Bone-health-in-menopause

8 Ingredients proven to improve bone health during (post)menopause

8 Ingredients proven to improve bone health during (post)menopause

June 13th, 2022

Bone health is crucial to maintain, particularly after menopause. Consumption of dietary supplements, especially in post-menopausal women is on the rise, as advances in research are made and proven benefits are elucidated. Here we mention some of the ingredients that have demonstrated the ability to support women during menopause – specifically for the loss and maintenance of bone mineral density! You will also learn about which foods contain these ingredients, how they are beneficial to bone health and their recommended daily intake.

Bone-health-in-menopause

Bone health, menopause, and dietary supplements

Menopause is the permanent cessation of menstruation naturally occurring in females at an average age of 51 [1].

Importantly, menopause leads to a decrease in estrogen levels and consequently increases bone loss. Estrogen is a hormone responsible for menstruation and known to have protective effects on bone loss and reduce inflammation.

Bone tissue in women is generally thinner than in men, and bone density has been reported to markedly decrease after menopause (post-menopause). Women can lose up to 20% of their bone density in just 5-7 years due to these hormonal shifts and experience increased joint pain [2].

The rise in the use of dietary supplements, especially by post-menopausal women, who are at risk of bone loss, is growing tremendously as advances in research are made, and the benefits of multiple natural ingredients are proven [3].

8 ingredients to sustain bone health in menopause.

Calcium & Vitamin D

Calcium is a critical component of bone architecture necessary for the deposition of bone minerals. Around 99% of calcium is stored in bones and teeth, making them strong and hard [4].

Vitamin D is vital for regulating intestinal calcium absorption and stimulating bone resorption to maintain serum calcium concentration [5]. There are, however, substances that can interfere with the body’s ability to use calcium, such as oxalate, protein, phytate, and caffeine.

Examples of foods rich in calcium include dairy, soybeans, and green leafy vegetables. While the predominant way of ascertaining vitamin D is through our own body’s synthesis stimulated by sufficient sunlight exposure on our skin. Thus, supplementation of vitamin D3, cholecalciferol, is advocated during autumn and winter due to limited sunlight availability, depending on geography.

Women under the age of 50 should consume a daily dosage of 1000mg of Calcium and 400-800IU Vitamin D, while women above the age of 50 should consume 1200mg of calcium and 800-1000IU of vitamin D daily [6].

Joint-health

Vitamin C, B9 and B12, K

Vitamin C is important in stimulating the differentiation of osteoblasts, cells that synthesize bone matrix and coordinate bone mineralization [7].

Antioxidant effects of vitamin C have also been reported to reduce bones from cell damage and may improve left ventricular diastolic function which menopausal women often experience a dramatic reduction in [8]. Foods rich in vitamin C include citrus fruits, bell peppers, broccoli, and strawberries.

Vitamin B9 (folate) and B12 are major determinants of homocysteine levels. Thus, a deficiency in vitamin B9 and B12 leads to increased homocysteine levels, which have been associated with impaired bone health and osteoporosis, a condition concerning weak and brittle bones [9].

Vitamin B9 and B12 have also been reported to assist with reducing the severity and duration of hot flashes and other menopause symptoms [10]. Therefore, increasing folate and B12 levels through foods such as pulses, legumes, beans, brown rice and, you guessed it, leafy green vegetables, can improve bone health.

Moreover, vitamin K has been reported to assist with reducing hot flashes and other menopause symptoms [11].

The recommended daily amount for adult women according to the National Institutes of Health for vitamin C is 75mg; for vitamin B9 is 400mcg DFE; for vitamin B12 is 2.4mcg and ultimately for vitamin K is 90mcg [12].

Quercetin

Quercetin is the bioactive compound abundantly found in citrus fruits, green leafy vegetables, and onions. Studies show that onions reduce bone loss due to their anti-inflammatory and antioxidant flavonoid, quercetin [13].

Quercetin inhibits the genesis and differentiation of osteoclasts, preserving bone mass and health. Bone mineral density in postmenopausal women has also been reported to improve when supplementing with onion juice [14].

Quercetin at a dose of 150 mg has been shown to improve bone-health metrics, which is around three servings of onion [15]. Note, quercetin is found in the pigment and outer layer of the onion, with red and yellow ones thus having higher concentrations.

Bonolive® (olive leaf extract 40% oleuropein)

Bonolive® is an ingredient derived from olive leaf and rich in the most abundant olive polyphenol, oleuropein, tailored to women to counteract bone loss risk associated with menopause.

Clinical research in post-menopausal women has demonstrated that 12 months of supplementation with 250mg of Bonolive® is able to increase osteocalcin levels by 32%, promote the activity of osteoblasts (the bone-building cells), and decrease osteoclast activity involved in the breakdown and resorption of bone [16,17]. Thus the clinical dosage of 250mg is recommended.

Bonolive-product

Moreover, after 12 months, the Bonolive® treatment group displayed a significant protection against bone loss, compared to the placebo group.

Additionally, chondrocytes, important for cartilage-building, are also increased while cartilage degeneration is inhibited through oleuropein. Further benefits can be ascribed to oleuropein’s anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

Oleuropein can be found in olive oil and olive leaf, although in limited quantities and therefore, supplementation with a high-quality, standardized extract such as Bonolive® is a more convenient method of consuming this nutrient in adequate quantities.

Improve bone health during menopause

In conclusion, a well-balanced diet rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, together with the right supplementations may help ameliorate bone health during menopause and promote healthy ageing and active living.


Can-Prebiotics-and-Probiotics-help-relieve-IBS-symptoms?

Can Prebiotics and Probiotics help relieve IBS symptoms?

Can Prebiotics and Probiotics help relieve IBS symptoms?

