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Eating too much protein is bad for your arteries, and this amino acid is to blame

Consuming over 22% of dietary calories from protein can lead to increased activation of immune cells that play a role in atherosclerotic plaque formation, driving the disease risk.

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University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine researchers discovered a molecular mechanism by which excessive dietary protein could increase atherosclerosis risk. The findings were published in Nature Metabolism.

The study, which combined small human trials with experiments in mice and cells in a Petri dish, showed that consuming over 22% of dietary calories from protein can lead to increased activation of immune cells that play a role in atherosclerotic plaque formation, driving the disease risk. Furthermore, the scientists showed that one amino acid – leucine – seems to have a disproportionate role in driving the pathological pathways linked to atherosclerosis, or stiff, hardened arteries.

“Our study shows that dialing up your protein intake in pursuit of better metabolic health is not a panacea. You could be doing real damage to your arteries,” said senior and co-corresponding author Babak Razani, M.D., Ph.D., professor of cardiology at Pitt. “Our hope is that this research starts a conversation about ways of modifying diets in a precise manner that can influence body function at a molecular level and dampen disease risks.”

According to a survey of an average American diet over the last decade, Americans generally consume a lot of protein, mostly from animal sources. Further, nearly a quarter of the population receives over 22% of all daily calories from protein alone.

That trend is likely driven by the popular idea that dietary protein is essential to healthy living, says Razani. But his and other groups have shown that overreliance on protein may not be such a good thing for long-term health.

Following their 2020 research, in which Razani’s laboratory first showed that excess dietary protein increases atherosclerosis risk in mice, his next study in collaboration with Bettina Mittendorfer, Ph.D., a metabolism expert at the University of Missouri, Columbia, delved deeper into the potential mechanism and its relevance to the human body.

To arrive at the answer, Razani’s laboratory, led by first-authors Xiangyu Zhang, Ph.D., and Divya Kapoor, M.D., teamed up with Mittendorfer’s group to combine their expertise in cellular biology and metabolism and perform a series of experiments across various models – from cells to mice to humans.

“We have shown in our mechanistic studies that amino acids, which are really the building blocks of the protein, can trigger disease through specific signaling mechanisms and then also alter the metabolism of these cells,” Mittendorfer said. “For instance, small immune cells in the vasculature called macrophages can trigger the development of atherosclerosis.”

Based on initial experiments in healthy human subjects to determine the timeline of immune cell activation following ingestion of protein-enriched meals, the researchers simulated similar conditions in mice and in human macrophages, immune cells that are shown to be particularly sensitive to amino acids derived from protein.

Their work showed that consuming more than 22% of daily dietary calories through protein can negatively affect macrophages that are responsible for clearing out cellular debris, leading to the accumulation of a “graveyard” of those cells inside the vessel walls and worsening of atherosclerotic plaques overtime. Interestingly, the analysis of circulating amino acids showed that leucine – an amino acid enriched in animal-derived foods like beef, eggs and milk – is primarily responsible for abnormal macrophage activation and atherosclerosis risk, suggesting a potential avenue for further research on personalized diet modification, or “precision nutrition.”

Razani is careful to note that many questions remain to be answered, mainly: What happens when a person consumes between 15% of daily calories from protein as recommended by the USDA and 22% of daily calories from protein, and if there is a ‘sweet spot’ for maximizing the benefits of protein – such as muscle gain – while avoiding kick-starting a molecular cascade of damaging events leading to cardiovascular disease.

The findings are particularly relevant in hospital settings, where nutritionists often recommend protein-rich foods for the sickest patients to preserve muscle mass and strength.

“Perhaps blindly increasing protein load is wrong,” Razani said. “Instead, it’s important to look at the diet as a whole and suggest balanced meals that won’t inadvertently exacerbate cardiovascular conditions, especially in people at risk of heart disease and vessel disorders.”

