In the news – health and nutrition research

In this week’s article we provide a roundup of some of the most recent health and nutrition related articles in the news, five items comprising:

  • A mix of cardio and strength training benefits cardiovascular health.
  • Supplements could play an important role in preserving cognitive functioning.
  • Higher intake of antioxidants linked to reduced pain.
  • Long-term weight gain less on a low-carb diet of plant-based wholefoods.
  • 2000IU of D3 suggested as optimal to prevent deficiency.

New research finds half-cardio, half-strength training reduces cardiovascular disease risks

Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the leading cause of death globally but is extremely modifiable through diet and lifestyle. The benefits of regular physical activity for supporting cardiovascular health are well known, particularly among overweight and obese people who are at a higher risk for cardiovascular disease.

Traditionally, aerobic exercise such as running or cycling is regarded as the most beneficial for cardiovascular health, but this study demonstrates that combining aerobic exercise with strength or resistance training, such as weight machines, free weights, elastic bands or your own body weight through push-ups or lunges, can bring the same health benefits.

In this study, looking at 406 adults with overweight or obesity and high blood pressure, participants were divided into 4 groups: resistance training, aerobic exercise, combined resistance and aerobic and a no-exercise control.

The combination group which did 30 minutes each of aerobic and resistance training, improved CVD markers, including blood pressure, LDL cholesterol levels, fasting glucose and body-fat percentage, similar to a full 60 minutes of aerobic exercise.

The results of this study provide evidence-based data that replacing half of aerobic exercise with resistance exercise, without extra exercise time, may be an effective option to improve the CVD risk profile in adults who are overweight or obese. Resistance training also offers additional benefits such as improvements to musculoskeletal health that aerobic exercise doesn’t provide.

Read the full report here: Aerobic, resistance, or combined exercise training and cardiovascular risk profile in overweight or obese adults: the CardioRACE trial | European Heart Journal | Oxford Academic (oup.com)


Nutritional supplements can have a profound effect on cognitive health in an ageing population

Cognitive impairment and dementia are becoming an increasing global health burden, especially given the increasing longevity of the global population. In the UK alone, there are estimated to be almost 1million people living with dementia1; a condition which not only affects the quality of life of individuals and their families, but also places significant economic burdens on healthcare systems. In this systematic review, the authors examine the efficacy of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fatty acids to prevent, delay, or ameliorate cognitive decline.

A brief overview of their findings:

B vitamins – play a crucial role in maintaining cognitive function during aging, acting as essential cofactors in various neurological processes. As individuals age, the risk of B vitamin deficiencies increases, potentially leading to cognitive decline.

Vitamins C, E and othe antioxidants – play an important role in preserving cognitive function during aging, primarily through their ability to combat oxidative stress, a key factor in cellular aging, neurodegeneration, and age-related cognitive decline.

Polyphenols – including resveratrol and curcumin, represent a diverse group of compounds with potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, playing a significant role in the preservation of cognitive function in ageing.

Vitamin D – adequate levels are crucial for cognitive functions such as memory, concentration and thinking in later life.

Omega 3 fatty acids – are increasingly recognized for their critical role in maintaining cognitive function during ageing.

Minerals – including magnesium, iron, selenium, zinc, and copper are being increasingly recognised for their critical role in supporting brain and cognitive health in the ageing population.

As individuals age, nutrient deficiencies become more common, stemming from inadequate diet, reduced nutrient absorption, or medication-related side effects. Supplementation of these elements is, therefore, essential for the preservation of cognitive abilities, memory, and cognition. The authors conclude that a personalised approach to supplementation, alongside a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats will ensure optimal benefits for brain health and cognitive function.

Read the full report here: Nutrients | Free Full-Text | Improving Cognitive Function with Nutritional Supplements in Aging: A Comprehensive Narrative Review of Clinical Studies Investigating the Effects of Vitamins, Minerals, Antioxidants, and Other Dietary Supplements (mdpi.com) 


Higher intake of antioxidants may lower the risk of low back pain in women

According to the World Health Organization, lower back pain is one of the leading causes of disability worldwide, imposing a significant loss of productivity and economic burden on individuals and society. This study, examining nearly 18,000 participants, investigated a potential association between dietary antioxidant intake and the incidence of lower back pain.

Oxidative stress is considered a critical factor in the complex pathology of lower back pain. The delicate balance between reactive oxygen species (ROS) and antioxidants is essential for maintaining normal cell function and tissue structure. Diet plays a crucial role in providing exogenous antioxidants, which effectively increase the levels of antioxidant biomarkers in the body to reduce oxidative stress.

