The benefits of Microbiota – Probiotics, Prebiotics, and Postbiotics

What is microbiome?

microbiome

The body is a habitat for trillions of gut bacteria, which together are called the microbiome. Another name for this bacterial community is the microbiota, the large collection of microorganisms that live in symbiosis within the human body.

What are the 3 elements of healthy microbiome?

Probiotics – are the good friendly non-harmful bacteria in the guts. The good sources of probiotics include yogourts, kimchi, kefir, kombucha, and tempeh. There are plenty of probiotics supplements nowadays but do make sure that they contain live bacteria.

Discover Top 5 Probiotics Foods

Prebiotics – are the foods or fuels used by the probiotics in order to survive in the guts. Common sources of prebiotics include artichokes, asparagus, and onions.

Postbiotics – are the biologically active compound or soluble factors that produced by the probiotics as a result of their fermentation and metabolic process in the guts. Apple cider vinegar is one example of postbiotics.

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Synergistic combinations of pro- and prebiotics are called synbiotics.

What are the benefits of probiotics?

The use of probiotics and prebiotics in the food industry and food supplementation has been blooming for the last few decades. Several clinical studies have shown the various benefits of the probiotics on well-balanced diet and improvement on gut homeostasis. The well-established probiotics effects are;

  1. Prevention and reduction of duration and symptoms of rotavirus-induced and antibiotic-associated diarrhea.
  2. Alleviation of complaints due to lactose intolerance
  3. Reduction of concentration of cancer-promoting enzyme
  4. Regulate regular normal movements in healthy individual
  5. Prevent bacterial overgrowth
  6. Eliminate H. pylori infection
  7. Improve functional bowel disease

A systemic review showed that probiotics are effective treatments for IBS and chronic constipation1.

  1. Prevention and elimination of allergic and atopic disease

Meta-analysis of 18 studies provided evidence in favor of probiotics in the prevention of atopic dermatitis and IgE-associated atopic dermatitis in infants during pregnancy and infancy2.

  1. Prevention of upper respiratory tract infection (cold and flu)
  2. Prevention and treatment of arthritis

Research showed that probiotic bacteria (e.g. Lactobacillus rhamnosus) attenuates various types of experimental arthritis, including collagen-induced arthritis (CIA) and inhibits production of arthritis-related autoantibodies3.

  1. Treatment of urogenital infections

A systemic review of 20 studies found that probiotic interventions were effective in the treatment and prevention of urogenital infections as alternatives or co-treatments4.

  1. Reduce the transmission of sexually transmitted disease (STIs)

In vitro study showed that Lactobacillus crispatus reduce infectivity of Chlamydia5.

  1. Reduce the transmission of HIV virus

A study using cervicovaginal fluid of women showed that Lactobacillus-dominated vaginal microbiota is associated with a reduced risk of acquiring and transmitting HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs)6.

Discover Top 5 Probiotics Foods

What are the benefits of pre-biotics

A prebiotic is “a selectively fermented ingredient that allows specific changes, both in the composition and/or activity in the gastrointestinal microflora that confers benefits upon host well-being and health”. Today, only bifidogenic, non-digestible oligosaccharides (particularly inulin, its hydrolysis product oligofructose, and (trans)galactooligosaccharides), fulfill all the criteria for prebiotic classification.

Proven health benefits of prebiotics;

  1. Prevention of diarrhea or constipation,
  2. Modulation of the metabolism of the intestinal flora
  3. Cancer prevention
  4. Positive effects on lipid metabolism
  5. Stimulation of mineral absorption
  6. Immunomodulatory properties

What are the benefits of Postbiotics?

 Postbiotics are non-viable bacterial products or metabolic by-products from probiotic microorganisms that have biologic activity in the host. When probiotics feed on certain types of fiber molecules in order to thrive, they leave behind “waste products” that are collectively called postbiotics. Postbiotics help regulate the composition of the microbiome. Scientists now believe the most beneficial effects of probiotics are due to the metabolic waste products of these probiotics (postbiotics) and their biological activities and interaction with other cells in the guts.

Example of postbiotics identified and isolated for therapeutic researches includes

  • Lactic acids
  • Short-chain fatty acids (SCFA) – acetate, butyrate, and propionate. These are produced by fermenting undigested carbohydrates in the intestine. These fatty acids provide a major energy source for the colon and play a role in intestinal growth and differentiation. They impact many metabolic processes.
  • Lipopolysaccharides (LPS) – polysaccharide A and exopolysaccharide (EPS)
  • muramyl dipeptide (MDP)
  • Indole – a microbial-derived metabolite produced by the host’s lactobacilli during the catabolic pathway of tryptophan
  • teichoic acid
  • lactocepin
  • p40 molecule

Benefits of postbiotics;

  1. Help to support the growth and population of good bacteria

The good bacteria produce lactic acids through their metabolic processes. The lactic acids help to remove heavy metal in the body and inhibit the growth of certain viruses and disease-causing bacteria. Lactic acid is a major organic acid metabolite produced by lactobacilli that acidifies the vagina and has been reported to have inhibitory activity in vitro against bacterial, protozoan, and viral STIs, including HIV infections6.

  1. Reduce the population of harmful bacteria and virus

When the population of probiotics flourishes, the harmful and bad bacteria have to compete with these probiotics for space in the guts. In order to compete with these bad bacteria, they produce various postbiotics to ensure their survival. Some strains of probiotics produce postbiotics that capable of killing off listeria monocytogenes, salmonella and E. coli.

