Feb. 5, 2013 — The overall pattern of food that a person eats is more important to a healthy diet than focusing on single foods or individual nutrients, according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics in its newly updated position paper “Total Diet Approach to Healthy Eating.”
According to the position paper: “In contrast to the total diet approach, classification of specific foods as ‘good’ or ‘bad’ is overly simplistic and may foster unhealthy eating behaviors.” The Academy’s position paper stresses that moderation, portion size and exercise are the key concepts for balancing food and beverage intakes.
The position paper has been published in the February Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and can be found on the Academy’s website. It states: It is the position of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics that the total diet or overall pattern of food eaten is the most important focus of healthy eating. All foods can fit within this pattern, if consumed in moderation with appropriate portion size and combined with physical activity. The Academy strives to communicate healthy eating messages that emphasize a balance of food and beverages within energy needs, rather than any one food or meal.
The Academy’s position paper has been updated to reflect the most current nutrition guidance, such as the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans and the USDA’s MyPlate food guidance system; the White House’s Let’s Move! campaign to reduce childhood obesity and Healthy People 2020. Each of these public policies and dietary patterns supports the total diet approach.
According to the position paper, while studies including the Academy’s “Nutrition and You” national consumer survey show Americans are “conscious of the importance of healthy diets and physical activity,” most people do not meet the recommendations of the Dietary Guidelines. For example, large majorities do not eat fruit (68 percent) or vegetables (74 percent) more than twice a day, and a substantial number (36 percent) engage in no leisure-time physical activity.
In that environment, according to the Academy: “Labeling specific foods in an overly simplistic manner as ‘good foods’ and ‘bad foods’ is not only inconsistent with the total diet approach, but it may cause many people to abandon efforts to make dietary improvements.”
The position paper adds: “In 2011, 82 percent of U.S. adults cited not wanting to give up foods they like as a reason for not eating healthier. For these reasons, the concepts of moderation and proportionality are necessary components of a practical, action-oriented understanding of the total diet approach.”
The Academy’s position paper notes that the most recent Dietary Reference Intakes use a total diet approach because it allows for a broad range of foods to meet a person’s nutrition needs over time. Therefore, a person can make diet choices based on individual preferences, genetic background, personal health status and food availability.
The position paper was written by registered dietitians Jeanne Freeland-Graves, Bess Heflin Centennial Professor in the department of nutritional sciences at the University of Texas — Austin; and Susan Nitzke, professor emerita and extension specialist in nutritional sciences at the University of Wisconsin — Madison.
The Academy’s position paper contains advice and recommendations for health professionals as well as consumers. It explains how food and nutrition practitioners can use behavioral theories and models to develop effective nutrition communications; and how food and beverage choices are affected by multiple factors that influence people’s ability to make use of expert advice on healthy eating.
Updated sections of the position paper look at new indicators of nutrient quality, such as the Nutrient Rich Food Index, the European Union Nutrient Profiling System and the Overall Nutrient Quality Index. In addition, the Social Ecological model, used in the Dietary Guidelines, is incorporated into the Academy’s position as “a guide for understanding why we eat what we do.”
According to the Academy’s position paper: “Food and nutrition practitioners have a responsibility to communicate unbiased food and nutrition information that is culturally sensitive, scientifically accurate, medically appropriate and tailored to the needs and preferences of the target audience. Some health and nutrition professionals and many ‘pseudo-experts’ promote specific types of foods to choose or avoid. A more responsible and effective approach is to help consumers understand and apply the principles of healthy diet and lifestyle choices. Unless there are extenuating circumstances (severe cognitive or physical limitations), the total diet approach is preferred because it is more consistent with research on effective communication and inclusive of cultural/personal differences.”
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Feb. 1, 2013 — A study by researchers at the Institute for Aging Research (IFAR) at Hebrew SeniorLife, an affiliate of Harvard Medical School (HMS), has found that dairy intake — specifically milk and yogurt — is associated with higher bone mineral density (BMD) in the hip, but not the spine. Cream, on the other hand, may be associated with lower BMD overall. Published February 1 in the journal Archives of Osteoporosis, these findings suggest that not all dairy products are equally beneficial in promoting bone strength.
