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May 20, 2016

A Probiotic Bacteria May Help Slim Waistlines, Reduce Body Fat in Obese People

Filed under: Diet & Weight loss — Sarah @ 8:59 am

Obesity is a growing problem in the United States, and is associated with a higher risk of cardiovascular disease and premature death. A recent study suggests that a plant-derived lactic acid bacterium called Pediococcus pentosaceus LP28 may help reduce body fat and waistlines.

Participants in the study included 62 people between the ages of 20 and 70 with a BMI between 25 and 30 kg/m2. Over the course of 12 weeks they took a live LP28, a heat-killed LP28, or a placebo daily. They were instructed not to change their usual diet and exercise routines.

At the conclusion of the study, the researchers noted an average 0.45 kg/m2 decrease in BMI, a 1.1% decrease in body fat percentage, a 2.1 pound decrease in body fat mass, and a 1.2 inch reduction in waist circumference in the heat-killed LP28 group, when compared with the placebo.

The live LP28 group did not show significant changes when compared to the placebo. The live LP28 powder was harder to swallow than the heat killed LP28 because of taste and texture. The researchers believe this may have lowered compliance in the live LP28 group.

Researchers from Hiroshima University conducted the study. It was published online ahead of print on March 9, 2016, in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Obesity has far ranging negative effect 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.

May 19, 2016

Larch Bark Extract May Boost Immunity, Lower Cold Risk

Filed under: Probiotics — Emma @ 9:06 am

There is no cure for the common cold, but there are natural ways to help reduce the risk of developing one. A recent study suggests that taking Larch arabinogalactan supplements may support immune health and help reduce the number of common cold infections.

Researchers from Naturalpha in France examined data from cell, animal, and human studies. The cell and animal studies suggested that larch arabinogalactan may enhance natural killer cells and macrophages.

The human studies suggested that the supplements could have an immunostimulatory effect. One human study found that incidence of cold episodes was reduced by 23% in people who took larch arabinogalactan supplements, compared to those who took a placebo.

The study was published on April 12, 2016, in Nutrition & Metabolism.

Larch trees are a type of evergreen native to the Alps and Russia. Arabinogalactan is made from the bark of the Larch tree. It is a source of dietary fiber that acts as a prebiotic by serving as a food supply to friendly intestinal bacteria. Previous studies have also shown that it may boost the immune system and lessen the severity of cold and flu symptoms.

May 18, 2016

High Muscle Mass Linked to Reduced Risk of Cardiovascular Mortality

Filed under: Exercise — Sarah @ 9:00 am

Cardiovascular disease is the number one killer in the United States, but how fit you are may help determine whether or not you die from it. A recent study suggests that people with cardiovascular disease and high muscle mass and low body fat are less likely to die than those with other body compositions.

Participants in the study included 6,451 people with cardiovascular disease that took part in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, which took place from 1999 to 2004. The participants were categorized into four groups;

  1. low muscle/low fat mass
  2. low muscle/high fat mass
  3. high muscle/low fat mass
  4. high muscle/high fat mass

The researchers found that people with high muscle mass and low fat mass had the lowest risk of cardiovascular mortality and of total mortality, when compared with the other three groups.

Researchers from the University of California, Los Angeles, conducted the study. It was published online ahead of print on February 2, 2016, in The American Journal of Cardiology.

The best way to obtain high muscle mass and low body fat is through a combination of a balanced diet and regular exercise. Previous clinical studies suggest that even moderate exercise can reduce your risk of dying prematurely, help with blood sugar control, reduce body weight, improve heart health and improve respiratory health.

May 17, 2016

Black Raspberry Extract May Reduce Arterial Stiffness

Filed under: Antioxidants — Emma @ 9:17 am

Increased arterial stiffness is associated with an increased risk of major cardiovascular events. A recent study suggests that taking a black raspberry extract may lower arterial stiffness and improve heart health.

Participants in the study included 51 people with metabolic syndrome. Half of them were given 750 mg of black raspberry supplement and half were given a placebo daily for 12 weeks. The researchers recorded blood pressure, vascular stiffness, circulating endothelial progenitor cells, and markers of inflammation at the beginning and end of the study.

At the conclusion of the study, the researchers noted an 8% reduction in vascular stiffness in the black raspberry group when compared with the placebo group. They also noted that circulating endothelial progenitor cells (which repair and regenerate damaged arteries) were significantly higher at 19 microlitres in the black raspberry group compared with -28 microlitres in the placebo group. Finally, inflammation markers such as interleukin-6 and tumor necrosis factor-alpha were significantly reduced in the black raspberry group, but not in the placebo group.

Researchers from Korea University Anam Hospital and Gochang Black Raspberry Research Institute in South Korea conducted the study. It was published online ahead of print on February 18, 2016, in the Journal of Medicinal Food.

