Wednesday, 30 May 2018

Would you like to help us choosing a book cover?

over the last 12 months, we (Alexandros, Ronan and me - 3 bio-scientists in UL) are writing a book on the value of diet against statins on our quest to understand and fight cardiovascular diseases.
We got some great news yesterday...Our book is going into production!

Time to choose a cover! We can choose any cover from here

[ ]

Would you like to help us choosing a book cover?

Please, feel free to let us know your sending an email to
or by leaving a comment at this post.

Looking forward to receiving your suggestions!

Thank You 😊


p.s.  Our book is on diet and lifestyle against statins and pils, so below, you can see some photos we like so far...

Monday, 28 May 2018

on the Med diet and our limited time

A village feast – with dancing – on Ikaria, the Greek island with the most nongenerians in the world. Photograph: Alamy 

there is a lot of discussion on the real value of Med diet and how/why people in Spain, Italy and Greece do or do not follow it today.

Most of the points raised that people do not have time to cook is SIMPLY Rubbish!

How could people have more time 20 and 30 years ago to cook but not now in a much more technologically developed world?

I think the real reason is that people do not BOTHER to cook... It is about "convenience" and bying cheap junk food...It is not about time but about effort...

If we really want to fight obesity and cardiovascular diseases though, there is only ONE way forward.
This way is described at the last two paragraphs of this excellent article 

To solve childhood obesity will take more than fads – it will take the transformation of the whole food system. It will mean controls on advertising junk food to children and money for schools to promote exercise. It will take educating children not just to cook food but to grow food. It will mean a system of agriculture that rewards farmers for growing healthy food. It will mean creating local networks so that families can access seasonal and fresh food. It will mean examining our work culture to find time to exercise and to cook. And it will mean remembering how to eat together as families and friends.
To give children a long and healthy life, we need to teach them about more than a diet – we need to teach them how to shop, how to cook and how to live.

= = = 
 We just need Education!

Education for the farmers, education for the consumers, education for the young people...

Sounds so simple, but is so so difficult to achieve it in the era of games consoles, cheap junk food and lack of exercise...

The blue zones principles though (see below) can provide us with some great ideas for initiatives.

 = = =

Stamatis Moraitis is from Ikaria, Greece. He moved to US when he was 22 years old to pursue the “American Dream”. He was a painter and he started immediately having success, bought a house, married and had 3 kids. At the age of 66 years, he developed terminal lung cancer. However, instead of dying in US, he decided to move back to Ikaria so he moved in with his… parents!
He started breathing the Ikarian air, drinking the Ikarian wine and having a Mediterranean diet. After a few months, he planted a garden not planning, though, on ever getting to harvest the vegetables. He was so wrong! 37 years later he has a vineyard producing 200 litres of wine a year.
When asked about his secret, this is what he replies: “I just forgot to die”.
This is a real life story that has been extracted from the paper of Dan Buettner and Sam Skemp, as published in the American journal of lifestyle medicine in 2016 [1]. The paper talks about the blue zones and what can give us more years of quality living.
Our DNA can predetermine our life expectancy only in 20% of us whereas for the rest 80% of us (4 out 5 people) it is our lifestyle (and not our DNA) that predetermines how long we are going to live. The five demographically confirmed and geographically defined areas with the highest percentage of centenarians (Costa Rica: Nicoya, Greece: Ikaria, Italy: Sardinia, Japan: Okinawa and US: Loma Linda, CA) were dubbed as Blue Zones where people reach age 100 at 10 times greater than in the US [1].
The lifestyles of all Blue Zones residents share 9 specific characteristics. These characteristics are called “The Power of 9”. In order to make it to age 100, a person does not have to win any genetic lottery. Many people have the biological capacity to make it well into their early 90s and in most cases  without  chronic diseases.
Blue zones uncovered 9 evidence-based common denominations aamong the world’s centenarians that slow human aging biological processes, as follows. 

1.      Move naturally
Pumping up iron or protein powders, running marathons or sweating in a gym are not parts of the physical activities’ repertoire of the Blue Zones people. They walk and have their own gardens.   

2.     Purpose
In Okinawa, they call it “Ikigai”, whereas in Nikoya it is called “plan de vida”; they both translate to “plan of life” and it is about what makes the people get up in the morning. Having a sense of purpose and living towards this, it can increase life expectancy for uo to 7 years! 

3.      Downshift
All people, even Blue Zones people(!), we experience a degree of stress. Stress leads to chronic inflammation which in turn leads to the onset of CVDs and other chronic diseases. What Blue Zones people have that the others do not are unique and distinctive routines to minimise this stress. Ikarians follow the med habit of “siesta” or afternoon nap; Okinawans take a few moments each day to remember their ancestors; Adventists in Loma Linda pray; Sardinias do happy hour [2].

