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Whole Grain Benefits

Gluten Not a ‘Brain Fog’ Trigger in Women Without Celiac Disease

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By Steven Reinberg
HealthDay reporter

FRIDAY, May 21, 2021 (HealthDay News) – Going gluten-free is a trend that is good for your body and mind. However, a new study finds no evidence that gluten is bad for your brain.

In nearly 13,500 middle-aged women, the researchers found no association between the consumption of wheat, barley, or rye (the sources of gluten) and intellectual abilities.

According to the study’s authors, the only people who will spiritually benefit from avoiding gluten are those with celiac disease who cannot digest it.

“People without real gluten sensitivity due to celiac disease should not eat gluten-free on the assumption that they will improve their brain health,” said lead author Dr. Andrew Chan, professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and vice chairman of gastroenterology at Massachusetts General Hospital, both in Boston.

“This is in contrast to some anecdotes and the popular press that gluten is harmful and can contribute to cognitive decline or what is known as ‘brain fog’,” he said.

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The study participants had all taken part in the Nurses’ Health Study II, a study of risk factors for chronic diseases in women. Both nutritional data and mental function were assessed as part of this study. Mental ability tests included speed, attention, and memory. None of the women had celiac disease.

Based on this data, Chan and his team found no effect of gluten on mental abilities. They assume they would get the same result with men, he said.

“We found that in people with no history of celiac disease, low-gluten diets were not associated with improvements in cognitive function,” said Chan. “The evidence just isn’t there to support a diet change for that purpose.”

According to Harvard University, the gluten-free food industry grew 136% between 2013 and 2015, with sales of nearly $ 12 billion in 2015, and most of the people who buy the products do not have celiac disease. People without celiac disease who follow a gluten-free diet may be at increased risk of obesity and metabolic syndrome, a group of conditions that increase the risk of heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes.

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Samantha Heller, a senior clinical nutritionist at NYU Langone Health in New York City, examined the results and agreed that gluten will not rot the brain.

“Ignore the scare tactics and misinformation that gluten is a brain toxin,” she said. “People who have no medical reason to avoid gluten, such as celiac disease, a wheat allergy, or non-celiac gluten sensitivity, can eat gluten-containing foods without fear that these foods will cause cognitive impairment or brain inflammation.”

What affects brain health are other mostly preventable diseases like type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and obesity, Heller said.

Type 2 diabetes is associated with an approximately doubled risk of dementia, and studies have shown that patients with heart disease increase the risk of thinking disorders by 45%. People who are overweight or obese are at higher risk for Alzheimer’s and dementia, she said.

“Let’s focus on what we can do to prevent these all-too-common diseases,” said Heller. “The approach is similar for everyone and also helps improve brain health.”

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Your advice:

  • Include physical activity in your daily routine. Run, walk, swim, ride a bike, do yoga, dance – whatever you enjoy.
  • Add more vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, spinach, asparagus, carrots, and zucchini to your meals – all vegetables are good for you.
  • Eat fresh fruit in season.
  • Enjoy more whole grains like 100% whole grain bread, multigrain cereals and crackers, oats, buckwheat and bulgur.
  • Switch from fats like butter to vegetable oils like extra virgin olive oil, avocado oil, or canola oil.
  • Swap animal protein (burger, cheese, steak, sausage, pork) for beans, nuts, nut butter, edamame, tofu, seitan and vegetarian burgers.
  • Keep yourself well hydrated with drinking water, seltzer, or tea (herbal or traditional).

The study was published online May 21 in the journal JAMA Network Open.

More information

To learn more about gluten, visit Harvard University.

SOURCES: Andrew Chan, MD, MPH, professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and vice chairman of gastroenterology at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston; Samantha Heller, MS, RDN, Senior Clinical Nutritionist, NYU Langone Health, New York City; JAMA Network Open, May 21, 2021, online

Whole Grain Benefits

Intact whole grains may be better than ground

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Most people know that whole grains are better for you than refined grains like white bread or white rice, but how whole grains are processed — whether the grains are intact or ground into flour — can also make a difference.

