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scale, weightThere has been a debate going on for a while about what is better for weight loss: intermittent fasting (eating only during designated time periods, without calorie counting) or actually cutting back calories. One recent study examined this issue and found that...drum roll.... the frequency of meals (and calories) a person eats every day is more important for weight loss than intermittent fasting.

Main finding: Large or moderately sized meals (no matter when eaten) were associated with weight gain over the 6 year period of the study, while eating fewer, small meals were associated with weight loss. In other words, the number of meals eaten each day and meal sizes (calories), and not their timing, was most important in determining weight gain or loss.

The results did not support intermittent fasting (time-restricted eating) as a weight loss strategy. Instead, focus on calorie intake. Bummer... You didn't think it would be easy, did you?

Excerpts from Science Daily: Reducing total calories may be more effective for weight loss than intermittent fasting

The frequency and size of meals was a stronger determinant of weight loss or gain than the time between first and last meal, according to new research published today in the Journal of the American Heart Association, an open access, peer-reviewed journal of the American Heart Association. ...continue reading "Study Finds Calorie Intake More Important Than Timing of Meals For Weight Gain or Loss"

Choline appears to be a neglected nutrient. It is essential for healthy brain functioning, yet researchers of a recent study say the great majority of us do not get the recommended daily intake of choline in our diet. They suggest that this could be causing harm to our health, including the brain.

They also pointed out that since eggs and meat are the best dietary source, people on restricted or vegan diets are especially at risk of a choline deficiency. It is not found in most multivitamins.

The  Arizona State Univ. researchers found that choline deficiency is involved with multiple health problems throughout the body (e.g., inflammation, insulin production, cardiovascular disease, brain function) and even Alzheimer's disease. Their study was conducted on mice, but they felt similar processes occurred in humans.

Good dietary sources of choline: eggs, meat, dairy products, poultry, and fish. Lower amounts are in nuts, beans, potatoes, and cruciferous vegetables (e.g., broccoli).

Related to all this is that one should also try to lower intake of anti-cholinergic medications, if possible. Studies find that their use is linked to cognitive decline and dementia - they block the action of the brain neurotransmitter acetylcholine (which is produced by choline).

Excerpts from Science Daily: Study explores effects of dietary choline deficiency on neurologic and system-wide health

Choline, an essential nutrient produced in small amounts in the liver and found in foods including eggs, broccoli, beans, meat and poultry, is a vital ingredient for human health. A new study explores deficiency in dietary choline adversely affects the body and may be a missing piece in the puzzle of Alzheimer's disease.  ...continue reading "The Nutrient Choline Is Necessary For Brain Health"

The results from well done studies on vitamin D supplements have frequently been disappointing due to lack of health benefits. However, a recent study found that the risk of melanoma (a skin cancer) was significantly reduced in persons taking vitamin D supplements.

The Univ. of Eastern Finland researchers also found no link between vitamin D supplementation and facial photoaging, actinic keratoses, nevus count, basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma.

Just keep in mind that the people were not randomly selected  - these were self-selected groups, and thus this is a correlation study. There could be a reason other than vitamin D for the different outcomes.

From Science Daily: Fewer cases of melanoma among people taking vitamin D supplements

Fewer cases of melanoma were observed among regular users of vitamin D supplements than among non-users, a new study finds. People taking vitamin D supplements regularly also had a considerably lower risk of skin cancer, according to estimates by experienced dermatologists. The study, conducted in collaboration between the University of Eastern Finland and Kuopio University Hospital and published in Melanoma Research, included nearly 500 people with an increased risk of skin cancer. ...continue reading "Study Finds Vitamin D Supplements are Linked to Lower Risk of Melanoma"

Fast food Credit: Wikipedia

The results of a recent study may give extra motivation to those trying to cut back on the amount of fast food that they eat. The study found that consumption of fast food is linked to nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD).

The researchers found moderate increases in liver fat in everyone consuming  20% or more of daily calories from fast food (about 1 meal a day). They also found that obese individuals or people with diabetes who consume 20% or more of their daily calories from fast food had severely elevated levels of fat in their liver.

