This Week in Science for Holistic Health – 13Feb2016

This Week in Science for Holistic Health

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.

This issue:

  • Food and Eating – Have you heard of “Brazilian Red Propolis”?

  • Supplements – Green tea catechins for weight management

  • Disease Prevention – Anti-cancer berries?


Food, Eating and Drinking

Breakfast consumption and adiposity among children and adolescents: an updated review of the literature.

BACKGROUND:  Breakfast consumption has been associated with reduced risk of overweight and obesity among children, but previous evidence reviews fail to confirm a causal relationship.

CONCLUSIONS:  Findings corroborate results from previous reviews, adding support for a possible, protective role for breakfast consumption in preventing excess adiposity during childhood and adolescence. However, drawing a causal conclusion from the collective evidence is curtailed by methodological limitations and inconsistencies, including study design, follow-up duration and frequency, exposure and outcome assessment, as well as limited consideration of confounding, mediating and effect-modifying variables. More rigorous study designs employing valid and standardized measurement of relevant variables are needed.

A pharmacological perspective on the use of Brazilian Red Propolis and its isolated compounds against human diseases.

Propolis is a complex resinous mixture collected by bees, with high medicinal, historical and economic value. The nutraceutical and pharmacological benefits of propolis have been extensively explored in several fields of medicine as an important resource for prevention and treatment of oral and systemic diseases. A relatively new type of propolis, named red propolis (in Brazil, Brazilian Red Propolis – BRP), has been arousing attention for the promising pharmacological properties of some of its isolated compounds (vestitol, neovestitol, quercetin, medicarpin, formononetin, etc). Due to a distinct chemical composition, BRP and its isolated compounds (mainly isoflavones) affect a wide range of biological targets and could have an impact against numerous diseases as an antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory and immunomodulatory, antioxidant and antiproliferative agent. In this review, we comprehensively address the main aspects related to BRP bioprospection, chemistry and therapeutic potential. Further information is provided on mechanisms of action discovered thus far as well as clinical use in humans and regulatory aspects. As of now, BRP and its isolated molecules remain a fascinating topic for further research and application in biomedical areas and dentistry.

Olive Oil and the Hallmarks of Aging.

Abstract:  Aging is a multifactorial and tissue-specific process involving diverse alterations regarded as the “hallmarks of aging”, which include genomic instability, telomere attrition, epigenetic alterations, loss of proteostasis, deregulated nutrient sensing, mitochondrial dysfunction, cellular senescence, stem cell exhaustion and altered intracellular communication. Virtually all these hallmarks are targeted by dietary olive oil, particularly by virgin olive oil, since many of its beneficial effects can be accounted not only for the monounsaturated nature of its predominant fatty acid (oleic acid), but also for the bioactivity of its minor compounds, which can act on cells though both direct and indirect mechanisms due to their ability to modulate gene expression. Among the minor constituents of virgin olive oil, secoiridoids stand out for their capacity to modulate many pathways that are relevant for the aging process. Attenuation of aging-related alterations by olive oil or its minor compounds has been observed in cellular, animal and human models. How olive oil targets the hallmarks of aging could explain the improvement of health, reduced risk of aging-associated diseases, and increased longevity which have been associated with consumption of a typical Mediterranean diet containing this edible oil as the predominant fat source.

Diet, microbiota, and dysbiosis: a ‘recipe’ for colorectal cancer.

The food we consume feeds not only us, but also a vast and diverse community of microbiota within our gastrointestinal tract. In a process of symbiotic co-evolution, the gut microbiota became essential for the maintenance of the health and integrity of our colon. The advent of next-generation DNA sequencing technology and metabolic profiling have, in the recent years, revealed the remarkable complexity of microbial diversity and function, and that the microbiota produce a wide variety of bioactive products that are not only active at the mucosal surface, but also absorbed and circulated throughout the body, influencing distant organ health and function. As a result, several microbiota compositional patterns and their associations with both health and disease states have been identified. Importantly, a disturbed microbiota-host relationship, termed dysbiosis, is now recognized to be the root cause for a growing list of diseases, including colorectal cancer (CRC). There is mounting in vitro and in vivo evidence to suggest that diet selects for the microbiota composition and several health promoting and deleterious effects of diet are, in fact, mediated by the microbiota. Recent findings of the feasibility of dietary fiber to boost the colonic microbial synthesis of anti-proliferative and counter carcinogenic metabolites, particularly butyrate, underscores the prerequisite of dietary modification as a key measure to curb the pandemic of CRC in westernized countries. Better understanding of the diet-microbiota interplay and large-scale studies to evaluate the efficacy of dietary modification and gut microbiota modulation in reversing dysbiosis and restoring health could offer novel preventative and/or therapeutic strategies against westernized diseases, which are now considered the chief threat to public health.


