Omega-3 May Shorten Hospital Stay in Heart Surgery Patients

Strong Hearth ChalkboardA new review has found that a reduction in the time spent in the hospital and a reduction in the risk of complications was seen in open heart surgery patients supplementing Omega-3 Essential Fatty Acids daily.

19 randomized, controlled trials were reviewed.  Reductions of 1.4 days in the length of time spent in the hospital as well as a 22% reduction in the incidence of Post-Operative Atrial Fibrillation (POAF) were seen.  Dosages of 2 grams/day were best for reducing arrhythmias.  Researchers did acknowledge that the shorter recovery time could be due to the reduction in POAF.  However the researchers strongly felt the findings of this meta-analysis show promise for using Omega-3 Essential Fatty Acids as a perioperative therapy (therapy given before, during and after a surgical procedure).

Researchers concluded that it would make sense for patients exposed to extra-corporeal circulation (circulation of the blood outside the body, as through a heart lung machine) to experience stronger systemic inflammatory response syndrome since they come into contact with blood with non-endothelial surfaces.  The Omega-3 Essential Fatty Acids showed a positive impact on systemic inflammation reduction, the reductions seen in POAF, the shorter lengths of hospitals stays as well as other unknown improvements in clinical outcomes.

Larger scale, well designed, randomized, controlled trials are needed.




Curcumin Touted For Metabolic Benefits in People with Fatty Liver Disease

LiverA new study suggests daily supplementation with Curcumin (Turmeric) might improve Body Mass Index (BMI), metabolic status and liver biomarkers in people with Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD).

87 people with grades 1-3 NAFLD (Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease) participated in this randomized controlled clinical study.  The study lasted 8 weeks.  Participants were assigned randomly to receive either a 1,000 mg daily dosage (divided into 2 doses) of Curcumin or a placebo.  Researchers found a statistically significant reduction in BMI, .99 points in the group supplementing with Curcumin compared to .15 points in the group taking the placebo.  Additionally waist circumference decreased by 1.74 for those taking the Curcumin compared to a reduction of .23 in the group supplementing with the placebo.  Also, Ultrasonographic findings were improved in 75% of the participants in the Curcumin group compared to an improvement in 4.5% of the placebo group.  Curcumin was also associated with a reduction in LDL cholesterol, total cholesterol, triglycerides, non-high density lipoprotein cholesterol and uric acid levels.

NAFLD is the most common type of chronic liver disorders and affects approximately 30% of the population and between 60 – 70% of individuals who have diabetes or who are obese.

Further studies are needed.


Vitamin D and Calcium May Reduce Onset of Early Menopause

Calcium Vitamin D Early MenopauseA new study shows a reduction in the risk of early menopause when high doses of dietary Vitamin D and Calcium are taken.  Early menopause is associated with higher risks for Osteoporosis, Early Cognitive Decline, Cardiovascular Disease and other health issues.

Over 116,000 female US registered nurses participated in this study.  Individuals between the ages of 25 and 42 in 1989 participated in this study and responded to a questionnaire.  Intakes of Vitamin D and Calcium from both supplements and food were measured every four years and medical conditions and behaviors were measured every two years. Over 2000 women reported having natural menopause before 45 years of age.  Incidents of possible confounding factors were accounted for when evaluating the relationship between the intake of Calcium and Vitamin D and incidents of early menopause.

A 17% lower risk of early menopause was seen in the women who had the highest intake of Vitamin D when compared with the women who had the lowest intake of Vitamin D.  A “borderline significantly lower risk” of early menopause was seen in the women with the highest intake of Calcium when compared to the women with the lowest intake of Calcium.

Further studies are now being undertaken.



Nestle`-Backed Study Links Probiotic Strain and Depression

gut health probioticsA new study backed by Nestle` shows a specific strain of a probiotic, Bifidobacterium longum, helped relieve symptoms of depression as well as alleviating gastrointestinal upsets.