In recent years, researchers at Otago University have shown that consuming unmilled whole grains compared to ground whole grains such as whole wheat flour can have a positive effect on people’s blood glycemic levels. This is according to Dr. Andrew Reynolds from the medical school, who was involved in most of these studies, especially relevant for people with type 2 diabetes or prediabetes.

Studies of single meal response in a controlled setting have shown that more intact, less ground whole grains resulted in better blood sugar responses in people with diabetes compared to eating the same amount of ground whole grains. Foods tested included oatmeal, bread and crackers.

Another study of 28 participants living with type 2 diabetes found similar results — that eating less processed whole grains for two weeks improved blood sugar control compared to an equal amount of finely ground whole grains.

In this study, half of the participants were given a range of different whole grains and asked to substitute whole grain oats, whole wheat bread, and brown rice for the grains they normally ate. The other half got ground whole wheat bread, ground oats and brown rice pasta. After a two-week break, the groups were then given the other whole grain products.

Unexpectedly, this study also showed that when the 28 participants ate more whole grains, they lost an average of 400g over the two weeks. When eating finely ground whole wheat, oats and brown rice flour, the same participants gained 400 g. This is despite no advice to eat less or exercise more, and no evidence that participants ate differently during the two interventions, said Dr. Reynolds.

“We use whole grains for weight loss trials and we know people tend to lose weight when you switch from refined grains to whole grains. What we’ve never seen before is that milling the grain affects that too.”

While milled whole grains typically still retain all of the grain’s nutrients, the milling process destroys the larger physical structures, like fibers, he explained.

During milling, fibers are mechanically sheared into small pieces so that they no longer act as fibers. This allows them to be digested in the stomach and absorbed in the small intestine instead of going to the microbiome in the colon. There, the fiber is converted into healthy short-chain fatty acids, which are absorbed without changing the blood sugar level.

dr Reynolds and his team are now in the process of starting a larger, longer study called Whole Grains for Health. With support from Lotteries Health, the Baking Industry Research Trust and Harraways Oats, 160 participants with type 2 diabetes in Otago, Southland and Canterbury are being provided with whole grains. Recruitment begins this month and participants will be fed whole grain foods for 12 weeks.

Half of the participants receive foods such as wholemeal bread with chunky, intact grains, bulgar (wholemeal groats) and wholemeal oats. The other half gets supermarket whole grain bread, whole grain couscous made from wheat flour and oat flour.

dr Reynolds was surprised at how difficult it was to find grain products that were similar, apart from the amount of processing, so he could directly compare the effects.

“We wanted to do this trial using only whole grains available in the supermarket, but we really struggled to find intact whole grains beyond oats and brown rice. Instead, we now work directly with a baking company to make breads that have a good amount of whole grain and kibbled wheat in them. It will be interesting to see if increased awareness of health benefits will create a demand for more whole grain breads,” he said.

In the Whole Grains for Health study, they want to find out if grinding whole grains affects blood sugar levels by measuring HbA1c, or glycated hemoglobin, the most commonly used clinical marker that reflects blood sugar control over the past three months.

It will also be interesting to see if those who eat the whole grains lose more weight than those who eat ground grains, as they did in the earlier study, he said.

If this intervention works in the longer term and confirms what previous studies have shown, it will have implications for whole grain labeling. Can wholemeal bread made from finely ground flour be labeled as health food? dr Reynolds wonders.

Currently, the Whole Grains Council, a non-profit consumer advocacy group dedicated to increasing consumption of whole grains for better health, defines whole grain products, or foods made from them, as those containing all of the essential parts and naturally occurring nutrients of the whole grain in original proportions. However, the grains can be milled, rolled, milled, cracked, extruded, flaked or cooked. It even allows the parts to be separated and rejoined during processing.

This current whole grain study aims to explore and perhaps refine that definition, he said.

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Whole Grain Benefits

What to eat, avoid, and more

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Cholesterol is a waxy substance found in every cell in the body. Consuming too much cholesterol in the diet increases cardiovascular problems. Avoiding certain foods reduces the risks.

