SEARCH HEALTH STUDIES

Delayed Gluten Introduction May Be Linked with Type 1 Diabetes Risk

In a study of 8,676 babies with a genetic risk for type 1 diabetes, researchers took blood samples every 3 months for at least 9 months after birth and analyzed their diet. Every 1-month delay in gluten introduction was linked with a significantly higher risk of the immune system attacking the pancreatic cells that are important for blood sugar regulation (as measured by islet autoimmunity) as well as higher levels of insulin autoantibodies, which are predictors of type 1 diabetes. In fact, introducing gluten after 9 months was linked with a 57% higher risk of islet autoimmunity than introducing gluten between 4-9 months of age. The researchers suggest that the timing of gluten be studied further, so that healthcare providers can more confidently suggest a recommended window.
Diabetes Care. 2018 Mar;41(3):522-530. (Uusitalo U et al.)

High Fiber Diet Promotes Select Gut Bacteria to Better Manage Diabetes

In line with many other countries, the usual care for patients with diabetes in China is education about balanced diets and blood sugar management strategies. In a small study, 43 patients with diabetes were randomly assigned to either these standard recommendations, or a high-fiber diet with whole grains and traditional Chinese medicinal foods. Both groups significantly improved their blood sugar (as measured by HbA1c) over the 12-week study, but significantly more people in the whole grain group (89% vs 50%) got their blood sugar to a well-managed level (HbA1c < 7%). To see how gut microbes might play a role, researchers also analyzed the gut bacteria of the participants. They found that the fiber from whole grains stimulated select bacteria to produce short chain fatty acids, which in turn, helped the body better manage blood sugar.
Science. 2018 March 9;6380(359):1151-1156. (Zhao L et al.)

Synthetic Folate (Found in Enriched Grains) Linked with Food Allergies in Kids

In the US, most refined grains are enriched with high levels of folic acid, to help prevent neural tube defects in children, such as spina bifida. However, new research raises questions about the benefits of high levels of synthetic folate in children. In a study of 1,394 children, the kids who developed food allergies were found to have higher levels of UMFA, which is a derivative of synthetic folate. The authors conclude that “more research is needed to conclude whether mothers should consider consuming different sources of folate, like leafy green vegetables, citrus fruits, beans or lentils instead of synthetic forms of folate.” (Note that findings presented at meetings are typically viewed as preliminary until they’ve been published in a peer-reviewed journal.)
Presented at American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, & Immunology Annual Meeting. Orlando, Florida. March 2-5, 2018.

Substituting Whole Grains for Refined Linked with Lower Risk of Death, Cancer Reoccurrence

The link between whole grains and colorectal cancer prevention is well established, but researchers wonder how this relationship plays out in patients who have already been diagnosed with colon cancer. In this study, researchers analyzed the eating habits and health status of 1,024 patients with stage III colon cancer. After 7 years, patients eating 3 or more servings of refined grains per day had a significantly higher risk of cancer reoccurrence or death from any cause. Replacing 1 serving of refined grains with 1 serving of whole grains daily was linked with a 23% lower risk of cancer reoccurrence or death from any cause. Eating 3 or more servings of whole grains daily trended towards lower risk as well, but the relationship was not statistically significant.
JNCI Cancer Spectrum. 2018 Feb;2(2):pky017. (Brown JC et al.)

Mediterranean Diet Linked with Lower Risk of Aggressive Prostate Cancer

Lifestyle habits, like diet, are an important part of a cancer-protective strategy. To see if diet relates to prostate cancer risk, researchers analyzed the eating habits of 754 men with prostate cancer, and 1,277 controls without prostate cancer. Those most closely following a Mediterranean diet were 34% less likely to have an aggressive form of prostate cancer than those not following a Mediterranean diet. A Western diet (filled with fast food, sweets, and red meat) and a prudent diet (filled with low fat dairy, juice, produce, and whole grains) were not found to be linked to prostate cancer risk.
Journal of Urology. 2018 Feb;199(2):430-437. (Castello A et al.)

