This Week in Science for Holistic Health – 16July2016

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 to keep you up-to-date!


This edition:

  • Foods, Diets & Eating – Yes! Low FODMAP foods for IBS.

  • Supplements & Nutrients – First European-approved supplement for CVD

  • Lifestyle – Leucine for muscle loss due to inactivity


Foods, Diets & Eating

Efficacy of the low FODMAP diet for treating irritable bowel syndrome: the evidence to date.

This review summarizes the published clinical studies concerning the management of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) using restriction of Fermentable Oligosaccharide, Disaccharide, Monosaccharide, and Polyols in the diet (low FODMAP diet). In recent years, the data supporting low FODMAP diet for the management of IBS symptoms have emerged, including several randomized controlled trials, case-control studies, and other observational studies. Unlike most dietary manipulations tried in the past to alleviate gastrointestinal symptoms of IBS, all studies on low FODMAP diet have consistently shown symptomatic benefits in the majority of patients with IBS. However, dietary adherence by the patients and clear dietary intervention led by specialized dietitians appear to be vital for the success of the diet. Up to 86% of patients with IBS find improvement in overall gastrointestinal symptoms as well as individual symptoms such as abdominal pain, bloating, constipation, diarrhea, abdominal distention, and flatulence following the diet. FODMAP restriction reduces the osmotic load and gas production in the distal small bowel and the proximal colon, providing symptomatic relief in patients with IBS. Long-term health effects of a low FODMAP diet are not known; however, stringent FODMAP restriction is not recommended owing to risks of inadequate nutrient intake and potential adverse effects from altered gut microbiota. In conclusion, the evidence to date strongly supports the efficacy of a low FODMAP diet in the treatment of IBS. Further studies are required to understand any potential adverse effects of long-term restriction of FODMAPs.

Lots of #science behind low #FODMAP foods for #IBS - #pain #bloating #constipation #diarrhea… Click To Tweet


Low protein diets in patients with chronic kidney disease: a bridge between mainstream and complementary-alternative medicines?

Dietary therapy represents an important tool in the management of chronic kidney disease (CKD), mainly through a balanced reduction of protein intake aimed at giving the remnant nephrons in damaged kidneys a “functional rest”. While dialysis, transplantation, and pharmacological therapies are usually seen as “high tech” medicine, non pharmacological interventions, including diets, are frequently considered lifestyle-complementary treatments. Diet is one of the oldest CKD treatments, and it is usually considered a part of “mainstream” management. In this narrative review we discuss how the lessons of complementary alternative medicines (CAMs) can be useful for the implementation and study of low-protein diets in CKD. While high tech medicine is mainly prescriptive, prescribing a “good” life-style change is usually not enough and comprehensive counselling is required; the empathic educational approach, on which CAMs are mainly, though not exclusively based, may support a successful personalized nutritional intervention.There is no gold-standard, low-protein diet for all CKD patients: from among a relatively vast choice, the best compliance is probably obtained by personalization. This approach interferes with the traditional RCT-based analyses which are grounded upon an assumption of equal preference of treatments (ideally blinded). Whole system approaches and narrative medicine, that are widely used in the study of CAMs, may offer ways to integrate EBM and personalised medicine in the search for innovative solutions respecting individualization, but gaining sound data, such as with partially-randomised patient preference trials.

Low #protein for #kidneydisease - #CKD #kidney #CAM #personalized Click To Tweet

Nutritional Cognitive Neuroscience: Innovations for Healthy Brain Aging.

