Welcome to the July 2019 issue of Thorne’s Research Extracts – designed to keep busy practitioners and savvy consumers up-to-date on the latest research on the environment, diet, nutrients, botanicals, the microbiome, and lifestyle approaches to good health. Our medical team, which includes NDs, MDs, PhDs, RDs, and an MS, LAc, and CCN, has summarized the essence of several of the most interesting studies.

In this issue: (1) quercetin phytosome, (2) weight gain and artificial light during sleep, (3) gut microbiome and infant temperaments, (4) number of steps needed to impact health, and (5) nutrient deficiencies in celiac disease.


New study examines drug-nutrient interactions from quercetin phytosome

Quercetin is a well-researched flavonoid molecule present in many foods. Its greatest concentration is found in onions and cranberries, although it is present in many other foods such as apples, raspberries, and elderberries. The benefits of quercetin include its strong antioxidant activity, modulation of histamine production, enhancement of blood vessel elasticity and blood flow, and support for the normal inflammatory response.*

However, quercetin absorption is highly variable, averaging 25% absorption into the bloodstream via ingestion from foods and supplements. Combining quercetin with a phospholipid like phosphatidylcholine (called a phytosome) has demonstrated significantly greater absorption.

In one study, quercetin complexed in this manner was 20 times better absorbed than regular quercetin,1 resulting in a much greater blood level than quercetin not bound to a phospholipid.

In another study, triathletes taking quercetin phytosome (QP) had significant improvements in antioxidant capacity, performance, and recovery.2

As with many botanicals that have effects on the body’s structures and functions, it is important to make sure they don’t have a negative interaction with medications.

A new study has examined whether QP has a negative interaction with several common medications: anti-platelet treatment (aspirin), anticoagulant therapy (warfarin), and diabetes treatment (metformin). After 10 days of concomitant QP, no effect was observed in individuals on aspirin therapy. 

After 20 days of QP supplementation, no significant difference was observed in bleeding time in individuals on warfarin or in blood glucose or hemoglobin A1c with diabetics taking metformin.3 These tests help confirm the safety of this widely-used supplement.

Explore Thorne’s quercetin-phytosome containing products

Contributed by Alan Miller, ND

References

  1. Riva A, Ronchi M, Petrangolini G, et al. Improved oral absorption of quercetin from Quercetin Phytosome®, a new delivery system based on food grade lecithin. Eur J Drug Metab Pharmacokinet 2019;44(2:169-177.
  2. Riva A, Vitale J, Belcaro G, et al. Quercetin phytosome® in triathlon athletes: a pilot registry study. Minerva Med 2018;109(4):285-289. 
  3. Riva A, Corti A, Belcaro G, et al. Interaction study between antiplatelet agents, anticoagulants, diabetic therapy, and a novel delivery form of quercetin. Minerva Cardioangiologica 2019;67(1):79-83.

Does falling asleep with the TV on make me fat?

Numerous epidemiological studies have found a connection between short duration sleep and weight gain. But what other sleep behaviors might contribute to weight gain? The authors of this study explored what effect artificial light exposure during sleep might have on weight.

A total of 43,722 U.S. women (average age, 55) who were enrolled in the Sister Study between 2004 and 2009 were included in the analysis (average follow-up, 5.7 years; follow-up completed in 2015).

Day sleepers, shift workers, and pregnant women were excluded from the study. Weight parameters (Body Mass Index (BMI), waist circumference, waist-to-hip ratio, and waist-to-height ratio) and extent of exposure to artificial light were assessed at baseline and at the end of the study.

Artificial light at night while sleeping (ALAN) was categorized as no light, small nightlight, light outside the room, or light or TV on in the bedroom. Exposure to any amount of ALAN at night was associated with higher prevalence of obesity at baseline.

At the end of the study, compared to no ALAN, having a light or the TV on was associated with a weight gain of at least five kg (11 pounds) and a 10% increase in BMI.

The authors concluded that, “These results suggest that exposure to ALAN while sleeping may be a risk factor for weight gain and development of overweight or obesity.”

Contributed by Kathi Head, ND

References

  • Park Y, White A, Jackson C, et al. Association of exposure to artificial light at night while sleeping with risk of obesity in women. JAMA Intern Med 2019 Jun 10. doi: 10.1001/jamainternmed.2019.0571

Gut microbiota composition is associated with temperament traits in infants

Early-life temperament traits have been associated with subsequent mental health problems, and different gut microbiota compositions have been linked with early-life neurodevelopment. This study’s aim was to better understand the association between the gut microbiota composition in infants and their temperaments.

Stool samples from 301 2.5-month-old infants were sequenced using 16S technology. Diversity and richness of the gut microbiome were related to results of the Infant Behavior Questionnaire-Revised (IBQ-R) evaluated at six months.

