Tag Archives: diet

Nutrition Experts Reveal Top Consumer Diet Changes Due to COVID-19

The following was written as a summary of changes that consumers had made as a result of the Covid-19 conditions at the beginning of 2021. Here we are at the beginning of 2022. This provides a fascinating look back in time.

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The global pandemic has changed all aspects of normal living, and ushered in an era where health and wellness are paramount decision drivers for the foreseeable future, especially when it comes to food and beverage choices. The 2021 Pollock Communications and Today’s Dietitian “What’s Trending in Nutrition” survey, with 1,165 registered dietitian nutritionists (RDNs) responding, provides an in-depth look at how dietitians believe consumers’ diets have changed due to COVID-19. The health revolution has exploded as a result of the pandemic, with the top findings for 2021 revealing a focus on foods that support immunity and provide comfort, as well as a major shift in snacking habits. Changes to the top 10 superfoods list also indicate a move toward foods that are plant-forward and support health, with green tea, a natural anti-inflammatory beverage, jumping from #10 last year to the #3 spot this year, and nutrient-rich spinach and leafy greens making their debut on the list. As consumers continue to search for diets that promote well-being and longevity, intermittent fasting surpasses the ketogenic diet as the #1 diet trend dietitians predict for 2021, and RDNs forecast consumers will be on the hunt for natural, clean labels and ingredients like cannabidiol (CBD), collagen and hemp. Here’s a look at the full results.

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Dementia linked to inflammatory foods

Diets with higher inflammatory potential were tied to an increased risk of incident dementia, a prospective observational study showed.

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Each unit increase in dietary inflammatory index scores was associated with a 21% higher risk of dementia over 3 years (HR 1.21, 95% CI 1.03-1.42, P=0.023), reported Nikolaos Scarmeas, MD, PhD, of Columbia University in New York City and the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens Medical School in Greece, and co-authors.

Diets with higher inflammatory potential were tied to an increased risk of incident dementia, a prospective observational study showed.

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Healthy diet and activity changes improved tough to treat high blood pressure – AHA

People with treatment-resistant hypertension successfully reduced their blood pressure by adopting the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) eating plan, losing weight and improving their aerobic fitness by participating in a structured diet and exercise program at a certified cardiac rehabilitation facility, according to new research published in the American Heart Association’s flagship journal Circulation.

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Uncontrolled high blood pressure (130/80 mm Hg or higher) despite the use of three or more medications of different classes including a diuretic to reduce blood pressure is a condition known as resistant hypertension. Although estimates vary, resistant hypertension likely affects about 5% of the general global population and may affect 20% to 30% of adults with high blood pressure. Resistant hypertension is also associated with end-organ damage and a 50% greater risk of adverse cardiovascular events, including stroke, heart attack and death.

Diet and exercise are well-established treatments for high blood pressure. In June 2021, the American Heart Association advised that physical activity is the optimal first treatment choice for adults with mild to moderately elevated blood pressure and blood cholesterol who otherwise have low heart disease risk.

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Diet may affect risk of sudden cardiac death

Diet is known to influence heart health. Experts recommend a diet low in sodium and saturated fat to reduce the risk of heart disease. A heart-healthy diet also includes plenty of vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. Research shows that the Mediterranean diet—full of fruits, vegetables, fish, cereals, and legumes, with little meat and dairy—may reduce the risk of heart disease.

Few studies have examined the relationship between overall diet and sudden cardiac death, a common cause of death in the United States. In sudden cardiac death, the heart abruptly stops beating, leading to death within an hour of symptoms. Small studies have suggested that the Mediterranean diet may lower the risk of sudden cardiac death.

A team led by Dr. James M. Shikany of the University of Alabama at Birmingham examined whether dietary patterns are associated with the risk of sudden cardiac death. The study was funded by NIH’s National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), National Institute on Aging (NIA), and National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI). Results were published in the Journal of the American Heart Association on July 6, 2021.

The researchers analyzed the diets of more than 21,000 participants using a food questionnaire at the start of the study. Participants were asked how often and in what quantities they ate 110 foods in the past year. Both those with and without a history of coronary heart disease were included. Participants were part of the long-running REGARDS (REasons for Geographic and Racial Differences in Stroke) study.

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Diet may affect risk of sudden cardiac death

  • A study found that a diet high in added fats, fried foods, processed meats, and sugary drinks was associated with a greater risk of sudden cardiac death, while a Mediterranean diet was associated with a lower risk.
  • The findings provide evidence that adopting a healthier diet may decrease the risk of sudden cardiac death.

Diet is known to influence heart health. Experts recommend a diet low in sodium and saturated fat to reduce the risk of heart disease. A heart-healthy diet also includes plenty of vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. Research shows that the Mediterranean diet—full of fruits, vegetables, fish, cereals, and legumes, with little meat and dairy—may reduce the risk of heart disease.  

