Metabolics | Nutrients Ease Stress, Improve Circulation & Metabolism
Curcumin Combination Reduced Cortisol
The adrenal glands produce the hormone cortisol in stressful situations, and obesity and metabolic syndrome can chronically elevate cortisol levels. In this study, 80 overweight adults, average age 54, with elevated fasting blood sugar levels, took a placebo or 200mg of curcumin, 120mg of phosphatidylserine, 480mg of phosphatidylcholine, and 8mg of piperine per day. Doctors also recommended lifestyle improvesments to all.
After eight weeks, the placebo group saw improvements in triglyceride levels and in fasting blood sugar levels. Those taking the curcumin combination saw cortisol levels decline significantly, lower fasting insulin levels, a two-inch decrease in waist size, a 5mmHg decrease in systolic blood pressure, a 34mg per deciliter of blood decrease in triglycerides, higher HDL cholesterol levels, and improvements in liver function and in fatty-liver index scores.
Discussing the findings, doctors said to their knowledge, this is the first study to report curcumin combined with phosphatidylserine, phosphatidylcholine, and piperine reduced cortisol levels, and improved glucose factors and liver function in overweight adults with elevated fasting blood sugar levels.
Tart Cherry, Circulation, and Metabolism
Tart cherry contains powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory anthocyanins and polyphenols, as well as fiber. In this study, 11 men and women, average age 49, with three of five factors in metabolic syndrome–including large waist size, high triglycerides, low levels of HDL cholesterol, high blood pressure, and high fasting blood sugar levels–took a placebo or tart cherry juice concentrate or capsules equal to 90 to 110 whole tart cherries.
In three sessions separated by two weeks each, participants fasted for 10 hours the night before taking one of the three treatments at 7:00 AM the following morning. Compared to the placebo phases, two hours after taking either form of tart cherry, participants saw significantly lower insulin and systolic blood pressure levels.
Glucosamine for Heart
Earlier studies found glucosamine protects against inflammation, a factor in heart and circulatory conditions. In this large study, doctors followed 366,039 people for seven years and found,compared to those who did not take glucosamine, those who took glucosamine were 15 percent less likely to have any heart or circulatory event, and were up to 22 percent less prone to stroke and death. Smokers who took glucosamine were 37 percent less likely to have heart disease than smokers who did not. Discussing the findings, doctors said glucosamine reduced C-reactive protein, an inflammatory factor in heart and circulatory conditions, which is also elevated in smokers.
Joints & Muscles | Nutrients Reduce OA Symptoms, Improve Muscle Function
Andrographis Improved Knee OA
Andrographis is a flowering plant which Ayurvedic doctors use for a variety of medical conditions. In this study, 103 adults with mild to moderate osteoarthritis (OA) of the knee took a placebo or 300mg or 600mg of andrographis per day.
Beginning at 28 days, while the placebo group had not improved, those taking either dose of andrographis saw a significant reduction in pain scores and joint stiffness. By day 56, those taking andrographis reported improved physical function.
By the end of the study, at 84 days, while the placebo group reported no changes, those taking either andrographis dose reported significant improvements in quality-of-life and functional assessment scores.
PEA and DHA Improve Performance
The omega-3s EPA and DHA are major components of the muscle cell membrane, and taking EPA/DHA supplements can increase levels of these fatty acids in muscle cell membranes. Doctors thought EPA/DHA might protect muscle after exercise through its anti-inflammatory action.
In this study, 16 men took a placebo or 2,400mg of EPA and DHA-rich fish oil capsules per day for eight weeks before performing six sets of weighted arm curls at 100 percent maximum muscle contraction. The exercise was designed to damage muscle.
Before exercise, immediately after, and one, two, and five days later, doctors measured muscle stiffness by ultrasound while participants reported muscle soreness. Compared to the EPA/DHA group, the placebo group had significantly more muscle stiffness and reported greater muscle soreness. Those taking EPA/DHA also retained more muscle strength and greater range of motion.
Healthy Heart | Nutrients Protect Circulatory Health
Fish Oil Protects Against Air Pollution
Airborne fine particles smaller than the diameter of a hair, from cars, fires, construction sites, and unpaved roads, can enter the lungs and bloodstream with adverse health effects. In this study, 65 healthy Shanghai, China college students took a placebo or 2,500mg of EPA and DHA-rich fish oil capsules per day. During the five-month study, campus levels of airborne fine particles no larger than 2.5 micrometers averaged 38 micrograms per cubic meter of air, significantly higher than the 35.4 micrograms per cubic meter level governments consider unhealthy.
