HSN – New research on 1-Vit D for repro/endo, 2-MedDiet for gut & heart, & 3-Broccoli reduces cancer risk

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Health Scoop News 📑 – 1-Vit D for repro/endo, 2-MedDiet for gut & 🫀, & 3-Broccoli ⬇️ cancer risk

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, not just one or two).

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

1 – Vitamin D for reproduction (incl. endometriosis)

Study title: Vitamin D and reproductive disorders: a comprehensive review with a focus on endometriosis

This is a review study, summarizing many previous studies about the effects vitamin D has “on proper reproductive function, and the role of deficiency in reproductive diseases and specifically focuses on endometriosis.”

Here’s some background info:

  • Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin known for it’s role in bone health via calcium and phosphorous regulation; but it also regulates a number of genes in a number of organs.
  • Vitamin D deficiency has been linked with “symptoms and disorders such as cardiovascular diseases, autoimmune diseases, and cancers.”
  • Vitamin D plays a “crucial role in male and female fertility, as well as proper reproductive function during pregnancy.”
  • Vitamin D deficiency is “a risk factor for infertility, gonadal cancers, pregnancy complications, polycystic ovary syndrome, and endometriosis.”
  • Endometriosis is a medical condition wherein tissue resembling the lining of the uterus, known as endometrial tissue, is located outside the uterus. This condition leads to pelvic pain, dysmenorrhea, dyspareunia, and infertility, and it affects the quality of life for women.”
  • The relationship between vitamin D and endometriosis is not fully understood.”
  • Individuals aged 5–64 years should consume 400–800 IU/day of vitamin D to achieve the optimal level of 50–75 nmol/L.”
  • About 80% of vitamin D is made by body (via UVB exposure) and 20% come from nutrition. “Vitamin D can be found in various foods such as fatty fish, mushrooms, fish liver oils, cheese, beef liver, eggs, dark chocolate, and fortified foods like milk, yogurt, and orange juice.”

Reproductive disorders associated with a lack of vitamin D include:

  • Male infertility
  • Female infertility
  • Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
  • Bacterial vaginosis

Links between vitamin D and endometriosis:

  • The role of vitamin D as an anti-inflammatory, immunomodulatory, and growth inhibitor agent for the treatment of endometriotic lesions has come under increasing scrutiny in recent years . . . the precise role of vitamin D on the pathogenesis of endometriosis has not been absolutely discerned.”
  • “Endometriosis is a disease that mimics a pre-cancerous state and fulfills the hallmarks of cancer. Also, endometriosis may increase the risk for autoimmune conditions. Given that vitamin D is an agent with anti-proliferative, anti-inflammatory, and immunomodulatory features, thus there is a hypothesized link between endometriosis and vitamin D.

Concluding statements from the researchers:

  • Overall, the findings from these studies emphasize the potential of vitamin D as a therapeutic option for managing endometriosis by targeting key pathways involved in its pathogenesis. Further research is needed to fully understand the mechanisms and optimal strategies for utilizing vitamin D in the treatment of endometriosis.”

In other words, according to this review, there is evidence that lo vitamin D levels are linked with endometriosis, and there may be potential for vitamin D to help those who experience endometriosis. (Figure 1 is a great image of vitamin D metabolism and Figure 3 is a great visual explainer about endometriosis).

For more information, here’s a link to the study:

 

2 – Mediterranean diet/fitness for the gut microbiome and the heart

Study title: Effect of 1-year lifestyle intervention with energy-reduced Mediterranean diet and physical activity promotion on the gut metabolome and microbiota: a randomized clinical trial

This is a randomized, controlled clinical trial (RCT) that tested the gut, metabolic, and heart impacts of an energy-reduced Mediterranean diet with fitness. All of the 400 participants had overweight/obesity and metabolic syndrome.

Here’s some background info:

  • The health benefits of the Mediterranean diet (MedDiet) have been linked to the presence of beneficial gut microbes and related metabolites. However, its impact on the fecal metabolome remains poorly understood.
  • The fecal metabolome contains thousands of small-molecule metabolites (such as sugars, organic acids, and amino acids), most of which are products of the co-metabolism of the gut microbiota and the host that play considerable roles in maintaining host homeostasis.
  • The traditional Mediterranean diet (MedDiet) is characterized by a high intake of vegetables, fruits, legumes, whole cereals, and nuts; moderate consumption of fish and seafood; moderate-low consumption of dairy products; low consumption of meat and meat products; moderate alcohol intake (in the form of red wine during meals); and the use of olive oil as the main source of fat.”
  • The MedDiet pattern represents a nutritional strategy with significant beneficial effects for the prevention of cardiovascular diseases (CVD), obesity, and related metabolic consequences, and reducing all-cause mortality.”
  • Greater adherence to the MedDiet has also been positively associated with beneficial gut bacteria and derived microbiota-related metabolites.”

