Amare Research & The Future Of Everything

One of the most frequent questions that I get from Amare customers and Wellness Partners is related to “the research” – where to find it, what it means, and how to apply it to everyday life?

At Amare, we really go out of our way to explain the science of our ingredients and our finished formulas by providing educational videos, Product Information Pages (PIPs), Powerpoint decks, and extensive Technical Data Sheets on each and every product – which can all be found in the “Resources” section at Amare.com

I thought I might expand on the dozens of “resource” documents by outlining some of our targeted research in this blog. The timing is perfect, as the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) just released their most recent “Future of Everything” report, which contains 2 features about “mental wellness” and another feature about the microbiome (links provided at the bottom of this post).

The key takeaways from these feature articles can be summarized as:

  1. Most of us don’t feel the way we want to feel in terms of stress levels, mental well-being, mood, motivation, and performance.
  2. COVID has had some obvious detrimental impact on stress, mood, and mental wellness – but there is a “good” aspect where people are beginning to prioritize their mental wellness because they realize that there is no physical health without mental health.
  3. The microbiome and entire Gut-Brain-Axis plays a prominent role in determining both our mental wellness and physical health – and science is leading the way to help us balance our microbiome and optimize how we feel and perform.

The biggest health problems today are not physical ailments such as heart disease, cancer, and diabetes – but are rather mental conditions such as depression, anxiety, chronic fatigue, sleep deprivation, and everyday stress. When we’re stressed, we’re more likely to crave junk food and store belly fat – but when we’re resilient, we don’t succumb to stress-eating and we make better dietary choices; when we’re tired, we’re less likely to exercise or meditate – but when we have good sleep quality and metabolism, we have abundant energy levels that can fuel our lifestyle; and when we’re depressed, we’re less likely to take care of ourselves or interact positively with others – but when we have a good mood, we’re more likely to love ourselves and apply that love to others. 

Numerous international organizations, including the Global Wellness Institute, have identified “Mental Wellness” as a $120+billion (2019) segment of the health industry that is expected to experience exponential growth in the coming years.

Without overstatement, “mental wellness” is, by any measure, the most compelling growth opportunity within the natural health space – encompassing functional foods, dietary supplements, and numerous aspects of the natural products industry. Amare Global’s leadership in spearheading these studies is establishing an important foundation on which numerous companies and individuals will be able to build a meaningful business in the burgeoning mental wellness category.

For the last 4+ years, Amare Global has been pursuing a coordinated research project to improve mental wellness via the optimization of the Gut-Heart-Brain-Axis. This research initiative has led to dozens of peer-reviewed and invited scientific presentations, numerous patent applications, and several peer-reviewed scientific journal publications (list and links provided below).

Our projects span over 4 years and encompass a series of coordinated research trials intended to elucidate the links between Gut-Brain-Axis function and mental wellness (Study 1); between the Heart-Brain-Axis and mental wellness (Study 2); and between mental wellness and physical health (Study 3). An overarching theme between studies and across the entire project has been that a wide range of natural ingredients (probiotics, prebiotics, postbiotics, phytonutrients, and herbal extracts) can help to restore balance within the interconnected “Gut-Brain-Heart-Axis” to dramatically and dynamically improve mental wellness parameters.

Study 1 (Gut-Brain-Axis), assessed microbiome parameters (e.g. Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium, Akkermansia, etc) and correlated those levels to psychological outcomes (e.g. depression, anxiety, stress). 

Study 2 (Heart-Brain-Axis), assessed heart efficiency (heart rate variability) and correlated those levels with mental/physical energy parameters (e.g. energy, focus, vigor).

Study 3 (Mental/Physical Health), showed how improvements in mental wellness (brain), brought about by balancing gut and heart parameters, were also linked to improvements in physical health (blood glucose, cholesterol, cardiac risk, cortisol).

Across these studies, we confirmed that targeted nutritional interventions could reliably and predictably simultaneously improve both mental wellness and physical health.

