Friday, July 29, 2016

Fruit and vegetables give you the feel-good factor

New research suggests up to eight-a-day can make you happier

Fruit and vegetables make you feel better
Newswise, July 29, 2016-- University of Warwick research indicates that eating more fruit and vegetables can substantially increase people’s later happiness levels.

Published in the prestigious American Journal of Public Health, the study is one of the first major scientific attempts to explore psychological well-being beyond the traditional finding that fruit and vegetables can reduce risk of cancer and heart attacks.

Happiness benefits were detected for each extra daily portion of fruit and vegetables up to 8 portions per day.

The researchers concluded that people who changed from almost no fruit and veg to eight portions of fruit and veg a day would experience an increase in life satisfaction equivalent to moving from unemployment to employment. The well-being improvements occurred within 24 months.

The study followed more than 12,000 randomly selected people. These subjects kept food diaries and had their psychological well-being measured. The authors found large positive psychological benefits within two years of an improved diet.

Professor Andrew Oswald said: “Eating fruit and vegetables apparently boosts our happiness far more quickly than it improves human health. People’s motivation to eat healthy food is weakened by the fact that physical-health benefits, such as protecting against cancer, accrue decades later. However, well-being improvements from increased consumption of fruit and vegetables are closer to immediate.”

The work is a collaboration between the University of Warwick, England and the University of Queensland, Australia. The researchers found that happiness increased incrementally for each extra daily portion of fruit and vegetables up to eight portions per day.

The study involved an examination of longitudinal food diaries of 12,385 randomly sampled Australian adults over 2007, 2009, and 2013 in the Household, Income, and Labour Dynamics in Australia Survey.

The authors adjusted the effects on incident changes in happiness and life satisfaction for people’s changing incomes and personal circumstances.
Western diet

The study has policy implications, particularly in the developed world where the typical citizen eats an unhealthy diet. The findings could be used by health professionals to persuade people to consume more fruits and vegetables.

Dr Redzo Mujcic, research fellow at the University of Queensland, said: “Perhaps our results will be more effective than traditional messages in convincing people to have a healthy diet. There is a psychological payoff now from fruit and vegetables -- not just a lower health risk decades later.”

The authors found that alterations in fruit and vegetable intake were predictive of later alterations in happiness and satisfaction with life. They took into account many other influences, including changes in people’s incomes and life circumstances. One part of the study examined information from the Australian Go for 2&5 Campaign.

The campaign was run in some Australian states which have promoted the consumption of two portions of fruit and five portions of vegetables each day.

The academics think it may be possible eventually to link this study to current research into antioxidants which suggests a connection between optimism and carotenoid in the blood. However they argue that further research is needed in this area.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Help at Hand for People Watching Their Weight

Newswise, July 22, 2016— Researchers from the University of Sydney's Boden Institute of Obesity, Nutrition, Exercise & Eating Disordershave developed a portable and easy-to-use method to help people estimate portion size using only their hands.

In the first-ever study to assess the accuracy of hand-based methods for measuring food portions, finger width was used as a 'ruler' to gauge the dimensions of foods and glasses of liquids. These measurements, combined with geometric formulas of volume and food density factors, resulted in an objective and acceptably accurate estimate of the weight of the food.

The research, led by PhD candidate and Accredited Practising Dietitian Alice Gibson, was published in the Journal of Nutritional Science today.

Ms Gibson's attempts to understand her own eating habits motivated her to pursue this research, as part of her doctoral thesis at the University of Sydney's Charles Perkins Centre into clinical weight loss trials.

"I completed a food diary for a week and that's when I realised how hard it would be for people to accurately estimate the true amount of food on their plates, particularly for difficult-to-measure foods like lasagne. It struck me I had no accessible or reliable way of doing so," she said.

"I realised there was a gap in the market for people trying to eat sensibly when they're out and about, when they don't have access to a set of scales."

