Dietary Fiber Promotes Beneficial Bacteria, Improving Glucose Control in Diabetes Interview with:

Liping Zhao PhD, Professor Department of Biochemistry and Microbiology School of Environmental and Biological Sciences Rutgers University-New Brunswick NJ

Dr. Zhao

Liping Zhao PhD, Professor
Department of Biochemistry and Microbiology
School of Environmental and Biological Sciences
Rutgers University-New Brunswick NJ What is the background for this study?

Response: Microbes in the human gut (collectively known as the gut microbiota) provide many functions that are important for human health. A notable example is that some gut bacteria are able to ferment non-digestible carbohydrates in our diet, e.g. dietary fibers, to produce short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs). These SCFAs nourish our gut epithelial cells, reduce inflammation, and play a role in appetite control. Deficiency of SCFAs has been associated with many diseases including type 2 diabetes. Many gut bacteria have the genes (and therefore the capacity) to produce SCFAs from carbohydrate fermentation. However, we know little about how these bacteria, as individual strains and as a group, actually respond to an increased supply of carbohydrates. This is key to improve clinical efficacy of dietary fiber interventions to improve human health. Continue reading

Can Probiotics and Fish Oil Supplements During Pregnancy Reduce Childhood Allergies? Interview with:
Dr Robert Boyle, 
Reader in Paediatric Allergy
Department of Medicine
Imperial College London What is the background for this study?

Response: Diet in early life may influence whether or not an infant develops allergies or autoimmune disease. We undertook a project for the UK Food Standards Agency to evaluate the evidence for this. What are the main findings? 

Response: We found that a probiotic supplement during the last 2-4 weeks of pregnancy and during breastfeeding may reduce an infant’s chances of developing eczema; and that omega-3 fatty acid supplements taken from the middle of pregnancy (20 weeks gestation) through the first few months of breastfeeding may reduce an infant’s chances of developing food allergy. We also found links between longer duration of breastfeeding and improved infant health, but for most other variations in diet during pregnancy or infancy we did not find evidence for a link with allergies or autoimmune disease.

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Does Caffeine Really Affect Your Sleep? Interview with:
Coffee being poured Coffee pot pouring cup of coffee. copyright American Heart AssociationJulia F. van den Berg, PhD

Leiden University, Department of Clinical Psychology
Leiden, The Netherlands What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Caffeine is the most used psychoactive substance worldwide, mostly consumed via coffee, energy drinks, tea and chocolate. Experimental studies have shown that caffeine can negatively affect sleep quality. The timing of caffeine consumption may play a role; the closer to bedtime, the more caffeine consumption is  likely to have a negative effect on sleep. We also wondered if chronotype, being a morning or evening person, would make a difference in the effect of caffeine on sleep.

We sent out questionnaires on sleep quality, chronotype, and a detailed questionnaire on type and timing of caffeine use to 880 secondary education students (mean age 21.3 years). We found that for the entire group, the amount of caffeine per week was not associated with sleep quality, regardless of chronotype. However, when we divided the group into subgroups of students who did, and students who did not usually consume caffeine in the evening (after 6PM), we found something interesting. Only for students who did not consume caffeine in the evening (20% of the total sample), a higher total caffeine consumption per week was associated with poorer sleep, in spite of the fact that these students consumed a lot less  caffeine per week than the group who did consume caffeine in the evening.

This suggests a self-regulatory mechanism: students who know they are sensitive to caffeine do not drink it in the evening, nevertheless, the caffeinated beverages they drink during the day do affect their sleep.

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Both Vegetarian and Mediterranean Diets Beneficial for Weight Loss and Heart Health Interview with:
“Vegetarian dan dan noodles” by Andrea Nguyen is licensed under CC BY 2.0Francesco Sofi, MD PhD
Department of Experimental and Clinical Medicine
University of Florence, Florence, Italy; Clinical Nutrition Unit, Careggi University Hospital
Don Carlo Gnocchi Foundation Italy, Onlus IRCCS
Florence, Italy What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Mediterranean and Vegetarian diets are two of the most beneficial dietary patterns for prevention of chronic degenerative diseases.

