Research Update: Miso Health Benefits

Dayna Dye

Do you order miso soup with your sushi? Turns out, this may be a healthful habit. Blog readers may recall a 2015 post that we published titled the “Magic of Miso” which reported the various benefits of this Japanese staple. Miso continues to reveal its benefits in both popular and scientific literature. Here is More on Miso!

What is Miso?

Miso, a fermented paste of soybeans, has a long history of culinary use among the Japanese, who are known for their longevity. The beans are fermented with koji (Aspergillus oryzae) that has been cultivated on rice or barley. Miso’s best-known usage is as the base of a soup that can be found on the menus of many Asian-themed restaurants in the U.S.

While many foods become more oxidized with time, fermented soy’s antioxidant capacity has been found to increase after eight to nine weeks, while lipid peroxidation levels remained low.1 Indeed, one can find miso on the market that has been aged from one to three years.

Miso Health Benefits

A review of bioactive peptides in soy enumerated their activities against oxidative stress, undesirable microbes, cancer, hypertension and immune dysfunction.2 A 2019 review of fermented soy products’ health benefits noted, “Several previous researches proved that soy products rich in protein can reduce the serum concentrations of total cholesterol, low-density lipoproteins (LDLs) and triglycerides if consumed instead of animal protein. Apart from these lipid-lowering effects, fermented soy products also proved to be effective in attenuating the effects of diabetes mellitus, blood pressure, cardiac disorders and cancer-related issues.”3

New research has found evidence of potential effects for fermented soy foods or miso against hepatitis A, hypertension, gastroesophageal reflux (GERD) and heart rate elevation in humans.4-8 In pre-clinical studies, miso appeared to be protective against stroke and visceral fat accumulation.9,10

Results from a meta-analysis of 330,826 participants in 23 studies, reported in the September 2019 issue of the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, found that people who were among the highest consumers of soy had a 10% lower average risk of mortality during follow-up in comparison with subjects whose intake was among the lowest.11 A 10 milligram per day increase in soy isoflavones (which are contained in miso) was associated with a 7% decrease in the risk of dying from any cancer and a 9% lower risk of dying specifically from breast cancer. “Our findings may support the current recommendations to increase intake of soy for greater longevity,” S.M. Nachvak and colleagues concluded.

The fact that miso, despite its salt content, is associated with lower blood pressure is of interest. A study that examined the effects of soy foods on blood pressure among 4,165 Japanese men and women found no effects for non-fermented soy foods on the development of hypertension. However, subjects whose intake of fermented soy products (defined as miso and natto) was among the top one-third of participants had a 28% lower risk of developing high blood pressure than those whose intake was among the lowest third.6 A trial that compared the effects of consuming miso soup to a control soy food for eight weeks in participants with high-normal or stage 1 hypertension found that miso lowered nighttime blood pressure.5 In rats with salt-induced hypertension that were given miso, systolic blood pressure was reduced, which the researchers suggested was due to an increase in salt and water excretion.12

In an investigation that evaluated the effects of soy foods among 1,053 men and 373 women, total fermented soy food intake and miso intake in men were associated with a reduction in serum concentrations of interleukin-6 (IL-6), a marker of inflammation. “Some inflammatory biomarkers including [IL-6], IL-18 and C-reactive protein (CRP) have been shown to be associated with increased risk of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and many types of cancer,” Xiaolin Yang and colleagues explain. They note that “Fermented soy foods have been shown to contain greater amounts of polyamines including spermidine than the amounts in nonfermented soy products, and polyamines have been shown to be associated with cardioprotection and lifespan extension.”13

In human liver cells, miso inhibited replication of the hepatitis A virus (HAV) and increased the expression of a heat shock protein known as glucose-regulated protein 78 (GRP78), which had previously been shown to inhibit hepatitis A virus replication. Authors N. N. Win and colleagues concluded that “Japanese miso extracts can be used as effective dietary supplements for severe hepatitis A.”4

It was reported this year that the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) is considering revocation of approval of a permitted claim that diets low in saturated fat and cholesterol that include soy might reduce the risk of heart disease. However, the results of a meta-analysis of 43 of the 46 trials identified by the FDA that compared the effects of soy protein to non-soy protein on cholesterol levels concluded that at least 75% of the trials revealed a reduction in LDL cholesterol and that soy protein reduced LDL by an average of 3% to 4% in adults.14 Final action on the FDA proposal has been scheduled for December, 2019.

Benefits of Miso Soup When Sick

A study published last year that included 9,364 men and women enrolled in the ongoing Nagahama Study in Japan revealed a reduction in esophageal reflux and stomach upset in association with miso soup intake.7 Authors Fumika Mano and colleagues note that several amino acids contained in miso soup may promote gastric emptying.

