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  • Glow Up: Exercise for Skin Health

    Friday, March 22, 2019
    Advice
    Glow Up: Exercise for Skin Health
    ×

    Exercise improves circulation, which means more oxygen and healing nutrients can get to tissues like the skin, and more damaging oxygen free radicals and other toxins can be cleared. Here’s a rundown of exercise’s other beauty benefits:

    • Reduce acne. Being physically active can lead to better regulation of hormones like estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone, all of which may contribute to skin problems like acne.
    • Tamp down stress hormones. Over time, regular exercise can improve skin health by reducing chronically elevated levels of the stress hormone, cortisol. Excess cortisol can increase the production of sebum, the waxy substance made by skin cells that clogs pores and contributes to acne. Too much cortisol also increases skin aging by damaging skin’s main structural protein, collagen.
    • Potential damage reversal. In one study, researchers found that exercise not only protected against age-related skin damage, but could even reverse it.
    • Overall skin benefits. Getting regular exercise can reduce chronic inflammation, improve mood and metabolism, and strengthen immune health, all of which can have indirect benefits for skin health.

    Source: European Journal of Applied Physiology

  • Chromium Supplements May Help Control Blood Sugar

    Wednesday, March 20, 2019
    New Science
    Chromium Supplements May Help Control Blood Sugar
    ×

    Chromium, an essential mineral, has already shown some promise as a supplement in helping to stabilize blood sugar levels. Now, another study adds to chromium’s résumé, finding a link between chromium supplementation and lower blood sugar levels in people with poorly controlled type 2 diabetes. Published in the Journal of Trace Elements in Medicine and Biology, the study randomly divided 71 people with type 2 diabetes who had elevated markers for long-term, poorly managed blood sugar into two groups: the first group received 600 micrograms of supplemental chromium picolinate per day, and the second group received a placebo. All patients were given nutritional guidance in accordance with the American Diabetes Association and were directed to continue using any prescribed medications. Researchers looked for changes in the participants’ blood sugar by testing after-meal and fasting blood sugar levels at the beginning of the study and after four months. They also monitored changes in cholesterol levels. Here is what they found:

    • The chromium group experienced statistically significant reductions in fasting blood sugar levels (which dropped by 31.0 mg/dL) and in after-meal blood sugar levels (which dropped by 37.0 mg/dL) compared with the placebo group (which dropped by 14.0 mg/dL and 11.5 mg/dL, respectively).
    • There were no changes in cholesterol levels in the chromium group; however, cholesterol levels were reduced in the placebo group.
    • While chromium levels increased in the chromium-supplemented group, ferritin, a marker of iron status, decreased. The researchers explained that chromium might affect iron status, but the clinical importance of this is still uncertain.

    This study is intriguing because it shows that chromium supplementation could aid in blood sugar management without affecting cholesterol levels in people with poorly controlled type 2 diabetes. More research is needed to investigate the long-term effects of chromium supplementation in people with type 2 diabetes, as well as the ramifications, if any, on iron status.

    Source: Journal of Trace Elements in Medicine and Biology

  • Link Between B12 and Acne Remains Unclear

    Friday, March 15, 2019
    New Science
    Link Between B12 and Acne Remains Unclear
    ×

    A study found that vitamin B12 may play a role in promoting the development of acne, although the conclusions are far from certain. Published in Science Translational Medicine, the study compared the skin microbiota (symbiotic microorganisms, especially bacteria, living on the skin) of people with acne to those of people without acne. To help explain vitamin B12’s possible role in altering this bacterial activity and the contribution of the bacteria to the development of acne, researchers administered a B12 supplement to ten healthy adults without acne. Here are their findings:

    • One of the ten people developed acne within one week of starting the supplement.
    • Analysis of the skin microbiota from the ten subjects revealed that B12 production in Propionibacterium acnes (a skin microorganism) was reduced after supplementation with vitamin B12.
    • Colonies of P. acnes grown in the lab increased their production of porphyrins—compounds that have been shown to increase skin inflammation in cases of acne—when vitamin B12 was added to their growth medium.

    Before throwing out your B12, however, remember that acne is a complicated condition with a number of contributing factors. While the findings from this study are intriguing and may help us to better understand the relationships between nutrition, microbiota, and skin health, they do not clearly show whether B12 supplementation is problematic in people with acne, and, in fact, showed that almost everyone in the study with healthy skin didn't develop acne when they took B12. Vitamin B12 is an essential nutrient crucial for normal neurologic function, red blood cell production, and DNA synthesis. B12 deficiency can result in anemia, digestive problems, cognitive impairment and memory loss, irritability and depression, fatigue and weakness, and other kinds of neurological problems.

