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  • Vitamin C Associated with Lowering One Risk Factor for Alzheimer’s Disease

    Thursday, June 21, 2018
    New Science
    Vitamin C Associated with Lowering One Risk Factor for Alzheimer’s Disease
    ×

    A study found low levels of vitamin C may be associated with thickened arteries—a potential marker of vascular damage and a possible risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease. For the study, published in the Journal of Neural Transmission, researchers looked at the blood levels of antioxidants—specifically, vitamins A, C, E, as well as certain enzymes—in older people with no or mild cognitive impairment. Researchers then measured the thickness of the inner two layers (the intima and the media) of the participants’ carotid artery. Here is what they found:

    • Participants with a thicker carotid artery had lower vitamin C blood levels.
    • Participants with a thicker carotid artery also had lower vitamin E blood levels, but the relationship was not linear, as it was for vitamin C.

    Therefore, the researchers concluded that, “An adequate vitamin C status might be particularly important for protection against Alzheimer’s disease and other clinical manifestations of vascular and cognitive aging.” Of course, more research is needed to determine whether low vitamin C levels cause arteries to thicken, or whether low levels are an effect of whatever factors lead to such thickening. Also, it should be noted that this study did not examine Alzheimer’s disease directly; more research would be needed to show a causal relationship between low vitamin C levels and Alzheimer’s disease.

    Source: Journal of Neural Transmission

  • Stronger Girls May Have Higher Vitamin D Levels

    Wednesday, June 20, 2018
    New Science
    Stronger Girls May Have Higher Vitamin D Levels
    ×

    Parents, now you have one more reason to keep a strong grip on your girls’ vitamin D levels: a study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism found higher levels of vitamin D were associated with greater muscle strength in five-year-old girls. The study included data from 881 children participating in the Odense Child Cohort—a Danish population-based study that has been monitoring the health of participating children since before they were born. When the children were five years old, researchers measured their blood vitamin D levels, hand grip strength, incidence of muscle tissue diseases, and body metrics like weight, height, and fat percentage, and found that:

    • Girls with vitamin D levels of 75nmol/L or higher had greater hand grip strength than girls with vitamin D levels below 50nmol/L—the cutoff for vitamin D insufficiency. This association was not seen in boys and was unrelated to body size or composition.
    • Girls with vitamin D sufficiency—50 nmol/L or higher—were 70% less likely to have muscle tissue diseases, compared with girls with vitamin D insufficiency or deficiency. This association was also not seen in boys.

    This study supports other research suggesting vitamin D intake—even during pregnancy—is important for children’s muscle development. To ensure your child is getting enough vitamin D, include fatty fish and vitamin D-fortified foods like milk and cereal in their diet. If your child is a picky eater or you are concerned about their vitamin D level, talk with their doctor. They may recommend a vitamin D supplement if their levels are subpar.

    Source: Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism

  • Higher-Fat DASH Diet Linked with Decreased Blood Pressure

    Tuesday, June 19, 2018
    New Science
    Higher-Fat DASH Diet Linked with Decreased Blood Pressure
    ×

    The DASH diet, which focuses on fruits, veggies, and low-fat dairy products, has topped the charts as the best overall diet for several years. More recently, research published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition may provide a reason to rethink DASH: a study found that an altered version of the DASH diet, which substituted full-fat for low-fat dairy products and further reduced sugars and fruit juices, provided some of the same health benefits as the original DASH diet. The study was performed in three-phases; in each phase, separated by two week wash-out periods, the 36 healthy participants were randomly assigned to eat one of three diets—the standard DASH diet, the high-fat DASH diet, or a control diet—for three weeks. The order of the diets for each participant was determined randomly. At the end of each phase, researchers measured the participants’ blood pressure, LDL ("bad") cholesterol, and other markers of cardiovascular disease. Here is what they found:

    • The standard DASH diet and the high-fat DASH diet had similar blood pressure lowering effects compared with the control diet.
    • Participants’ triglyceride levels were lower after eating the high-fat DASH diet than after eating the standard DASH diet.
    • The standard and high-fat DASH diets had similar effect on LDL cholesterol levels.

