Leptin and its Role in Weight Loss

Article  By Rosemarie Cianci, dietetics student in McGill’s School of Human Nutrition

There is a lot of talk about hormones and their role in weight loss. Leptin is one of those, so we’ll dive right in!

What is it?

Leptin is a hormone that is secreted by fat cells when you eat certain foods and regulates hunger and fullness cues. It reacts to your body’s insulin following the intake of food items. From there, it provides information to the brain about nutrition status. It regulates body weight by decreasing food intake and increasing energy expenditure. It makes you feel full and also allows the body to burn more calories!

What does it do?

Certain foods stimulate the release of leptin more than others. For example, consuming sugars such as sucrose and glucose will cause insulin levels to increase and leptin to be released. However, fructose, which is often found in the form of high fructose corn syrup, does not trigger the release of leptin. Therefore, when you drink foods that are high in HFCS, such as candy and soft drinks, leptin is not released and the body does not receive the signals to decrease food intake. You end up eating more!

What is leptin resistance?

Leptin resistance occurs when the body does not respond to levels of leptin and does not signal fullness. This often occurs in those who are overweight or obese as they have more fat cells and therefore produce more leptin. Despite the high production, the brain does not receive the signal from leptin and it is blocked.

Leptin resistance and the lack of regulation may explain why some people have a more difficult time losing weight than others. Their brain may not be receiving the signals of fullness and increased energy burning compared to others!

Can it be supplemented?

The current recommendation is that taking a leptin supplement is not effective when compared to the body’s production. For those who have resistance, even supplements of leptin will not work because their brain does not receive signals from the hormone in any way, whether by pill or from the body’s production.

However, more studies are currently being undergone in this field and this is something that may be on the horizon. A review from 2019 showed that leptin’s mechanism of action is still being discovered and this can hopefully improve the efficacy of leptin as a treatment of obesity.

Overall, there is currently not enough research to note that leptin supplements are safe and effective for weight loss. However, since fructose blocks the production of leptin, it may be a beneficial idea to limit sources of the sugar, especially high-fructose corn syrup-containing foods such as candy and soft drinks.

 

References:

https://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/11/11/2704

https://www.nature.com/articles/0802753?proof=t

https://www-ncbi-nlm-nih-gov.proxy3.library.mcgill.ca/pmc/articles/PMC7765993/

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fendo.2021.585887/full

 


What are the Main Philosophies of Naturopathy?

 

Article by Antonio Colasurdo Board Certified Naturopath at Openspaceclinic.

 

FIRST, DO NO HARM

Naturopaths hold to the tenet of using non-invasive modalities and medicinal substances to minimize the risk of harmful side effects.

 

VITALITY

The body has an inherent ability to heal itself. Naturopaths act as facilitators to this process by identifying and removing obstacles to health in an effort to support the healing process.

 

IDENTIFYING THE CAUSE

Illness does not occur without a cause, and causes can occur on various levels including physically, mentally, and/or emotionally. Therefore, a Naturopath must identify the cause of illness rather than simply acting on the symptomatic expression of a disease.

 

TREAT THE WHOLE PERSON

Every individual is unique. Naturopaths use individualized protocols by understanding the interdependence between the physical, mental, emotional, environmental, genetic, and social factors which may contribute to illness.

 

NATUROPATHS AS TEACHERS

Naturopaths must take time to educate and empower clients concerning their health. This cooperative relationship has an inherent therapeutic value, which may enable clients to heal.

 

PREVENTION IS THE BEST CURE

The ultimate goal of Naturopathy is disease prevention. Naturopaths thoroughly assess any risk factors and hereditary susceptibility to disease and make appropriate interventions with the goal of maintaining health and preventing illness, as much as possible.

 


Is Lettuce Water the Cure to Insomnia as TikTok suggests

 

Article by Danielle Kasis Akal, Professional Dietetic Stagiare, McGill’s School of Human Nutrition. 

You have probably encountered multiple food and nutrition trends if you have been using the TikTok application lately. Many times, TikTok users are trying out those trends and are swearing on their success. The latest being the use of lettuce water to prevent insomnia. Lettuce water is made when one boils water, pours it over romaine lettuce and then drinks the water once it's cooled a bit. If you are wondering if lettuce could be the new herbal tea to aid with sleeping, here is our dietetic intern trying to find the truth of this matter.  

As many are more interested in the medicinal effect of food as opposed to medications, many are looking at ways to improve their life quality, including the quality of their sleep using nutrition. 