“Dairy foods provide several important nutrients that are beneficial for bone health,” says lead author Shivani Sahni, Ph.D., Musculoskeletal Research Team, IFAR. “However, cream and its products such as ice cream have lower levels of these nutrients and have higher levels of fat and sugar. In this study, 2.5 — 3 servings of milk and yogurt intake per day were associated with better bone density. More research is needed to examine the role of cheese intake (some of which can be high in fat and sodium), and whether individual dairy foods have a significant impact in reducing fractures.”
IFAR researchers based their findings on data collected from a food frequency questionnaire completed by 3,212 participants from the Framingham Offspring study. They then compared participants’ dairy intake with BMD measurement, which revealed the benefits of milk and yogurt versus cream in largely middle-aged men and women. According to the study, nutrient composition varies among dairy foods. Choosing low-fat milk or yogurt over cream can increase intake of protein, calcium and vitamin D while limiting intake of saturated fats.
This study is an example of a growing area of research focused on the relationship between nutrition and bone health. Past studies suggest that dairy products contain more than one beneficial nutrient, and for this reason certain dairy products may contribute towards maintaining healthier bones.
Research like this supports the idea that proper nutrition can help combat osteoporosis and fractures. Osteoporosis is considered a major public health threat for an estimated 44 million Americans, or half of those aged 50 and older.
• An estimated 10 million in the U.S. already have the disease. Women are at higher risk than men.
• Another 34 million Americans have low bone density, putting them at increased risk for osteoporosis and fractures, especially of the hip, spine and wrist. About one-quarter of those who suffer a hip fracture die within a year of the injury.
• Osteoporosis-related fractures were responsible for an estimated $19 billion in health care costs in 2005, with that figure expected to increase to $25 billion by 2025.
Co-authors on the study include, Katherine L. Tucker, Ph.D.; Douglas P. Kiel, M.D., M.P.H.; Lien Quach, M.P.H, M.S.; Virginia A. Casey, Ph.D.; Marian T. Hannan, D.Sc., M.P.H.
This work was supported by the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (AR # 053205 and also AR/AG41398) and by the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute’s Framingham Heart Study (N01-HC-25195), the Melvin First Young Investigator Award and General Mills Bell Institute of Health and Nutrition.
Note: Materials may be edited for content and length. For further information, please contact the source cited above.
- Shivani Sahni, Katherine L. Tucker, Douglas P. Kiel, Lien Quach, Virginia A. Casey, Marian T. Hannan. Milk and yogurt consumption are linked with higher bone mineral density but not with hip fracture: the Framingham Offspring Study. Archives of Osteoporosis, 2013; 8 (1-2) DOI: 10.1007/s11657-013-0119-2
Jan. 29, 2013 — Most weight-loss plans center around a balance between caloric intake and energy expenditure. However, new research has shed light on a new factor that is necessary to shed pounds: timing. Researchers from Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH), in collaboration with the University of Murcia and Tufts University, have found that it’s not simply what you eat, but also when you eat, that may help with weight-loss regulation.
The study will be published on January 29, 2013 in the International Journal of Obesity.
“This is the first large-scale prospective study to demonstrate that the timing of meals predicts weight-loss effectiveness,” said Frank Scheer, PhD, MSc, director of the Medical Chronobiology Program and associate neuroscientist at BWH, assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, and senior author on this study. “Our results indicate that late eaters displayed a slower weight-loss rate and lost significantly less weight than early eaters, suggesting that the timing of large meals could be an important factor in a weight loss program.”
To evaluate the role of food timing in weight-loss effectiveness, the researchers studied 420 overweight study participants who followed a 20-week weight-loss treatment program in Spain. The participants were divided into two groups: early-eaters and late-eaters, according to the self-selected timing of the main meal, which in this Mediterranean population was lunch. During this meal, 40 percent of the total daily calories are consumed. Early-eaters ate lunch anytime before 3 p.m. and late-eaters, after 3 p.m. They found that late-eaters lost significantly less weight than early-eaters, and displayed a much slower rate of weight-loss. Late-eaters also had a lower estimated insulin sensitivity, a risk factor for diabetes.
