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Whole Grain Breads with Larger Particle Size / Less Processing Linked with Healthier Blood Sugar Control

In a small study, researchers assigned 15 people to four different types of 100% whole grain bread and measured their blood sugar responses (using iAUC, post-meal glucose, and 3-hour glucose). One bread was made with 100% stone ground flour, one was made with 100% roller milled flour, one was made with 50% roller milled flour and 50% cracked whole wheat, and one was made with 40% roller milled flour, 30% intact whole wheat, and 30% cracked whole wheat — although all breads were 100% whole grain. Among the roller milled breads, they found that the larger the particle sizes in the bread (intact whole wheat > cracked whole wheat > roller milled wheat), the gentler the impact on blood sugar. Interestingly, the blood sugar response of the stoneground bread (as measured by iAUC) was better than the 50% cracked wheat / 50% roller milled bread, but not quite as good as the 40% roller milled / 30% intact whole wheat / cracked whole wheat bread.
Diabetes Care. 2019 Nov 19. pii: dc191466. doi: 10.2337/dc19-1466. (Reynolds AN et al.)

Healthy Diets Linked with Healthy Gut Microbiome in Patients with Intestinal Issues

The species of bacteria that live in our gut are thought to impact our health, so researchers wonder if diet might impact the gut microbiome of people burdened by intestinal disorders. In this study, researchers analyzed the gut microbiome of 4 different groups of people (including a general population, patients with Crohn’s disease, patients with ulcerative colitis, and patients with irritable bowel syndrome). They found that diets rich in bread, legumes, fish, and nuts were linked with lower levels of inflammatory markers and lower levels of potentially harmful aerobic bacteria. On the other hand, diets rich in meat, fast food, and sugar were linked with higher inflammatory markers. (Note that findings presented at meetings are considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.)
Presentation at UEG Week Meeting. Barcelona. October 21, 2019. (Bolts L et al.)

Healthy Diets Like Mediterranean Diet Linked with Lower Risk of Hearing Loss

Conversations, TVs at normal volume, and most social activities occur at mid-range frequency of sound. Therefore, mid-range hearing loss can make it difficult to communicate in day-to-day life. In this study, researchers followed 3,135 women who were an average of 59 years old and followed them for 3 years assessing their eating habits and hearing capability. Those most closely following a Mediterranean diet, a general healthy diet (as measured by the Alternate Healthy Eating Index), or a DASH Diet (a diet for healthy blood pressure that emphasizes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat dairy) were 23-28%, 23-28%, and 25-29% less likely, respectively, to develop mid-range hearing loss than those not following those diets. The relationship with low-frequency and high-frequency hearing loss was not statistically significant. 
American Journal of Epidemiology. 2019 Oct 14. pii: kwz223. doi: 10.1093/aje/kwz223. (Curtain SG et al.)

Seafood During Pregnancy Linked with Improved Brain Development in Children

Seafood is well-recognized for its brain health benefits, but researchers wonder if these benefits outweigh the risks of mercury exposure. In this study, scientists analyzed 44 papers on 102,944 mother-child pairs and 25,031 children. They found consistent evidence of brain health benefits for children when mothers ate seafood while pregnant, and that benefits began even at the lowest amounts of seafood (about 4 oz /week). No negative impacts on neurocognitive development were noted even at the highest levels of seafood consumption (more than 12 ounces per week).
Prostaglandins Leukotrienes, and Essential Fatty Acids. 2019 Oct 11;151:14-36. doi: 10.1016/j.plefa.2019.10.002. (Hibbeln CJR et al.)

Healthy Diet Linked with Improvement in Depression in Young Adults

A balanced diet can go a long way towards nourishing our bodies, our brains, and our feelings. In this study, 76 young adults (ages 17-35) with symptoms of depression were randomly assigned to either continue their typical diet or eat a healthier diet with whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts, lean protein, and fish for 3 weeks. After the study period, those eating the healthier diet had significantly lower self-reported depression symptoms than the control group, and some of the beneficial results were maintained 3 months after the study as well.
PLoS One. 2019 Oct 9;14(10):e0222768. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0222768. (Francis HM et al.)

Healthy Diet in Midlife Linked with Lower Risk of Cognitive Impairment Later in Life

Eating a healthy diet in mid-life can pay dividends in later decades. In this study, researchers analyzed the eating habits of 16,948 middle-aged adults in China, then assessed their brain function 20 years later. Those most closely following a Mediterranean diet or a Plant-Based Diet were 33% and 18% less likely to have cognitive impairment than those not following those diets. Other healthy diets, including the DASH diet and the alternative Healthy Eating Index, were also linked with significantly lower risks of cognitive impairment.
American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2019 Oct 1;110(4):912-920. doi: 10.1093/ajcn/nqz150. (Wu J et al.)

