This Week in Science for Holistic Health – 09Apr2016


Table of Contents

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 issue:

  • Food & Eating – Fermentation increases mineral bioavailability in grains & legumes

  • Supplements & Nutrients- Foods fortified with calcium & vit D help bones

  • Disease Prevention – Obesity is affected by diet, genes & toxicants

  • Anatomy & Physiology – Thyroid disease may need a non-traditional approach


Food & Eating

Fermentation of food and feed: A technology for efficient utilization of macro and trace elements in monogastrics.

Mineral deficiencies, especially of iron, zinc, and calcium, respectively, negatively affect human health and may lead to conditions such as iron deficiency anemia, rickets, osteoporosis, and diseases of the immune system. Cereal grains and legumes are of global importance in nutrition of monogastrics (humans and the respective domestic animals) and provide high amounts of several minerals, e.g., iron, zinc, and calcium. Nevertheless, their bioavailability is low. Plants contain phytates, the salts of phytic acid, chemically known as inositol-hexakisphosphate, which interact with several minerals and proteins. However, phytate may be hydrolysed by phytase. This enzyme is naturally present in plants and also widely distributed in microorganisms. Several food processing methods have been reported to enhance phytate hydrolysis, due to the activation of endogenous phytase activity or via the enzyme produced by microbes. In recent years, fermentation for food and feed improvement and preservation, respectively, has gained increasing interest as a promising method to degrade phytate and enhance mineral utilization in monogastrics. Indeed, several in vitro as well as in vivo studies confirm a positive effect on the utilization of minerals, such as P, Ca, Fe and Zn, using sourdough fermentation for baking or fermentation of legumes, mainly soybeans. This review summarizes the current knowledge regarding the potential of fermentation to enhance macro and trace element bioavailability in monogastric species.

Fermentation increases mineral bioavailability in grains & legumes #science #fermentation #minerals Click To Tweet

Update on Early Nutrition and Food Allergy in Children.

ABSTRACT:  With growing evidence of an increase in the prevalence, food allergy has been emerged as a new public health problem. As treatment and management of food allergy remain challenging, more attention has been paid to the importance of prevention of food allergy. Although the exact mechanism of recent epidemic is not fully understood, it is suggested that nutritional exposure in early life may play an important role in food allergy development. The underlying hypothesis is that nutritional status or food exposure in the critical period of fetal development can affect the programming of immune system and modify the risk of immunologic reactions to foods in postnatal life. We review accumulating epidemiological studies to examine an association between nutritional exposure during pregnancy or early infancy and food allergy development in children. We also discuss recent advances in the studies of the genetic and epigenetic regulation of food allergy and evaluate the role of early nutrition in food allergy development to provide a new perspective on the prevention of food allergy.

CONCLUSIONS:  Based on accumulating evidence, prolonged avoidance of allergenic foods during pregnancy, lactation, and delayed introduction of allergenic foods in infant feeding are effective in preventing food allergy development. Epidemiological studies suggest that exposure to food allergens in early life may prevent food allergy development among high-risk individuals. Individual genetic variants and differentially methylated DNA at certain genes help us to understand potential biological pathways of food allergy. Epigenetic studies provide our knowledge of mechanisms of food allergy and insights into new approaches to the prevention and management of food allergy. As controlling food consumption during pregnancy and lactation is relatively possible, as opposed to controlling other environmental exposures, early nutrition deserves more attentions as a primary target of further food allergy research.

Can avoiding allergenic foods in pregnancy, lactation & infancy prevent allergies? #allergy #foodallergy Click To Tweet

Supplements & Nutrients

Food fortification for bone health in adulthood: a scoping review.

Food fortification can deliver essential micronutrients to large population segments without modifications in consumption pattern, suggesting that fortified foods may be formulated for populations at risk for fragility fractures. This scoping review determined the extent to which randomized controlled studies have been carried out to test the impact of fortified foods on bone outcomes, searching PubMed for all studies using the terms ‘fortified AND bone’, and ‘fortification AND bone’. Studies were restricted to English language, published between 1996 and June 2015. From 360 articles, 24 studies met the following criteria: human study in adults ⩾18 years (excluding pregnancy or lactation); original study of a fortified food over time, with specific bone outcomes measured pre- and post intervention. Six studies involved adults <50 years; 18 involved adults ⩾50 years. Singly or in combination, 17 studies included calcium and 16 included vitamin D. There were 1 or 2 studies involving either vitamin K, magnesium, iron, zinc, B-vitamins, inulin or isoflavones. For adults <50 years, the four studies involving calcium or vitamin D showed a beneficial effect on bone remodeling. For adults ⩾50 years, n=14 provided calcium and/or vitamin D, and there was a significant bone turnover reduction. No consistent effects were reported in studies in which addition of vitamin K, folic acid or isoflavone was assessed. Results from this scoping review indicate that up to now most studies of fortification with bone health have evaluated calcium and/or vitamin D and that these nutrients show beneficial effects on bone remodeling.