Cholesterol performs important functions, including:

However, high blood cholesterol levels can cause health problems such as high blood pressure and atherosclerosis. To lower high cholesterol or maintain healthy cholesterol levels, it is important to make lifestyle changes and reduce dietary cholesterol levels.

This article reviews the causes of high cholesterol, foods to avoid, and some low-cholesterol foods and low-cholesterol lunches.

Cholesterol is bound to specific proteins while being transported throughout the body. The combination of wax substance and proteins is called lipoprotein.

There are different types of lipoproteins depending on what is attached, but the two main types of cholesterol are:

  • Low-density lipoprotein (LDL): This is known as the “bad” cholesterol. It transports cholesterol from the liver to various parts of the body. LDL cholesterol can build up in veins and arteries, narrowing them and restricting blood flow. A high LDL level is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease.
  • High Density Lipoprotein (HDL): This is known as the “good” cholesterol. It transports cholesterol from the body back to the liver for processing and elimination. A high HDL level is considered cardioprotective.

Genetic factors can lead to high blood cholesterol levels. This means that some individuals produce excessive amounts of cholesterol – particularly LDL cholesterol – leading to high blood cholesterol levels. This is called genetic or familial hypercholesterolemia.

Certain lifestyle factors can affect cholesterol levels. For example, eating foods that contain high amounts of cholesterol, saturated fat, and trans fat has been shown to increase blood cholesterol levels.

These are found in the following foods:

  • Processed carbohydrates: This includes white bread and white pasta.
  • Saturated Fatty Acids: This includes red meat, whole dairy, and processed foods.
  • trans fats: This includes fried and highly processed foods like cookies, crackers, and donuts.

Other lifestyle factors that can contribute to high cholesterol include smoking tobacco products and inactivity.

Some medical conditions can also cause high cholesterol, including:

Individuals who wish to lower their blood cholesterol levels can make some lifestyle changes to achieve this.

These strategies include:

  • Exercise regularly
  • Avoidance of Tobacco – Smoking is associated with unfavorable lipoprotein profiles
  • Reducing consumption of foods high in cholesterol, saturated fats and trans fats
  • maintaining a moderate body mass index
  • Eat enough fiber, especially soluble fiber

Increasing your consumption of soluble fiber can lower cholesterol levels. This is because soluble fiber turns into a gel and attaches to cholesterol in the small intestine. This gel helps push it through the digestive system for the body to dispose of through feces.

Foods that contain high amounts of soluble fiber include:

  • Legumes, peas and beans
  • fruit
  • oatmeal
  • just
  • vegetables
  • most root vegetables

Individuals with a family history of high cholesterol should consult their doctor to determine if they are at risk of inheriting the condition. If so, they can work together to develop a strategy to minimize their risk.

Low cholesterol foods tend to be lower in fat. That means plant-based foods and low-fat proteins are excellent low-cholesterol options.

Processed foods can also sometimes contain cholesterol. People can check this by reading the nutritional label and paying attention to the serving size.

Examples of low-cholesterol food groups include:

legumes

  • black beans
  • kidney beans
  • Chickpeas
  • navy beans
  • pinto beans
  • broad beans
  • Lentils – red, black and green

fruit

  • apples
  • bananas
  • strawberries
  • blueberries
  • raspberries
  • oranges
  • watermelon
  • Cantaloupe melon
  • mango
  • pineapple

vegetables

  • spinach
  • Kale
  • aubergine
  • okra
  • sweet potato
  • potato
  • carrots
  • broccoli
  • the brussel sprouts
  • cabbage

nuts

  • cashew nuts
  • almonds
  • walnuts
  • pecans
  • hazelnuts
  • pistachios
  • macadamia nuts
  • pine nuts

Whole grains, muesli and pasta

  • Oats and oatmeal
  • whole grain breads
  • Wholemeal crackers
  • Pasta, especially whole grain or lentil varieties
  • cold cereals, especially whole grains or bran
  • bran products
  • rice

soy

  • soybeans
  • tofu
  • Soy milk
  • tempeh
  • miso

Fatty fish and meat

  • salmon
  • tuna
  • halibut
  • work work
  • yellowtail
  • chicken
  • Turkey
  • lean steak

Different food items

  • onions
  • mushrooms
  • garlic
  • ginger
  • honey
  • mustard
  • Ketchup
  • Chia seeds

Reducing the consumption of cholesterol-containing foods can help lower blood cholesterol levels.

