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Americans Still Consume Unhealthy Levels Of Sodium

January 8, 2016: 12:00 AM EST
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a report that says almost all Americans – no matter the sex, race, or health status – consume too much sodium. The newly-issued 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend limiting sodium to less than 2,300 mg (the amount in one teaspoon of salt) a day for people over 14 and less for younger children. But according to the CDC findings, based on the diets of 15,000 people, more than 90 percent of children and 89 percent of adults aged 19 and older consume much more sodium than that, and most comes from processed and restaurant foods. Evidence links excess sodium intake to high blood pressure and other health problems.
Sandra L. Jackson et al., "Prevalence of Excess Sodium Intake in the United States — NHANES, 2009–2012", Report, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, January 08, 2016, © U.S. Department of Health and Human Services/Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
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High-Fat, Low-Carb Diet May Be Effective In Treating Schizophrenia

December 31, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
A diet effective in treating epilepsy may also work in controlling symptoms associated with schizophrenia, Australian researchers report. The ketogenic diet – high in fats, low in carbs – has also become a weight-loss regimen for bodybuilders. The researchers believe the diet works by providing alternative energy sources (ketone bodies) formed when the body breaks down fat. The ketones help to circumvent abnormally functioning cellular energy pathways in the brains of schizophrenics. The diet has so far been tested only in mice, whose schizophrenic behaviors were mitigated by the high-fat regimen. In humans, the diet would comprise butter, cheese, salmon, etc., and would supplement medication in a clinical setting where a patient's diet could be controlled. The researchers are planning a clinical study to test their hypothesis.
Ann Katrin Kraeuter et al., "Ketogenic diet reverses behavioral abnormalities in an acute NMDA receptor hypofunction model of schizophrenia. ", Schizophrenia Research, December 31, 2015
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Oprah Winfrey’s Midas Touch Reverses Weight Watchers’ Stock Slide

December 31, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
An endorsement, investment, and advertisement from Oprah Winfrey were apparently just the shot in the arm that Weight Watchers needed to reverse its recent stock slide. In October, Winfrey bought $40 million worth of the company’s stock after it announced its new mission: healthy weight loss and wellbeing, rather than deprivation. Her investment doubled in value almost immediately. Now the company’s brand ambassador, Winfrey also launched a video campaign on Twitter targeting her 30 million followers. The stock climbed 30 percent after the campaign began. Winfrey’s stock is now valued at about $150 million, a 375 percent gain.
Jessica Goodfellow, "Weight Watchers stock prices soar following Oprah Winfrey campaign", The Drum, December 31, 2015, © Carnyx Group Ltd
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Bad Diet Habits Contribute To Excessive, Prolonged Pain After Surgery, Injury

December 30, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
Poor diet worsens and lengthens chronic pain after surgery or injury, according to new U.S. research. In fact, the study in mice shows a direct link between poor diet quality, obesity and increased and prolonged pain. The mice were fed a version of the so-called “Total Western Diet (TWD):” high in calories from carbohydrates and saturated and monounsaturated fats, and low in calories from protein. After 13 weeks, the TWD mice were fatter and had higher levels of inflammatory compounds. Obese people have the same metabolic profile. In addition, hypersensitivity to heat and touch was greater and lasted longer. The findings indicate that patients with chronic pain who eat poorly are likely to experience “exaggerated pain responses and recovery from injury or surgery.”
Stacie K. Totsch et al., "Total Western Diet (TWD) alters mechanical and thermal sensitivity and prolongs hypersensitivity following Complete Freund’s Adjuvant in mice. ", The Journal of Pain, December 30, 2015, © Elsevier Inc.
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Special K Backs Away From Dieting Message, Now Stresses Nutrition

December 29, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
J. Walter Thompson will continue the ad theme created by predecessor Leo Burnett for Special K cereal that emphasizes broad nutritional benefits for women rather than just weight loss. Sales of the brand have dropped off in recent years, and it became apparent to Kellogg’s that women wanted more than calorie counting. Still the biggest player in breakfast cereals, Kellogg’s nevertheless saw its share of the global market fall over the last five years from 30 percent to about 28 percent while PepsiCo and Post Holdings gained ground. Sales picked up last year when more freeze-dried strawberries were added to Special K, the company’s biggest brand, and the company got the message: “strong is the new skinny.”
Jessica Wohl, "Special K Recipe for 2016: New Cereal Promoted By New Agency", Advertising Age, December 29, 2015, © Crain Communications
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“Healthy” Foods Can’t Be Making People Fat, Can They? They Sure Can!

December 28, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
Three experiments conducted among groups of American college students have found that junk food isn’t the only culprit in the obesity epidemic. So-called “healthy” foods – as depicted on packaging and labels – can also make people fat because people generally perceive them to be less filling, and end up overeating them. When packages portray a food as healthy, consumer judgment and behavior are affected: it’s healthy, so it’s less filling. They feel less hungry after eating foods depicted as healthy because they tend to order larger portions and end up eating more. The tendency to overeat can be reversed by portraying a food as “nourishing” instead of healthy, the researchers said.
Jacob Suher et al., "Eating Healthy or Feeling Empty? How the" Healthy = Less Filling" Intuition Influences Satiety. ", The Journal of the Association for Consumer Research, December 28, 2015, © Suher et al.
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Magnesium Seen As Increasingly Important To Good Health