 

But does lettuce water really help with sleep?

No studies published have shown that steeping lettuce or eating lettuce that you buy from grocery stores can help with sleeping. But it is understandable why some people might think it does.

The seed oil of romaine lettuce (Lactuca sativa L.) was used in folk medicine long ago as a sleeping aid and a sedative when combined with other ingredients like opium. Today, local herbal shops in Iran continue to provide lettuce seeds to pregnant women to treat insomnia as part of their belief in Traditional Persian Medicine (TPM). In addition, researchers have found that some molecules in lettuce extract act as a sedative and pain reliever in mice. Those molecules are known as lactucopicrin and lactucin, found in romaine lettuce extract, and are studied for their properties of inducing and prolonging sleep. 

 

But what made lettuce water trendy today? 

This new TikTok trend could stem from the new study published in 2017 that you see some have mentioned in their videos. Researchers in this study have found that after young mice were fed a mix of sedative (phenobarbital) and a concentrated extract from lettuce seed and leaves, those mice slept 20 minutes longer than those who were only given the sedative.

However, many limitations exist for this study. The concentrated lettuce extract was tested alongside a sedative, which is not the same as only drinking the lettuce water. Also, the lettuce extract from seed and leaves is much more potent in molecules than just drinking steeped lettuce. Finally, mice are not human, so what works in mice does not mean it will always translate to humans.

 

Could drinking lettuce water be dangerous?

Assuming that you are washing your lettuce well and that your lettuce is not harbouring any salmonella or other microbes, placing your lettuce in boiling water is less likely to cause harm. The only thing you might need to consider is drinking a large amount of fluid before going to sleep. This might make you have frequent trips to the bathroom at night, which can be disruptive to your sleep and counterproductive in general. 

 

Then why are some finding this practice useful?

This could be a placebo effect. In fact, many studies have looked at the role of placebo medication vs no treatment on improving insomnia symptoms. It has been shown consistently that getting any placebo might help in most insomnia symptoms, such as how quickly you fall asleep, your total sleep time and your sleep quality. So, after all, this might be a reason why many are finding drinking lettuce water useful.

 

Then what can I do to improve my sleep?

You need to make adjustments during your whole day and not just at night to improve your sleep. Your diet, environment and general well-being all have an impact on your sleep.

You can start by enjoying more wholesome meals, limiting refined carbohydrates and sugar, eating more fruits and vegetables, and avoiding caffeine after 2 pm. Other changes could include getting regular exercise, a good sleep routine and avoiding electronics before bed.  

What if my sleep is not getting better with all changes?

Poor sleep can sometimes be linked to certain medical conditions. If poor sleep is a consistent issue in your life, see a healthcare provider to help you out.

 

Références: 

Kiefer, D. (2019). Lettuce for Sleep? Maybe, but Not in Salad Form. Integrative Medicine Alert, 22(2).

Kim, H. D., Hong, K. B., Noh, D. O., & Suh, H. J. (2017). Sleep-inducing effect of lettuce (Lactuca sativa) varieties on pentobarbital-induced sleep. Food science and biotechnology, 26(3), 807-814.

Yeung, V., Sharpe, L., Glozier, N., Hackett, M. L., & Colagiuri, B. (2018). A systematic review and meta-analysis of placebo versus no treatment for insomnia symptoms. Sleep medicine reviews, 38, 17-27.

10 tips to beat insomnia. (2021). Retrieved 10 September 2021, from https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/sleep-and-tiredness/10-tips-to-beat-insomnia/

 


Bloating

 

How to prevent bloating, here are some tips to consider:

Do you often hear that someone you know complains of bloating? or it might be you?

Bloating is when your belly feels bloated after eating. This can be due to excess gas or abnormal movement of the muscles in your digestive system.  

Bloating can often cause pain and discomfort that makes your belly look bigger. For some people, bloating is more related to pressure in the abdomen without an apparent abdominal enlargement. Therefore, bloating for them is more due to increased sensitivity to gas or fluid found in the gut.

Although bloating can result from a serious medical problem, a change in food and certain eating habits can often help you eliminate or reduce your bloating sensations. Here are some tips to consider the next time you experience bloating.

 

1- Lack of regularity in bowel movements

Sometimes constipation can make bloating worse. Because the longer the stool stays in the colon, the more the bacteria in the gut ferment what's there. This will lead to gas and possibly bloating.

