This Week in Science for Holistic Health
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.
- Food and Eating – Gluten-free diets, especially when modeled after the Mediterranean diet, can improve nutritional status.
- Supplements – Selenium for cancer and brain health.
- Disease Prevention – Foods and supps for your bones.
Food and Eating
This study has a lot of information summarizing the negative health effects of the “western” diet. Have a look at it for detailed information – you can get the entire article pdf for free at the link above.
It specifically summarizes health effects of:
- incorrect protein intake
- excessive consumption of refined carbohydrates, and
- fat consumption depending on the amount and composition
Studies investigating the effects of various nutrients on the development of diet-related disorders usually focus on a single component or a type of component. However, to be able to formulate the theoretical basis of an appropriate and effective diet-based prevention and therapy, it is necessary to examine the effects of changes in the quantitative relationships between the dietary components, particularly macronutrients that exert the largest and global impact on the metabolism. The available literature lacks any data on the effects of various proportions of dietary macronutrients on the mechanisms regulating the endocrine function of adipose tissue, renal blood pressure or inflammatory mediators. It is therefore worth finding out whether the modifications of macronutrient proportions can influence these mechanisms and factors that initiate inflammatory processes and that may further lead to the development of civilization diseases.
In this small study of 14 children, it looks like blueberry drink improved one aspect of kids’ memories, negatively impacted another, and had no effect in a few other areas.
Science is not always black and white #science #grey #health Click To Tweet
In comparison to the vehicle, the blueberry drink produced significant improvements in the delayed recall of a previously learned list of words, showing for the first time a cognitive benefit for acute flavonoid intervention in children. However, performance on a measure of proactive interference indicated that the blueberry intervention led to a greater negative impact of previously memorized words on the encoding of a set of new words. There was no benefit of our blueberry intervention for measures of attention, response inhibition, or visuospatial memory.
Basically, there was no link between eating a more diverse diet (as defined by the “dietary diversity score”, DDS) and BMI status. Previous studies have shown a positive link, some showed a negative link, and others showed no link; so this study analyzed several studies(2) and found no link.
DDS evaluates the diversity within food groups that are often chosen based on healthy dietary guidelines.21, 22 The higher diversity in healthy food groups like vegetables and fruits could increase DDS but would not add substantial energy to the overall calorie content of the diet.
Studies have linked DDS to adverse health such as cardiovascular disease,23 metabolic syndrome,24 cancer25 and obesity;26, 27 however, the association between DDS and obesity have not been fully elucidated. Although some studies have reported inverse associations between DDS and obesity,21, 22, 28 others have failed to show this link29, 30 or found positive associations.23, 27, 31 Although higher DDS may be linked to lower body mass index (BMI) due to higher intakes of fiber, vitamin C and calcium, which are inversely associated with obesity,26 higher DDS may contribute to increased energy consumption and, therefore, higher body fat and BMI.27 The majority of research on the association between DDS and obesity are cross-sectional or based on data from cohort studies.22, 23, 29
Our systematic review and meta-analysis showed that there was no significant association between DDS and BMI status, which may be due to use of different methods for assessing dietary intake and determination of DDS. Thus, well-designed prospective studies with similar approaches to assess DDS are highly recommended.
A comparison of the nutritional status between adult celiac patients on a long-term, strictly gluten-free diet and healthy subjects
Excellent to know that gluten-free diets, especially when modeled after the Mediterranean diet, can improve nutritional status without inducing too much weight gain (yes, there was some weight gain).
Our study demonstrates that a GFD is able to improve the nutritional status of celiac patients without inducing overweight or obesity. Our findings are related to a celiac population adopting a GFD based on a Mediterranean-type diet.
Fruit and vegetable intake during weight loss does not appear to differ largely between males and females.
I wonder if the US will follow Canada’s lead for allowing a food to claim it is ‘natural’?
With more than 3,300 comments having been filed since Nov. 12, the FDA has extended its deadline for accepting public input on the use of the word “natural” on food labels.
I briefly explained what the ‘natural’ claim means for foods in Canada in a previous post. If you click there, and scroll down about half-way, the section on “Natural Claims” is a few paragraphs under the ‘organic’ label (where I also explain what ‘organic’ means when it’s on a Canadian food label). 🙂
This article summarizes what we actually know about selenium, particularly with respect to cancer and the brain. The entire free article is available at the link if you want to “geek out”. 🙂 It’s a great resource!
While there is a relatively narrow window between Se intakes that result in deficiency or toxicity, the recommended dietary intake of Se for healthy adults is 60 μg per day for men and 53 μg per day for women [1, 3, 8]. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 19 μg of Se per day is the minimal requirement to prevent the diseases associated with Se deficiency . The main sources of Se in human diet are cereal grains, soybeans, meat, seafood, eggs, and dairy products [3, 23, 24]. While there are various formulations of supplements available with varying doses and species of Se, the current knowledge advises that people whose serum or plasma Se concentration is 122 μg L−1 or higher should not supplement with Se [3, 8]. This applies mainly to the western populations, where great part of the societies takes dietary supplements on daily basis .
