One in two US adults have diabetes or prediabetes

In the latest edition of Nutrition Action from Center for Science in the Public Interest, December 2022, there is a very comprehensive article on Diabetes type 2. Here are the important takeaways. The article was written by Bonnie Liebman.

“Fifteen percent of U.S. adults have diabetes. Another 38% have prediabetes (and 8 out of 10 of them don’t know it). The good news: Many cases can be prevented and, in some people, even reversed.”

        Prevention is the key with the practice of lifestyle changes in diet and exercise.

The Bottom Line:


“The best way to dodge prediabetes is to lose (or not gain) extra pounds.

Cutting carbs –  especially white flour, potatoes, juice and sugary drinks- may help lower blood sugar even if you don’t lose weight.

Replace unhealthy carbs with unsaturated fats like olive oil or canola oil, nuts, avocado, and fatty fish.

Fill half of your plate with nonstarchy vegetables.

Aim for at last 30 minutes of brisk walking or other aerobic exercise daily.

If you have type 2 diabetes, don’t try a very-low-calorie or a low-carb diet without a doctor’s or dietitian’s help. They may cause dangerously low blood sugar, and your doctor may need to adjust your medications.

If you have prediabetes, find a CDC-recognized-in-person or online Diabetes Prevention Program. (Go to cdc.gov/diabetes/prevention.)”

Source: Nutrition Action\ December 2022.

Happy Thanksgiving – Bon apetit.

English: “The First Thanksgiving at Plymouth” (1914) By Jennie A. Brownscombe (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“ The turkey is certainly one of the most delightful presents which the New World has made to the Old.”  Brillat Savarin.

Most of the traditional Thanksgiving foods we now eat on this holiday are foods that originated or were Native to the Americas. The word for turkey in French is dinde, short for poulet d’inde since they thought that the turkey came from the West Indies of Columbus days.  The turkey was popular in England before the Pilgrims came in 1620.

Turkeys don’t migrate so they were some of the first Native Americans and were available all year.  Turkeys are easy to hunt – when one is shot, the others freeze in place.  Don’t get me wrong – I don’t encourage shooting turkeys – we have lots of wild turkeys here in Western North Carolina. Many times I’ve had to stop and wait until they cross the road.  I once encountered a few hens walking in the woods, followed by a male who wanted to impress them by making a racket and spreading his tail feathers – of course, the “girls” totally ignored him and went on without a nod – I kind of felt sorry for him

Potatoes had reached Europe early in the Columbian Exchange (thanks to Christopher Columbus).  Potatoes had an interesting history – they were native to Peru, a Spanish colony and enemy of England, and went from Peru to Europe and then returned to New Hampshire with Scottish-Irish settlers in 1723.  It is thought that the idea of mashing them with butter and milk also came form Scottish-Irish influence.

Cranberries were native to New England. Cranberries and blueberries were mashed with sour milk and used as paint as well as for food.  To this day, these colors or variations of these colors are used in New England colonial homes.

Many types of squash had reached Europe, but pumpkin was unknown at that time. Pumpkin was used in the early colonies, but did not appear in cookbooks until Amelia Simmons in 1796 wrote the first printed American cookbook.  She referred to it as “pomkin”.  You may prefer pecan pie – and these are also of American origin.  Originating in central and eastern North America and the river valleys of Mexico, pecans were widely used by pre-colonial residents.

Cornbread and sweet potatoes (both being native to the Americas) round out our traditional Thanksgiving fare. Archaeological studies indicate that corn was cultivated in the Americas at least 5600 years ago and American Indians were growing corn long before Europeans landed here. The probable center off origin is the Central American and Mexico region but since the plant is found only under cultivation, no one can be sure.

The sweet potato has a rich history and interesting origin. It is one of the oldest vegetables known to mankind. Scientists believe that the sweet potato was domesticated thousands of years ago in Central America. Christopher Columbus took sweet potatoes back home to Europe after his first 1492 voyage. Sweet potatoes spread through Asia and Africa after being introduced in China in the late 16th century.

