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November 25, 2015

Probiotics May Help Fight Vaginal infections

Filed under: Probiotics — Sarah @ 9:00 am

If left untreated, vaginal infections can have potentially serious medical consequences such as pre-term delivery and increased risk of requiring certain sexually transmitted diseases. A recent two-part study suggests that taking the probiotics Lactobacillus rhamnosus and Lactobacillus gasseri may help combat recurrent vaginal infections, especially when used with prescribed medication.

Participants in the study included 40 Scandinavian women who were diagnosed with bacterial vaginosis or vulvovaginal candidiasis. For the first trial, the women with bacterial vaginosis were given antibiotics followed by the probiotic capsules for five consecutive days.

For the second trial, the participants were divided into three groups: women with bacterial vaginosis receiving antibiotics and four months of the probiotics; women with recurring vulvovaginal candidiasis receiving extended treatment with the anti-fungal medication fluconazole as well as the probiotics; and women with vulvovaginal candidiasis who received only the anti-fungal medication.

Results for both studies were collected using self-swab samples and culture analysis in the laboratory. The researchers found that the probiotics strains or the women’s own endogenous strains were associated with a clear up of bacterial vaginosis. Additionally, all of the women with vulvovaginal candidiasis in both the groups treated with fluconazole alone or with the probiotics were cured in the six-month follow up.

When the researchers examined relapse rates at 12 months, they found that the probiotics group had a slightly higher cure rate than the fluconazole alone group, with 89% and 70% cured respectively. However, the researchers noted that the results were not statistically significant. They also found that a change in sexual partner was strongly associated with a relapse of bacterial vaginosis.

The study was conducted by researchers at the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden. It was published on July 3, 2015, in BMC Infectious Diseases.

While probiotics are most commonly linked to improving digestion and gut health, they have also been shown to have other health benefits, including a stronger immune system, and a reduced risk of chronic disease.

Probiotics can be found naturally in many foods, such as yogurt, milk and sauerkraut. You may also consider taking a high quality supplement but make sure it is packaged to block light, air and moisture, which can easily kill probiotics. If you’re interested in the results seen here, be sure that the supplement contains the probiotics Lactobacillus rhamnosus and Lactobacillus gasseri and that it can be administered vaginally.

November 24, 2015

Study Identifies Level of Vitamin D Deficiency That Puts People at Risk of Cardiovascular Problems

Filed under: Vitamin D — Emma @ 9:00 am

While vitamin D is best known for its positive effects on bone health, recent research suggests deficiency in this essential vitamin may also be linked to coronary artery disease, heart attacks, and strokes. A new study has found the level of vitamin D deficiency that puts people at risk of developing heart problems.

Participants in the study included more than 230,000 people in the Intermountain Healthcare clinical database. The researchers split the participants into four groups: those with blood levels of vitamin D that were under 15 ng/ml, between 15 and 29 ng/ml, between 30 and 44 ng/ml and greater than or equal to 45 ng/ml.

The researchers followed all of the participants for three years in order to track major adverse cardiac events like death, coronary artery disease, heart attack, stroke, and incidents of heart or kidney failure. They found that the 9% of the patients in the less than 15 ng/ml group had a 35% increased risk of cardiovascular events when compared with the other three groups. Not much difference was found to exist between the risk levels of the other three groups.

The researchers concluded that a deficiency level under 15 ng/ml puts people at higher risk of an adverse cardiovascular event.

Researchers from the Intermountain Medical Center Heart Institute conducted the stud. It was presented at the 2015 American Heart Association Scientific Session in Orlando on Monday, November 9, 2015.

Previous studies have associated vitamin D with reducing the risk of skin damage, reducing the risk of osteoporosis, combating diabetes, and improving age related macular degeneration.

Vitamin D can be found in milk, fortified cereals, fish, and eggs. Your body also processes vitamin D from the sun but it becomes harder for our bodies to process it as we age. A high quality vitamin D supplement is always a good option if you feel that you’re not getting enough through diet and sun.

November 23, 2015

Eating Homemade Meals May Reduce Risk of Type 2 Diabetes

Filed under: Food and Nutrition — Sarah @ 9:00 am

The trend of eating at restaurants or eating take-out has increased notably over the past 50 years. During that same time period, there has been a rise in incidences of type 2 diabetes. A recent study suggests that eating more homemade meals may lower the risk of developing type-2 diabetes.