May 19th, 2022

Prebiotics and probiotics are an interesting topic for people with gastrointestinal disorders, including irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Researchers have conducted various studies regarding their influence on improving IBS symptoms. In this article, we will explain the different types of IBS and how prebiotics and probiotics may be beneficial in managing this chronic long-term condition.

Can-Prebiotics-and-Probiotics-help-relieve-IBS-symptoms?

What is IBS?

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a chronic condition that affects the quality of people’s lives and includes symptoms such as abdominal pain or discomfort, bloating, gas, constipation, and diarrhea [1].

Some studies have estimated that more than 9% of the worldwide population suffers from IBS, with women 1.5 to 3 times more likely to experience IBS symptoms [2].

To date, IBS causes are still unknown and some possible factors that are responsible for IBS, include physiological disturbances, genetics, and digestive motility [3]. Based on the abnormal manifestation of the bowel movements, IBS has four subtypes [4, 5].

  1. IBS-C: Constipation prevailing
  2. IBS-D: Diarrhea predominant
  3. IBS-M: Mixed of Constipation and Diarrhea
  4. IBS-U: Unspecified when a patient does not belong to one of these categories

Probiotics and IBS

Although the causes of IBS are still unknown, it has been suggested that an imbalance of the gut microbiota can be responsible for IBS development.

Probiotics are live microorganisms that confer a health benefit on the host by decreasing the harmful bacteria and supporting the gut’s natural bacteria [6]. If you want to increase the good bacteria in your body, various fermented foods and supplements include probiotics.

As it concerns food, a few suggestions might be yoghurt, tempeh, kombucha and kimchi , while supplements usually include beneficial strains like Saccharomyces Boulardii, Bifidobacterium Bifidum, Bifidobacterium Lactis, Lactobacillus Acidophilus, and Lactobacillus Plantarum.

Research has shown that IBS symptoms can be improved by the daily consumption of Probiotics, even if the exact mechanism is still not completely understood [7]. Probiotics can act in different ways depending on the type of IBS and other factors such as age and gender [8].

It is proposed that Probiotics may improve IBS symptoms by [9]:

• Inhibiting the colonisation of pathogens in the gut
• Enhancing the gut barrier function
• Boosting the immune system
• Improving digestive functions
• Reducing inflammation in the gut and gas formation

Prebiotics and IBS

Prebiotics are usually non-digestible fibre compounds that are fermented by the gut microbiota, stimulating the growth and/or activity of beneficial bacteria (probiotics) in the gut [10]. To classify these compounds as prebiotics, they need to comply with three requirements [11]:

• be non-digestible and resistant to breakdown by stomach acid and enzymes in the human gastrointestinal tract
• be fermented by living microorganisms in the gut
• stimulate the growth and/or activity of beneficial bacteria (probiotics)

Research into the role of prebiotics in managing IBS symptoms is conflicting and shows that the beneficial effect may be subjective and depend on the IBS and type.

For example, some studies found that soluble fibres such as psyllium and inulin may provide significant pain relief for IBS patients with constipation and/or diarrhoea. In contrast, other studies found that the effect is limited.

Prebiotics act by stimulating the growth of a bacterium that produces lactic acid called Bifidobacterium. Interestingly, Bifidobacterium has been associated with improved gastrointestinal symptoms in people with IBS. More specifically, this genus lowers the pH to desirable levels for beneficial microbes and undesirable levels for pathogenic bacteria
[12].

The consumption of specific prebiotics such as arabinoxylans from wheat (AX) can increase the amount of Bifidobacterium in the colon.

In addition, there are also molecules with known prebiotic activity, such as citrus-derived flavonoids. Research has shown that these compounds can reach the colon without being digested and are metabolised by the gut microbiota, stimulating the growth of beneficial bacteria..

These prebiotic flavonoids are different from prebiotic fibres because they are not fermented but rather deglycosylated by the gut microbiota. Furthermore, their ability to work at low doses is associated with their high tolerance as opposed to fibres. Finally, the lack of fermentation avoids gas formation and the resulting feeling of bloating and flatulence.

Multiple studies have shown better protection of gut mucosa against colonisation by pathogens and viruses. Also, citrus flavonoids allow greater production of Short Chain Fatty Acids (SCFA) like butyrate and propionate, important compounds for the immune system and metabolic functions.

The bottom line

IBS is a chronic condition that affects a large part of the world’s population.

There is no known cure for this condition, but there are many treatment options to reduce or eliminate symptoms, such as dietary modifications, lifestyle changes, and prescription medications.

In many cases, probiotics and prebiotics may be beneficial in managing the IBS symptoms. However, the beneficial effect is subjective and depends on the IBS type. Therefore, it is essential to understand how dietary changes and supplementations affect the symptoms.


What-are-the-best-substitutes-for-caffeine?

What are the best substitutes for caffeine?

What are the best substitutes for caffeine?

April 21st, 2022

A wide variety of caffeine containing products exist in the world ranging from coffee and dietary supplements to sodas. However, consuming too much caffeine can lead to feelings of stress and anxiety, which is a reason to look for substitutes for caffeine. Brainberry®, maca root, ginseng, citrulline, rhodiola and Lion’s Mane are all natural ingredients that can boost energy levels, increase focus and make you feel active, without causing stress or anxiety.

What-are-the-best-substitutes-for-caffeine?

Why should you substitute caffeine with another ingredient?

Most people drink coffee regularly. It is consumed because people like the taste or because of the social aspects to drinking coffee, but the most important reason people consume coffee is that it makes them feel more awake, alert, and energetic.

Of course, coffee is a source of caffeine, which is the ingredient that gives coffee its effects. There are other drinks that contain caffeine, and some people even take dietary supplements containing caffeine to boost their energy levels during the day or for their workout. [1].

Besides positive effects, consumption of caffeine may also have some downsides. These include giving people feelings of stress and anxiety. Besides increasing these feelings, caffeine consumption could also lead to insomnia [2].

