Could something as simple as a herb be the key to keeping us healthy? This week’s Nutrition News covers the latest nutritional research including one article that explores the role rosemary could be playing in supporting our health. Find out more here.

The health benefits of rosemary

Rosemary, originating from the Mediterranean, boasts a rich historical legacy intertwined with its culinary and medicinal significance. It’s widely renowned for its multifaceted benefits, including its antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties. Acting as a defence against oxidative stress and chronic inflammation, it offers promise in alleviating discomfort and supporting general wellbeing.

Furthermore, beyond its physical effects, rosemary also lays claim to supporting mental well-being. Discussed in the recent article “Everything you need to know about rosemary”, emerging studies suggest its potential to elevate mood, alleviate mental distress, and support cognitive functions, including memory and concentration.

In the realm of neurological health, rosemary emerges as a beacon of hope. Laden with carnosic acid, it combats free radicals, offering prospects in supporting brain health; mitigating cognitive decline and neurological disorders such as Alzheimer's disease and epilepsy.

Beyond these benefits, rosemary is thought to support skin health. With its anti-inflammatory properties and skin-nourishing attributes, it acts as a support against some of the effects of ageing.

However, as with all dietary changes, it is important to discuss with your healthcare provider before adding anything new to your diet. Rosemary, with its potent essence, may interact unfavourably with certain medications, necessitating careful oversight under the guidance of medical professionals.

Whether in the culinary domain or the realm of herbal support, rosemary serves as a testament to the abundant offerings of nature and humanity's enduring quest for well supported health.

The link between vitamin D and ageing

Ageing, is something that is often feared, whether in terms of our deteriorating looks or health. One recently published article titled “Vitamin D & The 12 Hallmarks Of Aging — Can It Promote Longevity?” looks at whether mitigating vitamin D deficiency could be the key to living longer and healthier.

Defined as the slow erosion of physiological function, ageing casts its shadow over our bodies, rendering us increasingly susceptible to illness, age-related ailments, and the frailty of advancing years. However, vitamin D could be the answer to ensuring we maintain normal health and wellbeing into our older years.

Traditionally lauded for its role in bolstering bone health, vitamin D's significance, thanks to further research, now extends far beyond skeletal support. With receptors scattered throughout the body, from the depths of the gut to the recesses of the brain, vitamin D is thought to play a part in a number of important biological processes.

As calcitriol, its active form, binds to receptors and modulates gene expression, the influence of vitamin D is vital for fighting the effects of oxidative stress, a harbinger of accelerated ageing.

Yet, while its reputation as a bone guardian precedes it, vitamin D's impact on the broader spectrum of ageing remains a subject that is continually explored. A recent review, delving into the depths of scientific inquiry, elucidated the link between vitamin D and the twelve hallmarks of ageing.

These hallmarks pinpoint the effects of ageing beyond just looks and frailty and are considered to encompass the following;

  1. Genomic instability: DNA damage accumulates over time, exacerbated by factors such as high blood sugar and cholesterol. Vitamin D's antioxidants show promise in protecting against instability, particularly in individuals with Type 2 diabetes.
  2. Telomere attrition: Telomeres shorten with each cell division, leading to cellular senescence or death, and vitamin D levels are linked to telomere length.
  3. Epigenetic alterations: Lifestyle influences epigenetics, affecting gene expression. Vitamin D impacts DNA methylation, especially in genes related to immune function and inflammation.
  4. Loss of protein balance: Ageing disrupts protein balance, impacting cellular function. Vitamin D may influence genes involved in protein balance, potentially aiding in maintaining proper levels.
  5. Deregulated nutrient sensing: Age-related nutrient sensing issues affect metabolism. Vitamin D supports metabolic activities, including insulin sensitivity, promoting healthy nutrient sensing.
  6. Disabled macroautophagy: Cellular cleanup processes decline with age, leading to disease risk. Vitamin D helps initiate cellular cleanup, reducing the buildup of damaged components.
  7. Cellular senescence: Ageing, obesity, and metabolic issues increase cellular senescence. Vitamin D initiates cellular cleanup processes and reduces low-grade inflammation associated with these conditions.
  8. Mitochondrial dysfunction: Mitochondrial struggles decrease energy production and increase oxidative stress. Low vitamin D levels contribute to mitochondrial dysfunction.
  9. Stem cell exhaustion: Ageing reduces stem cell numbers and function. Vitamin D may support stem cell maintenance, although more human studies are needed.
  10. Chronic inflammation: Inflammation increases with age and is linked to various diseases. Mainainting normal vitamin D levels reduces inflammation markers in conditions such as diabetes, kidney disease, and PCOS.
  11. Dysbiosis: Imbalance in gut bacteria affects inflammation. Vitamin D strengthens the gut lining and reduces bad bacteria associated with inflammation.
  12. Altered intercellular communication: Ageing disrupts cell communication, affecting tissue function and repair. Vitamin D's influence on communication channels requires further research for a comprehensive understanding.

However, despite the strides made in understanding its role, gaps in knowledge persist, therefore further research is needed to better understand vitamin D’s role in our health. Despite this, it is clear that maintaining optimal vitamin D levels is key to promoting longevity and well-being.

Probiotics and prebiotics for weight management

Amidst the global epidemic of obesity, a beacon of hope emerges from the realm of gut microbiota research. A pioneering study, reported in the article “Gut microbiota and obesity: New study shows promising results with probiotic and prebiotic intervention” highlights the transformative power of dietary intervention and probiotic consumption in weight management, specifically obese women.

Probiotics and prebiotics are being studied at length as the balance of microbial species dictates not only metabolic processes but also immune system function and pathogen defence.

Armed with this understanding, the study enrolled 58 obese Egyptian women in a comprehensive intervention program. Participants embraced a regimen rich in fibre, low in carbohydrates, and focused on plant-based food groups. Probiotic supplements, teeming with strains of Bifidobacteria and Lactobacillus, were used in addition to daily aerobic workouts.

The results after a three month period, unveiled surprising results. Anthropometric measurements, body composition characteristics, and obesity-associated biological markers underwent a remarkable transformation, signalling the efficacy of the intervention.

Central to this change was the shift in gut microbiota composition. Lactobacillus, Bifidobacteria, and Bacteroidetes, key components of gut health, flourished in the wake of these dietary and lifestyle modifications. Conversely, the abundance of Firmicutes, a bacteria strain associated with obesity, heart disease and diabetes, waned. This was accompanied by a decline in the Firmicutes to Bacteroidetes ratio—a harbinger of obesity.

The study's findings underscore the pivotal role of probiotics in the battle against obesity. Beyond mere weight loss, probiotics wield the power to mitigate inflammation, fortify the intestinal barrier, and modulate immune and neuroendocrine function.

In the face of the global obesity crisis, this research offers a beacon of hope—a testament to the transformative potential of dietary intervention and probiotic consumption.

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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.