 Nutraceuticals for body-weight management: The role of green tea catechins.

Green tea catechins mixed with caffeine have been proposed as adjuvants for maintaining or enhancing energy expenditure and for increasing fat oxidation, in the context of prevention and treatment of obesity. These catechins-caffeine mixtures seem to counteract the decrease in metabolic rate that occurs during weight loss. Their effects are of particular importance during weight maintenance after weight loss. Other metabolic targets may be fat absorption and the gut microbiota composition, but these effects still need further investigation in combination with weight loss. Limitations for the effects of green tea catechins are moderating factors such as genetic predisposition related to COMT-activity, habitual caffeine intake, and ingestion combined with dietary protein. In conclusion, a mixture of green tea catechins and caffeine has a beneficial effect on body-weight management, especially by sustained energy expenditure, fat oxidation, and preservation of fat free body-mass, after energy restriction induced body-weight loss, when taking the limitations into account.

B Vitamins and the Brain: Mechanisms, Dose and Efficacy-A Review.

Abstract:  The B-vitamins comprise a group of eight water soluble vitamins that perform essential, closely inter-related roles in cellular functioning, acting as co-enzymes in a vast array of catabolic and anabolic enzymatic reactions. Their collective effects are particularly prevalent to numerous aspects of brain function, including energy production, DNA/RNA synthesis/repair, genomic and non-genomic methylation, and the synthesis of numerous neurochemicals and signaling molecules. However, human epidemiological and controlled trial investigations, and the resultant scientific commentary, have focused almost exclusively on the small sub-set of vitamins (B9/B12/B6) that are the most prominent (but not the exclusive) B-vitamins involved in homocysteine metabolism. Scant regard has been paid to the other B vitamins. This review describes the closely inter-related functions of the eight B-vitamins and marshals evidence suggesting that adequate levels of all members of this group of micronutrients are essential for optimal physiological and neurological functioning. Furthermore, evidence from human research clearly shows both that a significant proportion of the populations of developed countries suffer from deficiencies or insufficiencies in one or more of this group of vitamins, and that, in the absence of an optimal diet, administration of the entire B-vitamin group, rather than a small sub-set, at doses greatly in excess of the current governmental recommendations, would be a rational approach for preserving brain health.

Anti-hypertensive Herbs and their Mechanisms of Action: Part I.

  • This is a review of 15 herbs that are commonly used for high blood pressure (the whole article is free at the link above)

The evidence presented is strongly indicative of the notion that herbs and plants are becoming part of evidence-based medicine in the prevention and/or treatment of CVD. The pharmacological actions of herbs or herbal isolates appear to favorably modulate several parameters implicated in the pathogenesis of blood pressure, including but not limited to ROS production, VSMC phenotype, endothelial function, platelet activation, pro-inflammatory signaling, and gene expression. With such a broad spectrum of actions, one may predict that herbal remedies will receive even more attention in the coming years, perhaps accentuating the need for further experimentations and clinical trials. Indeed, the lack of sufficient clinical trials constitutes a significant limitation on their use at the present time. Of equal importance, it may be advisable that patients be appropriately educated, particularly in relation to herbs whose consumption has been considered safe for thousands of years (black cumin, Chinese sage, coriander, garlic, ginger, ginseng, and tea), and has been supported by sound scientific evidence such as one based on clinical trials with large population groups. It is important to note that there are herbs and plants that could actually raise blood pressure and thus should be avoided by hypertensive patients. There are also other limitations for herbal therapy of hypertension. These limitations would be discussed in the second part of this review.

