Thanks for visiting! My goal here is to discuss the latest scientific research to separate the good from all that "guff" in nutritional sciences and all aspects of human health. Because the more you Know, well...the more you Know!

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Coffee May Protect Against Endometrial Cancer

Coffee had been reported to lower levels of estrogen and insulin, two hormones implicated in the genesis of endometrial cancer, but since data on this link is limited, the researchers of this newly published study aimed to see if there is a connection.

The researchers assessed coffee consumption in relation to endometrial cancer risk in the Nurses' Health Study (NHS) with 67,470 female participants aged 34 to 59 in 1980. Cumulative average coffee intake was calculated with all available questionnaires to assess long-term effects. 

What they found was that less than 4 cups of coffee per day were not associated with endometrial cancer risk. However, women who consumed 4 or more cups of coffee had 25% lower risk of endometrial cancer than those who consumed less than 1 cup per day.

Tea consumption was not associated with endometrial cancer risk

I have covered a number of recent studies that has linked coffee consumption to health benefits. Here's some more reading/review for you...
Source: A Prospective Cohort Study of Coffee Consumption and Risk of Endometrial Cancer over a 26-Year Follow-Up

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Omega-3s Prevent Ventricular Arrhythmias & Heart Attacks

A newly published study found those with diabetes who have experienced a heart attack may get protection from future ventricular arrhythmias and fatal heart attacks by consuming daily recommended doses of omega-3 fatty acids..

A group of 1,014 patients with diabetes, who had previously had a heart attack, was randomly assigned to receive one of four trial margarines, three with an additional amount of n-3 fatty acids and one placebo for 40 months.

During a 40-month follow-up period, the group that received the combination of all 3 fatty acids experienced an 84% lower incidence of ventricular arrhythmia-related events than the group receiving placebo. That group also experienced a 72% lower incidence of combined arrhythmia and fatal heart attack.

Personally, I like krill oil as my source of omega-3 EPA and DHA. Fish oils are great too. Just make sure you're getting a good daily supply.

Source: Related Events, and Fatal Myocardial Infarction in Postmyocardial Infarction Patients With Diabetes

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Vitamin D Improves β-Cell Function in Diabetes

Recent evidence suggests that vitamin D (measured in the blood as 25-hydroxyvitamin D; 25(OH)D) may play a role in type 2 diabetes. Vitamin D levels are lower in those with type 2 diabetes and impaired glucose tolerance compared with those with normal glucose tolerance.

In addition, most prospective studies have shown a significant inverse association of baseline serum 25(OH)D with incident diabetes -- meaning lower the vitamin D levels, the higher the risk of type 2 diabetes. To date, however, the exact mechanisms through which vitamin D affects diabetes risk are not yet fully known, particularly whether vitamin D plays a role in insulin resistance and/or β-cell dysfunction, the main pathophysiological disorders underlying type 2 diabetes.

Therefore, this new study looked at β-cell function to determine whether this is the potential mechanism of action for vitamin D in diabetes.

Happy Thanksgiving!
What this study saw was that higher baseline 25(OH)D independently predicted better β-cell function and lower blood glucose at follow-up, supporting a potential role for vitamin D in the prevention of type 2 diabetes. 

This backs-up a couple other studies I had covered previously:
...and since in the last couple months, visits to my blog from the US has far surpassed my Canadian readership, it's only right I give props to my American readers and wish them a happy Thanksgiving!

Source: Prospective Associations of Vitamin D With β-Cell Function and Glycemia: The PROspective Metabolism and ISlet cell Evaluation (PROMISE) Cohort Study

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How to Increase Vitamin D Absorption

Before I get into today's nutritional study, here's a well-written, comical analysis of the Top 10 inappropriate candies for kids.

Ok now, we know that fat-soluble nutrients, like vitamin D, CoQ10, etc. require dietary fats to be absorbed (and why typically these are recommended to be administered with food, which would have an appreciable amount of fat present). However, what's unknown is the influence different types of dietary fats have on the absorption of these nutrients.

Therefore, researchers sought to determine whether intakes of different dietary fats -- monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFA, like those in olive oil, nuts, avocados, etc.), polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA, like omega-3 fish oils, omega-6s like GLA, etc.), and saturated fatty acids (SFA) -- are associated with the increase in serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25OHD, a measure of vitamin D status) after supplementation with vitamin D3.

Analysis was conducted in the active treatment arm of a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of vitamin D and calcium supplementation to prevent bone loss and fracture. Subjects included 152 healthy men and women aged 65 and older who were assigned to 700 IU/d vitamin D3 and 500 mg/d calcium. Intakes of MUFA, PUFA and SFA were estimated by food frequency questionnaire.

