Could Glutamine Protect Against Progression of Fatty Liver Disease?

Glutamine and Fatty Liver DiseaseA recent study published in the Journal of Nutrition supports oral supplementation with L-Glutamine to prevent the progression of non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH).  NASH is the second state of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) and is distinguished by changes due to inflammation that can progress the disease to fibrosis, cirrhosis and liver cancer.

Mice were fed either a Western Style Diet (WSD) which consisted of 60 energy % (E%) from carbohydrates 25 E% from fat and 15 E% from protein or a Control Diet which consisted of 69% of energy (E%) from carbohydrates, 12 E% from fat and 19 E% from protein. Blood and liver tissues were analyzed after eight weeks for some of the mice from both groups.  The rest of the mice in both the WSD group and the control group were further divided.   Some of the mice from both of the original groups received L-Glutamine supplementation at a dose of 2,100 mg per kilogram of body weight.  For an additional 5 weeks the mice were fed as they had been before based on their original grouping (WSD or Control).  Additional blood tests for liver enzymes, glucose tolerance, markers of lipid peroxidation and inflammation and triglycerides were completed.  Liver tissue analysis was examined to assess the progression of liver disease.

After the 8 week mark, mice on the WSD developed NASH with inflammation where the mice fed the WSD and L-Glutamine had markers of inflammation similar to the control group.  L-Glutamine benefits seem to be associated with lower amounts of lipid peroxidation in the liver.

An overconsumption of certain carbohydrates (Fructose) and certain fats in combination with a lack of exercise are considered to contribute to the frequency of this disease.

Future studies are needed to determine if the benefits of oral L-Glutamine extend to humans with NAFLD.




Study Finds Link Between Gut Microbiota, Sleep Quality and Cognitive Flexibility

Sleep and ProbioticsAccording to a new study, poor sleep quality was linked with composition of the gut microbiome and cognitive flexibility in healthy older adults.  Low amounts of bacteria in the phyla Verrucomicrobia and Lentisphaerae, were associated with poor sleep quality as well as performance on specific cognitive tests.

Stool samples were provided by study participants.  Data on sleep quality using the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index were also given by participants.  Cognitive flexibility was assessed through the completion of tests like the Stroop Color Word Test.  Results showed that when participants experienced better sleep both higher proportions of Verrucomicrobia and Lentisphaerae were present and improvements were seen in better cognitive flexibility.

The bidirectional interaction between the central nervous system and the gastrointestinal tract which is called the gut-brain axis has been increasingly gaining attention from both consumers as well as scientists.  Research links the microflora found in the digestive system to many markers of health including reduced anxiety levels, depression and overall general mood.  Scientific evidence shows partial sleep deprivation may change the gut microbiota.  Also seen in scientific literature is dysbiosis, a microbial imbalance, caused by shift work and jet lag which may actually promote glucose intolerance and obesity.

A 2014 survey by Datamonitor Consumer ranked insomnia as the fourth most relevant health issue experienced by Americans by percentage after stress, tiredness and fatigue, and allergies.  Middle aged women were the most worried about insomnia.



Probiotics Backed for Weight Loss Benefits

Weight Loss and ProbioticsA new meta analysis and review shows Probiotic supplementation containing various strains of Lactobacillus have been shown to cause a small but statistically significant weight loss in overweight and obese individuals.

15 studies of Probiotic supplementation studies were reviewed.  Larger reductions in body weight, BMI (body mass index) and fat percentages were seen in the supplementation group when compared to the participants receiving a placebo.  Even short term supplementation with probiotics (Less than 12 weeks) show small reductions in fat percentage, BMI and body weight.

The studies included in the review lasted between 3 and 12 weeks.  All the studies but three used Lactobacillus.  More than one of the studies reviewed were not registered and were considered a higher risk of bias.

Other reviews done in the past have found similar conclusions on BMI and body weight reductions; however in some of those studies reviewed participants also received Prebiotics in addition to Probiotics.

Further long term studies are needed to examine the effects Probiotic supplements may have on different measures of body weight.


Lack of Vitamin D Linked to Diabetes-Related Autoimmunity

Vitamin D and DiabetesNew research has found that making sure children have adequate Vitamin D levels throughout childhood could be important in lowering the risk of islet autoimmunity (IA) in children with a genetic risk for Type 1 Diabetes.  IA is implicated in the progression and development of Type 1 Diabetes.

