Calcium and Vitamin D Boost Body Fat Loss

If you, like millions of other people, recently just started a new diet for your New Year’s Resolution, you may be in luck. A recent study shows adding calcium and vitamin D supplements to a calorie-restricted diet may boost the loss of body fat more than the diet alone.

Losing Body Fat

The Study

Chinese researchers from the Shanghai Institute of Health Sciences in China tested 52 obese or overweight adults. All participants were asked to follow an calorie-restricted diet (-500 kcal/daily), but half were randomly selected to take a Calcium and Vitamin D supplement, and the other half were given placebos.

The calcium and vitamin D group achieved 55.6% augmentation of fat mass loss compared with the control, despite the face that there was no significant difference in body weight change between groups,” researchers noted in the Nutrition Journal.

About a quarter of the US adult population is obese, and even more are considered overweight. Over 300,000,000 adults are considered obese worldwide, according to statistics from the WHO and the International Obesity Task Force.

Berry-Rich Diet Lowers Risk of Heart Attack by 32%

By Olivia Mungal

The Study

According to A study by the Harvard School of Public Health , women who ate high amounts of compounds high in anthocyanins were at a 32% lower risk of heart attack. The study, involving 93,600 women ages 25 to 42, answered questions about their diet every four years for an overarching period of 18 years. During this time, 405 of these subjects suffered a heart attack.

Acai

Anthrocyanins have also been shown to reduce risk of cancer by as much as 50% in mice, also reducing inflammation and sometimes even inhibiting or slowing tumor growth. The American Heart Association (AHA) suggests eating a variety of foods rich in nutrients and anthrocyanins. Eating a well-balanced diet that includes vegetables, fruits, and whole grains can also help improve heart health. To reduce the risk of cardiovascular problems, Dr. Andrew Freeman of the National Jewish Health Center recommends eating as much of a plant-based diet as possible.

This study was cofounded by the National Institutes of Health and the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council of the United Kingdom.

What are Anthocyanins?

Anthocyanins are a pigment which give fruits and veggies their naturally vibrant colors. Anthocyanins can also help prevent plaque buildup in blood vessels, helping reduce the risk of heart disease. These compounds have high levels of antioxidants, and exceptionally high Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity( ORAC) levels.

Good Sources of Anthocyanins

Acai
Blueberries
Rasberries
Blackberries
Huckleberries
Grapes

Link Between C-reactive Proteins and Depression Found

By Olivia Mungal

Researchers at Copenhagen University Hospital and Herlev Hospital found evidence that people who have higher levels of C-reactive protein –an precursor to inflammation- have a higher risk of depression.

What are C-Reactive Proteins?

Produced by the liver, C-reactive proteins are present in the blood stream and rise when the body is experiencing inflammation. C-reactive proteins bind to phosphocholine, a molecule released by dead or damaged cells. A C-reactive protein (CRP) level above 10 miligrams per liter of blood may be a sign of an inflammatory disease such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, arthritis or other types of infection.

The Study:

The study, published in the Archives of General Psychiatry, included 73,131 subjects from Denmark between the ages of 20 and 100. Subjects were given 2-single item self-reports to ascertain their medical history and current researchers found the higher the C-reactive protein levels, the higher the odds of also being prescribed antidepressants, abusing antidepressants, or being hospitalized because of depression.

Depression

Image Courtesy of http://www.yalescientific.org/

Scientists noted that only a correlation was identified- not a cause and effect situation- and that more research must be done to explain this association.

However, past research also suggests a potential link between depression and inflammation. Researchers at Michigan State University found that levels of a brain chemical called quinolinic acid, which is a byproduct caused by inflammation, are elevated in people who are severely depressed or suicidal.

B Vitamins May Reduce Risk of Colorectal Cancer by 20%

By Olivia Mungal

B vitamins May Boost Colon Health

B vitamins are well-known for their energy boosting and mental health properties, but these essential vitamins may play an important role in digestive health, too. According to recent finding published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, increasing your intake of riboflavin (B2) and vitamin B6 show signs of a 20% reduction of colon cancer.

