Exercise might be an integral part of daily routine, a sort of punishment as believed by kids, adolescents and few younger adults too and for few others exercise is their lifeline. While normally a person spends anywhere between 15 minutes and 75 minutes a day exercising there are some who invest 3,4 or 5 hours a day for exercising-it might be their profession, passion or a means to some other end. Too much of anything is not desirable and when individuals start performing too much exercise on any given day, they start feeling extremely tired and even fatigued. High intensity repetitive eccentric exercise causes muscle damage which decreases muscle strength and increases delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) and serum creatine kinase (CK) levels.
Starting a new exercise schedule is interesting and demanding as it involves planning, performing and balancing the newly formed routine. But beyond all these comes the muscle soreness that demands maximum attention-you might be finding it hard to even get out of bed or raise your hands to brush the teeth. Such soreness is something experienced by most individuals when they start working -called as DOMS. DOMS occurs when exercise causes stress to muscle tissue beyond what its accustomed to. Small microscopic tears occur in the muscle and there is damage to muscle fibre. There is damage to cell membrane and an inflammatory response often caused due to eccentric exercise performance such as running downhill, stepping, weight lift, etc. DOMS peaks 24-48 hours after activity and disappears without a trace 5-7 days after exercise. We know that DOMS is inevitable but there have been different research studies that have tried to control its impact with the help of warm-up exercises, stretches, ultrasound therapy, ice therapy, massage and supplementations but unfortunately, they have not been able to come to a definite conclusion regarding any of them. One must note that DOMS doesn’t spare anyone and even bodybuilders and athletes are bound to experience it.
Exercise needs energy to perform, a lot of energy! This leads to the production of free radicals, lipid hydroperoxides, oxidative stress and changes in blood antioxidant concentration. Such markers of oxidative stress lead to oxidative damage and inflammation paving way for the occurrence of metabolic diseases; they also bring about enhanced exhaustion as well as decreased efficiency. Researchers believe that oxidative stress might also be the reasons for DOMS. Hence, the fitness-conscious individuals have always been interested in minimizing oxidative stress via different methods-such as use of supplements rich in micronutrients such as vitamin A, E and minerals. There is the practise of taking these supplements by athletes and other individuals too but their actual effect on stress, insulin metabolism, lipid profiles, muscle recovery and performance remains unknown. Mankind is interested in trying out different ways and means to achieve a goal and that’s known already. We have different medicinal streams including Allopathy, Homeopathy, Ayurveda and so on-each of them are beneficial in their own way although we don’t have evident proofs supporting their effects on mankind. There has been an increased interest in using alternative medicine for treating diseases such as autism spectrum disorder and now, researchers have shown an inclination to use herbal medications such as grape seed extract (GSE) for decreasing oxidative stress in athletes.
Grape Seed Extract
GSE is one of the important supplements used as an anti-inflammatory agent in traditional medicine. Its also a vital source of oligomeric proanthocyanidine (OPC) that’s an excellent antioxidant compound that is touted to provide protection against free radicals. Its believed that GSE provides almost 50 times higher oxidant-lowering effect compared to vitamin C and E and is also a potent source of flavonoids, linoleic acid fatty acids and phenolic procyanidins. Its been already shown that OPC decreased oxidative and lipid damage to the brain, liver and gastrointestinal mucosa in diabetic animals. Another study by Shawo et al. showed that GSE reduced oxidative stress due to H2O2 while certain other studies have proved that GSE is rich in analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties that’s effective in reducing pain and inflammation due to DOMS.
GSE Effect on Preventing DOMS
A double-blind randomized study with 20 young healthy female students with no history of muscular bruising or regular activity for almost 6 months before the trial was conducted. Inclusion criteria included being in a specific period of menstruation, no steroid and non-steroid anti-inflammatory drugs and antioxidant supplements. All the participants were randomly assigned into one of the two groups-GSE (n=10) and control (n=10) group. Members of the GSE group received GSE as a capsule of 400 mg consuming 1200 mg/day, 7 days prior to exercise for 48 hours while members of the control group received lactose in the same fashion. All of them refrained from consuming any other supplements during this period and after the GSE/placebo supplement, an exercise protocol was followed by each participant-warm up for 15 minutes after which they sat in a chair for help with an assistant. CK and LDH (lactate dehydrogenase) levels were measured by taking their sample blood tests.
