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January 26, 2015

Potassium Supplements May Aid Bone Health

Filed under: Potassium — Emma @ 7:42 pm
Emma
Emma McGowan NatureCity author & contributor

A recent study suggests that taking supplements containing alkaline potassium salts may help strength bones by lowering the amount of calcium and acid excreted by the body. The supplements may also reduce excretion of the bone resorption marker N-terminal telopeptides or NTX.

For their analysis, the researchers looked at 14 studies that examined the effects of alkaline potassium salts on calcium metabolism and bone health. They found that taking alkaline potassium salts supplements was associated with significantly reduced excretion of calcium and acid in the urine of the participants.

Excess acid is common in the Western diet as a result of high consumption of animal and cereal proteins. Excess acid can cause bones to become weaker, increasing the risk of fracture. Lower acid levels in urine point to less acid in the body.

Lower levels of calcium in the urine indicate that the process of bone resorption has been reduced. Bone resorption is when bone minerals (such as calcium) are broken down and released into the blood. Lower bone resorption indicates stronger bones.

Researchers from the University of Surrey in the UK conducted the study. It was published in the January 2015 issue of the journal Osteoporosis International.

Previous studies have linked potassium with helping prevent hypoglycemia, diabetes, obesity and kidney disease. It may also help counteract muscle cramps.

Many foods are rich in potassium, including beans, avocados, bananas, whole grains, sweet potatoes, beet greens, tomato paste, yogurt, bananas and peaches. The USDA recommends that adults get 4,700 mg of potassium per day.



January 23, 2015

Low Vitamin D Levels May Lengthen Stay on Respiratory Support in ICU

Filed under: Vitamin D — Sarah @ 4:16 pm
Sarah
Sarah McGowan-Freije, NatureCity author & contributor

Numerous studies have highlighted the importance of vitamin D to overall health. Now, a recent Harvard Medical school study suggests that vitamin D status at time of admittance may affect how long intensive care unit (ICU) patients have to stay on respiratory support.

Participants in the study included 94 critically ill surgical patients who required 48 hours or more of mechanical ventilation and survived at least 24 hours after respiratory support was removed. The average vitamin D blood level at admission was 16 ng/mL and the average time on ventilation was four days.

The researchers found that every 10 ng/mL increase in vitamin D blood levels was associated with 34% less time on mechanical ventilation. That translates to 2% less time for every 1 ng/mL.

The researchers hypothesized that the correlation between low vitamin D levels and longer times spent on ventilation could potentially be due to respiratory muscle weakness, systemic inflammation, and infections associated with low vitamin D. They cautioned that more studies are necessary to determine the exact association between vitamin D and time spent on mechanical ventilation.

In addition to the Harvard researchers leading the study, researchers from Massachusetts General Hospital also took part in the study. It was published online ahead of print on January 6, 2015, in the Journal of Parenteral & Enteral Nutrition.

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.



January 22, 2015

Polyunsaturated Fatty Acid Oils May Improve Biomarkers Associated With Diabetes and Metabolic Syndrome

Filed under: Omega-3 — Emma @ 8:06 pm
Emma
Emma McGowan NatureCity author & contributor

A recent study suggests that a combination of borage and echium oils or fish oil may improve cholesterol levels and improve blood biomarkers in people with type-2 diabetes or metabolic syndrome.

Participants in the study included 59 people with early-stage type-2 diabetes or metabolic syndrome. Over the course of eight weeks they underwent one of three interventions:

1. a control in the form of corn oil;

2. a combination of borage and echium oils;

3. fish oil supplements.

At the conclusion of the study, the borage/echium oils group had a decrease in total cholesterol and LDL (“bad”) cholesterol. Total cholesterol dropped from 182.0 to 171.9 mg/dL and LDL cholesterol dropped from 106.3 to 96.8 mg/dL.

The fish oil group had increases in HDL (or “good”) cholesterol from 40.7 mg/dL to 53.6 mg/dL. They also showed a decrease in triglycerides from 187.2 to 156.8 mg/dL. The fish oil group also had decreases in the hemoglobin A1c test, which measures how well diabetes is being controlled.

Researchers from Wake Forest School of Medicine in North Carolina conducted the study. It was published on December 16, 2014, in Lipids in Health and Disease.

Fish oil and the omega-3s have been linked to numerous other health benefits, including combating diabetes, lowering cholesterol, improving vision, reducing the risk of dementia and relieving depression.

