Monday, January 26, 2015

Top Ingredients of 2015: Probiotics

This isn’t the first time I’ve written about probiotics – I’m a fan for sure. But it seems the general population is also becoming fans of probiotics. A recent survey conducted among dietitians and nutritionists showed that 66% believe that taking a daily probiotic is more important than taking a daily multivitamin. Probiotics are now the number 1 selling ingredient in the nutrition world. We see commercials and TV doctors extolling the benefits of yogurt. So what is happening here? I think the research community is recognizing the role the gut plays on a variety of health conditions. Studies are just beginning to come out on how altered gut flora can affect gene expression, immunity, and disease outcomes. Here is a brief look at just a few of the recent studies on probiotics.
-   Consuming probiotics may decrease the duration of common upper respiratory tract infections (URTI) in adults and children by up to a day, compared to placebo. This resulted in less days missed at work and school.
-   Daily doses of probiotics plus vitamin C can reduce flu incidence and missed school days by more than 30%. 
-   Probiotics were found to improve the quality of life of people suffering from allergies, specifically by improving ocular symptoms, such as itchy, watery eyes.  
-   Two months of consumption of probiotics resulted in reductions in hayfever symptoms in adults.
-   Regular consumption of probiotics may help control blood pressure. Hypertension.
Probiotics are good…good bacteria. They are now available in a variety of forms from supplements to protein bars, kefir to non-dairy yogurt, kimchi to kombucha. I include them, often as yogurt or a supplement, in our regimen every day, both for me and my daughter.

If you would like the references for these articles, please let me know.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Top Ingredients of 2015: Magnesium

It is best known as the second half of calcium-magnesium. Magnesium is a mineral that has truly been understated, although its role is valuable. In fact, I think magnesium will become more popular as research continues to show its importance. This mineral is involved in over 300 biochemical reactions in the body, so its role is nothing less than essential.
Bone Health. Magnesium is essential for proper calcium absorption by bones, and 40% of the body’s magnesium content is in bones. This may be why many products combine calcium and magnesium.
Blood Sugar Control. Magnesium is involved in blood glucose control in the body.  A recent review of 6 studies found that higher intake of magnesium lowered the risk of developing metabolic syndrome, a risk factor for heart disease and Type 2 diabetes, by about 30%.
Heart Health.  Magnesium plays a role in regulating blood pressure and preventing blood clots and stroke. A recent review of research showed that higher intakes of magnesium may cut heart disease risk.
Muscle Relaxation. A deficiency of magnesium is associated with insomnia and anxiety, so maintaining magnesium status can promote relaxation and rest. Taking extra magnesium in the evening may help improve sleep.
Energy. One of the primary roles of magnesium is to stabilize ATP, the body’s energy molecule. Magnesium may help optimize oxygen use so you feel more energized. This may explain why chronic deficiency of magnesium can result in low energy, irritability and weakness.
Food sources of magnesium include green leafy vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds, and whole grains. While it appears to be readily available, studies show that many Americans are not getting enough magnesium in their diets. In addition, numerous medications deplete magnesium in the body, including blood pressure medicines, antacids, heartburn medications and antibiotics. Magnesium powder offers a good way to supplement controllable doses of the mineral, offering a good way to fill in the gap of missing magnesium.