Randomized Clinical Trial Supports Fenugreek Extract’s Low Dose Menopausal Benefits

Menopause and FenugreekAccording to a new study done in India, a standardized extract of Fenugreek may support balancing hormones and improvements in vasomotor effects as well as leg pain in postmenopausal women.

48 post menopausal women with the average age of 54 participated in this 6 week study.  Each participant was randomly assigned to receive 500 mg of Fenugreek or a placebo daily.  Significant improvements in hot flashes (2.9 times reductions), night sweats (4.2 times reductions) and pain in leg muscles and joints (7.2 times reductions) were seen in the group receiving the Fenugreek supplement.   This group reported improved feelings of well-being as two weeks into the study period and further improvements in irritability and vaginal dryness when compared to the placebo group towards the end of the study period.

Hormonal analysis showed women supplementing with the Fenugreek Extract show increases in free testosterone, progesterone and in estradiol which researchers felt occurred because of the conversion of one of Fengreek’s phytonutrients, protodioscin, to DHEA.  DHEA has been established as an important precursor to both estrogens and androgens and during aging decreases. Reductions in DHEA have been associated with decreases in serum testosterone activity and reduced female sexual function.

Further studies are needed.

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Dietary Supplements May Be an Important Weapon for Fighting off Respiratory Conditions including COVID-19

According to a researcher from Oregon State University, supplements that Vitamins and COVID-19contain Vitamin D and Vitamin C in addition to other micronutrients, sometimes in dosages exceeding the Recommended Daily Allowances, are an effective, low cost and safe way of aiding the body’s Immune System in fighting off acute respiratory tract diseases and even COVID-19.  The findings were published in April in the journal Nutrients.  

Specific Vitamins, Minerals and Essential Fatty Acids all have a key job to play in supporting the Immune System.  Vitamins C, D, Zinc and Omega-3 are critical to Immune function.  Although the roles of both Vitamin C and Vitamin D are particularly well know, researchers stress that Vitamin C has multiple roles in many aspects of Immune Health, including the function and growth of Immune Cells as well as Antibody production.  Vitamin D receptors on an Immune Cell affect the function of that Immune Cell.  This means the Vitamin D is essential for influencing how the body responses to infections.

Researchers stressed that unfortunately people in today’s society are not ingesting enough of these nutrients through their food sources which could play havoc with the body’s response to infections.

Researchers urged people to supplement their diet with not only a daily multivitamin but to add a daily dose of Vitamin C and Vitamin D as well.  These nutritional recommendations should come as a complement to the messages public health officials are now issuing about the role of hand washing and vaccinations as a means to prevent the spread of infections.

Acute respiratory tract infections kill over 2.5 million people yearly worldwide. Influenza hospitalizes millions yearly in addition to killing several hundred thousand people worldwide.  Researchers point to the large amounts of data that show good nutrition plays a needed role in Immune System support.  Researchers stressed the importance of stressing this message especially during these times of increased panic and stress.

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Study Recommends Pregnant Women Take Additional Choline During Pandemic

Choline and Fetal Brain DevelopmentAccording to a new study pregnant women who take additional Choline supplements daily may reduce the impact of respiratory infections, even the Corona Virus, on their babies.  Higher Choline levels seem to protect a fetus’s developing brain even if the mother develops a respiratory infection during the early parts of her pregnancy.

Researchers looked at mothers who had gotten a respiratory virus during their pregnancies and analyzed their infant’s behavioral development using Revised Infant Behavior Questionnaires (IBQ-R).  Lower IBQ-R Regulation at age one is associated with problems in social and attention behavior later in childhood.  Results of the research found that the infants of mothers with viral infections during pregnancy who had higher Choline levels showed significantly increased IBQ-R scores in the Regulation dimension and the Attention scale at 3 months of age when compared to the infants of mothers who had viral infections during pregnancy but who had lower Choline levels.

To obtain Choline levels high enough to protect the fetus most often requires dietary supplementation.  Researchers are predicting that COVID-19 will impact fetal brain development in ways similar to other common Corona Respiratory Viruses.  Researchers concluded that supplementing Choline in addition to a Pre-Natal vitamin may help protect the brain of the fetus from the negative impacts of any type of Respiratory Infection.  They stressed the key finding of this study is that “higher prenatal Choline levels are associated with decreased adverse effects on the infant’s development if the mother has a moderately severe respiratory virus infection.”  They went on to say that along with other CDC guidelines on COVID-19’s effect in pregnancy, Phosphatidylcholine or Choline Supplements along with a Prenatal Vitamin “help buffer the fetal brain from the possible detrimental impact of the current pandemic.”

It will take years to access the effects that COVID-19 has on the children the women who experienced this virus while pregnant.

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Resveratrol Supplementation May Lower Average Blood Sugar Level

Resveratrol and Lower Sugar LevelsAccording to a Dutch research group, supplementation with Resveratrol seems to lower the values that measure average blood sugar level.

