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Traditional Korean Food May Reduce Diabetes Risk

A study conducted by the Korean Food Research Institute measured the anti-diabetic effect of kochujang, a traditional Korean food. In the study, diabetic rats were fed a high fat-diet including 5% of calories from two different kinds of kochujang powder or the equivalent amount of nutrients, for eight weeks.  Kochujang powder was made by fermenting two different kinds of soybeans, red peppers, glutinous rice and malts.  The study found that kochujang improved glucose homeostasis by reducing insulin resistance in the rats.  The diet was also found to reduce hepatic glucose output, triacylglycerol accumulation and to increase glycogen storage.
Nutrition Journal. 2009 Jul-Aug;25(7-8):790-9. (Kwon et al.)

Decreased Breast Cancer Risk with Fatty Fish

A study conducted by the Cancer Epidemiology Branch in Gyeonggi, South Korea examined the association between fish and fish omega-3 fatty acids intake with the risk of breast cancer among Korean women.  358 incident breast cancer patients and 360 controls with no history of malignant cancer were recruited and given a 103-item food frequency questionairre to determine their dietary intake of fish (fatty and lean) and omega-3 fatty acids derived from fish (eicosapentaenoic acid or EPA and docasahexaenoic acid or DHA).  The study found that high intake of fatty fish was associated with reduced risk of breast cancer in both pre- and post-menopausal women.
BMC Cancer. 2009 Jun 30;9:216 (Kim et al.)

Vegetarian, Pescatarian Diets Linked with Decreased Cancer

Combining data from the Oxford Vegetarian Study and the EPIC-Oxford cohort, researchers at the University of Oxford found that the incidence of all cancers combined was lowest among the vegetarians and pescatarians. Specifically, vegetarians were at lower risk for stomach and bladder cancer, as well as cancers of the lymphatic and blood tissues. Pescatarians had the lowest risk of ovarian and prostate cancers. However, the authors note the need for further study, as findings from various studies regarding diet type and cancer incidence have been inconsistent.
British Journal of Cancer. 2009 Jul 7;101:192-197. (Key et al.)

Leafy Greens Help New Mothers In Ghana

Vitamin A deficiency is a major public health problem in developing countries, with women of childbearing age and children being among the most affected. A community based study of postpartum mothers in Ghana set out to determine whether their vitamin A levels would improve if the new moms ate African eggplant leaves (a strong food source of vitamin A). A daily portion of 200g of eggplant leaves was given to mothers in one group for three months, while the control group did not receive any additional vegetables to their diet. After three months, the researchers tested the vitamin A levels in the women’s livers and found a significant improvement in the vitamin A status of the group eating the African eggplant leaves. Vitamin A containing leafy vegetables, like the African eggplant leaves, can be easily cultivated within African communities, making them a sustainable and cheaper alternative to oral supplementation of vitamin A.
African Journal of Food, Agriculture, Nutrition, and Development; Vol 9, No 6 (2009). (Tchum et al.)

Obesity and Chronic Disease Rates in Botswana Hospital Workers

In this study, a group of hospital workers underwent physical examinations to measure weight, blood pressure and cholesterol, all of which are high when a person has metabolic syndrome. The workers were divided into age and gender groups. The youngest group (ages 35-54 years) was the most affected by metabolic syndrome, whereas the elderly — who are expected to have the greater risk of hypertension and abnormal cholesterol — were the least affected by these diseases. One reason for this finding is that the population of Botswana is changing from its traditional lifestyle to more modern, less healthy habits, and younger people are more likely to adopt these changes. In contrast, older people, who are less inclined to change their habits, reflected a higher state of health.

South African Medical Journal, May 2009, Vol. 99, No. 5. (Garrido et al.)

Low-Fat Vegan Diet May Be Most Effective in Controlling Type 2 Diabetes

Researchers from the George Washington University conducted a randomized, controlled trial on 99 participants with type 2 diabetes. 49 participants were randomly selected to follow a low-fat vegan diet, while the remaining 50 were to adopt a diet following the 2003 American Diabetes Association guidelines (“conventional diet”). The groups followed their assigned diets for 74 weeks. By the end of the trial, the researchers found that both diets had resulted in weight loss, improved glycemic control as measured by HbA1C, and a reduction in blood triglycerides. Once the results were controlled for medication adjustments, however, the low-fat vegan diet appeared to improve glycemic control and blood triglycerides more than the conventional diet. This study illustrates the physiological benefits of adopting a plant-based diet.
American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2009 May 1;89(suppl):1588S-96S. (Barnard et al.)

