Monday, December 31, 2012

Flavonoids from Blueberries and Fruits Can Lower Diabetes Risk

Nearly one in ten people in the US have been diagnosed with diabetes and one in three are prediabetic, a strong indicator they will progress to full-blown diabetes in the near future without dietary intervention. Experts indicate that by the year 2050, one half of all American adults will fall into one of these two classifications, significantly lowering their quality of life and lifespan.

Researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health report the result of a study in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in support of the potent effect of flavonoids from blueberries and other natural foods to significantly lower the risk of type 2 diabetes. Data from prior studies has drawn a link between specific flavonoids from dietary sources such as berries and improvement in insulin sensitivity and signaling to improve metabolic syndrome, a series of biomarkers that lead to diabetes.

Flavonoid-Rich Foods Including Blueberries Shield Against Metabolic Syndrome and Diabetes
The research consisted of 70,359 women in the Nurses’ Health Study, 89,201 women in the NHS II, and 41,334 men in the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study who were free of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer at the outset of each study, and followed for a period of twenty years. Higher intake of berry flavonoids (anthocyanins) was significantly associated with a lower risk of type 2 diabetes after adjusting for age, body weight, lifestyle and dietary factors.

The scientists found that consumption of anthocyanin-rich foods, especially blueberries, apples and pears was associated with a significantly lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes. This research supports prior studies showing that blueberries significantly boosted the production of adiponectin, the key hormone made in your white adipose tissue that prevents your liver from developing insulin resistance, ultimately leading to type 2 diabetes.

Eat Three to Five Servings of Fresh Berries Each Week to Lower Diabetes Risk
Blood sugar levels spike in response to a diet of highly refined carbohydrates, sugars, wheat products and excess processed foods. Insulin is released by the pancreas in an effort to stabilize blood sugar levels and usher glucose into the cells where it is needed for energy. Over time, blood sugar spikes cause insulin to become resistant and excess sugar remains in the blood leading to metabolic decline.

Blueberries and flavonoid rich natural foods help regulate the action of insulin by modulating adipose hormones to lower risk of diabetes and aid weight management issues. Consume at least one-half cup of berries every day or use an anthocyanin-rich supplement taken with meals to shield you from metabolic syndrome and the cellular devastation caused by diabetes.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Eating Tree Nuts Lowers Chronic Disease Risks and Assists Successful Weight Loss

Consumption of nuts has been largely maligned by mainstream health professionals and the media for decades due to the high calorie and fat content. As we enter an era of enlightened understanding about the role of dietary fats and macronutrients in the promotion or degradation of health and weight management, forward-thinking scientists and practitioners rely on extensive research demonstrating the importance of healthy fats in their natural state to prevent heart disease, cancer and neurodegenerative conditions.

Researchers publishing the result of their work in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition have found that eating tree nuts (almonds, Brazil nuts, cashews, hazelnuts, macadamias, pecans, pine nuts, pistachios and walnuts) was associated with higher levels of high-density lipoprotein-cholesterol (good HDL cholesterol) and lower levels of C-reactive protein, a marker for inflammation which can lead to a variety of chronic diseases including heart disease.

Tree Nuts Shown to Lower Chronic Disease Risk and Helps Prevent Obesity
Lead study author, Dr. Carol O’Neil from the Louisiana State University Agricultural Center also observed “One of the more interesting findings was the fact that tree nut consumers had lower body weight, as well as lower body mass index (BMI) and waist circumference compared to non-consumers.” The scientists determined that those consuming tree nuts as part of their regular diet averaged slightly over 4 pounds lower body weight or nearly one inch smaller waist circumference.

The study centered on a cohort of 13,292 men and women participating in the 1999-2004 National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys. Tree nut consumers were defined as those individuals consuming more than one-quarter ounce each day as determined from 24-hour recall data and questionnaires.