Eating high-fibre foods is generally recommended for people with constipation, but fibre can make it worse for people who have gas or bloating.

If you are looking for a way to prevent constipation, drink more water and become more physically active. Those are effective in letting you use the bathroom regularly.

 

2- Eating too fast

Eating quickly is not ideal if you want to avoid bloating after your meal as this will cause you to swallow more air, leading to a lot of gas production. 

You can avoid bloating by eating slowly and chewing your food properly. This will reduce the amount of air you swallow and as a result lead to less gas and bloating. 

 

3- Pay attention to the ingestion of air and gas.

Although bacteria normally produce gas in your gut, sometimes we swallow air or gas from drinks or from the way we eat. For example, carbonated drinks contain carbon dioxide bubbles that are released after they reach our stomachs.  

Other factors can contribute to increased amounts of air swallowed through eating habits. These include chewing gum, drinking through a straw and talking while eating.

 

4- Avoid high-dose sugar alcohols

Sugar alcohols, such as xylitol, sorbitol, and mannitol, are sweeteners used as alternatives to sugar. You can frequently find them in sugar-free foods and chewing gum.

In general, we do not digest sugar alcohols. Our gut bacteria ferment them and produce gas as a by-product. It is important to note that when we consume large amounts of sugar alcohols, they become more challenging to digest, and as a result, we get cramps and bloating.

5- Watch your salt intake

When we eat foods rich in salt, our body tends to retain the liquid we drink, making us feel bloated.

Although you may think you're not consuming too much salt because you don't use your salt shaker frequently, right? Most of the sodium in our diet comes from processed foods, not from the salt we add to the table.

Plus, most of these foods don't taste salty, to begin with. This is why we call these sources hidden sources of sodium. Examples of foods include pizza, canned soups, salad dressings and frozen meals.

 

6- Consult a dietitian to help manage your symptoms

In many cases, bloating can be reduced by a simple change in diet. 

Your dietitian can work with you to identify the best diet changes you can make to relieve your symptoms while being the least restrictive possible in your diet. 

 

Références: 

Agrawal, A., & Whorwell, P. J. (2008). abdominal bloating and distension in functional gastrointestinal disorders–epidemiology and exploration of possible mechanisms. Alimentary pharmacology & therapeutics, 27(1), 2-10.

Agrawal, A., Houghton, L. A., Reilly, B., Morris, J., & Whorwell, P. J. (2009). Bloating and distension in irritable bowel syndrome: the role of gastrointestinal transit. The American journal of gastroenterology, 104(8), 1998–2004. https://doi.org/10.1038/ajg.2009.251

De Schryver, A. M., Keulemans, Y. C., Peters, H. P., Akkermans, L. M., Smout, A. J., De Vries, W. R., & Van Berge-Henegouwen, G. P. (2005). Effects of regular physical activity on defecation pattern in middle-aged patients complaining of chronic constipation. Scandinavian journal of gastroenterology, 40(4), 422-429.

Hyams J. S. (1983). Sorbitol intolerance: an unappreciated cause of functional gastrointestinal complaints. Gastroenterology, 84(1), 30–33.

Lea, R., & Whorwell, P. J. (2005). Expert commentary–bloating, distension, and the irritable bowel syndrome. Medscape General Medicine, 7(1), 18.

Li, J., Zhang, N., Hu, L., Li, Z., Li, R., Li, C., & Wang, S. (2011). Improvement in chewing activity reduces energy intake in one meal and modulates plasma gut hormone concentrations in obese and lean young Chinese men–. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 94(3), 709-716.

Zhou, Q., & Verne, G. N. (2011). New insights into visceral hypersensitivity—clinical implications in IBS. Nature Reviews Gastroenterology & Hepatology, 8(6), 349-355.

 


Supplements. Go Beyond the Label.

 

 

Article by Antonio Colasurdo Board Certified Naturopath at Openspaceclinic.

When clients initially come to me, quite often, a question that I’m asked by those who take dietary supplements is if their current supplement is “good”. Most people buy them online, from a business, or from a company directly. As a professional however, I cannot give a full honest product assessment based off of a label alone, and therefore require more time to look into the product.

Because of that, often times I would need to get back to the client on my opinion once I’ve conducted further research. Often times my process involves emailing the company that created the supplement directly to inquire further into specific areas.