No studies have been conducted in the same group of subjects, by comparing these two dietary profiles.

Main results are that both diets have been found to be beneficial for cardiovascular prevention, in the same group of subjects at low risk of cardiovascular disease.

In particular, vegetarian diet determined a reduction of total and LDL-cholesterol, whereas Mediterranean diet resulted in lower levels of triglycerides and some inflammatory parameters

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Wine Might Be Good For Dental Health Interview with:
“Wine” by Uncalno Tekno is licensed under CC BY 2.0
M.Victoria Moreno-Arribas
Spanish National Research Council | CSIC What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Recent discoveries indicate polyphenols might also promote health by actively interacting with bacteria in the gut. Also, the intake of specific polyphenol-rich beverages and foods helps the maintenance of digestive health and prevention of disease status. However, the knowledge of the effects of polyphenols in relation to the prevention of dental diseases is still at an early stage.

The use of antiseptics and/or antibiotics in the prevention and treatment of periodontal diseases can lead to unwanted effects. Therefore, there is a need to develop novel antimicrobial strategies useful for the prevention and management of these diseases. Oral epithelial cells normally constitute a physical barrier that prevents infections, but bacterial adhesion to host tissues constitutes a first key step in the infectious process.

With the final goal to elucidate the health properties of wine polyphenols at oral level, we studied their properties as an anti-adhesive therapy for periodontal and cariogenic prevention, as well as the combined action between wine polyphenols and oral probiotic strains in the management of microbial-derived oral diseases. In particular, we checked out the effect of two red wine polyphenols, as well as commercially available grape seed and red wine extracts, on bacteria that stick to teeth and gums and cause dental plaque, cavities and periodontal disease. Also, oral metabolism of polyphenols, including both oral microbiota and human mucosa cells, was investigated.  Continue reading

Intake of Sugar-Sweetened Beverages By Both Partners Appears To Harm Fertility Interview with:


Dr. Hatch

Dr. Elizabeth E. Hatch, PhD
Professor, Epidemiology
School of Public Health
Boston University What is the background for this study?  

Response: We are conducting a large, ongoing, preconception cohort study, PREgnancy STudy Online or PRESTO   in the U.S. and Canada of couples who are planning a pregnancy.  The overall goal of the study is to identify factors that affect fertility, measured by the time taken to conceive, and factors that affect the risk of miscarriage.  Since many women are postponing pregnancy until the later reproductive years, we would like to help find behavioral and environmental factors that might either help or harm fertility so that couples can avoid the stress and expense of infertility workups and treatment.  As part of the larger study, we looked at consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) by both the male and female partner, since some previous research suggested that sugar-sweetened beverages might harm semen quality and ovulation.

For this analysis, we included 3,828 women aged 21 to 45 and 1,045 of their male partners. We asked both males and females (in separate baseline questionnaires) about their usual consumption of SSBs over the last month, and we had a drop-down menu with names of individual sodas (both sugar-sweetened and diet) and energy drinks.  We also asked general questions about the frequency of fruit juice and ‘sports drink’ consumption.   In our analysis, we controlled for multiple factors that might ‘confound’ the associations, such as body mass index, education, caffeine, smoking and alcohol consumption, as well as a measure of overall diet quality.

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School Based Healthy Lifestyle Program Did Not Bend Childhood Obesity Curve Interview with:
“Lt. Governor Brown Visits Hamilton Elem_Mid School to Highlight Summer Meals Program” by Maryland GovPics is licensed under CC BY 2.0Peymané Adab, MD

University of Birmingham in England What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Childhood obesity is an increasing problem worldwide. In the UK, the proportion of children who are very overweight doubles during the primary school years. Furthermore during this period inequalities emerge. At school entry there is little difference in the likelihood of being overweight between groups. However on leaving primary school, children from minority ethnic groups and those from more deprived, compared to more affluent backgrounds are more likely to be overweight. Excess weight in children is linked with multiple health, emotional and social problems.  As children spend a lot of time at school, it seems intuitive that they are an ideal setting for prevention interventions.

