Tag: nutrition

Dentures Could Worsen Nutritional Intake

Dentist checking teeth
Image by Caroline LM on Unsplash

Dentures could potentially worsen a person’s nutritional intake, according to new research in the Journal of Prosthodontics. The research team examined electronic dental and health records to gain a better understanding of how oral health treatments affect individuals’ overall health over time.

This is first known study to link lab values of nutritional biomarkers to dental records.

Thankam Thyvalikakath, DMD, MDS, PhD, senior author, explained the impact of dentures. “Dentures are a significant change for a person. They do not provide the same chewing efficiency, which may alter eating habits. Dentists need to be aware of this and provide advice or a referral for nutrition counselling. These patients need support during the transition and possible continued monitoring.”

The researchers matched the dental records of more than 10 000 patients which included lab test data, including malnutrition markers. The data included complete blood count, basic metabolic profile and lipid and thyroid panel tests. Comparing the lab results from two years before a patient received dentures to the two years after, the researchers found that people with dentures had a significant decline in certain nutrition markers over those two years.

People who did not wear dentures did not experience this decline. While marker levels were still within normal range, but the levels could potentially fall as more time passes, and the researchers urged dentists to be aware of this possibility.

Future research will look at other factors that may influence nutrition, including insurance status and dental clinic characteristics.

Source: Regenstrief Institute

Report Finds One in Four Preschool Children in SA Malnourished

Photo by Gautam Arora on Unsplash

One in four preschool children (aged four to five years) shows signs of long-term malnutrition, according to a new survey.

The Thrive by Five Index, released on 8 April, was produced by First National Bank and Innovation Edge in collaboration with the Department of Basic Education (DBE). The study surveyed more than 5000 children enrolled in early learning programmes across the country.

The study found about 25% of children were physically stunted, as a result of malnutrition in pregnancy and the early years of life. About 65% of children are either cognitively delayed, physically stunted, or both. This means they are not meeting the learning or growth standards expected of a child their age, and will start school at a disadvantage.

“Children from poorer households tended to perform worse,” said Sonja Giese, the lead researcher in the study. Giese is the founder of Innovation Edge, which was set up to support innovation in early childhood development. The rates of stunting were highest among the poorest children.

She said each child was assessed for about an hour. Children were assessed for things such as early mathematical skills, literacy and communication, motor development and coordination, among other things.

But Giese also drew attention to the positive outcomes of the study, saying that even within the poorest group of children there were some children who performed very well, causing a kind of “positive deviance”.

“I think there are some really interesting lessons we can learn from these outliers …Some children just thrive in difficult circumstances,” said Giese. She said more research could help to figure out how and why these children are thriving.

Giese said as the DBE had just taken over responsibility for early childhood education from the Department of Social Development, the study could show where attention should be focused.

In a statement about the survey, the DBE said that the first five years of the child’s life are the most important and stressed the importance of physical development during this stage.

Data for the survey was collected in late 2021 from a nationally representative sample of children aged 50-59 months enrolled in early learning programmes. The final weighted sample used for analysis included 5,139 children from 1,247 programmes across the country. The school quintile system was used to measure the probable socio-economic background of the children who were assessed. School quintiles are based on the income, education and unemployment levels of households in the school catchment area and for the purposes of the Thrive by Five study, the researchers assumed that the income level of children attending early learning programmes within each school cluster matched the income level of children attending the nearest school.

The researchers included more children from quintile 1 – the poorest – in order for the study to be representative of the country and each province. “That’s how we tried to make sure that it really provides a window into the world of children today in South Africa, exactly where they are and how they’re living,” said Giese.

Giese said that some of the data had not yet been analysed and further findings would be released over the next year.

This story was written by Liezl Human for GroundUp and is reproduced under a Creative Commons 4.0 Licence.

Source: GroundUp

Vegetable Intake Does Not Reduce Cardiovascular Risk, Study Finds

Photo by Daria Shevtsova from Pexels

A long-term study on almost 400 000 people in the UK finds little or no evidence that differences in the amount of vegetables consumed affects the risk of cardiovascular disease. 