Food fortification with calcium and/or vit D can improve bones #calcium #vitD #bones #fractures Click To Tweet

Quercetin, Inflammation and Immunity.

ABSTRACT:  In vitro and some animal models have shown that quercetin, a polyphenol derived from plants, has a wide range of biological actions including anti-carcinogenic, anti-inflammatory and antiviral activities; as well as attenuating lipid peroxidation, platelet aggregation and capillary permeability. This review focuses on the physicochemical properties, dietary sources, absorption, bioavailability and metabolism of quercetin, especially main effects of quercetin on inflammation and immune function. According to the results obtained both in vitro and in vivo, good perspectives have been opened for quercetin. Nevertheless, further studies are needed to better characterize the mechanisms of action underlying the beneficial effects of quercetin on inflammation and immunity.

SUMMARY:  As a widespread flavonoid, quercetin is a safe and dietary supplement based on its broad range of biological effects in animal. The results of these effects are not consistent, however, and the outcomes need to be carefully evaluated, as they are dependent on the type of subject and their level of health. Taken together, we know definitively that a quercetin glycoside is much more efficient than other forms of quercetin. In the majority of the literature, we find references to the benefits of prolonged supplementation with quercetin.

The future challenge is to investigate optimal benefits of quercetin, especially to the recommendation for the protracted intake. For example, a carbohydrate drink may have a better effect than pure quercetin preparation. The research in this area continues to determine the proper outcomes, dosing regimen and adjuvants that may amplify any perceived bioactive effects of quercetin in vivo.

Quercetin #anti-inflammatory #immunity #science #fruit #vegetables #supplements #quercetin Click To Tweet

Effect of whey protein on blood lipid profiles: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials.

Previous studies have suggested that whey supplementation may have beneficial effects on lipid profiles, although results were inconsistent. A literature search was performed in March 2015 for randomized controlled trials observing the effects of whey protein and its derivatives on circulating levels of triacylglycerol (TG), total cholesterol (TC), low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) and high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C). A meta-analysis was subsequently conducted. The meta-analysis results of 13 trials showed that whey supplementation significantly reduced the circulating TG level by 0.11 mmol/l (95% CI: -0.21, 0 mmol/l), whereas the whey protein had no effects on circulating TC (-0.11 mmol/l, 95% CI: -0.27, 0.05 mmol/l), LDL-C (-0.08 mmol/l, 95% CI: -0.23, 0.07 mmol/l) and HDL-C (0.01 mmol/l, 95% CI: -0.04, 0.05 mmol/l). Subgroup analysis showed that significant TG reduction disappeared in participants with low body mass index, low supplemental whey dose or under exercise training/energy restriction during the trial. No evidence of heterogeneity across studies and publication bias was observed. In conclusion, our findings demonstrated that the effects of whey protein supplementation were modest, with an overall lowering effect on TG but no effect on TC, LDL-C and HDL-C.

Whey protein reduces triglycerides, but no effect on cholesterol #whey #protein #TG #triglycerides #bloodlipids #cholesterol #TC #LDL #HDL Click To Tweet

Vitamin A supplementation for postpartum women.

BACKGROUND:  In areas where vitamin A deficiency (VAD) is a public health concern, the maternal dietary intake of vitamin A may be not sufficient to meet either the maternal nutritional requirements, or those of the breastfed infant, due the low retinol concentrations in breast milk.

OBJECTIVES:  To evaluate the effects of vitamin A supplementation for postpartum women on maternal and infant health.

AUTHORS’ CONCLUSIONS:  There was no evidence of benefit from different doses of vitamin A supplementation for postpartum women on maternal and infant mortality and morbidity, compared with other doses or placebo. Although maternal breast milk retinol concentrations improved with supplementation, this did not translate to health benefits for either women or infants. Few studies reported on maternal and infant mortality and morbidity. Future studies should include these important outcomes.