The results found that the change in plasma 25OHD during vitamin D supplementation was positively associated with MUFA, but negatively associated with PUFA (an interesting finding that surprised me).

The researchers conclude, "the fat composition of the diet appeared to influence the 25OHD response to supplemental vitamin D3. Diets rich in MUFA may improve, and those rich in PUFA may reduce the effectiveness of vitamin D3 supplements in healthy older adults."

We'll have to wait until more studies confirm these results before we can really determine how much weight we should give this. Until then, continue to take your vitamin D supplements with any and all healthy fats.

Source: Type of Dietary Fat Is Associated with the 25-Hydroxyvitamin D3 Increment in Response to Vitamin D Supplementation

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Lutein & Zeaxanthin May Prevent Cataract

Vacuums can buy happiness.
I had moved into a new home at the end of October, and the central vac at the old place was taken for granted. Since we had the central vac, there was no need for a vacuum, so moving into a new place without central vac, the dust piled up quickly.

Now, I just got our Nilfisk central vacuum installed the other day, and I'm starting to understand the infatuation with vacuuming. It's become my favourite household chore to do.  :)

I just want to cuddle my Nilfisk, just like the woman in the ad with her Hoover.

Anyway, enough domestic talk... this recently published study adds weight to the evidence showing lutein and zeaxanthin can reduce the risk of age-related cataract.

Oxidative stress (free-radical damage) plays an important role in cataract formation. Previous studies have shown that long-term dietary intake of two key antioxidants (lutein and zeaxanthin) may decrease the risk of age-related cataracts.

The aim of this study was to examine whether blood concentrations of lutein and zeaxanthin are related to age-related nuclear cataract in an elderly population. Results showed that those in the highest tertiles (upper one-third) of plasma concentrations of lutein and zeaxanthin had 42 and 41 % lower risks of cataract, respectively, compared with those in the lowest tertiles (lowest one-third).

These days, most people think "lutein" when they think eye health. What's great is that most lutein supplements naturally contain a little zeaxanthin. So you usually get both with just one product. However, there is also newer research suggesting zeaxanthin has its own benefits, so keep an eye out for more research on zeaxanthin specifically.

Here are a couple other posts where I've covered lutein and eye health...

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Probiotics Lower Cholesterol Levels

A recently published meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials has shown that a diet rich in probiotics may decrease total cholesterol and LDL ("bad") cholesterol.

Researchers reviewed studies that investigated the efficacy of probiotics on the plasma lipid profile of subjects, and included data from 13 trials, that studied a total of 485 participants with high, borderline high and normal cholesterol levels. Cases were examined for mean net change in total cholesterol for those treated with probiotics compared to controls and found a change of -6.40 mg/dl for those taking probiotics. Mean net change in LDL cholesterol was -4.90 mg/dl, mean net change in HDL cholesterol was -0.11 mg dl-1, and mean net change in triglycerides was -3.95 mg/dl.

Results indicate that probiotic supplementation (or a diet rich in probiotics) decreases total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol concentration in plasma of participants with high, borderline high and normal cholesterol levels.

Since I've started this blog near the beginning of the year, I've covered numerous studies on probiotics. To read about the wide-range of health conditions probiotics have been studied for just in the last few months, search for "probiotics" in the top left of this page, or the top of the column containing the ads (just to the right).

Today is Rememberance Day...don't forget to remember.

Source: Influence of consumption of probiotics on the plasma lipid profile: A meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials

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Low Water Intake Linked to High Blood Sugar

A recently published study suggests that drinking less than a couple cups of water daily may predispose to high blood sugar. This study found that over time, adults who drank less than half a litre of water each day were more likely to have blood sugar levels rise into the pre-diabetes range, compared to people who drank more water.

Keep in mind that this is a correlation between water intake and blood sugar, and no cause-and-effect was proven. However, a cause-effect is still plausible -- antidiuretic hormone (ADH, aka vasopressin) could be the potential link.

ADH levels rise during dehydration, causing the kidneys to conserve water. However, higher ADH levels may act on the liver, causing it to produce and release glucose.

The study accounted for intake of sugary drinks and alcohol, as well as people's body weight at the start of the study, their reported exercise levels and other health factors -- and the link between low water intake and high blood sugar remained. However, they could not control for everything, including generally healthy or less-healthy eating habits (as people who live healthier lifestyles usually have a healthier diet and drink lots of water).

I recently covered another study on water consumption and its requirements as we age.

Source: Low Water Intake and Risk for New-Onset Hyperglycemia

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Niacin (B3) Being Combined with "Statin" Cholesterol Drugs

Here's a great video sent by a friend to start your work week...
Although lowering LDL cholesterol ("bad" cholesterol) represents the standard of current lipid treatment, increasing HDL cholesterol ("good" cholesterol) has generated increasing interest because of strong evidence that higher HDL concentrations is associated with reduced risk of coronary heart disease.

