HSN – New research on blood sugar, gut issues, thyroiditis

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Health Scoop News 📑 – Blood sugar, gut issues, and thyroiditis

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 of the studies listed below are very high quality studies (most are studies that review and analyze data from several previous studies, including clinical trials).

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

1 – Herbs for blood sugar

Study title: Effect of Aromatic Herbs and Spices Present in the Mediterranean Diet on the Glycemic Profile in Type 2 Diabetes Subjects: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

This is an objective, statistical review of dozens of recent studies that looked at the blood sugar effects of a number of herbs and spices.

Here’s some background info about the benefits of herbs:

  • “The MedDiet [Mediterranean diet] promotes incorporating spices, aromatic herbs, garlic, and onion to introduce a diverse range of flavors and enhance the palatability of dishes. This approach also provides an opportunity to reduce the use of salt, which is a significant contributor to the development of hypertension in predisposed individuals.”
  • “Culinary aromatic herbs and spices are abundant sources of bioactive compounds, including sulfur-containing substances, tannins, alkaloids, phenolic diterpenes, and vitamins, particularly flavonoids and polyphenols. These bioactive compounds could exhibit antioxidative, anti-inflammatory, antitumor, anticarcinogenic, and blood-sugar- and cholesterol-lowering properties.”

A concluding statement from the researchers:

  • Our results showed that cinnamon, turmeric, ginger, black cumin, and saffron significantly improved the fasting glucose levels in T2DM subjects. The most significant decreases in fasting glucose were achieved after supplementation with black cumin, followed by cinnamon and ginger, which achieved a decrease of between 27 and 17 mg/dL.”

A caveat from the researchers:

  • “Although our meta-analysis shows the decreases in fasting glucose, HbA1c, or insulin that occurred with each type of herb consumed, it has not been possible to consider the effective dosage of supplementation prescribed for each herb due to the heterogeneous dosage observed between studies. This review emphasizes the potential therapeutic benefits of these spices in managing diabetes; however, additional research is needed to establish the most effective dosage and the availability of their active components. This is crucial for their practical use in treatment.”

In other words, according to this review, fasting blood sugar levels can be reduced (up to 27 mg/dL) with increased intake of: 1 – black cumin, 2 – cinnamon, and 3 – ginger, but there is not enough research yet to say exactly what dosages would be safe and effective.

2 – Pre- and probiotics for the gut

Study title: Prebiotics and Probiotics for Gastrointestinal Disorders

This is a summary of the evidence for the use of prebiotics and probiotics for a number of gastrointestinal issues.

Here’s some background info:

  • The GI tract is: the hollow viscus that extends from the mouth to the anus which is responsible for the digestion and absorption of nutrients and excretion of waste products.
  • (Note from Leesa: I love this additional explainer of the gastrointestinal system.) The GI tract is a highly complex, specialized, and elegant machine that is essential for survival and well-being.”
  • The human microbiome contains “trillions of microbes, including bacteria, viruses, fungi, and protozoa” that “have co-evolved with humans to form diverse communities within the GI tract that are intimately involved with numerous aspects of metabolism, development of our immune system, and even regulation of our behavior.”
  • “Alteration of the human microbiome . . . can be achieved through dietary changes, medications such as antibiotics, or ingestion of microbes themselves.”
  • “Prebiotics are non-digestible, fermentable food ingredients that alter the composition and/or activity of gastrointestinal bacteria that confer benefit to the host. Most prebiotics are dietary fibers; however, not all dietary fibers have prebiotic properties.”
  • Probiotics are live, non-pathogenic microorganisms that can also alter the gut microbiome, conferring host benefit. They can be found in a variety of fermentable foods or purchased in the form of pills, powders, and liquid drops, and are often enteric-coated or microencapsulated to prevent destruction by gastric acid and intestinal bile salts.”

Here’s what the researchers of this review found:

  • Diarrhea: Probiotics have been shown to confer benefits in the prevention and treatment of some types of diarrhea, . . . however, little to no information is available regarding the role of prebiotics for diarrhea.
  • Constipation:Prebiotics, especially GOSs (galacto-oligosaccharides), are safe and effective in improving constipation.” . . . “Probiotics, especially multi-strain formulations, are likely safe and effective in alleviating some aspects of constipation.”
  • SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth): Probiotics, especially L. casei, can improve symptoms associated with SIBO and may exhibit a synergistic effect when used with antibiotics for SIBO treatment.”
  • Safety:Overall, prebiotics and probiotics are likely safe in most individuals.”

Concluding statements from the researchers:

  • In summary, prebiotics and probiotics demonstrate promise in the prevention and treatment of certain GI disorders, as an adjunct or alternative to conventional therapies. However, these data are difficult to translate to specific clinical guidelines given the wide variation in prebiotic type(s), probiotic strain(s), dose, and/or duration of treatment used in each study.”
  • For each gastrointestinal indication, additional large-scale, high-quality, and strain-specific RCTs are needed to validate the safety and efficacy of prebiotics and probiotics seen in these smaller RCTs, and make recommendations for the general public.”

In other words, supplements of prebiotic fibres and probiotic microbes can help several gut issues, and larger high-quality studies are recommended.

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

 

3 – Vit D supps for the thyroid

Study title: Autoimmune Thyroiditis and Vitamin D

This is a summary review of several studies that looked at the links between vitamin D and Hashimoto’s thyroiditis.

Here’s some background info:

  • Hashimoto’s thyroiditis (HT) [also known as chronic autoimmune thyroiditis] is marked by self-tissue destruction as a consequence of an alteration in the adaptive immune response that entails the evasion of immune regulation.”
  • Vitamin D carries out an immunomodulatory role that appears to promote immune tolerance.”
  • “There is extensive literature confirming that vitamin D levels are significantly lower in HT patients compared to healthy people.”
  • “Vitamin D performs most of its biological actions by binding to the VDR [vitamin D receptor].”
  • “Vitamin D deficiency could compromise the integrity of the immune system and lead to inappropriate immune responses such as autoimmune diseases.”

Here’s what the researchers conclude:

  • Vitamin D “could contribute to the inhibition of the immunopathological process in HT.”
  • The confirmation of the beneficial effects of vitamin D in the prevention and treatment of autoimmune thyroid diseases requires additional randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trials with longer periods of follow-up.”

In other words, there is definitely a correlational (not causational) link between HT and vitamin D deficiency, and there are mechanisms that can explain how vitamin D supplementation may help reduce the autoimmune effects that cause HT. However there is still a gap in knowledge and more clinical trials are recommended.

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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