Nutritional cognitive neuroscience is an emerging interdisciplinary field of research that seeks to understand nutrition‘s impact on cognition and brain health across the life span. Research in this burgeoning field demonstrates that many aspects of nutrition-from entire diets to specific nutrients-affect brain structure and function, and therefore have profound implications for understanding the nature of healthy brain aging. The aim of this Focused Review is to examine recent advances in nutritional cognitive neuroscience, with an emphasis on methods that enable discovery of nutrient biomarkers that predict healthy brain aging. We propose an integrative framework that calls for the synthesis of research in nutritional epidemiology and cognitive neuroscience, incorporating: (i) methods for the precise characterization of nutritional health based on the analysis of nutrient biomarker patterns (NBPs), along with (ii) modern indices of brain health derived from high-resolution magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). By integrating cutting-edge techniques from nutritional epidemiology and cognitive neuroscience, nutritional cognitive neuroscience will continue to advance our understanding of the beneficial effects of nutrition on the aging brain and establish effective nutritional interventions to promote healthy brain aging.


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Figure 3:

Diet and brain aging are multifaceted in nature. The interactive effects of nutrients in the diet may be captured using nutrient patterns, such as the Mediterranean diet (MEDI; Willett et al., 1995), the Dietary Approach to Stop Hypertension (DASH; Smith et al., 2010), the Mediterranean-Dietary Approach to Systolic Hypertension Diet (MIND; Morris et al., 2015), and Nutrient Biomarker Patterns (NBPs; Bowman et al., 2012). Likewise, the widespread changes in brain structure and function associated with age may be best measured using high-resolution neuroimaging methods. In order to understand the beneficial effects of nutrition on the aging brain, each of these complex entities must be characterized using precise methods.


Recent innovations in nutritional cognitive neuroscience hold promise for addressing the problems posed by a rapidly changing demographic landscape. This Focused Review highlights recent advances in nutritional cognitive neuroscience, with a focus on methods that investigate nutrient biomarkers that predict healthy aging. By applying cutting-edge techniques from nutritional epidemiology (nutrient biomarkers in a priori hypothesized dietary patterns and data-driven methods) and cognitive neuroscience (high resolution MRI measures of brain structure and function), the burgeoning field of nutritional cognitive neuroscience will continue to advance our understanding of the beneficial effects of nutrition on the aging brain. Ultimately, the development of predictive nutrient patterns for healthy brain aging will provide an empirically sound foundation for developing nutritional therapies that support the targeted treatment of cognitive and neurological impairments in the aging brain.

Nutrients for #cognition and #neurological health in #aging - #nutrition #neuroscience Click To Tweet


Functional properties of spinach (Spinacia oleracea L.) phytochemicals and bioactives.

Overwhelming evidence indicates that diets rich in fruits and vegetables are protective against common chronic diseases, such as cancer, obesity and cardiovascular disease. Leafy green vegetables, in particular, are recognized as having substantial health-promoting activities that are attributed to the functional properties of their nutrients and non-essential chemical compounds. Spinach (Spinacia oleracea L.) is widely regarded as a functional food due to its diverse nutritional composition, which includes vitamins and minerals, and to its phytochemicals and bioactives that promote health beyond basic nutrition. Spinach-derived phytochemicals and bioactives are able to (i) scavenge reactive oxygen species and prevent macromolecular oxidative damage, (ii) modulate expression and activity of genes involved in metabolism, proliferation, inflammation, and antioxidant defence, and (iii) curb food intake by inducing secretion of satiety hormones. These biological activities contribute to the anti-cancer, anti-obesity, hypoglycemic, and hypolipidemic properties of spinach. Despite these valuable attributes, spinach consumption remains low in comparison to other leafy green vegetables. This review examines the functional properties of spinach in cell culture, animals and humans with a focus on the molecular mechanisms by which spinach-derived non-essential phytochemicals and bioactives, such as glycolipids and thylakoids, impart their health benefits.

Graphical abstract: Functional properties of spinach (Spinacia oleracea L.) phytochemicals and bioactives

Spinach for #cancer #obesity #bloodsugar and #bloodfat - #spinach #functionalfood #leafygreens Click To Tweet


Linoleic acid and the pathogenesis of obesity.


•  Worldwide linoleic acid (LA) intakes have increased due to nutrition transitions.

•  LA intake exceeds what is required and may have detrimental health effects.

•  Excessive LA intake has been implicated in the development of obesity.