The Study:

Over 88,000 post-menopausal women were sampled for the study, and out of the sample size, 1,003 incident colorectal cancer cases were diagnosed. Results showed that the highest average intake (3.97mg daily) of riboflavin and B2 showed the most promise, and a whopping 20% lower risk of colon cancer than the other subjects taking the lowest amount (1.8mg).

Suboptimal status of vitamin B-6 or riboflavin leads to the accumulation of homocysteine, a metabolite strongly linked with colorectal cancer.” Said researchers.

Although there was no correlation between vitamin B12 levels and colon cancer, the vitamin still offers many cognitive health properties essential for proper brain health and a balanced metabolism.

Riboflavin (Vitamin B2)

Riboflavin is a micro-nutrient required for maintaining health in humans and animals. Responsible for metabolizing fats, keytones, carbohydrates and proteins, it plays a key role in energy metabolism of the body and can only be found in dairy, meats, legumes, mushrooms, almonds, or certain types of leaf vegetables.

Vitamin B6

A part of the B vitamin complex, vitamin B is essential to the metabolism of amino acid reactions in the body. A water soluble vitamin, B6 can only be found in foods like meats, milk, whole grain pasta, nuts and bananas. Cooking or drying foods with B6 can make them lose as much as 70% of their vitamin content.

Astaxanthin: The Ultimate Antioxidant

By Olivia Mungal

What is Astaxanthin?

To date, scientists have discovered over 700 carotenoids. In nature, carotenoids are what give flowers, fruits, vegetables, and even animals their vibrant colors. Beta-carotene, for example, gives carrots their bright orange color. Astaxanthin is not only a rich antioxidant, but a deep red pigment- the same one found in crabs and lobsters.

Astaxanthin

Astaxanthin is naturally created by microalgae, called the Haematoccous pluvialis, and are harvested by fish, krill oil, lobsters, crab, crawfish, and salmon who eat this type of microalgae. Although the substance is naturally occurring, it is not easily obtainable. Luckily, Scientists and manufacturers have found ways to harvest this compound and dramatically enhance its potency to use in supplements.

Astaxanthin Health Benefits

Asaxanthin is a powerful antioxidant known for “singlet oxygen quenching”, the process that neutralizes a less-stable form of oxygen, which causes oxidative damage to our cells. Astaxanthin has been shown to be 550 times more potent than vitamin E at neutralizing singlet oxygen in order to reverse the damaging effects of ultraviolet (UV) radiation on the skin. Scientists have also found it to be 54 times more potent than beta-carotene, making astaxanthin essential for eye health.

Amazingly, Astaxanthin is one of the few compounds that are able to cross through the blood-brain barrier as well as the blood-retinal barrier, offering major benefits to eye health. Unlike other antioxidants like beta carotene and lycopene, astaxanthin is able to protect the brain, central nervous system and eyes from free radicals and reduces inflammation.

There is evidence that astaxanthin can help improve cholesterol profiles by decreasing low density lipoprotein (LDL, also known as “bad” cholesterol) and triglycerides, and by increasing high density lipoprotein (HDL,  or “good” cholesterol), as well as lower blood pressure, making it revolutionary for heart health, as well.

Astaxanthin as an antioxidant

Green Tea: Potent Antioxidant and Antimicrobial

By Olivia Mungal

Authors of a recent study suggest that leafy herbal tea (LHT) extracts may soon be used as a functional ingredient to kill cariogenic bacteria in the mouth or as a natural antimicrobial preservative in foods.

Green Tea

The LHT extracts used in the study consisted of 11 popular teas brewed from leafy herbs: green, black, rooibos, rosemary, lemongrass, mulberry leaf, bamboo leaf, lotus leaf, peppermint, persimmon leaf, and maté.

Scientist Oh Jungmin and colleages from Sungkyunkwan University’s food science and biotechnology department published their study in the October 2012 issue of Food Control. In the study, researchers extracted samples of each LHT using 80C water and 20C ethanol.

Green Tea: Highest Antioxidant Activity

For the study, scientists defined antioxidant activity as the inhibition of oxidation of lipids, proteins, DNA, or other molecules that block the propagation step in oxidative chain reactions. Researchers measured for levels of Total Phenolic Content (TPC), Total Flavonoid Content (TFC), two extremely effective antioxidant compounds that prevent the release of free radicals.

