News Briefs


Gut Microbiome and Food Cravings

COVID affects gut health

Gut microbes influence what animals choose to eat, making substances that prompt cravings for different kinds of foods, according to new research on published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

When Dr. Kohl and Brian Trevelline, PhD, gave mice that lacked gut microbes a collection of microorganisms from three species of wild rodents with very different natural diets, they found that mice in each group chose food rich in different nutrients. The microbiome, they concluded, changed their preferred diet.

"We all have those urges -- like if you ever you just feel like you need to eat a salad or you really need to eat meat," said Kevin Kohl, PhD, an assistant professor in the Department of Biology in the Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences. "Our work shows that animals with different compositions of gut microbes choose different kinds of diets."

The gut and brain are always communicating. The molecules that are byproducts of digestion can signal that that you need certain nutrients or that you’ve even enough. Gut microbes can produce some of those same molecules, potentially hijacking that line of communication and changing the meaning of the message to benefit themselves.

Consider tryptophan, an essential amino acid that's common in turkey but is also produced by gut microbes. “When it makes its way to the brain, it's transformed into serotonin, which is a signal that's important for feeling satiated after a meal," Dr. Trevelline said in a press release. "Eventually that gets converted into melatonin, and then you feel sleepy."

The researchers found that mice with different microbiomes had different levels of tryptophan in their blood, even before they were given the option to choose different diets. Mice with more tryptophan also had more bacteria that can produce it in their gut.

"There are likely dozens of signals that are influencing feeding behavior on a day-to-day basis,” Dr. Trevelline said. While the science is interesting, it’s only been proven in an animal model. Further, the study was limited. "Humans have way more going on that we ignore in our experiment,” Dr. Kohl noted. “But it's an interesting idea to think about."


Breaking: NPs Granted Full Practice Authority in New York

NPs and PAs

Full practice authority (FPA) is the authorization of NPs to evaluate patients; diagnose, order and interpret diagnostic tests; initiate and manage treatments; and prescribe medications, all under the exclusive licensure authority of the state board of nursing. This framework eliminates unnecessary, outdated regulatory barriers that prevent patients from accessing these vital care services directly from NPs. Leading health policy experts like the National Academy of Medicine have long recommended that states adopt such legislation to improve health care access and outcomes. "As the 25th state with Full Practice Authority, New York joins an expanding list of states acting to retire outdated laws that have needlessly constrained their health care workforce and limited patient access to care,” said Jon Fanning, MS, CAE, CNED, chief executive officer of AANP. “This is a no-cost, no-delay solution to strengthening health care for the nation. Decades of research show that states with Full Practice Authority are better positioned to improve access to care, grow their workforce and address health care disparities, while delivering quality health outcomes for patients. We look forward to more states following suit.” “New York has taken a critical step forward in our country, increasing access to vital health care services. New Yorkers will now have full and direct access to the comprehensive care NPs provide,” said April N. Kapu, DNP, APRN, ACNP- BC, FAANP, FCCM, FAAN, president of AANP. “Over the past two years, New York has waived unnecessary and outdated laws limiting access to health care. AANP applauds the state legislature and Gov. Hochul for recognizing that these provisions need to continue. These changes will help New York attract and retain nurse practitioners and provide New Yorkers better access to quality care," said Kapu.


Patients with Cancer Have a Higher Risk of COVID


Patients with cancer have a high risk of contracting COVID-19, being hospitalized, and dying—even if they are vaccinated, according to new study published inJAMA Oncology.

Researchers analyzed electronic health record data for more than 636,000 vaccinated people, 45,000 of whom had cancer. The cumulative risk of breakthrough infections in vaccinated people without cancer was 4.9%. Among people with cancer, it rose to 13.6%. The highest risk was among people with pancreatic cancer (24.7%), liver cancer (22.8%), lung cancer (20.4%) and colorectal cancer (17.5%). The lowest risk was among people with thyroid cancer (10.3%), endometrial cancer (11.9%) and breast cancer (11.9%).