When known socio-economic and lifestyle confounding factors are corrected for, the small apparent positive effect that remains could likely also be explained away by further confounders.

Getting enough vegetables is important for maintaining a balanced diet and avoiding a wide range of diseases. But might a diet rich in vegetables also lower the risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD)? Unfortunately, new results from a powerful, large-scale new study study in Frontiers in Nutrition found no evidence for this.

The notion of CVD risk being lowered by vegetable consumption might seem plausible at first, as their ingredients such as carotenoids and alpha-tocopherol (vitamin E) have properties that could protect against CVD. But so far, prior evidence for an overall effect of vegetable consumption on CVD has been inconsistent.

The study, which drew on UK Biobank data, found a higher consumption of cooked or uncooked vegetables is unlikely to affect the risk of CVD. The study authors also explained how confounding factors might explain previous spurious, positive findings.

“The UK Biobank is a large-scale prospective study on how genetics and environment contribute to the development of the most common and life-threatening diseases. Here we make use of the UK Biobank’s large sample size, long-term follow-up, and detailed information on social and lifestyle factors, to assess reliably the association of vegetable intake with the risk of subsequent CVD,” said Prof Naomi Allen, UK Biobank’s chief scientist and co-author on the study.

The UK Biobank, follows the health of half a million adults in the UK by linking to their healthcare records. Upon their enrolment in 2006-2010, these volunteers were  interviewed about their diet, lifestyle, medical and reproductive history, and other factors.

The researchers used the responses at enrolment of 399 586 participants (of whom 4.5% went on to develop CVD) to questions about their daily average consumption of uncooked versus cooked vegetables. They analysed the association with the risk of hospitalization or death from myocardial infarction, stroke, or major CVD. They controlled for a wide range of possible confounding factors, including socio-economic status, physical activity, and other dietary factors.

Crucially, the researchers also assessed the potential role of ‘residual confounding’, that is, whether unknown additional factors or inaccurate measurement of known factors might lead to a spurious statistical association between CVD risk and vegetable consumption.

The mean daily intake of total vegetables, raw vegetables, and cooked vegetables was 5.0, 2.3, and 2.8 heaped tablespoons per person. The risk of dying from CVD was about 15% lower for those with the highest intake compared to the lowest vegetable intake. However, this effect was greatly weakened when possible confounding factors were taken into account. Controlling for factors such as socio-economic status reduced the predictive statistical power of vegetable intake on CVD by over 80%, suggesting that more precise measures of these confounders would have explained away any residual effect of vegetable intake.

Dr Qi Feng, the study’s lead author, said: “Our large study did not find evidence for a protective effect of vegetable intake on the occurrence of CVD. Instead, our analyses show that the seemingly protective effect of vegetable intake against CVD risk is very likely to be accounted for by bias from residual confounding factors, related to differences in socioeconomic situation and lifestyle.”

The researchers suggest that subsequent studies should further assess whether particular types of vegetables or their method of preparation might affect the risk of CVD.

Source: Frontiers

Soluble Fibre is Associated with Lower Dementia Risk

Source: Pixabay

Drawing on a decades-long cohort study, researchers in Japan have found that higher levels of dietary fibre, particularly soluble fibre, are associated with a lower risk of dementia.

Fibre is known to have vital importance for a healthy digestive system and also has cardiovascular benefits like reduced cholesterol. In a new study published in Nutritional Neuroscience, researchers have shown that a high-fibre diet is also associated with a reduced risk of developing dementia, adding to evidence that fibre is also important for a healthy brain.

“Dementia is a devastating disease that usually requires long-term care,” says lead author of the study Professor Kazumasa Yamagishi. “We were interested in some recent research which suggested that dietary fibre may play a preventative role. We investigated this using data that were collected from thousands of adults in Japan for a large study that started in the 1980s.”

Between 1985 and 1999, 3739 participants who were generally healthy and aged between 40–64 completed dietary information surveys. They were then followed up from 1999 until 2020, and it was noted whether they developed dementia that required care.

Participants were assigned into four groups according to the amount of fibre in their diets. They found that the groups who ate higher levels of fibre had a lower risk of developing dementia.