December 28, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
Market researcher Packaged Facts says the current focus on whole food and natural food sources will mean that consumers will be looking for foods naturally rich in magnesium, a mineral that is increasingly recognized as a beneficial ingredient. Certain dairy products and milk and dairy substitutes, cereals, and breads will lead the trend, followed by baby food and food supplements, bars and beverages. Foods high in fiber are high in magnesium, including nuts, seeds, whole grains and legumes, which also happen to be good sources of plant protein.
"Magnesium Rising in the Food Industry", US Daily Review, December 28, 2015, © USDAILYREVIEW.COM
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“Personalized” Nutrition Plan Could Be Answer To Ineffective Dieting

December 21, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
Because metabolism differs from one person to the next, personalized nutrition, based on individual responses to foods, may be the best way to diet, an Israeli study finds. Researchers tracked blood sugar levels of 800 people who ate the same foods for a week. A key finding was that the glycemic index (GI) – used to track the effect of a food on blood sugar – is not a set value, but depends on the individual. Age and body mass index (BMI) affect blood glucose levels after meals. The researchers also found that different people show markedly different responses to the same food – in one woman’s case, “healthy” tomatoes – even though responses were the same from day to day. A “personalized” nutrition plan would eliminate tomatoes from that woman’s diet because of its effect on her blood sugar.
David Zeevi et al., "Personalized Nutrition by Prediction of Glycemic Responses. ", Cell, December 21, 2015, © Elsevier Inc.
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Sweet Foods May Help People Remember Their Meals, Control Eating

December 18, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
A U.S. study has determined that eating sweet foods activates an area of the brain that helps remember specific events, like eating a meal. If that area remains dormant, people are less likely to remember that they’ve eaten, and will tend to eat more. The researchers said that people will make a lunch decision, for example, based on whether they remember that they ate breakfast. "We think that episodic memory can be used to control eating behavior," said one researcher, but more study is necessary to find out if nutritionally balanced diets with protein, fat and carbohydrates have a similar effect on the brain’s ability to remember meals.
Yoko O. Henderson et al., "Sweet orosensation induces Arcexpression in dorsal hippocampal CA1 neurons in an experience-dependent manner", Hippocampus, December 18, 2015, © Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
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Dietary Potassium Seems To Preserve Kidney, Heart Health In Type 2 Diabetics

December 18, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
People with type 2 diabetes are at greater risk of developing kidney failure and heart disease. One of the key reasons, according to this Japanese study, may be low intake of potassium. The study was launched in 1996. A total of 623 patients with type 2 diabetes but normal kidney function were enrolled through 2003, and monitored until 2013. Researchers found that patients whose intake (and therefore excretion) of potassium was higher over those years showed slower kidney decline and fewer incidences of cardiac complications (e.g., heart attacks, angina pectoris, stroke, etc.). The findings point to a possible dietary intervention for type 2 diabetics. Foods rich in potassium include beans, dark leafy greens, fish, mushrooms, and bananas.
S.-i. Araki et al., "Urinary Potassium Excretion and Renal and Cardiovascular Complications in Patients with Type 2 Diabetes and Normal Renal Function. ", Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology, December 18, 2015, © American Society of Nephrology
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Weight Watchers Hopes New Strategy Will Help It Gain Members And Revenue

December 6, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
The 52-year-old Weight Watchers diet company, which has experienced a steady slide in members, sales, and stock price, has figured out that though middle-aged women want to lose weight, they want to do it by lifestyle change, rather than deprivation. So, with Oprah Winfrey’s money and advice, that is what the company is now providing. Instead of a diet plan, Weight Watchers has launched “Beyond the Scale,” a program offering revamped food guidelines, a focus on fitness, and motivational tools to “find and fuel inner strength.” The new program has worked so far for Oprah, who has lost 20 pounds since her $43 million investment. The company hopes it works for itself, too, but in reverse. It needs to gain back the 1.4 million members – and several billion dollars in revenue – lost since 2013.
Ellen Byron, "Weight Watchers’ Plan: Don’t Call It a ‘Diet’", The Wall Street Journal, December 06, 2015, © Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
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Researchers Make A Weight-Loss Case For Sugar Substitutes

December 6, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
A British review of published studies on artificial sweeteners – i.e., saccharin, aspartame, sucralose and stevia – has found that their use in place of sugar reduces caloric intake and helps people lose weight. For the study, 12 clinical trials, 228 comparative human intervention studies, and 90 animal studies were analyzed. The researchers found that comparisons of the dietary impact of artificially-sweetened drinks and water, for example, showed that they did not increase appetite, as some scientists have argued. Instead, artificially-sweetened beverages reduced weight more than water, perhaps because they may be an easier dietary change to make than switching to water.
P. J. Rogers et al., "Does low-energy sweetener consumption affect energy intake and body weight? A systematic review, including meta-analyses, of the evidence from human and animal studies. ", International Journal of Obesity, December 06, 2015, © Rogers et al.
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“Portfolio Diet” Beats DASH At Reducing Blood Pressure