  1. Help to lower inflammation and reduced oxidative stress

Clinical studies showed that certain strains of probiotics such as Lactobacillus casei produced fatty acids by products such as acetate, butyrate and propionate. These fatty acids are beneficial to reduce inflammation and reduce the generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS). ROS cause oxidative damage in the gut.

  1. Help to regulate blood sugar and prevent diabetes.

Some strains of probiotics produce postbiotics called muramyl dipeptide (MDP). MDP increase cells sensitivity to insulin hormones. Hence, body have to secrete less insulin for same amount of glucose in the blood vessels. This will avoid “pancreatic fatigue” which eventually lead to diabetes. Animal study showed that MDP reduce fatty tissue inflammation and help body to regulate glucose better7.

  1. Prevent and improve arthritis symptoms

Systemic administration of Exopolysaccharides (EPS) markedly reduced autoantibodies production. Moreover, EPS significantly ameliorated arthritis in the mice3.

 

References
  1. Ford, A. C. et al. Efficacy of Prebiotics, Probiotics and Synbiotics in Irritable Bowel Syndrome and Chronic Idiopathic Constipation: Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. Am. J. Gastroenterol. 109, 1547–1561 (2014).
  2. Pelucchi, C. et al. Probiotics Supplementation During Pregnancy or Infancy for the Prevention of Atopic Dermatitis. Epidemiology 23, 402–414 (2012).
  3. Nowak, B. et al. Lactobacillus rhamnosus Exopolysaccharide Ameliorates Arthritis Induced by the Systemic Injection of Collagen and Lipopolysaccharide in DBA/1 Mice. Arch. Immunol. Ther. Exp. (Warsz). 60, 211–220 (2012).
  4. Hanson, L., VandeVusse, L., Jermé, M., Abad, C. L. & Safdar, N. Probiotics for Treatment and Prevention of Urogenital Infections in Women: A Systematic Review. J. Midwifery Womens. Health 61, 339–355 (2016).
  5. Nardini, P. et al. Lactobacillus crispatus inhibits the infectivity of Chlamydia trachomatis elementary bodies, in vitro study. Sci. Rep. 6, 29024 (2016).
  6. Tyssen, D. et al. Anti-HIV-1 Activity of Lactic Acid in Human Cervicovaginal Fluid. mSphere 3, (2018).
  7. Cavallari, J. F. et al. Muramyl Dipeptide-Based Postbiotics Mitigate Obesity-Induced Insulin Resistance via IRF4. Cell Metab. 25, 1063–1074.e3 (2017).

 

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Foods to prevent Cold and Flu this Season

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Since we are approaching the winter season, I decided to write a review of the foods that we can consume to reduce the risk of getting the colds and flu this winter. I usually develop common colds once a year, but sometimes I would have it longer than normal due to the stress of the work or lack of sleep from the daily activity. So this year I aim to reduce my chance of developing the colds and hopefully build a strong immune defense system to fight off the flu virus. I usually get a flu shot every year but fundamentally, I believe that building a strong immune system is the key step in keeping healthy and active this winter season.

Before we go any further, let’s understand what common colds really is. And what is the difference between common colds and flu?

 

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The common cold is an acute, self-limiting viral infection of the upper respiratory tract involving the nose, sinuses, and throat. The colds virus is usually spread by hand contact with secretions from an infected person (direct or indirect) or aerosol of the secretions and virus. The incubation period varies but is just under two days for rhinovirus. Rhinovirus accounts for about 50% of clinical cases.

The common symptoms of colds include a sore throat, rhinitis, rhinorrhea, cough, and malaise. Symptoms that related to the infected mucosa, typically peak at 1–3 days and last 7–10 days. But they can occasionally persist for three weeks depending on the strain of the virus and the status of your immune system. Although self-limiting, the common cold is highly prevalent and may be debilitating. People with influenza usually are sicker than those with the common cold. People with flu usually high temperature (fever), chills, headaches, myalgia, and malaise. Influenza can be serious in older people and those who are immunocompromised such as people taking immunosuppression drugs or steroids or undergoes chemotherapy.

What kind of foods that can reduce the risk of developing common colds?

Probiotics

Probiotics are your best friends in keeping the body from viral invasion. Clinical studies showed that regular consumption of probiotics associated with reduced risk of developing colds. Cochrane systemic review of 14 clinical trials showed that probiotics are effective in protecting an individual from developing upper respiratory tract infection compared to placebo1.

The intake of probiotics is also associated with reducing the use of antibiotics. It should be noted here, that antibiotics are not effective against common colds and should be avoided.

In the pediatric setting, the probiotic of Lactobacillus strains (Lactobacillus GG), have been shown to be effective in reducing the risk for nosocomial gastrointestinal and respiratory tract infections in children hospitals2. Not only the probiotics reduce the chance of catching the colds but they are also been shown to reduce the duration of the colds as per latest meta-analysis of 20 randomized controlled trials published in British Journal of Nutrition (2014)3.

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These good friendly bacteria in your guts not only keep the bad bacteria at bay but also keep the immune system strong in fighting off the virulent viruses. The higher diversity of the good bacteria in your guts, the better as each stain of probiotics have their own secrets weapon in fighting off other bad bacteria. The best sources of probiotics include yogurts, kefir and fermented foods such as kimchi, tempeh, and miso soups.

Ginsengs

Ginsengs have been used for centuries in Asian communities for various health benefits. One of them is for prevention and treatment of common colds and upper respiratory tracts infection. The most common ginsengs used are North American (Panax quinquefolius) and Asian ginseng (Panax ginseng) root extract.

