NEWS REPORTS: LATEST RESEARCH FINDINGS
NEW REPORT FINDS HEALTHY HABITS CAN ADD 15 YEARS TO YOUR LIFE
Originally published by Medical News Today, August 3, 2011
Women with a healthy lifestyle such as a Mediterranean diet, regular exercise, not smoking, and maintaining a healthy weight, are more likely to live 15 years longer than their less healthy counterparts, while for men, the effect of such healthy habits appears to be less, nearly 8.5 years, according to a study from Maastricht University in the Netherlands that was published recently in theAmerican Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
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POTATOES CAN ADD PLENTY TO WAISTLINE
By Daniela Hernandez, Los Angeles Times
Published www.latimes.com on June 23, 2011
Consuming an extra helping of potatoes each day — French fried, baked or otherwise — can add an average of 0.8 of a pound to body weight per year, researchers find. Over time, that can result in substantial weight gain.
Public Enemy No. 1 in America’s battle of the bulge isn’t cupcakes, soda or double bacon cheeseburgers. It’s the simple potato, according to Harvard University researchers.
Daily consumption of an extra serving of spuds — French fries, crispy chips, mashed with butter and garlic, or simply boiled or baked — was found to cause more weight gain than downing an additional 12-ounce can of a sugary drink or taking an extra helping of red or processed meats.
Altogether, after tracking the good and bad diet and lifestyle choices of more than 120,000 health professionals from around the country for at least 12 years, the research team calculated that participants gained an average of 0.8 of a pound a year, close to the U.S. average, according to a report published in Thursday’s edition of the New England Journal of Medicine.
It may not sound like much, but as the years go by “it becomes like compounded interest,” adding up to 16 pounds over 20 years, said Dr. Jeffrey Schwimmer, director of the weight and wellness program at Rady Children’s Hospital in San Diego, who wasn’t involved in the study.
Potatoes have a long pedigree in the human diet. They were once hailed as history’s most important vegetable, and the Incas — whose ancestors are credited with domesticating spuds in South America — worshiped a potato god.
They are still certified as a “heart healthy” food by the American Heart Assn. And the United Nations declared 2008 the International Year of the Potato, praising the tuber for being a good source of vitamin C, several B vitamins, and minerals including iron, potassium, phosphorus and magnesium.
FOOD FOR THOUGHT? PROBIOTICS COULD PROMOTE WELL BEING, SUGGESTS RESEARCHER
By Nathan Gray, 06-Jul-2011
Relying on your gut to make decisions may have a lot of truth to it, as research suggests that probiotic modification of the gut may influence the brain and affect mood. The research, published in BioEssays, presents new ideas on how neurochemicals delivered directly to the gut via probiotic intestinal microbiota could exert beneficial effects in maintaining gastrointestinal health and psychological well-being. “This paper proposes a new field of microbial endocrinology, where microbiology meets neuroscience,” said lead researcher, Professor Mark Lyte from the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center, USA.
Lyte said that the research proposes a unifying process of microbial endocrinology, which would mean that neurochemical-producing probiotics could act as a delivery mechanism for neuroactive compounds. Prof Lyte said that such neurochemical-producing probiotics could improve both gastrointestinal and psychological health.
Lyte noted that the supposed health benefits gained from the ingestion of probiotics has been widely reported in the scientific literature as well as the media. However, he said that definitive mechanisms “have yet to be identified for the ability of orally administered bacteria to modulate a number of biological processes.
“Whereas multiple mechanisms may be operative in each of these situations, an alternative hypothesis as described herein is that there may be a shared mechanism that essentially links the neural and immune responses to probiotic administration that leads to the claimed prophylactic effects,” said Lyte. “There is already evidence to suggest that the connection between gut microbes and the nervous system represents a viable route for influencing neurological function,” he added.
In his paper, Lyte considers the selection of probiotics, such as Lactobacilli and Bifidobacteria, and how the active uptake of neurochemicals, generated by bacteria in the gut and circulated through a patient’s bloodstream, may represent a pathway for probiotics to exert extra-intestinal effects including behavioural changes.
“Once ingested, probiotics enter an interactive environment encompassing microbiological, immunological, and neurophysiological components,” noted Lyte. “By utilizing a trans-disciplinary framework known as microbial endocrinology, mechanisms that would otherwise not be considered become apparent since any candidate would need to be shared among all three components,” he added.