Caffeine is unique in its function, but these adverse effects are a reason for people to reduce the intake of caffeine and look for alternative ingredients. Here are some suggestions of natural substitutes that make you feel awake and help you focus, without leaving you feeling stressed.

The best substitutes to caffeine

1. Maca root

Maca is a plant that grows in Peru. It’s a plant that belongs to the brassica (mustard) family. It is traditionally used for nutritional and medicinal purposes. The plant is made into a powder that is often added to smoothies, juices, and shakes.

It has been used for centuries as a fertility enhancer in humans and animals, but now more benefits of consuming maca are being discovered. Benefits of maca root vary and evidence shows it may help increase energy levels and enhance mood.

Additionally, other findings show that maca can help against feelings of anxiety and stress. This makes Maca a good alternative to caffeine, which can have the opposite effect.

2. Ginseng

Like maca, ginseng is an herb made from the root of its plant as well. It has been one of the most important products for health care to be traded in Asia. There it has been used to make traditional medicine for centuries.

There are different types of ginseng that vary in the way they have been grown. White ginseng is dried naturally, while red ginseng is steamed before it is dried, which increases its efficacy. The most important compounds in ginseng are ginsenosides and gintonin [3].

A health benefit of ginseng is that it can improve brain functions, such as mood and memory. It has also been shown to help against fatigue and it can raise energy levels. This makes it a valuable ingredient to substitute caffeine for energy.

3. Brainberry®

Brainberry® is a cognitive performance enhancer developed by BioActor. It is a Aronia-berry extract. Aronia berries are part of the chokeberries family, and they grow mostly in wet woods and swamps. Their health benefits come from their high levels of Cyanidin 3-O-galactoside.

The cyanidins in Brainberry® are potent antioxidants that can cross the blood brain barrier. In the brain they improve blood flow and the efficacy of your neurons, which is important for brain health.

The great thing about Brainberry® is that it has been clinically proven to enhance concentration, accuracy, psychomotor control & speed and brain-derived neurotropic factor (BDNF) serum levels. The latter might sound unfamiliar, but BDNF is relevant, as it is a key molecule for cognition and eye health.

Brainberry® provides brain health benefits that can help you focus and feel awake, making it a perfect natural coffee alternative.

4. Citrulline

Citrulline is often referred to as L-citrulline. It is a non-essential amino acid, meaning it can be produced by the body. Citrulline is also present in different foods, including watermelon.

Citrulline plays an important role in your body to help it get rid of unwanted substances that can harm the body.

It is also a beneficial ingredient because it can promote vasodilation. This leads to a higher oxygen and nutrient flow to important tissues, leading to less fatigue. Because it increases blood flow in muscles it is also valueable as a pre-workout ingredient.

5. Rhodiola

Rhodiola is a plant that can be found in Europe and Asia. Like ginseng and maca its root is consumed for health benefits. Rosavin and salidroside are believed to be its most profitable compounds.

Rhodiola has been used for many years and has been mostly recommended to treat headaches, hernias and has also been used as an astringent. Nowadays, rhodiola is often consumed by people during stressful times.

If you’re looking for a natural alternative to caffeine that reduces fatigue, rhodiola is a good option because it has been shown to improve symptoms in participants that suffered from chronic fatigue. The stress-lowering and energizing effects of rhodiola make it a great natural replacement for coffee.

6. Lion’s Mane

Lion’s Mane is a mushroom that can grow long hair-like strings that resemble a lion’s mane. It is often found in North America, Europe, and Asia. It consists for roughly 20% out of protein.

Lion’s Mane is increasingly studied. It has properties that are believed to be neuroprotective. That is because two novel nerve growth factors have been discovered in this mushroom [4].

Lion’s Mane has thus been said to have positive effects on the brain. It can improve memory and helps to lower feelings of stress and anxiety. This makes it an ingredient that can help consumers cut down on their caffeine consumption.

The bottom line

We all love a good cup of coffee in the morning. However, there are several reasons to reduce caffeine intake and look for a substitute. The aforementioned ingredients are good natural alternatives to caffeine as they can boost energy levels and brain functions, without having any anxiety or stress inducing effects.


How-to-increase-endurance-performance-during-sport

How to increase endurance performance during sport

How to increase endurance performance during sport

April 14th, 2022

Do you experience an overall lack of energy during sports activities? Then it’s time to increase your endurance performance during physical activity. In this article, we will explain what endurance is, why is important for you and which nutrients and supplements can support your diet, boost your energy levels, help you recover faster, and enhance your overall performance during your training.

How-to-increase-endurance-performance-during-sport

Endurance Performance in different sports

Endurance is the ability to sustain an activity for extended periods of time and usually relates to aerobic or anaerobic exercise [1].

Aerobic endurance applies to sports like long-distance running or swimming where athletes exercise for extended periods of time. In this type of exercise, the body relies on supplying nutrients and oxygen to working muscles.

On the other hand, anaerobic endurance is related to high-intensity exercises that may last minutes such as weightlifting. In these cases, a different type of endurance (strength) is necessary to achieve the maximum number of sets and reps in a workout plan.

Nowadays, many athletes also focus on activities that include resistance with the body (calisthenics) or equipment such as weight machines and barbell exercises. In these cases, a different type of endurance (strength) is necessary to achieve the maximum number of sets and reps in a workout plan.

The conclusion in each case is that high volume of training puts extreme demands on the body from a physical (strength & power), mental (focus) and energy (endurance) retention standpoint.

Why is endurance performance important?

Endurance can benefit your overall wellness by improving heart health, lowering the levels of cholesterol and blood pressure, preventing injuries and controlling your weight.

As it concerns your performance skills, studies have shown that endurance helps athletes develop skills like agility, speed, power, and strength. More specifically, it is an efficient way of maintaining your energy levels before fatigue sets in.

As an example, you can consider a basketball player who wants to jump for rebounds in the final minutes of an intense game or even a marathon athlete that needs to run the last kilometers of a demanding race.

