SEARCH HEALTH STUDIES

Demand for More Whole Grains in Senior Care 

Fiber is important for the elderly to help prevent constipation and improve quality of life, and yet many older adults are falling short on fiber. In this study, 681 dietitians working in long-term (elderly) care answered questionnaires exploring barriers to whole grain consumption for older adults. Overall, 89.5% of dietitians reported that they would like to serve more whole grains. Twenty seven percent of dietitians reported that cost was a barrier to serving whole grains in long term care, and yet 75% of dietitians report that their patients need fiber supplements, averaging upwards of $11-20 a month per patient. Given that whole grains are a natural source of fiber, whole grains may be able to offset some of the cost of fiber supplementation. Other factors influencing the decision to purchase whole grains included dietary needs (such as special considerations for kidney disease), existing food contracts, nutritional content, and acceptance by residents.
Journal of Nutrition in Gerontology and Geriatrics. 2017 Oct-Dec;36(4):178-188. (Coffman CA et al.)

Certain Rye Products Are Especially Satiating

Rye has long been studied for its satiating properties, but researchers wonder why rye leaves you feeling fuller for longer, and whether certain rye products are more filling than others. To test these differences, researchers provided various whole grain rye products (sourdough bread, flakes, puffs, and smoothies – each with the same number of calories) to 26 participants, who resumed their usual diet and exercise routine for two days between each intake of the rye samples. The rye puffs and rye bread, which have a porous structure, were the most filling, whereas the liquid beverage was the least filling. The porous structure of the rye puffs and bread is thought to stretch and fill up the stomach, signaling to your body that you’re satisfied.
Food Quality and Preference. 2017 September;60:178-187. (Pentikainen S et al.)

Healthy Eating in Mid-Adulthood Linked with Healthier Body Composition Down the Road

It is never too late to begin the journey to healthy eating. In fact, adopting healthier habits in mid-adulthood may be especially important. To see the effect diet has on body fat distribution, researchers analyzed the eating patterns of approximately 2,000 adults (average age = 48 years), and then assessed their body composition 20 years later. Those with higher-quality diets in mid-adulthood (most closely following a Mediterranean Diet, DASH Diet, or scoring higher on the Healthy Eating Index – all of which prioritize vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and legumes, and limit sweets and processed or red meats) had lower total body fat and a lower BMI, which are critical in chronic disease prevention. Following a high-quality diet, such as the Mediterranean diet, over a period of time is important to maintain a healthy level of body fat and to prevent fat tissue from accumulating in the liver.
Obesity. 2017 Aug;25(8):1442-1450. (Maskarinec G et al.)

Mediterranean Diet Linked with Improved Cognitive Performance in Elderly

As global life expectancy grows, dementia is an increasing concern. Healthy eating patterns like the Mediterranean Diet are thought to help decrease the risk of such diseases. Researchers recently analyzed the diets of 1,865 Greek adults over the age of 64 as part of The Hellenic Longitudinal Investigation of Ageing and Diet (HELIAD) study. The researchers concluded that closer adherence to the Mediterranean Diet may be associated with improved cognitive performance—particularly memory—and lower dementia rates. Fish and whole grains in particular were singled out for their association with cognitive benefits.
PLOS One. 2017 August 1. 12(8): e0182048. (Anastasiou CA et al.)

Mediterranean Diet Linked with Lower Risk of Gallbladder Removal

Cholecystectomy, or the removal of the gallbladder, is a common treatment for gallstones, which affect 10-15% of the adult population. Some studies suggest that foods typical of the Western diet (high in calories, cholesterol, etc.) may increase the risk of gallstone disease. Researchers analyzed whether a healthful diet, like the Mediterranean diet, could potentially prevent cholecystectomy in a group of 64,052 French women. They found that those more closely following the Mediterranean diet had a lower risk of cholecystectomy. Specifically, a higher intake of legumes, fruit, vegetable oil, and whole grain bread was associated with a lower cholecystectomy risk, and a higher intake of ham was associated with a higher risk.
American Journal of Gastroenterology. 25 July 2017. [Epub ahead of print.] (Barré A et al.)

Healthy Plant-Based Diets Linked with Lower Risk of Coronary Heart Disease

Wholesome plant foods are the foundation of a healthy diet, but not all “vegetarian” foods are equally nutritious. To see how different variations of plant-based diets relate to the risk of developing coronary heart disease (when plaque builds and hardens in the heart’s major blood vessels and decreases blood flow), researchers analyzed data detailing what more than 200,000 people ate over 20 years and separated people into three versions of plant based diets: overall plant-based diet (includes all plant foods and some animal foods), healthful plant-based diet (includes healthy plant foods like whole grains, fruits, and vegetables), and unhealthful plant-based diet (includes sugar-sweetened drinks and refined grains). Not surprisingly, they found that the second choice – eating fewer animal foods and more healthy plant foods – was linked with a lower risk of developing coronary heart disease, while eating more animal foods and more unhealthy plant foods was linked with an increased chance of developing coronary heart disease.
Journal of the American College of Cardiology. 2017 July; 70(4):411-422. (Satija et al.)