American Diet Slowly Gets a Tiny Bit Better, Still Needs Improvement

The standard American diet is infamous for its high levels of refined carbs, sugar, and saturated fats. To see if nutrition initiatives are taking hold, researchers analyzed the diets of 43,996 U.S. adults in 1999 and then again in 2016. Over this time period, people got 1.23% more calories from high quality carbs (whole grains), 0.38% more calories from plant protein, 0.65% more calories from polyunsaturated fats, and 3.25% fewer calories from low quality carbohydrates (sugar and refined grains). Unfortunately, calories from saturated fat increased by 0.36%, and the general diet is still far from ideal, with 42% of calories still coming from low quality carbs, and saturated fat remaining above 10% of energy intake.
JAMA. 2019 Sep 24;322(12):1178-1187. doi: 10.1001/jama.2019.13771.(Shan Z et al.)

Church-Based Obesity Interventions May Help Improve Health

Faith-based institutions, including churches, can be great places to support people in their journey toward a healthier lifestyle. In a review of 43 articles on church-based obesity interventions, 81% of the studies reported significant improvements, although the effect sizes were small. Most of the studies were comprised of African American women, so more research is needed on the impact of church-based obesity interventions among other groups, such as men of color and Latinos. The authors conclude that “church-based interventions to address obesity will have greater impact if they consider the diversity among populations burdened by this condition and develop programs that are tailored to these different populations.”
Nutrition Reviews. 2019 Sep 20. pii: nuz046. doi: 10.1093/nutrit/nuz046. (Flórez KR et al.)

Racial & Ethnic Minorities Carry Disproportionate Burden of Diabetes at Lower BMI

Being heavier for our stature (as measured by BMI) puts us at a higher risk of diabetes. In this study, researchers analyzed the prevalence of diabetes in nearly 5 million people. Hispanics, Asians, and Hawaiians/Pacific Islanders who were overweight had the same diabetes risk as whites, blacks, and Native Americans who were in the most obese tier (class 4 obesity). Further, they found that the link between BMI and diabetes is strongest in whites and lowest in blacks, indicating that other factors outside of overweight/obesity may increase diabetes risk in racial and ethnic minorities.
Diabetes Care.  2019 Sep 19. pii: dc190532. doi: 10.2337/dc19-0532. [Epub ahead of print] (Zhu Y et al.)

Sourdough Fermentation Methods Improve Quality of Partially Whole Wheat Pasta

Swapping out some of the white flour for whole wheat flour in pasta is a simple way for manufacturers to bump up the nutritional quality of their products. But researchers wonder if different whole wheat pasta formulations might be better than others. In this study, researchers compared the nutritional and sensory (taste, acceptability, etc.) characteristics on two types of partially (28.5%) whole wheat fresh pasta: in one, the whole wheat flour was fermented (essentially a sourdough starter) and in the other, the whole wheat flour was not fermented. The fermented pasta showed a higher content of free essential amino acids and phenolic compounds, lower phytic acid content, and higher antioxidant activity. In consumer testing in a group of 54 people, the fermented pasta was rated higher for overall acceptability (taste, texture, and flavor). Interestingly, when people were told about the use of sourdough fermentation in the pasta, the acceptability ratings were even higher, reflective of the growing appetite for functional foods.
Foods. 2019 Sep 18;8(9). pii: E422. doi: 10.3390/foods8090422. (Fois S et al.)

Whole-Food Plant-Based Diet Linked with Weight Loss, Healthier Gut Microbiome

Researchers randomly assigned 148 overweight and obese adults to a low-fat vegan diet, or to continue their usual diet for 16 weeks. Those in the vegan group lost about a pound per week, and also lost a significant amount of body fat. Additionally, the vegan group (who ate lots of legumes, fruits, vegetables, and nuts) also had higher levels of beneficial bacteriodetes in their gut. This may partially explain some of the health benefits of plant-based diets, because people with diabetes, insulin resistance, and inflammation tend to have low levels of bacteriodetes. (Note that findings presented at meetings are considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.)
Presentation at European Association for the Study of Diabetes 2019 Annual Meeting. Barcelona, Spain. September 17, 2019.

Going Gluten-Free Does Not Improve Digestive Symptoms in Healthy Volunteers

If you don’t have a medically-diagnosed problem with gluten, is there any benefit to going gluten-free? New research suggests not. In this study, scientists randomly assigned 28 people without medical problems with gluten to a gluten-free diet or a gluten-containing diet for 2 weeks. The gluten-containing diet did not generate any symptoms (diarrhea, reflux, constipation, fatigue, etc.) in these healthy volunteers. They concluded that because a gluten-free diet is often less healthy than a typical diet, “there is possibly clinical justification in actively discouraging people from starting it if they have no diagnosable sensitivity.”
Gastroenterology. 2019 September;157:881-883. doi: 10.1053/j.gastro.2019.05.015. (Croall ID et al.)

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