41 overweight men and women participated in this parallel-group, double-blind clinical study.  For the first 2 weeks, participants were asked to stop eating any foods rich in Resveratrol like Peanuts, Red Wine and Grapes.  20 participants were randomized to receive a 150 mg Resveratrol supplement and 21 participants received a placebo.  The study lasted 6 months.  Blood Pressure and Body Weight were measured as well as a plasma analysis of Resveratrol levels.

No differences were seen between the Resveratrol group and the placebo group in insulin sensitivity.  However, researchers found a significant difference in post intervention HbA1c (glycated hemoglobin) levels between the two groups.  The Resveratrol group showed lower HbA1c levels (35.8 mmol/mol) compared to the placebo group (37.6 mmol/mol).  HbA1c is a marker of long-term glycemic control and reflects the average plasma glucose values of the prior three months.

Resveratrol is a natural polyphenol and has been identified as a promising activator of SIRT1 (Protein Sirtuin 1).  SIRT1 plays an important role in mediating the effects seen in metabolic stress situations like high fat diets and increased obesity.  Hence, compounds known to activate SIRT1 either directly or indirectly may offer protection against metabolic dysfunction and promote a healthier aging process.  Other studies of individuals who were overweight and individuals with Type 2 Diabetes showed participants supplementing with a low dose Resveratrol supplement experienced improvements in muscle mitochondrial oxidative capacity after just a few weeks.

Further studies are needed.

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Curcumin Benefits Mood and Working Memory

Curcumin and Mood-Working MemoryA new study finds that supplementing Curcumin, the phyto-nutrient found in the spice Turmeric, may aid in preventing cognitive decline and dementia as well as improving mood and working memory. 

80 healthy people between the ages of 50 and 80 years of age participated in this 12 week double-blind random controlled trial. Assessments were given at baseline, and at both 4 and 12 weeks of supplementation.    Study outcomes were evaluated based on a combination of biomarker analysis, cognitive performance tests and mood assessments.  These outcome evaluations compared participants taking the Curcumin supplements to the participants taking a placebo.

Some modifiable risk factors for cognitive decline were significantly controlled by the Curcumin supplementation based on prior biomarker analysis including benefits to blood insulin and glucose regulation in pre-diabetics and Type 2 Diabetics as well as inflammation reduction.  These cardiometabolic processes are believed to be present in dementia and cognitive decline.  Also prior trials conducted by the same researchers found a reduction in Cholesterol levels for both LDL Cholesterol and Total Cholesterol with Curcumin supplementation.

Researchers identified Curcumin as a “candidate treatment” to help prevent Cognitive Decline and Dementia.

Further research is planned.

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Cranberries May Enhance Metabolic and Liver Benefits of Weight Loss Diet

According to a new study, supporting a weight loss diet program with a Cranberry supplement may improve insulin, insulin resistance and key liver enzyme levels in people with NAFLD (Non-Alcoholic Fatty Livers Disease).

41 people with NAFLD participated in this randomized controlled trial which lasted 12 weeks.  All participants were placed on the same weight loss diet and 20 of the participants were given a Cranberry Supplement and 21 of the participants were given a placebo.

Both groups experienced improvements in the amount of fat in the liver, steatosis, and in their anthropometic measurements (Visceral adiposity index, hip circumference, waist circumference, body fat, BMI and weight).  No differences between the 2 groups for these measures were recorded.

Both groups also showed decreases in ALT (alanine aminotransferase) which is a key liver enzyme, however, the Cranberry group showed significantly greater reductions in ALT in comparison to the placebo group.

Both groups showed improvements in HOMA-IR which is a measure of insulin resistance but the group receiving the Cranberry supplement experienced significantly larger improvements when compared to the group receiving the placebo.

Anthropometic measurements were improved in both groups with no significant differences seen between the two groups.

NAFLD is the most predominant liver abnormality found in the Western world and parallels the other health epidemics we are experiencing today like metabolic syndrome, obesity and diabetes.  NAFLD is often disabling and could lead to cirrhosis of the liver.  Fatty Liver Disease currently costs the US health care system over $32 Billion yearly.

Cranberries provide a far-reaching source of phyto nutrients, namely polyphenols and proanthocyanidins.  These phytonutrients have been shown in many studies to be able to fight off infections, in particular urinary tract infections.  The Cranberry extract, according to studies helps to prevent bacteria (E.Coli) from adhering to uroepithelial cells within the urinary tract.  Other polyphenols and tannins found in the Cranberry extract have been shown to have antioxidant potential also.

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Probiotics Boost Athletes’ Immune System Defenses

Probiotics and Immune Function in AthletesA recent study found taking a daily multi species probiotic could help boost the immune systems of athletes in training as well as reduce their risk of URTI (upper respiratory tract infections). 

39 athletes participated in this study which lasted 12 weeks.  After the study period, it was found that the placebo group had an 11% lower post-exercise level of the amino acid L-Tryptophan compared to before the study began.  L-Tryptophan plays a role in controlling immune responses.  The group of participants supplementing with the multi species probiotic supplement showed their after exercise levels of L-Tryptophan remained unchanged.

