Thursday, May 24, 2018

Seafood-rich diet may help couples get pregnant faster


Couples who eat more seafood tend to have sexual intercourse more often and get pregnant faster than other couples trying to conceive, according to a new study published in the Endocrine Society's Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.

Seafood is an important source of protein and other nutrients for women who are or may become pregnant, but concerns about mercury have led some women to avoid fish when trying to conceive. According to the Food and Drug Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency, 90 percent of the fish eaten in the United States is low in mercury and safe to eat. Although the agencies recommend two to three servings of lower-mercury fish per week, 50 percent of pregnant women still eat far less than the recommended amount.

"Our study suggests seafood can have many reproductive benefits, including shorter time to pregnancy and more frequent sexual activity," said one of the study's authors, Audrey Gaskins, Sc.D., of Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston, Mass. "Our study found that couples who consume more than two servings of seafood per week while trying to get pregnant, had a significantly higher frequency of sexual intercourse and shorter time to pregnancy."

In the prospective cohort study, researchers from Harvard followed 500 Michigan and Texas couples from the Longitudinal Investigation of Fertility and the Environment (LIFE) Study for one year to determine the relationship between seafood intake and time to pregnancy. Participants recorded their seafood intake and sexual activity in daily journals.

The researchers found that 92 percent of couples who ate seafood more than twice a week were pregnant at the end of one year, compared to 79 percent among couples consuming less seafood. The association between seafood and faster time to pregnancy was not completely explained by more frequent sexual activity, suggesting other biological factors were at play. These could include effects on semen quality, ovulation or embryo quality, Gaskins said.

"Our results stress the importance of not only female, but also male diet on time to pregnancy and suggests that both partners should be incorporating more seafood into their diets for the maximum fertility benefit," she said.

Time spent sitting at a screen matters more if you aren't fit and strong



The impact of screen time on cardiovascular disease, cancer incidence and mortality may be greatest in people who have lower levels of grip-strength, fitness and physical activity, according to a study published in the open access journal, BMC Medicine.

Researchers at Glasgow University, UK, found that the amount of leisure time spent watching a television or computer screen had almost double the impact on the risk of mortality, cardiovascular disease and cancer in people with low grip strength or low fitness levels than on participants who had the highest levels of fitness and grip strength. Increasing strength and fitness may offset the adverse health consequences of spending a large proportion of leisure time sitting down and watching a screen, according to the authors.

Dr Carlos Celis, corresponding author of the study said: "Our study shows that the risks associated with sedentary behaviour are not the same for everyone; individuals with low physical activity experience the greatest adverse effects. "This has potential implications for public health guidance as it suggests that specifically targeting people with low fitness and strength for interventions to reduce the time they spend sitting down may be an effective approach."

The authors suggest that measuring grip strength could be an efficient way to target individuals that may benefit most from public health interventions to reduce screen time.

Dr Celis explained: "While fitness testing can be difficult in healthcare and community settings, grip strength is a quick, simple and cheap measure, therefore it would be easy to implement as a screening tool in a variety of settings."

The study analysed data from 391,089 participants from the UK Biobank, a large, prospective, population-based study that includes data on all-cause mortality, cardiovascular disease and cancer incidence, along with screen time, grip strength, fitness and physical activity.

The researchers caution that the use of self-reported screen time and physical activity data may have impacted on the strength of the associations drawn in this study. The observational nature of the study does not allow for conclusions about cause and effect.

Irregular sleep patters = increased mortality risk



In a recent Journal of Sleep Research study, short, but not long, weekend sleep was associated with an increased risk of early death in individuals under 65 years of age. In the same age group, either short sleep or long sleep on both weekdays and weekends showed increased mortality when compared with consistently sleeping 6-7 hours per day.

The link between sleep duration and mortality seems to be easier to understand when considering the analysis of the joint effects of weekday and weekend sleep, the authors noted. "The results imply that short (weekday) sleep is not a risk factor for mortality if it is combined with a medium or long weekend sleep," they wrote. "This suggests that short weekday sleep may be compensated for during the weekend, and that this has implications for mortality."

Antidepressant use may be linked to increased risk of weight gain


Long term use of antidepressants is associated with a sustained increase in risk of weight gain over at least five years, finds a study published in The BMJ today.