But the most popular use of miso soup remains as a remedy for colds and flu. Although its benefits in seasonal illnesses have yet to be reported in published trials or studies, there have been a few investigations into its effects on immunity.15,16 In addition to the immune-balancing effects of soy peptides and isoflavones, miso contains the bacterium Tetragenococcus halophilus.17One strain of T. halophilus was recently found to have strong immunomodulatory effects that led the investigators to conclude that it has potential as a probiotic.17 So, when making miso soup, be sure to mix in the miso at the end of the process rather than boiling it in hot water or broth, to ensure that its beneficial bacteria remain viable.

Although chicken soup is the traditional Western go-to cold and flu remedy, miso may prove to be a worthy contender. Try it the next time you notice the malaise that can precede an illness. People have reported feeling better immediately.

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  2. Agyei D. Recent Pat Food Nutr Agric. 2015;7(2):100-7.
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  17. Kumazawa T et al. PLoS One. 2018 Dec 26;13(12):e0208821.

Supporting Muscle Recovery with Tart Cherry Antioxidants

Marie Spano MS, RD, CSCS, CSSD

Why is muscle recovery so important? Training hard will give you results. However, if you push yourself during training, you may end up tired and with a decrease in strength in the days after you train. Muscle discomfort can interfere with movement. Your running motion may be off or it may be tough to completely bend or straighten your arm. Discomfort and changes in strength or movement can get in the way of your workouts. Let’s explore how tart cherries can help.

A Better Recovery Boost with Tart Cherries

In addition to zoning in on protein and carbohydrates after training, antioxidant compounds called anthocyanins can support recovery. Anthocyanins are potent compounds with a wide range of health-promoting properties,1-4 especially for your muscles.5 Antioxidant flavonoids including anthocyanins may benefit connective tissue by supporting tissue health, improving local circulation, and helping build a strong collagen matrix.6 Anthocyanin molecules give blueberries, raspberries, bilberries, and cherries their dark pigmentation. Tart cherries have a very high anthocyanin content.

Anthocyanins support exercise performance by promoting healthy blood flow and vascular function, supporting metabolic pathways, and inhibiting peripheral muscle fatigue.5 In a double-blind clinical trial, measurements that represent the body’s ability to use oxygen during physical performance (VO2 max) significantly increased in athletes who took 100 mg of anthocyanin daily for 6 weeks compared to a placebo.7

In addition to supporting exercise performance, anthocyanins are helpful for recovery as well. A clinical trial found tart cherry juice consumed twice per day (12 oz. per bottle) supported post-workout recovery.8 Eccentric exercise is when muscles get longer in response to a force. So, for instance, eccentric exercise includes the downward phase of a biceps curl or running downhill (hamstrings lengthen). Eccentric exercise is very effective for building strength but can also require greater focus on post-workout support of muscle recovery. In the study, the exercise-induced loss of strength following a workout was 22% with the placebo compared to only 4% with tart cherry juice.8

In a double-blind placebo-controlled trial in resistance-trained men, one group was given placebo while the other group supplemented with 480 mg CherryPURE®, a trademarked freeze dried Montmorency tart cherry skin powder, once daily for 10 days and up to 48-hours post-exercise. The men in the tart cherry group perceived less muscle discomfort in their vastus medialis and vastus lateralis (thigh muscles) than those in the placebo group. The tart cherry group also experienced smaller changes in serum creatinine, a marker of muscle damage, and total protein over time and from pre-exercise levels compared to the placebo group.9

Tart cherry juice is also beneficial for recovery from endurance training. In a randomized controlled trial, consuming tart cherry juice (355 mL) twice daily over seven days provided substantial relief in muscle discomfort after a strenuous long-distance running event compared to placebo.10 Also, marathon runners given tart cherry juice for five days before a race, on race day, and for two days after the race experienced significantly faster recovery of isometric strength and muscle function compared to a placebo group.11

In a double-blind placebo-controlled study in endurance-trained runners and triathletes, participants were given either placebo or 480 mg CherryPURE® once daily for 10 days, including race day, and up to 48-hours post-run. Soreness perception in the medial quadriceps was 34% lower pre-run in the tart cherry group compared to placebo.9,12

How does tart cherry extract differ from tart cherry juice?

The phytonutrients in CherryPURE® freeze dried Montmorency tart cherry skin powder are protected by a natural skin matrix; this natural carrier results in a product that may be closer to the bioavailability of a whole cherry. In contrast, the phytonutrients in tart cherry juice have no such protection. The importance of this natural carrier skin matrix to the phytonutrients is especially important in the context of human digestion. CherryPURE® freeze dried Montmorency tart cherry skin powder is naturally protected, which means the phytonutrients found in the powder may be more bioavailable than the phytonutrients found in tart cherry juice.

