Friday, April 12, 2013

Foam Rolling For Cardiovascular Health. Propolis For Muscle Protection. Melatonin For Insulin Sensitivity. Plus: Bananas, Pineapples, Oranges & Beer to Boost Your Melatonin Levels!

Among 18-35 year-old Canadians 80% present with premature hardening of the arteries that could potentially lead to an ischaemic event (LLSA).
Despite the fact that it ain't Saturday, yet, I decided to compile a couple of short news for you, also to make sure you re-appreciate the value of melatonin as a prerequisite to be and stay healthy and beautiful. It should therefore not come as a surprise to you that the SuppVersity Figure of the Week comes from the exact same context.

The exact serum value is 51.5 pg/ml melatonin and it is the cut-off point for decreased nocturnal melatonin as a significant marker of an increased risk of stroke (Atanassova. 2009). Accordingly, every 1.0 pg/ml  decrease in melatonin would be associated with a >2% increase in stroke risk with a 50% risk suffering from an ischaemic stroke for people of all ages with a 3 a.m. value for melatonin of approx. 25pg/ml.

 Foam roll yourself towards a healthier cardiovascular system

Who would have thought that: Foam rolling is good for something beside making fun of it! And if the results of the recent study from Nippon Sports University are applicable to everyone, it could be something as vital as the function of our arteries that will benefit from foam rolling the the adductor, hamstrings, quadriceps, iliotibial band and trapezius.

The Japanese scientists had a group of  seven men and three women (age, 19.9 ± 0.3 y; height, 162.7 ± 8.1 cm; weight, 60.6 ± 11.2 kg, means ± SD), all healthy and free of any overt chronic disease performed the self-myofascial release (SMR) with a 15 × 91-cm (diameter × length) uniform polystyrene roller.
Figure 1: Acute brachial-ankle pulse wave velocity and plasma NO concentration in healthy individuals before and after foam rolling aka self-myofascial release (Okamuto. 2013)
The upper and lower extremities and the trunk were moved across the roller, pressure (direct force) was directed at the lower sacrum, mid thoracic spine and posterior head.
"Pressure was adjusted by applying body weight to the roller and using the hands and feet to offset weight as required. The roller was placed under the target tissue area and the body was moved back and forth across the roller. Briefly, to accomplish SMR of the adductor, the thigh is extended and the roller is placed in the groin region with body prone on the floor. For SMR of the hamstrings, the lower extremities are extended and the roller is placed on the hamstrings with the hips unsupported.

For SMR of the quadriceps, the thigh is extended and the roller is placed on the quadriceps with the body prone on the floor. For SMR of the iliotibial band, the roller is placed on the iliotibial band with the body lateral on the floor.

You don't feel comfortable foam rolling? It's awkward? Yes, it is, but that's probably something you will get used to.
For SMR of the upper back, the hands are placed behind the head and the roller is positioned on the trapezius with the hips unsupported. The head is maintained in a neutral position with the ears and shoulders aligned. The bottom leg is raised slightly off floor. The hips are raised until they are unsupported and the head is stabilized in the neutral position.

The SMR proceeded in the order of adductors, hamstrings, quadriceps, iliotibial band and trapezius.

Each participant practiced two or three times to learn the correct foam rolling technique with the guidance of a trainer and performed 20 SMR repetitions on each muscle group at 1-min intervals." (Okamuto. 2013)
As you can see this protocol is a pretty time-consuming undertaking, which was however rewarded with significant

Bottom line: With this being the first study to examine the effects of foam rolling or to say it the sexy way "Self-Myofascial Release" we cannot tell whether or not the benficial effects on brachial-ankle pulse wave velocity and plasma NO concentration are (a) replicable in sick and old people who would certainly benefit to a greater extent than the healthy young adults in the study at hand, and whether these changes would (b) persist / reoccur, if you practiced foam-rolling on a regular basis. Therefore Oakmuto et al. may be right that their results suggest that "repeated long-term SMR might decrease baseline arterial stiffness" (Okamuto. 2013), but if you had the choice of taking a walk and foam rolling for 30min, I bet the former will be WAY superior to waddling around with higgledy-piggledy 100% paleo incompatible polystyrene ;-)

More evidence that propolis could promote muscle gain - at least in the elderly

With all the rage about protein anabolism we often tend to overlook that pumping air into a balloon with hundreds of holes in it is not the wisest thing to do... or to say it in plain English, we tend to underestimate the importance of anti-catabolic substances. And while this is particularly true for elderly individuals, in whom the catabolic side effects of exercise tend to eat away their gains, even younger folks could benefit from a reduction in the as of now exclusively detrimental effects of TNF-alpha.

Learn more about inflammation and skeletal muscle hypertrophy
A recent study from nowhere else than the Department of Chinese Martial Arts at the Chinese Culture University did now elucidate that the provision of 5 and 10 mg/kg of caffeic acid phenethyl ester (CAPE, HED 50-150mg per day), a phenolic compound isolated from propolis (the honey beehive propolis, not the fungus) effectively blunts the inflammatory assault in response to downhill running and could thus "protect [...] against eccentric exercise-induced skeletal muscle damage" and avert (a) over exertion and (b) potential atrophy (Shen. 2013).

It is however problematic that the TNF-alpha decline goes hand in hand with concomittant declines in OX2, iNOS, and production of IL-1β and MCP-1, all of which have been implicated as an integral part of the beneficial adaptive response to exercise. Genetic ablation of the MCP-1 gene for example lead to persistent macrophage accumulation in association with residual necrotic tissue and impaired muscle regeneration (Shireman. 2007).