Comparing estimated weights from the 'finger width' method with the true weight of the food, Ms Gibson and her colleagues also tested the use of fists, finger tips and thumbs. The study examined the responses of 67 participants who were tasked with estimating the portion sizes of 42 pre-weighed foods and liquids.

All hand methods were compared with household methods (cups and spoons) and subjective size descriptions (small, medium, large).

The 'finger width' method was found to be more accurate than household measures and size descriptions for estimating food portions. Eighty percent of food sizes assessed with the 'finger width' method were within 25 percent of their true weight, compared with 29 percent of those estimated using the household method.

"While more research is needed to fine-tune the technique, I think there's real potential for this tool to be incorporated into electronic platforms such as smartphone applications so that the calculations are automated and estimating food intake on-the-go is more accurate," said Ms Gibson.

"Better accuracy when estimating food and drink intake will allow dietitians to tailor nutrition advice and recommendations even further, ultimately benefiting clients," she added.

In early recognition of the research, Ms Gibson was recently awarded the Dietitians Association of Australia (DAA) President's Award for Innovation for her tool.

The award is in Honour of the memory of Josephine (Jo) Rogers AM, a University of Sydney graduate and President and Vice?President of the Australian Dietetic Council (the forerunner of DAA) between 1959 and 1967.

"It is fantastic to have this tool validated, providing an easy-to-use, evidence-based resource that will be available to all practitioners anywhere, anytime," said DAA President Liz Kellett.

Friday, July 8, 2016

Blueberries’ Health Benefits Better Than Many Perceive

Health Benefits of Blue Berries include Anti-Aging
Newswise, July 8, 2016--- Consumers know some of the benefits blueberries provide, but they’re less aware of the advantages of reverting aging, improving vision and memory, a new University of Florida study shows.

Shuyang Qu, a doctoral student in agricultural education and communication at the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, led the study.

Joining Qu were Joy Rumble, a UF/IFAS assistant professor of agricultural education and communication, and Tori Bradley, a master’s student in the UF/IFAS food and resource economics department. Rumble’s Florida Specialty Crop grant gave the opportunity to examine consumers’ knowledge of blueberry health benefits.

Qu and her colleagues wanted to determine how much consumers know about blueberry health benefits and see if there’s a knowledge gap with blueberry health benefits among demographic groups. Using their findings, they will identify promotional opportunities for Florida blueberries.

Researchers surveyed more than 2,000 people in 31 states – mostly on the East Coast and in the Midwest – to see what they know about the health benefits of blueberries. Most were aware of the benefits of blueberries in warding off cancer and lowering the risk of heart disease. The UF/IFAS study also found that low-income populations tend to know less about blueberry health benefits.

“People being more familiar with blueberries as deterrents for cancer and heart disease may be related to the high general awareness of these two diseases,” Qu said.

“The fact that cancer and heart diseases are the leading causes of death in America may have led to more personal research related to preventing the diseases, leading to the respondents being exposed to these findings more than other benefits.”

To help promote blueberries’ health benefits, Qu and her colleagues suggest holding events during blueberry season, such as tastings or u-picks to draw consumers to the crop while providing a vehicle for information about blueberry health benefits.

Cravings for High-Calorie Foods May Be Switched Off in the Brain by New Supplement

Powered food supplement cuts cravings for high calorie foodsEating a type of powdered food supplement, based on a molecule produced by bacteria in the gut, reduces cravings for high-calorie foods such as chocolate, cake and pizza, a new study suggests

Newswise, July 8, 2016 — Eating a type of powdered food supplement, based on a molecule produced by bacteria in the gut, reduces cravings for high-calorie foods such as chocolate, cake and pizza, a new study suggests.

Scientists from Imperial College London and the University of Glasgow asked 20 volunteers to consume a milkshake that either contained an ingredient called inulin-propionate ester, or a type of fibre called inulin.

Previous studies have shown bacteria in the gut release a compound called propionate when they digest the fibre inulin, which can signal to the brain to reduce appetite. However the inulin-propionate ester supplement releases much more propionate in the intestines than inulin alone.

