What's Hot

What's Hot

News flashes are posted here frequently to keep you up-to-date with the latest advances in health and longevity. We have an unparalleled track record of breaking stories about life extension advances.

 

 

 

Sphaeranthus indicus, Mangifera indica increase strength, endurance

February 27 2023. A trial reported on January 27, 2023, in Food & Nutrition Research resulted in improvements in muscle strength and endurance among men who received Sphaeranthus indicus and Mangifera indica (mango) in comparison with a placebo.

Sphaeranthus indicus is a plant that has been used in traditional Indian medicine for many years.  Mangifera indica also grows in India and is a source of the antioxidant compound mangiferin.

The trial included 40 active men aged 18 to 40 years who received a placebo or 650 milligrams per day of a formulation that contained Sphaeranthus indicus flower head and Mangifera indica stem bark extracts for 8 weeks. The men followed a resistance exercise program consisting of four weekly workouts throughout the course of the study. At the beginning of the study and after two, four and eight weeks, strength, endurance, body composition and serum measures of free testosterone, cortisol and other factors were assessed.

Participants who received the supplemental combination experienced significantly greater gains in muscle strength, as indicated by bench press, leg press and handgrip assessments, compared to the beginning of the study and compared with the placebo group. Gains in endurance, as evaluated by cable pull-down repetitions and treadmill time to exhaustion, were also significantly greater at the end of the study compared to results obtained at the beginning as well as compared to those who received a placebo.

While testosterone slightly declined by the end of the study among those who received a placebo, levels significantly increased among participants who received Sphaeranthus indicus and mango. The supplemented group also had significant gains in mid-upper arm circumferences and lean mass, and a reduction in cortisol and fat mass compared with the placebo. 

The authors concluded that the supplement combo significantly increased muscle strength and size and improved endurance in healthy men.

 

—D Dye

 

Pycnogenol®/Centellicum® combo retards atherosclerotic plaque progression

February 24 2023.The September 2023 issue of Panminerva Medica reported findings from a study that revealed a reduction in the progression of intra-arterial plaque among people with atherosclerosis who consumed Pycnogenol® pine bark extract and Centellicum® gotu kola extract.

The study included 40 individuals, among whom 22 received 150 milligrams (mg) Pycnogenol® and 450 mg Centellicum® per day and 18 received no supplementation for six months prior to surgery to remove carotid artery atherosclerotic plaque. Researchers evaluated 40 plaques for markers of plaque progression, including calcium or calcified areas, atheroma (the fatty material that causes plaques), sclerosis (thickening or hardening) or fibrosis, inflammation, angiogenesis (new blood vessel formation), thrombosis (clotting) and other parameters.

Calcium or calcified areas were found in 7 out of 22 plaques obtained from participants who received Pycnogenol® and Centellicum®, while calcium or calcified areas occurred in plaques from all 18 of those from the control group. Atheromatous plaque areas occurred in 8 plaques from the supplemented group compared to 16 of those who did not receive the supplements.

Sclerosis or fibrosis was present in eight plaques obtained from supplemented participants and in all the control group. Inflammation was observed in 7 out of 20 plaques from supplemented patients and in all plaques from the controls. Angiogenesis was observed in 7 out of 20 plaques removed participants who received Pycnogenol® plus Centellicum® and in 11 of 18 plaques from unsupplemented participants. Intraplaque thrombosis occurred in 5 out of 22 plaques from the supplemented group and 12 out of 18 plaques from the control group.

Compared to ultrasound results obtained at the beginning of the study, plaque growth increased by 1.5% in the supplemented group and 4.8% the unsupplemented group.

The authors concluded that the combination of Pycnogenol® and Centellicum® improved plaque parameters assessed in the current study.

 

—D Dye

 

Diet, supplements improve inflammation in NAFLD patients

February 22 2023. A systematic review and meta-analysis reported February 1, 2023, in Advances in Nutrition found that low calorie and energy-restricted diets with or without added supplements, or diets that provide the same calorie values as normal eating patterns with added supplements are the most effective dietary interventions to improve inflammatory profiles in people with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD).

“Recent studies have now recognized that adipose tissue may produce multiple inflammatory cytokines and adipokines that have been implicated in the development of NAFLD,” authors Renate L. Hall and colleagues wrote.