No evidence of health benefits of vit A supps for postpartum women or their babies #vitA #pregnancy #postpartum #supplement Click To Tweet


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Diseases/Conditions and Prevention/Treatments

An assessment of molecular pathways of obesity susceptible to nutrient, toxicant and genetically induced epigenetic perturbation.

In recent years, the etiology of human disease has greatly improved with the inclusion of epigenetic mechanisms, in particular as a common link between environment and disease. However, for most diseases we lack a detailed interpretation of the epigenetic regulatory pathways perturbed by environment and causal mechanisms. Here, we focus on recent findings elucidating nutrient-related epigenetic changes linked to obesity. We highlight studies demonstrating that obesity is a complex disease linked to disruption of epigenetically regulated metabolic pathways in the brain, adipose tissue and liver. These pathways regulate (1) homeostatic and hedonic eating behaviors, (2) adipocyte differentiation and fat accumulation, and (3) energy expenditure. By compiling these data, we illustrate that obesity-related phenotypes are repeatedly linked to disruption of critical epigenetic mechanisms that regulate key metabolic genes. These data are supported by genetic mutation of key epigenetic regulators, and many of the diet-induced epigenetic mechanisms of obesity are also perturbed by exposure to environmental toxicants. Identifying similarly perturbed epigenetic mechanisms in multiple experimental models of obesity strengthens the translational applications of these findings. We also discuss many of the ongoing challenges to understanding the role of environmentally induced epigenetic pathways in obesity and suggest future studies to elucidate these roles. This assessment illustrates our current understanding of molecular pathways of obesity that are susceptible to environmental perturbation via epigenetic mechanisms. Thus, it lays the groundwork for dissecting the complex interactions between diet, genes and toxicants that contribute to obesity and obesity-related phenotypes.

Obesity is affected by diet, genes and toxicants! #science #obesity #diet #genes #genetics #toxicants #toxins #epigenetics Click To Tweet

The Acute Risks of Exercise in Apparently Healthy Adults and Relevance for Prevention of Cardiovascular Events.

BACKGROUND:  Increased physical activity (PA) is associated with improved quality of life and reductions in cardiovascular (CV) morbidity and all-cause mortality in the general population in a dose-response manner. However, PA acutely increases the risk of adverse CV event or sudden cardiac death (SCD) above levels expected at rest. We review the likelihood of adverse CV events related to exercise in apparently healthy adults and strategies for prevention, and contextualize our understanding of the long-term risk reduction conferred from PA.

METHODS:  A systematic review of the literature was performed using electronic databases; additional hand-picked relevant articles from reference lists and additional sources were included after the search.

RESULTS:  The incidence of adverse CV events in adults is extremely low during and immediately after PA of varying types and intensities and is significantly lower in those with long-standing PA experience. The risk of SCD and nonfatal events during and immediately after PA remains extremely low (well below 0.01 per 10,000 participant hours); increasing age and PA intensity are associated with greater risk. In most cases of exercise-related SCD, occult CV disease is present and SCD is typically the first clinical event.

CONCLUSIONS:  Exercise acutely increases the risk of adverse CV events, with greater risk associated with vigorous intensity. The risks of an adverse CV event during and immediately after exercise are outweighed by the health benefits of vigorous exercise performed regularly. A key challenge remains the identification of occult structural heart disease and inheritable conditions that increase the chances of lethal arrhythmias during exercise.

Heart health benefits from exercise outweighs tiny risk of heart events #hearthealth #heart #CV #exercise Click To Tweet


Anatomy & Physiology

Clinical challenges in thyroid disease: Time for a new approach?

Thyroid disease is common, and the prevalence is rising. Traditional diagnosis and monitoring relies on thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) levels. This does not always result in symptomatic improvement in hypothyroid symptoms, to the disappointment of both patients and physicians. A non-traditional therapeutic approach would include evaluation of GI function as well as a dietary history and micronutrient evaluation. This approach also includes assessment of thyroid peroxidase (TPO) antibodies, T3, T4, and reverse T3 levels, and in some cases may require specific T3 supplementation in addition to standard T4 therapy. Both high and low TSH levels on treatment are associated with particular medical risks. In the case of high TSH this is primarily cardiac, whereas for low TSH it is predominantly bone health. This article discusses these important clinical issues in more detail, with some practical tips especially for an approach to the “non-responders” to the current traditional therapeutic approach.

Thyroid disease can include: better testing, diet, micronutrients, GI evaluation #thyroid #TSH #TPO #T3 #T4 #gut #GI Click To Tweet

Coenzyme Q and Its Role in the Dietary Therapy against Aging.

