HSN – New research on exerkines, nutripsychiatry, intermittent fasting

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Health Scoop News 📑 – Exerkines, nutripsychiatry, intermittent fasting

I always have my nose in new health research, so I’m sharing some of the most relevant studies with you in regular editions of “Health Scoop News.”

[This news summary is a bit reminiscent of my old “This week in science for holistic health” newsletters that I used to do circa 2016 (I deleted most, but here’s one post I kept live), as well as the rEATsearch podcast I used to co-host.]

These are my top three study picks (comment below to tell me what health topics/niches are best for you!). All are very high quality studies (most are studies that review and analyze data from several previous studies, not just one or two).

These studies were all published in the past month or so.

1 – Exercise hormones for health . . . (without exercise???)

Study title: Exerkines and cardiometabolic benefits of exercise: from bench to clinic

This is a review of recent studies that looked at the exerkines related to heart and metabolic health.

Here’s some background info:

  • “Exercise is one of the most cost-effective strategies for the treatment and prevention of a multitude of chronic disorders, ranging from diabetes, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), cancer, and cardiovascular dysfunctions, to mental and neurodegenerative diseases.”
  • “Understandably, the question of how exercise confers its extensive and profound effects on health has attracted a great deal of research interest throughout the world.”
  • Exerkines, which are defined as humoral factors responsive to acute or chronic exercise, have emerged as important players conferring some of the multiple cardiometabolic benefits of exercise.”
  • Over the past decades, hundreds of exerkines released from skeletal muscle, heart, liver, adipose tissue, brain, and gut have been identified, and several exerkines (such as FGF21, IL-6, and adiponectin) have been exploited therapeutically as exercise mimetics for the treatment of various metabolic and cardiovascular diseases.

Note from Leesa: There are several hormone-like compounds that the body produces in response to exercise. These compounds are thought to convey the heart and metabolic health—and other benefits—of exercising. For example there are exercise-induced “exerkines” such as:

  • Muscle-derived exerkines, aka “myokines” (IL-6, myonectin, musclin,
  • Liver- and adipose-derived exerkines, aka “hepatokines” and “adipokines” (adiponectin, FGF21)
  • Changes in gut microbiota (decreased production of BCAAs/increased SCFAs, enhanced production of fatty acid amides, increased the production of 3-HPA and 4-HPA)

A concluding statement from the researchers:

  • The physiological function of the majority of exerkines remains largely unexplored in the context of exercise. An integrated approach that combines the traditional reductionist strategy with functional genomics and phenomics should be exploited to dissect the complex, dynamic exerkine regulatory network functionally involved in the cardiometabolic adaptation to exercise.”

In other words, according to this review, exercise induces production of hormones throughout the body. These exercise-induced hormones are called “exerkines.” Some of these exerkines have been linked to health benefits. New technologies are enabling more research in an effort to create therapies to improve exercise performance, as well as heart and metabolic health.

Note from Leesa: Researchers are just scratching the surface of the number of exerkines (exercise hormones) and what each one does. At this time only a few seem to improve health, but there is much more to learn, including differences between sexes and individuals.

2 – Nutrition for mental health (yep, the evidence keeps coming in)

Study title: An Overview of the Potential Role of Nutrition in Mental Disorders in the Light of Advances in Nutripsychiatry

This is a review of several studies that looked at the links between nutrition and common mental disorders and how effective some dietary strategies are.

Here’s some background info:

  • The World Health Organization (WHO) defines mental health as “a state of well-being in which each individual realizes his or her potential, is capable of coping with the stresses of life, can work productively and usefully, and can contribute to his or her society.”
  • Some of the links between nutrition and mental health include: inflammation (especially neuroinflammation), oxidative stress, intestinal microbiota, mitochondrial dysfunction, neurotrophic factors, and neural plasticity.
  • A diet that includes antioxidants, nutrients, and phytochemicals can promote mental health.

The purpose of this particular study was . . .