So as you enjoy your Thanksgiving this year, give thanks to the Americas for our traditional foods that are truly “made in America”.

BTW –Many of the foods we find on our Thanksgiving table today, weren’t  available back when the colonists celebrated the First Thanksgiving in Plymouth.  The first historical descriptions of the first Thanksgiving do not mention turkey – only “wild fowl” (not identified) and five deer.  The party was in 1621 with fifty-one Pilgrim men, women, and children hosting ninety men of the Wampanoag tribe and their chief, Massasoit.  It was in the fall to celebrate the good harvest of corn (wheat and barley weren’t as successful) and lasted three days.

Have a great Thanksgiving Day from Food, Facts & Fads and STAY SAFE.  SJF

Ultra Processed Foods: A Study from Brazil

Every year, the average American eats 33 pounds of cheese and 70 pounds of sugar. Every day, we ingest 8,500 milligrams of salt, double the recommended amount, almost none of which comes from shakers on our table. It comes from processed food, an industry that hauls in $1 trillion in annual sales.

Michael Moss, Salt, Sugar, Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us.

CLICK HERE.

A Very Short Guide to Live the Mediterranean Way

How to Live the Mediterranean Way and How to Feed Your Microbiome: Rules to Live By:  

“Each country around the Mediterranean Sea offers a rich bounty of delicious ingredients. Many authors have written about the Mediterranean Diet in terms of the health benefits that have been shown by an exhaustive array of scientific studies on its merits. The diet is now recognized as an “intangible cultural heritage” in Italy by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). It is a way of life and a way of eating, which the Italians call “Cucina genuine” or “cuisine of the poor”.  This is the diet of those who work the land and feed themselves using seasonal ingredients grown in their small plots outside the kitchen”.

The following characteristics attempt to describe the “Americanized” version of how to live and eat the Mediterranean way – it is not just a diet but a gift to a healthier lifestyle.”

DIET: Eat food, not too much, mostly plants. (Michael Pollan). Whole grains, unprocessed foods, fruits, and vegetables. It is not a diet but a lifestyle.

Eat meat in moderation. Limit your saturated fat, sugar and salt intake. Snack on nuts. Reduces inflammatory foods

Practice mindfulness, smaller servings, early light dinners.

Try yogurt, beans, chickpeas (hummus (fermentable foods) like sauerkraut – gives us a diverse microenvironment

Maintain a healthy Body Mass Index (BMI) 19.0 – 25.0

Drink plenty of water

EXERCISE:

Take a walk. Enjoy the sunshine.

Stay active. Get gardening.

Exercise improves cognition and stress reduction

BEHAVIORAL, SOCIAL

1-2 Glasses of red wine (daily): Optional (if you don’t drink wine, don’t start) 

Have a purpose in life (a reason to get up in the morning).

Laugh with friends.

Keep your brain active (read, puzzles, learn a language) card games

Focus on family, God, camaraderie, nature

Reduce stress and avoid eating when angry or sad.

Enjoy the secret pleasures and social aspect of foods.  Become more expert at listening to your gut feelings. (mind/body).  

Citations: 

Diane Phillps, The Mediterranean Slow Cooker Cookbook, Chronicle Books, 2012.

Emeran Mayer, MD. The Mind-Gut Connection, Harper Collins, 2016.

Dan Buettner The Blue Zones Challenge, National Geographic, 2021.

All about omega-3 fats and the Brain : Source: Medical News Today

The following study presents an interesting connection between omega-3 fats, brain function and cognitive decline.

Erica Watts, Oct 7, 2022

Fact Checked by Alexandra Sanfins, PhD.

  • Omega-3 fatty acids have many benefits and play a role in heart health and cognitive functioning.
  • A new study demonstrates that there may be a connection between consuming omega-3 and an increase in brain functioning for people in midlife.
  • The cross-sectional study analyzed the omega-3 blood levels of people in their midlife and assessed their MRIs and thinking skills to see whether there was a difference in people with higher or lower omega-3 levels.

