Category Archives: diet

Celiac

The challenges of living with celiac disease

Living with celiac disease couldn’t possibly be a walk in the park. Despite having a month dedicated to its awareness, and the collective efforts of the medical community, advocates and celiacs themselves, many people are still in the dark as to what it really is. Or, quite simply, people just couldn’t comprehend the day-to-day struggles of those afflicted with the disease. FoodFacts.com shares a few of the the challenges that celiacs often face.

Cut-and-try testing

As previously mentioned, it takes six to eight years for celiac disease to be diagnosed correctly. Many people who manifest symptoms of the illness are, more often than not, diagnosed with other conditions, which may not at all be connected to celiac disease. For instance, a celiac could have vomiting symptoms whenever he or she ingests gluten, and then gets diagnosed with and treated for some form of eating disorder. In many cases, a person undergoes a number of other tests and gets misdiagnosed and treated incorrectly. The truth is, there are many people who do not have the resources to be passed on from specialist to specialist, let alone go through various expensive tests. Needless to say, this is an exhausting cycle for anyone to endure.

Being misunderstood

For unknowing celiacs, the scorn is on the “lapses” in their behavior. People who suffer with celiac disease may appear tired after having eaten a small piece of food that contains gluten. Others usually perceive the fatigue as laziness and lack of interest or commitment. And, in the example mentioned above, a celiac who throws up after his or her meal are frequently mistaken for being calorie-obsessed and figure-conscious.

Healing process

The suffering doesn’t end when celiacs are finally correctly diagnosed. It is never easy for anyone to give up their favorite foods, no matter how sick they get after eating them. Also, change doesn’t happen overnight. A newly diagnosed celiac may go gluten-free immediately, but it may take months or years for his or her body to fully heal.

Persistent challenges

There is a widely believed misconception that gluten-free diet actually means eating healthier. Unfortunately, the popularity of this food trend has inadvertently made celiac disease some sort of a joke. From late night shows to grocery stores and restaurants, many celiacs find themselves regarded as – and ridiculed for – being hypochondriacs riding on the gluten-free fad.

As with any health condition, celiac disease is not something one would hope to live with. However, it is a delight to see how many people who have this illness power through their everyday lives. As Celiac Disease Awareness Month comes to a close, bear in mind that gluten-free is not just a multi-million dollar trend with a 44-million-strong market. There’s actually a large number of that market who consume it as a health necessity.

Tip: It’s convenient to head over the grocery aisle that holds processed, ready-made gluten-free foods. However, these products may not necessarily be the healthy way to nourish your body, especially when it has suffered years of damage. It’s always best to seek out natural, gluten-free ingredients and prepare your meals yourself. Use the all my food facts app to find products that are safe for you to eat. 

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Recipe: Banana Bread Baked Oatmeal Muffins

Celiac disorder, like any other diseases that require dietary restrictions, can be challenging. However, this does not mean that people stricken with celiac disease are compelled to eat bland foods because of their sensitivity to gluten. FoodFacts.com is happy to dispel that perception and share this easy-to-make, healthy AND delicious gluten-free banana bread baked oatmeal muffins!

Time: 15 minutes

Serving: 12

Ingredients

  • 3 cups gluten-free rolled oats
  • 2 over-ripe medium-sized bananas, mashed
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • ⅓ cup raisins
  • ½ cup unsweetened applesauce
  • ¼ cup maple syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • Hershey’s Simply 5 Syrup, optional

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. In one bowl, mix all the dry ingredients.
  3. In another bowl, mix all the wet ingredients.
  4. Add dry to wet and mix only until combined.
  5. Fold in the raisins.
  6. Spoon batter into lined or greased standard-sized muffin pans and silicone liners.
  7. Bake for about 11-14 minutes.
  8. Let muffins cool before drizzling Hershey’s Simply 5 Syrup, if using.

Note: Be sure to store muffin in an airtight container.

Tip: Turn this recipe vegan by replacing the eggs with flaxseed eggs and forgoing the Hershey’s syrup.

