Obesity and Diet 3

Why fish intake by pregnant women improves the growth of a child's brain

January 14, 2016

Science Daily/Tohoku University

An explanation for the correlation between eating fish during pregnancy, and the health of the baby's brain, has been uncovered by a group of researchers. Dietary lipid contains fatty acids such as omega-6 and omega-3, which are essential nutrients for many animals and humans. The research group found that a balanced intake of lipids by pregnant women is necessary for the normal brain formation of the unborn child.

 

Dietary lipid contains fatty acids such as omega-6 and omega-3, which are essential nutrients for many animals and humans. The research group, led by Professor Noriko Osumi, found that a balanced intake of lipids by pregnant women is necessary for the normal brain formation of the unborn child.

 

In an animal study, the researchers noticed that when female mice were fed an omega-6-rich/omega-3-poor diet, their offsprings were born with a smaller brain and showed abnormal emotional behavior in adulthood.

 

This is significant because people in many countries these days have similarly poor dietary patterns and tend to consume more seed oils that are rich in omega-6 fatty acids and less fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids.

 

According to Professor Osumi, the brain abnormality found in the offsprings of mice used in the study, was caused by a premature aging of fetal neural stem cells that produce brain cells. The premature aging was promoted by an imbalance of oxides of omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids. The offsprings also showed higher anxiety levels, even though they were raised on nutritionally optimized diets from an early lactation period.

 

A diet that contains a good balance of omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids is known to improve the development of brain functions; this is based on earlier researches that evaluated the effects of maternal intake of an omega-3-poor diet on brain function in children.

 

The new study took this premise further and focused on the effects of dietary lipids on the brain formation. The results reveal why omega-6 and omega-3 balance is important for future brain function, and reinforces earlier suggestions that more fish intake by women during pregnancy can advantageously affect the child's health.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/01/160114113410.htm

Bisexual and questioning women have higher risk of eating disorders

September 2, 2015

Science Daily/Drexel University

Lesbian women are no more likely to develop eating disorders than straight peers

Young women who are attracted to both sexes or who are unsure about who they are attracted to are more likely to develop an eating disorder than those attracted to only one sex, according to a new study.

 

However, the results of the study suggest that females attracted to the same-sex are no more likely to experience disordered eating symptoms than their peers with opposite-sex attractions. This finding is contrary to previous assumptions that same-sex attraction plays a protective role against eating pathology in females.

 

"The results of this study suggests there may be notable differences in disordered eating symptoms across LGBQ persons," said lead author Annie Shearer, outcomes research assistant for Drexel University's Center for Family Intervention Science in the College of Nursing and Health Professions. "Given the severe physical and emotional repercussions of eating disorders, these findings underscore the need for primary care physicians to ask about both sexuality and disordered eating symptoms during routine visits."

 

The study also found that males who were attracted to other males or both sexes had higher rates of eating disorders than males only attracted to the opposite sex, which is supported by previous research.

 

"While there is a lot of research indicating gay and bisexual men exhibit higher rates of eating disorders than heterosexual men, findings have been mixed with respect to women," said Shearer. "Moreover, bisexual and -- to an even greater degree -- questioning persons are often excluded from these studies."

 

The study, "The Relationship between Disordered Eating and Sexuality amongst Adolescents and Young Adults," is now available online and will appear in a forthcoming print issue of Eating Behaviors, an international peer-reviewed scientific journal publishing human research on the etiology, prevention and treatment of obesity, binge eating and eating disorders in adults and children.

 

In order to examine disordered eating symptoms and sexuality in adolescents and young adults, the researchers recruited participants from ten primary care sites in Pennsylvania and administered a Behavioral Health Screen -- a web-based screening tool that assesses psychiatric symptoms and risk behaviors -- during a routine visit. More than 2,000 youths, ages 14-24, were surveyed.

 

Participants' eating behaviors were assessed through questions such as, how often do you think that you are fat even though some people say that you are skinny? How often do you try to control your weight by skipping meals? And, how often do you try to control your weight by making yourself throw up?

 

Sexual attraction was computed based on participants' gender and to which sex participants reported they felt most attracted to: either males, females, both or not sure. In order to define sexual behavior, participants were asked whom they had engaged in sexual activities: males, females or both.

 

As expected, males who were attracted to other males exhibited significantly higher disordered eating scores than those only attracted to members of the opposite sex. Males who engaged in sexual activities with other males also exhibited significantly higher scores than those who only engaged in sexual activities with females.

 

Amongst females, there were no significant differences in disordered eating scores between females who were only attracted to females and those only attracted to males. Those who reported being attracted to both sexes, however, had significantly higher scores, on average, than those only attracted to one sex.

 

More surprisingly, according to the researchers, females who were unsure of who they were attracted to reported the highest disordered eating symptoms scores of all.

 

"This study highlights the need to increase sensitivity to the unique needs of sexual minority youth as a group and for the particularly sub groups in that population," said Guy S. Diamond, PhD, associate professor in the College of Nursing and Health Professions, director of the Couple and Family Therapy Doctoral Program and director of the Center for Family Intervention Science, who co-authored the study. "But it also demonstrates the value of standardized, comprehensive screening for mental health concerns in primary care."

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/09/150902093253.htm

Eating More Berries May Reduce Cognitive Decline in the Elderly

April 26, 2012

Science Daily/Wiley-Blackwell

 

Blueberries and strawberries, which are high in flavonoids, appear to reduce cognitive decline in older adults according to a new study recently published in Annals of Neurology, a journal of the American Neurological Association and Child Neurology Society. The study results suggest that cognitive aging could be delayed by up to 2.5 years in elderly who consume greater amounts of the flavonoid-rich berries.

Flavonoids are compounds found in plants that generally have powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Experts believe that stress and inflammation contribute to cognitive impairment and that increasing consumption of flavonoids could mitigate the harmful effects. Previous studies of the positive effects of flavonoids, particularly anthocyanidins, are limited to animal models or very small trials in older persons, but have shown greater consumption of foods with these compounds improve cognitive function.

