The nutrients we get from food and dietary supplements help support and protect the body from a number of different health problems and we’re constantly learning new things about the effects different nutrients have on the body. This week’s Nutrition News looks at the latest research on the foods we eat and the functions they support, including the benefits of oregano and how eating fish can help support the brain against air pollution.

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The benefits of oregano oil

Oregano may be a kitchen staple as the primary ingredient of a number of popular Italian dishes, but it also has numerous beneficial effects on our health. Oregano oil in particular, as described by Healthline in this article, may have a whole host of beneficial properties due to its Rosmarinic acid, Thymol and Carvacrol content.

These compounds called phenols, terpenes, and terpenoids have an antioxidant effect, with the Healthline article detailing several research papers that have explored this effect on the body. This includes one study that compared nearly 40 commonly used herbs and found that oregano had between 3-30 times the levels of antioxidants of other herbs.

Its antibiotic properties are also thought to be particularly potent, with studies showing that the carvacrol content could have a positive effect against Staphylococcus aureus bacterium, which is one of the most common causes of bacterial infection.

In addition to oregano oil’s antioxidant and antibacterial properties, it is also thought to have a positive effect on gut health, with one study illustrating a protective effect on the gut lining against damage and “leaky gut”, although, as with all the studies cited by Healthline, more research is needed to confirm the findings.

Does eating fish have a protective effect on our brains against air pollution?

We’ve discussed studies that suggest the positive effects omega-3 can have on heart health in the past, but this latest research as published in Science Daily suggests that omega-3’s benefits could extend to brain health support, particularly where air pollution is concerned.

The research looked at older women who ate between 1-2 servings of fish a week and compared their brain health with those who ate fewer servings and found that those who ate fish could consume enough omega-3 to have a counter effect against air pollution damage on the brain. The researchers determined these findings by taking blood tests to determine the levels of omega-3 in the blood and measured this against the 1,315 participants’ home addresses to determine the level of air pollution in the area.

The researchers found that the women who had the highest levels of omega-3 in their blood had the greatest volumes of the hippocampus, leading to the hypothesis that omega-3 supports the brain against damage or shrinking from air pollution. However, the researchers clarify in their report that their findings illustrate an association between brain volume and fish consumption and further research is needed to prove any causation. It is also worth noting the research is limited to older white women, so that is not to say that the same results would be found amongst different genders, ethnicities and ages.

The importance of thiamine, vitamin B1

Vitamins such as vitamin D and vitamin B12 get a lot of press attention but there are a number of other vitamins vital to keeping the body healthy. This recent article by Medical News Bulletin looks to raise the profile of vitamin B1, otherwise known as thiamine is a water soluble vitamin and essential nutrient, meaning that it needs to be consumed regularly in order to maintain normal levels to stay healthy.

Thiamine contributes to the normal function of the nervous system as well as energy yielding metabolism, so it is very important to ensure you are consuming enough.

Thiamine can be found in dietary sources such as pork and fish; in many countries, a number of everyday foods are also fortified with the vitamin including rice, bread and cereals. Dietary supplements are another way of obtaining thiamine.

If you are concerned about your dietary intake of vitamin B1, it is always recommended to seek the advice of a healthcare practitioner who can assess your levels.

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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.