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But First…Fix Your Fiber Problem

19 Feb

But First…Fix Your Fiber Problem

There’s no doubt that nutrition advice can be confusing, and sometimes downright contradictory.

One week egg yolks are good for you, the next they’re super bad. Does diet soda make you fat? Does diet soda help fight fat? As a Registered Dietitian, this nutrition nonsense is essentially my job security :)

But even I would agree: nutrition guidelines can get ugly. Case in point: the American Heart Association’s completely over-complex “Guidelines on Lifestyle Management to Reduce Cardiovascular Risk“.

Among other things, this 46 page publications advises adherents to:

  • Eat at least 30 grams of high-fiber foods each day
  • Eat fish twice a week
  • Get protein from vegetables and lean meats
  • Get 50% to 55% of calories from carbohydrates, 15% to 20% of calories from protein, and 30% to 35% of calories from fat (including just 7% of calories from saturated fat and less than 1% from trans fats)
  • Eat less than 300 milligrams of cholesterol per day
  • Minimize sugar, sodium and sugar-sweetened beverages
  • Drink no more than a moderate amount of alcohol

If you stopped reading after bullet point number 1 – you might just be ok.

And that is because earlier this week a study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine with a very unique study design. The study showed that complex diet recommendations might not matter, and maybe all you need is fiber.

The study authors divided 240 obese subjects into 2 groups: one who got all of those above AHA dietary recommendations, and another group told to just eat 30 grams of fiber per day.

The results weren’t earth shattering, and both groups lost weight at the end of the year period: the AHA group lost 6 pounds on average and the fiber group lost 4.6.

What was interesting was that the fiber group actually did increase their fiber intake by 4.7 grams per day whereas the AHA group – with all of that additional info that didn’t really work to help lose weight – only ate an additional 1.3 grams.

Since the typical American eats only 10-12 grams of fiber per day – but needs more like 30 grams, a 4.7 gram per day increase from healthy foods like fruits and vegetables and whole grains is pretty promising.

What’s the take away message? Sometimes it pays to cut out the clutter and ignore the nutrition noise. Sticking to 1 recommendation, like working to increase fiber, can have a secondary effect of improving your overall diet.

Fiber Food Additive to Fight Appetite

20 Jan

Fiber Food Additive to Fight Appetite

Every fiber fan knows that fiber makes you feel full. But there comes a point when you can only rationalize so much roughage!

Well – lucky for you, scientists in the United Kingdom have isolated a food additive that promotes satiety, and its name is proponiate.

A small study published in the online journal Gut showed that people given the additive proponiate gained less weight over a 24-week period compared to those who were given inulin. The proponiate people also had less abdominal and liver fat than the inulin group.

Proponiate is produced when dietary fiber is fermented in the gut. By delivering proponiate to the colon, researchers theorized that they could increase peptide YY (PYY) and glucagon like peptide-1 (GLP-1) secretion, which in turn would reduce calorie intake and blunt weight gain in overweight adults.

Now you can’t run to the store to pick up proponiate just yet – or probably anytime soon. But maybe down the road? The scientists did comment that these findings may represent, “a novel route to improve weight management at the population level.”


Whole Grain Intake Massacres Mortality Rates

13 Jan

Whole Grain Intake Massacres Mortality Rates

It’s time to table that Wheat Belly BS & push your Paleo proclivities aside: a new study shows that eating whole grains is linked to lower mortality.

While it has long been known that high whole grain intake cuts heart disease and diabetes risk, these new findings represent a major step forward in tying whole grain intake to lower mortality rates.

The study – published in JAMA Internal Medicine – looked at data from over 74,000 females in the Nurse’s Health Study and 43,000 males from the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study. Participants filled out diet questionnaires every 2-4 years for a period of 25 years. Findings were adjusted for age, smoking, BMI, physical activity, and other dietary components.

The researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health found that whole grain intake is linked to:

  • A 9% lower overall mortality rate
  • A 15% lower cardiovascular disease related mortality rate
  • Overall mortality drop of 9% and CVD mortality cut of 15% for every serving of whole grains you add per day
  • 6% lower total mortality and 20% lower CVD related mortality when the benefits of bran foods were taken into consideration.

Self-reported dietary data is always an inherent drawback to studies of these sorts – but the large sample size and impressive length-of-follow are 2 inspiring components of this publication.

What’s the take away? You do your body a long term favor by replacing refined carbs with whole grain goodness.


Lowdown on the Listeria Fruit Recall

23 Jul

Lowdown on the Listeria Fruit Recall

Food safety is forefront in the news this week after a California packing company initiated a voluntary recall of fruit it sold at Trader Joe’s, Costco, Food 4 Less, Foods Co., and Ralphs stores.

The recall is related to specific lots of peaches, nectarines, plums, and pluots in packages assembled from June 1 – July 12 that may have been contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.

What is Listeria?

Listeriosis is caused by eating food contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes. It is particularly problematic for anyone with a compromised immune system, including:

  • Older adults
  • Pregnant women
  • Newborns, and
  • Other sick individuals

Listeria is found in soil and water, and animals can cross contaminate to foods such as uncooked meats and vegetables, or unpasteurized (raw) milk and cheeses.

The safest way to protect yourself against listeria is to cook and pasteurize, since this kills Listeria.

Hot dogs and deli meats can be sources of Listeria, which is why pregnant women are advised to avoid eating these foods unless they are reheated to steaming hot.

How Serious is the Threat of Listeria?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

  • About 1,600 people in the US get sick from Listeria each year
  • Listeria is the 3rd leading cause of death from food poisoning
  • At least 90% of those with Listeria infections are pregnant women or newborns, people aged 65 or older, or those with compromised immune system

How Can You Avoid Listeria?

Besides the obvious avoidance of contaminated product, if you are in one of the at-risk populations, make sure to also steer clear of the riskiest foods for Listeria, including:

  • Raw sprouts
  • Raw milk (unpasteurized milk)
  • Soft cheeses (made from unpasteurized milk)
  • Deli meats and hot dogs that are cold and not heated
  • Smoked seafood

To learn more about Listeria prevention, click here.

Regarding the recent fruit recall, you can find the FDA’s press release with affected lot numbers here.

Live Longer With Fiber

25 Jun

Live Longer With Fiber

It’s fairly well established that fiber prevents disease – helping to keep problems like blood sugar spikes, elevated cholesterol levels, and even certain types of cancer at bay.

But now comes a study showing that fiber can also help out after danger strikes, in this case – by preventing repeat heart attacks.

Researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health recently published a study in the British Medical Journal showing that among heart attack survivors, the highest fiber eaters had the lowest risk of having another heart attack.

Over 4,000 subjects were involved in the study which found that greater fiber intake was inversely associated with all cause mortality.

And, it turns out that cereal fiber is particularly cardioprotective.

What’s a cereal fiber? Try:

  • Oatmeal
  • Barley
  • Whole wheat pasta

Bottom line? According to this study, fiber helps heart disease, both before and after heart attack…proving that it’s really never too late to start falling in love with fiber.