A product label may look good, however this is the potential problem with stopping one’s inquiry at the product label:

Using a data set of 1800 patients, ingesting 375 dietary supplements with subsequent analysis, it was found that only 44% were labeled correctly. The other 56% contained anabolic steroids or other pharmaceutical agents. Problematic product markets included body building supplements, with a 72% mislabeling rate, weight loss supplements, with a 72% mislabeling rate, energy boosting products, with a 60% mislabeling rate, and general health and wellbeing products, with a 51% mislabeling rate.

 

Naturopathic Doctor News & Review – Herbal mislabeling and liver damage

As you can imagine, this is incredibly problematic, and this problem one of the reasons why, as a health professional, I am extremely picky over my opinions on supplement use. Now, I use supplements in practice; however, my recommendations MUST be based in quality, purity, and backed by current and updated scientific literature.

I need the assurance that what is labeled on a bottle, is actually contained within the bottle. This is why my standards concerning supplements is incredibly high, below are some of the things which I look into:

NPN Numbers.

Making sure that a supplement has an NPN Number is paramount. For a natural product to be sold in Canada it needs an NPN and it must be printed on the bottle sold, without one it is illegal to sell the natural product. Now we shouldn’t need to worry about this, however, one time someone walked into my office with a product that lacked an NPN which is why this is worth mentioning.

Third Party Testing.

Personally, I believe that all supplements should go through Third Party Testing; it adds to the credibility that what is claimed to be within the bottle is actually found there. However, many companies don’t perform third party testing as it can be costly. However, this is non negotiable, for me to approve a supplement it must be tested; preferably by a lab that has no affiliations to the supplement company (directly or indirectly).

Product Monographs.

Another important point, not all companies have these readily available for individuals; the only brands, that I know of, which make product monographs are companies that only give access to supplements to health practitioners.

Yes, research on natural compounds, vitamins, and minerals exist and is readily available. However, I believe that research must be performed on the specific product to validate it’s existence. For this reason, the product itself should have research performed on it.

It’s also important to note, for a Medical Doctor to approve any supplement use (or at the very least say that it won’t interfere with any medications, or that it is safe), a product monograph must be provided. Without one, the answer will always be no.

Without third party testing, product research, and product monographs, I stay away.

Certifications.

After all those hoops, I will look at one final point: is the supplement in question certified by a third party organization such as USP, NSF, Informed Choice, Informed Sport, and/or any other professional certifying organization to validate that a product is continuously being tested.

As an example, to maintain an Informed Sport certification each batch of the product in question must be tested and authenticated to make sure that professional athletes in the NFL, NHL, UFC, etc. are not taking something which can get them banned from their sport such as steroids.

If the company which created the supplement decides to discontinue testing, then the Informed Sport certification becomes null and void.

Because of this, some certifications are not only tough to get, but they are also tough to maintain.

Final Product Validations.

Only after I’ve reviewed each of those components do I look at the product label itself. Because if a product fails in any of the pervious stages, I don’t care what the label itself says.

As you can see, a label is really one cog in a much larger machine. Pushing beyond the label is where you’ll discover the validity of a supplement.

It’s easy to sell a supplement on the market, and it’s easy to make cost effective supplements available to the general public; but is the supplement in question actually beneficial for your health? Well that’s another question entirely…

Final Thoughts.

I know that as a natural health practitioner the tone of this article may seem odd; however, I caution the use of cheap supplements as many of them are filled with extra binders, fillers, lubricants, and coatings; and remember, your digestive system has to process all of these.

Not only that, but the form of a supplement will determine if it is absorbed by the body or if it passes through without or with minimal absorption. Many of the cheap supplements use cheap to manufacture forms which are minimally absorbed by the body. Because of this, you may be wasting your hard earned money.


Functional Foods

 

Article by Ashley Finkel, Nutrition Student and Intern at Openspaceclinic.

 

Functional foods are modified foods or food ingredients that provide health benefits beyond the traditional nutrients it contains. Although foods can provide macronutrients like carbs, fats, protein as well as vitamins and minerals; some foods also contain other compounds that can provide additional health benefits. Most functional foods are used to lend protection against certain diseases—but only when eaten regularly and in specific amounts. 

Let’s look at some specific functional foods and what they do! 

Fatty Fish 

Fatty Fish, like salmon, sardines, trout or herring are considered to be functional foods. These fish are functional in particular due to their low mercury content and higher omega-3 fatty acid content. Omega-3 fatty acids are the “special ingredient” here. This is because they are known to reduce blood pressure in those with higher blood pressure and they can help raise your “Good” HDL cholesterol (YES, there is a good cholesterol!). Omega-3s are also very important to consume during pregnancy and childhood. They are crucial for brain growth and development of infants. It is currently recommended to have fatty fish 2-3 times per week. 