  • “This review aims to examine the potential mechanisms between common mental disorders and nutrition in line with current literature information and to evaluate the effectiveness of dietary interventions in light of developments in nutritional psychiatry/nutripsychiatry.”

The researchers found:

  • A balanced diet that provides nutrients and antioxidants is able to “increase resilience against the pathogenesis of mental disorders.”
  • A substantial portion of the total energy and nutrient intake directly supports the human brain. This support includes amino acids, fats, vitamins, minerals, and trace elements, all of which are crucial for both the structure and function of the brain, including intracellular and intercellular communication.”

Nutrition recommendations for better mental health (and lower inflammation and oxidative stress) include:

  • Enjoy more polyphenols (resveratrol, curcumin, quercetin), fibre, omega-3 fatty acids, and antioxidants. These can be found in fruits, vegetables, seafood, lean meat, nuts, whole grains, olive oil, and legumes.
  • Enjoy less refined starch, sugar, high-glycemic-load foods, fried foods, processed meats, and saturated and trans fatty acids.

Here’s what the researchers of this review concluded:

  • A healthy, adequate, and balanced planned diet is more likely to provide nutrients that increase resilience against the pathogenesis of mental disorders. As a matter of fact, an adequate and balanced diet is an important component of the treatment applied to support the physical and mental health of individuals living with mental disorders. Especially the Mediterranean diet, with its components, can help prevent and treat mental disorders.”

In other words, enjoying a nutrient-rich diet that includes anti-inflammatory and antioxidants can help maintain and improve mental health.


For a list of dozens of credible sites to find health information, plus some PubMed tips, download your free guide here:


3 – Intermittent fasting (IF) may help the gut microbiome

Study title: The impact of intermittent fasting on gut microbiota: a systematic review of human studies

This is a systematic (objective) review of eight previous studies that looked at the impacts of intermittent fasting on the human gut microbiome (richness, diversity, and composition).

Here’s some background info:

  • Intermittent fasting can be helpful for weight management, however, it may also impact the gut microbiome (for better or worse).
  • IF has been seen to have positive effects on weight loss, composition of adipose tissue, blood pressure, anti-inflammatory processes, and autoimmune function. Some of the mechanisms by which IF may improve metabolic health include reduced free radical production, improved glucose homeostasis, augmented stress resistance and suppressed inflammation. These may be at least partially mediated by the gut microbiota.”
  • “Along with diet, genes, environment, ethnicity and age all shape the gut microbiota, so the IF-induced changes may not be the same in different populations.”

Here’s what the researchers conclude:

  • IF can improve richness and alpha diversity.
  • The findings of the present systematic review do not definitely prove that a causal relationship between IF and the improvement of gut microbiota-related outcomes exists, as there were several possible confounding factors as well as limitations to the study designs. It does seem possible, however, that IF can improve richness and alpha diversity and modify the composition of gut microbiota.

In other words, there are just a few studies that have looked at the impact intermittent fasting has on the gut microbiota. It appears that it may help to improve richness and diversity, but more research is needed.

Signing off and toasting: To keeping up with the latest and greatest scientific research in nutrition, fitness, and health coaching!


Over to you


Do you have a specific question about any of these new studies?

Are you looking for a easy-to-understand study summary that you can share with your audience and clients?

What health topic/niche is most important to you?

Let me know in the comments below!


What's the latest health research for your nutrition, fitness, or health coaching practice?

Find out in the weekly Health Scoop News 📑email updates. See some of the latest studies (with Leesa's "in other words" explainers) here. Sign up if you want to be first to know new research:

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I'm Leesa Klich, MSc., R.H.N.
Health writer – Blogging expert – Research nerd.

I help health and wellness professionals build their authority with scientific health content. They want to stand out in the crowded, often unqualified, market of entrepreneurs. I help them establish trust with their audiences, add credibility to their services, and save them a ton of time so they don’t have to do the research or writing themselves. To work with me, click here.


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