If you’re looking to increase your fish oil intake, try adding darker fish, such as salmon or tuna, to your diet. 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.

Borage oil contains omega-6 fatty acids gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), linoleic acid (LA), as well as relatively high levels of oleic acid. Previous studies have linked it with easing skin disorders, rheumatoid arthritis, PMS, ADHD, and inflammation. It can be purchased as oil or eaten in salad or soups.

Previous studies have linked echium oil with improved immunity and lower inflammation, as well as lower risk of a cardiac event. It is especially important for vegetarians and vegans, who don’t eat fish or eggs and therefore do not get enough essential EPA and DHA omega-3s through their diet.



January 21, 2015

Vitamin E From Annatto May Boost Heart-Healthy Diet

Filed under: Vitamin E — Sarah @ 4:56 pm
Sarah
Sarah McGowan-Freije, NatureCity author & contributor

Annatto is derived from the seeds of the achiote trees of tropical and subtropical regions around the world, and is a rich source of tocotrienols. A recent study suggests that taking vitamin E supplements extracted from annatto may increase the heart health benefits of the American Heart Association Step-1 diet.

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 suggest that many tocopherols (common in the American diet) may inhibit the absorption of tocotrienols. Annatto is the only known source of vitamin E that naturally has tocotrienols but no tocopherols.

Participants in the study included 31 people between the ages of 50 and 71 who had high cholesterol. All of the participants followed the American Heart Association Step-1 diet for four weeks. During this time they also took either 125, 250, 500, or 750 mg daily of tocotrienol that contained 90% delta- and 10% gamma-tocotrienols. All of the participants took all four doses over the course of the 30-week study.

At the conclusion of the study, the researchers found that simply changing to the heart healthy diet lowered lipid levels by 2-3%. After only four weeks, the 250 mg dose was found to be associated with a 15% decrease in total cholesterol, 18% decrease n LDL cholesterol, and a 14% decrease in triglycerides.

They also found that the cytokines associated with cardiovascular were all were down-regulated 39% to 64%.

There were no positive associations with the 125 mg dose, although the researchers theorized that there might have been if the study period was extended to eight weeks. Additionally, no effect on cholesterol was noted for the higher doses, leading the researchers to conclude that 250 mg was the ideal dose for heart health.

There were no negative side effects noted at any of the dosage levels.

Researchers from the University of Missouri-Kansas City and the National University of Medical Sciences in Pakistan conducted the study. It was published online ahead of print in January 2015 in the British Journal of Medicine and Medical Research.

Previous studies have shown that vitamin E intake is associated with lower cholesterol, healthier skin, maintaining a proper hormonal balance, and preventing 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.



January 20, 2015

Diabetes Risk May Be Linked With Magnesium Intake, Genetic Differences

Filed under: Magnesium — Emma @ 4:16 pm
Emma
Emma McGowan NatureCity author & contributor

Magnesium is known to help regulate insulin, an important factor when protecting against type-2 diabetes. The exact manner in which magnesium regulates insulin has been unclear until a recent study found that the risk for type-2 diabetes is closely linked with magnesium intake, genes, and ethnicity.

Participants in the study included 7,287 black women and 3,285 Hispanic women between the ages of 50 and 79 who took part in the Women’s Health Initiative. The researchers used the data to analyze the magnesium intake, type-2 diabetes status and genes of the participants. They identified 17 genes known to regulate how the body handles magnesium. They also identified 583 gene variations. These common one-letter differences (for example, a gene that has an “A” instead of a “G”) are also called single-nucleotide polymorphisms or SNPs.

After examining the data, they found that differences in these genes made a notable difference in diabetes risk. For example, Hispanic American women with high magnesium intake and the SNP “rs8028189” on the gene “NIPA2” had a 35% lower risk of developing type-2 diabetes than most women overall. In African American women, each copy of the gene “CNNM1” that had the SNP “rs6584273” were 16% less likely to develop type-2 diabetes.

The researchers stressed that better understanding of the links between magnesium and genes is needed in order to create effective interventions.

Researchers from Brown University and the Alpert Medical School conducted the study. It was published online head of spring on January 7, 2015, in The 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.



January 19, 2015

Spanish Black Radish May Help With Liver Detoxification of Pain Relievers

Filed under: Food and Nutrition — Sarah @ 9:06 pm
Sarah
Sarah McGowan-Freije, NatureCity author & contributor

Acetaminophen is a common pain reliever but too much can cause toxicity to build up in the body. A recent study suggests that Spanish black radish supplements may help enhance liver enzymes that aid in the detoxification of pain relievers.