December 6, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
A diet developed especially to lower cholesterol also fortuitously reduces blood pressure even better than the DASH diet, according to Canadian research. Scientists were taking a second look at a 2011 study of the impact of the so-called “portfolio diet” on cholesterol patients when they discovered by chance its effect on hypertension. The diet lowered blood pressure an average of two percent better than the DASH (dietary approach to stopping hypertension) diet. The diets are similar in that they de-emphasize animal proteins. But the portfolio regimen features mixed nuts, soy protein, plant sterols (from vegetable oils and leafy vegetables) and viscous fiber (from oats, barley and eggplant). DASH emphasizes fruit, vegetables and whole grains, no snack food, and less dairy.
D. J. A. Jenkins et al., "The effect of a dietary portfolio compared to a DASH-type diet on blood pressure. ", Nutrition, Metabolism and Cardiovascular Diseases, December 06, 2015, © The Italian Society of Diabetology
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High-Heat Meat Cooking Greatly Increases Risk Of Kidney Cancer

December 6, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
High-temperature meat cooking methods, such as barbecuing and pan-frying, create carcinogens (PhIP and MeIQx) that increase the risk of kidney cancer, especially among people with certain gene mutations. For the study, U.S. researchers analyzed eating habits and genetic information of 659 kidney cancer patients and 699 healthy people. Kidney cancer patients were found to eat more red and white meat compared to healthy individuals. But they also had 54 percent higher levels of PhlP and double the levels of MelQx, suggesting the impact of high-heat cooking. Moreover, those with variations in one gene (ITPR2) were more vulnerable to the effects of PhIP, ostensibly confirming the link between high-temperature meat cooking and renal cancer.
Stephanie C. Melkonian et al., "Gene-environment interaction of genome-wide association study-identified susceptibility loci and meat-cooking mutagens in the etiology of renal cell carcinoma. ", Cancer, December 06, 2015, © American Cancer Society
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Dietary Supplements Are Popular, Safe, According to Dietary Supplement Makers

November 23, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
More than two-thirds of American adults say they take dietary supplements, and a large majority (84 percent) believe supplements are safe, according to a survey sponsored by the Council for Responsible Nutrition, a trade organization representing dietary supplement makers. Americans have the most confidence in the vitamins and minerals category. The survey found that between 2014 and 2015, overall usage of vitamins and minerals and “specialty supplements” remained flat. Usage of “herbals & botanicals” and “sports nutrition & weight management” supplements grew five percent.
Nancy Weindruch, "Most U.S. Adults Take Dietary Supplements, According to New Survey", News release, Council for Responsible Nutrition, November 23, 2015, © The Council for Responsible Nutrition
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Regulate Safety, Not Efficacy, Of Dietary Supplements, Former FDA Official Says

November 20, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
A former FDA official says don’t worry about the efficacy of dietary supplements – at least for now. Pay attention instead to their safety. Dr. Joshua M. Sharfstein, now at Johns Hopkins University, argues that many dietary supplements – vitamins, minerals, herbal extracts, etc. – are spiked with pharmaceuticals, are poorly manufactured, or lack the stated ingredients. Unfortunately, there is gridlock in dealing with the problem at the national level because manufacturers oppose closer scrutiny of efficacy and federal laws handcuff the FDA, keeping it from effectively monitoring the thousands of products on the market. But Sharfstein says that manufacturers would probably support stronger safety controls if they were not tied to analysis of product claims.
Akshay Kapoor & Joshua M. Sharfstein, "Breaking the gridlock: Regulation of dietary supplements in the United States. ", Drug Testing and Analysis, November 20, 2015, © John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
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Gastric Balloon May Be Answer To Weight Loss For The Desperate Obese

November 20, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
Swallowing a balloon-pill may prove to be an effective weight loss technique, according to a new study. The “procedureless” gastric balloon is ingested as a capsule – dubbed “Elipse” by manufacturer Allurion Technologies – that is then “inflated” with 550 ml of liquid. In the study, patients who kept the balloon in place for four months lost 37 percent of their excess weight. The device is not considered a permanent solution to weight loss, but it does have the potential to help people who are overweight or obese but are not candidates for bariatric surgery. After four months, a valve opens on its own, releasing the liquid that is then excreted naturally.
Ram Chuttani et al., "The First Procedureless Gastric Balloon: A Prospective Study Evaluating Safety, Weight Loss, Metabolic Parameters and Quality of Life", Research presented at ObesityWeek 2015, November 20, 2015, © American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery and The Obesity Society
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Inability To Absorb Enough Vitamin E Is A Key Problem For the Obese

November 20, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
Obese people are often afflicted with metabolic syndrome, an array of conditions that include excess abdominal fat, high blood pressure, low "good" cholesterol, and high levels of blood sugar and fats. People with metabolic syndrome have one thing in common: they tend to be deficient in vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol), which the body needs to fight oxidative stress that can lead to heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer's disease and cancer. The key problem for obese people is that, while they need higher levels of vitamin E to fight oxidative stress, their obesity is preventing absorption of the vitamin. And, contrary to recent findings, dairy fat does not increase the bioavailability of vitamin E, at least in supplement form.
E. Mah et al., "α-Tocopherol bioavailability is lower in adults with metabolic syndrome regardless of dairy fat co-ingestion: a randomized, double-blind, crossover trial. ", American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, November 20, 2015, © American Society for Nutrition
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Junk Food May Be Harmful To Health, But It’s Not The Main Cause Of Obesity

