As lockdown continues in the UK, more and more people are focusing on what they can do to support their health. This week’s Nutrition News looks at the latest articles and research from the world of health and nutrition and uncovers some interesting findings including the benefits of dates and choline’s potential in brain health support.

Read the findings in full here.

The health benefits of dates

Dates are well known to be great sources of dietary fibre but this article by Medical News Today suggests there are plenty more healthy reasons to include them in your diet.

A quarter cup serving provides 12 percent of your daily fibre needs whilst also delivering an impressive amount of potassium, antioxidants, vitamin B6 and iron. Because dates are very sweet, some people think they are unhealthy but, when eaten in moderation, they can be a brilliant and nutritious substitute for refined sugars.

What’s more, not only are dates highly nutritious, they’re particularly easy to include in your diet. By either adding to salads, stews or smoothies, they are a fantastic way of adding more fibre to a dish. Alternatively, they can be stuffed with nuts or cream cheese for a sweet alternative snack to chocolate.

Choline for brain health support

Choline plays a part in a number of functions within the body, including normal homocysteine metabolism and normal lipid metabolism, but recent studies suggest it could go further by acting as brain and cognitive support also.

According to this article by NutraIngredients-USA, data from 80 middle aged overweight and obese adults indicated that a greater intake of lutein/zeaxanthin and choline was associated with faster reaction times in cognitive tests. Researchers believe that the potential benefits may be due to increases in ACh production in the brain, which could be happening as a result of choline consumption and lutein’s role in reducing acetylcholinesterase activity. Therefore, the researchers conclude that increased consumption of choline and lutein may be of benefit to overweight and obese individuals, who may be of higher risk of cognitive decline in later life.

Although more research is needed to establish these findings and further research again into other audience groups, these results are a promising start.

Nutritional support to help lessen migraines

Migraines can be exceptionally debilitating for those who suffer with them, so much so that there seem few other options to painkillers and over the counter medication. However, this article published by Medical News Today suggests that vitamins could play a role in alleviating symptoms and, while the science for migraines is limited, certain nutrients are known to have a role in brain health.

While it is near impossible to pinpoint why a person might experience a migraine, as the root cause could be down to a number of factors that differ from person to person, some people find that it stems from a deficiency in a particular vitamin or mineral. According to the article, some of the most studied nutrients in relation to migraines include vitamin B2, magnesium and Co-Enzyme Q10.

Vitamin B2, or riboflavin, plays an important role in metabolising food into energy and studies have been carried out to assess its effect on headaches. The research is far from conclusive as one of the studies referenced involved a cohort of just 23 people but the investigation is ongoing as researchers evaluate how low vitamin B2 levels can lead to mitochondrial dysfunction and may have an effect on migraine pathogenesis.

Magnesium is another nutrient that has been evaluated in its potential to lessen the severity of migraines. The most promising study is from 1996 and only involved 80 participants, however, research is ongoing.

CoQ10 is another nutrient that showed promise in this area but, again, the studies are limited and involve small cohorts. However, its role in energy production and as an antioxidant could point towards its potential with further analysis.

While the research is ongoing for each of these nutrients in their role in reducing the effects of migraines, they each have well-documented roles in keeping healthy and supporting the body’s natural processes.

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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.