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Few studies have examined the relationship between overall diet and sudden cardiac death, a common cause of death in the United States. In sudden cardiac death, the heart abruptly stops beating, leading to death within an hour of symptoms. Small studies have suggested that the Mediterranean diet may lower the risk of sudden cardiac death.

A team led by Dr. James M. Shikany of the University of Alabama at Birmingham examined whether dietary patterns are associated with the risk of sudden cardiac death. The study was funded by NIH’s National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), National Institute on Aging (NIA), and National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI). Results were published in the Journal of the American Heart Association on July 6, 2021.

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Changing consumption of certain fatty acids can lessen severity of headaches

A new study shows how a change in diet based on certain classes of fatty acids decreased headaches in patients over a 16-week period

Migraine is one of the largest causes of disability in the world. Existing treatments are often not enough to offer full relief for patients. A new study published in The BMJ demonstrates an additional option patients can use in their effort to experience fewer migraines and headaches – a change in diet.

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“Our ancestors ate very different amounts and types of fats compared to our modern diets,” said co-first author Daisy Zamora, PhD, assistant professor in the UNC Department of Psychiatry in the UNC School of Medicine. “Polyunsaturated fatty acids, which our bodies do not produce, have increased substantially in our diet due to the addition of oils such as corn, soybean and cottonseed to many processed foods like chips, crackers and granola.”

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Key tips to a healthy lifestyle

One picture us worth a thousand words. In this case, I think the infographic counts for even more. I hope this is all old news to you and you are living it fully. As an 81 year old I can tell you that I am certainly glad to have adopted my healthy lifestyle for the past 10 years. It’s never too late. The body is an organic machine which means there is constant regeneration going on. Use it to your advantage.

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Simple, but not so easy …

Simple, but not so easy, at least for some of us …. The following infographic is from the National Institute on Aging. While it doesn’t tell you anything you don’t already know, I think it is worthwhile to see these items enumerated to impress our minds – and bodies – what gives us the best chance of having a long and healthy life.

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Diet and Blood Cholesterol Levels – Tufts

We cannot survive without cholesterol in our bodies. It is an essential part of cell walls, is used to make bile acids (which are critical in fat digestion), and is necessary for the production of vitamin D and a number of hormones according to Tufts Health & Nutrition Letter. But too much LDL cholesterol and not enough HDL cholesterol in the blood is associated with increased risk for heart attack and stroke. While the liver can produce all the cholesterol the human body needs, we also consume it in the form of animal-based foods like meat and dairy.

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Question #1: What is cholesterol? Cholesterol is a lipid (fat), and, like other lipids, it does not mix with water. It therefore needs to be ‘packaged’ before it can move around the body in our (largely water-based) blood. These packages, called lipoproteins, vary in density, hence the now-familiar terms low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol and high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol. Very low-density lipoprotein (VLDL) may be a less familiar term, but VLDL cholesterol is emerging as an important health measure.

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Healthy Diet: Eating with Mental Health in Mind – MHA

You’ve probably heard the expression, “you are what you eat,” but what exactly does that mean? Put simply, food is fuel, and the kinds of foods and drinks you consume determine the types of nutrients in your system and impact how well your mind and body are able to function according to Mental Health America.

Drinks

Avoid: Sugary drinks and excessive amounts of caffeine. Sugary drinks have empty calories and damage tooth enamel. Caffeine should also be avoided in excess, as it can trigger panic attacks in people who have anxiety disorders.

Try to: Drink at least 8 glasses of water a day (about 2 liters) to prevent dehydration. Studies show that even mild dehydration can cause fatigue, difficulty concentrating, and mood changes1, in addition to physical effects like thirst, decreased or dark urine, dry skin, headache, dizziness and/or constipation. Limit caffeine if you have an anxiety disorder. If you feel like you need some caffeine, try tea. Tea has lower amounts of caffeine than coffee and has lots of antioxidants-chemicals found in plants that protect body tissues and prevent cell damage.

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Urine test reveals quality of your diet — and whether it’s the best fit for your body

Scientists at Imperial College London in collaboration with colleagues at Northwestern University, University of Illinois, and Murdoch University, analyzed levels of 46 different so-called metabolites in the urine of 1,848 people in the U.S.

Metabolites are considered to be an objective indicator of diet quality — and are produced as different foods are digested by the body, say the research team, who published their findings in the journal Nature Food.

The work was funded by the U.S. National Institutes of Health and Health Data Research UK.

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What Happens to the Body When we Diet?