Writing in a commentary piece in the same issue of BioEssays Dr Gregor Reid, from the University of Western Ontario, said that until recently the idea that probiotics in the intestine could influence the brain “seemed almost surreal.” “Yet in Lyte’s paper the concept is supported by studies showing that microbes can produce and respond to neurochemicals, which can induce neurological and immunological effects on the host,” said Reid.
“The novelty lies in highlighting the fact that microbial strains already being widely ingested through fermented foods and dietary supplements, some of which are termed probiotic, can produce neurochemicals,” he added.
Published online ahead of print, doi: 10.1002/bies.201100024 (for purchase) “Probiotics function mechanistically as delivery vehicles for neuroactive compounds: Microbial endocrinology in the design and use of probiotics”
Author: M. Lyte
Copyright© 2011 – William Reed Business Media SAS – All Rights Reserved
SLEEPINESS MAY IMPAIR THE BRAIN’S INHIBITORY CONTROL WHEN VIEWING HIGH-CALORIE FOODS
Article Date: 08 Jun 2011 – 1:00 PDT
Reported on www.sciencedaily.com
ScienceDaily (June 13, 2011) — Daytime sleepiness may affect inhibitory control in the brain when viewing tantalizing, high-calorie foods, suggests new research presented on June 13, in Minneapolis, Minn., at Sleep 2011, the 25th Anniversary Meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies LLC (APSS).
Results show that greater daytime sleepiness was associated with decreased activation in the prefrontal cortex during visual presentations of enticing, high-calorie food images. The prefrontal cortex is a brain region that plays an important role in inhibitory processing.
“Self-reported daytime sleepiness among healthy, normally rested individuals correlated with reduced responsiveness of inhibitory brain regions when confronted with images of highly appetizing foods,” said principal investigator William Killgore, PhD, assistant professor of psychology at Harvard Medical School and McLean Hospital in Belmont, Mass. “It suggests that even normal fluctuations in sleepiness may be capable of altering brain responses that are important for regulating dietary intake, potentially affecting the types of choices that individuals make when selecting whether and what to eat.”
The research team of Killgore, lead author Melissa Weiner, and Zachary Schwab studied 12 healthy men and women between the ages of 19 and 45 years. The participants underwent functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) while viewing pictures of high-calorie foods, low-calorie foods, and control images of plants and rocks. Subjective, self-reported daytime sleepiness was measured with the Epworth Sleepiness Scale, which evaluates how likely an individual is to doze off or fall asleep during certain situations such as while sitting and reading or watching TV.
According to the authors, prior evidence suggests that healthy adults activate inhibitory regions of the prefrontal cortex in response to high-calorie food images. However, insufficient sleep is often associated with reduced metabolic activity within these same prefrontal regions.
Killgore noted that the rapidly rising rate of obesity makes it important to understand the relationship between sleep-related factors, brain responses to food, and eating behavior.
“Given the chronic level of sleep restriction in our society, such relationships could have epidemiologic implications regarding the current increase in obesity in westernized countries,” he said.
In a previous study published in Neuroreport in 2010, Killgore also found sex differences in cerebral responses to the caloric content of food images. Results of that study indicate that when viewing high-calorie food images, women showed significantly greater activation than men in brain regions that are involved in behavioral control and self-referential cognition.
OVERWEIGHT MORE HARMFUL TO THE LIVER THAN ALCOHOL IN MIDDLE-AGED MEN
Article Date: 08 Jun 2011 – 1:00 PDT
Published on www.Medicalnewstoday.com
Overweight carries a greatly increased risk of cirrhosis of the liver in men, reveals a new study from the Sahlgrenska Academy. “Given the increasing problem of overweight in Sweden, there is reason to fear that more people will develop cirrhosis of the liver,” says Jerzy Kaczynski, docent at the University of Gothenburg and doctor at Sahlgrenska University Hospital.
A group of researchers at the Sahlgrenska Academy has studied the link between overweight and the risk of developing cirrhosis of the liver in middle-aged men. Published in the Scandinavian Journal of Gastroenterology, the study took 855 men aged 50 and followed them for up to 40 years.
None of the men had liver problems at the beginning of the study but during the long follow-up period almost 2% were diagnosed with cirrhosis of the liver. All of the men with this diagnosis were overweight at the beginning of the study, with an average BMI of 28 (a BMI of above 25 is classified as overweight). The average BMI for the men who were not diagnosed with cirrhosis of the liver during the study was below 25. Statistical analysis has demonstrated that both BMI and raised levels of triglycerides a type of blood fat constituted risk factors for the development of cirrhosis of the liver. However, the same link could not be statistically proven for alcohol. One explanation for this could be that some men with alcohol problems may have declined to take part in the study.