Of all the health benefits attributed to Se, the one that has received the most attention is its role as a cancer prevention agent. … These encouraging reports, resulted in several large clinical trials examining anti-cancer effects of Se supplementation, however the conclusions have been inconsistent. … Better understanding of Se biology is a crucial requirement to effectively target Se supplementation in cancer prevention and treatment.
…Se plays an important role in physiological functions of the brain. … Studies on Se retention in the brain suggest existence of a specific mechanism that maintains baseline brain Se levels at the expense of other tissues. … further research is required to optimize the benefits and reduce potential risks associated with Se supplementation in the context of brain disorders
Calcium and Vitamin D Supplementations: 2015 Position Statement of the Korean Society for Bone and Mineral Research
For men over 50 and post-menopausal women, the Korean Society for Bone and Mineral Research recommends 800-1,000 mg/day of calcium (ideally from food, but supplemented if necessary); and >800 IU/day of vitamin D, supplementing only after a blood test to confirm levels of 25-[OH]D.
How much calcium and vitamin D for bone health? #bones #calcium #vitamin #osteoporosis Click To Tweet
Adequate calcium intake and optimal vitamin D level are essential for preventing and treating osteoporosis in postmenopausal women and men older than 50 years. We recommend a daily calcium intake of 800 to 1,000 mg/day. Food remains the best source of calcium; however calcium supplements should be considered when dietary intake of calcium is inadequate. We recommend dietary vitamin D intake of more than 800 IU per day, a level which appears to reduce the risk of fractures. When vitamin D deficiency is suspected, serum 25-hydroxy-vitamin D (25-[OH]D) level should be tested. We suggest that a serum 25-(OH)D level greater than 20 ng/mL is generally appropriate for prevention of osteoporosis. However, a serum 25-(OH)D level greater than 30 ng/mL is probably helpful for management of osteoporosis and prevention of fractures.
Probiotics seem to help prevent atopic dermatitis in children!
- We studied literature concerning the use of probiotics and prebiotics of different strains and their effects on dermatologic pathologies.
- We found enough evidence regarding the protective effects of probiotics to prevent atopic dermatitis, although the effect on treating atopic dermatitis was not as clear.
- The use of probiotics on other dermatologic pathologies such as eczema, acne, and cutaneous candidiasis needs to be studied because evidence is lacking and conflicting.
Ferrous Sulfate Supplementation Causes Significant Gastrointestinal Side-Effects in Adults: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis
In the UK, iron deficiency anemia (IDA) affects around 4.7 million people every year [1,2]. Groups mostly at risk include those with increased iron demands, for example children and pregnant women [3,4,5], and especially those with increased iron loses, for example pre-menopausal women  and patients with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) [7,8].
Since ferrous sulfate is the gold standard (most commonly prescribed) oral iron therapy in the UK and many other countries [10,31], our aim was to quantify the odds ratio for oral ferrous sulfate- associated gastrointestinal side-effects versus placebo or IV iron.
Our meta-analysis confirms that ferrous sulfate is associated with a significant increase in gastrointestinal-specific side-effects but does not find a relationship with dose.
Silver nanoparticles: Their potential toxic effects after oral exposure and underlying mechanisms – A review
• The food industry uses silver nanoparticles as sensors, dietary supplements, additives, and in packaging.
• They represent a potential risk of toxicity to the consumer, the intestinal tract and liver being their main targets.
• Silver nanoparticles can produce free radicals and cause oxidative stress in cells, inducing oxidative damage.
• Oxidative stress mediates toxicity by triggering inflammatory reactions and death by necrosis or apoptosis.
Resveratrol Does Not Influence Metabolic Risk Markers Related to Cardiovascular Health in Overweight and Slightly Obese Subjects: A Randomized, Placebo-Controlled Crossover Trial
While the results from in vitro and animal studies are promising, and an HDL cholesterol elevating effect of berries  and red wine , both of which contain resveratrol, has been reported, human studies with the primary aim to examine the effects of resveratrol on lipid and lipoprotein metabolism are scarce. Furthermore, human data onto the effect of resveratrol on markers for metabolic risk is limited and results are conflicting [18–20].
… daily supplementation with 150 mg trans-resveratrol may improve glucose metabolism, but more well-designed studies are needed to answer this question.
It is possible that certain groups may benefit from resveratrol supplementation and other groups do not.
In summary, we here show that 150 mg of daily resveratrol intake for four weeks does not change lipids, lipoproteins and other metabolic risk markers related to cardiovascular health in overweight and slightly obese men and women with low HDL cholesterol concentrations. Effects on glucose metabolism however warrant further study.
Antiinflammatory effects of l-carnitine supplementation (1000 mg/d) in coronary artery disease patients
• This study examined the antiinflammatory effect of l-carnitine supplements (LC, 1000 mg/d) in patients with coronary artery disease (CAD).
