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Archive for the ‘Healthy Eating’ Category

Omega-3s improve energy in cancer survivors

Many people treated for cancer have lingering fatigue after therapy ends, which may be aggravated by chronic inflammation, doctors said. Omega-3s have reduced inflammation in healthy people, leading doctors to examine its effect in breast cancer survivors.

In this study, doctors measured the diets of 644 survivors with stage I to stage IIIA breast cancer, and followed up 39 months after diagnosis. Overall, 42 percent complained of being chronically fatigued three years after diagnosis. Women with the highest levels of C-reative protein (CRP), a sign of inflammation, were nearly twice as likely to be fatigued as women with low CRP levels.

When doctors looked at the ratio of omega-3s to omega-6s in the diet, women who got the most omega-3s compared to omega-6s were half as likely to be chronically fatigued as women who got the least omega-3s.

Vitamin B6 may help prevent postmenopausal breast cancer

Vitamin B6 helps maintain the health of red blood cells, the nervous system, and parts of the immune system. In this study, doctors measured circulating levels of vitamin B6 in 706 postmenopausal women before they were diagnosed with breast cancer and compared them to vitamin B6 levels in 706 healthy postmenopausal women. Compared to women with the lowest levels, women with the highest circulating levels of vitamin B6 were 30 percent less likely to develop invasive breast cancer. Doctors said these results suggest a role for vitamin B6 in preventing postmenopausal breast cancer.

Reference: Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention; August, 2012, Electronic Prepublication

From the March 2013 newsletter

Van's Health on April - 29 - 2013

Magnesium reduces stroke

Magnesium, the forth most abundant mineral in the body is linked to better blood pressure. In the study, researchers reviewed every magnesium and stroke study from 1966 through September, 2011 covering 241,378 participants and 6,477 cases of stroke.

Researchers found a direct link: for every 100 mg increase in magnesium per day, there was a 9 percent decrease in the chances of having an ischemic stroke, where blood supply to the brain is blocked.

Discussing their findings, doctors suggested people should eat more magnesium-rich foods such as green leafy vegetables, beans, nuts and whole grains, and that further study may move the U.S. to begin recommending magnesium supplements to reduce chances of stroke. The current recommended dietary allowance for magnesium for adult men is 420 mg per day, and for adult women, 320 mg per day.

Magnesium reduces colorectal cancers

In this review, doctors analyzed eight magnesium and cancer studies involving 338,979 participants. Overall, compared to those who got the least, people who consumed the highest daily average amount of magnesium were 11 percent less likely to develop any form of colorectal cancer.

There was a direct link: for every 50 mg increase in magnesium per day, there was an average 6 percent decline in the chances for colorectal cancer, colon, or rectal cancers. Six of the studies adjusted for how much calcium was in the diet and in those studies, participants who got the most magnesium were 19 percent less likely to develop colon or rectal cancer compared to those who got the least magnesium.

Reference: American Journal of Clinical Nutrition; 2012, Vol. 95, No. 2, 362-6

From the March 2013 newsletter

Van's Health on April - 15 - 2013

Calcium for bone health

Doctors know that calcium helps protect bone but many have worried that supplementing with calcium might contribute to hardening of the arteries, also known as coronary artery calcification, a factor in heart disease. In this study from Harvard Medical School, researchers measured the diets of 1,278 men and women aged 36 to 83, and then took a CAT-scan x-ray four years later.

Those who got the most calcium from diet, from supplements, or from both, had the same coronary artery calcification scores as those who got the least calcium. Doctors said, “This study addresses a critical question about the association between calcium intake and a clinically measurable indicator of atherosclerosis in older adults. There was no increased risk of calcified arteries with higher amounts of calcium intake from food or supplements, and people who take calcium at the recommended levels for bone health can do so safely without worrying about calcifying their arteries.”

Reference: American Journal of Clinical Nutrition; 2012, Vol. 96, No. 6, 1274-80

From the March 2013 Newsletter

Van's Health on April - 9 - 2013

Curcumin as effective as aerobic exercise

Curcumin, the anti-inflammatory antioxidant compound in the culinary spice turmeric, improved circulation in postmenopausal women as effectively as aerobic exercise. In this study, 32 postmenopausal women with similar health characteristics at the start of the study took a daily curcumin supplement or a placebo, while a third group took moderate exercise training only.

After eight weeks, while there were no changes for placebo, both the curcumin and exercise groups had better relaxation, widening, and functioning of blood vessels and arteries compared to the start of the study. Doctors said that both aerobic exercise and curcumin may improve age-related decline in the circulatory system and taking a curcumin supplement may help prevent cardiovascular disease in postmenopausal women. Curcumin may also be an alternative for people who cannot exercise.

Omega fatty acids reduce chances of heart disease

In this study, doctors followed 3,277 healthy men and women free from heart disease at the start of the study. After 23 years of follow-up, while there were no benefits for men, women who consumed moderate amounts of alpha-linolenic acid or linoleic acid–both omega fatty acids–were less likely to have heart disease caused by restricted blood flow compared to the women who got less of these two nutrients.

