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Holistic Headlines August 2012

August 1, 2012 Written by JP       [Font too small?]

When I consider the concept of holistic health care, a hierarchy comes to mind. If you imagine it as a ranking system based on importance, here’s what it would look like: diet, regular exercise/physical activity, mind-body techniques or stress management practices and the judicious use of dietary supplements. The food we eat, the movements we make and supplements we take to “fill in the gaps” present a scenario much like taking care of a valuable piece of machinery. How you care for your car is a good analogy. Without driving it from time to time, gas and the addition of various fluids, sooner or later it will stop working in peak form. However, unlike machines, the human existence is complicated by the influence of emotions and the stress response.

In recent months, several studies that encompass all aspects of the above mentioned hierarchy have crossed my desk. Some of the research builds upon that which I’ve covered in prior columns. But, just to keep things interesting, one study offers completely new information and another contradicts some of preliminary research I reported on a few years back.

A new publication in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition reveals that highly trained athletes, gymnasts in this case, do not require carbohydrates to function at peak levels. In fact, a very low carbohydrate or ketogenic diet, did not affect any strength measures and resulted in a greater reduction in body fat in a small group of elite, female athletes. In the exercise and mind-body arena, two current studies inform us that: a) the Buteyko breathing technique, when practiced twice-daily for 15 minutes, improves asthma control and quality of life as compared to “routine pharmacological management”; b) an aquatic exercise program, practiced thrice-weekly, decreases joint pain (arthralgia) caused by breast cancer treatment. Supplement-wise, disappointing findings about chia seeds are presented in the current issue of the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. A daily dose of 25 grams/day of milled or whole chia seeds taken over the course of 10 weeks failed to produce any positive endpoints such as improvements in blood pressure, lipid profile or weight.

The final study I’d like to draw your attention to involves two well established supplements which are typically used to address arthritic symptoms: glucosamine sulfate and green-lipid mussel extract. It’s long been suspected that both of these nutraceuticals somehow mitigate inflammation. However, a new trial appearing in the journal Inflammopharmacology reveals that the anti-inflammatory activity may be due to a shift in the bacterial composition of the gut. Just published data indicates that use of glucosamine sulfate and green-lipid mussel extract lowers the levels of undesirable microbiota (Clostridium and Staphylococcus) and increases the number of beneficial bacteria such as Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus. According to the authors of this intriguing study, these alterations in gastrointestinal microbiota were consistent with a decline in inflammation and symptomatic improvement exhibited by the trial participants. This may be a case of scientists discovering an old dog’s tricks for the very first time.

To learn more about the studies referenced in today’s column, please click on the following links:

Study 1 - Ketogenic Diet Does Not Affect Strength Performance in Elite Artistic (link)

Study 2 - Comparison of the Effects of Buteyko and Pranayama Breathing(link)

Study 3 - Aquatic Exercise in a Chest-High Pool for Hormone Therapy-Induced (link)

Study 4 - Chia Seed Supplementation and Disease Risk Factors in Overweight (link)

Study 5 - Green-Lipped Mussel Extract (Perna canaliculus) and Glucosamine(link)

Select Gut Bacteria May Lower Systemic Inflammation

Source: Nutrients. 2011 Jun;3(6):637-82. (link)

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