The team also examined whether there were differences for the two main types of fibre: soluble and insoluble fibres. Soluble fibres, found in foods such as oats and legumes, are important for the beneficial bacteria that live in the gut as well as providing other health benefits. Insoluble fibres, found in whole grains, vegetables, and some other foods, are known to be important for bowel health. The researchers found that the link between fibre intake and dementia was more pronounced for soluble fibres.

The team has some ideas as to what might underlie the link between dietary fibre and the risk of dementia.

“The mechanisms are currently unknown but might involve the interactions that take place between the gut and the brain,” said Professor Yamagishi. “One possibility is that soluble fibre regulates the composition of gut bacteria. This composition may affect neuroinflammation, which plays a role in the onset of dementia. It’s also possible that dietary fibre may reduce other risk factors for dementia, such as body weight, blood pressure, lipids, and glucose levels. The work is still at an early stage, and it’s important to confirm the association in other populations.”

Source: University of Tsukuba

Vitamin D Supplements Reduce Autoimmune Disease Risk

A five year-long randomised, placebo-controlled study found that in older adults taking vitamin D supplements, alone or with omega-3 fatty acids, the risk of developing autoimmune disease was reduced.

Autoimmune diseases (AD) such as rheumatoid arthritis, polymyalgia rheumatica, autoimmune thyroid disease and psoriasis, are a leading cause of morbidity and mortality as people age. Few effective treatments are available for AD, but some research has hinted that supplements, including vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids, could have beneficial effects.

In a new study published in the BMJ, investigators from Brigham and Women’s Hospital evaluated whether taking vitamin D and/or omega fatty acid supplements could affect rates of AD. The large-scale vitamin D and Omega-3 Trial (VITAL), a randomised study which followed participants for approximately five years. Taking vitamin D, or vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids had a significantly lower rate of AD than placebo.

“It is exciting to have these new and positive results for non-toxic vitamins and supplements preventing potentially highly morbid diseases,” said senior author Karen Costenbader, MD, MPH. “This is the first direct evidence we have that daily supplementation may reduce AD incidence, and what looks like a more pronounced effect after two years of supplementation for vitamin D.”

“Now, when my patients, colleagues, or friends ask me which vitamins or supplements I’d recommend they take to reduce risk of autoimmune disease, I have new evidence-based recommendations for women aged 55 years and older and men 50 years and older,” said Dr Costenbader. “I suggest vitamin D 2000 IU a day and marine omega-3 fatty acids (fish oil), 1000 mg a day – the doses used in VITAL.”

VITAL included 25 871 participants, with men aged 50 and older and women aged 55 and older, conducted to investigate whether taking vitamin D3 and/or omega-3 supplements could reduce the risk for developing cancer, heart disease and stroke in people who do not have a prior history of these illnesses. Prior to the launch of VITAL, investigators determined that they would also look at rates of AD among participants, as part of an ancillary study.

Participants answered questionnaires about new diagnoses of diseases, including rheumatoid arthritis, polymyalgia rheumatica, autoimmune thyroid disease, psoriasis and inflammatory bowel disease, with space to write in all other new onset ADs. Medical records were reviewed to confirm reported diagnoses.

“Autoimmune diseases are common in older adults and negatively affect health and life expectancy. Until now, we have had no proven way of preventing them, and now, for the first time, we do,” said first author Jill Hahn, ScD, post-doctoral fellow at the Brigham.

Among patients randomised to vitamin D, 123 participants in the treatment group and 155 in the placebo group were diagnosed with confirmed AD (22 percent reduction). Among those in the fatty acid arm, confirmed AD occurred in 130 participants in the treatment group and 148 in the placebo group. Omega-3 fatty acids alone did not significantly lower incidence of AD, but there was some evidence of a decrease over long periods.

Source: EurekAlert!

Consumption of Olive Oil Reduces Risk of Premature Death

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A new study has found that people who consume higher amounts of olive oil may lower their risk of premature death overall and from specific causes including cardiovascular disease, cancer, and neurodegenerative disease, compared to people who never or almost never consume olive oil. People who consumed olive oil instead of animal fat were also found to have a lower risk of total and cause-specific mortality.

