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Mediterranean Diet Linked with Better Bone Mass in Women

A traditional Mediterranean diet includes frequent, but low-to-moderate amounts of dairy products, mostly in the form of artisanal cheeses and yogurts. In this study, researchers analyzed the eating habits and bone density in 442 pre-menopausal women in Spain. Following a Mediterranean diet was linked with significantly better bone mass.
Nutrients. 2019 Mar 5;11(3). pii: E555. doi: 10.3390/nu11030555. (Pérez-Rey J et al.)

Whole Grains Linked with 37% Lower Risk of Liver Cancer

Hepatocellular carcinoma, a common type of liver cancer, has been on the rise in the US, and researchers wonder if eating habits might play a role. In a study of 125,455 adults followed for 24 years, those eating the most whole grains (33g per day, or about 2 servings) were 37% less likely to develop hepatocellular carcinoma than those eating the least whole grains (7g per day, or less than half a serving). When looking at the isolated relationship of fiber, bran, and germ, the results were not statistically significant, indicating that whole grains are greater than the sum of their parts.
JAMA Oncology. 2019 Feb 21. doi: 10.1001/jamaoncol.2018.7159. [Epub ahead of print] (Yang W et al.)

Mediterranean Diet May Improve Athletic Performance

Proper nutrition is increasingly becoming an important aspect of athletic training, and it is easy to see why. In a small study, 11 young adults ran a 5K after 4 days of eating a Mediterranean diet, and after 4 days of eating a typical Western diet. The 5K time after the Mediterranean diet was about 2 minutes faster than the race time after eating a Western diet. However, there were no significant differences in vertical jump height or hand grip strength between the 2 diets.
Journal of the American College of Nutrition. 2019 Feb 13:1-9. doi: 10.1080/07315724.2019.1568322. [Epub ahead of print] (Baker ME et al.)

Mediterranean Diet Linked with Lower Risk of Bladder Cancer

While there have been several studies investigating the link between specific foods or food groups and the risk of bladder cancer, studies investigating overall diet patterns are limited. In this analysis, researchers pooled data from 13 studies investigating the link between diet and bladder cancer. They analyzed the diet of over 600,000 participants to evaluate how closely the participants follow the Mediterranean diet. The researchers found that participants who most closely followed the Mediterranean diet had a significantly lower risk of bladder cancer than those who did not follow the diet. The researchers believe that the high intake of plant-based foods and olive oil in the Mediterranean diet may have a protective effect against bladder cancer due to the antioxidants and vitamins present in these foods.
European Journal of Nutrition. 2019 Feb 8. doi: 10.1007/s00394-019-01907-8. (Witlox WJA, et al)

Whole Grains and Fiber Linked with Lower Risk of Many Diseases

Whole grains are one of the most popular food sources of fiber, and both whole grains and fiber are important for overall health. In this study, researchers analyzed data from more than 200 studies encompassing 4,635 participants to better understand fiber and whole grains’ relationship with disease prevention. Fiber was linked with a 15-30% lower risk of heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, colorectal cancer, and death, with similar findings for whole grains. The researchers noted a dose-response relationship for both whole grains and fiber, indicating that those who eat the most may confer an even greater benefit.
The Lancet. 2019 Feb 02;393(10170):434-445. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(18)31809-9 (Reynolds A et al.)

EAT-Lancet Commission Outlines a Healthy, Sustainable Diet

Diet is intimately linked both to human and environmental health. In this article, a commission of distinguished scientists from different fields set out to examine the components of a healthy diet and the link between diet and environmental health. Through an extensive review of literature, the researchers found that an ideal diet that meets basic nutritional needs and can be sustainably produced is mostly plant-based. Specifically, this diet is based around about 11 ounces vegetables, 9 ounces of dairy foods (a little over a cup of milk) 8 ounces of whole grains (about 8 servings, such as a slice of bread or a ½ cup cooked grains), 7 ounces of fruit, 3 ounces of legumes, 2 ounces of nuts, and an optional 2 ounces of other animal foods (like eggs, poultry, or meat) per day. The authors suggest that a global shift towards these dietary principles can prevent approximately 11 million deaths per year, and can sustainably produce enough food for the growing population without further damage to the environment.
Lancet.  2019 Feb 2;393(10170):447-492. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(18)31788-4. (Willett W et al)

Combining Statins with Mediterranean Diet Linked with Lower Risk of Death from Heart Disease

