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May 22, 2015

Omega-3s May Boost Blood Flow, Performance in Athletes

Filed under: Omega-3 — Sarah @ 3:56 pm
Sarah McGowan-Freije, NatureCity author & contributor

A recent study suggests that supplements of omega-3 may increase nitric oxide in the blood and increase blood flow, leading to better exercise performance in cyclists.

Participants in the study included 13 elite cyclists who were given either 1.3 g of omega-3s or a placebo daily for three weeks. At the conclusion of the study, the researchers noted an average increase in nitric oxide levels of 9.6 micromoles per liter in the omega-3 group, while the placebo group showed increases of only 1.4 micromoles per liter.

The researchers also noted a 5.25% increase in flow-mediated dilation in the omega-3 group. This was associated with notable increases in maximal oxygen intake when compared with the placebo.

Researchers from the Academy of Physical Education in Katowice and the Medical University of Silesia conducted the study. It was published in the June 2015 issue of the European Journal of Sports Sciences.

Omega-3s have been linked to a number of health benefits, including alleviating arthritis painbetter 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.

May 21, 2015

Beta-Glucan Linked to Decrease in Cholesterol

Filed under: Beta-Glucan — Emma @ 2:39 pm
Emma McGowan NatureCity author & contributor

Many previous studies have found high levels of cholesterol, especially high levels of LDL or “bad” cholesterol, to be associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular events. A recent study suggests that consuming beta-glucan may help lower total and LDL cholesterol levels in people with high cholesterol.

Researchers from the People’s Hospital of Gaozhu in China examined 17 randomized controlled trials with a total of 916 subjects. Analysis of the data from the studies showed that beta-glucan was associated with an average 26 mmol/L and 21 mmol/L reduction of total and LDL cholesterol, respectively, but only in people with high cholesterol.

There were no adverse effects noted in any of the trials.

The study was published online ahead of print on April 29, 2015, in Nutrition, Metabolism & Cardiovascular Disease.

Previous studies have linked beta-glucan intake with lower cholesterol, managing diabetes, controlling allergies and improving the appearance of skin.

Beta-glucan can be found in dietary sources such as yeasts, algae, lichens, oats and barley. A high quality supplement is also a good option if you’re looking to increase your beta-glucan intake.

May 20, 2015

Time of Day Protein is Consumed May Effect Muscle Development, Strength

Filed under: Exercise — Sarah @ 3:47 pm
Sarah McGowan-Freije, NatureCity author & contributor

Previous studies have shown that consuming protein contributes to increases in muscles mass. However, a recent study suggests that if you consume protein before you sleep it may increase muscle mass and strength gains in response to resistance exercise.

Participants in the study included 44 young men with an average age of 22. All of the participants took part in the same 12-week resistance exercise-training program. Additionally, half of the group consumed a protein supplement every night before sleep that contained 27.5 g of protein, 15 g of carbohydrate, and 0.1 g of fat. The other half of the group took a placebo.

The researchers assessed muscle hypertrophy on a whole-body, limb, and muscle fiber level before and after exercise training. Strength was assessed regularly using one repetition maximum strength testing.

At the conclusion of the study, both groups had increases in muscle strength, however the increases were notably greater in the supplement group when compared with the placebo. Thigh muscle area went up by 1.3 inch squared in the supplement group but only .75 inches squared in the placebo group. The supplement group also increased leg extension and leg press strength by 23% and 25%, respectively.

Researchers from Maastrict University in the Netherlands conducted the study. It was published online ahead of print on April 29, 2015, in The Journal of Nutrition.

Protein functions as a building block for bones, muscles, cartilage, skin, blood, enzymes, hormones, and vitamins. To get the optimal benefit from protein, it’s important to choose the right type. Some good sources of animal protein include fish, poultry, and lean meat.

May 19, 2015

Botanical Blend May Aid With Weight Loss

Filed under: Diet & Weight loss — Emma @ 2:48 pm
Emma McGowan NatureCity author & contributor

Pancreatic lipase is an enzyme that is secreted by the pancreas when fat is present. A recent study suggests that taking a botanical blend containing Coleus forskohlii, Salacia reticulata, and Sesamum indium may inhibit pancreatic lipase, and reduce body fat by as much as 5%.

Participants in the study included men and women with a BMI between 25 and 30. Over the course of six weeks, the participants were given either 1000 mg of the botanical blend in the form of four 250 mg soft gels or a placebo.

At the conclusion of the study, the researchers found that the participants receiving the botanical blend had higher lipase inhibition. The results were more pronounced when the three extracts were taken together than when taken separately. They also found that the botanical blend group had 5% more fat loss than the placebo group.

Researchers led by Dr. Vladimir Badmaev from the American Medical Holdings conducted the study. It was published in the May 2015 issue of Journal of Functional Foods.

The botanical blend used in this study was a proprietary blend. However, previous studies suggest that natural lipase inhibitors may also be found in Japanese ginseng, polyphenols, flavonoids, and caffeine.