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Clinical studies showed that the number of colds in the group taking the ginsengs are significantly lower in that group that took the placebo. Not only that, when compared to placebo, ginseng significantly shortened the duration of colds by 6.2 days. The study found that North American ginseng appears to be effective in shortening the duration of colds or ARIs in healthy adults when taken preventatively for durations of 2-4 months4. Therefore, to be effective ginsengs should be taken at least 2 months before the cold/flu season starts.

Garlic

two white garlics

Garlic is known to have antimicrobial and antiviral properties that are beneficial in preventing and treating colds and flu. Garlic contains numerous bioactive compounds that can enhance the function of the immune system such as Natural Killer cells and T-cells which are cells that go around the body and kill the invading viruses.

A clinical study by the University of Florida showed that garlic supplementation reduces the number of symptoms (21% fewer compared to placebo). The group that takes garlic supplement also have a shorter duration of cold (61% less). The incident of cold is also halved in the group taking garlic supplementation5. The similar finding also reported using aged garlic supplementation. The study showed that aged garlic supplementation reduced cold and flu severity, with a reduction in the number of symptoms, the number of days participants functioned suboptimally, and the number of work/school days missed6.

Green Tea (Camellia sinensis)

bamboo bamboo whisk board bowls

A clinical study using formulation of Camellia sinensis (green tea) capsules showed that tea stimulates proliferation gamma-delta T cells by 28% and associated with increased production of interferon (small protein produced by T-cells that kill viruses) compared to placebo. The group that took green tea supplement have fewer symptoms and a shorter duration of the cold. Therefore, tea is a safe and effective dietary strategy for preventing cold and flu symptoms. So, you can replace your morning and evening coffee with green tea during the cold season.

Cranberry

 

close up of strawberries

Cranberry juice is one of my favorite juice (especially when mixed vodka!). Luckily the benefits of cranberry juice not only limited to reducing the chance of getting urinary tract infections. A recent study showed that cranberry juice able to stimulate cells of the immune system to fight off cold and flu viruses. The study found that consumption of cranberry polyphenols able to reduce the symptoms due to cold and influenza7.

So, now you have a secret dietary recipe for the winter to fight off the cold and flu this season. I hope this review will help you to achieve optimal health during this upcoming winter season.

References

  1. Hao, Q., Lu, Z., Dong, B. R., Huang, C. Q. & Wu, T. in Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews (ed. Dong, B. R.) (John Wiley & Sons, Ltd, 2011).
  2. Hojsak, I. et al. Lactobacillus GG in the Prevention of Nosocomial Gastrointestinal and Respiratory Tract Infections. Pediatrics 125, e1171–e1177 (2010).
  3. King, S., Glanville, J., Sanders, M. E., Fitzgerald, A. & Varley, D. Effectiveness of probiotics on the duration of illness in healthy children and adults who develop common acute respiratory infectious conditions: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Br. J. Nutr. 112, 41–54 (2014).
  4. Seida, J. K., Durec, T. & Kuhle, S. North American (Panax quinquefolius) and Asian Ginseng (Panax ginseng) Preparations for Prevention of the Common Cold in Healthy Adults: A Systematic Review. Evidence-Based Complement. Altern. Med. 2011, 1–7 (2011).
  5. Nantz, M. P. et al. Supplementation with aged garlic extract improves both NK and γδ-T cell function and reduces the severity of cold and flu symptoms: A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled nutrition intervention. Clin. Nutr. 31, 337–344 (2012).
  6. Percival, S. S. Aged Garlic Extract Modifies Human Immunity. J. Nutr. 146, 433S–436S (2016).
  7. Nantz, M. P. et al. Consumption of cranberry polyphenols enhances human γδ-T cell proliferation and reduces the number of symptoms associated with colds and influenza: a randomized, placebo-controlled intervention study. Nutr. J. 12, 161 (2013).

 

Top 8 Foods to improve Men’s Health

 

  1. Walnuts

Walnut is great source plant source of omega-3 (alpha-linolenic acid, ALA) and omega-6 fatty acids. A clinical trial using walnut as interventional dietary modification in men between the age of 21-35 who live on westernized diet showed that daily consumption of walnut improves sperm vitality, motility, and morphology after 12 weeks1. In addition, walnut also improves endothelial function (lining of the blood vessels). The foods that increase blood vessels and expand the blood vessels help to improve erections.

 

  1. Watermelon

Watermelon is rich in citrulline which helps to alleviate erectile dysfunction. Citrulline is converted to arginine which boosts the production of nitric oxide. Nitric oxide is a potent blood vessels expender which help to increase oxygen delivery to muscles and penis. In 2 week study using watermelon supplementation shown that watermelon increases the NO concentration in the blood. In this study, the men were supplemented with 300 mL/day of a watermelon juice concentrate, which provided ∼3.4 g l-citrulline/day. The study found that watermelon juice supplementation increased baseline plasma NO and improved muscle oxygenation2. Latest review showed that L-Citrulline supplementation, but not acute ingestion, have shown to improve exercise performance in young healthy adults3.

 

  1. Peaches

Peaches are rich in antioxidant such Vitamin C. Vitamin C is an important vitamin to lower the concentration of your stress hormone (cortisol). The lower your cortisol level, the higher your testosterone level. Peaches also have been shown to be beneficial in improving sperm motility. Study in mice showed that peach gum polysaccharides are effective in protecting the spermatogenesis in mice with impaired reproduction system4.