Results showed that there was no significant difference between the two groups at baseline in CK, LDH and VAS (visual analogue scale used to measure pain intensity). CK increased in both groups 24 and 48 hours after exercise with no significant difference between groups at any time. There was an increase in VAS scores in both groups after exercise compared to before exercise. VAS scores were significantly lower in the GSE group compared to the PLC group, 24h and 48h after exercise. It was observed that though GSE did not decrease CK and LDH enzyme activity its anti-inflammatory properties are helpful in reducing pain after DOMS.
GSE Effect on Muscle Damage After Eccentric Exercise
The study included 16 healthy male students who did not exercise for the past six months, had no musculoskeletal disease, did not smoke and did not take any supplements. Each of them was randomly assigned to either the GSE (n=8) or control (n=18) group. Each of them performed 2 sets of eccentric exercise consisting of 25 repetitions each with a rest time of 5 min between sets.
Participants in the intervention group consumed GSE extract in capsule form (300 mg) with water once per day in the evening up to 72 hours after eccentric exercise. The placebo consumed capsules containing starch in the same manner. Each of the participant’s maximum muscle strength was measured and the visual analogue scale (VAS) was used to measure muscle soreness. Blood samples were taken to measure CK levels. Results showed that there was no significant interaction between GSE supplementation and maximum muscle strength and muscle soreness. But CK levels showed a significant decrease between GSE and placebo groups, there was a significant decrease in CK levels 96h after exercise in the GSE group compared to the placebo group. This study showed that acute supplementation with GSE after exercise did not affect maximal muscle strength and muscle soreness in the present study.
GSE Supplementation & Effects on the Biomarkers of Oxidative Stress in Female Volleyball Players
This was a randomized, double-blind placebo-controlled trial which included 40 female volleyball players aged 14-42 years after imposing several exclusion and inclusion criteria. All of them were split into two groups-group 1 received 300 mg of GSE (n=20) and group 2 received placebo pearls (n=20) twice a day for eight weeks alongside lunch and dinner. Weight, height and BMI measurements of all participants was taken. Fasting blood samples were taken before and after the intervention-total antioxidant capacity (TAC) of the plasma was measured, total glutathione (GSH) and malondialdehyde (MDA) levels, nitrite/nitrate (NOx) and fasting plasma glucose (FPG) were measured using different methods. The homeostatic model of assessment for insulin resistance (HOMA-IR), the homeostatic model of assessment for beta cell function (HOMA-B), and the quantitative insulin sensitivity check index (QUICKI) were also measured.
Results showed that mean age, height, SBP (systolic blood pressure) and DBP (diastolic blood pressure) were not statistically different between the GSE and placebo groups nor were mean weight and BMI before and after the 8-week intervention period. There was no significant difference found in dietary micro- and macronutrient intake between GSE and placebo groups. There was a significant rise in plasma GSH and significant decrease in MDA and serum insulin concentration levels, HOMA-IR and HOMA-B. GSE had no effect on CPK, TAC, NO, FPG and lipid concentrations compared to placebo. Within-group differences showed a significant decrease in total-/HDL-C in the placebo group. The study showed that administration of GSE for eight weeks in female volleyball players showed beneficial effects on some biomarkers of oxidative stress and insulin metabolism parameters.
Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS) in Young Healthy Female Students: http://www.sportscienceresearch.com/IJSEHR_201931_03.pdf
Effects of Acute Grape Seed Extract Supplementation on Muscle Damage After Eccentric Exercise: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1728869X18303344
Grape Seed Extract Supplementation & the Effects on the Biomarkers of Oxidative Stress & Metabolic Profiles in Female Volleyball Players: http://ircmj.com/en/articles/16766.html
Mankind is inching towards worsening quality of life with the proliferation of disruptive diseases and health problems. Diabetes and infertility are two of the common obstacles faced by many individuals in today’s life. Juvenile diabetes is extremely common these days and a greater number of middle-aged people are victims of type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) owing to inappropriate lifestyle practises and social factors. Fertility rates don’t seem to be positive either-plenty of couples prefer ART methods for conception failing natural conception and there are others who don’t succeed in either. This again, is due to diminishing sperm quality, delayed pregnancies due to career/financial demands and likewise. Statistics show that almost 17% couples seek medical help for fertility treatment indicating deterioration in human reproductive health. This has elicited the attention of researchers and people worldwide on the reasons behind decreasing sperm quality and male fertility rates.
