Thursday, 28 June 2018

Why inflammation rather than cholesterol causes chronic disease

here is our latest article in RTE Brainstorm

Why inflammation rather than cholesterol causes chronic disease

4 points to remember: 

1.Mediterranean Diet 

2. walk/run/cycle/swim 

3. forget statins and 

4. try this test 

This test calculates your life expectancy and how long you'll stay healthy. We send you personalized recommendations for getting the most good years out of life. We keep your submissions and results private

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Enjoy the Sun and don't forget to...
make your grocer your pharmacist (every day)!

"It is now well established that healthy dietary patterns, such as the Mediterranean diet, are associated with reduced risk of various chronic diseases by reducing inflammation towards homeostasis" Photo: iStock

Tam Fry (Chairman of the UK's National Obesity Forum): “It’s an absolute travesty"

the travesty is this : the new measures to halve childhood obesity by 2030 as announced by UK government.

They include proposals to counter ‘pester power’ by preventing stores from displaying unhealthy food at checkouts or including it in buy-one-get-one-free deals, as well as a consultation on introducing clear, consistent calorie labelling on menus in restaurants, cafés and takeaways.
The Government is calling on industry to recognise the harm that adverts for foods high in fat, sugar and salt can cause.

The guidelines are too little and too weak...

Something more drastic is urgently needed!  
and it starts with E!


If we don't start educating young people about healthy eating and diets, then these trends will continue to rise and rise...

BMI (in Ireland as opposed to the world)

Biosynthesis of n-3 fatty acids in Nile tilapia


n-3 essential fatty acids in Nile tilapia, Oreochromis niloticus: Bioconverting LNA to DHA is relatively efficient and the LC-PUFA biosynthetic pathway is substrate limited in juvenile fish

This paper is an excellent study on the biosynthesis of n-3 fatty acids  inn Nile tilapia and gives us some insight how we could enhance this anabolism of fatty acids with the view to improve cardioprotective properties.

Wednesday, 27 June 2018

FLIPS research: salmon lipids

with Francesca in PESS @ UL
Our postprandial study is on day 3. This morning it's Francesca with myself having the "magic capsule" (or a placebo). It's a double blind study so we will not know anything for few weeks more.
A big thank you to our nurse, Elaine, and to our great volunteers!

Monday, 25 June 2018

the impact of marine fish to n-3 fatty acids in human plasma lipids

Fig. 1. Detection of different lipid classes in three mass spectrometer scanning modes. (A) Phosphatidylcholine (PC), lyso PC (LPC), PC ether (PCO) and sphingomyelin (SM) species were detected using a precursor ion scan for m/z 184. (B) Phosphatidylethanolamine (PE), lyso PE (LPE) and PE ether (PEO) species were detected via neutral loss of the PE head group, m/z 141. (C) Following solid phase extraction, triacylglycerols (TAG) and cholesteryl esters (CE) were detected in enhanced mass spectrum mode free of phospholipid interference.



Selective enrichment of n-3 fatty acids in human plasma lipid motifs following intake of marine fish

Plasma levels of n-3 long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LCPUFA) are associated with a reduction in risk of cardiovascular disease and other chronic, age-related diseases like Alzheimer's disease. In this work, we tested the hypothesis that n-3 LCPUFA fatty acids in human plasma are incorporated into selective lipid species following intake of n-3 LCPUFA rich marine fish. To test this hypothesis, we performed lipidomic analysis on plasma samples from a clinical trial in which participants consumed increasing amounts of farmed Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar). Under basal conditions, n-3 and n-6 LCPUFA were selectively incorporated into plasma phosphatidylcholine (PC) species containing saturated fatty acids (SFA) versus unsaturated fatty acids as the complementary fatty acids. LCPUFA were incorporated into selective triacylglycerol (TAG) species with complementary diacylglyceryl environments of 34:1 or 34:2 (for 20:5 and 22:5) and 36:2>36:3>36:4 and 36:1 (for 20:4 and 22:6). High n-3 LCPUFA marine fish intake resulted in selective increases of PC SFA_n-3 LCPUFA species and LCPUFA-containing TAG species. Changes in cholesteryl esters and phosphatidylethanolamines also occurred following fish intake. Our results highlight the importance of discriminating phospholipid and TAG species and dietary background when evaluating lipidomic outcomes and disease associations.

Wednesday, 20 June 2018

18/06/2018: Inflammation, not cholesterol, is a cause of chronic disease

my new op-ed article in International Aquafeed

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by Ioannis Zabetakis

Since the Seven Countries Study, dietary cholesterol and the levels of serum cholesterol in relation to the development of chronic diseases have been somewhat demonised.

However, the principles of the Mediterranean diet and relevant data linked to the examples of people living in the five blue zones demonstrate that the key to longevity, and the prevention of chronic disease development is not the reduction of dietary or serum cholesterol but the control of systemic inflammation.