“According to the new study published in Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology, people who have higher omega-3 levels in their middle ages may have an edge over people who take in lower levels of omega-3.

The study was led by researchers at the University of Texas Health at San Antonio, TX, who were concerned about the lack of research on how omega-3 can impact people in their midlife.

Omega-3: Things to know

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH)Trusted Source, omega-3 fatty acids “are a group of polyunsaturated fatty acids that are important for a number of functions in the body.” In addition to playing a role in heart health and cognitive functioning, omega-3 fatty acids are also part of the cell membraneTrusted Source and affect cell functioning.

As Professor Stuart Phillips noted during a Live Long and Master Aging podcast, “Some fats that we ingest, and particularly the omega-3 or long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids are actually what we refer to as essential fats. We need to have them in our diet because we don’t have the ability to make them ourselves.”

Prof. Phillips is the director of the Physical Activity Center of Excellence at McMaster University in Ontario, Canada.

The NIHTrusted Source lists three types of omega-3 fatty acids: alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)..

While people can take omega-3 supplements, it is also in a number of foods. Some good sources of omega-3 include fish (such as salmon and tuna) nuts and seeds (chia seeds and flax seeds).

Studying Omega-3’s effect

The researchers studied 2,183 men and women with an average age of 46. They excluded people who had dementia or a history of having a stroke from their participant pool.

Omega-3s are present in the brain, particularly in the hippocampus. The hippocampus plays a role in learning and memory, and a reduction in the volume can point to possible dementiaTrusted Source.

The participants also underwent a neurological assessment. The tests measured the participants’ abstract thinking, processing speed, executive function, and delayed episodic memory.

Omega-3 and brain health 

Using blood samples, the researchers analyzed the fatty acid composition (omega-3’s) of each participant. The participants also consented to having their brains scanned using MRI technology. The researchers were also interested in the volumes of gray and white matter.

The researchers placed approximately 25% of the participants in the low group where the participants had omega-3 fatty acids blood levels falling under 4%. This group had an average count of 3.4%.

The rest of the participants were put into the high group; their average omega-3 level was 5.2%.

Comparing the blood samples, MRI results, and neurological assessments, the study authors determined that higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids correlate to a higher hippocampus volume and better abstract reasoning.

Researchers observed that the people in the high group also had higher gray matter volumes, better reading scores, and slightly higher logical reasoning scores.

In contrast, the people in the low group tended to be less likely to have a college degree and more likely to be smokers and have diabetes compared to the higher group.

“This exploratory study suggests that higher [omega-3 blood levels] are associated with larger hippocampal volumes and better performance in abstract reasoning, even in cognitively healthy middle-aged adults from the community, suggesting a possible role in improving cognitive resilience,” write the authors.

“These results need to be confirmed with additional research, but it’s exciting that omega-3 levels could play a role in improving cognitive resilience, even in middle-aged people,” said study author Prof. Claudia L. Satizabal, Ph.D.

Prof. Satizabal is an assistant professor at the Department of Population Health Sciences at UT Health San Antonio, TX.

Diet and brain health 

The authors noted that other researchers have conducted similar studies in older populations but believe that it is necessary to see what impacts omega-3 supplements have on people in their midlife because they start experiencing cognitive decline.

According to the authors, “One of the main challenges for some of these studies may be that dietary interventions are carried out perhaps too late for significant improvements in symptomatic participants, as cognitive changes may be well established over the previous 15 to 20 years.”

“Improving our diet is one way to promote our brain health. If people could improve their cognitive resilience and potentially ward off dementia with some simple changes to their diet, that could have a large impact on public health.”

– Prof. Satizabal

Dr. Natalie King, a neuroscientist and founder of Florae Beauty, not involved in the study, spoke with Medical News Today and discussed the importance of diets on brain health.