4.     The 80% rule
Blue Zones people eat their smallest meal in the late afternoon or early evening, and then they refrain from eating any more food for the rest of the evening; exactly the opposite to the average Westernised person who might have sandwich for lunch and their main meal of the day in the evening.
Hara Hacki Bu”, an Okinawan Confucian mantra that is 2,500 years old, is said before meals and reminds people in Okinawa to stop eating when their stomachs feel about full. The 20% gap between not being hungry and feeling full could be the difference between gaining weight or losing it or increasing or decreasing cardiometabolic risk factors.    

5.     Diet
Fruits, vegetables, and recipes based on these ingredients (e.g. fava and lentils soups) are a focal point of the diets of the Blue Zones people and these foods occupy the lower shelves of the Mediterranean diet pyramid as seen in Figure 5.1. Fish and seafood is eaten at least twice a week, whereas meat (mostly poultry and pork) is eaten on average 5 times a month.

6.     Wine
With the exception of the Seventh Day Adventists, everyone in the Blue Zones consume alcohol on a regular and moderate basis averaging up to 2 glasses per day. Figure 5.1, the latest version of the Mediterranean diet pyramid encourages the moderate consumption of alcohol; Blue Zones people tend to follow this guideline. Consuming 2 glasses per day or 14 glasses per week is the optimal dose, however the drinking pattern is of paramount importance. One or two glasses of red wine every day is key, whereas binge drinking should be avoided at all costs. There is no standard portion however studies have shown that 250 mL of red wine may lower inflammatory markers and reduce platelet aggregation.

7.     Belong
Denomination does not distinguish the Blue Zones people, however most belong to a faith-based community. Attending faith-based ceremonies on a weekly basis could add from 4 up to 14 years of life expectancy. This is most likely due to the sense of community.

8.     Loved ones first
Blue Zone centenarians believe in family values. Individuals tend to keep aging parents and grandparents nearby or in the home (it lowers disease and mortality rates of children in the home too!). They usually commit to a life partner (a virtue that can add up to 3 years of life expectancy) and invest in their children with time and love.

9.     Right tribe
Blue Zones people live in social communities that support healthy behaviours. In Okinawa, people have created ‘moais’, which are a group of five friends who commit to each other for life.

Further reading



Friday, 25 May 2018

Marine Polar Lipids with Antithrombotic Activities

In our team, we have a strong interest on lipids that can inhibit platelet aggregation.
Few years ago, we had found these structures in sea bass.

Two days ago, we published our first salmon paper where the lipid structures have some striking similarities...

There is a theme there...
Nature is making polar lipids for a reason...
The more structural data we have on this theme make the "omega 3" and cholesterol approach weaker and weaker...
The polar head looks like an indispensable part of our approach linking polarity of lipids to their antithrombotic activities .


Wednesday, 23 May 2018

season review

The school and sports season draws to an end...
The month of May is traditionally the month of the Finals, the Cups and the revisions for school exams...

Summarising the season, there are two truly memorable days...

1. Thursday 26th April 2018 when 3 St Munchins Year 1 Boys won a SciFest prize

Darragh, Rory and Nathaniel (Right to Left) - smiley "Scientists to be"


2. Sunday 20th May 2018 when Corbally United's U12a squad won the Div 1 cup.

U12a Corbally United the Cup winners as picured in UL Sunday 20th May (the Mentors, the Boys, the smiles)

I am not not sure if one photo equals to 1000 words but these two photos are  millions of words for me :)

Well done, Boys and do not forget... to ...Carpe Diem !



Carpe Diem, Boys; make your Life extraordinary!

Structural Elucidation of Irish Organic Farmed Salmon (Salmo salar) Polar Lipids with Antithrombotic Activities

just published in Marine Drugs

Department of Biological Sciences, University of Limerick, V94 T9PX Limerick, Ireland
Department of Life and Environmental Sciences, University of Cagliari, via Ospedale 72, 09124 Cagliari, Italy
Shannon Applied Biotechnology Centre, Limerick Institute of Technology, Moylish Park, V94 E8YF Limerick, Ireland
Department of Food Science and Nutrition, School of the Environment, University of the Aegean, GR 81400 Myrina, Lemnos, Greece
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 17 April 2018 / Revised: 16 May 2018 / Accepted: 22 May 2018 / Published: 23 May 2018
View Full-Text   |   Download PDF [3602 KB, uploaded 23 May 2018]   |  
Graphical Abstract


