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Research: Omega-3 is beneficial to gut bacteria; omega-6 is not

BY Michael Johnsen

STOCKHOLM — New research released Wednesday found that dietary fats impact gut bacteria — some for the better (omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids or PUFAs) and some for the worse (omega-6 PUFAs). The omega-3s EPA and DHA found in seafood and marine oils may reduce inflammation and increase beneficial microorganisms to protect against gastrointestinal diseases. 

 
The research showed that dietary choices and certain microorganisms in the GI tract can contribute to the prevention or development of inflammatory bowel disease, colitis (inflammation of the colon) and Crohn's disease. PUFAs in particular affect microbes living in the intestine known as "gut microbiota."
 
Deanna Gibson, assistant professor at the University of British Columbia, Canada, and colleagues examined the effects of omega-3 and -6 PUFAs in mice infected with GI bacteria that causes colitis. Those fed omega-6 PUFA (corn oil) diets had higher intestinal damage, immune cell damage and production of harmful bacteria. In contrast, diets high in EPA and DHA increased anti-inflammatory microbes, which reduced immune cell damage and inflammation as well as protected against the damage of colitis. However, the mice taking these omega-3 fats suffered sepsis (whole body inflammation due to severe infection) because their immune responses needed to survive infection were impaired.
 
"While too much inflammation isn't good in the context of autoimmune disease, we also need inflammation to survive against infections," Gibson noted. "These observations suggest that excess omega-6 PUFA intakes may be harmful to gut health. Conversely, while omega-3 PUFA supplementation promotes beneficial microbes in the gut, thereby decreasing inflammation, this advantage under normal conditions may be problematic in the presence of harmful bacteria," she said. 
 
"Curiously, when a saturated fat-rich diet was supplemented with fish oil, the mice did not suffer from sepsis," Gibson added. "These intriguing findings suggest that omega-3 PUFA supplementation with a diet high in saturated fat may be more protective to the GI tract than a diet rich in omega-6 PUFAs."
 
Jing Kang, professor at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital, USA, reported a mouse study showing a lower ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 PUFAs alters gut microbiota and reduces the production of harmful bacteria while increasing colonies of beneficial bacteria. These changes led to less inflammation.
 
"Chronic low-grade inflammation contributes to the development of many chronic diseases and can be induced by harmful gut microbiota," Kang said. "Therefore, dietary strategies that lower the omega-6/omega-3 PUFA ratio to optimize gut microbiota — such as reducing intake of vegetable oils high in omega-6 fat, processed foods and grain-raised livestock and increasing intake of fish and green vegetables — could prove effective for managing such diseases. For management of certain health conditions, a high quality, concentrated omega-3 supplement is also practical."
 

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Walgreens June sales up 8.9% to $6.3 billion

BY Michael Johnsen

DEERFIELD, Ill. — Walgreens on Thursday reported June sales of $6.3 billion, an increase of 8.9% as compared to the same month in fiscal 2013.

 
Total front-end sales increased 1.8% in June compared with the same month in fiscal 2013, while comparable store front-end sales increased 1.3%. Customer traffic in comparable stores decreased 2% while basket size increased 3.3%.
 
Prescriptions filled at comparable stores increased by 7.3% in June and increased 4.7% on a calendar day-shift adjusted basis. June 2014 had one additional Monday and one fewer Saturday compared with June 2013. These calendar shifts positively impacted prescriptions filled at comparable stores by 260 basis points.
 
June pharmacy sales increased by 13.4%. Comparable store pharmacy sales increased 11.3% and increased by a calendar day-shift adjusted 8.7%. Calendar day-shift adjusted comparable store pharmacy sales were negatively impacted by 140 basis points due to generic drug introductions in the last 12 months. Pharmacy sales accounted for 65.2% of total sales for the month.
 
Sales in comparable stores increased by 7.5% in June. Calendar day shifts positively impacted total comparable sales by 170 basis points. Generic drug introductions in the last 12 months negatively impacted total comparable sales by 90 basis points.
 
Calendar 2014 year-to-date sales for the first six months were $38.1 billion, an increase of 5.9%. Fiscal 2014 year-to-date sales for the first 10 months were $63.7 billion, an increase of 6%. 
 
Walgreens opened 15 stores during June, including three relocations, and closed 13. Nearly all of the June store closings were part of the company's previously announced efforts to optimize its asset base by closing a total of 76 drug stores.
 

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Hasbro’s Boba Fett Star Wars action figure to be sold exclusively at Walgreens

BY Michael Johnsen

 
 
Starwars.com on Tuesday reported that Hasbro would introduce a 6-inch action figure of Boba Fett as part of its Black Series, to be sold exclusively at Walgreens. 
 
"While Boba Fett’s iconic Mandalorian armor has become one of the most famous designs in all of Star Wars, it started out with a very different color scheme," the site reported. "On June 28, 1978, Star Wars sound designer Ben Burtt and The Empire Strikes Back assistant film editor Duwayne Dunham debuted the costume with a test video … detailing its weaponry and functionality; the colors would later be developed to what has become Fett’s definitive look, but it all began with this early version."
 
Preorders of the iconic Star Wars action figure will be available at the San Diego Comic-Con. 
 

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