•  Excessive LA may contribute to the chronic inflammatory state found in obesity.

•  Genetics and maternal diet influence the effect of LA on obesity and inflammation.

The modern Western diet has been consumed in developed English speaking countries for the last 50 years, and is now gradually being adopted in Eastern and developing countries. These nutrition transitions are typified by an increased intake of high linoleic acid (LA) plant oils, due to their abundance and low price, resulting in an increase in the PUFA n-6:n-3 ratio. This increase in LA above what is estimated to be required is hypothesised to be implicated in the increased rates of obesity and other associated non-communicable diseases which occur following a transition to a modern Westernised diet. LA can be converted to the metabolically active arachidonic acid, which has roles in inducing inflammation and adipogenesis, and endocannabinoid system regulation. This review aims to address the possible implications of excessive LA and its metabolites in the pathogenesis of obesity.

Excessive #linoleicacid may induce #inflammation and #obesity - #omegas #EFA #fattyacid Click To Tweet


Diet, gut microbes, and the pathogenesis of inflammatory bowel diseases.

The rising incidence of inflammatory bowel diseases in recent decades has notably paralleled changing lifestyle habits in Western nations, which are now making their way into more traditional societies. Diet plays a key role in IBD pathogenesis, and there is a growing appreciation that the interaction between diet and microbes in a susceptible person contributes significantly to the onset of disease. In this review, we examine what is known about dietary and microbial factors that promote IBD. We summarize recent findings regarding the effects of diet in IBD epidemiology from prospective population cohort studies, as well as new insights into IBD-associated dysbiosis. Microbial metabolism of dietary components can influence the epithelial barrier and the mucosal immune system, and understanding how these interactions generate or suppress inflammation will be a significant focus of IBD research. Our knowledge of dietary and microbial risk factors for IBD provides important considerations for developing therapeutic approaches through dietary modification or re-shaping the microbiota. We conclude by calling for increased sophistication in designing studies on the role of diet and microbes in IBD pathogenesis and disease resolution in order to accelerate progress in response to the growing challenge posed by these complex disorders.

IBD and links to #food and #gut #microbes - #IBD #inflammation #bowel #inflammatoryboweldisease Click To Tweet


Artificial sweeteners and metabolic dysregulation: Lessons learned from agriculture and the laboratory.

Escalating rates of obesity and public health messages to reduce excessive sugar intake have fuelled the consumption of artificial sweeteners in a wide range of products from breakfast cereals to snack foods and beverages. Artificial sweeteners impart a sweet taste without the associated energy and have been widely recommended by medical professionals since they are considered safe. However, associations observed in long-term prospective studies raise the concern that regular consumption of artificial sweeteners might actually contribute to development of metabolic derangements that lead to obesity, type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Obtaining mechanistic data on artificial sweetener use in humans in relation to metabolic dysfunction is difficult due to the long time frames over which dietary factors might exert their effects on health and the large number of confounding variables that need to be considered. Thus, mechanistic data from animal models can be highly useful because they permit greater experimental control. Results from animal studies in both the agricultural sector and the laboratory indicate that artificial sweeteners may not only promote food intake and weight gain but can also induce metabolic alterations in a wide range of animal species. As a result, simple substitution of artificial sweeteners for sugars in humans may not produce the intended consequences. Instead consumption of artificial sweeteners might contribute to increases in risks for obesity or its attendant negative health outcomes. As a result, it is critical that the impacts of artificial sweeteners on health and disease continue to be more thoroughly evaluated in humans.

Artifical #sweeteners may promote #foodintake , #weightgain and #metabolic issues -… Click To Tweet


Supplements & Nutrients

Fruitflow®: the first European Food Safety Authority-approved natural cardio-protective functional ingredient.