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Facts about celiac disease

Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease that affects the digestive process of the small intestine. It affects about one percent of the population of the United States, occurring more often in women than in men. People with celiac disease have sensitivity to gluten, a type of protein found in grains such as rye and barley. Ingestion of gluten triggers an abnormal immune system response, which damages the small intestines and prevents absorption of necessary nutrients such as iron, folic acid, vitamin D and calcium.

The media does extensive coverage on celiac disease, especially in May as it is Celiac Disease Awareness Month. So much so that it has propelled the gluten-free foods trend, which somewhat deviated the focus from the disease itself. In fact, over a quarter of adults in the United States find gluten-free living appealing. The truth is, a large majority of that number do not require a gluten-free diet and should not be in it.

Since it is Celiac Disease Awareness Month, FoodFacts.com aids the medical community and other proponents in educating people with these quick facts about the disease.

Genetic disorder

Celiac disease is not simply a food allergy and/or intolerance that can be countered by an antihistamine. It is a serious, lifelong, genetically-determined disease. If a blood relative is diagnosed with celiac disease, get yourself screened immediately.

Invisible illness

Celiac disease is considered an invisible illness because it is hard to diagnose. The average time for celiac to be diagnosed correctly is between 6 and 10 years. In many cases, celiac does not even manifest itself through the most common symptoms, leaving the sufferer unaware that the illness is already destroying the small intestine.

Common symptoms

Some of the most common symptoms of celiac disease are, but not limited to:

Other health problems

Because celiac disease is difficult to diagnose, it is often untreated. When left untreated, the disease may lead to a variety of other medical maladies such as infertility, miscarriage, osteoporosis, anemia and lymphoma.

Higher risk of pneumonia

As reported in a recent article, researchers found that people with celiac disease are more susceptible to pneumonia if they have never received the pneumococcal vaccine. Doctors, therefore, urge diagnosed celiac patients to get the vaccine.

If you think you have celiac disease, call your doctor immediately and discuss a health management plan before switching to a gluten-free diet.

The all my foodfacts app can help you manage celiac disease. By selecting the types of food that you want to avoid, all my foodfacts will show you which products contain them. In this case, when you add “gluten” to your avoid list and run a search on grains, the app includes the products that contain grains which celiac patients are sensitive to in the results and indicates that you should avoid them.

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Find out if the products you are using are really gluten-free with the all my foodfacts app. Get it on iTunes, Google Play and Amazon!

Mars, Inc. to phase out artificial colors over a 5 year period.

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FoodFacts.com truly believes in everything in moderation. But along with said moderation, we really want people to think about what they are putting in their bodies and we’ve been trying to show people this for over a decade. Mars, Inc. is yet another company that is starting to realize that the ingredients that go into their products need to be re-examined. But is this really for our general health or because they need to fall in line to consumer demands? They announced this week that they will start to phase out the artificial coloring in their products in the next five year period.

“Artificial colors pose no known risks to human health or safety, but consumers today are calling on food manufacturers to use more natural ingredients in their products,” Mars said Friday.

While it makes us elated that large companies like Kraft Foods Group, Inc., Nestle, SA, General Mills, Inc, and now Mars, Inc. are feeling the pressure to remove all their artificial ingredients (for safer, more healthier ingredients) we can’t seem to understand why they keep coming out with statements like the one above. Even though Red 40 is approved by the FDA, there has been extensive research to come out saying it has caused tumors in laboratory animals (https://cspinet.org/new/pdf/food-dyes-rainbow-of-risks.pdf), and has come under serious fire by consumer and research advocacy groups.  It is also banned in several European countries. It has to make you wonder…why is the United States perfectly acceptable in allowing it in our foods?

Weird Science. Federal dietary guidelines are based on a weak scientific framework

food pyramid collageIt would make sense that if the Federal Dietary Guidelines were adhered to by most Americans and the Guidelines were sound scientifically that the country wouldn’t have seen a rise in both obesity and any of several other conditions which lead to diabetes and heart disease. But we do have these problems. In fact, FoodFacts.com thinks it’s important to note that those problems have been increasing in frequency for Americans almost since the Federal Guidelines have been issued. Sounds like weird science. But it’s coming to light that Federal Dietary Guidelines are based on a weak scientific framework.

