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April 22, 2014

Resveratrol Shown to Aid Diabetics With Glucose Control and Insulin Sensitivity

Filed under: Resveratrol — Emma @ 5:43 pm
Emma McGowan NatureCity author & contributor

Regulating blood sugar is very important for diabetics. A recent study suggests that taking a daily supplement of resveratrol may help with glucose control and insulin sensitivity in people with diabetes.

The researchers who performed the analysis examined 11 studies that included 388 participants. After analyzing the data, they determined that resveratrol significantly reduced fasting glucose and insulin in diabetics. Additionally, the researchers noted lower levels of hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c), which is a marker of too much glucose and insulin resistance.

There were no noted effects for non-diabetics.

The researchers believe that the effects noted here are due to the fact that resveratrol has been shown to activate a gene called sirtuin1 (Sirt1), which has an effect on energy restriction and therefore on blood sugar. They also hypothesized that it could be due to an increase in the insulin-dependent glucose transporter GLUT4 or that it may increase glucose uptake when there is a lack of insulin.

Researchers from the Third Military Medical University in China conducted the study. It was published online ahead of print on April 2, 2014, in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

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 will reverse the positive health benefits. Another good way to get resveratrol is through a high quality supplement.

April 18, 2014

Morning Light Linked to Lower BMI

Filed under: Diet & Weight loss — Emma @ 4:13 pm
Emma McGowan NatureCity author & contributor

Previous studies have shown that exposure to light can influence sleep and circadian timing, two things that influence weight regulation. Now, a new study has found that exposure to early morning light helps regulate the circadian rhythm and is associated with lower BMI.

Participants in the study included 54 people with an average age of 30. They wore wrist actigraphy monitors that recorded and measured their light exposure and sleep patterns for seven days. They also recorded their caloric intake in food logs.

At the conclusion of the study, the researchers found that morning light was associated with a 20% and 34.7% change in a person’s BMI. This held regardless of physical activity, caloric intake, sleep timing, age, or season.

The researchers theorize that this effect can be traced back to the circadian rhythm, also referred to as the body’s internal clock. Our bodies are programmed to expect light in the mornings and can get out of sync if not exposed to enough light in the morning. This can have alter metabolism and lead to weight gain.

The researchers emphasized that even people who rise early may not be getting enough light, as most Americans live in spaces that do not have a lot of natural light.

Researchers from Northwestern Medicine conducted the study. It was published on April 2, 2014, in the journal PLoS One.

This is the first study of its kind to examine the correlation between light exposure and BMI. However, people looking to lower their BMI should also consider eating probiotic cheese, dark chocolate, and foods that are high in calcium, as all of those have been linked with lower BMI.

April 17, 2014

Watermelon Extract May Help Lower Blood Pressure

Filed under: Polyphenols — Sarah @ 4:32 pm
Sarah McGowan-Freije, NatureCity author & contributor

The stress of cold temperatures causes blood pressure to increase and the heart to pump harder, increasing the risk of heart attack or stroke in cold weather. A recent study suggests that a watermelon extract could lower blood pressure in overweight people under stress.

Participants in the study included 13 middle-aged overweight or obese men and women with high blood pressure. The participants were instructed to place one hand in 39-degree water while the researchers took their blood pressure.

The group was then divided in two, with one group instructed to take four grams of the amino acid L-citrulline and two grams of L-arginine daily for six weeks. Both of those amino acids come from watermelon extract. The other half of the group took a placebo.

Following the initial six weeks, the participants underwent the opposite intervention. During the study period, none of them took blood pressure medication nor were they allowed to make any diet or exercise lifestyle changes.

At the conclusion of the study, the researchers noted that the watermelon extract improved aortic blood pressure and other vascular perimeters, both when the participants’ hearts were at rest and when they were stressed by the cold water.

Researchers from Florida State University conducted the study. It was published online ahead of print on February 26, 2014, in American Journal of Hypertension.

Watermelon is also rich in antioxidants and numerous studies have shown it to be good for heart health. It has also been shown to be good for reducing the risk of colon cancer, asthma, arthritis and prostate cancer.

April 16, 2014

Long-Term Vitamin D Insufficiency Linked To Fractures

Filed under: Vitamin D — Sarah @ 4:24 pm
Sarah McGowan-Freije, NatureCity author & contributor

Previous studies have linked vitamin D insufficiency to increased risk of fractures. Now a new study has shown that long-term vitamin D insufficiency in mature women may be associated with a higher risk of osteoporotic hip fractures.

Participants in the study included 1044 Swedish women who were 75 at the onset of the study. Of those women, 715 participated in a 5-year follow up. The researchers measured vitamin D levels at the beginning of the study and at the 5-year follow up period. Vitamin D levels were classified as high (greater than 75 nmol/L), intermediate (50 nmol/L), or low (less than 50 nmol/L). Women who fell into the same category both times were considered to have consistent levels.

The number of fractures that occurred was tracked for 10 years.