Coenzyme Q (CoQ) is a naturally occurring molecule located in the hydrophobic domain of the phospholipid bilayer of all biological membranes. Shortly after being discovered, it was recognized as an essential electron transport chain component in mitochondria where it is particularly abundant. Since then, more additional roles in cell physiology have been reported, including antioxidant, signaling, death prevention, and others. It is known that all cells are able to synthesize functionally sufficient amounts of CoQ under normal physiological conditions. However, CoQ is a molecule found in different dietary sources, which can be taken up and incorporated into biological membranes. It is known that mitochondria have a close relationship with the aging process. Additionally, delaying the aging process through diet has aroused the interest of scientists for many years. These observations have stimulated investigation of the anti-aging potential of CoQ and its possible use in dietary therapies to alleviate the effects of aging. In this context, the present review focus on the current knowledge and evidence the roles of CoQ cells, its relationship with aging, and possible implications of dietary CoQ in relation to aging, lifespan or age-related diseases.

All these results suggest that although CoQ supplementation does not directly extend lifespan, it may help to prevent life span shortening due to oxidative insults [6] as it has been suggested by its effect in all aspect related to mitochondrial function, oxidative stress and antioxidant defenses both in animals [139,196,197] and humans [114,143]. However, despite animal studies have shown certain beneficial effects on the health of different disease models, there are clinical trials reported no significant effects on the progression of some nervous central system disease [113,114].

CoQ10 for anti-aging? #CoQ10 #coenzymeQ10 #antiaging #antioxidant #mitochondria #cellmembranes Click To Tweet

Gut Microbiota: The Brain Peacekeeper.

Gut microbiota regulates intestinal and extraintestinal homeostasis. Accumulating evidence suggests that the gut microbiota may also regulate brain function and behavior. Results from animal models indicate that disturbances in the composition and functionality of some microbiota members are associated with neurophysiological disorders, strengthening the idea of a microbiota–gut–brain axis and the role of microbiota as a “peacekeeper” in the brain health. Here, we review recent discoveries on the role of the gut microbiota in central nervous system-related diseases. We also discuss the emerging concept of the bidirectional regulation by the circadian rhythm and gut microbiota, and the potential role of the epigenetic regulation in neuronal cell function. Microbiome studies are also highlighted as crucial in the development of targeted therapies for neurodevelopmental disorders.

Obviously, a healthy microbiota community is necessary to maintain a healthy nervous system. Increasing evidences support a peacekeeper role for the gut microbiota in regulating the brain function, due to that the gut microbiota regulates nervous system development, stress responses, anxiety, appetite, and circadian rhythms. The depletion or disturbance of microbial community is associated with psychiatric diseases. Treatments aimed at restoring the normal gut microbiota and intestinal homeostasis are associated with ameliorated neural responses. In summary, identifying the alteration of the gut microbiota can provide a clinical indicator and aid the diagnosis of patients with psychiatric comorbidity.

Gut microbiota for brain, nervous system, stress, anxiety, appetite & circadian rhythms #gutmicrobiota #brain #nervoussystem Click To Tweet

Amygdalin, quackery or cure? (NOTE: Amygdalin = Laetrile)

BACKGROUND:  The cyanogenic diglucoside, amygdalin, has gained high popularity among cancer patients together with, or in place of, conventional therapy. Still, evidence based research on amygdalin is sparse and its benefit controversial.

PURPOSE:  Since so many cancer patients consume amygdalin, and many clinicians administer it without clear knowledge of its mode of action, current knowledge has been summarized and the pros and cons of its use weighed.

METHODS:  A retrospective analysis was conducted for amygdalin relevant reports using the PubMed database with the main search term “Amygdalin” or “laetrile”, at times combined with “cancer”, “patient”, “cyanide” or “toxic”. We did not exclude any “unwanted” articles. Additionally, internet sources authorized by governmental or national institutions have also been included.

SECTIONS:  Individual chapters summarize pharmacokinetics, preclinical and clinical studies and toxicity.

CONCLUSION:  No convincing evidence showing that amygdalin induces rapid, distinct tumor regression in cancer patients, particularly in those with late-stage disease, is apparent. However, there is also no evidence that purified amygdalin, administered in “therapeutic” dosage, causes toxicity. Multiple aspects of amygdalin administration have not yet been adequately explored, making further investigation necessary to evaluate its actual therapeutic potential.

Laetrile may be safe, but no evidence it is effective for cancer #science #laetrile #amygdalin #cancer 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 Nutrition, 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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