After drinking the milkshakes, the participants in the current study underwent an MRI scan, where they were shown pictures of various low or high calorie foods such as salad, fish and vegetables or chocolate, cake and pizza.

The team found that when volunteers drank the milkshake containing inulin-propionate ester, they had less activity in areas of their brain linked to reward -- but only when looking at the high calorie foods.

These areas, called the caudate and the nucleus accumbens, found in the centre of the brain, have previously been linked to food cravings and the motivation to want a food.

The volunteers also had to rate how appealing they found the foods. The results showed when they drank the milkshake with the inulin-propionate ester supplement they rated the high calorie foods as less appealing.

In a second part of the study, which is published in July edition of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, the volunteers were given a bowl of pasta with tomato sauce, and asked to eat as much as they like. When participants drank the inulin-propionate ester, they ate 10 per cent less pasta than when they drank the milkshake that contained inulin alone.

In a previous research study by the same team, published in 2013, they found that overweight volunteers who added the inulin-propionate ester supplement to their food every day, gained less weight over six months compared to volunteers who added only inulin to their meals.

Professor Gary Frost, senior author of the study from the Department of Medicine at Imperial, said: "Our previous findings showed that people who ate this ingredient gained less weight -- but we did not know why. This study is filling in a missing bit of the jigsaw -- and shows that this supplement can decrease activity in brain areas associated with food reward at the same time as reducing the amount of food they eat."

He added that eating enough fibre to naturally produce similar amounts of propionate would be difficult: "The amount of inulin-propionate ester used in this study was 10g - which previous studies show increases propionate production by 2.5 times. To get the same increase from fibre alone, we would need to eat around 60g a day. At the moment, the UK average is 15g."

Claire Byrne, a PhD researcher also from the Department of Medicine explained that using inulin-propionate ester as a food ingredient may help prevent weight gain: "If we add this to foods it could reduce the urge to consume high calorie foods."

 She added that some people's gut bacteria may naturally produce more propionate than others, which may be why some people seem more naturally predisposed to gain weight.

Dr Tony Goldstone, co-senior author of the study from the Department of Medicine added: "This study adds to our previous brain imaging studies in people who have had gastric bypass surgery for obesity. These show that altering how the gut works can change not only appetite in general, but also change how the brain responds when they see high-calorie foods, and how appealing they find the foods to be."

Dr Douglas Morrison, author of the paper from the Scottish Universities Environmental Research Centre at the University of Glasgow, commented: "We developed inulin-propionate ester to investigate the role of propionate produced by the gut microbiota in human health. This study illustrates very nicely that signals produced by the gut microbiota are important for appetite regulation and food choice. This study also sheds new light on how diet, the gut microbiome and health are inextricably linked adding to our understanding of how feeding our gut microbes with dietary fibre is important for healthy living."

The research was funded by the National Institute for Health Research Imperial Biomedical Research Centre and the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council

Eating for Wellness: Can a Change in Diet Improve Your Health?

Change in Diet can improve your health.
Developing and maintaining a healthy relationship with food is a lifelong pursuit, not a sprint to the finish line. Start by eating real foods that you enjoy, and feed your body in a way that optimizes your own health.

July 8, 2016 – The key to eating for wellness is not necessarily what foods to eat, but rather how and when we eat them, says Suzanne Judd, Ph.D., associate professor in the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s Department of Biostatistics.

There is no definite right or wrong. It’s often a matter of personal taste and unique body chemistry. Food influences the way a person feels, how he or she sleeps and interacts with others.

Too much food can lead to extra weight, and extra weight is associated with cancer, cardiovascular disease and decreased physical function. Diet can affect how people with chronic illness feel.

It’s important to feed the body in a way that optimizes your own health, and the hard part is crafting the right diet for your body’s and mind’s needs, she says.

