One study came to a surprising conclusion—diet sodas with no added sugars were associated with larger waistlines. Published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, the study looked at data from 749 Mexican-American and European-American people, over the age of 65, who originally participated in the San Antonio Longitudinal Study of Aging between 1992 and 1996. After adjusting for factors such as demographic information, level of physical activity, presence of diabetes, and smoking, researchers found that:
- People who drank diet soda daily added around 3.04 cm to their waistlines; people who occasionally drank diet soda added 1.76 cm to their waistlines; and people who did not drink diet soda added only 0.77 cm to their waistlines.
- In contrast, drinks with added sugars were not associated with waistlines.
However, this study may not be the final word on this matter. In fact, there are at least two other possible ways to explain the findings. One potential explanation is that people who are already overweight might tend to drink more diet beverages to prevent further weight gain; the other explanation is that people who drink diet soda might think that they are saving calories and so over-consume other types of foods and drinks. While other research does indicate that artificial sweeteners could disrupt healthy metabolisms, more evidence is needed to confirm the results of this study.Source: Journal of the American Geriatrics Society
A study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology and reported on by NutraIngredients found that antioxidant supplements may increase the likelihood of healthy aging in men, and also might be beneficial for people with low levels of certain antioxidants. The study was based on data from 3,966 men and women with an average age of 65 who had participated in the Supplementation with Antioxidant Vitamins and Minerals (SU.VI.MAX) Study (1994–2002) and the SU.VI.MAX 2 Follow-up Study (2007–2009). In the initial SU.VI.MAX study from 1994 to 2002, participants were randomly assigned to receive either a daily placebo or a combination of antioxidants, including vitamin C (120 mg), beta-carotene (6 mg), vitamin E (30 mg), selenium (100 µg), and zinc (20 mg). Using data from the SU.VI.MAX 2 study, researchers looked at various markers of healthy aging to evaluate participants' aging status, including the absence of major chronic diseases and good physical and cognitive functioning. Here is what researchers found:
- Antioxidant supplementation was associated with an increased probability of healthy aging among men, but not among women.
- Antioxidant supplementation was associated with an increased probability of healthy aging for men and women with low vitamin C levels, for men with low zinc levels, and for men consuming fewer than five servings of fruits and vegetables per day.
While it is unclear why there was a disparity between men and women, researchers posit that the women in the study population may have had higher antioxidant levels than the men. Overall, the study concluded that getting an adequate amount of antioxidants from a diet rich in fruits and vegetables is important for healthy aging. Some particularly good food sources of antioxidants include broccoli, carrots, citrus fruits, kale, spinach, sweet peppers, tomatoes, and watermelon.
Source: American Journal of Epidemiology
Findings published in the ISME Journal suggest that a probiotic supplement could help milk-allergic infants become milk-tolerant. The year-long study included 19 infants, aged 1 to 12 months, diagnosed with a cow’s milk allergy and still receiving cow’s milk protein (mostly from formula). The infants were assigned to receive either a milk protein formula containing the probiotic, Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG, or a milk protein formula without the probiotic. Researchers took stool samples from the 19 infants at the beginning of the study and after 6 months. They also took stool samples from 20 healthy, cow’s milk-formula-fed infants, to compare the gut bacteria of allergic and non-allergic babies. After adjusting for factors such as body weight and age, they found that:
- Of the infants drinking the probiotic-supplemented formula, 42% of them developed a tolerance for cow’s milk. Infants drinking formula without the probiotic remained allergic.
- Compared to healthy infants, milk-allergic infants had lower levels of gut bacteria that produce butyrate—a fatty acid that helps keep the large intestinal lining healthy.
- After probiotic treatment, infants who developed a tolerance for milk had more colonies of butyrate-producing bacteria than infants who did not develop a tolerance.
This study is important because it suggests that gut bacteria plays a role in food allergies and that certain probiotic supplements may have a place in allergy treatment. Probiotic-rich foods such as yogurt, kefir, buttermilk, and unpasteurized sauerkraut, contain bacteria in the same family as the probiotic supplement used in this study, and researchers are actively exploring their usefulness in allergy prevention and treatment. Of course, talk with your pediatrician before introducing new foods or supplements into your baby’s diet.
Source: ISME Journal
You may not hear as much about potassium as some other popular nutrients, but it sure is important. One study published in Stroke found that women with higher intakes of potassium reduced their risk of stroke and dying compared with women with lower intakes. For the study, researchers tracked 90,137 postmenopausal, stroke-free women between the ages of 50 and 79 for 11 years and discovered that:
- Women with the highest potassium intakes reduced their chance of stroke by 12% and lowered their risk of dying from any cause by 10%.
- Of that high-potassium group, women without high blood pressure experienced a 21% reduction in stroke risk; while women with high blood pressure saw their chance of dying go down, but not their stroke risk.
It is noteworthy that the average daily potassium intake (2,611 mg) for all study participants, fell far below the federal recommendation of 4,700 mg; in fact, only 2.8% of the women had adequate potassium in their diet. These findings are consistent with federal guidelines indicating that most Americans don't consume enough potassium. The good news is that potassium is found in many foods, including milk, yogurt, potatoes, cantaloupes, beans, and bananas (of course), and also in some supplements, such as multivitamins.
Good nutrition and good mood have long been found to go hand in hand. But, according to a study published in Nutritional Neuroscience, good nutrition may have more influence on women’s mental well-being than on men’s. For the study, researchers used social media to send out an anonymous survey—including questions about diet, lifestyle, and mental well-being—to adult men and women. After analyzing the answers they received from 563 people, they found that:
- Women were more likely to report mental well-being if they had a healthy lifestyle, including a nutrient-dense diet.
- On the other hand, men were more likely to report mental well-being until they had nutritional deficiencies.
- For women, mental well-being was associated with a Mediterranean diet, which typically includes high amounts of fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes, and olive oil; moderate amounts of fish, dairy products, and red wine; and low amounts of red meat, eggs, sugar, and processed foods.
- For men, mental distress was associated with a Western-style diet, which typically includes high amounts of red meat, dairy products, sugar, salt, and processed foods, and low amounts of fruits, vegetables, fish, grains, and legumes.
This study adds to the evidence that a poor diet is associated with a low sense of mental well-being, and further suggests that women may be especially susceptible to the negative effects of inadequate nutrition on mental health. Researchers posit that this finding could be one reason women have been found to be at a greater risk for mental distress than men. Future research is needed to investigate the mechanisms of this association and to establish a cause-and-effect relationship between nutrition and women’s mental health. But with all the other health benefits that come with good nutrition, there’s no better time than the present to start eating a balanced diet.
Source: Nutritional Neuroscience
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