November 20, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
Junk food in and of itself may be nutritionally bankrupt, even harmful to health, but it is not the leading cause of obesity, Cornell University scientists say in a new study. It’s more complicated than that. For example,overall diet and amount of physical activity are also key factors. The study reviewed a representative sample of about 5,000 adults in the United States. It found that consumption of soda, candy and fast food is not linked to body mass index (BMI) for 95 percent of the population. Those on the extreme ends of the BMI spectrum – the chronically underweight or morbidly obese – are the exceptions because they are more likely to eat junk food and less likely to eat fruits and vegetables. The simple point is that narrowly targeting junk food is ineffective and self-defeating because “it distracts from the real underlying causes of obesity."
David Just, Brian Wansink, "Fast Food, Soft Drink, and Candy Intake is Unrelated to Body Mass Index for 95% of American Adults", Obesity Science & Practice, November 20, 2015, © Just & Wansink
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Neither App Nor Coaching Effective At Long-Term Weight Loss

November 20, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
Weight loss programs for young adults that employ smartphone apps – even with personalized coaching – are no more effective at helping shed pounds than instructional fliers, a U.S. study has found. It’s upsetting news, because 35 percent of Americans in the 18-35 age range are obese. The randomized study included 365 people. One group used a free Android app called CITY (Cell Phone Intervention for You), designed for the study by university scientists. On average, participants who used the app lost about two pounds after two years, about the same as a control group that received handouts about exercise and nutrition. A separate arm of the study worked with the app and a personal coach, with the same disappointing results.
Laura P. Svetkey et al., " Cell phone intervention for you (CITY): A randomized, controlled trial of behavioral weight loss intervention for young adults using mobile technology. ", Obesity, November 20, 2015, © The Obesity Society
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Risk Of Death By Heart Disease, Stroke, Etc., Reduced By Coffee Drinking

November 18, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
A large, 30-year study conducted among healthcare professionals found that coffee drinking was linked to a lower risk of death from heart disease, stroke, diabetes, neurological diseases and suicide. No association with reduced cancer risk was found, however. The risk of death was reduced by six percent among nonsmokers who drank at least one cup of coffee – either caffeinated or decaffeinated – a day. The greatest reduction in risk – 15 percent – was found among nonsmokers who drank between three and five cups a day. Controlling for age, alcohol consumption, BMI and other health and diet factors did not change the results.
Ming Ding et al., "Association of Coffee Consumption with Total and Cause-Specific Mortality in Three Large Prospective Cohorts", Circulation, November 18, 2015, © American Heart Association, Inc.
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Shifts In Consumer Eating Preferences Drive New Food Product Development

November 17, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
Clean eating, organic, “free from,” and “flexitarian” (i.e., part-time vegetarian) are some of the key trends in food and drinks for 2016, according to an analysis of product launches by Innova Market Insights. The desire for transparency in food ingredients showed itself in the form of the “clear label" trend, a step up from “clean label.” Though most consumers don't need foods “free from” gluten, wheat, or dairy, they want them anyway, making it a major trend. Part-time vegetarians have reduced meat consumption for health, sustainability or animal welfare reasons, and that’s having an impact on new food products. Consumers are looking for fresh alternatives to preservatives, like fermentation and other ancient techniques. Other new products exploit the newfound desire to eat more vegetables, though in different forms like smoothies and pastas.
"Top Food & Beverages Trends for 2016: "Clean Eating" Trend Inspires a Back to Basics Approach", News release, Innova Market Insights, November 17, 2015, © Innova Market Insights
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Diet Rich In Soluble Fiber Reduces Risk Of Damaging Inflammation, Obesity

November 13, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
New U.S. research in mice suggests that intestinal inflammation caused by a microbiome that lacks soluble fiber may be a key factor in obesity and in obesity-related diseases like diabetes. The researchers found that adding more soluble fiber to the diet restores the gut microbiome and intestinal health. For the study, researchers tested the effects of various diets (i.e., soluble and insoluble fiber, protein and fat) on the intestinal tracts of mice. Among other things, the researchers found that improvements in gut structure from a soluble fiber-rich diet were due to changes in the gut microbiota that produced anti-inflammatory molecules (short chain fatty acids) used as fuel by intestinal cells.
Benoit Chassaing et al., "Lack of soluble fiber drives diet-induced adiposity in mice. ", American Journal of Physiology - Gastrointestinal and Liver Physiology, November 13, 2015, © American Physiological Society
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More Fiber In Diet Is Good, Except When The Bacteria Control System Is Defective

November 13, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
Some studies have linked metabolic syndrome with the fermentation activities of bacteria on soluble fiber in the intestines. The bacteria digest the fiber, creating short chain fatty acids that control inflammation and reduce the risk of obesity. So it is usually healthful to increase fiber consumption. But a new U.S. study found a link between unchecked bacterial fermentation, increased short-chain fatty acids and increased liver lipids in people (and mice) with a compromised “TLR5” function. A defect in the TLR5 receptor reduces control of bacteria volumes. Bacteria multiply, lipids rise, as does the risk of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and liver damage.
Vishal Singh et al. , "Microbiota-Dependent Hepatic Lipogenesis Mediated by Stearoyl CoA Desaturase 1 (SCD1) Promotes Metabolic Syndrome in TLR5-Deficient Mice", Cell Metabolism, November 13, 2015, © Elsevier B.V.
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Count Your Bites, Then Count Your (Weight Loss) Blessings

