Plant-Focused Diet Won’t Save The Planet

Richard Vernon says population reduction would do more for the planet than a change of diet, Stuart Roberts and John Davies extol the benefits of British farming, Dr. Michael Antoniou calls for balanced scientific information and Paul Faupel on meeting his dietary needs with chocolate-enrobed brazil nuts.

Damian Carrington gives us a fine review of the “planetary health diet” in his article (New plant-focused diet would ‘transform’ planet’s future, say, scientists, theguardian.com, 16 January). It’s clear that this diet offers both better health than the current norm of a high-meat diet and a more environmental food production system with its emphasis on plant rather than animal production. However, I doubt the validity of some claims in the report.

Moreover, population reduction should be easier to effect that the proposed change of diet, the latter clearly being, as the report states, a daunting task. “Humanity has never aimed to change the global food system on the scale envisioned. Achieving this goal will require the rapid adoption of numerous changes and unprecedented global collaboration and commitment.” Conversely, when women have access to education and contraception, they will not choose to have more children than they can support. Population decline follows. The provision of education for girls and women, and of contraception, needs an only expansion of existing well-known programmes.

We do not yet understand the implications of a heavily plant-based diet like the report recommends on either our health or the environment. There is a very real possibility it could see us relying on imported produce, produced to lower standards than our own and with increased transport emissions.

In Britain, we have extensive grasslands, which act as carbon stores helping to mitigate climate change. The most effective and sustainable way to use this land is to graze livestock, which will turn inedible grass into high-quality, grass-fed, nutrient-rich beef, lamb and dairy, all reared in an extensive system.

Read more at The Guardian

The 5 Pillars Of A Healthy Diet And The 5 Worst Fads

Some 80pc of resolutions fail by February and just 8pc of people are thought to achieve their New Year’s resolutions, studies have found. A common goal is losing weight. So why do so many people find this resolution so challenging?

Well, one of the reasons is setting out on an unsustainable path. If it’s not something you can continue to do, you’re setting yourself up to fail.

The following are particularly hazardous to health.

1. Juice Diets

Juice diets are incomplete diets. They provide carbohydrate in the form of sugar with very little vitamins and minerals as well as no fat or protein. Considering this blatant fact, juice diets are not a long-term solution.

2. Weight-loss pills

Weight-loss pills can be very unsafe. Every year there are people admitted to hospitals after becoming very unwell after consuming weight-loss pills. In a study released in 2018, 24 products containing higenamine were analyzed. The quantity of higenamine within the supplements varied significantly.

3. Weight-loss tea

The weight of a body is made up of organs, muscle, bone, fat and of course water. In fact, over half of our body is water! Weight-loss teas can cause a person to urinate more. Yes, this results in weight-loss, but not fat-loss! Some teas contain laxatives. Yes, this makes our bowels open more regularly, but this doesn’t result in fat-loss either.

Continue Reading at Independent.ie

PAHO Offers Tips For A Healthy Diet In 2019

“What we eat and drink can affect our body’s ability to fight infections, as well as how likely we are to develop health problems later in life — including obesity, heart disease, diabetes and different types of cancer,” said PAHO in a statement.

“The exact ingredients of a healthy diet will depend on different factors, like how old and how active we are, as well as the kinds of foods that are available in the communities where we live,” it added.

But across cultures, PAHO said there are some common food tips for helping to lead healthier, longer lives.

PAHO also recommends choosing wholegrain foods, like unprocessed maize, millet, oats, wheat, and brown rice, stating that they are rich in valuable fiber and can help one feel full for longer.

Also, PAHO urges lean meats “where possible, or trim it of visible fat”, and try steaming or boiling instead of frying foods when cooking.

For snacks, the health organization recommends choosing raw vegetables, unsalted nuts, and fresh fruit rather than foods that are high in sugars, fats or salt.

PAHO said too much salt can raise blood pressure, “which is a leading risk factor for heart disease and stroke”.

“Most people around the world overeat salt. On average, we consume double the WHO (World Health Organization) recommended a limit of 5 grams (equivalent to a teaspoon) a day.

