Category Archives: Health
Mediterranean-Style Diet Cuts Heart Risks
Freidman School of Nutrition Science and Policy .
Your guide to living healthier and longer.
For the first time, a large, randomized clinical trial has found that a Mediterranean-style diet can sharply reduce the risk of heart attacks, strokes and deaths from heart disease. Previous observational-only studies have suggested a benefit from adopting a diet rich in olive oil, nuts, legumes, fish and produce, including wine in moderation, but low in red and processed meat, full-fat dairy and commercial baked goods. This new clinical trial, however, surprised experts with the degree of risk reduction—almost 30%—associated with the Mediterranean eating regimen. The re-sults were so compelling that the study was ended early, after about five years, because researchers concluded it would be unethical to withhold the findings.
“This was a nice demonstration that consuming a diet consistent with current guidelines, whether it is called a Mediter-ranean-style diet or heart-healthy diet, is efficacious,” says Alice H Lichtenstein, DSc, director of Tufts’ HNRCA Cardiovascular Nutrition Laboratory. “The two experimen-tal diets were equally effective, one high in olive oil and one high in nuts. However, this does not mean olive oil or nuts can be added to any diet and the same benefits will be realized. This was a test of a dietary pattern, the whole package.”
The results were particularly striking, experts noted, because the study was rigor-ously designed and investigators focused on meaningful endpoints—heart attacks, strokes and death from heart disease. Lead scientist Ramón Estruch, MD, PhD, of the University of Barcelona, and colleagues trav-eled the world seeking input on the design of their study, which was published online in the New England Journal of Medicine.
Although the trial focused particularly on increasing consumption of olive oil or nuts as part of an overall Mediterranean-style diet, Dr. Estruch said he thought the total dietary change was key to the results. But researchers did not anticipate such dra-matic benefits so quickly. He added, “This is actually really surprising to us.”
OLIVE OIL OR NUTS:
Dr. Estruch and col-leagues enlisted 7,447 people, ages 55 to 80, who were initially free of cardiovascular disease but who had either type 2 diabetes or at least three cardiovascular risk factors, such as smoking, hypertension or obesity. Participants were randomly divided into three groups, two of which followed a Mediterranean-style diet (see box, page 1):
- Mediterranean-style diet with at least four tablespoons daily of extra-virgin olive oil substituted for other types of fats.
- Mediterranean-style diet with an ounce (about a quarter-cup, a generous handful) of nuts daily—half walnuts and one-quarter each almonds and hazel-nuts—substituted for other foods.
- A lower-fat diet, which proved difficult to stick to and was in any case above current average levels of fat in the US diet.
Wine drinkers in the two Mediter-ranean-style groups could go ahead and have wine in moderation with meals every day. They could eat eggs and even chocolate as long it was at least 51% cocoa. They didn’t overdo it, however, as overall average body weight did not change. And sodas, commercial bakery products such as pastries, and fat-based spreads were all discouraged.
Both Mediterranean groups ate fewer carbohydrates and more fat—the difference being that the fat was heart-healthy monounsatu-rated (as in olive oil) or polyunsaturated (as in walnuts). Adherence to the diets was measured using urine testing for a compound called hydroxytyrosol found in olives and blood tests for alpha-linolenic acid from walnuts.After an average 4.8 years, the Mediterranean groups were 28% less likely to suffer any of the cardiovascular endpoints than the control group; there was no significant difference between the olive oil and nuts groups. The greatest benefit was against stroke, with a 49% lower risk among the Mediterranean diet groups.
B vitamin tablets may slow brain atrophy in those with mild memory problems.
09 Sep 10 Offered in Nussentials Product – ALERT
Daily doses of certain B vitamins can halve the rate of brain shrinkage in elderly people who suffer from mild memory problems, an Oxford University study has shown.
The two-year randomized clinical trial is the largest to study the effect of B vitamins on mild cognitive impairment, and one of the first disease-modifying trials in the Alzheimer’s field to show positive results in people.
Around 1 in 6 elderly people over the age of 70 has mild cognitive impairment, experiencing problems with memory, language, or other mental functions, but not to a degree that interferes with daily life. Around half of people with mild cognitive impairment go on to develop dementia – mainly Alzheimer’s disease – within five years of diagnosis.
Certain B vitamins – folic acid, vitamin B6 and vitamin B12 – are known to control levels of the amino acid homocysteine in the blood, and high levels of homocysteine are associated with an increased risk of Alzheimer’s.
So the Oxford team set out to see whether supplements of the B vitamins that lower homocysteine could slow the higher rate of brain shrinkage, or atrophy, observed in mild cognitive impairment or Alzheimer’s.
The study followed 168 volunteers aged 70 or over with mild memory problems, half of whom took high dose B vitamin tablets for two years and the other half a placebo tablet. The researchers assessed disease progression in this group by using MRI scans to measure the brain atrophy rate over a two-year period. The findings are published in the journal PLoS ONE.
These are immensely promising results but we do need to do more trials.
