Good Nutrition Advice

For a healthy body and mind

Month: July 2013

Diabetes epidemic: soft drinks risk

diabetes

Just one can increases your diabetes risk

JUST in case you were in any doubt about the extent of the diabetes epidemic, the number of people in the UK with the disease rose to a new all time high of three million this year. That’s almost one in 20 of the population. The risk of diabetes rose by as much as an incredible 22 per cent for every can of soft drink consumed per day.

The study followed almost 30,000 people living in eight European countries, including Britain and found the risk rose by as much as 22 per cent for every 12oz serving of sugar-sweetened drink – a typical can – consumed per day. While soft drinks have previously been linked with weight gain and obesity researchers say the effect goes beyond body weight and may be caused by an increase in insulin resistance.

The research, published in Diabetologia, used data on the consumption of juices and nectars, sugar-sweetened soft drinks and artificially sweetened soft drinks. It involved 12,403 people with type-2 diabetes and 16,154 without diabetes. Researchers advised that people should be cautious about the amount of sugary soft drink they consumed.

The scientists, led by Dr Dora Romaguera, from Imperial College London, wrote in the journal Diabetologia: “This study corroborates the association between increased incidence of type-2 diabetes and high consumption of sugar-sweetened soft drinks in European adults.
“Given the increase in sweet beverage consumption in Europe, clear messages on its deleterious effect on health should be given to the population.”

An increased risk of diabetes was also linked to consumption of artificially sweetened soft drinks, but the association disappeared when BMI was taken into account. In this case, it looks as if body weight is responsible for the trend rather than the drink itself. Fruit juice consumption was not associated with diabetes incidence.

Diabetes occurs when the body stops responding properly to the hormone insulin, leading to rising blood sugar levels. Unlike type-1 diabetes it is lifestyle-related and not an auto-immune condition.

Source: Consumption of sweet beverages and type 2 diabetes incidence in European adults: results from EPIC-InterAct’ by The InterAct Consortium, published in Diabetologia on Wednesday 24th April.

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Trans fat free foods: what’s the truth?

trans fat free foods

Trans fat free foods are generally no healthier

OVER the last few years the term trans fat has become a dirty word in the fast-food industry and many packaged foods now proudly proclaim themselves to be trans fat free. Well, great, you might think. However, you’d be wrong …

The processing technique that creates trans fat is called partial hydrogenation. If you partially hydrogenate soy oil, you’ll get trans fats. If you partially hydrogenate canola oil, you’ll get trans fats. So, the blend doesn’t really tell us much. The big question is how is the blend processed?

This is where a potential problem lies – a technique called interesterification. Over the past few years, foods prepared with partially hydrogenated oils have come to be known far and wide as a health threat, linked to higher risk of heart disease and cancer. Most of us really want trans fat free foods. But food manufacturers and restaurant managers have balked at turning away from the convenience of partially hydrogenated oils. That’s why many of them have started to use oils processed by a new method: interesterification – yum, that sounds healthier already! Then they market them as trans fat free.

Like partially hydrogenated oils, interesterified oils have a long shelf life, which makes them just about as appealing to restaurants and food manufacturers as oils with trans fats. But there is one little catch: interesterified fats may be classed a trans fat free, but they are nearly as bad for you as trans fats.

From bad to trans fat free worse

Nutrition and Metabolism published a study that compared the effects of three oils: interesterified soybean oil, partially hydrogenated soybean oil and palm oil. Three different diets were prepared in which 30 percent of calories came from one of the three oils. Thirty subjects followed each of the diets over the course of three study phases. Each phase lasted four weeks. Two key results stood out:

HDL cholesterol levels dropped on the interesterified fat diet. Insulin levels dropped 10 percent on the partially hydrogenated soybean oil diet, but dropped more than TWICE as much on the interesterified fat diet, causing average blood sugar to rise by an alarming 20 percent

More research will be needed to confirm these results. Hopefully that research is underway, because one of the study authors, Dr. K.C. Hayes of Brandeis University, said: “interesterification is probably the number-one process that will replace trans fats.”

