The health risks of eating ultraprocessed foods —including sausages and burgers as well as pizza and ice cream — are well documented. They have been shown to raise the risk of obesity, diabetes, and cancer among other ailments. (CNN.com).
In a new study, researchers followed more than 10,000 Brazilians with an average age of 51 for more than 10 years. They found that people who consumed more than 20% of their daily calories from ultra processed foods had a 28% faster cognitive decline compared with those whose intake was less than 20%. Unfortunately, that 20% is not a high threshold: just 400 calories out of the 2000 calorie diet. And most Americans are well over that, getting on average a whopping 58% of their calories from ultraprocessed foods.
“The sample size is substantial and the followup extensive,” says Dr. David Katz, a nutrition specialist who was not involved in the study. While short of proof, this is robust enough that we should conclude ultraprocessed foods are probably bad for our brains,”
Source: The Week. December 23, 2022, Volume 22, Issue 110.
Adhering to healthy eating patterns was associated with lower risk of total and cause-specific mortality, a prospective cohort study with up to 36 years of follow-up showed.
Among 75,230 women from the Nurses’ Health Study and 44,085 men from the Health Professionals Follow-up Study, those who scored in the highest quintile for healthy eating patterns recommended by the Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGAs) had a 14% to 20% lower risk of total mortality versus those in the lowest quintile, reported Frank Hu, MD, PhD, of the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston, and colleagues in JAMA Internal Medicineopens in a new tab or window.
The pooled multivariable-adjusted hazard ratios of total mortality with four healthy eating patterns were (P<0.001 for trend for all):
Healthy Eating Index 2015 (HEI-2015): HR 0.81 (95% CI 0.79-0.84)
Alternate Mediterranean Diet (AMED): HR 0.82 (95% CI 0.79-0.84)
Healthful Plant-Based Diet Index (HPDI): HR 0.86 (95% CI 0.83-0.89)
Alternate Healthy Eating Index (AHEI): HR 0.80 (95% CI 0.77-0.82)
This lower risk was consistent across all racial and ethnic groups.
“This is one of the largest and longest-running studies that examine the associations of dietary scores for four healthy eating patterns recommended by the DGAs with the risk of total and cause-specific mortality in large cohort studies,” Hu told MedPage Today.
“Every 5 years, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) release an updated version of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans,” he explained. “It is important to evaluate adherence to DGA-recommended eating patterns and health outcomes, especially mortality, so that timely updating of DGAs can be made.”
Hu noted that these findings will be valuable for the 2025-2030 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, which is being created by the USDA and HHS to evaluate the current evidence on different eating patterns and health outcomes.
Beyond total mortality, healthier diets were also significantly linked to lower risk of cause-specific mortality.
Across the four different dietary patterns, people in the highest quintile saw a 6% to 13% lower risk of death from cardiovascular disease versus those in the lowest quintile. Likewise, those in the highest quintile saw a 6% to 15% lower risk of death due to heart disease, a 7% to 18% lower risk of cancer-related death, and a 35% to 46% lower risk of respiratory disease-related death.
In addition, those with the highest scores on the AMED and AHEI also saw a modestly lower risk of death due to neurodegenerative disease (HR 0.94, 95% CI 0.90-0.99 and HR 0.93, 95% CI 0.87-0.99, respectively).
“Although previous studies have found an inverse association between healthy eating patterns and mortality, our study provides evidence that healthy eating patterns reduce the risk of cause-specific mortality including cardiovascular disease, cancer, respiratory, and neurodegenerative mortality,” said Hu. “The findings on respiratory and neurodegenerative mortality are novel.”
However, eating a healthy diet according to any of the four patterns did not appear to be protective against stroke-related deaths.
Hu said clinicians can recommend a “variety of healthy dietary patterns” to patients in order to reduce their risk for chronic diseases and premature death.
“These patterns such as the Mediterranean diet, DASH diet, vegetarian diet, or other versions of healthy diets can be adapted to meet individual health needs, food preferences, and cultural traditions,” he noted. “These healthy dietary patterns typically include high amounts of plant foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and legumes, and lower amounts of refined grains, added sugars, sodium, and red and processed meats.”
“It is also important to balance caloric intake with physical activity to maintain a healthy weight,” he added.
Among the women included in the analysis, mean baseline age was 50.2 and 98% were white; for men, mean age was 53.3 and 91% were white. In total, 31,263 women and 22,900 men died during follow-up. The leading cause of death was cancer, followed by cardiovascular disease, heart disease, neurodegenerative disease, respiratory disease, and stroke.
