This week in science for holistic health – 25Jun2016


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 edition:

  • Foods, Diets & Eating – “…dietary-associated risk is the most important behavioral factor influencing global health…”

  • Supplements & Nutrients – Anti-inflammatory herbs

  • Lifestyle – Exercise for well-being, muscle, belly fat, weight loss and reduced risk of cancer

  • Anatomy & Physiology – Effect of gut microbiome on bone health


Foods, Diets & Eating

Nutrition and Cardiovascular Disease: Finding the Perfect Recipe for Cardiovascular Health.

Note from Leesa: This quote blows my mind, “…dietary-associated risk is the most important behavioral factor influencing global health…”!

The increasing burden of cardiovascular disease (CVD) despite the progress in management entails the need of more effective preventive and curative strategies. As dietary-associated risk is the most important behavioral factor influencing global health, it appears the best target in the challenge against CVD. Although for many years, since the formulation of the cholesterol hypothesis, a nutrient-based approach was attempted for CVD prevention and treatment, in recent years a dietary-based approach resulted more effective in reducing cardiovascular risk worldwide. After the publication of randomized trials on the remarkable effects of the Mediterranean diet and the Dietary Approach to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet on CVD, new efforts were put on research about the effects of complex dietary interventions on CVD. The purpose of this paper is to review the evidence on dietary interventions in the prevention and disease modification of CVD, focusing on coronary artery disease and heart failure, the main disease responsible for the enormous toll taken by CVD worldwide.

Nutrients 08 00363 g001 1024


Dietary-associated risk is the most important behavioral factor influencing global health #nutrition #CVD Click To Tweet


Potential Benefits of Dietary Fibre Intervention in Inflammatory Bowel Disease.

Intestinal dysbiosis is thought to be an important cause of disease progression and the gastrointestinal symptoms experienced in patients with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Inflammation appears to be a major contributor in perpetuating a dysregulated gut microbiota. Although current drug therapies can significantly induce and maintain disease remission, there is no cure for these diseases. Nevertheless, ongoing human studies investigating dietary fibre interventions may potentially prove to exert beneficial outcomes for IBD. Postulated mechanisms include direct interactions with the gut mucosa through immunomodulation, or indirectly through the microbiome. Component species of the microbiome may degrade dietary-fibre polysaccharides and ferment the products to form short-chain fatty acids such as butyrate. Prebiotic dietary fibres may also act more directly by altering the composition of the microbiome. Longer term benefits in reducing the risk of more aggressive disease or colorectal cancer may require other dietary fibre sources such as wheat bran or psyllium. By critically examining clinical trials that have used dietary fibre supplements or dietary patterns containing specific types or amounts of dietary fibres, it may be possible to assess whether varying the intake of specific dietary fibres may offer an efficient treatment for IBD patients.

Ijms 17 00919 g001 1024

Dietary fiber for inflammatory #bowel #disease - #fiber #dietaryfiber #IBD #inflammation #gutmicrobiota #dysbiosis Click To Tweet


Isoflavones: Anti-Inflammatory Benefit and Possible Caveats.

Inflammation, a biological response of body tissues to harmful stimuli, is also known to be involved in a host of diseases, such as obesity, atherosclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, and even cancer. Isoflavones are a class of flavonoids that exhibit antioxidant, anticancer, antimicrobial, and anti-inflammatory properties. Increasing evidence has highlighted the potential for isoflavones to prevent the chronic diseases in which inflammation plays a key role, though the underlying mechanisms remain unclear. Recently, some studies have raised concerns about isoflavones induced negative effects like carcinogenesis, thymic involution, and immunosuppression. Therefore, this review aims to summarize the anti-inflammatory effects of isoflavones, unravel the underlying mechanisms, and present the potential health risks.

Benefits & risks of #isoflavones - #obesity #atherosclerosis #RA #cancer #immune #antioxidant #antiinflammatory Click To Tweet


Role of guar fiber in appetite control.


•  Appetite control could be a logical approach for proper weight management.
•  Guar fiber reduced the colonic mobility and increased the release of CCK.
•  Guar fiber provided both acute and sustained perceivable satiety effects.
•  The acute perception of satiety was observed with intake of 5 g guar fiber.
•  Regular intake of guar fiber (2 g/day) reduced 20% daily energy intake via snacking.
•  Guar fiber at reasonable dosage levels provide appetite control.

