Saturday, November 17, 2018

Benfits of Nuts to the body

Is it nuts to believe that you can increase your mortality by eating more nuts? In a recent study published by the New England Journal of Medicine, scientists found that daily nut consumers were 20% less likely to die from any cause than those who didn’t consume nuts.  Moreover; the regular nut-eaters were also more slender than those who didn’t eat any nuts, debunking the widespread myth that increased nut consumption leads to excessive weight gain.

Deluxe Mixed Nuts

While there have been previous studies linking nut consumption to lowered risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and colon cancer, there are few studies that delve into nut consumption and overall mortality.  The new research, lead by scientists from the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and the Harvard School of Public Health, was the largest and longest study of it’s kind.

The scientists tapped into the databases of two popular and ongoing observational studies that looked at diet and lifestyle factors.  One was the Nurses’ Health Study which gave data on 76, 464 women between 1980 to 2010.  The other was the Health Professionals’ Follow-up Study which reported data on 42,498 men from 1986 to 2010. This gave the researchers over 30 years of data.  Every two to four years, the participants were given a detailed food questionnaire.  They were asked to estimate how often they ate a serving of nuts, which was typically 1 ounce of nuts.

Nuts and Mortality

Ying Bao, MD, ScD, of Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and first author of the report, explains that all the analyses showed the more nuts people consumed, the less likely there were to die over the 30-year follow-up period.  The more servings of nuts you ate a week, the longer you would live.  If you ate nuts less than once a week, you had a 7 percent reduction in mortality.  If you ate nuts once a week, you had an 11 percent reduction.

The trend continued in the same manner: two to four times a week, 13 percent reduction; five to six times per week, 15 percent reduction, and seven or more times a week, a 20 percent reduction in death rate. The authors emphasize that this large study does not definitively prove cause and effect, but it demonstrates the benefits of nut consumption oin relation to several chronic diseases.  One benefit of nuts that has been well documented is it’s ability to reduce incidence of heart disease.
Nuts Reduces the Incidence of Heart Disease

The US Food and Drug Administration concluded in 2003 that eating 1.5 ounces per day of most nuts “may reduce the risk of heart disease.”  They made this statement based on several studies.  Charles S. Fuchs, MD, MPH, director of Gastrointestinal Cancer Center and senior author of the report, explains that America’s largest killer is heart disease.  In the recent study, they found that nuts reduced the deaths from heart disease by 29%.  The type of nuts did not differ in the reduction in mortality.  Bo

In another study that was published in the BMC Medicine journal, researchers suggest that people who eat nuts more than three times a week reduce their risk of dying from cancer or cardiovascular disease than non-nut eaters. Overall, nut consumers reduced their risk of death due to cardiovascular disease by 55 percent.  People who ate nuts tended to have a lower Body Mass Index (BMI) and smaller waist.  They also smoked less and were more physically active than those who rarely or never ate nuts.

Results from the large NEJM study demonstrated similar results.  The regular nut consumers lived a healthier lifestyle. Generally they smoked less, exercised more, regularly took multivitamins, and consumed more fruits and vegetables.  While it’s unrealistic to say nuts alone will increase your life expectancy, it’s safe to say nuts should be a regular part of a healthy diet.

Obesity brings about many health problems, and by now the association between obesity and several health issues such as cardiovascular diseases has been thoroughly documented. However, its effects on sexual health have not been studied that well, and consequently, the effect of countermeasures such as bariatric surgery on sexual health have also not received that much attention.

For many of us, sexual health is an important facet of our perception of the quality of our life, and its significance cannot be overstated.

. relationship

Aware of the gaps in knowledge with regard to sexual health after weight loss surgery, a research team from the University of Pennsylvania sought to determine exactly what effects bariatric surgery had on a woman’s reproductive and sexual health.
A LABS Study

The researchers used data from a LABS 2 study. LABS is the acronym for Longitudinal Assessment of Bariatric Surgery, a program that was started in the US in 2003 to evaluate the effects of bariatric surgery. It is divided into 3 parts, LABS 1, 2 and 3. LABS 1 evaluated the short term effects of bariatric surgery, LABS 2 evaluates the long term effects, and LABS 3 evaluates the physiological and psychosocial aspects of LABS 2 candidates.