There has been ample discussion on obesity, sedentariness and lifestyle as the key reasons behind decreasing fertility rates in men but the impact of diabetes mellitus (DM) on male reproductive health remains arguable. Worldwide, there are more than 400 million people who suffer from diabetes, both type 1 and type 2. Each of the types has a different history behind its prevalence and brings about different effects on the human body. DM has the ability to garner long-term damage, dysfunction and failure of various organs including loss of vision, renal failure, foot amputation, foot ulcers, cardiovascular symptoms and sexual dysfunction. Diabetes causes substantial effect on the male reproductive system and glucose metabolism is an important event in spermatogenesis. There exists a number of studies, both in animals and humans, that confirm the deleterious effect of diabetes on sexual functions such as semen parameters, nuclear DNA fragments and chromatin quality. Animal models present us with better perspectives in this regard-all of them show decreased fecundity (potential to reproduce). We also have a study which shows that DM is linked to important changes in the metabolomic profile of the testis and a higher percentage of both sperm nuclear and mitochondrial DNA damage.
Diabetes Effect on Epigenetic Regulation of Spermatogenesis
Sperms primarily focus on transferring male haploid DNA to female DNA via a series of mechanisms. Sperm cells are used to trigger fertilization with the female egg and need energy to maintain motion competence after epididymal maturation as they are immobile in the testis. Much adenosine triphosphate (ATP) in sperms is consumed for maintaining this motility. They seek energy mainly in the form of sugar including glucose, fructose and mannose via two metabolic pathways namely anaerobic glycolysis and oxidative phosphorylation. Glucides are polar molecules rich I -OH groups capable of passing the lipidic bilayer in a very slow and inefficient way. An important role of supplying cells with energy is realized by different membrane proteins that can actively (sodium-dependent glucose transporters [SGLT]) or passively (glucose transporters [GLUT]) transport hexose through lipid bilayer. Proteins belonging to SGLT are primary transporters of sugars, especially glucose; proteins of GLUT too transport sugar besides other hexoses such as fructose and mannitol, vitamins and amino sugars. GLUTs mainly function to help the sperm adapt to changes in the environment, metabolic requirements etc but the presence of an abnormal environment such as diabetes can cause dysfunction in nutrient transport leading to decreased fertility rates and adverse foetal outcomes. A study examining GLUT expression of GLUT8 and GLUT9 in sperm and testes in 2 genetically modified diabetic rats showed that rats lacking GLUT9 protein had low sperm motility and decreased fertilization rates. Absence of insulin or hyperglycaemia was the reason behind impaired GLUT9 transcription which shows that insulin and glucose are important to sperm maturation. Treating these mice with insulin showed that sperm motility and concentration improved significantly proving that insulin played a dominant role in sperm quality. The study also showed that it was glucose and not fructose that was needed for fertilization-for sperm oocyte binding and embryo viability in the mouse.
Diabetes Impact on Male Fertility
Type 1 and type 2 diabetes, both affect testicular function and spermatogenesis. Type 1 diabetes brings about structural defects with nuclear and mitochondrial DNA fragmentation, reduced motility and decreased zona pellucida binding in sperm cells. Polyamines in sperms have antioxidant capability, are antiglycating agents and offer protection against structural/functional advanced glycation end products (AGE) modifications. Changes in antioxidant expression could be a triggering factor for oxidative stress (OS) and the number of sperms displaying the receptor for advanced glycation end product (RAGE). The protein content in sperms is normally higher than what is found in the sperm of type 1 diabetic men. Increase in AGE in seminal plasma of type 1 and type 2 diabetic subjects shows that glycation and increased OS play eminent roles in reproductive system dysfunction. Diabetic people suffer from increased levels of RAGE protein and DNA fragmentation in sperms which suggests clearly that RAGE plays a pivotal role in disturbing sexual functionality in diabetic men. Motility rates of these sperms too change owing to alterations in mitochondrial DNA in diabetes.