Appetite control and reduction of additional calorie intake may be a logical approach for proper weight management. Viscous dietary fibers are effective in appetite control but difficult to apply in normal serving sizes in foods and nutritional supplements due to their viscosity and required high doses. Guar fiber popularly known as partially hydrolyzed guar gum (PHGG) is near non-viscous soluble fiber that has been proven effective in providing many physiological benefits. Guar fiber has also been identified as potential natural food and nutritional supplement ingredient for appetite control. The aim of this review is to summarize all the clinical studies pertinent to its effects on appetite control in normal subjects and postulate the mechanism of action. Guar fiber exhibited appetite control via delaying the colonic transit time of digested food, stimulation of satiety hormone cholecystokinin (CCK) and induction of prolonged perception of post-meal satiation and satiety effects. Regular intake of guar fiber at a dose of 2g/serving provided significant sustained post-meal satiation effects and minimized the inter-meal calorie intake by about 20% in normal subjects. The intake of guar fiber alone at a dose >5g/serving or its combination with protein (2.6g guar fiber+8g protein/serving) showed acute satiety effects in normal subjects. Guar fiber containing >85% dietary fiber, with clear solubility and negligible taste impact, may be an ideal natural dietary fiber for use in food and supplement applications at low dosage levels for appetite control.

Guar gum #fiber helps with #appetite control - #satiety #guargum Click To Tweet


Tomato as a Source of Carotenoids and Polyphenols Targeted to Cancer Prevention.

A diet rich in vegetables has been associated with a reduced risk of many diseases related to aging and modern lifestyle. Over the past several decades, many researches have pointed out the direct relation between the intake of bioactive compounds present in tomato and a reduced risk of suffering different types of cancer. These bioactive constituents comprise phytochemicals such as carotenoids and polyphenols. The direct intake of these chemoprotective molecules seems to show higher efficiencies when they are ingested in its natural biological matrix than when they are ingested isolated or in dietary supplements. Consequently, there is a growing trend for improvement of the contents of these bioactive compounds in foods. The control of growing environment and processing conditions can ensure the maximum potential accumulation or moderate the loss of bioactive compounds, but the best results are obtained developing new varieties via plant breeding. The modification of single steps of metabolic pathways or their regulation via conventional breeding or genetic engineering has offered excellent results in crops such as tomato. In this review, we analyse the potential of tomato as source of the bioactive constituents with cancer-preventive properties and the result of modern breeding programs as a strategy to increase the levels of these compounds in the diet.

Tomatoes to #prevent #cancer - #foodnotsupplements #phytochemicals #carotenoids #polyphenols Click To Tweet


Nutraceutical Properties of Olive Oil Polyphenols. An Itinerary from Cultured Cells through Animal Models to Humans

The increasing interest in the Mediterranean diet hinges on its healthy and anti-ageing properties. The composition of fatty acids, vitamins and polyphenols in olive oil, a key component of this diet, is considered a key feature of its healthy properties. Therefore, it is of significance that the Rod of Asclepius lying on a world map surrounded by olive tree branches has been chosen by the World Health Organization as a symbol of both peace and well-being. This review travels through most of the current and past research, recapitulating the biochemical and physiological correlations of the beneficial properties of olive tree (Olea europaea) polyphenols and their derivatives found in olive oil. The factors influencing the content and beneficial properties of olive oil polyphenols will also be taken into account together with their bioavailability. Finally, the data on the clinical and epidemiological relevance of olive oil and its polyphenols for longevity and against age- and lifestyle-associated pathologies such as cancer, cardiovascular, metabolic and neurodegenerative diseases are reviewed.

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Table 6. Olive polyphenols in clinical trials and epidemiological studies.


Olive oil #polyphenols can help prevent #cancer #metabolicdisease #heartdisease #CVD #neurologicaldisease - #oliveoil Click To Tweet


Caloric restriction: beneficial effects on brain aging and Alzheimer’s disease.

Dietary interventions such as caloric restriction (CR) extend lifespan and health span. Recent data from animal and human studies indicate that CR slows down the aging process, benefits general health, and improves memory performance. Caloric restriction also retards and slows down the progression of different age-related diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease. However, the specific molecular basis of these effects remains unclear. A better understanding of the pathways underlying these effects could pave the way to novel preventive or therapeutic strategies. In this review, we will discuss the mechanisms and effects of CR on aging and Alzheimer’s disease. A potential alternative to CR as a lifestyle modification is the use of CR mimetics. These compounds mimic the biochemical and functional effects of CR without the need to reduce energy intake. We discuss the effect of two of the most investigated mimetics, resveratrol and rapamycin, on aging and their potential as Alzheimer’s disease therapeutics. However, additional research will be needed to determine the safety, efficacy, and usability of CR and its mimetics before a general recommendation can be proposed to implement them.