 

  1. Oysters

Oysters are rich in zinc. Zinc is a vital nutrient in the normal reproductive function and for optimal testosterone production. If you have low testosterone level, make sure that your intake of zinc is increased. Normal level of testosterone is important to maintain strong erections. If you not into oysters, you can try crab, lobsters, nuts, beans and whole grains. Animal study showed that oyster supplementation in zinc-deficient mice can prevent reproductive defects from zinc deficiency5.

 

food forest blueberries raspberries

  1. Berry fruits

The term ‘berry fruits’ encompasses the so-called ‘soft fruits’, primarily strawberry, currants, gooseberry, blackberry, raspberry, blueberry, and cranberry. The bioactive compounds in berries are mainly phenolic compounds (phenolic acids, flavonoids, such as anthocyanins and flavonols, and tannins) and ascorbic acid. These compounds, either individually or combined, are responsible for various health benefits of berries. Berries are the best natural sources of antioxidant to counteract the negative effect of free radicals. It has been shown to have cardioprotective effect in preventing atherosclerosis, heart attacks, and erectile dysfunction.

 

  1. Green leafy vegetables

Vegetables are loaded with nutrients and also magnesium which play a vital role in dilating blood vessels to maintain a strong erection. Magnesium also helps to calm down stress and reduce the cortisol level. Daily intake of leafy vegetables has been shown to reduce the risk of developing cardiovascular diseases such as heart attacks and stroke6.

 

slice of eggs on cakes

  1. Egg Yolk

Egg yolk is rich in vitamin D which is an essential vitamin to maintain a normal level of testosterone level. Egg yolk also contains protein, folate, phosphorus, vitamin B12 and selenium which is essential to produce good quality semen. Do go for free-range eggs. The study showed that eggs laid by the hens that range freely and have higher exposure to ultraviolet sunlight produce eggs that higher in vitamin D content7.

 

  1. Dark Chocolate

The ancient Incas called it “the drink of the Gods.” The cocoa tree was given the name “Theobroma cocoa” by combining the Greek terms “theo” (meaning God) and “broma” (meaning drink). The Aztec Emperor Montezuma drank Theobroma cocoa in large quantities and described it as “The divine drink, which builds up resistance and fights fatigue”. Dark chocolate is rich in  good nutrients (ie. flavonoids) which shown to be beneficial for your heart. It also contain phenylethylamine which can stimulate production of endorphin and serotonin in the brain. Dark chocolate consumption have been shown to decrease the level of inflammation in men in response to acute psychosocial stress in a randomised controlled trial8.

 

References

  1. Robbins, W. A. et al. Walnuts Improve Semen Quality in Men Consuming a Western-Style Diet: Randomized Control Dietary Intervention Trial1. Biol. Reprod. 87, (2012).
  2. Bailey, S. J. et al. Two weeks of watermelon juice supplementation improves nitric oxide bioavailability but not endurance exercise performance in humans. Nitric Oxide 59, 10–20 (2016).
  3. Figueroa, A., Wong, A., Jaime, S. J. & Gonzales, J. U. Influence of L-citrulline and watermelon supplementation on vascular function and exercise performance. Curr. Opin. Clin. Nutr. Metab. Care 20, 92–98 (2017).
  4. Qian, L., Wang, W., Song, J. & Chen, D. Peach gum polysaccharides improve the spermatogenesis of KKAy mice with impaired reproduction system. Am. J. Reprod. Immunol. 77, e12627 (2017).
  5. Matsuda, Y. & Watanabe, T. Effects of oyster extract on the reproductive function of zinc-deficient mice: bioavailability of zinc contained in oyster extract. Congenit. Anom. (Kyoto). 43, 271–9 (2003).
  6. Pollock, R. L. The effect of green leafy and cruciferous vegetable intake on the incidence of cardiovascular disease: A meta-analysis. JRSM Cardiovasc. Dis. 5, 204800401666143 (2016).
  7. Kühn, J., Schutkowski, A., Kluge, H., Hirche, F. & Stangl, G. I. Free-range farming: A natural alternative to produce vitamin D-enriched eggs. Nutrition 30, 481–484 (2014).
  8. Kuebler, U. et al. Dark chocolate attenuates intracellular pro-inflammatory reactivity to acute psychosocial stress in men: A randomized controlled trial. Brain. Behav. Immun. 57, 200–208 (2016).

 

13 Ways to Prime your Body to Lose Weight

“Let food be your medicine and medicine be your food”
Hippocrates

There are many options to lose weight. You could starve your self at the dinner table, joining a weight loss programme like your friends do, slaving away on the treadmill, or you could programme your body to subconsciously lose weight. Scientists have discovered that you can rewire your brain and activate certain genes in the body to prime your body to lose weight 24/7, without the unnecessary pain.

  1. Enrich your gut with fibers

Studies have shown that healthy leaner men have a healthier gut and healthier gut is gut that works synergistically with gut bacteria to maintain normal gut microenvironment and homeostasis. An NHS study found that fibers Inulin (not to be confused with insulin) is better for your gut than probiotic drinks! The Inulin is a starchy substance is used for medicine is most commonly obtained by soaking chicory roots in hot water. You can try roast-in season Jerusalem artichoke with garlic and add it to your soups and salads.

2. Distract your brain when you feel hungry

Scientists found that food craving begins in the brain, not belly! So next time when you feel hungry, rewire your brain to think or transport yourself into more pleasurable or imaginative experience to clear your craving and treat your mind to a better mental space. Next time when you craving for ice-cream or chocolate, browse your through your favorite designer’s website or go through the travel websites of your next holiday destination.