While several marine polar lipids (PL) have exhibited cardioprotective properties through their effects on the platelet-activating factor (PAF) pathways, salmon PL have not been tested so far. In this study, the antithrombotic activities of salmon PL were assessed in human platelets and the structural characterisation of bioactive salmon PL was performed by GC-MS and LC-MS analyses. PL from fillets of Irish organic farmed salmon (Salmo salar) were extracted and separated into several lipid subclasses by thin-layer chromatography (TLC), while their fatty acid profile was fully characterised by GC-MS. Salmon total lipids (TL), total neutral lipids (TNL), total polar lipids (TPL), and each PL subclass obtained by TLC were further assessed for their in vitro effects towards PAF-induced and thrombin-induced platelet aggregation in human platelets. Salmon PL exhibited antithrombotic effects on human platelet aggregation, mostly through their strong inhibitory effects against the PAF pathway with IC50 values comparable to other marine PL, but with lower effects towards the thrombin pathway. PL fractions corresponding to phosphatidylcholine and phosphatidylethanolamine derivatives exhibited the most potent anti-PAF effects, while LC-MS analysis putatively elucidated their structure/function relationship. Several diacyl-PC/PE and alkyl-acyl-PC/PE species containing mostly docosahexaenoic acid at their sn-2 glycerol-backbone may be responsible for the bioactivity. The data presented suggests that salmon contains PL with strong antithrombotic bioactivities.

Monday, 21 May 2018

Low-fat or full-fat fermented dairy products, such as yogurt, may benefit cardiovascular health

[reposting from here]


As latest research questions conventional dietary recommendations on dairy foods due to the properties of dairy fats, fermented dairy products such as yogurt, cheese and kefir, could prove to be a healthy choice for protecting against cardiovascular disease (CVD).

Dairy foods have long been believed to increase the risk of CVD due to their fats content and their association with increased cholesterol levels. In response, dietary guidelines in Western countries recommend limiting full-fat dairy products in favour of low-fat versions.
However, with recent evidence suggesting that systemic inflammation is the key biochemical driver of atherosclerosis and damage to the heart muscle, this advice and the science underlying it are now under debate, according to the authors of this review article.

High saturated fatty acid intake may not cause harmful cholesterol levels

Question marks have been raised over the science that suggested a causal relationship between a high intake of saturated fatty acids (SFA), high LDL-cholesterol, atherosclerosis and coronary heart disease.
Indeed, the authors say, despite high levels of SFAS, full-fat dairy foods have positive or at least neutral effects on cardiovascular health, while also contributing to higher intakes of nutrients such as vitamins D and K.

The focus is shifting to consider the effect of the fermented dairy food matrix on cardiovascular health

Research has moved away from focusing on single nutrients, such as saturated fat, towards considering the food matrix, the nutrient and non-nutrient components of foods and how they interact and affect body chemistry.
Researchers are also trying to pin down the specific effects of different types of dairy foods, including fermented products, such as yogurt, cheese and kefir, on cardiovascular health.

Fermented dairy products such as yogurt may hold potential benefits for cardiovascular health

Although fermented dairy products are often linked with gut health, they also appear to benefit cardiometabolic health, which encompasses cardiovascular and metabolic diseases, including type 2 diabetes (T2D) and the metabolic syndrome.
Higher consumption of cheese, yogurt and kefir is linked with lower levels of LDL-cholesterol and blood pressure, together with a lower risk of T2D, stroke and coronary heart disease (CHD). These potential benefits may increase the more you consume.

Yogurt in particular is associated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular diseases (CVD)

Yogurts in particular, with their diverse assortment of different bioactive, nutrient-rich compounds, especially when consumed with fruit, have been linked with a reduced risk of CVD, diabetes and metabolic syndrome – i.e.  high blood pressure, high blood glucose, large waist circumference and abnormal blood fats.

Choose fermented dairy products to optimise nutrient intake and potential cardiovascular health benefits

Exactly how fermented foods influence risk factors for CVD is yet to be uncovered. However, it is thought that probiotics and vitamin K2, which are both present in fermented dairy foods, may play a part.
The fermentation process itself may also have a role as it leads to changes in the structure of fats and proteins. These may account for some of the observed effects. There may also be benefits of full-fat dairy consumption based on higher bioavailability of high-value nutrients and anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
Hence while full-fat dairy products can continue to be consumed in moderation as part of a healthy balanced lifestyle, choosing fermented dairy products is most likely to optimise nutrient intake and potential cardiovascular health benefits.
Find out more: read the original article

Source: Lordan R, Tsoupras A, Mitra B, Zabetakis I. Dairy fats and cardiovascular disease: do we really need to be concerned? Foods 2018 Mar 1;7(3)

To go further, we invite you to read the authors’ post on the topic: “Dairy fats and cardiovascular disease: Do we really need to be concerned?

