A Healthy Diet Slows Memory Loss

A diet rich in certain nutritious foods appears to an important factor in slowing cognitive decline, according to the results of a study revealed by Dr. M.C. Morris of the Rush University Medical Center in Chicago.

Participants in the study who followed a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, lean meats, fish, poultry, low fat dairy, nuts, and seeds, and low in sugar, salt and saturated fats, showed a significantly slower rate of cognitive decline than others who followed more typical American diets.

The authors studied over 800 dementia free adults who agreed to have annual cognitive and motor testing over an average of 4.7 years of follow up.

Among the individual dietary components contributing most significantly to the slower cognitive decline were higher servings of vegetables, nuts, seeds, peas and beans.

So make sure to eat lots of vegetables, peas and nuts every day.

Lycopene Shown to Reduce Risk of Stroke

Tomatoes are not only tasty, but they may also help prevent strokes.

Tomatoes have high levels of lycopene, which makes them an important source of this antioxidant.

The importance of eating tomatoes, as well as other vegetables and fruits, was underscored by the findings of a Finnish team of researchers in the journal Neurology.

After more than twelve years of follow up, they found that men with the highest levels of lycopene were 55% less likely to have a stroke.

There was no association between stroke and blood levels of other antioxidants – just lycopene.

The length of the study gives it considerable strength, and helps fortify the recommendation that people eat tomatoes, and all fruits and vegetables, regularly, since they are good for one’s health in many other ways.

One word of caution.Your main source of tomatoes shouldn’t be pizza.

A New Way To Reduce Caloric Consumption

A first of its kind study recently evaluated the influence on food choice exerted by a restaurant menu which, next to each food, revealed the amount of exercise needed to burn off the calories contained in that food item.

Interestingly, researchers at Texas Christian University found that the participants in their study, when shown the exercise information, ordered, and ate, significantly fewer calories than those ordering from a menu not displaying either calories or exercise costs.

Most previous studies show that providing information on caloric content alone does not lead to fewer calories ordered or consumed.

The researchers studied a group of 300 men and women, aged 18 to 30 years.

As an example, a female would have to walk briskly for about two hours to burn the calories in a quarter – pound double cheeseburger!

A 154 pound person jogging at a pace of about 12 minutes/mile burns up approximately 295 calories in 30 minutes.

Are we to expect legislation in the future requiring restaurants to list the exercise minutes next to each food item??

Brown Fat – a New Treatment for Obesity?

Until about four years ago, scientists thought brown fat existed only in infants.Infants cannot shiver, so they use brown fat as a means to keep warm.

Several new studies have shown the existence of brown fat in human adults for the first time – present in the neck, the upper back and elsewhere.

We now have proof that this brown fat actually burns calories at a significant rate – like a furnace.

Brown fat is turned on when people get cold and during exercise.

Scientists are now exploring ways to turn on brown fat without exposing people to cold temperatures or prolonged exercise.

A group of researchers are presently looking at a number of hormones, and other compounds, to determine which are most effective and potent at activating brown fat.Hopefully, they won’t take long.

Commonly Held Weight Loss Beliefs: Let’s Explore the Presumptions.

This week’s BLOG deals with some commonly held weight loss beliefs recently discussed in a NEJM article which are actually unproven PRESUMPTIONS – i.e., widely accepted beliefs that have not been proven true or false in the medical literature.

Among these PRESUMPTIONS are the following:

  • Regularly eating breakfast, rather than skipping it, protects against obesity.

Based on two randomized, controlled studies, skipping breakfast did not lead to overeating later in the day, or obesity.

  •  Early childhood is the period in which we develop exercise and eating habits that influence our weight throughout life.

Although a person’s BMI typically tracks over time, no studies provide convincing evidence for, or against, this PRESUMPTION.

  •  Eating more fruits and vegetables will result in weight loss or less weight gain, regardless of whether one makes any other changes in diet or behavior.

It is a FACT, however, that consumption of more fruits and vegetables has many other health benefits.

  • Yo-yo dieting – i.e., weight cycling – leads to increased mortality.

However, medical research has shown that each time someone regains lost weight it becomes more difficult to lose.It was probably not even necessary to do these studies – just ask any yo-yo dieter.

  •  Snacking contributes to weight gain and obesity.

Randomized, controlled studies do not support this PRESUMPTION.The key factor in snacking is which food groups are consumed during the snack – veggies and fruits are OK.

There is no scientific evidence to prove,or disprove,any of the above beliefs.

We now conclude our exploration of commonly held weight loss beliefs.