Green Tea Antioxidant

The green tea ethanol extract showed the highest antioxidant activity in all trials, except the ferrous ion-chelating test.

Green Tea: Highest Antimicrobial Activity

Jungmin and his team also examined the antimicrobial effects of the 11 tea extracts on three common foodborne pathogens- Listeria monocytogenes (Listeria), Shigella flexneri (Dysentery) and Salmonella eterica (Salmonella). The tea extracts were also tested against two oral pathogens, Steptococcus mutans and Streptoccoccus sobrimus, the two leading causes of tooth decay.

Among the tested LHTs, green tea ethanol extract had potent antimicrobial activity against all five pathogens,” wrote Jungmin.

Antioxidant-Rich Diet Reduces Heart Attack Risk in Women

In America, an estimated 42 million women suffer from some form of cardiovascular disease, and these afflictions are the leading cause of fatalities. However, a new study conducted in Sweden has found that a diet rich in antioxidants, found mainly in fruits, vegetables and dietary supplements, can significantly reduce the risk of heart attack in women.

The study drew on data from the population-based Swedish Mammography Cohort, and followed a total of 32,561 Swedish women aged 49-83 over a period of ten years, from September 1997 through December 2007. All of these women were free of cardiovascular disease at the outset of the study, and all completed a food-frequency questionnaire in which they were asked how often, on average, they consumed various types of food and beverage.

The investigators calculated estimates of total antioxidant capacity from a database that measures the oxygen radical absorption capacity (ORAC) of the most common foods. The women were then subcategorized into five groups, based on the total antioxidant capacity of their diet.

Over the course of the ten-year study, 1,114 women suffered a myocardial infarction, or heart attack. When this data was correlated with the dietary subcategories, it was discovered that women in the group with the highest total antioxidant capacity had a 20 percent lower risk of heart attack.

“Our study was the first to look at the effect of all dietary antioxidants in relation to myocardial infarction,” says lead investigator Alicja Wolk. “Total antioxidant capacity measures in a single value all antioxidants present in diet and the synergistic effects between them.”

These results are encouraging for all women who may be at risk for cardiovascular complications. In addition to a generally healthy lifestyle involving balanced diet, remaining active and smoke-free, and getting regular check-ups, there is now strong evidence to suggest that a high-ORAC diet can contribute significantly to heart health.

Resveratrol May Reduce Risk of Cancer by 50%

By Olivia Mungal

Resveratrol: May Lower Risk of Cancer By 50%

Resveratrol, also known as red wine extract, has long been recognized as a potent antioxidant, but perhaps scientists underestimated this naturally sourced compound. A recent study shows daily consumption of Resveratrol could cut the rate of certain types of cancers in half.

Red Wine Extract

Resveratrol as an Antioxidant

The research presented at the Resveratrol 2012 Conference in Leicester, UK, revealed that a daily serving of resveratrol equivalent to two glasses of red wine can lower the risk of bowel tumors in lab mice by 50%. Scientists are now preparing to do studies on humans to see if they can utilize the compound in cancer research and prevention.

We want to see how resveratrol might work to prevent cancer in humans. Having shown in our lab experiments that it can reduce tumor development, we are now concentrating on identifying the mechanisms of how resveratrol works in human cells,” says Professor Karen Brown, of the University of Leicester.

Grapes and red wine extract

Resveratrol is a natural compound found in grape skins

Resveratrol is a natural compound found in grape skins. Red wine, which gets its flavor and dark red color from being fermented with the grape skins, has a higher resveratrol content than white wines due to longer exposure to the grape skins.

The History of Resveratrol

Resveratrol is a relatively new discovery, and its potential still remains relatively untapped. In 1992, Dr. Serge Renaud of Bourdeaux University coined the term “The French Paradox” to explain the coincidence of the French diet, full of high fats and moderate wine consumption, and a relatively low incidence of heart disease and obesity.