We already know that fast foods are associated with a greater risk of diabetes and heart disease, and now NAFLD can be added. It is thought that NAFLD affects 30% of the U.S. population!

According to the US National Institute of Health: "Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is a condition in which fat builds up in your liver. Nonalcoholic fatty liver (NAFL) and nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) are types of NAFLD. If you have NASH, you have inflammation and liver damage, along with fat in your liver."

What to do about this abnormal build up of fat in the liver? The only treatment is changing your diet and losing weight. A healthy diet is one rich in fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, seeds, and nuts. For example, a Mediterranean style diet.

From Science Daily: Consumption of fast food linked to liver disease

A study from Keck Medicine of USC published today in Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology gives people extra motivation to reduce fast-food consumption. ...continue reading "Fast Food and Liver Disease"

Some good news. A study found that frequent consumption of foods and beverages containing flavonoids by elderly women had health benefits. Flavonoids are compounds found naturally in plants, and that have health-promoting effects.

The 881 women (aged 78 to 82 years) in the Australian study were less likely to have abdominal aortic calcification (AAC) if they ingested high levels of flavonoids in their diet. This is significant because AAC is a major predictor of cardiovascular disease events, such as heart attacks, strokes, and death.

Drinking black tea daily was their major source of flavonoids. Drinking 2 to 6 cups a day lowered the risk of having extensive AAC.

Good flavonoid sources are: black tea, green tea, wine, apples, nuts, citrus fruits, berries, grapes, onions, broccoli, kale, parsley, and dark chocolate. There are different types of flavonoids, each with different health-promoting effects. This is why it's good to eat a variety of fruits and vegetables.

From Science Daily: Put the kettle on! How black tea (and other favorites) may help your health later in life

A daily cup of tea could help you to enjoy better health late in life -- however if you're not a tea drinker, there are other things you can add to your diet. ...continue reading "Drinking Tea Every Day Has Health Benefits"

Some dietary supplements can do serious harm, especially when taken in high doses. A recent study found cancer associated with high doses of the supplement nicotinamide riboside (NR), which is a form of vitamin B3.

Keep in mind that this study was done in vivo and in vitro (in a lab), and also in mice.. and not humans. But the results are concerning.

Swiss and Univ. of Missouri researchers found that high levels of NT could increase the risk of developing triple-negative breast cancer, and also for it to metastasize to the brain. Yikes.

By the way, while NR can be purchased as a supplement, it is normally not found in ordinary multi-vitamins that many take daily. Low levels of NR are found in fruit, vegetables, meat, and milk - it is necessary for health (it increases levels of cellular energy). It's the large amounts found in supplements that the researchers were concerned with and that can be problematic.

Stay tuned for further research...

From Science Daily: Popular dietary supplement increases breast cancer risk, brain metastasis, study suggests

While previous studies have linked commercial dietary supplements like nicotinamide riboside (NR), a form of vitamin B3, to benefits related to cardiovascular, metabolic and neurological health, new research from the University of Missouri has found NR could actually increase the risk of serious disease, such as development of breast cancer and brain metastasis. ...continue reading "A Dietary Supplement That Might Increase Cancer Risk"

Honey
Credit: USDA

Great news for those who like honey! Even though honey is really sweet (lots of sugars!), eating it actually helps your health. Univ. of Toronto researchers analyzed 18 well done studies and found that honey improved key measures of cardiometabolic health, including blood sugar and cholesterol levels.

These results are interesting because they contrast with other research finding a high intake of sugars (e.g., sugar, high fructose corn syrup, soda) contributing to obesity, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. Unfortunately, most regulatory agencies, including the World Health Organization, the Heart and Stroke Foundation, and the FDA (US Food and Drug Administration), include honey within their definition of free or added sugars. And advise limiting intake.

However, honey is not like other sugars. Honey has a complex composition of organic acids, minerals, vitamins, enzymes, proteins, amino acids, and bioactive substances. Rare sugars constitute around 14% of the sugar content of honey. Raw honey also contains probiotic bacteria.

All sorts of studies (in vitro, animal, clinical) have shown that honey has health benefits for cardiometabolic health. Among these benefits are improvements in body weight, inflammation, lipid profile, and glycemic control.