Participants in the study included 20 healthy young men, 19 of whom completed the study. The researchers gave the men a 1000 mg dose of acetaminophen in the form of Tylenol Extra Strength at the beginning of the study. They then gave them a black radish supplement containing 2220 mg of black radish, 92 mg camu camu, 111.66 mg accrual, honey, manioc root, and calcium stearate daily for three weeks.

Four weeks after the first acetaminophen dose was given, the men were given a second, equal dose.

The researchers measured levels of un-metabolized acetaminophen after the first and second doses of acetaminophen. They found a decrease of 40% in the second measurement when compared with the first, as well as a 9% decrease of the acetaminophen glucuronide metabolite.

They also found an increase of urine levels of the acetaminophen sulfate and mercapturate metabolites from 11% to 37% when comparing the first and final measurements, signifying that the body was excreting more of the acetaminophen.

Researchers from KGK Synergies and Standard Process conducted the study. It was published on December 9, 2014, in BMC Complementary & Alternative Medicine.

Spanish black radish is a cruciferous vegetable in the same family as brussel sprouts, spinach, kale, and cabbage. Previous studies suggest that it may help with gallstones, improving blood lipids, improving intestinal health, and protection against bone marrow toxicity.

Spanish black radish can be eaten raw or cooked but it is known to have a strong, peppery flavor that can be toned down by peeling and cooking.



January 16, 2015

An Optimistic Attitude May Lower Risk of Heart Disease

Filed under: Lifestyle — Sarah @ 5:35 pm
Sarah
Sarah McGowan-Freije, NatureCity author & contributor

Cardiovascular disease usually affects older adults, but the antecedents begin in early life, especially atherosclerosis. A recent study suggests that having an optimistic attitude may help reduce the risk of developing cardiovascular disease.

Participants in the study included 6,000 people between the ages of 45 and 84 who took part in the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis. They lived in six U.S. regions, including Baltimore, Chicago, Forsyth County in North Carolina, and Los Angeles County. This is the first study looking at the correlation between optimism and cardiovascular health that is racially and ethnically diverse. Participants were 38% white, 28% African-American, 22% Hispanic/Latino, and 12% Chinese.

The study period started in July 2000 and continued for 11 years, with researchers collecting data every 18 months to two years. The data included assessments of mental health, levels of optimism, and physical health.

The researchers used the metrics from the American Heart Association’s Life’s Simple 7 public health campaign to determine heart health. The metrics include blood pressure, body mass index, fasting plasma glucose and serum cholesterol levels, dietary intake, physical activity, and tobacco use.

After analyzing the data, the researchers found that increases in optimism scores correlated with increases in health scores. In fact, the most optimistic participants were 50 to 76% more likely to have total health scores in the intermediate or ideal ranges.

When the researchers adjusted for socio-demographic characteristics such as age, race, ethnicity, income, and education status, optimistic people were twice as likely as not optimistic people to have good cardiovascular health. They were also 55% more likely to have a total health score in the intermediate range.

Finally, optimists had better blood sugar and total cholesterol levels than non-optimists. They also were more physically active, had healthier BMIs, and were less likely to be smokers.

Researchers from the University of Illinois conducted the study. It was published in the January 2015 issue of Health Behavior and Policy Review.

Maintaining an optimistic attitude can be difficult, especially for people with busy, stressful lives. Some studies suggest that practicing mindfulness, participating in yoga, and cultivating habits outside of work may help raise optimism.



January 15, 2015

Eating Blueberries May Reduce the Risk of Cardiovascular Disease

Filed under: Antioxidants — Emma @ 3:57 pm
Emma
Emma McGowan NatureCity author & contributor

Cardiovascular disease is one of the leading killers in the United States. A recent study suggests that consuming the equivalent of one cup of blueberries per day may reduce blood pressure and arterial stiffness, two risk factors for cardiovascular disease.

Participants in the study included 48 post-menopausal women with pre- and stage-1 hypertension. Over the course of eight weeks they consumed either 22 grams of freeze-dried blueberry powder (which is equivalent to approximately one cup of fresh blueberries) or 22 grams of a placebo powder. All of the women were instructed to follow their usual diet and exercise.

The researchers measured blood pressure, arterial stiffness and specific blood biomarkers at the onset and conclusion of the study.