The risk of hospitalization after a breakthrough infection was also higher among people with cancer (31.6%) than people without cancer (25.9% in patients with a breakthrough infection, 3% in those without a breakthrough infection). The risk of death was 6.7% for those with cancer and 1.3% for those without.



Hy-Vee Offering Nutrition Education


Hy-Vee’s registered dietitians will host events focused on blood-sugar management and overall health through April. The free events will include virtual on-demand and live diabetes health store tours, and virtual freezer meal workshops. Registered dietitians will also provide 1,000 free A1C screenings at select stores throughout the month. 

On-Demand and Live Diabetes Health Store Tours (Virtual)
Hy-Vee dietitians will help customers navigate the aisles during complimentary virtual on-demand and live nutrition store tours. Customers can learn the basics of creating a diabetic-friendly meal plan that includes Hy-Vee Aisles Online shoppable links for the products shared during the tour. Tours are also available in Spanish.  

Freezer Meal Prep Workshops (Virtual)
Hy-Vee dietitians will also host virtual carb-conscious Freezer Meal Prep Workshop classes throughout the month. Individuals can register for only $10 to receive a step-by-step guide, recipes, shopping list and a Hy-Vee Aisles Online shoppable link. Workshops will include meal prep tips and product recommendations to help customers, and can be completed virtually alongside the dietitian or on their own. 

Free A1C Screening Tour (In Person)
Additionally, 1,000 free A1C screenings will be administered at select Hy-Vee stores throughout the month. Results will be provided immediately following the screening, and Hy-Vee dietitians will share how they can assist with blood sugar management. These screenings are sponsored by BD Medical, Birds Eye, California Avocados, Catalina Crunch and Sugarbreak. 


Walmart Opening Health Centers in Florida

Walmart health

The first location will be in Jacksonville, with sites in Orlando and Tampa to follow.

“With only one primary care doctor per 1,380 Florida residents, these Walmart Health centers will help address the demand for care in three major cities ... delivering quality health care at the right time in the right setting, right next to where many Floridians get their groceries," said David Carmouche, senior vice president of Omnichannel Care Offerings at Walmart. 

"We are part of these communities, and we are excited to bring more options for in-person and telehealth care services to our neighbors.”

Placed adjacent to Walmart Supercenters, the centers will provide primary care, X-rays and EKG, labs, dental care, behavioral health and counseling, optical services, and audiology services. 

The locations and opening dates are scheduled for:

  • April 5, 2022 at 7075 Collins Road in Jacksonville
  • April 7, 2022 at 1586 Branan Field Road in Middleburg
  • April 12, 2022 at 904 B Cypress Parkway in Poinciana/Kissimmee
  • April 14, 2022 at 3647 South Orlando Drive in Sanford
  • June 7, 2022 at 28516 State Road 54 in Wesley Chapel.

The Walmart Health centers will offer care seven days a week with weekend and evening hours, as well as telehealth options on Sundays:

  • Monday to Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.
  • Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Sunday telehealth from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Walmart Health is operated by physicians, nurse practitioners, dentists, behavioral health providers, and optometrists. 



CVS Health Releases Environmental, Social and Governance Report


CVS Health released its annual Environmental, Social and Governance Report — Healthy 2030, in which it details how the company how has worked to improve health equity through its Health Zones initiative, which addresses six social determinants of health —access to food, labor, transportation, housing, education, and health care. 

Highlights include:

  • An expanded community health resource with a focus on underserved populations, which hosted more than 1,700 free health-screening events.
  • The diversion of 50% of all waste to recycling or reuse
  • Savings of 33,500 MWh of energy through efficiency programs to reach a goal of achieving net-zero emissions by 2050
  • The elimination of 500,000 empty miles through the backhaul program
  • The completion of $2.5 million worth of employee volunteerism to nonprofit organizations
  • The provision of more than 159 million meals for people who are food insecure through a partnership with Feeding America.

The company also reported that its minimum starting wage will increase to $15 per hour beginning in July.