Participants were randomly assigned into one of two groups: calorie-restricted Mediterranean diet and physical activity, and ad libitum Mediterranean diet. This means that each person had a 50/50 chance to either follow 12-month program of a calorie-restricted Mediterranean diet and physical exercise, or they could eat as much Mediterranean diet as they wanted and exercise however they wanted.

Clinical trial results 

  • Compared with the control group, the intervention group exhibited greater weight loss and improvement in various cardiovascular disease risk factors.”
  • After 1 y of intervention, [participants on the energy-reduced MedDiet and exercise] showed a greater reduction in adiposity and improvements in lipid profile and markers of glucose metabolism.
  • In conclusion, in this lifestyle intervention-based study, we observed that an energy-reduced MedDiet and physical activity promotion, compared with an ad libitum MedDiet, produced significant changes in gut metabolomics and microbiota in a Mediterranean population of older adults with overweight/obesity and metabolic syndrome and these changes were related to changes in several cardiovascular disease risk factors.” (E.g., Consistently, we observed a significant difference in glycated hemoglobin changes between study groups, after 1 y of intervention, and a positive association between this genus, insulin concentrations, and the HOMA-IR index.)
  • By following the calorie-restricted Mediterranean diet and physical activity program for one year, participants showed “improvements in cardiometabolic risk factors, potentially through modulation of the fecal microbiota and metabolome.
  • Understanding the role of the gut microbiome in mediating the health benefits of these interventions can inform more targeted and effective public health strategies.”
  • Elucidating the relationship between diet, physical activity, and the gut microbiome can contribute to the development of personalized health recommendations.”

In other words, enjoying a calorie-restricted MedDiet and physical activity improves the gut microbiome, the metabolites of the gut microbiome (“metabolome”), and metabolic/heart disease risk factors such as HbA1c, insulin levels, and insulin resistance for people with overweight/obesity and metabolic syndrome.

For more information, here’s a link to the study:

 

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

 

3 – Broccoli reduces cancer risk

Study title: Broccoli Consumption and Risk of Cancer: An Updated Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Observational Studies

This is a systematic review and meta-analysis (basically, the highest possible way to objectively summarize several studies on a topic) summarized what we know about the links between broccoli consumption and cancer risks. This review included a total of 49 previous studies, comprising 699,482 subjects in the cohort studies and 31,292 participants in the case–control studies. (So, it’s a large number of people, hence increasing the relevance and weight of the study results.)

Here’s some background info:

  • “The scientific literature has reported an inverse association between broccoli consumption and the risk of suffering from several types of cancer; however, the results were not entirely consistent across studies.”
  • “Mortality from cancer is actually higher than from cardiovascular diseases in more-developed countries.”
  • Known risk factors for cancers: “tobacco smoking, air pollution, asbestos, alcohol consumption, ultraviolet radiation, Helicobacter pylori infection, lifestyle, excess body weight and poor diet are considered exogenous cancer risk factors associated with a higher incidence of certain types of cancer.”
  • Broccoli (Brassica oleracea var. Italica) is an herbaceous plant of the family Brassicaceae, commonly called cruciferous vegetables (Cruciferae), characterized by low energy content and high nutritional value due to its fiber, potassium, folate and vitamins C and K contents.”

Cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, etc.) contain the following compounds considered to have “anticancer” components:

  • Glucosinolates
  • Precursors of isothiocyanates
  • Indole-3-carbinol

Many studies have linked diets rich in cruciferous vegetables with a lower risk of several types of cancers:

  • Lung
  • Gastrointestinal
  • Gastric
  • Pancreas
  • Colorectal
  • Bladder
  • Renal (kidney)
  • Ovarian
  • Breast
  • Prostate

Conclusions of this review:

  • “According to the results of the meta-analysis, findings from cohort and case–control studies suggested a greater reduction in cancer risk in people who consumed more broccoli compared to those who consumed less or no broccoli.”
  • “This review and meta-analysis may be the most comprehensive to date due to the broad coverage of outcomes for various types of cancer related to broccoli consumption.”
  • “From a biological perspective, the consumption of broccoli, regardless of its varieties, shows a protective and chemoprotective effect on cancer and cancer biomarkers.”
  • “Certain groups may need to exercise caution [with high broccoli consumption], including individuals on warfarin medications and people with thyroid issues, allergies/hypersensitivities, or digestive sensitivities.”

Here’s what the researchers conclude:

  • “In summary, the findings indicate that individuals suffering from some type of cancer consumed less broccoli, suggesting a protective biological effect of broccoli on cancer. More studies, especially cohort studies, are necessary to clarify the possible beneficial effect of broccoli on several types of cancer.”

In other words, while the data isn’t 100% foolproof and perfectly strong, the best information from the best studies show that eating more broccoli now reduces risk of getting cancer in the future.

For more information, here’s a link to the study:

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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