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February 27, 2015

Naps May Reverse Negative Effects of Poor Night’s Sleep

Filed under: Lifestyle — Emma @ 4:18 pm
Emma
Emma McGowan NatureCity author & contributor

Lack of sleep is associated with a variety of health problems, including higher risk of obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, and depression. A recent study suggests that napping may help lower stress levels and boost the immune systems of men who had a poor nights sleep the previous night.

Participants in the study included 11 healthy men between the ages of 25 and 32. They completed two different sleep-testing sessions in a laboratory. For the first session, the men slept only two hours and did not take a nap the next day.  For the second session, they slept two hours and then were allowed two 30-minute naps the next day. Meals and lighting were strictly controlled for both sessions.

In order to determine how hormone levels changed, the researchers measured urine and saliva. They found that the men had a 2.5 times increase in norepinephrine levels after the two hour sleep night. Norepinephrine is a hormone and neurotransmitter that helps control the body’s fight or flight response. It also increases heart rate, blood pressure, and blood sugar.

However, when the researchers measured the same hormones after the men took naps, they found no changes.

The researchers also noted decreases in levels of interleukin-6 after the restricted sleep night. Interleukin-6 is a protein with antiviral properties that is found in saliva. Following the naps, there were no changes.

Researchers from the Université Paris Descartes-Sorbonne Paris Cité conducted the study. It was published online ahead of print on February 10, 2015, in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.

Lack of sleep has been linked in previous studies with increased weight gain, faster cognitive decline, increased blood pressure, and increased risk of cardiovascular disease.



February 26, 2015

Childhood Vitamin D Levels May Be Linked to Hardened Arteries in Adulthood

Filed under: Vitamin D — Sarah @ 4:16 pm
Sarah
Sarah McGowan-Freije, NatureCity author & contributor

Atherosclerosis is the hardening of the arteries that can lead to heart disease. A recent study suggests that having low blood levels of vitamin D in childhood may be associated with increased risk of atherosclerosis in adulthood.

Participants in the study included 2,148 people who took part in the Cardiovascular Risk in Young Finns Study. They were all between 3 and 18 years old at the start of the study and all were re-examined between the ages of 30 and 45.

Vitamin D levels from childhood were measured using stored serum. Carotid intima-thickness (IMT) of the left carotid artery was measured using an ultrasound. IMT is a biomarker of structural atherosclerosis, which correlates with cardiovascular risk factors.

The researchers found that the participants who had the lowest vitamin D levels as children had a 21.9% risk of high-risk IMT, whereas those who had the highest levels had only a 12.7% risk.

Researchers from the University of Turku in Finland conducted the study. It was published online ahead of print on February 10, 2015, in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.

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.



February 25, 2015

Type-II Collagen May Provide Pain Relief When Exercising

Filed under: Exercise — Emma @ 9:07 pm
Emma
Emma McGowan NatureCity author & contributor

Some individuals with perfectly healthy joints still experience pain when working out. A recent study suggests that taking an undenatured type II collagen (UC-II) may improve joint pain in healthy people who only experience discomfort when exercising.

Participants in the study included adults who were physically active and only reported pain after exercising. Over the course of 180 days they were given either 40 mg of UC-II, 1500 mg glucosamine hydrochloride plus 1200 mg chondroitin sulfate, or a placebo.

The researchers pooled the data from two identically designed, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled studies focusing on people with osteoarthritis and found an overall reduction in WOMAC scores in the UC-II group compared to the placebo. There was also a reduction in the glucosamin/chondroitin group.

The WOMAC is the Western Ontario and McMaster Universities Osteoarthritis Index and is used to asses pain, stiffness, and physical function in people with hip and/or knee osteoarthritis.

The researchers also noted a significantly lower Lequesne Functional Index (LFI) and mean Visual Analog Scale (VAS) when compared with both the placebo group and the glucosamine-chondroitin group. The Lequesne Functional Index is a test used to test the severity of osteoarthritis of the knee joint.

Researchers from InterHealth conducted the study. It was presented at the 2015 Scripps Natural Supplement Conference: Natural Supplements: An Evidence-Based Update, which took place from January 16 – January 18, 2015 in San Diego, California. The researchers are currently preparing the manuscript for a peer-rated journal.



February 24, 2015

Vitamin E May Reduce Risk of Heart Attack When Taken Alone

Filed under: Vitamin E — Sarah @ 9:04 pm
Sarah
Sarah McGowan-Freije, NatureCity author & contributor

Myocardial infarction is most commonly known as a heart attack, and is one of the top killers in the US. A recent study suggests that vitamin E may lower the risk of myocardial infarction, but only when taken by itself, with no other antioxidants.