According to the 2010 U.S. Census, elderly Americans -- those 65 years of age and older -- increased by 15% between 2000 and 2010, faster than the total U.S. population, which saw a 9.7% increase during the same time period. "As the U.S. population ages, understanding the health issues facing this group becomes increasingly important," said Dr. Elizabeth Devore with Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston, Mass. "Our study examined whether greater intake of berries could slow rates of cognitive decline."

The research team used data from the Nurses' Health Study -- a cohort of 121,700 female, registered nurses between the ages of 30 and 55 who completed health and lifestyle questionnaires beginning in 1976. Since 1980 participants were surveyed every four years regarding their frequency of food consumption. Between 1995 and 2001, cognitive function was measured in 16,010 subjects over the age of 70 years, at 2-year intervals. Women included in the present study had a mean age of 74 and mean body mass index of 26.

Findings show that increased consumption of blueberries and strawberries appear to slow cognitive decline in older women. A greater intake of anthocyanidins and total flavonoids was also associated with reduce cognitive degeneration. Researchers observed that women who had higher berry intake delayed cognitive aging by up to 2.5 years. The authors caution that while they did control for other health factors in the modeling, they cannot rule out the possibility that the preserved cognition in those who eat more berries may be also influenced by other lifestyle choices, such as exercising more.

"We provide the first epidemiologic evidence that berries may slow progression of cognitive decline in elderly women," notes Dr. Devore. "Our findings have significant public health implications as increasing berry intake is a fairly simple dietary modification to test cognition protection in older adults."

 

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/04/120426110250.htm

 

Eating fish reduces risk of Alzheimer's disease

December 1, 2011

Science Daily/Radiological Society of North America

 

People who eat baked or broiled fish on a weekly basis may be improving their brain health and reducing their risk of developing mild cognitive impairment and Alzheimer's disease, according to a new study.

 

"This is the first study to establish a direct relationship between fish consumption, brain structure and Alzheimer's risk," said Cyrus Raji, M.D., Ph.D., from the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. "The results showed that people who consumed baked or broiled fish at least one time per week had better preservation of gray matter volume on MRI in brain areas at risk for Alzheimer's disease."

 

Alzheimer's disease is an incurable, progressive brain disease that slowly destroys memory and cognitive skills. According to the National Institute on Aging, as many as 5.1 million Americans may have Alzheimer's disease. In MCI, memory loss is present but to a lesser extent than in Alzheimer's disease. People with MCI often go on to develop Alzheimer's disease.

 

The findings showed that consumption of baked or broiled fish on a weekly basis was positively associated with gray matter volumes in several areas of the brain. Greater hippocampal, posterior cingulate and orbital frontal cortex volumes in relation to fish consumption reduced the risk for five-year decline to MCI or Alzheimer's by almost five-fold.

 

"Consuming baked or broiled fish promotes stronger neurons in the brain's gray matter by making them larger and healthier," Dr. Raji said. "This simple lifestyle choice increases the brain's resistance to Alzheimer's disease and lowers risk for the disorder." The results also demonstrated increased levels of cognition in people who ate baked or broiled fish.

 

"Working memory, which allows people to focus on tasks and commit information to short-term memory, is one of the most important cognitive domains," Dr. Raji said. "Working memory is destroyed by Alzheimer's disease. We found higher levels of working memory in people who ate baked or broiled fish on a weekly basis, even when accounting for other factors, such as education, age, gender and physical activity." Eating fried fish, on the other hand, was not shown to increase brain volume or protect against cognitive decline.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/11/111130095257.htm

Eating protein three times a day could make our seniors stronger

Quebec researchers link protein distribution to greater mass and muscle strength in the elderly

August 30, 2017

Science Daily/McGill University Health Centre

Loss of muscle is an inevitable consequence of aging that can lead to frailty, falls or mobility problems. Eating enough protein is one way to remedy it, but it would seem that spreading protein equally among the three daily meals could be linked to greater mass and muscle strength in the elderly.

 

The results of the study, which were published recently in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, shed new light on the diet of people in an aging population.

 

"Many seniors, especially in North America, consume the majority of their daily protein intake at lunch and dinner. We wanted to see if people who added protein sources to breakfast, and therefore had balanced protein intake through the three meals, had greater muscle strength," says the lead author of the study, Dr. Stéphanie Chevalier, who is a scientist with the Metabolic Disorders and Complications Program at the RI-MUHC and an assistant professor at the School of Human Nutrition at McGill University.

 

A rich database of nutrition data

 

To achieve these results, Dr. Chevalier and her team collaborated with the Université de Sherbrooke and used the database from the Quebec longitudinal study on nutrition and aging called NuAge (Nutrition as a Determinant of Successful Aging).

 

RI-MUHC researchers analyzed data from the NuAge cohort, which included nearly 1,800 people who were followed for three years. They reviewed the protein consumption patterns of 827 healthy men and 914 healthy women aged 67 to 84 years, all residents of Quebec, trying to establish links with variables such as strength, muscle mass or mobility.

 

"The NuAge study is one of the few studies gathering such detailed data on food consumption among a large cohort of elderly people. We are proud that the NuAge study can contribute to relevant research of this magnitude in Quebec," says study co-author Dr. Hélène Payette of the Centre for Research on Aging and a professor at the Faculty of Medicine at the Université de Sherbrooke.

 

"We observed that participants of both sexes who consumed protein in a balanced way during the day had more muscle strength than those who consumed more during the evening meal and less at breakfast. However, the distribution of protein throughout the day was not associated with their mobility," explains the first author of the study, Dr. Samaneh Farsijani, a former PhD student at the RI-MUHC supervised by Dr. Chevalier.

 

A "boost" of amino acids

 

All body tissues, including the muscles, are composed of proteins, which consist of amino acids. If the protein intake decreases, the synthesis is not done correctly and this leads to a loss of muscle mass.

