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March 27, 2015

Balanced Protein Intake May Lead to Better Muscle Synthesis

Filed under: Diet & Weight loss — Sarah @ 9:02 am
Sarah McGowan-Freije, NatureCity author & contributor

Previous research suggests that sarcopenic obesity – an increase in fat mass and a decrease in muscle mass – is becoming increasingly prevalent among mature adults. A recent study suggests that balancing protein intake throughout the day as opposed to consuming it all during the evening meal may increase muscle gain by approximately 20% as well as promote weight loss.

Participants in the study included 20 obese men between the ages of 60 and 75 years old.  All underwent one of two interventions: balanced protein consisting of  total protein intake distributed at 25% for breakfast, lunch, dinner and evening snack or a skewed protein intake of 7%, 17%, 72%, and 4% throughout the day. Both groups consumed the same amount of protein, however the balanced protein group drank a Nestle whey protein drink while the skewed group received their protein solely from dietary sources.

During the first two weeks all of the participants followed their usual physical activity, which was monitored with a pedometer and an accelerometer. For the last two weeks, they all did supervised resistance training.

The researchers measured myofibrillar protein synthesis with blood samples and muscle biopsy at the two and four week marks.

Both groups showed decreases in muscle and fat after the first two weeks of the study. While fat reduction was the same for both groups, the balanced protein group showed slightly less muscle loss. After resistance training was begun, both groups showed slower muscle loss.  The balanced protein group also had 19% higher myofibrillar protein synthesis when compared with the skewed group.

Additionally, when the balanced protein group started doing resistance training, their rate of protein synthesis went from the low level seen during the first two weeks of the study back to the normal levels seen before the start of the study.

Researchers from Nestle conducted the study. It was published on March 3, 2015, in the American Journal of Physiology: Endocrinology and Metabolism.

Protein functions as a building block for bones, muscles, cartilage, skin, and blood. It is also a building block for 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.

March 26, 2015

Probiotics May Lower the Risk of Dental Implant Complications

Filed under: Probiotics — Sarah @ 4:30 pm
Sarah McGowan-Freije, NatureCity author & contributor

When people get dental implants, they are at risk of developing an inflammatory condition called peri-implant mucositis.  This can develop into peri-implantitis in their gums and may result in surgery or replacement of the implants. A recent study suggests that taking supplements of the oral probiotic Lactobacillus reuteri Prodentis may lower the risk of the complications associated with dental implants.

Participants in the study included 34 people with dental implants.  Half of them did not have peri-implant disease and half had had peri-implant mucositis in one or more implants. Both groups took one tablet of the probiotic every 24 hours for 30 days. After a 6- month washout period, all of the participants followed the same cycle with a placebo.

At the conclusion of the study, both groups showed improvements in the clinical parameters, including reductions in cytokine, which is a marker of inflammation. No similar effects were noted after the placebo.

Researchers from the Valencia Medical and Dental School conducted the study. It was published online ahead of print on February 25, 2015, in the Journal of Periodontal Research.

Lactobacillus reuteri is a specific strain of probiotic that previous studies have linked with improved symptoms of diarrhea, improved symptoms of urinary tract infections and a lower risk of ulcers.

March 25, 2015

Glucosamine and Chondroitin May Lower Biomarker of Inflammation

Filed under: Exercise — Emma @ 9:04 pm
Emma McGowan NatureCity author & contributor

Systemic inflammation is common in individuals who are overweight or obese and has been linked with higher risk of chronic disease. A recent study suggests that taking glucosamine hydrochloride and chondroitin sulfate may reduce levels of the inflammation biomarker C-reactive protein in overweight people.

Participants in the study included 18 otherwise healthy overweight men and women who were given either 1,500 mg of glucosamine hydrochloride and 1,200 mg chondroitin sulfate or a placebo daily for 28 days. At the conclusion of the study, the researchers found that the supplement group had a 23% reduction in C-reactive protein when compared with the placebo.

Researchers from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, Harvard School of Public Health, and Vanderbilt University conducted the study. It was published on February 26, 2015, in PLoS ONE.

Glucosamine is produced naturally in the body and helps with joint function. Glucosamine supplements have been found to help with osteoarthritis, reducing joint pain and improving joint function.

Chondroitin is found in and around the cells of cartilage, and provides cartilage with strength and resilience. Previous research has found that chondroitin may help ease the pain of arthritis and osteoporosis, lower cholesterol and possibly help with ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease.

March 24, 2015

Physical Activity May Slow Aged-Related Mobility Issues, Even With Brain Damage

Filed under: Exercise — Sarah @ 3:53 pm
Sarah McGowan-Freije, NatureCity author & contributor

As we age, small areas of brain damage can occur that can affect movement abilities. A recent study suggests that being physically active may lower the risk that this type of brain damage will result in movement problems in mature adults.

