Landmark NIH study: ultra-processed diet increases body weight

Common sense and knowledge tell us that whole food is healthier than processed food. It is nice to now have a rigorous randomized clinical trial proving this concept.

The NIH study shows that even when food calories, energy density, macronutrients, sugar, sodium, and fiber were matched, individuals consuming ultra-processed food gained weight compared to those on unprocessed meals.

This is a landmark study as it can influence guidelines/advice at the national level.


Red raspberries for breakfast

This simple study shows that frozen red raspberries in quantities of 125-250 mg (1-2 cups), when taken with a typical high-carb breakfast, improve insulin resistance in adults with prediabetes. Although these results would need to be validated, having red raspberries for breakfast sounds just right.


Coffee and Diabetes

About 4,000 adults ages 20-70 were followed for 6 years. Pre-diabetes and type 2 diabetes rates were lower in those who consumed coffee vs. non-consumers. Risk reduction on average was 30%. Nutritional benefits of coffee on insulin resistance are mounting, as shown in this article.


Not all carbs are created equal

In patients with type 2 diabetes a healthy eating pattern including the frequent intake of whole carbohydrates, dairy, white meat, fish, fruits and vegetables was associated with lower fasting plasma glucose, HbA1c, and LDL cholesterol levels as compared with an eating pattern with high consumption of refined carbohydrates, ultraprocessed foods, sweets, and desserts. The carbohydrate use did not differ between the unhealthy and healthy group. 


Soluble fiber helps with weight and glucose metabolism

Soluble fiber supplementation reduced BMI, body weight, body fat, fasting glucose and fasting insulin compared with the effects of placebo treatments. Isolated soluble fiber supplementation improves anthropometric and metabolic outcomes in overweight and obese adults, thereby indicating that supplementation may improve fiber intake and health in these individuals. 


Elderly should consume more protein

The Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) for protein intake in the adult population is widely promoted as 0.8 grams/kg/day. Aging may increase protein requirements, particularly to maintain muscle mass. 

Authors investigated whether controlled protein consumption at the current RDA or twice the RDA (2 x RDA) affects skeletal muscle mass and physical function in elderly men. 

Study found that consumption of a diet providing 2 x RDA for protein compared with the current guidelines was found to have beneficial effects on lean body mass and leg power in elderly men.


Fish oil and cardiovascular mortality

Omega 3 fatty acids, mainly eicosapentaenoic and docosahexaenoic acids, seem to lower cardiac death by 8%. This meta-analysis includes 14 randomized clinical trials with a total of 72,000 subjects. 

Further benefits (13-29% death reduction) were seen in adults utilizing higher doses of omega 3 (> 1 gram per day) and in those with higher baseline cardiovascular risk; elevated triglycerides (>150 mg/dL), LDL-cholesterol (>130 mg/dL) and non-statin users.

Important to note that these results are to some degree in accordance with the recent Science Advisory from the American Heart Association published in March 2017, suggesting the use of omega three for secondary prevention of coronary heart disease, heart failure and sudden cardiac death.


Coffee extends longevity

This major prospective study finds that coffee consumption reduces all cause mortality by 12% in men and 7% in women. About 500,000 participants were followed for 16 years.

More specifically, coffee intake seems to lower gastrointestinal death in men by 60%. In women however, the digestive, circulatory, and cerebrovascular disease mortality are reduced by 40%, 22% and 30% respectively, while raising the risk death by 30% from an ovarian cancer.

The study also uncovers the antiinflammatory effect of coffee on hepatic-insulin resistance axis, as documented by lower levels of AlkPhos, ALT, AST, GGT, CRP, Lp(a) and A1c in high consumers.

Unless side effects are present, coffee consumption promotes a good anti-inflammatory health.


Fruits, vegetables, and legumes reduce mortality

Another significant study published in The Lancet confirms that increased consumption of fruits, vegetables, and legumes reduces cardiovascular and total mortality. Maximum benefits were seen with 3-4 servings per day, equivalent to 375–500 grams daily. About 135,000 participants were followed for 7 years.


Carbohydrates, not fats, increase total mortality

PURE is a major epidemiological study that followed 140,000 individuals in 18 countries for 7 years. Perhaps not a surprise that high carbohydrate intake was associated with 28% increased risk of total mortality, while total fats (saturated, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated) with 23% reduction.

Evidence is mounting that between the two excesses, fats are favored over carbohydrates, thus guiding the national and international movement toward taxation of sugary drinks.


Protein intake in aging adults

The anorexia of aging, which affects 20% of older adults, has been well documented within the current body of evidence as a primary cause of reduced daily intake in this population. This condition is characterized by reductions in appetite in combination with early satiation and sustained increases in satiety.

Circulating concentrations of the hunger-stimulating hormone ghrelin are lower, whereas the satiety hormones cholecystokinin, peptide YY, and GLP-1 are elevated in older adults compared with their younger counterparts. Gastric emptying also tends to be slower in older adults than in younger adults, which leads to early satiation. These responses occur concomitantly with an increase in perceived fullness and decreased hunger, desire to eat, and prospective food consumption.

Am J Clin Nutr

Alcohol and Diabetes

Moderate alcohol consumption reduced the risk of diabetes by 30-60%, slightly more in women then men.  About 75,000 subjects were followed for 5 years. These findings are overall in agreement with cardiovascular benefits of alcohol. This could stem from improving insulin resistance, a well known risk for both diabetes and CVD.