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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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

photo of towel and bath bomb near candle

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

green grass close up photo

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

chili lot

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

11. Try matcha

person holding bowl near brown wooden table

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

photo of woman riding swing in front of waterfalls

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? 

person spreading hands against sun

  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).

 

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

man couple love people

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.

 

green onion spring near clear glass container

 

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!

 

 

7 Best Protein Powder

What are protein powder?

Protein powder is a common supplement that provides a concentrated amount of dietary protein from both plant and animal sources. Some popular examples include whey, casein, hemp and bone broth protein powder. Protein powder helps to build muscle mass and maximize fat burning. You can also use protein powder to increase your caloric intake if you’re wanting to gain weight in a healthy way.

There are also several different forms of protein powder;

  • Protein concentrates:  contains 60–80 percent of calories from protein with the remaining calories from fat and carbohydrates.
  • Protein isolates: Protein isolates are further filtered to remove much of the fat and carbohydrates, resulting in a more highly concentrated form of protein powder. In general, protein isolates typically contain between 90–95 percent protein.
  • Protein hydrolysates: produced by breaking down the bond between amino acids in the protein, creating a type of small protein (peptides) that is more easily absorbable by your body.

What are the best Protein powder?

  1. Bone Broth Protein Powder
  2. Collagen Protein Powder
  3. Whey Protein Powder
  4. Hemp Protein Powder
  5. Pea Protein Powder
  6. Casein Protein Powder
  7. Brown Rice Protein Powder

Bone Broth Protein Powder

Bone broth is made by simmering different parts of animals, including bones and connective tissues, into a nutrient-rich broth, which can then be dehydrated and concentrated into a protein powder.

soup on white ceramic soup bowl
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Benefits:

  • Rich in Collagen: Collagen is an important protein to maintain healthy hair, skin, joints and nails.
  • Improve skin elasticity and moisture:  Studies show that supplementing with a collagen-containing supplement like bone broth protein powder could improve skin elasticity and skin moisture in older adults. A Study published in Journal of Skin Pharmacology and Physiology (2014) showed that supplementation with collagen peptides improve skin elasticity and moisture after 4 weeks of taking the supplement.
  • Modulate Immune System: Some research suggests that protein powder made from bone broth can reduce inflammation and reduce the risk of inflammatory condition such as leaky gut syndrome.
  • Promote joint health: Collagen has been shown to reduce joint micro-injuries from strenuous activities and reduce joint pain athletes (Current Medical Research and Opinion, 2008).

Collagen Protein Powder

Beside bone broths, other best sources of collagen protein includes chicken collagen, bovine collagen fish collagen and egg-shell collagen.

Whey Protein

Whey protein is produced from milk. Therefore, it may contain lactose and may not be suitable for lactose intolerance individuals. If you have lactose intolerance, the best option is to take whey protein isolate as majority of the lactose are removed during the manufacturing process. But the price for the whey protein isolate maybe slightly expensive compared to whey protein concentrate or mixed or combination. Nowadays, most brand will tell you on the label whether the protein is suitable or not for lactose intolerant individuals.

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Benefits of Whey Protein

Improve muscle strength; whey protein can help speed up muscle recovery and enhance muscle growth.

High in BCAA; BCAA helps to promote muscle recovery and support muscle synthesis after exercise.

Modulate appetite; Help to reduce appetite or hunger.

Improve fat body composition; Whey protein help to decrease fat mass and waist circumference (Journal of Nutrition, 2011).

 

The 7 Benefits of Coconut Oils

clear glass container with coconut oilCoconut, Cocos nucifera L., is a tree that is mainly grown for its nutritional and medicinal values. Coconut oil, derived from the coconut fruit, has been recognized historically as containing high levels of saturated fat. Unlike most other dietary fats that are high in long-chain fatty acids, coconut oil comprises medium-chain fatty acids (MCFA). MCFA are unique in that they are easily absorbed and metabolized by the liver, and can be converted to ketones. Ketone bodies are an important alternative energy source in the brain and may be beneficial to people developing or already with memory impairment, as in Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Here are the 7 wonderful benefits of coconut oils

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  1. Improve your lipid profile

Daily consumption of coconut oils has been shown to improve the lipid profile and reduce the level of bad cholesterol in the body. Coconut oils have been shown in the studies to increase the HDL (High-Density Lipoprotein) level (good cholesterol) and reduce LDL (Low-Density Lipoprotein) level (bad cholesterol) in the body. Recent study published in the BMJ journal shown that Coconut oil significantly increased HDL-C compared with butter 1. HDL level is usually used by the doctors as a marker of physical fitness. A healthy and active individual usually have a higher ratio of HDL over LDL. The level of LDL can be increased by regular exercise and physical activity. A sedentary lifestyle is associated with increased LDL level and reduced level of HDL in the blood.