 

"Our research is based on scientific evidence demonstrating that older people need to consume more protein per meal because they need a greater boost of amino acids for protein synthesis," says Dr. Chevalier, adding that one of the essential amino acids known for protein renewal is leucine. "It would be interesting to look into protein sources and their amino acid composition in future studies to further our observations."

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/08/170830202131.htm

 

Whole grains decrease colorectal cancer risk, processed meats increase the risk

Report analyzing the global research finds hot dogs and other processed meats increase risk of colorectal cancer, eating more whole grains and being physically active lowers risk

September 7, 2017

Science Daily/American Institute for Cancer Research

Major new report finds strong evidence of links between lifestyle and colorectal cancer risk. Physical activity and whole grains lowers risk of this cancer; too much alcohol and red meat, processed meats and obesity increase the risk. An estimated 47 percent of US colorectal cancers could be prevented each year with lifestyle changes.

 

Diet, Nutrition, Physical Activity and Colorectal Cancer also found that hot dogs, bacon and other processed meats consumed regularly increase the risk of this cancer. There was strong evidence that physical activity protects against colon cancer.

 

"Colorectal cancer is one of the most common cancers, yet this report demonstrates there is a lot people can do to dramatically lower their risk," said Edward L. Giovannucci, MD, ScD, lead author of the report and professor of nutrition and epidemiology at the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health. "The findings from this comprehensive report are robust and clear: Diet and lifestyle have a major role in colorectal cancer."

 

The new report evaluated the scientific research worldwide on how diet, weight and physical activity affect colorectal cancer risk. The report analyzed 99 studies, including data on 29 million people, of whom over a quarter of a million were diagnosed with colorectal cancer.

 

Other factors found to increase colorectal cancer include:

 

·      Eating high amounts of red meat (above 500 grams cooked weight a week), such as beef or pork

·      Being overweight or obese

·      Consuming two or more daily alcoholic drinks (30 grams of alcohol), such as wine or beer

 

Lowering Risk with Fiber, Activity and Grains

 

The report concluded that eating approximately three servings (90 grams) of whole grains daily reduces the risk of colorectal cancer by 17 percent.

 

It adds to previous evidence showing that foods containing fiber decreases the risk of this cancer.

 

For physical activity, people who are more physically active have a lower risk of colon cancer compared to those who do very little physical activity. Here, the decreased risk was apparent for colon and not rectal cancer.

 

In the US, colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer among both men and women, with an estimated 371 cases diagnosed each day. AICR estimates that 47 percent of US colorectal cancer cases could be prevented each year through healthy lifestyle changes.

 

Notes Giovannucci: "Many of the ways to help prevent colorectal cancer are important for overall health. Factors such as maintaining a lean body weight, proper exercise, limiting red and processed meat and eating more whole grains and fiber would lower risk substantially. Moreover, limiting alcohol to at most two drinks per day and avoidance or cessation of smoking also lower risk."

 

Fish, Fruits and Vegetables, Emerging Evidence

 

The report found other links between diet and colorectal cancer that were visible but not as clear. There was limited evidence that risk increases with low intake of both non-starchy vegetables and fruit. A higher risk was observed for intakes of less than 100 grams per day (about a cup) of each.

 

Links to lowering risk of colorectal cancer was with fish and foods containing vitamin C. Oranges, strawberries and spinach are all foods high in vitamin C.

 

The research continues to emerge for these factors, but it all points to the power of a plant-based diet, says Alice Bender, MS, RDN, AICR Director of Nutrition Programs. "Replacing some of your refined grains with whole grains and eating mostly plant foods, such as fruits, vegetables and beans, will give you a diet packed with cancer-protective compounds and help you manage your weight, which is so important to lower risk."

 

"When it comes to cancer there are no guarantees, but it's clear now there are choices you can make and steps you can take to lower your risk of colorectal and other cancers," said Bender.

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/09/170907093623.htm

 

Nutrition has benefits for brain network organization

September 7, 2017

Science Daily/University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Nutrition has been linked to cognitive performance, but researchers have not pinpointed what underlies the connection. A new study found that monounsaturated fatty acids -- a class of nutrients found in olive oils, nuts and avocados -- are linked to general intelligence, and that this relationship is driven by the correlation between MUFAs and the organization of the brain's attention network.

 

The study of 99 healthy older adults, recruited through Carle Foundation Hospital in Urbana, compared patterns of fatty acid nutrients found in blood samples, functional MRI data that measured the efficiency of brain networks, and results of a general intelligence test. The study was published in the journal NeuroImage.

 

"Our goal is to understand how nutrition might be used to support cognitive performance and to study the ways in which nutrition may influence the functional organization of the human brain," said study leader Aron Barbey, a professor of psychology. "This is important because if we want to develop nutritional interventions that are effective at enhancing cognitive performance, we need to understand the ways that these nutrients influence brain function."

 

"In this study, we examined the relationship between groups of fatty acids and brain networks that underlie general intelligence. In doing so, we sought to understand if brain network organization mediated the relationship between fatty acids and general intelligence," said Marta Zamroziewicz, a recent Ph.D. graduate of the neuroscience program at Illinois and lead author of the study.

 

Studies suggesting cognitive benefits of the Mediterranean diet, which is rich in MUFAs, inspired the researchers to focus on this group of fatty acids. They examined nutrients in participants' blood and found that the fatty acids clustered into two patterns: saturated fatty acids and MUFAs.

 

"Historically, the approach has been to focus on individual nutrients. But we know that dietary intake doesn't depend on any one specific nutrient; rather, it reflects broader dietary patterns," said Barbey, who also is affiliated with the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology at Illinois.

 

The researchers found that general intelligence was associated with the brain's dorsal attention network, which plays a central role in attention-demanding tasks and everyday problem solving. In particular, the researchers found that general intelligence was associated with how efficiently the dorsal attention network is functionally organized used a measure called small-world propensity, which describes how well the neural network is connected within locally clustered regions as well as across globally integrated systems.