Researchers found that timing of the other (smaller) meals did not play a role in the success of weight loss. However, the late eaters — who lost less weight — also consumed fewer calories during breakfast and were more likely to skip breakfast altogether. Late-eaters also had a lower estimated insulin sensitivity, a risk factor for diabetes.
The researchers also examined other traditional factors that play a role in weight loss such as total calorie intake and expenditure, appetite hormones leptin and ghrelin, and sleep duration. Among these factors, researchers found no differences between both groups, suggesting that the timing of the meal was an important and independent factor in weight loss success.
“This study emphasizes that the timing of food intake itself may play a significant role in weight regulation” explains Marta Garaulet, PhD, professor of Physiology at the University of Murcia Spain, and lead author of the study. “Novel therapeutic strategies should incorporate not only the caloric intake and macronutrient distribution, as it is classically done, but also the timing of food.”
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- M Garaulet, P Gómez-Abellán, J J Alburquerque-Béjar, Y-C Lee, J M Ordovás, F A J L Scheer. Timing of food intake predicts weight loss effectiveness. International Journal of Obesity, 2013; DOI: 10.1038/ijo.2012.229
Jan. 23, 2013 — Eating more fruit and vegetables may make young people calmer, happier and more energetic in their daily life, new research from the University of Otago suggests.
Department of Psychology researcher Dr Tamlin Conner, and Dr Caroline Horwath and Bonnie White from Otago’s Department of Human Nutrition, investigated the relationship between day-to-day emotions and food consumption.
The study is published in the British Journal of Health Psychology on January 24.
A total of 281 young adults (with a mean age of 20 years) completed an internet-based daily food diary for 21 consecutive days. Prior to this, participants completed a questionnaire giving details of their age, gender, ethnicity, weight and height. Those with a history of an eating disorder were excluded.
On each of the 21 days participants logged into their diary each evening and rated how they felt using nine positive and nine negative adjectives. They were also asked five questions about what they had eaten that day. Specifically, participants were asked to report the number of servings eaten of fruit (excluding fruit juice and dried fruit), vegetables (excluding juices), and several categories of unhealthy foods like biscuits/cookies, potato crisps, and cakes/muffins.
The results showed a strong day-to-day relationship between more positive mood and higher fruit and vegetable consumption, but not other foods.
“On days when people ate more fruits and vegetables, they reported feeling calmer, happier and more energetic than they normally did,” says Dr Conner.
To understand which comes first — feeling positive or eating healthier foods — Dr Conner and her team ran additional analyses and found that eating fruits and vegetables predicted improvements in positive mood the next day, suggesting that healthy foods may improve mood. These findings held regardless of the BMI of individuals.
“After further analysis we demonstrated that young people would need to consume approximately seven to eight total servings of fruits and vegetables per day to notice a meaningful positive change. One serving of fruit or vegetables is approximately the size that could fit in your palm, or half a cup. My co-author Bonnie White suggests that this can be done by making half your plate at each meal vegetables and snacking on whole fruit like apples,” says Dr Conner.
She adds that while this research shows a promising connection between healthy foods and healthy moods, further research is necessary and the authors recommend the development of randomised control trials evaluating the influence of high fruit and vegetable intake on mood and wellbeing.
Jan. 8, 2013 — New research suggests that drinking sweetened beverages, especially diet drinks, is associated with an increased risk of depression in adults while drinking coffee was tied to a slightly lower risk. The study was released January 8 and will be presented at the American Academy of Neurology’s 65th Annual Meeting in San Diego, March 16 to 23, 2013.
“Sweetened beverages, coffee and tea are commonly consumed worldwide and have important physical — and may have important mental — health consequences,” said study author Honglei Chen, MD, PhD, with the National Institutes of Health in Research Triangle Park in North Carolina and a member of the American Academy of Neurology.