  1. Improve brain power and cognitive functions

Regular consumption of coconut oils has been shown to improve brain function and reduce the risk of developing dementia. Coconut oils have been shown to improve the brain function of patients with Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and considered non-drug alternative for treatment of dementia 2. One study on coconut oil enriched Mediterranean diet shown improvement in cognitive functions in patients with AD after 21 days of adopting this diet 3 . In addition to MCFA, coconut also contains phenolic compounds and hormones (cytokinins) that may assist in preventing the aggregation of the amyloid-β peptide, potentially inhibiting a key step in the pathogenesis of AD 4. Coconut oil has also been studied for the treatment of seizure disorder or epilepsy which are caused by abnormal neuronal discharges and activities in the brain.

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  1. Increase body ability to burn fat and body metabolic rate

Coconut oils contain Medium-Chain fatty acids or Triglycerides (MCTs) and have been shown to help the body to burn fats efficiently through increased energy expenditure and lipid oxidation (fat burning). Coconut oil contains combinations of MCTs that help to increase the metabolic rate of the body and help to burn fat,  aid the weight loss process and prevent obesity 5. Randomized controlled trials show that MCTs intake in the diet induces modest reductions in body weight and composition without adversely affecting lipid profiles. That means that you can consume coconut oils in moderation without increasing your cholesterol level 6.

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  1. Best Skin Moisturiser and natural sun-screen

Coconut oils also can be applied to the skin and used as a moisturizer. Coconut oils were shown in clinical studies to improve skin health by providing effective skin hydration and increase skin surface lipid levels 7. Coconut oils are hypoallergenic, chemical-free, and fragrance-free, therefore suitable for all type of skin even the sensitive skins. Virgin coconut oil (VCO) is the finest grade of coconut oil are best used on the skin as the oils are rich in phenolic content, antioxidant activity and contains medium chain triglycerides (MCTs). Applications of VCO on the skin have been shown to speed the healing process by increasing the production of collagen and formation of new blood vessels and this has been shown on the animal’s models 8.  In addition, coconut oils also able to block 20% of the UV from penetrating the skin when exposed to sunlight. Coconut oils are also beneficial for hairs. Coconut oil, being a triglyceride of lauric acid (principal fatty acid), has a high affinity for hair proteins and, because of its low molecular weight and straight linear chain, is able to penetrate inside the hair shaft.

white heart shape on human skin

  1. Natural antimicrobials

Coconut oils are a natural antibiotic, antiviral and antifungal. Coconuts oils contain lauric acids which when digested, are converted to monolaurin. Lauric acid has proven anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial effects. A study by Malaysian scientists has shown that coconut oil exhibit as much as 90% and 80% antibacterial activities against Staphylococcus aureus and Escherichia coli, respectively 9. Coconut oils also have been shown to have antibacterial activity against C. difficile, which is a common hospital-acquired infection resulting from the overuse and overtreatment with antibiotics. A study showed that lauric acid in the virgin coconut oil inhibits the growth of the C. difficile and can be used to treated C. difficile associated diarrhea 10. The use of coconut oil for oil pulling is an effective adjuvant procedure in decreasing plaque formation and plaque-induced gingivitis 11. In the study, a statistically significant decrease in the plaque and gingival indices were noticed from day 7 and the scores continued to decrease during the period of study.

woman with red lipstickOil pulling is considered a cost-effective intervention to promote dental hygiene. Coconut oils are also a potent antifungal and have been considered the first dietary intervention to reduce C. albicans GI colonization. Candida albicans, the most common human fungal pathogen, can cause infections with a mortality rate of ~40%. C. albicans is part of the normal gut flora, but when a patient’s immune system is compromised, it can leave the gut and cause infections 12.

When the scientists compared the effects of chlorohexidine (a potent ingredient in mouthwash), fluconazole (an anti-fungal drug used for the treatment of fungal overgrowth) and coconut oils, they found that coconut oil has shown significant antifungal activity which is comparable with ketoconazole and chlorhexidine 13. The best thing about coconut oils that you can get them without a prescription and far less toxic compared to those two compounds.

tan coconuts placed atop brown wooden table
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  1. Reduce the risk of heart disease (cardioprotective)

Regular consumption of coconut oils has been shown to protects from developing the cardiovascular diseases such as atherosclerosis, heart attacks, and stroke. Study on rats that were fed on heated palm oil diets (proinflammatory diets) shown that group of rats fed on heated palm oils diet with virgin coconut oils have lower systolic blood pressure compared to a group of rats fed on palm oils alone without virgin coconut oils supplementation. This study suggested that virgin coconut supplementation possesses a cardioprotective effect by preventing the increase in blood pressure via an antioxidant mechanism 14. The antioxidant properties of virgin coconut oils prevent the oxidative stress, which is indicated by the decreased formation of lipid peroxidation and protein oxidation products like malondialdehyde, hydroperoxides, conjugated dienes and protein carbonyls in serum15 and tissues compared to other oil such corn oils and sunflower oils.