Participants in the study included approximately 58,000 women who took part in the Nurses’ Health Study and more than 41,000 men who took part in the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study. The participants were followed for a total of 36 years, from 1986 to 2012. None of the participants had cardiovascular problems or type-2 diabetes at the onset of the study.

After examining the data, the researchers found that people who ate two homemade lunches or dinner per day — for a total of 11 to 14 meals per week — had a 13% lower risk of developing type-2 diabetes when compared with those who ate less than six homemade lunches or dinner per week.

Researchers from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health conducted the study. It was presented at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions 2015 held the week of November 7, 2015.

The trend towards consuming more meals outside of the home is having an impact on the nutritional quality of the American diet. Poor diet contributes to obesity, heart disease, stroke, diabetes and osteoarthritis. The researchers in this study did specify the number of meals that should be eaten at home but did suggest that people try to prepare as many of their meals at home, using healthy ingredients.

November 20, 2015

People Who Are Obese and Have Metabolic Syndrome Need More Vitamin E — And Aren’t Getting It

Filed under: Vitamin E — Sarah @ 9:10 am

A recent study suggests that obese people with metabolic syndrome may be facing a catch-22: their weight and other problems increase oxidative stress, which increases their need for vitamin E. However, those same problems may cause their bodies to not use vitamin E as efficiently.

Metabolic syndrome affects more than one in three adults in the United States. It is characterized by a group of risk factors that contribute to coronary artery disease, stroke, and type-2 diabetes. The risk factors include obesity, high blood pressure, insulin resistance, large waist circumference, high triglyceride and high cholesterol levels.

Vitamin E is a fat soluble molecule, so the researchers initially thought that obese people would have higher vitamin E levels. However, what they found is that because obese peoples’ bodies already have enough fat, they reject the lipids that contain the vitamin E — and therefore aren’t getting enough vitamin E.

This vitamin E deficiency is problematic because fat generate oxidants that increase metabolic stress and vitamin E (as well as vitamin C and other antioxidants) help reduce that metabolic stress.

Researchers from the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University conducted the study. It was published online ahead of print on October 7, 2015, in the The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Vitamin E has eight different forms: four tocopherols (alpha, beta, gamma, delta) and four tocotrienols (alpha, beta, gamma, delta) and has been shown to help many aspects of the body. Previous studies have shown that vitamin E intake is associated with lower cholesterol, healthier skin, maintaining a proper hormonal balance, and help reduce the risk of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).

If you want to add more vitamin E to your diet, try eating sunflower seeds, breakfast cereal, tomatoes, dried herbs, and dried apricots.

November 19, 2015

Chondroitin Sulfate May Be Better Than Anti-Inflammatory Drug at Slowing Osteoarthritis

Filed under: Lifestyle — Emma @ 9:00 am

A recent study suggests that taking a daily supplement of chondroitin sulfate may be more effective than the anti-inflammatory drug celecoxib at supporting knee joint health and delaying the progression of osteoarthritis.

Participants in the study included 194 people with knee osteoarthritis with inflammation and moderate pain. The researchers conducted a double blind, controlled and comparative study.  The participants were randomly assigned to receive 1,2000 mg per day of chondroitin sulfate or 200 mg of celecoxib for 2 years.

The researchers performed three Quantitative Magnetic Resonance scans on the participant’s knees and found that the progression of knee osteoarthritis was slower in the individuals taking the chondroitin sulfate than in those taking the celecoxib. Upon further examination, they found that the supplement and the celecoxib were equally effective at reducing pain, stiffness, swelling, and joint efflux as well as increasing function. Both interventions reached a clinically relevant symptom improvement of approximately 50%.

Researchers from the Rheumatology Research Institute of Montreal conducted the study. It was presented at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Rheumatology on November 8, 2015.

Chondroitin is found in and around the cells of cartilage, and provides cartilage with strength and resilience. Previous research has found that chondroitin may help ease the pain of arthritis and osteoporosis, lower cholesterol and possibly help with ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease.