Data from over 350 children who developed islet autoimmunity was compared with data from over 1,000 children who did not have this disorder.  Researchers found that in “children with a genetic variant in the Vitamin D receptor gene”, children who developed islet autoimmunity had lower Vitamin D levels in both childhood and infancy when compared to children that did not develop IA.  These findings were part of The Environmental Determinants of Diabetes in the Young (TEDDY) study.  This multi national study searched for protective factors and triggers of Type 1 Diabetes.  Over 8,600 children with elevated Type 1 Diabetes risks participated in the full TEDDY study.  Every 3 – 6 months the study participants gave a blood sample.  The study began in infancy.

Type 1 Diabetes is considered to be a chronic autoimmune disease and is now the most common metabolic disorder in children under 10 years of age.  The incidence of Type 1 Diabetes is increasing by 3% – 5% annually.

Researchers are looking at future studies to establish a cause and effect between Vitamin D supplementation and its ability to aid in preventing Type 1 Diabetes.



Could Curcumin Benefit Gut Diversity and Prevent Post-Menopausal Weight Gain?

Curcumin and Weight GainAccording to a new study on rats, Curcumin may aid in reversing decreases in the diversity of gut bacteria after an ovariectomy (OVX) which may prevent weight gain often seen in post-menopausal women.

The study lasted 12 weeks.  Rats were split into three groups: rats having undergone an ovariectomy and fed distilled water (OVX); a control group of rats who underwent a sham operation (SHAM); rats having undergone an ovariectomy and given Curcumin (CUR).  The OVX group showed reduced gut bacterial diversity when compared with the SHAM group.  The CUR group however, displayed significantly different amounts of seven bacterial strains when compared with the OVX group.  Rats in the OVX group also showed a significant weight gain when compared to the control group (SHAM).  The CUR Group however, did not experience this weight gain.  No estrogenic effects were seen in the group supplementing with the Curcumin (CUR) since it did not prevent reductions in serum estradiol levels or uterine weight loss.

OVX rats showed a higher ratio of phyla Firmicutes and Bacteroidetes in the gut when compared with the control group.  These specific bacterial strains have been observed to lead to overweight rats and have also been associated with obesity in humans.  An additional benefit of Curcumin supplementation was a reduction in the bacteria Anaerotruncus, which has been associated with age-related macular degeneration and pre-natal stress.  Researchers also found Curcumin reduced the amount of Helicobacter pylori or H. pylori, the bacteria responsible for certain stomach ulcers.

Curcumin is the phyto nutrient found in turmeric.  It is a powerful antioxidant and has been show to support cardiovascular health as well as joint health in addition to a host of other promising impactful health promoting mechanisms.



Omega-3 Fish Oil Supplements Linked to Lower CHD Death Risk

Omega-3 and Coronary Heart DiseaseAccording to a new study that emphasizes the protective effects of supplementing the diet with Omega-3 fish oils, a 26% lower risk of dying from Coronary Heart Disease (CHD) was associated with Omega-3 Essential Fatty Acid supplementation.

Over 22,000 individuals between the ages of 39 and 79 participated in this study that stretched over a 22 year period.  3 separate questionnaires were initially used to assess the use of Omega-3 over this time period.  Next participants with grouped into 3 groups Omega-3 supplement users (SU+n3), non Omega-3 supplement users (SU-n3) and non supplement users (NSU).  Variables like age, smoking, prevalent illnesses, education, dietary intake, social class and body mass index were taking into account for the purpose of statistical analysis.

At the beginning of the study it was found that supplement use was not associated with CHD mortality.  After adjusting for fish consumption, baseline food and supplement intake of Omega-3 Essential Fatty Acids was inversely associated with CHD mortality.  The SU+n3 group or individuals who became SU+n3 during the study had a lower risk of CHD mortality when compared to the NSU group.

Further study is needed.



Study Advises Doctors to Recommend Cranberry Products for Defense Against Repeated UTI’s:

Cranberries and UTISA new meta-analysis has led scientist to conclude Cranberry should be used as the first step for the reduction of recurrent Urinary Tract Infections (UTI’s) and healthcare professionals should be telling their patients about this effective, low risk and low cost way to help prevent the reoccurrence of Urinary Tract Infections.

Data from 28 different studies involving almost 5,000 participants was reviewed for this meta-analysis.  A statistically significant reduction in the risk of recurrent UTI’s overall was seen with Cranberry product supplementation.  Researchers stated recommendations for the duration of treatment and the dosage of Cranberry supplementation would require further study.

Researchers believe that the beneficial properties of Cranberries may be due to their individual polyphenol, proanthocyanidins (PACs) which support the body in its fight to inhibit bacteria from sticking to the walls of the urinary tract.  With the push to reduce the use of antibiotics and antibiotic resistance, researchers and health care practitioners are always looking for alternative therapies to prevent common infections.  It is believed that over 1/3 of women in the U.S. will have a UTI by the time they reach 24.