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Emulsifiers in Processed Foods Associated with Increased Risk for Heart Attacks

The French NutriNet-Santé cohort study has strengthened the association between processed foods and heart attacks. Their results suggest a link between the dietary intake of emulsifiers and an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.

Avoid Diets that Severely Restrict Carbohydrates or Fats

There are healthful and harmful fats and healthful and harmful carbohydrates. It makes no sense to try to restrict either most fats or most carbohydrates. You need soluble fiber and resistant starch carbohydrates to help prevent heart attacks and prolong your life, and you also need monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats to help prevent heart attacks, certain cancers and premature death.

Ultra-Processed Foods Associated with Increased Risk for Some Cancers

A UK-based study followed the amounts of ultra-processed foods consumed by 200,000 middle-aged adults for 10 years (EClinicalMedicine, Jan 31, 2023 31;56:101840). The authors found that eating ultra-processed foods was associated with a higher risk of developing cancer, particularly ovarian cancer, breast cancer and brain cancers.

Why Sugar-Sweetened Drinks are Harmful

About 65 percent of North American adults drink sugar-sweetened beverages every day (NCHS Data Brief, No 270, 2017). Two recent studies show how sugared drinks are associated with liver damage and kidney stones. A study of nearly 100,000 postmenopausal women followed for an average of more than 20 years found that compared to women who had fewer than three sugar-sweetened drinks per month, those who drank one or more sugar-sweetened beverages per day had an 85 percent increased risk for liver cancer and 68 percent increased risk for death from chronic liver disease.

Health Benefits of Eating Fermented Foods

Eating fermented foods is healthful because they contain many short chain fatty acids (SCFAs) that can reduce inflammation and lower high blood pressure, high cholesterol, high insulin and high blood sugar levels. A plant-based diet has lots of soluble fiber and resistant starches that are not absorbed in your upper intestinal tract, but when they reach your colon, healthful bacteria there ferment these fibers and starches to form SCFAs.

Are Plant “Meats” More Healthful than Animal Meats?

The evidence is so strong that eating meats from mammals and processed meats can increase heart attack risk that more than 40 percent of North Americans are trying to reduce their consumption of meat and increase their intake of plant-based foods. But people love the taste and feel of hamburgers and other favorite meats, so the plant-based imitation "meats" such as “Impossible Burger” and “Beyond Meat” continue to gain popularity. We still do not have enough data to know if these plant-based imitations are more healthful than eating meat from animals, but studies that have come in so far look favorable.

Can You Eat Too Much Fruit?

Many scientific studies show that eating sugar-rich whole fruit is healthful, even for people who are diabetic. However, I tried eating an extremely large amount of fruit (15-20 clementines or 10 regular oranges per day), and my previously normal fasting blood triglyceride level rose to levels higher than 460 mg/dL (normal is under 150). Eating that much fruit had raised my blood sugar level so high that it caused the high rise in triglycerides, which increased my risk for heart attacks.

Vegetables – Except Potatoes – Reduce Risk for Diabetes

An analysis of 18 studies from Denmark found that vegetable, but not potato, intake is associated with a lower risk of type 2 diabetes. Studies of 54,793 people, aged 50 to 64, found that 7,695 (14 percent) were diabetic. Those who ate the most vegetables, particularly leafy and cruciferous ones, were least likely to have type 2 diabetes or to be obese. Some of the 18 studies included potatoes in their analysis of vegetable consumption, while others did not. From the studies that included potatoes, participants who ate the most total potatoes had a nine percent greater risk for being diabetic than those who ate the least.

Plant Yogurts Better Than Dairy Yogurts?

North Americans are spending just short of $3 billion per year on plant-based yogurt. A study from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, found that plant-based yogurts may be more healthful than dairy yogurts because they contain less sugar, salt and saturated fats, and more fiber. Almond and oat yogurts had significantly higher concentrations of nutrients than other plant-based or dairy yogurts. Most people eat way too much salt and sugar because food manufacturers know that sugar and salt make their foods taste good, so they add them to all kinds of processed foods.

