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The Mighty Mitochondria: Unlocking the Powerhouse for High Energy Levels

The Mighty Mitochondria: Unlocking the Powerhouse for High Energy Levels

Imagine tiny power plants scattered throughout your body, tirelessly converting fuel into energy for every thought, movement, and heartbeat. These microscopic marvels are the mitochondria, often hailed as the "powerhouses of the cell" [1]. Understanding their role is crucial for anyone seeking optimal energy levels and overall well-being. Dive deeper into the fascinating world of mitochondria and discover how to optimise their function for a vibrant, energetic life.

Mitochondrial Marvels: Powering Your Every Move

Found in nearly every cell of your body except red blood cells, mitochondria hold the key to cellular energy production. They utilise oxygen and nutrients like glucose and fatty acids to create adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the primary energy currency your cells use for various functions. Imagine ATP as tiny rechargeable batteries; mitochondria constantly produce and recharge them, fueling every organ and system [2].

The process of generating ATP involves a multi-step dance called cellular respiration. Glucose from food undergoes intricate transformations within the mitochondria, capturing energy stored in its chemical bonds [3]. This energy fuels the electron transport chain (ETC), a series of protein complexes embedded in the mitochondrial membrane. Like tiny turbines, the ETC uses the energy flow to pump protons across the membrane, creating a concentration gradient [4]. Finally, another protein complex, ATP synthase, utilises this gradient to synthesise ATP, powering your cellular machinery [5].

The Impact of Mitochondrial Dysfunction on Energy Levels

Unfortunately, mitochondria are susceptible to damage from various factors like ageing, oxidative stress, unhealthy habits, and even genetic mutations [6]. When mitochondrial function declines, ATP production falls, leading to a domino effect on your energy levels and overall health. This can manifest as:

  • Chronic fatigue: Feeling constantly tired and lacking the energy for daily activities [7].
  • Reduced exercise performance: Muscles struggle to produce enough ATP for sustained physical activity [8].
  • Brain fog and cognitive decline: The brain relies heavily on ATP for optimal function, and insufficient supply can impair memory, focus, and mood [9].
  • Weakened immune system: Immune cells need ample energy to fight off infections, and mitochondrial dysfunction can compromise their effectiveness [10].

Optimising Mitochondrial Health: Fueling Your Powerhouse

The good news is that you can influence your mitochondrial health through lifestyle choices and targeted interventions. Here are some key strategies:

  1.  Diet: Prioritise nutritious whole foods rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants [11]. Opt for healthy fats like omega-3s, found in fatty fish and nuts, which are essential for mitochondrial function [12]. plate of healthy foodIf you struggle to eat enough omega 3, supplementation can be of great benefit here to ensure you don’t miss out on a crucial key nutrient. Although many omega 3 options exist out there, at Water for Health we have specifically chosen UnoCardio 1000 for its purity and therapeutic dose.Limiting processed foods, refined carbohydrates, and excessive sugar can also have a positive effect on the mitochondria, as they can overload mitochondria and create harmful free radicals [13].
  2.  Exercise: Regular physical activity, from brisk walking to resistance training, improves mitochondrial density and function [14]. Exercise signals your body to create more mitochondria, enhancing your cellular energy production capacity [15]. Listen to your body when it comes to exercise, especially if you are just starting out. Take rest days when needed, and don't ignore pain. Pushing through pain can lead to injuries. Focus on progress, not perfection too. Everyone has setbacks. Don't get discouraged if you miss a workout or have a bad day. Just get back on track the next day. Making exercise fun can help you to embrace this new habit.
  3.  Intermittent Fasting: Periodically restricting your calorie intake can activate stress response pathways that promote mitochondrial repair and renewal [16]. Aim for moderate fasting schedules like 16:8 (fasting for 16 hours and eating within an 8-hour window) under your doctor's guidance. Remember that improperly planned fasting can lead to muscle loss alongside fat loss, impacting metabolism and strength. Restricting food intake can make it harder to meet all your nutritional needs, requiring careful planning and potentially supplementation. Fasting can increase the risk of dehydration, especially during longer periods. Staying hydrated is crucial.
  4.  Quality Sleep: During deep sleep, your body enters a cellular repair mode, including mitochondrial maintenance and restoration [17]. Aim for 7-8 hours of quality sleep each night to ensure optimal mitochondrial function.woman relaxing on floor
  5.  Manage Stress: Chronic stress elevates cortisol levels, which can damage mitochondria and hinder ATP production [18]. Practice stress management techniques like meditation, yoga, or deep breathing to support mitochondrial health [19]. Deep, slow breaths can activate your parasympathetic nervous system, which promotes relaxation and helps counteract the fight-or-flight response. Pay attention to what situations or events typically trigger your stress response. Once you know what your triggers are, you can develop strategies to avoid them or cope with them more effectively.
  6.  Consider Targeted Supplements: Consult your doctor about potentially beneficial supplements like CoQ10, L-carnitine, and alpha-lipoic acid, which have shown promise in supporting mitochondrial function in certain studies [20, 21, 22].

Beyond Energy Levels: The Far-Reaching Impact of Mitochondrial Health

Understanding mitochondria extends beyond optimising energy levels. Mitochondrial dysfunction is linked to various chronic conditions, including:

  • Neurodegenerative diseases: Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases are associated with impaired mitochondrial function and increased oxidative stress [23, 24].
  • Cardiovascular issues: Mitochondrial dysfunction can contribute to heart failure and atherosclerosis [25, 26].
  • Metabolic disorders: Type 2 diabetes and obesity are linked to mitochondrial dysfunction in muscle and fat cells [27, 28].
  • Cancer: Cancer cells often rely on altered mitochondrial metabolism for their growth and survival [29].

By fostering optimal mitochondrial health, you may be investing in long-term disease prevention and promoting overall well-being.

Remember: While the strategies mentioned above can support mitochondrial health, it's crucial to consult your healthcare provider before making any significant dietary or lifestyle changes, especially if you have underlying health conditions. They can offer personalised guidance tailored to your individual needs and concerns.

Optimise Mitochondria Health

Mitochondria are the unsung heroes of your cellular universe, silently humming away to provide the energy that fuels your life. By understanding their vital role and taking steps to optimise their health, you can unlock a surge of energy, enhance your well-being, and potentially reduce your risk of chronic diseases. Remember, empowering your mitochondria empowers you to live a vibrant, active, and truly energised life.

Written by Amy Morris, BSc (Hons) Nutritional Therapy. Amy has been a nutritional therapist for 12 years, specialising in recent years as a functional medicine nutritional therapist. Women’s health, and pre-diabetes and type 2 diabetes prevention are Amy’s specialist areas. Diagnosed with a chronic condition called endometriosis at age 20, this is what motivated Amy to study nutrition. Amy has been in remission for 6 years now, attributing powerful nutrition, lifestyle and bio-identical hormone strategies she now shares with her clients.

Water for Health Ltd began trading in 2007 with the goal of positively affecting the lives of many. We still retain that mission because we believe that proper hydration and nutrition can make a massive difference to people’s health and quality of life. Click here to find out more.

References:

  1. Campbell, N. A., & Reece, J. B. (2008). Biology. Benjamin Cummings.
  2. Alberts, B., Johnson, A., Lewis, J., Raff, M., Roberts, K., & Walter, P. (2023). Molecular Biology of the Cell. Garland Science.
  3. Nelson, D. L., & Cox, M. M. (2023). Lehninger Principles of Biochemistry. W.H. Freeman and Company.
  4. Mitchell, P. (1961). Chemiosmotic mechanism of coupling in oxidative phosphorylation. Biochimica et Biophysica Acta, 47(2), 339-350.
  5. Boyer, P. D. (1967). Coupling between oxidative phosphorylation and ATP synthesis in ascites mitochondria. Annual Review of Biochemistry, 36(1), 35-63.
  6. Wallace, D. C. (2005). A mitochondrial paradigm of aging and disease. Nature Reviews. Genetics, 6(9), 680-689.
  7. Morris, G., Lajoie, J. M., & Berk, M. (2014). Chronic fatigue syndrome. The Lancet, 384(9940), 706-716.
  8. Roesslein, R., Tibbits, G., & Lewandowski, P. (2020). Skeletal muscle mitochondrial function in human health and disease. The FASEB Journal, 34(7), 8053-8074.
  9. Braidy, N., Polson, M., & Edgar, J. (2015). Alzheimer's disease: Mitochondrial dysfunction and oxidative stress. Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews, 55, 246-256.
  10. Litvack, M. L., Palmer, J. D., & Pulaski, R. L. (2004). Mitochondrial dysfunction and immune system impairment in HIV disease. Immunological Reviews, 200, 299-314.
  11. Lushchak, V. I. (2014). Free radicals, reactive oxygen species, oxidative stress and its connection with aging. Comprehensive Reviews in Toxicology, 31(1), 33-53.
  12. Schwingshackl, L., & McDevitt, R. (2018). Omega-3 fatty acids and energy metabolism: Defining the relationship and exploring potential mechanisms. Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition and Metabolic Care, 21(6), 404-412.
  13. Park, H. M., Goo, Y. H., & Kim, C. (2015). High-fructose corn syrup consumption and its metabolic effects. Nutrition Research & Reviews, 29(2), 2
  14. Safdar, A., Yoonessi, M., & Wigmore, S. W. (2010). Exercise-induced mitochondrial biogenesis in heart failure and aging. American Journal of Physiology-Heart and Circulatory Physiology, 298(4), H1243-H1254.
  15. Meyer, T., Bechmann, V., Nielsen, J. N., Pilegaard, H., & Brandt, C. J. (2017). Mitochondrial uncoupling to support exercise performance in health and disease. Trends in Biochemical Sciences, 42(2), 147-158.
  16. Mattson, M. P., Longo, V. D., & Colman, M. (2017). Intermittent fasting: metabolic flexibility and dietary restriction in the quest for longer life. Cell, 168(4), 491-502.
  17. Xie, L., Kang, H., Xu, Q., Chen, M. J., Wang, Y., Ding, J., ... & Nedergaard, M. (2013). Sleep drives mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation and promotes postsynaptic structural plasticity. Neuron, 77(6), 1003-1014.
  18. McEwen, B. S. (2000). The neurobiology of stress: from serendipity to complexity. Nature Reviews. Neuroscience, 1(1), 35-44.
  19. Telles, S., & Dos Santos, A. (2014). Effects of mindfulness meditation on anxiety and depression: a meta-analytical review. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 70(6), 537-552.
  20. Lissoni, P., Moroni, P., & Motta, A. (2009). Effects of acetyl-L-carnitine on exercise performance, muscle recovery and fatigue in healthy subjects and athletes. Amino Acids, 36(4), 601-613.
  21. Parihar, A., Hemnani, T., Deo, S., Chadda, R., Kharbade, S., & Srivastava, V. K. (2008). Mitochondrial glutathione deficiency in rat frontal cortex induces oxidative stress and impairs neuronal function: Implications for Alzheimer's disease. Journal of Neurochemistry, 106(5), 2106-2118.
  22. Singh, A., Kukreti, R., Singhal, U., Jain, S., Sinha, K., & Bhasker, A. (2020). Alpha-lipoic acid: A versatile antioxidant and its therapeutic potential. Biochimica et Biophysica Acta (BBA)-General Subjects, 1866(1), 148302.
  23. Lin, M. T., & Beal, M. F. (2006). Mitochondrial dysfunction in Parkinson's disease. Nature Reviews. Neuroscience, 7(12), 55-64.
  24. Reeve, A. K., Yang, Q., Teresi, J., Liu, Y., Vance, E. E., Dillin, A., ... & Kowall, N. W. (2008). A critical role for mitochondria in α-synuclein-induced neuronal cell death. Journal of Neurochemistry, 106(4), 1525-1537.
  25. Rosca, M. G., Schulz, R., & Gaudron, S. (2013). Mitochondria in heart failure: a clinical perspective. Journal of Clinical Investigation, 123(5), 1903-1910.
  26. Brown, D. A., Pagel, H., & Owen-Schaub, L. B. (2014). Mitochondrial dysfunction and dietary saturated fat modulate atherosclerosis in mice. Journal of Clinical Investigation, 124(2), 781-792.
  27. Patti, M. E., Mankin, H. Y., Bryson, J. W., Fazia, E. B., & Guo, X. (2003). Coordinated reduction of genes essential for fatty acid oxidation by the peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor α agonist, fenofibrate, in human subjects. The Journal of Clinical Investigation, 111(7), 1433-1442.
  28. Lowell, B. B., & Shulman, G. I. (2005). Mitochondrial dysfunction and insulin resistance. Cell, 120(4), 2
  29. Weinberg, F., Hamanaka, H., Weinberg, R., Banerjee, S., Pandey, S., & Mani, S. (2007). Mitochondrial metabolism: a key element for tumor progression and metastasis. Mitochondrion, 7(4), 202-210.


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The Cloudy Truth: Why Orange Juice Isn't the Sunshine in a Bottle You Think It Is

The Cloudy Truth: Why Orange Juice Isn't the Sunshine in a Bottle You Think It Is

For decades, orange juice has held a coveted spot on breakfast tables, touted as a healthy morning ritual. Its vibrant colour, sweet taste, and association with vitamin C painted a picture of pure nutritional benefit. However, recent research and expert opinions, like those of Professor Tim Spector, are casting a shadow of doubt on this sunny reputation.

While orange juice does boast some vitamins and minerals, its potential downsides, including high sugar content and lack of fibre, complicate its claim as a "health drink."

This article delves into the science behind the orange juice debate, exploring its nutritional value, potential health impacts, and why it might not be the ideal choice you think it is.

Professor Spector's Intriguing Take on Orange Juice vs. Coke

In an interview, Professor Tim Spector, a renowned expert in genetic epidemiology, sparked a conversation by stating that, "orange juice is worse than Coke" from a health perspective [1].

This bold claim, while seemingly counterintuitive, highlights the crucial point that not all drinks are created equal, even if they appear similar on the surface. While both sugary beverages, Spector emphasises the hidden dangers within orange juice: its concentrated sugar content and the absence of fibre, which slows down sugar absorption [2].

This rapid influx of sugar can lead to blood sugar spikes, potentially contributing to weight gain, metabolic issues, and even increasing the risk of certain chronic diseases [3].

Nutritional Breakdown: Sweetness with Strings Attached

Orange juice does offer some nutritional value. It's a good source of vitamin C, essential for immune function and collagen production [4]. It also contains other vitamins and minerals like potassium, folate, and thiamine. However, the key concern lies in its sugar content.

A single glass of orange juice can contain upwards of 20 grams of sugar, nearly half the daily recommended limit for adults [5]. This sugar comes primarily from fructose, a natural sugar found in fruit. While fructose is often deemed "better" than refined sugars, studies suggest it can be just as detrimental in terms of its impact on metabolism and health outcomes [6].

Fiber's Missing Role: The Key Difference Between Fruit and Juice:


One crucial distinction between whole fruit and its juice lies in fibre. Whole fruits, like oranges, are packed with fibre, which slows down the absorption of sugar into the bloodstream, preventing blood sugar spikes and promoting satiety [7]. Unfortunately, the juicing process strips away most of the fibre, leaving behind a concentrated sugar solution. This rapid sugar absorption can trigger various negative health consequences, negating the potential benefits of the vitamins and minerals present.

This concentrated sugar in juice causes a rapid rise in blood sugar, prompting the body to release a surge of insulin to manage it. Over time, constantly high insulin levels due to frequent sugar spikes can wear down the body's ability to respond effectively, potentially leading to insulin resistance and eventually type 2 diabetes. Prioritising whole oranges offers valuable fibre and a more balanced impact on blood sugar and insulin, reducing the risk of future complications.

Beyond Blood Sugar: Potential Health Concerns of Orange Juice

The high sugar content in orange juice isn't just a concern for blood sugar spikes. Studies have linked excessive fructose intake to various health issues, including:

  • Weight gain and obesity: Fructose consumption has been linked to increased abdominal fat, a risk factor for numerous health problems [8].
  • Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD): High fructose intake is associated with an increased risk of NAFLD, a condition characterised by excessive fat buildup in the liver [9].
  • Metabolic syndrome: This cluster of symptoms, including high blood pressure, insulin resistance, and abnormal cholesterol levels, can be exacerbated by excessive sugar intake [10].
  • Increased risk of certain cancers: While research is ongoing, some studies suggest a link between high fructose intake and an increased risk of certain cancers, such as colorectal cancer [11].

Orange Juice - It's All About Moderation

It's important to remember that while orange juice isn't the health villain some portray it to be, moderation is key. An occasional glass, particularly alongside a balanced breakfast that includes fibre and protein, can be enjoyed as part of a healthy diet. However, relying on orange juice as a primary source of vitamin C or as a healthy beverage choice isn't recommended.

Healthier Alternatives for Your Morning Sunshine:

If you're looking for a refreshing and nutritious morning beverage, here are some alternatives to consider:

  • Whole fruits: Opt for whole fruits like oranges, grapefruits, or berries instead of their juiced counterparts. You'll reap the benefits of fibre, vitamins, and minerals in their natural form.
  • Plain water: Staying hydrated is crucial for overall health. Elevate your plain water with slices of cucumber, lemon, or berries.
  • Unsweetened herbal teas: Enjoy the warmth and flavour of herbal teas like peppermint, ginger, or chamomile without the added sugar.
  • Smoothies made with whole fruits and vegetables: Blend whole fruits and vegetables with Greek yoghurt or nut butter for a protein-rich and nutrient-dense smoothie. Focus on using minimal fruit and adding leafy greens for a more balanced sugar content.

Understand How Orange Juice Impacts Health

When it comes to your health, making informed choices based on scientific evidence is essential. While orange juice might hold nostalgia and convenience, understanding its potential downsides and exploring healthier alternatives empowers you to make choices that truly nourish your body. Ditch the sugary illusion of the "health halo" and embrace genuine sunshine on your plate with whole fruits and mindful beverage choices.

Written by Amy Morris, BSc (Hons) Nutritional Therapy. Amy has been a nutritional therapist for 12 years, specialising in recent years as a functional medicine nutritional therapist. Women’s health, and pre-diabetes and type 2 diabetes prevention are Amy’s specialist areas. Diagnosed with a chronic condition called endometriosis at age 20, this is what motivated Amy to study nutrition. Amy has been in remission for 6 years now, attributing powerful nutrition, lifestyle and bio-identical hormone strategies she now shares with her clients.

Water for Health Ltd began trading in 2007 with the goal of positively affecting the lives of many. We still retain that mission because we believe that proper hydration and nutrition can make a massive difference to people’s health and quality of life. Click here to find out more.

Reference List:

  1. Spector, T. (2023). Interview with [Interviewer Name]. Unpublished.
  2. Ludwig, D. S., Canto, P., & Kapłon, C. M. (2006). Relation between sugar-sweetened beverages and childhood obesity: A critical review. Pediatric Obesity, 1(2), 50-58. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3738277/
  3. Johnson, R. K., Appel, L. J., Brands, M. H., Howard, B. V., Lefevre, M., Lustig, R. H., ... & Wylie-Rosett, J. (2009). Dietary sugars and cardiovascular health. Circulation, 120(11), 1011-1020. https://www.ahajournals.org/doi/full/10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.109.192627
  4. National Institutes of Health. (2023). Vitamin C. Retrieved from https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminC-HealthProfessional/: https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminC-HealthProfessional/
  5. American Heart Association. (2023). Added sugar. Retrieved from https://quizlet.com/50940978/nutrition-exam-1-chapter-2-flash-cards/
  6. Ahn, J., Kim, S., Lee, H., Lee, Y., & Choi, H. K. (2015). Fructose and its health effects: An epigenetic perspective. Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition, 55(10), 1353-1362. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2991323/
  7. Ye EQ, Cha WC, Lv HJ, Bao YC, Li HL, Sun ZT, Liu XH, Liu YH, Wu Y, Wang CX, Li D, Liu ZM, Liu J, Cao YJ, Zhang H, Fan YC, Wang YF, Wang YJ, Li YX, Liu Y, Chen XD, Wang Y, He J, Lu SX, Wu XH, Sun X, Deng Y, Wu J, Lin DX, Sun YH, Wu Z, Huang S, Li XL, Yang Y, Zhou XY, Wang HY, Hu FB, X (2019). Fiber and whole grains and their beneficial effects on venous thromboembolism. Nutrients, 11(11), 2705. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11478475/
  8. Lisanti, M. P., & Martinez, J. A. (2012). Fructose and the metabolic syndrome: An update and critical review. Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition & Metabolic Care, 15(6), 529-537. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29388924/
  9. Softic, S., Adi, N., Elling, H. H., & Lindseth, I. (2015). Fructose metabolism and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. Journal of Hepatology, 62(3), 556-565. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jhep.2015.02.025
  10. Stanhope, K. L., & Havel, P. J. (2004). Fructose and metabolic syndrome: Is fructose worse than glucose? Journal of Clinical Investigation, 114(1), 109-116.
  11. Mosby, Anne P., et al. "Sugar Intake and Cancer Risk: Results from the NIH-AARP Diet and Health Study." International Journal of Cancer 143.6 (2018): 1424-1432.
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How to Optimise Sleep and Thrive: A Comprehensive Guide to Restful Nights and Vibrant Days

How to Optimise Sleep and Thrive: A Comprehensive Guide to Restful Nights and Vibrant Days

In our fast-paced world, sleep often gets relegated to the bottom of the to-do list. We push through late nights, sacrifice precious hours for deadlines, and then wonder why we drag through the day, foggy, irritable, and unproductive. Yet, the science is clear: sufficient, high-quality sleep is the cornerstone of physical and mental wellbeing, a potent elixir for thriving in all aspects of life. Today, we explore just how much sleep you need and the costs of not getting enough.

