Boron; Nutrition for Cancer; and the Microbiome – This Week in Science for Holistic Health 23Jan2016

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 – People with celiac disease can recover lost bone density in five years with a gluten-free nutrient dense diet.
  • Supplements – Boron for bone health and cancer.
  • Disease Prevention – Reference guide for nutrition before, during, and after cancer treatment.
  • Anatomy & Physiology – Gut microbiome in health and disease.

Food, Eating and Drinking

Substituting sugar-sweetened beverages with water or milk is inversely associated with body fatness development from childhood to adolescence.

Our results suggest that SSB intake is associated with long-term changes in body fatness in children, and replacing SSBs with water or milk, but not 100% fruit juice, is inversely associated with body fatness development.

Teaching approaches and strategies that promote healthy eating in primary school children: a systematic review and meta-analysis

Most teaching strategies extracted from intervention studies lead to positive changes in primary school children’s nutritional knowledge and behaviours. However, the most effective strategies for facilitating healthy eating in primary school children are enhanced curricula, cross-curricula and experiential learning approaches.

Enhanced curriculum approaches (i.e. speciality nutrition education programs beyond existing health curricula delivered by teachers or specialists)

cross-curricular approaches (i.e. nutrition education programs that were delivered across two or more traditional primary school subjects)

experiential learning approaches (i.e. school/community garden, cooking and food preparation activities)

Bones of Contention: Bone Mineral Density Recovery in Celiac Disease—A Systematic Review

Metabolic bone disease is a frequent co-morbidity in newly diagnosed adults with celiac disease (CD), an autoimmune disorder triggered by the ingestion of dietary gluten.

Gluten-free diet adherence resulted in partial recovery of bone density by one year in all studies, and full recovery by the fifth year. No treatment differences were observed between the gluten-free diet alone and diet plus bisphosphonates in one study. For malnourished patients, supplementation with vitamin D and calcium resulted in significant improvement.

Developmental and Environmental Influences on Young Children’s Vegetable Preferences and Consumption.

Food intake patterns begin to be shaped at the earliest points in life. Early exposures and experiences are critical for the acceptance of some foods, particularly healthful foods such as vegetables, which often have a bitter component in their flavor profiles.

Experimental studies consistently show that repeated exposure to novel and rejected familiar foods is the most powerful method to improve acceptance.

In addition to repeated exposure to these foods, the quality and emotional tone of parent-child interactions are important in facilitating children’s acceptance of vegetables.

Red Raspberries and Their Bioactive Polyphenols: Cardiometabolic and Neuronal Health Links.

Red raspberries (Rubus idaeus L.) are unique berries with a rich history and nutrient and bioactive composition. They possess several essential micronutrients, dietary fibers, and polyphenolic components, especially ellagitannins and anthocyanins, the latter of which give them their distinctive red coloring. In vitro and in vivo studies have revealed various mechanisms through which anthocyanins and ellagitannins (via ellagic acid or their urolithin metabolites) and red raspberry extracts (or the entire fruit) could reduce the risk of or reverse metabolically associated pathophysiologies. To our knowledge, few studies in humans are available for evaluation. We review and summarize the available literature that assesses the health-promoting potential of red raspberries and select components in modulating metabolic disease risk, especially cardiovascular disease, diabetes mellitus, obesity, and Alzheimer disease-all of which share critical metabolic, oxidative, and inflammatory links. The body of research is growing and supports a potential role for red raspberries in reducing the risk of metabolically based chronic diseases.

Aged Garlic Extract Modifies Human Immunity.

Garlic contains numerous compounds that have the potential to influence immunity. Immune cells, especially innate immune cells, are responsible for the inflammation necessary to kill pathogens. Two innate lymphocytes, γδ-T and natural killer (NK) cells, appear to be susceptible to diet modification. The purpose of this review was to summarize the influence of aged garlic extract (AGE) on the immune system.

These results suggest that AGE supplementation may enhance immune cell function and may be partly responsible for the reduced severity of colds and flu reported. The results also suggest that the immune system functions well with AGE supplementation, perhaps with less accompanying inflammation.



Systematic Review of Anthocyanins and Markers of Cardiovascular Disease.

Anthocyanins are the red-orange to blue-violet pigments present in many fruits, vegetables, flowers, grains, and other plant-derived foods.

… anthocyanins and anthocyanin-rich extracts may have the potential to affect markers of CVD. However, more carefully controlled longer-duration trials assessing dose response across various populations are needed to adequately determine whether an effect of supplementation exists. Current trials suggest that these compounds may decrease LDL cholesterol among individuals with elevated markers, with little to no safety concerns.