 

In turn, they found that those with higher levels of MUFAs in their blood had greater small-world propensity in their dorsal attention network. Taken together with an observed correlation between higher levels of MUFAs and greater general intelligence, these findings suggest a pathway by which MUFAs affect cognition.

 

"Our findings provide novel evidence that MUFAs are related to a very specific brain network, the dorsal attentional network, and how optimal this network is functionally organized," Barbey said. "Our results suggest that if we want to understand the relationship between MUFAs and general intelligence, we need to take the dorsal attention network into account. It's part of the underlying mechanism that contributes to their relationship."

 

Barbey hopes these findings will guide further research into how nutrition affects cognition and intelligence. In particular, the next step is to run an interventional study over time to see whether long-term MUFA intake influences brain network organization and intelligence.

 

"Our ability to relate those beneficial cognitive effects to specific properties of brain networks is exciting," Barbey said. "This gives us evidence of the mechanisms by which nutrition affects intelligence and motivates promising new directions for future research in nutritional cognitive neuroscience."

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/09/170907112408.htm

Eat fat, live longer?

Mouse study shows a high fat diet increases longevity, strength

September 5, 2017

Science Daily/University of California - Davis

As more people live into their 80s and 90s, researchers have delved into the issues of health and quality of life during aging. A recent mouse study sheds light on those questions by demonstrating that a high fat, or ketogenic, diet not only increases longevity, but improves physical strength.

 

"The results surprised me a little," said nutritionist Jon Ramsey, senior author of the paper that appears in the September issue of Cell Metabolism. "We expected some differences, but I was impressed by the magnitude we observed -- a 13 percent increase in median life span for the mice on a high fat vs high carb diet. In humans, that would be seven to 10 years. But equally important, those mice retained quality of health in later life."

 

Ramsey has spent the past 20 years looking at the mechanics that lead to aging, a contributing factor to most major diseases that impact rodents and humans alike. While calorie restriction has been shown in several studies to slow aging in many animals, Ramsey was interested in how a high fat diet may impact the aging process.

 

Ketogenic diets have gained popularity for a variety of health benefit claims, but scientists are still teasing out what happens during ketosis, when carbohydrate intake is so low that the body shifts from using glucose as the main fuel source to fat burning and producing ketones for energy.

 

The study mice were split into three groups: a regular rodent high-carb diet, a low carb/high fat diet, and a ketogenic diet (89-90 percent of total calorie intake). Originally concerned that the high fat diet would increase weight and decrease life span, the researchers kept the calorie count of each diet the same.

 

"We designed the diet not to focus on weight loss, but to look at metabolism," Ramsey said. "What does that do to aging?"

 

In addition to significantly increasing the median life span of mice in the study, the ketogenic diet increased memory and motor function (strength and coordination), and prevented an increase in age-related markers of inflammation. It had an impact on the incidence of tumors as well.

 

"In this case, many of the things we're looking at aren't much different from humans," Ramsey said. "At a fundamental level, humans follow similar changes and experience a decrease in overall function of organs during aging. This study indicates that a ketogenic diet can have a major impact on life and health span without major weight loss or restriction of intake. It also opens a new avenue for possible dietary interventions that have an impact on aging."

 

A companion study published by the Buck Institute for Research on Aging in the same issue of Cell Metabolism shows that a ketogenic diet extends longevity and improves memory in aging mice

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/09/170905145551.htm

Your stools reveal whether you can lose weight

September 12, 2017

Science Daily/Faculty of Science - University of Copenhagen

Something as simple as a feces sample reveals whether you can lose weight by following dietary recommendations characterized by a high content of fruit, vegetables, fibers and whole grains. This is a finding of a new study conducted at the Department of Nutrition, Exercise and Sports at the University of Copenhagen, Denmark.

 

The bacteria we all have in our gut may play a decisive role in personalized nutrition and the development of obesity. This is shown by several studies that have delved into the significance of these bacteria.

 

"Human intestinal bacteria have been linked to the increasing prevalence of overweight and obesity, and scientists have started to investigate whether the intestinal bacteria can play a role in the treatment of overweight. But it is only now that we have a breakthrough demonstrating that certain bacterial species play a decisive role in weight regulation and weight loss" says Professor Arne Astrup, Head of the Department of Nutrition, Exercise and Sports at the University of Copenhagen, Denmark.

 

The ratio between the two groups of intestinal bacteria is crucial

 

A relationship between two groups of intestinal bacteria is decisive for whether overweight people lose weight on a diet that follows the Danish national dietary recommendations and contains a lot of fruit, vegetables, fiber and whole grains. In the study 31 subjects ate the New Nordic Diet for 26 weeks and lost an average of 3.5 kg, whereas the 23 subjects eating an Average Danish Diet lost an average of 1.7 kg. Thus weight loss was on average 1.8 kilos greater in the subjects on the New Nordic Diet.

 

High proportion of Prevotella bacteria lead to weight loss

 

When the subjects were divided by their level of intestinal bacteria, it was found that people with a high proportion of Prevotella bacteria in relation to Bacteroides bacteria lost 3.5 kg more in 26 weeks when they ate a diet composed by the New Nordic Diet principles compared to those consuming an Average Danish Diet. Subjects with a low proportion of Prevotella bacteria in relation to Bacteroides did not lose any additional weight on the New Nordic Diet. Overall, approximately 50 percent of the population has a high proportion of Prevotella-bacteria in relation to Bacteroides-bacteria.

 

"The study shows that only about half of the population will lose weight if they eat in accordance with the Danish national dietary recommendations and eat more fruit, vegetables, fibers and whole grains. The other half of the population doesn't seem to gain any benefit in weight from this change of diet," says Assistant Professor Mads Fiil Hjorth at the Department of Nutrition, Exercise and Sports at the University of Copenhagen. He continues: "These people should focus on other diet and physical activity recommendations until a strategy that works especially well for them is identified."