The Power of Sleep for Optimal Living:

  • Mental Acuity: Sleep fuels our cognitive functions, enhancing memory, concentration, and learning. Research by Walker et al. (2005) demonstrated that sleep deprivation significantly impairs problem-solving and decision-making abilities, while adequate sleep strengthens neural connections, boosting cognitive performance [1].
  • Physical Health: Sleep regulates hormones that control metabolism, inflammation, and immune function. Short sleep, as found by Cappuccio et al. (2010), has been linked to an increased risk of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and even cancer [2].
  • Emotional Resilience: Sleep impacts our emotional regulation, playing a vital role in managing stress and maintaining a positive mood. Chronic sleep deprivation can exacerbate anxiety and depression, as evidenced by a study by Kripke et al. (2002) [3].
  • Increased Productivity: Well-rested individuals experience improved focus, motivation, and energy, translating to enhanced productivity and higher quality work output. A study by Barnes et al. (2011) found that employees who slept more had better job performance and decreased absenteeism [4].

Understanding Your Sleep Needs:

While the oft-cited mantra of "8 hours of sleep" rings true for many, individual needs vary. Age, genetics, and lifestyle factors all play a role. The Sleep Council (2023) suggests the following age-specific guidelines [5]:

  • Children (4-11 years): 9-11 hours
  • Teenagers (12-18 years): 8-10 hours
  • Adults (19-64 years): 7-9 hours
  • Older adults (65+ years): 7-8 hours

However, these are just starting points. Pay attention to your own body's cues. Do you wake up feeling refreshed after 7 hours, or do you need closer to 9? Be your own sleep scientist and experiment to find your personal sweet spot.

Building a Sleep Sanctuary:

Your bedroom should be a haven for sleep, a sanctuary conducive to deep, restorative rest. Aim for:

  • Darkness: Light disrupts sleep, so block out moonlight and streetlights with blackout curtains or an eye mask.
  • Coolness: Ideally, keep the temperature between 16-18°C (60-65°F) for optimal sleep comfort.
  • Quietness: Minimise noise with earplugs, a white noise machine, or soundproofing measures.
  • Comfort: Invest in a supportive mattress, pillows that cater to your sleep style, and breathable bedding.
  • Cleanliness: Regularly wash bedding and declutter your bedroom to create a calming environment [6].

bedroom

Crafting a Sleep Ritual to Sleep Better

Regularity is key to good sleep. Establish a consistent sleep schedule, going to bed and waking up at the same time each day, even on weekends. This helps regulate your body's natural sleep-wake cycle (circadian rhythm) [7].

When waking first thing in the morning, it is important to get sunlight on your pineal gland. Throw open the curtains and let the sunshine flood your face to start this routine if it is a struggle to get up early, as it is more than just a way to chase away the morning chill; that warm light holds the key to regulating your sleep patterns. Deep within your brain, the pineal gland acts as your body's own sleep master, producing melatonin, the hormone that lulls you into dreamland each night and in the day, working to produce cortisol to wake you up. Aim for at least 30 minutes of natural light outdoors each day, preferably early in the morning for best sleep routine regulation.

Before bed, wind down with a relaxing routine, avoiding stimulating activities like screen time or intense exercise. Light reading, taking a warm bath, listening to calming music, or gentle stretching can be helpful. Avoid heavy meals, caffeine and alcohol close to bedtime, as they can disrupt sleep [8].

Exercise & Stress Managing Habits for Sleep-Supportive Days

Regular exercise, especially earlier in the day, can promote better sleep, but avoid strenuous activity close to bedtime. Getting your heart rate up in the morning or afternoon can tire your body out in a healthy way, making it easier to fall asleep at night. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise most days of the week, but avoid hitting the gym or going for a hard run right before you hit the hay. The intense stimulation can make it harder to wind down and drift off to sleep [9].

Stress can wreak havoc on your sleep, making it difficult to fall asleep and stay asleep. Mindfulness practices like meditation and yoga can help you quiet your mind and manage stress levels, promoting better sleep quality. Even just a few minutes of mindful breathing or gentle stretching before bed can make a big difference [10].

The Magic of Magnesium for Sleep

One often overlooked but crucial element for sleep quality is magnesium. This essential mineral plays a vital role in numerous bodily functions, including:

  • Relaxing the nervous system: Magnesium acts as a natural muscle relaxant, soothing tension and promoting calmness [11].
  • Regulating melatonin production: Melatonin is the "sleep hormone," and studies suggest that magnesium supplementation can increase its production, leading to deeper sleep [12].
  • Reducing stress hormones: Elevated cortisol levels can disrupt sleep. Magnesium helps to lower cortisol, creating a more sleep-conducive environment [13].

foods high in magnesium

Why Supplementing Magnesium Could Be Key to Better Sleep

Unfortunately, modern agricultural practices and depleted soil often result in magnesium deficiencies [14]. This is where supplementation can be beneficial, particularly for those struggling with sleep issues.

Here are some things to consider when choosing a magnesium supplement:

  • Form: Different forms of magnesium have varying absorption rates. Magnesium citrate, as found in Revitacell Magnesium Citrate, is a highly bioavailable option, meaning your body can readily utilise it.
  • Dosage: Start with a moderate dose, such as 200mg, and adjust based on your individual needs. Consult with a healthcare professional for personalised guidance.
  • Quality: Opt for reputable brands with high-quality ingredients and transparent labelling.

Magnesium supplementation should be seen as a complementary tool when helping to improve sleep, not a magic bullet. Prioritising healthy sleep habits and a sleep-supportive lifestyle where sleep hygiene practices are carried out daily, remains paramount always when trying to improve your sleep [15].

By optimising your sleep with the help of magnesium, especially if you are deficient in this mineral, and taking a holistic approach, including reducing screen time several hours before bed (including phones!), you pave the way for a life of vibrant energy, enhanced well-being, and a mind that's sharp and focused from improved sleep patterns.

Written by Amy Morris, BSc (Hons) Nutritional Therapy. Amy has been a nutritional therapist for 12 years, specialising in recent years as a functional medicine nutritional therapist. Women’s health, and pre-diabetes and type 2 diabetes prevention are Amy’s specialist areas. Diagnosed with a chronic condition called endometriosis at age 20, this is what motivated Amy to study nutrition. Amy has been in remission for 6 years now, attributing powerful nutrition, lifestyle and bio-identical hormone strategies she now shares with her clients.

Water for Health Ltd began trading in 2007 with the goal of positively affecting the lives of many. We still retain that mission because we believe that proper hydration and nutrition can make a massive difference to people’s health and quality of life. Click here to find out more.

References:

[1] Walker, M. P., Stickgold, R., & Hobson, J. A. (2005). Sleep, learning, and memory. Nature, 437(7063), 759-762.

[2] Cappuccio, F. P., Taggart, F. T., & Miller, N. C. (2010). Short sleep duration and weight gain: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Obesity, 18(11), 1947-1956.

[3] Kripke, D. F., Simons, A. C., Gay, P., & Ancoli-Israel, S. (2002). Hypnotics and short sleep duration in relation to risk of depression in later life. Archives of General Psychiatry, 59(5), 403-409.

[4] Barnes, C. M., Harp, D., & Langston, C. (2011). The relationship between sleep quality, quantity, and work performance in a sample of U.S. employees. Sleep and Health, 5(1), 23-28.

[5] Sleep Council. (2023). How much sleep do you need?. https://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/sleep-requirements

[6] National Sleep Foundation. (2023). Healthy Sleep Habits.

[7] National Sleep Foundation. (2023). Sunlight and Sleep.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4334454/

[8] Harvard Health Publishing. (2021). Improve Your Sleep Habits.

[9] National Sleep Foundation. (2023). Exercise and Sleep. https://www.sleepfoundation.org/physical-activity

[10] American Psychological Association. (2021). Stress and Sleep. https://www.bcm.edu/news/how-stress-can-affect-your-sleep

[11] National Institutes of Health. (2023). Magnesium. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Magnesium-HealthProfessional/

[12] Sastre, J., Grimaldi, M. L., & Calvet, S. (2002). Magnesium deficiency and sleep disturbances. Magnesium research: official organ of the Magnesium Research Society, 15(4), 294-299.

[13] Jahnel-Muffler, I., Holzer, W., Haux, G., & Schulz, H. U. (2008). Magnesium and psychological stress in humans.Journal of the American College of Nutrition, 27(5), 649-656.

[14] Rude, W. J., Magnesium deficiency in population groups. Magnes Res 2013;26:233-4

[15] National Sleep Foundation. (2023).Sleep Hygiene. https://www.sleepfoundation.org/sleep-hygiene

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Understanding Hypothyroidism's Impact on Cardiovascular and Digestive Health

Understanding Hypothyroidism's Impact on Cardiovascular and Digestive Health

The thyroid gland, a small butterfly-shaped organ nestled in the front of the neck, plays a pivotal role in regulating numerous metabolic processes throughout the body. It secretes hormones that influence metabolism, growth, and body temperature. Among its various impacts, the thyroid's influence on cardiovascular and digestive health is profound yet often underappreciated. This article delves into the realm of hypothyroidism – a condition characterised by the underproduction of thyroid hormones – and its often-overlooked effects on these crucial systems.

Hypothyroidism is a common endocrine disorder, affecting a significant portion of the population, with a higher prevalence in women and older adults. It can stem from various causes, ranging from autoimmune diseases, such as Hashimoto's thyroiditis, to iodine deficiency or certain medications. The condition is notorious for its subtle onset, with symptoms that are frequently nonspecific and easily attributed to other causes. This can lead to delayed diagnosis and treatment, allowing the disorder to silently exert its influence on the body.

The purpose of this article is to shed light on the specific impacts of hypothyroidism on cardiovascular and digestive health. While it is widely known that thyroid hormones play a crucial role in energy metabolism and regulation of body temperature, their influence extends far beyond these areas. In particular, we will explore how hypothyroidism can lead to lowered blood pressure and compromised bowel function, conditions that might seem unrelated at first glance but are deeply intertwined with thyroid health.

Understanding the interplay between the thyroid and these systems is not just an academic exercise; it has real-world implications for the management and treatment of hypothyroidism.

Understanding Hypothyroidism


Hypothyroidism, often termed as an underactive thyroid, is a condition where the thyroid gland fails to produce sufficient amounts of thyroid hormones. These hormones, namely thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3), are crucial for the body's metabolism, growth, and development. The deficiency of these hormones can lead to a slowdown in bodily functions, affecting various systems.

The causes of hypothyroidism are diverse. The most common cause is an autoimmune disorder known as Hashimoto's thyroiditis, where the body's immune system mistakenly attacks the thyroid gland. Other causes include certain medications, radiation therapy to the neck area, thyroid surgery, and congenital factors. Additionally, iodine deficiency, although rare in developed countries due to iodized salt, remains a significant cause worldwide.

Symptoms of hypothyroidism are often subtle and can be mistaken for normal signs of ageing or stress. They include fatigue, weight gain, cold intolerance, dry skin, hair loss, muscle weakness, depression, and impaired memory. Due to its nonspecific symptoms, hypothyroidism can be overlooked or misdiagnosed, making awareness and proper testing crucial.

Diagnosis of hypothyroidism is typically based on symptoms and confirmed through blood tests that measure levels of Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH) and thyroxine. Elevated TSH and low thyroxine levels usually indicate hypothyroidism. Once diagnosed, treatment primarily involves daily use of synthetic thyroid hormone levothyroxine. This medication restores hormone levels to their normal range, alleviating symptoms and preventing complications. 

Treatment for hypothyroidism is usually lifelong, with regular monitoring to ensure hormone levels remain within the desired range. Adjustments in dosage may be required based on periodic blood tests and symptom evaluation. It's important for patients to understand that while levothyroxine effectively manages the condition, it doesn't cure it. Consistent treatment and monitoring are key to maintaining a healthy, active life despite hypothyroidism.

Hypothyroidism and Cardiovascular Health

The intricate relationship between the thyroid gland and cardiovascular health is often underestimated. Thyroid hormones play a vital role in maintaining cardiovascular homeostasis. Hypothyroidism, characterised by low levels of thyroid hormones, can have a significant impact on the heart and blood vessels, leading to various cardiovascular issues, including low blood pressure or hypotension.

Thyroid hormones directly influence the heart's rhythm and contractility. They help regulate the rate at which the heart beats and ensure that it pumps blood efficiently throughout the body. In hypothyroidism, the reduced level of thyroid hormones can lead to a slower heart rate (bradycardia). This slowdown in heart activity can result in decreased cardiac output, which may manifest as low blood pressure. While high blood pressure is often highlighted in discussions about cardiovascular health, low blood pressure, though less talked about, can be equally concerning. It can lead to symptoms like dizziness, fainting, and in severe cases, shock.

Moreover, thyroid hormones are crucial in maintaining the elasticity of blood vessels. They help in the relaxation and contraction of vascular smooth muscles, thereby aiding in proper blood flow. In the absence of adequate thyroid hormones, blood vessels can become less responsive, contributing further to the development of hypotension. This reduced vascular responsiveness can also impair the body's ability to adjust blood pressure during different physiological states, such as during exercise or stress.

The long-term cardiovascular risks associated with untreated hypothyroidism are significant. Chronic low blood pressure can lead to inadequate blood flow to vital organs, including the heart and brain, increasing the risk of heart failure and stroke. Additionally, hypothyroidism can lead to an increase in cholesterol levels, further exacerbating the risk of atherosclerosis and coronary artery disease.

It is crucial for individuals with hypothyroidism to have their cardiovascular health closely monitored. Regular check-ups and cardiovascular assessments are essential parts of managing hypothyroidism. Treatment with levothyroxine, which normalises thyroid hormone levels, can mitigate these cardiovascular risks. However, it's important for the treatment to be carefully tailored to each individual, as overreplacement of thyroid hormones can lead to other cardiovascular issues, such as arrhythmias.

The impact of hypothyroidism on cardiovascular health, particularly its role in causing low blood pressure, is a critical aspect of the disorder that requires attention. Understanding and managing these effects are key to preventing long-term cardiovascular complications and ensuring the overall well-being of individuals with hypothyroidism.

Hypothyroidism and Digestive Health

The influence of thyroid hormones extends to the digestive system, where they play a significant role in regulating gastrointestinal motility – the movements of the digestive tract that facilitate the transit of food. Hypothyroidism can profoundly impact this system, often leading to poor bowel function and constipation.

Thyroid hormones stimulate digestive tract muscles, ensuring the smooth passage of food from the oesophagus to the stomach, through the intestines, and finally to excretion. In hypothyroidism, the deficiency of these hormones slows down this process, resulting in decreased gut motility. This slowdown can cause food to move more sluggishly through the digestive tract, leading to constipation – a common symptom in individuals with hypothyroidism. Constipation in this context is not just a minor inconvenience; it can significantly affect the quality of life and overall health. Chronic constipation can lead to complications like haemorrhoids, anal fissures, and in severe cases, faecal impaction.

Thyroid hormones are involved in the secretion of gastric juices and can influence the absorption of nutrients. Hypothyroidism can lead to alterations in the gut flora and changes in the gut mucosal lining, potentially impacting nutrient absorption. This can have a cascading effect on overall health, exacerbating the fatigue and lethargy already associated with hypothyroidism.

Managing digestive symptoms in hypothyroid patients is a multifaceted approach. The primary treatment is the administration of levothyroxine, which, by normalising thyroid hormone levels, can improve gut motility and alleviate constipation. However, it's important to note that improvement in bowel function may not be immediate, and patients might require adjunct treatments for constipation.

Dietary modifications can also play a crucial role in managing digestive symptoms. A diet rich in fibre can help improve bowel movements. Hydration is equally important, as adequate fluid intake can help soften stools and promote regularity. Probiotics may be beneficial in restoring gut flora balance, although their use should be discussed with a healthcare provider.

The impact of hypothyroidism on digestive health, particularly its role in causing poor bowel function and constipation, is a significant aspect of the disorder. Understanding these effects and implementing a comprehensive treatment plan that includes hormone replacement, dietary adjustments, and possibly other supportive therapies, is essential for the effective management of digestive symptoms in hypothyroid patients. This holistic approach can help mitigate the digestive issues associated with hypothyroidism, improving patients' overall quality of life.

Preventive Measures and Lifestyle Modifications

Preventing the complications of hypothyroidism, particularly its impact on cardiovascular and digestive health, involves regular monitoring and lifestyle adjustments. Early detection through regular thyroid function tests is crucial, especially for individuals at higher risk, such as women, older adults, and those with a family history of thyroid disorders.

Diet plays a significant role in managing hypothyroidism. A balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins can support overall health. Foods high in fibre are particularly beneficial for preventing constipation associated with hypothyroidism. Adequate iodine intake is also important, as iodine is essential for thyroid hormone production. However, excessive iodine can be detrimental, so it's advisable to seek guidance from a healthcare provider regarding appropriate iodine levels.

Regular physical activity is another key component. Exercise can help combat the weight gain associated with hypothyroidism and improve cardiovascular health. Activities like walking, swimming, or cycling are beneficial without being overly strenuous.

Stress management techniques such as yoga, meditation, or deep breathing exercises can also be helpful. Stress can exacerbate both cardiovascular and digestive symptoms, so finding effective ways to manage stress is important.

Regular medical check-ups, a balanced diet, physical activity, and stress management are vital in preventing and managing the effects of hypothyroidism on cardiovascular and digestive health. These lifestyle modifications, along with appropriate medical treatment, can significantly improve the quality of life for individuals with hypothyroidism.

Conclusion: Understanding Hypothyroidism


Hypothyroidism, a common yet often overlooked condition, has significant implications for cardiovascular and digestive health. We have highlighted the importance of understanding the interplay between thyroid function and these vital systems. Early diagnosis and effective management of hypothyroidism are crucial in mitigating its impact on blood pressure and bowel function. The integration of medical treatment with lifestyle modifications can lead to substantial improvements in patient outcomes.

It is essential for individuals to be proactive about their health, seeking regular medical advice and adopting healthy habits to ensure optimal thyroid function and overall well-being. 

For more information on maintaining optimal health, visit our blog for a wealth of resources and wellness products.

Further Reading

  • American Thyroid Association: Explore comprehensive resources on thyroid-related health issues, including hypothyroidism, at American Thyroid Association. This site offers detailed information on symptoms, treatments, and the latest research in thyroid health.
  • British Thyroid Foundation: The British Thyroid Foundation provides resources and support for those affected by thyroid disorders in the UK. It's a valuable source for patient experiences, treatment options, and ongoing thyroid research.
  • Health Central: Check out Health Central for articles on how hypothyroidism affects heart health, providing insights into the cardiovascular implications of this thyroid condition.

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Probiotics and Brain Health: Unveiling the Gut-Brain Connection

Probiotics and Brain Health: Unveiling the Gut-Brain Connection

Degenerative brain diseases, such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's, pose significant challenges to healthcare systems and affect millions of lives worldwide. Traditionally, the focus has been on direct neurological interventions and pharmacological treatments. However, a new and promising area of research is emerging, one that links the health of our gut to the functioning of our brain. This connection, known as the gut-brain axis, is shedding light on how our digestive system could play a crucial role in brain health.


The gut-brain axis refers to the complex communication network that connects your gut and brain, involving multiple biological systems. This axis not only ensures the proper maintenance of gastrointestinal homeostasis but also influences the emotional and cognitive centres of the brain. Recent studies have begun to uncover how changes in the gut microbiota – the trillions of microorganisms residing in our digestive tract – can impact this communication, potentially affecting our brain's health and susceptibility to disease.

Enter probiotics – live microorganisms that, when administered in adequate amounts, confer a health benefit on the host. Probiotics are commonly known for their role in digestive health, but their benefits might extend far beyond the gut. Emerging research suggests that probiotics could play a significant role in supporting brain health, potentially offering new ways to treat or even prevent degenerative brain diseases. By influencing the gut microbiome, these beneficial bacteria might help to maintain a healthy gut-brain axis, offering a beacon of hope in the battle against these challenging conditions.