What kind is best? The Univ. of Toronto researchers found that the best health results are found with consumption of raw honey, clover honey, and robinia honey. In other words, honey that is not processed (raw honey) or from only 1 floral source (e.g., clover, acacia/robinia).

How much is best? The median dose consumed was 40 g or about 2 tablespoons daily, usually added to foods or beverages as a sweetener (e.g., in tea, mixed with yogurt, spread on bread) . Enjoy!

From Science Daily: Sweet: Honey reduces cardiometabolic risks, study shows

Researchers at the University of Toronto have found that honey improves key measures of cardiometabolic health, including blood sugar and cholesterol levels -- especially if the honey is raw and from a single floral source.  ...continue reading "Study Finds Health Benefits From Eating Honey"

Soda Credit: Wikipedia

All of us should be concerned about harmful health effects from a sedentary lifestyle, along with drinking lots of sugary soda. However, according to a (very) small study, ten days of adopting this lifestyle seems to have more of a negative effect on healthy young men than on women, at least in the short term.

Even just 10 days of reducing physical activity (from greater than 10,000 steps to less than 5000 steps per day) and increasing soda intake (to 6 cans a day!) was enough to have a negative effect on insulin levels (vascular insulin resistance) in healthy young men. But the Univ. of Missouri researchers found no real effect on the young women.

From Medical Xpress: Sedentary lifestyle and sugary diet more detrimental to men, study finds

A new study from the University of Missouri School of Medicine is the first evidence in humans that short-term lifestyle changes can disrupt the response to insulin of blood vessels. It's also the first study to show men and women react differently to these changes. ...continue reading "Ten Days of Unhealthy Lifestyle Has Greater Effect on Young Men than Women"

Eating nuts is good for your health. A study conducted in the UK found that eating either a handful (56 grams) of whole or ground almonds every day for 4 weeks significantly increased the production of butyrate, a short-chain fatty acid that promotes gut health.

The study participants were persons eating a typical Western diet - low in fiber (less than the recommended amount), and with daily unhealthy snacks (chips, crisps, candy). The control group ate a muffin instead of almonds, and showed no improvements over the 4 weeks of the study. None of the 3 groups had significant changes at the microbiome level, which wasn't surprising because the rest of their diets stayed the same.

In other words, in a person who normally eats a typical Western diet - eating an additional handful of nuts daily helps with butyrate production (good!) and provides extra nutrients. But it's not enough of a dietary change to have a significant effect on the microbiome. For gut microbiome improvement need to add some fermented foods and more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, seeds, legumes, and nuts.

From Science Daily: Snacking on almonds boosts gut health, study finds

Eating a handful of almonds a day significantly increases the production of butyrate, a short-chain fatty acid that promotes gut health. ...continue reading "Almonds Are Good For You"

It seems that every so often another study finds that daily coffee consumption is healthy for a person. A recent large study found that daily drinking of 2 to 3 cups coffee is associated with a lower risk of early death (from any cause) and lower risk of cardiovascular  disease, when compared to non-coffee drinkers.

The University of Melbourne researchers also found that drinking ground and instant coffee, but not decaffeinated coffee, was associated with a reduction in arrhythmias including atrial fibrillation. In this study cardiovascular disease included heart disease, congestive heart failure, and ischemic stroke.

More good news - it applied to all types of coffee (ground, decaffeinated, and instant). However, when looking at the study results, ground coffee appears to be more beneficial than decaf or instant coffee. Two to three cups of coffee per day appeared to be the most beneficial.

The researchers point out that coffee contains more than 100 biologically active components, which are contributing to its health effects.[Other coffee studies] They also said that mild to moderate coffee consumption should be considered part of a heart healthy lifestyle. Great news!

From Science Daily: Coffee drinking is associated with increased longevity

Drinking two to three cups of coffee a day is linked with a longer lifespan and lower risk of cardiovascular disease compared with avoiding coffee, according to research published today in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology, a journal of the ESC.1 The findings applied to ground, instant and decaffeinated varieties. ...continue reading "Coffee Drinking Linked to Longer Life and Lower Risk of Heart Disease"