New research has found that concentrated blueberry juice is linked to improvements in brain blood-flow and cognitive function in older people.
Researchers believe the flavonoids and pterostilbene content of blueberries, which can be obtained more easily and in greater concentration in supplement form, is likely responsible for these beneficial effects.
The study from England’s University of Exeter employed 26 healthy subjects ages 65 to 77. Twelve of the subjects drank concentrated blueberry juice once daily. The other 14 received a placebo. The study went on for 12 weeks.
Prior to and after the study, the participants were given a number of cognitive tests while their resting blood flow was measured and an MRI monitored their brain activity to establish a baseline.
Results showed that, during the study, subjects who consumed the blueberry concentrate had a significant increase in brain activity compared to those who took the placebo.
Editor’s Note: This study backs up a large number of studies showing the health benefits of fruits and vegetables in general. “Our cognitive function tends to decline as we get older,” said lead study author Dr. Joanna Bowtell. “But previous research has shown that cognitive function is better preserved in healthy older adults with a diet rich in plant-based foods.”Reference*
Vitamin D Supplementation Helps Manage Pain
“Sleep and pain share neurotransmitters in their physiological processes,” the authors explain. Decreased vitamin D levels have been associated with infectious diseases, inflammation, and sleep disorders, all of which can affect pain. Such conditions as fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis, low back pain, lupus, and more have been associated with disordered sleep.
“We can hypothesize that suitable vitamin D supplementation combined with sleep hygiene may optimize the therapeutic management of pain-related diseases, such as fibromyalgia,” Dr. Andersen stated. “It is necessary to understand the possible mechanisms involved in this relationship, including immunological and neurobiological pathways related to interrelationship among sleep, vitamin D and pain.”
Editor’s Note: Periodic blood testing to determine serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels may be helpful for those experiencing chronic pain.Reference*
Supplements Lower Risk of Metabolic Syndrome
A study reported in the journal Nutrients found a lower incidence of metabolic syndrome among dietary supplement users in Korea.
The study included 1,847 supplement users and 4,461 nonusers enrolled in the 2010-2011 Korea National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. Twenty-four-hour diet recall data was analyzed for antioxidant content. Survey responses provided information concerning the use of supplements.
Metabolic syndrome was diagnosed when three or more risk factors for the condition—abdominal fat, high blood pressure, high blood sugar, and unhealthy cholesterol levels—were present during health examinations.
The study uncovered an 18% lower prevalence of metabolic syndrome in supplement users. Among those whose intake of vitamin A was among the highest one-third of supplement users there was a 28% lower risk of metabolic syndrome compared to nonusers whose intake of the vitamin was among the lowest third. For supplement users whose vitamin E intake was among the highest, the risk was 26% lower.
Editor’s Note: Supplement users whose total antioxidant capacity from diet and supplements was among the top third of subjects had a 28% lower risk of metabolic syndrome than nonusers whose total antioxidant capacity was among the lowest.Reference*
Resveratrol Linked to Lower Glucose Levels
The results of a meta-analysis published in Nutrition & Metabolism add evidence to an association between supplementing with resveratrol and improved management of type II diabetes.
For their analysis, Ling Li of Southeast University and associates selected nine randomized, controlled trials involving a total of 283 type II diabetics. They compared levels of glucose, insulin and other factors among participants who received resveratrol to those who received a placebo or to a control group of diabetics.
The analysis concluded that resveratrol supplementation was associated with significantly reduced insulin levels and insulin resistance. Fasting plasma glucose was reduced by an average of 5.2 mg/dL among those who received resveratrol compared to placebo or control groups.
Editor’s Note: Further analysis determined that only 100 mg or higher doses of resveratrol were associated with lower glucose levels.
Elevated fasting insulin often precedes diagnosis of type II diabetes by years or decades. Resveratrolexerts several beneficial mechanisms to help improve insulin sensitivity.Reference*
Diabetes Raises Risk of Sudden Cardiac Death
Research suggests that diabetics under age 50 have a seven-times higher risk of succumbing to sudden cardiac death compared to nondiabetics.
Sudden cardiac death occurs when the heart’s electrical system malfunctions and the organ suddenly stops.
The 10-year Danish study looked at the medical records of all Danes in two groupings: those between the ages of 1 and 35 in 2000-2009 and those between the ages of 36 to 49 in 2007-2009. Out of 14,000 deaths, 5% were diabetic—about 500 had type I diabetes and about 200 had type II diabetes.
The results showed people with type II diabetes had a five-times higher risk of cardiac death and those with type I diabetes had a 12-times higher risk.
Moreover, the diabetics were found to have an eight-times higher risk of dying from heart disease of anykind.
Chief Cardiologist Dr. James Catanese of Northern Westchester Hospital in Mount Kisco, N.Y., was not surprised by the finding of higher risk in itself, but the amount of risk surprised him. “A seven- or eight-times higher risk is astounding, particularly in people below age 50,” he said.