Participants in the study included 164 people with an average age of 80. Over the course of 11 days, all of the participants wore movement monitors on their wrists in order to gauge both exercise and non-exercise activity. They also underwent 11 movement ability tests and MRI scans in order to determine the volume of white matter hyperintensities in their brains. White matter hyperintensities are how brain damage appears on MRIs.

Compared to the participants in the 50th percentile of activity level, those in the 10th percentile logged additional daily activity equivalent to 1.5 hours of walking at 2.5 mph.

For all of the participants, the average score on the movement test was 1.04. In the 50th percentile activity level, participants with the lowest brain damage had scores of 1.16 and those with the most brain damage had scores of 0.9. Participants below the 50th percentile of physical activity saw even more pronounced negative effects on movement.

Participants in the 10th percentile with brain damage did not have changes in their movement tests. However, participants who fell into the 50th percentile did show significantly lower scores on their movement tests when they also had higher brain damage.

Researchers from Rush University Medical Center in Chicago conducted the study. It was published online ahead of print on March 11, 2015, in the journal Neurology.

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. Even a brisk ten-minute walk a day can help.

March 23, 2015

Loneliness May Lead to Increased Risk of Premature Death

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

A recent study suggests that loneliness may have as great an effect on premature all-risk mortality as obesity or smoking 15 cigarettes a day and being an alcoholic.

The researchers examined data from various studies that included more than 3 million participants. The studies complied data about loneliness, social isolation, and living alone.

After controlling for variables such as socioeconomic status, age, gender and pre-existing health conditions, they found that loneliness greatly increases the risk of dying prematurely.  Conversely, the existence of social  connections provides a positive health effect.

Interestingly, the effects were more profound for young people than older people.  While older people were more likely to be lonely and had a higher mortality risk, people who were younger than 65 were at the highest risk of loneliness-associated death.

Researchers from Brigham Young University conducted the study. It was published in the March 2015 issue of Perspectives on Psychological Science.

Loneliness is not just an emotional problem. Previous studies have shown that being lonely can increase markers of inflammation, and increase the risk of heart disease, the development of Alzheimer’s and depression.

March 20, 2015

A Vegetarian Diet May Lower Risk of Colorectal Cancer

Filed under: Food and Nutrition — Emma @ 4:01 pm
Emma McGowan NatureCity author & contributor

Colorectal cancers are one of the leading causes of cancer mortality.  A recent study suggests that following a vegetarian diet may lower the risk of developing colorectal cancer.

Participants in the study included 77,659 Seventh-Day Adventists who took part in The Adventist Health Study 2.  This study took place between January 1, 2002, and December 31, 2007. During that time period, 380 cases of colon cancer and 110 cases of rectal cancer were identified.

After examining the data, the researchers determined that vegetarians had a 22% lower risk of all colorectal cancers overall compared to meat eaters.  This broke down to a 19% lower risk of colon cancer and a 29% lower risk of rectal cancer.

Additionally, vegans had a 16% lower risk of colorectal cancer, vegetarians who ate milk and eggs had an18% lower risk, those who ate fish had a 43% lower risk, and those who ate some meat had an 8% lower risk.

Researchers from the Loma Linda University Health conducted the study. It was published online ahead of print on March 9, 2015, in JAMA Internal Medicine.

In addition to a lower risk of colorectal cancer, previous research has linked vegetarian diets with lower incidence of hypertension, obesity and type-2 diabetes. If you decide to switch to a vegetarian diet, consult a nutritionist to make sure you’re getting all of the proper nutrients. Many vegetarians choose to supplement their diets with high quality supplements.

March 19, 2015

Salt Supplements May Boost Sports Performance

Filed under: Exercise — Sarah @ 4:41 pm
Sarah McGowan-Freije, NatureCity author & contributor

When people exercise, they sweat out water and electrolytes in their bodies, disrupting the balance between them and negatively impacting performance. A recent study suggests that taking salt supplements while exercising may improve performance in triathletes.

Participants in the study included 26 experienced triathletes who had taken part in the Half Ironman, a medium-distance triathlon that includes 1.24 miles of swimming, 56 miles of cycling, and 13.1 miles of running. They were matched for age, anthropometric data, and training status.

Half of the group ingested 12 salt capsules divided into three doses during the Half Ironman with the goal of replacing 71% of sodium lost through sweat. The other half, acting as a control, took placebo capsules and replaced only 20% of the lost sodium. All of the participants consumed their usual rehydration drinks.