Green tea catechins for weight management #tea #greentea #weight #science #holistichealth Click To Tweet

To make sure you get every “This Week in Science for Holistic Health” report delivered to your email – sign up here. 🙂

Diseases/Conditions and Prevention/Treatments

Implementation of evidence-based practice: A naturopath perspective.

Evidence-based practice (EBP), an approach to clinical practice that places emphasis on the use of best available research evidence for decision-making, has been adopted broadly in clinical practice. As a patient-focused approach, EBP promotes the spirit of inquiry. It can also facilitate consistency of care across professional boundaries, and clarify the directions of research. However, over-emphasis on systematic reviews and randomised control trials as the “gold standard” for evidence is a major limitation of EBP as it is being practised today. There are also objections to EBP based on epistemological grounds. Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) therapies often fare unfavourably under the scrutiny of EBP due to the lack of research and inherent differences in healing ideology. Naturopathy is a unique form of CAM, based on both traditional and scientific knowledge. We argue that there is no conflict between naturopathy and EBP. EBP can be adopted as a useful approach to assimilate scientific evidence in naturopathic practices. However, naturopaths need to reconcile tensions between traditional and scientific knowledge in their choice of treatment remedies, while adhering to the naturopathic principles of healing, to benefit the patients. They must also maintain their emphasis on clinical expertise, and also patient preferences and values, in clinical decision-making.

Oxidative stress and metabolic disorders: Pathogenesis and therapeutic strategies.

Increased body weight and metabolic disorder including insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular complications together constitute metabolic syndrome. The pathogenesis of metabolic syndrome involves multitude of factors. A number of studies however indicate, with some conformity, that oxidative stress along with chronic inflammatory condition pave the way for the development of metabolic diseases. Oxidative stress, a state of lost balance between the oxidative and anti-oxidative systems of the cells and tissues, results in the over production of oxidative free radicals and reactive oxygen species (ROS). Excessive ROS generated could attack the cellular proteins, lipids and nucleic acids leading to cellular dysfunction including loss of energy metabolism, altered cell signalling and cell cycle control, genetic mutations, altered cellular transport mechanisms and overall decreased biological activity, immune activation and inflammation. In addition, nutritional stress such as that caused by high fat high carbohydrate diet also promotes oxidative stress as evident by increased lipid peroxidation products, protein carbonylation, and decreased antioxidant system and reduced glutathione (GSH) levels. These changes lead to initiation of pathogenic milieu and development of several chronic diseases. Studies suggest that in obese person oxidative stress and chronic inflammation are the important underlying factors that lead to development of pathologies such as carcinogenesis, obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular diseases through altered cellular and nuclear mechanisms, including impaired DNA damage repair and cell cycle regulation. Here we discuss the aspects of metabolic disorders-induced oxidative stress in major pathological conditions and strategies for their prevention and therapy.

The role of diet and nutritional supplementation in perinatal depression: a systematic review.

This article presents a systematic literature review on whether dietary intake influences the risk for perinatal depression, i.e. depression during pregnancy or post-partum. Such a link has been hypothesized given that certain nutrients are important in the neurotransmission system and pregnancy depletes essential nutrients. PubMed, EMBASE and CINAHL databases were searched for relevant articles until 30 May 2015. We included peer-reviewed studies of any design that evaluated whether perinatal depression is related to dietary intake, which was defined as adherence to certain diets, food-derived intake of essential nutrients or supplements. We identified 4808 studies, of which 35 fulfilled inclusion criteria: six randomized controlled trials, 12 cohort, one case-control and 16 cross-sectional studies, representing 88 051 distinct subjects. Studies were grouped into four main categories based on the analysis of dietary intake: adherence to dietary patterns (nine studies); full panel of essential nutrients (six studies); specific nutrients (including B vitamins, Vitamin D, calcium and zinc; eight studies); and intake of fish or polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs; 12 studies). While 13 studies, including three PUFA supplementation trials, found no evidence of an association, 22 studies showed protective effects from healthy dietary patterns, multivitamin supplementation, fish and PUFA intake, calcium, Vitamin D, zinc and possibly selenium. Given the methodological limitations of existing studies and inconsistencies in findings across studies, the evidence on whether nutritional factors influence the risk of perinatal depression is still inconclusive. Further longitudinal studies are needed, with robust and consistent measurement of dietary intake and depressive symptoms, ideally starting before pregnancy.