 

The researchers emphasize that they have already confirmed the results in two independent studies, so they are certain that these results are credible.

 

Personalized weight loss guidance

 

The results show that biomarkers, e.g. faecal samples, blood samples, or other samples from our body, which says something about our state of health, should play a far greater role in nutritional guidance. Simply because biomarkers allow us to adapt the guidance to the individual.

 

"This is a major step forward in personalized nutritional guidance. Guidance based on this knowledge of intestinal bacteria will most likely be more effective than the "one size fits all" approach that often characterises dietary recommendations and dietary guidance," says Assistant Professor Mads Fiil Hjorth.

 

At present it is primarily research units at universities and other academic institutions that examine the composition of intestinal bacteria, but as an effect of this breakthrough the University of Copenhagen has licensed a company in Boston, USA, to develop and publish a concept based on this research, that will be of benefit to obese people.

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/09/170912093122.htm

Reassessing the benefits of plant-based eating

August 29, 2017

Science Daily/European Society of Cardiology

A large dietary study from 18 countries, across seven geographic regions has found that even relatively moderate intake of fruit, vegetables and legumes such as beans and lentils may lower a person's risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) and death.

 

Analysis of the Prospective Urban Rural Epidemiology (PURE) study was presented at ESC Congress today1 and published in the Lancet.

 

"To our knowledge, this is the first study to report on the associations of fruit, vegetable and legume intake with CVD risk in countries at varying economic levels and from different regions," said study investigator Dr Andrew Mente, PhD, from the Population Health Research Institute, McMaster University, Hamilton, Canada.

 

"Previous research, and many dietary guidelines in North America and Europe recommended daily intake of these foods ranging from 400 to 800 grams per day, but this is unaffordable for many people in low to middle-income countries," he explained.

 

"Our findings indicate that optimal health benefits can be achieved with a more modest level of consumption, an approach that is likely to be much more affordable."

 

Using country-specific food frequency questionnaires, PURE documented diet in 135,335 individuals, aged 35 to 70 years, from countries in North America and Europe, South America, the Middle East, South Asia, China, South East Asia and Africa.

 

For this analysis, investigators assessed associations between fruit, vegetable, and legume consumption at baseline and risk of CVD and mortality after a median of 7.4 years of follow-up.

 

Looking at the total of 5,796 deaths, 1,649 CV deaths, and 4,784 major CVD events, and adjusting for demographic, lifestyle, health, and dietary factors, the study showed greater fruit, vegetable, and legume intake was associated with lower total mortality, and non-CV mortality.

 

Of particular importance, an intake of 3 to 4 servings per day (equivalent to 375-500 grams per day) was just as beneficial on total mortality as higher amounts (hazard ratio [HR] of 0·78; 95% CI 0·69 to 0·88).

 

Looking at the dietary components separately showed that the benefits were attributable to fruit and legumes, with vegetable intake not significantly associated with improved outcomes.

 

Specifically, compared to fewer than three servings of fruit per week, more than 3 per day was associated with an 18% reduced risk in non-CV mortality (HR: 0·82: 95% CI 0·70 to 0·97; P-trend=0·0008), and 19% reduction in total mortality (HR: 0·81; 95% CI 0·72 to 0·93; P-trend<0·0001).

 

Regarding legumes, higher consumption was associated with significant reduction in both non-CV mortality and total mortality risk.

 

As compared with less than one serving of legumes per month, more than one serving per day was associated with an 18% reduction in non-CV mortality (95% CI 0·70 to 0·97; P-trend=0·0019) and a 26% reduction in total mortality (95% CI 0·64 to 0·86; P-trend=0·0013).

 

Finally, comparing vegetable preparation, the study showed a trend towards lower risk of cardiovascular disease and death with raw versus cooked vegetable intake "but raw vegetables are rarely eaten in South Asia, Africa and Southeast Asia," said Dr. Mente.

 

"Since, dietary guidelines do not differentiate between the benefits of raw versus cooked vegetables -- our results indicate that recommendations should emphasize raw vegetable intake over cooked."

 

In conclusion he said that findings from the study "are robust, globally applicable and provide evidence to inform nutrition policies. Many people in the world don't consume an optimal amount of fruit, vegetables and legumes. The PURE data add to the substantial evidence from many studies and extend them globally."

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/08/170829091009.htm

Early weight gain in pregnancy correlates with childhood obesity, first study of its size shows

August 28, 2017

Science Daily/Obesity Society

Weight gain in early pregnancy has the greatest impact on infant size at birth, according to a new study. The study is the largest ever analysis of the effect that weight gain in early pregnancy has on infant size.

 

The study examined 16,218 pregnant mothers throughout the first, second and third trimesters in Tianjin, China to determine the risk of infants' size at birth. Results found weight gain early in pregnancy, before 24 weeks -- regardless of the weight gain later -- had the greatest impact on infant size. Infants born to women with weight gain that exceeds the 2009 Institute of Medicine guidelines for weight gain during pregnancy, prior to 24 weeks, were 2.5 times more likely to be born large.

 

Maternal obesity and weight gain in pregnancy have been strongly linked to the development of overweight and obesity in children, although few studies have examined in-depth gestational weight gain with infant birth weight and childhood obesity. "Obstetrician gynecologists need to begin to educate patients who are pregnant or planning to become pregnant on the implications of weight gain in pregnancy on infant outcomes and the development of childhood obesity," said Leanne M. Redman, PhD, FTOS, who led the study and serves as Associate Professor & Director of the Reproductive Endocrinology & Women's Health Lab at LSU' Pennington Biomedical Research Center.