Objective: Across this series of studies, we intended to examine the close multi-directional relationship between mental wellness parameters (mood, focus, energy, resilience) and physical health status (body weight, blood sugar, cardiac risk) – and show how these may be largely and simultaneously modified through natural nutritional regimens targeting the microbiome and the gut-heart-brain- axis. Previous research has shown targeted weight loss effects and anti-depressive benefits of diets high in fiber and phytonutrients and low in sugar and processed foods. Thus, our objective was to determine changes in parameters common to both obesity and depression (e.g., microbiome balance, metabolic biomarkers, and psychological mood state) following a coordinated supplementation regimen combining probiotics, prebiotics, and phytonutrients.

Methods: Across our series of multiple clinical trials, with more than 100 subjects, we examined interventions of 4-6 weeks duration with targeted blends of probiotics, prebiotics, and phytonutrients. Microbiome balance was assessed in fecal samples (Lactobacillus, Bifidobacteria, Akkermansia, and others). Biomarkers, including blood lipids, glucose, cortisol, and butyrate kinase, were assessed as indicators of effects on cardiovascular, inflammatory, and energy metabolism. Heart efficiency was assessed by measurements of heart rate variability (emWave Pro, heartMath Institute). Psychological mood state was assessed using the validated Profile of Mood States survey (POMS) to generate scores for Global Mood State and six sub-scales (Depression, Tension, Fatigue, Anger, Confusion, and Vigor).

Results: Following supplementation, we found significant increase in populations of “good” bacteria (+8% Bifidobacterium, +33% Lactobacillus, +62% S. Thermophilus, +90% Akkermansia) as well as bacterial ratios associated with a healthier “obesity-resistant” metabolism (+6% composite score, -11% Firmicutes, +6% Bacteroidetes, -14% F/B ratio). Metabolites associated with stress and glycemic control improved post-supplementation (-11% cortisol; +89% butyrate kinase, -6% glucose), as did body fat (-2%) and blood lipids (-8% total cholesterol, -5% LDL, +3% HDL, -23% triglycerides, -7% TC/HDL). Heart efficiency was improved as indicated by ~15% increase in heart rate variability. Psychological indices were significantly improved post-supplementation for both positive (+17% Global Mood; +23% Vigor) and negative mood states (-38% Depression; -41% Tension; -42% Fatigue; -31% Confusion; -39% Anger).

Conclusions: These results demonstrate, across multiple coordinated studies, the close relationship between microbiome balance, systemic metabolism, heart function, and psychological parameters – and the utility of targeted supplementation to optimize the entire Gut-Heart-Brain-Axis for both improved metabolism and enhanced mental wellness and physical health.

WHY IS THIS WORK IMPORTANT?

The World Health Organization (WHO) has identified stress and depression as global epidemics and the leading causes of disability worldwide. In North America alone, there are hundreds of millions of people who spend hundreds of billions of dollars every year on “feel different” remedies such as antidepressant and anti-anxiety drugs, opioid painkillers, drugs for ADHD, drugs for sleep, and an unending array of energy drinks and junk food that we self-medicate with in response to being tired, stressed, and depressed.

Unfortunately, while many of these approaches will change how we feel – none of them will help us feel better. These synthetic approaches generally take us from feeling bad in one way to feeling bad in a different way – while utterly failing to help us feel truly good in the ways that we want to feel. 

Our coordinated research projects have spanned 4+ years focusing on the links between nutrition, biochemistry, and psychology (e.g. how and why nutrients make us feel a certain way) – and now we’re at an exciting time in history where we can finally use traditional natural options – in a science-supported way – to address many of today’s modern mental wellness challenges. These breakthroughs in our understanding of ancient/traditional medicine, natural supplements, and functional foods provide us with a wide array of scientifically validated tools that can dramatically improve how we feel and perform in every aspect of our lives.

WHY IS THIS WORK DIFFERENT?

