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October 31, 2014

Prebiotics and Synbiotics May Improve Cholesterol and Insulin Levels

Filed under: Probiotics — Emma @ 4:51 pm
Emma McGowan NatureCity author & contributor

People who are obese have a higher risk of type-2 diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and triglycerides, coronary heart disease and stroke. A recent study suggests that taking prebiotic and synbiotic supplements may help overweight and obese people improve their cholesterol and triglyceride levels.

Prebiotics are nondigestible carbohydrates that act as food for probiotics. Probiotics are bacteria that are similar to beneficial microorganisms found in the human gut. Synbiotics are a combination of prebiotics and probiotics.

For this study, researchers examined data from 13 clinical trials that included 513 overweight and obese adults. Nine of those trials included prebiotics and the other four looked at synbiotics.

The researchers found that taking prebiotic supplements was associated with lower LDL and total cholesterol levels as well as improved triglyceride and HDL levels in obese people with diabetes. The synbiotics, however, were only associated with lower fasting insulin levels and lower triglyceride concentrations.

Researchers from the Federal University of Santa Catarina in Brazil conducted the study. It was published online ahead of print on October 20, 2014, in Clinical Nutrition.

While probiotics are most commonly linked to improving digestion and gut health, they have also been shown to have other health benefits, including a stronger immune system, and a reduced 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.

October 30, 2014

Vitamin D May Help Lower Triglyceride Levels in Women

Filed under: Vitamin D — Emma @ 6:10 pm
Emma McGowan NatureCity author & contributor

High triglyceride levels are associated with a higher risk of developing heart disease. A recent study suggests that taking vitamin D supplements may help lower triglyceride levels in post-menopausal women with type-2 diabetes.

Participants in the study included 99 women with type-2 diabetes who took either 4,000 IU of vitamin D or a placebo daily for six months. At the conclusion of the study, the supplement group had higher blood levels of vitamin D and also lower levels of triglycerides, when compared with the placebo group.

While there were no changes in cholesterol levels, the researchers did note a non-significant association between vitamin D supplementation and HDL (or “good cholesterol”) levels.

Researchers from Mexico’s National Institute of Public Health conducted the study. It was published online ahead of print on October 13, 2014, in Clinical 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.

October 29, 2014

Moderate Alcohol Consumption in Later Years May Aid Memory

Filed under: Uncategorized — Sarah @ 4:23 pm
Sarah McGowan-Freije, NatureCity author & contributor

While drinking too much alcohol at once has been known to cause memory loss, a recent study suggests that drinking moderate amounts of alcohol when you’re over 60 may be associated with a better ability to recall memories of events.

Participants in the study included 660 patients in the Framingham Heart Study Offspring Cohort. All of the participants completed surveys to determine their level of alcohol consumption and demographics. In addition, the researchers conducted neuropsychological assessments and MRIs to determine whether or not they were genetically at risk for Alzheimer’s disease.

After examining all of the information, the researchers discovered an association between moderate alcohol consumption, higher episodic memory, and larger hippocampal brain volume. They did not find any association between moderate alcohol consumption and executive function or overall mental ability.

The link between light alcohol consumption and episodic memory was not seen when hippocampal volume was factored in. This suggests that hippocampal functioning may be the critical factor in these improvements.

Researchers from the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, University of Kentucky, and University of Maryland conducted the study. It was published online ahead of print on September 7, 2014, in the American Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease & Other Dementias.

Previous studies suggest that moderate alcohol consumption may be associated with a lower risk of heart disease and extending life expectancy. These benefits are particularly apparent with wine consumption because wine is high in a strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory called resveratrol.

It is important not to get carried away, however, because the negative effects of heavy drinking quickly overcome the potential benefits associated with 1-2 drinks a night.

October 28, 2014

Dried Apple Peel May Help Joint Health

Filed under: Antioxidants — Emma @ 6:10 pm
Emma McGowan NatureCity author & contributor

When joints become inflamed, whether from injury or age, it can lead to joint pain and restricted range of motion. A recent study suggests that taking a supplement of antioxidant-rich apple peel powder may improve range of motion and rotation in joints as well as reduce pain.

Participants in the study included 12 people between the ages of 48 and 73 who had reduced range of motion and chronic pain in their joints. They were given 4.25 grams of organic apple peel powder once a day for twelve weeks.

At the conclusion of the study, the participants showed improvements in range of motion in their backs and rotation improvement in the thoracic, lumbar, and hip joints. They also reported decreased pain.

They also had improved serum antioxidant protection status. Antioxidants help fight oxidative stress and reduce inflammation.

