Archive for the 'Healthy Diet' Category

Excess Weight Linked to Poor Memory in Older Women

The brainIf you want to keep your mind as healthy as possible as you age, pay attention to your waistline.  Evidence is accumulating that excess weight is linked to mental decline in older years. 

A recent study found that postmenopausal women lost one point from their scores on a standard memory test for every point increase in their body mass index, indicating that obesity is linked to a decline in  memory and brain function with aging. 

A 2008 study found similar results. People with the greatest central fat accumulation had almost a three-fold higher rate of dementia 36 years later than those with the least amount.

More Information:

Source: Neurology, March 26, 2008

SOURCE: Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, online  July 14, 2010 

Skip the Highly Processed, Refined Grains in Your Diet

Whole grain foodsWhite is bad, at least when it comes to weight control and a healthy diet.  White bread, white, flour, white rice, white sugar, and even white pasta are all highly refined, have less fiber, and are thought to contribute to obesity and Type 2 Diabetes.

The more you substitute whole grain carbohydrates for the white, highly processed foods, the easier it’ll be to control weight and avoid such diseases as Type 2 Diabetes.

A recent study from Harvard found that having more than five servings a week was associated with a 17% higher risk of Type 2 Diabetes, whereas having two servings of brown rice a week was associated with a decreased risk of developing diabetes.

In an article by MedPage Today, Carl J. Lavie, MD, who was not involved in the study, cautioned that the data is “not strong enough to suggest to patients to increase their consumption of brown rice. Rather, the data is stronger to suggest that instead of consuming high quantities of white rice, it would be preferable to replace this with either brown rice and even better to replace white rice with other whole grains that have even lower glycemic indices.”  Another obesity researcher added that “whole grains are likely more important than brown rice alone”.

More Information:

SOURCE: Sun Q, et al “White rice, brown rice, and risk of type 2 diabetes in U.S. men and women” Arch Intern Med 2010; 170(11): 961-69.

SOURCE: “Brown Rice over White to Cut Diabetes Risk”, MedPage Today, June 14, 2010

Animal Protein Associated with Irritable Bowel Disease

Beef burgersA diet heavy in animal protein appears to increase women’s risk of developing inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), according to researchers from Paris.

This study adds to a growing body of literature suggesting that diet might play a role in inflammatory bowel disease.  

Also there have been several studies linking vitamin D deficiency to IBD.

Inflammatory bowel disease is a general term for diseases that are marked by severe inflammation in the digestive system such as ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease.

Meat could contribute to inflammatory bowel disease risk because digestion of animal protein produces many potentially toxic “end products,” such as hydrogen sulfide and ammonia, the lead researcher said in an interview with Reuters Health. Also, a high-protein diet could alter the mix of healthy bacteria that live in the colon.

More Information:

SOURCE: American Journal of Gastroenterology, online May 11, 2010
SOURCE: “Meat, fish protein linked to women’s bowel disease”, Reuter’s Health, June 7, 2010

Four Common Bad Habits Can Age You by 12 Years

CigaretteFour common behaviors, when combined, can increase the risk of death and age a person by 12 years, according to a recent large study from the University of Oslo. 

The bad habits were: smoking tobacco; drinking greater than three alcoholic drinks per day for men and more than two daily for women; getting less than two hours of physical activity per week; and eating fruits and vegetables less than three times daily.

People in the study who had all four habits had a substantially increased risk of death but also seemed 12 years older than those with the healthiest lifestyles.

More information:

Source: Elisabeth Kvaavik, PhD; G. David Batty, PhD; Giske Ursin, MD, PhD; Rachel Huxley, DPhil; Catharine R. Gale, PhD , “Influence of Individual and Combined Health Behaviors on Total and Cause-Specific Mortality in Men and Women, The United Kingdom Health and Lifestyle Survey”, Arch Intern Med. 2010;170(8):711-718

Improve your Mood by Cutting Out the Fat

Fruits and vegetablesWeight loss is definitely linked to enhanced mood and a sense of well-being in overweight adults, but is their a difference between following the low-fat or the low-carb diet?