We used to think that mental wellness was “just” related to the brain and various influences of stress hormones such as cortisol. Eventually, science advanced enough to inform us that the gut microbiome (the collection of trillions of gut bacteria) creates up to 90% of our body’s neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine – and has a dramatic influence on our mood, motivation, and resilience. Even more recent, are the scientific and medical observations that the heart, through electro-magnetic signals sent to the brain, plays an equally influential role in determining our mental well-being.

A New Mental Wellness Solution – Our Three Brains

The “first” brain in your head is networked with both the gut (our “second” brain) and with the heart (our “third” brain). Each of our three brains sends and receives a wide range of signals to and from each other. It is the coordinated action of our three brains – and the interplay between them – that ultimately determines our overall mental wellness. Our three brains “talk” to each other through a complex network of nerves, cells, and biochemicals. This network—referred to as the Gut–Brain–Heart Axis—includes nearly 100 trillion bacteria that live in our gastrointestinal system (our “microbiome”) and the cloud of electrical and magnetic signals generated by our heart. Coordination between these helpful bacteria and coherent heart signals are instrumental in modulating the function of our immune system, optimizing the body’s inflammatory response, and supporting many other aspects of our mental wellness and physical health.

SUMMARY

We have shown that specific nutritional ingredients can deliver meaningful improvements in overall well-being and psychological mood states (reductions in stress, fatigue, depression, and anxiety) through well-defined mechanisms of action including improved microbiome balance, lowered inflammation, primed immune function, increased heart rate variability, improved cardiac risk profiles, balanced blood sugar, and reduced stress hormones.

These individual studies – and the overall project – demonstrate that natural nutritional interventions very well may be the solution to one of our most pressing global epidemics – and one that is open and accessible to all without the high cost, marginal benefits, and severe side effects of existing synthetic options. Our studies are on-going to expand our understanding of using natural nutritional interventions to move people from “bad” to “wellness” and further toward “optimized and flourishing” (“Mental Fitness”).

Wall Street Journal (WSJ) – The Future of Everything Report:

WSJ: “Modern Life is Messing with Our Microbiomes, but Science is Fighting Back

WSJ; “Forget What You Think Happiness Is

WSJ; “COVID-19’s Lasting Effects on Mental Health – for Good and Bad

Amare Global Peer-reviewed Scientific Presentations and Publications

12 peer-reviewed scientific presentations (2018-2020) – including American College of Nutrition, American College of Sports Medicine, Experimental Biology, HealCon, International Society of Nutrition Psychology Research, and others.

6 peer-reviewed scientific publications (2018-2020) – including Functional Foods for Health & Disease, EC Nutrition, FASEB Journal)

12 patent applications for the use of natural nutrition interventions for improving various aspects of mental wellness.

Presentations (related to FundaMentals)

  • American College of Nutrition = November 2017 – Alexandria VA (“Outstanding Research” Award)
  • Experimental Biology = April 2018 – San Diego, CA
  • American College of Sports Medicine = May 2018 – Minneapolis, MN
  • Mental Health America – Fit for the Future Conference = June 2018 – Washington DC
  • Microbiome Movement – Gut Brain Axis = November 2018 – Boston, MA
  • American Mental Wellness Awareness Association = November 2018 – Hershey, PA
  • NAMI Professional Education Day (National Alliance for Mental Illness) = February 2019 – Honolulu, HI
  • International Society of Nutritional Psychiatry Research (INSPR) – November 2019, London, UK

Presentations (related to product as noted):

  • (Kid’s Mood+) = Targeted Dietary Supplementation Improves Mental Performance in Children. Experimental Biology / American Physiological Society (April 2020, San Diego, CA)
  • (Project b3, MentaHeart, Kid’s Mood+) = Keynote: The Brain-Body-Biome – How Mental Wellness Drives a Multi-Faceted Impact on Physical Health (HealCon – complementary medicine conference – Newport Beach CA, May 2020)
  • (MentaHeart) = Optimization of Heart-Brain-Axis Signaling Improves Mental and Physical Performance. American College of Sports Medicine (May 2020, San Francisco, CA)
  • (Project b3) = Keynote: How the Gut Influences Mental Wellness and Physical Health (International Academy of Colon Hydrotherapists – Kissimmee FL June 2020)
  • (Project b3) = Dual Role of Gut-Brain-Axis Modulation in Obesity and Depression – Functional Food Center – 28th Annual Conference on Functional and Healthy Foods for Longevity (San Diego, CA Aug 2020)