Caloric restriction, #resveratrol and #rapamycin may help #slowaging and #improvememory - #caloricrestriction #alzheimers Click To Tweet


How Well Can We Control Dyslipidemias Through Lifestyle Modifications?

The role for lifestyle modifications to correct dyslipidemia(s) is reviewed. Dietary composition is crucial. Replacing saturated fat with MUFA or n-6 PUFA lowers plasma low-density lipoproteins (LDL) cholesterol and ameliorates the LDL/HDL ratio. Replacing saturated fat with carbohydrates has diverging effects due to the heterogeneity of carbohydrate foods. Diets rich in refined carbohydrates increase fasting and postprandial triglycerides, whereas the consumption of fiber-rich, low GI foods lowers LDL cholesterol with no detrimental effects on triglycerides. The role of polyphenols is debated: available evidence suggests a lowering effect of polyphenol-rich foods on postprandial triglycerides. As for functional foods, health claims on a cholesterol lowering effect of psyllium, beta-glucans and phytosterols are accepted by regulatory agencies. The importance of alcohol intake, weight reduction, and physical activity is discussed. In conclusion, there is evidence that lifestyle affects plasma lipid. A multifactorial approach including multiple changes with additive effects is the best option. This may also ensure feasibility and durability. The traditional Mediterranean way of life can represent a useful model.

For #cholesterol issues replace #saturatedfat with #MUFA or #PUFA - increase #fiber - and #psyllium #betaglucans and #phytosterols (plants) - #dyslipidemia Click To Tweet


Supplements & Nutrients

Fenugreek a multipurpose crop: Potentialities and improvements.

Fenugreek is one of the oldest medicinal plants with exceptional medicinal and nutritional profile. Fenugreek seeds contain a substantial amount of fiber, phospholipids, glycolipids, oleic acid, linolenic acid, linoleic acid, choline, vitamins A, B1, B2, C, nicotinic acid, niacin, and many other functional elements. It may grow well under diverse and a wide range of conditions; it is moderately tolerant to drought and salinity, and can even be grown on marginal lands in profitable way. Owing to these characteristics and heavy metal remediation potential, fenugreek may well fit several cropping systems. In addition to its medicinal uses, it may serve as an excellent off-season fodder and animal food supplement. However, efforts should be initiated to develop strategies for improving its biomass production; genetic diversity among different accessions may be mapped, breeding and crop improvement programs may be initiated to improve the biomass and nutritional and functional elements. This review highlights the morphology, adaptability, nutritional constituents and associated functionality and medicinal significance of fenugreek; its ethno-historical uses, pharmacological assumptions have also been discussed. Researchable areas are also indicated to improve its production and adaptability.

Pharmacological and therapeutic benefits of fenugreek as recurrently reported.

Table 7

Fenugreek - A #nutrientdense #medicinalplant - #fiber #healthyfats #vitamins #fenugreek Click To Tweet


Creatine supplementation and glycemic control: a systematic review.

The focus of this review is the effects of creatine supplementation with or without exercise on glucose metabolism. A comprehensive examination of the past 16 years of study within the field provided a distillation of key data. Both in animal and human studies, creatine supplementation together with exercise training demonstrated greater beneficial effects on glucose metabolism; creatine supplementation itself demonstrated positive results in only a few of the studies. In the animal studies, the effects of creatine supplementation on glucose metabolism were even more distinct, and caution is needed in extrapolating these data to different species, especially to humans. Regarding human studies, considering the samples characteristics, the findings cannot be extrapolated to patients who have poorer glycemic control, are older, are on a different pharmacological treatment (e.g., exogenous insulin therapy) or are physically inactive. Thus, creatine supplementation is a possible nutritional therapy adjuvant with hypoglycemic effects, particularly when used in conjunction with exercise.

Creatine with #exercise for #bloodsugar control, only in some people - #creatine #supplement Click To Tweet


Effects of Probiotics and Synbiotics on Obesity, Insulin Resistance Syndrome, Type 2 Diabetes and Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease: A Review of Human Clinical Trials.

