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Mediterranean Diet Linked with Slower Prostate Cancer Progression, Better Survival

Many patients diagnosed with prostate cancer don’t need immediate intervention, so strictly monitoring the disease progression is critical. This study collected data from 410 men diagnosed with prostate cancer and measured how closely they were following the Mediterranean Diet. After 36 months of follow-up, those most closely following a Mediterranean diet were less likely to have significant disease progression, and were more likely to have a better rate of survival.
Cancer. 2021 Mar 1; 127(5):720-728. doi:10.1002/cncr.33182. (Gregg JR et al.)

Mediterranean Diet Linked to Lower Risk of Parkinson’s Disease

Parkinson’s disease is one of the most common progressive nervous system disorders, and previous studies indicate a potential link between diet and the risk of Parkinson’s disease. In this study, 49,261 middle-aged Swedish women were followed up for an average of 10 years to track their eating habits and whether or not they were diagnosed with Parkinson’s. The researchers found that those most closely following a Mediterranean diet had a significantly lower risk of being diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease, especially among women aged 65 years or older.
Movement Disorders. 2021 Jan;36(1):255-260. doi:10.1002/mds.28314. (Yin W et al.)

Mediterranean Diet Linked with Better Thyroid Health

Our thyroids act as internal thermostats providing our bodies with hormones that help balance our heart, muscle, and digestive function, brain development, and bone maintenance. In this study, researchers analyzed the eating habits and health of 200 people, about half with Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis (an autoimmune disease that attacks the thyroid) and half without. Those most closely following a Mediterranean diet were less likely to have Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. Eating more animal foods (like meat) and fewer plant foods (like vegetables) was also linked with Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis.  However, more research is needed on how diet might impact autoimmune and thyroid health.
Thyroid. 2021 Jan;31(1):96-105. doi: 10.1089/thy.2020.0299. (Ruggeri RM et al.)

Unsubstantiated Health Beliefs Lead People to Avoid Gluten Unnecessarily

Following a gluten-free diet is required for those with celiac disease or medically diagnosed gluten sensitivities. Because gluten-free foods tend to be less nutritious and may raise the risk of nutrient deficiencies, researchers wanted to know what motivates people to avoid gluten when it is not medically necessary. In this study, 2,982 adults in the US without celiac disease were surveyed about their beliefs regarding gluten-free diets. Compared with people who eat gluten, people without celiac disease who avoid gluten are more likely to believe medically unsubstantiated claims (that gluten-free diets are more nutritious and can improve acne).  
Appetite. 2021 Jan 1; 156:104958. doi: 10.1016/j.appet.2020.104958 (Arslain K et al.)

Mediterranean Diet Linked with Better Brain Health in Aging

A growing body of research demonstrates the Mediterranean diet’s relationship with healthy aging. This British study focused on 511 individuals whose average age was 79 years old. The scientists collected data on eating habits and brain health from the participants. They found that those who more closely follow a Mediterranean diet are more likely  to have overall better cognitive function, including better memory, visuospatial ability, and verbal ability. Furthermore, the study found that eating more  green leafy vegetables and lessmeat may be linked withbetter cognitive performance. 
Experimental Gerontology. 2020 Dec; 142:111117. doi:10.1016/j.exger.2020.111117. (Corley J et al.)

Mediterranean Diet Is Associated with Lower Risk of Type 2 Diabetes

The Mediterranean diet is linked with a lower risk of diabetes, and researchers want to learn more about the mechanisms behind this protective effect. This study followed up a group of 25,317 middle-aged women without diabetes for approximately 20 years. The results indicated that those who strictly follow the Mediterranean diet tend to have a 30% lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes compared to those who don’t follow a Mediterranean diet. The lower risk of diabetes could be partially explained by better insulin resistance, lower inflammation, and lower cholesterol in the women who followed a Mediterranean diet, and the results were especially strong in people who were overweight at the beginning of the study.
JAMA Network Open. 2020 Nov 2; 3(11):e2025466. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2020.25466 (Ahmad S et al.)

Switching to Whole Grains Can Improve Cholesterol, Blood Sugar Control, and Inflammation

Randomized controlled trials are the “gold standard” of nutrition research as they can be used to establish cause and effect. In this article, researchers analyzed more than 20 randomized controlled trials to see how replacing refined grains with whole grains can impact health. They found that for adults both with and without risk factors of heart disease, substituting whole grains for refined can improve total cholesterol, LDL (“bad”) cholesterol, hemoglobin A1c (a measure of blood sugar control), and C-reactive protein (a measure of inflammation). 
Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. 2020 Nov;120(11):1859-1883.e31. doi: 10.1016/j.jand.2020.06.021. (Marshall S et al.)