 

Overall, women who are pregnant or planning to become pregnant should understand the impact that weight gain has on both short and long-term health risks for their child. Since this period of early pregnancy could have the strongest influence on the development of increased adiposity in the child, it is the opportune time to initiate lifestyle interventions in pregnant women. "International clinicians, clinical researchers and pediatricians should care about this research as findings suggest attention to healthy weight gain early in gestation may be warranted," said TOS spokesperson Suzanne Phelan, PhD, Professor of Kinesiology, Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo.

 

In an accompanying editorial published in Obesity, Cheryce L. Harrison, PhD discusses gestational weight gain and its association with infant birth weight, agreeing with the recent Obesity study. "These results validate previous literature in smaller cohorts while notably advancing this field of research in one of the largest, most well-defined mother-infant cohorts," said Dr. Harrison.

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/08/170828100800.htm

Is childhood obesity a psychological disorder?

Study uses fMRI to observe relationship between neurological activity and risk for obesity

August 22, 2017

Science Daily/Children's Hospital Los Angeles

A team of researchers, including senior investigator, Bradley Peterson, MD, director of the Institute for the Developing Mind at Children's Hospital Los Angeles, used fMRI to investigate neural responses to food cues in overweight compared with lean adolescents. The team observed that food stimuli activated regions of the brain associated with reward and emotion in all groups. However, adolescents at an increasing risk for obesity had progressively less neural activity in circuits of the brain that support self-regulation and attention.

 

"This study establishes that risk for obesity isn't driven exclusively by the absence or presence of urges to eat high-calorie foods, but also, and perhaps most importantly, by the ability to control those urges," said Peterson, who is also a professor at the Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California.

 

The public health implications of childhood obesity are staggering. More than half of all adolescents in the U.S. are either overweight or obese. Children of overweight parents (2/3 of adults in the U.S.) already are or are likely to become overweight. Since excess weight has been linked to a myriad of health issues shown to limit human potential and add to the skyrocketing cost of healthcare, researchers are actively seeking novel approaches to understand better the causes of obesity and alter its trajectory. This study, recently reported in the journal NeuroImage, may offer such an approach.

 

"We wanted to use brain imaging to investigate a key question in obesity science: why do some people become obese, while others don't?" said Susan Carnell, PhD, assistant professor of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and first author on the study.

 

Of the 36 adolescents (ages 14 to 19 years) enrolled in the study, 10 were overweight/obese, 16 were lean but considered at high risk for obesity because they had overweight/obese mothers and 10 were lean/low risk since they had lean mothers. The adolescents underwent brain scanning using fMRI, while they viewed words that described high-fat foods, low-fat foods and non-food items. Then they rated their appetite in response to each word stimulus. Following the activity, all participants were offered a buffet that included low- and high-calorie foods -- to relate participants test responses to real-world behavior.

 

The investigators observed that after viewing food-related words, brain circuits that support reward and emotion were stimulated in all participants. In adolescents who were obese or who were lean but at high familial risk for obesity, they observed less activation in attention and self-regulation circuits.

 

Brain circuits that support attention and self-regulation showed the greatest activation in lean/low-risk adolescents, less activity in lean/high-risk participants and least activation in the overweight/obese group. Also, real world relevance mirrored fMRI findings -- food intake at the buffet was greatest in the overweight/obese participants, followed by the lean/high-risk adolescents and lowest in the lean/low-risk group.

 

"These findings suggest that interventions designed to stimulate the self-regulatory system in adolescents may provide a new approach for treating and preventing obesity," said Peterson.

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/08/170822092156.htm

 

This is how belly fat could increase your cancer risk

August 24, 2017

Science Daily/Michigan State University

A new study now offers new details showing that a certain protein released from fat in the body can cause a non-cancerous cell to turn into a cancerous one. The research also found that a lower layer of abdominal fat, when compared to fat just under the skin, is the more likely culprit, releasing even more of this protein and encouraging tumor growth.

 

It's been well established that obesity is a contributor to cancer risk, but how it actually causes cancer is still a question that hasn't been fully explained.

 

A new Michigan State University study now offers new details showing that a certain protein released from fat in the body can cause a non-cancerous cell to turn into a cancerous one. The federally funded research also found that a lower layer of abdominal fat, when compared to fat just under the skin, is the more likely culprit, releasing even more of this protein and encouraging tumor growth.

 

"While there have been several advances in treating cancer and improving the quality of life of patients, the number of new cases continues to surge," said Jamie Bernard, lead author and an assistant professor in pharmacology and toxicology.

 

"It's important to understand the cause so we can do a better job at reducing the number of cancer cases using dietary modifications or therapeutic interventions."

 

It's estimated that more than one-third of the population is obese. Obesity has been linked to several types of cancers including breast, colon, prostate, uterine and kidney, but Bernard indicated that just being overweight isn't necessarily the best way to determine risk.

 

"Our study suggests that body mass index, or BMI, may not be the best indicator," Bernard said. "It's abdominal obesity, and even more specifically, levels of a protein called fibroblast growth factor-2 that may be a better indicator of the risk of cells becoming cancerous."

 

There are two layers of belly fat. The top layer, known as subcutaneous fat, lies right under the skin. The layer under that, called visceral fat, is the one she found to be more harmful.

 

Bernard and her co-author Debrup Chakraborty, a postdoctoral student in her lab, studied mice that were fed a high-fat diet and discovered that this higher-risk layer of fat produced larger amounts of the fibroblast growth factor-2, or FGF2, protein when compared to the subcutaneous fat. They found that FGF2 stimulated certain cells that were already vulnerable to the protein and caused them to grow into tumors.

 

She also collected visceral fat tissue from women undergoing hysterectomies and found that when the fat secretions had more of the FGF2 protein, more of the cells formed cancerous tumors when transferred into mice.

 

"This would indicate that fat from both mice and humans can make a non-tumorigenic cell malignantly transform into a tumorigenic cell," Bernard said.

 

She added that there are several other factors released from fat, including the hormone estrogen, that could influence cancer risk, but many of those studies have only been able to show an association and not a direct cause of cancer. She also said genetics plays a role.