Bottom line: As mentioned before a propolis supplement is probably more beneficial for older people or other trainees with health conditions that make them more susceptible to skeletal muscle catabolism. Whether this will be beneficial in young people is yet about as questionable as the whole COX-inhibitor for or against muscle growth conundrum, of which Trappe et al. wrote in a very recent review that they probably won't hamper muscular adaption in young and middle aged individuals and showed some promise in promoting the adaptation process in the older guys and gals (Trappe. 2013). For both "regular" COX inhibitors like aspirin, but also "exotic" supplements like propolis extracts it may thus depend on both timing & dosage  and age / baseline inflammation & ability to cope with it  - whether or not supplementing with respective compounds makes sense.

Melatonin supplementation doubles insulin sensitivity in old obese rodents

I know another rodent study, but if you look at the sleep problems your own older relatives have and the way similar patterns have become prevalent in ever-increasing parts of the younger generation, as well, even the mere possibility that the 2.1x increase in insulin sensitivity researchers fro the Department of Physiology and Biophysics at the Institute of Biomedical Sciences of the University of São Paulo describe in their soon-to-be published paper would warrant an N=1 experiment with melatonin (Zanuto. 2013). mesenchymal stem cells from oxidative damage and can be temporarily doubled by simply consuming tropical fruits even (pineapple < orange < banana, see figure 2; Sae-Teaw. 2012)
Figure 2: KITT–Glucose disappearance rate (%/min), weight change from week 0, periepididimal fat weight (left; Zanuto. 2013); effect of fruit extract from 1kg pineapples, 1kg oranges or two ripe bananas on serum melatonin in 12 healthy male healthy volunteers (left; Sae-Teaw. 2012)
This is all the more true, in view of the fact that the pineal hormone, of which you do find 60-170µg/l in beer (with higher values in beers with high alcohol content; cf. Garcia-Moreno ), has also been shown to protect rodents from ischaemic heart disease (at high doses of ~1.5mg/kg ; cf. Sehirli. 2013) and to be inversely associated with the incidence of stroke in humans (Atanassova. 2009).

Bottom line: Don't discount the value of natural and supplemental melatonin. If it was patentable it would maybe be the #1 prescription drug in the stressful an restless world of the 21st century. You think that's an exaggeration? Maybe, but if you just check out the few SuppVersity news on the matter, you will realize that it's only a minor exaggeration.

And in case you don't want to supplement. A decent amount of sleep, some testosterone boosting high alcohol beer as a "Post Workout Booze" (not really recommended) and the insulin sensitizing "6x Bananas à Day Protocol" you can also boost it the natural way ;-)

  • Atanassova PA, Terzieva DD, Dimitrov BD. Impaired nocturnal melatonin in acute phase of ischaemic stroke: cross-sectional matched case-control analysis. J Neuroendocrinol. 2009 Jul;21(7):657-63.
  • Garcia-Moreno H, Calvo J, Maldonado M. High levels of melatonin generated during the brewing process. J Pineal Res. 2012 Aug 1.
  • LLSA - Stroke at a Young Ag. < > retrieved April 12, 2013.
  • Liu X, Gong Y, Xiong K, Ye Y, Xiong Y, Zhuang Z, Luo Y, Jiang Q, He F. Melatonin mediates protective effects on inflammatory response induced by interleukin-1 beta in human mesenchymal stem cells. J Pineal Res. 2013 Jan 30.
  • Okamoto T, Masuhara M, Ikuta K. Self-Myofascial Release and Arterial Function. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. April 2013 [ahead of print]
  • Sae-Teaw M, Johns J, Johns NP, Subongkot S. Serum melatonin levels and antioxidant capacities after consumption of pineapple, orange, or banana by healthy male volunteers. J Pineal Res. 2012 Oct 5.
  • Sehirli AO, Koyun D, Tetik S, Ozsavcı D, Yiğiner O, Cetinel S, Tok OE, Kaya Z, Akkiprik M, Kılıç E, Sener G. Melatonin protects against ischemic heart failure in rats. J Pineal Res. 2013 Mar 15.
  • Shen YC, Yen JC, Liou KT. Ameliorative Effects of Caffeic Acid Phenethyl Ester on an Eccentric Exercise-Induced Skeletal Muscle Injury by Down-Regulating NF-κB Mediated Inflammation. Pharmacology. 2013 Apr 3;91(3-4):219-228. 
  • Shireman PK, Contreras-Shannon V, Ochoa O, Karia BP, Michalek JE, McManus LM. MCP-1 deficiency causes altered inflammation with impaired skeletal muscle regeneration. J Leukoc Biol. 2007 Mar;81(3):775-85.
  • Trappe TA, Liu SZ. Effects of Prostaglandins and COX Inhibiting Drugs on Skeletal Muscle Adaptations to Exercise. J Appl Physiol. 2013 Mar 28. 
  • Zanuto R, Siqueira-Filho MA, Caperuto LC, Bacurau RF, Hirata E, Peliciari-Garcia RA, do Amaral FG, Marçal AC, Ribeiro LM, Camporez JP, Carpinelli AR, Bordin S, Cipolla-Neto J, Carvalho CR. Melatonin improves insulin sensitivity independently of weight loss in old obese rats. J Pineal Res. 2013 Mar 30.