#YouAreWhatYouEat: Healthy dietary styles for healthy heart, lungs and brain

You are what you eat“, so they say – which is true. Recent studies have revealed the association between food choice and health. But, ‘what’ are the food for better health? Here are three recent studies offering more insights into the healthy dietary styles for the benefit of your heart, lungs and brain.

1. Replacing animal proteins with plant proteins help reducing cholesterol

Lowering cholesterol, a key to prevent cardiovascular disease (CVD). But, the question is: how to reduce blood cholesterol?

A recent study suggests that this could be done through daily substitution of one to two servings of animal proteins with plant proteins. It can lead to small reduction in the three main cholesterol markers for cardiovascular disease prevention, namely low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL or “bad cholesterol, which contributes to fatty build-ups in arteries and raise the risk for heart attack, stroke and peripheral artery disease); non-high density lipoprotein cholesterol (non-HDL-C, or total cholesterol minus HDL or health/good cholesterol) and apolipoprotein B (the proteins in bad cholesterol that clog arteries). According to lead author, Dr John Sievenpiper of St. Michael’s Hospital, the health benefits could be even greater by combining plant proteins with other cholesterol-lowering foods such as viscous, water soluble fibres from oats, barley and psyllium, and plant sterols.

Dr Sievenpiper led a systematic review and meta-analysis of 112 randomised control trials in which people substituted plant proteins for some animal proteins in their diets for at least three weeks. The results showed a 5% reduction in the main cholesterol markers by replacing one to two servings of animal proteins with plant proteins every day, primarily soy, nuts and pulses (dries peas and beans, lentils and chickpeas).

“This may not sound like much, but because people in North America eat every little plant protein, there is a real opportunity here to make some small changes to our diets and realise the health benefits,” highlighted Dr Sievenpiper.

“We are seeing a major interest in plant-based diets from Mediterranean to vegetarian diets in the supermarket and the clinic, and this comprehensive analysis of the highest level of evidence from randomised trials provides us with more confidence that these diets are heart healthy,” he added.

2. Tomatoes, apples slow down ageing of lungs

A recent published study suggests a way to slow down the natural ageing of lungs, while repairing damages caused by smoking – by consuming more fruits and tomato.

A recent published study suggests a way to slow down the natural ageing of lungs, while repairing damages caused by smoking – by consuming more fruits and tomato.


A question worries the public for years: how to make lungs stay younger? A recent published study suggests a way to slow down the natural ageing of lungs, while repairing damages caused by smoking – by consuming more fruits and tomato. But, remember that, the protective effects stem only from fresh varieties. 

In the study, researchers assessed the diet and lung function of more than 650 adults over a ten-year period, and discovered the role of diet in delaying natural ageing. This diet-lung-function connection is even more striking among ex-smokers.

The researchers reported that, over the ten-year period, ex-smokers who consume diet high in tomatoes and fruits had around 80ml slower decline in ageing. This indicates that the nutrients in their diets are helping to repair damages caused by smoking, according to the lead author Dr Garcia-Larsen.

“Lung function starts to decline at around age 30 at variable speed depending on the general and specific health of individuals. Our study suggests that eating more fruits on a regular basis can help attenuate the decline as people age, and might even help repair damage caused by smoking”, Dr Garcia-Larsen said. “Diet could become one way of combating rising diagnosis of COPD around the world”, she suggested.

3. More greens for better memory

Recently, the long-sought answer to the burning question “how to delay ageing-related cognitive decline” had been unveiled. A prospective study showed that this could possibly be achieved through the consumption of green vegetables.

In the study, 960 participants with an average age of 81 who had not been diagnosed with any form of dementia had been surveyed. The participants were being asked about their consumption frequency of certain food. Then, their thinking and memory skills were tested yearly, over a course of 4.7 years.

Through the study, it was discovered that people who consumed at least one serving of green, leafy vegetables a day had a slower rate of decline on tests of memory and thinking skills than people who never or rarely ate these vegetables. The difference is equivalent to being 11 years younger in age, according to the study author Martha Clare Morris, ScD, of Rush University Medical Centre, in Chicago.

It was discovered that people who consumed at least one serving of green, leafy vegetables a day had a slower rate of decline on tests of memory and thinking skills than people who never or rarely ate these vegetables.

It was discovered that people who consumed at least one serving of green, leafy vegetables a day had a slower rate of decline on tests of memory and thinking skills than people who never or rarely ate these vegetables.

“It’s no secret that eating vegetables is good for your health. This study found eating food rich in Vitamin K – e.g. spinach, kale, asparagus and everyone’s favourite, Brussels sprout – appears to slow cognitive decline as people age. A healthy diet rich in essential nutrients, combined with regular exercise and avoiding smoking, can help to reduce your risk of developing dementia,” asserted Dr James Pickett, Head of Research at Alzheimer’s Society.

However, Morris noted that the study does not prove that eating green, leafy vegetables slows brain ageing – but, only showing the association between the two. The study cannot rule out other possible reasons for the link. Furthermore, the study focuses only on older adults and the Caucasian (whites) population; thus, the results may not apply to younger adults and people of colour. MIMS

Read more:
Poring over coconut oil and selecting diet plans – a dietitian intervention
Strange and interesting diet trends through the ages
Worldwide phenomenon: Poor diet linked to death, global study reveals
Nutritional studies: Often overly sensationalised – lead to confusing, conflicting messages in the end

Sources:

http://www.stmichaelshospital.com/media/detail.php?source=hospital_news/2017/1220

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-5201469/Why-eat-three-apples-two-tomatoes-day.html

http://erj.ersjournals.com/content/50/6/1602286

https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2017-12/aaon-was121517.php

https://www.alzheimers.org.uk/news/article/290/will_a_salad_a_day_keep_memory_problems_away_-_alzheimers_society_comments

http://n.neurology.org/content/early/2017/12/20/WNL.0000000000004815

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