Yogurt 

Yogurt is known for being a great source of calcium; but did you know it also contains probiotics and sometimes even prebiotics? Let’s differentiate the two. Probiotics are a type of “friendly” bacteria found in foods. They are microorganisms that are beneficial to gut health and our microbiome. Prebiotics are food components, such as fibers, that are not digested and are instead used as food for the previously mentioned friendly gut bacteria. Together, probiotics and prebiotics encourage a healthy gut. All yogurts contain probiotics and some contain added prebiotics. If not, add some berries to your yogurt to promote optimal digestive health!  

Tomatoes 

Tomatoes are rich in different minerals and vitamins; but the “special ingredient” here is the powerful antioxidant lycopene. Lycopene is a compound found in tomatoes that has a very strong link to prostate cancer risk reduction. Since it is an antioxidant, it helps prevent cell damage. Whether it be fresh tomatoes, tomato paste or a tomato sauce, everyone, especially men over 50, should try to include more of it in their diet to keep cells healthy and to help prevent prostate cancer. 

Garlic 

Along with many vitamins and minerals, garlic contains organosulfur compounds (Eg. Allicin). Studies have shown promising evidence that these compounds can help to lower total and “Bad” LDL cholesterol. Studies also show that garlic may play a role in reducing blood pressure. Although the studies are not conclusive, we do know that garlic is safe and quite tasty when cooked right! Try to include garlic into your recipes regularly; it may not be a cure-all but it certainly provides many important nutrients and compounds to your diet. 

As you can see, foods can provide so much more than calories and carbs. Every bite of food you take, brings along so many special nutrients and compounds that help feed your body and keep it running smoothly. 

 

References 

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/17-health-benefits-of-omega-3

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22113870/

https://www.eatright.org/food/nutrition/healthy-eating/functional-foods

https://academic.oup.com/jn/article/135/5/1226/4663991

https://www.nccih.nih.gov/health/garlic


Going Vegan? Here’s some things to think about.

 

Article by Ashley Finkel, Nutrition Student and Intern at Openspaceclinic.

Concern for the environment is rising and this is causing a shift in the way we eat. There has been a huge growth in veganism and vegetarianism which has so many benefits for the individual but also for the planet. There are many ways to follow a vegan lifestyle and the definition of the word can vary from person to person. While vegetarians will not consume any animal flesh, they may or may not still consume eggs, dairy cheese, dairy milk and other animal-based products. Vegans, on the other hand, will typically cut out all animal and animal derived foods from the diet. There also exists a form of flexible veganism where one will consume a majorly plant-based diet but allow themselves some animal derived foods on occasion. 

When we cut all animal products out of our diet, we need to think about the nutrients that we may be cutting out as well. 

Vitamin D 

Many of us know that we can get vitamin D from the sun. However, when living in a province like Quebec, it can be very difficult to get adequate Vitamin D from October to May. So, it is very important to get it from your diet. Most food sources of vitamin D come from animals. So, to avoid deficiency when going vegan, it is important to look for food items fortified with vitamin D. Fortified orange juice, soy milk or breakfast cereals can be great options. You can also speak to a healthcare professional about vitamin D supplements. 

Long chain Omega-3 Fatty acids 

Long chain Omega-3 fatty acids are essential fats, meaning your body cannot produce them and you must get them from your diet. Omega-3 fatty acids are very important for the health of your body and brain. Again, most sources of omega-3 fatty acids are animal derived; however, some seeds such as chia seeds, flaxseeds and hemp seeds can provide omega-3 fatty acids to the diet. 

Vitamin B12 

Vitamin B12 plays an important role in the health of your blood, nerve cells and DNA. Lack of Vitamin B12 can have serious health consequences on the body. Shitake mushrooms and nutritional yeast are great vegan sources of B12. You can also look for fortified breakfast cereals. Just like Vitamin D, there are vitamin B12 supplements available—speak to your healthcare provider to determine if that is a better option for you. 

Iron 

Iron is a mineral that is vital to the growth and development of our bodies. There are two types of iron: heme iron (coming from animal sources) and non-heme iron (coming from non-animal sources). Luckily, non-heme iron can be easily consumed in the diet; it is found in most legumes, nuts, seeds as well as raisins, figs, molasses and dried apricots. It is important to note that non-heme iron may not be as well absorbed in the body as heme iron. Vitamin C can increase iron absorption in the body. So, include some sources of vitamin C such as peppers, broccoli or oranges to increase that iron absorption! 