The results of the study show that both overweight and raised levels of blood fats, which are common in overweight people, significantly increase the risk of men developing cirrhosis of the liver. Given the increasingly discussed and growing problem of overweight in Sweden, there are good grounds for concern that more people will be diagnosed with cirrhosis of the liver.
“A liver that has been ill and weakened as a result of overweight can take less of a load,” says Kaczynski. “We can therefore speculate that cirrhosis of the liver will develop more quickly in people who drink too much alcohol if they are overweight. Our study does not offer any evidence for this, but this kind of speculation is well founded.”
Sources: University of Gothenburg, AlphaGalileo Foundation.
UNCLE SAM’S LATEST MENU
Dietary Dish Simplifies Food Guidelines, Pushes Pyramid Scheme Off the Table
Published Online, The Wall Street Journal, June 3, 2011
After two decades, the federal government has decided to serve nutrition advice on a plate instead of a pyramid.
The USDA and first lady Michelle Obama unveiled the new food plate icon that is replacing the 20-year-old food pyramid. The plate is meant to be a healthier guideline for how to eat in appropriate portions including larger amounts of fruits and vegetables.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture introduced the plate-shaped icon Thursday to replace the pyramid that often was criticized as confusing. The plate’s sections show the recommended food groups, with fruits and vegetables taking up half the dish.
The plate, which follows the government’s revised nutrition guidelines released in January, won praise from nutrition advocates and food industry groups. “People don’t eat off a pyramid, they eat off a plate,” said Dawn Jackson Blatner, a registered dietitian in Chicago.
The USDA’s first version of the food pyramid came out in 1992. With carbohydrates such as bread and spaghetti occupying a band along the base, it gave far less space to fruits and vegetables. It also suggested eating fats “sparingly,” which nutritional experts said ignored the benefits of foods with healthier forms of fat.
When the government updated the advice in 2005, a new icon omitted specific portion advice, but the pyramid persisted. It left many people baffled as to what the government was trying to convey.
The new icon seeks to clarify: Fruits and vegetables should make up half the diet, with vegetables taking up a majority of the half. Grains and proteins (meat and fish, for example) should occupy the other half, with grains taking up a majority of that half.
Like the new guidelines, the plate stresses balanced portion sizes for Americans, who only grew more obese since the government’s food pyramid debuted.
HAPPINESS IMPROVES HEALTH AND LENGTHENS LIFE, REVIEW FINDS
ScienceDaily (Mar. 1, 2011) — A review of more than 160 studies of human and animal subjects has found “clear and compelling evidence” that — all else being equal — happy people tend to live longer and experience better health than their unhappy peers.
The study, in the journal Applied Psychology: Health and Well-Being, is the most comprehensive review so far of the evidence linking happiness to health outcomes. Its lead author, University of Illinois professor emeritus of psychology Ed Diener, who also is a senior scientist for the Gallup Organization, of Princeton, N.J., analyzed long-term studies of human subjects, experimental human and animal trials, and studies that evaluate the health status of people stressed by natural events.
“We reviewed eight different types of studies,” Diener said. “And the general conclusion from each type of study is that your subjective well-being — that is, feeling positive about your life, not stressed out, not depressed — contributes to both longevity and better health among healthy populations.”
A study that followed nearly 5,000 university students for more than 40 years, for example, found that those who were most pessimistic as students tended to die younger than their peers. An even longer-term study that followed 180 Catholic nuns from early adulthood to old age found that those who wrote positive autobiographies in their early 20s tended to outlive those who wrote more negative accounts of their young lives.
There were a few exceptions, but most of the long-term studies the researchers reviewed found that anxiety, depression, a lack of enjoyment of daily activities and pessimism all are associated with higher rates of disease and a shorter lifespan.
Animal studies also demonstrate a strong link between stress and poor health. Experiments in which animals receive the same care but differ in their stress levels (as a result of an abundance of nest mates in their cages, for example) have found that stressed animals are more susceptible to heart disease, have weaker immune systems and tend to die younger than those living in less crowded conditions.
Laboratory experiments on humans have found that positive moods reduce stress-related hormones, increase immune function and promote the speedy recovery of the heart after exertion. In other studies, marital conflicts and high hostility in married couples were associated with slow wound healing and a poorer immune response.