    Source: Science Translational Medicine

  • Four Flavorful Foods with Friendly Fats

    Wednesday, March 13, 2019
    Advice
    Four Flavorful Foods with Friendly Fats
    ×

    In recent years, certain fats have shed their bad rap as researchers uncover their health benefits. Studies have shown that feasting on foods like fish, which is high in omega-3 polyunsaturated fats, instead of devouring fatty meats and cheeses, which are high in omega-6 and saturated fats, may help reduce LDL (“bad”) cholesterol and subsequently, the risk of heart disease. To make your quest for good fats easier, the Washington Post reported on four foods containing healthy fats to add to your plate today:

    • Almonds. A one-ounce serving of almonds (1/4 cup) has almost 9 grams of monounsaturated fats, which have been shown to have cardiovascular benefits. In a randomized, controlled study, snacking on almonds rather than a muffin was associated with higher HDL (“good”) cholesterol and lower LDL cholesterol levels in people with elevated cholesterol.
    • Avocado. A cup of cubed avocado has over 14 grams of monounsaturated fats. One large observational study found that people who reported eating any amount of avocado in the previous 24 hours had lower body weight, BMI, and waist circumference, as well as higher HDL cholesterol and a 50% reduced risk of metabolic syndrome.
    • Olive oil. Eating a daily total of approximately four tablespoons of olive oil, containing a whopping 39 grams of monounsaturated fats, as part of a Mediterranean diet, was shown in one randomized trial to reduce the risk of a cardiac event (heart attack, stroke, or heart disease-related death) by 30% compared with no dietary intervention in people with high cardiovascular risk. In other studies, it has also been shown to improve blood vessel function and increase longevity.
    • Chia seeds. A tablespoon of chia seeds contains 4 grams of polyunsaturated fats, and about 60% are the essential omega-3 fatty acid called alpha-linolenic acid. One small clinical trial found that eating a snack containing chia seeds reduced systolic blood pressure and markers of cardiovascular risk more than eating a snack with a similar amount of wheat bran in people with type 2 diabetes. Other preliminary research suggests that chia seeds may reduce appetite and lower blood sugar rises after eating sugar.

    Source: Washington Post

  • Argan Oil Gains Popularity in Skin and Hair Care Aisles

    Friday, March 08, 2019
    Trends
    Argan Oil Gains Popularity in Skin and Hair Care Aisles
    ×

    The argan tree is native to Morocco, and argan oil is extracted from the kernels of the argan fruit. Each argan fruit contains a nut, and each nut contains up to three argan-rich kernels. Argan oil has both culinary and topical uses, and in recent years, it has become a popular ingredient in skin and hair care products.

    Although argan oil is regularly consumed in Morocco, and research suggests it has heart health benefits, consumers in the United States and Europe have been most interested in argan oil’s purported cosmetic benefits. Dozens of personal-care products now contain the ingredient, and many people who use argan oil claim it can reduce inflammation, correct signs of aging in skin and hair, hydrate skin, and reduce fine lines and wrinkles—particularly around the eyes. Argan oil is said to repair skin imperfections, minimize scars and stretch marks, and restore skin elasticity and skin tone.

    Clinical research has not yet validated the numerous claims about argan oil’s positive effects on skin, although many people report improved skin and hair health when using argan oil-based products. Argan oil contains a variety of substances that may contribute to its purported skin benefits, such as polyphenols, vitamin E, coenzyme Q10, other antioxidants, and melatonin.

    Argan oil should be used with caution in terms of applying directly on broken skin or skin areas affected by infections, psoriasis, or other serious skin conditions. Some argan oil products have added fragrances and other ingredients, and these may irritate sensitive skin; test on a small area of your skin before using on your entire face. Opt for a fair trade product if you have concerns about how argan oil is produced, or about how the argan oil producers are treated and paid for their work.

    Source: British Journal of Nutrition and Inflammation & Allergy - Drug Targets

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The information presented by Healthnotes is for informational purposes only. It is based on scientific studies (human, animal, or in vitro), clinical experience, or traditional usage as cited in each article. The results reported may not necessarily occur in all individuals. Self-treatment is not recommended for life-threatening conditions that require medical treatment under a doctor's care. For many of the conditions discussed, treatment with prescription or over the counter medication is also available. Consult your doctor, practitioner, and/or pharmacist for any health problem and before using any supplements or before making any changes in prescribed medications. Information expires December 2019.