Read the full article at Jamaica Observer

Is There One True Diet That Guarantees Better Performance?

During the 1972 Olympics in Munich, as Frank Shorter prepared to race, he had a secret ingredient up his sleeve: flat Coca-Cola. The US athlete caffeinated his way over 42 kilometers to win gold in the marathon.

Bizarre as it may sound, decades later researchers discovered that consuming caffeine during endurance exercise could give an athlete the edge.

In a new review published in Science, Australian Institute of Sport’s head of sports nutrition Professor Louise Burke and the director of The Mary MacKillop Institute for Health Research, Professor John Hawley, explore nutritional approaches to performance in elite athletes.

They argue there is no “single, superior ‘athletic diet’”. Rather, different tactics benefit different people, forms of exercise and phases of training.

The great diet debate

The developing knowledge about how the body uses fuel helps to explain the high-carb/low-carb debate as well as the myth of the perfect “athlete’s diet”.

“The early sports nutrition guidelines were ‘let’s all eat high carbohydrate at all times because that’s what the muscles are using as fuel’,” Burke explains.

This explains the idea of energy gels during endurance races or the thought process of anyone who ever decided to skol a soft drink or eat a Mars bar right before an event.

Continue Reading at The Sydney Morning Herald

Can A Diet Rich In Fish Help Fight Childhood Asthma?

New research from La Trobe University in Australia suggests a diet rich in fish may help reduce asthma symptoms in children, a disease affecting one in 12 kids in the United States, according to the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

For the study, scientists conducted a trial involving 64 children from Athens, Greece, all of whom had mild asthma. The children, aged 5 to 12 years, were divided into two groups: the Greek Mediterranean diet group and the group that followed their healthy diet. Those in the Greek Mediterranean group ate two meals of cooked fatty fish (at least 150 grams) every week for six months.

Researchers found that at the end of the trial, the Mediterranean diet group experienced a significant reduction in bronchial inflammation.

According to the CDC, approximately 16 million American children have asthma, which can cause wheezing, difficulty breathing and coughing. If left untreated, asthma can cause permanent lung damage over time.

While yearly asthma hospitalizations have declined since 2003, experts warn that climate change may make matters worse.

“Climate change is a huge threat to respiratory health by directly causing or aggravating pre-existing respiratory diseases and increasing exposure to risk factors for respiratory diseases,” the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America wrote on its website.

Continue Reading at AJC

Can Diet Prevent Breast Cancer From Spreading?

Healthy diets that include plenty of antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables that can boost the body’ s natural immune system can help people in their fight against cancer.

While some foods, namely unhealthy, high-fat/high-caloric foods, are best avoided, women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer who want to prevent the spread of cancer to other areas of their bodies may want to cut some surprising foods from their diets.

A study published in the journal Nature found that reducing asparagine consumption in laboratory mice with triple-negative breast cancer could dramatically reduce the ability of cancer to travel to distant sites in the body.

Asparagine is found in foods like asparagus, whole grains, soy, seafood, eggs, poultry, beef, legumes, and more. While reducing asparagine will not affect the original breast cancer tumor, it could stop cancer from showing up elsewhere in the body.

Continue Reading at Daily News

Diet Affects The Breast Microbiome In Mammals

Diet influences the composition of microbial populations in the mammary glands of nonhuman primates, researchers report October 2 in the journal Cell Reports. Specifically, a Mediterranean diet increased the abundance of probiotic bacteria previously shown to inhibit tumor growth in animals.

Diet has been extensively studied as a lifestyle factor that could influence breast cancer development. Breast cancer risk in women is increased by consumption of a high-fat Western diet full of sweets and processed foods but reduced by a healthy Mediterranean diet consisting of vegetables, fish, and olive oil. Intriguingly, a recent study in humans revealed that malignant breast tumors have a lower abundance of Lactobacillus bacteria compared to benign lesions, suggesting that microbial imbalances could contribute to breast cancer.

To address this question, Shively and Cook used macaque monkeys because the animals mimic human breast biology and have been used to study breast cancer risk. One advantage over human studies is that the food intake of the monkeys can be carefully controlled for a prolonged period of time, increasing the chance of observing the profound effects of diet.