Although a number of studies have investigated the evidence for school obesity prevention programmes, the results have been mixed and methodological weaknesses have prevented recommendations being made. As a result we undertook a major high quality trial to evaluate an intervention that had been developed in consultation with parents, teachers and the relevant community. The 12 month programme  had four components. Teachers at participating schools were trained to provide opportunities for regular bursts of physical activity for children, building up to an additional 30 minutes each school day. There was also a workshop each term, where parents came in to cook a healthy meal (breakfast, lunch of dinner) with their children. In conjunction with a local football club, Aston Villa, children participated in a six-week healthy eating and physical activity programme. Finally, parents were provided with information about local family physical activity opportunities.

We involved around 1500 year 1 children (aged 5-6 years) from 54 state run primary schools in the West Midlands. At the start of the study, we measured their height and weight and other measures of body fat, asked the children to complete a questionnaire about their wellbeing, to note everything they ate for 24 hours, and to wear an activity monitor that recorded how active they were. After this, the schools were randomised to either receive the programme or not. We then repeated the measures 15 and 30 months later.

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Low Sodium Levels Linked To Cognitive Impairment in Older Adults Interview with:

Dr. Kristen L. Nowak PhD Division of Renal Diseases and Hypertension University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus Aurora, CO 80045

Dr. Nowak

Dr. Kristen L. Nowak PhD
Division of Renal Diseases and Hypertension
University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus
Aurora, CO 80045 What is the background for this study?  

Response: Subtle impairments in cognition are common with aging, even in the absence of clinically apparent dementia. Mild hyponatremia is a common finding in older adults; however, the association of lower serum sodium with cognition in older adults is currently uncertain.

We hypothesized that lower normal serum sodium would be associated with prevalent cognitive impairment and the risk of cognitive decline over time in asymptomatic, community-dwelling older men.

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HOT Tea Raises Risk of Esophageal Cancer Interview with:
“Hot tea #steam” by Thomas Ricker is licensed under CC BY 2.0Jun / 吕筠

Professor, Department of Epidemiology & Biostatistics
School of Public Health, Peking University Health Science Center
Beijing 100191 What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Esophageal cancer (EC) remains a global concern because of its increasing incidence and persistently poor survival. It poses a bigger threat to less developed regions and men.

Tea is one of the most common beverages worldwide and usually consumed at elevated temperature. Existing evidence remains inconclusive as to the association between tea consumption and EC risk. Tea consumers, especially in Chinese men, are more likely to smoke and drink alcohol. Tobacco smoking and alcohol consumption, as well as the chemical compounds and adverse thermal effect of high-temperature tea, considerably complicate the association between tea consumption and esophageal cancer risk.

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Could an Artificial Sweetener Be Used To Fight Cancer? Interview with:

Prof. Robert McKenna PhD Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology College of Medicine, University of Florida Gainesville, Florida 32610

Prof. McKenna

Prof. Robert McKenna PhD
Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
College of Medicine, University of Florida
Gainesville, Florida 32610 What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Carbonic anhydrase IX (CA IX) is an enzyme that is typically only found in the GI tract, but is overexpressed in cancerous tissue. This enzyme functions to regulate the pH of tumor cells, so we hypothesize that disruption of this role will lead to tumor cell death.

This study analyzes the inhibition of CA IX using an artificial sweetener, acesulfame potassium (AceK). Our research provides a structural perspective to understand the selectivity of aceK for CA IX over an off-target enzyme, CA II. We discovered that aceK binds directly to an active site zinc in CA IX whereas the sweetener anchors through a zinc-bound water in CA II.