    These findings, which suggest a higher-fat version of DASH may be equally effective for lowering blood pressure, could make adherence to the diet easier and more palatable for some people for whom the original DASH diet was recommended. Future research is needed to tell us if the high-fat DASH diet is associated with some of the other health benefits previously seen with the standard DASH diet, such as lower risk of colorectal cancer and kidney stones. If you think you’re ready to DASH, consider your specific health goals and talk with your nutritionist or healthcare practitioner to find the right diet for you.

    Source: American Journal of Clinical Nutrition

  • Soy Isoflavones May Help Deepen Your Slumber

    Monday, June 18, 2018
    New Science
    Soy Isoflavones May Help Deepen Your Slumber
    ×

    If you’re coming up short on shuteye, you’ll want to train your tired eyes on this: research has discovered an association between isoflavones found in soybeans and better sleep. The study was published in Nutrition Journal and included 1,076 Japanese participants, ages 20 to 78. To assess their isoflavone intake, researchers asked the participants to estimate how often they had eaten tofu, fried tofu, and natto (fermented soybeans)—all soy-based foods typically rich in isoflavones—over the previous month. The participants also answered a survey regarding their sleep duration and quality (such as whether they felt refreshed after sleep) in that same month. After evaluating their answers and adjusting for factors such as age, sex, occupation, and coffee intake, researchers found that:

    • On average, people with the highest daily isoflavone intakes were 84% more likely to get an optimal amount of sleep (7 to 8 hours per day) and 78% more likely to have sufficient sleep quality than people with the lowest isoflavone intakes.

    These findings are supported by previous research in which isoflavone supplements improved sleep in post-menopausal women with insomnia; however, more research is needed before a direct link can be drawn between dietary isoflavones and better sleep. In addition to containing isoflavones that may promote better sleep, soy products are generally high in protein and low in fat, and may help prevent heart disease, diabetes, and metabolic syndrome. To boost your soy isoflavone intake, look for whole soybeans, roasted soy nuts, tofu, tempeh, soy flour, and soy milk.

    Source: Nutrition Journal

  • Ground Grains (Versus Whole) Might Still Be Good for You

    Friday, June 15, 2018
    Advice
    Ground Grains (Versus Whole) Might Still Be Good for You
    ×

    We all know what whole grains look like—a side of brown rice or a bowl of steel cut oats. We all have also seen foods, such as breads and pastas, that are marketed as being “whole grain.” But clearly there’s a difference between a bowl of steel cut oats and a loaf of bread made with grains that have been ground into flour. Is the latter really a whole grain product, and are you still going to get the health benefits associated with whole grains? According to the New York Times, the answers to these questions are: possibly and possibly.

    A whole grain product is one that uses all three parts of the grain—the bran (which contains fiber), germ (which contains important micronutrients like B vitamins), and endosperm (which contains carbs). If a food contains grains with all three parts, regardless of whether the grains are ground up, it may still be considered a whole grain product according to the Food and Drug Administration. And while the glycemic index goes up as the fiber goes down in such products, generally they’re still healthier than products made with very refined grains that are stripped of their bran and germ, such as white bread. While un-ground grains are probably the healthiest option, if you do buy a whole grain product that contains ground or processed grains, here are a few tips to keep in mind:

    • Make sure the product doesn’t have added sugars, and is stamped with a “whole grains” seal on the box.
    • As a general rule of thumb, stick with products that have 3 grams or more of fiber per serving.

    Source: New York Times

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The information presented by Healthnotes is for informational purposes only. It is based on scientific studies (human, animal, or in vitro), clinical experience, or traditional usage as cited in each article. The results reported may not necessarily occur in all individuals. Self-treatment is not recommended for life-threatening conditions that require medical treatment under a doctor's care. For many of the conditions discussed, treatment with prescription or over the counter medication is also available. Consult your doctor, practitioner, and/or pharmacist for any health problem and before using any supplements or before making any changes in prescribed medications. Information expires December 2018.