In the meantime, Dr. Hayes offered a very useful tip on how to determine if a food product contains interesterificated oil. Just check the nutrition panel and look for the words ‘fully hydrogenated’. Fully? Partially? Personally, I think it’s time call the whole hydrogenated thing off.

How to keep your brain sharp

how to keep your brain sharp

A mediterranean diet helps keep your brain sharp

RECENT research published in the journal Neurology, found that people who followed a Mediterranean diet had a 19 percent reduced risk of mental impairment. The study, which looked at how to keep your brain sharp in old age, followed the diets of 17,478 people with an average age of 64.

The participants were given tests that measured their mental ability over an average of four years. During the course of the study, only seven percent developed memory and thinking difficulties. The essential fatty acid omega-3, found in oily fish, flax seeds and walnuts, forms the cornerstone of the Mediterranean diet. The diet also features high levels of fresh fruit and vegetables and low levels of saturated fats, which are all important factors if you are wondering how to keep your brain sharp.

Lead researcher Dr Georgios Tsivgoulis, from the universities of Alabama and Athens, said: “Since there are no definitive treatments for most dementing illnesses, modifiable activities, such as diet, that may delay the onset of symptoms of dementia are very important.”

Diet is only one of several important lifestyle activities that might play a role in late-life mental functioning. If you are worried about how to keep your brain sharp as you get older, adding regular exercise, maintaining a healthy weight, and not smoking are all important factors to consider too.

Other recent research found that eating a Mediterranean-style diet can cut heart attacks, strokes and death rates in people at high risk of heart disease by as much as one third.

Source: Georgios Tsivgoulis, M.D., University of Alabama at Birmingham, and University of Athens, Greece; Sam Gandy, M.D., associate director, Mount Sinai Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center, New York City; April 30, 2013, Neurology

References:

 

Why high cholesterol foods are good for you

ShellfishCHOLESTEROL is a type of fat that exists in all our cell membranes. It is vital for functions such as nerve transmission, the formation of vitamin D and the formation of bile. Approximately 80 percent of cholesterol is produced in your liver, with the other 20 percent coming from diet.

Cholesterol is only found in animal products and not in vegetable oils such as avocado or olive. Shellfish, for example, contain very little fat, but high levels of cholesterol, while nut butters are high in fat and low in cholesterol.

Cholesterol myths

From recent research we now know the cholesterol in the food we eat is not a problem and has very little impact on your cholesterol levels. In fact, why high cholesterol foods are good for you is because the less cholesterol you get from foods, the more your body makes. Your body makes around one to two grams of cholesterol every day, which is five to ten times the cholesterol found in one egg.

When you eat more cholesterol from foods such as shellfish or eggs, your body produces less of it. The less cholesterol you eat – the more your body makes.

Cholesterol has to travel in the bloodstream and, in order to do so, is combined with a protein to create a lipoprotein, of which there are two main types: LDL – sometimes call ‘bad’, which carry cholesterol to the artery wall, and HDL – often called ‘good’, which helps to return cholesterol to the liver. High LDL causes damaged and inflamed arterial walls, also depositing saturated fats and calcium, called arterial plaque or atheroma. The balance of these two lipoproteins in the blood is more important that the total cholesterol.

Carrots may help prevent cancer

carrots may help prevent cancer

Carrots really may help to prevent cancer

EVERY year in the UK around 40,000 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer and more than 10,000 die of the disease. But the good news is that humble carrots may help prevent cancer. 

Studies by Professor Norman Maitland at the University of York have found a diet rich in vitamin A could be key in beating the disease by making it more treatable. The researchers discovered that carrots may help prevent cancer because they contain retinoic acid, a chemical made from Vitamin A which is found in foods including carrots, sweet potatoes and green leafy vegetables, and can reduce the ability of the cancer to invade surrounding tissue.

