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September 3, 2015

Saturated Fats Such as Butter May Not be Bad for Your Heart

Filed under: Food and Nutrition — Emma @ 8:36 am

Butter, cows milk and eggs, which are rich in saturated fat, have long been linked to increased risk of heart disease. However, a recent study suggests that saturated fats actually may not be associated with a higher risk of heart disease, stroke, type-2 diabetes, or all cause mortality.  The study did find however that trans fats do contribute to increased risk of coronary heart disease death, coronary heart disease, and all cause mortality.

Confused about the difference between saturated and trans fats? Saturated fats are those found in nature, usually in animal products. Some examples include butter, cows milk, meat, salmon, egg yolks, and certain plant products including chocolate and palm oils. Trans unsaturated fats are industrially produced fats that come from plant oils in a process called hydrogenation, and are commonly used in margarine, snack foods, and packaged baked goods.

For their review, the researchers examined the data from 50 observational studies that assessed the association between saturated and/or trans fats and health outcomes. They found no association between saturated fat intake and coronary heart disease, cardiovascular disease, ischemic stroke, type-2 diabetes, or all cause mortality.

They did, however, find a 28% increased risk of coronary heart disease death, a 21% higher risk of coronary heart disease, and a 34% increased risk in all cause mortality associated with trans fat consumption.

The researchers were unable to find any association between trans fats and type-2 diabetes or ischemic stroke, which they credited to inconsistencies in the studies.

Researchers from McMaster University conducted the study. It was published on August 11, 2015, in British Journal of Medicine.

While this study suggests that saturated fats may not be as bad for us as previously thought, the researchers cautioned against increasing the recommended limit for saturated fats, as they don’t seem to have any discernible health benefit.

If you want to cut more trans fats from your diet, however, pay attention to the ingredients in your food. It’s also a good idea to cut back on packaged foods and focus on consuming whole foods that can readily be identified, such as fruits, vegetables, and lean meats.

September 2, 2015

GABA Supplements May Increase Reaction Time

Filed under: Food and Nutrition — Sarah @ 8:41 am

A recent study suggests that the food supplement GABA may enhance people’s ability to react to and prioritize changing actions. GABA stands for “gamma-aminobutyric acid.” It is a naturally occurring neurotransmitter in the central nervous system that blocks transmission of an impulse between nerve cells in the brain.

Participants in the study included 30 healthy adults who were given either 800 mg of GABA or a placebo consisting of 800 mg of microcrystalline cellulose. They were then all given a stop-change paradigm test, which assessed their reaction time to a changing signal. They were required to stop an ongoing response to a GO stimulus whenever a STOP or CHANGER stimulus was presented.

The researchers found that the GABA group had increased action selection response time when the stop and changes signals were presented simultaneously as well as when there was a short delay in the change signal.

They pointed out that the real-life application of a study like this could be lifesaving, as one place we experience this type of stop and go activity is in heavy traffic.

Researchers from the Leiden Institute of Brain and Cognition conducted the study. It was published online ahead of print on July 31, 2015, in Scientific Reports.

Previous studies suggest that GABA may help improve mood, relieve anxiety, improve sleep, and help women with premenstrual syndrome. It has also been found to help athletes increase tolerance to exercise and relieve pain caused by injuries.

GABA is not found naturally in foods but can be taken as a supplement. However, flavonoid-rich foods — such as fruits, vegetables, teas, and red wine — have been found to influence the way in which GABA works in the brain.

September 1, 2015

Providing Mature Adults with Vitamin D3 Supplements May Significantly Reduce Falls

Filed under: Vitamin D — Emma @ 9:07 am

Previous studies suggest that vitamin D may help reduce the risk of falls in mature adults. However, many mature adults have low vitamin D levels. A recent study suggests that delivering vitamin D supplements to homebound individuals via a “meals on wheels” program may help improve vitamin D levels and reduce the number of falls.

Participants in the five month study included 68 community-dwelling homebound adults between the ages of 65 and 102. Each month, half of the group was given a single dose of 100,000 IU of vitamin D3 while the other half was given an active placebo of 400 IU of vitamin D3 one time per month. The decision was made to provide the full month in a single dose in order to ensure maximum compliance with the regimen.