At the conclusion of the study, the researchers noted an average reduction of 7mmHg or 5.1% in the systolic blood pressure of the blueberry group, as well as a 5mmHg or 6.3% reduction in diastolic blood pressure. Systolic blood pressure measures the pressure on the heart when it is beating and is the top number on a blood pressure reading. Diastolic blood pressure measures the pressure on the heart when it is resting and is the bottom number.

The researchers also noted a 97 cm/second or 6.5% reduction in arterial stiffness in the blueberry group. Finally, the researchers found that nitric oxide (a blood biomarker associated with the widening of blood vessels) was increased by 68.5%. The researchers say this rise in nitric oxide helps explain the reductions in blood pressure.

Researchers from Florida State University led the study. It was published online ahead of print on January 7, 2015, in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

Previous studies have found associations between eating blueberries and a lower risk of dementia, aid in weight management, improved blood vessel function, lower blood pressure and reduced cholesterol. They are easy to add to your diet and go well with pancakes, salads and smoothies.



January 14, 2015

Manufactured Cocoa Flavanols May Improve Cognitive Function

Filed under: Flavonoids — Sarah @ 5:48 pm
Sarah
Sarah McGowan-Freije, NatureCity author & contributor

Flavanols are naturally occurring antioxidants found in chocolate and some fruits. A recent study suggests that consuming safe cocoa flavanols – a special type of flavanol that is produced in a lab and is not found naturally in chocolate – may help improve cognitive function.

Participants in the study included 90 mature adults between the ages of 61 and 80 with no evidence of cognitive dysfunction. Over the course of eight weeks they took part in one of three interventions:

1. high flavanol count (993 mg);

2. intermediate flavanol count (520 mg);

3. low flavanol count (48 mg).

In order to gauge changes in cognitive function, the researchers conducted a mini-mental state examination (MMSE), two trail-making tests, and a verbal fluency test (VFT) at the onset and conclusion of the study. They also measured insulin resistance, blood pressure, and lipid peroxidation.

The researchers noted that the low dose group had significantly worse performance on the trail-making test when compared with both the intermediate and the high dose group. They also noted improvements in verbal fluency across all three groups, with the high and intermediate dose groups showing the greatest improvements. However, there were no changes between the groups on the MMSE.

The high and intermediate dose groups also showed improvements in insulin resistance, blood pressure, and lipid peroxidation when compared with the low dose group. The researchers noted this is the second time they’ve observed a correlation between improved insulin sensitivity, flavanols and improved cognitive function but cautioned that more research is needed.

Researchers from the University of L’Aquila, Italy conducted the study. It was published online ahead of print in the February, 2015 edition of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Flavonols are the naturally occurring antioxidants found in cocoa which have previously been shown to decrease inflammation, protect DNA from damage and improve heart and brain health by increasing blood flow.



January 13, 2015

Eating One Avocado Per Day May Help Reduce Cholesterol

Filed under: Food and Nutrition — Emma @ 5:04 pm
Emma
Emma McGowan NatureCity author & contributor

Avocado is a popular fruit that sometimes gets a bad reputation for being too “fatty. However, a recent study suggests that eating one avocado containing monounsaturated fatty acids per day may help lower LDL or “bad” cholesterol.

Participants in the study included 45 overweight or obese participants between the ages of 21 and 70. All had high LDL cholesterol at the beginning of the study. They were instructed to participate in one of three diets over the course of five weeks:

1. a lower-fat diet (24% fat);

2. a moderate-fat diet (34% fat) including monounsaturated fatty acids in the form of high oleic acid oils such as olive oil;

3. a moderate-fat diet (34% fat) including monounsaturated fatty acids in the form of one Haas avocado.

At the conclusion of the study, all three diets lowered LDL and total cholesterol. However, the avocado diet was associated with higher reductions in LDL cholesterol: 13.5 mg/dL in the avocado diet, 8.3 mg/dL in the moderate-fat diet, and 7.4 mg/dL in the low-fat diet.

Researchers from Pennsylvania State University conducted the study. It was published online ahead of print on January 7, 2015, in the Journal of the American Heart Association.

Avocados are a great source of protein, fiber, potassium, vitamin K, vitamin B9, vitamin B6, vitamin C, and vitamin E.

Previous studies suggest that avocados may help reduce the risk of diabetes, help with weight loss, and even reduce the risk of developing certain types of cancer.



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