Some examples of low cholesterol lunch ideas include:

  • vegetarian or turkey sandwich or wrap
  • Broth-based vegetable soup or lentil soup
  • Salads with low-fat or olive oil-based dressings
  • Salmon with rice and roasted broccoli
  • Tofu or Ground Turkey Chili
  • Pasta salad with roasted vegetables and chicken
  • Overnight oats with fruits and nuts
  • Chicken or tofu and vegetable stir-fry with brown rice
  • Mediterranean quinoa with feta, cucumber, red onions and olives

Read on for a diet plan to lower cholesterol.

Research has also examined the benefits of the traditional Mediterranean diet.

The Mediterranean food pyramid lists the consumption of foods in various amounts and frequencies:

  • Dairy products, nuts, seeds, legumes every day
  • Fruits, vegetables, healthy fats like olive oil, whole grains, nuts with every main meal
  • at least 2 servings of fish or seafood per week
  • 2 servings of white meat and 2-4 servings of eggs weekly
  • Limit red meat to no more than 2 servings per week and sweets to no more than 3 servings per week

The study showed that this type of diet protects against cardiovascular disease and lowers LDL cholesterol levels.

Read more for a Mediterranean meal plan here.

Cholesterol is an endogenous substance with many important functions. However, high blood cholesterol can be problematic as it increases the risk of cardiovascular disease.

There are many strategies that can help lower or maintain a person’s cholesterol levels, including diet.

By eating more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains and reducing the consumption of foods that contain cholesterol, saturated fat, and trans fat, individuals can help control their cholesterol levels.

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Whole Grain Benefits

Which diet is the healthiest? One eating hack can boost more than your body

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Scientists, nutritionists, and social media influencers have made their careers researching what—exactly—makes the best diet. In recent years, the Paleo diet, which attempts to replicate what our ancient ancestors were said to have eaten, has been pitted against the keto diet (essentially a version of the Atkins diet) and intermittent fasting (which insists there isn’t any diet is) fought for supremacy. But there’s one diet that almost all scientists agree is healthy for your body, your brain — and maybe even the planet.

Many nutritionists have long emphasized that a balanced diet consisting primarily of vegetables, whole grains, nuts and seeds, legumes and fruits is ideal for a healthy adult body and has numerous health benefits.

In other words: a plant-based diet. As it turns out, this type of diet is not only good for human health — it can also save the planet from the climate crisis.

In a recent study published in the journal Nature, scientists show how people in higher-income countries could remove enough carbon dioxide from the atmosphere to keep the global temperature from rising above 1.5 or 2 degrees Celsius by switching to a plant-based diet change.

Two degrees is the upper warming limit set by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel to contain the worst effects of the climate crisis.

Specifically, researchers cite the EAT-Lancet diet as the healthiest diet for you and the planet. Here’s what you need to know.

What is the EAT Lancet Diet?

An infographic summarizing the plant-based diet recommended by the EAT-Lancet Commission. The diet is high in vegetables and low in meat.

The world population is expected to grow to 10 billion people over the course of the 21st century. Feeding this growing population in a way that is sustainable for the planet will be a challenge.

The EAT-LANCET Commission brought together leading scientists to determine the best “Planetary Health” diet – a diet to promote human health and protect the sustainability of the environment in line with the UN’s climate goals. (You can read the full report here.)

People in higher-income countries make up just 17 percent of the world’s population, but if they switch to a plant-based diet, we could eliminate the equivalent of “about 14 years of current global agricultural emissions,” the researchers say.