Dietary data were taken from semiquantitative food frequency questionnaires including more than 130 items, which were completed every 2 to 4 years.
Kristen Monaco is a staff writer, focusing on endocrinology, psychiatry, and nephrology news. Based out of the New York City office, she’s worked at the company since 2015.
The study was supported by a grant from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.
Hu reported no disclosures. Other co-authors reported relationships with Kubara Honke, Grants-in-Aid for Scientific Research, the G-7 Scholarship Foundation, the Japan Diabetes Society, the LOTTE Foundation, Layer IV, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council, the National Institutes of Health, Mars Edge, and the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.
This fact sheet by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Office of Dietary Supplements (ODS) provides information that should not take the place of medical advice. We encourage you to talk to your health care providers (doctor, registered dietitian, pharmacist, etc.) about your interest in, questions about, or use of dietary supplements and what may be best for your overall health. Any mention in this publication of a specific product or service, or recommendation from an organization or professional society, does not represent an endorsement by ODS of that product, service, or expert advice.
Vitamin B12 is found naturally in a wide variety of animal foods, and manufacturers add it to some fortified foods. Plant foods have no vitamin B12 unless they are fortified. You can get recommended amounts of vitamin B12 by eating a variety of foods including the following:
Fish, meat, poultry, eggs, milk, and other dairy products contain vitamin B12.
Clams and beef liver are some of the best source of vitamin B12.
Some breakfast cereals, nutritional yeasts, and other food products are fortified with vitamin B12.
To find out if a food has added vitamin B12, check the Nutrition Facts label. Manufacturers are not required to list vitamin B12 on the label if a food naturally contains this vitamin.
What kinds of vitamin B12 dietary supplements are available?
Vitamin B12 is available in multivitamin/multimineral supplements, in B-complex supplements, and in supplements containing only vitamin B12. It is usually in a form called cyanocobalamin. Other common forms are adenosylcobalamin, methylcobalamin, and hydroxycobalamin. Vitamin B12 is also available in a form that’s dissolved under your tongue (called sublingual vitamin B12). Research has not shown that any form of supplemental vitamin B12 is better than the others.
The amount of vitamin B12 in supplements varies widely. Some provide doses of vitamin B12 that are much higher than recommended amounts, such as 500 mcg or 1,000 mcg, but your body absorbs only a small percentage of it. These doses are considered safe. Check the Supplement Facts label to see how much vitamin B12 a supplement contains.
A prescription form of vitamin B12 can be given as a shot. This is usually used to treat vitamin B12 deficiency. Vitamin B12 is also available by prescription as a nasal gel that’s sprayed into the nose.
Am I getting enough vitamin B12?
Most people in the United States get enough vitamin B12 from the foods they eat. But some people have trouble absorbing vitamin B12 from food. The body absorbs vitamin B12 from food in a two-step process. First, hydrochloric acid in the stomach separates vitamin B12 from the protein that it’s attached to. Second, the freed vitamin B12 then combines with a protein made by the stomach, called intrinsic factor, and the body absorbs them together.
Vitamin B12 in dietary supplements isn’t attached to protein and doesn’t require the first step. However, B12 in supplements does need to combine with intrinsic factor to be absorbed.
Vitamin B12 deficiency affects between 3% and 43% of older adults. Your doctor can test your vitamin B12 level to see if you have a deficiency.
Certain groups of people may not get enough vitamin B12 or have trouble absorbing it:
Many older adults don’t have enough hydrochloric acid in their stomach to absorb the vitamin B12 that’s naturally present in food. People over 50 should get most of their vitamin B12 from fortified foods or dietary supplements because, in most cases, their bodies can absorb vitamin B12 from these sources.
People with an autoimmune disease called atrophic gastritis might not absorb enough vitamin B12 because they make too little hydrochloric acid and intrinsic factor in their stomach.
People with pernicious anemia do not make the intrinsic factor needed to absorb vitamin B12. As a result, they have trouble absorbing vitamin B12 from foods and dietary supplements. Doctors usually treat pernicious anemia with vitamin B12 shots, although very high doses of vitamin B12 given by mouth might also be effective.
People who have had some types of stomach or intestinal surgery (for example, to lose weight or to remove part or all of the stomach) might not make enough hydrochloric acid and intrinsic factor to absorb vitamin B12.
People who eat little or no animal foods, such as vegetarians and vegans, might not get enough vitamin B12 from their diets. Only animal foods have vitamin B12 naturally. When pregnant women and women who breastfeed their babies are strict vegetarians or vegans, their babies might also not get enough vitamin B12.
What happens if I don’t get enough vitamin B12?
