This Week in Science for Holistic Health – 06Feb2016

This Week in Science for Holistic Health

Copy of This week for science-based holistic health 06feb2016

Welcome to This Week in Science for Holistic Health!

I scour the science news for interesting and relevant research for a holistic approach to health.

This issue:

  • Food and Eating – Have you downloaded the DII (Dietary Inflammatory Index) app yet?

  • Supplements – New research on vitamin D for IBD, colon cancer and effects on parathyroid hormone

  • Disease Prevention – Excellent nutrition is critical for serious diseases such as cancer and COPD


Food, Eating and Drinking

Fermented food intake is associated with a reduced likelihood of atopic dermatitis in an adult population (Korean National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2012-2013).

The prevalence of atopic dermatitis (AD) has continuously increased throughout the world in every age group, and the recent increase in AD in Korean adults may be related to changes in nutrient intakes due to westernization of dietary patterns. We hypothesized that the prevalence of AD is associated with the different dietary patterns and fermented food intakes of the Korean adult population.  …  High levels of consumption (>92 times/month) of fermented foods…were associated with a lower prevalence of AD… . In contrast, high levels of consumption of meat and processed foods were strongly associated with the prevalence of AD… . Interestingly, the consumption of coffee, chocolate, and ice cream was significantly negatively associated with the prevalence of AD….

Nutrition and lifestyle in healthy aging: the telomerase challenge

… Several foods -such as tuna, salmon, herring, mackerel, halibut, anchovies, cat-fish, grouper, flounder, flax seeds, sesame seeds, kiwi, black raspberries, green tea, broccoli, sprouts, red grapes, tomatoes, olive fruit- are a good source of antioxidants. These, combined with a Mediterranean type of diet containing fruits, vegetables and whole grains would help protect our chromosome ends.

Association between diet-related inflammation, all-cause, all-cancer, and cardiovascular disease mortality, with special focus on prediabetics: findings from NHANES III.

INTRODUCTION: Chronic inflammation is associated with increased risk of cancer, cardiovascular disease (CVD), and diabetes. The role of pro-inflammatory diet in the risk of cancer mortality and CVD mortality in prediabetics is unclear. We examined the relationship between diet-associated inflammation, as measured by dietary inflammatory index (DII) score, and mortality, with special focus on prediabetics.

CONCLUSIONS:  A pro-inflammatory diet, as indicated by higher DII scores, is associated with an increased risk of all-cause, CVD, all-cancer, and digestive-tract cancer mortality among prediabetic subjects.

You can download the free DII app here (I need to upgrade my phone to use it, so let me know how it goes!):


Protective links between vitamin D, inflammatory bowel disease and colon cancer.

Vitamin D deficiency has been associated with a wide range of diseases and multiple forms of cancer including breast, colon, and prostate cancers. Relatively recent work has demonstrated vitamin D to be critical in immune function and therefore important in inflammatory diseases such as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Because vitamin D deficiency or insufficiency is increasingly prevalent around the world, with an estimated 30%-50% of children and adults at risk for vitamin D deficiency worldwide, it could have a significant impact on IBD. Epidemiologic studies suggest that low serum vitamin D levels are a risk factor for IBD and colon cancer, and vitamin D supplementation is associated with decreased colitis disease activity and/or alleviated symptoms. … The precise role of vitamin D on colitis is unknown; however, vitamin D regulates immune cell trafficking and differentiation, gut barrier function and antimicrobial peptide synthesis, all of which may be protective from IBD and colon cancer. Here we focus on effects of vitamin D on inflammation and inflammation-associated colon cancer and discuss the potential use of vitamin D for protection and treatment of IBD and colon cancer.

Influence of Tryptophan and Serotonin on Mood and Cognition with a Possible Role of the Gut-Brain Axis.

As we have outlined in this review, experimental manipulation of tryptophan levels has allowed us to understand the role of central serotonin in mood and cognition. Low serotonin contributes to a lowered mood state, however this should be in concert with a biological or genetic manipulation, producing a predisposition that interacts with lowered serotonin to decrease mood. In addition, depleted serotonin causes cognitive impairments, with reports including deficits in verbal reasoning, episodic, and working memory, while conversely tryptophan supplementation has positive effects on attention and memory. Interestingly, emotional processing, the modification of memory that underlies emotion, is inhibited in subjects with depression, or has a high-risk to develop, after tryptophan depletion.