Phytopreserve Harvest Technology cools the internal temperature of the individual tart cherries from 94 degrees to 38 degrees within an hour of being picked and then frozen within 24 hours. As soon as cherries are picked from the tree, anthocyanin potency degrades quickly. Freezing captures and maintains anthocyanin levels. Thus, this “Phytopreserve Harvest Technology” ensures that CherryPURE® maximizes the phytonutrient potential of each individual cherry.

Whether you are a marathon runner or exercising to stay in shape and live a healthy life, Tart Cherry with CherryPURE® by Life Extension is an excellent addition to your post-workout regimen. Tart Cherry with CherryPURE® can support recovery of isometric strength and muscle function after exercise, making it a great part of your post-workout routine.

It’s important to regularly assess your fitness and nutrition regimen and figure out where you can make improvements. Regularly making changes to your training program can keep motivation high and ensure your body is still being challenged. However, your recovery nutrition can stay consistent as long as it is helping you stay energized and minimizes muscle discomfort. Muscle requires fuel to stay healthy and strong. Protein, carbohydrates and tart cherries are an ideal combination for maximum recovery. Before starting a new supplement, check with your registered dietitian or physician.

About the Author: Marie A. Spano, MS, RD, CSCS, CSSD,is a nutrition communications expert and one of the country’s leading sports nutritionists. She enjoys the challenge of communicating scientific information in an approachable, understandable format to a variety of audiences. Spano has appeared on NBC, ABC, Fox and CBS affiliates, and authored hundreds of magazine articles and trade publication articles, written book chapters, marketing materials and web copy on a variety of topics ranging from novel food ingredients to preventing sarcopenia. She is the lead author of the college textbook Nutrition for Sport, Exercise and Health and co-editor of the NSCA’s Guide to Exercise and Sport Nutrition (Human Kinetics Publishers). A three-sport collegiate athlete, Spano earned her master’s in nutrition from the University of Georgia and her bachelor’s degree in exercise and sports science from the University of North Carolina, Greensboro (UNCG). Spano is a member of the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) and the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND).

CherryPURE® is a registered trademark of Shoreline Fruit, LLC.

  1. Krga I, Milenkovic D. Anthocyanins: From Sources and Bioavailability to Cardiovascular-Health Benefits and Molecular Mechanisms of Action. Journal of agricultural and food chemistry. 2019;67(7):1771-1783.
  2. Nomi Y, Iwasaki-Kurashige K, Matsumoto H. Therapeutic Effects of Anthocyanins for Vision and Eye Health. Molecules (Basel, Switzerland). 2019;24(18).
  3. Winter AN, Bickford PC. Anthocyanins and Their Metabolites as Therapeutic Agents for Neurodegenerative Disease. Antioxidants (Basel). 2019;8(9).
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  5. Cook MD, Willems MET. Dietary Anthocyanins: A Review of the Exercise Performance Effects and Related Physiological Responses. International journal of sport nutrition and exercise metabolism. 2019;29(3):322-330.
  6. Teixeira S. Bioflavonoids: proanthocyanidins and quercetin and their potential roles in treating musculoskeletal conditions. J Orthop Sports Phys Ther. 2002;32(7):357-363.
  7. Yarahmadi M, Askari G, Kargarfard M, et al. The effect of anthocyanin supplementation on body composition, exercise performance and muscle damage indices in athletes. International journal of preventive medicine. 2014;5(12):1594-1600.
  8. Connolly DA, McHugh MP, Padilla-Zakour OI, Carlson L, Sayers SP. Efficacy of a tart cherry juice blend in preventing the symptoms of muscle damage. British journal of sports medicine. 2006;40(8):679-683; discussion 683.
  9. Levers K, Dalton R, Galvan E, et al. Effects of powdered Montmorency tart cherry supplementation on an acute bout of intense lower body strength exercise in resistance trained males. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition. 2015;12:41.
  10. Kuehl KS, Perrier ET, Elliot DL, Chesnutt JC. Efficacy of tart cherry juice in reducing muscle pain during running: a randomized controlled trial. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition. 2010;7:17.
  11. Howatson G, McHugh MP, Hill JA, et al. Influence of tart cherry juice on indices of recovery following marathon running. Scandinavian journal of medicine & science in sports. 2010;20(6):843-852.
  12. Levers K, Dalton R, Galvan E, et al. Effects of powdered Montmorency tart cherry supplementation on acute endurance exercise performance in aerobically trained individuals. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition. 2016;13:22.