The researchers measured vitamin D levels via blood tests at the onset and conclusion of the study. They also recorded the participants’ history of falls, as well as their fears regarding falling. Throughout the trial, all of the participants recorded any falls that they experienced.

At the beginning of the study, the researchers noted that more than half of the participants had less than 20 ng per ml blood concentrations of vitamin D. Less than a quarter had blood concentrations in the optimal range of 30 ng per ml or more.

At the conclusion of the study, only one of the 34 participants who took the 100,000 IU of vitamin D3 supplements had blood levels lower than 20 ng/mL, while 18 of the 25 participants in the placebo group had levels in the lower extreme. Additionally, the vitamin D group had approximately half of the falls of the placebo group.

Researchers from Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center conducted the study. It was published online ahead of print on August 16, 2015, in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

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.

August 31, 2015

Acupuncture May Reduce Blood Pressure in Hypertensives

Filed under: Lifestyle — Sarah @ 10:05 am

Acupuncture is an ancient form of Chinese medicine that utilizes pins to stimulate points on the body in order to treat a variety of illnesses. A recent study is the first to scientifically confirm that acupuncture treatment may help lower blood pressure in hypertensives.

Participants in the study included 65 people with high blood pressure who were not taking any medication for their condition. Half of the group was treated with electroacupuncture — which uses low-intensity electrical stimulation — on both sides of the inner wrists and just below each knee. The other half of the group acted as controls by receiving electroacupuncture at other points on the forearm and lower leg.

The researchers noted blood pressure drops in 70% of the participants who received electroacupuncture on both sides of the inner wrists and just below each knee. This group had an average reduction of 6 to 8 mmHg for systolic blood pressure and 4 mmHg for diastolic blood pressure. The researchers noted that the improvements were sustained for a month and a half after the treatments.

Additionally, the researchers observed significantly lower blood concentration levels of norepinephrine (41% lower). Norepinephrine constricts blood vessels and increases blood pressure and glucose levels. They also noted 67% lower levels of renin, which is an enzyme produced in the kidneys that helps regulate blood pressure. Finally, this group had 22% lower aldosterone, which is a hormone that regulates electrolytes.

There was no change in blood pressure noted in the control group.

Researchers from the University of California, Irvine, conducted the study. It was published online ahead of print on August 3, 2015, in the journal Medical Acupuncture.

Previous studies have linked acupuncture to alleviating pain for patients following surgery, decreasing menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes and reducing chemotherapy-induced nausea. Another benefit of acupuncture is that is has less negative side effects than prescription medication.

August 28, 2015

Astaxanthin May Boost Immunity, Reduce Muscle Inflammation in Athletes

Filed under: Antioxidants — Emma @ 9:23 am

A recent study suggests that the carotenoid astaxanthin may help reduce muscle inflammation that occurs as a result of intense athletic training as well as boost immunity in serious athletes.

Participants in the study included 40 young, trained Serbian soccer players who were given 4 mg of astaxanthin or a placebo daily for 90 days. The researchers collected saliva and blood samples at the beginning of the study and at the end of the trial.

After 90 days, the astaxanthin group had higher levels of salivary IgA (sIgA), which is an immunoglobin that is essential for muscle function and for immune system health. Previous research has found that lower sIgA levels are associated with increased upper respiratory tract infection occurrence and lower immunity protection against some infections.

The researchers also found that the supplement group had less muscle damage, which they connected to reductions in inflammation that can occur with rigorous physical training.

Researchers from the Sports Medicine Association of Serbia conducted the study. It was published online ahead of print on June 18, 2015, in Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine.

Astaxanthin has been shown to improve eye, skin and joint health and boost cognitive function. If you’re looking to increase your dietary intake of astaxanthin, consider consuming more salmon, rainbow trout, krill, and red-pigmented vegetables and fruits.

August 27, 2015

Two Types of Vitamin E Taken Together May Boost Endothelial Function

Filed under: Vitamin E — Sarah @ 8:46 am

Despite the fact that vitamin E is an effective antioxidant, attempts to use it to treat vascular disorders have been disappointing. A new study has found that a tocotrrienol/tocopherol complex may be the best combination of vitamin E to support endothelial function.

