Life Extension Magazine®
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In the News: Sleep Boost

Sleep enhances immunity; low vitamin D linked to lower-back pain; olive oil lowers heart disease risk; spices inhibit post-meal inflammation.

Sleep is Important for the Immune System


Getting adequate sleep is important for well-being and health in many ways. Recently, a major international, interdisciplinary workshop sponsored by the National Institutes of Health highlighted the importance of sleep for regulating the immune system. A summary of the workshop was published in JCI Insight.*

Lack of sleep has been associated with an increased vulnerability to infection, reduced antibody titers (a measurement of the level of antibodies in the blood) after vaccination, and reduced lifespan.

Sleep deprivation has been shown to reduce the efficacy of the flu vaccine. And animal studies have demonstrated that sleep is connected to the body’s ability to resist infection.

Studies have revealed that sleep deprivation impairs the function of natural killer cells (part of the innate immune system). Lack of sleep also disrupts the circadian rhythm, which encourages inflammation and functional immunocompromise, making organisms more vulnerable to disease.

Editor’s Note: The authors concluded that, “While connections to adaptive immunity and neuroinflammatory reflexes represent some highly opportune areas for study in the present, there are many areas of disease physiology for which the insights of circadian and sleep biology have yet to be considered.”

* JCI Insight. 2020 Jan 16; 5(1): e131487.

Low Vitamin D Linked to Lower-Back Pain in Postmenopausal Women


A retrospective study reported in Menopause, the Journal of The North American Menopause Society, uncovered an association between deficient levels of vitamin D and disc degeneration, with resulting lower-back pain, in postmenopausal women.*

Researchers evaluated data concerning lumbar disc degeneration, serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels, and markers of bone turnover in 232 postmenopausal women.

Vitamin D levels of more than 30 ng/mL, categorized as normal, were present in 12.5% of the subjects, and severely deficient levels of less than 10 ng/mL were found in 12.9%.

Women who were severely deficient in vitamin D had higher scores for low-back pain and lower bone-mineral-density scores than the remainder of the participants. Decreased vitamin D levels were associated with increasing severity of disc degeneration.

Editor’s Note: “Smoking, severe vitamin D deficiency, lack of vitamin D supplementation, high body-mass index, and osteoporosis are associated with a higher prevalence of moderate to severe pain,” the authors concluded.

* Menopause. 2020 May;27(5):586-592.

Eating More Olive Oil May Lower Heart Disease Risk


Higher consumption of olive oil is associated with a lower risk of heart disease, according to a study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.*

The study included more than 61,000 women from the Nurse’s Health Study and over 31,000 men from the Health Professionals Follow-up Study. Both studies lasted 24 years, and people completed food-frequency questionnaires at the beginning of the study, and every four years thereafter.

The results showed that people with a higher intake of olive oil had a 14% lower risk of cardiovascular disease and an 18% lower risk of coronary heart disease, compared to those who consumed less.

Higher intake was defined as greater than 0.5 tablespoons (or greater than 7 grams) per day. In addition, replacing just 5 grams per day of margarine, butter, mayonnaise, or dairy fat, with an equivalent amount of olive oil, was associated with a 5% lower risk of cardiovascular disease, and a 7% lower risk of coronary heart disease.

Editor’s Note: Potent antioxidant compounds called polyphenols contribute many of olive oil’s beneficial effects.

* J Am Coll Cardiol. 2020 Apr 21;75(15):1729-1739.

Adding Spices to Meals May Benefit Health


A recent study published in The Journal of Nutrition suggests that people may be able to lower post-meal inflammation by spicing up the food.*

In a crossover study, overweight men with risk factors for cardiovascular disease were provided with a high-fat, high-carbohydrate meal, with or without the addition of two grams or six grams of a mixture of basil, bay leaf, black pepper, cinnamon, coriander, cumin, ginger, oregano, parsley, red pepper, rosemary, thyme and turmeric. The experiment was repeated on two following days in which the administration of the meal/spice combinations were rotated among the participants to enable each to receive all three combinations during the study.

Blood samples collected prior to and hourly for four hours after the meal were analyzed for factors relating to inflammation. Four hours after consumption, the meal that contained six grams of the spices was associated with a reduction in the secretion of a proinflammatory cytokine known as interleukin-1beta.

Editor’s Note: Postprandial proinflammatory cytokine secretion, which describes the increase in inflammatory factors that occurs after consuming a high-fat or high-carbohydrate meal, is associated with an elevated risk of cardiovascular disease.

* J Nutr. 2020 Jun 1;150(6):1600-9.