Over 40 adults who had experienced Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) in addition to mild to moderate amounts of depression or anxiety participated in this study.   Half the group took a dose of Bifidobacterium longum (B. longum) daily and the other half of the group took a placebo.  After six weeks researchers found 64% of the patients taking the probiotic experienced reductions in depression scores when compared to 32% of the participants taking the placebo.  Additionally functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI), showed depression score improvements were associated with changes in multiple areas in the brain involved with mood control.  No changes were seen in anxiety scores however improvements in quality of life were seen in the group supplementing with the probiotic.

Although the results of this study are promising, larger scale trials are needed.



Chondroitin Sulfate as Good as Widely Used Anti-Inflammatory Drug for Knee Osteoarthritis

Chondroitin and Knee OsteoarthritisNew research shows a high quality Chondroitin Sulfate supplements may be as effective as a very commonly prescribed non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication for treating knee osteoarthritis.

Over 600 individuals with symptomatic knee osteoarthritis were randomly assigned to receive one of three different daily treatments.  Participants were then monitored for six months.  One group was given an 800 mg tablet of Chondroitin Sulfate and a 200 g tablet of a fake version of the anti-inflammatory drug Celebrex.  Group two was given a fake tablet of Chondroitin Sulfate and one Celebrex.  The final group was given a fake tablet of Chondroitin Sulfate and a fake tablet of Celebrex.  Participants were then assessed using a validated scoring system to gauge the overall acceptability of the assigned protocol, joint function and pain levels at 30 days, 91 days and 182 days.

Pain reductions were significantly greater after six months and joint function showed improvements in three months in groups receiving either the Chondroitin Sulfate or the Celebrex.  Although there were no differences in the overall effectiveness of either active treatment (both the Celebrex and the Chondroitin Sulfate treatments were highly rated by participants) joint function improved more quickly in participants taking the Celebrex.

Researchers concluded a higher quality Chondroitin Sulfate should be the first treatment considered for this condition due to the known risks for continued usage of Celebrex and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).


Omega-3 Could Aid Alzheimer’s Prevention

Omega-3 and Alzheimer's DiseaseNew research finds individuals with high Omega-3 intakes have an increase in blood flow in the brain suggesting a link might exist between Omega-3 and Alzheimer’s Disease.

Over 160 randomly selected people participated in this trial.  These participants were taken from clinics and their brain function was studied using single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT).  SPECT measures blood perfusion in the brain.  128 regions of the brain were used to collect data on the correlation between Omega-3 blood levels as well as blood flow in the brain.  Resting-state scans were performed while participants were sitting in a dimly lit room with ambient noise and with their eyes open.  For on-task scans participants completed Continuous Performance Tests (CPTs) while the scans were performed.

Significant statistical relationships were found between EPA and DHA (Omega-3 Essential Fatty Acids)  levels in the blood and cerebral perfusion in various regions of the brain: areas known for memory encoding and retrieval (parahippocampal gyrus), areas for episodic memory, visuospatial processing, and aspects of consciousness (the right preuneus), and areas associated with bodily locomotion and posture (vermis subregion).

Researchers concluded that Omega-3 Essential Fatty Acids (EPA and DHA) may improve brain physiology which in turn leads to better cognitive reserves.


Vitamins May Have Larger Role in Halting Brain Decline

Vitamin B is for BrainA new review claims folate and related B Vitamins play a role in slowing down brain function decline as well as playing a role in age-related depression.  These findings look at certain B Vitamins as being equally as successful in supporting the reduction in the risk of mental and cognitive disorders which occur with aging, as nutrients like Omega-3 Essential Fatty acids as well as polyphenols like Resveratrol.  Researchers believe these B Vitamins have the ability to improve the quality of life for the elderly.

Researchers concluded that folate and Vitamin B12 play essential roles in the long term management of dementia and age-related depression.  Inconsistencies of vitamin experiments coming from uncertain study design and methodology were identified by the research team.  B Vitamins and their role in supporting a healthier cognitive function in the aging process received more interest than B Vitamins and their role in age-related depression.

Over 46 million people worldwide experience some form of dementia and it is believed that this number will increase by over 65% by the year 2026.  Although the role of nutrients in supporting brain health is often underestimated nutrients are never fully discounted as being an effective means to aid in improving cognition in ageing.

Researchers are recommending that future studies use some form of imaging technology to confirm effective nutritional interventions.