 

"There's always an element of chance in whether a person will get cancer or not," Bernard said. "But by making smarter choices when it comes to diet and exercise and avoiding harmful habits like smoking, people can always help skew the odds in their favor."

 

Bernard indicated that she is already looking at identifying new anti-cancer compounds in her research that could stop the effects of FGF2.

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/08/170824101756.htm

In a nutshell: Walnuts activate brain region involved in appetite control

First-of-its-kind study reveals mechanism of walnuts' documented ability to decrease hunger

August 16, 2017

Science Daily/Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center

Double-blind test bolsters observational data that walnuts promote feelings of fullness. Results provide a quantitative measure for testing other compounds' ability to control appetite, including potential medications for the treatment of obesity.

 

Packed with nutrients linked to better health, walnuts are also thought to discourage overeating by promoting feelings of fullness. Now, in a new brain imaging study, researchers at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) have demonstrated that consuming walnuts activates an area in the brain associated with regulating hunger and cravings. The findings, published online in the journal Diabetes, Obesity and Metabolism, reveal for the first time the neurocognitive impact these nuts have on the brain.

 

"We don't often think about how what we eat impacts the activity in our brain," said the study's first author Olivia M Farr, PhD, an instructor in medicine in the Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism at BIDMC. "We know people report feeling fuller after eating walnuts, but it was pretty surprising to see evidence of activity changing in the brain related to food cues, and by extension what people were eating and how hungry they feel."

 

To determine exactly how walnuts quell cravings, Farr and colleagues, in a study led by Christos Mantzoros, MD, DSc, PhD hc mult, director of the Human Nutrition Unit at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to observe how consuming walnuts changes activity in the brain.

 

The scientists recruited 10 volunteers with obesity to live in BIDMC's Clinical Research Center (CRC) for two five-day sessions. The controlled environment of the CRC allowed the researchers to keep tabs on the volunteers' exact nutritional intake, rather than depend on volunteers' often unreliable food records -- a drawback to many observational nutrition studies.

 

During one five-day session, volunteers consumed daily smoothies containing 48 grams of walnuts -- the serving recommended by the American Diabetes Association (ADA) dietary guidelines. During their other stay in the CRC, they received a walnut-free but nutritionally comparable placebo smoothie, flavored to taste exactly the same as the walnut-containing smoothie. The order of the two sessions was random, meaning some participants would consume the walnuts first and others would consume the placebo first. Neither the volunteers nor the researchers knew during which session they consumed the nutty smoothie.

 

As in previous observational studies, participants reported feeling less hungry during the week they consumed walnut-containing smoothies than during the week they were given the placebo smoothies. fMRI tests administered on the fifth day of the experiment gave Farr, Mantzoros and the team a clear picture as to why.

 

While in the machine, study participants were shown images of desirable foods like hamburgers and desserts, neutral objects like flowers and rocks, and less desirable foods like vegetables.

 

When participants were shown pictures of highly desirable foods, fMRI imaging revealed increased activity in a part of the brain called the right insula after participants had consumed the five-day walnut-rich diet compared to when they had not.

 

"This is a powerful measure," said Mantzoros. "We know there's no ambiguity in terms of study results. When participants eat walnuts, this part of their brain lights up, and we know that's connected with what they are telling us about feeling less hungry or more full."

 

This area of the insula is likely involved in cognitive control and salience, meaning that participants were paying more attention to food choices and selecting the less desirable or healthier options over the highly desirable or less healthy options. Farr and Mantzoros next plan to test different amounts, or dosages, of walnuts to see whether more nuts will lead to more brain activation or if the effect plateaus after a certain amount. This experiment will also allow researchers to test other compounds for their effect on this system.

 

Similar studies could reveal how other foods and compounds, such as naturally-occurring hormones, impact the appetite-control centers in the brain. Future research could eventually lead to new treatments for obesity.

 

"From a strategic point of view, we now have a good tool to look into people's brains -- and we have a biological read out." said Mantzoros. "We plan to use it to understand why people respond differently to food in the environment and, ultimately, to develop new medications to make it easier for people to keep their weight down."

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/08/170816181259.htm

Insufficient sleep may be adding to your waistline

July 31, 2017

Science Daily/University of Leeds

Adults in the UK who have poor sleep patterns are more likely to be overweight and obese and have poorer metabolic health, according to a new study.

 

The findings showed that people who were sleeping on average around six hours a night had a waist measurement that was 3cm greater than individuals who were getting nine hours of sleep a night. And shorter sleepers were heavier too.

 

The results strengthen the evidence that insufficient sleep could contribute to the development of metabolic diseases such as diabetes -- major health challenges facing the NHS.

 

The study -- led by Dr Laura Hardie, Reader in Molecular Epidemiology at the University of Leeds -- not only looked at the links between sleep duration, diet and weight, but also other indicators of overall metabolic health such as blood pressure, blood cholesterol, blood sugar, and thyroid function.

 

The study involved 1,615 adults who reported how long they slept and kept records of food intake. Participants had blood samples taken and their weight, waist circumference, and blood pressure recorded.

 

The researchers looked at the associations between how long people were sleeping and these key biological parameters.

 

The research team, from the Leeds Institute of Cardiovascular and Metabolic Medicine and the School of Food Science and Nutrition, reported their findings in the journal PLOS One.

 

Obesity has doubled

 

Greg Potter, one of the Leeds researchers, said "The number of people with obesity worldwide has more than doubled since 1980.

 

"Obesity contributes to the development of many diseases, most notably type 2 diabetes. Understanding why people gain weight has crucial implications for public health."

 

Shorter sleep was also linked to reduced levels of HDL cholesterol in the participants' blood-another factor that can cause health problems. HDL cholesterol is 'good' cholesterol that helps remove 'bad' fat from the circulation. In doing so, high HDL cholesterol levels protect against conditions such as heart disease.

