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June 30, 2015

Probiotic May Help Improve Recovery and Reduce Muscle Damage Post-Workout

Filed under: Exercise — Emma @ 10:22 am
Emma McGowan NatureCity author & contributor

Athletes have long used protein to improve recovery following a workout. Now a recent study has found that adding the probiotic Bacillus coagulans to casein protein may help may lower the amount of muscle damage from working out and boost post-exercise recovery.

Participants in the study included 30 trained, young male athletes who were given either 20 grams of casein protein alone or 20 grams of casien protein plus 500 million CFU of Bacillus coagulans. They then underwent a heavy weight lifting period designed to stress their quadriceps. The researchers measured peak power and vertical jump power before and after the workout.

The combination group had lower muscle damage and quicker recovery time than the protein group alone. There was also a significant decrease in performance and power in the protein group, whereas the combination group actually increased in both.

This is the first study to link probiotic supplementation with an actual improvement in sports performance. The researchers believe that further research is needed to clarify the links between movement, exercise, diet and overall gut health.

Researchers from the Milwaukee, Wisconsin-based firm Increnovo conducted the study. It was presented at the 2015 Probiota Americas conference held in San Diego the week of June 3, 2015.

Bacillus coagulans is a lactic acid-forming bacterial species within the genus Bacillus. Previous studies suggest that it may help with improving vaginal flora, lowering abdominal pain and bloating in people with irritable bowel syndrome, and boosting immunity in response to viruses. Bacillus coagulans can be taken in supplement form.

June 29, 2015

Zeaxanthin, Lutein, and Omega-3s Together May Contribute to Improved Vision

Filed under: Lutein & Zeaxanthin — Sarah @ 10:19 am
Sarah McGowan-Freije, NatureCity author & contributor

Macular pigment optical density is an indicator of xanthophyll levels in the eyes, and may be a biomarker for predicting the risk of eye disease. A recent study suggests that supplementation with zeaxanthin, with or without lutein and omega-3s, may increase macular pigment optical density and visual processing speed.

Participants in the study included 69 young people between the ages of 18 and 32. Over the course of four months, they were given 20 mg of zeaxanthin, 26 mg of zeaxanthin in combination with 8 mg of lutein and 190 mg of omega-3s or a placebo. Macular pigment optical density and temporal contrast sensitivity function were measured at the onset and conclusion of the study.

At the end of the study, the combination supplement group and the zeaxanthin-only group both showed increases of 20% in macular pigment optical density and increases of 20% in temporal processing speed. The placebo group had no changes.

Researchers from SUNY Oswego and the University of Georgia, Athens, conducted the study. It was published DATE in Archives of Biochemistry and Biophysics.

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 vegetables, corn, and egg yolk.

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.


June 26, 2015

Fermented Foods May Help Lower Social Anxiety

Filed under: Probiotics — Sarah @ 9:35 am
Sarah McGowan-Freije, NatureCity author & contributor

It has been suggested that probiotic bacteria may help decrease feelings of anxiety. A recent study has found a link between eating more fermented foods that contain probiotic or “good” bacteria and a decrease in social anxiety, particularly in people with a high genetic risk of social anxiety.

Participants in the study included 710 university students, 445 of whom were women. All of the participants filled out a questionnaire that asked about their consumption of fermented foods over the past 30 days. It also asked how often they exercised, and their average consumption of fruit and vegetables.

After examining the data, the researchers found that higher intake of fermented foods was associated with fewer symptoms of social anxiety. The association was strongest in people who were high in neuroticism.

Increased exercise was also associated with decreased social anxiety.

This study was the first in what the researchers say will be a series of studies examining the association between actions in the gut and effects on the brain.

Researchers from the College of William and Mary conducted the study. It was published online ahead of print on April 28, 2015, in Psychiatry Research.

Traditional fermented foods include kimchi and other pickled Asian vegetables. They can be found in Asian supermarkets and make a great addition to lunch or dinner. Previous studies suggest that fermented foods high in probiotics may also help with other forms of mental health.