Restricting fats instead of carbohydrates was found to yield better results in terms of overall mood, Australian researchers have found.  In their study, dieters who stuck to low fat consumption had lasting reductions in hostility, confusion, depression, and overall bad mood scores during one year of dieting compared with those on a low-carb diet.

Low-carb diets are problematic in that they typically lead to more rapid weight loss, and researchers have found that rapid weight loss leads to rapid regains.  In a 2010 study from the University of Pennsylvania, participants who lost the most in the beginning were more likely to gain the weight back, and those who achieved weight loss by doing it in a slower manner, were more likely to keep it off. 

Low-carb diets are more difficult to follow long term. They require drastic changes in the way people typically enjoy their food. Cutting out fruits and vegetables, or eating a sandwhich without the bread, for instance, is hard to follow long term. Whereas in low-fat diets, all food groups are allowed with certain important changes, such as switching from whole to skim milk. or eating bread without the butter.

Source:  Brinkworth GD, et al “Long-term effects of a very low-carbohydrate diet and a low-fat diet on mood and cognitive function” Arch Intern Med 2009; 169: 1873-80.

Source: “Low Fat Intake Sweetens Dieters’ Mood”,  MedPage Today, November 9, 2009

Source: M Vetter, M.D., R.D., medical director, Center for Weight and Eating Disorders, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia; L Sandon, R.D., assistant professor, clinical nutrition, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas; Annals of Internal Medicine, March 2, 2010,

Source: “Low-Fat Diets Beat Low-Carb Regimen Long Term”, HealthDay, March 1, 2010

Mediterranean Diet Linked with Lower Rate of Depression

Salmon and vegetables are key foods in the Mediterranean dietThe Mediterranean diet, with its emphasis on consumption of olive oil, legumes, fish, vegetables, fruits and whole grains may help protect against major depression, according to Spanish researchers from the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria. 

In this 2009 study, participants were scored on their dietary practices and categorized according to their adherence to the Mediterranean Diet.  Those in the highest category of adherence to the Diet were found to be the least likely to develop depression, whereas those in the lowest category were the most likely.

The Mediterranean diet is based on a high ratio of monounsaturated to saturated fatty acids, a high intake of legumes, cereal, fruits and nuts, vegetables, and fish, moderate intake of alcohol and dairy products, and low intake of meat.

A growing body of literature is reporting the benefits of the Mediterranean Diet with respect to Cardiovascular Disease, Cancer, Cognitive Decline, Parkinson’s Disease, Erectile Dysfunction, and Type 2 Diabetes.

More Information: Depression

Source: “Mediterranean Diet May Protect Against Depression”, MedPage Today, October 5, 2009
Source: ”Mediterranean Diet Protects Against Stomach Cancer”, Reuters, January 15, 2010

A Simple Way to Make a Major Difference in your Health

Vitamin D supplementsA recent study from the Intermountain Medical Center Heart Institute in Murray, Utah has found that people who increase their vitamin D blood levels to 43 or higher may lower their risk of diabetes, heart attack, heart failure, high blood pressure and heart disease.

Heralded as “One of the Top 10 Medical Breakthroughs of 2007″, Vitamin D continues to surface in new research as a critical nutrient in maintaining good health and preventing disease, yet almost half of the world’s population has lower than optimal levels of vitamin D.  

It is well known that hip fractures and muscle weakness, in people over 50, are linked with a deficiency in Vitamin D.  Many recent studies have also found that low Vitamin D levels are associated with a number of serious, chronic diseases, such as diabetes, gum disease, multiple sclerosis and other autoimmune diseases, peripheral neuropathy, osteoporosis, cancer, stroke, mental decline, depression, high blood pressure and heart disease.

A Vitamin D deficiency can be treated with a simple daily supplement and a blood test can measure the circulating Vitamin D levels in your blood.  A level of 30 nanograms per milliliter of vitamin D is considered normal, although this may vary from lab to lab.

Many doctors are routinely drawing blood levels of Vitamin D to to make sure patients are getting enough vitamin D to optimize good bone health and prevent chronic disease. Ask your doctor about this.