The group of participants taking the placebo was also 2.2 times more likely to experience one or more upper respiratory tract infections when compared to the group supplementing with the probiotic supplement.  No benefit in athletic performance was seen in those supplementing with the probiotic.

Many studies have shown prolonged intense physical exercise is associated with the depression of immune function in athletes.  Moderate exercise, on the other hand has been associated with a beneficial influence on immune function.  A heavy training and competition schedule can lead to an increased risk of URTI’s and immune function impairment caused by an altered immune function.  It is believed that during major competitions which last from 2-3 weeks, approximately 7% of athletes have a least one episode of illness have of those being respiratory in nature.

Further studies are needed.

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Vitamin D May Slash Diabetes Risk

Vitamin D and Diabetes RisksA 13% reduction in the risk of developing Type-2 Diabetes was seen in individuals who took in more than 500 IU of Vitamin D daily according to data published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition.  Additionally people who had the highest blood levels of Vitamin D (measured as greater than 25 ng/ml) had a 43% lower risk of developing Type-2 Diabetes when compared with individuals with the lowest Vitamin D blood levels (measured as less than 14 ng/ml).

A meta-analysis of 11 randomized controlled studies and 8 observational cohort studies were used to support these findings.

Vitamin D refers to 2 biologically inactive precursors-D2 (ergocalciferol) and D3 (cholecalciferol).  D2 and D3 precursors are processed in the liver and kidneys into 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25(OH)D) which represents the non-active “storage” form and 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D (1,25(OH)2D) which is the biologically active form and is tightly controlled by the body.

Deficiencies in Vitamin D have been linked to the impairment of insulin secretions in both humans and animals and have been linked to insulin resistance in otherwise healthy glucose-tolerant subjects.

The World Health Organization says over 220 million people worldwide are affected by Diabetes with the consequences of high blood sugar killing over 3 million people annually.  The World Health Organization estimates that the death rate from Diabetes will double before 2030.

Vitamin D deficiency is also believed to increase and worsen Osteopenia, Osteoporosis, Bone Fractures, Muscle Weakness, Autoimmune Diseases, Cardiovascular Disease, Infectious Diseases and some types of Cancer.

Further studies including high quality observational and RCTs are needed.

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Passion Flower May Boost Sleep Quality

Passion Flower and Sleep QualityA new study found drinking a cup of Passion Flower tea could boost sleep quality by around 5%.  

41 healthy volunteers between the ages of 18 and 35 participated in this study.  The participants were required to answer questions concerning their sleep patterns and their health.  They were also asked to keep a sleep dairy during the study period.  Participants received either Passion Flower teabags containing 2 grams of dried Passiflora incarnate or Parsley teabags containing 2 grams of dried Petroselinum crispum.  All participants were given each treatment for one week, consuming one cup of either Passion Flower or Parsley tea.  All of the volunteers also were required to finish an anxiety inventory survey on the seventh day and 10 participants underwent overnight Polysomnography testing (PSG), a diagnostic test used to record biophysiological changes that occur during sleep on the last night of each treatment.

Sleep quality showed a significantly better rating (5%) with the Passion Flower when compared to the placebo.  No significant changes were seen in the PSG parameters.

Approximately one-third of the worldwide population suffers from some degree of Insomnia.  The use of herbal remedies to treat Insomnia is on the rise.  Passion Flower is a traditional folk anti-anxiety agent and sedative and is often used to treat Insomnia and Anxiety.

Further studies should be conducted with individuals clinically diagnosed as Primary Insomnia Patients.

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Probiotic Bifidobacterium Lactis Shows Immune Support for Elderly People

Probiotics and Immunity in the ElderlyImprovements in the activity of white blood cells in elderly adults, a group of individuals with a higher chance of infections, may occur with daily supplementation of the Probiotic strain containing Bifidobacterium Lactis.

37 healthy older adults participated in this double-blinded placebo-controlled randomized cross-over study.  Participants were randomly assigned to receive a Prebiotic (GOS), a Probiotic containing Bifidobacterium Lactis, a combination of a prebiotic (GOS) and probiotic containing Bifidobacterium Lactis or a placebo.  The supplements were taken for 21 days with a 28 day wash-out period.  Participants supplementing with the Probiotic containing the Bifidobacterium Lactis strain showed higher phagocytic activity of granulocytes and monocytes when compared to the group supplementing with the placebo.  Phagocytosis is the process in which immune cells basically eat bacteria or infected cells and is one of the ways that help the body resist infections.  This study showed that the Probiotic strain Bifidobacterium Lactis may help elderly individuals increase the activity of these phagocytic cells.

Researchers concluded that supplementing with the Bifidobacterium Lactis strain of friendly bacteria may provide long term benefits to the health of elderly individuals by not aiding to the inflammation-associated metabolic disorders.  Additionally they believe that this strain of friendly bacteria enhances the innate immune defense against infections.

Larger studies are needed to confirm these findings.

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