November 13, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
A small U.S. pilot study has determined that weight loss could be as simple a matter as counting – but not steps, or minutes of exercise, or calories. The 41 participants who completed the study counting bites as they ate lost about four pounds on average (a healthful pound per week). Participants also committed to taking 20 to 30 percent fewer bites over four weeks. They changed nothing else about their eating or exercising patterns. Those who didn’t finish the program blamed the difficulty of keeping count, so computer scientists developed an algorithm for that. The technology was licensed to a local Utah startup (SmartBites) that is working on an app for wearable devices such as Android Wear and WatchOS devices.
Crookston, Hall et al., "Pilot Test of A Bites-Focused Weight Loss Intervention. ", Advances in Obesity, Weight Management & Control, November 13, 2015, © MedCrave
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Soy Protein Helps Expectant Mothers Control Blood Sugar Levels

November 11, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
A small Iranian clinical study finds that expectant mothers with gestational diabetes –high blood sugar levels – might benefit from soy protein in their diet. Soy has been shown to help people with type 2 diabetes, so it’s not a big stretch to expect it would also help pregnant women. High blood sugar during pregnancy can lead to hypertension, heavier babies, and a greater risk of needing a C-section. For the study, participants were divided into two groups, one of which stuck to a diet in which 35 percent of their protein was soy-based. After six weeks, blood sugar and insulin levels had dropped in the soy group, but rose for women in the control group, who had eaten protein from normal plant and animal sources.
Kathryn Doyle, "Soy might benefit women with pregnancy diabetes", Reuters, November 11, 2015, © Thomson Reuters
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FDA Recommends Limits On Daily “Added Sugar” Intake

November 9, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
The FDA has issued a recommendation that Americans limit "added sugar" consumption to no more than ten percent of daily calories. The agency also wants food labels to distinguish between natural sugar and added sugar. Except for children three and under, that would mean a limit of 12.5 teaspoons, or 50 grams, of added sugar a day, about the same amount as in a can of Coca-Cola. The problem for American consumers is that sugar, honey and high-fructose corn syrup are not only found in obvious things like sodas, cookies and candy. They are also in healthful foods like low-fat yogurt, granola, wholegrain breads, ketchup, pasta sauce, canned fruit, prepared soups, salad dressings and marinades. Food industry skeptics argue that new labels distinguishing between natural and added sugar will only confuse shoppers.
Roni Caryn Rabin , "Placing a Cap on Americans’ Consumption of Added Sugar", The New York Times, November 09, 2015, © The New York Times Company
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Energy Drinks Are A – Potentially Harmful – “Guy” Thing

November 4, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
The main consumers of energy drinks are men, suggesting a connection between “masculinity ideology” and energy drink use, according to a U.S. study. Drinking energy beverages may be a way of “performing masculinity... a way to raise masculine capital." The researchers analyzed data from 467 adult males who were asked if they agreed with statements that suggested traditional masculine attitudes. They also asked what participants expected from energy drinks and whether they felt that the drinks affected sleep patterns. Young white men especially associated the drinks with participation in extreme sports or leading an active and competitive lifestyle. But the researchers warned that the high caffeine content of the drinks can have adverse health effects, especially when it comes to sleep.
Ronald F. Levant et al., "Moderated mediation of the relationships between masculinity ideology, outcome expectations, and energy drink use.", Health Psychology, November 04, 2015, © American Psychological Association
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Adding Pumpkin Flavor Doesn’t Make Doughnuts A Health Food

October 30, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
Pumpkin-flavored treats and foods containing pumpkin – pies, breads, etc. – pop up frequently at this time of the year. Pumpkin has some healthful properties but not everything flavored with pumpkin is good for you, except in moderation. Pumpkin itself is rich in fiber and low in cholesterol It also contains vitamin A, phytosterols, magnesium, manganese, copper, phosphorus, protein, zinc and iron. But pumpkin snacks and desserts, not to mention the lattes and coffees, offer none of the benefits of pumpkins, and may contain a lot of salt, fat and sugar.
Suzy Weems, "Pumpkin foods may not live up to healthy reputation", News release, Baylor University, October 30, 2015, © Baylor University
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Calcium Supplements Increase Risk Of Kidney Stone Formation

October 30, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
After reviewing urine collections and CT scans of 1,486 kidney stone patients, U.S.  researchers concluded that calcium supplements – but not foods rich in calcium – increase the risk of a recurrence of stones. Patients who took calcium supplements had lower levels of the components of kidney stones in their urine. However, they also had a faster rate of kidney stone growth. Vitamin D supplements, however, may help prevent stone formation.
"Calcium supplements may increase the risk of kidney stone recurrence", News release, study to be presented at ASN Kidney Week, October 30, 2015, © American Society of Nephrology
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Fatty Diet Upsets Metabolism and Causes Anxiety, Depression

October 29, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
A diet of fatty foods can adversely affect more than the body, according to new French research in mice. Immoderate fat consumption can increase body weight and boost blood sugar leading to anxiety, depression and measurable brain changes. The study also showed that a fatty diet can thwart the beneficial effects of an antidepressant. The researchers noted that the metabolic impairments were reversed when the mice were taken off a high-fat diet, and their anxious symptoms decreased.
Juliane Zemdegs et al., "High fat diet-induced metabolic disorders impairs serotonergic function and anxiety-like behaviors in mice. ", British Journal of Pharmacology, October 29, 2015, © John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
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Red Wine Safely Improves Cholesterol Balance, Reduces Cardiovascular Risks