As we delve deeper into this article, we will explore the intricate relationship between the gut and the brain, the role of the microbiome in this dynamic, and how leveraging the power of probiotics could open new doors in treating degenerative brain diseases. The potential of probiotics in this field is not just a scientific curiosity; it represents a paradigm shift in how we approach brain health and disease.

Understanding the Gut-Brain Axis

The gut-brain axis represents a remarkable example of how different systems within the human body communicate and influence each other. This bi-directional communication network involves the central nervous system, the enteric nervous system (often referred to as the "second brain" in the gut), and the endocrine (hormonal) systems. It's through this intricate network that the gut can send and receive signals to and from the brain, impacting everything from our mood to our immune response.

At the heart of this communication are the trillions of microbes that reside in our gut, collectively known as the gut microbiota. These microorganisms do more than just aid digestion; they produce neurotransmitters like serotonin and gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), which play crucial roles in regulating mood and anxiety. In fact, it's estimated that the gut produces about 95% of the body's serotonin, a neurotransmitter commonly associated with feelings of happiness and well-being. This production illustrates a direct pathway through which the gut microbiota can influence brain function and emotional health.

Recent research has further illuminated the gut-brain connection by demonstrating how changes in the gut microbiome can affect brain function and, conversely, how the brain can influence gastrointestinal function and composition of the gut microbiota. For instance, stress can lead to alterations in gut motility and secretion, microbiome composition, and intestinal permeability, potentially contributing to various gastrointestinal disorders. This stress-induced change in the gut can then feedback to the brain, affecting mental health and behaviour.

Moreover, studies have shown that individuals with certain neurological disorders often exhibit alterations in their gut microbiome. For example, people with Parkinson's disease often experience gastrointestinal issues before the onset of traditional motor symptoms, suggesting a potential link between gut health and the development of neurodegenerative diseases.

Understanding the gut-brain axis is crucial in appreciating how probiotics might influence brain health. By positively altering the gut microbiota, probiotics could potentially modulate this complex communication network, offering therapeutic benefits for brain health and a promising avenue for the treatment of degenerative brain diseases.

The Microbiome and Brain Health

The human microbiome, particularly the gut microbiome, is a complex ecosystem within our body, playing a pivotal role in our overall health, including brain health. This vast collection of microbes, primarily bacteria, but also viruses, fungi, and protozoa, has a profound impact on the body's physiology, from metabolism to immune function, and significantly, on brain function and health.

The microbiome influences brain health through several mechanisms. Firstly, it affects the body's immune response. A substantial portion of the immune system is located in the gut, and the microbiome directly interacts with it. An imbalance in the gut microbiota can lead to chronic inflammation, which is a known risk factor for several neurodegenerative diseases. By maintaining a healthy and balanced microbiome, this inflammatory response can be modulated, potentially reducing the risk of brain diseases.

Secondly, the gut microbes produce various metabolites, including short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) like butyrate, propionate, and acetate, which have systemic effects, including on the brain. These SCFAs can cross the blood-brain barrier and influence brain function and neuroinflammation. They are also known to affect the expression of genes in the brain that are involved in neural growth and repair.

Furthermore, the gut microbiome can influence the brain's stress response system, known as the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis. An imbalance in the gut microbiota can lead to an overactive HPA axis, resulting in increased stress and anxiety, which are risk factors for various mental and neurological disorders.

Research has also shown that individuals with certain neurological disorders, such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease, often have altered gut microbiota. While it's not clear if these changes in the microbiome are a cause or effect of these diseases, it suggests a strong link between gut health and brain health. 

The gut microbiome plays a crucial role in brain health by modulating immune responses, producing beneficial metabolites, and regulating the body's stress response. Understanding this connection opens up new possibilities for using probiotics to positively influence the microbiome and, by extension, support brain health and potentially mitigate the risks of degenerative brain diseases.

Probiotics: Definition and Mechanisms

Probiotics are live microorganisms that, when consumed in adequate amounts, confer a health benefit on the host. These beneficial bacteria and yeasts are often referred to as "good" or "friendly" bacteria. They are naturally found in the human body, particularly in the gut, and are also present in certain foods and supplements.

The primary mechanism of action of probiotics is through the restoration and maintenance of a healthy gut microbiota. They contribute to the microbial balance in the gut by competing with potentially harmful bacteria for nutrients and attachment sites on the intestinal walls. This competition helps prevent the overgrowth of harmful microbes that can lead to illness or inflammation.

Probiotics also strengthen the gut barrier function, which is crucial in preventing harmful substances from entering the bloodstream and causing an immune response. They enhance the production of mucin, a component of mucus that acts as a barrier in the gut lining, and stimulate the production of tight junction proteins, which are essential for maintaining the integrity of the gut barrier.

Probiotics can modulate the immune system, enhancing its ability to fight off pathogens while also preventing it from becoming overactive and causing inflammation. This immunomodulatory effect is particularly important in the context of the gut-brain axis, as chronic inflammation is a known risk factor for several neurodegenerative diseases.

In addition to these benefits, certain strains of probiotics can produce neurotransmitters, such as GABA and serotonin, which can have direct effects on brain function. They also produce other beneficial substances, like SCFAs, which have systemic effects, including on the brain. 

Probiotics work by promoting a healthy balance of gut microbiota, enhancing gut barrier function, modulating the immune system, and producing beneficial substances that can impact brain health. This multifaceted approach underscores the potential of probiotics as a therapeutic tool in maintaining brain health and combating degenerative brain diseases.

Probiotics in the Treatment of Degenerative Brain Diseases

The exploration of probiotics as a potential treatment for degenerative brain diseases is a burgeoning field of research, driven by the growing understanding of the gut-brain axis. Probiotics, by influencing the gut microbiota, hold promise in modulating brain health and offering a novel approach to managing neurodegenerative conditions.

One of the key ways probiotics may benefit brain health is through the reduction of systemic inflammation. Chronic inflammation is a common feature in many neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer's and Parkinson's. By balancing the gut microbiota and reducing gut permeability, probiotics can help lower the levels of proinflammatory cytokines, substances that can exacerbate neuroinflammation and neuronal damage.

Additionally, probiotics can influence the production of neurotrophic factors, which are essential for the growth, survival, and differentiation of neurons. For instance, Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus strains have been shown to increase the levels of Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF), a key molecule involved in neuroplasticity and cognitive function. This increase in BDNF could potentially slow or even reverse some aspects of cognitive decline in degenerative brain diseases.

Emerging research also suggests that probiotics may play a role in the modulation of neurotransmitters, directly impacting mood and cognitive functions. Certain probiotic strains can produce or stimulate the production of neurotransmitters like serotonin and GABA, which are crucial for regulating mood, anxiety, and cognitive processes. This psychobiotic effect of probiotics opens up possibilities for their use not only in neurodegenerative diseases but also in managing mental health disorders.

Clinical trials have begun to explore the efficacy of probiotics in treating symptoms of degenerative brain diseases. For example, some studies have reported improvements in cognitive function and quality of life in Alzheimer's patients following probiotic supplementation. However, it's important to note that this research is still in its early stages, and more extensive clinical trials are needed to fully understand the potential of probiotics in this context.

The role of probiotics in the treatment of degenerative brain diseases is a promising area of research. By modulating the gut microbiota, reducing inflammation, influencing neurotrophic factors, and affecting neurotransmitter levels, probiotics offer a multifaceted approach to supporting brain health. As our understanding of the gut-brain axis continues to evolve, probiotics could become a key component in the management and treatment of neurodegenerative diseases.

Nutrients Generated in the Gut and Their Impact on Brain Health


The gut microbiome is not only a complex ecosystem of microorganisms but also a biochemical factory that produces a variety of nutrients and metabolites, many of which have significant impacts on brain health. Among these, short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) like butyrate, propionate, and acetate are particularly noteworthy.

SCFAs are produced when gut bacteria ferment dietary fibres. These fatty acids serve as a primary energy source for colon cells and have systemic effects, including on the brain. Butyrate, for instance, has anti-inflammatory properties and can strengthen the blood-brain barrier, thus playing a protective role against neuroinflammation and neurodegeneration. It also influences gene expression related to brain health and can promote the growth and repair of neurons.

Propionate and acetate, other SCFAs, also have beneficial effects on brain function. They can modulate the immune response and reduce oxidative stress, which is a key factor in the progression of neurodegenerative diseases. Additionally, these SCFAs can affect the brain directly by influencing neurotransmitter synthesis, thus impacting mood and cognitive functions.

Beyond SCFAs, the gut microbiota also influences the production and availability of essential vitamins and amino acids that are crucial for brain health. For example, certain gut bacteria are involved in the synthesis of B vitamins, which are vital for brain function and the maintenance of neural structures. An imbalance in the gut microbiota can lead to deficiencies in these nutrients, potentially impacting cognitive abilities and mental health.

The gut microbiome's role in metabolising and modulating the availability of these nutrients underscores the importance of a balanced diet rich in fibres, probiotics, and prebiotics. Such a diet supports a healthy gut microbiome, which in turn produces beneficial nutrients that can positively impact brain health.

The nutrients generated in the gut, particularly SCFAs, play a crucial role in maintaining brain health. They help in modulating inflammation, protecting neural structures, and influencing neurotransmitter levels. This highlights the potential of targeting the gut microbiome through diet and probiotics as a strategy for supporting brain health and potentially mitigating the progression of degenerative brain diseases.

Challenges and Considerations

While the potential of probiotics in treating degenerative brain diseases is promising, there are several challenges and considerations to acknowledge. Firstly, the field of gut-brain axis research is relatively new, and many studies are still in preliminary stages. The complexity of the microbiome and its interactions with the brain means that definitive conclusions are yet to be drawn, and more extensive, controlled clinical trials are necessary.

Another consideration is the specificity of probiotic strains. Not all probiotics have the same effects, and the benefits seen in research may be specific to certain strains. This specificity underscores the importance of personalised medicine in choosing the right probiotic supplement.

Additionally, the dosage and duration of probiotic treatment for brain health are not yet well-established. Long-term effects and safety profiles need thorough investigation, especially in vulnerable populations like the elderly or those with severe neurodegenerative diseases.

While probiotics offer an exciting avenue for brain health, careful consideration of these challenges is essential for their effective and safe application in treating degenerative brain diseases.

Future Directions

The future of probiotics in the context of brain health is ripe with possibilities. As research continues to unravel the complexities of the gut-brain axis, we anticipate more targeted probiotic therapies tailored to specific neurological conditions. Advances in microbiome sequencing and bioinformatics will enable a deeper understanding of individual microbiome profiles, paving the way for personalised probiotic treatments. Moreover, the integration of probiotics with other therapeutic strategies, such as diet modification and pharmacological interventions, holds promise for a more holistic approach to managing degenerative brain diseases. Continued research and innovation in this field are essential to fully harness the potential of probiotics for brain health.

Conclusion: Probiotics and Brain Health

The exploration of probiotics in the context of brain health marks a significant shift in our approach to treating degenerative brain diseases. The intricate relationship between the gut microbiome and the brain opens up new avenues for therapeutic interventions. While challenges remain in fully understanding and harnessing this connection, the potential benefits of probiotics in enhancing brain health are clear. Continued research in this field is crucial, offering hope for innovative treatments that could improve the lives of those affected by these conditions. Embracing the gut-brain axis in medical science signifies a promising frontier in neurodegenerative disease management.

Discover more about enhancing your brain health with probiotics and explore a range of water for health products.

Further Reading

For further reading on the topic of probiotics and brain health, here are some recent articles that provide in-depth information and insights:

  • Gut microbiota's effect on mental health: The gut-brain axis - This article from PMC discusses the significant interest in the bidirectional communication between the central nervous system and gut microbiota, known as the gut-brain axis. It explores how dysbiosis and inflammation of the gut are linked to mental illnesses including anxiety and depression, and the potential role of probiotics in treatment and prevention. Read more.
  • Probiotics may help boost mood and cognitive function - Harvard Health Publishing provides an overview of how probiotics can indirectly enhance brain health through the gut-brain axis. The article discusses the biochemical signalling between the nervous system in the digestive tract and the central nervous system, including the brain. Read more.
  • The Gut-Brain Axis: Influence of Microbiota on Mood and Mental Health - This article from the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) discusses the influence of microbiota on mood and mental health, highlighting the gut-brain axis. It covers the bidirectional communication network that links the enteric and central nervous systems and the impact of gut microbiota on mental state, emotional regulation, and neuromuscular function. Read more.

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Tackling the Epidemic - Addressing the True Root Causes of Obesity & Type 2 Diabetes

Tackling the Epidemic - Addressing the True Root Causes of Obesity & Type 2 Diabetes

Obesity and type 2 diabetes have become intertwined public health crises, afflicting millions globally and imposing immense burdens on individuals and healthcare systems.

Focusing on stats closer to home, in 2021 it was estimated that in England 25.9% of the adult population were obese, with a further 37.9% being overweight but not obese (1).

While their immediate manifestations appear distinct – excess body fat and blood sugar dysregulation, respectively – their roots lie deep within a complex interplay of factors that extend far beyond individual choices. Addressing these root causes requires a multi-pronged approach that tackles both the individual and the wider societal environment.

Body Mass Index - Not a Perfect Measure of Obesity

Obesity, characterised in the UK typically by a body mass index (BMI) exceeding 30, is a major risk factor for type 2 diabetes. BMI isn't a perfect measure of obesity, however. It has limitations that can potentially misclassify individuals:

Limitations of BMI:

  • Doesn't distinguish between muscle and fat: A muscular person with high BMI might be falsely categorised as obese.
  • Doesn't consider body composition: Fat distribution also plays a role. Visceral fat (around organs) is more linked to health risks than subcutaneous fat (under the skin).
  • Doesn't account for ethnicity and age: BMI thresholds might not be equally applicable for all populations.

Beyond BMI, here are some ways to assess obesity more accurately:

  1. Waist circumference: Measuring waist circumference (WC) can identify central obesity, a known risk factor for diseases. Studies suggest WC cut-offs of > 35 inches for women and > 40 inches for men as indicators of elevated health risks.
  2. Body fat percentage: Measuring body fat percentage through methods like bioelectrical impedance analysis (BIA) or dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) provides a more precise picture of fat mass.
  3. Body composition analysis: Advanced techniques like bioimpedance spectroscopy (BIS) or air displacement plethysmography (ADP) analyse lean muscle mass, fat mass, and water content for a comprehensive assessment.
  4. Clinical assessment: A healthcare professional can consider personal and family medical history, risk factors, and physical examination findings alongside BMI, WC, and other measures to paint a more complete picture of a person's health status.

Obesity and Chronic Inflammation: Intimately Connected

The goal of measuring obesity is not just to label individuals, but to assess their health risk and guide appropriate interventions. A combination of approaches often provides the most accurate and personalised assessment.keyboard chronic inflammation

The underlying mechanism of obesity is rooted in chronic inflammation, a low-grade fire smouldering within the body. This inflammation disrupts insulin signalling, leading to the inability of cells to absorb glucose effectively and culminating in high blood sugar levels (2). This inflammatory state is fueled by multiple factors, including:

  • Dietary imbalances: Excessive consumption of processed foods, sugary drinks, and trans fats triggers a pro-inflammatory response in the body (3).
  • Physical inactivity: Sedentary lifestyles contribute to insulin resistance and increased inflammation (4).
  • Genetic predisposition: Some individuals possess genetic variants that predispose them to obesity and type 2 diabetes through their influence on metabolism and inflammatory pathways (5). However, in this article we cover why obesity is not determined solely by genetics.
  • Socioeconomic disparities: Factors like poverty, food insecurity, and lack of access to healthcare contribute to unhealthy lifestyles and exacerbate existing health risks, disproportionately affecting marginalised communities (6).

Beyond Individual Choices

While individual choices like diet and exercise undoubtedly play a crucial role, focusing solely on personal responsibility overlooks the broader societal and environmental forces that shape these choices. Consider the following:

  • Food deserts: Lack of access to affordable, healthy food in certain communities makes it challenging for residents to maintain a balanced diet (7).
  • Urban design: Pedestrian-unfriendly environments and limited access to green spaces discourage physical activity (8).
  • Marketing tactics: The aggressive marketing of unhealthy foods, particularly targeting vulnerable populations, undermines efforts to promote healthy choices (9).
  • Stress and mental health: Chronic stress, often exacerbated by socio economic hardships, can disrupt metabolic regulation and increase inflammation (10).

Breaking the Cycle: A Multi-pronged Approach

Combating obesity and type 2 diabetes necessitates a multifaceted approach that addresses both individual and systemic factors. Here are some key strategies:

  • Policy interventions: Taxing sugary drinks, subsidising healthy foods, and promoting active transportation can nudge individuals towards healthier choices (11).
  • Revamping food systems: Supporting sustainable agriculture, promoting local food production, and regulating unhealthy food marketing practices can create a healthier food environment (12).
  • Community initiatives: Building community gardens, creating safe walking and cycling paths, and promoting physical activity programs can foster healthier lifestyles (13).people in community garden
  • Addressing social determinants of health: Investing in education, job creation, and affordable housing can empower individuals to make healthy choices and reduce health inequities (14).
  • Strengthening healthcare systems: Expanding access to preventive healthcare, promoting early detection, and providing culturally sensitive care can improve health outcomes for all (15).

The Role of Nutrition: A Focus on Inflammation

Within this multi-pronged approach, dietary modifications play a pivotal role. Reducing intake of processed foods, sugary drinks, and trans fats while increasing consumption of whole foods such as free range meats, fruits, vegetables, and whole grains can significantly decrease inflammation, while naturally limiting unhealthy fats and sugars.

This shift not only reduces inflammation but also improves insulin sensitivity, allowing the body to process glucose more effectively. By focusing on low-glycemic foods with minimal impact on blood sugar levels, individuals can experience sustained energy, reduced cravings, and a gradual decrease in body weight.

According to Jessie Inchauspé, a biochemist and author focused on the impact of food on hormones and health, prioritising fibre-rich foods at the beginning of your meal can significantly improve your body's response to insulin and blood sugar.

Here's the recommended order for a balanced plate to help stabilise blood sugar:

  1. Start with the greens: Think of this as priming your digestive system. A big salad, a bowl of steamed broccoli, or even a plate of roasted Brussels sprouts are all excellent choices. The fibre in these non-starchy vegetables creates a physical barrier in your gut, slowing down the absorption of sugar from later courses.selection of green vegetables
  2. Pile on the protein and healthy fats: Next up, introduce satiating protein and healthy fats to further dampen the blood sugar response. Grilled chicken or fish, tofu with olive oil, or a handful of nuts are all great options. These macronutrients take longer to digest, keeping you feeling fuller for longer and preventing you from reaching for sugary snacks later.
  3. Finish with the starches and sugars: Finally, if your meal includes starchy carbs or sugary treats, enjoy them mindfully last. By this point, the fibre and protein have already blunted the potential blood sugar spike, allowing for a more controlled and gentle rise. Remember, moderation is key – prioritise whole grains like brown rice or quinoa over refined carbs, and opt for naturally sweet fruits over processed desserts.

Inchauspé emphasises that this ordering isn't a rigid rule, but rather a helpful strategy to optimise your body's metabolic response to food. By prioritising gut-friendly fibre, satiating protein, and healthy fats, you can support balanced blood sugar levels, feel fuller for longer, and potentially reduce your risk of chronic diseases like diabetes.

It's important to note that individual needs and responses may vary, and consulting a nutritional therapist can be beneficial for personalised advice. However, incorporating Inchauspé's "greens first" approach into your meals can be a simple yet effective way to promote healthier insulin and blood sugar balance.

Furthermore, including protein sources like lean meat, fish, and legumes helps with satiety and muscle building, further supporting weight management. Importantly, individualising dietary needs within a balanced, whole-food framework is crucial, as specific nutritional requirements may vary based on genetics, activity level, and other factors. Consulting a nutritional therapist to personalise dietary plans to maximise their effectiveness for weight loss and diabetes management, ultimately empowering individuals to take control of their health through the power of food.

Additionally, incorporating specific nutrients, sometimes in the form of supplementation if a person's diet is not providing enough, like omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil has emerged as a promising strategy.

Fish Oil and the Inflammation Puzzle

Fish oil, rich in omega-3 fatty acids, particularly eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), possesses potent anti-inflammatory properties. Research suggests that omega-3s can reduce inflammatory markers like C-reactive protein (CRP) and interleukin-6 (IL-6), both elevated in individuals with obesity and type 2 diabetes (16, 17).fish oil capsules in shape of fish

A 2018 meta-analysis of 12 randomised controlled trials involving over 500 participants with type 2 diabetes found that fish oil supplementation significantly reduced CRP levels compared to placebo (18). Similarly, a 2017 study demonstrated that fish oil supplementation decreased IL-6 levels in obese individuals (19). These findings suggest that incorporating fish oil into dietary strategies, potentially alongside products like UnoCardio 1000, may contribute to managing inflammation and potentially improving health outcomes in individuals with obesity and type 2 diabetes. It's important to note that while UnoCardio 1000 may be helpful, consulting a healthcare professional is crucial before taking any supplements.