Maximum Muscle for Better Health and Longevity

Marie Spano MS, RD, CSCS, CSSD

Adults who are stronger may live longer, healthier lives. Greater muscle strength means you can do more. Instead of sitting on the sidelines of life, you’ll be in the game. Imagine canoeing, hiking, spending long days at amusement parks and swimming in the ocean through your later years of life. Greater strength can also keep you independent in your older years and therefore in your own home for a longer period of time.

Maintaining Muscle with Movement

The best way to maintain muscle is by using it. If you don’t use it, you lose it. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention physical activity guidelines for adults suggest doing resistance training 2 or more times per week. If you are finding it tough to fit in any exercise, don’t let these recommendations alarm you. You don’t need fancy equipment to fit exercise in throughout the day. Also, many daily activities can give your muscles a workout.

One of the best ways to get physically and mentally energized is to fit in exercise breaks during the day. Ten minutes of climbing stairs, wall squats, exercise with resistance bands, pushups (on the floor or against a wall) or any other type of exercise will benefit your health. Try resistance training in 10 – 15 minute increments throughout the day. If you work in a dress and heels, carve out time during your lunch break. Or, keep small weights at your desk and do arm curls and tricep kickbacks.

In addition to working out, there are many activities in daily living that can double as resistance training. Using a vacuum, garden tillers or other large equipment can certainly give your body a workout. Moving furniture, lifting boxes and cleaning your car can also support muscle health. The most important thing is to get moving and stay moving. Look for opportunities to add physical activity every day.

Protein for Muscle

In addition to moving, dietary habits matter when it comes to muscle. Protein intake and total daily calories are the two most important considerations. While the general recommendation for protein intake is around 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight daily, adults who are active need approximately 1.2 – 1.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day to maximize muscle growth and repair.[i] The amount of protein consumed per meal is also important. Studies have found adults generally need 25 – 30 grams of high-quality protein per meal. Some adults who have more muscle may need more than this per meal or more than 3 meals to meet total daily protein needs.[ii] High-quality protein is easily digestible and contains all essential amino acids (all are needed to maximally stimulate muscle growth). Most animal-based proteins, including dairy, beef, poultry and eggs, contain all the essential amino acids. Soy is one of the only vegetarian protein sources that contains all the essential amino acids and therefore, for maximum muscle growth, other plant proteins need to be combined to make up for any missing essential amino acids.

Related Article:  Pea Protein as a Vegan Protein Powder Option

Many people, especially those who crash diet, will lose muscle when they lose weight. To prevent this, it is important to consume greater amounts of protein to prevent the breakdown of muscle during weight loss. Muscle can be broken down and the amino acids used as a source of energy to make up for a lack of calories. Anyone on a diet may need up to 2.4 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day.[iii], [IV]

Why is Muscle Recovery so Important?

Training hard will give you results. However, if you push yourself during training, you may end up tired, sore and with a decrease in strength in the days after you train. Excess muscle soreness can interfere with movement. Your running motion may be off or it may be tough to completely bend or straighten your arm. Soreness, strength loss and changes in movement can get in the way of your workouts. Check out the Life Extension Exercise Enhancement Protocol  for more information on how to help maximize the health and longevity benefits of exercise.

Recovery nutrition refers to what you eat in the hours after you train. Paying attention to recovery nutrition can help you make the most of your training sessions, minimize muscle soreness, restore strength and keep your energy high. Everyone, regardless of their fitness level, should pay attention to recovery nutrition to ensure they get the most from every training session.

As a professional sports dietitian, I find athletes feel much better if they eat or take a protein shake soon after training. They have more energy the next day and they are not as sore. Post-training carbohydrates are used as energy to build and repair muscle and restore glycogen levels – your fuel tank of energy stored in muscle. More glycogen in muscle means improved endurance during your next bout of training.

In addition to carbohydrates, it is important to get a good serving of protein within 2 hours after training. After you train you are breaking down more muscle than you are building. A good amount of protein can flip this to greater muscle building.

Protein Supplements: What to Look For

Protein supplements are great for recovery because they are convenient and offer the amino acids you need. If you are in a rush or don't feel like eating, a protein supplement can help fill a nutrition gap. Protein supplements can also help you re-hydrate.

Related Article: How Whey Protein Fights Aging

Protein supplements come in powder form, ready to drink (RTD, liquid), gummies and bars. Powder protein supplements are typically the most cost effective. Gummies and bars have a lower protein content per serving than a powder or RTD. However, all are viable options. If you haven’t eaten in 4-5 hours and are about to work out, it is a good idea to consume protein pre-workout. Consuming protein at this time helps ensure you are getting regular servings of protein to up-regulate muscle growth. Otherwise, it is not necessary to consume protein before a workout. Instead, consume protein from food or a supplement within 2 hours after training.