Corbally United (extra curriculum activities)

It's a great pleasure to be involved in of young and when there is great result (Cup Winners U12 div 1) ( ) the pleasure is exponentially higher!

p.s. The best feeling is when looking back at all season and realise how much this team has grown and bonded since 30th August where we lost 3-1 to Lisnagry away and two linesmen were almost sent off 😋

Yesterday's Cup Final
(Corbally United - Lisnagry 2-0),

it was a Great Battle, all for one and one for all! Really Proud for all of You, lads!

Friday, 18 May 2018

Is Lipid Level or Inflammation the Critical Factor for Cardiovascular Disease Risk?

re-posting from here

No orthodoxy lacks accompanying heretics; it often seems that science is a business of proceeding abruptly and messily from one steady state consensus to another via the mechanism of heresy. It is of course worth bearing in mind that most heretics do turn out to be wrong, and are consequently forgotten by all but the most painstaking of scientific historians. In the paper I'll point out today, the orthodoxy of blood lipid levels as a cause of cardiovascular disease is challenged. The heresy is to suggest that it isn't the lipids at all, but all down to a matter of chronic inflammation.
This is a tough topic to arbitrate, because raised lipids, such as cholesterol, and raised inflammation go hand in hand. Dietary approaches to tackling cholesterol levels are minimally effective in the grand scheme of things, as dietary content is only a small factor in the lipid content of blood, but they also, inconveniently, tend to move the needle on inflammation as well. The calorie content of the diet, considered over the long-term, is linked to lipids and inflammation in equal measures via the amount of visceral fat tissue an individual carries. Therapies that are available and widely used to reduce blood cholesterol, such as statins, are shown to have anti-inflammatory effects. Therapies under development, such as delivery of the APOA1 protein that makes up the HDL particles responsible for dragging cholesterol out of vulnerable cells and transporting it to the liver, also have significant anti-inflammatory effects. You can probably see the challenge.
On the one hand, it doesn't seem completely unreasonable to mount the argument that lipid levels are a smokescreen, and we should be caring about chronic inflammation. We know that chronic inflammation is very damaging, and contributes to the progression of all of the common age-related diseases. When it comes to cardiovascular disease, and particularly atherosclerosis, it seems hard to write off a role for lipid levels in blood, however. Atherosclerosis is caused by oxidized lipids that overwhelm the cells sent to clean them up when they irritate blood vessel walls; the fatty deposits that narrow blood vessels are made up of lipids and dead cells. More lipids means more overwhelmed cells. Lower lipid levels means fewer oxidized lipids. But does that simple calculus hold up when looked at in detail? To answer that question, we need more data on highly effective therapies that are either anti-lipid or anti-inflammatory, but not both.
Inflammation, not Cholesterol, Is a Cause of Chronic Disease

= = =

our answer:

In our work

In vivo anti-atherogenic properties of cultured gilthead sea bream (Sparus aurata) polar lipid extracts in hypercholesterolaemic rabbits

we have shown that fish polar lipids do not affect significantly levels of LDL but increase levels of HDL and  reduce atherosclerotic lesions.

The diets employed led to significant increases (day 45 vs. day 0) in TC, LDL-C, HDL-C and TAG concentrations in animals of both groups (Table 1). TC, LDL-C and TAG levels did not exhibit significant differences between groups A and B by day 45. On the other hand, HDL-C levels exhibited significant increase in group B compared to group A by day 45 (p < 0.05) (Table 1).
Table 1. Basic plasma lipid profile in rabbits of both groups.

Time (days)A (n = 6)B (n = 6)
TC (mg/dl)062 ± 2066 ± 18
451906 ± 821a1555 ± 122a
LDL-C (mg/dl)019 ± 167 ± 5
451707 ± 742a1300 ± 126a
HDL-C (mg/dl)029 ± 430 ± 7
4582 ± 26a,b138 ± 30a,b
TAG (mg/dl)0141 ± 49146 ± 66
45652 ± 316a588 ± 141a
Results are expressed as mean ± SD.
A: atherogenic diet; B: atherogenic diet enriched with GSBPL.
Denotes statistical significance within same group (day 45 vs. 0; p < 0.05), according to the Wilcoxon test.
Denotes statistical significance between groups A and B (day 45; p < 0.05), according to the Mann–Whitney U-test.

Fig. 1. Representative optic micrographs × 100 of aortic wall sections stained with haematoxylin and eosin from the two experimental groups, where atherosclerotic lesions appear as foam cells (). (A) Group A (atherogenic diet); (B) Group B (atherogenic diet enriched with GSBPL).

We can thus suggest that it is NOT the cholesterol but the anti-inflammatory impact of fish lipids.
We have further studied that here.

Fish polar lipids retard atherosclerosis in rabbits by down-regulating PAF biosynthesis and up-regulating PAF catabolism