October 29, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
A two-year multinational study has determined that drinking a glass of wine each night could help people with type 2 diabetes better manage their cholesterol and cardiac health. Researchers said red wine was found to be not only safe, it was superior in improving overall metabolic profiles by modestly improving the lipid profile and increasing good (HDL) cholesterol and apolipoprotein A1 (a major constituent of HDL). It also decreased the ratio between total cholesterol and HDL cholesterol. Diabetics are more susceptible to developing cardiovascular diseases than the general population and have lower levels of "good" cholesterol.
Yftach Gepner et al., "Effects of Initiating Moderate Alcohol Intake on Cardiometabolic Risk in Adults With Type 2 Diabetes. ", Annals of Internal Medicine, October 29, 2015, © American College of Physicians
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Vitamin D/Calcium Supplements Do Not Prevent Regrowth Of Intestinal Polyps

October 29, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
Vitamin D and calcium supplements do not prevent the regrowth of colorectal polyps, the precursors of cancerous tumors, a large U.S. study has found. The random, controlled study was conducted at 11 hospitals and involved 2,200 adults aged 45-75 who took 1,000 IU of calcium and/or 1,200 mg of vitamin D each day, or a placebo. Each study participant had a history of colorectal polyps without any remaining polyps after colonoscopy. After 3-5 years, researchers found that daily supplementation did not reduce the risk of recurrent colorectal adenomas.
John A. Baron et al., "A Trial of Calcium and Vitamin D for the Prevention of Colorectal Adenomas. ", New England Journal of Medicine, October 29, 2015, © Massachusetts Medical Society
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Increased Calcium Intake Offers No Bone Benefits For Older Adults

October 24, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
For many years, physicians have advised older patients to increase their intake of calcium, either through food sources or supplements, to strengthen bones and prevent fractures. But two studies by New Zealand researchers now confirm that the advice was worthless: boosting calcium intake neither improves bone health nor prevents broken bones. Increasing intake of calcium and vitamin D – recommended for older adults by some guidelines – provides no meaningful health benefit and may increase the risk of adverse outcomes linked to calcium supplements. A balanced diet provides enough calcium and vitamin D for most people, they said.
Mark J. Bolland et al., "Calcium intake and risk of fracture: systematic review. ", BMJ, October 24, 2015, © Bolland et al.
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Avoid Toxic Bacteria This Fall: Refrigerate Those Caramel Apples

October 24, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
U.S. researchers have found that a dangerous bacterium known as Listeria monocytogenes increased 1,000-fold on a favorite fall treat: unrefrigerated caramel apples with sticks. By contrast, listerial growth was delayed on caramel apples without sticks stored at room temperature for three days. Refrigeration was the key difference, the scientists said. Caramel apples with sticks had no listerial growth for up to a week, and only a little growth over the next three weeks. Those without sticks had no listerial growth during four weeks of storage.
Craig et al., "Growth of Listeria monocytogenes within a Caramel-Coated Apple Microenvironment", Blog entry, study to be published in October 2015 issue of mBio, October 24, 2015, © Craig et al.
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Milk Boosts Bioavailability Of Vitamin E In Obese People

October 23, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
A new U.S. study finds an association between vitamin E absorption and metabolic syndrome, the cluster of symptoms like obesity and high blood pressure that are a precursor of type 2 diabetes. The researchers at Ohio State University discovered that people with metabolic syndrome – 35 percent of Americans – do not absorb vitamin E. But that problem can be solved by adding cow’s milk to the diet. Study participants who drank milk along with the natural form of vitamin E – found in spinach, sunflower seeds, peanuts, etc. – absorbed between 26.1 and 29.5 percent of the vitamin. Participants with metabolic syndrome absorbed less vitamin E than healthy people. The bioavailability of vitamin E when taken with a glass of milk was nearly three times higher than expected.
Emily Caldwell, "Metabolic syndrome leads one in three Americans to need more vitamin E", News release, scientific study, October 23, 2015, © Ohio State University
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Packaged Food Purchases Are On The Rise – An Unhealthful Trend

October 23, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
American consumers are buying more packaged foods, but the packaged foods they buy – especially at non-grocery sources – are less healthful than fresh foods purchased at supermarkets, according to a U.S. study. Packaged food purchases (PFPs) accounted for 78 percent of store-based food expenditures. Mass merchandisers, warehouse clubs and convenience stores are seeing an increase in food purchases. The top sources of calorie purchases are savory snacks, grain-based desserts, fruit drinks and juices, fresh plain milk, and regular soft drinks across all types of stores, including grocery stores. But these food and beverage groups are major sources of added sugars, saturated fat, and sodium.
Dalia Stern et al., "The Nutrient Content of U.S. Household Food Purchases by Store Type. ", American Journal of Preventive Medicine, October 23, 2015, © American Journal of Preventive Medicine
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Healthy Global Snack Market Continues To Evolve

October 21, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
The sweet and savory snacks market is not going away – it’s actually outperforming the rest of the packaged foods market – but is evolving or “repurposing,” according to Euromonitor. Meat-based snacks like Slim Jims have been “repurposed,” and are now popular among health-conscious consumers and selling much better than potato chips and candy in the U.S. and Europe. Millennials are eating fewer meals, and snacking more, especially on healthful snacks. Some traditional snack and candy companies are responding through acquisitions. Hershey, for example, bought Krave Jerky. And PepsiCo, which has seen major growth in potato and tortilla chip sales in Japan and China, is gradually turning toward healthier snacks to boost U.K. and U.S. sales.
Jack Skelly, "What’s New in Sweet and Savoury Snacks: Opportunities Abound for a New Wave of Products", Blog, Euromonitor International, October 21, 2015, © Euromonitor
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Excess Fructose In The Intestines Linked To Bronchitis