The federal government’s dietary guidelines have changed little since first being issued in 1980. A revised set of recommendations released this month includes a new cap on added sugar, but this is unlikely to end the guidelines’ failure for 35 years to check the rise of obesity and diabetes. The problem, simply put, is a reliance on weak science.

But a serious course correction may finally be on the horizon. Congress, concerned about the continued toll taken by nutrition-related diseases, recently mandated the first-ever outside review of the evidence underlying the dietary guidelines and the process that produces them. The National Academy of Medicine will conduct the review this year. Yet this effort could do more harm than good if the academy endorses the weak science that has shaped the guidelines for decades.

The crux of the problem is that many of the dietary recommendations are not based on clinical trials, which can reliably demonstrate a cause-and-effect relationship. In a clinical trial, subjects are randomly assigned to one or more diets, whose health effects are then measured. Such studies are extremely challenging and expensive because subjects must be monitored closely or even provided food to ensure that they are adhering to the diet.

Instead, many of the dietary recommendations are justified by observational studies, using a scientific method known as prospective epidemiology. Researchers send out questionnaires to large numbers of people, asking about diet and lifestyle. They then follow up for years to record health outcomes.

This method cannot show causation, only associations. For instance, obesity might be associated with sitting in front of the television. But people who spend a lot of time watching TV might also eat more junk food. What’s making them fat: The TV-watching, the junk food, or something else entirely that no one thought to measure? Epidemiologists try to adjust for these variables, but there is always uncertainty.

It’s true that epidemiological science has had successes, most notably by linking smoking to cancer in the early 1950s. Yet heavy smokers had a risk of lung cancer 9 to 25 times greater than did nonsmokers, a big enough difference to give researchers confidence that the association was real. By contrast, studies that link nutrition with disease generally find differences in risk of 1 to 2 times.

Moreover, of the enormous number of associations generated by observational studies, only a small number are ultimately confirmed. In 2005 John Ioannidis of Stanford analyzed several dozen highly cited studies and concluded that subsequent clinical trials could reproduce only about 20% of observational findings. A 2011 paper published by the statistics journal Significance analyzed 52 claims made in nutritional studies, and none—0%—withstood the scrutiny of subsequent clinical trials. These are very poor odds on which to gamble public health. Yet policy makers have forged ahead anyway.

This has led to many flip-flops in dietary advice. At one point epidemiological data suggested that cholesterol might be linked to heart disease, and fat to cancer. For decades physicians told the public to avoid egg yolks and shellfish. Millions of Americans adopted low-fat diets and ate more carbohydrates. Yet these theorized links were later rejected. And a large body of evidence now suggests that eating excessive carbohydrates increases the risk of heart disease, obesity and diabetes.

Scientists should have known in 1980 that the recommendation to cut fat was unsound. Large clinical trials at the time did not support the theory, according to a systematic review published last year in the cardiology journal Open Heart. “It seems incomprehensible that dietary advice was introduced for 220 million Americans,” the authors wrote, “given the contrary results.”
What’s disturbing is how little this new evidence has been heeded. The guidelines continue to insist that Americans choose reduced-fat dairy products like skim milk. But even epidemiological evidence now contradicts this advice, and a randomized trialpublished last month in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that people eating full-fat dairy, including whole milk, showed a number of better heart-disease outcomes.

The guidelines continue to place a cap on saturated fats—10% of total calories—based on what the authors consider “strong evidence.” But nearly a dozen meta-analyses or systematic reviews in recent years have found only a weak link between these fats and heart disease or cardiovascular mortality. So in many cases weak evidence supports the dietary guidelines, while strong evidence contradicts them.

Moreover, rates of obesity and diabetes remain stubbornly high, and this isn’t because dietary advice is ignored. Consider a 2008 report by the Agriculture Department that estimates changes in food consumption from 1970-2005: grains rose by 41%; vegetable oils by 91%; fish and shellfish by 37%; vegetables by 23%; and fruits by 13%. Eggs and red meat each fell by 17%, and whole milk by 73%. Yet during roughly the same period the incidence of diabetes doubled.
That’s why, as part of the budget bill that passed Congress in December, lawmakers appropriated $1 million for an independent review of the dietary guidelines. Congress wants to ensure that the next revision, due in 2020, will “better prevent chronic disease.” But we fear that the review, like the guidelines, will be dominated by epidemiology. Several members of the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee are also on the National Academy of Medicine, and Congress has asked them to recuse themselves.