The study involved 263,925 people between the ages of 50 and 71 at enrollment. From 1995 to 1996, consumption of drinks such as soda, tea, fruit punch and coffee was evaluated. About 10 years later, researchers asked the participants whether they had been diagnosed with depression since the year 2000. A total of 11,311 depression diagnoses were made.
People who drank more than four cans or cups per day of soda were 30 percent more likely to develop depression than those who drank no soda. Those who drank four cans of fruit punch per day were about 38 percent more likely to develop depression than those who did not drink sweetened drinks. People who drank four cups of coffee per day were about 10 percent less likely to develop depression than those who drank no coffee. The risk appeared to be greater for people who drank diet than regular soda, diet than regular fruit punches and for diet than regular iced tea.
“Our research suggests that cutting out or down on sweetened diet drinks or replacing them with unsweetened coffee may naturally help lower your depression risk,” said Chen. “More research is needed to confirm these findings, and people with depression should continue to take depression medications prescribed by their doctors.”
The study was supported by the National Institutes of Health, the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and the National Cancer Institute.
Jan. 1, 2013 — In a study examining possible factors regarding the associations between fructose consumption and weight gain, brain magnetic resonance imaging of study participants indicated that ingestion of glucose but not fructose reduced cerebral blood flow and activity in brain regions that regulate appetite, and ingestion of glucose but not fructose produced increased ratings of satiety and fullness, according to a preliminary study published in the January 2 issue of JAMA.
“Increases in fructose consumption have paralleled the increasing prevalence of obesity, and high-fructose diets are thought to promote weight gain and insulin resistance. Fructose ingestion produces smaller increases in circulating satiety hormones compared with glucose ingestion, and central administration of fructose provokes feeding in rodents, whereas centrally administered glucose promotes satiety,” according to background information in the article. “Thus, fructose possibly increases food-seeking behavior and increases food intake.” How brain regions associated with fructose- and glucose-mediated changes in animal feeding behaviors translates to humans is not completely understood.
Kathleen A. Page, M.D., of Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, Conn., and colleagues conducted a study to examine neurophysiological factors that might underlie associations between fructose consumption and weight gain. The study included 20 healthy adult volunteers who underwent two magnetic resonance imaging sessions in conjunction with fructose or glucose drink ingestion. The primary outcome measure for the study was the relative changes in hypothalamic (a region of the brain) regional cerebral blood flow (CBF) after glucose or fructose ingestion.
The researchers found that there was a significantly greater reduction in hypothalamic CBF after glucose vs. fructose ingestion. “Glucose but not fructose ingestion reduced the activation of the hypothalamus, insula, and striatum — brain regions that regulate appetite, motivation, and reward processing; glucose ingestion also increased functional connections between the hypothalamic-striatal network and increased satiety.”
“The disparate responses to fructose were associated with reduced systemic levels of the satiety-signaling hormone insulin and were not likely attributable to an inability of fructose to cross the blood-brain barrier into the hypothalamus or to a lack of hypothalamic expression of genes necessary for fructose metabolism.”
Editorial: Fructose Ingestion and Cerebral, Metabolic, and Satiety Responses
Jonathan Q. Purnell, M.D., and Damien A. Fair, PA-C, Ph.D., of Oregon Health & Science University, Portland, write in an accompanying editorial that “these findings support the conceptual framework that when the human brain is exposed to fructose, neurobiological pathways involved in appetite regulation are modulated, thereby promoting increased food intake.”
“… the implications of the study by Page et al as well as the mounting evidence from epidemiologic, metabolic feeding, and animal studies, are that the advances in food processing and economic forces leading to increased intake of added sugar and accompanying fructose in U.S. society are indeed extending the supersizing concept to the population’s collective waistlines.”
- Kathleen A. Page et al. Effects of Fructose vs Glucose on Regional Cerebral Blood Flow in Brain Regions Involved With Appetite and Reward Pathways. JAMA, 2013 DOI: 10.1001/jama.2012.116975
ScienceDaily (Aug. 15, 2012) — A paper published Aug. 15 in Biology of Reproduction‘s Papers-in-Press reveals that eating 75 grams of walnuts a day improves the vitality, motility, and morphology of sperm in healthy men aged 21 to 35.
