The Women’s Issue – This week in Science for Holistic Health – 30Apr2016


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 – “The Women’s Issue”:

  • Food & Eating – Studying breastmilk for optimal infant growth and development

  • Supplements & Nutrients – Iron supplements improve hemoglobin in menstruating women

  • Disease Prevention – Diet and risk of breast cancer


Food & Eating

Challenges of infant nutrition research: a commentary.

Considerable advances have been made in the field of infant feeding research. The last few decades have witnessed the expansion in the number of studies on the composition and benefits of human milk. The practice of breastfeeding and use of human milk represent today’s reference standards for infant feeding and nutrition. Additional research regarding the benefits of breastfeeding is needed to determine which factors in human milk and in the act of breastfeeding itself, singly or in combination, are most important for producing the beneficial effects on infant growth, body composition, and neurodevelopmental outcome. We examine evidence that breastfeeding confers health benefits and offer suggestions on how best to interpret the data and present it to the public. We also describe some examples of well-designed infant nutrition studies that provide useful and clinically meaningful data regarding infant feeding, growth, and development. Because not all mothers choose to breastfeed or can breastfeed, other appropriate feeding options should be subjected to critical review to help establish how infant formula and bottle feeding can confer benefits similar to those of human milk and the act of breastfeeding. We conclude with the overarching point that the goal of infant feeding research is to promote optimal infant growth and development. Since parents/families may take different paths to feeding their infants, it is fundamental that health professionals understand how best to interpret research studies and their findings to support optimal infant growth and development.

Better understanding breast milk for optimal infant growth & development #infant #breastmilk #breastfeed #formula Click To Tweet

 The impact of red and processed meat consumption on cancer and other health outcomes: Epidemiological evidences


•  Red meat/processed meat intake is linked to colorectal carcinoma.

•  Processed meat intake has been related to type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

•  Meat intake have been associated to increased risk for other cancers.

•  Decreased intake of meat may be a protective factor for several diseases.

•  Enough evidence of the association between processed meat and colorectal cancer.

Red meat & processed meat on health #meat #redmeat #processedmeat #coloncancer #cancer #diabetes #heartdisease Click To Tweet

Supplements and Nutrients

Daily iron supplementation for improving anaemia, iron status and health in menstruating women.

Iron supplementation taken daily for improving health in menstruating women

Review question

What are the effects of iron, taken orally for at least five days a week, on health outcomes in menstruating women (compared with not giving iron)?


Iron deficiency (a shortage of iron stored in the body) and anaemia (low levels of haemoglobin – healthy red blood cells – in the blood) are common problems globally, especially in women. Low levels of iron can eventually cause anaemia (iron-deficiency anaemia). Among non-pregnant women, around one third are anaemic worldwide. The problem is seen most commonly in low-income countries, but iron deficiency and anaemia are more common in women in all contexts. Iron-deficiency anaemia is considered to impair health and well-being in women, and iron supplements – tablets, capsules, syrup or drops containing iron – are a commonly used intervention to prevent and treat this condition. We sought to review the evidence of iron, taken orally for at least five days per week, for improving health outcomes in non-pregnant women of reproductive age (menstruating women).

Key results

We found evidence that iron supplements reduce the prevalence of anaemia and iron deficiency, and raise levels of haemoglobin in the blood and in iron stores. Iron supplementation clearly increases the risk of side effects, for example, constipation and abdominal pain.

Quality of the evidence

We found high quality evidence that iron improves haemoglobin and produces changes in bowel function, but moderate quality evidence that iron reduces the prevalence of anaemia and iron deficiency. Evidence of the effects of iron on other outcomes, such as abdominal pain, is of low quality. There are no data on the effects of iron on mortality in this population group.

Further definitive studies are needed to identify whether taking iron supplements orally for at least five days a week has an impact on key, health-related outcomes.

Iron supplements for menstruating women #improveshaemoglobin #iron #supplement #haemoglobin #hemoglobin #GIeffects #anaemia #anemia Click To Tweet

Iodine Supplementation in Pregnancy and the Dilemma of Ambiguous Recommendations.

Iodine requirements are increased during pregnancy, predominantly caused by an increase in renal iodide clearance and in the use of iodine for thyroid hormone production. Because iodine deficiency (ID) in pregnancy may be associated with neurodevelopmental deficits in the offspring, a pertinent question is at what level of iodine intake pregnant women should be advised to take iodine-containing supplements. The consensus reached by the WHO/UNICEF/ICCIDD in 2007 was that pregnant women should not be recommended to take iodine-containing supplements if the population in general had been iodine sufficient for at least 2 years. However, guidance on this differs between scientific societies. This review discusses iodine supplementation in pregnancy. Based on current evidence, the recommendations given by WHO/UNICEF/ICCIDD in 2007 provide a valid guidance on the use of iodine supplements in pregnant women. Women living in a population with a median urinary iodine concentration (UIC) at or above 100 µg/l are not in need of iodine supplementation in pregnancy. On the other hand, if the population median UIC is below 100 µg/l, pregnant women should take iodine-containing supplements until the population in general has been iodine sufficient for at least 2 years by way of universal salt iodization.

