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Restricting Eating Times Could Prevent Weight Gain, Bolster Weight Loss

Restricting eating to eight-to-12 hours in a day could help ward off high cholesterol, diabetes and obesity, a U.S. study in mice suggests. The problem has arisen among children and adults who eat more as they spend more time in artificial light, as well as watching television, and interacting with tablets and smartphones. The researchers subjected 400 normal and obese mice to various diets and restrictions on eating times. The benefits of time-restricted feeding were evident regardless of the weight of the mice, type of diet or length of the time restriction. Even when their diets were high in fat, fat and sucrose or just fructose, time-restricted mice gained less weight than their unrestricted counterparts.

"Time-Restricted Feeding Is a Preventative and Therapeutic Intervention against Diverse Nutritional Challenges. ", Cell Metabolism, December 02, 2014

Winter Depression Probably Caused By Reduced Sunlight And Vitamin D

Vitamin D deficiency has been linked with a host of health issues, but a new study finds a link with certain mental health problems, too. U.S. and Australian researchers reviewed more than 100 scientific articles, finding an association between vitamin D deficiency and seasonal depression, sometimes called seasonal affective disorder (SAD). People with SAD show the same symptoms year after year, beginning in the fall and continuing through winter. The researchers are convinced by their findings that reduced sunlight – which produces vitamin D in the body – during the winter months probably contributes to SAD. Low vitamin D levels reduce the brain chemicals serotonin and dopamine, which are linked to depression.

"Possible contributions of skin pigmentation and vitamin D in a polyfactorial model of seasonal affective disorder. ", Medical Hypotheses, December 02, 2014

Compound In Chinese Medicinal Plant Thwarts Obesity, Type 2 Diabetes In Mice

In a mouse study, Japanese researchers discovered that a compound present in a flowering plant used in Chinese medicine may inhibit development of metabolic disorders associated with obesity, diabetes and fatty liver disease. Iisoliquiritigenin from the plant glycyrrhiza uralensis (Gan Cao) did a good job of inhibiting production of a high-fat, diet-induced inflammation factor (IL-1beta) in fat tissue, compared with other inflammation inhibitors, in one of the groups of mice. The researchers said that their findings could lead to development of a new herbal medication for obesity-related diseases.

"Isoliquiritigenin is a potent inhibitor of NLRP3 inflammasome activation and diet-induced adipose tissue inflammation. ", Journal of Leukocyte Biology, December 01, 2014

Weight Watchers Veers Away From Celebrity Spokeswomen In Its New Ads

Weight Watchers is abandoning the celebrity endorsement approach to TV advertising, switching instead to commercials that feature actors snacking because they are happy, and also because they are sad, bored, stressed or guilty. The ads link human feelings with eating, acknowledging that losing weight is not easy and suggesting that Weight Watchers provides “help with the hard part” through an extensive support network. The commercials are meant to distinguish the company from its competitors and to be conversation starters among multiple household members who may be watching the same programming, according to their creators.

"Weight Watchers Serving Up Understanding to Those Who Eat Their Feelings", The New York Times, November 24, 2014

Omega-3 Fatty Acids In Fish Oil Help Prevent Gastrointestinal Cancers

Researchers in Missouri have found compelling evidence in a review of scientific studies that eating the right kinds of fatty fish can prevent development of the type of tumors found in breast, prostate, pancreas, colon and other gastrointestinal cancers. Omega-3s in fatty fish seem to work the same way as low-dose aspirin: by inhibiting the activity of the cox-2 enzyme, a major contributor to adenocarcinomas. The researchers noted that olive oil used in Italy in cooking and as a salad dressing is low in omega-6; omega-3-rich fish is a staple in the Italian diet. A high ratio of omega-3s to omega-6s is the key. Subjects in Italian studies who consumed fish at least twice weekly were at a significantly lower risk for a number of gastrointestinal cancers.