“Olive oil consumption has been linked to lower cardiovascular disease risk, but its association with premature death was unclear,” said Marta Guasch-Ferré, a senior research scientist in the Department of Nutrition at Harvard Chan School. “Our findings confirm current dietary recommendations to replace animal fats with plant oils for the prevention of chronic diseases and premature death.”

The researchers used health data collected between 1990 and 2018 for 60 582 women participating in the Nurses’ Health Study and 31 801 men in the Health Professionals Follow-up Study. All participants were free of cardiovascular disease or cancer at the study start.

Participants were asked how often they used olive oil in salad dressings, added to food or bread, or in baking or frying. According to the findings, people in the highest category of olive oil consumption (> 7g/day) had 19% lower risk of total and cardiovascular disease mortality, 17% lower risk of cancer mortality, 29% lower risk of neurodegenerative mortality, and 18% lower risk of respiratory mortality, compared with those who never or rarely consumed olive oil. Compared to margarine, butter, mayonnaise, or dairy fat, olive oil usage was correlated with reduced risk of total and cause-specific mortality. However no significant risk reduction was seen compared to use of other vegetable oils.

“Clinicians should be counselling patients to replace certain fats, such as margarine and butter, with olive oil to improve their health,” advised Guasch-Ferré. “Our study helps make specific recommendations that will be easy for patients to understand and hopefully implement into their diets.”

The findings were published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

Source: Harvard University

Eating More Avocados Edges Out Unhealthy Foods

Photo by Dirk Ribbler on Unsplash

In a novel study, researchers conducted a randomised controlled trial comparing the potential health effects between families of Mexican descent that consumed a low allotment of avocados (three per week) and families that consumed a high allotment (14 per week).

They found that the high avocado allotment families self-reported lower caloric consumption, reducing their intake of other foods, including dairy, meats and refined grains and their associated negative nutrients, such as saturated fat and sodium.

The findings, published in Nutrients, may offer insights into how to better address the burgeoning public health issues of obesity and related diseases, particularly in high-risk communities, said the authors.

“Data regarding the effects of avocado intake on family nutritional status has been non-existent,” said senior author Matthew Allison, MD, professor at UC San Diego School of Medicine.

“Recent trials have focused on individuals, primarily adults, and limited to changes in cardiometabolic disease blood markers. Our trial’s results provide evidence that a nutrition education and high avocado allotment reduces total caloric energy in Mexican heritage families.”

The soft and buttery insides of the avocado are rich in vitamins C, E, K and B6, plus riboflavin, niacin, folate, pantothenic acid, magnesium, potassium, lutein, beta carotene and omega-3 fatty acids.

Half of a medium-sized fruit provides up to 20% of the recommended daily fibre, 10% potassium, 5% magnesium, 15% folate and 7.5 grams of monounsaturated fatty acids.

For the study, researchers enrolled 72 families (231 individuals) consisting of at least three members each over the age of five, residing in the same home, free of severe chronic disease, not on specific diets, and of Mexican heritage. The families were randomised into two groups for six months, during which time both groups also received bi-weekly nutrition education sessions.

Researchers wanted to assess if increased but moderated consumption of a single, nutrient-dense food might measurably improve overall health and decrease diet-related disparities.

While no change in BMI or waist circumference was seen between the two groups during the trial, researchers noted that consuming more avocados appeared to speed satiety. Fats and some dietary fibres, such as those found in avocados, can impact total energy intake by influencing gastrointestinal functions, such as introducing bulk that slows gastric emptying, regulating glucose and insulin reactions, prolonging nutrient absorption and modifying key peptide hormones that signal fullness.

Interestingly, the study found that families consuming more avocados correspondingly reduced their consumption of animal protein, specifically chicken, eggs and processed meats, the latter of which are typically higher in fat and sodium. Current nutrition guidelines recommend reduced consumption of both fat and sodium.

But surprisingly, high avocado consumers also recorded decreased intake of calcium, iron, sodium, vitamin D, potassium and magnesium, which researchers said might be associated with eating less.

