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The Newest Power Couples

How pairing up nutrients can boost health benefits

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There are some famous nutrient duos: calcium and vitamin D, glucosamine and chondroitin, and vitamin C and iron. Recently science has discovered a few more pairings. Here, Better Nutrition introduces you to seven synergistic super couples that could help you reap healthy benefits.

Rooibos Tea + Açai Extract = Fewer sick days

Rooibos is an herbal plant from South Africa that is known for its high levels of antioxidants – specifically aspalathin and nothofagin -and its ability to possibly alleviate nervous tension, allergies and digestive problems. Açai is a Brazilian berry that has been found to stop free radicals in their tracks because of its high antioxidant content.

Consume them together and you’ll increase açai’s antioxidant punch by 46 percent, according to a Texas A&M University report in the January 2010 issue of Food Chemistry.

Make it work for you: Consider starting your day with this juicy tea: Brew one cup of rooibos tea and chill for 20 minutes. Then, combine tea with a cup of açai juice. Serve over ice. Or try an herbal boxed tea such as Yogi Tea Seven-Berry Antioxidant, which combines rooibos with açai and six other berries.

Grapefruit juice + CoQ10 = Healthier heart

Grapefruit juice is known to interact with other compounds in the digestive system. In fact, the citrus fruit can interfere with many drugs, including statins. Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) is a potent antioxidant and energy booster within all cells, particularly in the heart and brain. As we age, levels of CoQ10 decline, which can make us susceptible to risk of congestive heart failure, heart attacks, chest pain, chronic inflammation, and high blood pressure.

Chasing your CoQ10 with a glass of grapefruit juice may improve intestinal absorption of the healthful heart supplement by almost 50 percent, says a Japanese study published in the May 2010 issue of Food Chemistry.

Make it work for you: No longer do you need to take CoQ10 with a meal. Next time wash it down with a glass of grapefruit juice, but make sure not to take any other pills as the juice’s effects on other supplements is unknown. Try R.W. Knudsen Organic Grapefruit Juice and Solgar CoQ-10 (available in several different dosages).

Curcumin + Vitamin D = Better brain benefits

Curcumin, a component of the yellow spice turmeric, is a powerful anti-inflammatory that has been linked to the reduction of Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, and kidney damage associated with diabetes; the regulation of blood sugar; and the lessening of exercise-induced muscle soreness.

When curcumin is combined with vitamin D, harmful amyloid plaques found in the brains of people suffering from Alzheimer’s disease were diminished. How? Apparently, curcumin helped immune cells, called macrophages, bind better with the plaque, which allowed these cells to engulf and digest the plaque. The vitamin D activated genes that revved up this macrophage activity. UCLA researchers concluded in the July 2009 issue of Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease that this combination might offer new possibilities in the prevention and treatment of the disease.

Make it work for you: Put vitamin D drops (such as Nature’s Answer Vitamin D-3 Drops 4000 IU) into your turmeric tea. Also, try a turmeric supplement, such as New Chapter Turmeric Force.

Omega-3 fatty acids + Glucosamine = Healthy joints

You know glucosamine to be Batman of the joint-saving super duo, glucosamine-chrondition. Well, it looks like there may be a new Robin in town-omega-3 fatty acids. These essential fats have proven to be quite the inflammation fighters. According to United Kingdom clinical trial of 177 subjects with moderate-to-severe hip or knee osteoarthritis, omega-3s help boost glucosamine’s joint health benefits.

Researchers reported in the journal Advances in Therapy that the combination product reduced morning stiffness and pain in the hips and knees by between 48.5 and 55.6 percent, compared to 41.7 to 55.3 percent in the glucosamine-only group. Sounds like an omega-3 chaser is in order when taking your glucosamine.

Make it work for you: Consider chasing 1,500 milligrams of glucosamine sulfate with at least 444 milligrams of fish oil, of which at least 200 milligrams are omegs-3 fatty acids. Or take the two together in one formula-Nordic Naturals has recently introduced an omega and glucosamine formula called Omega Joint.

Have a Synergistic Day!

Use this plan to get the most of these dynamic duos.

Have ½ cup blueberries and ½ cup low-fat plain yogurt with a glass of grapefruit juice and a 200 mg capsule of CoQ10.

Morning break:
Drink cup of green tea with 200-500 milligrams of turmeric extract standardized to at least 85 percent curcumin.

Knock back this refreshing beverage with your favorite lunch: One cup chilled rooibos tea mixed with a cup of açai juice served over ice.

Afternoon snack:
Sip turmeric tea with 1,000 IU of vitamin D dropped in.

Pair your favorite lean protein with broccoli drizzled with a mixture of ¼ cup Greek yogurt, 1/8 cup milk, and ½ tsp lemon zest blended until smooth.

Before bed:
Take 1,500 milligrams of glucosamine sulfate supplement with 444 milligrams of fish oil, of
which 200 milligrams are omega-3 fatty acids.

Curcumin + Green Tea = Colon cancer prevention

Curcumin has been shown to protect against cancer, heart disease, and inflammation. But when it’s paired with the active ingredient in green tea, a catechin called EGCG (epigallocatechin-3-gallate), its cancer-fighting street credentials increase.

After studying the ingredients’ effects on colon cancer in Wister rats, Chinese researchers concluded in the January 2010 issue of The Food Chemistry Toxicology that the combination of curcumin and green tea catechins may produce a synergistic colon cancer-preventive
effect more potent than each of the compounds alone.

Make it work for you: Take 200-500 milligrams of turmeric extract standardized for at least 85 percent curcumin, and 500 mg of green tea extract standardized to at least 50 percent EGCG. Brands to try: Bluebonnet Nutrition Herbals Turmeric Root Extract and HerbaSway HerbaGreen Tea (“The Original”).

Calcium + Vitamin K = Stronger bones

When it comes to eating to strengthen your bones, calcium’s the ticket. To make sure this mineral makes it to its target, pair it with vitamin K. Numerous studies have found that K, found in asparagus, broccoli, cabbage, and spirulina, activates proteins that direct calcium to our bones to be absorbed.

Make it work for you: Take a multivitamin-mineral that has both calcium and vitamin K, or create your own bone-boosting stack with a vitamin K and a calcium supplement. Many formulas contain both nutrients. Try Peter Gillham’s Natural Vitality Osteo Calm.

Yogurt + Blueberries = Tummy troubles tamed

Blueberries boost yogurt’s ability to stop inflammation in your gut, Swedish researchers reported in a 2009 issue of the Scandinavian Journal of Gastroenterology. Plus, the fiber in the fruit helps the probiotics in the yogurt survive the trek through your digestive tract so they can protect the intestine from bad-for-you bacteria.

Make it work for you: Make your go-to breakfast ½ cup blueberries and ½ cup low-fat plain yogurt (try The Greek Gods yogurt). Place ingredients in a blender with a splash of orange juice for a good-for-the-gut smoothie that you can sip on your way to work.