Doctors measured blood pressure, systemic inflammation, blood vessel flexibility, oxidative and antioxidant activity, and other heart and metabolic factors. Compared to placebo, those taking EPA/DHA maintained stable levels of most of these biomarkers, with beneficial effects on inflammation, coagulation, blood vessel function, oxidative stress levels, and hormonal responses.
Linoleic Acid, Heart and Circulation
Omega-6 fatty acids may be more beneficial and less harmful than doctors previously thought and there may not be an ideal ratio of omega-6 to omega-3. In this review of 30 studies following 68,659 people from 2.5 to 32 years, those with higher levels of linoleic acid were significantly less likely to have died from heart or circulatory conditions, or from stroke due to restricted blood supply. Doctors also found no harmful link to another omega-6, arachidonic acid (AA).
Doctors said the first step in metabolizing omega-6 may release some pro-inflammatory molecules, but this inflammatory response does not necessarily cause disease, continuing, “We know eating vegetable oils can lower cholesterol.”
Healthy Kids | Prebiotics Improve Gut Balance After Antibiotics and in Autism
Prebiotic Benefits After Antibiotics
Earlier studies found the prebiotic inulin reduced fevers requiring medical attention in children, which doctors believe is linked to gut health. In this study, 258 healthy kids, ages three to six, took a placebo or 6 grams of inulin fiber per day.
After 24 weeks including winter, those in the inulin group had significantly higher gut levels of the probiotic bifidobacterium compared to placebo. When kids required antibiotics, bifidobacterium levels declined in both groups, but the prebiotic group retained higher and more stable levels.
Discussing the findings, doctors said young children and susceptible to wintertime infections requiring antibiotics, an early disturbance which can damage gut microbiota and create an imbalance that may affect health in later years.
Prebiotic Improved Regularity in Autistic Kids
Children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) often have abnormal gut microbiota, which doctors believe may lead to systemic and neural inflammation, impairing brain function. Constipation in ASD is common. In this study, 13 children with ASD, aged four to nine, who had not taken constipation medication or antibiotics for at least a month, took 6 grams of partially hydrolyzed guar gum prebiotic fiber per day.
Before the study, nine kids defecated once a week, and four kids, twice a week. After 60 days, all children defecated from two to four times per week. Behavior also improved, with kids becoming less irritable. Doctors also saw significant decreases in interleukin-1 beta and -6, and tumor necrosis factor alpha, which are systemic inflammatory factors.
Mind | Nutrients Ease Stress, Improve Memory
Probiotics Ease Response to Social Stress
Evidence that the gut influences the brain is increasing. In this study, 40 healthy adult volunteers took a placebo or 1 billion colony-forming units of bifidobacterium longum per day for four weeks before a social stress Cyberball game test.
Before the stress test, both groups reported increased vitality, less mental fatigue, and better ability to cope with stress and negative emotions. During the stress test, for the probiotics group only, changes took place in areas of the brain that process stress, altering brainwave activity, increasing the theta waves typical of sleep, and decreasing beta waves active during daily tasks.
Doctors said both groups reported improvements in subjective stress scores after four weeks, but only the probiotics group had physiological changes in neural brain wave activity in areas involved in regulating emotional responses to social stress, a unique new finding.
Lutein linked to better memory
Carotenoids, the colorful antioxidants in fruits and vegetables, accumulate in brain nerve tissue. The carotenoid lutein supports eye health, but lutein is also important for the brain. Earlier studies show about 60 percent of the carotenoids in brain tissue are lutein, but lutein makes up only about 12 percent of carotenoids in the typical diet.
In this study, doctors measured circulating and dietary carotenoids in 94 adults, aged 25 to 45. Participants then completed a task of reconstructing a three-dimensional object from memory. After adjusting for age, gender, and body mass index scores, lutein was the only carotenoid linked to better memory performance in the 3D object reconstruction test.
Healthy Men | Pumpkin Seed Relieved Symptoms in BPH
Improvement After Four Weeks
Men with benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) have an enlarged prostate gland that is non-cancerous and non-malignant, and affects 90 percent of men by age 80. The prostate has two growth cycles, doubling in size during puberty, then growing slowly from age 25 on. As it enlarges, it presses on the urethra. At the same time, the bladder wall thickens, weakening the bladder. Symptoms include feeling the bladder is full after urinating, a frequent need to urinate, and weak flow, stopping, starting, and straining.
In this study, 60 men, average age 62 with moderate to severe BPH, took 350mg of pumpkin seed extract at bedtime. Beginning at four weeks, men reported less need to urinate at night, and after 12 weeks, 78.6 percent reported symptoms on the International Prostate Symptom Score had declined by an average of 30.1 percent. Ultrasound showed average bladder volume after urinating declined to 2.1 ounces from 2.8 ounces before pumpkin seed.