Tag Archives: health

Mediterranean Diet Yields Gut-Linked Health Lifts

Mediterranean Diet Yields Gut-Linked Health Lifts

Clinical study sees immune, brain, bone boosts from gut biome benefits

02/24/2020   By Craig Weatherby

People across the globe are projected to live longer than ever before.

So, it’s important to find ways of lengthening their “healthspan” — in other words, to help people maintain good health throughout their lifespan.

Exercise and diet are key to healthy aging, but researchers have begun to look at the role played by people’s gut microbiomes.

Now, the encouraging results of a clinical trial show that closely following a Mediterranean-style diet changes the microbiome in ways that should promote wellness and healthier aging.

Specifically, the Mediterranean diet change people’s biomes in ways previously linked to reduced risk for frailty and to better thinking, memory, immunity, and bone strength.

Before we get to the intriguing results of this Europe-based trial, let’s quickly review what the microbiome is all about.

A briefer on the microbiome
The microbiome of an organ such as the skin or gut is the community of trillions of microbes that live within it.

Although these terms are often used interchangeably, a person’s gut microbiome is the genomes (e.g., DNA) of all the microorganisms living in their intestines, while their gut microbiota is the roster of microbes — mostly bacteria, viruses, and fungi — dwelling there.

Most of the microbes in your gut are either harmless or they benefit us by producing vitamins and fibrous, metabolically beneficial compounds like inulin, arabinoxylan, and resistant starch — while helping keep unfriendly microbes from becoming problematic.

The makeup of your microbiome is partly influenced by your personal genetics, and changes constantly in response to diet, physical activity, inflammation, medications, and more.

In addition to a person’s genetics diet, and lifestyle, the composition of their microbiome can either help prevent or promote physical disorders like diabetes and obesity as well as anxiety, depression, and other mood disorders.

Accordingly, an international team — led by Prof. Paul O’Toole of Ireland’s University College Cork — wanted to see if diet can make microbiome changes known to discourage chronic disease and promote healthy aging (Ghosh TS et al. 2020).

“Mediterranean microbiome” exerted healthful effects
For their year-long study, the international team recruited 612 people aged 65-79 — including 286 men and 326 women — living in the UK, France, the Netherlands, Italy, and Poland.

The scientists randomly assigned the participants to one of two groups:

  • Maintain their usual diet.
  • Switch to a Mediterranean diet (MD), which meant eating more vegetables, beans, lentils, fruits, nuts, olive oil, and fish, but less red meat, dairy, and saturated fats (e.g., butter).

After one year, people in the Mediterranean diet group displayed microbiome changes linked to better cognitive function [thinking/memory], less inflammation, better bone strength, and reduced risk of frailty.

Overall, the Mediterranean diet group enjoyed several benefits:

  • Greater microbial diversity (more species — a good thing).
  • Fewer pro-inflammatory compounds produced in the body.
  • More microbes linked to sharper thinking and better memory.
  • More microbes linked to signs of reduced frailty, such as faster walking speeds and stronger hand grips.

At the outset of the study, many of the participants were considered pre-frail — meaning their bone strength and density would likely start decreasing.

And people in the Mediterranean diet group showed fewer signs of risk for frailty while those assigned to the regular-diet group showed more microbiome-related signs of risk for frailty.

What changed in the microbiomes of the Mediterranean diet group?
At the outset of the 12-month trial, the participants’ microbiomes varied by country, but one year later the microbiomes of the Mediterranean diet (MD) group had undergone significant changes:

  • More “MD-positive” microbes — in other words, ones that flourished on the diet.
  • Fewer “MD-negative” microbes, which either didn’t flourish on the diet and/or couldn’t compete with the MD-positive microbes.

Critically, the MD-positive microbes were types previously linked to less frailty and inflammation, and higher levels of cognitive (thinking/memory) function — benefits that also grew as the number of MD-negative microbes shrank.

Importantly, the extent of beneficial microbiome changes reflected how closely a person followed the Mediterranean diet — the closer their adherence, the bigger the benefits.

Why are the microbiome changes from a Mediterranean diet beneficial?
A closer look revealed that the benefits of the microbiome changes seen in the Mediterranean diet group likely stemmed from two things:

  • The MD-positive microbes produce short chain fatty acids that exert effects known to benefit several body systems.
  • The MD-negative microbes produce certain bile acids known to raise the risk of bowel cancer, insulin resistance, fatty liver, and cell damage.

Based on prior evidence, the beneficial microbiome changes among the Mediterranean diet group were likely caused — at least in part — by greater intakes of fiber and certain micronutrients: especially vitamins C, B1 (thiamine), B6 (pyridoxine), and B9 (folic acid), copper, potassium, iron, manganese, and magnesium.

Although the team linked negative changes in the control groups’ microbiomes to an increase in fat intake — primarily saturated and mono-unsaturated fats — relative to the Mediterranean diet group, the available evidence does not suggest that relatively high-fat diets are inherently unhealthful.

The trial’s results also showed that the microbiome changes seen in the Mediterranean group occurred regardless of a person’s age or body mass index, both of which can impact the microbiome.

Conclusions and next steps
Although the diet-driven microbiome changes seen in the Mediterranean group were relatively small, they produced big effects in just one year — and the researchers speculate that continuing the Mediterranean diet longer might further enhance the microbiome.

Future studies will need to focus on what key ingredients in a Mediterranean diet — other than the fiber and micronutrients mentioned above —were responsible for these positive microbiome changes.

Other possible microbiome-influencers in a Mediterranean-style diet include specific types of protein, fat, carbohydrates, and antioxidants.