According to the Commission, the two main components a meal that follows the guidelines of the Planetary Health Diet:

  1. Half a plate of vegetables and fruit.
  2. Half a plate with a mix of “whole grains, plant-based protein sources, unsaturated vegetable oils, and (optionally) modest amounts of animal-based protein sources.”

The number of calories, on the other hand, would depend on the needs of the person.

Here is a more detailed breakdown of what a person can eat on an average day as part of the planetary health diet:

  • Whole grains (rice, wheat, corn, etc.): 232 grams or 811 calories
  • Starchy vegetables (potatoes and cassava): 39 calories
  • Fruit: 200 grams or 78 calories
  • Dairy: 250 grams or 153 calories
  • Protein: Can vary from 14 to 50 grams (30 to 291 calories) depending on whether it is animal protein (ie beef, lamb, poultry, fish, eggs) or plant protein (legumes and nuts).
  • Added Fats: Unsaturated Oils (40 grams or 354 calories) or Saturated Oils (11.8 grams or 96 calories)
  • Added Sugar: 31 grams or 120 calories

The commission’s scientists conclude that a plant-based diet is a “win-win” for the earth and humanity, stating: “A diet high in plant-based foods and lower in animal-based foods brings both improved health and environmental benefits.”

Why is the planetary health diet good for the earth?

If people in high-income countries switch to a plant-based diet and we convert farmland to natural vegetation, we can make a big contribution to curbing global warming, researchers find.Getty

Food systems in rich countries contribute a lot to the climate crisis. As the researchers report in the latest Nature study, the global food system emits 13.7 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide emissions annually, or about 26 percent of total greenhouse gas emissions.

Animal production, along with land use, “constitutes the majority of these emissions.”

Per capita meat consumption in richer countries is six times higher than in lower-income countries. Greenhouse gas emissions from meat consumption are also significantly higher: animal-based products account for 70 percent of greenhouse gas emissions from food systems in richer countries, but only 22 percent in lower-middle-income countries.

“Hence, dietary changes in high-income countries could have the potential to significantly reduce agricultural emissions around the world,” the researchers write.

If people in higher-income countries transition to the plant-based diets outlined here and return farmland of animal origin to natural vegetation, researchers say we can reduce annual agricultural greenhouse gas emissions from those countries by 61.5 percent and save up to 98.3 gigatons carbon dioxide in the soil.

Besides saving the planet, EAT-Lancet is also crucially good for human health, which can help people in wealthier countries adapt to a plant-based diet.

Why is the planetary health diet good for humans?

Eating a plant-based diet has numerous benefits, from reducing obesity to improving heart health. Getty

The food best suited to cooling down a warming planet is also extraordinarily good for human health.

“Healthy plant-based eating should be recommended as an environmentally responsible dietary option for improved cardiovascular health,” researchers write in a separate 2018 report.

Numerous studies shed light on how plant-based eating can improve or reduce the risk of a variety of health conditions, including:

“Improving plant-based diet quality over a 12-year period was associated with a reduced risk of total and [cardiovascular disease] mortality, while increased consumption of an unhealthy plant-based diet is associated with a higher risk of total and [cardiovascular disease] mortality,” researchers write in another 2019 study.

Animal proteins provide essential nutrients like iron and zinc. So if you choose to eat a plant-based diet, it’s important to get enough plant-based protein from other sources to make up for the loss.

Iron-rich foods include legumes, nuts and seeds, and whole grain breads – all of which are included on the ideal plate, according to EAT-Lancet guidelines.

For this reason, following a diet with specific guidelines for consumption — like the EAT-Lancet Planetary Health Diet — can ensure you’re still getting essential nutrients and protein despite following a plant-based diet.

The reverse analysis – Whether you’re trying to convince a friend to cut down on his meat intake or working to include more leafy greens in your own diet, it’s helpful to remember the connections between the planet and our own bodies.

After all, skipping a cheeseburger because of global warming might seem like an abstraction, but when you consider that your heart health is at stake, you’re more likely to choose a healthier, plant-based option that also has tremendous benefits for the planet.

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