This Week in Science for Holistic Health – 30Jan2016

This Week in Science for Holistic Health

This Week in Science for Holistic Health - 30Jan2016

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 – How much protein is too much?

  • Supplements – Milk thistle, an antioxidant herb for your liver and more.

  • Disease Prevention – Integrative approach for children with autism.


Food, Eating and Drinking

 Dietary protein intake and human health.

  • Based on short-term nitrogen balance studies, the Recommended Dietary Allowance of protein for a healthy adult with minimal physical activity is currently 0.8 g protein per kg body weight (BW) per day.
  • To meet the functional needs such as promoting skeletal-muscle protein accretion and physical strength, dietary intake of 1.0, 1.3, and 1.6 g protein per kg BW per day is recommended for individuals with minimal, moderate, and intense physical activity, respectively.
  • Long-term consumption of protein at 2 g per kg BW per day is safe for healthy adults, and the tolerable upper limit is 3.5 g per kg BW per day for well-adapted subjects.
  • Chronic high protein intake (>2 g per kg BW per day for adults) may result in digestive, renal, and vascular abnormalities and should be avoided.
  • The quantity and quality of protein are the determinants of its nutritional values. Therefore, adequate consumption of high-quality proteins from animal products (e.g., lean meat and milk) is essential for optimal growth, development, and health of humans.

2016 update on eating disorders in athletes: A comprehensive narrative review with a focus on clinical assessment and management.

Eating disorders, such as anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa, can have devastating effects on both the health and performance of athletes. Compared to non-athletes, both female and male athletes are at higher risk of developing an eating disorder. This is especially true for athletes participating in sports where low body weight or leanness confers a competitive advantage. Screening for disordered eating behaviours, eating disorders and for related health consequences should be a standard component of preparticipation examinations, and team physicians should be knowledgeable of the updated diagnostic criteria for eating disorders in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual-V. Athletes with eating disorders should undergo thorough evaluation and treatment by an experienced multidisciplinary team. Team physicians play a critical role in decision-making on clearance for participation and return to play. Using evidence-based guidelines for clearance and return to play encourages transparency and accountability between the sports medicine care team and the athlete. Efforts to prevent eating disorders should be aimed at athletes, coaches, parents and athletic administrators, and focused on expanding knowledge of healthy nutrition in support of sport performance and health.


Cardiovascular benefits of probiotics: a review of experimental and clinical studies.

The microbiota inhabiting the human gastro-intestinal tract is reported to have a significant impact on the health of an individual. Recent findings suggest that the microbial imbalance of the gut may play a role in pathogenesis of cardiovascular diseases (CVD). Therefore, several studies have delved into the aspect of altering gut microbiota with probiotics as an approach to prevent and/or treat CVD. The World Health Organization defines probiotics as live microorganisms that, when consumed in adequate amounts, have a positive influence on the individual’s health. The present review focuses on strategies of human dietary intervention with probiotic strains and their impact on cardiovascular risk factors like hypercholesterolemia, hypertension, obesity and type-2 diabetes. Accumulating evidence shows probiotics to lower low density lipoproteins (LDL)-cholesterol and improve the LDL/high density lipoproteins (HDL) ratio, as well as lower blood pressure, inflammatory mediators, blood glucose levels and body mass index. Thus, probiotics have the scope to be developed as dietary supplements with potential cardiovascular health benefits. However, there is not only ambiguity regarding the exact strains and dosages of the probiotics that will bring about positive health effects, but also factors like immunity and genetics of the individual that might influence the efficacy of probiotics. Therefore, further studies are required not only to understand the mechanisms by which probiotics may beneficially affect the cardiovascular system, but also to rule out any of their probable negative effects on health. The present review aims to critically appraise the complexity of the available data with regard to the cardiovascular benefits of probiotics.

Unraveling the role of Mg++ in osteoarthritis.