At the conclusion of the study, the researchers found that the women who consistently had at least 50 nmol/L levels of vitamin D suffered from significantly fewer hip fractures. 26% of the high group and 30% of the intermediate groups had fractures, compared with 45.6% in the low level group.

Researchers from Lund University conducted the study. It was presented at the World Congress on Osteoporosis, Osteoarthritis and Musculoskeletal Diseases on April 4, 2014.
Previous studies have associated vitamin D with reducing the risk of skin damage, 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.

April 15, 2014

Chewing Gum Linked With Lower Stress

Filed under: Lifestyle — Emma @ 4:23 pm
Emma McGowan NatureCity author & contributor

Stress can have both psychological and physical effects, including depression and higher blood pressure. A recent study used salivary markers to measure stress levels and found that chewing gum for more than 10 minutes may help reduce stress.

Participants in the study included 14 men who performed arithmetic calculations for 30 minutes in order to build up stress. Following that time, they chewed gum for 5, 10, 15 minutes or did not chew gun at all. Each participant was assigned each chewing conditions, each one on a different day.

The researchers collected salvia samples before and 25 minutes after completing the arithmetic calculations, regardless of the length of gum chewing. They also measured cortisol levels, a marker of stress.

No difference in salivary alpha-amylase activity was seen, however there was a greater decrease in cortisol levels in the 15-minute group than in the 5-minute group. The decrease in cortisol levels was also significantly greater at 10 and 15 minutes of chewing gum compared to no gum chewing.

Previous studies have found no connection between gum chewing and cortisol levels. The researchers believe this is due to the fact that those studies measured cortisol in the blood instead of saliva, and blood tests can raise stress.

Researchers from the Tokyo Dental College conducted the study. It was published in the January 2014 issue of Journal of Prosthodontic Research.

This study is not the first to highlight the cognitive benefits of chewing gum. For instance, a study by the University of Northumbria and the Cognitive Research Unit in England found that the act of chewing gum improves short and long term memory by as much as 35%.

Chewing gum has also been associated with promotion of weight loss, improved digestion, fewer cavities, and better concentration. When choosing a type of gum make sure it is sugar free, preservative free, and free of artificial sweeteners like aspartame, as the gum in this study was.

April 14, 2014

Drinking Coffee May Lower Risk of Mortality From Liver Cirrhosis

Filed under: Polyphenols — Sarah @ 10:15 am
Sarah McGowan-Freije, NatureCity author & contributor

A recent study suggests that drinking two or more cups of coffee per day could lower the risk of death from liver disease caused by non-viral hepatitis by as much as 66%.

Participants in the study included 63,275 Chinese adults between the ages of 45 and 75. All of them provided diet, lifestyle, and medical history to the researchers between 1993 and 1995 as part of the Singapore Chinese Health Study.

The researchers then followed the participants for an average of 15 years. During that time, 114 people died from cirrhosis. Of those deaths, 29 (33%) were from viral hepatitis, two (2%) from hepatitis and 14 (12%) from alcohol-related cirrhosis.

The researchers found that people who drank at least two cups of coffee daily were 66% less likely to die from cirrhosis caused by non-viral hepatitis than those who did not drink coffee. However, there was no association between lower risk of death and coffee for the individuals who had viral hepatitis B-related cirrhosis.

The researchers pointed out that the individuals who died from non-viral hepatitis-related cirrhosis were more likely to be older, diabetic, and overweight than the rest of the participants. Those characteristics are similar to those of people who suffer from non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), suggesting that coffee should be tested to see if it helps individuals with NAFLD.

Researchers from the Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School Singapore and the National University of Singapore conducted the study. It was published online ahead of print on February 6, 2014, in the journal Hepatology.

Previous studies have shown that coffee has a number of health benefits. These benefits are generally attributed to the powerful antioxidants found in coffee called polyphenols and include reducing the risk of developing diabetes, prostate cancer, cirrhosis and oral cavities.

April 11, 2014

Exercise and A Good Diet Important Even if No Weight Loss Occurs

Filed under: Diet & Weight loss — Emma @ 4:39 pm
Emma McGowan NatureCity author & contributor

Overweight people are often perceived as being at higher risk for certain diseases, regardless of their dietary and exercise habits. However, a recent study suggests that an overweight person who eats well and exercises regularly may be metabolically healthier than an overweight person who does neither.

Participants in the study included 181 children who were classified as obese. The researchers found that the children who ate more fruits and vegetables and less fatty meats and limited their screen time were healthier than their peers who did not do those things.

The researchers classified those children as metabolically healthy, which meant that they were at lower risk for obesity-related conditions such as type-2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. This held true even if the children did not lose weight.

While losing weight is still ideal in order to ward off those conditions, the researchers concluded that eating more healthy foods such as fruits and vegetables, being physically active and limiting time spent in front of a tv or computer are also beneficial.

Researchers from the University of Alberta and Alberta Health Services conducted the study. It was published online ahead of print on February 26, 2014, in Diabetes Care.