"A Higher Dietary Ratio of Long-Chain Omega-3 to Total Omega-6 Fatty Acids for Prevention of COX-2-Dependent Adenocarcinomas. ", Nutrition and Cancer, November 21, 2014

Sugary Drinks Do Not Affect Teenage Metabolism, As Long As Kids Stay Active

Weight-stable, physically active adolescents who consume moderate amounts of sugary drinks every day need not worry about adverse metabolic impact, a new U.S. study has found. Researchers measured insulin sensitivity and cholesterol levels of participants (boys and girls 15 to 20 years old) after they had consumed a couple of cans of either high-glucose or high-fructose beverages daily for two weeks. The researchers found that as long as the kids stayed active, there was little adverse impact from drinking the sugary beverages.

"Moderate amounts of fructose- or glucose-sweetened beverages do not differentially alter metabolic health in male and female adolescents. ", American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, November 18, 2014

People Who Cook At Home Eat Healthier Food, Consume Fewer Calories

U.S. researchers who analyzed data from a recent National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey found that people who cook at home a lot tend to eat healthier and consume fewer calories than those who cook less. The data came from questionnaires answered by more than 9,000 participants aged 20 and older about what they ate during a 24-hour period. The eight percent who cooked dinner once or less a week consumed 2,301 total calories, 84 grams of fat and 135 grams of sugar. The forty-eight percent who cooked dinner six to seven times a week consumed 2,164 calories, 81 grams of fat and 119 grams of sugar on an average day.

"Is cooking at home associated with better diet quality or weight-loss intention? ", Public Health Nutrition, November 17, 2014

Some Breads Are Better For Weight Loss Than Others

Weight loss can only happen on a balanced diet that features plenty of fruits and vegetables, as well as complex carbohydrates like bread. Some breads are better for weight loss, however, than others. The eight breads that help dieters shed pounds are: oat bread, whole wheat, brown rice bread, whole wheat pita, flaxseed, rye bread, Ezekiel bread, and gluten-free. A physician commenter on the article, however, said only Ezekiel bread (barley, wheat, lentils, beans, spelt and millet) and genuine sourdough should be eaten by dieters. The other varieties of whole grain breads raise blood sugar levels significantly, prompt insulin release contributing to pre-diabetes, and should be avoided when trying to lose weight.

"8 Types Of Bread For Weight Loss", BoldSky.com, November 17, 2014

Weight Gain When Exercising Aerobically Can Be Prevented

A U.S. study of 81 overweight, sedentary women who participated in an exercise program ostensibly to improve their fitness found that many of the women actually gained weight over 12 weeks. The researchers wondered why. Almost 70 percent had added some fat mass, and several had gained as much as 10 pounds, mostly fat. But those who had lost weight after four weeks tended to continue to lose weight. The researchers concluded that the best way to lose weight when exercising is to check the scale after a month: if you’ve lost weight, then stick to the diet and physical activity level that has worked so far.

"Exercising but Gaining Weight", The New York Times, November 12, 2014

Comment & Opinion  

Celiac Sufferers Can Try These Alternative Flours For Holiday Baking

Food writer Sarah-Jane Bedwell offers some suggestions for holiday baking to people with celiac disease (severe allergic reaction to the protein gluten) or a wheat allergy. Her focus is on six alternative flours: almond, rice, amaranth, potato, buckwheat and chickpea. Each has its virtues as a replacement for wheat flour. For example, buckwheat makes a whole grain flour that has a rich, nutty flavor, is high in fiber, calcium and protein and is “great in bread or muffin recipes”. Vitamin B-rich potato flour attracts and holds water, so it works great for making moist breads, pancakes, and waffles.

"6 Alternative Flours for Gluten Free Baking", TheHuffingtonPost.com, November 24, 2014

Dietary Changes Would Benefit The Health Of Humans And The Planet

Shifting to a largely plant-based diet would not only make us healthier, it would also be good for the planet, according to U.S. researchers. Their study fused data on the environmental costs of food production – growing fruits, vegetables, grains, etc. vs. raising cattle– as well as diet trends, relationships between diet and health, and population growth. The core problem is that people consume too much refined sugar, refined fats and oils, and land-intense agricultural products like beef. All of this shortens lifespans, while increasing greenhouse gas emissions and reducing land available for endangered species. The solution is to switch to largely Mediterranean, pescatarian (fish) or vegetarian diets.