Hyperactive platelets, in addition to their roles in thrombosis, are also important mediators of atherogenesis. Antiplatelet drugs are not suitable for use where risk of a cardiovascular event is relatively low. It is therefore important to find alternative safe antiplatelet inhibitors for the vulnerable population who has hyperactive platelets in order to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. Potent antiplatelet factors were identified in water-soluble tomato extract (Fruitflow®), which significantly inhibited platelet aggregation. Human volunteer studies demonstrated the potency and bioavailability of active compounds in Fruitflow®. Fruitflow® became the first product in Europe to obtain an approved, proprietary health claim under Article 13(5) of the European Health Claims Regulation 1924/2006 on nutrition and health claims made on foods. Fruitflow® is now commercially available in different countries worldwide. In addition to its reduction in platelet reactivity, Fruitflow® contains anti-angiotensin-converting enzyme and anti-inflammatory factors, making it an effective and natural cardio-protective functional food.

Fig. 1

Hyperactivity of platelets and impact on health. Platelets play an important role in CVD both in the pathogenesis of atherosclerosis and in the development of acute thrombotic events. Hyperactive platelets are involved in the development of atherosclerosis by different mechanisms such as membrane shedding, growth factor secretion and expression of several adhesive factors. In addition, hyperactive platelets are involved in the well-known penultimate thrombotic events


This review provides information that substantiates the cardio-protective claims of Fruitflow®. Normal platelet activity is the key for the maintenance of haemostasis and normal blood flow. Hyperactive platelets interact with vessel walls by shedding macro-particles, secreting several adhesive growth factors, and inflammatory agents interrupt the blood flow and produce a pro-thrombotic state in people with obesity, diabetes, a sedentary lifestyle or hypertension, and in people who smoke. In general, the molecular events underpinning these processes are broadly similar. It has long been known that disturbances in blood flow, changes in platelet reactivity and enhanced coagulation reactions facilitate pathological thrombus formation, and the maintenance of normal platelet activity is critical to overall haemostasis. Fruitflow® developed from tomato containing bioavailable cardio-protective compounds can be of benefit to the people who are vulnerable to develop CVD. The outlined data suggest that Fruitflow® may be useful in the primary prevention of CVD. An array of extensive basic, mechanistic, compositional and several human trials are testimony to its cardio-protective benefits.

First #supplement #approved in Europe for prevention of #CVD - #heartdisease #antiplatelet… Click To Tweet


The prebiotic concept and human health: a changing landscape with riboflavin as a novel prebiotic candidate?

Emerging evidence suggests that the gut microbiota has a critical role in both the maintenance of human health and the pathogenesis of many diseases. Modifying the colonic microbiota using functional foods has attracted significant research effort and product development. The pioneering concept of prebiotics, as introduced by Gibson and Roberfroid in the 1990s, emphasized the importance of diet in the modulation of the gut microbiota and its relationships to human health. Increasing knowledge of the intestinal microbiota now suggests a more comprehensive definition. This paper briefly reviews the basics of the prebiotic concept with a discussion of recent attempts to refine the concept to open the door for novel prebiotic food ingredients, such as polyphenols, minerals and vitamins.

Novel #prebiotics - #gut #microbiota #riboflavin #vitaminB2 #polyphenols #minerals #vitamins Click To Tweet


NOTE from Leesa:  If you have experienced an adverse event related to your use of any supplement or medication, AND you’re in Canada or the USA, you can report them directly to the health authorities at the links below.  Health Canada’s MedEffect link is reference (3), and the FDA’s MedWatch link is reference (4).


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Protecting Skeletal Muscle with Protein and Amino Acid during Periods of Disuse.

Habitual sedentary behavior increases risk of chronic disease, hospitalization and poor quality of life. Short-term bed rest or disuse accelerates the loss of muscle mass, function, and glucose tolerance. Optimizing nutritional practices and protein intake may reduce the consequences of disuse by preserving metabolic homeostasis and muscle mass and function. Most modes of physical inactivity have the potential to negatively impact the health of older adults more than their younger counterparts. Mechanistically, mammalian target of rapamycin complex 1 (mTORC1) signaling and muscle protein synthesis are negatively affected by disuse. This contributes to reduced muscle quality and is accompanied by impaired glucose regulation. Simply encouraging increased protein and/or energy consumption is a well-intentioned, but often impractical strategy to protect muscle health. Emerging evidence suggests that leucine supplemented meals may partially and temporarily protect skeletal muscle during disuse by preserving anabolism and mitigating reductions in mass, function and metabolic homeostasis.