“Everything we do and consume affects our brain, and there have been numerous studies, including the one shared, that highlight the effects of food and drink on overall brain health and function,” said Dr. King.

“Omega-3 fatty acids, in particular, have been found to be beneficial when it comes to improving mental function as well as supporting an overall wellness plan when considering disease pathologies like mood disorders and others affecting learning and memory,” Dr. King continued.”

Until we know how much omega-3 fats are needed to improve optimal brain function in the meantime, adequate EPA and DHA dosage is often obtained by consuming 8 ounces of fatty fish weekly. Deep fried fish have been found to be a poorer source of EPA and DHA than baked or broiled fish. The top sources include: salmon, farmed and wild, anchovies, herring, whitefish, mackerel, and sardines. Tuna (light) canned in oil only provides lower amounts.

Judith E. Brown, Nutrition Now, 7th Edition.

Supplements are plentiful on the market; however, consult your physician for dosage and any conflicts with other medications such as blood thinners. It is important to remember that dietary supplements are produced and marketed with few regulations as to safety, quality or efficacy.

The Mind Diet

The MIND diet (Mediterranean-DASH Diet Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay) is a combination of the Mediterranean diet and the DASH diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension). It focuses more on the weekly consumption of foods like beans, berries, nuts, whole grains, leafy veggies, and recommends low-fat and fat-free dairy foods.

Both diet patterns encourage physical activity and support heart health and the prevention of hypertension.

The patterns are also high in antioxidants and are considered anti-inflammatory. Both diets protect against oxidative damage to blood vessels, which may help reduce the risk of dementia. It appears to “be the best of both worlds” in the healthy diet world.

CLICK HERE.

Do Seniors Need a Daily Boost?

Daily multivitamins help keep seniors’ brains sharp, may ward off dementia

September 14, 2022

by John Anderer

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — Could the secret to a sharp brain in old age be as simple as taking a daily multivitamin? New joint research from Wake Forest University and Brigham and Women’s Hospital suggests as much. Scientists conclude that multivitamins can improve thinking skills in older individuals and help stave off cognitive decline.

Study authors note that the findings are still preliminary and require further confirmation before any concrete health recommendations can be made. Nonetheless, establishing a new, affordable such as taking a daily multivitamin way to fight cognitive decline and dementia in old age could potentially benefit millions. Today, over 6.5 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s disease (the most common form of dementia), and a staggering one in three senior citizens pass away with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia.

“There’s an urgent need for safe and affordable interventions to protect cognition against decline in older adults,” says Dr. Laura D. Baker, a professor of gerontology and geriatric medicine at Wake Forest University School of Medicine and co-principal investigator of the trial, in a statement. Baker worked alongside Dr. Mark Espeland, also a professor of gerontology and geriatric medicine at Wake Forest.

Multivitamins versus cocoa extract

This project, named the COcoa Supplement and Multivitamin Outcomes Study for the Mind (COSMOS-Mind), was funded by the National Institute on Aging of the National Institutes of Health. Participants include 21,442 men and women living all over the United States.

Researchers investigated if taking either a daily cocoa extract supplement or a daily multivitamin-mineral supplement would influence health outcomes and risk profiles in relation to heart disease, stroke, cancer, and other health issues. Why cocoa extract? Prof. Baker explains cocoa extract is rich in compounds known as flavanolsPrior research suggests flavanols may have a positive influence on cognition. Moreover, deficiencies in several essential micronutrients and minerals among older adults may increase the risk for cognitive decline and dementia.

The research team tested the daily intake of a placebo versus a cocoa extract supplement, as well as the daily intake of a multivitamin-mineral versus a placebo. Over 2,200 participants, all aged 65 years and older, were tracked for a period of three years. Additionally, subjects completed memory and cognition tests over the phone at baseline and on an annual basis.