“I was almost shocked and certainly surprised to see the consistency of the data,” Diener said. “All of these different kinds of studies point to the same conclusion: that health and then longevity in turn are influenced by our mood states.”
While happiness might not by itself prevent or cure disease, the evidence that positive emotions and enjoyment of life contribute to better health and a longer lifespan is stronger than the data linking obesity to reduced longevity, Diener said.
“Happiness is no magic bullet,” he said. “But the evidence is clear and compelling that it changes your odds of getting disease or dying young.”
“Although there are a handful of studies that find opposite effects,” Diener said, “the overwhelming majority of studies support the conclusion that happiness is associated with health and longevity. Current health recommendations focus on four things: avoid obesity, eat right, don’t smoke, and exercise. It may be time to add ‘be happy and avoid chronic anger and depression’ to the list.”
ELIMINATION DIET MAY BENEFIT SOME YOUNG CHILDREN WITH AD/HD, STUDY SUGGESTS.
The CNN (Feb. 3, Landau) “The Chart” blog reported that results from a small study published Feb. 5 in The Lancet suggest “there could be a connection between what children eat” and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (AD/HD).
When 100 four- to eight-year-old youngsters with AD/HD “were placed on a diet containing no processed foods for five weeks, AD/HD symptoms diminished in 78 percent of them,” HealthDay (2/3, Gordon) reported. “And, when suspected trouble foods were reintroduced into the diet, two-thirds of the children experienced a relapse in symptoms.” Investigators concluded that “an elimination diet may help some children” with AD/HD.
WebMD (2/3, Doheny) reported, “US experts had some caveats, saying that the results of the study…should be repeated in other populations to see if the findings hold up.” WebMD also noted, “AD/HD affects about 3% to 7% of US school-aged children, according to the American Psychiatric Association, but other sources put the figures higher.” Reuters (2/4, Kelland), the UK’s Daily Mail (2/4, Hope), and the UK’s Press Association (2/4) also cover the story.
RED MEAT FROM ANIMALS OFFERED A GRASS DIET INCREASES PLASMA AND PLATELET N-3 PUFA IN HEALTHY CONSUMERS.
Br J Nutr. 2011 Jan;105(1):80-9.
School of Biomedical Sciences, Northern Ireland Centre for Food and Health, University of Ulster, Cromore Road, Coleraine BT52 1SA, Northern Ireland.
Red meat from grass-fed animals, compared with concentrate-fed animals, contains increased concentrations of long-chain (LC) n-3 PUFA. However, the effects of red meat consumption from grass-fed animals on consumer blood concentrations of LC n-3 PUFA are unknown. The aim of the present study was to compare the effects on plasma and platelet LC n-3 PUFA status of consuming red meat produced from either grass-fed animals or concentrate-fed animals. A random, double-blinded, dietary intervention study was carried out for 4 weeks on healthy subjects who replaced their habitual red meat intake with three portions per week of red meat (beef and lamb) from animals offered a finishing diet of either grass or concentrate (n 20 consumers). Plasma and platelet fatty acid composition, dietary intake, blood pressure, and serum lipids and lipoproteins were analysed at baseline and post-intervention. Dietary intakes of total n-3 PUFA, as well as plasma and platelet concentrations of LC n-3 PUFA, were significantly higher in those subjects who consumed red meat from grass-fed animals compared with those who consumed red meat from concentrate-fed animals (P < 0•05). No significant differences in concentrations of serum cholesterol, TAG or blood pressure were observed between groups. Consuming red meat from grass-fed animals compared with concentrate-fed animals as part of the habitual diet can significantly increase consumer plasma and platelet LC n-3 PUFA status. As a result, red meat from grass-fed animals may contribute to dietary intakes of LC n-3 PUFA in populations where red meat is habitually consumed.
HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE, OBESITY LINKED TO MEMORY LOSS IN ELDERLY
SLEEP MAKES YOUR MEMORIES STRONGER, AND HELPS WITH CREATIVITY
Dec. 17, 2010-Science Daily
TRANS-FATS LINKED TO INCREASED DEPRESSION RISK FINDINGS HAVE MAJOR IMPLICATIONS FOR AMERICANS
By Deborah Brauser
January 28, 2011 — Consumption of trans-unsaturated fatty acids (TFAs or trans-fats) has been linked to a significantly increased risk for depression. On the other hand, olive oil, monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs), and polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) appear to have a protective effect and lower depression risk, new research suggests.
