Wednesday, 24 June 2020

New paper from our group

Let me share some thoughts before introducing this new paper.
Over the past 15 years, we have been working on the anti-thrombotic properties of polar lipids in foods (marine, fermented dairy, plant-origin).
We have detected in vitro (published) , in vivo (published) and ex vivo (patent pending) strong activities of polar lipids against platelet aggregation and thrombosis, which are the first steps of the formation of atheromatic plaque.
Over the last few years, we have shifted this work towards the structure-function relationship of these lipids: i.e. why neutral omega-3 do not work but polar lipids work? Structural work has helped us understanding the functional properties of these polar lipids and how they are linked to specific molecular moieties.

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Yesterday, our latest paper was published; it's our second paper on ovine (sheep) yoghurt and our first joint paper (many more to come) with the group of Dr Raymond Thomas in Memorial Uni, Newfoundland, Canada.

Yoghurt fermentation alters the composition and antiplatelet properties of milk polar lipids


Dairy polar lipids (PL) seem to exhibit antiplatelet effects. However, it is not known what molecular species may be responsible. In this study, we confirmed using C30 reversed-phase (C30RP) ultra-high-performance liquid chromatography (UHPLC) coupled to high resolution accurate mass tandem mass spectrometry (HRAM-MS/MS) that fermentation of yoghurts from ovine milk using specific starter cultures altered the PL composition. These lipid alterations occurred concomitant with increased antithrombotic properties of the yoghurts PL fractions against platelet-activating factor (PAF) and thrombin-induced platelet aggregation. Specifically, elevation in phosphatidylethanolamine (PE), sphingomyelin (SM), phosphatidylcholine (PC) and their molecular species were observed following yoghurt fermentation. Furthermore, PC(18:0/18:1), PE(18:1/18:2), SM(d18:0/22:0) and several other molecular species were significantly inversely correlated with the inhibition of PAF and thrombin. These molecular species were abundant in the most bioactive yoghurts fermented by S. thermophilus and L. acidophilus, which suggest that fermentation by these microorganisms increases the antithrombotic properties of ovine milk PL.


cardiovascular disease
functional foods

Monday, 22 June 2020

webinar on "Functional Foods and The Immune System" : July 3, 2020

on the roots of obesity in Ireland

In 2018, three boys in St Munchins College, Limerick, they developed this project:

"The Impact of Diet and Exercise on BMI in Secondary Students in Ireland"

Darragh, Rory and Nathaniel @ the Department of Biological Sciences, UL
They screened diet and lifestyle habits in year 1 boys of St Munchins College, Limerick by using a questionnaire.  From advice from the SciFest judges in May 2018 (bronze medal in their category), they also conducted a survey on present Transition years.

They then chose 20 volunteers from their survey from first years and transition year and investigated the body composition indicating their weight, Fat % , Fat Mass , Fat Free Mass, Muscle Mass, Total body water (TBW), TBW%, BMI, Desirable range fat%.

The monitoring of their body fat and BMI was conducted using a Tanita body analyser in the University of Limerick and they found that the boys who exercise regularly had a  lower  BMI  whereas the boys who exercise less had a higher BMI.

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.  This study is the first of this type in Ireland and we hope that it will bring a new insight on the origins of obesity of young people in Ireland.

In orange, the control groups (no exercise) and in blue the groups of boys who exercise regularly.

In orange the control groups and in blue the boys who exercise regularly. Clear differences were observed between the control and exercise groups.

"Our volunteers from our first year group 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 21.8 whereas the boys who exercise less  have an average BMI of  26.5 (overweight region).

We found similar results  from our Transition year students the average BMI for TY students who do sport was 21.8(healthy range) while the overall BMI for TY students who don’t do sport was 26.5(overweight region).

The fat content data follow similar trends for both years and both groups.

This is solid proof that exercise lowers BMI.

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.

We suggest: 1)  the vending machines in schools to offer healthy options(e.g  fruit bars and fruits /protein bars) and 2) to create a newsletter, promoting Mediterranean Diet and exercise, to be circulated in our school " 

[The lads were Dublin Finalists in January 2019, BTYS and they presented their project in UL, in May 2019]

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Few days ago, this paper was published: 
 The following figure (fig 1 in the paper) is from this paper.