The academy might go further by appointing a disinterested referee, someone from outside the field of nutrition, to lead the review. Ideally, this person would have a background in systematic methodology or evidence-based medicine, fields that focus on how to evaluate and prioritize varying results from scientific studies. This expertise would assure the public that the review is to be a serious, objective weighing of the evidence.

Diseases caused by poor eating habits destroy lives and cost the nation trillions in health care. When wrong nutritional advice is dispensed to the public, scientists lose credibility, opening the door to dietary cults. The current guidelines clearly aren’t working. This review offers a chance to steer them on a surer course.

http://www.wsj.com/articles/the-food-pyramid-scheme-1454022514#livefyre-comment

Tom Colicchio is revolutionizing the food industry, one Food Action Policy at a time.

Many of us at FoodFacts.com have been fans of Tom Colicchio for years. From dining at one of his innovative restaurants (the farm at Riverpark is one of the most amazing urban gems you will see at a restaurant in midtown Manhattan) to watching his smart and calm culinary demeanor as he guides somewhat egocentric chefs on Bravo Tv’s “Top Chef,” you know that his passion for food is more than just a career choice, it literally fuels him.

It’s no surprise that he added food activism to his resume when he co-founded Food Policy Action in 2012. Their mission is to make food policies even more substantial while upholding the rights of farmers and food workers and make healthier food more accessible for all. In recent months, Mr. Colicchio took Capitol Hill by storm with 30 other chefs to discuss the Childhood Nutrition Act (which needs to be reauthorized every 5 years). Since new nutritional guidelines have been introduced in recent years for school cafeterias, it’s now more important than ever that every state adopts these paths to make sure our children are educated on eating healthy and proper meals.

To say we are impressed with this Top Chef is an understatement. Most of the celebrity chefs we see in mainstream media are more concerned with hawking products and selling themselves as a brand than educating people on what they are eating. Mr. Colicchio has now opened up the conversation and garnered media attention…exactly what people like us need that are trying to fight the good food fight.

So Mr. Colicchio, we’d like to know how we can partner up?! If you take a look at FoodFacts.com you will see that knowing what you are eating is all that we are about. Our mission is so similar to the one that you have cultivated yourself. Our passion is educating people on what’s really in the foods they are eating…the less ingredients the better! Our all my foodfacts app focuses on showing people all the ingredients they are consuming in the processed foods they are eating and how it affects them. We truly believe that everyone should be entitled to affordable, healthy food to consume and that if you can’t pronounce the ingredients in a package, you probably shouldn’t be eating it! So please, tweet us, write us, anything. We’d love to work with you!

Think that diet soda is helping control your weight? You might want to think again

150911094912_1_540x360Sometimes what appears to be obvious isn’t as obvious as we assume. Case in point: diet soda help us lose or maintain our weight. It has to be better to order a diet soda with a meal than a sugary soda because consuming 0 calories is better than consuming calories. The truth isn’t as obvious as it appears to be.

A new study that examined the dietary habits of more than 22,000 U.S. adults found that diet-beverage consumers may compensate for the absence of calories in their drinks by noshing on extra food that is loaded with sugar, sodium, fat and cholesterol.

University of Illinois kinesiology and community health professor Ruopeng An examined 10 years of data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, conducted by the National Center for Health Statistics, which asked participants to recall everything they ate or drank over the course of two nonconsecutive days.

An compared participants’ daily calorie intakes, including their consumption of discretionary foods and five types of beverages — diet or sugar-free drinks; sugar-sweetened beverages, such as sodas and fruit drinks; coffee; tea; and alcohol.

Using a U.S. Dept. of Agriculture food database, An compiled a 661-item list of discretionary foods, which includes foods that do not belong to the major food groups and are not required by the human body but may add variety to a person’s diet. These energy-dense, nutrient-poor foods include products such as cookies, ice cream, chocolate, fries and pastries.