LABS 2 is an ongoing study. The program started in enrolling participants 2006, and completed the process in 2009.  A total of 2,400 participants were recruited for the study. For the purposes of this study, participants were required to be in a relationship for at least a year, so that they would have the chance for sexual activity. They were also required to be willing to undergo what would be their first bariatric surgery. 

 From a total of 147 women who had consented to participating in the study, only 106 were found eligible. These women would then fill in questionnaires relating to several aspects of their health, including sexual health, before and after surgery. Similarly, blood samples were to be taken pre and post-surgery for assays.

85 women underwent Roux-en-Y gastric bypass surgery, while the remaining 21 underwent laparoscopic adjustable gastric banding.
A Litany of Questionnaires

The participants filled 7 questionnaires, the most important of which, in relation to the focus of the study, was the Female Sexual Function Index (FSFI). The FSFI comes with 19 questions that evaluate 6 areas of sexual functioning: orgasm, satisfaction, pain, arousal, desire and lubrication. Desire and satisfaction have a lower threshold of 1.2 and 0.8 respectively, while the rate start at 0. The maximum possible value for each of these domains is 6, and a total score at or below 26 indicates sexual dysfunction.

A Short Form Health Survey was also filled to evaluate the quality of life in terms of general health, while the Impact of Weight on Quality of Life-Lite was used to evaluate the impact of weight on work, sex, self-esteem, physical function and public distress. Other forms that were filled were: The Body Image Quality of Life Inventory, The Body Shape Questionnaire, the Dyadic Adjustment Scale and the Beck Depression Inventory.
Blood works

In addition to the questionnaires, blood samples were taken from the participants and tested for hormones important in sexual and reproductive health. The hormones tested were: follicle stimulating hormone (FSH), estradiol, luteinizing hormone (LH) DHEA-S, total testosterone and sex hormone binding globulin.

As participants in the LABS 2 study, the women receive follow ups annually, but the researchers limited themselves to the second year of follow up, as this often marks the point when a person who has undergone bariatric surgery experiences the greatest weight loss.
The Weight Tumbles, Sexual Functioning Goes Up

In the first year of checkup, the women lost an average of 32.7% of their body weight, and in the second year that average had risen to 33.5%. Concomitantly, blood tests showed that there were improvements in hormonal levels, especially in those women whose values had been very low to begin with. DHEA-S took a while to rise, but it had done so by the second year.

Scores taken from the FSFI also showed that the women were enjoying improvements in many other aspects, notably arousal, desires and satisfaction. In terms of psychosocial health, the women became more positive about their body images after bariatric surgery. 
Limitations of the study

While the whole experiment was generally fine, the researchers noted that the participants were predominantly white and highly educated, making it hard to draw conclusions about women from other races with different levels of education. Also, because they couldn’t get data on menstrual cycles or menopause status, the researchers were forced to extrapolate potential fertility benefits solely on the changes in sex hormones.

Everybody has heard doctors and therapists say it before--that exercising regularly is one of the best things that you can do to treat depression and make yourself feel better.  Keeping your body active (exercising) releases endorphins in your brain, the chemicals that make you feel good and give you a feeling of well-being. Additionally exercising seems to have more benefits. As per a new study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, one of the world’s leading peer-reviewed full text publications, exercise can prevent episodes of depression in the long run.

The Study

The study shows a correlation associated with physical health and exercising. It concludes that, in addition to leading to weight loss and good physical shape, which carry many benefits in their own right, exercise is one of the leading methods of maintaining good and strong mental health as well as preventing the onset of depression later in life.  This correlates and falls into place nicely with the continuously growing pile of evidence that associates obesity with depression, and comes as good news to those looking to treat these common problems found in millions of Americans.

This study is backed up by Ph.D candidate George Mammen at the University of Toronto, who has done plenty of research of his own in this field.  He says that part of what makes news like this so encouraging for people like himself is that it is not a drug, but instead a natural remedy.  Says Mammen “We need a prevention strategy now more than ever,”. “Our health system is taxed. We need to shift focus and look for ways to fend off depression from the start.”  From what it looks like, exercise is one of, if not the most important, determining factors here.
Options for Others