Professor David Smith
The team found that on average the brains of those taking the folic acid, vitamin B6 and B12 treatment shrank at a rate of 0.76% a year, while those in the placebo group had a mean brain shrinkage rate of 1.08%. People with the highest levels of homocysteine benefited most, showing atrophy rates on treatment that were half of those on placebo.
Along with rate of brain shrinkage, the team from the Oxford Project to Investigate Memory and Ageing (OPTIMA) also monitored cognitive test scores, revealing that those with the slowest rate of shrinkage scored more strongly.
The team suggests that, since the rate of brain atrophy is known to be more rapid in those with mild cognitive impairment who go on to develop Alzheimer’s, it is possible that the vitamin treatment could slow down the development of the disease. Clinical trials to test this should now be carried out, they add.
‘It is our hope that this simple and safe treatment will delay the development of Alzheimer’s disease in many people who suffer from mild memory problems,’ said Professor David Smith of the Department of Pharmacology at Oxford University, a co-leader of the trial. ‘Today there are about 1.5 million elderly in UK, 5 million in USA and 14 million in Europe with such memory problems.
‘These are immensely promising results but we do need to do more trials to conclude whether these particular B vitamins can slow or prevent development of Alzheimer’s. So I wouldn’t yet recommend that anyone getting a bit older and beginning to be worried about memory lapses should rush out and buy vitamin B supplements without seeing a doctor,’ he said.
Rebecca Wood, Chief Executive of the Alzheimer’s Research Trust, which co-funded the study, said: ‘These are very important results, with B vitamins now showing a prospect of protecting some people from Alzheimer’s in old age. The strong findings must inspire an expanded trial to follow people expected to develop Alzheimer’s, and we hope for further success.
‘We desperately need to support research into dementia, to help avoid the massive increases of people living with the condition as the population ages. Research is the only answer to what remains the greatest medical challenge of our time.’
Professor Chris Kennard, chair of the Medical Research Council’s Neurosciences and Mental Health Board which co-funded the study, said: ‘This MRC-funded trial brings us a step closer to unraveling the complex neurobiology of ageing and cognitive decline, which holds the key to the development of future treatments for conditions like Alzheimer’s disease. The findings are very encouraging
and we look forward to further research that is needed in order to test whether B vitamins can be recommended as a suitable treatment.’
Most of us know the value of CoQ10 for heart health.
Now a recent case report has demonstrated that CoQ10 may be of value for reversing even extreme neurodegenerative diseases. This case report involved a 75-year-old with what is considered one of the most irreversible progressive neurodegenerative diseases known: amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), often referred to as Lou Gehrig’s disease.
Lou Gehrig was a New Yankee star who was forced to retire at age 35 due to his ALS. His farewell speech in completely-filled Yankee stadium in 1939 is one of sport’s most touching moments. Of course soon after that memorable farewell speech, Lou died.
Though ALS occurs rarely, the life expectancy for those afflicted with ALS is two to five years for most. Why this case study is important
ALS affects the skeletal muscular nerve impulses that control contraction and function. It may start with chronic twitching, cramping, and muscular weakness. Then it spreads to total muscular atrophy including the inability to eat, swallow, or breathe, and slurred speech.
A Japanese medical scientist, unnamed in the reports, allowed colleagues to do a clinical evaluation of CoQ10 for ALS on him. The 75-year-old scientist had been diagnosed with onset ALS in the year 2000. By 2005, it had progressed to the point of interfering with his most common mundane activities.
Excerpt from the Vitasearch.com report: “(He) … was treated with a highly bioavailable form of coenzyme Q10 (solubilized ubiquinol, Tishcon Corp., NY), starting at 200 mg, twice daily for 4 weeks (at which point he already experienced improvements), followed by 500 mg, twice daily, and then back down to 200 mg twice daily…”
His improvements were significant with most of his voluntary motor activity returning along with restoring his grip. The rate of muscular weakening was lowered as well. The unnamed scientist patient was still surviving and managing when the CoQ10 study was reported in The Open Nutraceuticals Journal of September 2012.
That’s pretty impressive for a progressive neurological disease diagnosed when he was 70 and treated with CoQ10 when he was 75. He passed the 80-year mark in 2012. If CoQ10 treatment can do this for ALS, what might it do for other neurological diseases such as MS (multiple sclerosis), Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s diseases? Other CoQ10 neurodegenerative studies Studies performed on mice and dogs proved that CoQ10 protected and reversed chemically induced brain and nervous system damage by restoring brain and nerve cell metabolism.
It would be a little more humane to experiment using a harmless supplement on humans already afflicted with a neurological disorder than inducing those disorders on helpless animals, but that’s science for you. The complete report with medical details can be linked from source (2) below.
The potent antioxidant capabilities of CoQ10 are worthy of application for both heart and brain/nerve health. Just make sure it’s in a very bioavailable form.
Taken as directed it will help protect against neurological disorders. And CoQ10 can be taken safely with larger doses for therapeutic interventions on existing neurological maladies.
Sources for this article include:
Friday, January 11, 2013 by: PF Louis