Holistic Health Analysis

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01
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Part
01

Epigenetics

Epigenetics is the study of DNA modifications that change the gene expression but do not affect the underlying DNA sequence. Epigenetic modifications are natural occurrences that are influenced by factors like heredity, age, diet, lifestyle, environment, exposure to pollutants, and the person's medical condition. The three common types of epigenetic modifications are DNA methylation, non-coding RNA-associated gene silencing, and histone modification. While the previous research on this topic dealt with the relationship between epigenetics and the immune system, the present research covers new knowledge on the subject of epigenetics that has been unearthed by researchers in recent years. New studies on the subject of epigenetics have found that drinking coffee and tea can boost epigenetic health, divergent epigenetic patterns cause human brain hemispheric asymmetry, epigenetic changes can cause liver diseases, adolescent exposure to cannabis impacts the epigenetic response to cocaine, and space travel affects gene expression and causes cognitive dysfunction. These findings are presented below in detail.

Drinking Coffee and Tea Can Boost Epigenetic Health

  • Preliminary research done by Mohsen Ghanbari and his colleagues at the Erasmus University Medical Center in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, has shown that coffee and tea consumption produces certain epigenetic modifications in the human body that lead to a host of health benefits.
  • The study evaluated the coffee and tea consumption patterns of 15,789 people of European and African-American ancestries from 15 separate epigenetic studies. The researchers searched for specific epigenetic markers and found a direct correlation between the consumption of coffee and tea and reduced risk of certain diseases, especially heart and liver diseases.
  • The research has shown that coffee and tea consumption is potentially linked with lower blood sugar, a sharper memory, enhanced liver health, protection against the development of dementia, and even longer lifespan. Coffee and tea have caffeine and other compounds that boost the mood and physical activity in humans.
  • The research has shown that coffee and tea produce epigenetic modifications through differential DNA methylation.
  • However, this was not the first research study that established the benefits of coffee and tea consumption. Earlier research had shown that coffee can reinforce DNA strands against breakage and even repair broken DNA strands through the process of DNA methylation. This can potentially affect gene expression related to Type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer's disease, and Parkinson's disease.

Divergent Epigenetic Patterns Cause Human Brain Hemispheric Asymmetry

  • A study conducted by Dr. Viviane Labrie and her colleagues at the Van Andel Institute, Michigan, has shown that epigenetic regulation is responsible for the hemispheric asymmetry in the human brain.
  • The study has uncovered one of the biggest mysteries in neuroscience: why people are differentiated as being either left-brained or right-brained. The researchers found that certain genes on either side of the brain are alternately switched between "on" and "off" states through epigenetic regulation.
  • To determine how hemispherical differences in DNA methylation affects neuron functions in the healthy brain and the brain affected by Parkinson's disease, the researchers mapped DNA methylation in neurons in 57 healthy individuals and 48 individuals suffering from Parkinson's disease. The team did not find any marked hemispherical asymmetry in the prefrontal cortices of the two subject groups. However, they found significant hemispherical asymmetry in DNA methylation in the cortical neurons in both subject groups.
  • The researchers concluded that the hemispherical asymmetry between the two sides of the brain may lead to epigenetic abnormalities that make the brain vulnerable to neurological diseases like Parkinson's. The progress of the disease leads to more advanced symptoms of degeneration in one side of the body compared to the other.
  • The findings allow scientists to investigate the symptom asymmetry in Parkinson's disease that affect immune function, brain cell development, and cellular communication. Dr. Labrie and her team have already started to research hemispherical asymmetry in other neurological diseases like Alzheimer's.

Epigenetic Changes Can Cause Liver Diseases

  • A study conducted by Dr. Johanna K. DiStefano and her colleagues at the Translational Genomics Research Institute in Phoenix, Arizona, has shown that epigenetic modifications like altered DNA methylation can lead to liver diseases.
  • Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) or fatty liver affects almost 30% of the population of the United States. Almost 10% of the NAFLD patients experience severity in their condition leading to inflammation, fibrosis, and even cirrhosis or liver cancer.
  • To proceed with the study, the team of researchers collected intraoperative liver wedge biopsies from Caucasian women and enrolled in the Geisinger Clinic Center for Nutrition and Weight Management. Then they compared the DNA methylation in these samples with samples from another control group with a history of obesity and liver cirrhosis problems. They wanted to determine the correlation of altered DNA methylation with liver diseases.
  • The team found different patterns of DNA methylation in both sets, specifically related to the genes involved in reactive nitrogen and reactive oxygen species production, which immune cells produce during liver inflammation. Even the genes involved in lipid metabolism showed different results between the two study groups.
  • The study proved that NAFLD alters the epigenetic regulation of gene expression. Cirrhosis is the advanced state of excessive epigenetic changes involved in lipid metabolism and liver inflammation.