In addition to zoning in on protein and carbohydrate after training, antioxidant compounds called anthocyanins can support recovery. Return to our blog tomorrow to read the research behind how antioxidants from tart cherries can support muscle recovery!

About the Author: Marie A. Spano, MS, RD, CSCS, CSSD,is a nutrition communications expert and one of the country’s leading sports nutritionists. She enjoys the challenge of communicating scientific information in an approachable, understandable format to a variety of audiences. Spano has appeared on NBC, ABC, Fox and CBS affiliates, and authored hundreds of magazine articles and trade publication articles, written book chapters, marketing materials and web copy on a variety of topics ranging from novel food ingredients to preventing sarcopenia. She is the lead author of the college textbook Nutrition for Sport, Exercise and Health and co-editor of the NSCA’s Guide to Exercise and Sport Nutrition (Human Kinetics Publishers). A three-sport collegiate athlete, Spano earned her master’s in nutrition from the University of Georgia and her bachelor’s degree in exercise and sports science from the University of North Carolina, Greensboro (UNCG). Spano is a member of the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) and the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND).


[i] Phillips SM1, Van Loon LJ. Dietary protein for athletes: from requirements to optimum adaptation. J Sports Sci 2011;29 Suppl 1:S29-38.

[ii] Lonnie M, Hooker E, Brunstrom JM, Corfe BM, Green MA, Watson AW, Williams EA, Stevenson EJ, Penson S, Johnstone AM. Protein for Life: Review of Optimal Protein Intake, Sustainable Dietary Sources and the Effect on Appetite in Ageing Adults. Nutrients 2018; 10(3): 360.

[iii] Phillips SM. A Brief Review of Higher Dietary Protein Diets in Weight Loss: A Focus on Athletes. Sports Med 2014; 44(Suppl 2): 149–153.

[iv] Pasiakos SM, Cao JJ, Margolis LM, Sauter ER, Whigham LD, McClung JP, Rood JC, Carbone JW, Combs GF Jr, Young AJ. Effects of high-protein diets on fat-free mass and muscle protein synthesis following weight loss: a randomized controlled trial. FASEB J 2013;27(9):3837-47.

PQQ’s Protective Roles in Parkinson’s Disease

Juanita Enogieru, MS

Parkinson’s disease is a degenerative disorder of the the dopamine-producing neurons (nerve cells) in a region of central nervous system (CNS). It occurs when the brain called the substantia nigra become damaged or die. When the neurons are impaired, they produce less dopamine, leading to the inability to control body movements.1,2

Emerging research provides evidence that inflammation, oxidative damage to the neurons that control movement, and malfunctioning mitochondria play a role in the neurodegenerative aspect of the disease.3,4 Furthermore, Parkinson’s disease is associated with the accumulation of a protein known as alpha-synuclein that can be toxic. Accumulation of this protein can cause an increase in toxin accumulation in the mitochondria, leading to damage that disrupts mitochondrial function and may lead to the death of neurons. Alpha-synuclein also triggers inflammatory changes that contribute to cell death. These effects may be involved in producing Parkinson’s disease symptoms.5

Pyrroloquinoline quinone (PQQ) is a powerful antioxidant nutrient that may be promising for managing Parkinson’s disease progression.4,6 Human clinical studies should be conducted to further investigate the benefits of PQQ for individuals with Parkinson’s disease.

How can oxidative stress lead to Parkinson’s disease?

Various biochemical processes in the body can lead to the production of free radicals, such as the creation of cellular energy using oxygen. The body utilizes an endogenous antioxidant defense system to remove free radicals from the body. Oxidative stress can arise when there is a disturbance in the balance between the production of free radicals, also known as reactive oxygen species (ROS), and antioxidant defenses.7

As oxidative damage can lead to neuron death, it is a critical factor in neurodegenerative diseases and is an underlying factor in Parkinson’s disease progression.8,9

Many Parkinson’s disease strategies focus on reducing oxidative stress. Preclinical studies have shown PQQ to be a potent antioxidant that can protect neurons from oxidative damage.4,6,10 In fact, one cell study showed that after cells were exposed to a toxin that induces oxidative damage, PQQ effectively scavenged superoxide (a reactive oxygen species), protected cells from death and prevented fragmentation of the DNA.10

How is mitochondrial dysfunction linked to Parkinson’s disease progression?