Approximately 70 million couples experience subfertility or infertility worldwide, with 30 to 50 percent of these cases attributable to the male partner. Some studies have suggested that human semen quality has declined in industrialized nations, possibly due to pollution, poor lifestyle habits, and/or an increasingly Western-style diet.
Dr. Wendie Robbins and her colleagues at the University of California, Los Angeles decided to investigate whether increasing polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs), which are critical for sperm maturation and membrane function, would increase sperm quality in men consuming a Western-style diet.
The best sources of dietary PUFAs in a Western-style diet include fish and fish oil supplements, flax seed, and walnuts, the latter of which are rich sources of α-linolenic acid (ALA), a natural plant source of omega-3.
With support by the California Walnut Commission, Dr. Robbins’ team selected 117 healthy men between the ages of 21 and 35 who ate a Western-style diet and split them into two groups: one (58 men) who would avoid eating tree nuts and another (59 men) who would eat 75 grams of walnuts per day. Previous studies had indicated that 75 grams of walnuts would be a dose at which blood lipid levels would change, but at which healthy young men would not gain weight.
Before the experiment began and then again 12 weeks later, the men’s semen quality was analyzed according to conventional parameters of male fertility, including sperm concentration, vitality, motility, morphology, and chromosome abnormalities.
After 12 weeks, the team found no significant changes in body-mass index, body weight, or activity level in either group. The men consuming walnuts, however, had significantly increased levels of omega-6 and omega-3 (ALA) fatty acids and experienced improvement in sperm vitality, motility, and morphology. Those eating walnuts also had fewer chromosomal abnormalities in their sperm following the walnut dietary intervention. The control group, on the other hand, experienced no changes.
Although this research indicates that eating 75 grams of walnuts per day can positively affect a young man’s sperm quality, it is still unknown whether the benefits would apply to young men with fertility problems and whether they would actually translate into increased fertility.
- Robbins WA, Xun L, FitzGerald LZ, Esguerra S, Henning SM, Carpenter CL. Walnuts improve semen quality in men consuming a Western-style diet: randomized control dietary intervention trial. Biology of Reproduction, 2012; (in press) DOI:10.1095/biolreprod.112.101634
ScienceDaily (Aug. 13, 2012) — It may not make chocolate one of your five a day — but scientists have found a way to replace up to 50 per cent of its fat content with fruit juice.
Dr Stefan Bon has found a way to replace up to 50 per cent of chocolate. (Credit: Image courtesy of University of Warwick)
University of Warwick chemists have taken out much of the cocoa butter and milk fats that go into chocolate bars, substituting them with tiny droplets of juice measuring under 30 microns in diameter.
They infused orange and cranberry juice into milk, dark and white chocolate using what is known as a Pickering emulsion.
Crucially, the clever chemistry does not take away the chocolatey ‘mouth-feel’ given by the fatty ingredients.
This is because the new technique maintains the prized Polymorph V content, the substance in the crystal structure of the fat which gives chocolate its glossy appearance, firm and snappy texture but which also allows it to melt smoothly in the mouth.
The final product will taste fruity — but there is the option to use water and a small amount of ascorbic acid (vitamin C) instead of juice to maintain a chocolatey taste.
Dr Stefan Bon from the Department of Chemistry at the University of Warwick was lead author on the study published in the Journal of Materials Chemistry.
He said the research looked at the chemistry behind reducing fat in chocolate, but now it was up to the food industry to use this new technique to develop tasty ways to use it in chocolate.
Dr Bon said: “Everyone loves chocolate — but unfortunately we all know that many chocolate bars are high in fat.
“However it’s the fat that gives chocolate all the indulgent sensations that people crave — the silky smooth texture and the way it melts in the mouth but still has a ‘snap’ to it when you break it with your hand.
“We’ve found a way to maintain all of those things that make chocolate ‘chocolatey’ but with fruit juice instead of fat.