Calcium 

Calcium has so many important roles in the body. From building and maintaining our skeleton to blood pressure regulation, calcium helps keep our bodies strong and healthy. Everyone knows that we can get our daily intake of calcium from milk; but what if you’re vegan? Calcium can also be found in many vegan-friendly foods. Soy foods, beans, lentils, nuts and seeds and green leafy vegetables can also be sources of calcium for someone following a vegan diet. 

Takeaway

All that being said, veganism and plant-based diets in general can be a great way to support the health of the environment and the health of your body. One 16-week study showed major decreases in weight, fat mass and visceral fat in the vegan participant group. As well, plants provide antioxidants, prebiotics, and fiber to the diet. These compounds and nutrients can support a healthy gut by balancing the gut bacteria; a healthy gut is the first step towards a healthy body! 

It is important to carefully plan your diet to ensure that you are getting all the nutrients you need to avoid any nutritional deficiencies. All of the nutrients we need to keep us healthy are available from vegan sources—you just have to learn where to look!  

References 

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6478664/

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/vitamin-d-101

https://www.vegansociety.com/resources/nutrition-and-health/nutrients/iron

https://www.healthline.com/health/vitamin-b12-foods-for-vegetarians

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/7-plant-sources-of-omega-3s

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/omega-3-guide#faq

https://www.healthline.com/health/vegan-vitamin-d#vegan-sources

https://www.healthline.com/health-news/how-a-16-week-vegan-diet-can-improve-your-gut-microbes#You-are-what-you-eat

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6478664/


Can exercising help you lose weight?

Article by Ashley Finkel, Nutrition Student and Intern at Openspaceclinic.

This topic is often very controversial. Some believe that exercise plays a vital role in weight loss, while others believe that exercise is insignificant on its own.

There is one thing we do know for sure: exercise offers so many health benefits. Exercise can do wonders for the body; regular physical activity can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity, osteoporosis and even some cancers. It has also shown to help reduce stress and anxiety in healthy adults. After hearing all that, who wouldn’t want to exercise? 

Now that we know how effective physical activity is in preventing major chronic disease and mental illness, let’s move on to the question you have all been waiting for: does exercise help you lose weight? To answer this question, let’s look at the evidence.

Fat Loss vs Muscle Loss 

When you reduce the number of calories you eat without increasing your physical activity, you lose fat, but you lose muscle as well. When you include exercise in your weight loss plan, it can reduce the amount of muscle you lose. Retaining muscle will work in opposition with fat loss and avoid the drop in your metabolic rate that you experience when you lose weight. Therefore, it will be easier to keep off the weight, which is what we’re all hoping for! 

Cardio 

Whether it’s the treadmill, the spin bike or a simple walk to the park, we’re all familiar with the famous cardio workout, also known as aerobic exercise. Cardio has been very successful in helping people burn calories; however, it plays little role in affecting muscle mass. A study done in 2012 demonstrated that aerobic exercise alone, without any calorie restriction, was extremely effective in increasing weight loss for overweight and obese men and women. Many other studies have been done as well to show the beneficial outcomes of cardio; loss of liver fat, loss of visceral fat (belly fat) and so much more. 

Resistance Training 

Think weightlifting or body weight training—these are examples of resistance training. Resistance training can increase the strength and/or endurance of your muscles as well as burn calories. Increasing the amount of muscle you have, can increase your metabolism, which allow s you to burn more calories continuously—even when you’re taking a rest on the couch. What you can take from this is: cardio is important, but resistance training can be just as, if not more important! Both types of exercise can help you lose weight, but resistance training can help you keep off the weight, which is the hardest part of weight loss!

Does Exercise Help You Lose Weight? 

The truth is: different methods work for different people. While most individuals find exercise to be very effective in weight loss, some find that they don’t lose any weight. Maybe changing your diet will be more effective for you! Most of the evidence shows that a strategy including both a healthy diet and exercise is the most effective way to lose weight and keep it off. In the end, consistency is key. Try to stay motivated and stick to a plan that works for you!  

//

References

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Collagen supplements: truth or trend?

Article by Ashley Finkel, Nutrition Student and Intern at Openspaceclinic.

What is Collagen? 