“Our results show that the nutrition education and high avocado intake intervention group significantly reduced their family total energy intake, as well as carbohydrate, protein, fat (including saturated), calcium, magnesium, sodium, iron, potassium and vitamin D,” said first author Lorena Pacheco.

“In secondary energy-adjusted analyses, the nutrition education and high avocado allotment group significantly increased their intake of dietary fibre, monounsaturated fatty acids, potassium, vitamin E and folate.”

Source: EurekAlert!

Prunes Also Protect Bone Health in Men

Photo by Nino Liverani on Unsplash

New research published in the Journal of Food and Medicine reports that daily prunes consumption protects bone health in men over 50. This study is the first of its kind to examine the beneficial prune effect on bones in men. 

Some 2 million men are estimated to be battling osteoporosis and another 16.1 million men have osteopenia, or low bone mass. Despite these numbers, bone disease in men is often overlooked.

“We’ve already seen significant evidence that prunes have a positive effect on bone health in women, so it’s particularly exciting to find that prunes can also play a beneficial role in men’s bone health. We look forward to continuing to study the ‘prune effect’ on bone and other health outcomes in men,” said lead researcher Professor Shirin Hooshmand at San Diego State University.

In this study, 57 healthy men aged 50-79 years old were randomised to either consume 100 grams of prunes every day or no prunes for twelve months. After a year, the prune consumers showed significant decreases in biomarkers of bone breakdown, while no changes were observed in the control group. The study authors also reported the men who ate prunes showed improvements in bone geometry indicating greater bone strength.

Historically, research has focused on osteoporosis and bone health in women, already indicating a favorable bone response to prunes specifically among postmenopausal women. Several studies have suggested that eating 50 to 100 grams of prunes everyday could lead to increased bone mass and decreased bone breakdown. Moreover, a recent case study earlier this year reported that total bone mineral density increased in a postmenopausal woman with osteopenia after she consumed 50 grams of prunes daily for 16 months.

“Bone health is not just a concern for women. Men need to think about how to protect their bones as well,” said Leslie Bonci, MPH, RDN and consultant with the California Prune Board. “Prunes are a shelf-stable and nutrient-packed food that provide a preventive, proactive, palatable option for men to optimize their bone health.”

While San Diego State University’s newest research is an exciting addition to existing prune-focused literature, more work on the effect of prunes on human bone health is currently underway. An upcoming study from Pennsylvania State University examines how consuming different amounts of prunes affects health outcomes in postmenopausal women over a one-year period. The study not only explores the impact of prunes on bone health, but it will also look at the prune-effect on inflammation and gut health.

Source: PR Newswire

A Link Between Intestinal Changes, Diet and Disease

A new study published in Nature Metabolism has found a link between diet, intestinal cell changes and disease.

The intestine has to react quickly to changes in nutrition and nutrient balance. One of the ways it does so is with intestinal cells that are specialised in the absorption of food components or the secretion of hormones. In adult humans, the intestinal cells regenerate every five to seven days. The ability to constantly renew and develop all types of intestinal cells from intestinal stem cells is crucial for the natural adaptability of the digestive system. However, a long-term diet high in sugar and fat disrupts this adaptation and can contribute to the development of obesity, type 2 diabetes, and gastrointestinal cancer.

The molecular mechanisms behind this maladaptation are the research area of this study. Intestinal stem cells are thought to play a special role in maladaptation, and to investigate this, the researchers used a mouse model to compare the impacts of a high-sugar and high-fat diet and with a control group.

“The first thing we noticed was that the small intestine increases greatly in size on the high-calorie diet,” said study leader Anika Böttcher. “Together with Fabian Theis’ team of computational biologists at Helmholtz Munich, we then profiled 27 000 intestinal cells from control diet and high fat/high sugar diet-fed mice. Using new machine learning techniques, we thus found that intestinal stem cells divide and differentiate significantly faster in the mice on an unhealthy diet.” The researchers hypothesize that this is due to an upregulation of the relevant signaling pathways, which is associated with an acceleration of tumor growth in many cancers. “This could be an important link: Diet influences metabolic signaling, which leads to excessive growth of intestinal stem cells and ultimately to an increased risk of gastrointestinal cancer,” says Böttcher.