3. Choose a cheat day in the week

Scientists now know that willpower can be determined by your genes rather than an acquired personality trait. This means our genetics could affect our response when faced with a mouth-watering menu selection. Studies showed that if you treat yourself on a certain day in a week with a treat of your choice or craving, you are more likely to be able to resist your random temptation when facing mouth-watering indulgence/craving for the rest of the week.

4. Work out at the best body peak time

According to the Journal of chronobiology, our inbuilt body clock our body is strongest at 6pm. Use this time to hit the gym for full body workouts and burn more fats!

5. Upgrading your Juicing

clear glass mason jars

You can up your metabolism by upgrading your juicing with watermelon. Watermelon is low in sugar and rich in citrulline and lycopene. Watermelon is found to be effective in burning belly fats. According to the Journal of Nutrition (2011), high intake of lycopene found to lower the thickness of the internal layer of the blood vessels thus reducing the risk of myocardial infarction.

6. Go nuts!

Nuts are rich in nutrients and vitamins which have been shown to be beneficial for health. Peanuts are also rich in resveratrol,  a compound present in red wine might contribute in part to the “French paradox”, a phenomenon that refers to the relatively low rate of cardiovascular disease (CVD) in France despite high intake of dietary saturated fat. Resveratrol discovered to help burn more fats efficiently.

7. Have an Epsom salt bath

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Adding magnesium salt to your hot bath not only speed up recovery post-work ups but also increase your magnesium level via skin absorption. Epsom salt found to raise levels of anti-obesity hormone adiponectin, and reduce the risk of developing metabolic syndrome, according to Journal of Diabetic Medicine (2015).

8. Have a splash of grapefruit scent

citrus fruits close up food fresh

Because of its anti-obesity effects, grapefruit essential oils is called the “dieter’s friend”.  The smell of grapefruit has been shown to activate the nerve pathway to the body fats’ tissue which facilitates lipolysis, then results in a suppression of body weight gain according to International Journal of Molecular Science (2018).

9. Go to bed early and Wake up early

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A study in Sleep journal found that sleep of fewer than 5  hours a night increases the endocannabinoids in the blood which linked to impulse and reduced willpower. A study by North Western University found that morning light exposure resets your circadian rhythm and boost the production of hormones that linked to fats metabolism.

10. Spice up your life with chilies

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Chilles contains chemical compound called capsaicin that known to speed up metabolism and helps to lose weight.

11. Try matcha

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The green tea powder has been shown to boost level of “marathon enzyme’ AMPKL, which help to train harder for longer. Vitamin C makes the nutrients easier to absorb. Try a scoop of matcha with your morning shake.

12. Practice mindfulness for Zen mind

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Chronic stress was shown to disrupt the hormones linked to weight control. Mindfulness found to suppress this harmful stress-induced response at the genetic level.

13. Chew your foods thoroughly

Lingering longer over your foods and chewing thoroughly increases “diet-induced thermogenesis”. Chew at least 50 per mouthful (ideally 100 as per Prophet Muhammad), which improve the digestive process and help the gut absorb the nutrients effectively.

 

 

Testosterone – How to empower your manhood.

What is testosterone?

Testosterone (T hormone) a sex-steroid hormone which is found in humans, as well as in other animals. The testicles primarily make testosterone in men. Women’s ovaries also make testosterone, though in much smaller amounts. Testosterone production starts to increase significantly during puberty and begins to dip after age 30 or so.

man standing on brown sand while holding black rope

Testosterone is most often associated with sex drive and plays a vital role in sperm production. But it also affects bone and muscle mass, the way men store fat in the body, and even red blood cell production.

What are the symptoms of low T-level?

Low levels of testosterone can produce various symptoms in men, including:

  • Reduced sex drive
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Fatigue
  • Weight gain
  • Depression
  • Moodiness
  • Low self-esteem
  • poor growth of body hair
  • Osteoporosis or osteopenia (fragile bone due to lack of calcium and porosity of the bone)
  • Low testosterone can cause enlarged male breasts (gynecomastia).

The normal range of testosterone for men is between 250 and 1100 ng/dL for adult males, and between 8 and 60 ng/dL for adult females. You may ask your GP to check your T-level if experience most of the symptoms above as correcting the level of T-hormone will improve the symptoms.

adult beard businessman confidence

What are the foods that help to increase T-hormone?

  1. Salmon and Tuna – Rich in Vitamin D which is a vital hormone for testosterone production.
  2. Milk fortified with Vitamin D – Milk are great source of protein and calcium. The presence of vitamin D help the body absorb the calcium better in the gut.
  3. Egg Yolk – The yolk contain cholesterol and vitamin D which help to increase testosterone production by the testis.
  4. Oysters – Rich in mineral Zinc which essential for testosterone production and boost your libido.
  5. Shellfish (crab and lobster) – Also rich in Zinc.
  6. Red meat (beef) – A great source of zinc and beef liver is great source of vitamin D & A.
  7. Beans – Vegetarians options for vitamin D and zinc.

What are vitamins and supplement that I can take to increase or maintain normal T-level? 