May 18, 2015

Safe Limits of Vitamin D May Be Higher Than Previously Thought

Filed under: Vitamin D — Sarah @ 5:27 pm
Sarah McGowan-Freije, NatureCity author & contributor

Some previous studies have suggested that high amounts of vitamin D in the blood may lead to calcium build up (hypercalcemia) in your blood. As a result, the Institute of Medicine recommends an upper limit of 50 ng/mL in people’s blood. However, a recent study suggests that the upper limit of vitamin D intake may be higher than previously thought.

Participants in the study included people who came to visit the Rochester Epidemiology Project in Olmsted County (home of the Mayo Clinic) between 2002 and 2011. The researchers examined medical records and lab data of those patients with vitamin D levels higher than 50 ng/mL and hypercalcemia within three months of the high vitamin D levels being noted. They sought to determine if the hypercalcemia was due to the high vitamin D levels or another cause.

During the ten-year study period, 20,308 vitamin D tests were performed. Of those, 1,714 (8%) had vitamin D levels higher than 50 ng/mL. Of the 1,714 with high levels, only four had the concentrations of vitamin D that are temporally associated with hypercalcemia and only one of those participants actually had clinical vitamin D toxicity.

That participant with clinical vitamin D toxicity was a 51-year-old woman who had vitamin D levels of 364 ng/mL and serum total calcium of 17.5 mg/dL. She was taking 50,000 IU of vitamin D daily and 3,000 mg calcium at least once a day for three months.

In addition, the researchers found that women who were older than 65 had the highest risk of vitamin D levels over 50 ng/mL. Also, vitamin D levels greater than 50 ng/mL increased from nine per 100,000 people at the beginning of the study to 233 per 1000,000 at the conclusion.

The researchers concluded that vitamin D is unlikely to be harmful up to 100 ng/mL.

Researchers from the Mayo Clinic conducted the study. It was published on May 1, 2015, in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings.

Previous studies have associated vitamin D with reducing the risk of skin damage, reducing the risk of osteoporosiscombating 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.

May 15, 2015

Two Minutes of Light Exercise Every Hour May Lower Risk of Dying Prematurely

Filed under: Exercise — Emma @ 3:42 pm
Emma McGowan NatureCity author & contributor

Multiple studies have shown that sitting for extended periods of time, as many Americans do, is detrimental to overall health and may even lead to an earlier death. A recent study suggests that adding just two minutes of walking every hour may help offset some of the negative effects of sitting.

Participants in the study included 3,243 people who took part in the NHANES study. All of the participants wore accelerometers that measured the intensity of their physical activities. There was a three-year follow up period, during which time there were 137 deaths.

After examining the data, the researchers found that decreasing sitting by two minutes every hour had no measurable effect on health. On the other hand, doing light intensity activities, such as walking for two minutes every hour, was associated with a 33% lower risk of dying.

Low intensity activities such as standing did not have the same effect.

The researchers pointed out that strolling for two minutes every hour for 16 hours per day adds up to burning 400 calories per week. This is close to the 600 calorie recommended goal for moderate exercise. While they admitted that moderate exercise every week is better, the researchers hope that this very manageable goal may encourage people to move around more.

Researchers from the Study Design and Biostatistics Center at the Center for Clinical and Translational Science conducted the study. It was published on April 30, 2015, in the Clinical Journal of American Society of Nephrology.

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 14, 2015

Sugary Drinks Linked to Increased Risk of Type 2 Diabetes

Filed under: Lifestyle — Sarah @ 4:29 pm
Sarah McGowan-Freije, NatureCity author & contributor

Sugary drinks increase the risk of type-2 diabetes, heart disease and other chronic conditions. A recent study suggests that for every 5% increase of a person’s total calorie intake that comes from sugary drinks, the risk of developing type 2 diabetes may increase by as much as 18%.

Participants in the study included more than 25,000 people between the ages of 40 and 79 who were living in Norfolk, England. All of the participants recorded everything they ate and drank for seven consecutive days. Particular attention was paid to type, amount, and frequency of consumption as well as whether they added sugar.

The study had an average 11 years of follow up, during which time 847 of the participants were diagnosed with type-2 diabetes.

Because the food diaries were so detailed, the researchers were able to assess the effects of several different types of sugary drinks. They were also able to examine what would happen if water, unsweetened tea, or artificially sweetened beverages were substituted for those drinks.

After examining the data, the researchers found that replacing one serving of a soft drink with a serving of water, unsweetened tea, or coffee, cut the risk of diabetes by 14%. Replacing a serving of sweetened milk beverage with water or unsweetened tea or coffee reduced the risk by 20%-25%. No difference in diabetes risk was seen when sugary drinks were replaced with artificially sweetened beverages.

The researchers also found that each 5% of higher intake of calories from sweet beverages was associated with an 18% higher risk of developing diabetes. They estimated that had the participants reduced their calories obtained from sweet beverages to below 10%, 5% or 2% of total daily calories, the result would have been a 3%, 7% or 15%, respectively, lower risk of new-onset diabetes cases.