Adolescent Exposure to Cannabis Impacts the Epigenetic Response to Cocaine

  • A joint study on rodents by researchers at the University of Cagliari in Italy and Columbia University has shown that adolescent exposure to cannabis impacts the epigenetic response increasing the sensitivity of the brain to subsequent cocaine exposure.
  • In the study, the researchers administered the synthetic psychoactive cannabinoid WIN to both adolescent and adult rats and monitored their brain functions. Then they administered cocaine to both sets of rats. They found that the brains of the adolescent rats produced molecular and epigenetic changes, which was absent in adult rats.
  • The results suggested that the pre-exposure to WIN caused a cocaine-induced histone hyperacetylation in the prefrontal cortices of the adolescent rats. This caused changes to chromatin accessibility in several genes that led to the sensitivity to subsequent cocaine exposure.
  • The study gave valuable insights to the researchers about how cannabis exposure during adolescence causes subsequent addiction to cocaine among vulnerable sections of the human population.

Space Travel Affects Gene Expression and Causes Cognitive Dysfunction

  • A study on rodents conducted by Dr. Janet E. Baulch and her colleagues at the University of California has shown that the radiations encountered during space travel affect gene expression, resulting in cognitive dysfunction in astronauts.
  • In the study, the researchers exposed a group of mice to the typical radiation encountered during space travel and subjected them to three behavioral tasks. Using the tasks, the researchers measured the cognitive functions in the hippocampus and perirhinal cortices of the mice.
  • After a study of one month, the researchers found that all irradiated mice, irrespective of their age and physical functions, showed significant cognitive dysfunction. This was caused by a change in the ADK protein levels in their hippocampus. The radiation had also changed their gene expression and DNA methylation.
  • The study helped the researchers to establish that space travel causes cognitive dysfunction and epigenetic aberrations. It also causes a change in oxidative stress levels leading to the degradation of neuronal architecture and neuroinflammation.
  • A similar experiment was also conducted by NASA in which they sent astronaut Scott Kelly to space, while his identical twin brother Mark remained on Earth. After spending one year in space, it was found that Scott's gene expression had changed by 7%, while there was no change in Mark's gene expression.

Research Strategy

For our research, we searched for non-peer-reviewed medical/health journals that present new findings and research in the field of epigenetics. Since this is a new field of study, the research around the subject is still in a nascent stage. While we searched exclusively for non-peer-reviewed journals, the scope of the research in such journals is very limited. Hence, we have expanded our search to include a few peer-reviewed medical journals that provide insights into new and interesting research in the field of epigenetics. We have presented five such interesting findings in the above research report.

Part
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Part
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Epigenetic Experts

The epigenetics experts based in the United States are Shelley Berger, Andrew Feinberg, Stephen Baylin, and Steven Jacobsen. They published numerous research papers in the field of epigenetics and are principal investigators in laboratories for epigenetics research.

Shelley L. Berger

Andrew P. Feinberg

Stephen B. Baylin

  • Stephen Baylin is the co-leader at the Epigenetics Dream Team at the Van Andel Institute. The website can be accessed here.
  • He is a professor at the Center for Epigenetics and was one of the pioneers in epigenetics. His work in cancer epigenetics inspired other investigators to start their research in this field. Stephen is considered to be a leader in epigenetics and his research is "the most frequently cited". He authored and co-authored numerous research papers in this field.
  • Stephen can be contacted at sbaylin@jhmi.edu or at 410-955-8506.

Steven E. Jacobsen


Part
03
of four
Part
03

Rubidium

While rubidium is a naturally occurring substance, it can only be isolated in the extraction of cesium and lithium. Major lithium manufacturers and users in Texas have been listed below. The impact of excess rubidium on the body

Where does Rubidium come from?