Mg++ is widely involved in human physiological processes that may play key roles in the generation and progression of diseases. Osteoarthritis (OA) is a complex joint disorder characterized by articular cartilage degradation, abnormal mineralization and inflammation. Magnesium deficiency is considered to be a major risk factor for OA development and progression. Magnesium deficiency is active in several pathways that have been implicated in OA, including increased inflammatory mediators, cartilage damage, defective chondrocyte biosynthesis, aberrant calcification and a weakened effect of analgesics. Abundant in vitro and in vivo evidence in animal models now suggests that the nutritional supplementation or local infiltration of Mg++ represent effective therapies for OA. The goal of this review is to summarize the current understanding of the role of Mg++ in OA with particular emphasis on the related molecular mechanisms involved in OA progression.

Silymarin as a Natural Antioxidant: An Overview of the Current Evidence and Perspectives.

Silymarin (SM), an extract from the Silybum marianum (milk thistle) plant containing various flavonolignans (with silybin being the major one), has received a tremendous amount of attention over the last decade as a herbal remedy for liver treatment. In many cases, the antioxidant properties of SM are considered to be responsible for its protective actions.

… SM has been the gold standard drug to treat liver disorders of different etiologies and milk thistle extracts have been used as traditional herbal remedies (“liver tonics”) for almost 2000 years. Therefore, SM is most well known for its antioxidant and chemoprotective effects on the liver and it is often prescribed and self-prescribed as a complementary and alternative hepatoprotective medicine. SM is being studied as a hepato-, neuro-, nephro- and cardio-protective ingredient due to its strong antioxidant and tissue regenerative properties.

… Recent achievements in biochemistry and molecular biology, together with epidemiological data have changed our thinking about food. It has become increasingly clear that our diet plays a pivotal role in maintenance of our health and a misbalanced diet can cause serious health-related problems. It seems likely that antioxidants are among the major regulators of many physiological processes and, therefore, a redox balance between antioxidants and prooxidants in the diet, gastro-intestinal tract, plasma and tissues is an important determinant of the state of our health. Plants consumed by humans amd animals contain thousands of phenolic compounds. Among them, the effects of dietary polyphenols including SM are of great current interest. Indeed, various phytochemicals, including flavonoids, are an essential part of our diet, which are responsible for turning on and maintaining an optimal status of our antioxidant defences.

… This could explain the beneficial health-promoting effects of a diet rich in fruits and vegetables as important sources of the aforementioned chemicals (polyphenols and other phytochemicals) maintaining the body’s ability to be highly adaptive to various stresses. SM and its main component silibinin are part of the dietary phytochemical mixture responsible for regulation of the antioxidant defences in the gut and in the whole body.

Milk Thistle an antioxidant herb for your liver and more #milkthistle #silymarin #supplement… 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

Classroom Standing Desks and Sedentary Behavior: A Systematic Review.

This initial evidence supports integrating standing desks into the classroom environment; this strategy has the potential to reduce sitting time and increase standing time among elementary schoolchildren. Additional research is needed to determine the impact of standing desks on academic performance and precursors of chronic disease risk.

Serologic testing in celiac disease: Practical guide for clinicians.

To screen patients for CD, measurement of the immunoglobulin A (IgA) tissue transglutaminase antibody is the preferred test. Total serum IgA level should be measured to exclude selective IgA deficiency and to avoid false-negative test results. Patients with positive serologic test results should be referred to a gastroenterologist for endoscopic small intestinal biopsies to confirm the diagnosis. Testing for human leukocyte antigens DQ2 and DQ8 can help exclude the diagnosis. A gluten-free diet should not be started before confirming the diagnosis of CD.

Physical activity and exercise lower blood pressure in individuals with hypertension: narrative review of 27 RCTs.

Regular physical activity (PA) reduces the blood pressure (BP) of individuals with hypertension. The present review analysed the scientific evidence for the BP lowering effect of aerobic PA in 27 randomised controlled studies on individuals with hypertension, and shows that regular medium-to-high-intensity aerobic activity reduces the BP by a mean of 11/5 mm Hg (level of evidence, 3+). In addition, three randomised controlled trials (RCTs) on isometric (static) activity showed a BP reduction of similar magnitude in hypertensives; dynamic resistance training may show less effect, as shown in five available RCTs (level of evidence 2+). As both the prevalence of hypertension and physical inactivity are high and increasing in today’s society, PA has a great role to play as a single (when indicated) or additive treatment for hypertension. Furthermore, as competitive athletes are getting older, it can be expected that more athletes at different competitive levels will have hypertension. Certain considerations must be applied regarding evaluation and treatment of hypertension in athletes. Eligibility for competitive sports may be affected if target organ damage (TOD) is present; however, an athlete with well-controlled BP, having no additional risk factors or TOD, is eligible for all sports.

