Regular Vitamin D doses can tame inflammation linked to chromic diseases
Adequate time in the sun can supplement bolsters immune cell function
Vitamin D deficiency can lead to soft bones
VITAMIN D supplements can control inflammation associated with chronic conditions such as obesity, heart disease or diabetes.
This finding is based on a review by Curtin University scientists of 23 immune cell studies.
“We found evidence that vitamin D was able to indirectly quench reactive oxygen species, which are accepted as a major factor in the onset and development of chronic diseases including type 2 diabetes,” Professor Philip Newsholme says.
“In fact, inflammation may contribute to a multitude of diseases,” Prof Newsholme says
The results showed for the average person, if they were getting adequate levels of sun exposure or taking a vitamin D supplement, then their immune cell function would benefit.
People who had a good immune cell defence were more likely to have good overall health, according to the review.
Vitamin D deficiency can lead to soft bones or osteoporosis, with symptoms often not evident or ranging from muscle or joint pain, depression and fatigue. It can only be diagnosed via a blood test.
However, this can be avoided by taking the daily supplement or spending time in the sun.
“These kinds of diseases are associated from chronic inflammation and may well benefit from ensuring people have adequate amounts of vitamin D so that they can then supress any adverse levels of inflammation,” he says.
The researchers examined vitamin D in its active form being injected into human cells, focusing their attention on chronic conditions such as obesity and diabetes.
Prof Newsholme says the findings were exciting because it fed into longer term studies, in particular examining the effects of vitamin D levels in humans and its impact on metabolism.
“We believe vitamin D is important for regulation of immune cell metabolism and function, therefore may impact and reduce the onset of chronic inflammatory diseases related to ageing such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes,” he says.
He is now part of a clinical trial which takes blood samples from people and examines their vitamin D levels in winter, these participants are due to be tested again in February.
Clickbait headlines claiming there is poop in people’s beards whipped around social media this week. It’s junk science based on common misconceptions about bacteria.
These headlines are shite: “Some beards contain more poo than a toilet shocking study reveals” – the Mirror “Shock new research reveals some beards contain more poo than a toilet” – news.com.au “Some beards are so full of poo they are as dirty as toilets” – metro.co.uk
Of course, I wanted to read the evidence for myself, like I do with all outrageous, suspicious claims. I couldn’t even find a study cited in any of the articles. All I found was some pretty crappy journalism~!
If there was no legitimate study by respected microbiologists and no instances of unintentional poop in people’s beards, where did this story even come from? As far as I could tell, the story originated from a local tv news segment out of New Mexico, wherein a reporter swabbed some random men’s beards and sent it to a microbiologist to culture for microbes.
To some readers that might sound like legit science. Here’s why it isn’t:
That’s a very small sample size. The reporter pretty much stayed vague about how many beards he swabbed but it was a “handful”. All it would take is a couple unwashed faces to make a petri-dish grow some gross stuff. So, yeah… bad science.
Just because a microbe lives in the guts doesn’t mean it isn’t on your face. Microbiologist, John Golobic called some of the bacteria found “enterics”, meaning bacteria that normally live in the intestines, “the types of things you’d find in faeces,” he said, without telling the reporter or audiences how unbelievably common it is to find these microbes on various surfaces in everyday life, including shaved and unshaven faces. That’s all it took to get the rumor started and people rewrote, retweeted and reshared the story.
Most of the headlines and editorials about this left out that it was merely a bacteria that can also be found inside the intestine, and reported that actual poop was on people’s face, which has nothing to do with the original story and beyond bad science – it’s bad reporting.
Scientists in the microbiology field and pretty much anyone who has followed current thought on the subject know that the human body is home to vast diversity of microbes. Bacteria like E. coli is commonly found all over the body, inside and out.
Readers might remember a similar viral story about unidentified DNA found on swabbed subway cars, implying there are millions of unknown microbes people are being exposed to. In reality everything in the world is covered in millions of microbes, and there isn’t any real danger from being exposed to them everyday.
If you are looking for media that debunks the dangers of microbial paranoia, check out NPR’s articles about probiotics and Mythbuster’s entertaining critique of the “five second rule”.
Today most people do not get enough sleep. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has called insufficient sleep an epidemic. While we are finally paying attention to the importance of sleep, the need for dark is still mostly ignored.
That’s right. Dark. Your body needs it too.