Mitochondria are organelles that produce energy, known as adenosine triphosphate, or ATP. ATP is used for many processes in the body, including neurological and muscular function for movement. When mitochondria are damaged or destroyed, cells do not function properly. An important feature of mitochondrial dysfunction is a decrease in the number of mitochondria, as well as inefficient energy production due to decreased functionality.11 Furthermore, mitochondria are vulnerable to damage from oxidative stress. Mutations in certain genes linked to familial cases of Parkinson’s disease impact mitochondrial processes, function and integrity. The changes seen with these mutations are strongly associated with an increase in mitochondrial dysfunction in dopaminergic cells of the substantia nigra.9

In addition to PQQ’s ability to lower levels of oxidative stress, PQQ is also noted for supporting the growth of new mitochondria through gene activation.12-14 PQQ further supports mitochondria by activating genes that fix damaged DNA, as mitochondria have poor DNA repair systems.15 In an animal model of Parkinson’s, PQQ prevented mitochondrial dysfunction and exerted neuroprotective effects.16

What is alpha-synuclein’s part in Parkinson’s disease?

Another hallmark of Parkinson’s disease is the formation of Lewy bodies and Lewy neurites, which are primarily made up of alpha-synuclein.17 Alpha-synuclein sounds like a space station in a sci-fi movie, but it is a protein found abundantly in the brains of Parkinson’s patients.

Misfolded alpha-synuclein proteins form abnormal aggregates (clumps) of protein fibrils in nerve cells. Specific forms of alpha-synuclein can accumulate to levels that contribute to neurodegeneration. Over time, clumps of alpha-synuclein may increase to a point where they spread and contribute to Parkinson’s disease progression. In Parkinson’s disease, oxidative stress is noted as being a potential contributor to protein fibril formation.18

Preclinical studies have demonstrated that PQQ can prevent the development of protein fibrils by attaching to a specific region on the alpha-synuclein molecule.19-21 As such, PQQ is being explored as a potential candidate for the prevention of Parkinson’s disease progression.

The bottom line

It has been estimated that the number of individuals in North America with Parkinson’s disease will rise to approximately 930,000 in 2020 and 1,238,000 in 2030 based on the US Census Bureau population projections.22 PQQ’s ability to scavenge free radicals, inhibit the formation of alpha-synuclein aggregates and offer well-rounded support of mitochondrial health may make it an important nutrient for improving quality of life for those with Parkinson’s disease.

About the author: Juanita Enogieru is a nutritionist and Life Extension Wellness Specialist working with the community to build healthy and balanced nutritional habits. While pursuing an education in medicine and attempting to help her body heal, it became apparent that there was a gap in medical practices with regard to nutrition and an abundance of misinformation about balanced nutritional practices. After obtaining a Bachelor’s Degree in Health Education from the University of Florida, she worked with non-profit organizations to deliver nutrition education to community members. Wanting to learn more about nutrition and how herbs could be used to help the body heal, she pursued a Master’s Degree in Dietetics and Nutrition and shortly after began working with Life Extension. With the understanding that everyone has a unique biochemical individuality, it is vital to address each individual based on their specific needs and biochemical make-up. Her mission now is to offer guidance, support and education to individuals based on balanced nutritional insights that address the mind, body and spirit.

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  18. Xu L, Pu J. Alpha-Synuclein in Parkinson's Disease: From Pathogenetic Dysfunction to Potential Clinical Application. Parkinsons Dis. 2016;2016:1720621.
  19. Kobayashi M, Kim J, Kobayashi N, et al. Pyrroloquinoline quinone (PQQ) prevents fibril formation of alpha-synuclein. Biochemical and biophysical research communications. 2006;349(3):1139-1144.
  20. Kim J, Harada R, Kobayashi M, Kobayashi N, Sode K. The inhibitory effect of pyrroloquinoline quinone on the amyloid formation and cytotoxicity of truncated alpha-synuclein. Mol Neurodegener. 2010;5:20.
  21. Kim J, Kobayashi M, Fukuda M, et al. Pyrroloquinoline quinone inhibits the fibrillation of amyloid proteins. Prion. 2010;4(1):26-31.
  22. Marras C, Beck JC, Bower JH, et al. Prevalence of Parkinson's disease across North America. NPJ Parkinsons Dis. 2018;4:21.

Let’s Talk about Gut Health and Probiotics with Marisa Moore, RDN

Marisa Moore, MBA, RDN, LD

What is gut health?

Gut health has become a buzzword over the past decade. Over the years, recognizing the importance of gut health has gone from simply focusing on what we eat and digestion to its impact on overall wellness.

But let’s back up a bit to understand why. The gastrointestinal tract (or GI tract) is essential for moving food from the mouth throughout the body, converting that food into nutrients our body can absorb, and eliminating waste.1 However, the GI tract is more than a pathway for absorbing nutrients. Its health can impact the entire body.

Growing research suggests that gut health goes well beyond good digestion.2 It may have an impact on the immune system and mood.3-5 Research on gut bacteria continues to grow and may be a key factor in understanding and maintaining gut health.

Disruptions to the GI Tract

Dietary and lifestyle patterns can affect the GI tract.