Habitual dietary protein consumption practices can play an important role in muscle metabolism. However, simply increasing dietary intake to preserve muscle mass may not be the most effective or suitable approach. The primary concern associated with bluntly increasing protein intake is exceeding energy requirements via a concomitant increase in carbohydrate and fat consumption. Targeted lower-volume supplementation may be a more effective alternative than simply increasing protein intake in some populations. Leucine supplementation has been shown to protect skeletal muscle by mitigating the loss of muscle mass, strength, and endurance associated with disuse. Leucine is a promising candidate to counter the negative effects of disuse in clinical environments; however, more research is needed to link the mechanisms of action with clinically relevant translational/functional outcomes. Moving forward, we must continue to critique and challenge our understanding of how protein intake can be optimized to combat the negative effects of disuse on body composition and muscle health for various populations and in different circumstances.

Leucine for #muscle disuse - mitigate loss of #musclemass #strength and #endurance - #leucine… Click To Tweet


Acupuncture: could it become everyday practice in oncology?

Acupuncture is a complementary and alternative medical treatment (CAM) which is increasingly used in the care of cancer patients. Traditionally derived from Chinese medicine, nowadays it is becoming a part of evidence-based oncology. The use of acupuncture in these patients has been recommended by the American Cancer Society (ACS) for the treatment of side effects associated with conventional cancer therapy and cancer-related ailments. A growing body of evidence supports the use of acupuncture in the treatment of cancer-induced pain and chemotherapy-related nausea and vomiting. Also other indications, such as xerostomia, fatigue, hot flashes, anxiety and peripheral neuropathy, are being constantly evaluated. This article summarizes the most important discoveries related to the possible usefulness of this method in contemporary oncology. Emphasis is placed on the results of randomized controlled trials with an adequate level of evidence. However, explanation of the mechanisms responsible for these effects requires confirmation in further studies with an adequate level of evidence. In future, acupuncture may become an interesting and valuable addition to conventional medicine.

Table 2

Possible mechanisms of action of acupuncture and its effectiveness in the treatment of various types of ailments related to cancer therapy

Level of evidence issue

A recently published systemic review stated that other indications, such as pain, xerostomia, vasomotor symptoms, fatigue, mood disorders, and insomnia, were not evaluated in RCTs with an appropriate level of evidence [44]. One of the major problems with the reviewed studies is their poor methodological quality, mostly difficulty with blinding and a low number of subjects. Also the optimal design of such studies (acupuncture vs placebo, acupuncture vs sham acupuncture) has not been established yet [45]. In spite of satisfactory results in most of these studies, further research on a larger group of patients is necessary.


In an oncological setting, acupuncture is still being constantly reviewed. Nevertheless, the present available evidence suggests that acupuncture may become a safe, low-cost and efficient form of complementary therapy in modern oncology. The potential role of acupuncture has been found in alleviation of various symptoms, but the data from the majority of clinical studies on acupuncture are heterogeneous. The incomplete description of procedural methodology and insufficient patient groups limit their value. Thus, further research on a larger scale on the potential use of acupuncture in contemporary oncology is required. It should be emphasized that alternative medicine may become the source of a number of interesting concepts worth examining and testing in research and clinical settings.

Acupuncture for #cancer #treatment #sideeffects - #acupuncture #moreresearchneeded Click To Tweet

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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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Leesa Klich is a science-based holistic nutritionist living 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 MSc in Toxicology and Nutritional Science, over a decade experience in drug/supplement safety, and is also a Registered Holistic Nutritionist. For a list of free health resources, click here.


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(1) Compound Interest – Rough Guide to Types of Scientific Evidence


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