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Study Evaluates Effects of Probiotics During Pregnancy Interview with:
“My nightly probiotics to help me :) barely holding back PostOp issues! Very GRATEFUL for them!” by Ashley Steel is licensed under CC BY 2.0Mahsa Nordqvist MD
Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology
Sahlgrenska University Hospital
Gothenburg, Sweden What is the background for this study?

Response: We have shown in earlier observational studies that there is an association between probiotic intake and lower risk of preterm delivery and preeclampsia. Since pregnancy is a time of rapid change and different exposures can have different effect depending on the time of exposure, we wanted to find out if there is any special time point of consumption that might be of greater importance when it comes to these associations.

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Sugar-Sweetened Beverages Play Large Role In Worldwide Obesity Epidemic Interview with:
“Soda” by Jannes Pockele is licensed under CC BY 2.0Maria Luger, MSc
Special Institute for Preventive Cardiology And Nutrition
Spendenbegünstigte Einrichtung gem. FW 1914/19.3.2005
Vorstand: Univ.-Prof. Prim. Dr. Friedrich Hoppichler
Salzburg, Austria What is the background for this study?

Response: Worldwide obesity has nearly tripled since 1975. Rising consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) has been a major contributor to the obesity epidemic and it increases the risk of diabetes or cardiovascular disease, as previous evidence has shown. Partly inconsistent findings from previous reviews have fueled discussions on the impact of SSBs on obesity development.

Therefore, the aim of our review was to systematically review the recent evidence in children and adults.

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How Much DASH Diet is Required To Reduce Uric Acid? Interview with:
“Blood Pressure” by Bernard Goldbach is licensed under CC BY 2.0Stephen P. Juraschek, MD, PhD

Instructor of Medicine
Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center/Harvard Medical School What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Recent evidence suggests that the DASH diet is associated with lower uric acid levels and lower risk of gout. Furthermore, a secondary analysis of the DASH trial showed that complete replacement of a typical American diet with the DASH diet lowered uric acid levels. However, it is unknown if partial replacement of a typical American diet with DASH foods might lower uric acid.

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Dietary Estrogens Have Potential To Affect Cancer Outcomes Interview with:

Benedikt Warth, PhD, Assistant Professor Department of Food Chemistry and Toxicology University of Vienna Vienna, Austria 

Dr. Warth

Benedikt Warth, PhD, Assistant Professor
Department of Food Chemistry and Toxicology
University of Vienna
Vienna, Austria What is the background for this study?

Response: The palbociclib/letrozole combination therapy was granted accelerated approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 2015 after a clinical trial showed it doubled the progression-free survival time in postmenopausal women with estrogen receptor (ER) positive, metastatic breast cancer. Letrozole blocks the production of estrogen, thus reducing the growth-promoting stimulation of ERs on breast cancer cells. Palbociclib blocks a different signaling pathway to impede cell division. The combination is now one of the standard therapies for ER-positive breast cancers.

The aim of our study was twofold:

Firstly, we investigated the drugs synergism at the metabolome level in MCF-7 cells to unravel the unknown underlying metabolic effects of palbociclib/letrozole mechanism of action. We used a global metabolomics approach to analyze the effects of palbociclib and letrozole individually and in combination on breast cancer cells. Metabolomics studies detail cells’ metabolomes—populations of metabolites, the small-molecule end products of cellular processes.

Secondly, we aimed at deciphering the impact of the two model xenoestrogens frequently present in our diet, zearalenone and genistein, on this chemotherapy. Since these chemicals interact with the estrogen receptor we hypothesized that they may interfere with the new treatment. Continue reading

Review Finds Antioxidant Supplements of Little to No Benefit in Exercise Recovery Interview with:
“Pills Vitamins Macro April 22, 2012 4” by Steven Depolo is licensed under CC BY 2.0
Dr Mayur Ranchordas, SFHEA
Senior Lecturer in Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism
Sport Nutrition Consultant
Chair of the Sport and Exercise Research Ethics Group
Sheffield Hallam University
Academy of Sport and Physical Activity
Faculty of Health and Wellbeing
Sheffield What is the background for this study? 

