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8 June 2010

Ginger supplements may reduce pain after exercise: Study

Ginger may reduce the pain associated with muscle injury after exercising, offering amateur and professional athletes a natural pain reliever, suggests new data.

Both raw and heat-treated ginger reduced the pain associated with muscle injury by about 24 per cent, compared with placebo, according to findings published in The Journal of Pain.

“The primary novel finding was that supplementation with both raw and heat-treated ginger attenuated muscle pain intensity 24 hours after eccentric exercise,” wrote the researchers, led by Chris Black, PhD, from Georgia College and State University.

“Consumption of raw ginger resulted in a 25 per cent reduction while heat-treated ginger resulted in a 23 per cent reduction in muscle-pain intensity 24 hours post-exercise,” they added.

The rhizome of the ginger plant (Zingiber officinale) is a rich source of antioxidants, including gingerols, shogaols, zingerones and other ketone derivatives. According to Black and his co-workers from the University of Georgie, ginger’s pain reducing effects are biologically plausible with both in vitro and in vivo animal studies showing an effect of gingerols, shogaols, and zingerones on inflammatory compounds.

“[This suggests] ginger may have anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties akin to nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs,” stated the researchers.

In order to test this hypothesis, the researchers recruited 74 volunteers and randomly assigned them to consume two grams of raw or heat-treated ginger supplements for 11 days in a double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized design.

The subjects then performed 18 extensions of the elbow flexors with a heavy weight to induce moderate muscle injury to the arm. Arm function, inflammation, and pain were assessed prior to and for three days after exercise.

Burger diet linked to higher childhood asthma risk

Researchers from Germany, Spain and Britain who studied data on 50,000 children across the world found the link between burgers and asthma was strongest in rich nations where diets with high levels of junk food are more common.

A meat-heavy diet itself has no bearing on the prevalence of asthma, according to the scientists who conducted the study. Yet, frequent burger eating could be a signal for other lifestyle factors which raise asthma risk.

"This is a sign that the link is not strongly related to the food itself, but that burgers are a proxy for other lifestyle and environmental factors like obesity and lack of exercise," said Gabriele Nagel of the Institute of Epidemiology at Ulm University, Germany, who led the study.

She added, however, that there were "biologically plausible" links for the positive effects of a healthier diet, which could be down to the antioxidants found in fruit and vegetables, and the omega 3 polyunsaturated fatty acids in fish, which have anti-inflammatory properties.

"Fruit and vegetables contain antioxidants and other biologically active factors which may contribute to the favorable asthma," Nagel said.

In particular, she added, foods rich in vitamin C have been linked to better lung function and fewer asthma symptoms.

Around 1.1 million children currently receive treatment for asthma in Britain, while in the United States it is the most common chronic childhood disease, with around 10 million children diagnosed with it.

Nagel's team looked at data on 50,000 children aged between 8 and 12 years from 20 rich and poor countries around the world.

While diet was not linked to children being more prone to allergies in general, it did seem to influence the prevalence of asthma and wheezing, they found.

"Overall, more frequent consumption of fruit, vegetables and fish was associated with a lower lifetime prevalence of asthma, whereas high burger consumption was associated with higher lifetime asthma prevalence," they wrote in the study, which was published in Thorax, a British Medical Journal title.

This study adds to an existing body of evidence showing the health benefits of a so-called Mediterranean diet -- rich in fruit, vegetables, whole grains, nuts and fish -- including reduced risks of heart disease, diabetes, cancer and depression.

Chili Peppers Might Fight Fat

The stuff that makes chili peppers hot, capsaicin, may cause weight loss and fight fat buildup by triggering certain beneficial protein changes in the body.

A new study, done on rats, might help lead to treatments for human obesity, the researchers said.

Jong Won Yun at Daegu University in Korea and colleagues point out that obesity is a major public health threat worldwide, linked to diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, and other health problems. Laboratory studies have hinted that capsaicin may help fight obesity by decreasing calorie intake, shrinking fat tissue, and lowering fat levels in the blood. Nobody, however, knows exactly how capsaicin might trigger such beneficial effects.

In an effort to find out, the scientists fed high-fat diets with or without capsaicin to lab rats used to study obesity. The capsaicin-treated rats lost 8 percent of their body weight and showed changes in levels of at least 20 key proteins found in fat. The altered proteins work to break down fats.

"These changes provide valuable new molecular insights into the mechanism of the antiobesity effects of capsaicin," the scientists say.

The findings are detailed in the American Chemical Society's journal of Proteome Research.