Questionable Claims for Berberine, Weight Loss Supplement

Advertisers are claiming that berberine (an over-the-counter herbal supplement) is “nature’s Ozempic for weight loss," but there is not adequate data to support this claim. The main reason that we are being exposed to such heavy advertising for berberine now is that studies have shown that the newer prescription drugs (Ozempic, Wegovy and others) have been proven scientifically to help overweight people lose excess weight, at least temporarily. However, these prescription drugs are so expensive that most people cannot afford them.

Multi-Vitamins May Help to Slow Memory Loss of Aging

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report that 39 percent of adults ages 60 and older take multi-vitamin pills, spending more than $8 billion on them each year. Highly respected researchers at Harvard and Columbia medical schools conducted a study of more than 3,500 people, ages 60 and older, and found that compared to those who took a placebo, those who took a multi-vitamin pill did significantly better on word recall after one year

WHO Warnings on Artificial Sweeteners

WHO (World Health Organization), the United Nations' health agency, advises that most people should not use non-sugar sweeteners to replace sugar in foods. They report that artificial sweeteners have not been shown to help people lose body fat long-term.

Sugar Added to Foods and Drinks Causes Inflammation

Your immune system helps you by preventing harmful germs from entering your cells. Your immune system responds with these same cells and proteins when cells in your body are injured, to remove damaged tissue and start the healing process. As soon as the germs are destroyed, or tissues heal, your immune system is supposed to stop sending out huge amounts of these cells and proteins. However, if your immune system stays overactive all the time, you develop inflammation in which these same cells and proteins attack and damage your own cells.

Plant-Based Diets Help to Prevent Dementia

A review of 14 studies with a total of 224,049 participants found that the MIND diet ("Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay") is associated with reduced dementia risk for middle-aged and older adults, and with reduced risk for Alzheimer’s disease

Eggs Get More Controversial Headlines

On February 27, 2023, Fox News reported, “Add an egg (or 3) to your daily diet for heart health. Eggs may significantly reduce heart health risk, a recent study finds.” The Fox News report said, "The study found that eating one to three eggs per week could reduce the risk for cardiovascular disease by up to 60 percent. Those who consumed four to seven eggs per week cut their risk for heart disease by 70 percent."

Both Honey and Table Sugar Raise Blood Sugar

A high rise in blood sugar after eating increases risk for obesity, diabetes and heart attacks. Glycemic index (GI), which measures how high blood sugar rises after you eat a food, is almost the same for honey and sugar: 55 for honey and 65 for table sugar, which is not a significant difference. Honey contains two sugars that are mostly-separated (glucose and fructose), while table sugar has the same two sugars but they are bound together to form a double sugar called sucrose. In your body, they end up being absorbed in exactly the same way.

Sugared Drinks Associated with Weight Gain

The largest and most thorough review to date of research on sweetened drinks found that "fruit" drinks and other sweetened drinks are strongly associated with overweight and obesity. The authors reviewed 85 studies, covering more than half a million participants, and found that each increase in servings-per-day of sweetened drinks is associated with a one pound increase per year in body weight in adults, and one half pound in children.

No Amount of Alcohol is Healthful

Low-volume alcohol drinking is not associated with protection against death from all causes. An analysis of 107 studies involving more than 4.8 million participants found no significant reductions in death rates for those who drank fewer than 25 grams of alcohol per day (two standard drinks) compared with lifetime nondrinkers.

Types of Carbohydrates, Not Amount, Associated with Heart Disease and Diabetes

Eating carbohydrates contained in plants is associated with reduced heart attack and stroke risk, while eating sugar added to prepared foods and drinks is associated with increased heart attack and stroke risk. Researchers evaluated data from 110,497 healthy people who did not have heart disease or diabetes and followed them for 9.4 years. They found that increased total carbohydrate intake was not associated with increased risk for heart disease.