The team reviewed 44 randomized trials that evaluated the effects on inflammation of various diets with or without dietary supplements or drugs among a total of 2,579 participants with NAFLD. Diets included those that were low calorie, soy-containing, low-carbohydrate, or very low energy, and DASH and Mediterranean diets. Supplements included olive oil, L-carnitine, Nigella sativa, trans-resveratrol and more. The diets were evaluated according to whether they were lower in calories or provided the same number of calories (isocaloric) as consumed prior to the interventions.

The meta-analysis concluded that isocaloric diets were more effective to reduce C-reactive protein (CRP, a marker of inflammation) and tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-a, another inflammation marker) when supplements were added in comparison with the diet alone. Low calorie diets were also effective to lower CRP, with or without supplementation.

“Hypocaloric or energy restricted diets . . . with or without supplementation, demonstrated improvements in circulating levels of inflammatory cytokines and adipokines in a NAFLD population,” the authors concluded. “However, weight loss appeared to be the key driver of those effects. Isocaloric or energy-balanced dietary interventions provided improvements to the same inflammatory cytokines and adipokines when coupled with supplementation but, did not elicit the same benefits from intervention with same diet alone.”

 

—D Dye

 

NAFLD improves with alternate day fasting, exercise

February 15 2023. The January 3, 2023, issue of Cell Metabolism reported findings from a study that revealed significant improvements in people with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease who fasted every other day and exercised.

The study included 80 men and women who were assigned to one of the following three-month regimens: five weekly one-hour sessions of moderate intensity aerobic exercise plus a 600-calorie fast day alternated with a day during which as many calories as desired were allowed; alternate day fasting alone; exercise alone; or neither intervention. Indicators of liver health and other factors were evaluated before and after the three-month period.

Participants who practiced alternate day fasting and engaged in exercise experienced an increase in insulin sensitivity and had lower fasting insulin, insulin resistance, intrahepatic triglyceride (liver fat) content, body weight, fat mass, waist circumference and levels of the liver enzyme alanine transaminase, which is elevated in liver disease.

“Alternate-day fasting and exercise interventions can be difficult for people to stick to and in prior studies we have seen significant dropout,” observed senior author Krista A. Varady, PhD, who is a professor of nutrition at the University of Illinois Chicago College of Applied Health Sciences. “It was very interesting to see that in this trial we had very high adherence to the interventions.”

“When we compared the results of our study groups, we saw clearly that the most improved patients were in the group that followed the alternate-day fasting diet and exercised five days a week,” she concluded. “The people who only dieted or only exercised did not see the same improvements, which reinforces the importance of these two relatively inexpensive lifestyle modifications on overall health and on combating chronic diseases like fatty liver disease.”

 

—D Dye

 

Memory mushroom

February 13 2023. Research reported on January 20, 2023, in The Journal of Neurochemistry identified active components responsible for brain benefits associated with Hericium erinaceus, a variety of mushroom also known as lion’s mane, in cultured brain cells.

“Extracts from these so-called ‘lion’s mane’ mushrooms have been used in traditional medicine in Asian countries for centuries, but we wanted to scientifically determine their potential effect on brain cells,” senior author Frédéric A. Meunier, PhD, of the University of Queensland remarked.

Previous research determined that lion’s mane enhanced peripheral nerve regeneration by targeting nerve growth factor. In the current study, the research team evaluated the ability of lion’s mane compounds to promote neurite outgrowth in neurons located in the hippocampal area of the brain, which is involved in memory and learning. (Neurites, which can be axons or dendrites, project from the body of nervous system cells known as neurons to connect them.)

The compounds NDPIH and hericene A were shown to promote axon outgrowth and neurite branching in cultured hippocampal neurons. Mice that were given an extract of lion’s mane or hericene A showed increased levels of neurotrophins (proteins that support neuron development, function and survival) and had better memory. “Laboratory tests measured the neurotrophic effects of compounds isolated from Hericium erinaceus on cultured brain cells, and surprisingly we found that the active compounds promote neuron projections, extending and connecting to other neurons,” Dr Meunier explained. “Using super-resolution microscopy, we found the mushroom extract and its active components largely increase the size of growth cones, which are particularly important for brain cells to sense their environment and establish new connections with other neurons in the brain.”