Endothelial function is a measure of how well the layer of cells that line the blood vessels function. Endothelial dysfunction typically leads to vascular disease if not treated.

The researchers tested the effects of single, pure tocotrienols (alpha, gamma, and delta), as well as alpha-tocopherol alone and a tocotrienol/tocopherol complex consisting of 78% tocotrienols and 22% alpha-tocopherol. They specifically looked at the effects of the different types of vitamin E on lowering oxidative stress and restoring endothelium-dependent relaxation in lab rats.

They found that the single, pure tocotrienols alone did effectively scavenge superoxide ions but did not improve endothelial function unless they were taken with alpha-tocopherol. Additionally, while alpha-tocopherol alone did restore endothelial function, the tocotrienol/tocopherol complex was more effective and required a lower dose to get the same results.

Researchers from the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology University in Australia conducted the study. It was published online ahead of print on May 17, 2015, in Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity.

The tocotrienol/tocopherol complex used in this study is called EVNol SupraBio™. 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’re looking to add more vitamin E to your diet, try eating more sunflower seeds, breakfast cereal, tomatoes, dried herbs, and dried apricots.

August 26, 2015

Omega-3 Supplements May Help Muscle Function and Mass in Older Adults

Filed under: Omega-3 — Sarah @ 9:15 am

As we age, we naturally have a decrease in muscle function and muscle mass, but steps can be taken to combat that. A recent study has found that fish oil-derived omega-3 supplements may improve muscle function and muscle mass in healthy mature adults.

Participants in the study included sixty men and women between the ages of 60 and 85. They were given 3.6 g EPA/DHA of fish oil-derived omega-3s or a placebo in the form of corn oil. They took their pills daily for six months.

In order to assess muscle function and muscle mass, the researchers measured muscle volume, handgrip strength, one-repetition maximum lower and upper body strength, and average power during isokinetic leg exercises at the beginning and the end of the study.

At the conclusion of the study, the researchers noted that body weight, total body fat mass, and inter-muscular fat content was not significantly affected by the omega-3 supplements. However, they did note a significant increase in thigh muscle volume, handgrip strength, and one-repetition muscle strength in the omega-3 group. One-repetition muscle strength is a composite score for leg press, chest press, knee extension, and knee flexion.

The researchers recommended that fish oil-derived omega-3s be included in therapeutic approaches aimed at preventing sarcopenia and helping older adults maintain muscle function and independence.

Researchers from the Center for Human Nutrition at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, MO, conducted the study. It was published online ahead of print on May 20, 2015, in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Omega-3s have been linked to a number of health benefits, including alleviating arthritis pain, better moods, improved joint mobility, helping with age related macular degeneration, and aiding your immune system.

Because omega-3 fatty-acids are not found naturally in the human body, it is especially important to make sure that they are a part of your daily diet. Oily, dark fish such as tuna and salmon are high in DHA and EPA omega-3s. T If you don’t like the taste of fish or are just finding it hard to work it into your meal plans, consider taking a high quality supplement. Make sure your supplement is tested for purity and potency.

August 25, 2015

Curcumin May Ease Post-Workout Pain, Boost Performance

Filed under: Curcumin — Sarah @ 9:01 am

One thing that stops people from working out is post-workout pain, called delayed onset muscle soreness. A recent study suggests that curcumin supplements may lower pain associated with delayed onset muscle soreness as well as improve workout performance.

Participants in the study included 17 men who were given 5 grams of curcumin or a placebo two days before and three days after a performance test. The trial period was followed by a two-week washout period, after which the men switched interventions.

In order to assess post-workout pain, the participants completed single-leg squats, gluteal stretches, and squat jumps. The researchers found that the curcumin supplement was associated with moderate to large reductions in post-workout pain one and two days after the performance test. They also noted a 15% increase in single-leg jump performance. They did not, however, note any changes in inflammation in the participants.

There were no adverse side effects recorded with the curcumin supplements, which were developed by the researchers.