Iodine supplementation in pregnancy #probablynotneeded #iodine #mineral #supplement #pregnancy Click To Tweet

The effects of creatine supplementation on thermoregulation and physical (cognitive) performance: a review and future prospects.

Creatine (Cr) is produced endogenously in the liver or obtained exogenously from foods, such as meat and fish. In the human body, 95 % of Cr is located in the cytoplasm of skeletal muscle either in a phosphorylated (PCr) or free form (Cr). PCr is essential for the immediate rephosphorylation of adenosine diphosphate to adenosine triphosphate. PCr is rapidly degraded at the onset of maximal exercise at a rate that results in muscle PCr reservoirs being substantially depleted. A well-established strategy followed to increase muscle total Cr content is to increase exogenous intake by supplementation with chemically pure synthetic Cr. Most Cr supplementation regimens typically follow a well-established loading protocol of 20 g day-1 of Cr for approximately 5-7 days, followed by a maintenance dose at between 2 and 5 g day-1 for the duration of interest, although more recent studies tend to utilize a 0.3-g kg-1 day-1supplementation regimen. Some studies have also investigated long-term supplementation of up to 1 year. Uptake of Cr is enhanced when taken together with carbohydrate and protein and/or while undertaking exercise. Cr supplementation has been shown to augment muscle total Cr content and enhance anaerobic performance; however, there is also some evidence of indirect benefits to aerobic endurance exercise through enhanced thermoregulation. While there is an abundance of data supporting the ergogenic effects of Cr supplementation in a variety of different applications, some individuals do not respond, the efficacy of which is dependent on a number of factors, such as dose, age, muscle fiber type, and diet, although further work in this field is warranted. Cr is increasingly being used in the management of some clinical conditions to enhance muscle mass and strength. The application of Cr in studies of health and disease has widened recently with encouraging results in studies involving sleep deprivation and cognitive performance.

Creatine for #muscles #aerobic #performance #endurance #exercise #thermoregulation #creatine #supplement Click To Tweet

Latest Data: Calcium Supplements Not Associated With CVD

Calcium supplements with and without vitamin D have again been shown not to adversely affect cardiovascular disease (CVD) outcomes in men or women between 40 and 69 years of age. The latest analysis to examine this issue includes data from more than half a million individuals.

“Historically, the only side effects of calcium supplementation were an increased risk of indigestion and a very small increased risk of kidney stones, but in recent years, there has been a suggestion from a small number of researchers that calcium supplementation might lead to an increased risk of heart attacks,” lead author Nicholas Harvey, MD, University of Southampton, United Kingdom, told Medscape Medical News in an email.

“Using the UK Biobank cohort, we had the opportunity to examine this issue in 500,000 UK men and women in middle to older age, and our results suggest that calcium supplementation ― with or without vitamin D supplementation ― does not increase the risk of cardiovascular events.

Calcium supplements no longer considered to increase risk of #heartattacks #calcium #supplement #heartdisease Click To Tweet


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Diseases/Conditions and Prevention/Treatments

Diet and risk of breast cancer

Diet may play a role in both promoting and inhibiting human breast cancer development. In this review, nutritional risk factors such as consumption of dietary fat, meat, fiber, and alcohol, and intake of phytoestrogen, vitamin D, iron, and folate associated with breast cancer are reviewed. These nutritional factors have a variety of associations with breast cancer risk. Type of fat consumed has different effects on risk of breast cancer: consumption of meat is associated with heterocyclic amine (HCA) exposure; different types of plant fiber have various effects on breast cancer risk; alcohol consumption may increase the risk of breast cancer by producing acetaldehyde and reactive oxygen species (ROS); intake of phytoestrogen may reduce risk of breast cancer through genomic and non-genomic action; vitamin D can reduce the risk of breast cancer by inhibiting the process of cancer invasion and metastasis; intake of dietary iron may lead to oxidative stress, DNA damage, and lipid peroxidation; and lower intake of folate may be linked to a higher risk of breast cancer.

Effect of diet on #breastcancer #risk #redmeat #fiber #alcohol #phytoestrogen #vitaminD #iron #folate #cancer Click To Tweet

Nutrition of women with hair loss problem during the period of menopause.

During the period of menopause as an effect of changes in hormone status, one of the most common ailments for women is hair loss. Taking into consideration fact that the ingredients of diet contained in various groups of consumed food products are both precursors in steroid hormones synthesis as well as have direct impact on structure, growth and keeping hair in skin integument, this is the reason why nourishing support for women during this period of life as well as during the hair loss therapy is reasonable.

Standard value proteins containing Sulphur amino-acids: cysteine and methionine as precursor to keratin hair protein synthesis are basic element of diet conditioning of hair building. Irreplaceable having impact on keeping hair in skin integument is exogenous L-lysine, mainly present in the inner part of hair root is responsible for hair shape and volume. Fats present in the diet take part in steroid hormones synthesis (from cholesterol) thus have influence on keeping hair in skin integument. Women diet should contain products rich in complex carbohydrates, with low glycemic index and load containing fiber regulating carbohydrate-lipid metabolism of the body. Vitamins also have impact on the state of hair: C vitamin, group B and A vitamins. Minerals which influence hair growth are: Zn, Fe, Cu, Se, Si, Mg and Ca. It is worthwhile to pay closer attention to diet in women who besides hormone changes and undertaken pharmacotherapy are additionally exposed to chronic stress and improperly conducted cosmetic’s and hairdresser’s treatments.