The IBQ-R is a 91-question evaluation where a mother assesses her infant’s behavior over the previous two weeks in everyday situations relating to negative emotionality, regulation/orienting, and surgency/positive emotionality.

Cluster analysis identified three distinct clusters: Veillonella dispar, Bacteroides, and Bifidobacterium/Enterobacteriaceae. The Bifidobacterium/Enterobacteriaceae ratio presented with higher scores on the IBQ-R for regulation and duration of orienting compared to Bacteroides

Surgency/positive emotionality was associated positively with genera Bifidobacterium and Streptococcus.

Alpha diversity (overall number of diverse microbiota) was found to have a negative association with negative emotionality and fear reactivity – in other words, the greater the microbial diversity in the gut, the more positive the emotions.

Differences were observed between male and female babies, in babies who were breast-fed versus formula-fed, and in mode of delivery – C-section versus vaginal delivery. Although it is unclear how these factors might affect infants later in life, these early associations between infant temperament and make-up of the gut microbiota are the first to be published. 

To read more about alpha and beta diversity, or to learn more about specific bacterial strains, visit the blog Onegevity Journal of Thorne’s sister company, Onegevity Health. Onegevity Health offers an at-home gut microbiome test – GutBio™ – that provides an easy-to-read report of the gut microbiota with actionable recommendations for its improvement. You can also download a read-out of every identifiable organism in the sample, including archaea, viruses, pathogens, and bacteria, down to the strain level, and compare tested levels to similar adults.

Contributed by Laura Kunces, PhD, RD

References

  • Aatsinki A, Lahti L, Uusitupa H, et al. Gut microbiota composition is associated with temperament traits in infants. Brain Behav Immun 2019 May. doi:10.1016/j.bbi.2019.05.035 

How many steps does it take to achieve a significant health benefit? 

Although step counters abound, step goals to date are arbitrary. Researchers who used data from the Women’s Health Study sought to identify a clinically relevant quantity and intensity of steps on which to base guidelines for improving health and mortality.

To accomplish this, they gathered one week’s worth of step data from 16,741 women (average age, 72 years) and tracked all-cause mortality for an average of 4.3 years. Accelerometer data was used to calculate mean daily steps and to estimate step intensity based on six metrics of pace.

Using four models to adjust for confounding factors known to impact mortality (such as smoking, BMI, age, and diet), increasing step volume was found to directly correlate with a significant reduction in all-cause mortality in all four models.

When assessing by quartiles, a 41% reduction in mortality rate appeared for the second quartile (average 4,400 steps/day) compared to the lowest quartile (average 2,700 steps/day) with further benefit for the third and fourth quartiles.

When assessing by steps in blocks of 1,000, significance was achieved in the 3,000-3,999 steps/day block with a plateau in benefit around 7,500 steps/day. Overall, a 15% decrease in hazard ratio was seen for each additional 1,000 steps/day taken.

Interestingly, no significant correlation was found for step intensity, suggesting that the act of walking at any pace is beneficial if a sufficient number of steps is taken. So, 10,000 steps may not be a magic number after all.

Contributed by Sheena Smith, MS (Biol)

References

  • Lee I, Shiroma E, Kamada M, et al. Association of step volume and intensity with all-cause mortality in older women. JAMA Intern Med 2019 May 29. doi: 10.1001/jamainternmed.2019.0899

Zinc and copper added to list of deficiencies to be evaluated at diagnosis of celiac disease

It has long been known that micronutrient deficiencies of several vitamins and minerals are common at time of diagnosis of celiac disease, including vitamin D, vitamin B12, folate, zinc, iron, and copper. A recent study published in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings retrospectively evaluated the frequency of micronutrient deficiencies in 309 adult patients newly diagnosed with celiac disease (196 women; 113 men) at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, from 2000 to 2014. 

The study compared these patients to age- and sex-matched controls who were participating in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. The indices assessed included serum levels of tissue transglutaminase IgA (for diagnosis of celiac disease), albumin, and the nutrients zinc, 25-hydroxy vitamin D, ferritin, copper, vitamin B12, and folate.

Whereas, the standard recommendation is to assess the status of vitamins D and B12, folate, and iron at the time of diagnosis, this study makes the case for adding the status of zinc and copper.

Unlike findings from older studies, this study found low body weight and abdominal symptoms like diarrhea were less common in individuals diagnosed with celiac disease.

In fact, the average Body Mass Index of participants was categorized as overweight and the presentation of symptoms was described as not classic symptoms of malabsorption. 

Thorne’s at-home Heavy Metal Test also tests for several essential minerals, including zinc, copper, and the zinc-to-copper ratio.

Contributed by Danielle Paciera, LDN, RD, CCN

References

  • Bledsoe A, King K, Larson J, et al. Micronutrient deficiencies are common in contemporary celiac disease despite lack of overt malabsorption symptoms. Mayo Clin. Proc. 2019 July. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.mayocp.2018.11.036 [Article in press]