June 25, 2015

Citrus Extract May Help Men Lose Weight

Filed under: Food and Nutrition — Emma @ 9:33 am
Emma McGowan NatureCity author & contributor

Having a large amount of abdominal fat increases the risk of cardiovascular disease, type-2 diabetes, colorectal cancer and sleep apnea. A recent study suggests that a combination of extracts from blood orange, grapefruit, sweet orange, and guarana may help men reduce abdominal fat as well as reduce waist and hip size.

Participants in the study included 25 men between the ages of 30 and 45 with BMIs between 26 and 29.9 kg/m2. All of the men were told to follow a diet containing between 2200 and 2500 calories per day and to exercise for 30 minutes every week. For twelve weeks, half of the men were also given 900 mg of the citrus fruit extract while the other half were given a placebo daily.

At the conclusion of the study, the citrus group had a 9.7% reduction in abdominal fat, while the placebo group had only a 4.8% reduction. The citrus group also had decreases in waist and hip sizes of 7.4 cm and 5.6 cm, respectively. The placebo group had reductions of only 2.1 cm and 2.0 cm.

Additionally, the citrus group had a 3.75% reduction in total body weight, compared with a 1.76% reduction in the placebo group. Finally, the waist to hip ratio was reduced by 2.27% in the citrus group, compared to only 0.20% in the placebo group.

Researchers from Fytexia, RDVC Produits Santé (Le Havre) and the University of Montpellier conducted the study. It was published online ahead of print on June 3, 2015, in the International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition.

In addition to helping with weight loss, the nutrients and antioxidants in citrus fruits have been linked to improved skin appearance, lower blood pressure, and reducing the risk of stroke. These health benefits are most often attributed to the high vitamin C and polyphenol levels in the fruits. Polyphenols are a type of antioxidant.

Citrus fruits make a great snack and can be easily integrated into your diet by adding them to cereal or yogurt in the morning, drinking them in smoothies, or adding them to your dessert.

June 24, 2015

Echinacea May be as Effective as Antiviral Medicine for Early Treatment of Flu

Filed under: Lifestyle — Sarah @ 10:30 am
Sarah McGowan-Freije, NatureCity author & contributor

Echinacea has long been used as a folk remedy for colds and flus. A recent study suggests that it may be as effective as the antiviral medicine Tamiflu in early treatment of the flu.

Participants in the study included 473 people had been exhibiting flu symptoms for fewer than 48 hours. They were given either a syrup containing Echinacea for 10 days or Tamiflu for five days, followed by a placebo for five days.

After one day of treatment, 1.5% of the Echinacea group had “mild or no symptoms,” while 4.1% of the Tamiflu group exhibited the same. At day five, the Echinacea group had 50.2% recovery, while the Tamiflu group had 48.8% recovery. Finally, at the end of the ten-day period, the Echinacea group had 90.1% recovery and the Tamiflu group had 84.8% recovery.

Researchers from PLACE conducted the study. It was published online ahead of print on April 20, 2015, in Current Therapeutic Research.

While most commonly used to relieve cold symptoms, Echinacea has been linked with boosting the immune system, relieving pain and reducing inflammation. The optimal way to increase your Echinacea intake is to take a daily, high quality supplement.

June 23, 2015

L-citrulline Plus Glutathione May Boost Nitrite Levels in Blood and Help Improve Blood Flow

Filed under: Lifestyle — Emma @ 9:49 am
Emma McGowan NatureCity author & contributor

Initial studies have found that L-citrulline may help increase levels of nitrite and nitrogen oxide levels, which are important for keeping blood thin and flowing. A recent study suggests that supplementation with L-citrulline in combination with glutathione may help increase nitrite and nitric oxide levels in the blood and improve blood flow better than L-citrulline alone.

Participants in the study included 60 resistance-trained men with an average age of 22. Over the course of seven days they were give either 2 grams of L-citrulline alone, 1 gram of glutathione alone, 2 grams of L-citrulline plus 200 mg of glutathione, or a placebo.

