apples work in your body to prevent the absorption of fats. Consumption of polyphenols is associated with increased fatty acids excreted by the body in feces, indicating that polyphenols can help to promote fat breakdown in the body. Polyphenol intake through the use of apples or apple beverages has been found to reduce body fat levels regardless of the amount or duration of apple consumption. Dr. Nagasako-Akazome and colleagues suggest that polyphenols also work to reduce cholesterol levels in the blood by binding to cholesterol making it easier to be removed by the body. It is important to note that both apples and apple beverages contain natural carbohydrates, or sugars, which, when consumed in excess can result in high blood sugar levels and unwanted weight gain. Look for unsweetened or low sugar varieties of apple beverages and snacks when possible.

It is difficult to follow a polyphenol free diet, nor would you want to. Foods richest in polyphenols include fruits, tea, coffee, red wine, vegetables, legumes, and cereal grains. According to a study by Dr. Lachman and colleagues of the Czech University of Agriculture in Prague, Prague, Czech Republic, which analyzed the polyphenol content of 15 varieties of fresh apples, the average amount of polyphenols in an apple varies from 760 to 1,343 mg/kg. This is similar to findings by Dr. Vrhovsek and colleagues of the Istituto Agrario di San Michele, Italy, who found the total polyphenol content of eight different fresh apple varieties to range anywhere from 662 to 2,119 mg/kg. The USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference indicates that a large apple weighs approximately 223 g or 0.223 kg. Based on this, one large apple can provide anywhere from 147.6 to 472.5 mg polyphenols. The study also indicated that a majority of the polyphenol content in apples can be found in the apple peel, not the flesh. The major polyphenolic compounds in apples include anthocyanidines, quercetin, flavonols, flavones, flavan-3-ols, and flavanones. The polyphenol content in apples varies due to a number of factors including the type of apple, maturity or ripeness, length and temperature of storage. Highest polyphenol activity was found in Jonagold, Melrose, and Sampion varieties, all containing over 1,200 mg/kg. Polyphenol content is also noted to decrease as the apple ages.

In addition to containing polyphenols, apples are also a source of vitamin C. Like polyphenols, vitamin C is a type of antioxidant that can help to keep your body healthy. Antioxidants are natural substances that work to protect your body from disease and cancer causing free radicals. Free radicals are electrically charged atoms, or groups of atoms, that demand electrons. Reactive Oxygen and Nitrogen species (ROS and RNS) are the most common forms of harmful free radicals. These unstable oxygen and nitrogen molecules are scattered and traveling almost everywhere in the body stealing electrons from other molecules in an attempt to stabilize themselves. This can cause damage to healthy cells and cellular components such as DNA, lipids, and proteins, putting your body more at risk for diseases such as heart disease and certain cancers. Much like a chain reaction, free radicals can spread causing more and more damage over time. During periods of illness or infection, the increased stress on your body can cause it to form more ROS and RNS. Antioxidants, like polyphenols and vitamin C, work to stabilize free radicals and prevent them from causing injury to healthy cells. They also help to repair cells and tissues, which may have already been damaged by free radicals.

A healthy diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean meats, and low-fat dairy can help you maintain a healthy weight and a healthy body. While studies have shown that both excessive intake and long-term intake of polyphenols poses no health risk, like all foods, it is important to monitor portion sizes and enjoy foods in moderation so as to avoid excessive calorie intake and unwanted weight gain. Apples can be a convenient snack or meal accompaniment that is rich in vitamins, minerals, fiber and valuable antioxidants such as polyphenols. Because they have been shown to help decrease fat, cholesterol, and blood glucose levels, as well as decrease your risk for weight gain and heart disease, eating an apple a day may actually help to keep the doctor away.


Akazome Y, Kametani N, Kanda T, Shimasaki H, Kobayashi S. Evaluation of safety of excessive intake and efficacy of long-term intake of beverages containing apple polyphenols. Journal of Oleo Science. 2010.

Nagasako-Akazome Y, Kanda T, Ohtake Y, Shimasaki H, Kobayashi T. Apple polyphenols influence cholesterol metabolism in healthy subjects with relatively high body mass index. Journal of Oleo Science. 2007.

Conceição de Oliveira M, Sichieri R, Sanchez Moura A. Weight loss associated with a daily intake of three apples or three pears among overweight women. Nutrition. March 2003.

J. Lachman, M. Šulc, J. Sus, O. Pavlíková. Polyphenol content and antiradical activity in different apple varieties. Horticulture Science (Prague). 2006.

Wolfe K, Wu X, Liu RH. Antioxidant activity of apple peels. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. January 2003.

Valko M, Rhodes CJ, Moncol J, Izakovic M, Mazur M. Free radicals, metals and antioxidants in oxidative stress-induced cancer. Chemico-Biological Interactions. March 2006.

USDA Database for the Flavonoid Content of Selected Foods Release 2.1. http://www.nal.usda.gov/fnic/foodcomp/Data/Flav/Flav02-1.pdf

USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference. Apples, raw, with skin.