Researchers have proved that seminal plasma nitrate/nitrite levels and 8-hydroxydeoxyguanosine (8-OHdG) levels are observed to be drastically high in the diabetic group-such high nitrate/nitrite levels must be the work of ROS-induced DNA damage that’s related to 8-OHdG levels but not sperm parameters. But this does not affect sperm motility in any way. On the other hand, malondialdehyde, one of the final products of lipid peroxidation and well-known markers of OS is present in abundance in the semen of infertile men with T2DM and has also been negatively linked to sperm density, total sperm count, progressive motility and normal forms. Controlling glycemic levels in such patients helps in preventing sperm damage. A research by Paasch et al. showed that type 1 diabetes, type 2 diabetes and obesity are accompanied by multiple changes in the sperm proteome.
Absence of normal insulin levels decreases testosterone and Leydig cell function and also FSH, which in turn affects LH levels. Such FSH decrease affects sperm output and fertility. Streptozotocin (STZ) injected in mice for a month showed metabolic adaptations such as increase in efficiency of mitochondrial ATP production. Research shows that fertility rates in the STZ-injected mice were much below than that in the normal group. Even in the fertilized zygotes, embryo development rates to the blastocyst stage in two diabetic models were lower than that in controls. STZ-injected rats also displayed defective sperm maturation and insulin replacement prevented these changes partially or completely.
Impact of Diabetes on Assisted Reproduction Treatment (ART)
A research set forth to analyse whether presence of diabetes in men affected ART outcomes. Men who reported as diabetic the first time they visited the centre for fertility treatment were considered for the study. Information fetched was split into three data stream which included male, female and assisted reproduction treatment. Information regarding date of birth, diabetes type and duration, smoking status and nature of the treatment was recorded for men. Sperm data regarding volume of ejaculate, sperm concentration and extent of liquefaction were also noted. In the case of female, information on number of cycles, number of eggs harvested, number fertilized, whether embryos were frozen and other clinical outcomes were measured. There were 80 couples among whom 18 diabetic men (aged 28-51 years) and their partner (aged 24-41 years) had undergone assisted reproductive treatment between 2004 and 2007.
Reasons for infertility was attributed to idiopathic male factor for 4 couples, polycystic ovary syndrome for 2 couples, unexplained causes for 10 couples, hyperprolactinaemia for one couple and endometriosis for one couple. While it was the first child for all female participants one subject had three previous miscarriages and another one had suffered from one miscarriage. On an average, men had suffered from diabetes for around 17 years. 38% reported that their levels were well-controlled, 27% told that it was poorly controlled and the other 35% reported that they were unaware of the status. Of the 18 diabetic males, 2 (11%) of them had retrograde ejaculation and two were azoospermic, none of them tested positive for antibody presence, liquification was normal for 13 subjects, reduced motility was present in 80% subjects and 60% showed decrease in percentage of normal forms.
Of the 18 couples who opted for ART 5 of them underwent 10 circles of IVF, 12 underwent 19 cycles of intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) and one couple underwent two cycles of IVF and one cycle of ICSI. 5 couples who started with ICSI opted for frozen embryo transfer (FET) (seven cycles). For IVF, a 68% fertilization rate was possible for 66 harvested eggs. In spite of 12 embryo transfers there was no signs of pregnancy. In the case of ICSI a fertilization rate of 62% was achieved for 198 harvested eggs. Here, despite 18 embryonic transfers there was only one clinical pregnancy represented and a combined IVF/ICSI clinical pregnancy rate per embryo transfer of 3.3% for fresh cycles occurred. FET showed better outcomes with 29% clinical pregnancy rate and no miscarriage or complications were present in any of the deliveries.