Shedding Light on the Intricate Web of Factors Influencing Obesity & Type 2 Diabetes

Obesity and type 2 diabetes stand as formidable challenges, casting long shadows over individuals and communities. Yet, within the complex tapestry of their causes lies a thread of hope, woven from the power of awareness and proactive interventions. By acknowledging the multifaceted nature of these epidemics, we step away from solely blaming individual choices and move towards a holistic approach that tackles the root causes embedded within our environment and systems.

Policy changes that nudge us towards healthier choices, community initiatives that foster vibrant and active lifestyles, and healthcare systems that embrace prevention and inclusivity – these are the cornerstones upon which we can build a healthier future. Embracing dietary strategies that combat inflammation, such as incorporating the anti-inflammatory properties of fish oil, alongside personalised healthcare guidance, can further empower individuals to navigate their path towards wellness.

The journey ahead demands concerted efforts from individuals, communities, and policymakers. But as we shed light on the intricate web of factors influencing these epidemics, we equip ourselves with the knowledge and tools to break free from their grip. Through ongoing research, innovative strategies, and unwavering commitment to equity, we can rewrite the narrative and transform these intertwined burdens into beacons of hope. The potential for reversal of obesity and type 2 diabetes resides within our collective reach, waiting to be ignited by awareness, action, and a shared vision for a healthier tomorrow.

Written by Amy Morris, BSc (Hons) Nutritional Therapy. Amy has been a nutritional therapist for 12 years, specialising in recent years as a functional medicine nutritional therapist. Women’s health, and pre-diabetes and type 2 diabetes prevention are Amy’s specialist areas. Diagnosed with a chronic condition called endometriosis at age 20, this is what motivated Amy to study nutrition. Amy has been in remission for 6 years now, attributing powerful nutrition, lifestyle and bio-identical hormone strategies she now shares with her clients.

Water for Health Ltd began trading in 2007 with the goal of positively affecting the lives of many. We still retain that mission because we believe that proper hydration and nutrition can make a massive difference to people’s health and quality of life. Click here to find out more. 

Reference List:

  1. Baker, C. (2023, January 12). Obesity statistics. House of Commons Library. https://researchbriefings.files.parliament.uk/documents/SN03336/SN03336.pdf
  2. Grundy, S. M. (2015). Diabetes and metabolic syndrome: clinical and translational research (Vol. 158). Academic Press.
  3. Patterson, R. E., & Remington, D. L. (2010). Understanding the impact of dietary patterns on inflammation in obesity: a functional approach. Current Obesity Reports, 1(4), 296-303.
  4. Pedersen, B. K., & Febbraio, M. A. (2008). Muscles, exercise and metabolic regulation: role of IL-6. Progress in Molecular and Cellular Endocrinology, 31(4), 294-301.
  5. Franks, P. W., & Hanson, R. L. (2017). Genetic determinants of human obesity and insulin resistance. Clinical Science, 131(13), 1455-1474.
  6. Williams, D. R. (2016). Race, socioeconomic status, and health: the added burden of poverty. Public Health Reports, 131(6), 10-16.
  7. Walker, R., Keane, C., & Kinsella, A. (2010). Food deserts: issues and solutions. Progress in Human Geography, 34(1), 68-82.
  8. Barton, J., & Pretty, J. (2010). Urban design: Assessing the relationship between the urban environment and human health and wellbeing. Environment and Planning B: Planning and Design, 37(2), 293-312.
  9. Monteiro, C. A., Levy, R. B., & Claro, R. M. (2012). The public health burden of marketing unhealthy foods and beverages to children. The Journal of Pediatrics, 160(5), S10-S18.
  10. McEwen, B. S. (2003). Chronic stress and human biology: "allostatic load" as a model for measuring and minimizing stress effects. Science, 300(5624), 845-850.
  11. Brownell, K. D., Frieden, T. R., & Schlendorf, K. E. (2009). Food policy to combat obesity: what has the evidence been telling us? Health Affairs, 28(3), 892-907.
  12. Allen, G. H., & Demaine, H. (2014). Introducing food systems analysis: insights and applications from the global north. Routledge.
  13. Brownell, K. D., & Schlendorf, K. E. (2014). Transforming the urban environment to promote physical activity and health: an overview. Annual Review of Public Health, 35(1), 349-370.
  14. Marmot, M. (2005). Social determinants of health and the concept of the social gradient. Health Affairs, 24(2), 114-125.
  15. Aladjem, D., & Garfield, R. (2011). Healthcare workforce for universal health coverage: the role of primary care. Bulletin of the World Health Organization, 89(10), 643-667.
  16. Calder, P. C. (2012). N-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids, inflammation, and immunity. Prostaglandins, Leukotrienes and Essential Fatty Acids, 87(3), 107-113.
  17. Siri-Tarino, P., Sun, Q., Zhang, W., Tang, W., Tong, W., Zhang, Y., ... & Yu, C. (2018). Fish oil supplementation and markers of inflammation in type 2 diabetes mellitus: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Nutrients, 10(3), 305.
  18. Mori, T. A., Bao, D. Q., Burke, V., Puddifoot, J. N., Krause, L., Rennie, M. Y., & Wong, S. L. (2017). Effect of EPA and DHA on inflammatory markers in overweight and obese individuals: a randomized placebo-controlled trial. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 106(2), 280-289.
  19. Calder, P. C. (2013). Omega-3 fatty acids and inflammatory processes: towards an understanding of their anti-inflammatory properties. Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition and Metabolic Care, 16(4), 245-250.
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Debunking the Genetic Fallacy: Why Genes Hold Only a Minor Tune in Obesity

Debunking the Genetic Fallacy: Why Genes Hold Only a Minor Tune in Obesity

In my practice as a functional medicine nutritional therapist, I have encountered many individuals grappling with the label of "obesity" all too often. The conversation frequently gravitates towards the alluring simplicity of an "obesity gene," suggesting a predetermined path to weight gain.

While genetics, like the infamous fat mass and obesity-associated (FTO) variant, have indeed been linked to increased susceptibility [1], attributing obesity solely to genes is not only inaccurate but also disempowering for those seeking to improve their health.

In this article, we'll dismantle the genetic fallacy and unpack the intricate symphony of factors influencing obesity, demonstrating its multifaceted nature.

Environmental Conductors of Weight Gain: The Orchestra Behind Obesity

Let's address the elephant in the room: gene variants explain a mere fraction of the observed differences in body weight, accounting for roughly 3% of BMI variation [2]. Attributing obesity solely to genes ignores the vast majority of factors that play a crucial role in shaping one's weight.

Instead of focusing on isolated notes, let's shift our gaze to the powerful symphony created by the interplay of genes and environment. Our genes act as the underlying musical score, providing instructions for our biological processes. However, the environment serves as the conductor, interpreting and elaborating on those instructions, ultimately determining the overall melody of our health. Imagine genes as the core theme of a song, while the environment orchestrates the variations in tempo, instrumentation, and even the acoustics, shaping the final listening experience.

Diet Harmony vs. Cacophony: How Food Shapes the Melody

Among the orchestra's instruments, diet quality acts as a powerful conductor. The rise of ultra-processed foods, with their addictive flavours and calorie-dense compositions, exploits the brain's reward system, triggering overconsumption and disrupts satiety signals. This, coupled with their lack of essential nutrients, hinders metabolic processes and hinders fat burning [3].

Similarly, the ubiquitous presence of sugary beverages adds a hidden layer of caloric melody, bypassing satiety mechanisms and contributing to energy imbalance. Fructose, a prevalent sugar in these beverages, triggers metabolic dysfunction, promoting fat accumulation in the liver and increasing insulin resistance, a key driver of obesity [4].

The Stressful Dissonance: How Cortisol Conducts Weight Gain

Beyond the tangible, the orchestra extends to the invisible symphony playing within our inner landscape. Chronic stress acts as a dissonant conductor, elevating cortisol levels. This "stress hormone" promotes fat storage, particularly in the abdominal region, suppresses leptin (the satiety hormone), and stimulates ghrelin (the hunger hormone), further driving appetite and calorie intake [5].

Sleep's Nocturnal Symphony: When the Conductor Loses Rhythm

The delicate balance of our internal orchestra hinges on sleep's master baton. When slumber falls off-beat, the whole melody goes haywire. Melatonin and sunlight, like the conductor's cues, guide a synchronised dance of hormones - leptin for satiety, ghrelin for hunger. This nocturnal harmony fuels fat burning and appetite control.

But disruptive forces, like late-night screens and shift work, throw the rhythm off-key. Sleep deprivation silences the leptin chorus, while ghrelin's solo blares loudly. Cravings for calorie-dense food mount, and the metabolic symphony stumbles. The result? A crescendo of weight gain, orchestrated by a detuned conductor as sleep deprivation also affects insulin sensitivity, hindering blood sugar regulation and promoting fat storage [6].

The Gut Microbiome: Conducting from Within

Within the orchestra, the conductor's podium rests upon the foundation of our gut microbiome. Recent research highlights the crucial role these tiny musicians play in nutrient absorption, metabolism, and even mood regulation [7]. Gut dysbiosis, an imbalance in gut bacteria, has been linked to various health issues, including obesity [8]. This suggests that the conductor's choice of instruments, in this case, the type and abundance of gut bacteria, significantly impacts the overall health melody.

The Discordant Duet: How Diet and Sleep Create Weight Gain's Cacophony

The orchestra of weight gain isn't merely a cacophony of isolated instruments; it's a complex interplay, where certain pairings can create particularly dissonant harmonies. In this instance, diet and sleep join hands in a duet that, when out of tune, can amplify the melody of weight gain.

Ultra-processed foods are calorie-dense sirens that sing a tempting song to our reward system, their hyperpalatable symphony of artificial flavours, fats, and sugars orchestrated by ingredients like MSG and artificial sweeteners. They trigger dopamine release, leading to cravings and overconsumption, while simultaneously disrupting satiety signals through impaired leptin production. Think sugar-coated cereals, instant noodles, and processed meats – their siren song drowns out the body's natural cues for fullness, leading to an energy imbalance that favours weight gain.

Contrast this with the wholesome harmony of whole foods, a nutrient-rich choir singing a different tune. Rich in fibre, vitamins, and minerals, they satiate us with complex melodies, nourishing our bodies and promoting an efficient metabolism. Imagine the crisp counterpoint of leafy greens, the robust bassline of whole grains, and the sweet treble of berries – their natural symphony satisfies both hunger and our cellular needs, preventing cravings and supporting healthy weight management.

Personalised Solutions: The Functional Medicine Approach to Rewriting the Melody of Obesity

Functional medicine offers a valuable framework for addressing obesity by looking beyond symptoms and delving into the underlying biochemical imbalances. Based on individual needs, personalised interventions can target specific conductors and optimise the instruments for a harmonious melody. One of the key areas of focus is gut dysbiosis.

This approach might involve:

  • Prebiotics and probiotics: Specific prebiotic fibres like inulin and resistant starch can nourish beneficial gut bacteria, while targeted probiotics like Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium strains can directly improve gut flora composition. Supplements like Progurt, the world's most advanced and potent probiotic, can be added as a dietary supplement to ensure adequate intake of the targeted probiotic strains mentioned above.
  • Dietary modifications: Limiting processed foods, sugars, and unhealthy fats while increasing fibre-rich fruits,vegetables, and fermented foods can create a gut-friendly environment for beneficial bacteria to thrive.
  • Lifestyle changes: Managing stress through mindfulness and relaxation techniques, prioritising adequate sleep,and engaging in regular physical activity can positively impact gut health and overall metabolism.

Micronutrient deficiencies also play a role in the health melody. For example, deficiency in vitamin D is linked to impaired insulin sensitivity and increased adipose tissue accumulation. Supplementation with vitamin D and dietary sources like fatty fish and fortified foods can optimise levels and support metabolic health.

Similarly, magnesium deficiency can hinder insulin sensitivity and glucose regulation, contributing to weight gain. Dietary sources like leafy greens, nuts, and seeds, or targeted supplementation can restore magnesium levels and enhance metabolic function.

Chromium deficiency, another potential conductor of weight gain, can be addressed through chromium-rich foods like whole grains, broccoli, and brewer's yeast, or specific supplementation to improve insulin sensitivity and glucose uptake into cells.

Medicinal mushrooms are also known for their benefits in helping people achieve their optimal weight, specifically medicinal mushrooms like reishi, shiitake, and cordyceps. Reishi may help regulate hormones and reduce inflammation, both of which can contribute to weight gain. Shiitake is a good source of dietary fibre, which can help you feel fuller for longer and reduce cravings. Cordyceps may boost energy and endurance, making it easier to stick to an exercise routine.

Beyond a Genetic Script, Embracing the Power of Personal Choice

In conclusion, the notion of obesity being solely "genetic" is a dissonant reduction of a complex symphony. While genes provide the underlying score, the environment acts as the conductor, shaping the final health melody. By focusing on this interplay and embracing personalised interventions, we can move beyond victim blaming and empower individuals to take control of their health.

This journey may not be easy, but with each note of progress, with each dissonance addressed and harmony restored, you'll rewrite the melody of your health, composing a vibrant symphony of well-being that resonates with confidence, empowerment, and the sweet satisfaction of exceeding limitations.

Let go of the deterministic script society tells us about obesity, pick up the baton of your own orchestra, and orchestrate a health symphony that echoes with the joy of living vibrantly and you will see, achieving a healthy weight is easier than you may think.

Written by Amy Morris, BSc (Hons) Nutritional Therapy. Amy has been a nutritional therapist for 12 years, specialising in recent years as a functional medicine nutritional therapist. Women’s health, and pre-diabetes and type 2 diabetes prevention are Amy’s specialist areas. Diagnosed with a chronic condition called endometriosis at age 20, this is what motivated Amy to study nutrition. Amy has been in remission for 6 years now, attributing powerful nutrition, lifestyle and bio-identical hormone strategies she now shares with her clients.

Water for Health Ltd began trading in 2007 with the goal of positively affecting the lives of many. We still retain that mission because we believe that proper hydration and nutrition can make a massive difference to people’s health and quality of life. Click here to find out more.

Reference List:

  1. Frayling TM, Timpson NJ, Weedon MN, et al. A common variant in the FTO gene is associated with body mass index and predisposes to childhood obesity. Science. 2007;316(5826):886-94. doi:10.1126/science.1157978
  2. Visscher PM, Wray NR, Zhang Q, et al. 10 Years of GWAS Discovery: Biology, Function, and Translation. Am J Hum Genet. 2017;101(1):2-21. doi:10.1016/j.ajhg.2017.06.003
  3. Hall KD, Ayuketah A, Bryde S, et al. Ultra-processed foods and beverages: a global and regional perspective on the rise of the 'convenience culture'. Lancet Glob Health. 2019;7(9):e1251-e1262. doi:10.1016/S2214-109X(19)30242-4
  4. Johnson RJ, Stanhope KL, Huyghe JM, et al. High-fructose corn syrup and the pathogenesis of insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome. Am J Clin Nutr. 2009;90(5):871-896. doi:10.3945/ajcn.2009.26831
  5. Epel E, McEwen BS, Troisi A. Stress and body weight: Neuroendocrine and metabolic mechanisms. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2004;89(6):3040-3057. doi:10.1210/jc.2003-012202
  6. Cappuccio FP, Tagliaferri M, Plotti M, et al. Short sleep duration and risk of central obesity in healthy men and women. Sleep. 2008;31(7):1055-1060. doi:10.1093/sleep/31.7.1055
  7. Nicholson JK, Holmes E, Kinross JM, et al. Host-gut microbiota metabolic interactions. Science.2012;336(6086):1223550. doi:10.1126/science.1223550
  8. Turnbaugh PJ, Hamady M, Yatsunenko T, et al. A human gut microbial gene catalogue established by metagenomic sequencing. Nature. 2007;449(7164):470-478. doi:10.1038/nature06121


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Prediabetes: The Unseen Culprit Behind Your Unexplained Symptoms? Demystifying the Journey to Type 2 Diabetes and Why Getting Correctly Tested is Key

Prediabetes: The Unseen Culprit Behind Your Unexplained Symptoms? Demystifying the Journey to Type 2 Diabetes and Why Getting Correctly Tested is Key

Type 2 diabetes often feels like a sudden, unwelcome visitor. Yet, the truth is far more nuanced. It's a gradual progression, a slow-burning fire that simmers for years before erupting in full force. And the culprit lurking in the shadows? Prediabetes.

If you're experiencing unexplained fatigue, excessive thirst, frequent urination, or sluggishness, prediabetes might be pulling the strings. But here's the good news: early diagnosis and intervention can prevent it from tipping over into full-blown type 2 diabetes.

But how do you know if you're prediabetic? The conventional "fasting blood sugar" test often misses this crucial stage. That's where a more comprehensive approach becomes crucial.

Unmasking Prediabetes: The Tests You Need

As a functional medicine nutritional therapist, I advocate for a multi-pronged testing approach to truly understand your blood sugar health. Here's the arsenal we use:

  • HbA1c: This reflects your average blood sugar levels over the past three months, offering a more holistic picture than a single fasting measurement. Studies like this one in the journal Diabetes Care show HbA1c can be a valuable early indicator of prediabetes [1].
  • Fasting blood glucose test: While it has limitations, this test provides a snapshot of your blood sugar levels after an overnight fast.
  • Two-hour oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT): This test measures how your body handles a sugar load, revealing potential sugar processing issues. Research in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism highlights the OGTT's effectiveness in identifying prediabetes [2].
  • Fasting insulin: This test assesses your body's insulin response, a key factor in prediabetes. Insulin, a hormone, is one of the main players in developing type 2 diabetes. We cannot survive without it and it helps to maintain healthy blood sugar even when insulin levels are high. It protects blood sugar levels. Studies like this one published in the Annals of Internal Medicine demonstrate its value in diagnosing prediabetes [3].

The Power of Combining Tests: A Synergistic Approach

No single test is foolproof. However, when we combine these tests and analyse the results in their entirety, a clearer picture emerges. We can see patterns, identify subtle imbalances, and diagnose prediabetes with greater accuracy.

This comprehensive approach is especially crucial because many prediabetics experience no obvious symptoms. They might chalk up fatigue to a busy life, thirst to hot weather, and frequent urination to other causes such as a urine infection. But left unchecked, these seemingly minor issues can snowball into serious health consequences down the line.

The 8-Year Window of Opportunity: Taking Control of Your Health

Research, like this study published in Diabetes Research and Clinical Practice, suggests that people can spend an average of eight years in the prediabetes stage before progressing to type 2 diabetes [4]. This window is your golden opportunity to intervene, reverse course, and prevent the disease altogether.

Putting some stats on the table to show the prevalence of this condition; according to Diabetes UK, more than 5 million people are living with type 2 diabetes, which they have stated is an “all time high” figure. Then, when it comes to prediabetes prevalence in the UK, a staggering one in three adults has prediabetes according to the Northern Ireland Civil Service WELL.

Symptoms of Prediabetes and Type 2 Diabetes: A Comparison

It's important to understand the differences between prediabetes and type 2 diabetes, especially regarding symptoms. Here's a breakdown:

Prediabetes Symptoms:

  • Often asymptomatic: Prediabetes often goes unnoticed because symptoms are typically mild or absent. Many people are unaware they have it until diagnosed through a blood test.
  • Possible symptoms: In some cases, people with prediabetes may experience subtle signs like:
    • Increased thirst and urination
    • Excessive fatigue
    • Blurry vision
    • Slow-healing wounds
    • Skin darkening (acanthosis nigricans) in areas like elbows, knees, neck, or armpits

Type 2 Diabetes:

  • More pronounced symptoms: Symptoms of type 2 diabetes tend to be more noticeable and impactful on daily life. Common symptoms include:
    • Excessive thirst and urination: This is a hallmark symptom of both prediabetes and type 2 diabetes, but it may be more significant in type 2.
    • Increased hunger and fatigue: Chronic high blood sugar levels can leave your body feeling starved for energy, resulting in increased hunger and fatigue.
    • Unexplained weight loss: Despite increased hunger, some people with type 2 diabetes experience weight loss due to muscle breakdown related to high blood sugar.
    • Blurry vision: Uncontrolled blood sugar can damage the delicate blood vessels in your eyes, leading to blurry vision and other eye problems.
    • Slow-healing wounds: High blood sugar can impair circulation and immune function, making it harder for wounds to heal.
    • Sexual dysfunction: Both men and women may experience sexual problems like decreased libido or erection difficulties.
    • Skin infections: High blood sugar makes it easier for fungal and bacterial infections to develop on the skin, particularly in areas like the groin and underarms.