Shifting the Wheat Breeding Process to Support Whole Grains

The infrastructure for wheat breeding & milling is largely set up to favor refined flour, rather than whole grain flour. In this article, researchers from Washington State University define new quality targets for wheat breeders that take into account fermentation, the bran and germ of the grain, protein strength, and flavor. They also note that different wheats are recommended for different products (pastry, breads, or noodles), and make recommendations for testing breeding lines on the farm to ensure that the new variety will work for farmers, millers, bakers, and consumers alike.
Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems. 2018 January 29. (Jones SS et al.) [Epub]

Mediterranean-Inspired Diet May Slow Cognitive Decline in Stroke Survivors

Stroke survivors are twice as likely to develop dementia compared to the general population. To see how diet relates to brain health in stroke survivors, researchers analyzed the eating patterns and brain function of 106 stroke survivors for more than 4 years. Those most closely following a “MIND diet” had a slower rate of cognitive decline than those who don’t follow a MIND diet. The MIND diet is a hybrid Mediterranean-DASH diet that emphasizes foods associated with brain health, including whole grains, green leafy vegetables, berries, nuts, olive oil, and fish. The Mediterranean diet is well-known for its brain benefits, so it’s not surprising that this new diet inspired by the Mediterranean diet is also showing promise for brain health. 
Presentation at the American Heart Association Meeting. Los Angeles, California. January 25, 2018. 

Whole Grains Linked with Healthier Arteries

Aortic stiffness, a thickening or hardening of the body’s main artery, naturally occurs due to aging but is accelerated by conditions like obesity and diabetes. Because aortic stiffness is a significant predictor of heart disease, heart failure and stroke, scientists wonder if lifestyle choices can help delay this progression. Researchers recruited 22 obese men to look at the stiffness of the aorta and ask questions about their dietary intake (e.g. fruits, vegetables, whole grains, meat, dairy, milk, etc.). Of all food choices, whole grains were the only factor significantly associated with less aortic stiffness.
Nutrition. 2018 Jan;45:32-36. (Campbell M et al.)

How Whole Grains May Improve Your Gut Bacteria

The microbiome is increasingly under study, and researchers are especially interested in what the bacteria are doing in the body. Given that whole grains are full of diverse types of fiber including resistant starch and non-starch polysaccharide, researchers hypothesize that this whole grain fiber feeds intestinal bacteria and in turn, the bacteria produce molecules that are beneficial for myriad reasons. Chemicals produced by gut bacteria including various fatty acids may contribute to health by reducing tumor growth of colon cells, strengthening the immune system, and regulating the hormones that affect appetite. The researchers also note that several human and animal studies support this exciting hypothesis.
Food Research International. 2018 Jan;103:84-102. (Gong L et al.)

Great Potential for Using Teff in Food Products

Teff, a gluten-free grain native to the Horn of Africa, is best known as the base of injera bread, the spongy Ethiopian flatbread. Despite its huge potential, especially in gluten-free cuisine, teff products only make up a small percentage of the overall grain market. In this study, researchers analyze how teff affects the taste and texture of various food products, including bread, pasta, cookies, injera, and beverages. They also found that teff improves the nutrition of food products, providing fiber, iron, protein, and other essential nutrients, and note that teff is well-suited for harsh and dry environmental climates, like those found in India and China. In short, the authors conclude that “there is great potential to adapt teff to the other parts of the world for healthy food and beverage production.”
Food Chemistry. 2018 Jan 15;239:402-415. (Zhu F et al.)

Whole Grains Linked with Longer Lives

From Sardinia, Italy, to Nicoya, Costa Rice some of the longest-lived people in the world enjoy a diet filled with whole grains. To better understand this relationship, researchers analyzed data from 19 cohort studies encompassing more than one million participants. They found that each one-ounce daily serving of whole grains was associated with a 14% lower risk of death from heart disease, a 3% lower risk of death from cancer, and a 9% lower risk of total mortality.
European Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2018 Jan;72(1):57-65. (Zhang B et al.)

Healthy Diet Associated with Less Severe Symptoms in MS

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a condition in which the immune system attacks the nerves. Because the symptoms and severity vary widely from patient to patient, researchers wonder whether lifestyle changes might help with disease management. In a study of 6,989 patients with multiple sclerosis, those eating a healthy diet (defined as lots of fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains, and only small amounts of sugars and red/processed meat) were less likely to report having disability and depression. Additionally, an overall healthy lifestyle (based on diet, physical activity, smoking, and weight) was associated with less fatigue, depression, pain and cognitive impairment. 
Neurology. 2018 Jan 2;90(1):e1-e11. (Fitzgerald KC et al.)

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