• After 12 wk of LC supplementation, patients with CAD had significantly lower inflammation markers (C-reactive protein, interleukin-6, and tumor necrosis factor-α) levels than at baseline and than those in the placebo group.
• The levels of inflammation markers were significantly negatively correlated with antioxidant status after LC supplementation.
• LC has an antiinflammation effect in CAD that may be related to its antioxidant capacity.
Inflammation mediators have been recognized as risk factors for the pathogenesis of coronary artery disease (CAD). The purpose of this study was to investigate the effect of l-carnitine supplementation (LC, 1000 mg/d) on inflammation markers in patients with CAD.
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Diseases/Conditions and Prevention/Treatments
Swedes with the lowest Se levels in their blood serum had higher risk for all-cause mortality, and cardiovascular mortality.
The daily dietary intake of selenium (Se), an essential trace element, is still low in Sweden in spite of decades of nutritional information campaigns and the effect of this on the public health is presently not well known. The objective of this study was to determine the serum Se levels in an elderly Swedish population and to analyze whether a low Se status had any influence on mortality.
The soils in North America have a significantly higher content of Se than in Europe;5 thus, the reported serum Se levels of US citizens are generally above 120 μg/l,9, 10 whereas levels below 90 μg/l have been reported from several European countries.11, 12, 13, 14, 15
Results: The mean serum Se level of the study population (n=668) was 67.1 μg/l, corresponding to relatively low Se intake. After adjustment for male gender, smoking, ischemic heart disease, diabetes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and impaired heart function, persons with serum Se in the lowest quartile had 43% (95% confidence interval (CI): 1.02–2.00) and 56% (95% CI: 1.03–2.36) increased risk for all-cause and cardiovascular mortality, respectively. The result was not driven by inflammatory effects on Se concentration in serum.
Conclusion: The mean serum Se concentration in an elderly Swedish population was 67.1 μg/l, which is below the physiological saturation level for several selenoprotein enzymes. This result may suggest the value of modest Se supplementation in order to improve the health of the Swedish population.
Lots of great information here on gut bacteria!
Gut bacteria are an important component of the microbiota ecosystem in the human gut, which is colonized by 1014 microbes, ten times more than the human cells. Gut bacteria play an important role in human health, such as supplying essential nutrients, synthesizing vitamin K, aiding in the digestion of cellulose, and promoting angiogenesis and enteric nerve function. However, they can also be potentially harmful due to the change of their composition when the gut ecosystem undergoes abnormal changes in the light of the use of antibiotics, illness, stress, aging, bad dietary habits, and lifestyle. Dysbiosis of the gut bacteria communities can cause many chronic diseases, such as inflammatory bowel disease, obesity, cancer, and autism. This review summarizes and discusses the roles and potential mechanisms of gut bacteria in human health and diseases.
Poor sleep quality associated with high risk of hypertension and elevated blood pressure in China: results from a large population-based study
Little information is available concerning the association between sleep quality and blood pressure (BP) in Chinese individuals. This study evaluated the association between sleep quality, as determined by the Pittsburgh sleep quality index (PSQI), and hypertension in a rural Chinese population.
Consistently with prior research, the present study observed that short sleep duration is associated with hypertension. Some previous studies also reported this association between sleep duration and hypertension.23, 31, 32, 33, 34
Conclusions: Our results suggest that low serum 25(OH)D is not associated with self-reported symptoms/diagnosis of depression and anxiety.
Dietary patterns and bone mineral density in Brazilian postmenopausal women with osteoporosis: a cross-sectional study
In this “cross-sectional” clinical study, the researchers looked at 156 post-menopausal women who were undergoing osteoporosis treatment. They asked them to do a 3-day food diary (non-consecutive days – 2 week days & 1 weekend day). The foods were grouped into different food categories, many factors were accounted for (such as weight, height, fat, activity levels, supplement intake, etc.) and the diets were compared with the bone density test results. There was a statistically significant relationship between low bone density scores and excessive consumption of sweets and caffeine. No relationship (positive or negative) was found for the “healthy” (fruit/veg), “red meat and refined cereals”, the “low-fat dairy”, or the “western” (fat, snacks, soft drinks) categories.
Background/Objectives: The aim of this study was to investigate the association between dietary patterns and bone mineral density (BMD) in postmenopausal women with osteoporosis.
Conclusions: A concomitant excessive consumption of sweet foods and caffeinated beverages appears to exert a negative effect on BMD even when the skeleton already presents some demineralization. Food and beverage intake is a modifiable factor that should not be neglected in the treatment of individuals with osteoporosis.
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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. Cochrane.org) within the last few weeks,
- Articles must be relevant to a holistic approach to health (specifically nutrition & lifestyle factors),
- Studies must have been done on people (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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Have you picked up your copy of NutritionFacts.org “How Not to Die”? It made the New York Time’s Bestseller List!
I love this site, and 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!
Watch the trailer here:
Buy the book here:
(affiliate link image above)
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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