Overall, the encouraging results of this study suggest that the closer you can stick to a Mediterranean-style diet, the more your gut microbiome will shift to a healthful, anti-aging mode.

They also suggest that you don’t necessarily need probiotic supplements to make significant, beneficial changes in your gut — ones likely to benefit mind and body alike.

 

Sources

  • De Filippis F, Pellegrini N, Vannini L, Jeffery IB, La Storia A, Laghi L, Serrazanetti DI, Di Cagno R, Ferrocino I, Lazzi C, Turroni S, Cocolin L, Brigidi P, Neviani E, Gobbetti M, O’Toole PW, Ercolini D. High-level adherence to a Mediterranean diet beneficially impacts the gut microbiota and associated metabolome. Gut. 2016 Nov;65(11):1812-1821. doi: 10.1136/gutjnl-2015-309957. Epub 2015 Sep 28.
  • Ghosh TS et al. Mediterranean diet intervention alters the gut microbiome in older people reducing frailty and improving health status: the NU-AGE 1-year dietary intervention across five European countries. Gut. 2020 Feb 17. pii: gutjnl-2019-319654. doi: 10.1136/gutjnl-2019-319654. [Epub ahead of print]

Original article posted on the VitalChoice.com site, by Craig Weatherby.

Article re-posted on Markethive by Jeffrey Sloe

Visit MarketHive to learn more: http://markethive.com/jeffreysloe

Do Brains Shrink as Bellies Grow?

Do Brains Shrink as Bellies Grow?

Emerging evidence may provide another reason to fight midriff fat

02/25/2019  :   By Craig Weatherby

Brain shrinkage is linked to alcoholism, aging, dementia, and chronic stress.

And the brain effects of chronic stress degrade mental performance and emotional health alike.

Stress stimulates release of the hormone cortisol, chronically high levels of which shrink key brain areas, while severe, chronic stress can even kill brain cells.

One of the key brain areas effected most by stress and accompanying cortisol elevation is the hippocampus, which is critical to memory functions.

Chronic stress also affects the structure of the amygdala — an area of the brain that’s key to emotions — in ways that tend to promote anxiety.

In addition to aging, alcohol consumption, and stress, diet, exercise, and the composition of your gut microbiome can influence brain volume and performance.

Examples of foods and experiences that can help normalize cortisol levels include black tea, fish, seafood-source omega-3 fatty acids, music, massage, meditation, sex, crying, and laughing.

For more about the effects of fish and their omega-3s on cortisol levels and brain volume, see Fish Changes Brains for the Better, Omega-3s May Slow Brain Shrinkage, Omega-3s May Expand, Sharpen Brains, Fish Oil Aided Size and Health of Aging Brains, and Brain Benefits of Fish Bolstered by MRI Study.

Previous research linked excess belly fat to brain shrinkage — and the results of a recent British study reinforce those concerns.

This is just an excerpt from the article. To read the complete article click on Do Brains Shrink as Bellies Grow?

Interested in purchasing, or learning more about, Omega-3 fatty acid supplements, click on this link.

Article posted on Markethive by Jeffrey Sloe.

Visit MarketHive to learn more: http://markethive.com/jeffreysloe

How Best to Fuel Your Body After a Workout

How Best to Fuel Your Body After a Workout

Posted 8/6/2018 by UHBlog

Learn how to recover from a hard workout by fueling your body correctly. We can help.

All athletes know two things to be true: There’s nothing better than a post-workout high, and, after you sweat, you’re ready for a good meal.

If you want to make the most of your time off the field, your game plan should include high-performance foods, says registered dietitian nutritionist and board-certified sports dietitian Amy Jamieson-Petonic.
 

“Post-game nutrition promotes recovery and your ability to get back in the game faster,” she says.

Fuel Up First

First, you want to make sure your body is fueled for the workout.

“The goals of a pre-event meal are to top off your glycogen stores and to build and repair muscle tissue, Ms. Jamieson-Petonic says. “Make sure these meals are low in fat and fiber so you don’t have gastrointestinal distress.”

The meal should be eaten three to four hours prior to your activity. Then, 30 to 60 minutes before the event, have a lighter snack, such as a piece of fruit or sports bar and a sports drink or water.

Eat to Replenish

After the workout, your nutritional recovery should happen within 15 to 60 minutes post-exercise. Keep in mind the following steps:

  1. Restore fluids and electrolytes.
  2. Replace muscle fuel (meaning carbohydrates).
  3. Provide protein to repair/stimulate new tissue development.

“During exercise, you lose nutrients and fluid, so it’s important to replace them,” Ms. Jamieson-Petonic says. “Make sure to take in fluid and eat approximately 200 to 300 calories within the first two hours following exercise, and then continue to refuel from there.”

Some ideas of appropriate recovery meals include:

  • Graham crackers with peanut butter, a banana, and low-fat chocolate milk
  • Rice bowl with beans, cheese, salsa, avocado and whole-wheat tortilla chips
  • Whole-wheat pita with turkey, veggies, pretzels and low-fat milk
  • Stir fry with lean steak, broccoli, peppers, carrots and brown rice

Amy Jamieson-Petonic, M.Ed., RDN, CSSD, LD is a registered dietitian nutritionist and board-certified sports dietitian at University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center. You can request an appointment with Jamieson-Petonic or any other healthcare professional online.

The article was posted on the University Hospitals Blog

Markethive Blog Blog post by Jeffrey Sloe 

NOTE: My personal comments: I don't always have the time and/or the proper groceries in the house, so it's not always easy to prepare and eat a recovery meal. However, I always have a supply of Essential Ammino Acids supplements, which helps me to maintain my strength, alnog with the repairing and building of muscle tissue.