Data for this analysis came from 16 randomized trials. During those trials, participants were given between 400 and 800 IU per day of vitamin E. After examining the data, the researchers found that there was a 20% reduced risk of myocardial infarction in people who took vitamin E. However, if vitamin E was taken with other antioxidants, no such protective measures were found.

Researchers from Sapienza University of Rome and the IRCCS Istituto Neurologico Mediterraneo Neuromed in Italy conducted the study. It was published online ahead of print on February 3, 2015, in Nutrition, Metabolism & Cardiovascular Diseases.

Vitamin E has eight different forms: four tocopherols (alpha, beta, gamma, delta) and four tocotrienols (alpha, beta, gamma, delta) and has been shown to help many aspects of the body.

Previous studies have shown that vitamin E intake is associated with lower cholesterol, healthier skin, maintaining a proper hormonal balance, and help reduce the risk of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). If you’re looking to add more vitamin E to your diet, try eating more sunflower seeds, breakfast cereal, tomatoes, dried herbs, and dried apricots.



February 23, 2015

Curcumin May Lower Bad Cholesterol, Boost Good Cholesterol in People With Metabolic Syndrome

Filed under: Curcumin — Emma @ 9:03 pm
Emma
Emma McGowan NatureCity author & contributor

High levels of LDL or “bad” cholesterol and high levels of triglycerides are two of the risk factors associated with metabolic syndrome. A recent study suggests that taking daily supplements of curcumin may help lower LDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels while simultaneously boosting HDL or “good” cholesterol in people with metabolic syndrome.

Participants in the study included 65 people with metabolic syndrome.  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.

Over the course of 12 weeks, the participants took either 630 mg of curcumin or a placebo three times per day, for a total of 1890 mg daily. At the conclusion of the study, the researchers noted increases in HDL cholesterol levels from 41 mg/dL to 43 mg/dL in the curcumin group. They also noted decreases in LDL cholesterol levels from 121 to 107 mg/dL. Finally, there was a reduction in triglycerides by an average of 65 mg/dL.

Researchers from Chung Shan Medical University in Taiwan conducted the study. It was published in the December 2014 issue of Phytotherapy Research.

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.



February 20, 2015

Chondroitin Found to be Effective for People With Osteoarthritis

Filed under: Lifestyle — Sarah @ 4:21 pm
Sarah
Sarah McGowan-Freije, NatureCity author & contributor

Whether or not chondroitin is effective in easing the pain of osteoarthritis has been debated for many years. Researchers from Cochrane Collaboration say their latest study should put an end to the debate.  Their findings suggest that chondroitin sulfate is not only safe for consumers but also may significantly aid in pain reduction for people who suffer from osteoarthritis.

Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis. It occurs when the cartilage between people’s joints wears down.

Data for this study was pulled from 43 clinical trials that included 9,110 people. After examining the data, the researchers found that chondroitin sulfate was better than a placebo at reducing pain and increasing functional capacity in people with osteoarthritis.   Additionally, chondroitin usage did not result in a statistically significant number of adverse events, compared to placebo.

They also found that the supplement was associated with a slightly delayed narrowing of joint space in the affected joint, which suggests that that it may help slow the progression of osteoarthritis.

The researchers believe that osteoarthritis sufferers who do not get relief when taking chondroitin are either taking a supplement of that is of low quality or that is adulterated.  It is also possible that the supplement they are taking does not contain an adequate amount of chondroitin.

Researchers from Cochrane Collaboration conducted the study. It was published online ahead of print on January 28, 2015 in The Cochrane Library.

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.



February 19, 2015

Probiotic Yeast May Ease Discomfort of People With IBS

Filed under: Probiotics — Emma @ 4:56 pm
Emma
Emma McGowan NatureCity author & contributor

Probiotics are often linked with digestive health. A recent study suggests that a proprietary probiotic yeast form of saccharomyces cerevisiae may reduce abdominal discomfort in people with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).

Participants in the study included 179 people who had been diagnosed with IBS. Over the course of eight weeks, they took either 500 mg of the probiotic yeast saccharomyces cerevisiae (CNCM-3856) or a placebo.

Primary symptoms including abdominal pain/discomfort, bloating/distension, and bowel movement difficulty as well as changes in stool frequency and consistency were recorded daily and assessed each week.

At the conclusion of the study, the probiotic group had a 63% improvement in abdominal pain/discomfort, compared with only 47% for the placebo group. The probiotic group also had a non-significant trend of improvement for the other symptoms. There were no adverse side effects noted in the probiotic group.

Researchers form the University of Lille in France conducted the study. It was published in the February 2015 issue of Digestive and Liver Disease.

While the probiotic used here was a proprietary, branded one, saccharomyces cerevisiae – also known as “brewers yeast” or “nutritional yeast” – is the yeast used in winemaking, baking, and brewing. It is believed to have originally been isolated from the skin of grapes. It is high in fiber, B vitamins, and folic acid.