Researchers from SportsMed Canterbury and Massey University, both in New Zealand, as well as the Australian Institute of Sport in Canberra, Australia, conducted the study. It was published in the August 2015 issue of the European Journal of Applied Physiology.

Curcumin is the compound in turmeric that gives it its distinct yellow color. Other recent studies have suggested curcumin  may also improve joint health, cognitive function, and boost immune and blood sugar health. For the most part, these benefits have been attributed to the anti-inflammatory properties of curcumin.

Yellow curry is a great source of curcumin, but if your stomach can’t handle curry, you don’t care for Indian food, or you require a higher dose of curcumin, consider taking a high quality supplement.

August 24, 2015

Magnesium and Calcium Intake May Lower Metabolic Syndrome Risk

Filed under: Calcium,Magnesium — Emma @ 9:57 am

Metabolic syndrome is an increasingly common ailment in the United States characterized by a group of risk factors that contribute to coronary artery disease, stroke, and type-2 diabetes. The risk factors include high blood pressure, insulin resistance, large waist circumference, high triglyceride levels and high cholesterol. A recent study suggest that taking higher than the recommended dietary allowance of calcium and magnesium may reduce the risk of metabolic syndrome.

Participants in the study included 9,148 adults who took part in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Study between 2001 and 2010. To measure metabolic syndrome, the researchers looked at serum triglyceride, high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, and glucose levels.

The researchers found that women who met the US recommended dietary allowance for both magnesium (310-320 mg per day) and calcium (1000-1200 mg per day) had the lowest risk of developing metabolic syndrome.

When they examined the data for the men, they found that meeting the recommended amount for magnesium (400-420 mg per day) and calcium (1000-1200 mg per day) did not have the same effect. When the intake of magnesium increased to over 386 mg for magnesium and over 1224 mg for calcium, however, they did note a decreased risk in the men of developing metabolic syndrome.

Researchers from the Case Western Reserve University conducted the study. It was published online ahead of print on August 11, 2015, in the British Journal of Nutrition.

Magnesium is necessary for more than 300 biochemical reactions in the body. Previous studies have found that higher intakes of magnesium may reduce the risk of diabetes, stroke, high blood pressure and osteoporosis.

Eating more magnesium rich foods such as green leafy vegetables, meats, starches, grains, nuts and milk is one way to increase your magnesium intake. Taking a supplement is also a good option.

Calcium is best known for its effect on bone health, but previous studies suggest it can also help with weight loss, skin health, and reducing the risk of stroke. Some studies have even suggested that calcium intake is associated with increased longevity.

Calcium absorption decreases as we age, so it is especially important to make sure you are getting enough. Try adding more dairy products or start taking a high quality supplement if you’re trying to increase your calcium intake.

August 21, 2015

Citicoline Supplements May Improve Attention in Young Men

Filed under: Lifestyle — Sarah @ 8:47 am

Attention deficit disorder diagnoses have been increasing in recent years, particularly among boys and young men. A recent study suggests that supplementation with citicoline may improve attention in adolescent males.

Participants in the study included 75 healthy male teens that were given 250 mg citicoline, 500 mg citicoline, or a placebo daily for 28 days. All of the participants completed the Ruff 2&7 Selective Attention Test, Finger Tap Test, and the Computerized Performance Test, Second Edition (CPT-II) at the beginning of the study and at the conclusion.

At the conclusion of the study, the researchers found that participants in the citicoline supplement group showed improved attention and increased psychomotor speed when compared with the placebo. After adjusting for the weight of the participants, the researchers found that higher weight-adjusted doses helped predict increased accuracy on the Ruff 2&7 Selective Attention Test, improved signal detectability on a computerized attention task and decreased impulsivity.

Researchers from the University of Utah and Kyowa Hakko conducted the study. It was published online ahead of print on July 15, 2015, in the Journal of Attention Disorders.

Citicoline is a brain chemical that occurs naturally in the body. Previous studies have linked citicoline intake with brain health, improved memory and decreased cognitive function. It has been shown to generate electrical impulses in the brain, help keep brain cells healthy, and protect neurons from free radical damage.

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