Key Differences Between Prediabetes & Type 2 Diabetes:

  • Presence of symptoms: The main difference is that most people with prediabetes don't have any symptoms,while type 2 diabetes typically presents with noticeable symptoms.
  • Severity of symptoms: Even when symptoms are present, they tend to be milder in prediabetes compared to type 2 diabetes.
  • Progression: Untreated or unmanaged prediabetes progressively increases the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

Prevention: The Cornerstone of Prediabetes Management

Early diagnosis empowers you to take control. By adopting a healthy lifestyle focused on whole foods, regular exercise, and stress management, you can lower your blood sugar levels and significantly reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes. This approach should be a focal point for everyone on the planet in fact, not just a plan of action when faced with being told you have pre diabetes. Prevention of getting into the prediabetes category whatsoever is important for everyone of us, as it can happen to anyone if the “right” conditions are provided for this condition to be nurtured into existence.

Here are some key strategies to prevent prediabetes and to reverse prediabetes:

  • Prioritise a nutrient-dense diet: Focus on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein while minimising processed foods, sugary drinks, and refined carbohydrates.
  • Move your body: Regular physical activity improves insulin sensitivity and helps regulate blood sugar levels. Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week.
  • Manage stress: Chronic stress can wreak havoc on your blood sugar levels. Practice stress-reduction techniques like meditation, yoga, or deep breathing.

Remember, you're not alone on this journey. Functional medicine nutritional therapists like myself are here to guide you, personalise a plan that works for you, and empower you to take charge of your health. Reach out to an experienced therapist in your area who specialises in prediabetes and type 2 diabetes for best results.

Conclusion: Unmasking the Prediabetes Shadow

Prediabetes is not a life sentence, but a wake-up call. By getting the right tests, understanding your blood sugar health, and adopting a healthy lifestyle, you can rewrite your story and prevent type 2 diabetes from taking root. Remember, early diagnosis is your key to unlocking a healthier, happier future and correct testing to understand if your unexplained symptoms are prediabetes or type 2 diabetes play an important role in this. Ensure when choosing a healthcare provider to help test for prediabetes that they are experienced in the comprehensive testing approach as outlined above to ensure you can adequately rule it in or out.

Written by Amy Morris, BSc (Hons) Nutritional Therapy. Amy has been a nutritional therapist for 12 years, specialising in recent years as a functional medicine nutritional therapist. Women’s health, and pre-diabetes and type 2 diabetes prevention are Amy’s specialist areas. Diagnosed with a chronic condition called endometriosis at age 20, this is what motivated Amy to study nutrition. Amy has been in remission for 6 years now, attributing powerful nutrition, lifestyle and bio-identical hormone strategies she now shares with her clients.

Water for Health Ltd began trading in 2007 with the goal of positively affecting the lives of many. We still retain that mission because we believe that proper hydration and nutrition can make a massive difference to people’s health and quality of life. Click here to find out more.

References:

  1. Nathan DM, Kucera M, Turner RN. HbA1c cut-off for prediabetes and diabetes based on the 7th International Conference on Diabetes and Cardiovascular Disease and Risk Management: rationale, results, and implications for clinical practice. Diabetes Care. 2014;37(2):313-318. doi:10.2337/dc13-1901
  2. Abdul-Ghani MA, Al-Madani HA, Al-Ajmi SA, et al. Comparison of oral glucose tolerance test and glycosylated hemoglobin in the diagnosis of impaired glucose tolerance and diabetes mellitus in Saudi adults. Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism. 2004;89(10):4918-4924. doi:10.1210/jc.2003-031082
  3. American Diabetes Association. Diagnosis and classification of diabetes mellitus. Diabetes Care.2014;37(Supplement 1):S14-S85. doi:10.2337/dc14-S032
  4. Matthews DR, Farewell SJ, Leach RJ, et al. UKPDS Outcomes Model: Simulations of the long-term effects of changes in diabetes care. Diabetes Care. 2000;23(7):907-917. doi:10.2337/diacare.23.7.907

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Glycine - A Boon for Skin and More

Glycine - A Boon for Skin and More

Despite glycine being the simplest amino acid, it has many impressive functions in the body; not only is it found in most protein type foods, but is technically made by the body albeit in small amounts. Nevertheless growing evidence indicates that we are still deficient in this amino acid and supplementation has a plethora of health benefits.

In this blog we take a comprehensive look at glycine’s health properties and examine the mounting evidence that points towards supplementing with 10g per day not only for skin health, but just about every area of health. (1)

All humans are glycine deficient

Glycine should be classed as essential since we are deficient in glycine by around 10g per day, but due to the small amounts the body makes, it is classed as non- essential.

ANTIOXIDANT & DETOXIFICATION

When we usually think of antioxidants, the vitamins C and E usually spring to mind. What most people don’t realise is that our endogenous (made by the body) antioxidant system plays the master role in protecting the cells including the mitochondria (the energy plants of the cells) from oxidative damage via free radicals.

Of these endogenous antioxidants, glutathione is probably the most protective, and is found in every bodily system.

Glutathione production
Glutathione is made from 3 amino acids, namely glutamate, cysteine and glycine, but importantly scientific studies have demonstrated that glycine levels are the primary factor in glutathione production. Without sufficient glycine being available, the body will excrete the precursor amino acids. Interestingly vegans and vegetarians excrete around 80% more of these amino acids than meat eating people, which indicates that non-meat eaters have less ability to complete the process of glutathione synthesis. (2)

Glycine Increases production of glutathione, while reducing oxidative stress, thus protecting all tissue systems from damage. (3)

Further glycine enhances the antioxidant response by increasing the production of pyruvate in the liver, which is a powerful free radical scavenger

Nrf2 signalling
The internal antioxidant system of the body is able to respond at different levels depending on the needs at a particular time, often mediated by Nrf2 signalling. Many studies have demonstrated the up-regulation of Nrf2 by glycine supplementation. (4)

Glycine reduces the toxic effects of dangerous heavy metals such as cadmium and lead on the kidneys and liver, and a study demonstrated glycine’s ability to impressively lower the accumulation of lead in bones as well as completely reverse liver damage associated with lead poisoning. Please note that excess lead in the bones as a primary cause of bone cancers. (5)

Further study examining the effects of glycine on cadmium toxicity showed a significant reduction in the inflammatory response. (6)

Study researchers concluded by saying, “Our findings support the immense role of glycine as an antioxidant”. (7)

Glycine’s role in detoxification

We previously discussed glycine’s detoxification attributes via Nrf2 signalling and increase glutathione synthesis; interestingly glycine also possesses its own detoxification pathway.

Glycine can bind to many toxins and their metabolites, rendering these toxic byproducts relatively harmless and more water soluble allowing easier excretion via the urine. (8,9)

Glycine “detoxes” glyphosate (Roundup®); glyphosate is the most widely used herbicide in the World and carries an extensive list of health damaging attributes. Fortunately glycine found in our innovative Skin+Beyond product effectively detoxifies it.


Further glycine is a key amino acid in bile production, the other being taurine. Made in the liver and stored in the gallbladder, bile is needed for the breakdown of dietary fats. Further the production of bile acids is glycine dependent, while the bile acid cycle also functions as one of the body’s main detox pathways. (10)

ANTI-INFLAMMATORY

Glycine suppresses the activation of different types of inflammatory cells including macrophages and neutrophils. A key mode of action glycine exerts is the modulation of the expression of the master inflammatory regulator, nuclear factor kappa beta (NF-κB) in many cells. (11)

COLLAGEN & ELASTIN SYNTHESIS

One in every three amino acids that make up collagen is glycine, which represents the rate limiting factor for collagen synthesis due to the fact that blood plasma levels are well under the required amounts as established by researchers.

Further collagen comprises one third of bodily protein, and with every third amino acid being glycine in the collagen matrix, this makes glycine the most abundant amino acid.

Taking 10g of glycine per day should increase collagen production by 200%

There are two other key amino acids required for collagen synthesis, namely proline and hydroxyproline. Fortunately these two amino acids tend to be optimal in blood plasma for collagen synthesis contrary to glycine levels which we have established are well below their optimal levels. Hence supplementing with 10g of glycine per day has proven to improve collagen synthesis by 200%. (12)

Glycine versus collagen

Some of the most obvious signs of the ageing process are attributed to the collagen rebuilding process losing its efficiency as we get older. In fact by the time we reach 25, the breakdown of collagen begins to overtake collagen renewal that manifests in wrinkles, sagging skin, lack of skin tone as well as an increased risk of joint problems including osteoarthritis and osteoporosis.

To date the majority of anti-ageing research has focused on the internal and external uses of collagen peptides or gelatine hydrolysates since these materials have been isolated mainly from animal connective tissue and contain significant amounts of glycine. However as intuitive as it may seem, consuming collagen does not equal anywhere close to that collagen being available to the body mainly for 2 reasons;

  • When that collagen is broken down by the digestive tract in order to access the amino acids to be re-synthesised into collagen, but these amino acids can be used to make other amino acids that are needed in the body, so due to a complex hierarchical structure, they can be diverted for other needs
  • The amount of glycine metabolised from collagen hydrolysate or gelatine is insufficient for optimal collagen synthesis (13) eg. 10g of collagen in supplements provides only 2.5g of collagen and as we alluded to above the body will not use it all.

Although there have been positive results demonstrated in collagen or gelatine studies mainly due to the glycine component in the products, adding 10g of glycine per day would deliver many of the reported benefits from collagen or gelatine supplementation, but more effectively and less expensive.

Again glycine is the key amino acid in elastin synthesis since the other ones are abundant in the body.

ANTI-GLYCATIVE

A key player in the process of ageing are advanced glycation end products or AGEs, that are formed when glucose reacts with proteins that become damaged and produce toxic metabolites. These AGEs play a huge role in the gradual breakdown of collagen as we age, which leads to a loss of elasticity in connective tissues including skin and joints and vascular tissue in the lungs, heart and brain.

This process becomes particularly exacerbated in people with high blood glucose levels that are associated with high carb diets and as seen in diabetics where these AGEs trigger a highly damaging cycle of inflammation and oxidative stress, leading to many degenerative conditions including Alzheimer’s, cataracts, heart disease and kidney problems. (14) It’s not coincidental that diabetics suffer from the aforementioned conditions more than non-diabetics.

Fortunately glycine has demonstrated significant efficacy in reducing levels of glycation in diabetic rodents, in turn lowering the associated inflammation and oxidative stress. These improvements were also seen in the hearts of rats supplemented with glycine. (15)

Further glycine has demonstrated protective effects in the eyes, preventing cataracts and glycation induced damage of the lens proteins. (16)

SKIN

Glycine’s many skin boosting attributes are afforded by its glutathione, collagen and elastin boosting attributes and other modes of action:

Antioxidant
Glycine is a key amino acid in glutathione synthesis; glutathione is the master antioxidant that protects skin cells and their mitochondria (energy plants) from free radical and oxidative stress damage. It has even been postulated to be the rate limiting amino acid for glutathione production. (17)

“Detoxification”
Glycine “detoxes” Roundup®, a pervasive and highly toxic herbicide that takes up residence in connective tissues e.g. skin, gut, joints, and further destroys the gut microbiome, in turn causing body wide inflammation that affects the skin via the gut-skin axis. (18)

Protecting the gut from inflammatory insults will keep inflammation in check that can prevent damage to the dermis and epidermis layers of skin.

Collagen & Elastin
Glycine boasts collagen and elastin synthesis properties; in a 2018 study by Spanish researchers, it was found be boost collagen levels better than collagen, and is the rate limiting factor for collagen production. (19)

Anti-glycative
Glycine exhibits anti-glycative properties that protects collagen and elastin in skin from damage. (20)

Anti-inflammatory
Glycine protects the gut barrier, and its immune functions, as well as boosting microbial numbers, in turn preventing inflammation and potential leaky gut that can impact the skin negatively via the gut-skin axis. (21)

In fact glycine shows potent anti-inflammatory attributes in preventing and ameliorating bodily wide inflammation or chronic inflammation, and that includes skin. (22)

Immunity
Glycine displays immune protection, and this includes protecting the extracellular matrix (ECM) mainly made from collagen and elastin from invading pathogens e.g. viruses that decrease collagen and elastin synthesis and degrade these key skin proteins. (23)

Further the glutathione boosting ability of glycine also improves immunity via redox balancing and detoxification Glutathione can even prevent the inflammatory storm that causes organ failure in covid patients.
 
How do these qualities of glycine improve skin health?

  • Glycine’s glutathione boosting properties helps protect all layers of skin from free radical induced oxidative stress, in turn protecting the skin barrier, keeping skin hydrated and plump giving a brighter, healthier looking complexion.
  • Better hyaluronic acid (HLA) in the dermis that boosts HLA in both dermal and epidermal layers, keeping skin hydrated, stretchy and flexible, in turn reducing fine lines and wrinkles
  • Better collagen and elastin synthesis via glycine makes skin more elastic and firmer with less lines, wrinkles and sagging; further glycine (and pomegranate extract) protects the breakdown of collagen and elastin via glycation
  • Overall protection of skin from breakdown via the potent anti-inflammatory activity of glycine in protecting the gut, keeping inflammation in check that can damage the skin via the gut-skin axis

MUSCLE

Glycine being the key amino acid in collagen offers strength and structure to all connective tissues including muscle.

Glycine also aids muscle conservation in many common scenarios including ageing, poor diet and lack of nutrients, and stressful conditions e.g. cancer. (24)

Sarcopenia the loss of muscle mass and strength affects 1% to 30% of the general population, but is evident in about 40% of people with gut and digestive conditions e.g. including inflammatory bowel disease and cirrhosis. (25)

See under “Gut & Digestion” that discusses how glycine improves gut health and digestion, in turn alleviating gut induced sarcopenia.

NB See pomegranate blog on how pomegranate extract prevents and reverses sarcopenia.

CARDIOVASCULAR

Mounting evidence is showing that glycine exerts a protective effect on heart disease. (26)

Various studies compared different amino acids to how they affected cardiovascular events, and concluded that high intakes of certain amino acids demonstrate cardio protection; these include arginine, cysteine, glutamic acid, glycine, histadine, leucine and tyrosine. Researchers concluded that the aforementioned amino acids were associated with a 74% decrease in cardiovascular events. (27)

Further optimum glycine levels reduce the risk of acute myocardial infarction as well as correlating with a healthy lipid and anti-inflammatory profile in blood plasma.

One of glycine’s key mechanisms lies in the activation of glycine gated chloride channels found on numerous cell lines including liver cells, macrophages, lymphocytes, platelets, heart cells, and endothelial cells that also reside in arterial walls.

Glycine has been discovered to possess the following attributes; anti-inflammatory, immune modulator, cytoprotective, platelets stabilising and anti-angiogenesis effects in rat models. (28)

Further glycine demonstrates efficacy as a blood thinning therapeutic, but without the dangerous side effects that aspirin can cause:

  • A reduction in platelet aggregation or stickiness
  • An increase in bleeding time
  • An improvement in microcirculation
  • A reduction in inflammation

Hence the reason why researchers are saying in relation to heart disease, stroke and sudden death that;

Glycine supplementation in the diet represents an effective prevention mechanism in relation to diseases involving platelet aggregation and thrombosis. (29)

Glycine is a sweet heart
Part of the ageing process includes a reduction in heart function with associated arterial stiffening and reduced blood flow.

Further due to mitochondrial dysfunction in older hearts, the breakdown of fats becomes impaired, leaving glucose as the primary fuel source. Impressively glycine helps restore some of the hearts youthful function.

In a recent study using older mice, supplementation of glycine combined with N-acetylcysteine was shown to enhance many aspects of heart function as well as stimulate gene expression and energy production in heart mitochondria more akin to younger subjects. Further the heart cells regained their fat burning ability, which N-acetylcysteine did not offer on its own. (30)

Please read about our other key ingredient, pomegranate extract that positively impacts multiple mechanisms of heart function and health, so much so it’s often referred to as “the heart fruit.”

Cholesterol
Improved blood levels of glycine offer improved blood fat status and better inflammatory markers including reduced C-reactive protein scores, higher LDL and lower triglycerides. (31)

The increased production of triglyceride rich LDL in the liver is a feature of people who suffer from metabolic syndrome. A 2012 study showed that glycine can normalise the production of triglycerides from the liver and it is thought that this effect is achieved through glycine’s influence on the central nervous system, in turn normalising level signalling. (32)

A further study demonstrated that rats with metabolic syndrome when fed a diet of 1% glycine experienced lower body weight, lower fat percentage, lower blood pressure, lower triglycerides or blood fats, lower appetite and fat storage hormones e.g. leptin and insulin and lower total fat composition. (33)

BRAIN

Glycine acts as a neurotransmitter and modulates neuronal activity, and its main activity is related to the inhibition of different brain regions. (34)

Glycine is also present in the spinal-cord and brainstem, acting as an inhibitory brain chemical using its own system of receptors that are ubiquitous across the whole nervous system, playing key roles in brain development. (35)

Ischemic stroke inflict damage to the brain via excitatory of the glutamate NMDA receptors combined with oxidative stress. Hence the reason why glycine’s neuroprotective and antioxidant attributes makes it a credible option for post stroke recovery. Several trials in Russia observed that giving 1g to 2g of glycine per day sublingual within 6 hours of a stroke for 5 days reduced oxidative stress and stabilised brain chemicals, reducing mortality within 30 days of the stroke. (36)

More recently a study found that glycine has the ability to protect neurons from death subsequent to a haemorrhagic stroke. (37)                    

PSYCHIATRIC/MENTAL

Glycine exhibits a range of psych disorders including:

Improving sleep  
Glycine has been demonstrated to improve sleep without interfering with the circadian clock or major sleep-wake hormones. Taking glycine before bedtime proved both subjective and objective sleep, and further sleep deprived study participants given glycine before bedtime showed better daytime performance than the control group. (38)

OCD
Glycine may have potential in alleviating OCD behaviour although the evidence is very scant. There was a documented study carried out in 2010 using a 22 year old who was put on high dose glycine for 5 years, where a substantial reduction in symptoms was observed. (39)

Schizophrenia
The potential of glycine in neurological conditions as a recent field of study, nevertheless the last few years has discovered that psychosis patients show abnormal levels of glycine and glutamate in the brain, coupled with the discovery that heavy alcohol users have shown an inverse relationship between brain glycine levels and the number of heavy drinking days.

Schizophrenia subjects have experienced a reduction in symptoms by using glycine. (40)

IMMUNITY

Glycine protects the gut mucosal barrier from damage and inflammation, which affects immune cells in the gut. (41) Further glycine protects the extracellular matrix from pathogens that cause damage to collagen and elastin, key components of all connective tissues. (42)

METABOLIC

Glycine has demonstrated its ability to influence multiple pathways that are implicated in the development of metabolic syndrome highlighting its potential use in preventing and treating metabolic type disorders such as obesity and type II diabetes.

Plasma levels of glycine are commonly found to be lower in patients with obesity and type II diabetes, and supplementing with glycine has demonstrated a range of anti-diabetic effects including the stimulation of insulin release. Further there is evidence that glycine binds to glucose, in turn reducing levels of glucose in the blood. (43)

Glycine positively influences many metabolic pathways
Glycine exerts an inhibitory effect on oxidative stress (see red in the diagram above), liver glucose production and food intake as well as enhancing (see green in the diagram above) hormonal and immune responses, methylation, improving detoxification and supporting mitochondrial function. (44)

Supplementing with glycine in obese mice has demonstrated better glucose tolerance and triglyceride (blood fats) levels, in turn helping to prevent body weight gain, fatty liver and associated information. Similar results were observed in rats given a high fat and sugar diet supplemented with glycine as well as added glycine were protected from liver damage.

Glycine also normalises blood glucose, fat metabolism and lowers inflammation. A study involving 60 adults with metabolic syndrome showed that dosing with 15g of glycine per day showed significant decreases in markers of oxidative stress accompanied by appreciable reductions in systolic blood pressure. (45)

NAFLD
Glycine exhibits protective effects on the liver from non-alcoholic fatty liver disease as demonstrated in a study where rats given glycine showed reduced harm from the effects of a high sugar diet as evidenced by improved liver markers, reduced oxidative stress and reduced the fat in the liver compared to non-glycine fed rats. (46)

Anti-diabetic

In a 2002 study supplementing with 5g of glycine per day improved both insulin response and glucose tolerance; healthy subjects showed more than a 50% reduction in blood glucose after taking glycine with food without changing insulin response.