This study found that women with the highest self-reported antioxidant intake, including vitamins A, C, E, carotenes, zinc, and selenium were almost 20% less likely to experience lower back pain that the females with the lowest antioxidant intake.

Previous studies have also found that higher dietary antioxidant intake is linked to a lower risk of a range of conditions such as osteopenia, hypertension, depression, and cardiovascular disease. To ensure you are getting enough antioxidants in your diet, it is important that you eat a wide range of different coloured plant foods each day.

Read the full report here: Association between different composite dietary antioxidant indexes and low back pain in American women adults: a cross-sectional study from NHANES | BMC Public Health | Full Text (biomedcentral.com)

You might also like our blog on natural pain management.


Low-carbohydrate diets emphasising healthy, plant-based wholefoods associated with slower long-term weight gain

Low-carbohydrate diets have gained considerable attention as they can hold promise for promoting weight loss and improving metabolic health in the short term. The longer-term effects of these diets, however, are largely unknown and very low-carb diets can be difficult to adhere to over time. Moreover, few studies have examined the quality of the food-groups in these diets.

In this recent study, the authors used data from the Nurses’ Health Study, Nurses’ Health Study II, and Health Professionals Follow-up Study to analyse the diets and weights of 123,332 healthy adults over a period from 1986 to 2018. Their analysis revealed that low-carb diets comprised of high-quality macronutrients from healthy plant-based foods were associated with slow long-term weight gain.

These diets centred around higher intakes of whole grains, non-starchy vegetables, and fruits and lower intakes of dairy, red and processed meat, sugar-sweetened beverages, and sweets and desserts. Conversely, low-carb diets that emphasize animal-sourced proteins and fats or refined carbohydrates were associated with a greater weight gain over time.

The key takeaway is that not all low-carb diets are created equally when it comes to managing weight in the long-term, and the emphasis should be on the quality and not just quantity of foods consumed.

The authors conclude that the findings of this study argue against the sole focus of macronutrient quantity for weight management and suggest the crucial role of nutrient quality in maintaining a healthy body weight.

Read the full report here: Low-Carbohydrate Diet Macronutrient Quality and Weight Change | Nutrition, Obesity, Exercise | JAMA Network Open | JAMA Network


Supplementing with 2000IU of D3 suggested as the correct level to prevent deficiency

Vitamin D deficiency is considered a public health problem due to its high prevalence globally and its essential role in skeletal health as well as the prevention of several extra skeletal chronic diseases such as cancer, autoimmunity, and diabetes.

The main source of vitamin D in humans is from skin exposure to ultraviolet-B (UV-B) (sunlight) whereas natural food sources of vitamin D (e.g., fish or mushrooms) play only a minor role in overall vitamin D supply. Limited sunlight exposure, obesity, and poor diet, amongst others, is contributing to the low vitamin D levels globally. Although there is a wealth of research supporting the role of vitamin D supplementation on human health (beyond bone health) – there is much debate as to the optimal level of intake.

The current guidelines for vitamin D supplementation, of doses from 400-800iu are formulated with the prevention of skeletal disease in mind, but the authors of this narrative study suggest that these levels will not provide sufficient protection for extra-skeletal health, nor do they consider different variations of levels between different geographic reasons and people of different ethnicities. The authors conclude that supplementing with a dose of 2000IU (50 µg) daily is an efficient and safe approach to preventing vitamin D deficiency in the general adult population.

In summary, the authors comment: “There exists no “one size fits all” approach for vitamin D supplementation, but as long as individualized approaches, including baseline and follow-up measurements of serum 25(OH)D, are not always feasible or cost-effective, we believe that it appears reasonable to recommend a daily dose of vitamin D with 2000 IU (50 µg) when someone asks for advice regarding an effective and safe vitamin D dosage that prevents and treats vitamin D deficiency.”

Read the full report here: Nutrients | Free Full-Text | Vitamin D Supplementation: A Review of the Evidence Arguing for a Daily Dose of 2000 International Units (50 µg) of Vitamin D for Adults in the General Population (mdpi.com)


Reference

  1. Statistics about dementia – Dementia Statistics Hub

All of our blogs are written by our team of expert Nutritional Therapists. If you have questions regarding the topics that have been raised, or any other health matters, please do contact them using the details below:

nutrition@cytoplan.co.uk
01684 310099

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Last updated on 7th February 2024 by cytoffice


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2 thoughts on “In the news – health and nutrition research

  1. Re low carb diets, in the paragraph 3 above the green box inviting comments, is it correct to have the phrase ‘slow long-term weight GAIN?’ Interesting articles as usual.

    1. Hi There – yes that’s correct – the low-carb diets discussed in the article saw slower weight gain over the long-term, whereas the unhealthy low-carb diets saw greater weight gain over time.

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