Niacin is an essential nutrient that has been used to lower cholesterol since the 1950s. In addition to its LDL-lowering effects, niacin is arguably the most effective agent currently available for raising HDL. I say "arguably" since in one study I've read, krill oil seems to have an even better effect (and is also much safer than 1.0 - 1.5 g of niacin, which is the therapeutic range to see the HDL benefits).

Big Pharma has been looking to develop synthetic drugs to increase HDL, without success. In fact, a number of them were in the clinical trial process when they stopped the trials and discontinued further work since the group getting the experimental drugs were experiencing a variety of dangerous side-effects.

Despite its long history as a lipid-altering nutrient, the majority of studies investigating its impact on clinical outcomes are from the pre-statin area ("statins" are the most prescribed drugs in the world and are effective at lowering LDL, but come with some dangerous side-effects themselves). Several studies have demonstrated a beneficial effect of treatment with niacin in combination with statin therapy on surrogate cardiovascular markers (e.g. carotid intima-media thickness).

Now, two large randomized trials will address whether niacin–statin combination therapy is an appropriate therapeutic alternative to statin monotherapy.

I've also heard Big Pharma combining statins with coenzyme Q10 (which is an essential nutrient that's depleted when taking statins), in hopes to minimize the negative side-effects of taking these popular drugs.

Source: The Facts Behind Niacin

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Drinking Soda/Pop Linked to Youth Violence

Who knew cola was so healthy!
Health practitioners and Public Health advocates have criticized consumption of carbonated soft drinks because they fill people up with empty calories, sugar, and sometimes caffeine, but this newly published study suggests that the drinks also may be linked with violent behaviour in teenagers.

The lead author claims this was the first study to find this correlation, but admits the link needs more study, stressing that the sugar and caffeine content in the drinks were unknown, and that other factors not accounted for in the analysis (but related to high soft drink consumption) could possibly lead to aggression.

After controlling for sex, age, race, body mass index, typical sleep patterns, tobacco use, alcohol use, and having family dinners, the investigators found that high consumption of carbonatedsoft drinks was associated with a 9-15% greater probability of aggressive behaviours. Heavy soft drink use had about the same effect as tobacco and alcohol on violence.

The study found that teens who drank more than five 12-ounce cans of soft drinks weekly were more likely to carry a weapon and commit violence against friends, dates, and siblings.

The study also found a dose-response relationship, with the strongest association for teens drinking 14 or more cans per week (average of only 2 cans/day). Of those adolescents, 42.7% carried a gun or knife, 58.6% were violent toward their peers, 26.9% were violent toward dates, and 45.3% perpetrated violence toward other children in their family.

Interestingly, the study did not show a relationship between soft drink consumption and obesity, which has been shown in other studies. However, heavy soft drink use was also associated with other outcomes like not getting sufficient sleep and using alcohol and tobacco in the last 30 days.

It's definitely an interesting study, but I'm going to tread cautiously on this one. There are just too many unknowns in this study. I'm no fan of soft drinks -- let that be clear -- but this study would need to be reproduced by other researchers before I give it more weight.

Source: The ‘Twinkie Defense’: the relationship between carbonated non-diet soft drinks and violence perpetration among Boston high school students

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Many Nutrients Needed for Bone Health

Well, as a follow-up to my last post on bisphosphonates, a newly published review states what we already knew... that for optimal bone health, many nutrients are needed.

I know calcium and vitamin D get most of the attention. Magnesium and vitamin K have also made inroads in consumer awareness in recent years, but there are a lot more.

The lead authors write, "It is possible that nutrient patterns, and not individual foods or vitamins, are important in bone health, thus explaining some of the paradoxical results related to individual nutrients."

The potential benefit of B vitamins are likely linked to their ability to reduce homocysteine, which not only has a negative impact on bones, but also the health of the cardiovascular system and cognition/dementia.

Vitamin C is needed to hydroxylate the amino acids lysine and proline to form collagen, which gives bone that slight degree of flexibility that gives it strength.

Many other nutrients including certain minerals are needed for collagen production.

And then there are all those nimerals that add density to bone, like calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, etc.

Antioxidant nutrients prevent oxidative damage... and the list goes on.

This is important to recognize since most people think they can just take a calcium supplement and think they're doing their bones good. Not so. This is why I always recommend a true "bone health" supplement whenever someone is concerned with osteoporosis prevention.

Outside of nutrition, keep in mind that there are other factors (like weight-bearing exercise, not smoking, genetics, etc.)...so you can see how complex the overall picture is.

Source: Vitamins and bone health: beyond calcium and vitamin D

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