Type 1 & Type 2 Diabetes Effects on Sperm Quality
Here, study participants were divided into three groups-38 patients with DM1, 55 with DM2 and 100 healthy fertile subjects as controls. DM1 patients were further divided into three groups depending on the duration of the disease- <5 years, between 5 and 10 years and >10 years. All the participants underwent a sperm analysis, a flow cytometric sperm analysis, assessment of the presence of urogenital infection, oxidative stress evaluation and an andrological evaluation. Sperm parameters showed considerable difference between the three groups. Individuals with DM1 and DM2 showed decreased sperm concentration compared to controls while DM2 participants showed slightly lower sperm quality compared to DM1 individuals. Motility rates were lower in DM1 and DM2 individuals compared to controls, much lower in DM1 compared to DM2. Semen fluid volume was comparatively lower in patients with DM1 though not much significant in DM2 participants when compared to controls. Sperms having normal forms were in lower percentage compared to controls. Sperm vitality decreased in DM2 participants and one patient had higher degree of DNA fragmentation spermatozoa compared to DM1 patients and controls.
This study showed that type 1 diabetes patients have low ejaculate volume due to increased oxidative stress which can also alter other conventional sperm parameters. Type 2 diabetes patients suffer from increased concentration of seminal fluid leukocytes that raise OS levels damaging sperm parameters, sperm DNA and vitality.
All these show that glucose metabolism plays a pivotal role in sperm cells and any type of diabetes could have detrimental effects on male fertility, specifically sperm quality.
Diabetes Mellitus & Infertility: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5980990/pdf/fendo-09-00268.pdf
Male Diabetes Mellitus & Assisted Reproduction Treatment Outcome: https://www.rbmojournal.com/article/S1472-6483(10)00652-8/pdf
The Effects of Diabetes on Male Fertility & Epigenetic Regulation During Spermatogenesis: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4814953/pdf/AJA-17-948.pdf
Advertisements are shown with the only motive to lure consumers to buy products. Marketing people make the products as colorful, healthy and lovable as possible bringing in the right elements to connect with the viewers instantly. For instance, ads for toothpaste highlight the major medicinal ingredients such as spearmint and peppermint extracts used to make our teeth stronger and healthier. Mint is common but what is this spearmint? It’s a herb similar to mint that’s pleasant-smelling with a sweet taste and hence, often used in products such as mouthwashes, toothpaste and other health-food products too. Yes! The green leaf that you’ve assumed until now to be pudina (mint) is spearmint! Its often used as a therapeutic agent for its aplenty of health benefits (claimed) right from indigestion and gas to headache, toothache and cramps. There are some proposals for its use as an antioxidant and an agent to solve hirsutism in women. The latest of them is its benefits in improving memory and learning that could be helpful against age-related cognitive decline.
Ageing & Cognition
The cognitive process includes memory, attention, perception, problem-solving and decision-making skills and any disruptions in the neural physiology supporting cognition can lead to impairment and cognitive dysfunction. Memory capabilities differ individual to individual and there are some who are extremely forgetful even at a young age. Forgetfulness in school-going children can be extremely problematic for the kid as he/she often secures low marks at school. In my childhood days, I had a close friend who could not even remember three definitions precisely. His worried mother sought the help of friends and family among whom one of them suggested giving the boy a handful of the Indian pennywort (vallarai in Tamil, gotu kola in Hindi and mandukaparni in Sanskrit) extract which worked well for him. Nowadays, that’s what has been officially termed as supplements-we have got an entire range of them including multivitamins, minerals, folate, anti-ageing, weight-loss and the list goes on and on.
Not all supplements have government approval but still remain popular among people for its host of benefits. Supplements for improved brain structure and function contain different nutrients and there has been increased interest shown in using herbal preparations as cognitive-enhancing agents commonly called as nootropics. Nootropics might be used in everyday life for improved attention and focus while athletes and active individuals too use them for enhancing performance though we have negligible evidence showing increased cognitive skills to improve performance. While members of the mint family have been generally proposed for resolving nervous system disorders, respiratory and gastrointestinal issues recent research show that they also benefit memory due to their polyphenolic constituents. Spearmint is a member of this distinguished mint family that includes more than 900 species such as sage, rosemary and lemon balm.