Using this high-resolution technique, the researchers have also been able to study rare cell types in the intestine, such as hormone-secreting cells. Among their findings, they were able to show that an unhealthy diet leads to a reduction in serotonin-producing cells in the intestine. This can result in intestinal inertia (typical of diabetes mellitus) or increased appetite. Furthermore, the absorbing cells were shown to adapt to the high-fat diet, increasing functionality and thus directly contributing to weight gain.

The study findings enable a new understanding of disease mechanisms associated with a high-calorie diet. “What we have found out is of crucial importance for developing alternative non-invasive therapies,” said study leader Heiko Lickert. 

Presently, there is no pharmacological approach to prevent, stop or reverse obesity and diabetes. Only bariatric surgery causes permanent weight loss and can even lead to remission of diabetes. However, these surgeries are invasive, non-reversible and costly to the healthcare system. Novel non-invasive therapies could happen, for example, at the hormonal level through targeted regulation of serotonin levels. This will be an avenue of future research for the group.

Source: EurekAlert!

Leafy Vegetable-rich Diet Could Curb Migraine Symptoms

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It may be worth adopting a plant based diet, rich in dark green leafy vegetables, to ease the symptoms of chronic migraine, suggest doctors reporting on a case study.

Writing in BMJ Case Reports, the doctors’ recommendation comes after treating a man who suffered from migraines for 12 years and had tried medication, yoga and avoiding potential ‘trigger foods’ to no avail.

Over 1 billion people worldwide have migraines, characterised as one-sided, pulsating headaches lasting 4–72 hours, and often accompanied by sensitivity to noise and light and sometimes prodromal auras. While the condition may be treated and prevented with drugs, a growing body of evidence suggests that diet can be an effective treatment.

Six months before his clinic referral, the man’s migraines had become chronic, occurring on 18–24 days of every month. The pain was described as starting suddenly and intensely in the forehead and left temple. The pain was throbbing in nature, usually lasting 72 hours. His headaches were accompanied by sensitivity to light and sound, and nausea and vomiting. On a scale of 0–10, he scored the pain severity as 10–12 out of 10.

Blood tests showed little systemic inflammation and a normal level of beta-carotene (53 µg/dL). This is likely due to his daily sweet potato consumption, which, although high in beta-carotene, are relatively low in the nutrients responsible for the anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties of carotenoids, the authors pointed out. These are instead found in dark green leafy vegetables, such as spinach. Systemic inflammation and oxidative stress are implicated in migraine.

The authors recommended that he follow the Low Inflammatory Foods Everyday (LIFE) diet, which is a nutrient dense, whole food, plant-based diet.

The LIFE diet includes eating at least five ounces (142g) of dark green leafy vegetables every day, drinking one 32-ounce (905g) daily green LIFE smoothie, and cutting back on whole grains, starchy vegetables, oils, and animal protein, particularly dairy and red meat.

After two months on the LIFE diet, the frequency of his migraine attacks had fallen to just 1 day a month; the length and severity of the attacks had also lessened. Blood tests showed a substantial rise in beta-carotene levels, from 53 µg/dL to 92 µg/dL.

He stopped his migraine meds and even when he tried certain ‘challenge’ foods which triggered headaches, they were less intense. At three months his migraines completely stopped, and they haven’t returned in 7.5 years.
The 60-year-old patient, whose identity was not disclosed, said: “Before I changed my diet, I was suffering six to eight debilitating migraines a month, each lasting up to 72 hours. Most days, I was either having a migraine or recovering from one.”

The man was allergic, which studies suggest contributes to migraines, and his allergies had disappeared. He was also HIV positive, also linked to migraine risk, so it is certainly possible that the man’s HIV status and antiretroviral drugs had contributed to his symptoms, the reports acknowledge, which they could not exclude.
Nevertheless they concluded: “This report suggests that a whole food plant-based diet may offer a safe, effective and permanent treatment for reversing chronic migraine.

“While this report describes one very adherent patient who had a remarkable response, the LIFE diet has reduced migraine frequency within three months in several additional patients (personal communication).”

Source: EurekAlert!