AMERICAN WAISTLINES EXPAND AT FASTEST PACE AMONG RICH NATIONS, STUDY FINDS
By Eva von Schaper – Feb 3, 2011 4:01 PM PT
High blood pressure is the leading risk factor for cardiovascular deaths, killing 7 million each year, while high cholesterol leads to about 4.4 million deaths each year, the study said. Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg
Americans grew fatter at a faster pace than residents of any other wealthy nation since 1980, during a period when obesity worldwide nearly doubled, researchers found.
Almost 10 percent of the world’s population was obese in 2008, according to studies published today by the medical journal The Lancet. The percentage of people with uncontrolled hypertension, or high blood pressure, fell, with high-income countries showing a larger drop. Cholesterol levels declined in North America, Australia and Europe, but increased in East and Southeast Asia as well as the Pacific region, researchers said.
ELEVATED BMI IS ASSOCIATED WITH DECREASED BLOOD FLOW IN THE PREFRONTAL CORTEX USING SPECT IMAGING IN HEALTHY ADULTS
Kristen C. Willeumier1, Derek V. Taylor2 and Daniel G. Amen3
Published online 10 February 2011, by Obesity
Obesity is a risk factor for stroke and neurodegenerative disease. Excess body fat has been linked to impaired glucose metabolism, insulin resistance, and impulsivity and may be a precursor to decline in attention and executive cognitive function. Here, we investigated the effects of high BMI on regional cerebral blood flow (rCBF) using single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) imaging in healthy subjects. A total of 16 adult men and 20 adult women were recruited from the community between January 2003 and July 2009 as part of a healthy brain study (HBS) conducted at the Amen Clinics, a private medical facility. Participants in the study were screened to exclude medical, neurological, and psychiatric conditions, including substance abuse. Subjects were categorized as normal or overweight according to BMI. Using a two sample t-test, we determined the effects of BMI on rCBF in normal vs. overweight subjects. Subjects were matched for age and gender. Statistical parametric mapping (SPM) revealed a higher BMI in healthy individuals that is associated with decreased rCBF in Broadmann areas 8, 9, 10, 11, 32, and 44, brain regions involved in attention, reasoning, and executive function (P < 0.05, corrected for multiple comparisons). We found that an elevated BMI is associated with decreased rCBF in the prefrontal cortex of a healthy cohort. These results indicate that elevated BMI may be a risk factor for decreased prefrontal cortex function and potentially impaired executive function.
WHAT MAKES FRUCTOSE FATTENING? SOME ANSWERS FOUND IN THE BRAIN
ScienceDaily (Feb. 9, 2011) — The dietary concerns of too much fructose is well documented. High-fructose corn syrup has become the sweetener most commonly added to processed foods. Many dietary experts believe this increase directly correlates to the nation’s growing obesity epidemic. Now, new research at Oregon Health & Science University demonstrates that the brain — which serves as a master control for body weight — reacts differently to fructose compared with another common sweetener, glucose.
The research is published in the online edition of the journal Diabetes, Obesity and Metabolism and will appear in the March print edition.
JUNK FOOD DIET LINKED TO LOWER IQ
A woman eating a hot dog at a fast food restaurant. Toddlers who have a diet high in processed foods may have a slightly lower IQ in later life, according to a British study described as the biggest research of its kind.
AFP – Toddlers who have a diet high in processed foods may have a slightly lower IQ in later life, according to a British study described as the biggest research of its kind.
The conclusion, published on Monday, comes from a long-term investigation into 14,000 people born in western England in 1991 and 1992 whose health and well-being were monitored at the ages of three, four, seven and eight and a half. Parents of the children were asked to fill out questionnaires that, among other things, detailed the kind of food and drink their children consumed.
FITNESS: A WALK TO REMEMBER? STUDY SAYS YES
By PAULA SPAN, NY Times
Published: February 7, 2011
In healthy adults, the hippocampus — a part of the brain important to the formation of memories — begins to atrophy around 55 or 60. Now psychologists are suggesting that the hippocampus can be modestly expanded, and memory improved, by nothing more than regular walking.
In a study published on Jan. 31 in The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers randomly assigned 120 healthy but sedentary men and women (average age mid-60s) to one of two exercise groups. One group walked around a track three times a week, building up to 40 minutes at a stretch; the other did a variety of less aerobic exercises, including yoga and resistance training with bands.