Concerns About Artificial Sweeteners

A study that followed 2,149 North Americans and 833 Europeans for three years found that having elevated blood levels of artificial sweeteners such as erythritol was associated with increased risk for heart attacks and for death from a heart attack or stroke. Stanley L. Hazen of the Cleveland Clinic found that after taking the commonly-used artificial sweetener, erythritol, healthy people who did not suffer from heart disease had elevated blood levels of erythritol and increased risk for developing clots, a major cause of heart attacks and strokes.

Skipping Breakfast May Harm Immune Response

A new study found that skipping breakfast could damage your immune system. Missing the first meal of the day can suppress the immune cells of the brain to make it more difficult for your body to fight off infection. Mice that received no breakfast had an incredible 90 percent fewer monocytes in their blood four hours after skipping breakfast and even lower levels eight hours later.

Mercury in Some Fish May Harm You

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is concerned that the mercury levels in some fish and shell fish may be harmful to you, particularly for pregnant women and growing children, so they have published a chart classifying fish by mercury concentrations. Too much mercury can damage the brains of children and babies, and the nerves and brains of adults. Women can pass mercury to their babies during pregnancy or breast-feeding. The general rule is that the older and larger the fish, the more time it has to accumulate mercury and the greater the chance for it to have larger amounts of mercury in it.

You Can Get Enough Protein Without Eating Meat

You can get all the protein your body needs by eating plants if you want to avoid protein from animal sources. Researchers used sophisticated blood tests and muscle biopsies to show that healthy young males were able to grow the same amount of muscle after eating 30 grams of a blend combining wheat, corn, and pea protein as they did after eating the same amount of milk protein.

Move Around Before and After You Eat

Always try to move your muscles before and after you eat because moving muscles helps to prevent a high rise in blood sugar after eating that can damage cells and increase your risk for diabetes, blood vessel damage, heart attacks, strokes, some types of cancers, and dementia. Eating at night and then going to bed increases risk for obesity and diabetes by increasing hunger, decreasing calorie burning and modifying hormone and calorie balance

Whole (Unrefined) Grains Are Healthful

You should eat lots of unrefined whole grains because they promote the growth of healthful colon bacteria that help to prevent death and heart disease, particularly if you are overweight or have high blood sugar levels.  A study from Iran found that people who ate lots of refined grains were at increased risk for suffering blocked arteries leading to the heart, while those who ate more whole grains were at reduced risk.

High Salt Intake and Dehydration Can Hasten Aging

Staying hydrated may slow the aging process. NIH researchers followed 11,255 adults for 30 years and found that compared to those who didn't drink enough fluids, those who stayed well-hydrated aged more slowly, lived longer, and were far less likely to develop chronic diseases such as those of the heart, lungs and kidneys.

Butyrate Causes Significant Weight Loss in Obese Children

A group of 54 very obese children, 5 to 17 year of age, were placed on a standard weight loss diet plus either a butyrate supplement or a placebo for six months. The butyrate group took sodium butyrate capsules, 20 mg/kg body weight per day, up to a maximum of 800 mg per day for six months. Those given butyrate lost significantly more weight than those in the placebo group.

How Eating Meat Increases Risk for Heart Failure

Researchers at the Cleveland Clinic found that people with high blood levels of a chemical called phenylacetylglutamine (PAG) are at high risk for heart failure that affects more than 6.2 million North Americans. PAG is formed primarily in the colon where bacteria there make it from the amino acid phenylalanine that is found in meat and other rich sources of protein. The higher the blood level of PAG, the more severe the heart failure risk.

New Research on Why Eating Meat is Associated with Heart Disease

A study from the Cleveland Clinic and Tufts University found a 22 percent greater risk for heart disease for every 1.1 serving of meat per day (3.3 oz. cooked lean meat). This study followed more than 4,000 men and women older than 65 for an average of 12.5 years, and the increased heart attack risk was directly related to blood levels of TMAO and its precursors.

Fiber from Grains Linked to Reduced Heart Attack Risk

A study of 4125 patients, 65 years or older, followed for an average of almost 11 years, found that higher total fiber intake from grains, fruits and vegetables was associated with lower inflammation rates.. The reduction in markers of inflammation improved even more in patients who ate an additional five grams per day of fiber from grains.