Response: People engaging in intense exercise often take antioxidant supplements, such as vitamin C and/or E or antioxidant-enriched foods, before and after exercise in the anticipation that these will help reduce muscle soreness. In a new review published in the Cochrane Library we looked at the evidence from 50 studies. These all compared high-dose antioxidant supplementation with a placebo and their participants all engaged in strenuous exercise that was sufficient to cause muscle soreness. Of the 1089 participants included in the review, nearly nine out of ten of these were male and most participants were recreationally active or moderately trained.

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Probiotics May Help Colic in Breastfed But Not Formula Fed Babies Interview with:

Dr Valerie Sung MBBS (Hons) FRACP MPH PhD Department of Paediatrics The University of Melbourne Murdoch Childrens Research Institute Parkville, Australia

Dr. Sung

Dr Valerie Sung MBBS (Hons) FRACP MPH PhD
Department of Paediatrics
The University of Melbourne
Murdoch Childrens Research Institute
Parkville, Australia What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Infant colic is excessive crying in babies less than 3 months old with no underlying medical cause. It affects 1 in 5 newborns, is very distressing, and is associated with maternal depression, Shaken Baby Syndrome, and early cessation of breastfeeding. Up to now, there has been no single effective treatment for colic. The probiotic Lactobacillus reuteri DSM 17938 has recently shown promise but results from trials have been conflicting. In particular, a previous trial from Australia, the largest in the world so far, did not find the probiotic to be effective in both breastfed and formula-fed infants with colic.

This international collaborative study, which collected raw data from 345 infants from existing trials from Italy, Poland, Canada and Australia, confirms Lactobacillus reuteri to be effective in breastfed infants with colic. However, it cannot be recommended for formula-fed infants with colic.

Compared to a placebo, the probiotic group was two times more likely to reduce crying by 50 per cent, by the 21st day of treatment, for the babies who were exclusively breastfed. The number needed to treat for day 21 success in breastfed infants was 2.6.

In contrast, the formula fed infants in the probiotic group seemed to do worse than the placebo group, but the numbers for this group were limited.

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Weaning To Hydrolyzed Infant Formula Did Not Reduce Risk of Type 1 Diabetes Interview with:
“Baby Bottle” by brokinhrt2 is licensed under CC BY 2.0Mikael Knip, MD, PhD

Professor of Pediatrics
TRIGR PI What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Experimental studies have indicated that the avoidance of early exposure to cow’s milk proteins reduces the cumulative incidence of autoimmune diabetes in animal models of human type 1 diabetes, e.g. BB rats and NOD mice. Epidemiological studies in humans have suggested that there may be a link between type 1 diabetes and short breastfeeding or early introduction of infant formulas. All regular infant formulas contain intact cow’s milk proteins.

The main finding was that weaning to an extensively hydrolyzed formula did not reduce the cumulative incidence of Type 1 diabetes in at-risk children by the mean age of 11 years.

The extensively hydrolyzed formula did not contain any intact cow’s milk proteins but only small peptides (maximal size 2000 daltons).

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Lack of Folic Acid Supplements During Pregnancy Linked With Increased Autism Risk in Children Exposed to Seizure Drugs In Utero Interview with:

Dr. Marte Bjørk, MD PhD Department of Clinical Medicine University of Bergen, Department of Neurology Haukeland University Hospital Bergen, Norway

Dr. Marte Bjørk

Dr. Marte Bjørk, MD PhD
Department of Clinical Medicine
University of Bergen,
Department of Neurology
Haukeland University Hospital
Bergen, Norway What is the background for this study?

Response: In utero antiepileptic drug exposure are associated with neurodevelopmental problems in the child. We looked into if maternal folate during pregnancy could reduce the risk of autistic traits in children of women in need of antiepileptic drugs in pregnancy. The rationale for the hypothesis that folate could be beneficial, was that many antiepileptic drugs interact with folate metabolism. Folic acid supplement use is also associated with slightly reduced risk of autism in children of women from the general population.