Razani also notes that these findings suggest differences in leucine levels between diets enriched in plant and animal protein might explain the differences in their effect on cardiovascular and metabolic health. “The potential for this type of mechanistic research to inform future dietary guidelines is quite exciting,” he said.

Additional authors of the study are Yu-Sheng Yeh, Ph.D., also from Pitt; Alan Fappi, Ph.D. and Vasavi Shabrish, Ph.D., both of the University of Missouri, Columbia; Se-Jin Jeong, Ph.D., Jeremiah Stitham, M.D., Ph.D., Ismail Sergin, Ph.D., Eman Yousif, M.D., Astrid Rodriguez-Velez, Ph.D., Arick Park, M.D., Ph.D., Joel Schilling, M.D., Ph.D., Marco Sardiello, Ph.D., Abhinav Diwan, M.D., Nathan Stitziel, M.D., Ph.D., Ali Javaheri, M.D., Ph.D., Irfan Lodhi, Ph.D., and Jaehyung Cho, Ph.D., all of Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis; Arif Yurdagul Jr, Ph.D., and Oren Rom, Ph.D., both of the Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center; and Slava Epelman, M.D., Ph.D., of the University of Toronto.

A registered nurse, “Ching” – as many fondly call Rachelle Grace – believes that a holistic approach to health and wellness is what everyone should aim for. She is, therefore, always on the lookout for what could help achieve this. And yes, she shares them openly, believing “knowledge about what works won’t be much use if it’s not known by as many as possible”.

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Pru Life UK empowers communities with learning sessions on financial management, mental health

Organized in partnership with the Mandaluyong City government represented by Councilor Leslie Cruz and Rotary Clubs of Mandaluyong-Biyaya and Mandaluyong East, the session also covered best practices and tips on livelihood and how the residents can be entrepreneurs.

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Life insurance company Pru Life UK equipped Mandaluyong residents, mostly women and solo parents, with financial management and mental health tips aligned with the company’s commitment to driving up financial awareness, literacy, and inclusion in communities.

Psychologist Marika Melgar and Pru Life UK Branch Manager Jovelyn Tungcul-Torres led the session, sharing their expertise on mental health and tips on how families can efficiently manage their finances. They highlighted the connection between mental health and finances – how mental state can influence financial decisions and vice versa.

Organized in partnership with the Mandaluyong City government represented by Councilor Leslie Cruz and Rotary Clubs of Mandaluyong-Biyaya and Mandaluyong East, the session also covered best practices and tips on livelihood and how the residents can be entrepreneurs.

Through these community learning sessions, we want to help more Filipino families, especially those from underprivileged backgrounds, manage and protect their finances. We also include mental health and livelihood topics to help build long-term resilience in communities. These learning sessions are part of our commitment to being the most trusted partners and protectors of many Filipino families,” shares Maricel Estavillo, Pru Life UK VP for Government Relations & Sustainability.

We are grateful to our like-minded partners from the government and community-based organizations who share our mission to empower more Filipinos through financial and health education,” she continues.

To date, Pru Life UK has organized climate and health community-based learning sessions in four locations across the country.

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I.E. Medica and MedEthix win healthcare awards in Singapore

The pharmaceutical companies received the Supply Chain Initiative of the Year, Hospital Partnership of the Year, and the Most Differentiated Service of the Year awards.

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The Philippines’ major pharmaceutical importers and distributors, I.E. Medica, Inc. and MedEthix Incorporated, were recently awarded three (3) major healthcare awards at the Healthcare Asia Pharma Awards 2024 at Marina Bay Sands, Singapore.

The pharmaceutical companies received the Supply Chain Initiative of the Year, Hospital Partnership of the Year, and the Most Differentiated Service of the Year awards. This marks the first time native Philippine pharmaceutical brands have won in these categories. The brands are active proponents in the importation, registration, and supply of healthcare products in the Philippines.

I.E. Medica and MedEthix executives, Monaliza Balnig Salian, co-founder, president and CEO, and Ma. Victoria P. Sugapong, COO, accepted the awards on behalf of the pharma group.