Prevalence and Risk of Type 2 Diabetes Lowest Among Vegans

Loma Linda University scientists studied the relationship between various diet types (vegans, lacto-ovo vegetarians, pescatarians, and nonvegetarians) and prevalence of type 2 diabetes in a large cohort of Seventh-Day Adventists in North America. They found that vegans had the lowest prevalence (2.9%) of the disease, while nonvegetarians had the highest (7.6%). Additionally, the vegan diet was associated with a nearly one-half reduction in risk of type 2 diabetes compared with the risk associated with nonvegetarian diets.
Diabetes Care. 2009 May 1;32(5):791-796. (Tonstad et al.)

Health Effects of Vegan Diets

A nationwide poll conducted in 2006 determined that 1.4% of the American population is vegan—they eat no meat, fish, dairy, or eggs.  Scientists at Andrews University in Michigan reviewed existing studies about veganism to assess the pros and cons of adopting such a diet.  Overall, vegans tend to have lower BMI, lower serum cholesterol, and lower blood pressure, decreasing their risk of developing cardiovascular disease.  However, because of the elimination of all animal products, vegans are at greater risk of certain nutritional deficiencies such as vitamins B12 and D, calcium, and omega-3 fatty acids.  It is suggested that vegans consume foods that are fortified with these nutrients or that they take appropriate supplements to prevent deficiencies.
American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.  May 2009; 89:1627s-33s [Craig WJ]

Diet & Cancer Risk in Asian-American Women

Researchers in Los Angeles conducted a study to evaluate how diet may affect the risk of breast cancer for Asian American women.  Those who adhered most closely to the factors of a Mediterranean Diet (lower intake of meat and starches and a higher intake of vegetables and legumes, including soy) had a 35% reduced risk of breast cancer compared to a Western diet or an ethnic diet with a higher intake of meat and starch.
American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2009 Apr; 89(4):1145-1154. (Wu et al.)

Med Diet: Keeping Your Brain Healthy

A study conducted by the Columbia University Medical Center examined the association between adherence to the Mediterranean diet and mild cognitive impairment (MCI) among 1393 multi-ethnic participants.  Using Cox proportional hazards, the association between adherence to the Mediterranean diet (0-9 scale) and the incidence of MCI, as well as the progression of MCI to Alzheimer’s disease was assessed.  The models were all adjusted for age, sex, ethnicity, education, genotype, caloric intake, body mass index, and duration between baseline dietary assessment and baseline dietary diagnosis.  The study concludes that a higher adherence to the Mediterranean diet correlates to a reduced risk of developing mild cognitive impairment and reduced risk of MCI conversion to Alzheimer’s disease.
Archives of Neurology 2009 Feb; 66(2):216-25 (Scarmeas et al.)
 

Nutrition Concerns for Vegetarian Athletes

Researchers from the University of Rome conducted a review of the recent literature surrounding the nutritional adequacy of vegetarian diets among athletes.  Although it remains unclear whether vegetarian diets are preferable to omnivorous diets for athletic performance, the data show that it is possible for vegetarian athletes to maintain good nutritional profiles. However, vegetarian athletes may have to be more vigilant about ensuring adequate calorie, Iron, Zinc, Vitamin D, and Vitamins B12 (cyanocobalamin) and B2 (riboflavin) intake, through supplementation if necessary. Additionally, creatine supplementation may benefit vegetarian athletes who engage in repeated bouts of short-term high-intensity exercise.
Sport- Und Präventivmedizin. 2009 Jan;39(1):20-24. (Borrione et al.)
 

Africans' Allergies Increase With Urban Diets

The prevalence of allergies has consistently increased in Africa over the past 7-10 years.  Studies have shown that as an African country’s gross national income increases, so does the link between IgE, skin reactivity to allergens and allergic symptoms. Whereas Africans in rural Africa seem to suffer less from allergies, people of African descent in affluent countries have a higher prevalence and greater severity of allergic symptoms compared with the natives of those host countries. A study conducted at Leiden University in the Netherlands has identified the shift to a more ‘urban diet’ as a marker for increased skin reactivity to allergens, and therein a compromiser to the immune system.
Current Opinion in Clinical Immunology. Oct. 2008 (Obeng et al.)

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