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  1. Vitamin D – No doubt is the most essential vitamin that you need to take. You can ask the doctor to check your vitamin D level if you are concerned that you may have low vitamin D level. Low vitamin D level is common in people who has low level of exposure to sunlight and low intake of foods in the vitamin D as described above. A study in Malaysian men showed that high level of vitamin D is positively associated with higher level of testosterone 1.
  2. L-arginine
  3. Zinc – increased dietary zinc intake can stimulate testosterone synthesis in men and maintain normal level of testosterone 2.
  4. Vitamin E & C – Dietary supplementation with vitamin E and vitamin C in combination prevents the oxidative inhibition of testosterone synthesis induced by arsenic trioxide in male mice 3.
  5. Probiotics – A study in rats discovered that male mice routinely consuming purified lactic acid bacteria originally isolated from human milk had larger testicles and increased serum testosterone levels compared to their age-matched controls4.

What are herbal supplement that i can take to increase my T-level?

  1. Malaysian ginseng (Tongkat Ali) – Eurycoma longifolia is considered natural alternative to testosterone replacement therapy and has been shown to restore serum testosterone levels and improving sexual health in men5.
  2. DHEA (Dehydroepiadrosterone)
  3. Tribulus alatus extracts – Animal study showed that extracts showed significant increase in the level of free serum testosterone in rats treated with Tribulus6.
  4. Pine bark extract –  A clinical study using complex plant extract (Prelox®, a formulation of pine bark extract and l-arginine aspartate) for treatment of ED, found that Prelox cause significant increase in testosterone level and effective for treatment of ED7.
  5. Yohimbe (Pausinystalia macroceras) – Study in rats showed that treatment with Pausinystalia associated with increased in testosterone  level and positive effects on sperm count and motility8.

What else I could do to increase my testosterone level?

blue and red superman print tank top shirt

  1. Exercise regularly – regular exercise known to increase T level. Regular exercise also reduce the adipose tissues (fat tissues) which associated with production of oestrogen which antagonist to testosterone
  2. Lift weight – Weight training was shown to stimulate production of the testosterone. Testosterone is produce to stimulate muscle growth and strengthen the bones.
  3. High intensity interval training (HIIT) – this exercise regime is also shown to increase the testosterone level.
  4. Get regular exposure to sunlight (between 30-45 min daily). A Dutch study showed that sun exposure still appeared to be the most important determinant of serum 25(OH)D (vitamin D) in older individuals, then followed by genes, and dietary vitamin D intake9.
  5. Have a good night sleep – Good quality of sleep is important for the body to have the time to repair the tissue and rejuvenate the body. During the sleep, the body produce the hormones necessary for the strong healthy body.
  6. Reduce the stress level – it’s important to manage your stress level as the production of testosterone is affected when the body is under constant stress.
  7. Avoid xenoestrogen chemicals  that can antagonise the production of T hormone which can be present in plastics, shampoos, gasoline, cows, toothpaste.
  8. Stored food in glassware and never, ever, ever heated food in plastic containers. Most modern plastics contain phthalates (xenoestrogen).
  9. Avoided exposure to pesticides and gasoline (xenoestrogen)
  10. Eat organic when possible.
  11. Use natural grooming products. Most grooming products these days contain parabens, another type of xenoestrogen.
  12. Avoid BPA. Studies suggest that BPA, a chemical that lines food cans and thermal printer paper, may reduce testosterone.
  13. HAVE more SEX! Sexual activity stimulate natural production of testosterone.

couple love bedroom kissing

 Resources

  1. Chin, K.-Y., Ima-Nirwana, S. & Wan Ngah, W. Z. Vitamin D is significantly associated with total testosterone and sex hormone-binding globulin in Malaysian men. Aging Male 18, 175–179 (2015).
  2. Prasad, A. S., Mantzoros, C. S., Beck, F. W., Hess, J. W. & Brewer, G. J. Zinc status and serum testosterone levels of healthy adults. Nutrition 12, 344–8 (1996).
  3. El-Shenawy, N. S., AL-Harbi, M. S. & Hamza, R. Z. Effect of vitamin E and selenium separately and in combination on biochemical, immunological and histological changes induced by sodium azide in male mice. Exp. Toxicol. Pathol. 67, 65–76 (2015).
  4. Poutahidis, T. et al. Probiotic Microbes Sustain Youthful Serum Testosterone Levels and Testicular Size in Aging Mice. PLoS One 9, e84877 (2014).
  5. George, A. & Henkel, R. Phytoandrogenic properties of Eurycoma longifolia as natural alternative to testosterone replacement therapy. Andrologia 46, 708–721 (2014).
  6. El-Tantawy, W. H., Temraz, A. & El-Gindi, O. D. Free serum testosterone level in male rats treated with Tribulus alatus extracts. Int. Braz J Urol 33, 554-8; discussion 558-9
  7. Ledda, A., Belcaro, G., Cesarone, M. R., Dugall, M. & Schönlau, F. Investigation of a complex plant extract for mild to moderate erectile dysfunction in a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, parallel-arm study. BJU Int. 106, 1030–1033 (2010).
  8. Ikebuaso, A. D., Yama, O. E., Duru, F. I. O. & Oyebadejo, S. A. Experimental Testicular Torsion in a Rat Model: Effects of Treatment with Pausinystalia macroceras on Testis Functions. J. Reprod. Infertil. 13, 218–24 (2012).
  9. Brouwer-Brolsma, E. M. et al. Relative importance of summer sun exposure, vitamin D intake, and genes to vitamin D status in Dutch older adults: The B-PROOF study. J. Steroid Biochem. Mol. Biol. 164, 168–176 (2016).