National Institutes of Health: Medline Plus. Vitamin C. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/002404.htm

National Cancer Institute. Antioxidants and Cancer Prevention: Fact Sheet. http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/factsheet/prevention/antioxidants

National Cancer Institute. Free Radical. http://www.cancer.gov/Common/PopUps/popDefinition.aspx?id=CDR0000044030&version=Patient&language=English

Copyright © 2012 Nutrition Remarks. All rights reserved

Neurosurgeons Began to Test Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) against Obesity

Neurosurgeons Began to Test Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) against Obesity

Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS): A Novel Brain Surgery for Refractory Obesity

Frontier Voice of Nutrition Remarks (February 05, 2012)

Nalin Siriwardhana, PhD, interviewed Dr. Nestor D. Tomycz, MD, from Department of Neurosurgery, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA, USA.

The first ever clinical study on Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) for intractable obesity has begun at West Virginia University, USA. This study has been initiated by two expert neurosurgeons from Allegheny General Hospital Pittsburgh, PA: Dr. Donald M. Whiting MD and Dr. Michael Y. Oh.

DBS, which involves placing small wire-like electrodes in the brain to stimulate deep brain structures, has become a well-established therapy for patients suffering from Parkinson’s disease, essential tremor, and dystonia.

Obesity has become one of the greatest health issues in the world. Current popular obesity treatments such as dietary interventions, drugs, and gastric bypass surgery may sometimes fail or be less effective due to various reasons including the characteristic complexity of obesity and patient’s food habits. In the 1950’s, animal experiments first demonstrated that lesioning specific brain regions in the hypothalamus would lead to changes in the feeding behavior and body weight. The FDA approved three patients for a pilot study designed to study DBS for intractable obesity. Nutrition Remarks interviewed Dr. Nestor Tomycz, a neurosurgeon and a co-investigator on the study trained as a fellow under Drs. Whiting and Oh. A simplified version of the conversation is as follows:

Question from Nutrition Remarks: Can you describe DBS in general?

Answer from Dr. Tomycz: DBS is an electrical stimulation of a specific area of the brain. DBS involves surgically placing one or two electrodes into the brain. This electrode, via wires, is connected to a battery that is implanted under the skin (most of the time in the chest area like a pacemaker). The electrode transmits electrical signals/impulses to the target area of the brain and modulates these areas. There are thousands of different flavors of electrical impulses that can be sent by the electrode. By changing the impulse patterns, we can modify brain function and treat several disease conditions.

Question: What are the common applications of DBS?

Answer: The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has currently approved DBS for three neurological diseases: Parkinson’s disease, essential tremor (involuntary shaking movement) and dystonia (involuntary muscle contractions).

Question: How effective is DBS?

Answer: With proper patient selection, DBS is generally very effective. However, programming DBS to optimize control of symptoms often takes multiple sessions post-surgery and additional programming changes are often necessary as the disease progresses. DBS is not a cure for any of the aforementioned diseases; however, it is an excellent way to control symptoms.

Question: How safe is DBS and what are the known after effects?

Answer: DBS is a minimally invasive surgery. It is usually performed while the patient is awake and involves drilling two small holes in the skull. The main risks of DBS surgery include infection, seizures, and brain hemorrhage. The risk of such complications, in experienced hands, is less than 5-10%.

Question: Why do you think that the DBS will be useful to treat obesity?

Answer: By directly targeting the brain, DBS may be able to reduce appetite and change metabolism. We know that overeating is a major cause of refractory obesity; however, metabolism (the way our bodies store and use energy), also plays a role in the maintenance and recurrence of obesity.

Question: How will DBS treat obesity?

Answer: DBS may work to treat obesity in two ways: (1) by reducing the craving for food and (2) by accelerating metabolism. By definition, total energy equals energy in minus energy out. Obesity results from a net positive energy balance and thus DBS may be able to help patients with obesity by not only reducing energy in (appetite), but also by increasing calories burned (metabolism).

Question: Can you explain your pilot study in brief?

Answer: With a multidisciplinary team and FDA and IRB approval, three patients with refractory obesity, despite gastric bypass, have been enrolled. DBS electrodes were placed bilaterally in the lateral hypothalamic nucleus or the “feeding center.” The patients have been followed for the past two years to examine for adverse events. Within a metabolic chamber, the patients underwent non-blinded stimulation studies to determine how DBS affected their metabolism. The formal results of this study will be published in 2012. However, thus far it appears that DBS of the lateral hypothalamus for obesity is safe and early metabolic and efficacy data are promising. A larger study is planned for future experiments.

This information is primarily based on the following article published by Dr. Nestor D. Tomycz, MD, in Neurosurgical Review journal. Some general background information was acquired from PubMed and NIH sources.

Original work; Tomycz et al., Deep brain stimulation for obesity-from theoretical foundations to designing the first human pilot study. Neurosurgical Review 2012 Jan;35(1):37-43. Epub 2011 Oct 15.

Dr. Nestor D. Tomycz, MD, is a graduate from Harvard College (2001) and Harvard Medical School (2005). He is completing his neurosurgical residency from the University of Pittsburgh in June of 2012 and will be joining the neurosurgical faculty at Allegheny General Hospital. His main academic focus is in functional neurosurgery which includes pain and movement disorders.

More about Dr. Tomycz and his work


Dr. Tomycz acknowledges Support for this research from West Virginia University and Medtronic Co.


Written by Nalin Siriwardhana, PhD. and Amanda Fields


Copyright © 2011 Nutrition Remarks. All rights reserved