Field Notes

Med Diet Tied to Better Postmenopausal Bone, Muscle Health

The heart-healthy Mediterranean diet also appears to be good for an older woman’s bones and muscles, according to a new study of postmenopausal women in Brazil. The study results were presented at ENDO 2018, the Endocrine Society’s 100th annual meeting in Chicago.

The researchers reported finding higher bone mass and muscle mass in postmenopausal women who adhered to a Mediterranean diet than in those who did not. The Mediterranean diet has been linked to lower risk of heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and certain other chronic diseases.

However, few studies about the Mediterranean diet and its effects on body composition after menopause are available, according to the study’s lead investigator, Thais Rasia Silva, PhD, a postdoctoral student at Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul in Brazil. This information is important, she says, because menopause, with its decline in estrogen, speeds a woman’s loss of bone mass, increasing her risk of osteoporosis and broken bones. In addition, menopause and aging reduce muscle mass. Silva says declines in skeletal muscle mass and strength in older people are major contributors to increased illness, reduced quality of life, and higher death rates.

Silva and her coworkers conducted their study in 103 healthy women from southern Brazil, who had an average age of 55 and who had, on average, gone through menopause 5.5 years earlier. All women underwent bone scans to measure their bone mineral density, total body fat, and appendicular lean mass, which was used to estimate skeletal muscle mass. The subjects also completed a food questionnaire about what they ate in the past month.

A higher Mediterranean diet score, signifying better adherence to the Mediterranean diet, was significantly associated with higher bone mineral density measured at the lumbar spine and with greater muscle mass, Silva reports. This association, she says, was independent of whether the women previously used hormone therapy, their previous smoking behavior, or their current level of physical activity as measured by wearing a pedometer for six days.

“We found that the Mediterranean diet could be a useful nonmedical strategy for the prevention of osteoporosis and fractures in postmenopausal women,” Silva says.

Given the many health benefits of the Mediterranean diet, Silva says, “Postmenopausal women, especially those with low bone mass, should ask their doctor whether they might benefit from consuming this dietary pattern.”

— Source: Endocrine Society


Tooth-Mounted Sensors for Diet, Health Tracking Developed

Monitoring in real time what happens in and around our bodies can be invaluable in the context of health care or clinical studies, but not so easy to do. That could soon change thanks to new miniaturized sensors developed by researchers at the Tufts University School of Engineering that, when mounted directly on a tooth and communicating wirelessly with a mobile device, can transmit information on glucose, salt, and alcohol intake. In research published in the journal Advanced Materials, researchers note that future adaptations of these sensors could enable the detection and recording of a wide range of nutrients, chemicals, and physiological states.

Previous wearable devices for monitoring dietary intake had limitations such as requiring the use of a mouth guard, bulky wiring, or necessitating frequent replacement, as the sensors rapidly degraded. Tufts engineers sought a more adoptable technology and developed a sensor with a 2 mm X 2 mm footprint that can flexibly conform and bond to the irregular surface of a tooth. In a similar fashion to the way a toll is collected on a highway, the sensors transmit their data wirelessly in response to an incoming radiofrequency signal.

The sensors are made up of three sandwiched layers: a central “bioresponsive” layer that absorbs the nutrient or other chemicals to be detected, and outer layers consisting of two square-shaped gold rings. Together, the three layers act like a tiny antenna, collecting and transmitting waves in the radiofrequency spectrum. As an incoming wave hits the sensor, some of it is cancelled out and the rest is transmitted back, just as a patch of blue paint absorbs redder wavelengths and reflects the blue back to our eyes.

The sensor, however, can change its color. For example, if the central layer takes on salt, or ethanol, its electrical properties will shift, causing the sensor to absorb and transmit a different spectrum of radiofrequency waves with varying intensity. That’s how nutrients and other analytes can be detected and measured.

“In theory, we can modify the bioresponsive layer in these sensors to target other chemicals; we’re really limited only by our creativity,” says Fiorenzo Omenetto, PhD, corresponding author and the Frank C. Doble Professor of Engineering at Tufts. “We have extended common RFID [radiofrequency ID] technology to a sensor package that can dynamically read and transmit information on its environment, whether it’s affixed to a tooth, to skin, or [to] any other surface.”

— Source: Tufts University