Collagen is a protein that is essential to the health and function of connective tissues and ligaments in our bodies. It is the primary structural protein in the body and it is found in our muscles, bones, tendons and more. For this reason, collagen supplements are believed to improve the health of these areas. 

Our bodies create collagen naturally. We make collagen, or any protein, by breaking down the protein we eat into amino acids, which are the building blocks from which our bodies can form new proteins. 

Collagen Supplements 

Collagen has recently become a trending topic. Many individuals claim that collagen powders and capsules have a plethora of benefits ranging from improved skin, bone and joint health to improved gut health. Let’s compare the research to the theory and find out if these claims hold true! 

Skin health 

Some studies show that oral supplementation of collagen leads to improved wrinkle depth, hydration and elasticity of the skin. One study also showed that oral supplementation of collagen can improve the effects of skin aging. 

Joint health 

Studies show that a daily intake of collagen can relieve joint pain and discomfort. One study even explored the effect of collagen supplementation on cases of osteoarthritis; this study found promising evidence that collagen peptides help the body to repair cartilage tissue and therefore relieved the discomfort that patients were experiencing. 

Gut health 

There does not appear to be much scientific research done to test if collagen has any effect on gut health. Most of the claims you see are supported by anecdotal evidence only. 

The Theory 

Now that we explored the scientific evidence, let’s investigate the scientific theory of the matter. 

Once you eat any protein, your body breaks it down into individual amino acids. Then, your body can use the amino acids to build collagen or any other protein in the body. It is important to note that just because the amino acids came from a collagen supplement, it doesn’t mean your body will use them to create collagen in the body. Your body will use the amino acids to make whatever proteins are needed in the body at that moment. Eating more foods rich in the proteins that help build collagen, such as meat, fish, dairy products, soy products and beans, will enhance collagen production in the body. As well, eating more vitamin C-rich foods can be beneficial, since vitamin C is important for collagen production.

To sum it up, there have been plenty of studies done to test the effectiveness of collagen supplementation. While we’re still not sure about its effectiveness, there is one thing we do know: collagen supplementation is safe and does not produce any negative, unwanted side-effects. It is important to note that although there is some promising evidence supporting these claims, there is much more research to be done! 

 

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References

Asserin, J., Lati, E., Shioya, T., & Prawitt, J. (2015). The effect of oral collagen peptide supplementation on skin moisture and the dermal collagen network: evidence from an ex vivo model and randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trials. Journal of cosmetic dermatology14(4), 291–301. https://doi.org/10.1111/jocd.12174

Choi Bs, D. F. A. (2019, January 11). Oral Collagen Supplementation: A Systematic Review of Dermatological Applications. JDDonline - Journal of Drugs in Dermatology. https://jddonline.com/articles/dermatology/S1545961619P0009X

Choi, F. D., Sung, C. T., Juhasz, M. L., & Mesinkovsk, N. A. (2019). Oral Collagen Supplementation: A Systematic Review of Dermatological Applications. Journal of drugs in dermatology : JDD18(1), 9–16.

De Santis, A. (2021, March 24). Will Collagen Supplementation Improve Your Skin? Andy The RD. https://andytherd.com/2019/01/07/will-collagen-supplementation-improve-your-skin/

Kumar, S., Sugihara, F., Suzuki, K., Inoue, N., & Venkateswarathirukumara, S. (2014). A double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomised, clinical study on the effectiveness of collagen peptide on osteoarthritis. Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture, 95(4), 702–707. https://doi.org/10.1002/jsfa.6752

Magee, H., R. D. (2020). Collagen Supplements: Real or Hype? Hannah Magee RD. http://hannahmageerd.com/collagen-supplements-real-or-hype/

Oesser, S., Schulze, C., Zdzieblik, D., & König, D. (2016). Efficacy of specific bioactive collagen peptides in the treatment of joint pain. Osteoarthritis and Cartilage, 24, S189. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.joca.2016.01.370

Proksch, E., Segger, D., Degwert, J., Schunck, M., Zague, V., & Oesser, S. (2014). Oral supplementation of specific collagen peptides has beneficial effects on human skin physiology: a double-blind, placebo-controlled study. Skin pharmacology and physiology27(1), 47–55. https://doi.org/10.1159/000351376

Sibilla, S., & Borumand, M. (2015). Effects of a nutritional supplement containing collagen peptides on skin elasticity, hydration and wrinkles. Journal of Medical Nutrition and Nutraceuticals, 4(1), 47. https://doi.org/10.4103/2278-019x.146161

Singh, M., M. D. (2020). Bovine Collagen: Everything You Need To Know About The Gut-Healing, Skin-Clearing Protein. Mindbodygreen. https://www.mindbodygreen.com/articles/bovine-collagen-the-benefits-side-effects-of-this-popular-protein

T, W., L, L., N, C., P, C., K, T., & A, G. (2017). Efficacy of Oral Collagen in Joint Pain - Osteoarthritis and Rheumatoid Arthritis. Journal of Arthritis, 06(02). https://doi.org/10.4172/2167-7921.1000233


Do adaptogens help relieve stress?

