Good health depends upon good nutrition. And by good nutrition, I mean validated, biological measures of nutritional status. Nutritional status isn’t defined by today's food choices. Nutritional status is a reflection of long term dietary intake. Thirty-five years ago, Dr George H Beaton and colleagues published that 1-day data was a very inadequate estimation of usual intake of individuals. Researchers were cautioned about the risk of false negative conclusions when analyzing relationships between diet and health. Because of intra-individual variability, most dietary recalls are now collected over 2 days but estimating usual intake of nutrients still has limitations.
Archive for 'February 2014'
As the Polar Vortex penetrates deep into the lower latitudes of the North American continent (again), it is difficult to contemplate exposing skin for cutaneous production of vitamin D. New research finds low serum 25(OH)D levels are a concern, especially for individuals with multiple sclerosis.
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is the most common cause of neurological disability in young adults worldwide and half of those affected in Europe (Kingwell et al, 2013). The highest prevalence rates are found in Scotland, Northern Ireland, and
Eating right and being physically active aren’t just a “diet” or a “program” – they are keys to a healthy lifestyle. With healthy habits, you may reduce your risk of many chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, osteoporosis, and certain cancers, and increase your chances for a longer life. So it was written in Nutrition and Your Health: Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 1980. Thirty-four years later, the same words ring true. Maintaining optimal concentrations of essential vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids are critical for longevity.
We don’t need evidence that supplements can be a source of nutrients. Just like we don’t need proof that foods provide energy and micronutrients.
Nutrition and exercise are fundamental to good health. The combination increase longevity when we avoid unhealthy risky behaviors, e.g. smoking and alcohol abuse. Malnutrition most often jeopardizes healthy via excess weight gain or inadequate intakes of essential nutrients. Eating less and exercising more will help manage obesity. Dietary choices can overcome nutrient inadequacy if one has access to these foods, financial resources to acquire, and will to prepare and consume.
Laboratory tests usually offer the best insights into nutritional status for the micronutrients. Unfortunately, laboratory tests tend to be expensive, take time to administer, and carry a slight risk of injury. For vitamin D deficiency, researchers have found a valid alternative that lacks these drawbacks.
The effect of exercise on the body could perhaps be seen as a case of “tough love.” Exercise actually causes damage to the body at the cellular level, something that can be felt at the human level as sore muscles after an intensive exercise bout. This damage is necessary to stimulate the body to rebuild stronger and more efficient muscle tissue.
Good nutrition during the first thousand days in the life of a child, from conception to the second birthday, is critical to allow children to reach their physical and cognitive potential. Nutrition interventions tend to focus on this window of opportunity to prevent permanent growth failure and mental development, as it was thought that interventions conducted later would not be effective. Today in the Journal of the American Medical Association, Friedrich published a short note to remind readers of some recent research that found that improving nutrition up to at least 8 years of age could still have a beneficial effect on growth and cognition.
At TalkingNutrition, we like to stress the importance of a balanced diet that contains recommended levels of nutrients in maintaining health. In some cases, dietary components can in fact be used to treat a disease when supplied at levels that are unlikely to be achieved through normal intakes.
One nutrient that people around the world fail to get enough of is dietary fiber. Surveys conducted in the United States, various countries in Europe and Australia show that the average adult does not consume enough dietary fiber. Adequate fiber intake is associated not only with good intestinal health, but also lowered risk of cardiovascular risk factors, cancer and obesity.
According to Arnie Seipel and National Public Radio, Valentine’s Day has a rather muddled history. Present day perceptions of Valentine’s Day with love, chocolates, flowers, jewelry and cards diverge from historical reality. In the world of 2014, today’s blog reflects on this quote from Stephen Colbert, “It used to be, everyone was entitled to their own opinion, but not their own facts. But that’s not the case anymore. Facts matter not at all. Perception is everything.”
Our perceptions are based upon experiences. Stories we read. Things we hear from the news and our friends. Perceptions can be fed, growing like cancer, until they overwhelm facts. Perceptions can seem like reality. Even in science.
