Thursday, July 12, 2018

An orange a day keeps macular degeneration away: 15-year study


A new study has shown that people who regularly eat oranges are less likely to develop macular degeneration than people who do not eat oranges.

Researchers at the Westmead Institute for Medical Research interviewed more than 2,000 Australian adults aged over 50 and followed them over a 15-year period.

The research showed that people who ate at least one serving of oranges every day had more than a 60% reduced risk of developing late macular degeneration 15 years later.

Lead Researcher Associate Professor Bamini Gopinath from the University of Sydney said the data showed that flavonoids in oranges appear to help prevent against the eye disease.

"Essentially we found that people who eat at least one serve of orange every day have a reduced risk of developing macular degeneration compared with people who never eat oranges," she said.
"Even eating an orange once a week seems to offer significant benefits.

"The data shows that flavonoids found in oranges appear to help protect against the disease."
Associate Professor Gopinath said that until now most research has focused on the effects of common nutrients such as vitamins C, E and A on the eyes.

"Our research is different because we focused on the relationship between flavonoids and macular degeneration.

"Flavonoids are powerful antioxidants found in almost all fruits and vegetables, and they have important anti-inflammatory benefits for the immune system.
"We examined common foods that contain flavonoids such as tea, apples, red wine and oranges.
"Significantly, the data did not show a relationship between other food sources protecting the eyes against the disease," she said.
One in seven Australians over 50 have some signs of macular degeneration. Age is the strongest known risk factor and the disease is more likely to occur after the age of 50.
There is currently no cure for the disease.
The research compiled data from the Blue Mountains Eye Study, a benchmark population-based study that started in 1992.
It is one of the world's largest epidemiology studies, measuring diet and lifestyle factors against health outcomes and a range of chronic diseases.
"Our research aims to understand why eye diseases occur, as well as the genetic and environmental conditions that may threaten vision," Associate Professor Gopinath concluded

Obesity alone does not increase risk of death


Researchers at York University's Faculty of Health have found that patients who have metabolic healthy obesity, but no other metabolic risk factors, do not have an increased rate of mortality.

The results of this study could impact how we think about obesity and health, says Jennifer Kuk, associate professor at the School of Kinesiology and Health Science, who led the research team at York University.

"This is in contrast with most of the literature and we think this is because most studies have defined metabolic healthy obesity as having up to one metabolic risk factor," says Kuk. "This is clearly problematic, as hypertension alone increases your mortality risk and past literature would have called these patients with obesity and hypertension, 'healthy'. This is likely why most studies have reported that 'healthy' obesity is still related with higher mortality risk."

Kuk's study showed that unlike dyslipidemia, hypertension or diabetes alone, which are related with a high mortality risk, this isn't the case for obesity alone.

The study followed 54,089 men and women from five cohort studies who were categorized as having obesity alone or clustered with a metabolic factor, or elevated glucose, blood pressure or lipids alone or clustered with obesity or another metabolic factor. Researchers looked at how many people within each group died as compared to those within the normal weight population with no metabolic risk factors.

Current weight management guidelines suggest that anyone with a BMI over 30 kg/m2 should lose weight. This implies that if you have obesity, even without any other risk factors, it makes you unhealthy. Researchers found that 1 out of 20 individuals with obesity had no other metabolic abnormalities.

"We're showing that individuals with metabolically healthy obesity are actually not at an elevated mortality rate. We found that a person of normal weight with no other metabolic risk factors is just as likely to die as the person with obesity and no other risk factors," says Kuk. "This means that hundreds of thousands of people in North America alone with metabolically healthy obesity will be told to lose weight when it's questionable how much benefit they'll actually receive."

The study, "Individuals with obesity but no other metabolic risk factors are not at significantly elevated all-cause mortality risk in men and women" is published today in Clinical Obesity.


Walnut-enriched diets may lead to significantly greater reductions in total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, triglycerides; no adverse effects on body weight or blood pressure


An updated systematic review from Harvard University examines 25 years of evidence for the role of walnut consumption on cardiovascular risk factors, including cholesterol, triglycerides, blood pressure, and weight.1 The original meta-analysis, "Effects of walnut consumption on blood lipids and other cardiovascular risk factors: a meta-analysis and systematic review," was published in 2009 and reviewed 13 trials representing 365 individuals.2

Researchers evaluated clinical trials that have published since then and released an updated review that now includes twice the number of trials and represents about three times the number of individuals, compared to the initial publication. Findings from the meta-analysis suggest that walnut-enriched diets may lead to significantly greater reductions in total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, triglycerides, and apolipoprotein B, compared to control diets.

"This updated review further strengthens the case that enjoying walnuts is a great (and tasty) way to add important nutrients to your diet while supporting the health of your heart," says Dr. Michael Roizen, Chief Wellness Officer of the Cleveland Clinic.