More than 90 percent of the people in the study consumed discretionary foods daily, averaging about 482 calories from these products each day, An found.

Although previous research on beverage preferences and consumption of discretionary foods focused on between-meal snacking, An chose to look at the nutritional quality of the food participants consumed rather than when it was eaten. His paper will appear in a future issue of the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

About 97 percent of the study population consumed at least one of the five types of beverages daily, with about 41 percent of respondents drinking beverages from at least two of the categories. More than 25 percent of the participants consumed three or more types of beverages daily.

Coffee was participants’ beverage of choice, consumed by more than half — 53 percent — of the population, followed by sugar-sweetened beverages (43 percent), tea (26 percent), alcohol (22 percent) and diet beverages (21 percent).

Alcohol consumption was associated with the largest increase in daily calorie intake (384 calories), followed by sugar-sweetened beverages (226 calories), coffee (108 calories), diet beverages (69 calories) and tea (64 calories).

While coffee and diet-beverage drinkers consumed fewer total calories each day than people who preferred alcohol or sugary drinks, they obtained a greater percentage of their daily calorie intake from discretionary foods — a finding that suggests a possible compensation effect, An said.

“It may be that people who consume diet beverages feel justified in eating more, so they reach for a muffin or a bag of chips,” An said. “Or perhaps, in order to feel satisfied, they feel compelled to eat more of these high-calorie foods.”

A third possible explanation might be that people opt to drink diet beverages because they feel guilty about indulging in unhealthy food, An said.

“It may be one — or a mix of — these mechanisms,” An said. “We don’t know which way the compensation effect goes.”

Among people with the most education and highest incomes, diet beverages and alcohol were linked with increased calorie consumption, whereas, sugar-sweetened beverages and coffee were associated with elevated caloric intake among people with the lowest incomes.

Obese adults who drank diet beverages consumed more calories in discretionary foods, as did normal-weight participants who drank sugar-sweetened beverages.

In exploring associations between beverage type and dietary quality, An found that people who consumed sugar-sweetened beverages or coffee had the worst nutrition profiles.

Switching to diet drinks may not help people control their weight if they don’t pay attention to the quantity and quality of the foods they consume, An said.

“If people simply substitute diet beverages for sugar-sweetened beverages, it may not have the intended effect because they may just eat those calories rather than drink them,” An said. “We’d recommend that people carefully document their caloric intake from both beverages and discretionary foods because both of these add calories — and possibly weight — to the body.”

FoodFacts.com has heard many times that the diet soda someone ordered with a fast food meal somehow makes the fast food meal “less bad.” Sometimes, when it’s pointed out that diet soda isn’t going to reduce the calories contained in the burger and fries, we’ve heard that at least it won’t add to them. If diet soda isn’t helping with weight control and it’s not being consumed as part of a “diet,” it’s even more senseless to consume. Considering that diet soda is really just chemicals without calories, people really might want to rethink diet soda consumption. It’s really not worth it.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/09/150911094912.htm

Lose abdominal fat, get smarter and live longer. A fast-mimicking diet might just do the trick!

Scientists-say-five-day-fast-mimicking-diet-is-safeRemember all those crazy fad diets from when you were a teenager? The grapefruit diet. The cabbage soup diet. The 7 day fast diet. Most of us happily tried those and more. Of course we lost weight. We put it right back on though. And we were, most likely, grumpy and irritable through the process. There’s been some research that points to the idea that fasting may have a place in a healthy lifestyle. (Of course, no one’s mentioned anything about fasting on cabbage soup!) New Information is linking a fast-mimicking diet to many important health benefits.

New research led by USC’s Valter Longo shows that periodically adopting a diet that mimics the effects of fasting may yield a wide range of health benefits.

In a new study, Longo and his colleagues show that cycles of a four-day low-calorie diet that mimics fasting (FMD) cut visceral belly fat and elevated the number of progenitor and stem cells in several organs of old mice — including the brain, where it boosted neural regeneration and improved learning and memory.

The mouse tests were part of a three-tiered study on periodic fasting’s effects — testing yeast, mice and humans — set to be published by Cell Metabolismon June 18.