Ageing is an inevitable process that’s commonly linked to cognitive decline including memory loss and decreased processing speed. Age-associated memory impairment (AAMI) is commonly linked to normal brain ageing and with the ageing adult population living through extended years we need to ensure their quality of life and preserve cognitive ability as much as possible. A variety of nutrients that have been studied for their neurocognitive benefits show different degrees of efficiency. There are studies that show improved cognitive skills after consuming plant extracts from the Lamiaceae family due to the polyphenols present in them. Free radicals and oxidation decrease cognitive function and as extracts from plants such as rosemary from the Lamiaceae family have increased antioxidant property they benefit in memory preservation. This is especially true in the case of rosmarinic acid (RA) that improves antioxidant status in neuronal cells and hippocampal tissue. A mouse model that used RA extract showed hopes for Alzheimer’s disease too. So, spearmint extract too might contain other phenolic compounds apart from RA that benefit cognition in humans. The first hint that dried aqueous extract from spearmint could support cognition was obtained from a mouse model of aging; the possibility of spearmint extract impacting working memory was deciphered from a study of older adults (who self-reported memory impairment) whose results showed that consuming the extract for 30 days improved cognitive performance.
Effect of Spearmint Extract on the Ageing Population
A randomized double-randomized placebo-controlled study was conducted on generally healthy men and women. The participants were included or excluded based on several criteria and their cognitive performance was measured using the Cognitive Drug Research (CDR) System and a word recall test was also conducted. The cognitive assessment was administered at -0.75, 0.5, 2, 4 and 6h during each visit at days 0, 45 and 90 respectively. There were 11 tasks including immediate word recall, simple reaction time, digit vigilance, choice reaction time, numeric working memory, word recognition and picture recognition that assessed attention and information processing, episodic and working memory, executive function and motor control.
Water-extracted dry spearmint extract that contained 14.5% RA and 24% total polyphenols including lithospermic, caftaric and salvianolic A and B acids and many others were made into study capsules that contained 300-450 mg of the spearmint extract. All the participants were instructed to consume two capsules with breakfast equivalent to 0, 600 or 900 mg/day of extract for 90 days. Mood of the participants were analyzed using the profile of mood states (POMS) questionnaire and were categorized as tension-anxiety, depression-dejection, anger-hostility, vigor-activity, fatigue-inertia, confusion-bewilderment and a total mood disturbance (TMD) score. Sleep was evaluated using the Leeds Sleep Evaluation Questionnaire (LSEQ) with four domains namely ease of getting to sleep, quality of sleep, awakening from sleep and behaviour following wakefulness. The 90 participants who were selected based on various eligibility criteria visited the research clinic in the morning for each test day (days 0, 45 and 90) after fasting for 10-14 h. All of them completed the POMS and LSEQ questionnaire and consumed a standard breakfast meal. All of them were requested to avoid any vigorous physical activity, alcoholic beverages, caffeine and tobacco use before and during all test visits.
The 90 subjects were split into three groups-placebo, 600 mg spearmint extract or 900 mg spearmint extract. The cognitive drug research (CDR) battery identified a treatment effect in quality of working memory for all individuals who were supplemented with 90 days of spearmint extract. Results showed that:
Spearmint Extract Effects on Healthy Men & Women
To check whether the cognitive advantages of the extract also has a positive impact on the younger population a pilot study was conducted in young and healthy men and women who were supplemented with the same amount of extract as done in the above trial on ageing population.
A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study including 1 screening visit at baseline (day 0) and 3 treatment visits at day 7, 30 and 90 was conducted on 142 participants who were placed in the 900 mg of proprietary spearmint extract (PSE) or placebo (PLA) group. The individuals were selected based on various criteria and stratified into 4 groups-young (18-35 years)/male, older (36-50 years)/male, young/female and older/female. Subjects were called as recreationally active when they completed ≥1 hour and ≤6 hours of moderate to vigorous physical activity every week. All the participants logged exercise, sleep and 3-day food logs and were read to refrain from consuming caffeine-containing products for 10 hours, alcohol consumption and any physical activity for 24 hours and any strenuous resistance exercise for 48 hours before and during all visits.