November 18, 2015

Vitamin D May Improve Exercise Performance, Lower Cardiovascular Risk Factors

Filed under: Vitamin D — Emma @ 9:00 am

Research has found that vitamin D may block the enzyme 11-?HSD1, which is necessary to make the stress hormone cortisol. Cortisol has been found to raise blood pressure by restricting arteries, narrowing blood vessels, and stimulating the kidneys to retain water. A recent study suggests that vitamin D supplements may improve exercise performance and reduce the risk of developing heart disease by suppressing cortisol and lowering blood pressure.

Participants in the study included 13 healthy adults who were matched by age and weight. They were given either 50 ?g of vitamin D daily or a placebo over the course of two weeks. At the conclusion of the study, the researchers found that the supplement group had lower blood pressure and lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol in their urine, when compared with the placebo.

After a fitness test, they also found that the supplement group could cycle 4 miles in 20 minutes, while they were only able to cycle 3.1 miles at the beginning of the study. After the second fitness test, they also showed lower sign of physical exertion than they had after the first test.

Researchers from the Queen Margaret University in Edinburgh conducted the study. It was presented at the Society for Endocrinology annual conference in Edinburgh on November 1, 2015.

Previous studies have associated vitamin D with reducing the risk of skin damage, reducing the risk of osteoporosis, combating diabetes, and improving age related macular degeneration.

Vitamin D can be found in milk, fortified cereals, fish, and eggs. Your body also processes vitamin D from the sun but it becomes harder for our bodies to process it as we age. A high quality vitamin D supplement is always a good option if you feel that you’re not getting enough through diet and sun.

November 17, 2015

Harvard Releases Two Studies About the Quality of the American Diet

Filed under: Uncategorized — Sarah @ 9:07 am

Two recent Harvard studies examined dietary issues currently facing many Americans.  The first study found that while improvements in the American diet have helped reduce disease and premature death, there is still plenty of room left for further improvements. The second study identified three dietary interventions that would help reduce childhood obesity at a significant savings in health care costs.

The first study measured how changes in dietary quality from 1999-2012 impacted disease and premature death. The researchers examined the dietary quality data of 33,885 Americans who took part in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, which used the Alternate Healthy Eating Index 2010. The researchers also used information from the Nurses’ Health Study and the Health Professional Follow-Up Study (which included approximately 173,000 people) in order to assess how the dietary quality of the participants would impact disease and mortality.

The researchers found that healthier eating habits were associated with the prevention of a cumulative 1.1 million premature deaths over the 14-year period. They also found that the difference in dietary quality between 1999 and 2012 was associated with 12.6% fewer cases of type 2 diabetes, 8.6% fewer cases of cardiovascular disease, and 1.3% fewer cancer cases.

They noted that it only took small dietary quality improvements to achieve these results. However, on a healthiness scale ranging from 0 to 110, with 110 being the healthiest, the participant’s average scores never reached 50.

The second study examined the cost-effectiveness of seven interventions aimed at reducing childhood obesity in the U.S. The researchers developed a detailed prediction model in order to calculate costs and effectiveness of the interventions over a 10-year period from 2015-2025.

They determined that an excise tax on sugar-sweetened beverages, elimination of the tax subsidy for advertising unhealthy food to children, and nutrition standards for all food and drink sold in schools that isn’t school meals would be the most cost effective. They estimated that the three interventions would prevent 576,000, 129,000, and 345,000 cases of childhood obesity, respectively, if implemented on a national scale. They also estimated that the net savings for every dollar spent would be $30.78, $32.53, and $4.56.

Both studies were published in the November 2015 issue of HealthAffairs.

Obesity has far ranging negative effects on health. Each year, obesity causes approximately 300,000 premature deaths in the United States. The negative health effects associated with obesity include high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, osteoarthritis, metabolic syndrome and sleep apnea.

Improving eating habits and increasing physical activity play a vital role in preventing obesity. It is recommended that we eat five to six servings of fruits and vegetables per day. It also recommended that we get at least 30 minutes of moderate intensity activity every day.

November 16, 2015

Rhodiola rosea L. Extract May Reduce Anxiety

Filed under: Lifestyle — Emma @ 9:00 am

Anxiety affects thousands of Americans and makes it harder for them to accomplish many daily tasks. A recent study suggests that taking a daily dose of Rhodiola rosea L. extract may improve mood in people with mild anxiety.