Mice, which have relatively short life spans, provided details about fasting’s lifelong effects. Yeast, which are simpler organisms, allowed Longo to uncover the biological mechanisms that fasting triggers at a cellular level. And a pilot study in humans found evidence that the mouse and yeast studies were applicable to humans.

Bimonthly cycles that lasted four days of an FMD which started at middle age extended life span, reduced the incidence of cancer, boosted the immune system, reduced inflammatory diseases, slowed bone mineral density loss and improved the cognitive abilities of older mice tracked in the study. The total monthly calorie intake was the same for the FMD and control diet groups, indicating that the effects were not the result of an overall dietary restriction.

In a pilot human trial, three cycles of a similar diet given to 19 subjects once a month for five days decreased risk factors and biomarkers for aging, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer with no major adverse side effects, according to Longo.

‘Strict fasting is hard for people to stick to, and it can also be dangerous, so we developed a complex diet that triggers the same effects in the body,’ said Longo, Edna M. Jones professor of biogerontology at the USC Davis School of Gerontology and director of the USC Longevity Institute. Longo has a joint appointment at the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences. ‘I’ve personally tried both, and the fasting mimicking diet is a lot easier and also a lot safer.’

The diet slashed the individual’s caloric intake down to 34 to 54 percent of normal, with a specific composition of proteins, carbohydrates, fats and micronutrients. It decreased amounts of the hormone IGF-I, which is required during development to grow, but it is a promoter of aging and has been linked to cancer susceptibility. It also increased the amount of the hormone IGFBP-, and reduced biomarkers/risk factors linked to diabetes and cardiovascular disease, including glucose, trunk fat and C-reactive protein without negatively affecting muscle and bone mass.

Longo has previously shown how fasting can help starve out cancer cells while protecting immune and other cells from chemotherapy toxicity.

‘It’s about reprogramming the body so it enters a slower aging mode, but also rejuvenating it through stem cell-based regeneration,’ Longo said. ‘It’s not a typical diet because it isn’t something you need to stay on.’

For 25 days a month, study participants went back to their regular eating habits — good or bad — once they finished the treatment. They were not asked to change their diet and still saw positive changes.

Longo believes that for most normal people, the FMD can be done every three to six months, depending on the abdominal circumference and health status. For obese subjects or those with elevated disease risk factors, the FMD could be recommended by the physician as often as once every two weeks. His group is testing its effect in a randomized clinical trial, which will be completed soon, with more than 70 subjects.

‘If the results remain as positive as the current ones, I believe this FMD will represent the first safe and effective intervention to promote positive changes associated with longevity and health span, which can be recommended by a physician,’ Longo said. ‘We will soon meet with FDA officers to pursue several FDA claims for disease prevention and treatment.’

Despite its positive effects, Longo cautioned against water-only fasting and warned even about attempting the fasting mimicking diet without first consulting a doctor and seeking their supervision throughout the process.

‘Not everyone is healthy enough to fast for five days, and the health consequences can be severe for a few who do it improperly,’ he said. ‘Water-only fasting should only be done in a specialized clinic. Also, certain types of very low calorie diets, and particularly those with high protein content, can increase the incidence of gallstones in women at risk’.

‘In contrast,’ he added, ‘the fasting mimicking diet tested in the trial can be done anywhere under the supervision of a physician and carefully following the guidelines established in the clinical trials.’

Longo also cautioned that diabetic subjects should not undergo either fasting or fasting mimicking diets while receiving insulin, metformin or similar drugs. He also said that subjects with body mass index less than 18 should not undergo the FMD diet.

For the study, Longo collaborated with researchers and clinicians from USC as well as from Texas, Italy and England. The study was funded by the National Institute on Aging.

FoodFacts.com is once again impressed by the power of diet in our health. This information is an impressive example pointing to the importance of diet on our longevity and function. It does sound as though the study authors will be pursuing further research and hopefully seeking out FDA approval for the fast mimicking diet as a preventive measure for disease and a boost for longevity. Food might be the real fountain of youth, after all.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/06/150618134408.htm

Americans and Africans swap diets for just two weeks — read about the dramatic results

Screen Shot 2015-05-04 at 1.10.37 PMThe United States may be one of the most developed nations in the world. We may be among the top nations for many, varied things of significance. But it does appear that when it comes to our diets, there are other nations that come out on top.