Eat a Handful of Tree Nuts Each Day to Lower Chronic Disease Risk
Tree nut consumption was associated with a five percent lower incidence of metabolic syndrome, a group of risk factors known to increase the risk for coronary artery disease, stroke and type II diabetes. Researchers further noted that the nut-consuming group exhibited a lower prevalence of abdominal obesity, high blood pressure, high fasting glucose (blood sugar) levels and low high-density lipoprotein-cholesterol levels.

Tree nuts consist of largely monounsaturated fats that are known to promote heart health, and have been shown to be of critical importance for optimal brain function. Dr. O’Neil concluded “Tree nuts should be an integral part of a healthy diet and encouraged by health professionals.” Nutritionists recommend eating 1 ½ ounces each day of raw, unheated, non-salted tree nuts to lower chronic disease risk and assist weight management goals.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Red Grape Compounds Aid Weight Management to Help Prevent Obesity

Obesity and overweight are threatening the health and lives of nearly seventy percent of the US population, and indicators are this epidemic is continuing to affect even more men, women and children as it places a significant burden on an already failing health care system. Most health-minded individuals understand the importance of eliminating refined and processed foods while maintaining constant blood glucose and insulin levels to achieve individual weight management goals.

Researchers from Purdue University have published the result of a study in the Journal of Biological Chemistry that demonstrates the potent nature of natural compounds found in red wine and many fruits to block cellular processes that allow fat cells to develop. Scientists found that the compound piceatannol, found naturally in the skin of grapes and other fruits blocks an immature fat cell's ability to develop and grow, opening a door to a potential method to control obesity.

Piceatannol Inhibits the Formation of Mature Fat Cells to Achieve Weight Management Goals
The lead study author, Dr. Kee-Hong Kim found that piceatannol, an analog of resveratrol found in grapes and other fruit, is converted to piceatannol in humans following its consumption. The team tested piceatannol in cultured immature fat cells called preadipocytes to determine if the compound inhibited the maturity process that results in fully developed fat cells, capable of storing body fat and contributing to obesity.

Dr. Kim commented “We consider that adipogenesis is an important molecular target to delay or prevent fat cell accumulation and, hopefully, body fat mass gain.” The team found that piceatannol bound to the insulin receptor on the immature fat cells, effectively blocking insulin’s ability to control normal cellular cycling resulting in mature adipocytes. The grape-derived compound stimulated the activation of special genes necessary for the fat cell maturation process.

Eat a Wide Variety of Natural Fruits and Vegetables to Help Weight Loss Issues
The study authors concluded “Piceatannol actually alters the timing of gene expressions, gene functions and insulin action during adipogenesis, the process in which early stage fat cells become mature fat cells… in the presence of piceatannol, you can see delay or complete inhibition of adipogenesis.” Similar in structure to resveratrol, scientists believe piceatannol may also exert some of the same properties to help combat cancer, heart disease and neurodegenerative conditions.

Piceatannol is yet another natural compound that has demonstrated the ability to influence genetic expression to inhibit the formation of adipocytes or alter metabolism to help achieve weight management goals alongside resveratrol, green tea catechins (EGCG) and irvingia gabonensis. When used to compliment a natural food diet void of wheat and refined carbohydrates, piceatannol may be an important component to achieve natural weight management goals.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Berries and Fruits Enhance Brain Signaling to Prevent Cognitive Decline and Promote Brain Health

Berry fruits including blueberries, blackberries and strawberries are not only refreshing and tasty, but they also provide a wide variety of phytonutrients that cross the blood-brain barrier to enhance neural communications and prevent oxidation and inflammation. This has beneficial effects on the brain and may help prevent age-related memory loss and other changes that alter behavior and cause normal thought processes to run askew.

Researchers reporting the result of a study in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry have identified neurological benefits associated with the consumption of berry fruits, including their now well-known antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. Eating the fruits in their natural state or using dietary supplements is shown to have dramatic direct effects on the brain in a meta-analysis of animal and human studies on the topic.