“This important research is unravelling the molecular mechanism of lion’s mane mushroom compounds and their effects on brain function, particularly memory,” coauthor Dae Hee Lee concluded.

 

—D Dye

 

Preclinical research indicates fish oil compound may help people with MS

February 10 2023. On January 7, 2023, the Journal of Biological Chemistry published the findings of research that revealed a potential benefit for fish oil supplementation among people with multiple sclerosis (MS), a chronic autoimmune disease in which the immune system attacks tissues and cells that protect the nerve fibers.

“Our goal was to use something that is naturally found in food and the human body to see if we can enhance it to reduce the disease severity in multiple sclerosis patients,” stated corresponding author Aditi Das, who is an associate professor of chemistry and biochemistry at Georgia Institute of Technology. “We believe our findings could lead to the discovery of new solutions to aid in managing symptoms of multiple sclerosis and other chronic inflammatory diseases like diabetes.”

Dr Das and her colleagues found that a compound occurring in fish oil known as docosahexaenoyl ethanolamide (DHEA, not to be confused with the hormone DHEA) was highest in a mouse model of MS when the animals were in remission. Further investigation determined that the compound lowered inflammation and disease severity while delaying disease onset. “We thought if we could somehow alleviate, control or reduce the level of inflammation, we could improve the disease outcomes and severity,” explained first author Justin Kim, PhD, who is a postdoctoral fellow at Georgia Tech.

“I’ve seen that a lot of patients with multiple sclerosis are fully in tune with the research,” Dr Kim added. “They are always trying to do everything that they can to improve their symptoms, whether it be through exercise, diet or just healthy living, while trying to reduce their consumption of heavy pain medications.”

“There is no cure for MS, yet, and anything to help improve the patients’ symptoms is always of interest.”

 

—D Dye

 

Coffee may help support healthy blood pressure

February 8 2023. A study reported January 8, 2023, in Nutrients found lower blood pressure in men and women who drank two to three cups of coffee daily in comparison with those who did not consume the beverage.

The investigation included 1,503 participants in the long-running Brisighella Heart Study, which enrolled 2,939 adults who were free from cardiovascular disease in 1972. Clinical evaluations conducted every four years included measurement of peripheral blood pressure, central aortic blood pressure and other factors. (The aorta is the main trunk of the arterial system.)

Participant responses to questionnaires obtained a year prior to the evaluations provided information concerning the number of cups of coffee consumed daily. Individuals who consumed two cups coffee per day had systolic blood pressure readings that averaged 5.2 mmHg lower than those who did not drink coffee. Drinking more than three cups was associated with a 9.7 mmHg reduction. Similar associations were observed for aortic blood pressure. "The results are very clear: peripheral blood pressure was significantly lower in individuals consuming one to three cups of coffee a day than in non-coffee drinkers," first author Arrigo Cicero reported. "And for the first time, we were also able to confirm these effects with regard to the central aortic pressure, the one close to the heart, where we observe an almost identical phenomenon with entirely similar values for habitual coffee drinkers compared to non-coffee drinkers."

"Caffeine is only one of the several coffee components and certainly not the only one with an active role,” he noted. “Positive effects on human health have indeed been recorded even among those who consume decaffeinated coffee. We know that caffeine can increase blood pressure, but other bioactive components in coffee seem to counterbalance this effect with a positive end result on blood pressure levels."

 

—D Dye

 

Greater intake of vitamin D linked to lower risk of diabetes among prediabetics

February 6 2023. A review and meta-analysis published on February 6, 2023, in Annals of Internal Medicine found a 15% lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes among prediabetic men and women who received vitamin D supplements.

Researchers analyzed data from three randomized trials that examined the effects of vitamin D supplementation on the risk of type 2 diabetes among a total of 4,190 participants who met the criteria for prediabetes (impaired glucose tolerance, hemoglobin A1c and/or fasting glucose). The trials compared the effects of a placebo to 20,000 IU vitamin D3 per week, 4,000 IU vitamin D3 per day or 0.75 micrograms per day of the vitamin D analog eldecalcitol.

During an average 3-year follow-up, 22.7% of participants who received vitamin D and 25% of those who received a placebo were diagnosed with new-onset diabetes, resulting in an adjusted 15% reduction in risk in the treated group.