Black raspberries are rich in antioxidants, particularly one called ellagic acid. Previous studies suggest that the ellagic acid in black raspberries may help improve vision and heart health, lower blood pressure, and improve memory in mature adults.

May 16, 2016

Long Term Multivitamin Use May Lower Risk of Cardiovascular Disease

Filed under: Multivitamins — Sarah @ 9:04 am

Cardiovascular disease is the leading killer in the United States. A recent study suggests that taking a daily multivitamin may protect men from cardiovascular events such as heart attack and stroke over a long period of time, but not in the short term.

Participants in the study included 18,530 men age 40 and older that took part in the Physicians’ Health Study I. The researchers collected lifestyle and clinical information — including intake of certain foods and supplements — at the beginning of the study. They followed up with the particiapnts on average for 12.2 years.

During the study period, 1,697 cases of major cardiovascular disease occurred. The researchers found no significant correlation between taking multivitamins and risk of cardiovascular disease when they examined the data as a whole. However, when they focused specifically on people who took multivitamins for at least 20 years, they found a 44% reduction in risk of a major cardiovascular event.

Researchers from Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health conducted the study. It was published online ahead of print on April 27, 2016, in The Journal of Nutrition.

Previous studies have shown that multivitamins may aid in weight loss, reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, and boost general physical health. Other studies have also shown that the cells of people who routinely take multivitamins have a younger biological age.

May 13, 2016

Lutein, Zeaxanthin, and Omega-3s Shown to Support Eye Health

Filed under: Lutein & Zeaxanthin — Emma @ 8:57 am

As we age, our eyes naturally start to degenerate. A recent series of studies suggest that consuming a dairy drink containing lutein, zeaxanthin, and DHA-enriched egg yolk may improve eye health.

Participants in the study included 101 people with age-related eye damage. Over the course of one year, 52 of the participants were given 80 mL of an enriched buttermilk drink that contained an average of 1.38 mg of lutein, 0.21 mg of zeaxanthin, and 160 mg of omega-3 DHA daily. The other 49 received a control drink that did not contain the added nutrients. Plasma lutein and zeaxanthin levels were measured at the beginning and end of the study.

At the conclusion of the study, the researchers noted a 15.6% improvement in macular pigment optical density and a 94% increase in plasma lutein concentrations. They also noted a tendency toward an increase of dark adaptation rate in the intervention group, while the control group had a tendency to decrease.

Researchers from Maastricht University Medical Centre conducted the study. It was published online ahead of print on March 16, 2016, in the Journal of Opthalmology.

Lutein and zeaxanthin are the only two carotenoids that can build macular pigment. Lutein and zeaxanthin create the yellow pigmentation of the macula, which is the part of the eye that provides protection from damaging blue light. If the yellow macular pigment is too thin, blue light can penetrate the retina and cause long-term damage. You can increase your lutein and zeaxanthin levels by consuming more green leafy vegetables, corn, and egg yolk.

Omega-3s have been linked to a number of health benefits, including 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 omega-3s. For vegans like the ones in this study or for folks who just don’t like fish, consider taking a daily high quality non-fish supplement that has been tested for purity and potency.

May 12, 2016

Study Suggests Magnesium May Play Essential Role in Circadian Rhythm

Filed under: Magnesium — Sarah @ 9:00 am

The circadian rhythm refers to physical, mental and behavioral changes that follow a roughly 24-hour cycle, responding primarily to light and darkness in a person’s environment. A recent study suggests that the amount of magnesium a person consumes may directly affect their circadian rhythm.

For this study, researchers examined human cells, algae, and fungi. They found that magnesium levels increased and decreased in sync with the day’s cycle. They also found that magnesium levels were linked with the rate of metabolism in cells. They theorized that this was due to the fact that magnesium acts as fuel for the body’s biochemical reactions and those needs change throughout the day and night.

They also noted that magnesium levels were controlled within a feedback loop that helped regulate the genes that control circadian rhythms.

Researchers from the University of Edinburgh and the MRC Laboratory for Molecular Biology in Cambridge conducted the study. It was published on April 21, 2016, in the journal Nature.

Magnesium helps build bones, enables nerves to function, and is essential to the production of energy from food. Previous studies have linked magnesium to reduced incidences of heart disease, hypertension and diabetes. Magnesium deficiency, which tends to be especially prevalent in older populations, is linked to insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome, coronary heart disease 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.

May 11, 2016

Curcumin and Fenugreek May Help Combat Work-Related Stress

Filed under: Curcumin — Sarah @ 9:01 am

The National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health has reported that Americans are suffering from rising levels of work-related stress, which is increasing the risk of neurodegenerative disorders and cardiovascular disease. A recent study suggests that a supplement of curcumin and fenugreek may boost the quality of life index in people with work-related stress by fighting oxidative stress, a key factor in those illnesses.