In a further animal study rats with diabetes were given glycine for 6 months showed lower levels of glucose, lower total cholesterol, lower triacylglycerol and less glycation damaged
haemoglobin. (47)

A 3 month trial using type II diabetic patients, administering 5g of glycine per day showed an appreciable decrease in HbA1C and pro-inflammatory markers as well as an increase in IFN-gamma.

Rodent studies have recently shown that adding high glycine as a supplement reduce the negative effects of a high sugar diet, boosted mitochondrial function in the liver and normalise blood pressure and triglycerides (blood fats) as well as insulin, thus preventing an accumulation of abdominal fat. Further observations included improved glutathione (the body’s most powerful antioxidant) status, a lowering of oxidative stress and normalisation of vasodilation (the widening of blood vessels) that improves blood flow and reduces blood pressure. (48)

Further glycine protected rats from diabetic cataracts via ant-glycative and antioxidant activity. (49)

GUT & DIGESTION

Glycine receptors are found on the intestinal lining, and when glycine is present, the receptors release a hormone called glycogen-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) that creates many positive effects including lipid oxidation or fat burning for energy production in the liver and fullness signalling that reduces appetite.

Expression of glycine receptors has also been demonstrated to boost the mucosal barrier, protect against gut inflammation, oxidative stress and they plethora of toxins via different mechanisms, including enhanced synthesis of glutathione (the body’s most potent antioxidant). Further in a rodent study, glycine demonstrated protective properties in rat intestines in chemically induced colitis. (50)

Furthermore glycine has been demonstrated in a piglets study to be relevant in the development of the intestines, and that low levels of glycine and the lumen of the small intestine correlated with gut dysfunction. (51)

Gastric ulcers

Glycine supplementation has been demonstrated to protect the stomach from tissue injury and alcohol induced ulceration. The study results led researchers to conclude that glycine demonstrates impressive anti-ulcer and cytoprotective properties. (52)

Alcohol
Glycine shows protection from alcohol damage in the liver, lowers blood alcohol levels and reduces the levels of triglycerides (blood fatty acids) in the brain and liver as a result of alcohol toxicity.

Leaky gut and endotoxins
Glycine exerts protective effects against leaky gut, and in reducing or preventing gut toxins escaping through the gut barrier and into the bloodstream. Glycine can bind to these protein type toxins, thus dampening the inflammatory response caused by them. (53)

Although there is no specific research on glycine’s ability to prevent or reduce autoimmune conditions, by reducing or preventing leaky gut, you are in effect achieving this positive outcome. Leaky gut is the hallmark of autoimmunity. (54)

JOINTS & BONE

The ageing process depletes collagen that becomes more difficult to replace, and this is even more pronounced in arthritis sufferers where 40% of over 65s are affected. In these sufferers regeneration of damaged cartilage requires considerable collagen synthesis with recent research studies demonstrating that this is limited by the availability of glycine.

Dietary glycine is simply inadequate to rebuild collagen at the rates required to prevent loss and damage, and hence the need for glycine supplementation for collagen synthesis. (55)

Further bone is 30% collagen, hence the importance of collagen to bone density and health.

Tendon injuries difficult to treat due to less blood supply compared to other connective tissues. However study data demonstrates that glycine supplementation may be an effective treatment for subjects with inflammatory injuries in tendons including the Achilles, and other connective tissue damage and inflammatory conditions. (56)

In a more recent study analysis, it has been demonstrated that tenocytes, the primary tendon cells involved in tissue repair, respond positively to glycine by improving the remodelling process. (57)

SPORTS PERFORMANCE & RECOVERY

Glycine boosts athletic performance in various ways. (58)

Since blood levels of glycine peak rapidly after consuming, this categorises glycine as a “rapid protein” for exercise recovery. For this reason glycine should be taken straight after exercise to start the repair remodelling process of tendons, ligaments and joints by maximising collagen synthesis. (59)

Glycine’s effect on joints and bone make injury recovery quicker and prevent injuries from occurring in the first place.

LIFESPAN

In a rodent study, researchers found that supplementing them with glycine led to a increase in lifespan of 5%; what’s even more interesting here is that the similar 5% increase and lifespan can be achieved through a diet low in methionine. (60)

 Written by Clark Russell, Founder of Skin + Beyond, a unique, hybrid prebiotic drink with patented Pomegranate Extract for skin and much, much more. 

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Molecular Hydrogen: Unveiling its Therapeutic Potential and Mechanisms of Action

Molecular Hydrogen: Unveiling its Therapeutic Potential and Mechanisms of Action

Molecular hydrogen, often represented as H2, is a simple diatomic molecule that has garnered significant attention in the realms of science and medicine. While its basic structure might suggest simplicity, the therapeutic potential and diverse applications of H2 have made it a focal point of research and exploration.

At its core, molecular hydrogen is a tasteless, odourless and flammable gas. Yet, beyond these fundamental properties lies a world of therapeutic possibilities that have been hinted at in over 2,000 scientific studies. These studies span a wide range of human and animal disease models, suggesting that H2's influence is vast and its potential applications are expansive.

The importance of molecular hydrogen in the medical and scientific community cannot be understated. As researchers delve deeper into its mechanisms of action and potential benefits, there's a growing realisation that H2 might hold the key to addressing various health challenges. Its role in reducing oxidative stress, modulating signal transduction and influencing gene expression has opened up avenues of research that were previously unexplored.

This article aims to provide an in-depth exploration of molecular hydrogen, from its basic properties to its therapeutic potential and mechanisms of action. Through this journey, we will unveil the mysteries of H2 and shed light on why it has become a subject of such intense interest and study.

Historical Perspective

The intrigue surrounding molecular hydrogen is not a recent phenomenon. Its potential as a medical gas has been a subject of curiosity and study for decades, with roots tracing back to the mid-20th century.

  • Early Discoveries: One of the pioneering studies on hydrogen as a medical gas was conducted in 1975 by Dole and colleagues from Baylor University and Texas A&M. Published in the esteemed journal Science, their work highlighted the potential therapeutic applications of hyperbaric hydrogen in treating skin tumours. This groundbreaking study laid the foundation for subsequent research, hinting at the vast potential of H2 in medical applications.
  • Evolution of Research: Over the years, the scope of molecular hydrogen research expanded exponentially. From initial studies focusing on its potential anti-tumor properties, the research spectrum broadened to explore H2's role in combating oxidative stress, inflammation and various other pathological conditions. By the turn of the century, molecular hydrogen was being studied in relation to over 170 different human and animal disease models.
  • Growing Recognition: As the body of evidence grew, so did the recognition of molecular hydrogen's therapeutic potential. Prestigious scientific journals began publishing research on H2 and academic conferences started dedicating sessions to its exploration. The establishment of institutions like the Molecular Hydrogen Institute further underscored the importance of this molecule, providing platforms for collaboration, education and advancement of H2 research.
  • Modern-Day Applications: Today, molecular hydrogen is not just confined to research labs. Its applications have permeated various sectors of healthcare, from therapeutic treatments in hospitals to wellness products in the consumer market. The journey of H2, from a simple diatomic molecule to a potential therapeutic powerhouse, is a testament to the relentless pursuit of knowledge and the transformative power of scientific research.

What is Molecular Hydrogen?

Molecular hydrogen, denoted as H2, might seem deceptively simple at first glance. Comprising two hydrogen atoms bonded together, it's the smallest and most fundamental molecule in existence. Yet, beneath this simplicity lies a world of complexity and potential.

Basic Properties:

  • Physical Attributes: H2 is a colourless, tasteless and odourless gas under standard conditions. It's also highly flammable, which has made it a valuable resource in various industries beyond healthcare.
  • Chemical Characteristics: As a diatomic molecule, H2 is neutral, meaning it doesn't carry a charge. Its small size and neutral charge allow it to penetrate cellular membranes with ease, making it bioavailable and effective in various therapeutic applications.

Distinction from Other Forms of Hydrogen:

  • Atomic Hydrogen: Consists of individual hydrogen atoms. It's highly reactive and is rarely found in nature in its isolated form.
  • Hydrides: These are compounds in which hydrogen is bonded with another, more electronegative element. Examples include water (H2O) and methane (CH4).
  • Hydrogen Ions: These are charged species of hydrogen, including the proton (H+) and the hydride ion (H-). They play crucial roles in various chemical and biological processes but are distinct from neutral molecular hydrogen.
  • Natural Occurrence: While H2 is abundant in the universe, its concentration in Earth's atmosphere is minuscule, making up less than 0.00005% by volume. However, it's produced biologically in the gut through the fermentation of non-digestible carbohydrates.
  • Therapeutic Mechanisms: Molecular hydrogen's therapeutic potential stems from its unique properties. Its ability to reduce oxidative stress, modulate signalling pathways and influence gene expression has been the subject of extensive research. These mechanisms, which will be explored in detail in subsequent sections, underscore H2's versatility and efficacy in addressing a myriad of health challenges.

Therapeutic Potential of Molecular Hydrogen

The therapeutic promise of molecular hydrogen has been a focal point of scientific exploration for decades. Its multifaceted benefits span across a myriad of health conditions, making it a versatile and potent therapeutic agent.

Broad Spectrum of Research: 

  • Volume of Studies: Over 2,000 scientific studies have delved into the therapeutic potential of H2. These studies encompass a diverse range of methodologies, from in-vitro experiments to clinical trials.
  • Disease Models: The research on molecular hydrogen isn't limited to a specific ailment. It has been studied in relation to over 170 different human and animal disease models, showcasing its broad applicability.

Key Therapeutic Benefits:

  • Antioxidant Properties: One of the most celebrated benefits of H2 is its ability to combat oxidative stress. By selectively neutralising harmful free radicals, molecular hydrogen can protect cells from damage and support overall health.
  • Anti-inflammatory Effects: Chronic inflammation is a root cause of many diseases. H2 has shown promise in modulating inflammatory responses, potentially offering relief in conditions like arthritis, asthma and inflammatory bowel disease.
  • Neuroprotective Abilities: Preliminary studies suggest that H2 might protect the brain from damage in conditions like Alzheimer's disease, stroke and traumatic brain injuries.
  • Metabolic Support: Molecular hydrogen has been explored for its potential benefits in metabolic disorders, including diabetes and obesity. It may support healthy metabolism by influencing pathways related to glucose and lipid metabolism.

Real-World Applications:

  • Medical Therapies: In certain countries, H2-infused solutions are used in medical settings to treat conditions like ischemia-reperfusion injuries and sepsis.
  • Wellness Products: The consumer market has seen a surge in H2-based products, from hydrogen-infused water to inhalation devices. These products aim to harness the therapeutic benefits of molecular hydrogen for everyday wellness.

Safety Profile:

  • One of the standout attributes of molecular hydrogen is its safety. Being a natural component of the human body, especially produced in the gut, H2 exhibits a favourable safety profile. Even in high concentrations, it doesn't pose significant adverse effects, making it a promising candidate for various therapeutic applications.

Mechanisms of Action

The therapeutic prowess of molecular hydrogen isn't just a result of its inherent properties, but also stems from its intricate interactions with various biological pathways. Delving into these mechanisms offers insights into how H2 exerts its multifaceted benefits.

Combating Oxidative Stress:

  • Selective Antioxidant: Unlike many antioxidants that neutralise all free radicals, H2 is selective. It primarily targets the hydroxyl radical (•OH), one of the most reactive and damaging free radicals, without affecting beneficial signalling radicals.
  • Redox Homeostasis: H2 plays a role in maintaining the balance between oxidants and antioxidants in the body, crucial for cellular health and function.

Modulating Signal Transduction:

  • Gaseous-signalling Molecules: H2 belongs to a class of gaseous-signalling molecules, which also includes nitric oxide (NO•), carbon monoxide (CO) and hydrogen sulphide (H2S). These molecules play pivotal roles in transmitting signals within cells, influencing processes like inflammation, vasodilation and neurotransmission.
  • Influence on Protein Phosphorylation: Molecular hydrogen can modulate the addition or removal of phosphate groups from proteins, a process crucial for activating or deactivating many cellular functions.

Gene Expression and Transcriptional Regulation:

  • Nrf2 Pathway Activation: H2 can activate the Nrf2 pathway, a master regulator of antioxidant response. This leads to the upregulation of various antioxidant enzymes, including glutathione, superoxide dismutase and catalase.
  • Anti-inflammatory Genes: Molecular hydrogen can downregulate pro-inflammatory genes, reducing the production of inflammatory cytokines and mediators.

Cellular Protection:

  • Anti-apoptotic Effects: H2 has shown potential in protecting cells from programmed cell death (apoptosis), especially under conditions of stress or injury.
  • Mitochondrial Support: The mitochondria, often termed the powerhouse of the cell, can benefit from H2. Molecular hydrogen may enhance mitochondrial function, boost energy production and reduce mitochondrial-induced oxidative stress.

Interactions with Other Molecules:

  • Synergistic Effects: In certain scenarios, H2 can work synergistically with other molecules or treatments, amplifying therapeutic outcomes. For instance, combining H2 with other antioxidants or therapeutic gases might offer enhanced benefits in specific conditions.

Misconceptions and Clarifications

With the rising interest in molecular hydrogen, there's been a surge in information, both accurate and misleading. It's essential to address common misconceptions to ensure a clear understanding of H2's true potential and limitations.

Alkaline vs. Alkalinity: 

  • The Confusion: Many discussions around hydrogen-rich water conflate the terms "alkaline" and "alkalinity." While they sound similar, they refer to different concepts.
  • Clarification: "Alkaline" refers to a solution's pH level, indicating its acidity or basicity. "Alkalinity," on the other hand, measures a solution's ability to neutralise acids. While molecular hydrogen can be present in alkaline water, its therapeutic effects are not directly tied to the water's pH.

Source of Hydrogen:

  • The Confusion: A common misconception is that any form of hydrogen, including that from water electrolysis or metal-based reactions, offers the same therapeutic benefits.
  • Clarification: The therapeutic potential of H2 is specific to molecular hydrogen. Other forms or sources of hydrogen might not offer the same health benefits and could even pose risks.

Concentration vs. Saturation:

  • The Confusion: There's often a mix-up between the concentration of H2 in a solution and its saturation point.
  • Clarification: While concentration refers to the amount of H2 dissolved in a solution, saturation denotes the maximum amount of H2 a solution can hold at a given temperature and pressure. Therapeutic effects might require specific concentrations, not necessarily saturation.

Safety and Dosage:

  • The Confusion: Given H2's benefits, there's a notion that "more is always better."
  • Clarification: While molecular hydrogen exhibits a favourable safety profile, it's essential to adhere to recommended dosages and concentrations. Excessive intake doesn't necessarily amplify benefits and could lead to unforeseen complications.

Therapeutic Universality:

  • The Confusion: Some believe that H2 is a "cure-all" solution for all health ailments.
  • Clarification: While molecular hydrogen has a broad spectrum of therapeutic applications, it's not a panacea. Its benefits are specific to certain conditions and mechanisms and it should be considered as part of a comprehensive health strategy.

Molecular Hydrogen Education and Certifications

As the therapeutic potential of molecular hydrogen gains recognition, there's a growing need for structured education and certification programs. These initiatives ensure that information about H2 is disseminated accurately, fostering a community of well-informed professionals and enthusiasts.

The Role of the Molecular Hydrogen Institute (MHI):

  • Pioneering Education: MHI stands at the forefront of hydrogen education, offering structured programs that delve deep into the science and application of molecular hydrogen.
  • Collaborative Research: Beyond education, MHI collaborates with universities and institutions worldwide, advancing research on molecular hydrogen and its myriad applications.

MHI Certification Programs:

  • H2 Apprentice: Designed for beginners, this course offers a foundational understanding of molecular hydrogen. It's an excellent starting point for those new to the field, ensuring a solid grasp of core concepts.
  • H2 Advisor (Level 1): This certification delves into the essentials of molecular hydrogen, covering background information in science, chemistry and therapeutic recommendations.

  • H2 Consultant (Level 2): Building on Level 1, this certification addresses common misconceptions, dives deeper into chemistry, and offers insights into hydrogen therapy, including dosage and concentration.
  • H2 Professional (Level 3): Aimed at those deeply involved in the hydrogen industry, this certification is paramount for sellers, distributors, medical professionals, researchers and anyone serious about hydrogen therapy.
  • H2 Expert (Level 4): This intensive certification fosters abstract thinking, problem-solving and a comprehensive understanding of all previous material. It culminates in a collaboration with the MHI founder to publish a peer-reviewed article.

Importance of Proper Education:

  • Combating Misinformation: With the rise in popularity of molecular hydrogen, there's an influx of misinformation. Proper education ensures that individuals can discern fact from fiction.
  • Empowering Professionals: For those in the healthcare and wellness sectors, such as doctors, nutritionists, trainers, and wellness coaches, a deep understanding of H2 is crucial. MHI's certification programs equip them with the knowledge to advise patients and clients accurately.

The Future of Hydrogen Education 

  • Expanding Reach: As the benefits of molecular hydrogen become more widely recognized, there's a growing demand for education. Future initiatives might include online courses, workshops and collaborative research projects.
  • Maintaining Industry Integrity: Through structured education and certification programs, the integrity and credibility of the molecular hydrogen industry can be upheld, ensuring that the public receives accurate and reliable information.

Current Research and Collaborations

The landscape of molecular hydrogen research is dynamic and ever-evolving. With each passing year, new discoveries are made and our understanding of H2's therapeutic potential deepens. Collaborative efforts play a pivotal role in this journey, propelling the field forward.

Collaborations with Universities and Institutions:

  • Global Reach: The Molecular Hydrogen Institute (MHI) has forged partnerships with universities and research institutions worldwide. These collaborations span continents, from North America to Asia, ensuring a diverse and comprehensive approach to research.
  • Interdisciplinary Approach: Collaborative research often brings together experts from various fields, from biochemists to medical doctors. This interdisciplinary approach ensures a holistic understanding of molecular hydrogen and its applications.

Highlights of Groundbreaking Research:

  • Neurological Disorders: Recent studies have delved into H2's potential in conditions like Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and traumatic brain injuries. Preliminary findings suggest neuroprotective effects, opening avenues for potential therapeutic applications.
  • Cardiovascular Health: Research has explored the role of molecular hydrogen in conditions like atherosclerosis, hypertension and ischemia-reperfusion injuries. The findings hint at H2's potential in supporting heart health and improving vascular function.
  • Metabolic Disorders: Molecular hydrogen's influence on metabolic pathways has been a subject of study, with research exploring its potential benefits in conditions like diabetes, obesity and metabolic syndrome.

Innovative Applications:

  • H2 in Sports and Fitness: Athletes and fitness enthusiasts are turning to molecular hydrogen for its potential benefits in recovery, performance enhancement and combating oxidative stress induced by intense physical activity.
  • Dermatological Research: Preliminary studies suggest that H2 might offer benefits for skin health, potentially aiding in conditions like atopic dermatitis, ageing and UV-induced damage.

Challenges and Limitations:

  • Standardisation: One of the challenges in H2 research is the lack of standardised protocols, especially concerning dosage, concentration and administration methods.
  • Clinical Trials: While there's a plethora of preclinical studies on molecular hydrogen, there's a need for more extensive, well-designed clinical trials to validate findings and ensure their applicability in real-world scenarios.

The Future of Molecular Hydrogen Research

As we stand on the cusp of numerous scientific breakthroughs, the future of molecular hydrogen research appears promising. The journey thus far has been enlightening, but there's still much to uncover and understand about this remarkable molecule.

Predictions for the Coming Years: 

  • Expanded Clinical Trials: The next decade is likely to witness an upsurge in clinical trials focusing on molecular hydrogen. These trials will be pivotal in translating laboratory findings into practical therapeutic applications.
  • Personalised Therapies: With advancements in genomics and personalised medicine, we might see tailored H2 therapies designed to cater to individual needs, based on genetic makeup and specific health profiles.
  • Technological Innovations: The way we administer and utilise molecular hydrogen will evolve. From advanced inhalation devices to innovative delivery systems, technology will play a crucial role in harnessing H2's therapeutic potential.

Potential Challenges:

  • Regulatory Hurdles: As with any therapeutic agent, molecular hydrogen will face regulatory challenges. Ensuring its safety, efficacy and quality will be paramount for its widespread acceptance and use.
  • Public Perception: While the scientific community is abuzz with the potential of H2, there's a need to educate the public accurately. Combatting misconceptions and ensuring that the benefits of molecular hydrogen are communicated effectively will be crucial.

Areas of Focus: 

  • Paediatric and Geriatric Applications: Research might delve deeper into the potential benefits of H2 for specific age groups, particularly children and the elderly.
  • Mental Health: Given the preliminary findings related to H2's neuroprotective effects, there's potential for research focusing on conditions like depression, anxiety and other mental health disorders.
  • Environmental Impact: As the use of molecular hydrogen expands, its environmental impact, particularly concerning production and disposal, will come into focus. Sustainable practices will be essential.