Thus, endurance can keep your circulatory system healthy and make the difference between winning or losing in different sports.

Ways to boost your endurance during sport

As Paul Krebs, MD, of Premier Orthopedics, part of Premier Physician Network asserted, “body has the ability to get oxygen to the body and to the muscles that are using it during exercise.” A workout program focused on endurance training can lower the level of work-related fatigue [2]. The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends all adults get 150 minutes of aerobic exercise each week.

However, nutrition is also an essential factor that influences the endurance of athletes. More specifically, it has been proved that nutritional supplements in performance endurance and enhancement are essential for athletes, even though there is a lack of knowledge of their use. Thus, athletes need reliable information regarding supplements they can trust and use in their daily demanding life [3]. In the next section, we will focus on the ingredients that a supplement should include for increasing endurance performance.

Ingredients for endurance

L-Glutamine

Even if the body can synthesize glutamine, its levels might not be sufficient for athletes. The body can become depleted of glutamine in case of high intensity training [4] and as a result, athletes seek to increase the dosage intake by supplementation.

L-Glutamine accelerates muscle recovery while it helps athletes to exercise harder. The increased sodium uptake reduces muscle fatigue and breakdown while maintaining muscle growth.

The recommended dosage for L-Glutamine is between 3 to 6 grams [5].

Carbohydrates

As it was mentioned previously, athletes need endurance for different types of training. For example, marathon runners exercise for extended periods of time and require a lot of carbohydrates to sustain their performance.

Any athlete who exercises for more than 60 to 90 minutes requires carbohydrate intake during their performance to sustain sufficient energy levels for fueling muscles since their glycogen stores may only last a limited time.

A combination of carbohydrates with a small amount of protein has been shown to efficiently prevent the amount of muscle damage that occurs during an endurance exercise [6].

The daily recommended dosage for Carbohydrates depends on the type of exercise. The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND), and Dietitians of Canada (DC) recommend:

• Moderate endurance exercise (1 hour per day): 5-7 g/kg of body weight per day.

• Moderate to high-intensity endurance exercise (1-3 hours per day): 6-10 g/kg of body weight per day.

• Moderate to high-intensity endurance exercise (4-5 hours per day). 10-12 g/kg of body weight per day.

Caffeine

Caffeine is a stimulant that athletes can use to temporarily boost their energy [8]. More specifically, it can increase the heart rates when athletes feel fatigued, and it has been proven to improve endurance performance [6].

Even if caffeine reduces athletes’ perception of effort, it is important to be aware of the side effects it might have in higher intakes [9]. Some of the side effects of too much caffeine are anxiety, insomnia, muscle breakdown, rapid heart rate and high blood pressure.

It is also possible that caffeine has the opposite result where the consumption of many caffeinated beverages is followed by fatigue [10].

The recommended clinical dose of caffeine is between 3 and 6 mg/kg.

Citrus flavonoids (hesperidin) – Power and endurance in one ingredient

If you want to increase your endurance, strength, and power during a high intense training, you should bear in mind an extra ingredient with the name of citrus flavonoids (hesperidin). BioActor has developed a proprietary ingredient that is optimized for bioavailability and performance, backed up by two clinical studies: WATTS’UP®.

WATTS’UP® was studied for its beneficial effects on endurance performance and high-intensity performance at a daily dose of 400-500 mg.

The first clinical trial was conducted at the Dutch Olympic training facility. It confirmed that WATTS’UP® is capable of significantly improving aerobic power in endurance athletes in comparison to placebo.

A second clinical trial was tested during the Wingate Anaerobic Test. It confirmed that WATTS’UP® can be very efficient for Peak Force, Anaerobic Power, and Endurance compared to placebo.

In conclusion, proper nutrition in addition to a well-designed training plan, can enhance sporting performance and reduce recovery time.


TIM-2 in-vitro-gastrointestinal-model

What is the TIM-2 system? An in-vitro model of the colon

What is the TIM-2 system? An in-vitro model of the colon

April 8th, 2022

The TIM-2 model is a dynamic gastrointestinal model, which is used for in-vitro research. The TIM-2 model can be used to study changes in the microbiota composition and the production of beneficial molecules in the gut. It resembles the human large intestine, including peristalsis, dialysis, and microorganisms. It is a good model that provides short experiment durations and the studies done with it are highly reproducible.

TIM-2 in-vitro-gastrointestinal-model

What is the TIM-2 model?

The TIM-2 (TNO in-vitro) model is a computer-controlled dynamic in-vitro gastrointestinal model of the colon used in research to study changes in the microbiota composition.

This model closely mimics part of the human large intestine, including its microorganisms, peristaltic movements, temperature (37ºC) and acidic pH (5.8).

What is the TIM-2 model used for in research?

The TIM-2 model has a wide range of applications in research. It can be used to study changes in the microbiota composition and production of beneficial molecules such as short-chain fatty acids associated with specific dietary patterns or ingredients and, consequently, to increase human health through the understanding of microbiota.

Due to the health benefits of short-chain fatty acids (SCFA), many studies have focused on carbohydrate fermentation and the subsequent production of SCFA.

However, it has also been used to study the effects of probiotics after antibiotic treatment, fermentation of prebiotic fibres, metabolization of molecules such as flavonoids and even to investigate the differences in microbiota from lean and obese individuals.

Watch the interview with prof. Koen Venema

Difference between TIM-2 model and other in-vitro models

Compared to other in-vitro models, TIM-2 holds some unique features, which allow predicting what would happen in an actual clinical trial.

The way the peristaltic movements are produced in the TIM-2 model gives a better mixing of the components than what would be accomplished by stirring or shaking. Thanks to this, in TIM-2 there is no phase-separation of solids and liquids, which is what occurs in other models.

