Plants are a great source of vitamins and minerals that keep us healthy but could this extend to trees? This week’s Nutrition News article looks at a range of the most recent nutritional studies and some of the subject matters and findings may surprise you.

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The nutritional uses of marine pine bark

We know that a diet rich in plant-based foods can be a healthful one but few people know that trees can also hold a number of health benefits. This article by Healthline outlines how marine pine bark can support a range of functions within the body.

Pine bark extract was used in tea in the 1940s in North America to heal scurvy and wounds but, since then, its uses have branched out further.

Maritime or cluster pines called Pinus pinaster are a type of pine tree native to areas of France, Spain, Portugal, and Morocco in the Mediterranean and is the type most frequently used in food supplements. They contain vitamins, polyphenols, and other phytonutrients that offer antioxidant support and can counteract damage from free radicals.

The most notable polyphenol nutrients in marine pine bark are procyanidins, catechins and phenolic acids. These compounds have antioxidant, antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties and are the reason behind the substance’s increase in use and popularity. Much more research is needed on pine bark to draw any firm conclusions on its health benefits and, like all food supplements, it is recommended to consult your healthcare practitioner before adding it to your diet.

How cherry juice could aid exercise recovery

The tart but sweet nature of cherry juice makes it a popular alternative breakfast drink but a recent study suggests it could also be a delicious way of aiding recovery after exercise.

The link between cherry juice and exercise recovery has been studied in the past but there were inconsistencies in the scientific literature, according to the researchers quoted in this NutraIngredients article. The researchers carried out a meta-analysis on 14 previous studies on tart cherries and recovery. They found that tart cherries consumed both before and after strenuous exercise resulted in a significant effect on the recovery of muscle strength and power, a significant effect on the participant’s height that they were able to jump and a significant effect on inflammation markers of C-reactive protein and Interleukin 6.

The study’s authors have observed a positive response overall, with the small variations in results likely due to differences between the studies analysed, which may be the reason behind tart cherry’s seemingly better effects on exercise that is more metabolically challenging. The researchers concluded that while the results are encouraging, further research is needed to establish the effects of tart cherries on oxidative stress and inflammation in order to better understand these possible mechanisms.

The nutrients that may relieve constipation

When it comes to bowel movements, the nutrient that comes to the forefront of mind is usually fibre, however, this article by Healthline explores the many nutritional compounds that play a role in our digestive health and those that can relieve constipation, which affects as many as 20% of adults around the world.

Fibre supplements, such as inulin fibre, and probiotics may be a more obvious source of constipation relief but, as Healthline goes on to explain, nutrients such as magnesium, carnitine, senna and even aloe vera could all play a role. Magnesium, for example, is thought to improve colonic transit time (CTT), which is the length of time it takes digested food to travel through the colon. As scientists believe delayed CTT is one of the main causes of constipation, supplements and nutrients that assist with this could have a significant impact.

As well as ensuring you are eating a balanced diet with plenty of fruit and vegetables, these nutrients could provide additional relief to constipation symptoms.

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Alison Astill-Smith author Alison is Director and 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.