“Our study is just the starting point to healthier chocolate — we’ve established the chemistry behind this new technique but now we’re hoping the food industry will take our method to make tasty, lower-fat chocolate bars.”
The scientists used food-approved ingredients to create a Pickering emulsion, which prevents the small droplets from merging with each other.
Moreover, their chocolate formulations in the molten state showed a yield stress which meant that they could prevent the droplets from sinking to the bottom.
The new process also prevents the unsightly ‘sugar bloom’ which can appear on chocolate which has been stored for too long.
- Thomas S. Skelhon, Nadia Grossiord, Adam R. Morgan, Stefan A. F. Bon. Quiescent Water-in-Oil Pickering Emulsions as a Route toward Healthier Fruit Juice Infused Chocolate Confectionary. Journal of Materials Chemistry, 2012; DOI: 10.1039/C2JM34233B
ScienceDaily (Aug. 2, 2012) — When ordering seafood, the options are many and so are some of the things you might consider in what you order. Is your fish healthy? Is it safe? Is it endangered? While there are many services and rankings offered to help you decide — there’s even an iPhone app — a group of researchers have found a simple rule of thumb applies.
If a fish is sustainable, then it is likely to be healthy to eat too. (Credit: © Viktor / Fotolia)
“If the fish is sustainable, then it is likely to be healthy to eat too,” said Leah Gerber, an associate professor and senior sustainability scientist at Arizona State University.
Gerber and colleagues ran an analysis of existing literature on fish to see which ones are more healthy choices and which seem to be the types that you might want to avoid, due to exposure to contaminants like mercury or due to over-exploitation. Their findings are published in the Aug. 2 early on-line version of the Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, a publication of the Ecological Society of America.
In “Sustaining seafood for public health,” Gerber and fellow authors — Roxanne Karimi, Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, N.Y. , and Timothy Fitzgerald of the Environmental Defense Fund, Washington, DC — state that their analysis is the first to bring together the sustainability rankings from several organizations, the health metrics of consumption ranked by various species (like how much omega-3 fatty acids are found in a specific fish type), as well as any known contaminant exposure, and data from several ecological studies on the relative health of specific species.
“In general, larger longer-lived fish are more likely to have exposure to toxins due to the length of their lives and their place on the food chain,” Gerber explained. “So you might be best served to stay away from them — like Bluefin Tuna or Swordfish. Besides they already are over fished.”
Safer choices might be Alaskan Pollock, Atlantic Mackerel or Blue King Crab, said Gerber, a conservation biologist and sushi lover. In fact, the research grew out of her interest in knowing more about the fish she was eating and the choices she and her friends made when dining on fish.
In one experience, Gerber said friends ordered Bluefin Tuna to her dismay.
“That my socially- and health-conscious friends did not know Bluefin was taboo made me think about how complicated it has become to decide what seafood to eat,” she recalled. “How do seafood consumers make informed decisions based on ecological risk, health risks (mercury and PCBs), and health benefits (omegas).
So Gerber, Karimi and Fitzgerald began digging in the literature and developed a database on both ecological and health metrics of seafood.
“We used the database to look for patterns of similarity between ecological and health metrics, and found that in general, choosing healthy seafood also means that you are choosing sustainable seafood,” Gerber said. “Great news for sushi-lovers! Choose the sustainable options and you also are boosting omega-3 intake, without risking mercury poisoning.”
Next up for Gerber is to help develop a tool that can be used to help guide seafood consumers to smarter choices in what they eat.
“We want to help people choose fish that are both eco-friendly and healthy,” she said.
- Marie L. Fujitani, Eli P. Fenichel, Jorge Torre, Leah R. Gerber. Implementation of a marine reserve has a rapid but short-lived effect on recreational angler use. Ecological Applications, 2012; 22 (2): 597 DOI: 10.1890/11-0603.1
Arizona State University (2012, August 2). Healthy seafood comes from sustainable fish. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 4, 2012, from http://www.sciencedaily.com /releases/2012/08/120802122615.htm