Food

Vitamin D Is A Cardiovascular Key

Support.Vitamin.DRecently published studies report that vitamin D is important for cardiovascular health, with low levels linked to increased risk of stroke and heart attack. Markus Juonala, from the University of Turku (Finland), and colleagues analyzed data collected on 2,148 subjects enrolled in the Cardiovascular Risk in Young Finns Study, ages 3 to 18 years at the study’s start; subjects were re-examined at ages 30 to 45 years. Childhood levels of vitamin D were measured from stored serum. Carotid intima-thickness (IMT) – a marker of structural atherosclerosis, which correlates with cardiovascular risk factors, and predicts cardiovascular events – was measured on the posterior wall of the left carotid artery using ultrasound technology.

Data analysis revealed that the study subjects with 25-OH vitamin D levels (a marker of vitamin D) in the lowest quartile in childhood had subclinical atherosclerosis over 25 years later in adulthood. The study authors submit that: “Low 25-OH vitamin D levels in childhood were associated with increased carotid intima-thickness in adulthood.”

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Source: WorldHealth.net

Sugar Triggers Memory Problems and Neuroinflammation

Food.Sugar1Results of a study conducted at the University of Southern California (USC) has shown that adolescent rats that freely consumed large quantities of liquid solutions containing sugar or high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) in concentrations comparable to popular sugar-sweetened beverages experienced memory problems and brain inflammation, and became pre-diabetic.

Scott Kanoski, an assistant professor at USC’s Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences, and colleagues investigated the effects of sugar and HFCS on 76 rats. Adolescent or adult male rats were given 30-day access to chow, water, and either (1) 11% sucrose solution, (2) 11% HFCS solution, or (3) an extra bottle of water (control). Approximately 35-40% of the rats’ daily calories were obtained from sugar or HFCS. The rats then underwent a series of tests.

Results showed that in adolescent rats, HFCS intake impaired hippocampal-dependent spatial learning and memory in a Barne’s maze, whilst moderate learning impairment was also observed in the rats in the sucrose group. Further investigation revealed that protein expression of the pro-inflammatory cytokines interleukin 6 and interleukin 1β was increased in the hippocampus of the adolescent rats fed HFCS, while liver interleukin 1β and plasma insulin levels were elevated in both adolescent-exposed sugar groups. On the other hand, intake of HFCS or sucrose in adults did not impact spatial learning, glucose tolerance, or neuroinflammatory markers. “The brain is especially vulnerable to dietary influences during critical periods of development, like adolescence,” said Kanoski, “Consuming a diet high in added sugars not only can lead to weight gain and metabolic disturbances, but can also negatively impact our neural functioning and cognitive ability.”

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Source: WorldHealth.net

MIND Diet Repeatedly Ranked Among Best

Food.Diet.ListA diet created, studied and reported on by researchers at Rush University Medical Center has been ranked the easiest diet to follow and the second best overall diet (tying in both categories) for 2016 by U.S. News & World Report. The MIND diet also tied for third for best diet for healthy eating and was ranked in the top five in five categories.

Now in its sixth year, the annual “Best Diets” list provides the facts about 35 chosen eating plans and ranks them on a range of levels, from their heart healthiness to their likelihood to help with weight loss. To create the annual rankings, U.S. News editors and reporters spend months winnowing potential additions to the diet roster and then mine medical journals, government reports and other resources to create in-depth profiles. Each profile explains how the diet works, whether or not its claims are substantiated, scrutinizes it for possible health risks and examines what it’s like to live on the diet, not just read about it.

Eating away at Alzheimer’s risk

The MIND diet is a research-based diet developed by Martha Clare Morris, ScD, a Rush nutritional epidemiologist, and her colleagues. In recent studies, the MIND diet showed that it helped lower the risk of Alzheimer’s by as much as 53 percent in participants who adhered to the diet rigorously, and by about 35 percent in those who followed it moderately well.

“One of the more exciting things about this is that people who adhered even moderately to the MIND diet had a reduction in their risk for Alzheimers,” Morris says. The researchers also have found that adhering to the diet may slow cognitive decline among aging adults, even when the person is not at risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease

The name of the MIND diet is short for Mediterranean-DASH Diet Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay. The diet is a hybrid of the Mediterranean and DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diets. Both diets have been found to reduce the risk of cardiovascular conditions, like hypertension, heart attack and stroke. Some researchers have found that the two older diets provide protection against dementia as well.

