Nutritional Outlook

Nutritional Outlook, September 2013

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Ginseng Lowers Fatigue in Cancer Study D Barton et al., "Wisconsin ginseng (Panax quinquefolius) to improve cancer-related fatigue: a randomized, double-blind trial, N07C2," Journal of the National Cancer Institute, published online July 13, 2013. A phase III study on ginseng and cancer patients suggests that American ginseng can combat cancer-related fatigue. In a study involving 40 universities, researchers assigned 364 fatigued cancer survivors to 2 g of ginseng or placebo for eight weeks daily. At baseline, four weeks, and eight weeks, subjects were evaluated for fatigue scores, measured using the Multidimensional Fatigue Symptom Inventory–Short Form. By the end of the program, ginseng users displayed signifcantly lower fatigue scores compared placebo users, and with no signifcant diference in adverse event reports (many of which were cancer treatment-related symptoms, such as nausea and vomiting). Benefts of ginseng appeared greatest in subjects actively undergoing active cancer treatment during participation. Te phase III study on ginseng and cancer patients, published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, complements much previous research on ginseng and fatigue in various populations. In 2013 alone, at least two other studies have looked at ginseng and fatigue—both with positive results. Probiotics Don't Alleviate Diarrhea in Big Trial S Allen et al., "Lactobacilli and bifidobacteria in the prevention of antibiotic-associated diarrhoea and Clostridium difficile diarrhoea in older inpatients (PLACIDE): a randomised, 74 magenta cyan yellow black double-blind, placebo-controlled, multicentre trial," The Lancet, published online August 8, 2013. UK researchers in charge of a large-scale trial on probiotics and antibiotic-related diarrhea have published a not-so-positive outcome. In 2941 adults aged 65 and older, probiotic supplements were no more efective than placebo in improving health conditions. Te multicenter PLACIDE Trial focused on adults on daily antibiotics, which are often associated with symptoms of diarrhea. Each participant was instructed to consume a daily probiotic capsule or identical placebo for three weeks. Te probiotic capsule contained three bacterial strains that are frequently cited in antibiotic-related diarrhea research: Lactobacillus acidophilus, Bifidobacterium bifidum, and Bifidobacterium lactis. It is speculated that probiotics are capable of restoring the balance of gut fora that is compromised by frequent antiobiotic use. Self-reporting revealed that, whether subjects were on probiotics or placebo, diarrhea rates were about the same (159 probiotic users and 153 placebo users). Frequency of serious adverse events in each group was also similar. Stephen Allen, MD, lead author of the study and professor at Swansea University's College of Medicine, said that while his results provide a well-powered and negative outcome for probiotics, this kind of probiotic research is still "hampered by a poor understanding of the pathophysiology of antibiotic-associated diarrhea." Te case does not look good for the three strains used in this study, but other specifc strains of friendly bacteria may still possess anti-diarrheal mechanisms. Human factors such as age and diet may also modulate any potential efect of probiotic use. Te PLACIDE Trial was funded in part by the United Kingdom's National Institute for Health Research. Watermelon for Muscle Pain? M Tarazona-Díaz et al., "Watermelon juice: potential functional drink for sore muscle relief in athletes," Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, vol. 61, no. 31 (August 7, 2013): 7522–7528. Watermelon is unusually high in the amino acid L-citrulline. For this reason, Spanish researchers are investigating a relationship between the nutritional value of watermelon juice and muscle pain relief. To better understand intestinal absorption of L-citrulline from this fruit, researchers applied watermelon juice (unpasteurized or pasteurized) or pure L-citrulline to colon cancer cells. Noticing that absorption of L-citrulline was highest with the unpasteurized watermelon juice, the researchers proposed that L-citrulline bioavailability was "greater when it was contained in a matrix of watermelon and when no heat treatment was applied." In a human trial, seven men were assigned to exercise on stationary bikes one hour after consuming watermelon juice (1.17 g of L-citrulline), enriched watermelon juice (4.83 g of pure L-citrulline, and 1.17 g from watermelon), or placebo. A day after exercise, only men from the placebo groups reported signifcant muscle soreness. Previous research has identifed antioxidant properties in watermelon, and L-citrulline has shown an ability to remove lactic acid from the human body. Both of factors would likely contribute to any muscle relief beneft from consuming the fruit. But not all watermelons provide equal amounts of L-citrulline. Published science clearly indicates that L-citrulline contents can vary across a variety of watermelon cultivars. What's more, published science also suggests that watermelon's red color, and functional nutrients such as lycopene, can be signifcantly altered after the process of pasteurization. September 2013 ■ WekWek/iStockphoto.com; egaL/iStockphoto.com reSearch update NUTRITIONAL OUTLOOK ES314569_NO1309_074.pgs 08.31.2013 01:25 UBM

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