Researchers examined 26 randomized controlled trials representing 1059 participants (22-75 years old), including those with a variety of conditions such as high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, overweight or obesity, as well as those that were healthy. Walnut-enriched diets varied in amounts ranging from 5-24 percent of total calories per day (equivalent to 0.5-3.9 ounces per day) and were compared to control diets, including low-fat, Mediterranean, or a traditional American or Japanese diet.

When compared to control diets, a diet supplemented with walnuts resulted in a significantly greater percent decrease in total cholesterol (3.25%), LDL cholesterol (3.73%), triglycerides (5.52%), and apolipoprotein B (4.19%). (Apolipoprotein B is the primary protein found in LDL cholesterol.) In addition, incorporating walnuts into the diet had no adverse effects on body weight or blood pressure, according to the studies included in the meta-analysis.
Walnuts have been investigated for their potential benefits on a variety of health outcomes, including cancer, gut health, diabetes, cognitive function, and male reproductive health, but the strongest evidence exists for cardiovascular benefits. Walnuts are recognized by the American Heart Association and U.S. Food and Drug Administration as a heart-healthy3 food, and there are a number of properties in walnuts that may be responsible for health benefits. Walnuts are a rich source of recommended polyunsaturated fat (13 grams per ounce), which includes an excellent source of the essential omega-3 fatty acid alpha-linolenic acid (2.5 grams per ounce). They also offer a variety of antioxidants (3.721 mmol/oz), including polyphenols (69.3 ± 16.5 ╬╝mol catechin equivalents/g) and gamma tocopherol (5.91 mg/ounce).4

As with any scientific research, some study limitations should be considered. Most of the trials in this review had relatively small sample sizes, which could limit the ability to determine significant effects. Additionally, in some cases, the amount of walnuts consumed in the trials was relatively large and might be difficult to maintain in a non-research setting. However, researchers still saw significant benefits when lower amounts of walnuts were consumed (less than 28 grams per day), particularly with total and LDL cholesterol.



Mothers who follow five healthy habits may reduce risk of obesity in children



Children and adolescents whose mothers follow five healthy habits -- eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, keeping a healthy body weight, drinking alcohol in moderation, and not smoking -- are 75% less likely to become obese when compared with children of mothers who did not follow any such habits, according to a new study led by Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. When both mother and child adhered to these habits, the risk of obesity was 82% lower compared with mother and children who did not.
The study will be published online in BMJ on July 4, 2018.
"Our study was the first to demonstrate that an overall healthy lifestyle really outweighs any individual healthy lifestyle factors followed by mothers when it comes to lowering the risk of obesity in their children," said Qi Sun, associate professor in the Department of Nutrition and senior author of the study.
One in five children in the U.S aged 6-19 have obesity, putting them at risk of diabetes, heart disease, and other metabolic conditions later in life. While it is known that genetics play a role in obesity, the rapid increase of the disease in recent years is likely due to changes in lifestyle and diet, indicating that "nurture" more than "nature" is fueling the current obesity epidemic.
For this study, researchers focused on the association between a mother's lifestyle and the risk of obesity among their children and adolescents between 9 and 18 years of age. They examined data from 24,289 children enrolled in the Growing Up Today Study who were born to 16,945 women enrolled in the Nurses' Health Study II.
The researchers found that 1,282 of the children, or 5.3%, developed obesity during a median five-year follow-up period. Maternal obesity, smoking, and physical inactivity were strongly associated with obesity among children and adolescents.
While the greatest drop in obesity risk was seen when mothers and children followed healthy lifestyle habits, many of the healthy habits had a noticeable impact on the risk of childhood obesity when assessed individually. Children of women who maintained a healthy body weight (body mass index 18.5-24.9) had a 56% lower risk of obesity compared with children of women who did not maintain a healthy weight, while children of mothers who did not smoke had a 31% lower risk of obesity compared with children of mothers who smoked.
The risk of obesity was also lower among children of mothers who consumed low or moderate levels of alcohol compared with children of mothers who abstained from alcohol. Because so few mothers in the Nurses' Health Study II were considered heavy drinkers, the researchers could not determine the association between heavy use of alcohol had the risk of obesity in children.
To the surprise of the researchers, mothers' dietary patterns were not associated with obesity in their children, possibly because children's diets are influenced by many factors, including school lunches and available food options in their neighborhoods.
The findings of this study highlight the crucial role a mother's lifestyle choices can have on their children's health and bolster support for family- or parent-based intervention strategies for reducing childhood obesity risk.

Multivitamins do not promote cardiovascular health


Taking multivitamin and mineral supplements does not prevent heart attacks, strokes or cardiovascular death, according to a new analysis of 18 studies published in Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes, an American Heart Association journal."We meticulously evaluated the body of scientific evidence," said study lead author Joonseok Kim, M.D., assistant professor of cardiology in the Department of Medicine at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. "We found no clinical benefit of multivitamin and mineral use to prevent heart attacks, strokes or cardiovascular death."