A wine and no cheese party

The MIND diet has 15 dietary components, including 10 “brain-healthy food groups” and five unhealthy groups – red meat, butter and stick margarine, cheese, pastries and sweets, and fried or fast food.

To adhere to and benefit from the MIND diet, a person would need to eat at least three servings of whole grains, a green leafy vegetable and one other vegetable every day — along with a glass of wine — snack most days on nuts, have beans every other day or so, eat poultry and berries at least twice a week and fish at least once a week. In addition, the study found that to have a real shot at avoiding the devastating effects of cognitive decline, he or she must limit intake of the designated unhealthy foods, especially butter (less than 1 tablespoon a day), sweets and pastries, whole fat cheese, and fried or fast food (less than a serving a week for any of the three).

Berries are the only fruit specifically to be included in the MIND diet. “Blueberries are one of the more potent foods in terms of protecting the brain,” Morris says, and strawberries also have performed well in past studies of the effect of food on cognitive function.

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Source: ScienceDaily January 5, 2016.

Cocoa for Cardiovascular Health

Food.Chocolate.DarkEuropean Union Consortium researchers report two studies that suggest that consuming cocoa flavanols – plant-derived bioactives from the cacao bean – may help to improve cardiovascular function and lessen the burden on the heart that comes with the aging and stiffening of arteries.

In the first study, Christian Heiss, from the University Duesseldorf  (Germany), and colleagues enrolled two groups of 22 young (under 35 years) and 20 older (50-80 years) healthy men, to consume either a flavanol-containing drink, or a flavanol-free control drink, twice a day for two weeks. The researchers then measured the effect of flavanols on hallmarks of cardiovascular aging, such as arterial stiffness (as measured by pulse wave velocity), blood pressure and flow-mediated vasodilation (the extent to which blood vessels dilate in response to nitric oxide).  The team observed that vasodilation was significantly improved in both age groups that consumed flavanols over the course of the study (by 33% in the younger age group and 32% in the older age group over the control intervention). As well, among the older age group, a statistically and clinically significant decrease in systolic blood pressure of 4 mmHg over control was also seen.

In the second study, Roberto Sansone, from the University Duesseldorf (Germany), and colleagues , enrolled 100 healthy middle-aged men and women (ages 35 to 60 years) with low risk of cardiovascular disease.  The participants were randomly and blindly assigned into groups that consumed either a flavanol-containing drink or a flavanol-free control drink, twice a day for four weeks. The researchers also measured cholesterol levels in the study groups, in addition to vasodilation, arterial stiffness and blood pressure. The team observed that cocoa flavanols increased flow-mediated vasodilation by 21%.; as well as decreased blood pressure (systolic by 4.4 mmHg, diastolic by 3.9 mmHg), and decreased  total cholesterol (by 0.2 mmol/L), LDL cholesterol (by 0.17 mmol/L), and raised HDL cholesterol (by 0.1 mmol/L).

Taken collectively, the Consortium submits that flavanols are effective at mitigating age-related changes in blood vessels, and could thereby reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease in healthy individuals.

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Source: WorldHealth.net

Wheat in Diet: Study on Health Impact of Wheat Challenges Stone Age Myths

Food.WheatA review, undertaken by scientists at the University of Warwick, of the current evidence on the dietary and health impact of whole grain cereal consumption finds that many of the myths attributed to wheat free diets are just that – myths, and that whole grains such as wheat are beneficial for the majority of people.

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Source: University of Warwick. “Wheat in diet: Study on health impact of wheat challenges Stone Age myths and costly diets, providing you go whole grain.” ScienceDaily.

Eating Green Leafy Vegetables Keeps Mental Abilities Sharp

Food.Vegetables1Something as easy as adding more spinach, kale, collards and mustard greens to your diet could help slow cognitive decline, according to new research. The study also examined the nutrients responsible for the effect, linking vitamin K consumption to slower cognitive decline for the first time.

“Losing one’s memory or cognitive abilities is one of the biggest fears for people as they get older,” said Martha Clare Morris, Sc.D., assistant provost for community research at Rush University Medical Center and leader of the research team. “Since declining cognitive ability is central to Alzheimer’s disease and dementias, increasing consumption of green leafy vegetables could offer a very simple, affordable and non-invasive way of potentially protecting your brain from Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.”

The researchers tracked the diets and cognitive abilities of more than 950 older adults for an average of five years and saw a significant decrease in the rate of cognitive decline for study participants who consumed greater amounts of green leafy vegetables. People who ate one to two servings per day had the cognitive ability of a person 11 years younger than those who consumed none.