"Global diets link environmental sustainability and human health. ", Nature, November 12, 2014

Products & Brands  

The Health Benefits Of Cooking With Unground Wheat Berries

A Mayo Clinic dietitian describes the health benefits of cooking with wheat berries, the mostly unprocessed kernels of wheat that contain the germ, endosperm and bran, but not the hull. Ground wheat berries are used to make whole wheat flour, but even before grinding, the berries can be used to make soups, stews, salads, bread, stuffing and other foods. A half cup of cooked wheat berries has 150 calories, four grams of fiber, plus magnesium, selenium, manganese, phosphorus and lignans, thought to protect against breast and prostate cancer. Several wheat berry recipes are offered along with tips for preparation and storage.

"Wheat berries boost whole grain intake", La Crosse Tribune, November 23, 2014

Many Fruit Juices For Kids Sold In The U.K. Are More Sugary Than Coca-Cola

More than 25 percent of fruit juices targeted at children and sold in British supermarkets contain as much or more sugar than Coca-Cola. According to a report by Action on Sugar, store brands from Waitrose, Tesco, Sainsbury’s and ASDA were “among the worst culprits”. For example, ASDA’s Chosen by Kids tropical juice drink contains seven teaspoons of sugar per 200 ml -- more than a teaspoon more than regular Coke. A quarter of the juice drinks contain added sugar or glucose-fructose syrup. Health experts from Action on Sugar urge parents to skip fruit juices altogether, except perhaps at mealtimes.

"Fruit drinks aimed at children contain more sugar than Coca-Cola", The Telegraph, November 10, 2014

Weight management products soaring globally

Australian Food News, November 19, 2014

Research, Studies, Advice  

Carb Restriction More Important Than Fat Restriction In Weight Loss

The findings of a clinical study by U.S. researchers should be encouraging news for adherents of low-carb, high-fat/high protein diets like Atkins. While calories (2,500) and protein content (130 g) were kept the same, 16 participants with metabolic disorder were fed six three-week diets that gradually increased carb content while fat and saturated fat were reduced. Total saturated fat in the blood did not increase – it even dropped in most people -- despite being increased in the diet as carb intake dropped. The biomarker palmitoleic fatty acid, associated with unhealthy metabolism of carbs, dropped with low-carb intake. But it gradually increased as carbs were re-introduced. “Since more than half of Americans show some signs of carb intolerance, it makes more sense to focus on carb restriction than fat restriction," the researchers concluded.

"Effects of Step-Wise Increases in Dietary Carbohydrate on Circulating Saturated Fatty Acids and Palmitoleic Acid in Adults with Metabolic Syndrome. ", PLoS ONE, December 05, 2014

Aerated Drinks Increase Stomach Volume, Reduce Appetite

A small clinical trial conducted by British and Dutch researchers finds that aerated or foamy drinks decrease appetite enough to be useful as adietary tool. Participants included 20 healthy adult males aged 18 to 60. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) was used to measure volumes of foam, liquid and air layers in the stomachs of the participants. The researchers tested three beverages, each with 110 calories: skimmed-milk powder, xanthan gum and water and lemon syrup. The products were either non-aerated, aerated (foamy) stable, and aerated less stable. The researchers found that the foamy drinks significantly increased gastric volumes and reduced hunger.

"Aerated drinks increase gastric volume and reduce appetite as assessed by MRI: a randomized, balanced, crossover trial", The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, December 03, 2014

Mediterranean Diet Linked To Longer Telomeres, Longer Life

A U.S. study shows that eating a Mediterranean diet (i.e., fruits, vegetables, nuts, olive oil, fish, etc.) might help extend a person’s lifespan by keeping chromosomes, particularly their telomeres, intact. Telomeres sit on the end of chromosomes like the plastic aglets at the end of shoelaces. With aging, telomeres fray and shorten, scrambling genetic codes. Researchers analyzed dietary data on 4,676 healthy middle-aged women who also had a blood test to measure telomere length. Results showed that greater adherence to the Mediterranean diet was significantly associated with longer telomeres. Each one point change in diet score corresponded on average to 1.5 years of telomere aging.