The research team performed a "meta-analysis," putting together the results from 18 individual published studies, including randomized controlled trials and prospective cohort studies, totaling more than 2 million participants and having an average of 12 years of follow-up. They found no association between taking multivitamin and mineral supplements and a lower risk of death from cardiovascular diseases.

"It has been exceptionally difficult to convince people, including nutritional researchers, to acknowledge that multivitamin and mineral supplements don't prevent cardiovascular diseases," said Kim. "I hope our study findings help decrease the hype around multivitamin and mineral supplements and encourage people to use proven methods to reduce their risk of cardiovascular diseases - such as eating more fruits and vegetables, exercising and avoiding tobacco."

According to the United States Food and Drug Administration, unlike drugs, there are no provisions in the law for the agency to "approve" dietary supplements for safety or effectiveness before they reach the consumer, nor can the product's label make health claims to diagnose, cure, mitigate, treat or prevent a disease. As many as 30 percent of Americans use multivitamin and mineral supplements, with the global nutritional supplement industry expected to reach $278 billion by 2024.
Controversy about the effectiveness of multivitamin and mineral supplements to prevent cardiovascular diseases has been going on for years, despite numerous well-conducted research studies suggesting they don't help. The authors set out to combine the results from previously published scientific studies to help clarify the topic.
"Although multivitamin and mineral supplements taken in moderation rarely cause direct harm, we urge people to protect their heart health by understanding their individual risk for heart disease and stroke and working with a healthcare provider to create a plan that uses proven measures to reduce risk. These include a heart-healthy diet, exercise, tobacco cessation, controlling blood pressure and unhealthy cholesterol levels, and when needed, medical treatment," Kim said.
The American Heart Association does not recommend using multivitamin or mineral supplements to prevent cardiovascular diseases.
"Eat a healthy diet for a healthy heart and a long, healthy life," said Eduardo Sanchez, M.D., the American Heart Association's chief medical officer for prevention and chief of the Association's Centers for Health Metrics and Evaluation, who was not a part of this study. "There's just no substitute for a balanced, nutritious diet with more fruits and vegetables that limits excess calories, saturated fat, trans fat, sodium, sugar and dietary cholesterol."

Short-term improved vascular function after consuming red raspberries





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A recent randomized controlled trial, published in the Archives of Biochemistry and Biophysics, provides insights on the promising outcomes of short-term improvements in blood vessel function among healthy males who consumed dietary achievable amounts of red raspberries.
The subjects - ten healthy males aged 18 to 35 - consumed drinks prepared with 200g and 400g of frozen raspberries containing 201 or 403 mg of total polyphenols, or a matched control drink in terms of macro and micronutrient content, color, and taste.
Researchers investigated the vascular effects of the subjects at baseline, 2 hours-post consumption and 24 hours-post consumption of the raspberry and control test drinks. Participants consuming the red raspberry drink showed improved flow-mediated dilation (FMD), an established biomarker of cardiovascular disease risk. FMD increased significantly at 2 hours post-consumption of the raspberry drink when compared with the change in FMD due to the control drink, and this maintained at 24 hours after consumption.
At 2 hours post-consumption of both raspberry drinks, ellagic acid, found in plasma and urine correlated with FMD. At 24 hours post-consumption of the 200g raspberry drink, urolithin-A-3-glucuronide and urolithin-A-sulfate correlated with FMD. No significant differences were found between FMD improvements after consumption of the 200g and 400g raspberry drinks.
"The research study suggests that ellagitannins, a type of natural compounds present in red raspberries, may play a role in driving the positive effects seen on blood vessel function in the study's participants," commented Dr. Ana Rodriguez-Mateos, principal investigator and senior author of the study from the Department of Nutritional Sciences, Faculty of Life Sciences and Medicine of King's College London.
"We're excited about these findings and what they may potentially add to the growing list of benefits from consuming red raspberries," commented Tom Krugman, Executive Director of the National Processed Raspberry Council (NPRC).
Further studies will need to show whether these results translate into long-term health benefits in the general population by looking at larger study groups over longer timeframes.

Alcohol consumption is associated with nocturnal leg cramps



New research finds that, among patients over 60 years old, there is a strong association between consumption of alcoholic beverages and nocturnal leg cramps. In a case control study in France, 140 general practice patients with and without leg cramps were administered a food frequency questionnaire.

Researchers found an association between global consumption of alcoholic beverages and nocturnal leg cramps. Patients drinking alcohol at least once a week had an odds ratio of 6.5 of suffering from nocturnal leg cramps. There was no linear relationship between amount of alcohol consumed and odds of leg cramps. In light of the negative effect that nocturnal leg cramps have on patients' quality of sleep and quality of life, the authors call for additional research to evaluate the existence of a causal link and to determine the pathophysiology of leg cramps and alcohol's impact on them.