Researchers from NIS Labs conducted the study. It was published online ahead of print on October 1, 2014, in the Journal of Medicinal Food.

Apple peel powder is rich in antioxidants and fiber. Previous studies suggest that, in addition to joint health, apple peel powder may aid with cardiovascular health, cognitive function, immune health, and healthy stress responses.

October 27, 2014

Resveratrol May Help Improve Bone Health of Men With Metabolic Syndrome

Filed under: Resveratrol — Sarah @ 7:33 pm
Sarah McGowan-Freije, NatureCity author & contributor

Metabolic syndrome has been linked with low-grade inflammation that can lead to bone loss. A recent study suggests that taking a supplement of resveratrol may help improve spinal bone density in men with metabolic syndrome.

Metabolic syndrome is a group of risk factors associated with chronic disease, including high blood pressure, insulin resistance, large waist circumference, high triglyceride levels and high cholesterol. Those risk factors include high levels of triglycerides, abdominal obesity, high fasting blood sugar and high cholesterol.

Participants in the study included 66 middle-aged men with metabolic syndrome. They were given either 500 mg of resveratrol, 75 mg of resveratrol, or a placebo twice a day for 16 weeks.

At the conclusion of the study, the researchers found that the men who took the higher dose of resveratrol had a 2.6% increase in lumbar spine volumetric bone mineral density compared to the placebo group. They also had a 16% increase in levels of the bone formation marker bone alkaline phosphatase compared to the placebo group.

Researchers from the University Hospital in Aarhus, Denmark, conducted the study. It was published online ahead of print on October 16, 2014, in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.

Previous studies have shown resveratrol to be a powerful antioxidant with health benefits that include increasing energy levels, improving brain health, reducing the appearance of aging, improving metabolism, and improving liver function.

This antioxidant can be found in red wine, grapes, grape seed extract, and peanuts. A glass of red wine a day can provide a good amount of resveratrol, but excess drinking may counter balance the positive health benefits. Another good way to get resveratrol is through a high quality supplement.

October 24, 2014

Low Testosterone and Type-2 Diabetes May Increase Risk of Atherosclerosis

Filed under: Lifestyle — Emma @ 3:52 pm
Emma McGowan NatureCity author & contributor

A recent study suggests that men who have low testosterone and Type-2 diabetes are at a greater risk of developing atherosclerosis than men who have diabetes but have normal testosterone levels. Atherosclerosis is a condition where plaque builds up in the arteries and inhibits blood flow.

Participants in the study included 115 men with Type 2 diabetes. They were all younger than 70 and had no history of heart disease. The researchers measured testosterone levels and atherosclerotic markers including intimal media thickening of the layers in the carotid artery, the presence of atherosclerotic plaques, function of the endothelial cells, and inflammatory markers.

They found that the men who had both low testosterone levels and Type 2 diabetes were six times more likely to have increased thickness of the carotid artery and endothelial dysfunction when compared with those who had normal testosterone levels. Fifty-four percent of the participants with low testosterone were found to be at higher risk for vascular disease, compared to only 10% of those with normal testosterone.

Researchers from the Hospital Universitario Sanatorio Guemes in Buenos Aires conducted the study. It was published online ahead of print on October 16, 2014 in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.

Atherosclerosis has been linked with blood clots and burst arteries as fats, cholesterol, and other harmful substances build up there. While maintaining a healthy diet and exercising regularly are the best ways to ward of atherosclerosis, previous studies suggest that supplements of CoQ10, aged garlic, and ashwagandha may all help as well.

October 23, 2014

Muscle Loss May Be Slowed With HMB, Leucine and Exercise

Filed under: Exercise — Sarah @ 8:57 pm
Sarah McGowan-Freije, NatureCity author & contributor

Sarcopoenia is the degenerative loss of skeletal muscle mass, muscle quality and muscle strength that occurs with advancing age. While muscle loss is a natural part of aging, there are steps that can be taken to reduce it. Researchers suggest that a combination of resistance exercise, HMB and essential amino acids may help people maintain muscle health.

For their analysis, the researchers examined PubMed and Dialog medical research databases for studies published between January 2000 and October 2013. They measured the prevalence of sarcopenia, as well as the efficacy of physical interventions and nutritional supplementation in improving the symptoms of sarcopenia.

They found that resistance training was effective at improving muscle strength and physical performance. They also found that nutritional supplementation with leucine and HMB may improve muscle parameters.

Based on their findings, the researchers recommend supervised resistance exercise and supplements of essential amino acids with leucine and HMB to help people maintain muscle mass as they get older.