At the conclusion of the study, the researchers found that the combination group had significantly higher nitrite and nitrogen oxide levels 30 minutes after exercise when compared with the placebo group.

Participants in the combination group also had a non-significant increase in cyclic guanosine monophosphate synthesis. Cyclic guanosine monophosphate synthesis relaxes smooth muscle tissues. Relaxation of vascular smooth muscles leads to vasodilation and increased blood flow.

Researchers from Baylor University conducted the study. It was published on June 10, 2015, in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition.

Recent studies suggest that L-citrulline has antioxidant properties that could be useful in combating hypertension, heart failure, and atherosclerosis. In addition to supplements, L-citrulluine is also found in watermelons, other melons, squash, cucumbers, and pumpkins.

Previous research has shown that glutathione neutralizes free radicals, enhances the immune system and detoxifies the liver. It also protects cells from bacteria, viruses and toxins.

Foods rich in glutathione include asparagus, spinach, avocado, squash, melons, grapefruit and peaches. It is also found in meat sources of protein, whole wheat, oatmeal, bran flakes, popcorn, and whey protein. While eating a balanced diet is the best way to increase your glutathione intake, this study shows that taking oral glutathione supplements is also a viable option.

June 22, 2015

Flaxseed May Help Lower Blood Pressure

Filed under: Food and Nutrition — Sarah @ 10:46 pm
Sarah McGowan-Freije, NatureCity author & contributor

High blood pressure has long been known to contribute to heart disease and other cardiovascular problems. A recent study suggests that flaxseed supplements may help reduce blood pressure and therefore lower the risk of dying from cardiovascular disease.

Previous studies looking at the link between flaxseed and blood pressure have had inconclusive results. Researchers from the University of Medicine and Pharmacy in Romania decided to conduct an analysis of previous studies to determine if such a link does exist. They looked at 15 different trials that included 1,302 people.

After examining all of the data, the researchers determined that supplementation with flaxseed was associated with an average 2.85 mmHg reduction in systolic blood pressure and 2.39 mmHg reduction in diastolic blood pressure. They also noted further reductions when supplementation lasted more than 12 weeks, with systolic blood pressure going down by 3.10 mmHg and diastolic by 2.62 mmHg.

The researchers concluded that the reduction in blood pressure seen here has the potential to reduce the risk of death by cardiovascular disease by 22%.

It was published online ahead of print on May 29, 2015, in the journal Clinical Nutrition.

Flaxseed fiber has been associated with a reduced risk of breast cancer, improved skin health, preventing stroke, and reducing the risk of developing diabetes. You can increase your flaxseed intake by adding some to your morning cereal or by taking a high quality supplement.

June 19, 2015

Fish Oil Combined With Strength Training May Boost Immunity in Older Adults

Filed under: Omega-3 — Sarah @ 4:19 pm
Sarah McGowan-Freije, NatureCity author & contributor

Our immune system gets weaker as we age, making mature adults more vulnerable to infectious, chronic degenerative, autoimmune and malignant disease. A recent study has found that a combination of fish oil and strength training may help mature adults boost their immunity.

Participants in the study included 45 women with an average age of 64. They were assigned to one of three groups: strength training alone for 90 days, strength training with 2 g of fish oil daily for 90 days, or 2 g fish oil for 60 days followed by strength training and fish oil for 90 days. The fish oil contained 180 g EPA and 120 g DHA per kilogram. The strength training occurred three times per week and included floor and upright hip, leg, knee, and foot exercises.

A number of innate and adaptive immune parameters were assessed at baseline, before training and after training.

Strength training alone produced no changes in the immune system. On the other hand, both groups taking the fish oil experienced significant improvements in two markers used to asses immune system function.

The first was Cytokine IL-2, which is a protein that regulates the activities of the white blood cells that are responsible for immunity. Cytokine IL-2 production was increased by 80% with the fish oil supplementation, and 85% with supplementation plus exercise.