  • Naturally occurring rubidium is slightly radioactive. It is 30 times as plentiful as cesium and four times as abundant as lithium.
  • There is more rubidium in the earth's crust than copper, lead, or zinc. However, it forms no minerals of its own. It has been produced in small quantities as a byproduct of the processing of cesium and lithium ores. In fact, it can only be obtained as a byproduct of the extraction of either of these two metals.
  • Therefore, any manufacturer creating lithium or cesium is producing rubidium as a waste product.

Effect on the body

  • Researchers have determined that potassium and rubidium likely share a transport system. Therefore, "all plant and animal cells are permeable to rubidium and cesium ions at rates comparable with those of potassium."
  • The average concentration of rubidium is approximately 360 mg in an adult male. "Rubidium does not accumulate in any particular organ or tissue and usually is relatively low in bones." "
  • Researchers state that these results likely show that rubidium concentration in tissues reflects rubidium intake and that when rubidium is depleted, it affects mineral (sodium, potassium, phosphorus, calcium, magnesium, iron, zinc, and copper) status in the body.
  • Another research project found high-level exposure to lithium (highest 1000 microg/L), cesium (320 microg/L), rubidium (47 microg/L), and boron (5950 microg/L) via drinking water in the Andes of northern Argentina.
  • The conclusion made by the researchers was that there is an apparent risk of toxic effects of long-term exposure to several of the elements. They suggested further research.
  • There does not appear to be any research on Rubidium's effect on the immune system.
  • Manufacturers of rubidium published the following medical effects of the element.
    • "Effects of exposure: water-reactive. Moderately toxic by ingestion. If Rubidium ignites, it will cause thermal burns. Rubidium readily reacts with skin moisture to form rubidium hydroxide, which causes chemical burns of eyes and skin. Signs and symptoms of overexposure: skin and eye burns. Failure to gain weight, ataxia, hyper irritation, skin ulcers, and extreme nervousness. Medical condition aggravated by exposure: heart patients, potassium imbalance."

Locations in Texas

Past Use

  • The United States Geological Service has published a report on rubidium.
  • "From 1958 until about 1975, rubidium for the U.S. market was supplied largely from a stock of dry mixed alkali carbonates (trade-named Alkarb)".
  • This Rubidium was accumulated at a plant in San Antonio Texas, as a "byproduct of the extraction of lithium from imported lepidolite. It contained 20 to 25 percent rubidium carbonate."
  • The EPA has no record of the disposal of this waste, so it is unknown if it may be in the groundwater.

Current Use

Fiber Optic Cable

Lithium Batteries

Night Vision Goggles

Other Uses

  • Small amounts are used in "photoelectric cells, which are incorporated in a variety of electronic detection and activation devices."
  • A rubidium-cesium-antimony coating is usually used on "the photocathodes of photomultiplier tubes, which are used in radiation detection devices, medical imaging equipment, and night-vision devices."
  • Rubidium is also used as a "coating on the electrodes of thermionic converters, which convert heat energy to electrical energy."
Part
04
of four
Part
04

Immunity

Some examples of what health experts are sharing about boosting immunity and resilience, especially during COVID-19, include selenium supplementation, as well as the consumption of zinc, probiotics, garlic, elderberry, andrographis.

Selenium Supplementation

  • It is a fundamental nutrient and antioxidant for immune function that assists in improving the human body's resistance against cancer cells, bacteria, and viruses. Selenium is capable of safeguarding against specific flu virus strains.
  • Health experts have listed selenium as a key nutrient to consume to help boost one's immunity during the COVID-19 outbreak. Supplementation of selenium could deter the body's immune reaction away from Th2-type and towards Th1-type. The Th1-type shields the body against ailments such as viral infections, asthma, cancer, and allergic reactions.
  • Also, a selenium deficiency could disrupt one's immune system, leading to the progression of typically innocuous viral infections. Additionally, according to a report from Life Hacked, a single coronavirus variant that was isolated from the Hubei (selenium-deficient region of China) province, which is where the coronavirus outbreak is believed to have originated, "was more similar to human SARS-CoV-1 than the variant from a selenium-adequate region (Guangdong province)."
  • It is recommended that humans consume at least 55 mcg of selenium, however, clinical studies around the nutrient utilized doses of between 100-200 mcg per day.
  • Foods that contain sufficient selenium include Brazil nuts, tuna, shellfish (particularly oysters), lean pork chops, beef (skirt steak), lean chicken breast, firm tofu, whole-wheat pasta, shrimp, and shiitake mushrooms. There are numerous other vegetarian sources for selenium, such as egg noodles, low-fat Greek yogurt, kamut, granola (homemade), and oat bran.
  • Regarding other health issues, studies have shown selenium supplementation can have various positive effects on people struggling with respiratory viruses and HIV, while slowing the decline of lung function in smokers and enhancing the quality of life for children with asthma.