Prof Maitland said: “If the cancer is confined to the prostate it’s much more treatable with conventional medicine. This is about prevention rather than cure, but it can stop the spread of cancer. It has been known for many years that low vitamin A in samples of men’s blood is associated with prostate cancer, but nobody knew the mechanisms involved. This is an exciting new development which links an element from our diet to prostate cancer stem cells. Carrots may help prevent cancer.”

Raw carrots and carrot juice have been used in complementary medicine as a ‘cure’ for cancer for quite while now. So, maybe there is now some scientific evidence behind this alternative practice after all. Carrots contain beta-carotene, an antioxidant and pre-cursor used to make vitamin A in your body, along with carotenoid derivates such as zeaxanthin and lutein. Eating a diet rich in antioxidants, such as beta carotene and falcarinol, may help prevent cancer by stopping damage to the healthy cells in your body.

Falcarinol is a natural substance found in raw carrots, which according to research, can significantly reduce your risk of cancer. Studies have shown that falcarinol slows the growth of cancer cells, making it less likely to invade the body. Laboratory rats fed a diet of raw carrots or isolated falcarinol were a third less likely to develop full-scale, chemically-induced tumors than those in the control group.

A study by researchers from the University of Newcastle upon Tyne in England and Denmark and published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry found falcarinol, a natural pesticide that protects the roots of carrots from fungal disease, reduced cancer risk. The researchers found that it actually had a more powerful effect than beta carotene. So, yes, eating carrots may help prevent cancer.

Source: www.yorkpress.co.uk/news/10357737.University_of_York_scientists_in_prostate_cancer_treatment_breakthrough/

Foods to fight inflammation

vegetablesALTHOUGH inflammation is the body’s normal response to injury, it can lead to disease if it becomes chronic. A recent report from an expert at the University of Alabama (UAB) suggests that you can fight inflammation with food.  

According to the National Council on Strength and Fitness, obesity has been found to cause inflammation, and it can lead to the development of cardiovascular and metabolic disease. Lauren Whitt, PhD, UAB Employee Wellness Director and adjunct professor of personal health adds that weight loss is also related to a reduction of inflammation, and believes  the right anti-inflammatory foods are the answer.  Her recommendations?

  • Citrus fruits – vitamin C and Vitamin E are essential antioxidants
  • Dark, leafy greens – high in Vitamin K
  • Tomatoes – the fruit’s red pigment, lycopene, is a potent antioxidant
  • Wild-caught salmon – contains a rich concentration of omega-3 fatty acids

At lunchtime, choose salad instead of sandwiches, cut down on saturated fat from processed and fast foods and have fruit for dessert or a snack instead of something sugary. Increase your intake of fish, especially oily fish.

Source. University of Alabama at Birmingham (2013, March 22). Foods can help fight inflammation. Science Daily. Retrieved April 5, 2013, from http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/03/130322154027.htm

Putting the egg debate to bed

eggsEGGS have been the cause of nutritional controversy for years. So, hopefully, this latest research will finally put an end to the bad press that these little nutritional powerhouses have been subjected to.

Scientists at the Jilin University in China have found that, actually, the more eggs we eat, the healthier we should feel. They found that one of the key components of egg whites can be just as powerful as specialised medication in reducing blood pressure. The study was part of the 245th National Meeting and Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS), the world’s largest scientific society.

This component is a peptide — one of the building blocks of protein — which appears to have the ability to inhibit the action of substances in the body that raise blood pressure. ‘Our research suggests that there may be another reason to call it the incredible, edible egg,’ said Dr Zhipeng Yu, the scientist in charge of this project.

Previous arguments against the consumption of eggs have been that they contain cholesterol, and high levels of cholesterol in the blood are supposed to be damaging to the heart. However, we need cholesterol. It’s essential for the production of hormones, building cell membranes and digesting fats.

Source:

http://www.acs.org/content/acs/en/pressroom/newsreleases/2013/april/new-evidence-that-egg-white-protein-may-help-high-blood-pressur.html

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