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  1. Anti-cancer properties

A recent study showed that lauric acids that present in coconut oils able to potential to hamper tumor growth. LA was shown to elicit inhibitory effects only in colon cancer cells by inducing apoptosis (induced cells death) 16. Currently, fatty acids are studied to be incorporated into the treatment of cancer. Lauric acid able to make tumor cells more sensitive to biological chemotherapy regime by inducing the expression of microRNA. A recent study published in Oncology Reports demonstrated that lauric acid may efficiently induce miR-378 expression which significantly improved sensitivity to Cetuximab (chemo biologic agent) in the treatment of colorectal cancer 17.

short coated brown dog beside coconut shell
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References

  1. Khaw, K.-T. et al. Randomised trial of coconut oil, olive oil or butter on blood lipids and other cardiovascular risk factors in healthy men and women. BMJ Open 8, e020167 (2018).
  2. Hu Yang, I. et al. [COCONUT OIL: NON-ALTERNATIVE DRUG TREATMENT AGAINST ALZHEIMER´S DISEASE]. Nutr. Hosp. 32, 2822–7 (2015).
  3. de la Rubia Ortí, J. E. et al. Improvement of Main Cognitive Functions in Patients with Alzheimer’s Disease after Treatment with Coconut Oil Enriched Mediterranean Diet: A Pilot Study. J. Alzheimer’s Dis. 65, 577–587 (2018).
  4. Fernando, W. M. A. D. B. et al. The role of dietary coconut for the prevention and treatment of Alzheimer’s disease: potential mechanisms of action. Br. J. Nutr. 114, 1–14 (2015).
  5. St-Onge, M.-P., Ross, R., Parsons, W. D. & Jones, P. J. H. Medium-Chain Triglycerides Increase Energy Expenditure and Decrease Adiposity in Overweight Men. Obes. Res. 11, 395–402 (2003).
  6. Mumme, K. & Stonehouse, W. Effects of Medium-Chain Triglycerides on Weight Loss and Body Composition: A Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials. J. Acad. Nutr. Diet. 115, 249–263 (2015).
  7. Agero, A. L. C. & Verallo-Rowell, V. M. A randomized double-blind controlled trial comparing extra virgin coconut oil with mineral oil as a moisturizer for mild to moderate xerosis. Dermat. contact, atopic, Occup. drug 15, 109–16 (2004).
  8. Nevin, K. G. & Rajamohan, T. Effect of Topical Application of Virgin Coconut Oil on Skin Components and Antioxidant Status during Dermal Wound Healing in Young Rats. Skin Pharmacol. Physiol. 23, 290–297 (2010).
  9. Khoramnia, A., Ebrahimpour, A., Ghanbari, R., Ajdari, Z. & Lai, O.-M. Improvement of Medium Chain Fatty Acid Content and Antimicrobial Activity of Coconut Oil via Solid-State Fermentation Using a Malaysian Geotrichum candidum. Biomed Res. Int. 2013, 1–9 (2013).
  10. Shilling, M. et al. Antimicrobial Effects of Virgin Coconut Oil and Its Medium-Chain Fatty Acids on Clostridium difficile. J. Med. Food 16, 1079–1085 (2013).
  11. Peedikayil, F., Sreenivasan, P. & Narayanan, A. Effect of coconut oil in plaque related gingivitis – A preliminary report. Niger. Med. J. 56, 143 (2015).
  12. Gunsalus, K. T. W., Tornberg-Belanger, S. N., Matthan, N. R., Lichtenstein, A. H. & Kumamoto, C. A. Manipulation of Host Diet To Reduce Gastrointestinal Colonization by the Opportunistic Pathogen Candida albicans. mSphere 1, (2016).
  13. Shino, B. et al. Comparison of Antimicrobial Activity of Chlorhexidine, Coconut Oil, Probiotics, and Ketoconazole on Candida albicans Isolated in Children with Early Childhood Caries: An In Vitro Study. Scientifica (Cairo). 2016, 1–5 (2016).
  14. Kamisah, Y. et al. Cardioprotective effect of virgin coconut oil in heated palm oil diet-induced hypertensive rats. Pharm. Biol. 53, 1243–1249 (2015).
  15. Arunima, S. & Rajamohan, T. Effect of virgin coconut oil enriched diet on the antioxidant status and paraoxonase 1 activity in ameliorating the oxidative stress in rats – a comparative study. Food Funct. 4, 1402 (2013).
  16. Lappano, R. et al. The lauric acid-activated signaling prompts apoptosis in cancer cells. Cell Death Discov. 3, 17063 (2017).
  17. WENG, W.-H., LEUNG, W.-H., PANG, Y.-J. & HSU, H.-H. Lauric acid can improve the sensitization of Cetuximab in KRAS/BRAF mutated colorectal cancer cells by retrievable microRNA-378 expression. Oncol. Rep. 35, 107–116 (2016).