Researchers from the European Union Geriatric Medicine Society conducted this study. It was published on September 21, 2013, in the journal Age and Ageing.

Leucine is an essential amino acid that stimulates skeletal muscle protein synthesis, which starts the muscle building process. It is not, however, the only nutritional supplement that can help build muscle. Previous studies suggest that diary protein and creatine (which is found in red meat and supplemental form) may help as well.

HMB is a metabolite of the amino acid leucine. Recent studies have found that it may reduce the risk of sarcopenia and help support physical strength and functionality.

October 22, 2014

Curcumin May Improve Cognition and Mood in Mature Adults

Filed under: Curcumin — Emma @ 4:17 pm
Emma McGowan NatureCity author & contributor

Memory, attention, and energy all start to decline as we get older. A recent study suggests that taking curcumin supplements may improve attention, fatigue, and working memory in mature adults.

Participants in the study included 60 healthy people between the ages of 60 and 85 who were given either 80 mg of curcumin or a placebo every day for four weeks. One hour after taking the supplements, the researchers tested attention and working memory and found that the curcumin group showed improvements in both.

Working memory and fatigue were also improved in the curcumin group following four weeks of supplementation. The curcumin group experienced an average 1.82% decrease in fatigue following a mental challenge, while the placebo group had a 17% increase in fatigue. Additionally, measures of calmness and contentedness were higher in the curcumin group.

Researchers from the University of Melbourne conducted the study. It was published on October 2, 2014, in the Journal of Psychopharmacology.

Curcumin has been used in folk remedies for years to ease menstrual cramping, help heal wounds, and to improve the appearance of skin. Recent studies have suggested that it may also protect against prostate cancer, Alzheimer’s, diabetes and arthritis. All of these benefits are attributed to the anti-inflammatory properties of curcumin.

October 21, 2014

Dairy Protein May Improve Muscle Synthesis in Healthy Men

Filed under: Exercise — Emma @ 3:12 pm
Emma McGowan NatureCity author & contributor

A recent study suggests that eating a breakfast rich in protein from dairy – but not from soy – may stimulate mTOR (mammalian target of rapamycin). mTOR is an enzyme that is the primary regulator of muscle protein synthesis.

Participants in the study included 10 healthy men and 10 men with metabolic syndrome (MetS). Metabolic syndrome is the 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.

Half of the men ate a breakfast with a dairy protein while the other half ate a calorie-matched breakfast with soy protein. The researchers took muscle biopsies two and four hours after the meals. They found that mTOR levels were higher at the two- hour mark in the dairy group, but not the soy group. They also found higher levels of ribosomal protein S6 phosphoylation in that group. Ribosomal protein S6 phosphoylation is required for protein synthesis in human skeletal muscle.

The men with MetS showed no changes in mTOR levels.

Researchers from Deakin University conducted the study. It was published on September 30, 2014, in Nutrition & Metabolism.

Dairy consumption has also been linked to bone health, diabetes prevention, weight loss, and improved mental function. If you’re looking to add more dairy to your diet, consider sticking to the low-fat dairy products as the high fat content of whole milk products could negatively affect other areas of the body.

October 20, 2014

Osteoporosis May Be More Deadly For Men Due to Lack of Treatment

Filed under: Lifestyle — Sarah @ 3:02 pm
Sarah McGowan-Freije, NatureCity author & contributor

Osteoporosis is often considered to be a disease that disproportionately affects women. However, recent data suggests that osteoporotic fractures occur in one in five men over 50, a number that is expected to rise dramatically in the next half century. By some estimates, from 1950 to 2050 there will be a 10-fold increase in the number of men aged 60 and older who have suffered from hip fractures.

Osteoporosis is the loss of bone mass through the thinning of bone tissue and loss of density. It occurs over time and seems to be linked to low levels of vitamin D, low calcium levels, and inadequate exercise.

Men often remain undiagnosed and untreated for osteoporosis, and are 50% less likely than women to receive treatment. Additionally a third of all hip fractures worldwide happen to men and mortality rates after experiencing a hip fracture may be as high as 37% for men. This makes men twice as likely as women to die after a hip fracture.

Researchers from Monash University in Australia compiled the data. It was published on October 20, 2014 by the International Osteoporosis Foundation in honor of World Osteoporosis Day.

Because osteoporosis occurs over the course of one’s life, it is important to focus on reducing the risk of the disease. Previous studies have found that good nutrition, weight-bearing exercise, stress reduction, and adequate levels of vitamin D have been shown to help reduce the risk of osteoporosis.

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