The findings show that patients prescribed any of the 12 most commonly used antidepressants were more likely to experience weight gain than those not taking the drugs. The risk was greatest during the second and third years of treatment.

Obesity and weight gain are global public health problems, with approximately 60% of UK adults currently overweight or obese. Depression is common in people who are severely obese and the rate of antidepressant prescribing is increasing, which could have potential impact on public health.

However, little research has been reported on the impact of widespread antidepressant treatment on weight gain.

So a UK based research team, led by Rafael Gafoor at King's College London, set out to investigate the association between the use of antidepressants and weight gain.

The researchers analysed body weight and body mass measurement data from the UK Clinical Practice Research Datalink (CPRD) for over 300,000 adults with an average age of 51, whose body mass index (BMI) had been recorded three or more times during GP consultations from 2004-2014.

Participants were grouped according to their BMI (from normal weight to severely obese) and whether or not they had been prescribed an antidepressant in a given year. Participants were then monitored for a total of 10 years.

The researchers found that the absolute risk of gaining at least 5% weight without antidepressant use was 8.1 per 100 person years; whereas the risk with antidepressant use was 9.8 per 100 person years.
To put this into context, this means that for every 59 people taking antidepressants, one extra person would gain at least 5% weight over the study period.

The risk was greatest during the second and third years of treatment. During the second year of treatment, the risk of gaining at least 5% weight was 46% higher than in the general population, but no association was found during the first 12 months of treatment.

They also found that people who were initially of normal weight had a higher risk of moving to either the overweight or obese groups, and people who were initially overweight had a higher risk of moving to the obese group if they were taking antidepressants.

Results remained largely unchanged after further analysis to take account of various factors including age, sex and whether the participants had other conditions such as diabetes, stroke and cancer.
This is an observational study, so no firm conclusions can be drawn about cause and effect, and the researchers outline some limitations that could have affected the results. However, strengths include the large number of participants and long term follow up.

The researchers say that the results suggest the widespread use of antidepressants "may be contributing to long term increased weight gain at a population level, and that the potential for weight gain should be considered when antidepressant treatment is indicated."

Lead author Dr Rafael Gafoor from King's College London, said: "It's important to stress that no patients should stop taking their medication and that if they have any concerns they should speak with their doctor or pharmacist."*

In a linked editorial, Alessandro Serretti and Stefano Porcelli, from the University of Bologna emphasise that doctors should give lifestyle advice on diet and exercise to minimise the risk of gaining weight and that weight should be measured during antidepressant treatment.

They say that whilst antidepressant treatment should always be offered to those with moderate or severe depression, alternative treatment such as group cognitive behavioural therapy may be preferable for people with milder depression.

"Currently, we are still unable to identify patients at higher risk of weight gain with antidepressants. Hopefully it will be possible in the not too distant future to identify a genetic predisposition and recognise those at higher risk before treatment is started", the authors conclude.

Evening use of light-emitting tablets may disrupt healthy sleep


A new Physiological Reports study reveals that evening use of light-emitting tablets can induce delays in desired bedtimes, suppress secretion of melatonin (the hormone that regulates sleep and wakefulness), and impair next-morning alertness.

Nine healthy adults participated in a randomized and counterbalanced study comparing 5 consecutive evenings of unrestricted use of light-emitting tablet computers versus evenings reading from printed materials.

On evenings when using light-emitting tablets, participants' self-selected bedtimes were on average half an hour later, and they showed suppressed melatonin levels, delayed timing of melatonin secretion onset, and later sleep onset. When using the tablets, participants rated themselves as less sleepy in the evenings and less alert in the first hour after awakening on the following mornings.

"These findings provide more evidence that light-emitting electronic devices have biological effects," said co-author Dr. Jeanne Duffy, of Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School. "Using light-emitting electronic devices in the late evening can postpone our decision to go to sleep, and make us more sleepy the next morning."

Nuts and peanuts can improve glycemic control and blood lipids in those with type 2 diabete


One of the largest studies to date on nuts and diabetes was published today in Diabetologia*, the journal of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes (EASD). The study shows that approximately two ounces of nuts a day, as a replacement for carbohydrate foods, can improve glycemic control and blood lipids in those with type 2 diabetes.