On the other hand, in vivo microbial metabolites are normally taken up by the gut epithelium. This is, of course, not possible in an in-vitro model, but the TIM-2 model features a unique dialysis system that removes these metabolites produced by microorganisms.

The accumulation of these microbial metabolites would otherwise result in the inhibition or death of the microorganisms present in the model. Therefore, the dialysis system allows maintaining a highly active microbiota, with a similar density to that found in the human intestine.

In other systems, metabolites tend to accumulate. In fact, with the TIM-2 model, since all the microbial metabolites are collected, they can be measured, which is something not possible in a real-life setting.

What are the advantages and limitations of the TIM-2 model?

Advantages of the TIM-2 model include:

Short experiment duration. Compared to other models, experiments are quick, usually taking three test days or even less.

Presence of peristaltic movements and dialysis system. These two unique features allow predicting what would happen in an actual clinical trial.

Single parameter study. If a single parameter in the system is changed, the effect of that parameter on the microbiota can be studied.

Highly reproducible. Since the model is computer-controlled, it is highly reproducible.

Like other in-vitro models, the TIM-2 model has some limitations, which include:

Absence of gut epithelial cells, immune cells and neurons. However, samples can be taken and incubated with these kinds of cells to investigate interactions.

Based mostly on healthy individuals. The model has been developed based on data coming from mostly healthy individuals. For this reason, it is unclear exactly which parameters to adjust when simulating patient populations.

Absence of feedback mechanisms. Due to this, as with similar in-vitro models, the results will always be an indication of what may occur in real life and, therefore, they should be interpreted carefully.


BDNF: A key molecule for cognition and eye health

BDNF: A key molecule for cognition and eye health

April 1st, 2022

Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) is a protein highly expressed in the central nervous system, especially in the brain. BDNF promotes the growth of dendrites and dendritic spines, contributing to synaptic strength and plasticity in the hippocampus, thus important for learning and long-term memory. Research shows that increased levels of BDNF in serum are correlated with improved cognitive functions while decrease in BDNF is associated with neurodegenerative and mental illnesses. Moreover, new scientific evidence suggests that BDNF is also an important factor in eye health.

What is BDNF and why is it so important?

BDNF belongs to the neurotrophin family of growth factors and plays an important role in brain development, mainly growth and maturation of neurons and synapses.

Highest levels of BDNF can be found in hippocampus, amygdala, cerebellum and cerebral cortex in both rodents and humans [1]. As well as in the brain, BDNF has been detected in other tissues such as the eye, lung, liver and skeletal muscle.

Today we know that BDNF is also crucial for the adult brain, where it regulates synaptic changes and efficacy.

BDNF is believed to be involved in the cellular mechanisms underlying memory formation and consolidation, learning and other complex behaviors by promoting long term potentiation in hippocampus [2].

BDNF in disease and the ageing brain

BDNF also seems to play a significant role in brain damage repair. Studies have shown that following traumatic brain injury, the mRNA expression level of BDNF is temporarily significantly upregulated in the injured cortex and in the hippocampus. These findings suggest that BDNF acts as an endogenous neuroprotective mechanism attenuating cell damage [3].

In addition, emerging scientific data suggest that BDNF could be involved in the pathophysiology of brain-associated diseases. Impaired BDNF signaling has been observed in several diseases, such as Huntington’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, depression, schizophrenia, and bipolar and anxiety disorders.

Finally, part of the natural process of ageing is reduction of hippocampal volume and decrease in BDNF expression, which is associated with age-related cognitive decline [4].

What is the role of BDNF in eye health?

BDNF is produced by neurons and glial cells in the retina. Similarly to the brain, research indicates that BDNF could be involved in retinal development by modifying neuronal cell number or synapse formation [5].

Nowadays, our eyes are constantly being overworked as a consequence of increased usage of visual display terminal (VDT) devices, such as smartphones, computers or tablets. This can negatively affect blink frequency, which can induce dry eye and associated symptoms including pain, burning and visual disturbances.

Interestingly, BDNF knockdown mice showed decreased basal tear secretion, pointing at the role of BDNF in tear secretion and to the pathology of dry eye disease [6].

Moreover, recent studies show that BDNF plays a vital role in other eye diseases, such as age-related macular degeneration (AMD) or diabetic retinopathy (DR). In AMD patients, serum BDNF levels are decreased and the same trend is observed in DR patients.

These findings suggest that optimal BDNF levels may be necessary to exert protective effects on the eye and that decreased levels of BDNF signal eye disease [7, 8].

How can you increase BDNF naturally?

Control your stress levels
Acute stress down-regulates hippocampal BDNF mRNA expression and interestingly, antidepressants up-regulate BDNF expression [9]. Practicing yoga or other stress management techniques therefore seem to be an efficient way how to boost your BDNF [10].

Exercise
Some studies have shown that exercise enhances the expression of BDNF. The reasoning is not fully understood but one possible explanation is that exercise leads to the release of the ketone body β-hydroxybutyrate, which in turn induces the activity of BDNF promoters [11].

Practice occasional fasting
Not every stress is bad for your brain: it appears that mild metabolic stress associated with dietary restriction leads to significantly enhanced expression of various neurotrophic factors, BDNF included. A study showed that following 48-hour fasting, BDNF was significantly upregulated in human skeletal muscle [12].

Eat anthocyanin rich foods
Apart from the above mentioned, dietary interventions have been also gaining on attention as a potential strategy to elevate BDNF levels. There is extensive scientific evidence that foods high in anthocyanins, such as edible berries, are good for your brain health [13]. A recent study showed that 6-week supplementation of pure anthocyanins increased BDNF expression and improved spatial and psychomotor performances in aged rats [14].

Aronia melanocarpa anthocyanins and BDNF

Aronia melanocarpa is a berry native to North America, which is higher in anthocyanins than any other berries. Aronia-specific anthocyanin, cyanidin-3-O-galactoside (Cy3Gal), crosses the blood brain barrier and interacts with BDNF sinaling pathway, thereby contributing to a better neuronal signalling.