October 16, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
A U.S. study reports that drinking beverages sweetened with high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is associated with an increased prevalence and risk of chronic bronchitis in American adults. Adults who drink non-diet soda five or more times per week are 1.8 times as likely to develop chronic bronchitis as people who drink them only once or twice a month. And it doesn’t matter if smoking is involved. The researchers suggested that poorly absorbed excess fructose in the gut interacts with proteins to form antigens (“enFruAGEs”) that work their way to the lungs, triggering an immune response and causing bronchitis. More research is needed to prove the connection.
DeChristopher et al., "Intake of high fructose corn syrup sweetened soft drinks is associated with prevalent chronic bronchitis in U.S. Adults, ages 20–55 y", Nutrition Journal, October 16, 2015, © DeChristopher et al.
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Wide Variety Of Breads Contain Carcinogenic Compound

October 14, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
The Environmental Working Group reports that 86 breads and baked goods it analyzed contained a possible carcinogenic ingredient known as potassium bromate. The compound, linked in animal studies to cancer and development of tumors, is added to flour to firm up the dough, help it rise and give the finished bread an appealing white color. California is the only U.S. state that regulates potassium bromate. It requires a warning label on food containing it. Among the 86 products containing the potentially harmful compound are Hormel Foods breakfast sandwiches, Weis Kaiser rolls and French toast, and Goya turnover pastry dough.
Shannon Van Hoesen, "Scores of Baked Goods Contain Possible Cancer-Causing Additive", Report, Environmental Working Group, October 14, 2015, © Environmental Working Group
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Diet Of Dried Plums Seems To Reduce Colon Cancer Risk

October 12, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
U.S. researchers have found that a diet rich in dried plums might ward off colon cancer by helping the gut retain beneficial bacteria. Earlier research has shown that disruptions to the microbiota spur the onset or recurrence of intestinal inflammation that can increase the risk of colon cancer. Dried plums, however, contain phenolic compounds that serve as antioxidants to neutralize the effect of free radicals that damage DNA. The new experiments in rats found that a dried plum diet increased the proportions of two major phyla of bacteria in the gut, while the control diet lowered the proportions. The tests also showed that rats eating dried plums had fewer aberrant “crypts” in gut wall tissue, a strong cancer indicator.
Nancy Turner, "Dried plums can reduce risk of colon cancer, research shows", News release, Texas A&M AgriLife Research, October 12, 2015, © Texas A&M AgriLife Research
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Wine Contains Lots More Arsenic Than Water, But Poses Small Health Threat

October 7, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
A U.S. researcher has determined that wine on average contains a lot more arsenic than the U.S. EPA allows in drinking water, but the risk of poisoning is small unless you’re also getting arsenic from other dietary sources, like apple juice, rice or cereal bars. The problem is especially worrisome for pregnant women, children and the elderly, the scientists said. They are more likely to consume large amounts of contaminated rice, organic brown rice syrup, seafood, wine, and apple juice. The study analyzed 65 wines from Washington, New York, California and Oregon. Washington wines had the highest arsenic concentrations, while Oregon's had the lowest. Arsenic leaches into water and soil – and then the food chain – when rocks containing the metalloid are eroded by rain, rivers or wind.
Denise Wilson, "Arsenic Content in American Wine. ", Journal of Environmental Health, October 07, 2015, © Denise Wilson
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Science Has Abandoned Its Advice To Avoid All Whole Fats... Will The Feds?

October 6, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
Science has gradually reversed the conclusion first drawn by a scientist in the 1950s – namely, that America’s consumption of fat was the cause of the heart disease epidemic. Study after study over the last ten years has concluded that – contrary to the federal Dietary Guidelines for Americans – fat is not a cause of cardiovascular disease or obesity. And now a study shows that whole milk is not only not bad for you, it actually offers cardio-protective benefits. So, the question becomes, will the new federal dietary guidelines back off the warnings against consuming all fats? Will they suggest avoiding trans fats and encourage eating unsaturated fats found in fish, nuts and vegetable oils? One thing is sure, says one scientist: it is okay to have whole fat food, including whole fat milk, and that message “is slowly seeping into consciousness.”
Peter Whoriskey, "For decades, the government steered millions away from whole milk. Was that wrong?", The Washington Post, October 06, 2015, © The Washington Post
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U.S. Dietary Guidelines Not Based On Current Science, Journalist Says

October 6, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
The nutritional science on which the latest version of U.S. Dietary Guidelines is based may be outdated and misleading, according to a journalist writing in a scientific publication. Nina Teicholz argues that the guidelines, based on an expert report by a 14-member advisory committee, do not reflect recent scientific findings. For example, the committee said the association of saturated fats with heart disease is strong. But the panel did not review scientific literature on saturated fats from the past five years that had failed to confirm a link between sat-fats and heart disease. Teicholtz says that the committee’s analyses of nutritional study findings were less than rigorous, and may simply have relied on the outdated conclusions of industry-funded organizations like the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology. The article has prompted a congressional review of the expert report.
Nina Teicholz, "The scientific report guiding the US dietary guidelines: is it scientific? ", BMJ, October 06, 2015, © BMJ Publishing Group Ltd
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Simple Blood Test Could Speed Diagnosis Of Celiac Disease

