Better Nutrition Healthy Trends for November 2017
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Sustainable Farming Bridges Cultural Divides
A University of Kansas researcher who interviewed farmers using sustainable methods found that common interests in providing food to local communities unite people, despite differences in ideologies and cultures. “Many of the farmers I talked to expressed being surprised at the relationships they built with people who were so different than them,” said researcher Ruth Stamper, graduate research assistant, who presented her findings at the American Sociological Association’s annual meeting in Montreal. Farmers interviewed included multi-generational farm owners and recent city transplants with very different personal beliefs.
84% don’t eat recommended servings of vegetables
Although eating at least five servings of vegetables and fruits per day is a widely accepted health recommendation, 84 percent of Americans don’t do it, and nearly four in 10 eat less than two servings. That’s the finding of an online survey of nearly 600 people by ReportLinker.
Avocado: eye and brain superstar
Already known as a healthy fat, avocado has even more to offer. Research at Tufts University near Boston has found that it’s an especially bioavailable source of lutein, a necessary nutrient for eye and brain health. A high concentration of lutein in the macula of the eye helps to prevent age-related macular degeneration, a leading cause of vision loss after age 60, and is a marker for the levels of lutein in the brain—higher is better. In the study, eating one avocado daily improved memory, attention, and problem solving. Compared to lutein supplements, a daily avocado more than doubled the concentration of lutein in the macula of the eye.
Carbs or Fat?
Is it better to eat more carbs, in whole grains, or more fat? A new study, which examined more than 135,000 people from 18 countries, sheds some light on the question. Researchers tracked people between the ages of 35 and 70, for about 7 years. “Our findings do not support the current recommendation to limit total fat intake to less than 30 percent of energy and saturated fat intake to less than 10 percent of energy,” said Canadian study investigator Mahshid Dehghan, PhD. Rather, he suggested that about 35 percent of daily calories from fat may lead to a longer life. Study highlights include:
- People who ate the most carbs had a 28 percent higher risk of death.
- Compared to people who ate the least fat, those who ate the most were 23 percent less likely to die soon and 18 percent less likely to have a stroke.
Reversing Muscle Loss
Without regular resistance training, we lose muscle as we age. But certain nutrients can reverse the process, according to a Canadian study at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario. A group of 49 healthy men with an average age of 73 took a combination of these supplements twice daily: 30 grams of whey protein, 2.5 grams of creatine, 500 IU of vitamin D, and 400 mg of calcium, as well as a once-daily fish oil supplement that contained 1,400 mg of EPA and 890 mg of DHA. After six weeks, they gained as much muscle as they would normally lose in a year (700 grams). For another six weeks, adding an exercise program to the supplement regimen improved muscle strength even further.
Probiotics for Dandruff
Bacteria live on our skin as well as in our gut, and probiotics can affect skin health, even on the scalp. A European study found that a specific strain of probiotics (Lactobacillus paracasei ST11, not currently available in the U.S.) significantly reduced dandruff in men when taken daily for two months. Other probiotics have not been tested for dandruff but could potentially help. Small studies and anecdotal evidence show that a combination of probiotics, available in many supplements, can help to treat acne.
Almonds: Size Matters
When almonds are ground into flour, the small particle sizes make the fat much more digestible than almond chunks, according to research that compared muffins made with both types of ingredients. The study, published in the Journal of Functional Foods, found that 97 percent of fat was absorbed from almond-flour muffins, compared to only 57 percent of fat from muffins made with almond chunks.
Does Fish Oil Really Protect the Heart?
Opinions have varied about the effects of fish oil on heart health, but a new study offers some valuable insights. An analysis of earlier studies following more than 71,000 people, published in the Journal of Clinical Lipidology, found that taking any dose of fish oil reduced risk of death from heart disease, on average, by 8 percent. However, among people who took more than 1 gram of an EPA-DHA combination, risk dropped by much more: up to 30 percent. People with higher risk for heart disease had the greatest benefits.
Deciphering the Dose: In the Supplement Facts on a product label, look for quantities of EPA and DHA, the key beneficial fats in the oil. Each is listed separately. For example, a 1,000 mg (1 gm) serving of fish oil often contains 180 mg of EPA and 120 mg of DHA, for a total of 300 mg of EPA-DHA, so it would take approximately 3–4 servings to get 1,000 mg. Some products are more concentrated.
Since 1972, the number of American fathers with newborns after age 40 has more than doubled, from 4.1 to 8.9 percent, according to a study by Stanford University. Fathers with newborns after age 50 have also doubled, but make up only 1 percent of the total.
Red Sage Good for Bones
Red sage, an herb used in Chinese medicine, may hold the key to better prevention and treatment of osteoporosis, according to a study at the University of British Columbia in Canada. Not the same as sage, red sage blocks an enzyme that breaks down collagen, which contributes to bone thinning, and could prevent or slow down osteoporosis without side effects. The researchers believe it could also be used to treat other bone and cartilage diseases, such as arthritis and certain bone cancers. In China, the herb is used to treat heart disease and other circulatory disorders. Red sage is also called danshen, dan shen, or by its Latin name, Salvia miltiorrhiza.
28,187 Medicinal Plant Species
That’s how many medicinal plant species that we know of so far, according to the latest report from Kew Gardens, a global nonprofit research organization near London in the UK. To learn more, visit stateoftheworldsplants.com.