In a double-blind placebo-controlled crossover study, we recently demonstrated that short-term supplementation of Brainberry®, aronia melanocarpa extract with a standardized content of Cy3Gal, significantly increased BDNF levels in healthy young adults.

The bottom line

Given all the scientific evidence, BDNF plays a huge role in brain fitness, brain disease and eye health.

Manipulating BDNF levels through dietary factors might be a promising strategy to not only treat various neurological and psychiatric disorders, but also to naturally boost memory and learning.

To level-up BDNF is desirable for everyone: not only for the ageing population but also for young professionals seeking ways to enhance their cognition.


Microbiomex supports immunity

Three ways MicrobiomeX® supports your immune system

Three ways MicrobiomeX® supports your immune system

March 25th, 2022

The knowledge about gut microbiota and its connection with the immune system is increasing every day and so is the consumption of science-based products helping consumers achieve their immunity goals. MicrobiomeX® is a nutraceutical ingredient based on citrus flavonoids that can boost your immune system by improving the gut microbiota composition stimulating the production of butyrate, increasing the level of antibody SIgA, and lowering the level of intestinal inflammation.

Microbiomex supports immunity

The connection between gut microbiota and immune system

Every day the body is exposed to different pathogens that can potentially cause disease. The immune system can protect the body from these intruders and the gut microbiota plays a crucial role in doing so.

The microbiome consists of a collection of bacteria living in your gut. Primarily, the good bacteria residing in the intestine adhere to the gut wall. Once the gut wall is full of these bacteria, other pathogens cannot adhere. In this way, beneficial bacteria prevent bad bacteria from “sticking” to the gut mucosa [1].

Moreover, these bacteria produce important molecules such as short-chain fatty acids (SCFA) that are involved in improving immune function and lowering gut inflammation.

What is MicrobiomeX®?

MicrobiomeX® is an ingredient based on citrus flavonoids that can boost the immune system and improve gut defense.

BioActor developed MicrobiomeX® and, together with Maastricht University and Wageningen University, researched the ingredient and confirmed its health benefits in multiple clinical, ex-vivo and in-vitro studies.

Clinical research in different study populations has shown that MicrobiomeX® has a direct effect on gut health and immunity by being metabolized by gut microbiota and positively changing the microbiota composition. This is what we call Flavobiotic® effect.

MicrobiomeX® is standardize for two important citrus flavonoids: hesperidin (>85%) and naringin (>5%)

The Flavobiotic® effect and immune boosting effects have been demonstrated at low dose from 250mg to 500mg in a dose dependent fashion.

Three ways MicrobiomeX® supports your immune system

If you are considering including MicrobiomeX® in your formulation, you should know this:

1. MicrobiomeX® positively changes the microbiota composition helping stimulate the production of butyrate.

When health-promoting bacteria are present in the gut, they help protect your gut wall from pathogens and bad microorganisms. MicrobiomeX® has been shown to help the growth of beneficial microbiota in the gut, for example strains that belong to the phylum Firmicutes.

Not only helps MicrobiomeX® with maintaining a protective layer against bad microorganisms, but it also promotes butyrate-producing strains such as Faecalibacterium prausnitzii, Clostridium leptum and Roseburia. This results in higher levels of butyrate [2].

This is beneficial, mainly because butyrate inhibits nuclear factor κB (NF-κB). Dysregulation of NF-κB is often seen in inflammatory bowel diseases, such as Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. This means, that by increasing butyrate levels in the gut and consequently inhibiting NF-κB MicrobiomeX® helps lower inflammation in the gut [3].

 

2. MicrobiomeX® increases Secretory Immunoglobulin A

After four weeks of daily 500 mg MicrobiomeX®, fecal Secretory Immunoglobulin A (SIgA) significantly increased in healthy elderly.

Why is this good news?

IgA is the antibody that is the most produced by the body and it is primarily found in the gastrointestinal system, where it plays a big role in keeping your intestinal microbiota in check. IgA directly binds to pathogens such as bad bacteria and viruses and neutralizes them.

Neutralization of pathogens stops them from colonizing the mucosal layer of the gut wall and infiltrating the cells of the gut to cause illness. This protection mechanism is known as ‘immune exclusion’ and makes SIgA a key factor in your immune system.

SigA activation and gut function

3. MicrobiomeX® lowers gut inflammation

Consumption of MicrobiomeX has shown to lower calprotectin levels. Calprotectin is found in different parts of the body, and it is an indicator of chronic inflammation.

Typically, older people and people with irritable bowel syndrome or leaky gut syndrome have chronically increased levels of calprotectin [4].

Gut inflammation leads to a lesser functioning gut barrier, which makes it easier for pathogens to infiltrate your body. MicrobiomeX® has been shown to decrease fecal calprotectin, indicating it lowers gut inflammation and thus, your gut health benefits from this product.

Moreover, MicrobiomeX® was shown to be able to lower NF-κB levels in a co-culture study with Caco-2 cells line and macrophages. NF-κB is a proinflammatory transcription factor involved in the production of inflammatory chemokine such as TNF-a, which accordingly was shown decreased in the same study.

The bottom line

There are several ways your gut helps to fight against pathogens that cause disease. It is good to boost your immune system and the citrus flavonoids in MicrobiomeX® offer a way to support your immune system naturally.


Cyanidin-3-O-galactoside-A-Natural-Compound-for-Brain-Health

Cyanidin-3-O-Galactoside: A Natural Compound for Brain Health

Cyanidin-3-O-Galactoside:
A Natural Compound for Brain Health

February 23rd, 2022

Cyanidin 3-O-Galactoside is a powerful anthocyanidin naturally present in some foods and found in particularly high concentrations in Aronia melanocarpa berries (chokeberries). Research has demonstrated that this active compound is able to cross the blood-brain barrier and play a beneficial role in brain health and cognition. Cyanidin 3-O-Galactoside is believed to stimulate neurogenesis, improve neuron plasticity and reduce neuronal damage.