Previous studies suggest that saccharomyces cerevisiae may help boost the immune system, help the digestive tract function properly, and help people maintain healthy skin, hair, eyes, and mouth.



February 18, 2015

Chondroitin and Glucosamine May Be As Effective as Prescription Medication for Joint Pain Relief

Filed under: Lifestyle — Sarah @ 4:50 pm
Sarah
Sarah McGowan-Freije, NatureCity author & contributor

A recent study suggests that taking a supplement containing chondroitin sulphate (CS) and glucosamine (GH) may help reduce joint pain, stiffness, and functional disability in people with osteoarthritis as well as the anti-inflammatory drug celecoxib.

Participants in the study included 606 people with knee osteoarthritis who had moderate-to-severe pain levels. Over the course of six months they took either 400 mg CS plus 500 mg GH three times daily or 200 mg of celecoxib every day.

At the conclusion of the study, the researchers noted decreases in pain, functional disability, stiffness, swelling, and joint effusion in the CS/GH group. Both groups had a 50% reduction in pain, while the CS/GH combination had a 46.9% reduction in stiffness, compared with a 49.2% reduction in the celecoxib group. Finally, the supplement group had a 45.5% improvement in function and the celecoxib group had a 46.4% improvement.

Researchers from the University of Maryland School of Medicine conducted the study. It was published online ahead of print on January 14, 2015, in the Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases.

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.



February 17, 2015

Pea Protein May Build Muscle as Efficiently as Whey Protein

Filed under: Exercise — Emma @ 4:28 pm
Emma
Emma McGowan NatureCity author & contributor

Protein is often recommended for weight training and other resistance exercise in order to build muscle faster. A recent study suggests that pea protein may result in the same level of muscle synthesis in bicep muscle thickness as that seen with whey protein.

Participants in the study included 161 young men who took part in one of three interventions: 25 g whey protein, 25 g pea protein, or a placebo twice daily for 12 weeks. All the participants also undertook 12 weeks of resistance training.  At the conclusion of the study, the researchers noted improvements in all three groups as a result of the resistance training but no clear difference based on protein intake.

However, when the researchers looked specifically at the weakest members of each group, they found that the pea protein group had increases in bicep muscle thickness of 20.2%, compared to only 8.6% in the placebo group. The whey protein group had increases of 15.6%. There was no statistical difference between the whey and pea protein groups.

The researchers believe that pea protein could be a viable alternative for people with allergies to whey protein or food restrictions that still want the muscle synthesis benefits of protein.

Researchers from the National Institute for Health and Medical Research in France conducted the study. It was published on January 21, 2015, in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition.

Pea protein is rich in a range of amino acids, including lysine, arginine and branched chain amino acids. It is considered to be the richest source of arginine, which is recommended for sports nutrition. 

People looking to increase their pea protein intake for exercise reasons should consider taking a pea protein supplement, as the amount needed could be difficult to obtain from food alone.



February 16, 2015

Increased Protein Intake Recommended For Mature Adults

Filed under: Exercise — Sarah @ 6:22 pm
Sarah
Sarah McGowan-Freije, NatureCity author & contributor

Consuming protein is essential to building muscle in the human body. As we age, muscle protein synthesis tends to decline.  A recent study suggests that mature adults may want to consume more than the recommended daily allowance (RDA) of protein in order to preserve muscle mass.

Participants in the study included 20 adults between the ages of 52 and 75. Over a four-day test period they underwent one of four interventions:

  • the RDA of 0.8 g/kg of protein spread equally across three meals;
  • the RDA of 0.8 g/kg of protein spread unevenly over three meals (15% at breakfast, 20% at lunch, 65% at dinner);
  • double the RDA (1.5 g/kg per day) of protein spread evenly across three meals;
  • double the RDA (1.5 g/kg per day) of protein spread unevenly over three meals (15% at breakfast, 20% at lunch, 65% at dinner)

The double protein groups were given pre-weighed milk protein concentrate that contained equal parts whey and casein in order to ensure that they met the goal of double protein. Throughout the study period, the researchers had the participants record time of meal consumption and percentage of meal consumption, and they photographed the meal prior to and after consumption.

At the conclusion of the study, the researchers found that the distribution of protein across meals did not make a significant impact on muscle synthesis, however the amount did. Specifically, the higher protein intake groups showed higher net protein balance and muscle protein synthesis.

Researchers from the Center for Translational Research in Aging and Longevity at the Donald Reynolds Institute on Aging at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences conducted the study. It was published on January 1, 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. In addition, previous studies have found that proteins from dairy are especially good for building muscle mass.



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