While this study shows that exercise and a balanced diet are important whether or not you lose weight, it’s also important to remember that obesity can have a number of negative effects 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.

April 10, 2014

Marinating Meat in Beer Before Grilling May Lower Carcinogens

Filed under: Food and Nutrition — Sarah @ 3:27 pm
Sarah McGowan-Freije, NatureCity author & contributor

Springtime means more people grilling outside, but grilling meat can create polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH8), which are the same carcinogens found in cigarette smoke and car exhaust. However, a recent study has found that marinating meat in beer before cooking it may inhibit the formation of PAH8.

For this study, the researchers marinated pork in Pilsner beer, nonalcoholic Pilsner beer, and Black beer. They then grilled the meat and compared the PAH8 levels to those in un-marinated, grilled meat.

They found that the Black beer had the highest scavenging activity, at 68%, the Pilsner nonalcoholic beer had a 36.5% scavenging activity and the Pilsner beer had 29.5%. Additionally, while both the marinated and un-marinated meats had PAH8s, the Black beer inhibited formation by 53%, followed by the nonalcoholic beer at 25%, and the Pilsner beer at 13%.

The researchers concluded that the higher the radical-scavenging activity activated by the beer, the higher the inhibitory effect on PAH8s.

Researchers from the University of Porto in Portugal and the University of Vigo in Spain conducted the study. It was published in the March 2014 issue of the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

This is not the first study to uncover some of the health benefits of beer. Previous research suggests that a beer now and then may be good for your heart, if it’s consumed in moderation and with healthy foods.

Other studies suggest that beer could help raise HDL or “good” cholesterol, protecting against type-2 diabetes, and lowering the risk of dementia. Researchers believe that these positive health benefits are a result of the vitamins, minerals, and alcohol present in beer.

April 9, 2014

Almonds May Alter Gut Bacteria for Improved Health

Filed under: Probiotics — Emma @ 3:27 pm
Emma McGowan NatureCity author & contributor

Gut bacteria have many critical functions, including supporting the GI tract and the immune system. A recent study has discovered that almonds and almonds skin may increase the populations of bifidobacteria and lactobacilli in the gut.

Participants in the study included 48 healthy adults between the ages of 18 and 22. Over the course of six weeks they supplemented their diets with one of three interventions: 56 grams per day of roasted almonds, 10 grams per day of almond skins, or 8 grams per day of commercial fructooligosaccharides as a control.

At the conclusion of the study, the almonds and almond skins both significantly increased the Bifidobacterium ssp. And Lactobacillus spp. populations but had no effect on E. coli. This increase in the bacteria populations suggests that the almonds and almond skins acted as a prebiotic (food for the probiotic bacteria).

The researchers noted that the almond skins produced the changes quickly and those changes were sustained for two weeks after ingestion. However, the roasted almonds did not seem to have an effect until week six.

The researchers believe that these positive gut health effects are due to the 50% dietary fiber found in almond skins and the 12% dietary fiber found in roasted almonds allowing it to pass through undigested to the large intestine.

Researchers from Fuzhou University and the Almond Board of California conducted the study. It was published in the April 2014 issue of Anaerobe.

Previous studies have found that almonds may help maintain healthy cholesterol levels. They’re also a great source of magnesium, manganese, and protein.

Almonds can easily be added to your daily diet as a mid-day snack, in breakfast cereal, or even sprinkled over a small serving of ice cream for dessert. Consider substituting a less healthy snack such as potato chips or cookies for a handful of almonds.

April 8, 2014

Vegans Have Similar Omega-3 Levels to Omnivores and Respond Well to Supplements

Filed under: Omega-3 — Sarah @ 3:51 pm
Sarah McGowan-Freije, NatureCity author & contributor

Despite the fact that vegans don’t eat fish, a recent study suggests that their omega-3 index is no lower than that of the average omnivore. A second study using the same cohort also found that vegans responded well to non-fish based omega-3 supplements.

The omega-3 index is a measure of omega-3 levels in red blood cells and is a reflection of a person’s long-term intake of DHA and DPA. It is an indicator of the risk level of death by a cardiovascular event.

For the first part of the study, researchers compared the omega-3 index of 165 vegans to those of omnivorous American soldiers eating army rations. They found that the vegans had an average omega-3 index of 3.7% and the soldiers had an average index of 3.5%.

The researchers also noted that some of the vegans had omega-3 levels as high as 8% and that the women had higher levels than the men. The results were also linked to age.

For the second study, 46 of the original 165 vegans were given a daily vegan omega3 supplement containing 243 mg dose of EPA plus DHA over the course of 4 months. At the end of that time period, the researchers recorded an increase in the average omega-3 index from 3.1% to 4.8%.

Researchers from the University of San Diego, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the University of South Dakota, and OmegaQuant Analytics conducted the study. It was published online ahead of print on March 17, 2014, in Clinical Nutrition.

Omega-3s have been linked to a number of health benefits, including improved joint mobility, helping with age related macular degeneration, better moods, 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.

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