Gut microbiota—the microbe population living in the intestines—is sensitive to a variety of factors including lifestyle, dietary patterns, environmental factors and aging.6 Temporary changes like travel can have an impact. But daily habits have the greatest influence over time. Changes in what you eat—particularly food quality and excessive alcohol intake—significantly affect gut symbiosis7; that is, how your gut bacteria get along and maintain balance.

Skimping on fruits and vegetables may starve gut bacteria and affect their ability to thrive. As such it’s important to provide gut bacteria with a constant supply of fuel for optimal balance and health.

There’s now evidence that the Western-type diet—higher in fat and lower in fiber—can result in a shift in the microbial balance of the gut. Researchers are also studying how ultra-processed foods might affect gut. On the other hand, a diet high in sources of complex carbohydrates and fiber, such as legumes, fruits and vegetables and whole grains, can support the growth of healthy microbial populations.8,9

Further, there’s some evidence that our gut microbes affect sleep and might influence our circadian rhythm. The gut microbiome plays a key role in many different body systems. When it’s out of balance, we might experience sleep disturbances and become more susceptible to stress. Evidence suggests that the relationship between circadian rhythm and the gut microbiome may be bidirectional. 10 Though research exploring the gut-brain connection is in its infancy and largely based on animal models, it may shed light on how an imbalance in the microbiome might impact our mood, sleep, and mental health.11

What are Probiotics?

Probiotics are microorganisms that may provide a health benefit upon ingestion. These beneficial bacteria help us absorb nutrients and fight off unwanted bacteria in the gut. You can get probiotics from food or supplements.12

Getting probiotics regularly may help you establish more healthy bacteria in the gut. And that comes with benefits. Research suggests that probiotics offer strain-specific health benefits. These include a potential positive impact on the immune system, bowel regularity, mood and more.2

That’s probiotics. But what about prebiotics?

Prebiotics help feed gut bacteria. Prebiotics are largely indigestible carbohydrates or fibers found naturally in certain foods including chicory root, sunchokes (or Jerusalem artichokes), bananas, garlic, onions, asparagus and oats. Prebiotics are fermented in the gut to help gut bacteria thrive.

An easy way to remember the difference is that prebiotics are food for the friendly bacteria in the gut.13,14

Probiotics and Nutrition

Yogurt, kefir and pickled vegetables like kimchi and sauerkraut are a few top food sources of probiotics. For a daily dose of probiotics, you might enjoy Greek yogurt and fresh fruit for a snack or try kefir in a breakfast smoothie to effortlessly add probiotics to your morning routine.

If you’re curious about how to get the most bang for your bite, there are a few things to consider.

  • Look for yogurt and kefir with live and active cultures. It’s often noted on the packaging. And try to eat the yogurt sooner than later since the number of cultures may decline over time depending on storage conditions and packaging.15
  • Though pickled vegetables contain some probiotics, it’s often difficult to determine just how much. Plus, pasteurized fermented foods may not have as many probiotics as those that are not.

Healthful diet with probiotic supplementation

Different probiotic supplements offer different potential benefits.

Benefits may be strain-specific. That is, the type of probiotic supplement you take should contain strains supported by research.

Remember that not all probiotics are created equal. This means that one Lactobacillus supplement is not necessarily like another. From differences in potency to manufacturing practices and storage, and the research backing up the specific strains they use, supplements vary. Choose products supported by clinical research and opt for a high-quality supplement brand you trust.

FLORASSIST® GI with Phage Technology

Studies show that gut health is influenced by a number of factors. Probiotic supplements may help to have a healthy and protective balance. Technological innovations are making this even easier.

You have to do your research to find the right products. And since you’re here, you’ve already taken the first step.

Life Extension offers several FLORASSIST® probiotics, each with its own health benefits. Life Extension FLORASSIST® with Phage Technology combines potent probiotics with innovative bacteriophage technology and takes a dual-action approach to support gut health.
Here are the top benefits at a glance:

  • Probiotic blend with 15 billion colony forming units (CFU)
  • Innovative TetraPhage Blend affects unwanted bacteria
  • Supports the growth of probiotic bacteria
  • Promotes digestion and stomach health

You can take comfort in knowing that the Phage technology is designed to only affect undesirable bacteria, leaving your existing good bacteria to thrive and create the ideal balance in your gut.

Synergy: supplements and a healthy diet

We know that a healthy diet is a key to lifelong health. But sometimes you need a little help. And some strains can help support the immune system from seasonal immune challenges.19 These are a few ways to use supplements to complement a healthy diet. And eating probiotic-rich foods doesn’t keep you from also incorporating supplements.