Zinc Consumption

  • Zinc, a mineral, is another means of accelerating immunity during the COVID-19 pandemic. It is capable of decreasing the frequency of infections, along with lessening both the severity and time of illnesses such as the common cold, depending on the time of consumption.
  • Zinc assists the body in developing proteins, while sustaining its sense of smell. Taking zinc supplements can also help in correcting micro-nutrient deficiency, hence improving immune resilience against the virus.
  • Foods that contain zinc include oysters, beef (chuck steak), chicken legs, firm tofu, lean pork chops, hemp seeds, lentils, low-fat yogurt, oatmeal, and shiitake mushrooms. Moreover, some vegetarian sources of zinc are wild rice, green peas, fortified cereals, pumpkin seeds, black beans, and quinoa.
  • According to Health Line, studies have indicated that zinc supplements have the potential to safeguard the body against certain respiratory tract infections (e.g., common cold). It is recommended that humans consume less than 40 mg of elemental zinc.

Probiotics

  • Another supplement/solution being touted by health experts to boost immunity and resilience, particularly during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, is probiotics.
  • Probiotics house what is often referred to as "good bacteria." These bacteria help to promote gut health and "populate the gut microbiome," while influencing both the regulation and functioning of the body's immune system. As between 70% to 80% of the body's immune system is positioned within the gut, probiotics are beneficial in improving one's immune system.
  • The probiotic strains that are the most effective for immunity include Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacterium lactic. An in-vitro study revealed that Lactobacillus can effectively stimulate "the expression of viral defense genes" and ultimately revitalize the immune system. Meanwhile, Bifidobacteria generates the short-chain fatty acid butyrate that promotes the functioning of cells.
  • According to Mind Green Body, colon studies have indicated that Bifidobacteria provides improved levels of natural immunity for subjects that took the specified probiotic.
  • Probiotics also have the capacity to potentially reduce the overall volume of respiratory infections, especially in young children.

Garlic

  • Garlic is another example of what health experts are encouraging individuals to consume to boost immunity and resilience, especially during COVID-19. Garlic typically possesses several compounds that are able to promote immunity. Aged garlic extract and fresh garlic, along with garlic supplements can diminish the severity of viral upper respiratory infections and aid in infection prevention for viruses that usually cause colds.
  • Additionally, garlic maintains exceptional antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties. Garlic helps to improve immune health via the stimulation of protective white blood cells (NK cells and macrophages).
  • Various studies have shown that some of garlic's active compounds, such as diallyl disulfide, allyl alcohol, and allicin, can protect the body against different bacteria, including staphylococcus aureus and salmonella.

Elderberry

  • Black elderberry is oftentimes used to treat certain infections, but it is being evaluated to analyze its impact on immune health. Studies have indicated that elderberry extract offers dynamic antiviral and antibacterial potential when combating against bacterial pathogens that cause strains of influenza and upper respiratory tract illnesses.
  • Furthermore, other studies have shown that elderberry advances the body's immune system response, and it could assist in reducing the severity and duration of colds. It could also diminish viral infection symptoms.
  • While elderberry contains vitamins and antioxidants that aid with immune-boosting regimens, it is recommended that those that have already been diagnosed with the coronavirus avoid taking it. That is because elderberry's immune-activating properties could lead to expanded "levels of IL-1B and/or IL-18 in infected immune cells," which could cause their illness to become more complex.
  • Usually, consumers can find elderberry supplements in marketplaces in either capsule or liquid form, according to Healthline.

Andrographis

  • Andrographis, a natural antiviral herb, possesses andrographolide. Andrographolide is a terpenoid compound that maintains antiviral effects against specific types of viruses that cause respiratory diseases.
  • It is also mentioned as a herb that contains immune-enhancing or "broad-spectrum antimicrobial effects." Dr. Hyman, a family physician who advocates, speaks, and educations on the topic of functional medicine, includes it in his list of herbs, vitamins, and minerals that can serve as supplements for immune function.
  • It has the potential to offer resilience and be combative against the viruses that lead to respiratory ailments like influenza A and enterovirus D68.
Sources
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