Researchers from the University of Toronto and St. Michael's Hospital in Toronto, Canada, found that tree nuts (almonds, Brazils, cashews, hazelnuts, pecans, pine nuts, pistachios, macadamias and walnuts) and peanuts improved blood lipid levels and blood sugar levels in individuals with non-insulin dependent diabetes.

This study, which was retracted by the authors at their request, was originally published in Diabetes Care**. It was a 3-month parallel design with 117 non-insulin dependent adults with diabetes (men and women with a mean age of 62 years) who were all being treated with oral hypoglycemic medications. The subjects were randomized to one of three diets for three months. The first diet included a supplement of 75g (~2½ ounces or ½ cup) of mixed nuts; the second diet included 38g (~1? ounces or ¼ cup) of mixed nuts and half portion of whole wheat muffins; and the third diet contained a full portion of whole wheat muffins.

Each supplement provided approximately 475 calories per 2,000 calorie diet. All of the diets contained roughly the same number of calories, but the nuts provided more unsaturated (i.e. healthy) fat and less carbohydrate.

The goal of the study was to determine if nuts improve glycemic control in non-insulin dependent diabetes, as assessed by HbA1c (a marker of blood sugar control over the previous three months), and also improve markers of cardiovascular health.

"The original findings revealed that the full dose nut group had a significant reduction in HbA1c compared to the other two groups," stated David Jenkins, MD, PhD, DSc, with the University of Toronto and St. Michael's Hospital. "The current study shows a reduction in HbA1c and the low-density lipoprotein (LDL)-associated cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk factor, apolipoprotein B (Apo-B), stated Dr. Jenkins. "We also found lower levels of small LDL cholesterol-- which is an emerging risk factor for CVD." He added, "The bottom line is, this study showed a modest but significant improvement in blood glucose control, despite the higher fat intake, and improvement in lipid risk factors for heart disease with increasing nut dose."

According to Cyril Kendall, Ph.D., co-investigator of the study, "The improvements in blood glucose control and blood lipid levels that can be achieved by dietary and lifestyle changes are significant and could make a substantial contribution to the treatment of those with type 2 diabetes. Nuts are a healthy and flavorful option for individuals with diabetes that also promote healthy body weight."

A number of studies have suggested that consuming tree nuts may reduce the risk of heart disease, confirmed by the PREDIMED trial in 2013. In 2003 tree nuts received a qualified health claim from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) which states, "Scientific evidence suggests but does not prove that eating 1.5 ounces per day of most nuts, as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol, may reduce the risk of heart disease." Interestingly, adults with diabetes are two to four times more likely to die from heart disease than adults without diabetes.

Cheeseburger or salad? How music volume impacts your decision University



Music can be the ultimate mood setter. Faster beats ignite excitement, while slower songs help one relax. And that makes all the difference in what we order from restaurant menus.

A study published in the Journal of the Academy of Marketing Sciences finds the volume of ambient music has a systemic effect on consumers' preferences for healthy vs. non-healthy foods. That's because volume is proven to directly impact heart rate and arousal. Softer music has a calming effect, making us more mindful of what we order. This typically results in healthier choices, such as a salad. Louder environments increase stimulation and stress, inspiring diners to crave a greasy cheeseburger and fries instead.

"Restaurants and supermarkets can use ambient music strategically to influence consumer buying behavior," said Dipayan Biswas, PhD, marketing professor at the University of South Florida Muma College of Business."

Dr. Biswas conducted the study at a café in Stockholm, Sweden, which played various genres of music in a loop separately at 55Db and 70Db. The menu items were coded as healthy, non-healthy and neutral, the category used for items like coffee or tea. During the experiment conducted over several hours across multiple days, researchers found 20% more restaurant patrons ordered something unhealthy when exposed to louder ambient music compared to those who dined during a quieter time.


While previous studies have looked at varying aspects of ambience's impact on food sales such as lighting, scent and décor, this is the first study to look specifically at how volume dictates healthy vs. non-healthy food choices. These findings allow restaurant managers to strategically manipulate music volume to influence sales.