Publications (related to product as noted)

Fundamentals:

  • Effect of Coordinated Probiotic/Prebiotic/Phytobiotic Supplementation on Microbiome Balance and Psychological Mood State in Healthy Stressed Adults. Functional Foods in Health & Disease Journal. Vol 9, No 4 (2019)

MentaHeart:

  • Effect of Astaxanthin Supplementation on Cardiorespiratory Function in Runners”. EC Nutrition 11.6 (2017): 253-259. 
  • Astaxanthin Supplementation Reduces Depression and Fatigue in Healthy Subjects”. EC Nutrition 14.3 (2019): 239-246. 
  • Effect of Astaxanthin Supplementation on Psychophysiological Heart-Brain Axis Dynamics in Healthy Subjects. Functional Foods in Health & Disease Journal. Vol 9, No 8 (2019)

Project b3:

  • Modulation of Gut-Brain-Axis Improves Microbiome, Metabolism, and Mood. Functional Foods in Health & Disease Journal. 2020; 10(1): 37-54.

Awards

  • 2018 — NutraAward (Best New Finished Product): Amare Fundamentals Pack
  • 2018 — Botanical of the Year (Finalist): Mood+
  • 2018 — Startup of the Year (Finalist): Amare Global
  • 2019 — Probiotic of the Year (Finalist): Kids FundaMentals
  • 2019 – Startup of the Year (Finalist): Amare Global

Patent Applications

NUTRITIONAL SUPPLEMENTS AFFECTING GUT-BRAIN-AXIS BALANCE AND MENTAL WELLNESS (GBX Proprietary Blend) for signaling support across the entire gut-brain-axis and found in several Amare products (FundaMentals Pack; MentaBiotics; MentaFocus; Energy+; VitaGBX; Kid’s VitaGBX)

NUTRITIONAL SUPPLEMENTS AFFECTING MOOD STATE AND SLEEP QUALITY (Sleep+) to protect the synergistic combination of corn grass + griffonia seed and the combination of the full 10-ingredient formula in Sleep+ for promoting sleep quality

NUTRITIONAL SUPPLEMENTS AND METHODS OF SUPPLEMENTATION AFFECTING THE ENDOCANNABINOID SYSTEM (HempGBX+) Unique blend of hemp oil, black cumin seed oil, black pepper oil, and white frankincense to fully support the entire ECS (endocannabinoid system) for improvements in pain, mood, stress, and sleep. Works via a previously unknown mechanism of priming ECS receptors and activating ECS receptors for overall superior benefits

NUTRITIONAL SUPPLEMENTS AND METHODS OF NUTRITIONAL SUPPLEMENTATION AFFECTING HEART/BRAIN AXIS (MentaHeart) Unique blend of astaxanthin, palm fruit bioactives, CoQ10, and bergamot fruit extract shown to uniquely improve mood and mental/physical energy levels

NUTRITIONAL SUPPLEMENTS AND METHODS OF NUTRITIONAL SUPPLEMENTATION AFFECTING MOOD AND FOCUS IN CHILDREN (Kid’s Mood+) Unique blend of saffron, rosemary, clove, oregano, and holy basil to support mood and focus

NUTRITIONAL SUPPLEMENTS AND METHODS OF NUTRITIONAL SUPPLEMENTATION AFFECTING MENTAL WELLNESS AND/OR MOOD (OmMega) Unique 5:1 ratio of EPA:DHA plus lavender oil to promote mental wellness

NUTRITIONAL SUPPLEMENTS AND METHODS OF NUTRITIONAL SUPPLEMENTATION AFFECTING MICROBIOME METABOLISM (Project b3) for coordinated support of microbiome, metabolism, and mood

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