I often wonder how certain foods get their ‘super-food’ status. A lot of times I think the buzz comes from people wanting a silver-bullet and they have the (unfortunately naïve) opinion that one particular dietary component can be the answer to their healthful aspirations.
Chia seeds are popular super-seeds that despite the $$$ price tag appear to be flying off the shelves. So, here are some facts to help inform your choice in deciding whether or not to include Chia seeds in your weekly shop!!
Chia is gluten-free, high fibre, high omega, Australian or South American grown seeds from the Salvia hispanica plant. They are considered functional foods and some research indicates their ingestion can increase EPA (Eicosapentaenoic acid) and ALA Alpha-linolenic acid - the good oils.
High fibre (soluble fibre)
High omega oils
Make you feel fuller for longer
Fish oils are better at providing omega oils for absorption
Overall, Chia seeds may be a good choice to increase healthful oils particularly if you do not want to take fish oils and they are a good source of fibre and plant protein.
New research has just been published in the journal of Current Psychiatry Reports that looks at the effect of natural products and supplements for late-life mood and cognitive disorders. The reviewers evaluated omega-3, ginkgo, SAMe, St John’s wort, vitamins B & D, huperzine, caprylidene, and coconut oil. Unfortunately they could not find many high quality research papers however they did note that complementary and alternative medicines (CAM) are commonly used by older people and “many individuals prefer natural products over prescriptions”. They also encouraged doctors to understand CAM research to “…assist in enhancing the health of their patients by providing direction on balancing such risks and benefits”.
Read the full article here.
What does the science say..From the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH)
“Studies suggest that melatonin may help with certain sleep disorders, such as jet lag, delayed sleep phase disorder (a disruption of the body’s biological clock in which a person’s sleep-wake timing cycle is delayed by 3 to 6 hours), sleep problems related to shift work, and some sleep disorders in children. It also has been shown to be helpful for a sleep disorder that causes changes in blind peoples’ sleep and wake times. Study results are mixed on whether melatonin is effective for insomnia in adults, but analyses of some studies suggest it may slightly reduce the time it takes to fall asleep”.
Acupuncture is becoming a more mainstream practice in Australia but there is still a lot of uncertainly about its effectiveness. The question “Does acupuncture work?” means very different things to different people.
Patients want to know “Will it help me with my condition/symptoms?”, doctors want to know “Does it work, so I can refer patients?”, and acupuncturist’s want to know “What conditions will it treat most successfully and can it treat all patients?”.
Acupuncture research is unique because it does not fit into the conventional treatment mode of drugs and surgery. But acupuncture researchers have still been able to evaluate its effects in high quality research studies for many conditions such as pain, hayfever, IVF, menopause and many other conditions.
The WHO has documented acupuncture’s ability to treat a wide range of disorders including neuromuscular, cardiovascular, respiratory, digestive, urinary, gynecological and skin conditions.
The strongest evidence appears to be weighted towards acupuncture effect on relieving many types acute and chronic pain and it is reported to be as good as drugs. Unfortunately the whole medical literature cannot be summarised succinctly but briefly to answer the question of “Does acupuncture work?” the answer would appear to be yes. But like everything, results will undoubtedly vary from person to person and from condition to condition.
Lately I have noticed my local health food store and pharmacy stocking more and more products containing Green Coffee Extract.
They say it can help with weight loss/management but is there any hard evidence?
Green Coffee Extract is processed from unroasted Green Coffee.. It contains many compounds including chlorogenic acid (also found in other fruits and vegetables). Green Coffee Extract has been marketed under many names including Svetol®.
Svetol’s website notes that it contains chlorogenic acid and caffeic acid and in a clinical trial it increased weight loss compared with a placebo. Experimental literature reported that Green Coffee Extract may work because it reduces the uptake of sugars from the intestine as well as normalising glucose and reducing fat stored in the liver (Further Information).
After a quick search of the literature most research indicated promising evidence for weight loss and only a few mild adverse events. However studies were low quality and further research is needed (Further Information). Overall, there appears to be some evidence for use of Green Coffee Extract for weight loss/management. However there are too few human studies to be 100% convinced that it works.