Important Note: Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin, thus toxicity can occur from high intakes of vitamin D. Overdosage can occur from large amounts of supplements or cod liver oil, but it is unlikely to result from sun exposure or diet. Parents should consult with their pediatrician before giving any child vitamin D supplements. Excess vitamin D can reach toxic levels and be harmful.

  Source: “Boosting Vitamin D Can Do a Heart Good”, HealthDay News, March 15, 2010 


Genetic Flaw May Be Linked With Some Cases of Obesity

GenesBlaming people for their obesity is no longer appropriate given the number of studies that point to the genetic influence underlying many cases of obesity. The researchers say it’s likely that a “patchwork” of different genetic variations will eventually emerge to explain more cases of obesity.  These genetic flaws may result in obesity by affecting appetite, or the rate at which the body burns fat.

That being said, most of the obesity epidemic currently affecting most Western countries still is attributed to a trend towards high-calorie foods and more sedentary lifestyles.

Source: “Morbidly obese may have missing genes” BBC, Feb 4, 2010

Magnesium may Boost Memory Yet Deficiency is Common

Dark green leafy vegetables and fish have magnesiumHalf the population of the industrialized countries has a deficiency in magnesium. A deficit in this important mineral has been linked with allergies, asthma, attention deficit disorder, anxiety, heart disease, muscle cramps and other conditions.  And now researchers are finding evidence that magnesium may also play an important role in memory and learning.

In a recent study from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, mice given extra doses of a new magnesium compound had better learning abilities and working memories. This is an interesting study in that it provides evidence that a magnesium deficit may lead to decreased memory and learning ability, while an abundance of magnesium may improve cognitive function. The findings, described in the Jan. 28 issue of the journal Neuron, are early however.  Before we start taking magnesium supplements, more research needs to be done. 

It’s good to keep in mind, however, that the average adult needs to consume between 300 and 400 milligrams of magnesium a day from magnesium-rich foods such as dark green leafy vegetables. 

Source: Magnesium May Boost Brain Power, Fox News Health, February 1, 2010
Source: “Health Tip: Finding Magnesium in Food”, Health Day, January 14, 2010
Source: American Dietetic Association,, February 2010



More Severe Asthma Linked to Low Vitamin D Levels

LungsLow levels of vitamin D are associated with greater asthma severity, report researchers in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine. In their recent study, low levels of vitamin D correlated with poorer lung function, increased airway reactivity, and reduced response to steroid treatment in adult asthmatics. As a result of these findings, the researchers suggest that vitamin D supplements might improve symptoms in some asthma patients, but this particular study did not specifically prove that vitamin D supplements would reduce asthma symptoms.

The importance of Vitamin D is considered to be one of the top 10 medical breakthroughs of 2007 and researchers are continuing to find evidence of its critical importance in immune function and many other systems in the body.

In recent years, low Vitamin D levels have been linked with a number of  serious, chronic diseases such as weak bones and muscles, mental decline in elderly, diabetes, gum disease, multiple sclerosis, peripheral neuropathy, osteoporosis, and possibly cancer, stroke, and heart disease have all been found to be associated with low levels of Vitamin D.

Yet despite the importance of this vitamin, a deficiency of Vitamin D remains widespread. 

The National Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Medicine (IOM) has set the Upper Limits (UL) for vitamin D at 2,000 IU for children, adults, pregnant, and lactating women, and 1,000 IU for infants up to 12 months of age.  A simple blood test can measure the circulating Vitamin D levels in your blood. Many doctors have recently been drawing blood levels of Vitamin D to to make sure patients are getting enough vitamin D to optimize good bone health and prevent chronic disease. Ask your doctor about this.

Read more about Vitamin D 

Source: Sutherland E, et al “Vitamin D levels, lung function and steroid response in adult asthma” Am J Respir Crit Care Med 2010; DOI: 10.1164/rccm.200911-1710OC.

Source: “Low Vitamin D Worsens Asthma”, MedPage Today, January 28, 2010