When transitioning from a heavily processed diet to incorporate more whole foods, take a small step approach. Going too fast can be overwhelming and may lead you to just give up. Think about what you can add to make it easier. Try pre-chopped or frozen vegetables for a dinnertime shortcut. Add big handfuls of spinach to a pasta dish or try healthy dishes when you’re out to eat. If, for example, you’re a big macaroni and cheese fan, add in some chopped cauliflower for a vegetable boost.

The Bottom Line

The best way to maintain a healthy gut microbiome is through a healthy whole foods diet including plenty of probiotic- and prebiotic-rich foods. Probiotic supplements can help complement this diet to improve gut health and other parts of the body as well.

About the Author: Marisa Moore, MBA, RDN, LD is a nationally recognized registered dietitian nutritionist and communications and culinary nutrition expert. Her integrative and practical approach to providing healthy and delicious recipes coupled with science-based nutrition advice is regularly featured in the nation’s leading media outlets including CNN, the TODAY Show, Dr. Oz. Show, Women’s Health, Prevention, and many more. She is a consultant to food and nutrition companies, contributing editor for Food and Nutrition Magazine, contributor to People magazine and other national publications. Before launching her consultancy, Marisa worked as an outpatient dietitian, corporate nutritionist for a restaurant chain, and she managed the employee worksite nutrition program at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Connect with Marisa at

  1. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Your Digestive System & How it Works. Updated 12/2017. Accessed 10/8/2019.
  2. Khanna S, Tosh PK. A clinician's primer on the role of the microbiome in human health and disease. Mayo Clin Proc. 2014;89(1):107-114.
  3. Hemarajata P, Versalovic J. Effects of probiotics on gut microbiota: mechanisms of intestinal immunomodulation and neuromodulation. Therapeutic advances in gastroenterology. 2013;6(1):39-51.
  4. Huang TT, Lai JB, Du YL, Xu Y, Ruan LM, Hu SH. Current Understanding of Gut Microbiota in Mood Disorders: An Update of Human Studies. Front Genet. 2019;10:98.
  5. Liu L, Zhu G. Gut-Brain Axis and Mood Disorder. Frontiers in psychiatry. 2018;9:223.
  6. Hasan N, Yang H. Factors affecting the composition of the gut microbiota, and its modulation. PeerJ. 2019;7:e7502.
  7. Mutlu EA, Gillevet PM, Rangwala H, et al. Colonic microbiome is altered in alcoholism. American journal of physiology Gastrointestinal and liver physiology. 2012;302(9):G966-978.
  8. Martinez KB, Leone V, Chang EB. Western diets, gut dysbiosis, and metabolic diseases: Are they linked? Gut Microbes. 2017;8(2):130-142.
  9. Zinocker MK, Lindseth IA. The Western Diet-Microbiome-Host Interaction and Its Role in Metabolic Disease. Nutrients. 2018;10(3).
  10. Li Y, Hao Y, Fan F, Zhang B. The Role of Microbiome in Insomnia, Circadian Disturbance and Depression. Frontiers in psychiatry. 2018;9:669.
  11. Foster JA, Rinaman L, Cryan JF. Stress & the gut-brain axis: Regulation by the microbiome. Neurobiology of stress. 2017;7:124-136.
  12. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. Probiotics: What You Need To Know. Updated 8/2019. Accessed 10/8/2019.
  13. Ferrario C, Statello R, Carnevali L, et al. How to Feed the Mammalian Gut Microbiota: Bacterial and Metabolic Modulation by Dietary Fibers. Front Microbiol. 2017;8:1749.
  14. Davani-Davari D, Negahdaripour M, Karimzadeh I, et al. Prebiotics: Definition, Types, Sources, Mechanisms, and Clinical Applications. Foods. 2019;8(3).
  15. Ferdousi R, Rouhi M, Mohammadi R, Mortazavian AM, Khosravi-Darani K, Homayouni Rad A. Evaluation of probiotic survivability in yogurt exposed to cold chain interruption. Iranian journal of pharmaceutical research : IJPR. 2013;12(Suppl):139-144.
  16. McFarland LV, Evans CT, Goldstein EJC. Strain-Specificity and Disease-Specificity of Probiotic Efficacy: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Front Med (Lausanne). 2018;5:124.
  17. Issa I, Moucari R. Probiotics for antibiotic-associated diarrhea: do we have a verdict? World J Gastroenterol. 2014;20(47):17788-17795.
  18. McFarland LV. Meta-analysis of probiotics for the prevention of antibiotic associated diarrhea and the treatment of Clostridium difficile disease. The American journal of gastroenterology. 2006;101(4):812-822.
  19. Yang G, Liu ZQ, Yang PC. Treatment of allergic rhinitis with probiotics: an alternative approach. North American journal of medical sciences. 2013;5(8):465-468.

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