At the conclusion of the triathlon, the group that took the salt capsules finished on average 26 minutes before the control group. They also had better running and cycling speeds than the control group.

The researchers posited that this improvement in performance was due to the higher concentration of electrolytes in the salt group’s blood. This was because the salt stimulated thirst, prompting them to drink more fluids and maintain a healthier balance of water and electrolytes than the control group.

Researchers from Camilo José Cela University in Spain conducted the study. It was published online ahead of print on February 14, 2015 in the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports.

Maintaining a balance of electrolytes and water is essential for athletes of any type. Salt supplements, as this study has shown, may be a great option for very strenuous exercise like a triathlon but may not be necessary for more moderate exercise.

March 18, 2015

Decreased Heart Function May Be Risk Factor for Alzheimer’s Disease

Filed under: Lifestyle — Emma @ 5:30 pm
Emma McGowan NatureCity author & contributor

Cardiac index is a measure of heart health that looks at cardiac output, which is the amount of blood that leaves the heart and is pumped through the body. A recent study suggests that a low cardiac index may be a risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.

For their study, researchers used data from the Framingham Heart Study, which started in 1948 and had the objective of identifying risk factors for heart disease. The data they examined included 1,039 participants in the Framingham’s Offspring Cohort, which included 11 years of follow up conducted to compare cardiac index with development of dementia.

During the study, 32 of the participants developed dementia, 26 of which were Alzheimer’s disease.

The researchers found that the participants with a low cardiac index were two to three times more likely to develop memory loss during the follow-up period than those with a. normal cardiac index.

Researchers from the Vanderbilt Memory & Alzheimer’s Center conducted the study. It was published online ahead of print on February 5, 2015, in the journal Circulation.

The researchers stressed that anyone can choose to live a heart-healthy lifestyle at any time, making the cardiac risk a “modifiable risk” for Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. Previous studies suggest that, in addition to exercising and eating a healthy diet, certain supplements may also contribute to better heart health. These include omega-3s, vitamin E in the form of tocotreniols, and vitamin D.

March 17, 2015

Mussel Extract May Reduce Exercise-Related Muscle Fatigue and Soreness

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

Pain from exercising keeps some people from sticking to a daily regimen. A recent study suggests that an extract from New Zealand green lipped mussels may help lower muscle soreness, fatigue, and markers of muscle damage following exercise.

Participants in the study included 32 untrained men who were given either 1200 mg of a supplement derived from the mussels containing marine oil lipid and LC PUFA blend or a placebo daily for four weeks. At the end of that four-week supplement period, the participants ran downhill in order to induce muscle damage.

The researchers found that the TNF-alpha marker of inflammation went up 156% in the placebo group after the downhill run.  It only went up by 93% in the supplement group. They also found that DOMS – delayed onset muscle soreness – was much lower three and four days after the exercise in the supplement group when compared with the placebo.

Researchers from the University of Indiana-Bloomington conducted the study. It was published on February 19, 2015, in The Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition.

Green lipped muscles are high in omega-3s an have previously been linked with lower rates of exercise induced asthma. 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, while ALA omega-3 fatty-acids are plant derived and can be found in flaxseed oil, vegetable oil, and walnuts.

March 16, 2015

Coffee May Lower Risk of Arterial Blockage

Filed under: Polyphenols — Emma @ 3:46 pm
Emma McGowan NatureCity author & contributor

A recent study suggests that drinking between three and five cups of coffee a day may lower the risk of coronary artery calcium build-up. Coronary artery calcium build up serves as an early indicator of coronary atherosclerosis, which increases the risk of blood clots and heart attack. 

Participants in the study included 25,138 Korean adults with an average age of 41.3 years. All of the participants filled out a 103-item dietary survey that included questions about how often they consumed different food and drink over the previous year. The questionnaire included three categories of portion size (small, medium, large) and nine categories of frequency.  These nine categories ranged from never to seldom to more than three times daily for foods and from never to seldom,to more than five times daily for drinks.

The researchers found that drinking between three and five cups of coffee per day was associated with a lower risk of coronary artery calcium. They noted a U-shaped, inverse association with amount of coffee consumed and risk of coronary artery calcium buildup.

Researchers from Sungkyunkwan University in South Korea, John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in the US, and the University of Malaya in Malaysia conducted the study. It was published online ahead of print on March 2, 2015 in the journal Heart.

The health benefits associated with coffee are generally attributed to the powerful antioxidants found in coffee called polyphenols. These benefits include reducing the risk of developing diabetes, prostate cancer, cirrhosis and oral cavities.

One note to coffee drinkers: be careful how you take your coffee. A double latte with whipped cream and three sugars may provide the health benefits seen here, but the high fat and sugar content can have other negative effects.

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