This week’s Nutrition News covers recent research that challenges misconceptions about nuts and weight management, how omega-3s may benefit skin health, and turmeric’s effect on digestive health.

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Almonds for weight management

Recent research from the University of South Australia challenges the misconception that nuts, due to their higher fat content, hinder weight loss efforts. In fact, this study, the largest of its kind, highlights that incorporating almonds into a calorie-restricted diet can not only support weight management but also enhance cardiometabolic health.

In a world where over 1.9 billion adults grapple with being overweight, including 650 million with obesity, finding effective weight management strategies is crucial. The study, reported by Science Daily in the article “Almonds as part of a healthy weight loss diet”, involved comparing energy-restricted diets supplemented with Californian almonds to those enriched with carbohydrate-rich snacks. Astonishingly, both diets achieved a substantial reduction in body weight, averaging about 7 kilograms.

Dr. Sharayah Carter, a researcher at UniSA, emphasizes that nuts, particularly almonds, offer a valuable snack option. While they do contain fats, these are primarily the unsaturated variety that offer heart support. Almonds are also rich in protein, fibre, vitamins, and minerals. Such nutrients can support overall health, even during weight loss efforts.

The study aimed to dispel concerns about nuts contributing to weight gain. Participants who followed the almond-supplemented diet experienced a remarkable 9.3% reduction in body weight over the course of the trial. Additionally, this diet led to significant improvements in certain lipid subfractions associated with heart health, promising long-term cardiometabolic benefits.

Furthermore, nuts possess the advantage of promoting satiety, helping individuals feel fuller for longer durations, a valuable asset for weight management.

It is worth noting that the study was supported by the Almond Board of California. This program included a three-month energy-restricted diet for weight loss followed by a six-month energy-controlled diet for weight maintenance. During both phases, 15% of participants' energy intake came from unsalted whole almonds with skins for the nut diet, or 15% carbohydrate-rich snacks for the nut-free diet.

These findings emphasise that almonds can be a beneficial addition to a balanced diet, offering both weight loss support and improvements in cardiometabolic health.

Report on the skin health benefits of omega 3

Omega 3 and fish oils have long been touted for their effects on heart, brain, and joint health and now recent reports have been published that compile the skin health benefits of this fatty acid.

The two reports by the Global Organization for EPA and DHA Omega 3s (GOED), discussed in the NutraIngredients article “Science reports compile skin health benefits of omega-3”, utilised its database of over 40,000 published papers. The findings suggest that when the enzymes in the metabolic pathway with EPA and DHA are disrupted, or indeed eliminated, adverse reactions are seen in skin health. The research has since gone a step further with suggestions that omega 3 can play a role in the regulation of the skin’s oil production, hydration, act against breakouts, and help soften rough skin and soothe irritation.

These latest reports looked more specifically into the effects of omega 3 on supporting the body against skin conditions such as psoriasis, a skin ailment that manifests itself in the form of dry red patches, and dermatitis, which is similar to psoriasis and causes scaley, itchy patches on the body, most likely the scalp.

The reports by the GOED highlight the potential of omega 3 to support the body against such skin conditions and to support normal skin. Omega 3 is found in a range of food sources including mackerel, salmon, walnuts, eggs, and flaxseed, among others.

While generalisation from the results of the study is cautioned as the studies focused on specific populations, it provides a good base from which more specific studies regarding omega 3 and its relation to skin health can be conducted.

Turmeric to ease indigestion

A recent study, reported in this article on turmeric by Healthline, conducted by researchers at Chulalongkorn University Faculty of Medicine in Bangkok suggests that the natural compound Curcumin, found in the culinary spice turmeric, may be effective in relieving indigestion symptoms.

In the study, 151 participants with recurrent stomach upset were randomly assigned to one of three groups for 28 days. The first group received large capsules of curcumin four times a day, the second group took omeprazole daily, and the third group received a combination of turmeric and omeprazole.

At the study's conclusion, all three groups experienced significant reductions in symptom severity, with even more robust improvements after 56 days.

Turmeric's link to indigestion relief is attributed to its ability to stimulate the gallbladder to release bile, aiding in fat digestion and reducing symptoms such as bloating. Moreover, turmeric's anti-inflammatory properties can counteract the inflammation associated with indigestion, promoting gut comfort and supporting digestive health.

The study results are promising, especially for those looking for natural remedies or experiencing side effects from medications. However, registered nutritionist Anna Maspon points out two limitations of the study: one being that it lacked a control group and the other that it didn't consider participants' diets, making it difficult to assess the comparison to doing nothing or to evaluate dietary influences on the results.

Sas Parsad, a nutritionist, highlights that turmeric's benefits extend beyond indigestion relief. It possesses antioxidant properties, supports brain health, and supports liver function.

Turmeric is natural, widely available, and offers digestive benefits so is well worth considering as an option to support digestive health.

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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.