Western diets, high in protein and fat but low in fibre, are thought to raise colon cancer risk compared with African diets high in fiber and low in fat and protein.

The new study, published in Nature Communications today, confirms that a high fiber diet can substantially reduce risk, and shows that bacteria living in the gut play an important role in this effect.

Colon cancer is the fourth most common cause of death from cancer worldwide, accounting for over 600,000 deaths per year. Colon cancer rates are much higher in the western world than in Africa or the Far East, yet in the United States, African Americans shoulder the greatest burden of the disease.

To investigate the possible roles of diet and gut bacteria, an international team including scientists from the University of Pittsburgh and Imperial College London carried out a study with a group of 20 African American volunteers and another group of 20 participants from rural South Africa. The two groups swapped diets under tightly controlled conditions for two weeks.

The volunteers had colonoscopy examinations before and after the diet swap. The researchers also measured biological markers that indicate colon cancer risk and studied samples of bacteria taken from the colon.

At the start, when the groups had been eating their normal diets, almost half of the American subjects had polyps — abnormal growths in the bowel lining that may be harmless but can progress to cancer. None of the Africans had these abnormalities.

After two weeks on the African diet, the American group had significantly less inflammation in the colon and reduced biomarkers of cancer risk. In the African group, measurements indicating cancer risk dramatically increased after two weeks on the western diet.

Professor Jeremy Nicholson, the team leader from the Department of Surgery and Cancer at Imperial College London, said: “We can’t definitively tell from these measurements that the change in their diet would have led to more cancer in the African group or less in the American group, but there is good evidence from other studies that the changes we observed are signs of cancer risk.

“The findings suggest that people can substantially lower their risk of colon cancer by eating more fibre. This is not new in itself but what is really surprising is how quickly and dramatically the risk markers can switch in both groups following diet change. These findings also raise serious concerns that the progressive westernization of African communities may lead to the emergence of colon cancer as a major health issue.”

Professor Stephen O’Keefe at the University of Pittsburgh, who directed the study, said: “Studies on Japanese migrants to Hawaii have shown that it takes one generation of westernization to change their low incidence of colon cancer to the high rates observed in native Hawaiians. Our study suggests that westernization of the diet induces changes in biomarkers of colon cancer risk in the colonic mucosa within two weeks. Perhaps even more importantly, a change in diet from a westernized composition to a ‘traditional African’ high fiber low fat diet reduced these biomarkers of cancer risk within two weeks, indicating that it is likely never too late to change your diet to change your risk of colon cancer.”

The study found that a major reason for the changes in cancer risk was the way in which the bacteria in the gut — known as the microbiome — altered their metabolism to adapt to the new diet. In the American group, the researchers found that the African diet led to an increase in the production of butyrate, a byproduct of fibre metabolism that has important anti-cancer effects.

Dr James Kinross, a colorectal surgeon and a member of the research group at Imperial, said: “The gut microbiome is being increasingly recognized as an important contributor to human health. This research shows that gut bacteria are critically important for mediating the link between diet and colon cancer risk. This means we can look to develop therapies targeting gut bacteria as a way to prevent and treat cancer.”

Just two weeks of eating like an American. That’s it. FoodFacts.com has to wonder what this would look like after a year or two. The U.S. has always been a nation of progress. Unfortunately all of that progress has led to grocery store shelves lined with processed foods and people who are too busy to cook. Food doesn’t come in a box or a can. Food isn’t handed to you over a counter in a container. Balanced diets include fiber and lean proteins. Healthy diets are balanced. Obviously, we have a long way to go here in the U.S.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/04/150428125038.htm

The counterintuitive effect of diet soda: belly fat

article-0-0EE9B85F00000578-823_634x425There are people out there who know that soda is bad for them. They love it though. They reason that if they aren’t drinking soda every day or limiting their consumption to one can each day, they’re limiting the harmful effects that are associated with it. Even better, they think, if they’re only drinking diet soda. After all, it’s a diet product. It contains less sugar and no calories. If there aren’t any calories in diet soda, it can’t be associated with obesity the way that sugary drinks have been.

