Science shorts: Benefits of synbiotics, plant-based diets and kale for obesity, GDM, and constipation

By Tingmin Koe

- Last updated on GMT

A closer look into the benefits of synbiotics, plant-based diets, and kale

Related tags synbiotics microbiome Gut health plant-based

This round-up looks at the latest health and nutrition research, including the role of L-carnitine and synbiotic supplementation in improving lipid and glycaemic indices in obese women, how early-life exposure to the Great Chinese Famine is linked to gut dysbiosis, and how adherence to plant-based diets during pregnancy is linked to a lower risk of gestational diabetes.
L-carnitine and synbiotic co-supplementation could help combat obesity in women​  

Supplementation that combines L-carnitine and synbiotics could result in synergistic anti-obesity effects in women, according to an eight-week trial from Iran.

L-carnitine plays a key role in glucose and lipid metabolism. During the trial, 46 obese women were randomised to take either L-carnitine alone or both L-carnitine and a multi-strain symbiotic.

Both interventions showed significant improvements in anthropometric, lipid and glycaemic indices. However, the group supplemented with a combination of L-carnitine and synbiotic exhibited greater reductions in body mass index (BMI), body weight and various circumferences, along with improved glycaemic parameters.

Early-life exposure to Great Chinese Famine linked to gut microbiome disruption, greater type 2 diabetes risk: Cohort study

Individuals who experienced early-life exposure to the Great Chinese Famine are more likely to suffer from gut microbiome disruption and face a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes, say Chinese researchers.

Over 11,000 participants from 16 major provinces and megacities across China underwent comprehensive examination of gut microbial diversity, community structure and keystone taxa.

It was found that famine exposure during the first 1,000 days of life was significantly associated with alterations in gut microbial alpha diversity, with consistently lower diversity observed.

Plant-based diets linked to lower gestational diabetes risk: Chinese meta-analysis​  

A plant-based diet may have the potential to lower the risk of gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) during pregnancy, according to a systematic review and meta-analysis conducted by Chinese researchers.

Ten studies, comprising of 32,006 participants, revealed that a higher adherence to plant-based dietary patterns was associated with a reduced risk of developing GDM.

Adherence to plant-based diets during pregnancy also exhibited a significant link to lower GDM risk, whereas adherence before pregnancy showed no significant association.

Kale consumption significantly improves bowel movement and alters certain gut microbes – Japan RCT​  

The intake of kale has been found to modify the gut microbiota and increase defecation frequency, especially among those with low stool amounts, according to a four-week trial that took place in Japan.

Twenty-four women aged 20 to 59 with constipation tendencies were randomised to consume kale (collard-type kale and powdered whole kale leaf) or the control food.

It was found that kale consumption for four weeks had significantly increased the frequency of stool defecation in the control group, compared to that in the placebo group.

COVID-19 and omega-3: Meta-analysis suggests benefits, but urgent need for large-scale trials​  

A new meta-analysis suggests omega-3 supplementation may be beneficial for COVID-19 patients, but academics say there is an urgent need for large and rigorous trials to establish better data on timing, dosage, and mechanism of action.

The meta-analysis findings highlight a substantial association between omega-3 fatty acid treatment and a significant reduction in COVID-19 mortality.

Also, researchers observed a significantly lower neutrophil-to-lymphocyte ratio (NLR), indicative of the balance between systemic inflammation and immunity, on the seventh day of omega-3 fatty acid treatment.

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