In addition to green leafy vegetables, other good sources of vitamin K, lutein, folate and beta-carotene include brightly colored fruits and vegetables.

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Source: Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB). “Eating green leafy vegetables keeps mental abilities sharp.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 30 March 2015.

Blueberries Confer Immune and Cardiovascular Benefits

Food.BlueberryAbundant in the flavonoids anthocyanin and flavanol, blueberries have been shown in previous studies to improve cognitive performance and brain health. Steven R. McAnulty, from Appalachian State University (North Carolina, USA), and colleagues enrolled 25 men and postmenopausal women, to receive a daily supplement of blueberry powder (equivalent of 250 gm of blueberries), or placebo, for six weeks. Among those receiving the supplement, the researchers observed that natural killer cells rose by 4%. As well, among pre-hypertensive subjects, the blueberry powder caused significant reduction of diastolic blood pressure.

The study authors write that: “blueberry ingestion for six weeks increases natural killer cells and reduces augmentation index, aortic systolic pressure, and diastolic pressures in sedentary males and females.”

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Source: WorldHealth.net

Eating Is Addictive but Sugar and Fat Are not Like Drugs, Study Says

Food.Nutrition.Facts2People can become addicted to eating for its own sake but not to consuming specific foods such as those high in sugar or fat, research suggests. An international team of scientists has found no strong evidence for people being addicted to the chemical substances in certain foods.

The brain does not respond to nutrients in the same way as it does to addictive drugs such as heroin or cocaine, the researchers say. Instead, people can develop a psychological compulsion to eat, driven by the positive feelings that the brain associates with eating.

This is a behavioural disorder and could be categorised alongside conditions such as gambling addiction, say scientists at the University of Edinburgh.

They add that the focus on tackling the problem of obesity should be moved from food itself towards the individual’s relationship with eating.

“Certain individuals do have an addictive-like relationship with particular foods and they can over-eat despite knowing the risks to their health. More avenues for treatment may open up if we think about this condition as a behavioural addiction rather than a substance-based addiction.”

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Source: Medical News Today

Fish Oil Supports Brain Structure

Food.Fish.Oil.SupplementOn average, one person is diagnosed every minute with Alzheimer’s disease, a condition for which no cure presently exists and thus for which intensive efforts to prevent or slow cognitive decline with age is focused.

Lori Daiello, from the Alzheimer’s Disease and Memory Disorders Center at Rhode Island Hospital (Rhode Island, USA), and colleagues completed a retrospective study of older adults (229 cognitively normal individuals, 397 patients with mild cognitive impairment, and 193 patients with Alzheimer’s disease), enrolled in the Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative, who were assessed with neuropsychological tests and brain magnetic resonance imaging every 6 months.

Researchers tracked global cognitive status, and cerebral cortex gray matter and hippocampus and ventricular volumes. The study found that fish oil supplement use during the study was associated with significantly lower rates of cognitive decline as measured by two standardized assessment scales, but this benefit was observed only for the group of participants without dementia at the time of enrollment. Importantly, the study authors report that: “[fish oil supplements] use during the study was also associated with less atrophy in one or more brain regions of interest.”

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Source: WorldHealth.net

Appetite and Mortality: the Two Are Closely Connected in the Elderly

Support.Spoon.ForkA simple question about appetite can provide insights into old people’s general health that may help reduce their risk of dying. In a study published in the journal Appetite, Emeritus Professor Mark Wahlqvist from Monash University’s Department of Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine and the Monash Asia Institute, led a team investigating the connection between appetite and mortality.

“Appetite is generally regarded as one of the most important indicators of health,” Professor Wahlqvist said.

The urge to eat is often reduced in the elderly, with many afflicted by the “anorexia of aging.” Chewing difficulties, general deterioration or the side-effects of medication may have an adverse effect on appetite, as may psychological factors such as loneliness or depression. Family circumstances and other environmental factors may also play a role.

“Factors of this kind lead to poor appetite and related poor health,” Professor Wahlqvist said. “We found that elderly people with fair or poor appetites had higher risks of mortality than those with good appetites.

“Poor appetite may be a valuable early indicator of incipient nutritionally related disorders and disease, and of premature mortality.”

Poor appetite does not directly bring about death: it’s the resulting poor diet that causes the harm.

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Source: Monash University. “Appetite and mortality: The two are closely connected in the elderly.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 10 September 2014.