Among participants treated with vitamin D3, maintenance of 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels at 40-50 ng/mL during follow-up was associated with a 62% lower risk of developing diabetes compared to the risk experienced by those who maintained their levels at 20-29 ng/mL. “These results suggest that the blood 25-hydroxyvitamin D level needed to optimally reduce diabetes risk may be near and possibly above the range of 125 to 150 nmol/L (50 to 60 ng/mL) that the 2011 Institute of Medicine Committee to Review Dietary Reference Intakes for Calcium and Vitamin D provided as the range corresponding to the tolerable upper intake level (UL) of 4000 IU/d for vitamin D,” Anastassios G. Pittas, MD, and colleagues wrote.

They estimated that supplementation with vitamin D by prediabetics might delay the development of diabetes among over 10 million individuals worldwide.

 

—D Dye

 

Nutrient combo lowers homocysteine

February 3 2023. Results from a trial reported on January 30, 2023, in the European Journal of Nutrition revealed a significant reduction in homocysteine among generally healthy adults with hyperhomocysteinemia (high plasma homocysteine levels) who received low doses of folic acid, vitamin B6, vitamin B12, trimethylglycine (TMG, also known as betaine) and zinc.

The trial included 86 Chinese men and women between the ages of 18 and 65 years who had elevated plasma homocysteine levels of 15 to 100 micromoles per liter (mmol/L). Forty participants received 400 micrograms (mcg) folic acid, 8 milligrams (mg) vitamin B6, 6.4 mcg vitamin B12, 1,000 mg betaine and 9.6 mg zinc citrate. The remainder of the participants received placebos. Blood samples collected after enrollment, at 4 weeks and at the end of the 12-week trial were analyzed for homocysteine, folate, vitamin B12 and betaine concentrations.

Among participants who received the supplements, blood levels of folate, vitamin B12 and betaine significantly increased from levels measured at the beginning of the study, indicating good compliance with the study protocol. Plasma homocysteine levels significantly decreased from an average of 15.57 mmol/L to 13.29 mmol/L by the end of the trial in the supplemented group. Higher serum folate or betaine concentrations at the trial’s conclusion were associated with lower levels of homocysteine.

“To the best of our knowledge, this is the first randomized, double-blind, controlled trial exploring the efficacy of a novel supplement with low-dose B vitamins plus betaine on plasma homocysteine concentrations in a generally healthy population with hyperhomocysteinemia and free from background mandatory folic acid fortification,” authors Xiao‑Ting Lu and colleagues at Sun Yat-sen University wrote.

They concluded that “Daily supplementation with low-dose B vitamins plus betaine for 12 weeks effectively reduced plasma homocysteine concentrations among Chinese adults with hyperhomocysteinemia.”

 

—D Dye

 

 

Vitamin D supplementation linked to fewer suicide attempts

February 1 2023. A study of U.S. veterans published on February 1, 2023, in PLoS One found a lower risk of suicide and self-harm among those with who supplemented with vitamin D in comparison with unsupplemented veterans.

Jill E. Lavigne and Jason B. Gibbons of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Center of Excellence for Suicide Prevention analyzed information from the VA’s Corporate Data Warehouse that included men and women treated with and without vitamin D2 or vitamin D3 from 2010 to 2018. They matched 169,241 veterans who were prescribed vitamin D2 and 490,885 veterans treated with vitamin D3 with an equal number of control subjects who received neither vitamin.

The researchers found a 45% lower risk of suicide attempt or self-harm among vitamin D2 users and a 48% lower risk among veterans who were prescribed vitamin D3 compared to those who used no vitamin D supplements. Higher dose vitamin D3 was associated with a greater benefit than lower doses. The effect of vitamin D supplementation was particularly beneficial among men and women who had deficient serum vitamin D levels of 0 to 19 nanograms per milliliter and among Black veterans.

The authors noted that areas of the brain involved in the development of depression contain vitamin D receptors and that “Adjuvant treatment of depression with vitamin D supplementation has been recommended.”

“Oral vitamin D is associated with a suicide attempt and intentional self-harm risk reduction of approximately 45%–48%,” they concluded. “As a relatively safe, easily accessible, and affordable medication, supplementation with vitamin D in the VA may hold promise if confirmed in clinical trials to prevent suicide attempts and suicide.”

 

—D Dye

 

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