Your body stores 1,000 to 2,000 times as much vitamin B12 as you’d typically eat in a day, so the symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency can take several years to appear.
If you have a vitamin B12 deficiency, you may feel tired or weak. These are symptoms of megaloblastic anemia, which is a hallmark of vitamin B12 deficiency. You might also have pale skin, heart palpitations, loss of appetite, weight loss, and infertility. Your hands and feet might become numb or tingly, a sign of nerve problems. Other symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency include problems with balance, depression, confusion, dementia, poor memory, and soreness of the mouth or tongue.
Vitamin B12 deficiency can damage the nervous system even in people who don’t have megaloblastic anemia, so it’s important to treat a deficiency as soon as possible.
What are some effects of vitamin B12 on health?
Scientists are studying vitamin B12 to understand how it affects health. Here are several examples of what this research has shown.
Dementia and cognitive function Most studies show that low blood levels of vitamin B12 don’t affect the risk of cognitive decline in older people, regardless of whether they have dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. More clinical trials are needed to better understand the effects of vitamin B12 supplementation on cognitive function in older adults.
Energy and Endurance Manufacturers often promote vitamin B12 supplements for energy, athletic performance, and endurance. But vitamin B12 doesn’t provide these benefits in people who get enough B12 from their diet.
Can vitamin B12 be harmful?
Vitamin B12 has not been shown to cause any harm, even at high doses.
Does vitamin B12 interact with medications or other dietary supplements?
Yes. Vitamin B12 supplements can interact or interfere with some medicines that you take. Here are several examples.
Gastric acid inhibitors People take gastric acid inhibitors to treat certain digestion problems, such as gastroesophageal reflux disease and peptic ulcer disease. These drugs can interfere with vitamin B12 absorption from food by slowing the release of hydrochloric acid into the stomach, leading to vitamin B12 deficiency. Gastric acid inhibitors include omeprazole (Prilosec®), lansoprazole (Prevacid®), cimetidine (Tagamet®), and ranitidine (Zantac®).
Vitamin B12 and healthful eating
People should get most of their nutrients from food and beverages, according to the federal government’s Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Foods contain vitamins, minerals, dietary fiber, and other components that benefit health. In some cases, fortified foods and dietary supplements are useful when it is not possible to meet needs for one or more nutrients (for example, during specific life stages such as pregnancy).
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.)”
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
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.
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.
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.
“When the decade started, America was recognized for the first time as a world power. “The Wright Brothers took flight, Henry Ford took to the road, travelers took the rails aboard luxury trains, and those who had one listened to the radio. The first feature film (The Great Train Robbery) provided entertainment, and Einstein provided a relative theory. “
There was not much progress in the home kitchen. Housewives still slaved over a hot stove fueled by wood, coal or petroleum. Restaurants (both low and high end) often segregated their rooms by sex and/or race, and boasted they were fireproof. Restaurants ranged from oyster houses to exclusive dining rooms that offered both French and English cooking that often only included high society gentlemen.
In 1902, Horn & Hardart, the first automat was introduced as the first “automatic restaurant” concept in the U.S. along with cafeterias and soda fountains that launched the fast-food industry, “a whole new style of “eating out”. Train dining was an elegant affair in its early years. Airline food would only appear three decades later.
Meet Me in St. Louis: The World’s Fair
Peanut butter, ice cream cone, the hamburger, and iced tea had not been on the American Plate in 1904 until introduced at the St. Louis World’s Fair that ushered in a new era in American dining.
Novelist, Upton Sinclair, whose 1905 best seller, The Jungle covered, among other topics, the unsavory practices of American meat-packers. The book was so shocking that Congress passed the Meat Inspection Act of 1906.
Diamond Jim and Lillian Russell
Financier, Jim Brady, aka Diamond Jim lived a life with food abundance along with his companion, actress Lillian Russell. It was considered at the time that being overweight was a sign of affluence and success. Dinner, his main event featured three dozen oysters, a dozen crabs, six or seven lobsters, terrapin soup, a steak, coffee, a tray of pastries and two pounds of candy. He died at 56, his stomach was said to be six times larger than the average. Lillian was known to match Brady “ forkful for forkful.” The fair Lillian was hefty (considered the ideal for the times.) She was reported to have smoked 500 cigars a month. Grove’s Tasteless Chili Tonic made in St. Louis not only claimed to cure everything, but also adds much-admired heft to the figure.
In 1912 “Immigrants pour into the country ” – between 1910 and 1924, 12 million come through Ellis Island. All are screened for communicable diseases and overall health status. This event began the beginning of a myriad of ethnic restaurants.