Friday , October 18 2019

Count Your Mesos

Mesonutrients are the mini-heroes behind superfood powers. Here’s how to get your body’s daily dose.

The hippest word in wellness serves as proof that good stuff resides in the middle. Meet the mesonutrients (mesos being the Greek word for ‘inside’ or ‘middle’). “They’re the active compounds found within ‘superfoods’,” says clinical specialist dietitian Holly Dempsey. We suspect that you already tapped into this trend long before mesonutrients got their buzzy new moniker (curcumin, for instance, found in turmeric, is the reason the latte had a wellbeing boost). But others are more niche.

So, why are they being talked about now as if they’re the cutting edge of nutritional science? Good question! Turns out, working foods containing mesonutrients into your diet may not be enough to reap the nutritional rewards. Just one example? That turmeric latte: the mesonutrient curcumin takes credit for turmeric’s anti-inflammatory properties, but you’d have to chug 11 a day in order to benefit. The fact these tiny-but-mighty heroes are often present in such small amounts has given rise to a trend called ‘meso-dosing’ – using supps to boost your dietary intake of mesonutrients. Read on for the DL.

What the Meso? BERBERINES

Where can I find it?

In barberries and dried goldenseal root, obvs. (No, we haven’t heard of them either.) Until your local Coles catches up, you’re best off searching online for berberine in its naturally occurring – if unusual – forms.

What’s it good for?

There’s hype surrounding its potential to help balance blood sugar levels and reduce cholesterol, but there’s a caveat. “It can inhibit some natural enzymes,” warns Dempsey. “This can lead to worrying interactions with drugs – including countering antibiotics – which can even cause cardiotoxicity in combination with certain medication.” We’re talking heart damage. Dempsey suggests seeking medical advice before consuming berberinecontaining foods and supps if you are taking antibiotics.

Meso-dose it

Due to the obscure ingredients this meso is found in, it’s best to stick with supplements. But expect to see more research about this compound, and its benefits and risks.

What the Meso? CURCUMIN

Where can I find it?

Inside trendy turmeric – now popping up mixed into kimchi, kombucha and a hipster coffee near you. Not your scene? Get your fix via a classic dhal curry.

What’s it good for?

Research has proven it has antioxidant power, which, for a start, boosts skin health and strengthens immunity. According to one Oncogene study, curcumin is a more potent anti-inflammatory than ibuprofen and aspirin. The cherry on the turmeric latte? A meta-analysis of trials on curcumin published in JAMDA showed promising results in combating depression.

Meso-dose it

Typically, curcuminoid studies use doses upwards of 1g, but that’s the pure stuff. The curcumin content of turmeric is about 3 per cent by weight, so we’re talking 0.33g of turmeric (that’s 11 lattes). Top tip? Adding black pepper can enhance absorption by 2000 per cent. Or you could just take a supplement.

What the Meso? ANTHOCYANINS

Where can I find it?

Pick up some purple produce. Anthocyanins are found in their highest concentrations in the lesser-known chokeberries, black raspberries and bilberries. Stock up on red and blue, too: think cherries, strawberries, blueberries, red onions, kidney beans and eggplant skin.

What’s it good for?

One European Journal of Nutrition study linked cherry juice with improved memory and cognition in patients with mild-to-moderate dementia. Dubious? Well, the most conclusive study so far was done with obese rats, not people. There’s actually better evidence backing anthocyanins’ role in lowering the risk of cardiovascular disease, as one Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition meta-analysis shows.

Meso-dose it

Clinical trials ran with doses from 80mg to 450mg of anthocyanins a day. Bearing in mind that you can reap 400mg from a 250g punnet of blueberries, you’re probably getting your fill without trying.

What the Meso? EPIGALLO CATECHIN GALLATE

Where can I find it?

Is it tea you’re looking for? Good. EGCG – as it’s known in the biz – is behind green tea’s wellness credentials, but it’s also found in white tea and, in smaller quantities, in a regular cuppa.

What’s it good for?

This natural antioxidant helps prevent cell damage (which gives it anti-ageing kudos), and has been proven to improve insulin sensitivity and balance blood sugar, which may help reduce the risk of type-2 diabetes.

Meso-dose it

Doses ranging from 270mg to 500mg a day have been proven to have healthboosting benefits. However, new guidelines suggest that there could be some association between daily intakes exceeding 800mg and liver damage. No need to swear off the tea, though; it’d take about four cups of top-quality tea (and a fair few trips to the loo) to take your dose to 300mg.

What the Meso? LYCOPENE

Where can I find it?

You’ll find lycopene in red and pink foods. They are in their highest concentration in sun-dried tomatoes, but are also present in fresh ones, as well as watermelon, guava and pink grapefruit.

What’s it good for?

Keeping free radicals in check and protecting your body against oxidative stress means good news for skin, and bouncing back from colds. More specifically, a Frontiers in Pharmacology review shows there’s evidence to suggest that lycopene can have a positive impact on cholesterol. Two often-referenced German studies also point to lycopene’s efficacy in reducing skin reactions after sun exposure (tomatoes obviously didn’t get the sunburn-isn’tcool memo).

Meso-dose it

Depending on how colourful your diet is, you might not need to. Intakes between 8mg and 21mg a day appear to be most beneficial – there’s about 3mg in 100g of tomatoes. Penne arrabiata, anyone?

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