Cognitive skills were assessed using a computerized set of tests that included finger tapping, symbol digit coding, shifting attention, continuous performance, reasoning, 4-part continuous performance and digit span. The results from all the tests were combined for cognitive domain scores consisting. Here also, sleep was assessed using LSEQ administered at 7, 30 and 90 days respectively and mood through POMS. Three-day food logs were collected every time before the supplementation period to ensure that the diets remained the same throughout the study.
69 participants were in the PLA group and 73 were in the PSE group but only 54 and 52 in the PLA and PSE group completed the study successfully. The treatment showed significant improvement for sustained attention at day 30 and 90. For complex attention, there was improvements seen in the PSE compared to the PLA at day 7. Good results were observed in PSE vs PLA in the shifting attention test for reduction of errors at day 7 and for reaction time of correct response at day 7 and at day 90. There was no commendable difference in any of the domain scores for LSEQ and mood scores too did not change much after extract administration. But there was improvement in quality of life in psychological and spiritual domain rating after administration of the extract.
Another study on recreationally active men and women who received 900 mg of PSE for testing reactive agility showed positive results.
Spearmint Extract Improves Working Memory in Men and Women with Age-associated Memory Impairment: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5779242/
The Attention-enhancing Effects of Spearmint Extract Supplementation in Healthy Men & Women: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0271531718308431
Efficacy of a Nootropic Spearmint Extract on Reactive Agility: A Randomized, Double-blind, Placebo-controlled, Parallel Trial: https://jissn.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12970-018-0264-5
The shopping list is ready and you are at the supermarket to pick and choose the essentials for the month. Though you might be doing it on a weekend there isn’t much leisure time to shop at your desired pace. In such situations, it would be extremely helpful if the nutrition labels present in the pack is color-coded for quicker understanding, isn’t it? Nutrition labels on food products help us choose between various products and restrict our consumption of foods that’s high in fats, sugars and salt. The information provided is for 100 grams or per portion of the food and nowadays, due to increased interest in choosing healthier food options food manufacturers are highlighting fat, salt, sugar and energy content on the front of the packaging along with reference intake values. Some of these nutrition labels use colour codes such as red, amber and green and this helps us decode the fat, salt and sugar content of the food in a glance.
This color-coded labelling is also called as ‘traffic light’ labelling that has been proposed as a public health intervention to minimize obesity risk by attending to the dietary intake of individuals. These occur as a part of the front-of-pack (FOP) nutrition rating systems that clearly detail the calories and nutrients present within the food pack. We already have studies that have given a green signal to traffic light food labelling as an excellent initiative to fight against obesity and a modelling study in Australia found it to be a cost-effective method for preventing obesity. Studies of summary indicator FOP systems show that this system is in fact efficient enough to promote healthier product reformulations by manufacturers-this was seen in Canadian manufacturers where they successfully reduced sodium in foods by 80-150 grams. There are different studies that show that sodium, fat and sugar consumption could be reduced if individuals replaced their regular foods with those that follow the FOP system criteria.
Canadian Study on Replacing ‘Red’ Label Foods with Healthier Options: A Nutrition Analysis
Fat, energy, sodium and sugar intake of Canadian adults were calculated using data from the Canadian Community Health Survey, Cycle 2.2 Nutrition (CCHS 2.2)- a national survey that’s aimed at providing authentic data regarding food and nutrients intake of Canadians. The CCHS 2.2 included a sample of 35,107 individuals aged 0 years and above whose food and nutrients intake was calculated through a 24-hour dietary recall. The present research primary included Canadian adults aged 19 years and above, excluded pregnant and breastfeeding women and also those whose food intake data was not available. The different foods consumed by individuals were color-coded in red, amber or green depending on the criteria for food and drinks described in the UK’s ‘Guide to Creating a Front of Pack (FoP) Nutrition Label for Pre-packaged Products Sold Through Retail Outlets’. This was used as the measure to compare against the fat, sodium and sugar intake of foods and drinks.
Those foods that had red color codes were replaced with similar foods that did not have the code for any of the nutrients. Whenever possible, the original food was replaced by the same food from a different brand that provided a healthier option and every effort was taken to ensure that the replaced food was as good as the original choice. For instance, lean ground beef was replaced with extra lean ground beef. There were also instances where some foods were replaced by the same foods but prepared in a much more nutritious manner. But when replacement was not possible the foods were not replaced.