Many of the body’s chronic illnesses result from inflammation, a catch-all term used to describe an over-active immune system or an immune system that is responding when there is not a germ to fight, Judd says.

“Since one-third of the body’s immune system lies within the gut (large intestine, small intestine and stomach) what we eat is tightly tied to the amount of daily immune response, or inflammation, the body creates,” Judd said.

Diets like the Whole30, a monthlong clean-eating program, and Paleo, which attempts to mimic what our ancestors ate, do work to reduce the number of pro-inflammatory foods the gut has to address, and therefore lead to lower levels of inflammation, she says.

These diets emphasize whole, simple foods that nourish the body and advocate eating vegetables, meat, fish, nuts, seeds and some fruits, while cutting grains, sugar, alcohol and dairy. However, for many people diets like these are tough to maintain.

One good option is to take breaks from a regular diet and follow the ideas behind these diets to periodically lower the body’s inflammatory load.
That’s a great way to give the gut and body a rest but not feel as though you can’t eat some of your favorites from time to time, Judd says. Another option is the 90:10 rule, she says.

“Try to have 90 percent of the food you eat come from clean foods, and then the other 10 percent of the food can be from more processed items,” Judd said. “You may find with time you feel better eating 100 percent of your diet from nonprocessed food.”

As for the best foods to eat for wellness generally, Judd recommends that people start with fruits and vegetables and try to get about half-full on those before starting on the meats and fats.

“I would also suggest people make a list of their favorite foods — not prepared foods, but actual food that came from the ground or had a mother,” Judd said. “Macaroni and cheese did not have a mother.”

After identifying what real foods you enjoy eating, be sure to eat that as your fruit/vegetable/meat/grain/nut/seed every day. This will ensure that the body is getting tasty food that it craves.

Eating for hunger and not emotion is also a huge first step to understand what the body needs; real hunger is felt at a physical level, and usually in the throat, she says.

Judd’s recommendations to maintain a healthy diet:

• Eat six to nine servings, or more, of fruit and vegetables each day, Judd says. “These can be raw, dried or cooked; but do not add a lot of sugar, animal fat or salt if they are cooked. Try to eat seasonally and locally for optimum freshness and lower cost.”

• Eat some healthy fat each day: avocado, walnuts, almonds, other nuts, olives, chia seeds, olive oil, grapeseed oil or canola oil. “Try to limit fats to four servings each day, based on hunger. A palmful, not fistful, of walnuts or cashews can go a long way toward staving off afternoon hunger.”

• Find a good source of protein. Judd says lentils, beans, seeds, fish and meat qualify. Base your protein source on your likes. “I once ate fish every day for a week to be more ‘healthy’ and was so miserable I binge-ate three huge cookies. There is no reason to make yourself miserable. Try to strike a balance between what you like for taste and what keeps you from being hungry.”
• Use physical activity to feel good, not to lose weight. “If you have eaten in the last three hours, but feel tired or shaky and think you need to eat, try a short walk outside or up and down stairs.”
• Download an app that tracks calories to help you understand how much you are eating each day. Judd suggests MyFitnessPal.
• As far as supplements, consider adding vitamin D to your diet, 2,000-4,000 IUs in summer and 4,000-8,000 IUs in winter. “Check with your doctor first to determine whether you may need more due to vitamin D deficiency. Apple cider vinegar is loaded with probiotics, which along with what you eat can change the bacteria in your gut. When I’m feeling lethargic, I add B12 and fish oil to my diet. Supplements are great but shouldn’t be the primary source of vitamins and minerals. You want them to come from your diet first.”
• When in doubt, consult a dietitian. Ask a friend, colleague or your physician for suggestions, or search for one online. “The internet is a great source for information; but don’t get too bogged down in the details, and be wary of anyone who says they have the ‘cure’ for obesity or the ‘solution’ for belly fat.”

“Developing and maintaining a healthy relationship with food is a lifelong pursuit and not a sprint to the finish line,” Judd said. “But once you start, it is a downhill race and gets easier every day.”