Fresh Berries Support Brain Health by Neutralizing Free Radicals and Lowering Inflammation
As we live longer, the toll of excessive oxidative assaults on the brain can result in loss of memory and cognitive decline as inflammation limits the electrical and chemical response within nerve synapses and cellular structures. A review of past studies demonstrated that consumption of berry fruits or standardized supplements can aid brain health in several ways.

Lead study authors, Dr. Barbara Shukitt-Hale and Marshall G. Miller from the Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University found that berries enhance neuroplasticity, neurotransmission, and calcium buffering, all of which lead to attenuation of age and pathology-related deficits in behavior. Berry fruits contain high levels of antioxidants, compounds that protect cells from damage by harmful free radicals. Suppression of free radicals was identified as a primary action of consuming the natural fruits.

Include Several Daily Servings of Fruits and Berries to Preserve Brain Health
Additionally, the researchers noted that berry fruits change the way neurons in the brain communicate. These changes in signaling can prevent inflammation in the brain that contributes to neuronal damage and helps to improve both motor control and cognition. The study confirmed the potent multimodal effect of berry consumption, but indicated that further studies would be required to determine if benefits are a result of individual compounds shared between berry fruits or whether the unique combinations of chemicals in each berry fruit simply have similar effects.

There is little doubt about the importance of including a wide array of berries in all shapes, sizes and colors to your regular diet. Nutritionists recommend eating at least one-half cup of the raw fruit each day to help prevent cognitive decline, loss of memory and Alzheimer’s dementia.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Flavonoids from Berries Protect Men against Parkinson’s Disease

Past research bodies have confirmed the health-protective effect of a natural diet rich in flavonoids to protect against a wide range of diseases including heart disease, hypertension, some cancers and dementia. Researchers from Harvard University and the University of East Anglia have published the result of a study in the journal Neurology that demonstrates how these plant-based phytonutrients can significantly lower the risk of developing Parkinson’s disease, especially in men.

Flavonoids from healthy foods such as berries, tea, apples and red wine cross the delicate blood-brain barrier to protect neurons against neurologic diseases such as Parkinson's. This large scale study included more than 130,000 men and women participants that were followed for a period of twenty years. During this time, more than 800 individuals developed Parkinson’s disease.

A Diet High in Flavonoids from Berries Lowers Parkinson’s Disease Risk by Forty Percent
After a detailed analysis of their diets and adjusting for age and lifestyle, male participants who ate the most flavonoids were shown to be forty per cent less likely to develop the disease than those who ate the least. No similar link was found for total flavonoid intake in women. Co-lead study author, Dr. Aedin Cassidy noted “These exciting findings provide further confirmation that regular consumption of flavonoids can have potential health benefits.”

This was the first study to examine the connection between flavonoid consumption and the development of Parkinson’s disease. The findings suggest that a sub-class of flavonoids called anthocyanins may exhibit neuroprotective effects. Participants consuming one or more portions of berry fruits each week were around twenty-five per cent less likely to develop Parkinson's disease, relative to those who did not eat berry fruits.

Eat One to Three Servings of Berries Daily to Lower Parkinson’s Disease Risk
Flavonoids are the bioactive, naturally occurring chemical compounds found in many plant-based foods and drinks. This study demonstrated the main protective effect was from the consumption of anthocyanins which are present in berries and other fruits and vegetables including aubergines, blackcurrants and blackberries. Strawberries and blueberries are the two most common sources of flavonoids in the US diet, contributing to a twenty-four percent lowered risk in this research.

Parkinson’s disease is among a group of chronic diseases presently affecting one in 500 people, with new cases on the rise. Drug therapies are ineffective and bear significant side effects. The result of this study provides yet another example of the power of a natural diet in the prevention of many debilitating and deadly conditions. Nutrition experts recommend adding a minimum of three to five servings of flavonoids to your diet each week. Include all varieties of berries, apples and green tea to guard against Parkinson’s disease and other neurodegenerative illnesses.