In her acceptance speech, Monaliza B. Salian said, “The Philippine pharmaceutical industry is heavily dependent on importation; thus, we continuously look for ways to improve our supply chain operations. As a young pharma group, I.E. Medica and MedEthix are aware of the overwhelming need of our countrymen for quality, affordable, and accessible healthcare solutions—and so we will continue to respond to these unmet needs, as Filipinos, for the Filipino.”

Salian’s acceptance speech in the prestigious awards program is a fitting capstone to the young local pharma group’s contribution to easing the burden of healthcare for Filipinos.  The awards conferred by the respected regional publication Healthcare Asia magazine put I.E. Medica and MedEthix in the league of outstanding pharma companies in Asia and the Pacific that have demonstrated an unwavering commitment to innovation and excellence and have redefined pharmaceutical excellence.

I.E. Medica: Implementing enhanced end-to-end supply chain operations that could enhance the nation’s healthcare product supply chain requirements

I.E. Medica is driven to continuously improve its supply chain operations to comply with Philippine Customs Administration import guidelines: from obtaining the Super Green Lane certificate in 2017 to having demonstrated its initial compliance with the cargo security risk management framework required for accreditation as an Authorized Economic Operator (AEO) Importer.

The company is also on track to securing the Level 1 AEO Certification, affirming its observance of supply chain security standards and the benefits of improved accessibility to healthcare goods brought about by streamlined import-export systems across borders, ultimately benefiting Filipinos and earning it the Supply Chain Initiative of the Year award.

MedEthix: Introducing a game-changing COVID-19 treatment in the country 

The impact of COVID-19 has been widespread, with its magnitude affecting the stability of social, economic, and political structures in many countries. It has particularly challenged national healthcare systems and their capacity to respond to large-scale outbreaks.

Filipino pharmaceutical company MedEthix went beyond its way as the first importer to secure its first four (4) hospital partners from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the compassionate special permit (CSP) for Molnupiravir. This oral drug is indicated for mild to moderate cases of COVID-19 infection, enabling the standard of care to go beyond the confines of the overstretched hospital wards into the comforts of the patient’s home.

MedEthix further expanded the distribution of Molnupiravir from the first 4 CSP grantees to over 80 health institutions and over 500 doctors across the country as soon as it successfully secured the Emergency Use Authorization from the regulatory authority. Healthway QualiMed, the hospital network of AC Health, played a valuable role in its success. The hospital network, along with I.E. Medica and MedEthix, are partners of AC Health. The expanded access to affordable alternative treatment for COVID-19 greatly benefited Filipinos during the pandemic and earned the company the Hospital Partnership and The Most Differentiated Service of the Year awards.

A commitment to every Filipino

As the recipients of the three prestigious awards for the pharma category in the Philippines, I.E. Medica and MedEthix remain committed to providing a wide range of products that cover almost all therapeutic areas to meet the ever-changing healthcare needs of Filipinos. 

As the men and women of I.E. Medica and MedEthix interact with doctors, retail outlets, distributors, suppliers, regulatory authorities, and consumers daily, the hallmark of excellence exemplified by the three awards continues to inspire them to make a difference in the lives of their countrymen.

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Bookshelf PH announces book collections from diverse genres

Publishing house Bookshelf PH, with its collection of books from diverse genres, has heart-swooning reads that touch all five love languages.

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Love is given, felt, and explored in ways we never expect.

We’re no strangers to the concept of feeling kilig, an emotion that makes hearts swoon and flutter whenever we give or receive love. Speaking of giving and receiving love, we might prefer one over the other but overall, these five love languages create a holistic relationship with our loved ones whether that’s through physical touch, words of affirmation, quality time, gift-giving, or acts of service.

Publishing house Bookshelf PH, with its collection of books from diverse genres, has heart-swooning reads that touch all five love languages. From affirming poems to small acts of service, here are five books that explore love’s different manifestations, each with stories to tell of how we can give and receive love in ways we prefer the most.