But what about those who are not in the best physical condition already?  If obesity truly is intertwined with depression, than it would appear that those who need exercise the most to treat their problems are those who are going to have the most difficult time actually doing it.  Luckily, George Mammen has an answer to this as well.  He has analyzed more than 26 years worth of research on this topic, Even simple everyday tasks that one would not normally associate with physical activity and exercise can be a part of this, such as walking or gardening for twenty to thirty minutes every day.  Of course, exercise is not the only variable in situations like this, but, according to Mammen “It’s definitely worth taking note that if you’re currently active, you should sustain it. If you’re not physically active, you should initiate the habit.”
More Causes of Depression

Interestingly enough, yet another one of the causes that can be associated with depression is the food that you eat.  Of course, there is the obvious fact that eating healthier foods make the body feel better than consuming generic junk food.  But it also seems that food insecurity can be a factor too.  This problem is seen most commonly with younger women attempting to lose weight.  It involves rationing, portioning food, and the inability to eat a balanced meal.  It can also be initiated by domestic violence. Plus, this could lead to a big breakthrough in this common health issue.  Says Daphne Hernandez, Ph. D “What this means is that targeting issues central to women’s health must become a priority in combating food insecurity.”

Look everywhere, especially in the health and fitness industry, and you will find high protein powders, shakes, and snack bars for exercise enthusiasts.  While the reasoning may vary from person to person, the general consensus is that proteins curbs hunger better than carbohydrates.  In a new research project, presented at the Obesity Society’s annual scientific meeting, researchers found that eating a high protein breakfast curbed hunger throughout the day as compared to eating a high carbohydrate meal or skipping breakfast. When making breakfast for yourself, opt for the lean sausage and egg omelet meals or try a protein shake.  Avoid the pancakes, bagels, and waffles as they only lead women to snack more later on in the day.

steak, eggs, potatoes
Protein-Rich Breakfast helps Women Control their Appetites

Kevin C. Maki, principal investigator and a research scientist with Biofortis Clinical Research, explains that a breakfast rich in protein helps women control their appetite and avoid overeating throughout the day.  For their study, adult women were placed in one of three groups. They were given either a high protein breakfast, a high carbohydrate breakfast, or no breakfast at all.  Both breakfast meals contained 300 calories and similar quantities of fat and fiber, but the protein rich breakfast  also contained 30 to 39 grams of protein.

After breakfast, the participants answered a questionnaire about their appetites before breakfast and every 30 minutes between breakfast and lunch.  For lunch, the volunteers were all given a meal of tortellini and sauce and were asked to eat until they felt comfortably full.  Compared to the participants who ate the low protein breakfast or skipped breakfast, the participants who ate the protein-rich breakfast had improved appetite ratings throughout the morning and also ate fewer calories at lunch.
Protein-Rich Breakfast helps Young People Snack Less During the Day

Similar results were seen in another study that was published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.  Heather Leidy, the assistant professor in the Department of Nutrition and Exercise Physiology, wanted to investigate young people who are the biggest culprits of skipping breakfast.  She is one of the first to assess the impact of breakfast on daily appetite and evening snacking in adolescents and teens.  Statistics shows up to 60 percent of American young people habitually skip breakfast, despite it being the most important meal of the day.

Sample size for the study was small.  20 overweight adolescent females between the ages 18 and 20 were asked to either skip breakfast, eat a high protein breakfast consisting of eggs and lean beef, or eat a normal-protein breakfast of cereal.  All the breakfast meals consisted of 350 calories and matched for dietary fat, fiber, sugar, and energy density, but the high protein breakfast also contained 35 grams of protein.

After breakfast, participants were also asked to finish questionnaires and provide blood samples throughout the day.  Prior to dinner, a brain scan or MRI was used to track brain signals that influence eating behavior.

Those who ate the protein-rich breakfast reduced their evening snacking on junk food when compared to the group who skipped breakfast and the group who ate the cereal breakfast.  Moreover; results from the MRI brain scans showed a reduction in brain activity that is responsible for controlling food cravings.  The high-protein group felt full and more satiated.  The researchers concluded that protein-rich breakfasts are an effective strategy to prevent overeating.

If you normally skip breakfast, make a conscious effort to change this habit.  Breakfast skipping has been strongly associated with unhealthy snacking, overeating at night, weight gain and obesity. Give your body 3 full days to acclimate to eating early in the day. High protein breakfasts include lean steak and eggs, vegetable omelets, sausage and vegetables, and plain greek yogurt topped with nuts and cinnamon. Incorporating a protein-rich breakfast into your daily diet can be a simple strategy for people to feel less hungry and become less prone to snacking.

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