"Mediterranean diet and telomere length in Nurses' Health Study: population based cohort study. ", British Medical Journal, December 03, 2014

Popular Diet Plans Work In The Short Term, But Are Ineffective Over The Long Haul

A Canadian review of clinical trials involving four commercial diet plans -- Atkins, South Beach, Weight Watchers, and Zone -- that promise not only weight loss but improved cardiovascular health found that all helped dieters lose weight in the short term. However, the trials provided little evidence that the diets worked in the long run, or that they improved heart health. Weight Watchers dieters lost an average 7.7 to 13.2 pounds after a year compared to 1.8 to 11.9 pounds with usual care. But at two years, dieters had regained a lot of the pounds. In a head to head comparison of diets, those on Atkins lost the most, an average 4.6 to 10.3 pounds. The control group lost about 4.85 pounds.

"Long-Term Effects of 4 Popular Diets on Weight Loss and Cardiovascular Risk Factors: A Systematic Review of Randomized Controlled Trials. ", Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes, November 21, 2014

Applying Genetic Information Helps Improve Eating Habits

Canadian researchers have found that tailoring one’s diet using genetic information improves eating habits better than following standardized diet advice. The researchers collected data on the intake of caffeine, sodium, vitamin C and sugar from 138 healthy young adults who were then divided into two groups. One group was given DNA-based dietary advice while the other group was given current standard dietary advice. Dietary habits were checked after three and 12 months. Those who received DNA-based dietary advice showed dietary improvement after three months and even more so after a year. The genetic dietary advice was provided by a University of Toronto start-up company that develops genetic test kits for personalized nutrition.

"Disclosure of Genetic Information and Change in Dietary Intake: A Randomized Controlled Trial. ", PLoS ONE, November 21, 2014

Trans Fat Consumption Linked To Poor Performance On Memory Test

U.S. researchers who questioned 1,000 healthy adult men and postmenopausal women about their consumption of artificially produced trans fats found that men who consumed the most did noticeably worse on a word memory test. Trans fats are used by food companies to turn liquid oils into solids at room temperature and extend food shelf life. They are found in margarines, fast foods, baked goods, snack foods, frozen pizza, etc. Men under age 45 who ate more trans fats remembered 11 fewer words than adults who ate the least trans fat.

"Trans Fat Consumption is Linked to Diminished Memory in Working-aged Adults", News release, study presented at an American Heart Association meeting, November 18, 2014

Vitamin B With Folic Acid Does Not Prevent Or Improve Memory Loss

Dutch researchers have determined that, despite earlier observational studies, taking folic acid and vitamin B12 over long periods of time does not reduce the risk of memory loss. The study was conducted in 2,919 older patients with high levels of the amino acid homocysteine – thought to be associated with memory loss. Folic acid and vitamin B12 do lower homocysteine levels, but after two years of supplementation the researchers found no difference between the patients who took supplements and those who took a placebo in the scores on thinking and memory tests.

"Results of 2-year vitamin B treatment on cognitive performance: Secondary data from an RCT. ", Neurology, November 12, 2014

An Obsession With Healthy Eating Can Be Very Unhealthy

Add another eating disorder to the list: orthorexia nervosa, a condition in which people obsessed with eating healthful, “clean” food end up hurting themselves. More and more doctors and dietitians are treating people determined to cleanse their diet of meat products, gluten, dairy, sugar, etc., become obsessive compulsive, lose way too much weight and even become malnourished. Very little research has been done on the phenomenon, but researchers in Colorado recently devised a list of criteria for doctors to use to diagnose orthorexia. The criteria could also be used to expand research on the condition, which is not yet listed in the official manual of mental disorders.

"When Healthy Eating Calls For Treatment", The Wall Street Journal, November 10, 2014

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