An influence of gut microbiota on behaviour is becoming increasingly evident, as is the extension to effects on tryptophan and serotonin metabolism. There is regulation of tryptophan and serotonin in the gut by the resident microbiota and recent studies show that low-to-no gut microbiota increases levels of tryptophan and serotonin and modifies central higher order behaviour.

Treatments for cognitive and mood disorders are an ongoing focus for neuroscience researchers and pharmaceutical organizations. The suggestion that the gut-microbiota has central influence opens up many new possibilities, especially with the suggestion from Mayer and colleagues [126] that the composition and metabolic activity of the gut microbiota may play a role in such brain disorders as autism, anxiety, and depression. Ongoing studies will, in time, evaluate these assertions and hopefully determine the mechanisms by which the gut microbiota affect mood and cognition.

Update on vitamin D: pros and cons

Controversies on vitamin D currently represent a challenging topic in mineral metabolism research. In particular, current guidelines on vitamin D supplementation did not report consistent recommendation and the issue related to beneficial vs harmful effects of loading vitamin D doses did not lead to any firm universal conclusion. Finally, serum and clinical outcomes of vitamin D supplementation, particularly as far as extra-skeletal effect of the hormone, need to be further investigated.

Determinants of parathyroid hormone response to vitamin D supplementation: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials.

This systematic review aimed to assess the determinants of the parathyroid hormone (PTH) level response to vitamin D supplementation. … Vitamin D supplementation significantly reduced PTH levelthe optimum treatment effect for PTH was observed with Ca doses of 600-1200 mg/d

Despite the present meta-analysis being hindered by some limitations, it provided some interesting evidence, suggesting that suppression of PTH level needs higher vitamin D intake (75 μg/d) than the current recommendations and longer durations (12 months), which should be taken into account for nutritional recommendations.

Vitamin D for IBD & colon cancer, and effects on parathyroid hormone #vitaminD #vitamin… Click To Tweet

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Diseases/Conditions and Prevention/Treatments

Obesity and Prevalence of Cardiovascular Diseases and Prognosis – the Obesity Paradox Updated.

The prevalence and severity of obesity has increased in the United States and most of the Westernized World over recent decades, reaching worldwide epidemics. Since obesity worsens most of the cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk factors, not surprisingly, most CVD, including hypertension, coronary heart disease, heart failure, and atrial fibrillation, are all increased in the setting of obesity. However, many studies and meta-analyses have demonstrated an obesity paradox with regards to prognosis in CVD patients, with often the overweight and mildly obese having a better prognosis than do their leaner counterparts with the same CVD. The implication for fitness to markedly alter the relationship between adiposity and prognosis and the potential impact of weight loss, in light of the obesity paradox, are all reviewed.

Nutritional supplementation in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

Malnutrition in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is associated with cachexia, sarcopenia, and weight loss, and may result in poorer pulmonary function, decreased exercise capacity, and increased risk of exacerbations. Providing nutritional supplementation is an important therapeutic intervention, particularly for severely ill COPD patients with malnutrition. Higher calorie intake through nutritional supplementation significantly increases body weight and muscle strength, and improves quality of life in malnourished COPD patients. Difficulties may be experienced by these COPD patients, who are struggling to breathe and eliminate CO2 from the lungs, resulting in dyspnea, hypercapnia, hypoxia, and respiratory acidosis, which exacerbates muscle loss through oxidative stress and inflammatory responses. To overcome these problems, nutritional supplements should aim to reduce metabolic CO2 production, lower respiratory quotient, and improve lung function. Several studies have shown that high-fat supplements produce less CO2 and have lower respiratory quotient value than high-carbohydrate supplements. In addition, high-fat supplements may be the most efficient means of providing a low-volume, calorie-dense supplement to COPD patients, and may be most beneficial to patients with prolonged mechanical ventilation where hypercapnia and malnutrition are most pronounced. Further studies are required to investigate the optimal nutritional supplements for COPD patients according to their disease severity.