Totally, Canadian adults consumed 5655 unique foods and 495 unique beverages and it was found that 52% foods and 13% beverages contained at least one nutrient that qualified for a red traffic light. On analysis, it was seen that sodium was the nutrient associated with most (27%) red traffic lights while sugar was the nutrient that was least (14%) associated. For beverages, sugars was the nutrient that was mostly (10%) linked to red traffic lights while sodium and fats were least associated (2%). Though replacements for all foods were not possible, the percentage of foods and beverages that qualified for at least one red traffic light dropped to 40% and 2% respectively.
The traffic light food labelling helped Canadian adults reduce their overall intake of energy, total fat, saturated fat and sodium compared to baseline-calorie intake reduced by 5%, total fat by 13%, saturated fat by 14% and sodium by 6% among Canadians. Men reaped maximum benefits as they consumed 122 fewer calories, 12 g less total fat, 4 g less saturated fat and 199 mg less sodium under this food labelling model. The only nutrient that did not show considerable change was sugar. It was amazing to find that total intake of calories and fat were reduced to below recommended Daily Values and this included women’s total intake of saturated fats as well. This study shows that the traffic light labelling system has a positive impact on the individuals’ total nutrient and calorie intake decreasing the consumption of fats, sugars and sodium.
Sustenance of Dietary Changes Possible with Traffic Light Diet
The Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) studied the nutrient intake of their employees implementing the traffic light diet in their hospital cafeteria with simple ‘traffic-light’ symbols-the program was devised such that green labels indicated healthiest foods, yellow labels indicated less healthy foods and red labels the least healthy ones based on positive and negative criteria. Details whether the main ingredient was fruit, vegetable, whole grain and likewise with the amount of saturated fat was also mentioned. The food habits of 5,695 employees were tracked via the purchases made once after the labels were added and once again after product-placement changes made healthier choices accessible. This analysis remained in place for 2 years.
Results showed that the purchases of red-labelled foods decreased while the proportion of green-labelled foods purchased increased. Such kind of labelling paved way for greater calorie reduction over the two-year period with the red-labelled foods contributing to major calorie reduction. On the whole, besides reducing total calorie intake the employees were also eating nutritious foods that contribute towards their total calorie intake. Some employees even lost up to 2 kg over time. This is not a weight loss program but one that aims at achieving a steady weight maintenance by individuals instead of allowing them to gain weight. This might be a good start for reversing the obesity epidemic. Organizations conduct wellness programs that help improve well-being of employees but such programs happen only for a short period. But this kind of an intervention is a continuing affair where people are exposed to it daily at work and in the long run it becomes a lifestyle practice. The traffic light labels could be implemented in all workplaces as employees love to eat well but don’t have enough time to read and decide. In such scenarios, the labelling helps them realize when they are about to make an unhealthy food choice and motivate them to choose a better option.
Green, Amber & Red: What Do Each of the Colours Stand For?
The colour codes depict whether a product is high (red), medium (amber) or low (green) in saturated fats, fat, salt and sugar and the total energy provided by it. Going by the color codes helps you choose the right food. For instance, if you would like to go for a veg roll read the color codes to decipher the nutrient content:
Green: If the label is mostly green this is a clear indication that the food is low in that nutrient (fat, sodium or sugar) and you are about to make a great choice.
Amber: This is an indication that the product is neither low nor high in that nutrient and it is always ok to eat foods that have amber on the labels any time.
Red: This is not a declaration to avoid such foods totally but a warning sign that they are high in fats, sugar and sodium. It is always recommended to decrease consumption of red-labelled foods and if you wish to have them, eat them as rarely as possible in minimal quantities.
Traffic-light Labels Could Reduce Population Intakes of Calories, Total Fats, Saturated Fats and Sodium: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5300258/pdf/pone.0171188.pdf
Traffic Light Food Labels Reduce Calories Purchased in Hospital Cafeteria: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/07/190710134014.htm
Helping You Eat Well: https://www.nutrition.org.uk/healthyliving/helpingyoueatwell/324-labels.html?start=3
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