Hair loss during #menopause needs #aminoacids #protein #cholesterol #complexcarbs #fiber #vitamins #minerals #hair Click To Tweet

 Modulating Composition and Metabolic Activity of the Gut Microbiota in IBD Patients

Despite the recent development of next generation sequencing and bioinformatics, the current scientific knowledge of specific triggers and diagnostic markers to improve interventional approaches in IBD is still scarce. In this review we present and discuss currently available and emerging therapeutic options in modulating composition and metabolic activity of gut microbiota in patients affected by IBD. Therapeutic approaches at the microbiota level, such as dietary interventions alone or with probiotics, prebiotics and synbiotics, administration of antibiotics, performing fecal microbiota transplantation (FMT) and the use of nematodes, all represent a promising opportunities towards establishing and maintaining of well-being as well as improving underlying IBD symptoms.

Help for IBD #probiotics #prebiotics #antibiotics #fecaltransplant #FMT #IBD #InflammatoryBowelDisease Click To Tweet

Nutritional Genomics and the Mediterranean Diet’s Effects on Human Cardiovascular Health.

The synergies and cumulative effects among different foods and nutrients are what produce the benefits of a healthy dietary pattern. Diets and dietary patterns are a major environmental factor that we are exposed to several times a day. People can learn how to control this behavior in order to promote healthy living and aging, and to prevent diet-related diseases. To date, the traditional Mediterranean diet has been the only well-studied pattern. Stroke incidence, a number of classical risk factors including lipid profile and glycaemia, emergent risk factors such as the length of telomeres, and emotional eating behavior can be affected by genetic predisposition. Adherence to the Mediterranean diet could exert beneficial effects on these risk factors. Our individual genetic make-up should be taken into account to better prevent these traits and their subsequent consequences in cardiovascular disease development. In the present work, we review the results of nutritional genomics explaining the role of the Mediterranean diet in human cardiovascular disease. A multidisciplinary approach is necessary to extract knowledge from large-scale data.

Cardiovascular health via #mediterraneandiet and #nutritionalgenomics - #HeartDisease #CVD #nutrition #genomics Click To Tweet

Postsurgical Hypoparathyroidism: A Systematic Review.

This article reviews epidemiology, risk factors and treatment modalities of postsurgical hypoparathyroidism (PHypo). PHypo occurs after total thyroidectomy due to injury of parathyroid glands and/or their blood supply or after parathyroidectomy. PHypo results in hypocalcemia because parathyroid hormone (PTH) secretion is impaired and cannot mobilize calcium from bone, reabsorb calcium from the distal nephron and stimulate renal 1α-hydroxylase activity. It usually appears in the first days after surgery and it can be symptomatic or asymptomatic. Risk factors are low level of intraoperative PTH and presence of parathyroid gland in the pathological specimen. Patients usually present with paresthesia, cramps or tetany, but the disorder may also manifest acutely with seizures, bronchospasm, laryngospasm or cardiac rhythm disturbances. Standard treatment is vitamin D analogues and calcium supplementation.

Hypoparathyroidism after #thyroidectomy #hypocalcemia #parathyroidhormone #PTH #vitaminD #vitD #calcium #supplement Click To Tweet

Gerson Therapy (PDQ®): Health Professional Version.

To assist readers in evaluating the results of human studies of integrative, alternative, and complementary therapies for cancer, the strength of the evidence (i.e., the “levels of evidence”) associated with each type of treatment is provided whenever possible. To qualify for a level of evidence analysis, a study must:

Evidence from studies that do not meet these requirements is considered extremely weak. In addition to scoring individual studies, an overall level of evidence assessment is usually made.

Because no prospective, controlled study of the use of the Gerson therapy in cancer patients has been reported in a peer-reviewed scientific journal, no level of evidence analysis is possible for this approach. The data that are available are not sufficient to warrant claims that the Gerson therapy is effective as an adjuvant to other cancer therapies or as a cure. At this time, the use of the Gerson therapy in the treatment of cancer patients cannot be recommended outside the context of well-designed clinical trials.

Currently no proper clinical studies of Gerson therapy #gerson #gersontherapy #cancer #notatreatment #notacure Click To Tweet

High-Dose Vitamin C (PDQ®): Health Professional Version.

This cancer information summary provides an overview of the use of high-dose vitamin C (also known as ascorbate or L-ascorbic acid) as a treatment for people with cancer. This summary includes a brief history of early clinical trials of high-dose vitamin C; reviews of laboratory, animal, and human studies; and current clinical trials.

This summary contains the following key information:

High-dose vitamin C may improve #qualityoflife in #cancer #notatreatment #notacure #vitaminC #ascorbicacid 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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What Leesa is reading now:

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!

Watch the trailer here:

Buy the book here:

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



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