Researchers from the UK Medical Research Council Epidemiology Unit at the University of Cambridge conducted the study. It was published the May 2015 issues of Diabetologia.

Previous studies suggest that the consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages is linked to the obesity epidemic in the US. Obesity increases the risk for adverse health conditions such as heart disease and stroke, type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome and osteoarthritis.

May 13, 2015

Cranberry Juice May Help Lower Cardiometabolic Risk

Filed under: Food and Nutrition — Emma @ 4:39 pm
Emma McGowan NatureCity author & contributor

Cardiometabolic risk is the risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes or stroke. A recent study suggests that drinking low-calorie cranberry juice may improve several cardiometabolic risk factors, including blood pressure and triglycerides.

Participants in the study included 56 men and women with a mean age of 50, a mean weight of 175 lbs., and a mean BMI of 28 kg/m2. Over the course of eight weeks they consumed one cup of cranberry juice containing 173 mg of phenolic compounds or a placebo twice daily.

At the conclusion of the study, participants who drank the cranberry juice had lower fasting serum triglyceride levels, 44% lower CRP levels, an average 2.4-mmHg lower diastolic blood pressure, and lower fasting plasma glucose. Improvements in insulin resistance were also noted.

The researchers were particularly impressed with the blood pressure improvements, which they note were on par with recommended dietary patterns to reduce blood pressure. They said this level of reduction has been associated with a 15% lower risk of stroke and a 10% lower risk of coronary heart disease.

Researchers from the Agricultural Research Service at the USDA and Ocean Spray Cranberries conducted the study. It was published online ahead of print on April 22, 2015, in The Journal of Nutrition.

Cranberries have anti-microbial and anti-carcinogenic properties, and 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, protection against heart disease, and inflammatory diseases. They also have been linked with lower plaque formation on teeth and improved cholesterol levels.

May 12, 2015

Probiotics May Help Reduce Depressive Feelings

Filed under: Probiotics — Sarah @ 12:29 pm
Sarah McGowan-Freije, NatureCity author & contributor

Depression is usually associated with the brain but other parts of your body may also have an influence on depressive feelings. A recent study suggests that taking a multistrain probiotic may reduce feelings of sadness and lessen the focus on bad feelings experiences from the past.

Participants in the study included 40 healthy subjects without current mood disorder. They were given a sachet containing either multistrain probiotics or a placebo that they mixed with lukewarm water or milk once daily for four weeks. The probiotic sachet contained Bifidobacterium bifidum W37, Bifidobacterium lactis W63, L. case W52, Lactobacilius acidophilus W37, Lactobacillus brevis W63, L. case W56, Lactobacillus salivarius W24, and Lactococcus lactis (W19 and W58).

The participants filled out a questionnaire indexing sensitivity to depression in a lab at the onset and conclusion of the study. The results showed that the probiotic group had significantly fewer aggressive and ruminative thoughts than the placebo group. They also had lower cognitive reactivity to sad mood. Ruminative thoughts were defined as recurrent thoughts about possible causes and consequences of one’s distress.

Researchers from the Leiden Institute of Brain and Cognition conducted the study. It was published online ahead of print on April 7, 2015, in Brain, Behavior, and Immunity.

While probiotics are most commonly associated with improving digestion and gut health, they have also been shown to have other health benefits These benefits include strengthening the immune system and reducing the 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.

May 11, 2015

High Dietary Intake of Alpha and Beta Carotenes May Lower Risk of Diabetes

Filed under: Flavonoids — Emma @ 7:20 pm
Emma McGowan NatureCity author & contributor

The risk of developing type-2 diabetes is closely linked with diet and exercise. A recent study suggest that high dietary intakes of alpha- and beta- carotene could help reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes by as much as 15% and 22%, respectively, in healthy adults.

Participants in the study included 37,846 people who took part in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition in the Netherlands. In that study group, the mean total carotenoid intake was 10 mg/day. During the 10-year follow up period, the researchers documented 915 new cases of type-2 diabetes.

After examining the data, the researchers found that higher amounts of alpha-carotene were associated with a 15% lower risk of developing type-2 diabetes. Higher amounts of beta-carotene were associated with a 22% lower risk. The study looked only at dietary intake. It did not examine the effect of supplements.

The researchers hypothesized that the beneficial effects were due to the antioxidant functions of carotenoids.

No association was found between any other carotenoids and type-2 diabetes.

Researchers from the University Medical Center Utrecht and the Dutch National Institute for Public Health and the Environment conducted the study. It was published in the April 2015 issue of Nutrition, Metabolism & Cardiovascular Diseases.

Beta-carotene is a type of antioxidant known as a flavonoid. Previous studies have found associations between beta-carotene intake and a lower risk of cardiovascular disease, improved oral health, and a lower risk of lung cancer. It can be found in vegetables and fruits that are green, yellow or orange.

Alpha-carotene is found in green and orange vegetables. It is the most common carotenoid in a healthy diet and has a strong antioxidant effect, fighting free radicals in the body.

Both beta carotene and alpha carotene are converted into vitamin A once they are consumed.

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