‘First evidence of cognitive benefit in large longer-term study’

“Our study showed that although cocoa extract did not affect cognition, daily multivitamin-mineral supplementation resulted in statistically significant cognitive improvement,” Prof. Baker explains. “This is the first evidence of cognitive benefit in a large longer-term study of multivitamin supplementation in older adults.”

Study authors estimate taking a multivitamin for three years roughly translates to a “60 percent slowing of cognitive decline (about 1.8 years)”. They also note the benefits were especially pronounced among those with significant cardiovascular disease.

“It’s too early to recommend daily multivitamin supplementation to prevent cognitive decline,” Baker concludes. “While these preliminary findings are promising, additional research is needed in a larger and more diverse group of people. Also, we still have work to do to better understand why the multivitamin might benefit cognition in older adults.”

The study is published in Alzheimer’s & Dementia: The Journal of the Alzheimer’s Association.

Is Processed Food “Junk Food?”

Plant based diets are increasingly becoming the new trend in nutrition these days.  Plant based diets are also currently thought of as being environmentally friendly with increased attention paid to animal welfare, lower levels of greenhouse gases, land degradation and less water use that are also thought as having a myriad of health benefits. However, some foods are what many people call “junk” foods or ultra—processed foods and not considered “products of nature”.

“All foods according to some standards or sold in supermarkets would be classified as “processed.” The USDA defines a processed food as one that has undergone any changes to its natural state, e.g. cutting or washing. The NOVA classification assigns a group to food products based on how much processing they have been through: Group 1 – Unprocessed or minimally processed foods Group 2 – Processed culinary ingredients Group 3 – Processed foods Group 4 might include ultra-processed foods.” The Institute of Food Technologists includes additional processing terms like storing, filtering, fermenting, extracting, concentrating, microwaving, and packaging.”

“Ultra- processed foods,” contain minimal whole foods, are high in calories, added sugar, salt and fats. They offer little nutritional value” and have been processed with a list of additives that are difficult to pronounce and would not be recognized as food by our ancestors. The NOVA classification often used to determine the extent of industrial processes as mentioned above may include the following:

  • Commercially produced breads, pastries, cakes, and cookies
  • Carbonated beverages
  • Sugar-sweetened beverages
  • Pre-packaged snacks 
  • Flavored dairy drinks
  • Breakfast cereals
  • Energy bars
  • Instant soups , noodles, and desserts
  • Convenience foods

A study in 2019 followed 105,159 adults for 5 years. They reported that even a 10% increase in the consumption of ultra–processed foods was associated with a negative health outcome like higher risks of heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and some cancers. (Associations do not reflect causes). The associations found showed that some vegans and vegetarians often have lower levels of iron, vitamin B 12, calcium, vitamin D and omega-3 fats.

Plant-based diets still may have a health advantage. This can occur if the diet in question also provides the needed nutrients for nutritional health such as adequate fruits and vegetables, non- starchy vegetables, eggs, plant protein, seafood and whole grains (fiber) on a regular basis. However, on the other hand, the bottom line is that a bag of potato chips although plant based, provides few nutrients and should be limited on a healthier plant based diet.

Helpful Hints:

  • Be sure to read nutrition labels to become aware of the calories, added sugars, salt saturated fats, trans fats and other essential nutrients in one serving.
  • Monitor fiber and carbohydrate portions. Be sure to check the fiber content of many cereal products.
  • Focus on proteins, meat substitutions -peas, beans, nuts, seeds, tofu, tempeh, eggs, milk, cheese, yogurt, and seafood. 
  • If possible, anyone beginning a new eating pattern should consult a dietitian or physician with nutrition knowledge.
  • Limit your intake of processed foods in general, especially ultra-processed.

As Michael Pollan says in his book, In Defense of Food. “Because most of what we’re consuming today is not food, and how we’re consuming it…in the car, in front of the TV — is not really eating. Instead of food, we’re consuming “edible foodlike substances” – no longer the products of nature but of food science.”

Source: Medical News Today.