Obesity as per social class group

According to the authors
"Figure 1 illustrates the proportion of Irish children who
had overweight or obesity based on their social class group
in 2019. A significant difference in overweight/obesity
levels based on social class group was apparent (P = 0·02).
Those from the highest social class had the lowest overall
prevalence of overweight/obesity at 13 %, in comparison
with those from the lowest social class who had the highest
prevalence at 25 %. The same pattern was observed for
abdominal overweight/obesity as the proportion of children
with a WC ≥ 85th percentile was significantly higher in the
lowest social class group at 36 % in comparison with 20%
in the highest social class group (P = 0·006)"

"Health inequalities resulting from social class have
been labelled as one of the main drivers of the obesity epidemic(
35). Prevalence of overweight and obesity in children
in Ireland was starkly different based on social class in
2019. Levels rose steadily from 13 % in children from the
highest social class group to 25 % in those from the lowest,
with a comparable pattern observed for abdominal
overweight/obesity. Similarly, it has been reported that a
higher proportion of children attending disadvantaged
schools had overweight/obesity compared with those
attending non-disadvantaged schools(36). Furthermore,
inequalities in overweight/obesity prevalence have also
been described in American and British children(37,38).
These findings highlight the continued widening gap in
overweight and obesity levels based on social class in
children, with those from a lower social class being more
predisposed to this disease.

In comparison with overweight and obesity, children
with morbid obesity are three times more likely to experience
immediate health issues such as worsened cardiometabolic
risk profiles, high blood pressure, and suffer from
depression and anxiety(39–42). In 2019, 1·2 % of children
had morbid obesity, with a slightly higher level of morbid
obesity observed in boys at 1·7 % than girls at 0·7 %.
Moreover, a higher prevalence was observed in children
from a low socio-economic background. A similar level
of morbid obesity was found in the COSI at 1·5 % in
2012/2015 with higher rates occurring in children attending
disadvantaged schools(43). Across Europe, a recent assessment
of the prevalence of morbid obesity found that of
the children who had obesity, at least one in four had
morbid obesity, with the highest rates observed in
Southern Europe(44)."

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Points arising:
1. how do schools tackle the problem of adolescent obesity? Are they any "healthy eating" initiatives in place? Newsletter? Quality of food provided in canteens?
2. how do councils approach the societal gaps in relation to nutrition and obesity?
3. does the Irish Food Pyramid need updating? We believe it does.
But how do the competent authorities approach this problem?

Friday, 19 June 2020

Special Issue "From Farm to Fork: Balancing the Needs for Sustainable Food Production and Food for Health Promotion"

Special Issue "From Farm to Fork: Balancing the Needs for Sustainable Food Production and Food for Health Promotion"

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050). This special issue belongs to the section "Sustainable Food".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 15 March 2021.

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Dear Colleagues,

The current and future sustainability of humanity is intrinsically linked to the environmental and biophysical conditions on our planet. There is a widespread belief that these conditions are greatly compromised by anthropogenic activity and that, unless action is taken, irreversible change will be unavoidable. Alongside these challenges is a growing human population and the need for sufficient and nutritional food. Although recent international initiatives such as the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and associated 17 Sustainable Development Goals recognize these challenges significant information gaps remain. In particular, there is an ever-growing need to balance the interdependencies and conflicts between economic, social and environmental systems so that sustainability across local and global scales and overall food security can be realized.

This special issue will address these issues and seeks contributions from colleagues interested in sustainable food production from economic, social and environmental perspectives as well as health promotion. Contributions which address synergies and conflicts between these issues are especially welcome. This special issue aims to publish high quality research papers and reviews that will be of interest to scientists, policy makers, educators and stakeholders across the full spectrum of farm to fork for sustainable food production and health promotion.

Kind Regards,

Dr. Ken Byrne

Dr. Ioannis Zabetakis
Guest Editors

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Dr. Ken Byrne 
Leading Guest Editor
Department of Biological Sciences, University of Limerick, Limerick V94 T9PX, Ireland
Interests: the impact of land use; land use change on soil carbon stocks and greenhouse gas emissions; carbon storage in harvested wood products; forest ecosystem services; nutrient stores in forest biomass

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Dr. Ioannis Zabetakis  
Assistant Guest Editor
Department of Biological Science, University of Limerick, Ireland.
Interests: Food Security; Functional Foods and Inflammation; Heavy metals in the Food Chain

Friday, 12 June 2020

Omega‐3 fatty acids for the primary and secondary prevention of cardiovascular disease

Do n-3 fatty acids work against CVDs?

Is it correct to promote daily intake of n-3 at 250mg/day ? as in here, table 1.

Probably not!

here is the latest etiology against n-3.  

Omega‐3 fatty acids for the primary and secondary prevention of cardiovascular disease

Authors' conclusions

This is the most extensive systematic assessment of effects of omega‐3 fats on cardiovascular health to date. Moderate‐ and low‐certainty evidence suggests that increasing LCn3 slightly reduces risk of coronary heart disease mortality and events, and reduces serum triglycerides (evidence mainly from supplement trials). Increasing ALA slightly reduces risk of cardiovascular events and arrhythmia.