Nothing Boring About Boron.

The trace mineral boron is a micronutrient with diverse and vitally important roles in metabolism that render it necessary for plant, animal, and human health, and as recent research suggests, possibly for the evolution of life on Earth. As the current article shows, boron has been proven to be an important trace mineral because it (1) is essential for the growth and maintenance of bone; (2) greatly improves wound healing; (3) beneficially impacts the body’s use of estrogen, testosterone, and vitamin D; (4) boosts magnesium absorption; (5) reduces levels of inflammatory biomarkers, such as high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (hs-CRP) and tumor necrosis factor α (TNF-α); (6) raises levels of antioxidant enzymes, such as superoxide dismutase (SOD), catalase, and glutathione peroxidase; (7) protects against pesticide-induced oxidative stress and heavy-metal toxicity; (8) improves the brains electrical activity, cognitive performance, and short-term memory for elders; (9) influences the formation and activity of key biomolecules, such as S-adenosyl methionine (SAM-e) and nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD(+)); (10) has demonstrated preventive and therapeutic effects in a number of cancers, such as prostate, cervical, and lung cancers, and multiple and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma; and (11) may help ameliorate the adverse effects of traditional chemotherapeutic agents. In none of the numerous studies conducted to date, however, do boron’s beneficial effects appear at intakes > 3 mg/d. No estimated average requirements (EARs) or dietary reference intakes (DRIs) have been set for boron-only an upper intake level (UL) of 20 mg/d for individuals aged ≥ 18 y. The absence of studies showing harm in conjunction with the substantial number of articles showing benefits support the consideration of boron supplementation of 3 mg/d for any individual who is consuming a diet lacking in fruits and vegetables or who is at risk for or has osteopenia; osteoporosis; osteoarthritis (OA); or breast, prostate, or lung cancer.

Boron for your bones and cancer #boron #mineral #supplement #bones #cancer Click To Tweet

Diseases/Conditions and Prevention/Treatments

Nutrition and Physical Activity in Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease

Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is the most common liver disease worldwide and it is associated with other medical conditions such as diabetes mellitus, metabolic syndrome, and obesity.

In the gold standard treatment for NAFLD weight loss, dietary therapy, and physical activity are included. However, little scientific evidence is available on diet and/or physical activity and NAFLD specifically. Many dietary approaches such as Mediterranean and DASH diet are used for treatment of other cardiometabolic risk factors such as insulin resistance and type-2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM), but on the basis of its components their role in NAFLD has been discussed.

In general, dietetic recommendations for NAFLD are the same as those for the different conditions known to be risk factors for it, that is, obesity, IR/T2DM, dyslipidemia, and HTN.

Dietary carbohydrate restriction as the first approach in diabetes management: Critical review and evidence base


  • We present major evidence for low-carbohydrate diets as first approach for diabetes.
  • Such diets reliably reduce high blood glucose, the most salient feature of diabetes.
  • Benefits do not require weight loss although nothing is better for weight reduction.
  • Carbohydrate-restricted diets reduce or eliminate need for medication.
  • There are no side effects comparable with those seen in intensive pharmacologic treatment.

Nutrition in Cancer Care

This PDQ cancer information summary for health professionals provides comprehensive, peer-reviewed, evidence-based information about nutrition before, during, and after cancer treatment. It is intended as a resource to inform and assist clinicians who care for cancer patients. It does not provide formal guidelines or recommendations for making health care decisions.

Nutrition in Cancer Care #nutrition #cancer #chemo #surgery #radiation #science Click To Tweet

Association between caffeine consumption and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease: a systemic review and meta-analysis

Although total caffeine intake is not associated with the prevalence or hepatic fibrosis of NAFLD, regular coffee caffeine consumption may significantly reduce hepatic fibrosis in patients with NAFLD.

The role of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids eicosapentaenoic and docosahexaenoic acids in the treatment of major depression and Alzheimer’s disease: Acting separately or synergistically?

Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (n-3-PUFAs), mainly eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), improve or prevent some psychiatric and neurodegenerative diseases in both experimental and clinical studies. As important membrane components, these PUFAs benefit brain health by modulating neuroimmune and apoptotic pathways, changing membrane function and/or competing with n-6 PUFAs, the precursors of inflammatory mediators. However, the exact role of each fatty acid in neuroimmune modulation and neurogenesis, the interaction between EPA and DHA, and the best EPA:DHA ratios for improving brain disorders, remain unclear. It is also unknown whether EPA, as a DHA precursor, acts directly or via DHA. Here, we discuss recent evidence of EPA and DHA effects in the treatment of major depression and Alzheimer’s disease, as well as their potential synergistic action on anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and neurotrophic processes in the brain. We further analyze the cellular and molecular mechanisms by which EPA, DHA or their combination may benefit these diseases. We also outline the limitations of current studies and suggest new genetic models and novel approaches to overcome these limitations. Finally, we summarize future strategies for translational research in this field.

Inflammatory bowel disease: can omega-3 fatty acids really help?

Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (ω3FA) have been associated with attenuation of the inflammatory responses in IBD, possibly acting as substrates for anti-inflammatory eicosanoid production, similar to prostaglandins and leukotrienes. ω3FA also act as substrates for the synthesis of resolvins, maresins and protectins, indispensable in resolving inflammation processes. These acids may influence the development or course of IBD by: reducing oxidative stress, production of tumor necrosis factor-α and proinflammatory cytokines; working as chemopreventive agents; and decreasing the expression of adhesion molecules. There are numerous controversies in the literature on the effects of ω3FA in the prevention or treatment of IBD, but their effects in reducing inflammation is incontestable. Therefore, more studies are warranted to elucidate the pathophysiological mechanisms and establish the recommended daily intake to prevent or induce remission in IBD patients.

Natural Products for the Prevention and Treatment of Hangover and Alcohol Use Disorder

Overconsumption of alcoholic beverages is a well-recognized contributor to a variety of health problems, and may cause function disorders of major organs such as liver, brain, heart, lung and prostate. Several natural products have shown effective protection against alcohol-induced injuries and significant attenuation of hangover symptoms in several animal models and limited human tests. The alcohol levels in blood were reduced, the hangover symptoms scores were lowered and the biochemical marks of liver injury were restored with natural plant treatments, and the mechanisms of action are mainly antioxidative and anti-inflammation. In addition, several natural products could be effective in reducing the voluntary alcohol intake, improving alcohol drinking behaviors and attenuating withdrawal syndromes of alcohol use disorder. Natural products have shown wide prospects for the prevention and treatment of hangover and alcohol use disorder. In the future, more bioactive compounds in plants (especially medicinal plants, fruits and vegetables) should be separated and identified, and the mechanisms of action should be studied further.

Omega-3 fatty acids for breast cancer prevention and survivorship

Interest in the use of supplementary omega-3 fatty acids to reduce risk of cancer and other chronic debilitating conditions, including cardiovascular disease and cognitive impairment, stems from several longstanding avenues of investigation: 1) an increased incidence of breast cancer and heart disease in western societies with low omega-3:omega-6 fatty acid intake ratios; 2) a very low incidence of these two conditions in populations with high marine omega-3 fatty acid intake (Japan and natives of Alaska and Greenland); 3) a dramatic increase in the incidence of breast cancer and cardiovascular disease in cohorts from low-incidence populations who migrate to western countries and/or adopt a western diet [15,17]; and 4) the demonstrated importance of adequate DHA in retinal and brain development and cognitive function [18,19].

Although the ideal total omega 3:omega-6 intake ratio has not been defined, a ratio approaching 1:1 or 1:2 similar to that of precivilized man is generally accepted as associated with a low incidence of diseases characterized by chronic inflammation, and therefore is desirable [16,20].

The inflammation-resolving properties and favorable effects of EPA and DHA on oncogenic proteins, as well as on the cardiovascular, bone, and central nervous system, make them excellent candidates for primary and secondary breast cancer prevention trials for individuals at increased risk as well as breast cancer survivors. Interventional trials in these cohorts are ongoing.

Anatomy & Physiology

 Part 1: The Human Gut Microbiome in Health and Disease

The human gut microbiome and its role in both health and disease has been the subject of extensive research, establishing its involvement in human metabolism, nutrition, physiology, and immune function. Imbalance of the normal gut microbiota have been linked with gastrointestinal conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and wider systemic manifestations of disease such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, and atopy. In the first part of this review, we evaluate our evolving knowledge of the development, complexity, and functionality of the healthy gut microbiota, and the ways in which the microbial community is perturbed in dysbiotic disease states; the second part of this review covers the role of interventions that have been shown to modulate and stabilize the gut microbiota and also to restore it to its healthy composition from the dysbiotic states seen in IBS, IBD, obesity, type 2 diabetes, and atopy.

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”. 🙂

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


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