Green Tea and Coffee Linked with Longer Lifespan in People with Diabetes

Green tea and coffee contain healthy antioxidants, and researchers wonder if benefits of these beverages extend to people with type 2 diabetes as well. In this study, scientists followed 4,923 Japanese adults (aged 66, on average) with type 2 diabetes for about 5 years to study their beverage habits and health outcomes. Compared with drinking no green tea, drinking at least 4 cups per day was linked with a 40% lower risk of death, drinking 2-3 cups was linked with a 27% lower risk of death, and drinking smaller amounts (up to 1 cup per day) was linked with a 15% lower risk of death. Similarly, compared with never drinking coffee, drinking at least 2 cups per day was linked with a 41% lower risk of death, drinking 1 cup per day was linked with a 19% lower risk of death, and drinking smaller amounts (less than 1 cup per day) was linked with a 12% lower risk of death. Interestingly, the benefits of drinking both coffee and green tea were additive, meaning that drinking both coffee and green tea each day may be extra beneficial.
BMJ Open Diabetes Research Care. 2020 Oct;8(1):e001252. doi: 10.1136/bmjdrc-2020-001252. (Komorita Y et al.)

Modern Wheat Does NOT Have More Gluten than Ancient Wheat

Over the past centuries, the yield production of wheat has dramatically increased around the globe, leaving some to wonder how the quality and gluten content of modern wheat compares to ancient varieties. This research analyzed more than 200 wheat lines from the 18th century through modern times. The results showed that modern breeds of wheat tend to have slightly higher starch and fiber levels, and lower protein content as well as lower levels of some minerals (iron, zinc, magnesium). In fact, the decreased gliadin: glutenin ratio in modern wheat indicates a decrease in celiac disease antigens in modern wheat, while the lower protein content indicates lower levels of gluten.
Nutrition Bulletin. 2020 Sept. doi:10.1111/nbu.12461. (Shewry PR et al.)

 

Eating More Whole Grains Linked with Substantial Savings in Healthcare Costs

In this study, researchers calculated the reduced risk of heart disease associated with each serving of whole grain consumed. They were then able to model various scenarios of increasing whole grain consumption as a proportion of total grains, getting closer and closer to the recommended levels outlined in the US Dietary Guidelines. They found that if whole grain intake was increased to meet recommended levels (an increase of 2.24 servings of whole grain per day), the estimated direct medical cost savings from reduced risk of heart disease in the US was $21.9 billion annually. Further, they found that even small increases in whole grain intake can translate to substantial cost savings. A modest increase of just 0.25 servings of whole grains per day was associated with a savings of $2.4 billion annually.
Nutrients. 2020 Aug 3;12(8):E2323. doi: 10.3390/nu12082323. (Murphy MM et al.) 

Protein from Different Sources Are Linked with Different Impacts on Longevity

While the optimal amount of protein to sustain health is subject to debate, the research is increasingly clear that protein from different sources has different impacts on health. This systematic review attempted to investigate how varied protein diets (total/animal/plant protein) impact the mortality rate. After assessing the results from 31 different studies, the researchers found that eating more total protein and plant protein are both linked to a lower risk of deaths from all causes. In particular, those who eat more plant proteins were at a lower risk of death caused by heart diseases. However, eating more animal protein did not appear to be related to lower mortality. Additionally, higher total protein intake is not associated with a lower death rate caused by cancer.
BMJ. 2020 July 22; 370. doi:10.1136/bmj.m2412 (Naghshi S et al.)

Whole Grains Linked with Lower Risk of Type 2 Diabetes

In a large study of nearly 200,000 US adults, those eating whole grains most frequently had a 29% lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes across the approximately 30-year study period than those rarely or never eating whole grains, even after adjusting for other lifestyle factors. When looking at specific whole grain foods, common foods like whole grain breakfast cereal, oatmeal, whole grain bread, and brown rice were all linked with a lower risk of type 2 diabetes. The exception was popcorn, which was linked with a higher risk of type 2 diabetes when eaten more than once per day, perhaps due to its association with butter sauces or sugary flavorings.
BMJ. 2020 Jul 8;370:m2206. doi: 10.1136/bmj.m2206. (Hu Y et al.)

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