In the News: Updates
Mediterranean Diet Can Lower Risk Of Sudden Death by 25-26%.
Either a Mediterranean Diet (vegetables, fruits, legumes, cereals, and fish) or U.S. Southern Diet pattern (added fats, fried food, eggs, organ meats, processed meats, and sugar-sweetened beverages) was given to 21, 069 men and women 45 years and older and compared for adherence to each diet using diet scores.
The results showed that 402 sudden cardiac deaths occurred during an average of 9.8 years of follow-up. People whose Mediterranean scores placed them among the top third of participants had a 25-26% lower risk of sudden cardiac deaths than subjects whose scores were among the lowest third. People whose Southern dietary pattern scores was among the top quarter of participants had a 46% higher risk of sudden cardiac death than those among the lowest quarter.
J. Am Heart Association 2021 July 6;10:e019158.
At a Glance
- A study found that a diet high in added fats, fried foods, processed meats, and sugary drinks was associated with a greater risk of sudden cardiac death, while a Mediterranean diet was associated with a lower risk.
- The findings provide evidence that adopting a healthier diet may decrease the risk of sudden cardiac death.
What Do We Know About Diet and Prevention of Alzheimer’s Disease?
Changes in the brain can occur years before the first symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease occur. It also should be noted that the focus of diet factors on diseases should be the prevention or delay of the disease in question and not a “cure.” Unlike other risk factors for Alzheimer’s that we cannot change such as age and genetics, the current thought is that with lifestyle choices such as diet, exercise and cognitive training, many chronic diseases can possibly be avoided adding health to our lifespans.
How could our diet affect our brains?
“It’s possible that certain diet patterns affects biological mechanisms, such as oxidative stress and inflammation that underlie many chronic diseases. Or perhaps diet works indirectly by affecting other disease risks, such as diabetes, obesity, and heart disease. A new avenue of research focuses on the relationship between gut microbes in the digestive system and aging-related processes that lead to Alzheimer’s.”
Reference: National Institute on Aging
Several diet patterns show some promise. One is the Mediterranean Diet or its variations, the MIND diet (Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay) or the DASH diet. (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension), a risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease. All are based on leafy green vegetables and colorful vegetables, berries, fish, poultry, beans, nuts, wine (1 glass a day), whole grains and preferably olive oil.
“For example, two recent studies suggest that, as part of the Mediterranean diet, eating fish may be the strongest factor influencing higher cognitive function and slower cognitive decline. In contrast, the typical Western diet increases cardiovascular disease risk, possibly contributing to faster brain aging.”
The problem with the research is that most is called observational (subject to recall from the participants). To rectify this, several organizations like National Institute of Aging are conducting clinical trials (considered the gold standard of medical proof to shed more light on any cause and effect.
What About Supplements?
Clinical trials in humans have had mixed results, some with positive effects, others with negative results. These types of studies often attempt to measure the effects of omega-3 fatty acids in the diet. However, at this time: despite early findings of possible benefits for brain health, no vitamin or supplement has been proven to work in people. Overall, evidence is weak as many studies were too small or too short to be conclusive.
Note: A deficiency in vitamin B12 or folate due to aging or strictly following a vegan diet may cause memory problems that are reversible with proper treatment. Please consult with your physician. If you are over 65, it may be prudent to have your Vitamin B12 status checked. Sometimes, the deficiency may be due to problems with absorption of the vitamin, not the intake. Also, healthy humans are equipped with a number of adaptive mechanisms that partially protect the body from poor health due to fluctuations in dietary intake. Vitamin B12 can be stored within body tissues for later use. Meats and seafood are good sources
Omega-3, Omega 6 and Breast Cancer
Note: I personally conducted animal research using high or low omega-3 or omega-6 diets on breast cancer incidence. The study was repeated two times and no significant differences in breast cancer incidence, tumor weight or immune system parameters were found between the study groups. This content is partly provided by the NIH National Institute on Aging (NIA) scientists and other experts review this content, so it is accurate and up to date. This content was reviewed November 27, 2019.
Influence of Type and Level of Dietary Polyunsaturated Fat on Incidence of Chemically-induced Mammary Tumors and on Selected Immune Responses in Rats. Sally J. Feltner, June, 1988.