Taken together, these results suggest that diet directly influences microbiome populations outside of the intestinal tract and could impact mammary gland health. But for now, it is not clear what impact these microbes or microbial-modified metabolites have on breast cancer risk.

Read more at Science Daily

Intestines Modify Their Cellular Structure In Response To Diet

Body organs such as the intestine and ovaries undergo structural changes in response to dietary nutrients that can have lasting impacts on metabolism, as well as cancer susceptibility, according to Carnegie’s Rebecca Obniski, Matthew Sieber, and Allan Spradling.

There are three major types of cells in fruit fly (and mammalian) intestines: Stem cells, hormone-producing cells, and nutrient-handling cells. Think of the stem cells as blanks, which are eventually programmed to become either hormone-producing or nutrient-handling cells. The authors discovered that this programming can be influenced by dietary nutrients and that young animals are particularly sensitive to these changes.

The effect of cholesterol is to promote the programming of more new, “blank” cells into hormone-producing cells rather than nutrient-handling cells. Conversely, decreasing dietary cholesterol results in more nutrient-absorbing cells and fewer hormone-producing cells.

Moreover, the researchers were able to identify the detailed molecular mechanism by which cholesterol causes these changes in cell fates, and to show that it is closely related to the way human intestinal cells regulate cholesterol production.

What does this mean?

It shows that low nutrient availability, especially early in life, such as the low-cholesterol diet for the fruit flies, triggers changes in intestinal structure and metabolism that have long-term effects. These changes persist for quite a while even if the diet changes, which can increase the risk of metabolic health problems down the road.

Continue Reading at Science Daily

Can Dietary Changes Help With Microscopic Colitis?

Microscopic colitis is an inflammation of the bowel lining that doctors can only see under a microscope. It is often possible to treat this condition with medication, but dietary and lifestyle changes may also help reduce or prevent symptoms.

The symptoms of MC tend to come and go, and diarrhea can last for weeks or months. In some people, the condition may resolve without treatment. The cause of MC is still not clear.

Researchers are currently studying the possible connection between diet and MC.

There is little evidence to suggest a link between what people eat and the symptoms of MC. Researchers in Sweden published a study in 2016 that followed 135 people with MC over the course of 22 years and monitored their intake of the following:

  • Protein
  • Carbohydrate
  • Sucrose
  • Saturated, monounsaturated, or polyunsaturated fat
  • Omega-3 or omega-6 fatty acids
  • Fiber
  • Zinc

    Read more at Medical News Today

Sustainable Nutrition: A New Term for An Old Concern

Food security is a most basic human need. Historical accounts show that for centuries, human societies around the world have raised concerns about our food supply. This contemplation has driven innovation and we have, quite successfully, adapted to feed and nourish people.

With increasing constraints on our planetary boundaries — we’re not getting more land any time soon — and a growing world population, the areas of sustainability and human nutrition have merged into a new conversation: sustainable nutrition. This convergence is more of an evolution than a revolution. Thomas Malthus’ 1798 essay on population growth made a similar warning as contemporary concerns about nutrition and sustainability — demand for food will outpace our ability to produce it.

For food insecure populations, this is especially true, and these populations are not only in the developing world but exist even in developed, wealthy nations such as the United States, where one out of every six children is raised in a food insecure household. Yet, growing demand for animal-sourced foods, has been called unsustainable by some who argue that raising demand for nutrient rich animal-sourced foods cannot be met without exceeding environmental boundaries.

According to the USDA Economic Research Service, grazing lands make up nearly 800 million acres or 36 percent of the U.S. land area (Figure 1). Of that 800 million acres, only 12.8 million acres is classified as cropland pasture — grazing lands that could be converted to growing crops without major improvements. In the scenario of converting grazing lands to croplands, negative consequences would be expected. For example, the rates of soil loss on cultivated cropland are over four times greater than pastures, and the loss of grasslands can mean decreased habitat for wildlife.

Read the full article at GreenBiz