 

Psychobiotic Revolution – “Chillax” with Probiotics

 

Do you know that human adult gut is populated by 10–100 trillion microbes that encapsulate approximately 150 times more genetic material than the human genome itself. Yes! It’s shocking! Now there is increasing evidence that gut microflora can influence the brain, but the scientists still figuring out how they do it. They do know however that regular intake of probiotic (good bacteria)  reduces levels of anxiety and depression-like behavior. They believe that good bacteria are capable of inducing changes in the GABAergic system in regions of the brain that are known to be involved in modulation of moods and behaviors.

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What are psychobiotics?

Psychobiotics are live bacteria (probiotics) which, when ingested, confer mental health benefits through interactions with commensal gut bacteria. This also includes prebiotics, which enhances the growth of beneficial gut bacteria. Psychobiotics exert anxiolytic (anti-anxiety) and antidepressant effects characterized by changes in emotional, cognitive, systemic, and neural indices. Bacteria–brain communication channels through which psychobiotics exert effects include the enteric nervous system (Gut-Brain Axis) and the immune system.

The bacteria most frequently exploited as probiotics are the Gram-positive Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillusfamilies. Bifidobacteria and Lactobacilli do not possess pro-inflammatory lipopolysaccharide chains, and so their presence and colonization in the gut do not trigger inflammatory action of our immune system nor cause infections. It should be noted, however, that Gram-positive bacteria are not always beneficial, and some species, such as the Clostridia family, may be pathogenic.

What is Microbiome-Gut-Brain Axis (“The Gut Feeling”)

The gut microbiome comprises all microorganisms  inhabiting the intestinal tract. Gut–brain axis through early colonisation and through which the brain and gut jointly maintain an organism’s health.

A pivotal study found that mice raised in sterile environments  (lacking indigenous bacteria) showed exaggerated physiological reactions to stress compared to normal controls. The abnormal reactions were reversible through probiotic-induced bacterial recolonization.

Gut bacteria have since been found to participate in the regulation of varied and important physiological processes, including immunomodulation (regulation of immune response against invaders), adiposity (regulation and distribution of fat tissue in the body), and metabolism as well as the modulation of nervous system in the gut.

What are the clinical experiments to support the benefits of probiotics on anxiety and depression? – “In the pursuit of happiness”

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Most studies are based on rodent models to induce life stress and behavioral changes. Findings of the studies are summarized below;

Probiotics increase production of  Serotonin (“Happy Hormones”) (Journal of Psychiatric Research, 2008) – Sprague-Dawley rats treated for 14 days with Bifidobacteria infantis have higher level of the serotonergic precursor, tryptophan by bifidobacteria treatment, provides encouraging evidence in support of the proposition that this probiotic may possess antidepressant effects.

Probiotics vs. Antidepressant Study (Neuroscience, 2010) – Probiotic Bifidobacterium infantis supplementation in rats (maternal-separation model) normalizes the anxiety and depressive behaviours in the rats and the effects of probiotics were noted to be comparable to effects of citalopram (anti-depressant).

Probiotics effects on brain (National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 2011) –  Rats fed with Lactobacillus rhamnosus showed fewer depressive and anxious behaviours. These changes were accompanied by a blunted corticosterone response to stress, suggesting that the probiotic downregulated HPA-axis activity. Probiotics differentially altered expression of inhibitory GABA receptors in specific brain areas via Vagus Nerves (nerves that connect the gut to the brain).

Probiotics reduce anxiety and improve learning (The Sages College, New York, 2013) – Healthy mice fed Mycobacterium vaccae displayed reduced anxiety in a maze-learning task. Probiotic-fed mice completed the maze faster and with fewer errors, The benefits persisted at 1 week, but not 3 weeks, after supplementation.

Any latest Human Researches?

Fermented milk drink containing Lactobacillus casei Shirota (Yakult, Japan) vs. placebo -supplementation resulted in significantly more participants self-rating as happy rather than depressed, relative to placebo (European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2006).

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Bottom lines

In conclusion, there are significant benefits of probiotics in improving the moods and reducing anxiety levels, therefore next time instead of binging on alcohol, try probiotic drink instead. Try to consume probiotics daily and consistently either by consuming probiotics yogourt, yogourt drink or even taking the capsule of probiotics daily. Dairy free-options includes Kefir and fermented vegetables such as Kimchi.

Enjoy and “Chillax” the healthy way!

 

Miracles of Olive Oils

Olive oil is one of the most healthy forms of dietary fats. There are several types of olive oils that are present in the market. Ranging from Extra Virgin Olive oils to mixed products of several vegetable oils for cooking, salad dressing etc.  A key question is,

“What makes the olive oils so nutritionally beneficial and considered as the miracle oil?”

bowl being poured with yellow liquid

Scientifically, the major components of the olive oil are fatty acids. There are different type of fatty acids in olive oils, of which the MUFA oleic acid represents from 55 to 83 % of the total fatty acids, PUFA from 4 to 20 % and SFA from 8 to 14 %.

The minor components of olive oil constitute from 1 to 2 % of the total content of an olive oil. They are classified into two types:

(1) the unsaponifiable fraction that could be extracted with solvents after the saponification of the oil and contains squalene and other triterpenes, sterols, tocopherols, and pigments;

(2) the soluble fraction that includes the phenolic compounds, which are the most studied and best-known components in terms of their benefits for health.

The benefits of olive oils are summarised below. The findings are based on verified clinical studies and experimental studies on animals.

Cardioprotective effects of Olive Oils

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Regular consumption of olive oils is associated with lower risk of cardiovascular disease.