Participants in the study included 60 people with significant occupational stress, mediated anxiety, and fatigue. They were assigned either 500 mg twice daily of the curcumin/fenugreek supplement, an unformulated natural curcumin with 95% purity, or a placebo daily for 30 days. The researchers measured stress, quality of life factors, and anxiety levels using a range of industry-standard tests at the beginning and end of the study.

At the conclusion of the study, the researchers found significant increase in antioxidant activity in the curcumin//fenugreek group. Specifically, they noted a 77% increase in glutathione, a 70% increase in glutathione peroxidase, and a 59.8% increase in superoxide dismutase. They also noted a 53.6% reduction in lipid peroxidation.

Additionally, the curcumin/fenugreek group had reductions in perceived psychological stress when compared with the other two groups.

Researchers from SMO Connect Clinical Research Services and Amala Cancer Research Centre, in India, conducted the study. It was published in the June 2016 issue of the Journal of Clinical Psychopharmacology.

Curcumin has been used in folk remedies for years to ease menstrual cramping, help heal wounds, and to improve the appearance of skin. 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 want a high dose of curcumin like the one used in this study, you can take a high quality supplement.

Previous studies have found a correlation between fenugreek seed extract and digestive health, improved heart health, improving female sexual function, and lowering high levels of cholesterol and triglycerides. Fenugreek has a sweet taste that is often compared to maple syrup and can be added directly to food. It can also be ingested as a supplement.

May 10, 2016

Açai Berry Pulp May Boost Antioxidant Activity in Healthy Women

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

Açai (pronounced ah-sigh-ee) is a tropical super fruit packed full of antioxidants. A recent study suggest that consuming açai pulp may help boost antioxidant enzyme activity and lower the production of reactive oxygen species.

Participants in the study included 35 healthy women who were given 200 grams of açai pulp daily for four weeks. The researchers collected blood samples at the beginning and end of the study.

The researchers found a more than 4,000% increase in catalase activity. Catalase enzymes turn hydrogen peroxide into water and oxygen and are essential for protecting cells from oxidative damage. They also noted a 104% increase in total antioxidant activity as well as reductions in the concentration of protein carbonyl (a marker of protein oxidative damage) and an increase in concentration of sulfhydrul groups (a marker of antioxidant capacity).

The researchers did not note any significant changes in superoxide dismutase or glutathione peroxidase activities nor in any anthropometric, clinical, or biochemical characteristics.

Researchers from the Federal University of Ouro Preto conducted the study. It was published online ahead of print on December 29, 2015, in Nutrition.

Açai berries were introduced to the western world during the last few decades and their benefits are just beginning to be verified by the scientific community. The researchers in this study expressed a need for further human studies to determine how much acai is needed to maintain health and help reduce the risk of chronic diseases.

Indigenous Amazonian tribes have been consuming açai berries for thousands of years. The berries look like grapes but taste like a tropical fruit. Previous studies have found that açai may

May 9, 2016

Combination of Fish Oil, Cocoa, and Plant Sterols May Benefit Heart Health

Filed under: Omega-3 — Sarah @ 9:08 am

Heart disease is the number one killer in America and various studies suggest that different supplement and food interventions may help protect against it. A recent study adds to that body of work, suggesting that combining fish oil, cocoa extract, and plant sterols might be effective in warding off heart disease by fighting atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries).

While a number of previous studies has found that each of these supplements individually helps fight atherosclerosis, the goal of this study was to see the effect of a combination of all three.

Researchers used cell-based models for this study. They found that a supplement containing fish oil, cocoa extract, and plant sterols weakened cells that were involved in artery build-up and blockage. They also found improvements in the cells that are responsible for transporting cholesterol as well as decreased activity from the cells that tend to promote inflammation.

Researchers from Cardiff University and Cultech Limited conducted the study. It was published on March 7, 2016, in PLOS One.

Fish oil has also been linked to numerous other health benefits, including combating diabetes, lowering cholesterol, improving vision, reducing the risk of dementia and relieving depression.

Cocoa has recently been linked with various health benefits, including improving skin health and brain health. It is important to note that not all chocolate is created equal: chocolates with a higher percentage of cocoa tend to be much healthier. This is because darker chocolate has higher levels of flavonoids.

Plant sterols have been previously shown to reduce cholesterol, sometimes by as much as 17%. They can be found in small quantities in fruits, vegetables, vegetable oils, nuts, seeds, cereals and legumes. There are also a number of foods that are fortified with plant sterols, such as spreads, mayonnaise, orange juice and granola bars.

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