Newsbriefs: Reduce inflammatory markers; Type 2 diabetes risk; Whole grains and cardiovascular risk; Skip multivitamins; Omega-3s; Chronic constipation

Eat Walnuts to Reduce Inflammatory Markers

A meta-analysis of 24 randomized controlled trials showed that a walnut-enriched diet significantly reduced LDL (“bad”) cholesterol. Scientists then assessed changes in circulating inflammatory molecules, such as C-reactive protein, tumor necrosis factor, and serum amyloid, among 708 healthy adults (63 to 79 years old). Participants were assigned to either a controlled diet without walnuts or a diet with 30 to 60 grams of walnuts per day. After two years, improvements in cognitive function were the primary outcome, while changes in inflammatory markers were a secondary outcome. The study was published in Journal of the American College of Cardiology, Nov. 10, 2020

Switch Red Meat with Other Proteins to Lower Risk of Type 2 Diabetes

Researchers evaluated food frequency questionnaires from men in the Health Professionals Follow-up Study (27,634) and women in the Nurses’ Health Study I and II (121,219) over a period of four years for replacements of one daily serving of red meat with another protein source. The replaced protein was tracked for four years. Foods most closely associated with a lower risk of type 2 diabetes included poultry, seafood, low-fat dairy, high-fat dairy, eggs, legumes, and nuts. Benefits were strongest against the replacement of processed meat, but were also seen against unprocessed meat. This study was published in American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Oct. 23, 2020.

Replace Refined Grains with Whole Grains to Reduce Cardiovascular Risk Factors

In an observational analysis published in Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Nov. 1, 2020, researchers evaluated 22 randomized controlled trials to determine exactly which whole grains provided the best results in reducing cardiovascular risk factors. Their meta-analysis found that whole-grain oats improved total cholesterol and LDL (“bad”) cholesterol, while whole-grain rice had the most positive effect on triglycerides. All types of whole grains were helpful for improving hemoglobin A1c and C-reactive protein.

Skip the Multivitamins and Eat More Fresh Foods

Multivitamins may produce a placebo effect in people’s minds when it comes to the benefits they think they’re receiving, according to a study published in the November 2020 issue of BMJ Open. Adults in the 2012 National Health Interview Survey who were consumers of multivitamins and multi minerals (4,933 people) reported 30 percent better overall health than nonconsumers (16,670 people), but researchers found no difference in their health when evaluated based on needing help with basic needs, history of 10 chronic diseases, presence of any of 19 health conditions in the last 12 months, and severity of current psychological distress over the past month based on their needing help with daily activity. Up to 33 percent of Americans take multivitamins and minerals, the researchers report. It’s best to consume your nutrients from whole, fresh foods, and take supplements only as directed by your health-care provider.

Consume Omega-3s to Reduce Heart Attack Risk

According to a study in Journal of the American College of Cardiology, October 2020, people with the omega-3 eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) in their bloodstream at the time of a myocardial infarction (heart attack) had a smaller affected area of the heart and better long-term ventricular pumping. Among 944 patients diagnosed with a serious type of heart attack called ST-elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI), those with the highest omega-3 consumption had a lower incidence of major adverse cardiovascular events, hospital readmission for cardiovascular events, and all cause mortality during three years of follow-up. Also, the omega-3 alphalinolenic acid was linked with lower all-cause mortality. EPA is found primarily in fish, while ALA is found in nuts and seeds.

Relieve Chronic Constipation Naturally

A study presented at the American College of Gastroenterology Annual Meeting, Oct. 26, 2020, compared three natural remedies for constipation: green kiwifruit (two peeled), prunes (12 peeled), or psyllium (100 grams, a natural fiber found in some bran cereals and also available as a supplement). In a randomized trial, 79 people with chronic constipation were given one of the three natural treatments daily for four weeks. All three treatments improved complete spontaneous bowel movement, while kiwifruit improved chronic constipation the best and was better tolerated digestively. Stool consistency improved with both kiwi and prunes, while straining significantly improved with kiwi and psyllium. People who received psyllium had more incidences of abdominal pain and bloating followed by those who consumed prunes. None in the kiwi group reported pain or bloating.

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