 

Interestingly, the study did not find any relationship between shortened sleep and a less healthy diet -- a fact that surprised the researchers. Other studies have suggested that shortened sleep can lead to poor dietary choices.

 

The research was a snapshot of the associations between sleep duration and measurements of metabolic health. It was not designed to assess the impact of chronic poor sleep over time, and whether that leads to disease.

 

Importance of getting enough sleep

 

Dr Hardie said: "Because we found that adults who reported sleeping less than their peers were more likely to be overweight or obese, our findings highlight the importance of getting enough sleep.

 

"How much sleep we need differs between people, but the current consensus is that seven to nine hours is best for most adults."

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/07/170731225418.htm

 

Want a better memory? Try eating a Mediterranean diet

Eating a Mediterranean diet can slow down cognitive decline

August 9, 2016
Science Daily/Frontiers
The Mediterranean diet can improve your mind, as well your heart, shows a new study

The Mediterranean diet can improve your mind, as well your heart, shows a study published in the open-access journal Frontiers in Nutrition.

By sticking to the Mediterranean diet the study showed that people had slowed rates of cognitive decline, reduced conversion to Alzheimer's, and improved cognitive function.

The main foods in the Mediterranean diet (MedDiet) include plant foods, such as leafy greens, fresh fruit and vegetables, cereals, beans, seeds, nuts, and legumes. The MedDiet is also low in dairy, has minimal red meat, and uses olive oil as its major source of fat.

Leading author Roy Hardman from the Centre for Human Psychopharmacology Swinburne University of Technology Melbourne Australia and his colleagues evaluated all the available papers between 2000-2015 that investigated if and how a MedDiet may impact cognitive processes over time. In total, 18 out of the 135 articles met their strict inclusion criteria.

"The most surprising result was that the positive effects were found in countries around the whole world. So regardless of being located outside of what is considered the Mediterranean region, the positive cognitive effects of a higher adherence to a MedDiet were similar in all evaluated papers;" he said.

Attention, memory, and language improved. Memory, in particular, was positively affected by the MedDiet including improvements in: delayed recognition, long-term, and working memory, executive function, and visual constructs.

"Why is a higher adherence to the MedDiet related to slowing down the rate of cognitive decline? The MedDiet offers the opportunity to change some of the modifiable risk factors," he explained.

"These include reducing inflammatory responses, increasing micronutrients, improving vitamin and mineral imbalances, changing lipid profiles by using olive oils as the main source of dietary fats, maintaining weight and potentially reducing obesity, improving polyphenols in the blood, improving cellular energy metabolism and maybe changing the gut micro-biota, although this has not been examined to a larger extent yet."

Moreover, the benefits to cognition afforded by the MedDiet were not exclusive to older individuals. Two of the included studies focused on younger adults and they both found improvements in cognition using computerized assessments.

The researchers stress that research in this area is important due to the expected extensive population aging over the next 20-30 years. They envision that the utilization of a dietary pattern, such as the MedDiet, will be an essential tool to maintain quality of life and reduce the potential social and economic burdens of manifested cognitive declines like dementia.

"I would therefore recommend people to try to adhere or switch to a MedDiet, even at an older age," Hardman added.

Like many researchers, Hardman takes his research home: "I follow the diet patterns and do not eat any red meats, chicken or pork. I have fish two-three times per week and adhere to a Mediterranean style of eating."
Science Daily/SOURCE :https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/08/160809145258.htm

With beetroot juice before exercise, aging brains look 'younger'

April 19, 2017

Science Daily/Wake Forest University
Drinking a beetroot juice supplement before working out makes the brain of older adults perform more efficiently, mirroring the operations of a younger brain, according to a new study.

"We knew, going in, that a number of studies had shown that exercise has positive effects on the brain," said W. Jack Rejeski, study co-author. "But what we showed in this brief training study of hypertensive older adults was that, as compared to exercise alone, adding a beet root juice supplement to exercise resulted in brain connectivity that closely resembles what you see in younger adults."

While continued work in this area is needed to replicate and extend these exciting findings, they do suggest that what we eat as we age could be critically important to the maintenance of our brain health and functional independence.

Rejeski is Thurman D. Kitchin Professor and Director of the Behavioral Medicine Laboratory in the Department of Health & Exercise Science. The study, "Beet Root Juice: An Ergogenic Aid for Exercise and the Aging Brain," was published in the peer-reviewed Journals of Gerontology: Medical Sciences. One of his former undergraduate students, Meredith Petrie, was the lead author on the paper.

This is the first experiment to test the combined effects of exercise and beetroot juice on functional brain networks in the motor cortex and secondary connections between the motor cortex and the insula, which support mobility, Rejeski said.

The study included 26 men and women age 55 and older who did not exercise, had high blood pressure, and took no more than two medications for high blood pressure. Three times a week for six weeks, they drank a beetroot juice supplement called Beet-It Sport Shot one hour before a moderately intense, 50-minute walk on a treadmill. Half the participants received Beet-It containing 560 mg of nitrate; the others received a placebo Beet-It with very little nitrate.

Beets contain a high level of dietary nitrate, which is converted to nitrite and then nitric oxide (NO) when consumed. NO increases blood flow in the body, and multiple studies have shown it can improve exercise performance in people of various ages.

"Nitric oxide is a really powerful molecule. It goes to the areas of the body which are hypoxic, or needing oxygen, and the brain is a heavy feeder of oxygen in your body," said Rejeski.

When you exercise, the brain's somatomotor cortex, which processes information from the muscles, sorts out the cues coming in from the body. Exercise should strengthen the somatomotor cortex.

So, combining beetroot juice with exercise delivers even more oxygen to the brain and creates an excellent environment for strengthening the somatomotor cortex. Post-exercise analysis showed that, although the study groups has similar levels of nitrate and nitrite in the blood before drinking the juice, the beetroot juice group had much higher levels of nitrate and nitrite than the placebo group after exercise.

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/04/170419091619.htm

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