Food-Based Interventions to Modify Diet Quality and Diversity to Address Multiple Micronutrient Deficiency

Three-pronged strategy has been envisaged for prevention and control of hidden hunger, which can be deployed individually or in combination: short-term supplementation, medium-term food fortification, and a long-term focus on dietary diversification.

… Acquiring all micronutrients from one or two food groups is not plausible and requires regular intake of several foods and food groups in sufficient quantity and variety to satisfy the nutritional needs.

Food groups and micronutrients
Contribution of different food groups in meeting the daily requirement of micronutrients (A) iron, (B) vitamin C, (C) folate, and (D) zinc. Calculated using the model diet (8) and the food composition database (9).

… Dietary diversity previously has been defined as the number of different foods or food groups consumed over a given reference period. … Dietary diversity had long been recognized as an important component of diet quality. …

Integrative Approaches to Caring for Children with Autism.

Parents commonly integrate complementary and alternative medical (CAM) treatments for autism spectrum disorder (ASD) with conventional care. The aims of this article are to (1) describe the most commonly used treatments, (2) assess their efficacy and safety, and (3) organize the information in practical format for practitioners. We organized treatment modalities into four categories: recommended, monitored, tolerated, and therapies that should be avoided. These four categories are based on a two by two table weighing a therapy׳s effectiveness and safety. To meet the threshold for “recommended,” its effectiveness needed to be supported by two or more randomized, controlled trials. In addition to promoting an overall healthy lifestyle via nutrition, exercise, sleep, stress management, social support, and avoiding neurotoxins (healthy habits in a healthy habitat), the most promising therapies recommend are applied behavior analysis, parent-implemented training, melatonin supplements to improve sleep, supplements to correct deficiencies, and music therapy. Medications and restrictive diets may be helpful for some children, but use should be monitored given the risk of side effects. Most complementary therapies are safe, so they can be tolerated, but additional research is needed before they should be recommended. Given their risks, costs, and limited evidence of efficacy, chelation, secretin, and hyperbaric oxygen should be avoided.

Integrative approach for children with autism #CAM #autism #behaviour #melatonin #supplements… Click To Tweet

Clinical effectiveness of very-low-energy diets in the management of weight loss: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials.

Guidelines suggest that very-low-energy diets (VLEDs) should be used to treat obesity only when rapid weight loss is clinically indicated because of concerns about rapid weight regain. Literature databases were searched from inception to November 2014.

… Compared with a behavioural programme alone, VLEDs combined with a behavioural programme achieved -3.9 kg [95% confidence interval (CI) -6.7 to -1.1] at 1 year. The difference at 24 months was -1.4 kg (95%CI -2.6 to -0.2) and at 38-60 months was -1.3 kg (95%CI -2.9 to 0.2). Nineteen per cent of the VLED group discontinued treatment prematurely compared with 20% of the comparator groups, relative risk 0.96 (0.56 to 1.66). One serious adverse event, hospitalization with cholecystitis, was reported in the VLED group and none in the comparator group. Very-low-energy diets with behavioural programmes achieve greater long-term weight loss than behavioural programmes alone, appear tolerable and lead to few adverse events suggesting they could be more widely used than current guidelines suggest.

Obesity and cancer: An update of the global impact.

In view of the growing global obesity epidemic, this paper reviews the relation between recent trends in body mass index (BMI) and the changing profile of cancer worldwide.

… Improved surveillance of health risk factors including obesity as well as the scale and profile of cancer in every country of the world is urgently needed. This will enable the design of cost-effective actions to curb the growing burden of cancer related to excess body weight.



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. 🙂

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