Being exposed to regular patterns of light and dark regulates our circadian rhythm. Disruption of this rhythm may increase the risk of developing some health conditions including obesity, diabetes and breast cancer
Light regulates our sleep and wake patterns
The physiological processes that control the daily cycle of sleep and wake, hunger, activity levels, body temperature, melatonin level in the blood, and many other physiological traits are called the endogenous circadian rhythm.
On its own, the endogenous circadian rhythm is nearly, but not exactly, 24 hours. Our bodies rely on the Sun to reset this cycle and keep it at precisely 24 hours, the length of our days. The light – and the dark – are important signals for the cycle. This circadian rhythm has developed over three billion years as life evolved on Earth in the context of the Sun’s day/night cycle. It is built deeply into our genetic makeup.
During the night, in the dark, body temperature drops, metabolism slows, and the hormone melatonin rises dramatically. When the Sun comes up in the morning, melatonin has already started falling, and you wake up. This natural physiological transition into and out of night is of ancient origin, and melatonin is crucial for the process to proceed as it should.
If you were to put someone in a dark cave with no time cues at all, the cycle will last about 24 hours, but not exactly. Without time cues like those from the Sun, eventually that person would become out of sync with people outside. In fact many profoundly blind people, who cannot perceive light, must cope with this de-synchronization in their daily lives.
What does your body do in the dark?
Many things happen to our bodies during the dark. Levels of the hormone leptin, which helps control hunger, go up. High levels of leptin mean we do not feel hungry while low levels make us hungry.
Why does leptin go up in the dark? Since we evolved without artificial light at night, one theory holds that leptin goes up at night because it would be good to not be hungry during the night, rather than needing to forage in the dark and possibly get into trouble.
This fasting that should happen every night, and why we call the first meal in the morning “breakfast.” Experiments in human beings have shown that sleep disruption and turning on lights lowers leptin levels which makes people hungry in the middle of the night.
In the last decade or two it has become clear that the genes which control the endogenous circadian rhythm (the “clock genes”) also control a large part of our entire genome including genes for metabolism (how we process the food we eat), DNA damage response (how we are protected from toxic chemicals and radiation), and cell cycle regulation and hormone production (how our cells and tissues grow).
Light at night disrupts these processes. The changes that result from exposure to electric light at night have biological connections to disease and conditions that are common in the modern world today including obesity, diabetes, cancer and depression.
Blue light, red light, no light
Not all light is the same – some kinds of light make you more alert and more awake, and others have less of an effect.
Light from the Sun is strong in blue, short wavelength light, although it includes all other colors as well. That’s important in the morning when we need to be alert and awake. But when it comes in the evening or during the night, it fools the body into thinking it’s daytime. We now know that this bright blue light has the strongest effect on lowering melatonin during the night.
Your tablet, phone, computer or compact fluorescent lamp (CFL) all emit this kind of blue light. So using these devices in the evening can prevent that primordial physiological transition to night from occurring. This makes it harder to sleep and might also increase the longer term risk of ill-health.
Other kinds of light, like dimmer long wavelength yellow and red light, have very little effect on this transition. This is the kind of light from a campfire or a candle; even the old fashioned incandescent light bulb is dimmer and redder than the new CFL.
Only in the last 20 years have we acquired a basic biological understanding of how the eye’s retina tells the circadian system it is daytime. Now we know that blue, short wave-length light is captured by the newly discovered photopigment melanopsin in the retina, and that when blue light stops, we start our physiological transition to nighttime mode.
Electricity changed the way we sleep
Before electricity, people experienced bright, full-spectrum days of sunlight and dark nights. We slept in a different way than we do now. The dark lasted about twelve hours and during this time people slept for eight or nine hours in two separate bouts, and were awake, but in the dark, for another three or four hours.
Everything changed when electric lighting was invented in the latter part of the 19th century. Since then there has been an ever increasing assault on dark. Outdoor environments are relentlessly lit, and more and more people use computer tablets and smart phones at all hours, bathing their faces in bright blue light at times of day when they should be transitioning to nighttime physiology.
When people get away from the city and its artificial light to go camping, they often notice a marked improvement in their sleep. A recent study has verified this effect.
Today, most of us get too little light during the day and too much at night for our circadian rhythm to function at its best. It is the rare person who sleeps in a completely dark bedroom, and many people get very little sunlight because they work inside all day long.
What can you do for your circadian health? Get bright, blue light in the morning (preferably from the Sun), and use dim, longer wavelength light (more yellow and red like incandescent) in the evening. And sleep in the dark.
This will certainly improve sleep, and may reduce risk of later disease.