Cyanidin-3-O-galactoside-A-Natural-Compound-for-Brain-Health

What is Cyanidin 3-O-Galactoside?

Cyanidin 3-O-galactoside (Cy3Gal), also known as ‘Idaein’, belongs to the class of organic compounds called anthocyanins and, more specifically, to the anthocyanidin-3-O-glycosides.

Cy3Gal is a water-soluble molecule found in high concentrations in some fruits –red-skinned apples and berries in particular– and it is responsible for their characteristic pigmentation.

Aronia melanocarpa berries, also known as chokeberries, contain the highest Cy3Gal content of all fruits, and are the most practical and efficient natural source to use for mechanical, water-based extraction of Cy3Gal in a high concentration.

Several health benefits of Cy3Gal in humans have been researched due to its excellent antioxidant capacity as well as anti-inflammatory and anti-diabetic properties [1].

However, brain health benefits and improved cognition are perhaps the most interesting when it comes to the health benefits provided by this active compound.

Cyanidin 3-O-Galactoside and brain health benefits

One of the most interesting properties associated with Cy3gal is the potential effect on brain health and cognition.

Cy3Gal is able to cross the blood-brain barrier and enter a wide range of brain regions, including the cortex, cerebellum and hippocampus.

In the hippocampus, Cy3Gal lowers the activity of acetylcholine esterase, triggering an increase in acetylcholine, which results in improved neuronal signalling.

At the same time, Cy3Gal increases the activity of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), resulting in increased neuron plasticity. [2]

Moreover, according to a recently published study in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry administration of Cy3Gal for 8 weeks in ageing mice relieved neuronal damage in the hippocampus and cortex [3].

The researchers determined that protein kinase B (AKT) may be the target by Cy3Gal, which played a beneficial role in controlling the brain’s energy metabolism, suggesting that early intervention with Cy3Gal could promote neuroprotection.

All in all, scientific evidence shows that Cy3Gal may produce neuroprotective activity and improve cognitive function [1, 4, 5].

Cyanidin 3-O-Galactoside: Brainberry®’s hero compound

Cy3Gal is one of the main focuses of BioActor, which together with Maastricht University (“UM”) established a Public-Private Partnership (“PPP”) to study the effects of Brainberry® on brain fitness and cognition.

Brainberry® is an Aronia melanocarpa extract standardized for high levels of Cy3Gal, developed by BioActor.

Brainberry® was investigated in the first-ever study to link Aronia berry extract to improved cognitive performance.

A 12-week double-blind placebo-controlled clinical study that included 101 subjects linked Aronia berry extract (Brainberry®) to a significant increase in psychomotor speed, eye-hand coordination and focus [6].


The-link-between-gut-and-brain-health

The Link between Gut and Brain Health

The Link between Gut and Brain Health

February 21st, 2022

The bidirectional communication system between your gut and brain is called the gut-brain axis. These two organs are connected through the vagus nerve, neurotransmitters, production of short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) by gut microbiota and the immune system. This gut-brain link works in both directions. Gut bacteria affect brain health and, therefore, altering your gut bacteria through compounds such as probiotics and prebiotics may improve your brain health.

The-link-between-gut-and-brain-health

The Gut-Brain Connection

Did you ever “go with the gut” to make a decision? Have you ever felt “butterflies in your stomach” when nervous? This is because the brain and the gastrointestinal system are closely connected.

The bidirectional communication system between your gut and brain is called the gut-brain axis. These two organs are connected both physically through the vagus nerve and biochemically through hormones and neurotransmitters.

Gut microbiota has an important impact on the gut-brain axis, interacting not only locally with intestinal cells and enteric nervous system (ENS), but also directly with the central nervous system (CNS).

The Vagus Nerve

Your gut contains 500 million neurons, connected to your brain through the nervous system [1].

One of the biggest nerves connecting your gut and brain is the vagus nerve, which sends signals both ways. Gut microbiota communication with the brain, therefore, involves the vagus nerve [2].

Conditions such as Chron’s disease and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) involve brain-gut dysfunctions where the vagus nerve is an important component.

People suffering from these conditions actually have a reduced vagal tone, which indicates a decreased function of the vagus nerve [3].

Neurotransmitters

Your gut and brain are also connected through neurotransmitters. Neurotransmitters produced in the brain have an impact on our feelings and emotions.

Many of these neurotransmitters are produced by our gut cells and microbiota as well.

Around 90% of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that contributes to feelings of happiness, is produced by enterochromaffin cells, a group of gut mucosal cells [4].

Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), a neurotransmitter that helps control feelings of fear and anxiety, is also produced by many species of Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium in the gut microbiota [5].

Production of SCFAs by gut microbiota

Gut microbiota produces short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs), such as butyrate, propionate and acetate.

SCFAs can affect brain function in different ways. They are able to stimulate the sympathetic nervous system, mucosal serotonin release and influence the memory and learning process in the brain [6].

Immune system

Your gut and brain are also linked through the immune system. The microbiota provides essential signals for the development and function of the immune system.

The microbiota, its metabolites and components are not only necessary for immune homeostasis, but they also influence your susceptibility to many immune-mediated diseases and disorders [7].

If the gut barrier becomes leaky, bacteria and lipopolysaccharide (LPS) –an inflammatory toxin produced by some bacteria– can enter the blood, causing inflammation.

Inflammation and high LPS content in the blood are associated with brain disorders, such as depression and dementia [8].

The Role of Probiotics and Prebiotics in the Link between Gut and Brain

The gut-brain connection works in both directions. Gut bacteria affect brain health and, therefore, altering your gut bacteria may improve or worsen your brain health.