Nutritional Support in Cancer Patients: A Position Paper from the Italian Society of Medical Oncology (AIOM) and the Italian Society of Artificial Nutrition and Metabolism (SINPE).

Malnutrition is a frequent problem in cancer patients, which leads to prolonged hospitalization, a higher degree of treatment-related toxicity, reduced response to cancer treatment, impaired quality of life and a worse overall prognosis. The attitude towards this issue varies considerably and many malnourished patients receive inadequate nutritional support. … Patients at nutritional risk should be promptly referred for comprehensive nutritional assessment and support to clinical nutrition services or medical personnel with documented skills in clinical nutrition, specifically for cancer patients. Nutritional intervention should be actively managed and targeted for each patient; it should comprise personalized dietary counseling and/or artificial nutrition according to spontaneous food intake, tolerance and effectiveness. Nutritional support may be integrated into palliative care programs. “Alternative hypocaloric anti-cancer diets” (e.g. macrobiotic or vegan diets) should not be recommended as they may worsen nutritional status. Well-designed clinical trials are needed to further our knowledge of the nutritional support required in different care settings for cancer patients.

Advances in nutritional therapy in inflammatory bowel diseases: Review.

Inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD), including ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease are chronic, life-long, and relapsing diseases of the gastrointestinal tract. Currently, there are no complete cure possibilities, but combined pharmacological and nutritional therapy may induce remission of the disease. Malnutrition and specific nutritional deficiencies are frequent among IBD patients, so the majority of them need nutritional treatment, which not only improves the state of nutrition of the patients but has strong anti-inflammatory activity as well. Moreover, some nutrients, from early stages of life are suspected as triggering factors in the etiopathogenesis of IBD. … This review presents the actual data from research studies on the influence of nutrition on the etiopathogenesis of IBD and the latest findings regarding its mechanisms of action. The use of both parenteral and enteral nutrition as therapeutic methods in induction and maintenance therapy in IBD treatment is also extensively discussed. Comparison of the latest research data, scientific theories concerning the role of nutrition in IBD, and different opinions about them are also presented and discussed. Additionally, some potential future perspectives for nutritional therapy are highlighted.

Alcoholic beverages, obesity, physical activity and other nutritional factors, and cancer risk: A review of the evidence.

Three main nutritional objectives should be attained to improve cancer prevention:

  • to reduce alcoholic beverages consumption,
  • to have a balanced and diversified diet and
  • to be physically active.
Excellent nutrition is critical for cancer and COPD #nutrition #cancer #COPD #science… Click To Tweet


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Did I miss any amazing and relevant science-based holistic health news? Share in the comments below.

Inclusion Criteria for This Week in Science for Holistic Health posts:

  • Studies must be published in a peer-reviewed medical journal or highly credible website (e.g. within the last few weeks,
  • Articles must be relevant to a holistic approach to health (specifically nutrition & lifestyle factors),
  • Studies were done on people unless noted otherwise (animal and tissue studies have unknown relevance to people),
  • I also include new science-based books that look interesting (’cause I LOVE reading!).
  • None of the above applies if it’s a response to something in the media. 😉
  • P.S. – The titles are hyperlinked to the actual studies, so feel free to “geek out”. 🙂

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I love the site, it’s definitely one of my “go-to’s” when it comes to nutrition and health information
How Not to Die: Discover the Foods Scientifically Proven to Prevent and Reverse Disease by Michael Greger, MD
Part 1 includes chapters for “How not to die from:” heart/lung/brain, etc. diseases with almost 3,000 scientific references; Part 2 has Dr. Greger’s favourite recipes, kitchen gadgets, brands, etc.. I’m looking forward to reading this!

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Leesa Klich lives at the intersection of science and holistic health (it’s really, really interesting here!) 🙂 At NutritionInteractions she helps holistic-minded people taking medications maximize the benefits of good nutrition. She also helps holistic health professionals find and understand science-based health information. She has a Master of Science degree in Toxicology and Nutrition and is currently studying to be a Registered Holistic Nutritionist. For a list of free health resources, click here.

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