The use of probiotics and synbiotics in the prevention and treatment of different disorders has dramatically increased over the last decade. Both probiotics and synbiotics are well known ingredients of functional foods and nutraceuticals and may provide beneficial health effects because they can influence the intestinal microbial ecology and immunity. The present study reviews the effects of probiotics and synbiotics on obesity, insulin resistance syndrome (IRS), type 2 diabetes (T2D) and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) in human randomized clinical trials. Select probiotics and synbiotics provided beneficial effects in patients with obesity, mainly affecting the body mass index and fat mass. Some probiotics had beneficial effects on IRS, decreasing the cell adhesion molecule-1 levels, and the synbiotics decreased the insulin resistance and plasma lipid levels. Moreover, select probiotics improved the carbohydrate metabolism, fasting blood glucose, insulin sensitivity and antioxidant status and also reduced metabolic stress in subjects with T2D. Some probiotics and synbiotics improved the liver and metabolic parameters in patients with NAFLD. The oral intake of probiotics and synbiotics as co-adjuvants for the prevention and treatment of obesity, IRS, T2D and NAFLD is partially supported by the data shown in the present review. However, further studies are required to understand the precise mechanism of how probiotics and synbiotics affect these metabolic disorders.

Probiotics - how do they help with #obesity #insulinresistance #diabetes and #NAFLD - #probiotics #synbiotics #T2D Click To Tweet


Review of Anti-Inflammatory Herbal Medicines.

 Medicinal plants and their secondary metabolites are progressively used in the treatment of diseases as a complementary medicine. Inflammation is a pathologic condition that includes a wide range of diseases such as rheumatic and immune-mediated conditions, diabetes, cardiovascular accident, and etcetera. We introduce some herbs which their anti-inflammatory effects have been evaluated in clinical and experimental studies. Curcuma longa, Zingiber officinale, Rosmarinus officinalis, Borago officinalis, evening primrose, and Devil’s claw are some of the introduced medicinal herbs in this review. Since the treatment of inflammation is not a one-dimensional remedy, this review tries to reach a multidimensional therapeutic approach to inflammation with the help of herbal medicine and modification in lifestyle.

Anti-inflammatory #herbs - #turmeric #ginger #borage #EPO #DevilsClaw #Boswellia #DogRose #StingingNettle #CatsClaw #Sage #Blackcurrant #avo Click To Tweet


NOTE from Leesa:  If you have experienced an adverse event related to your use of any supplement or medication, AND you’re in Canada or the USA, you can report them directly to the health authorities at the links below.  Health Canada’s MedEffect link is reference (3), and the FDA’s MedWatch link is reference (4).


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Well-being and immune response: a multi-system perspective.


 The effect of well-being in modulating immune response is reviewed.
•  Emotional but also physiological well-being impact the response to immune challenge.
•  Several systems interactions underlie the effect of well-being on immune response.
•  This has important clinical applications in chronic disease prevention or therapies.

Whereas it is well-established that inflammation and other immune responses can change how we feel, most people are still surprised to hear that, conversely, well-being and its violations also affect our immune system. Here we show that those effects are highly adaptive and bear potential for both research and therapeutic applications. The studies discussed in this review demonstrate that immunity is tuned by ones emotions, personality, and social status as well as by other life style variables like sleep, nutrition, obesity, or exercise. We further provide a short excursion on the effects of stress and depression on immunity and discuss acute experimental endotoxemia as a model to study the effects of well-being on the innate immune response in humans.

Well-being effects #immunity - #emotions #sleep #nutrition #obesity #exercise #stress #depression Click To Tweet

Exercise Promotes Healthy Aging of Skeletal Muscle

Primary aging is the progressive and inevitable process of bodily deterioration during adulthood. In skeletal muscle, primary aging causes defective mitochondrial energetics and reduced muscle mass. Secondary aging refers to additional deleterious structural and functional age-related changes caused by diseases and lifestyle factors. Secondary aging can exacerbate deficits in mitochondrial function and muscle mass, concomitant with the development of skeletal muscle insulin resistance. Exercise opposes deleterious effects of secondary aging by preventing the decline in mitochondrial respiration, mitigating aging-related loss of muscle mass and enhancing insulin sensitivity. This review focuses on mechanisms by which exercise promotes “healthy aging” by inducing modifications in skeletal muscle.

How does #exercise promote #healthyaging - #muscle #skeletalmuscle #mitochondria #insulinsensitivity Click To Tweet


Lifestyle changes and the risk of developing endometrial and ovarian cancers: opportunities for prevention and management.