Cholesterol levels: Demonising a risk factor but not the causative mechanisms of chronic diseases
According to the ‘cholesterol hypothesis’, high blood cholesterol is a major risk factor, while lowering cholesterol levels can reduce risk. Dyslipidaemias (i.e., hypercholesterolaemia or hyperlipidaemia) are abnormalities of lipid metabolism characterised by increased circulating levels of serum total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, triglycerides, and decreased levels of serum HDL cholesterol.

High levels of LDL cholesterol and non-HDL cholesterol have been associated with cardiovascular risk, while other cholesterol-related serum markers have been proposed as additional significant biomarkers for CVD risk factors to add to the standard lipid profile. HDL cholesterol has been considered as the atheroprotective ‘good’ cholesterol because of its strong inverse correlation with the progression of CVD.

Dyslipidaemias have been ranked as significant modifiable risk factors contributing to prevalence and severity of several chronic diseases including aging, hypertension, diabetes, and CVD. High serum levels of these lipids have been associated with an increased risk of developing atherosclerosis.

Dietary and medical guidelines (i.e. use of statins) have focused on the reduction of cholesterol and lipid levels as the best way to prevent chronic diseases such as CVD. Statins are used in order to reduce the levels of cholesterol; however, numerous side effects have been reported, including the development of other chronic diseases such as diabetes mellitus.

Moreover, specific dietary strategies for reducing cholesterol intake are the mainstay of management in most cases of dyslipidaemia, prior to, or simultaneously with, the initiation of a lipid lowering agent. Dietary fats, cholesterol, and the levels of serum cholesterol in relation to the development of CVD have been somewhat demonised.

Read the full article, HERE.

Thursday, 14 June 2018

shelf life and raw materials in Aquaculture

How can we modify raw materials (i.e. include novel oil sources, like olive pomace) in order to improve shelf life of fish?

here is an interesting paper

Impact of dietary oil source on the shelf-life of gilthead seabream (Sparus aurata)

 the authors conclude that...

"Despite the differences among groups observed in psychrophilic and Pseudomonas counts and in some sensory attributes, shelf life was equal for both groups."

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 In a similar paper on pork, 

Olive Pomace in Diet Limits Lipid Peroxidation of Sausages from Cinta Senese Swine

OP have protected sausages against cholesterol oxidation, thus limiting the production of COPs (α‐hydroxycholesterol, α‐epoxycholesterol, and 7‐ketocholesterol). The most probable mechanism is attributable to electron or H+ donor properties of polyphenols contained in olive pomace. 

on the nutritional value of fermented goat milk

Author affiliations


In spite of the crucial role of the inflammatory state under anemic conditions, to date, no studies have directly tested the modulation of cytokines during iron overload. The aim of this work was to contribute to a better understanding of the pathophysiology and recovery from iron deficiency, by studying how fermented goat milk consumption affects inflammatory signalling during iron repletion. Eighty male Wistar rats were used for a pre-experimental period of 40 days, by dividing them into two groups (the control group receiving a normal-Fe diet and the Fe-deficient group receiving a low-Fe diet). Later, the rats were fed with a fermented goat or cow milk-based diet, with a normal-Fe content or Fe-overload (450 mg kg−1) for 30 days. After feeding the fermented milk, the anti-inflammatory and pro-inflammatory cytokines were assessed. The anti-inflammatory cytokines (IL-13, IL-10 and IL-4) were higher in both groups of animals (control and anemic) fed fermented goat milk either with normal Fe or Fe-overload with respect to the fermented cow milk. With regard to pro-inflammatory signalling, fermented goat milk consumption decreased the pro-inflammatory cytokines (IL-2, TNF-α, IL-1β, IL-12p70 and IP-10). The Fe overload increased the anti-inflammatory cytokines together with IL-1β and IP-10. Fermented goat milk consumption improves the hematological status and promotes the beneficial metabolic responses related to the inflammatory signaling in nutritional ferropenic anemia recovery, which may be a dietary strategy to lessen the evoked inflammation during iron repletion. Additionally, the parameters of inflammation should therefore be incorporated as routine biomarkers of iron deficiency or overload severity.

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further reading

Evaluation of the in vitro anti-atherogenic activities of goat milk and goat dairy products

In vitro anti-atherogenic properties of traditional Greek cheese lipid fractions

Dairy Fats and Cardiovascular Disease: Do We Really Need to Be Concerned?

Tuesday, 12 June 2018

the financial benefit of having a better diet

Did you know that the average US adult shows about 60 percent adherence to the HEI so a relative increase by 20 percent shows the country could save $30-47 billion in health-related costs annually?
Hike up that percentage to 80 percent and the annual savings jump to $52-82 billion.

[you can read the full story here]

What is HEI though?

Healthy Eating Index (HEI) and the Mediterranean-style diet (MED) score are
numbers that show how well we follow healthy eating patterns.

Message for politicians... improve people's diets so you can save money!

Message for us: eat better so you live better! Quality of life is PRECIOUS! beyond any numbers!


12th June 1903 - Marie Skłodowska-Curie

On this day in 1903, Marie Skłodowska-Curie defended her doctoral thesis on radioactive substances at Université de la Sorbonne in Paris, thus becoming the first woman in France to receive a doctoral degree.

