This week’s Nutrition News covers studies that unearth findings in skin health, stress management and sleep management. Read the latest in nutritional research here.

Can mangoes support skin health?

A new study from the University of California, as reported by EurekaAlert!, has found that eating mangoes could have a positive effect on skin health. The study cited the possible reasons being due to mangoes’ antioxidant and beta carotene content, which may delay cell damage leading to wrinkles.

The study tracked postmenopausal women, where one group ate half a cup of Ataulfo mangoes four times a week and the other group ate one and a half cups of mangoes for the same time at the same intervals. Interestingly, the group that ate half a cup of mangoes saw a 23 percent decrease in wrinkles after two months and then a 20 percent decrease after four months. However, the group that ate more mangoes actually saw an increase in wrinkles, suggesting that too much of the fruit may have an adverse effect, which the study’s authors believe may be due to the higher sugar intake.

It’s worth noting that the study size was small, at 28 participants, so further research is needed to draw robust conclusions but it is interesting to note the effects that additional antioxidants and beta carotene could have on the skin.

Could worms reveal why melatonin supports sleep?

While melatonin is used in sleep support, there is still a gap in the understanding of the effect it has on the brain. Researchers from the University of Connecticut, as reported by Science Daily, have studied worms and uncovered the effects melatonin has on their brain and sleep patterns.

Although we understand that melatonin binds to melatonin receptors in the brain to produce its sleep-promoting effects, there was little that was known about this process and what happens when it takes place. Now, thanks to this latest research, the study’s authors believe they may have the answer.

There are two receptors in the brain that melatonin binds to, MT1 and MT2, the researchers found that when melatonin fits into the MT1 receptor, it opens a potassium channel called the BK channel. The researchers found that melatonin is needed for the BK channel to limit neurotransmitter release and that melatonin promotes sleep in worms by activating the BK channel through the melatonin receptor.

As the BK channel is involved in many biological manifestations beyond its role in sleep, the researchers hope that further research could have additional health applications.

How the Mediterranean diet could reduce stress

We’ve covered before how beneficial the Mediterranean diet is to mental health in a previous Nutrition News article but now a research paper by Wake Forest School of Medicine has evaluated its effects on stress management specifically.

Not only is stress in itself mentally demanding but it can also physically manifest itself in a host of conditions. The study explains that, while it is difficult to control environmental factors that cause stress, there are changes we can make nutritionally to lessen feelings of stress and anxiety.

The researchers looked at the psychological effects of chronic and acute stress in 38 subjects fed either a Mediterranean or Western diet and, in measuring changes in the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems and in the adrenal gland hormone cortisol, found that those on the Mediterranean diet had enhanced stress resilience. This was indicated by lower sympathetic nervous system and cortisol responses to stress, and more rapid recovery after the stress ended.

It suggests that a more wide-spread adoption of a diet rich in plant-based sources of protein and fats opposed to animal-based sources, could have a positive effect on stress levels and, therefore, the negative physical associations that come with stress.

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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.