Modifiable lifestyle factors, such as obesity, lack of physical activity, and smoking, contribute greatly to cancer and chronic disease morbidity and mortality worldwide. This review appraises recent evidence on modifiable lifestyle factors in the prevention of endometrial cancer (EC) and ovarian cancer (OC) as well as new evidence for lifestyle management of EC and OC survivors. For EC, obesity continues to be the strongest risk factor, while new evidence suggests that physical activity, oral contraceptive pills, and bariatric surgery may be protective against EC. Other medications, such as metformin and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, may be protective, and interventional research is ongoing. For OC, we find increasing evidence to support the hypothesis that obesity and hormone replacement therapy increase the risk of developing OC. Oral contraceptive pills are protective against OC but are underutilized. Dietary factors such as the Mediterranean diet and alcohol consumption do not seem to affect the risk of either OC or EC. For EC and OC survivors, physical activity and weight loss are associated with improved quality of life. Small interventional trials show promise in increasing physical activity and weight maintenance for EC and OC survivors, although the impact on long-term health, including cancer recurrence and overall mortality, is unknown. Women’s health providers should integrate counseling about these modifiable lifestyle factors into both the discussion of prevention for all women and the management of survivors of gynecologic cancers.

Table 2

Risk for #endometrial and #ovarian #cancer - lack of #exercise and #obesity NOT #diet or #alcohol Click To Tweet


A systematic review and meta-analysis on the effects of exercise training versus hypocaloric diet: distinct effects on body weight and visceral adipose tissue.

Exercise training (‘exercise’) and hypocaloric diet (‘diet’) are frequently prescribed for weight loss in obesity. Whilst body weight changes are commonly used to evaluate lifestyle interventions, visceral adiposity (VAT) is a more relevant and stronger predictor for morbidity and mortality. A meta-analysis was performed to assess the effects of exercise or diet on VAT (quantified by radiographic imaging). Relevant databases were searched through May 2014. One hundred seventeen studies (n = 4,815) were included. We found that both exercise and diet cause VAT loss (P < 0.0001). When comparing diet versus training, diet caused a larger weight loss (P = 0.04). In contrast, a trend was observed towards a larger VAT decrease in exercise (P = 0.08). Changes in weight and VAT showed a strong correlation after diet (R2  = 0.737, P < 0.001), and a modest correlation after exercise (R2  = 0.451, P < 0.001). In the absence of weight loss, exercise is related to 6.1% decrease in VAT, whilst diet showed virtually no change (1.1%). In conclusion, both exercise and diet reduce VAT. Despite a larger effect of diet on total body weight loss, exercise tends to have superior effects in reducing VAT. Finally, total body weight loss does not necessarily reflect changes in VAT and may represent a poor marker when evaluating benefits of lifestyle-interventions.

Diet for #weightloss and #exercise to reduce #bellyfat - #diet Click To Tweet


Anatomy & Physiology

Links Between the Microbiome and Bone.

The human microbiome has been shown to influence a number of chronic conditions associated with impaired bone mass and bone quality including obesity, diabetes and inflammatory bowel disease. The connection between the microbiome and bone health, however, has not been well studied. The few studies available demonstrate that the microbiome can have a large effect on bone remodeling and bone mass. The gut microbiome is the largest reservoir of microbial organisms in the body and consists of over a thousand different species interacting with one another in a stable dynamic equilibrium. How the microbiome can affect organs distant from the gut is not well understood, but is believed to occur through regulation of nutrition, regulation of the immune system and/or translocation of bacterial products across the gut endothelial barrier. Here we review each of these mechanisms and discuss their potential effect on bone remodeling and bone mass. We review how preclinical studies of bone-microbiome interactions are challenging because the microbiome is sensitive to genetic background, housing environment, and vendor source. Additionally, although the microbiome exhibits a robust response to external stimuli, it rapidly returns to its original steady state after a disturbance, making it difficult to sustain controlled changes in the microbiome over time periods required to detect alterations in bone remodeling, mass or structure. Despite these challenges, an understanding of the mechanisms by which the gut microbiome affects bone has the potential to provide insights into the dissociation between fracture risk and bone mineral density in patients including those with obesity, diabetes or inflammatory bowel disease. In addition, alteration of the gut microbiome has the potential to serve as a biomarker of bone metabolic activity as well as a target for therapies to improve bone structure and quality using pharmaceutical agents or pre- or probiotics.



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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”. 🙂

Enjoy! 🙂

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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 Nutritional Science, 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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I love the site, it’s definitely one of my “go-to’s” when it comes to nutrition and health information
How Not to Die: Discover the Foods Scientifically Proven to Prevent and Reverse Disease by Michael Greger, MD
Part 1 includes chapters for “How not to die from:” heart/lung/brain, etc. diseases with almost 3,000 scientific references; Part 2 has Dr. Greger’s favourite recipes, kitchen gadgets, brands, etc.. I’m looking forward to reading this!

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


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