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Monday, 11 June 2018

Breast cancer and Platelet Activating Factor

The molecule we study in our lab, Platelet Activating Factor (PAF), is involved in a plethora of inflammation related diseases, ranging from CVDs to cancer.

Here is a recent paper on cancer and PAF.


In the present study, it was revealed that the upregulation of PTAFR was associated with an increased incidence of bone metastases. It was also revealed that PAF significantly enhanced the processes of BC cell migration and BC mediated osteoclastogenesis. These results suggest that PAF serves a promotion role in BC bone metastases. It was further demonstrated that the natural PAF antagonist Kadsurenone may effectively attenuate each process by partially blocking the PAF/PTAFR signaling pathway. Therefore, targeting PAF/PTAFR by Kadsurenone may be a promising treatment strategy for BC bone metastases.

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and what is the best and most natural way to inhibit PAF?


Friday, 8 June 2018

Obesity is a political problem

There is an increasing number of data that obesity is a social and political problem.
If you are educated and well paid, you would never buy this bread.
But, if your income is low, then your options are limited...
The only way round this is to Educate young people! Governments need to set up specific initiatives in schools. The younger the students we teach about healthy diet, the better for their future.


related reading
SciFest project of St Munchin's College year1 students
Our volunteers have low consumption of fruits and vegetables (61% consume < 2 portions of fruit per day whereas 50% consume <2 portions of vegetable per day). The monitoring of their body fat and BMI was conducted using a Tanita body analyser in the University of Limerick and we found that the boys who exercise regularly have a mean BMI of 20 whereas the boys who exercise less  have an average BMI of  27.

A clear correlation between lifestyle choices and BMI was found. These results highlight the value of adhering to dietary guidelines of Irish Food and the Mediterranean diet Pyramids.

Thursday, 7 June 2018

food against medicines

Today, people are getting fatter and less healthy. In an era of abundant food and information on diets, people tend to eat less healthy food and have a passive lifestyle. This combination leads to obesity and chronic diseases. By the age of 30, we are overweight or even obese and by the age of 60, most of us we are on statins.
What are we doing wrong?
What can we do to improve the quality of OUR lives?
Here are some clues, clues that we hope to be useful for medical doctors, dieticians, nutritionists and students studying any part of bio-sciences. Let this book be a catalyst against medication but towards a healthier diet and lifestyle. We own it to ourselves and to our kids!

Tuesday, 5 June 2018

Milk Fat Globule in Ruminant (a review on its activities)

Venn diagram depicting numbers of MFGM proteins reported in cows, ewes, and goats (intersection list), or specifically reported in two or one species. The lists of 1095 MFGM proteins from ewes, 1012 from cows, and 520 from goats were collected from the Supporting Information from Refs. 20-22, respectively. All identifiers were homogenized and converted into “Gene Name” with UniProt database search engine to generate an atlas of proteins present in ruminant milk. The data mining was done using 1085, 970, and 487 gene names from ewe, cow, and goat, respectively.

This review provides an overview of the different components of the milk fat fraction in ruminant species and on nutritional strategies to alter their amounts to improve the nutritional quality of milk. Furthermore, this review presents recent data on species peculiarities of the milk fat fraction composition and of its response to nutritional factors, which offers a promising model to identify news levers of regulation of this fraction and foster the identification of new feeding strategies to better control milk fat composition and feed efficiency.

The peculiarities of the response of the milk fat to diets that induce a milk fat depression in cows but in lesser extent in small ruminants are described. The potential effects of polar lipids, proteins, and liposoluble vitamins of the MFG on human health are reviewed, highlighting the nutraceutical properties of milk. 

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This paper provides some valuable insight in enriching milk lipids with plant-origin lipids. 
Table 2 is of particular interest.
It's good to see that polar lipids are mentioned.


Friday, 1 June 2018

The Salmon Polar Lipids of Knowledge

Long ago when Fionn mac Cumhaill, the great leader of the Fianna of Ireland, was still a young boy he was sent to live with a very wise man named Finnegas. Finnegas was a poet who lived on the banks of the river Boyne and was renowned throughout Ireland for his vast knowledge.
As well as being renowned for his skills in composing and reciting poetry Finnegas knew more about the ways of the world, including the secrets of the birds and animals and plants and stars, than any other man in Ireland.

It was because of his vast knowledge that Fionn had been sent to learn from Finnegas. Fionn loved to listen to the old man’s wonderful stories and his many words of wisdom which he too, in time, would learn to recite. In exchange for the wisdom Finnegas would pass on to him Fionn would help about the house, cooking, cleaning and fishing for the old man.

[you can read the rest of the story here]

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under way with the precious support of Elaine

today, it was a great day in the lab; we did a trial run for the postprandial study that is under way in UL. The data are really exciting!

Salmon Polar Lipids do have some secrets against inflammation and cardiovascular diseases.

Watch this space and eat your salmon! It is really good for your heart!


p.s. if you want to take part in our study, please drop me a line 😊