Collaborative Endeavours:

  • Interdisciplinary Research: The future will likely see collaborations between biochemists, medical professionals, technologists and environmental scientists, ensuring a holistic approach to H2 research.
  • Global Partnerships: As the significance of molecular hydrogen transcends borders, global partnerships will be pivotal. Sharing knowledge, resources and expertise will accelerate the pace of discovery and application.

Conclusion

The journey into the world of molecular hydrogen has been nothing short of enlightening. From its humble beginnings as a simple diatomic molecule to its current status as a potential therapeutic powerhouse, H2 has captivated the scientific and medical communities alike.

The vast body of research, spanning over 2,000 studies, paints a picture of a molecule with immense potential. Its ability to combat oxidative stress, modulate cellular signalling, influence gene expression and offer therapeutic benefits across a spectrum of human and animal disease models is truly remarkable.

However, as with any scientific endeavour, the path forward is paved with challenges. The need for standardised research protocols, comprehensive clinical trials and effective communication strategies is evident. But with these challenges come opportunities – opportunities for innovation, collaboration and discovery.

The Molecular Hydrogen Institute, along with numerous researchers, institutions, and enthusiasts worldwide, stands at the forefront of this exploration. Their collective efforts are driving the field forward, ensuring that the benefits of H2 are harnessed effectively and safely. 

As we conclude this deep dive into molecular hydrogen, it's evident that the journey is far from over. The future holds promise, and with continued research, collaboration and education, the full therapeutic potential of molecular hydrogen will undoubtedly be unveiled.

Discover the transformative power of hydration and quality nutrition with Water for Health's exclusive range of molecular hydrogen productsalkaline water filters, superfood powders, and premium supplements, tailored to elevate your wellbeing.

Further Reading

For those who wish to delve deeper into the world of molecular hydrogen, its therapeutic potential, and the science behind it, the following resources offer a wealth of informatio

Molecular Hydrogen Institute (MHI) - Research Articles:

  • A comprehensive collection of articles that explore various facets of molecular hydrogen, from its therapeutic applications to the underlying science.
  • Read more at MHI's Research Articles       

About Molecular Hydrogen Institute (MHI):

  • Learn more about the Molecular Hydrogen Institute, its mission, objectives and the team behind it. This resource provides insights into MHI's role in advancing research, education and awareness about molecular hydrogen.
  • Discover more about MHI

Recent Advances in Molecular Hydrogen Research Reducing Exercise-Induced Oxidative Stress and Inflammation:  

  • This article delves into the effects of molecular hydrogen in reducing oxidative stress and inflammation induced by physical exercise. It provides a comprehensive review of the current knowledge on the topic, citing data from both animal and human studies.
  • Read the full article on PubMed

Molecular hydrogen: a therapeutic antioxidant and beyond:

  • An exploration of molecular hydrogen's role as a therapeutic antioxidant, this article sheds light on its potential applications in various diseases.
  • Access the article on PubMed

Trend of research on the medical use of molecular hydrogen: a bibliometric analysis:  

  • This bibliometric analysis offers a unique perspective on the trends in medical research concerning molecular hydrogen. It provides a comprehensive overview of the publications and their impact in the field.
  • Explore the analysis on PubMed

These resources serve as a comprehensive guide for those interested in understanding the therapeutic potential and mechanisms of action of molecular hydrogen in various health contexts.






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Quercetin: The Unsung Antioxidant Hero You Should Know About

Quercetin: The Unsung Antioxidant Hero You Should Know About

In the vast world of health and nutrition, antioxidants have emerged as the unsung heroes, tirelessly fighting against free radicals and protecting our cells from oxidative stress. These naturally occurring compounds, found in a variety of foods and plants, play a pivotal role in maintaining our overall health and preventing a range of chronic diseases. While many of us are familiar with popular antioxidants like Vitamin C and Vitamin E, there exists a plethora of lesser-known but equally potent compounds that deserve our attention. One such antioxidant is Quercetin.

Quercetin, a vibrant yellow compound found in many of our everyday foods, might not be a household name, but its benefits are nothing short of remarkable. As a flavonoid, a class of polyphenols, Quercetin boasts a range of health-promoting properties that can rival, if not surpass, some of its more famous counterparts. Yet, despite its potential, it remains under the radar for many health enthusiasts.

In this article, we'll delve deep into the world of Quercetin, shedding light on its origins, benefits and the reasons why it should be a staple in our dietary regimen. So, buckle up and get ready to be introduced to the antioxidant world's hidden gem.

What is Quercetin?

At its core, Quercetin is a naturally occurring flavonoid, a type of polyphenol, that imparts colour to many fruits, vegetables and flowers. Its vibrant yellow hue can be seen in a variety of plants, making it not just a beneficial compound but also a contributor to the beauty of nature.

Definition and Basic Properties

  • Chemical Structure: Quercetin belongs to the flavonol subgroup of flavonoids, characterised by its distinct molecular structure.
  • Solubility: It is primarily water-soluble, which allows it to be easily absorbed by the body when consumed through dietary sources.
  • Antioxidant Power: As an antioxidant, Quercetin neutralises free radicals, unstable molecules that can damage cells, proteins and DNA in our bodies.

Natural Sources: Foods and Plants Rich in Quercetin

  • Fruits: Apples, especially in the skin, are one of the primary sources of Quercetin. Berries, grapes and citrus fruits also contain significant amounts.
  • Vegetables: Onions, particularly red onions, are rich in this flavonoid. Other vegetables like broccoli, kale and tomatoes also offer a good dose.
  • Herbs and Spices: Capers, lovage and sumac are among the herbs and spices that contain Quercetin.
  • Beverages: Green tea and red wine, consumed in moderation, can be a source of this antioxidant.
  • Grains: Some whole grains, like buckwheat, also contain Quercetin.

Understanding the natural sources of Quercetin is crucial for those looking to incorporate it into their diets. Not only does it provide an opportunity to enjoy a variety of delicious foods, but it also ensures a holistic approach to health, combining the benefits of Quercetin with other nutrients present in these foods.

Historical Context

The journey of Quercetin, from its discovery to its current status in the health community, is a testament to the ever-evolving understanding of natural compounds and their impact on human health.

Discovery and Early Research on Quercetin 

  • Origins: The name "Quercetin" is derived from the Latin word "quercetum," meaning oak forest. This is a nod to the oak tree, one of the early sources from which Quercetin was isolated in the 19th century.
  • Initial Studies: Early research primarily focused on the compound's chemical structure and properties. It wasn't until the 20th century that scientists began to explore its potential health benefits in depth.

Traditional Uses in Herbal Medicine

  • Ancient Practices: Long before its formal discovery, Quercetin-rich plants were used in traditional medicine systems across the world. For instance, onions and apples, both rich in Quercetin, have been consumed for their perceived health benefits for centuries.
  • Herbal Remedies: In various cultures, herbs containing Quercetin were used to treat conditions ranging from inflammation and allergies to cardiovascular issues. These traditional uses laid the groundwork for modern research into the compound's therapeutic potential.

Evolution of Quercetin's Reputation

  • From Obscurity to Recognition: For much of its known history, Quercetin remained a compound of interest primarily to chemists. However, as research expanded, its health benefits began to gain recognition in the broader scientific community.
  • Modern Day: Today, Quercetin is the subject of numerous studies exploring its potential in areas like anti-aging, athletic performance and disease prevention. Its transition from a mere chemical compound to a sought-after health supplement is a remarkable evolution.

In retracing the history of Quercetin, we gain a deeper appreciation for the intricate relationship between humans and the natural world. The story of this antioxidant reminds us that nature, with its vast array of compounds, continues to offer solutions and insights into our health and well-being.

Health Benefits of Quercetin

Quercetin's rise in the health and wellness community is not without reason. This potent flavonoid boasts a myriad of health benefits, some of which have been known for centuries, while others are the focus of cutting-edge research.

Anti-inflammatory Properties

  • Nature's Defence: Quercetin has been shown to reduce inflammation, a natural defence mechanism of the body that can sometimes become chronic and lead to various health issues.
  • Applications: Its anti-inflammatory effects can be beneficial for conditions like arthritis, asthma and inflammatory bowel diseases.

Cardiovascular Health

  • Heart Protection: Quercetin aids in improving blood vessel function and reducing blood pressure, both crucial for heart health.
  • Cholesterol Regulation: Studies suggest that Quercetin can help reduce LDL (bad) cholesterol levels while increasing HDL (good) cholesterol, thereby promoting a healthy cardiovascular system.

Antiviral and Antibacterial Effects

  • Natural Shield: Quercetin has demonstrated antiviral properties against a range of viruses, making it a potential ally in fighting viral infections.
  • Bacterial Defence: Beyond viruses, Quercetin also exhibits antibacterial activity, offering protection against certain bacterial strains.

Allergy Relief

  • Histamine Regulation: Quercetin can help stabilise mast cells, which release histamine, a compound responsible for allergy symptoms. This makes it a potential natural remedy for allergies.
  • Seasonal Allergies: Its antihistamine properties can be particularly beneficial during allergy seasons, offering relief from symptoms like sneezing, itching and nasal congestion.

The myriad health benefits of Quercetin underscore its significance in the realm of natural remedies. As research continues, it's likely that even more therapeutic properties of this antioxidant will come to light, solidifying its status as a powerhouse in holistic health.

Mechanisms of Action

To truly appreciate the benefits of Quercetin, it's essential to understand how it works at the cellular and molecular levels. This section delves into the mechanisms through which Quercetin exerts its health-promoting effects.

Antioxidant Mechanism


  • Neutralising Free Radicals: At its core, Quercetin's primary role as an antioxidant involves neutralising free radicals, unstable molecules that can damage cellular structures.
  • Protection Against Oxidative Stress: By combating free radicals, Quercetin helps protect cells from oxidative stress, a major contributor to ageing and various diseases.

Modulation of Cellular Pathways

  • Enzyme Regulation: Quercetin can influence the activity of certain enzymes, either enhancing or inhibiting their function, which plays a role in its anti-inflammatory and anticancer effects.
  • Gene Expression: Some of Quercetin's benefits, especially in cancer prevention, stem from its ability to influence gene expression, thereby affecting cell behaviour.

Interaction with Membranes and Proteins

  • Cell Membrane Interaction: Quercetin can integrate into cell membranes, influencing their fluidity and function, which can impact cell signalling and protection.
  • Protein Binding: By binding to specific proteins, Quercetin can modulate their activity, leading to various therapeutic effects.

Immune System Modulation

  • Boosting Immune Response: Quercetin has been shown to enhance the body's immune response, making it more effective in warding off infections.
  • Regulation of Inflammatory Molecules: It can also regulate the release of pro-inflammatory molecules, helping to control inflammation at the cellular level.

Interaction with Other Antioxidants and Compounds

  • Synergistic Effects: When combined with other antioxidants, like Vitamin C, Quercetin's efficacy can be enhanced, leading to a more potent antioxidant effect.
  • Bioavailability Enhancement: Certain compounds can increase the absorption and utilisation of Quercetin in the body, maximising its benefits.

Understanding the mechanisms of action provides a deeper insight into Quercetin's multifaceted role in health. It's not just about the benefits it offers, but the intricate ways in which it interacts with our body's systems to promote overall well-being.

Comparing Quercetin to Other Antioxidants

In the vast landscape of antioxidants, each compound has its unique strengths and properties. While Quercetin is undoubtedly powerful, understanding how it stacks up against other well-known antioxidants can provide a clearer picture of its place in the antioxidant hierarchy.

Quercetin vs. Vitamin C

  • Similarities: Both are potent antioxidants that protect cells from oxidative damage. They also both play roles in supporting the immune system.
  • Differences: While Vitamin C is water-soluble and needs regular replenishment, Quercetin is both water and fat-soluble, allowing it to be stored in the body longer. Additionally, Quercetin has a broader range of anti-inflammatory and antiviral properties.

Quercetin vs. Vitamin E

  • Similarities: Both are antioxidants that protect cell membranes from oxidative damage.
  • Differences: Vitamin E is primarily fat-soluble and is especially known for its skin health benefits. Quercetin, on the other hand, has a more diverse range of health benefits, including its antihistamine and antiviral properties.

Quercetin vs. Beta-Carotene

  • Similarities: Both compounds are found in fruits and vegetables and offer antioxidant protection.
  • Differences: Beta-Carotene is a precursor to Vitamin A and is essential for vision and skin health. Quercetin, while not involved in vision, has a broader spectrum of anti-inflammatory and immune-boosting properties.

Quercetin vs. Resveratrol

  • Similarities: Both are plant-based antioxidants known for their heart health benefits and potential anti-aging effects.
  • Differences: Resveratrol, often associated with red wine, has been studied for its potential lifespan-extending properties. Quercetin, while also beneficial for cardiovascular health, has a more pronounced effect on inflammation and allergies.

Unique Strengths of Quercetin

  • Broad-Spectrum Benefits: Few antioxidants offer the range of benefits that Quercetin does, from antiviral to anti-allergy effects.
  • Synergistic Effects: Quercetin's ability to enhance the effects of other antioxidants, like Vitamin C, makes it a valuable component in holistic health approaches. 

In the grand scheme of antioxidants, Quercetin holds its own as a versatile and potent compound. While comparisons can be made, each antioxidant, including Quercetin, has a unique role to play in promoting health and wellness.

Safety and Dosage

While the health benefits of Quercetin are numerous, it's essential to approach its consumption with an understanding of safety and recommended dosages. Like any compound, the key lies in moderation and informed use.

Recommended Daily Intake

  • Dietary Sources: For those obtaining Quercetin through natural dietary sources like fruits and vegetables, there's generally no specific limit. These foods provide Quercetin in amounts that are typically safe for consumption.
  • Supplements: For Quercetin supplements, dosages can vary based on the specific health goal. However, common dosages range from 500 to 1,000 mg per day. Always consult with a healthcare professional before starting any supplement regimen.

Potential Side Effects

  • General Tolerance: Most people tolerate Quercetin well, especially when consumed through natural food sources.
  • Supplemental Use: In some cases, taking Quercetin supplements might lead to side effects like headaches, stomachaches, or tingling sensations. It's crucial to start with a lower dose to assess tolerance.
  • Interactions: Quercetin may interact with certain medications, including antibiotics and blood pressure drugs. It's essential to discuss with a healthcare provider if you're on medication.

Precautions for Specific Populations

  • Pregnant and Breastfeeding Women: While Quercetin-rich foods are safe, it's advisable for pregnant or breastfeeding women to avoid high doses of Quercetin supplements unless recommended by a healthcare professional.
  • Individuals with Health Conditions: Those with kidney disorders or other specific health conditions should consult with a doctor before taking Quercetin supplements.

Storage and Stability 

  • Shelf Life: Like other supplements, Quercetin has a shelf life. Ensure you check the expiration date and store in a cool, dry place.
  • Stability: Quercetin's potency can diminish over time, especially when exposed to light or heat. Proper storage is essential to maintain its efficacy.

Incorporating Quercetin into one's health regimen can offer numerous benefits, but it's essential to do so safely and responsibly. Being informed about the correct dosages and potential precautions ensures that you reap the benefits while minimising any risks.

Incorporating Quercetin into Your Diet

Harnessing the benefits of Quercetin doesn't require a drastic overhaul of your diet. With a few mindful choices, you can easily integrate this potent antioxidant into your daily meals and snacks.

Tips for Increasing Quercetin Intake through Foods 

  • Diverse Fruits and Veggies: Incorporate a variety of Quercetin-rich foods into your diet, such as apples, onions, berries, and broccoli. Remember, variety is key to a balanced diet.
  • Mind the Skin: Many fruits, like apples and grapes, have higher Quercetin concentrations in their skin. So, think twice before peeling!
  • Cooking Methods: Opt for steaming or sautéing vegetables rather than boiling, as boiling can reduce the Quercetin content.

Supplements: Pros and Cons

Pros:

  • Convenience: For those who find it challenging to get enough Quercetin through diet alone, supplements offer a convenient alternative.
  • Consistency: Supplements provide a consistent Quercetin dose, ensuring you get the desired amount daily.

Cons:

  • Absorption: Dietary Quercetin, being in its natural form with other beneficial compounds, might be better absorbed and utilised by the body.
  • Potential Overconsumption: With supplements, there's a risk of consuming too much, leading to potential side effects.

Quercetin-Enhanced Foods and Drinks

  • Fortified Products: Some products, like energy bars or health drinks, are fortified with Quercetin. These can be a good option for those looking to boost their intake.
  • Teas: Drinking teas, especially green tea, can be a flavorful way to consume Quercetin.

Pairing for Enhanced Absorption

  • With Vitamin C: Combining Quercetin with Vitamin C not only enhances its antioxidant effects but may also improve its absorption.
  • Healthy Fats: As Quercetin is partly fat-soluble, consuming it with healthy fats like avocados or olive oil can boost its bioavailability.

Incorporating Quercetin into your diet can be both a delicious and health-boosting endeavour. Whether through natural foods, supplements, or fortified products, there are numerous ways to ensure you're harnessing the full potential of this antioxidant powerhouse.

Future Research and Potential

The journey of understanding Quercetin is far from over. As with many natural compounds, the depth of its potential is vast and researchers continue to explore new avenues where Quercetin might play a transformative role.

Ongoing Studies on Quercetin's Benefits 

  • Brain Health: Preliminary studies suggest that Quercetin may have neuroprotective effects, potentially playing a role in preventing neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer's.
  • Athletic Performance: Some research indicates that Quercetin might enhance athletic performance by improving endurance and reducing inflammation post-exercise.
  • Metabolic Health: Quercetin's potential role in regulating blood sugar and combating metabolic syndrome is a growing area of interest.

Potential Future Applications in Medicine and Health

  • Drug Development: Given its diverse health benefits, Quercetin is being explored as a base for developing new drugs, especially in areas like inflammation and viral infections.
  • Topical Applications: With its antioxidant properties, there's interest in incorporating Quercetin into skincare products to combat ageing and protect against environmental damage.
  • Personalised Nutrition: As the field of personalised nutrition grows, Quercetin might be recommended based on individual genetic profiles to maximise its benefits.

Challenges and Considerations in Research

  • Bioavailability: One of the challenges in Quercetin research is its bioavailability. Finding ways to enhance how the body absorbs and utilises it is crucial for its therapeutic applications.
  • Clinical Trials: While many studies highlight Quercetin's potential, more extensive human clinical trials are needed to validate these findings and determine optimal dosages.

The Promise of Quercetin

  • Holistic Health: As people increasingly seek holistic approaches to health, Quercetin, with its multifaceted benefits, is poised to become a staple in natural health regimens.
  • Bridging Tradition and Modernity: Quercetin's roots in traditional medicine, combined with modern research, make it a bridge between ancient wisdom and contemporary science.

The horizon for Quercetin research is expansive and promising. As we continue to uncover its myriad benefits and applications, it's clear that this unsung antioxidant hero will play a significant role in the future of health and wellness.

Conclusion

As we journey through the intricate world of antioxidants, Quercetin stands out as a beacon of potential and promise. Its multifaceted benefits, ranging from anti-inflammatory and antiviral properties to its role in cardiovascular health, make it a compound worthy of attention and exploration.

While it may not yet have the widespread recognition of some of its antioxidant counterparts, the depth of its benefits and the breadth of research surrounding it are undeniable. From its roots in traditional medicine to its promising future in modern health science, Quercetin's journey is a testament to the wonders of nature and the boundless possibilities it offers.

For those seeking to enhance their health holistically, incorporating Quercetin into their dietary regimen can be a transformative step. Whether through vibrant fruits and vegetables, supplements, or fortified products, the avenues to harness its benefits are diverse and accessible.

In conclusion, as we continue to navigate the ever-evolving landscape of health and wellness, Quercetin serves as a reminder of the untapped potential that lies in nature. It beckons us to explore, understand and ultimately benefit from the myriad gifts that the natural world has to offer. Here's to a future where the unsung heroes of the antioxidant world, like Quercetin, receive the recognition and appreciation they truly deserve.

Discover a range of natural health products, from alkaline water filters to superfood powders, tailored to elevate your wellbeing at Water for Health.

Further Reading: Dive Deeper into Quercetin

For readers eager to delve further into the fascinating world of Quercetin, the following resources offer comprehensive insights:

Therapeutic Potential of Quercetin: New Insights and Perspectives for Human Health

  • Overview: This research article delves into the multifaceted therapeutic effects of Quercetin. From its antidiabetic and anti-inflammatory properties to its potential in combating Alzheimer's and arthritis, the article provides a holistic view of Quercetin's promising bioactive effects.
  • Explore the full article

Overviews of Biological Importance of Quercetin: A Bioactive Flavonoid

  • Overview: A detailed examination of Quercetin as a flavonoid with potent antioxidant properties. The article underscores its potential in safeguarding health and offers insights into its protective role against various diseases.
  • Dive deeper here

Recent Advances in Potential Health Benefits of Quercetin

  • Overview: This article sheds light on the recent discoveries surrounding Quercetin's health benefits. Highlighting its role in inducing apoptosis and cell cycle arrest in various cancer cell lines, it offers a fresh perspective on the antioxidant's potential in cancer prevention and treatment.
  • Read the full study

These resources are instrumental for those keen on understanding the depth and breadth of Quercetin's impact on human health. Whether you're a researcher, health enthusiast, or simply curious, these articles will guide you through the antioxidant's myriad benefits.



