Food for Thought?

Reliable nutrition research is hard to find – at least the kind of studies that have no obvious conflicts of interest or bias from the food industry. Here are two recent studies that I found that appeared to have some legitimacy and no conflicts of interest. Source: Life Extension

Weight Loss and Breast Cancer Risk

It has been known for some time that excess body weight raises the risk of breast cancer.

Study Method: A large study that included 180,000 female subjects over 50 years of age had their weight assessed three times in 10 years by researchers from the American Cancer Society, the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, and others. They found that women who lost about 4.4 lbs to 10 lbs. had a 13% lower risk, women who lost 10 lbs to 20 lbs had a 16% lower risk, and those who lost 20 lbs or more had a 25% lower risk.

Women who lost weight, and then regained some of it back, also had a reduced risk of breast cancer compared to women whose weight remained stable.

Conclusions/Authors: “Our results suggest that even a modest sustained weight loss is associated with lower breast cancer risk for women over 50. These findings may be a strong motivator for the two-thirds of women who are overweight to lose some of that weight, one author said.

Source: Journal of the National Cancer Institute, 2019 Dec.

Blueberries and Metabolic Syndrome

Researchers evaluated the effects of blueberry consumption on indicators of oxidative stress (free radicals) and inflammation in patients with metabolic syndrome. Oxidative stress occurs when cells are exposed to more oxidizing molecules (free radicals) than to antioxidant molecules that neutralize them. Over time, it increases the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, cancer and other diseases. Blueberries have been found to have antioxidant functions as a result  of phytochemicals called polyphenols.

Metabolic syndrome is a cluster of conditions that includes some combination of high blood pressure, abdominal obesity, high blood sugar, and abnormal lipid profiles (HDL, LDL, trigycerides, total cholesterol). The syndrome is associated with a highly pro-inflammatory environment in the body and a sharp increase of risk for heart disease, stroke, and diabetes.

Method: For the study, one group of patients received a smoothie containing 22.5 grams of freeze-dried blueberries, (about 2 cups of fresh blueberries.) The other group received a placebo smoothie twice a day.

Results: After six weeks, blueberry supplementation markedly decreased oxidative stress in whole blood and monocytes (white blood cells as part of the immune system). Supplemented patients also had a reduced expression of inflammatory markers in the monocytes.

The researchers noted that to their knowledge, this was the first study to yield significant improvements in oxidative and inflammatory parameters in patients with metabolic syndrome just after six weeks of blueberry consumption.

Note: As with all research, one study is not sufficient to form conclusions – the study results need to be replicated.

Looking for more reasons to eat blueberries? A University of Illinois study tested different fruits for the presence of a particular polyphenol that inhibits a cancer-promoting enzyme. Of all the fruits tested, wild blueberries showed the greatest anticancer activity.

Throw them on a salad, in blender with a protein powder, eat them frozen with a dollop of yogurt. Put them on your morning cereal.

 

 

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