Doctors also measured total omega-3s and found, compared to women who consumed the least, women who consumed the most of these polyunsaturated fatty acids–plentiful in fish–were much more likely to remain heart-disease free.

Reference: Nutrition Research Journal; 2012, Vol. 32, No. 12, 795-99

From the February 2013 newsletter

According to earlier studies, depression may have a link to cells damaged by oxidative stress. In this analysis, doctors compared antioxidant levels to signs of depression in 1,798 adults aged 20 to 85 and found, compared to those with lowest levels, people with the highest circulating levels of antioxidant carotenoids were 59 percent less likely to have depressive symptoms. There was also a direct link: as carotenoid levels increased, signs of depression decreased.

Carotenoids–the naturally occurring bright red, yellow, and orange pigments in fruits and vegetables like carrots–are powerful antioxidants. Doctors found three carotenoids in particular were most closely linked to better mood; beta-carotene in both men and women, and lutein and zeaxanthin in women only. Lutein and zeaxanthin also protect eyesight, as many earlier studies have confirmed. Discussing their findings, doctors said antioxidants may help reduce oxidative damage in the brain and hope new studies reveal more mood benefits of antioxidants.

Reference: British Journal of Nutrition; August, 2012, Electronic Prepublication

From the February 2013 newsletter

Van's Health on February - 28 - 2013

Omega-3s help preserve telomere length

Telomeres are the protective caps at the end of every strand of DNA in the body, acting like the tip of a shoelace that keeps it from unraveling. As new cells form using DNA instructions, telomeres shorten, eventually exposing the DNA strand to damage. Earlier studies have linked telomere length to biological age; the longer the telomere the younger the biological age.

In this study, 106 sedentary, overweight but healthy middle-aged and older adults took 2,500 mg or 1,250 mg of omega-3s per day, or a placebo of typical American dietary fats high in omega-6. After four months, researchers found that as the level of omega-3s rose compared to omega-6s, telomere length also increased. Both omega-3 groups also saw 15 percent lower levels of oxidative stress.

Explaining their findings, doctors said that omega-6s are abundant, coming from common vegetable oils using in many processed foods, but omega-3s are rarer, coming mostly from fish. The ratio of omega-6s to omega-3s should be no higher than four-to-one to provide the greatest health benefit, doctors said.

 

More vitamin D, longer life

More disease studies have focused on people of European descent, doctors said. In this study, researchers measured vitamin D levels in 2,638 Caucasians and African-Americans aged 71 to 80. African-Americans had lower vitamin D levels than Caucasians. After 8.5 years of follow-up, those with very low levels of vitaminD–less than 20 nano grams per milliliter of blood–were 50 percent more likely to have died from any cause, compared to those with higher levels.

Doctors said the good news is it’s easy to raise vitamin D levels through diet and supplements.

 

Reference: Brain, Behavior, and Immunity; September, 2012, Electronic Prepublication

From the January 2012 newsletter

 

Van's Health on February - 22 - 2013

The body needs a certain level of omega-3’s to function well, doctors said. In this study, researchers measured omega-3 levels in 78 active-duty U.S. servicemen, aged 20 to 54, from all major ethnicities, and with a variety of educational levels. The men had lower omega-3 levels than non-military Americans of the same ages. As levels of omega-3’s increased, the men had better mental flexibility and decision-making capacity, especially in those with lack of sleep, who were more resistant to fatigue than those with lower omega-3 levels. Doctors suggest raising EPA and DHA levels in service food rations.

Reference: Nutritional Neuroscience; June, 2012, Electronic Prepublication

From the December 2012 newsletter

Van's Health on January - 11 - 2013
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More fiber, longer lives

Researchers in this large study measured the diets of 452,717 European men and women. After 13 years of follow-up, those who got more fiber in the diet were less likely to have died from any cause overall. Higher-fiber diets protected particularly from circulatory, digestive, non-cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, non-cancer inflammatory diseases and smoking related cancers. People got the most protection against digestive diseases, which were 40 percent lower in the high-fiber group. Overall, for every 10 grams of fiber per day, the chances of dying from any cause were 10 percent lower. Doctors saw the benefit from fruit fiber, with the greatest benefit from fiber in cereals and vegetables.

Low-fat, high-fiber diets improve health later in life

The Western diet is high in total and saturated fats, and in refined grains, which raises the chances for metabolic syndrome, doctors said. In this study, doctors followed up on 230 women, aged 25 to 29, who had participated in a diet study nine years earlier. The diet limited fats to 28 percent of total calories, and encouraged participants to eat more fiber through whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. Some of the women ate a normal Western diet.

While none had metabolic syndrome, women in the Western diet group had average systolic blood pressure of 110.0 mmHg compared to 107.7 for the low-fat, high-fiber group. Also, women on the Western diet had fasting blood sugar levels of 89.1 mg/dL compared to 87.0 for the low-fat, high-fiber group. Doctors concluded a lower-fat, higher-fiber diet may help control blood pressure and sugar long-term.

Reference: American Journal of Clinical Nutrition; May, 2012, Electronic Prepublication

From the October 2012 newsletter

 

Van's Health on November - 28 - 2012
categories: Healthy Eating
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