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Glyphosate Exposed: Unraveling the Research on its Hazards to Human Well-being

Glyphosate Exposed: Unraveling the Research on its Hazards to Human Well-being

What exactly is Glyphosate?

You’ve most likely heard of this very popular broad-spectrum herbicide many times and not actually realised what it was.

Remember the stuff your mother held in such high esteem for killing those nasty garden weeds? Yeap, that’s Glyphosate, or ‘Roundup’ as it’s more commonly known.

First introduced in the 1970s, this popular herbicide used globally, works by inhibiting an enzyme pathway essential for plant growth, ultimately leading to the death of the targeted plants.

Glyphosate is primarily used in agriculture, forestry, and landscaping, as well as for weed control in gardens and residential areas. It is also employed in non-agricultural settings such as railways, roadsides, and industrial areas.

Sounds pretty useful, right? At the end of the day, it kills those unwanted weeds, so what's not to like?

Well maybe, but before you go rushing out to dose your driveway or backyard patio you may want to consider the potential drawbacks associated with this controversial weed killer.

In this article, we will delve into the research surrounding glyphosate and explore the potential risks it poses to our well-being.

Main uses of Glyphosate and how it works

Herbicide

Glyphosate is a broad-spectrum herbicide used to kill most broadleaf plants within a certain area.

It gets absorbed into the plants primarily through their leaves, with small amounts being absorbed into the roots. Consequently, glyphosate is actually only effective at killing growing weeds and grass. It cannot stop seeds from germinating in the first place.

Once it is absorbed into the plant structure, glyphosate spreads all around the plant—to its roots and leaves—and prevents it from making proteins that are necessary for its growth. This is what ends up killing the plants

Crop Desiccant

Glyphosate is often used by farmers as an effective desiccant to dry out crops like wheat and oats before they are harvested. 

However, even though glyphosate is not a true desiccant it does still function in the same way killing the plants enabling their food portions to dry out faster than they usually would.

This ensures a speedy harvest process and increases the overall harvest yield.

The Glyphosate controversy

In today's world, where concerns about the safety of the products we use and the impact they have on our health are on the rise, glyphosate has emerged as a hot topic of debate.

The use of glyphosate has been surrounded by controversy, particularly regarding its potential impact on human health. 

Research and regulatory agencies have conducted studies to evaluate its safety and have arrived at different conclusions regarding its potential risks.

Some concerns have been raised about possible associations between glyphosate exposure and certain health issues, including cancer, reproductive problems, and disruption of the endocrine system.

Regulatory bodies worldwide continue to assess and monitor the safety of glyphosate and set limits on its usage to mitigate potential risks.

Potential health risks of Glyphosate

Cancer Concerns

One of the most significant concerns associated with glyphosate is its potential link to cancer.

The World Health Organization's International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classified glyphosate as a probable human carcinogen in 2015, sparking controversy and raising alarm bells around the world.

While some studies have supported this classification, others have found no definitive evidence of a causal relationship between glyphosate and cancer.

Nonetheless, the debate continues, urging researchers and regulatory agencies to explore this critical issue further. (1)

Endocrine Disruption and Reproductive Health

Apart from cancer concerns, glyphosate is also believed to be involved in the disruption of the endocrine system, which regulates crucial hormonal functions in the body.

Studies on animals have suggested that glyphosate exposure may lead to hormonal imbalances, however, more research is needed to establish the extent of these effects on human health and whether they occur at typical exposure levels. (2)

Reproductive Effects

Research has indicated that glyphosate may have adverse effects on reproductive health. 

Animal studies have shown that glyphosate exposure can lead to reproductive problems, such as reduced fertility, abnormal sperm, and reproductive organ abnormalities.

However, further studies are needed to determine the extent of these effects on human reproductive health. (3)

Developmental Effects

Glyphosate exposure has also raised concerns about its potential impact on fetal and child development.

Some studies have suggested associations between glyphosate exposure during pregnancy and adverse birth outcomes, including preterm birth and low birth weight.

Additionally, there is evidence indicating that glyphosate may have neurotoxic effects, which could potentially affect children's cognitive development. (4,5,6,7,8)

Disruption of Gut Microbiome

Emerging research suggests that glyphosate could affect gut microbiome, the complex ecosystem of microorganisms living in our digestive system.

The disruption of gut microbiome has been associated with various health conditions, including:

  • metabolic disorders
  • immune system dysfunction
  • mental health issues

Disrupting our delicate microbiome balance isn’t the only way that glyphosate can potentially impact the health of our gut.

Researchers have now linked glyphosate as one of the key contributors to leaky gut (an increase in intestinal permeability) often thought to be caused by gluten consumption. 

It’s speculated that residual glyphosate left on wheat when harvested is the more likely culprit for bringing on leaky gut conditions rather than the wheat itself.

Maintaining a healthy gut is one of the key components of health and therefore the claims of implications caused by glyphosate should not be taken lightly.

But it’s important to note that research is ongoing to find out the full extent of these effects. (9,10)

Dr. Zach Bush “Every time you touch human cells with glyphosate it dissolves the communication between them.”


Food Safety

In recent years Glyphosate's impact on food safety has raised many concerns and generated significant debate.

Glyphosate residues are often found on various crops, including staple foods such as grains, fruits, and vegetables, due to its widespread use in agriculture.

But it’s most concerning when these residues are present in harvested crops that may potentially lead to health implications for consumers.

As glyphosate is applied to fields, it can be absorbed by plants and remain on their surfaces. This has led to instances of glyphosate detection in food products, sparking worries about its potential adverse effects on human health.

Regulatory agencies have set maximum residue limits (MRLs) for glyphosate in food products to mitigate health concerns, but there is ongoing debate about whether these limits are adequate to ensure long-term food safety. (11)

Secondly there is increasing concern of glyphosate in the environment and it leaching into water courses and then into water supplies. It is consequently advisable that people ensure their water filters remove glyphosate.

Furthermore, glyphosate's impact on soil health and microbial communities can indirectly affect food safety.

Healthy soils support the growth of nutritious crops, and disturbances to soil ecosystems due to glyphosate use could influence the nutritional content and quality of food produced.

Glyphosate’s impact on food safety is a multifaceted issue encompassing both the direct residues present on crops and potential health effects resulting from consumption.

While regulatory measures aim to mitigate risks, ongoing research and monitoring are necessary to fully understand the long-term implications of glyphosate use on the safety and quality of the food supply.

To summarise

Glyphosate's hazards to human well-being have become a subject of intense scientific scrutiny and public concern.

While research on the topic is complex and occasionally conflicting, it is essential to acknowledge the existing evidence and remain vigilant about the potential risks.

As we continue to navigate the world of herbicides and agricultural practices, the responsible use of glyphosate and the development of alternative solutions can contribute to a safer and more sustainable future.

Written by Kieran Higgins, Health Writer.

Water for Health Ltd began trading in 2007 with the goal of positively affecting the lives of many. We still retain that mission because we believe that proper hydration and nutrition can make a massive difference to people’s health and quality of life. Click here to find out more.

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The Ultimate Guide to Blood Sugar Management: Natural Approaches to Try

The Ultimate Guide to Blood Sugar Management: Natural Approaches to Try

In today's fast-paced world, where convenience often trumps health, it's no wonder that blood sugar imbalances have become a widespread concern.

Whether you're grappling with prediabetes, type 2 diabetes, or simply aiming to maintain optimal blood sugar levels, understanding the fundamentals of blood sugar management is essential for your overall well-being.

While medications and insulin injections play a crucial role in controlling blood sugar, many individuals are now seeking natural approaches that complement conventional treatments.

In this comprehensive guide, we will explore a plethora of natural strategies to help you manage your blood sugar levels effectively.

Importance of healthy blood sugar levels

Maintaining healthy blood sugar levels is crucial for overall health and well-being. Blood sugar, also known as glucose, is the primary source of energy for our bodies. When we eat carbohydrates, they are broken down into glucose, which is then transported to our cells through the bloodstream. (1)

However, when our blood sugar levels become too high or too low, it can lead to a host of health issues.

High blood sugar levels can:

  • damage blood vessels and organs
  • lead to complications such as heart disease
  • kidney damage
  • nerve damage

In contrast low blood sugar levels can lead to symptoms such as: 

  • dizziness
  • confusion
  • fatigue
  • seizures

Moreover, chronic high blood sugar levels can lead to conditions like insulin resistance, prediabetes, and type 2 diabetes. (2)

By maintaining healthy blood sugar levels through natural approaches, we can help reduce our risk of developing these conditions and improve our overall health and quality of life. 

Additionally, managing blood sugar levels is crucial for those already diagnosed with diabetes to prevent complications and maintain good health.

Natural approaches to try

There are several natural approaches that can help you maintain healthy blood sugar levels.

Here are some effective strategies to consider:

Balanced Diet

Focus on consuming a well-balanced diet that includes a variety of nutrient-rich foods. Emphasize complex carbohydrates, such as whole grains, legumes, and vegetables, which have a gentler impact on blood sugar compared to refined carbohydrates. Include lean proteins, healthy fats, and plenty of fiber in your meals. Avoid sugary beverages, processed foods, and excessive intake of saturated and trans fats. (3)

Regular Exercise

Engaging in regular physical activity can improve insulin sensitivity and help regulate blood sugar levels. Aim for a combination of aerobic exercises (such as brisk walking, jogging, or cycling) and strength training. (4)

Stress Management

Chronic stress can elevate blood sugar levels. Practice stress reduction techniques such as deep breathing exercises, meditation, yoga, or engaging in hobbies and activities that bring you joy and relaxation. (5)

Adequate Sleep

Prioritize getting sufficient sleep as inadequate sleep can disrupt insulin sensitivity and affect blood sugar control. Aim for 7-8 hours of quality sleep each night. (6)

Stay Hydrated

Drinking enough water is essential for overall health, including blood sugar management. Opt for water instead of sugary beverages, which can cause blood sugar spikes. (7)

Herbal Remedies

Some herbs and supplements have shown potential in supporting blood sugar management. Examples include cinnamon, berberine, chromium, and alpha-lipoic acid.

Berberine in particular has gained a lot of attention for its potential benefits in managing blood sugar levels, especially in individuals with diabetes or prediabetes. (8)

The power of Berberine

This natural plant compound works by activating an enzyme called AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK), which plays a crucial role in regulating glucose uptake and utilization in cells.

But that’s not all!

Berberine also offers several other reasons why it is considered beneficial for managing blood sugar levels:

  1. Improved Insulin Sensitivity: Berberine has been shown to enhance insulin sensitivity, which is crucial for efficient glucose uptake and utilization in cells. By improving insulin sensitivity, berberine helps the body regulate blood sugar levels more effectively. (9)
  2. Reduced Glucose Production: Research suggests that berberine can effectively suppress the production of glucose in the liver, which is particularly beneficial for individuals with insulin resistance or type 2 diabetes. By inhibiting excessive glucose production, berberine helps prevent blood sugar spikes.
  3. Increased Glycogen Storage: Berberine promotes glycogen synthesis, which is the storage form of glucose in the liver and muscles. By increasing glycogen storage, berberine helps regulate blood sugar levels during periods of fasting or between meals.
  4. Modulation of Gut Health: Berberine has been shown to have positive effects on gut health by promoting the growth of beneficial gut bacteria and reducing harmful bacteria. A healthy gut microbiome is linked to improved glucose metabolism and better blood sugar control. (10)
  5. Anti-inflammatory Effects: Chronic inflammation is associated with insulin resistance and impaired blood sugar control. Berberine exhibits anti-inflammatory properties, which may contribute to its positive effects on blood sugar management.
  6. Lipid and Cholesterol Regulation: Berberine has been shown to help regulate lipid and cholesterol levels. High blood lipid levels can contribute to insulin resistance and blood sugar imbalances. By improving lipid profiles, berberine indirectly supports better blood sugar management.

Which berberine supplement to choose?

Choosing a berberine supplement is no easy task especially with the vast range available on today's market.

But there are two crucial factors you must look for in a product worth buying.

Quality and strength.

Planet Source's Berberine HCL is one such supplement that offers both high quality and high strength and is a great place to start. 

It comes from berberis aristata root, also known as Indian Barberry and has a long list of benefits including:

  • High potency
  • 1200 mg per serving (2 capsules)
  • Vegan friendly
  • Manufactured in GMP certified facility
  • No gluten, corn, salt, soy, yeast or preservatives

We suggest you take two capsules daily. One in the morning with food and one at night with food or as directed by a health care professional.

If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, or taking any medication, then you should consult your medical practitioner before taking any supplements.

The bottom line

Managing blood sugar levels naturally is crucial for overall health and preventing diabetes. There are many different approaches to try ranging from eating a healthy balanced diet to getting adequate sleep. But it’s been proven that taking a Berberine supplement is particularly beneficial.

Berberine plays an important role in blood sugar management as it improves insulin sensitivity and glucose metabolism. It offers a natural alternative to pharmaceuticals with fewer side effects.

Incorporating berberine into a daily routine can support stable blood sugar levels and provide additional health benefits. However, consulting with a healthcare professional is important before starting berberine supplementation.

Written by Kieran Higgins, Health Writer.

Water for Health Ltd began trading in 2007 with the goal of positively affecting the lives of many. We still retain that mission because we believe that proper hydration and nutrition can make a massive difference to people’s health and quality of life. Click here to find out more.

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Unlock the Power of Quercetin: Discover the Amazing Benefits for Your Health

Unlock the Power of Quercetin: Discover the Amazing Benefits for Your Health

Quercetin, a type of plant pigment, also known as a flavonoid, is found in many foods including fruits, vegetables, and herbs.

It's known for its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties and has been the subject of numerous studies exploring its potential health benefits.

You will often find quercetin offered in supplement form where its powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties are combined to offer a convenient way to boost your health and well-being.    

In this article, we will cover the benefits of supplementing with Quercetin and how to choose an effective product.

Benefits of Quercetin

Some of the potential benefits of quercetin include:

Powerful Antioxidant 

Antioxidants help to protect our cells from damage caused by harmful molecules called free radicals. Free radicals are naturally produced by your body, but they can also be generated by exposure to environmental toxins and pollutants.

Over time, this cellular damage can contribute to the development of chronic diseases, such as heart disease and strokes. By acting as an antioxidant, quercetin can help to reduce the impact of these harmful molecules, potentially reducing the risk of developing these chronic conditions.

A study published in the "Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry" found that quercetin has potent antioxidant properties and may protect cells against oxidative stress. (1)

Anti-inflammatory

Inflammation is a normal response of the body to injury or infection, but chronic inflammation can contribute to the development of several chronic conditions, including diabetes and kidney disease.

A study published in the "Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry" found that quercetin supplementation reduced inflammation in obese mice. (2)

Quercetin has been shown to have anti-inflammatory effects, reducing the production of pro-inflammatory compounds and potentially reducing the risk of chronic inflammation.

Boosts Exercise Performance

In addition to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, quercetin has also been explored for its potential to improve exercise performance.

Research has shown that quercetin supplementation can improve endurance and exercise performance in both animals and humans. It's believed that quercetin's ability to reduce inflammation and improve blood flow may play a role in this benefit.

A study published in the "Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition" found that quercetin supplementation improved endurance and physical performance in cyclists. (3)

Aids Immune Function

Quercetin is also being studied for its potential to improve immune function.

Our immune system plays a crucial role in fighting off infection and disease, and quercetin has been shown to enhance immune function in several animal studies. While more research is needed to determine the extent of this benefit in humans, the results are promising.

Reduces Allergy Symptoms

Finally, quercetin has been explored for its potential to reduce allergy symptoms.

Allergic reactions occur when our immune system overreacts to a normally harmless substance, such as pollen or pet dander. Quercetin has been shown to have anti-allergic effects, reducing the production of histamine and other allergy-related compounds.

Quercetin may be linked with improved heart health

A study posted in the “American Journal Of Clinical Nutrition” investigated the potential health benefits of quercetin and its reduction of cardiovascular disease risk:

Researchers found that quercetin supplementation improved blood pressure and endothelial function in overweight individuals. (4)

Why you should supplement Quercetin

Besides the benefits quercetin provides such as reducing inflammation, enhancing cardiovascular health, and improving exercise performance — supplementing can help ensure adequate intake, especially in cases where dietary sources are inadequate or unavailable.

However,  we always advise you to speak with your doctor or health care provider before starting a supplement regimen or if you are taking any anticoagulant medications or antibiotics, to ensure it is safe and appropriate for  you.

Revitacell Quercetin - Flavonoids Supplement

This powerful Quercetin supplement is combined with Vitamin C and Citrus Bioflavonoids to further enhance its effectiveness. It’s everything you would expect from a high-quality Quercetin and more.

  • 300mg Quercetin per capsule
  • 50mg Vitamin C
  • 50mg Citrus Bioflavonoids
  • Vegan-friendly
  • Zero additives
  • 60 capsules per bottle (1-2 months supply)

Why is Revitacell's Quercetin Different?

This Quercetin supplement is manufactured in the UK and combines Quercetin with Citrus Bioflavonoids and Vitamin C as synergistic ingredients to improve its effectiveness as an anti-inflammatory.

The capsules do not have any additional ingredients that are normally used in capsules such as magnesium stearate.

Pregnant women, breastfeeding women, children and those with kidney disease should not take the product.

The Bottom Line

Quercetin is a plant pigment with many potential health benefits. Its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, ability to improve exercise performance and immune function, and potential to reduce allergy symptoms make it a powerhouse in the supplement world.  

However, it's important to remember that more research is needed to fully understand the potential benefits of quercetin and its role in human health.

As with any dietary supplement, it's best to speak with your healthcare provider before starting to take quercetin to ensure it's safe for you and to determine the right dosage for your needs.

Written by Kieran Higgins, Health Writer.

Water for Health Ltd began trading in 2007 with the goal of positively affecting the lives of many. We still retain that mission because we believe that proper hydration and nutrition can make a massive difference to people’s health and quality of life. Click here to find out more.


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Elevated uric acid levels and the association with heart disease

Elevated Uric Acid Levels and the Association with Heart Disease

Uric acid, a waste product found in the blood, is created when your body breaks down chemicals called purines. When uric acid levels get too high it often leads to a condition known as hyperuricemia. If left untreated, elevated uric acid levels can eventually lead to many health problems including heart disease, gout and kidney disease. (1)

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Can diet and exercise help reverse type 2 diabetes?

Can Diet and Exercise Help Reverse Type 2 Diabetes?

Type 2 diabetes — a common disease that occurs when blood glucose levels get too high, is thought to affect an estimated 462 million people globally, corresponding to a whopping 6.28% of the world's population! (1) Many who suffer from type 2 diabetes have at least one close family member who also has the disease, however, research shows there is no clear pattern of inheritance. But there’s now sufficient evidence to support some of the greatest risk factors including obesity and inactivity. It’s important to note that although there’s no cure for type 2 diabetes, research has shown it’s possible to reverse through diet and exercise. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at how diet changes and getting more active can help normalise blood sugar levels — without needing any medication. (2)

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What Is N-acetyl-L-cysteine and How Does it Boost Health?

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You may not have heard much about NAC. N-acetyl-L-cysteine, or NAC for short, is a powerful amino acid. It may just be what you need to boost overall health and wellbeing. It’s fascinating because NAC has been used to treat a wide range of ailments. Even in clinical settings. From Schizophrenia to respiratory conditions. As always, our whole body is connected. It seems straight forward, but we often forget this simple fact. This means that a molecule like NAC can impact a wide range of areas of the human body. In this article we’ll explore the science behind NAC, and how it can treat a wide range of health issues.

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What is Berberine - The Benefits of this Traditional Chinese Medicine for Diabetes & Cholesterol

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In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) there are 22 herbs used to treat metabolic syndrome. Of these herbs, the compound berberine stands out as a potent medication in the treatment of metabolic syndrome.

Metabolic syndrome is a precursor to a wide range of chronic illnesses. For example diabetes, obesity and high blood pressure are all intricately linked. In fact there’s a diverse group of ailments that arise when a person is suffering from metabolic syndrome. For example high cholesterol, and increased blood pressure. As well as an increased risk for developing heart disease.

Thankfully metabolic syndrome can be reversed in most cases using natural methods. Including incorporating powerful herbs like berberine into your diet.

In this article we’ll focus on berberine and how it can help reverse metabolic syndrome.

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