The gut-brain axis may be well talked about but the link between gut health and bone health is lesser known. Read the latest nutritional studies in this week’s Nutrition News article and learn more about how what goes on in our gut could affect our bone strength.

Link between prebiotics and bone health

The gut and brain axis has been discussed at length, as shown in this previous Nutrition News article, but what is less well known is the link between gut health and bone health.

A recent study, reported by NutraIngredientsUSA, evaluated how different types of prebiotics may play a “pivotal” role in bone health. The study from Japan recruited 29 female athletes between the ages of 18 and 25; each of them were asked to supplement their normal diet with prebiotic food. The study’s authors found that levels of Bifidobacterium significantly increased as a result of the introduction of prebiotics and these were seen clearly against the baseline by week 3 of the study.

The study monitored the participants for a period of 12 weeks and found serum TRACP-5b levels, which is a marker of bone resorption, to be significantly reduced after this time period. TRACP-5b is an enzyme that is expressed in high amounts by bone resorbing cells, which is called osteoclasts.

While the study was limited, having only focused on females of a certain age and nationality, the results give a strong base for further research to be carried out.

Fatty fish supporting brain health

Fatty fish is known to be a good addition for a well-rounded diet but a recent study, covered by Science Daily, has credited it with supporting brain health through lessening the number and severity of headaches in migraine sufferers. Researchers from the National Institute on Aging (NIA) and the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), parts of the National Institutes of Health; and the University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill studied 182 participants who suffered migraines frequently, splitting the participants into groups of different diet plans.

The participants were split into three different diet plans; group one had high levels of fatty fish or oils from fatty fish and lowered linoleic acid, group two had high levels of fatty fish and higher linoleic acid and group three high linoleic acid and lower levels of fatty fish, representative of diets in the US.

The first group that was fed a diet high in fatty fish and low in linoleic acid saw a 30 – 40% reduction in total headaches per day, severe headache hours per day and overall headache days per month when compared to the control group. The hope is that, as a result of this and ongoing research, food-related alternatives to medication for migraine pain relief could be found.

Speaking of the study, NIH study lead Chris Ramsden said, “Changes in diet could offer some relief for the millions of Americans who suffer from migraine pain," and reiterating, "It's further evidence that the foods we eat can influence pain pathways.

Wild fruits from South Africa show promise in supplementing diet with key nutrients

Researchers from the University of Johannesburg have explored the nutritional content of several wild fruit native to South Africa. The fruits are thought, in some cases, to contain essential nutrients in such abundance that they even exceed the daily nutritional values that are recommended by the WHO.

The research, which was reported on by Eurekalert, found that all 14 of the fruits studied had a lysine content that exceeded the daily recommendation. Lysine is an essential amino acid, meaning that we need it to stay healthy but the body can’t make it on its own; it needs to obtain it through diet. The fruit of the white olive was one that was studied and the researchers found it contained several important nutrients, specifically amino acids, in impressive quantities including isoleucine (0.30 g/100 mg), leucine (0.47 g/100 g), phenyalanine (0.31 g/100 g), and valine (0.39 g/100 g). The jacket plum is another example whose lysine content is so high it far exceeds the recommended daily intake for adults. As lysine is important for supporting immune function, the researchers believe the jacket plum fruit could be a useful way of supporting the immune system naturally.

While the results are promising the researchers say that further research is needed to establish the protein quality in each fruit to establish how digestible and bioavailable the amino acids are.

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Alison Astill-Smith author Alison is the Founder of Metabolics who writes about Metabolics updates, events and natural healthcare. Her experience and passion for natural supplements and healthcare comes from her years of experience as a practising osteopath, having founded Metabolics in her search for high quality, natural products in her own work. Alison has been a qualified and practising Osteopath since 1981 and regularly gives seminars on a range of healthcare subjects to the wider practitioner community helping share her knowledge and experience.