Low-Carb Diet Not Well Suited for Those Without Diabetes, Pre-Diabetes

While there is no one-size-fits-all weight loss plan that works for everyone, it seems that a low Glycemic Load or low carbohydrate diet makes little difference for most people who don’t have diabetes (or pre-diabetes). Researchers analyzed data from 3 different experiments (high Glycemic load vs low Glycemic Load, lots of whole grains vs few whole grains, and low fat vs. low carbohydrate) and noted whether the weight change differed between people with insulin sensitivity issues (such as diabetes or pre-diabetes). Eating a high Glycemic Load diet resulted in significantly more weight gain in people whose bodies don’t respond well to insulin (the hormone that helps control blood sugar), compared to those without insulin sensitivity issues. Similarly, people with insulin sensitivity problems lost more weight on a New Nordic Diet (high in whole grains) or a high-fat, low-carbohydrate diet. However, people without diabetes or pre-diabetes lost more weight on a high-carbohydrate, low-fat diet.  
American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2017 July 5. [Epub ahead of print.] (Hjorth MF et al.)

 

Healthy Diets (Like Med Diet) Associated with Longer Lives

Can an apple a day keep the grim-reaper away – at least for a while? To find out how diet relates to mortality, researchers analyzed the diets of 47,994 women and 25,745 men. They used scores from the Alternate Healthy Eating Index, the Alternate Mediterranean Diet, and the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet to determine diet quality. They found that a 20-percentile increase in any of these three diet-quality scores was associated with a reduced risk of death from any cause. Specifically, a 20-percentile increase in diet-quality score was associated with a 25% reduced risk of death from cardiovascular disease when assessed by the Alternate Healthy Eating Index, 7% when assessed by the Mediterranean Diet score, and 4% when assessed by the DASH score. Overall, a healthful diet full of whole grains, vegetables, fruit, and fish is linked with a longer life.
New England Journal of Medicine. 3 July 2017;377(2):143-153. (Sotos-Prieto M et al.)

Vegetable Protein Linked with Lower Risk of Early Menopause

Early menopause is linked with health risks, like heart disease, so strategies to prolong fertile years in women are an important area of research. In a study of 85 women, women with the highest plant protein intake had a 16% lower risk of early menopause (defined as menopause before age 45) compared to women with the lowest intake in the group. Plant foods with protein include beans, peas, nuts, seeds, lentils, whole grains and soy foods. Overall animal protein intake was unrelated to risk of early menopause, but red meat intake was associated with a 12% higher risk of early menopause. Additionally, one serving per day of pasta, dark bread, or cold cereal was also associated with lower risk of early menopause, at 36%, 7%, and 18%, respectively.
American Journal of Epidemiology. 2017 June 24. [Epub ahead of print] (Boutot ME et al.)

Whole Grain Foods Improve Blood Sugar Management After Meals

Whole grains are thought to help prevent type 2 diabetes, but researchers want to learn more about this protective effect. In a review of 14 randomized controlled studies, scientists found that whole grain foods led to better post-meal blood sugar management than refined grain foods. However, the medium- and long-term effects (6 weeks or more) on fasting blood sugar were not significantly different between whole grain and refined grain meals. 
Nutrients. 2017 Jul 19;9(7). pii: E769. (Marventano S et al.)

Workplace Mediterranean Diet Program Improves Food Choices among Workers

Even in Italy, workers are starting to opt for unhealthy Western food choices, in place of traditional Mediterranean meals. To combat this trend, researchers in Italy piloted a health program within worksite cafeterias of a large industrial corporation. Handouts, posters, and other promotional material decorated the cafeteria to encourage consumption of healthy foods like vegetables and whole grains. Nutritionists also worked with the food service staff to modify recipes to make them healthier. At the end of the pilot, after analyzing food choices from 738 employees (half office workers, half plant workers) there was a higher purchase rate of dishes based on whole grains, legumes, fish, and poultry and a lower purchase rate of dishes based on refined grains, red meats, eggs and cheese. This trend persisted up to three years after the intervention. There was also better adherence to the national Italian recommendations for saturated fat, cholesterol, sugars and fiber after the study. The authors conclude that this could be a good model for other workplace nutrition programs, especially given that it cost the employer very little, and did not take up too much of the foodservice employees’ time.
International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition. 2017 Jun;69(1):117-124. (Vitale M et al.)

Substituting Refined Grains with Whole Grains During Gestational Diabetes Linked with Less Childhood Obesity

Foods that moms choose during pregnancy may have an impact on their children’s health down the line. In a study of more than 500 mother-child pairs in Denmark, in which all of the moms were diagnosed with gestational diabetes (diabetes during pregnancy), Harvard researchers found that substituting 1 serving of refined grains per day with whole grains in the mom’s diet during pregnancy was associated with a 10% lower risk of the child being overweight or obese at age 7. They also found that eating more than 4.3 servings of refined grains per day during pregnancy was linked with nearly double the risk of children becoming overweight or obese at age 7 compared to those who ate fewer than 1.8 servings of refined grains per day. These results were especially strong in kids who were breastfed for less than 6 months.
American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2017 June 7. [Epub ahead of print.] (Zhu Y et al.)

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