Participants in the study included 81 mildly anxious students with an average age of 21. They were given either two 200 mg doses of Rhodiola rosea L. extract daily or no treatment for 14 days. At the conclusion of the study, the researchers found that the supplement group had a significant reduction in self-reported measures of anxiety and stress as well as a reduction in secondary endpoints such as anger, confusion, and depression. They did not note any changes in cognitive function.

The safety and tolerability of the supplements were favorable.

Researchers from the University of Surrey conducted the study. It was published online ahead of print on October 27, 2015, in Phytotherapy Research.

Previous studies suggest that Rhodiola rosea L. extract may help increase energy and stamina, improve sexual function, irregular heartbeat, and lower high cholesterol levels. It has been used in folk medicines in the arctic regions of Europe and Asia for centuries. The best way to consume Rhodiola rosea L. is as an extract.

November 13, 2015

Survey Finds That Majority of Americans Use and Trust Supplements

Filed under: Multivitamins — Emma @ 9:03 am

A recent survey conducted by the Council for Responsible Nutrition found that 68% of U.S. adults take dietary supplements and that 84% of U.S. adults express overall confidence in the safety, quality, and effectiveness of dietary supplements.

A closer look at the survey results shows that Americans have the most confidence in “Vitamins and minerals,” with 85% expressing their faith in those supplements. That was followed by 62.5% expressing faith in “specialty supplements,” 59.5% in “herbals and botanicals” and, finally, 48% expressing confidence in “sports nutrition and weight management.”

Additionally, the multivitamin has the highest percentage of usage, at 79% of male respondents and 77% of female respondents, followed by vitamin D, vitamin C, calcium, and vitamin B or B complex. For specialty supplements, omega-3 fatty acids were the most common, with 19% of respondents reporting using them. This was followed by fiber (13%), probiotics (12%), melatonin (8%), glucosamine and/or chondroitin (8%), CoQ10 (8%), and digestive enzymes (5%).

When it came to herbal and botanical supplements, 12% took green tea, followed by cranberry (8%), garlic (6%), ginseng (5%), gingko biloba (5%), turmeric (5%), and milk thistle (4%).

Finally, when the researchers examined how different age groups approach supplements, they found that men and women were about the same in Gen Y, with 61% and 62% usage, respectively. Gen X was even closer, with both genders reporting 69% usage. However, the Boomer generation had a greater gap, with men and women reporting 63% and 74%, respectively, and “Elder” men and women reporting 68% and 79%, respectively.

The survey, titled The 2015 CRN Consumer Survey on Dietary Supplements, was conducted from August 20-24 by Ipsos Public Affairs. It was conducted online in English and included a national sample of 2,016 adults who were at least 18 years of age.

November 12, 2015

Researchers Identify Mechanism Behind Cranberries Urinary Tract Health Benefits

Filed under: Food and Nutrition — Sarah @ 9:15 am

Cranberries have long been associated with improved urinary tract health, but it has not always been clear what, exactly, was responsible for that effect. A recent study suggests that the oligosaccharides in cranberries may help inhibit the formation of E. coli biofilms and support urinary tract health.

For their study, researchers extracted a phenolic-free carbohydrate faction from cranberry and determined that it primarily contained oligosaccharides at various degrees of polymerization. Oligosaccharides are carbohydrates characterized by the simple sugars they contain.

After additional structural analysis, they found that the oligosaccharides present in cranberry were mainly xyloglucan and arabinan residues.

The researchers then conducted antimicrobial assays, which indicated that the phenolic-free carbohydrate faction could potentially reduce E. coli CFT073 biofilm production by more than 50% and E. coli MG1655 biofilm production by as much as 60%.

The researchers concluded that the anti-infective properties of cranberries come from multiple sources, including polyphenols and oligosaccharides, which are present in the whole cranberry fruit.

Researchers from the University of Rhode Island conducted the study. It was published in the August 2015 issue of the Journal of Functional Foods.

Cranberries are packed with beneficial vitamins, minerals, dietary fiber and antioxidants. They have been shown to provide a lengthy list of health benefits including improved urological health, heart health protection, and help controlling excess inflammation. They also have been linked with lower plaque formation on teeth and improved cholesterol levels.

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