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Meeting Australian Whole Grain Recommendations in Australia Could Save Over 1.4 billion AUD

Currently, Australian adults are only eating about 21 grams of whole grain per day. In this study, researchers quantified the savings in healthcare and reduction of lost productivity costs associated with a reduction in type 2 diabetes and heart disease through meeting the 48 grams per day whole grain recommendation. If 100% of the Australian adult population were to meet this whole grain goal, researchers estimate a savings of up to 750.7 million Australian dollars (AUD) in healthcare and lost productivity costs for type 2 diabetes, and an additional 717.4 million AUD in healthcare and lost productivity costs for heart disease, totaling more than a 1.4 billion AUD savings. On the low end, even if only 5% or 15% of Australian adults meet the 48 grams per day whole grain goal, there would still be an estimated savings total of 73.4 million AUD to 220.2 million AUD, respectively in healthcare and lost productivity costs related to both conditions.
Nutrients. 2021 May 29;13(6):1855. doi: 10.3390/nu13061855. (Abdullah MMH et al.)

Mediterranean Diet Linked with Healthy Gut Microbiota, Possible Lower Risk of Alzheimer’s

There are over 100 trillion microorganisms in the gut, which are thought to play a significant role in various aspects of overall health. In this review article, researchers suggest that the connection between the brain and gut may be associated with the development of Alzheimer’s disease because the gut microbiota may induce inflammation throughout the body, potentially provoking cognitive impairment. Recent studies have found that the composition of the gut microbiome significantly differs between those with and without Alzheimer’s disease. Diet also has a strong impact on the gut microbiome, hence affecting the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. In particular, following a Mediterranean diet is associated with a slower cognitive degeneration. On the other hand, the Western diet which contains high added sugar, processed meat, refined grains, and saturated fats is associated with greater inflammation.
Nutrients. 2021 Jan 25;13(2):361. Published 2021 Jan 25. doi:10.3390/nu13020361 (Leblhuber F 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.) 

Mediterranean Diet Linked with Healthier Gut Microbiome in Aging

Some of the worlds healthiest, longest lived people follow a Mediterranean diet, so researchers wonder about the mechanism behind its link with healthy aging. In this study, researchers analyzed the gut microbiome of 612 older European adults before starting a Mediterranean diet, and then after 1 year of following a Mediterranean diet. Those who followed the Mediterranean diet most closely had significant differences in their gut microbiome, including microbes associated with lower risk of frailty, better brain function, and lower inflammation.
Gut. 2020 Jul;69(7):1218-1228. doi: 10.1136/gutjnl-2019-319654. Epub 2020 Feb 17.

Olive Oil Linked with Lower Risk of Heart Disease

Not all fats are created equal. Olive oil is a source of heart-healthy monounsaturated fats and polyphenols, while butter is a source of saturated fats. In this study, researchers followed more than 90,000 people for 24 years. Those eating more than ½ tablespoon of olive oil per day had a 14-17% lower risk of heart disease compared with people who didn’t eat olive oil. The scientists also found that replacing 5g/day of butter, margarine, mayonnaise, or dairy fat with the equivalent amount of olive oil was also linked with a 5-7% lower risk of heart disease.
J Am Coll Cardiol. 2020 Apr 21;75(15):1729-1739. doi: 10.1016/j.jacc.2020.02.036. Epub 2020 Mar 5. (Guasch-Ferré M et al.)

Healthy Diet with Fruits, Vegetables, Grains, Protein Foods Linked with Lower Risk of Memory Loss and Heart Disease in Aging

A balanced diet is important to support our bodies and our brains as we age. In a study of 139,096 Australian adults followed for 6 years, those eating the most fruits, vegetables, and protein foods had a lower risk of developing memory loss, while those eating the most fruits and vegetables also had the lowest risk of comorbid heart disease. When looking specifically at adults over 80 years old, those eating the fewest grains had the highest risk of memory loss and comorbid heart disease.
Int J Public Health. 2020 Feb 12. doi: 10.1007/s00038-020-01337-y. Online ahead of print. Xu X et al.)

Mediterranean Diet Linked with Better Brain Function in Men with Heart Disease

The Mediterranean diet is well-known for its links to brain health, and new research demonstrates that these ties hold up in populations with heart disease as well. In this study, researchers analyzed the diets of 200 men (average age 57), then assessed their brain health 14 and 20 years later. Not following a Mediterranean Diet was linked with a greater decline in overall cognitive performance and visual spatial functions.
Nutritional Neuroscience. 2020 Jan 22:1-9. doi: 10.1080/1028415X.2020.1715049. (Lutski M et al.)

Chili Peppers Linked with Lower Risk of Death from Heart Disease

Chili peppers are included in many traditional diets around the world. In this study, researchers followed 22,811 Italian adults for 8 years to study the relationship between eating chili peppers and health outcomes. Those eating chili peppers at least 4 times per week had a 34% lower risk of death from heart disease, a 61% lower risk of death from stroke, and a 23% lower risk of death from all causes than those rarely or never eating chili peppers.  Although those eating more chili peppers were also more likely to follow a Mediterranean diet, the lower risk of death remained significant even after adjusting for diet quality. Chili peppers contain many healthy plant compounds with antioxidant properties (such as capsaicin, beta carotene, and flavonoids) that may contribute to the peppers’ protective effect.
Journal of the American College of Cardiology. 2019 Dec 24;74(25):3139-3149. doi: 10.1016/j.jacc.2019.09.068. (Bonaccio M et al.)

Chili Pepper Linked with Longevity in Italian Adults

Chili pepper is an underappreciated aspect of a Mediterranean diet. To see how it relates to longevity in a Mediterranean population, researchers analyzed the diets of 22,811 Italian adults and monitored their health outcomes for 8 years. Those eating chili pepper at least 4 times per week were 23% less likely to die from all causes and 34% less likely to die from heart disease over the study period, even after controlling for the benefits of a Mediterranean diet. The relationship seems to be strongest in people without high blood pressure.
Journal of the American College of Cardiology. 2019 Dec 24;74(25):3139-3149. doi: 10.1016/j.jacc.2019.09.068. (Bonaccio M et al.)

Eating a Plant-Based Diet for 5 Weeks Can Lower 10-Year Heart Disease Risk

Lifestyle changes can have a measurable impact on health, even after a short period of time. In this study, 36 African American participants in Chicago ate a completely plant-based diet for 5 weeks and had their heart disease (specifically, atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease) 10-year risk scores calculated both before and after the study. After eating the plant-based diet, the 10-year heart disease risk was reduced by 19.4%, “bad” LDL cholesterol was lowered by 14%, and their systolic blood pressure (the top number in a blood pressure reading) was lowered by 10 mm Hg.
Circulation. 2019 Nov 11;140:A16318 (Fugar S 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.)

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.

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