1. Jasmines in Her Hair – Words of Affirmation

Love is expressed through the gentle whisper of words. ”Jasmines in Her Hair” by Kalpesh Desai is a poetry collection that features the themes and facets of love. From tender beginnings of infatuation to depths of enduring connection, each poem will captivate readers to immerse themselves in passionate sensibilities found in delight, sorrow, grief, acceptance, and resilience, capturing the essence of the heart’s universal experiences. 

Poetic words are as powerful as daily communication and this book might be the perfect bond for lovers. If you love compliments, notes, or sweet whispers, then words of affirmation may be your cup of love language. It’s not too old-school to write personal notes inspired by these poems to show appreciation to your Lovey-dovey.

2. Laws of Motions and Attraction – Physical Touch

“Alex never believed in love at first sight. But right then she realized, maybe she had loved him all along. It had been a long time coming, but it turned out ‘maybe someday’ was worth the wait, after all..”

Missing those back hugs and forehead kisses? How about those tender traces of his fingertips to your cheeks? Just when you know that physical touch becomes a language of its own, it speaks volume where words fall short. This is your sign to reminisce about the past and reflect if he is worth the second chance.

Gravitate your senses with Kaye Allen’s contemporary romance novel, “Laws of Motions and Attraction” as it brings you the story of Alex, a driven student who finds herself captivated by the most ideal suitor on campus only to discover that destiny has other plans. In this enthralling examination of love, accompany Alex on a journey fraught with twists and turns, and let her story touch your heart brimming every moment with sweet affection.

3. Warm Blankets in Cold Midnights – Gift-Giving

Who says love month is over? February may have passed but it’s never late to surprise someone with a thoughtful present. Let your cozy affection be felt by giving Warm Blankets in Cold Midnights to express the language of gift-giving!

Share the warmth with your loved one as you immerse in Janella Ventura’s short story collection, “Warm Blankets in Cold Midnights,” featuring 23 heartwarming love stories to uplift your spirits and 18 tear-jerking tales that will leave you deeply moved. From handmade treasures to heartfelt gestures,  Warm Blankets in Cold Midnights reminds readers that the true value of a gift lies not in its material worth, but in the love and care with which it is given.

4. Words, Fate, and Accidents – Quality Time

“…We may not know each other well but sometimes people could find comfort in the most unlikely places. Be it in a good book, a playlist with all favorite songs, or even in a foreign country, standing beside a stranger you met by accident.”

Another heart-touching craft from Kaye Allen is her “Words, Fate, and Accidents”, which is a story of connection and companionship. In a world where time is fleeting and fate is unpredictable, two strangers found solace in each other’s company, forging bonds that withstand the test of time. If you value quality time for your loved ones, then this book might remind you that time isn’t measured in minutes or hours, but in the profound moments shared between kindred spirits.

5. Lost You, Found Me – Acts of Service

“Lost is a state we will perpetually be in and the life is best approached by embracing it as it is.”

Picture this: late-night study sessions, surprise coffee deliveries, and shoulder-to-cry-on moments. Everyone has been through the rough stage between college and adulting where those small acts of service matter most in times when we feel most alone. You’re not lost sweetie, because a story that resonates has found its way to you!

Testament to the power of selfless devotion, Zara Carbonell’s “Lost You, Found Me” takes  readers into the tumultuous journey of love, loss, and self-discovery—a celebration of love through acts of sacrifice. Set against the backdrop of the exhilarating transition from college into the unknowns of adulthood, Lost You, Found Me offers a unique perspective on the exploration of life’s nitty-gritty.

Each of these books provides a fresh view on the languages of love and illustrates the diverse ways we communicate and receive affection. Whether through verbal affection, intimate gestures, shared warmth of hugs, or acts of selflessness, these authors capture the universality of love–transcending barriers and resonating deeply within our beings.

Thrilled to grab a copy of one of these books that pulsates your love language?

Visit Bookshelf PH  and discover the perfect read for you.

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