The body starts to respond to healthy dietary changes as soon as they are made. This can be advantageous, because a diet can then eventually reduce the risk of obesity, diabetes and heart disease, as well as improve a person’s overall sense of well­ being.

Control of blood glucose level

Eating carbohydrates increases the blood sugar level, but the extent of this rise depends on a food’s glycemic index. The glycemic index is a ranking system, based on a score of 1 to 100, that determines the effect of a food on blood sugar levels.

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Diet and Alzheimer’s – Tufts

Herewith another entry in our arsenal against that destroyer of lives – Alzheimer’s Disease, from the Tufts Health & Nutrition Letter.

Alzheimer’s disease accounts for 60 to 80 percent of the loss of memory and other cognitive abilities collectively known as dementia. There is no known food or diet that can prevent or cure Alzheimer’s dementia, but diet may help delay onset and slow progression.

What sets Alzheimer’s apart from other forms of dementia is the excessive buildup of beta-amyloid protein fragments into plaques, as well as defective tau proteins that form tangles in the brain. These changes lead to the death of the nerve cells responsible for everything from memory to movement. There are currently no known dietary factors that can impact the formation of these plaques and tangles, but diet may act in other ways to influence Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia.

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How diet affects mental health …

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“We have found that there is increasing evidence of a link between a poor diet and the worsening of mood disorders, including anxiety and depression. However, many common beliefs about the health effects of certain foods are not supported by solid evidence”.

The researchers found that there are some areas where this link between diet and mental health is firmly established, such as the ability of a high fat and low carbohydrate diet (a ketogenic diet) to help children with epilepsy, and the effect of vitamin B12 deficiency on fatigue, poor memory, and depression.

They also found that there is good evidence that a Mediterranean diet, rich in vegetables and olive oil, shows mental health benefits, such as giving some protection against depression and anxiety. However, for many foods or supplements, the evidence is inconclusive, as for example with the use of vitamin D supplements, or with foods believed to be associated with ADHD or autism.

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What, Exactly, is a Mediterranean Diet? – Tufts

I have been hearing about and reading about the benefits of the Mediterranean Diet for as long as I have been writing this blog (10 years in case you are new here). But, I don’t know a heck of a lot about it. Here is the skinny from Tufts Health & Nutrition Letter.

More than a diet plan, this health-promoting food pattern allows room for preferences.

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A Mediterranean diet can be as varied as the countries and cultures that surround the Mediterranean Sea.

This large and diverse region includes 22 countries located within Europe, Africa, and Asia, including Greece, France, Spain, and Italy, but also Turkey, Morocco, Libya, and Egypt. “It is important to recognize that these countries encompass a wide array of cultural and culinary traditions, which means there is no single version of the ‘Mediterranean’ diet,” says Alice Lichtenstein, DSc, a professor at Tufts’ Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy and executive editor of Tufts Health & Nutrition Letter. “The good news is, that means a Mediterranean-type dietary pattern can be adapted to many different tastes and preferences.” Continue reading

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Tufts on 2019 New Year’s health resolutions

It’s that time of year, so here goes. I don’t have a lot of confidence in New Year’s resolutions, because I try to live that way year ’round. If, however, you feel that you have been slipping, here are some wonderful positive tips from the Tufts Health and Nutrition Letter:

“According to surveys, the two most popular New Year’s resolutions involve losing weight and getting fit—and for good reason. Moving toward a healthier dietary pattern and being more physically active are crucial steps toward achieving well-being—with or without weight loss.”

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Try these tips for making New Year’s resolutions last:

  • Set SMART goals. Make New Year’s resolutions Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound.
  • Take small steps. Choose incremental changes that seem do-able to you. For example: someone who habitually drinks soda twice a day may find that cutting back to one soda a day for a few weeks, then switch to flavored seltzer, is easier than quitting “cold turkey.”
  • Introduce physical activity slowly. To avoid injury, start with short, less intense activity sessions and gradually increase intensity and duration.
  • Plan. Put time to be physically active on your calendar; shop ahead to have ingredients for healthy meals and snacks on hand; try cooking ahead and freezing so healthy choices are available when time and energy are short; andavoid buying those foods and beverages you have resolved to cut down on.
  • Track your progress. Use a notebook, fitness tracker, or smartphone app to monitor your dietary intake and/or physical activity progress.
  • Team up. Find a friend or online community to help with accountability and commitment. Something as simple as sending each other daily “did you exercise today” texts can be effective.
  • Make it fun. No one is going to stick with something they hate. Find an activity that gets you moving and brings you joy. Take a healthy-cooking class, cook with family or friends, or experiment with new foods to make eating enjoyable.
  • Cheer yourself on. Celebrate each little achievement. Throwing your fist in the air, patting yourself on the back, or literally saying, “good job” out loud may create an association between the new behavior and positive feelings.

 

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