This cardioprotective effect is verified in The PREDIMED (Prevención con Dieta Mediterránea) study published in BMC medical journal (2014). The study showed that Olive oil consumption in Mediterranean populations, specifically the extra-virgin variety, is associated with reduced risks of cardiovascular disease. The study also found that olive oil consumption was associated with a 48% reduced risk of death from cardiovascular diseases such as heart attacks and strokes. For each 10 g/d increase in extra-virgin olive oil consumption, cardiovascular disease and mortality risk decreased by 10% and 7%, respectively.

Hence, if you have significant family history and risk factors for heart disease, olive oils are the best option compared to other vegetables or animal-derived oils for regular consumption in order to reduce your risks of cardiovascular disease.

 

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The benefits of olive oils are not limited to the heart. A large body of evidence demonstrated the benefits of Olive oil. The scientifically proven benefits of olive oils consumption are published in The British Journal of Nutrition (2014);

  • Improve lipid profile – Olive oils are the healthier choice of fats because it contains a high level of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats and shown to increase HDL level.
  • Improve insulin sensitivity (the ability of the cells to transport glucose from the bloodstream into the cells) – Hence, reducing the risk of Type 2 Diabetes
  • Rich in antioxidants – Olive oil is full of antioxidants such as vitamin Ecarotenoids and oleuropein.
  • Reduce inflammation – reduce the risk of developing autoimmune disease
  • Reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease (ie stroke and heart attacks) by maintaining normal endothelial (blood vessel lining) function, thrombotic factors (prevent blood clots) and reduction of blood pressure.

Because of the high quality of evidence, Federal Drug Administration of the USA permitted a claim on olive oil labels concerning: ‘the benefits on the risk of CHD of eating about two tablespoons (23 g) of olive oil daily, due to the monounsaturated fat (MUFA) in olive oil’.

Olive Oils are Natural Non-steroidal Anti-inflammatory

assorted medication capsules

Virgin Olive Oils (VOO) with high phenolic content has been shown to be effective in reducing the eicosanoid inflammatory mediators derived from arachidonic acid (pro-inflammatory precursor). A research published in Nature (2004), found that newly pressed extra-virgin olive oil contains oleocanthal. Oleocanthal (oleo for olive, canth for sting, and al for aldehyde) –  a compound whose pungency induces a strong stinging sensation in the throat, not unlike that caused by solutions of the non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug such as ibuprofen.

A point of interest is that the spatial irritation produced by oleocanthal is specific to the throat region. Generally, irritant or pungent foods are perceived in all regions in the mouth, rather than isolated to a spatially distinct area. This implies that a sensory receptor specific to oleocanthal exists exclusively in the oropharyngeal region but not in the mouth. 

Oleocanthal is a natural anti-inflammatory compound that has a potency and profile strikingly similar to that of ibuprofen. Although they have different chemical structure, they both inhibit the same COX enzymes in the prostaglandin-biosynthesis pathway. Subsequent to its discovery and identification, oleocanthal has been reported to exhibit various modes of action in reducing inflammatory-related disease, including joint-degenerative disease, neurodegenerative disease (Alzheimer’s) and cancers. This could explain the reason why the prevalence of chronic inflammatory disease in Mediterranean populations are the lowest in the world, and life expectancy amongst the highest!

Olive oils for healthy skin

Olive oil is an excellent moisturizer. Linoleic acids in the oils prevent water from evaporating. So if you put olive oil on your skin, it locks in the moisture and all of the other vitamins and minerals olive oil contains.

adults baby care child

Antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties of extra-virgin olive oil can help with this common skin problem such as acne and dermatitis. Application of Olive oils on the skin with dermatitis help to prevent colonization and infection caused by Staph aureus (Dermatitis, 2008).

Olive oil is a natural sunscreen. It can be used to protect the skin from damaging ultraviolet ray. Plus, the presence of fats and cholesterol in the oils helps the skin to synthesize vitamin D when exposed to sunlight. It also can be used to treat sunburns.

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Olive oils for healthy hairs

Olive oils not only have antibacterial action but it also able to kill yeast and fungus. Antifungal properties in extra-virgin olive oil can help with a dandruff problem. It also can be used to treat damaged hair.

Apply oil to the scalp and cover with a shower cap or plastic carrier bag. Relax for an hour then shampoo hair. Repeat twice a week.

 

Olive oils for healthier Gut

Olive oil stimulates the production of bile in the liver and its expulsion from the gallbladder into the intestine. Hence, it will help the gut to digest the fatty foods better. Consume one to two tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil with each fatty meal.

Extra virgin olive oil to be effective against H. pylori. H. pylori are harmful that can cause gastritis, peptic ulcer disease and some case, stomach cancer. In the study published in Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry (2007), olive oils exhibit a strong bactericidal activity against eight strains of H. pylori, three of them resistant to some antibiotics! Among the phenolic compounds, the dialdehydic form of decarboxymethyl ligstroside aglycon showed the strongest bactericidal effect at a concentration as low as 1.3 microg/mL.

A Spanish study by Castro et. al (2012) showed that 30 grams of extra virgin olive oil can eliminate Helicobacter pylori infection in 10-40% of people in as little as 4 weeks.

 

person pouring vegetable oil on vegetable salad

In conclusion, they are plenty of benefits of olive oils and the latest research and clinical trials support the use of olive oils for its medicinal use. I personally take 1 spoon of olive oils in the morning. If I forget to take it in the morning, I usually use the oils on my salads or take 1 spoon with my dinners. 1 tablespoon of Olive oils a day keeps the disease away!