Statins are a type of cholesterol lowering medication often prescribed to patients with heart disease. To see how diet might impact the effectiveness of statins, researchers analyzed the eating habits and health outcomes of 1,180 older adults with heart disease for 8 years. Those most closely following a Mediterranean Diet were 30% less likely to die from heart disease over the study period. However, statins only reduced heart disease death risk when taken in combination with the Mediterranean diet. Furthermore, the patients taking statins in combination with a Mediterranean diet had a 50% lower risk of dying of heart disease than those just using one approach (diet or medicine). The researchers suspect that this synergistic effect may be due to the anti-inflammatory effects of the Mediterranean Diet. 
International Journal of Cardiology.  2019 Feb 1;276:248-254. doi: 10.1016/j.ijcard.2018.11.117. (Bonaccio M et al.)

Mediterranean Diet Linked with Lower Risk of Parkinson's Disease

Parkinson’s disease is a disorder of the nervous system that can cause stiffness and tremors, and make movement difficult. In a study of 1,731 elderly adults, those most closely following a Mediterranean Diet had a 21% lower probability of showing early signs of Parkinson’s Disease (prodromal Parkinson’s disease) than those not following a Mediterranean diet.
Movement Disorders. 2019 Jan;34(1):48-57. doi: 10.1002/mds.27489. (Maraki MI et al.)

Sprouted Triticale May Benefit Blood Sugar Management

Whole grains contain fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, and sprouting grains may make these compounds more available. In this study, researchers fed volunteers a meal of sprouted whole wheat, sprouted whole grain triticale, or sugar and compared how these foods affected the volunteers blood sugar and insulin levels. People who ate the sprouted triticale had lower levels of blood sugar and insulin than those who ate sugar; the volunteers who ate sprouted wheat had lower blood sugar than those who had just sugar, but there was no difference in insulin response. Both grains were associated with improved blood sugar control, however this effect was strongest in the sprouted triticale group. This study indicates that whole grain triticale may be especially beneficial to blood sugar management.
Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism. 2019 Jan 10;2019:6594896. doi: 10.1155/2019/6594896. (Meija et al.)

Replacing White Rice with Whole Grain Bread May Lower Diabetes Risk

White rice has displaced many traditional whole grains across Asia, so researchers wonder how white rice might relate to diabetes risk. In a study of 45,411 Chinese adults followed for 11 years, researchers found that replacing white rice with white bread and whole grain bread can reduce type 2 diabetes risk by 10% and 18% respectively, and that replacing white rice with noodles, red meat, or poultry might actually increase diabetes risk. Rice intake itself was not associated with higher type 2 diabetes. The authors conclude that “recommendations to reduce high white rice consumption in Asian populations for the prevention of [type 2 diabetes] may only be effective if substitute foods are considered carefully.”
European Journal of Nutrition. 2018 Dec 10. doi: 10.1007/s00394-018-1879-7. [Epub ahead of print] (Seah JYH et al.)

Red Meat Linked with Risk Factor for Heart Disease

TMAO is a potentially dangerous metabolite linked with heart attacks and stroke, so researchers wonder how diet can impact the amount of TMAO that our bodies produce. In this study, researchers assigned 113 adults to a high-saturated fat or low-saturated fat diet for 4 weeks, with a washout period before switching to the other diet. Interestingly, saturated fat did not impact TMAO. However, eating lots of red meat (but not white meat or nonmeat) was linked with significantly higher levels of TMAO through 3 different mechanisms (nutrient density of TMA precursors, increased production from carnitine, and reduced TMAO excretion).
European Heart Journal. 2018 Dec 10. doi: 10.1093/eurheartj/ehy799. (Wang Z et al.)

Mediterranean Diet Linked with ¼ Lower Heart Disease Risk in Women

The Mediterranean diet is closely linked with heart health, and researchers want to learn more about the underlying mechanisms behind this connection. In this study researchers analyzed the diet and health outcomes of 25,994 women for 12 years. Those most closely following a Mediterranean diet were 28% less likely to develop heart disease than those not following a Mediterranean diet. Even those who were only moderately following a Mediterranean diet had a 23% lower risk of heart disease, indicating that even small lifestyle changes can have a meaningful impact on health. The researchers suspect that part of the heart health benefits may be related to lower inflammation, as women most closely following the Mediterranean diet had significantly lower levels of biomarkers of inflammation. Other factors shown to affect the relationship between the Mediterranean diet and heart health are the Mediterranean diet’s links to blood sugar management, BMI, blood pressure, and cholesterol.
JAMA Network Open. 2018 Dec 7;1(8):e185708. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2018.5708 (Ahmad S et al.)

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