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.

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.

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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.

Omega 3 Fats and Cognition

In 2016 a large study confirmed findings from 21 cohort studies (181,000 people)that supported that fish consumption was protective against the risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. It was published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition and recommended “fishery products” for a lower risk of cognitive impairment.

Source: Y. Zhang, et al., “Intakes of Fish and Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids and Mild-to-Severe Cognitive Impairment Risks: A Dose-Response Meta-Analysis of 21 Cohort Studies, American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 103, no 2 (2016):330-40.

CLICK HERE.

Ultra- Processed Foods and Cognition

In a study of 105, 159 adults over a period of 5 years, it was found that “even a 10% increase in the consumption of ultra-processed foods was associated with a higher risk of heart disease and stroke, the development of some cancers, and type 2 diabetes. In addition, some increased exposure to harmful chemicals from food packages was reported.” Source: Medical News Today, 2019.

CLICK HERE.

Phytochemicals in Foods

Phytochemicals Include hundreds of biologically active nonnutritive chemicals found primarily in plants. Most plant chemicals are for plant protection; however, others are known for their human health promoting properties.

The phytochemicals in our diet protect our health in a variety of ways. Some are carotenoids or antioxidants; others provide benefits because they mimic the structures like those found naturally in the body. For example, phytoestrogens such as those found in soy are called phytoestrogens; others are called phytosterols mimicking estrogen and cholesterol functions.

Some stimulate the body’s natural defenses. Indoles, and isothiocyanates found in broccoli stimulate the activity of enzymes that help deactivate carcinogens. Others are health promoting because they can alter the way in which cells communicate, and affect DNA repair mechanisms.

How to Choose Phytochemicals
Choose a few colors of fruits and vegetables each day to look for any recipes found to be appealing.
Spice up food with herbs and spices.
Add vegetables to sauces and casseroles.
Try baked or dried fruit for dessert.
Double your typical serving of vegetables.
Add pesto, spinach, or artichoke hearts to pizza.
Buy jars of chopped garlic, ginger, and basil and add to cooking.
Add barley to casseroles or stews.
Add fruit to cereal or vegetables to eggs.
Dice up some tofu and add it to stir fries.
Include nuts to baked goods or salads.
 Sprinkle flax seed on oatmeal.    
B

Bon appetit!!!

What Caused the Obesity Epidemic?

What caused the obesity epidemic? What are the consequences? 

HOUSTON – When it comes to the childhood obesity epidemic, the prevailing narrative is that overweight children — and their parents — lack the collective will power to put down the potato chips, pick up a jump rope and work at losing weight.

“… doctors specializing in obesity and weight loss say certain scientific and societal factors — including genetics, the rise of processed foods that include soybean oil and national overconsumption of sugar-sweetened beverages — are more likely to blame for childhood obesity than lazy kids or indulgent parents.

“Obesity is a disorder which, like venereal disease, is blamed upon the patient,” says obesity researcher Dr. George Bray, the opening lecturer at the first annual U.S. News Combating Childhood Obesity summit, held at Texas Children’s Hospital.

It’s the blame issue that stands in the way of progress in fighting obesity as a disease, when larger factors that can’t be controlled may be at the heart of the issue, says Bray, professor emeritus of the Pennington Biomedical Research Center at Louisiana State University, who has been studying obesity among children for several decades.

“Obesity isn’t a disease of willpower — it’s a biological problem,” he says. “Genes load the gun, and environment pulls the trigger.”

In a panel analyzing why weight is difficult to lose, Kevin Hall, an obesity and diabetes researcher, says a new study he co-produced points the finger at highly processed food.

His study, published Thursday in the medical journal Cell Metabolism, showed that patients who ate minimally-processed food with easily identifiable ingredients ate less, and lost weight without trying, when compared with a group that had highly-processed, prepackaged, ready-to-eat food, even though the diets prepared for both groups had the same number of calories and macronutrients.

“What we saw, on average, was that people consumed 500 calories more” on the processed-food diet than those who ate food that didn’t go through a factory, says Hall, chief of the integrated physiology section at the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. “The ones on the unprocessed diet — they spontaneously lost weight.” It has been proposed that eating a diet for health (whole, “real” foods) can cause weight loss and maintenance of the loss compared to those who primary goal was simply weight loss alone.

In opening the summit, presenters tackled a question doctors and obesity researchers have grappled with a difficult question in fighting the disease: How did we get here?

Bray says studies trace the epidemic back to the ’60s and ’70s, when U.S consumption of soybean oil, most likely through processed-food production, spiked and, around the same time, Americans, including children, started to weigh more. Fats found in soybean oil, he says, were found in breast milk samples from the era.

“The fats in our food supply may well be playing a part in our inability to regulate” food intake, Bray says. However, this is just the tip of the iceburg. Likewise food portions have been shown graphically to double the size of those served beginning inn the 1970’s.

Meanwhile, the consumption of sugary soft drinks like Coke and Pepsi increased from just a few gallons per person per year to more than triple that by the end of the century. The rise of soft drink consumption between 1950 and 2000, he says, paralleled the increase in obesity; pregnant women who drank sugary soft drinks, Bray added, ended up passing the sugar on to their unborn children.

“It’s kind of maternal abuse of the fetus” where “the child has no control, only the mother has,” he says.

The U.S. News Combating Obesity summit convened top medical experts, hospital executives, pediatricians, community health leaders, advocates to exchange ideas and share practices that are helping to combat the nationwide obesity epidemic.

The percentage of children and adolescents affected by obesity “has more than tripled since the 1970s,” according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. According to data from 2015-2016, the CDC reports, “nearly 1 in 5 school age children and young people (6 to 19 years) in the United States has obesity.”

Experts say the epidemic has long-term ramifications: Obese children who carry the weight can exhibit heart disease and type 2 diabetes as well as mobility and self-esteem issues. Unfortunately in order to reverse this trend, cultural changes will be required at many levels, to say the least. Can it happen?

U.S. News and World Report

Joseph P. Williams, Senior Editor

May 16, 2109

Scientific, Societal Factors to Blame for the Obesity Epidemic