Upon more research, Dr. Renaud and his colleagues isolated the resveratrol compound and began to study it closely, finding evidence for a multitude of health benefits including  antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Recent studies have even examined Resveratrol’s role in preventing chronic diseases like diabetes and Alzheimer’s. However, this latest study has attracted the attention of cancer researchers and pharmaceutical companies worldwide.

The CDC Warns Of an Early Flu Season

By Olivia Mungal

Flu Season Comes Early In 2012

It’s that time of the year again. The time of year when it seems everyone is hacking, wheezing and sneezing uncontrollably.  The Center for Disease Control (CDC) warns that they expect flu season, which normally peaks around February, to start unpleasantly early this winter.

We’re significantly busier than last November and December,” said Dr. Jeff Hopkins of Northside Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine.

Like many health practitioners, Dr. Hopkins estimates his patient load has risen between 15 percent and 20 percent over the same time a year ago. Tom Skinner, a CDC spokesman reports that this is the earliest the CDC has seen such levels of flu activity in over a decade with exceptions to 2009 during the rise of the h1N1 pandemic, better known as the swine flu.

CDC Warns Of an Early Flu Season

Flu Impact, December 2012

Flu Season: Who’s most at risk?

The people at the most risk for experiencing serious complications from the flu are infants over 6+ months, the elderly, young children, pregnant women and others with underlying health conditions that may weaken the immune system. People with diabetes, severe asthma, or cerebral palsy are also at extreme risk for experiencing extremely serious complications from influenza.

Prevention is the Best Way to Avoid the Flu

The flu vaccine only protects against a few strains of the influenza virus that pharmaceutical companies expect to take hold later in the year, but it’s important to remember that those strains may not be the specific virus you are exposed to this season. Keeping your immune system strong during flu season is vital.

Here are some of our expert tips to help you stay flu-free this holiday season:

Sneeze Spray

The average sneeze sends a cloud of germs out of the body at a speed of 80mi per hour

  • Fighting of damage with antioxidants can make you less susceptible to the cold or flu. Remember to eat foods and take supplements rich in antioxidants. Beta-carotene is one of the richest sources of nutritional antioxidants, but Cranberry, Blueberry, Grape, and Raspberry extract are also potent sources for ORAC-rich antioxidants
  • Vitamin E is one of the most powerful fat-soluble antioxidants in the body. In turn, vitamin E protects cell membranes from free radicals, making it essential for staving off bacterial or viral infections. Safflower oil is very rich in vitamin E. The combination of vitamins C and E helps form the antioxidant network, allowing the vitamins to engage (synergistically) in each others’ regeneration from the spent state back to the active antioxidant state so that they can continue neutralizing free radicals.
  • If you are one of the unlucky victims of the flu this season, remember to take vitamin C daily. Studies show that taking vitamin C while you are sick can help your immune system recover twice as quickly as letting the illness run its course.

Pill Coatings Interfere With Absorption

By Olivia Mungal

Pill coatings, also known as enteric coated pills, have been long believed to protect the stomach, but there is little evidence the coating protects the stomach better than a non-coated pill. Authors of a new study by the University of Pennsylvania found most, if not all of assumed drug resistance cases may actually be caused by pill coatings.

Pill Coatings

For over a decade, cardiologists and drug researchers have claimed that anywhere from 5% to 40%  of the population is “aspirin resistant”.  In the study, researchers did not find a single case of true aspirin resistance out of the 400 healthy people who participated in the study. Instead, they found the coating on aspirin interfered with the way that the drug entered the body, making it appear in tests that the drug was not working at all.

These studies question the value of coated, low-dose aspirin. This product adds cost to treatment, without any clear benefit.” said Dr. Garret FitzGerald, chairman of pharmacology at the University of Pennsylvania.

Although the study was partially financed by the world’s largest aspirin manufacturer, Bayer, this study leaves many doctors and pharmacologists wondering if enteric coating could be blocking or reducing absorption for other pharmaceuticals and supplements. Bayer claimed there was no difference between the effectiveness of a coated or uncoated aspirin, but Dr. FitzGerald argued there was no reason patients should use anything other than uncoated pills. Taking supplements without binders or coatings may make all the difference.

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