Newsletter #013: Natural Compounds and Foods that may improve health 🩺
Happy weekend friends, and welcome to the latest HumanOS newsletter! Dan is somewhere off the grid, but the rest of us are still here hard at work, reading and researching like always. Here we share our own work, as well as studies and media that attracted our attention.
This week, Greg reviewed the benefits of creatine, a substance with which most of you are no doubt familiar. Creatine is best known for its effects on acute exercise performance (improvements as great as 10-20%, which is frankly awesome). However, Greg points out some other lesser-known benefits associated with creatine supplementation, fully making his case that creatine is the most beneficial and underappreciated supplement out there.
This Week’s Research Highlights
Researchers at the University of Colorado randomly assigned 39 healthy adults (45-74 years old) to either placebo or 2000 mg of a highly bioavailable formulation of curcumin (Longvida). After 12 weeks, the curcumin group showed signs of improved endothelial function, apparently through increased nitric oxide bioavailability. Forearm blood flow response to acetylcholine infusions increased 37% following curcumin supplementation, and brachial artery flow-mediated dilation increased 36% in the curcumin group.
🍵 Epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), a flavonoid found abundantly in green tea, may help fight atherosclerosis.
Scientists affiliated with Lancaster University and the University of Leeds in the UK found that the bioactive compound epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), found in green tea, is able to bind to apolipoprotein A-1, a protein that builds up in atherosclerotic plaques in our arteries. This bond converts the amyloid fibers of ApoA1 into smaller soluble fibers, which are less likely to deposit into the artery wall. Author David Middleton says, "The health benefits of green tea have been widely promoted and it has been known for some time that EGCG can alter the structures of amyloid plaques associated with Alzheimer's disease. Our results show that this intriguing compound might also be effective against the types of plaques which can cause heart attacks and strokes.”
To examine how zinc and astaxanthin affects sleep, both naturally in foods and in supplemental form, researchers in Japan recruited 120 healthy subjects and randomly split them into four groups: 1) boiled scallops (placebo; low in zinc), 2) boiled oysters (high in zinc), 3) boiled oyster + krill powder (high in zinc and astaxanthin), or 4) boiled scallops + supplemental zinc and astaxanthin. While participants consumed their assigned foods, their sleep was recorded via actigraphy. After 12 weeks, compared to placebo, the groups consuming zinc-rich foods experienced improved sleep efficiency (meaning it took less time for them to fall asleep).
Irish researchers analyzed neuropsychological assessment measures in 5186 older adults, and examined how body fatness was associated with these measures of cognitive function. They found that a higher waist-to-hip ratio was associated with poorer cognitive performance. BMI, in contrast, did not predict cognition.
Podcasts We Loved This Week
- John Ioannidis. The State of Medical Research. Via The Recommended Dose with Ray Moynihan.
- Chris Smith and Georgia Mills. Life in the Year 2100. Via The Naked Scientists.
- Satchin Panda. This Podcast Will Change Your Daily Routine. Via Zestology.
Products We Are Enjoying
Ginny says: I don’t have to explain this too much; y’all probably know about the benefits of compounds in chocolate. For more information, I wrote a while back about how cocoa flavanols can improve exercise performance, and Greg recently wrote about how dark chocolate boosts cognition. Good stuff. So why this brand in particular? One issue with cacao, in general, is that the leaves and beans are naturally prone to accumulating heavy metals from the soil, particularly cadmium. This process probably isn’t fully preventable, but it can be monitored. That’s why I favor Terrasoul because they third-party lab tests for heavy metals in their products. I like to throw 8-15 grams in my blender with some frozen bananas, greens, and mint, for a creamy mint chocolate smoothie.
New humanOS Content
- Blog: The Benefits of Creatine Supplementation by Greg Potter.
Media Featuring humanOS
- Acetyl-L-carnitine levels are lower in patients with major depression, compared to age- and sex-matched healthy controls. And individuals with the most severe depression had the lowest levels.
- Poor sleep quality, independent of sleep duration, affects appetite control. One night of sleep fragmentation (induced by repeated alarms) reduced circulating concentrations of the satiety-enhancing gut hormone GLP-1 and increased the desire to eat.