Nutrition is all about balance. While it is important to get enough of the good stuff, all nutrients and types of food have an upper limit for safe consumption. Even water can be lethal in high doses. A good example of a food for which it is important to get the balance right is seafood. Whereas many countries recommend consumption of fish one to three times per week for the omega-3 fatty acid content, fish also contain mercury and therefore it is important not to overdo it. A group of researchers (Nielsen and co-workers) recently looked at how fish consumption affected mercury levels in a representative sample of US adults to examine whether there is a link.
Infants born preterm are at greater nutritional risk for three reasons. First of all, their early birth means that they are born without all organ systems and facilities working and as well as an infant born at term. For example, the coordination of sucking and swallowing needed for proper feeding until 34 weeks gestation, which means they require additional support to help them feed. Secondly, they have a higher chance of other complications including life-threatening infections that increase the need for nutrition whilst interfering with appetite and ability to feed. Thirdly, they miss out on the transfer of many essential nutrients that occurs in the third trimester of pregnancy
Based on headlines, one would assume that it isn’t beneficial, may even be detrimental, to choose multivitamin supplements for your child (or yourself). The pundits would have you believe that choosing a healthy diet, preferably one consisting of naturally-grown, local vegetables, grains and fruit and meats (if you are so inclined) from animals fed organically-grown feeds is the best way to go. This could be true if you live close to a one of the few farms (lowest number reported since 2006) found in America or you follow MyPyramid. However, the fact is that few are eating the recommended number of servings.
Recently, Wang and colleagues found that higher intakes of certain carotenoids was associated with a reduced risk of breast cancer. This research is welcome news for those of us who may have just made it over the one-month milestone of a New Year’s Resolution to eat more fruit and vegetables, particularly the green and leafy kind, in 2014 and may need a stimulus to keep going.
It is paradoxical that malnutrition can co-exist as undernutrition (inadequate intake of essential vitamins and minerals) and overweight/obesity (excess intake of calories relative to energy expenditure) at the same time (Provo, 2013). Unfortunately, the double burden of malnutrition exists outside of Africa.
With estimates of 30-40% of Mexican American boys and girls being overweight and 17-30% being obese, Gunanti and colleagues chose to examine the relation between carotenoids, retinol and vitamin E and body adiposity
There is a reason why vitamin D made it to the top of our “most researched vitamin of the year” list for the third year in a row. Roughly one quarter of all research into the 12 vitamins was performed with vitamin D in 2013. This week in the International Journal for Vitamin and Nutrition Research, Stöcklin and Eggersdorfer summarize the current situation in vitamin D research.
The Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs) for vitamin E were published in 2000. The most recent Report of the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee was released in 2010 identified 10 nutrients which were underconsumed (vitamins A, C, D, E, K, choline, calcium, magnesium, potassium and dietary fiber). Only vitamins D, calcium, potassium and dietary fiber were identified as ‘nutrients of concern’.
A new report calls for further research to better define optimal vitamin E concentrations to protect cell membranes from oxidative damage and maintain human health.
Today is World Cancer Day and the tagline is “Debunk the Myths”. I will focus on myth number 3: There is nothing I can do about cancer. Some things cannot be changed (genetics) or with much upheaval (home and work communities). However, decisions about tobacco use, alcohol use, food choices and physical activity are ours to make; and they make a difference.
In competitive sports, athletes are always looking for the advantage. Ask Alex Rodriguez, New York Yankees baseball superstar. Nutrition is important but nutrients are not performance-enhancing products. They are essential for cell metabolism. Just like sleep is important for optimal performance.
For top performance (physical and mental), bodies need to be adequately nourished, rested, and physically trained. Without measuring nutrient status, it is difficult to know if you are eating too little, just enough, or more than enough of a nutrient. Just imagine the dietary algorithm we are solving when we try to balance our intake of essential nutrients,