The second was IFN-g, a cytokine that is critical for innate and adaptive immunity against viral and some bacterial and protozoal infections. IFN-g was increased by 60% with fish oil and 88% when the fish oil was combined with exercise.

What’s more, fish oil supplementation helped to boost the immune system by increasing white blood cell function, and increasing the number of CD4r and CD8r lymphocytes and lymphocyte cytokines. CD4r and CD8r lymphocytes fight against infections and lymphocyte cytokines are proteins responsible for cell signaling in the immune system

Researchers from Paraná Federal University and the Pequeno Principe Research Institute in Brazil conducted the study. It was published online ahead of print on June 10, 2015, in the British Journal of Nutrition.

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.

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.

June 18, 2015

Flavanone-Rich Grapefruit Juice Linked to Reduced Arterial Stiffness

Filed under: Flavonoids — Emma @ 3:24 pm
Emma McGowan NatureCity author & contributor

A recent study suggests that flavanone-rich grapefruit juice may improve arterial function by reducing carotid-femoral pulse wave velocity. Carotid-femoral pulse wave velocity is considered the gold standard measurement of central arterial stiffness.

 Participants in the study included 48 healthy postmenopausal women who were given either 340 ml of grapefruit juice containing 210 mg of naringenin gllycosides or a control drink daily for six months. That was followed by a two-month washout period, after which the participants crossed over to the other intervention.

 After six months of supplementation, mean carotid-femoral pulse wave velocity in the grapefruit juice group was 7.36 m/s, compared to 7.70 m/s in the placebo group. That reduction was considered to be statistically significant.

 However, no changes were found in endothelial function, blood pressure, or markers of inflammation and oxidative stress.

 The researchers believe that the reduction in carotid-femoral pulse wave velocity seen in this study could correspond with a 5% reduction in the global CVD risk.

 Researchers from the French National Institute for Agricultural Research and the French National Institute for Health and Medical Research conducted the study. It was published online ahead of print on May 27, 2015, in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

 Flavonones are naturally occurring antioxidants which have previously been shown to decrease inflammation, protect our DNA from damage, and improve heart and brain health by increasing blood flow.

 In addition to being packed with flavanones, grapefruits are rich in antioxidants and vitamin C. They have been shown to help ease arthritis symptoms, lower cholesterol and promote better digestion.

June 17, 2015

Green Tea Extract Shown to Support Prostate Health

Filed under: Antioxidants — Sarah @ 3:29 pm
Sarah McGowan-Freije, NatureCity author & contributor

A new study has linked a green tea extract supplement with lowering the rate of prostate cancer in men with high-grade prostatic intraepithelial neoplasia (HGPIN) and without atyipcal small acinar proliferation (ASAP). The supplement was also found to lower levels of the cancer biomarker prostate-specific antigen (PSA).

HGPIN is an abnormality of prostatic glands and is believed to precede the development of prostate cancer. ASAP is a collection of small prostatic glands that cannot be determined as benign or malignant. After a diagnosis of ASAP, the chance of finding prostate cancer in a subsequent biopsy is approximately 40%.

Participants in the study included 97 men who all had HGPIN and/or ASAP. They were given either 400 mg of epigallocatechin-3-gallate from green tea or a placebo daily for one year. The researchers compared prostate cancer rates, the cumulative rate of prostate cancer, blood PSA levels and the rate of development of ASAP in men with only HGPIN at the beginning of the study.

At the conclusion of the study, there were no significant differences found in the total number of prostate cases between the supplement and placebo groups. However, the men in the supplement group who only had HGPIN at the beginning of the study had a lower combined rate of ASAP and prostate cancer development.

Additionally, the green tea extract group had significantly lower PSA levels than those in the placebo group.

Researchers from the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center and Research Institute conducted the study. It was published online ahead of print on April 14, 2015, in Cancer Prevention Research.

Green tea has been linked in previous studies with numerous health benefits. These benefits are usually attributed to the high level of powerful antioxidants found in green tea called polyphenols, which have been shown to promote weight loss, improve heart health, aid in digestion and decrease the risk of neurodegenerative diseases.

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