October 5, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
To celiac diagnose celiac disease – a severe immune reaction to the protein gluten in wheat, barley, and rye – a physician has to take blood and intestinal tissue samples (gastroscopy), an uncomfortable, often painful procedure. Now Norwegian scientists have developed a simple test that may make it quicker and easier to diagnose the disease. The test is based on the fact that in celiac disease immune cells, known as T cells, analyze gluten molecules and decide that they are a harmful bacteria or virus. For the new test, a blood sample is taken, the blood is enriched with certain reagents, and gluten-reactive T cells are counted. People with celiac disease will have a much higher number of gluten-reactive T cells in their blood than non-celiacs.
Asbjørn Christophersen, "Simplified diagnosis of celiac disease", News release, University of Oslo, October 05, 2015, © University of Oslo
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Evidence Of Health Benefits Of Tea Is A Little Weak

October 5, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
A New York Times health columnist recently assessed studies that examined the benefits of coffee, finding that drinking coffee is indeed healthful. He then looked at studies regarding tea’s benefits, finding that most of the research has been conducted in Asia, and conclusions may not apply to Americans (who drink a lot less tea daily). Studies, for example, somewhat inconclusively linked tea drinking with less risk of hepatocellular carcinoma, liver steatosis, cirrhosis, chronic liver disease, depression, stroke, heart disease, cardiac death, cerebral infarction and intracerebral hemorrhage. The upshot is that Aaron Carroll is “a little less impressed with the body of evidence regarding tea.” He says the data are not enough to “strongly recommend” drinking tea, but there may be some potential benefits, and no harms.
Aaron E. Carroll, "Health Benefits of Tea? Here’s What the Evidence Says", The New York Times, October 05, 2015, © The New York Times Company
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Replacing Sat-Fats With The Right Foods Reduces Heart Disease Risk

October 3, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
Science for a long time has advocated removal of saturated fatty acids from the diet as a way to cut the risk of cardiovascular disease. But no one made any recommendations about what to replace those fats with. To find out what was best, U.S. scientists analyzed questionnaire data collected over at least thirty years from 84,628 women and 42,908 men free of diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer. They found that patients making lifestyle diet changes – specifically avoiding sat-fats – did best when they substituted unsaturated fats like vegetable oils, nuts, and seeds, as well as healthy carbohydrates such as whole grains. Those who turned to processed foods with low-quality carbohydrates from refined starches or sugars barely reduced the risk of heart disease.
Vasanti S. Malik & Frank B. Hu, "Fructose and Cardiometabolic Health. Journal of the American College of Cardiology", Journal of the American College of Cardiology, October 03, 2015, © Elsevier B.V.
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More Whole Grain Pastas Are Appearing On Grocery Shelves

October 2, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
Nutritionists, dieticians and other food experts advise against eating white pasta because it’s made with white flour that loses its healthful bran and germ – along with fiber, protein, iron and B vitamins – when it is milled. It ends up as a high-glycemic, quickly digested carbohydrate. Food manufacturers know all this, too, and so have been developing alternative pastas made with whole grains rich in fiber, protein, vitamins and minerals. Shoppers can now find at least six types of whole grain pastas that are more heart healthy: whole wheat, quinoa, sprouted grain, buckwheat noodles, spelt and brown rice.
K. Aleisha Fetters, "The Healthiest Pastas: From Quinoa to Buckwheat Noodles", US News & World Report, October 02, 2015, © U.S. News & World Report LP.
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To Reduce Risk Of Heart Disease, Increase Consumption Of Fruits, Veggies, Fiber

October 1, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
Short chain fatty acids (SCFAs) are known to reduce the risk of inflammatory disease, diabetes and cardiovascular disease. SCFAs are produced by bacteria in the gut by fermenting insoluble dietary plant fiber. Which foods best promote SCFA production? For this study, Italian researchers collected a week's worth of daily diet information from 153 adults. They were equally divided into omnivores, vegetarians, and vegans. After analyzing gut bacteria and metabolites from stool and urine samples, the researchers found that the highest levels of SCFAs were found in vegans, vegetarians, and those who regularly followed a Mediterranean diet. But no matter what dietary pattern was followed, high levels of SCFAs were strongly linked to regular consumption of fruit, vegetables, legumes, and fiber.
Francesca De Filippis et al., "High-level adherence to a Mediterranean diet beneficially impacts the gut microbiota and associated metabolome. ", Gut, October 01, 2015, © BMJ Publishing Group Ltd & British Society of Gastroenterology
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For Long-Term Weight Control, Avoid Starchy Vegetables

September 29, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
New data from a study by U.S. researchers show that some vegetables are not as good for dieters as others. Nutritionists have long advocated increased consumption of fruits and vegetables as a way to keep weight under control. The new study, however, finds that starchy vegetables, while certainly healthful, are less likely to help in weight loss and actually contributed to weight gain. Researchers analyzed data collected from national survey questionnaires submitted by 133,468 American adults over 24 years. Starchy vegetables like peas and corn were associated with long-term weight gain, while fruits and non-starchy vegetables were associated with weight loss.
Monica L. Bertoia et al., "Changes in Intake of Fruits and Vegetables and Weight Change in United States Men and Women Followed for Up to 24 Years: Analysis from Three Prospective Cohort Studies. ", PLOS Medicine, September 29, 2015, © Bertoia et al.
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