Probiotics are beneficial live bacteria. Psychobiotics are a class of probiotics that are able to produce and deliver neuroactive substances such as GABA and serotonin, which act on the brain-gut axis [9].

Studies have found that some psychobiotics have antidepressant or anxiolytic activity. These effects may be mediated via the vagus nerve, spinal cord, or neuroendocrine systems [10].

Prebiotics are compounds derived from non-digestible carbohydrates, mostly fibre. Prebiotics may also affect brain health by lowering cortisol levels, the stress hormone [11].

Beneficial Foods for the Gut-Brain Axis

Some foods can be beneficial for the gut-brain axis. These include the following:

• Probiotic foods. Probiotics can be found in fermented foods and drinks, such as yoghurt, kefir, tempeh or kombucha.

Prebiotic foods. Prebiotics can be found in high fibre foods, such as vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds and whole-grain products.

• Omega-3 fats. Omega-3 fatty acids can improve microbiota diversity [12]. These fats can be found in fatty fish, such as salmon, mackerel, tuna, herring and sardines.

• Polyphenol-rich foods. Polyphenols are found in foods such as cocoa, citrus, green tea, olive leaf and coffee. These compounds, digested by gut bacteria, increase healthy bacteria strains and may improve cognition [13].

• Tryptophan-rich foods. The amino acid tryptophan is the precursor of serotonin. Tryptophan is found in milk, cheese, oats, turkey and chicken, among others.


What are prebiotics

What are prebiotics? Types and health benefits

What are prebiotics? Types and health benefits

February 7th, 2022

Prebiotics are a big topic in nutrition these days. As with probiotics, their relationship with human health has gathered a lot of interest in recent years. Prebiotics are compounds derived from non-digestible carbohydrates that confer health benefits to the host by selectively stimulating the growth of intestinal bacteria.

What are prebiotics

What are prebiotics?

Prebiotics are non-digestible food ingredients that confer health benefits to the host by selectively stimulating the growth and/or activity of a limited number of our intestinal bacteria [1].

Fructo-oligosaccharides (FOS), galacto-oligosaccharides (GOS), and trans-galacto-oligosaccharides (TOS) are the most common prebiotics.

Fermentation of prebiotics by gut microbiota produces short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs), such as lactate, butyrate, and propionate. These products have multiple beneficial effects on the body, as SCFAs are small enough to enter blood circulation through gut cells.

The difference between probiotics and prebiotics is that, while probiotics are beneficial bacteria, prebiotics are the food for these bacteria. Both are important for human health, but they have different roles. Probiotics are live bacteria and prebiotics are compounds derived from non-digestible carbohydrates –mostly fibre.

What are the different types of prebiotics?

There are various types of prebiotics. These include:

• Fructans. In this category, we can find inulin and fructo-oligosaccharides (FOS). Several bacterial species can be promoted directly or indirectly by fructans.

• Galacto-oligosaccharides (GOS). GOS can greatly stimulate Bifidobacteria and Lactobacilli, as well as Enterobacteria, Bacteroidetes and Firmicutes to a lesser extent [2].

• Hemicellulose-derived oligosaccharides. These are derived from hemicellulosic macromolecules such as arabinoxylans. Arabinoxylans have demonstrated to produce a strong prebiotic activity, in particular bifidogenic.

• Starch and glucose-derived oligosaccharides. Resistant starch, a type of starch resistant to the upper gut digestion, can stimulate the production of butyrate, a short-chain fatty acid (SCFA) [3]. Polydextrose, a glucose-derived oligosaccharide, can also stimulate Bifidobacteria [4].

• Pectic oligosaccharides (POS). Some oligosaccharides come from a polysaccharide called pectin. This type of oligosaccharide is called pectic oligosaccharide (POS).

• Non-carbohydrate oligosaccharides. Although carbohydrates are more likely to meet the criteria to be considered prebiotics, there are other compounds not classified as carbohydrates, but that can be classified as prebiotics, such as some flavanols [5].

What are the health benefits of prebiotics?

Research shows that prebiotics have several health benefits. These include the following:

• Modulation of the microbiota. Prebiotics provide energy sources to gut microbiota. This way, they are able to modulate the function and composition of these microorganisms [6].

• Modulation of the immune system. SCFAs have multiple benefits in the immune system, such as increasing antibody responses toward viral vaccines, like influenza and measles [7].

• Prevention of colorectal cancer. Fermentation products of probiotics, such as butyrate, have protective effects against the risk of colorectal cancer [8, 9].

• Prevention of necrotizing enterocolitis. Prebiotics can prevent the development of this life-threatening disease in preterm infants [10].

• Decrease the risk of allergic skin diseases. Prebiotics decrease both the risk of development and the severity of atopic dermatitis [11, 12].

• Reduction of the risk of cardiovascular diseases (CVD). Prebiotics are able to lower the risk of CVD by reducing the inflammatory elements, improving lipid profile [7].

• Increase in calcium absorption. Some prebiotics can help increase calcium absorption [13].

How can I add prebiotics to my diet?

Prebiotics play an important role in human health, so it is important to consume them. They can be found in foods that are high in fibre, such as vegetables, fruits, legumes and whole-grain products. Foods that are high in prebiotic fibre include:

• Wheat
• Soybeans
• Oats
• Bananas
• Tomatoes
• Berries
• Asparagus
• Garlic
• Leeks
• Onions
• Chicory

Another option to increase prebiotic intake are supplements. They can be purchased in health food stores and online. They can be found in capsule form, in powder blends or even in bars.

Prebiotics are generally considered safe. They can have some minor side effects, such as diarrhea, bloating and flatulence. However, prebiotics’ chain length is the main parameter related to the development of these side effects.

Prebiotics with a shorter chain length have more side effects because they are fermented earlier and more rapidly, while longer chain prebiotics –such as arabinoxylans from wheat– are fermented later and slower.