FoodFacts.com would agree that this is a seemingly logical thought process. We have to remind ourselves, though, that we’re applying a seemingly logical thought process to a chemical concoction with zero nutritional benefits. Logic may, as they say, fly right out the window. There’s a study out that seems to open that window up for all of us.

Researchers examined data taken periodically for nearly 10 years from 749 Mexican-Americans and European-Americans ages 65 and older in the San Antonio Longitudinal Study of Aging (known by the fine acronym SALSA).

They determined that daily and occasional diet soda drinkers gained nearly three times as much belly fat as non-drinkers, after they ruled out other factors such as age, exercise and smoking. The diet soda drinkers added an average of 2.11 centimeters (.83 inches) to their waist circumferences, while the non-drinkers added .77 centimeters (.3 inches). Daily consumers gained a striking 3.04 centimeters (1.19 inches).

Men, European Americans, people with a body mass index greater than 30 and people who did not have diabetes fared the worst.

You don’t want belly fat (visceral fat in technical terms), especially as you reach your later years, when it is associated with greater incidence of mortality, cardiovascular disease, Type 2 diabetes and insulin resistance. High waist circumference is also one component of metabolic syndrome, a cluster of risk factors that also includes high triglycerides, blood pressure and blood glucose.

“This is a more vulnerable population,” Sharon Fowler, an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Medicine at the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio and lead author of the study said in an interview. According to one study, about a fifth of the U.S. population consumed some form of diet drink on any given day in 2009-2010, and 11 percent of those people drank 16 ounces or more.

A couple of caveats here that are worth mentioning: There is considerable debate over the impact of diet soda and artificial sweeteners, with various studies showing conflicting results. (Another Fowler study in 2008 showed significant increases in body mass index among diet soda drinkers.)

This study, because of the way it was designed, could not prove cause and effect; it showed an association between drinking diet soda and increases in waist circumference. Most strangely, the data revealed no relationship between consumption of regular, sugary soda and waist circumference growth, which Fowler acknowledged would have been expected.

In a statement, the American Beverage Association, said that “previous research, including human clinical trials, supports that diet beverages are an effective tool as part of an overall weight management plan. Numerous studies have repeatedly demonstrated the benefits of diet beverages – as well as low calorie sweeteners, which are in thousands of foods and beverages – in helping to reduce calorie intake.”

The Calorie Control Council, which represents producers of no- and low-calorie foods and beverages, also urged that the study “be treated with caution” due to some limitations. The organization noted that older people tend to lose muscle mass and gain waist circumference as a result of aging and contended that some important information on Mexican-American lifestyles, diet records and family histories were not available to the researchers.

Nevertheless, she said, there are a number of possible explanations for the findings. A psychological one may be that regular diet soda drinkers conclude (as I have) that they are saving calories by not consuming sugary drinks and let themselves go overboard on other foods.

“There can be underestimation of the impact of other foods,” she said. “People can give themselves extra permission to eat. They also can just do bad calorie math.”

Based on other research, she said, the sweeteners and/or the acid in diet soda may have an impact on gut bacteria, the ability to handle sugar from other food and drink or the part of the brain that signals us to stop eating.

With so much uncertain, Fowler said, a safe path is to drink water, milk, 100 percent fruit juice, tea and coffee – perhaps adding a tiny bit of sugar or fruit juice for added sweetness in some.

Personally, most diet soda drinkers we know aren’t drinking it in order to give themselves permission to eat more food. Many don’t like the flavor of sugared sodas. Others feel like the zero calorie count fits into their already existing dietary plan. Most aren’t thinking that a savings of a few hundred calories opens them up to increasing their food consumption. We’re more likely to agree with the acids in diet soda or the artificial sweeteners having an impact on gut bacteria. That makes more sense from our perspective, especially when it comes to the chemical profile of diet soda.

We know sometimes that iced cold, bubbly diet soda would hit the spot. We also know that you can make a better decision in the moment. Iced cold water or iced tea will quench your thirst without chemicals — or belly fat.

http://www.delawareonline.com/story/news/health/2015/03/30/diet-soda-may-lead-belly-fat-age/70644966/