Article by Ashley Finkel, Nutrition Student and Intern at Openspaceclinic.

Everyone experiences stress!

While short bouts of stress can be manageable, continuous stress can be hard on our bodies, both physically and mentally. Adding adaptogens to your diet is just one way to manage stress.

What are adaptogens?

Adaptogens are a group of plants that can help our bodies cope with stress. Adaptogens can be herbs, fungi or roots; and they work with our bodies to regulate our stress response systems. Adaptogens have been newly growing in popularity; however, they actually have a long history of health benefits. For centuries, Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine have been using adaptogens to battle fatigue, increase energy levels and reduce stress levels.

Some common Adaptogens

Rhodiola rosea

Schisandra chinensis

Eleutherococcus senticosus (Siberian ginseng)

Let’s learn about them! 

Rhodiola Rosea

Rhodiola is an herb that has been proven to help the body cope with its stress response. In addition, it has shown to improve cognitive function and mental performance in individuals experiencing fatigue. One study found that Rhodiola can even help to reduce symptoms of depression.

Rhodiola can be taken as a capsule supplement; however, in my opinion, brewing it and ingesting as tea is best!

Schisandra Chinesis 

Studies show that Schisandra has stress-reducing properties; it has a specific, beneficial effect in reducing stress symptoms under fatigue. There is also strong evidence that it can increase endurance and mental performance in individuals experiencing fatigue and weakness.

Schisandra is available as a supplement; but it can also be purchased as dried whole berries or as a juice.

Eleutherococcus senticosus (Siberian Ginseng) 

Siberian Ginseng is a very popular choice among the common adaptogens. It has been proven to increase endurance and improve mental performance in fatigued individuals— similar to Schisandra. As well, many patients with stress-induced depression experienced an overall mood improvement and a better night sleep as a result of taking Siberian ginseng.

Siberian Ginseng root is available in supplement format; however, again, my personal favourite is Siberian Ginseng tea.

The Takeaway

All of these adaptogens have been proven to have beneficial effects on our bodies stress response systems. They also respectively have a long list of benefits for our bodies ranging from mood improvement to improved cognitive function. However, it is important to note that there is no “magic remedy” to stress. Stress is different for every individual and while adaptogens might work for some people, it may not work for everyone.

Please remember that it is always advised to speak with your healthcare professional before taking any adaptogens!

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References 

Anghelescu, I. G., Edwards, D., Seifritz, E., & Kasper, S. (2018). Stress management and the role of Rhodiola rosea: a

review. International journal of psychiatry in clinical practice22(4), 242–252. https://doi.org/10.1080/13651501.2017.1417442

Cropley, M., Banks, A. P., & Boyle, J. (2015). The Effects of Rhodiola rosea L. Extract on Anxiety, Stress, Cognition and Other

 Mood Symptoms. Phytotherapy research : PTR29(12), 1934–1939. https://doi.org/10.1002/ptr.5486

Lekomtseva, Y., Zhukova, I., & Wacker, A. (2017). Rhodiola rosea in Subjects with Prolonged or Chronic Fatigue Symptoms:

Results of an Open-Label Clinical Trial. Complementary medicine research24(1), 46–52. https://doi.org/10.1159/000457918

Olsson, E. M., von Schéele, B., & Panossian, A. G. (2009). A randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled, parallel-group study

of the standardised extract shr-5 of the roots of Rhodiola rosea in the treatment of subjects with stress-related fatigue. Planta medica75(2), 105–112. https://doi.org/10.1055/s-0028-1088346

Panossian, A., & Wikman, G. (2010). Effects of Adaptogens on the Central Nervous System and the Molecular Mechanisms 

Associated with Their Stress-Protective Activity. Pharmaceuticals (Basel, Switzerland)3(1), 188–224. https://doi.org/10.3390/ph3010188