Green tea and vitamin E enhance exercise benefits in older men and women
Tuesday, September 17, 2013. In an article published this year in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition, Israeli researchers report that drinking green tea and supplementing with vitamin E was associated with a reduction in waist circumference and fasting glucose levels among older adults who participated in a twelve-week exercise program. Those who consumed green tea and vitamin E also experienced a reduction in oxidative stress and an increase in catalase, an antioxidant enzyme.
For their study, Baruch Narotzki of Technion-Israel Institute of Technology and colleagues divided 22 men and women between the ages of 61 and 80 years to receive three cups green tea and 400 international units (IU) vitamin E per day or a placebo over the course of an exercise program that involved 30 minutes of moderately intense walking six days per week. Dietary intake, weight, waist circumference, fasting glucose and markers of oxidation status were assessed at the beginning and end of the study.
Although diet remained unchanged, all participants experienced a reduction in weight and fasting insulin levels. Average waist circumference declined from 39.7 inches to 38.15 inches among men who received green tea and vitamin E, and women's waists declined from 37.7 inches to 33.5 inches by the end of the study. The green tea/vitamin E group additionally experienced a decrease in fasting glucose levels from an average 95.4 mg/dL (5.3 mmol/L) to 89.64 mg/dL (4.98 mmol/L), as well as a reduction in insulin resistance. Plasma protein carbonyls (a marker of oxidative stress) were also reduced, which was accompanied by a significant rise in red blood cell catalase activity at the end of the study period (indicating increased antioxidant protection) in the supplemented group.
According to the authors, the combination of green tea and vitamin E may help lower fasting glucose by activation of the sympathetic nervous system. As possible mechanisms for the waist circumference-reducing benefit associated with green tea, they suggest an increase in energy expenditure, and oxidation and mobilization of fat stores.
"This study has shown that green tea and vitamin E are safe and well tolerated in healthy elderly individuals because no adverse events were recorded," they write. "Their consumption combined with enhanced physical activity may lead to cardiovascular benefits, based on the decrease in body circumferences, improved glucose tolerance, and altered oxidation parameters in different body tissues."
The August 2013 issue of the journal Trials reported the outcome of a study conducted by researchers in Naples, Italy, which found a benefit for supplementing with alpha lipoic acid and inositol among postmenopausal women with metabolic syndrome: a cluster of symptoms that increase the risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Postmenopausal women with metabolic syndrome are at greater risk of breast cancer than the rest of the female population.
The trial included 155 women who had three or more of five metabolic syndrome components, and who were at increased risk of breast cancer as determined by family history or history of borderline lesions. Participants were instructed to consume a low calorie diet and were randomized to receive alpha lipoic acid and inositol, or a placebo for six months.
While the low calorie diet slightly improved insulin levels and insulin resistance in the placebo group, a significant decrease in insulin in comparison with values determined at the beginning of the study occurred among 89.3% of women who received alpha lipoic acid and inositol, and a reduction in insulin resistance was observed in 66.7%. A greater percentage of women who received the supplements experienced reductions in triglycerides, waist circumference and waist to hip ratio, as well as a significant increase in high density lipoprotein (HDL), in comparison with the placebo group.
"Inositol combined with alpha lipoic acid can be used as a dietary supplement in insulin-resistant patients in order to increase their insulin sensitiveness," authors Immacolata Capasso and colleagues conclude. "Daily consumption of inositol combined with alpha lipoic acid has a significant bearing on metabolic syndrome. As metabolic syndrome is considered a modifiable risk factor of breast tumorigenesis, further studies are required to assess whether inositol combined with alpha lipoic acid can be administered as a dietary supplement in breast cancer primary prevention."
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