KEY MESSAGES:  Depression in pregnancy and post-partum is common and can have adverse consequences. During pregnancy and lactation, nutritional demand increases. Lack of key nutrients may negatively impact neurotransmission and increase the risk of perinatal depression. We conducted a systematic literature review and present a synthesis of the evidence on whether dietary intake influences perinatal depression. The evidence is still inconclusive, because of both mixed results of studies and a lack of high-quality investigations. Further research is needed using robust, longitudinal measurement of nutritional exposures and depression outcomes, including low-income settings.

Chemopreventive and Therapeutic Effects of Edible Berries: A Focus on Colon Cancer Prevention and Treatment.

Abstract: Colon cancer is one of the most prevalent diseases across the world. Numerous epidemiological studies indicate that diets rich in fruit, such as berries, provide significant health benefits against several types of cancer, including colon cancer. The anticancer activities of berries are attributed to their high content of phytochemicals and to their relevant antioxidant properties. In vitro and in vivo studies have demonstrated that berries and their bioactive components exert therapeutic and preventive effects against colon cancer by the suppression of inflammation, oxidative stress, proliferation and angiogenesis, through the modulation of multiple signaling pathways such as NF-κB, Wnt/β-catenin, PI3K/AKT/PKB/mTOR, and ERK/MAPK. Based on the exciting outcomes of preclinical studies, a few berries have advanced to the clinical phase. A limited number of human studies have shown that consumption of berries can prevent colorectal cancer, especially in patients at high risk (familial adenopolyposis or aberrant crypt foci, and inflammatory bowel diseases). In this review, we aim to highlight the findings of berries and their bioactive compounds in colon cancer from in vitro and in vivo studies, both on animals and humans. Thus, this review could be a useful step towards the next phase of berry research in colon cancer.

Microbiota, immunity and the liver.

The gut harbors a complex community of over 100 trillion microbial cells known to exist in symbiotic harmony with the host influencing human physiology, metabolism, nutrition and immune function. It is now widely accepted that perturbations of this close partnership results in the pathogenesis of several major diseases with increasing evidence highlighting their role outside of the intestinal tract. The intimate proximity and circulatory loop of the liver and the gut has attracted significant attention regarding the role of the microbiota in the development and progression of liver disease. Here we give an overview of the interaction between the microbiota and the immune system and focus on their convincing role in both the propagation and treatment of liver disease.

Potential benefits of physical activity during pregnancy for the reduction of gestational diabetes prevalence and oxidative stress.

Changes in quality of nutrition, habits, and physical activity in modern societies increase susceptibility to obesity, which can deleteriously affect pregnancy outcome. In particular, a sedentary lifestyle causes dysfunction in blood flow, which impacts the cardiovascular function of pregnant women. The main molecular mechanism responsible for this effect is the synthesis and bioavailability of nitric oxide, a phenomenon regulated by the antioxidant capacity of endothelial cells. These alterations affect the vascular health of the mother and vascular performance of the placenta, the key organ responsible for the healthy development of the fetus. In addition to the increases in systemic vascular resistance in the mother, placental oxidative stress also affects the feto-placental blood flow. These changes can be integrated into the proteomics and metabolomics of newborns.

Anti-cancer berries? #berries #nutrition #cancer #coloncancer #science #holistichealth Click To Tweet


Did you want a copy of the food-supplement-alcohol interactions with the top 100 prescribed drugs? You’ll want to sign up here to download a free copy when I finish it…before I start selling it!

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”. 🙂

Enjoy! 🙂

Is there a holistic health topic you’d like covered? Scroll down to vote! 🙂

Have you picked up your copy of “How Not to Die”? I did, and I’m reading it now. I will post my review in the upcoming weeks. 🙂

Here’s a photo of my “heart healthy kale shots”, inspired by How Not to Die:

How Not to Die inspired "heart healthy kale shots"

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!

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.

If you liked this post, then you might want to sign up for my newsletter. 🙂

I write for:

VOTE! What topics are most important for you to see weekly updates on?

Create your own user feedback survey
(1) Compound Interest – Rough Guide to Types of Scientific Evidence

Leave a Reply