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Plant Calcium Beneficial to Bone Density

In cultures that do not traditionally consume dairy products, vegetables can be an important source of calcium — while at the same time providing key vitamins and minerals that are also essential to bone health. That’s the finding of Korean researchers at Chung Ang University in Seoul, after studying 144 post-menopausal women with osteoporosis and age-matched controls. In their study, the women with the highest intake of vegetables and plant-based calcium had significantly better bone density.
Nutrition Research. January 2011; 31(1):27-32 (Park et al.)

Mediterranean Diet for Pregnant Moms Reduces Babies’ Wheezing

At the University of Edinburgh, researchers did a systematic review of 62 studies to determine how the diet of pregnant women may affect asthma and allergies in their babies.  The strongest connection found was between the Mediterranean Diet and asthma: babies whose mothers followed the Med Diet had a nearly 80% lower risk of wheezing. Vitamins A, D and E were also associated with reduced risk of asthma.

Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, Dec. 23, 2010 [Epub ahead of print]

Med Diet Slows Brain Aging

Cognitive decline is not inevitable as we age, and in fact a new study shows that eating a Mediterranean Diet can make your mental age years younger. Researchers in Chicago studied the dietary habits of 4,000 Midwesterners aged 65 and older, and scored them for adherence to either the Med Diet or the U.S. Dietary Guidelines. They then tested the people every three years for skills including word memory and math. Those who scored highest on the MedDiet scale – by enjoying fish, legumes, vegetables, wine, fruit and olive oil regularly – had slower cognitive decline over time, while those scoring higher on the Dietary Guidelines scale showed no advantage in keeping their wits about them. (Related article).
American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. December 22, 2010 [Epub ahead of print]

Med Diet Improves Longevity Markers, Insulin Sensitivity

Scientists at the University of Naples studied 192 overweight and obese men, putting half the men on a Med Diet (if overweight) or a Med Diet plus exercise and calorie restriction (if obese), while the other half followed a conventional diet. After two years, the Med Diet group had lost, on average 14 kg (31 lbs), while the control group had lost just 2 kg. Moreover, the Med Diet group showed “significant amelioration of multiple risk factors” including improved cardiovascular markers, reduced oxidative stress, and improved insulin sensitivity.
Cardiology Research & Practice
, Dec. 20, 2010; 2011:293916

Turmeric Component May Reduce Inflammation

Scientists at the University of Buffalo reviewed several studies to assess the effect of curcumin, which is the active ingredient in turmeric.  Experiments using animal models suggest that curcumin may have anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant effects and may regulate lipid metabolism.  These properties suggest that curcumin may have a role in the treatment of conditions associated with obesity.
Nutrition Review. 2010 Dec; 68(12):729-738.  (Alappat et al.)

Turmeric (Curcumin) and Obesity

Turmeric is a common spice in Asian cuisines. According to this paper from the University of Buffalo, curcumin (the active ingredient in turmeric) may regulate lipid metabolism and thereby help downregulate obesity.
Nutrition Reviews. December 2010; 68(12):729-38 (Alappat et al.)

Polish Scientists Advise Olive Oil in Baby Food

Scientists in Poland who are familiar with the health benefits of the olive-oil-based Mediterranean Diet reviewed 124 kinds of baby food from six suppliers. They found that corn, canola, and soybean oils were most common in jarred baby foods, and that only one brand of ready-to-eat jars with vegetables featured olive oils. The scientists concluded that medical professionals should urge manufacturers to produce baby foods with olive oil, and that parents should, in the meantime, make their own olive-oil baby foods at home.

Medical Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism. December 2010; 3(3):227-232.

Med Diet, Weight Gain and Aging

Some of us may notice a few extra pounds appear on the scale as we get older. Is this just the reality of getting older? A new study, which followed 10,376 Spanish men and women for about 6 years, has found that following the Mediterranean Diet eating pattern may slow down the weight gain normally observed with age. In fact, people with the lowest Med Diet score gained the most weight each year. (Related article). 

American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. December 2010; 92(6): 1484-93 [Epub Oct 20, 2010]

Traditions Promote Long Life

The School of Health Sciences at Cleveland State University studied thirty-seven elders living in the Eastern Afromontane and Albertine Rift regions of Ethiopia; the Mayan Mountains region of Belize; the Western Gats region of India; and the Appalachian Mountains region of the United States who live by their traditions.  The data from each site was grouped into three major categories: (1) philosophy, attitudes, and outlook (2) lifestyle practices, and (3) dietary and nutritional practices. The study found that the elders’ comprehensive yet simple set of practices has implications for today’s population. The elders’ practices promote longevity, sustainably, and healthy lifestyles by following traditional ways of eating and taking care of one’s body, mind, spirit and environment. 
Explore (NY) 2010 Nov-Dec; 6(6):352-8. (Pesek et al.)

Omega-3 May Reduce Risk of Dental Disease

You are told to brush, floss, and rinse every day, but has your dentist told you to consume more Omega 3 fatty acids lately? He should, according the latest study from Japan comparing levels of omega-3 fatty acids and the prevalence of dental diseases. “People with low DHA intake had an approximately 1.5 times higher incidence rate ratio of periodontal disease progression,” wrote the researchers. Omega-3 fatty acids of marine and plant origin were found to have strong anti-bacterial activity against a range of oral pathogens, which may be related to the anti-inflammatory effects of omega-3 fatty acids. “In periodontal diseases, bacteria trigger inflammatory host responses that cause destruction of the alveolar bone and periodontal connective tissue,” explained the researchers. The Mediterranean Diet features ingredients rich in omega-3 fatty acids such as fish, nuts, legumes and vegetables. This pattern of eating is already known to protect against certain kinds of cancer, Alzheimer’s, and diabetes. Now there is one more reason to try it. (Related article).

Nutrition. November-December 2010; 26(11-12):1105-9 [Epub January 25, 2010]

Mediterranean Diet and Fertility Treatment Success

Women all over the world struggle with conception, for various reasons. However, new findings point to a possible role for diet in fertility treatment success. Researchers in the Netherlands found that among 161 couples undergoing fertility treatment, women whose eating habits most closely matched the traditional Mediterranean diet were 40 percent more likely to become pregnant than those with the least Mediterranean-like diets. One potential reason adhering to a Mediterranean Diet positively affects fertility treatment is the high intake of vegetable oils, vegetables, fish, and legumes – and a low intake of snacks. (Related article).

Fertility and Sterility, November 2010; 94(6):2096-101 [Epub Mar 1, 2010]

Vegans and Vegetarians at Greater Risk of Vitamin B12 Deficiency

Researchers from the University of Oxford and King’s College London analyzed data from blood samples of 689 men of which 226 were omnivores, 231 were vegetarians, and 232 were vegans. They found that mean serum Vitamin B12 was highest among omnivores and lowest among vegans, while mean serum folate was highest among vegans and lowest among omnivores. 52% of the vegans and 7% of the vegetarians were found to be deficient in vitamin B12. Because vitamin B12 deficiency can result in irreversible neurological damage, vegans and vegetarians should ensure a regular intake of sufficient vitamin B12 from fortified foods and/or supplements.
European Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2010 Sep;64(9):933-939. (Gilsing et al.)

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