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Older, Frail and Physically Inactive Adults At Risk of Multivitamin Deficiency Interview with:
“vitamins” by Colin Mutchler is licensed under CC BY 2.0
Priv.-Doz. Dr. Barbara Thorand 
Helmholtz Zentrum München
German Research Center for Environmental Health
Institute of Epidemiology II
Neuherberg, Germany What is the background for this study?

Response: Micronutrients, which include vitamins, minerals (e.g. calcium) and trace elements (e.g. iron), are essential nutrients that are required in minute amounts by the organism for proper growth and good health. Results from the last German National Nutrition Survey (NVS II)* uncovered a high prevalence of insufficient dietary intake of micronutrients in older adults aged 65 years and over in Germany. By means of blood analyses, our study has confirmed these critical results. This is a highly relevant issue, particularly in light of our growing aging population and the high societal relevance of successful healthy aging.

*Max Rubner-Institut: Nationale Verzehrsstudie II, Ergebnisbericht Teil 2 (2008). Die Bundesweite Befragung zur Ernährung von Jugendlichen und Erwachsenen.

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Frequent Take-Out Food Linked To Increased Cholesterol and Obesity in Children Interview with:

Dr. Angela S Donin Population Health Research Institute, St George’s University of London, London, UK

Dr. Donin

Dr. Angela S Donin
Population Health Research InstituteSt George’s
University of London
London, UK What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: There are increasing numbers of takeaway outlets, particularly in deprived neighbourhoods. This is driving an increase in consumption of takeaway meals, which previous evidence has shown is linked to higher risks of heart disease, type 2 diabetes and obesity. Little is known about the dietary and health impact of high consumption of takeaway foods in children.

This research found children who regularly ate takeaway meals had higher body fat and cholesterol compared to children who rarely ate take away meals, they also had overall poorer diet quality.

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Vast Majority of Adults Do Not Consume Enough Fruit and Vegetables Interview with:

Seung Hee Lee-Kwan, PhD Epidemiologist, Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Dr. Seung Hee Lee-Kwan

Seung Hee Lee-Kwan, PhD
Epidemiologist, Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Seung Hee Lee-Kwan has a PhD in International Health at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Her previous work focused community-based interventions that aimed to promote healthy eating. Dr. Lee-Kwan’s current work at CDC is on fruits and vegetable surveillance, and research of health behaviors and environmental factors associated with obesity. What is the background for this study?

Response: The purpose of the study was to update a 2013 report that estimated how many people in each state are meeting fruit and vegetable intake recommendations with the latest data from 2015. These estimates looked at the percent of adults meeting the intake recommendations by age, sex, race/ethnicity, and income-to-poverty ratio for the 50 states and District of Columbia (DC).

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Overeating High-Fructose Corn Syrup Can Raise Both Hunger and Cortisol Levels Interview with:
“Herring in high fructose corn syrup” by Ray Sawhill is licensed under CC BY 2.0Paolo Piaggi PhD and
Marie Thearle MD
Phoenix Epidemiology and Clinical Research Branch
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases
National Institutes of Health, Phoenix, Arizona What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Changes in food preparation have occurred over the recent decades including wide-spread availability of convenience foods and use of fructose as a sweetener. In addition, there is a growing trend to label certain foods as “healthy”. As the ingestion of added sugars and the prevalence of obesity have steadily increased over time, it has been suggested that the increased consumption of simple sugars may have contributed to the recent obesity epidemic.

We were interested in understanding whether the body responded to overeating foods with a high carbohydrate content differently if the source of the carbohydrate differed. For example, does it matter if we overeat foods containing whole wheat instead of high-fructose corn syrup? To answer this question, we conducted a study investigating changes in metabolism, circulating hormones, and appetite ratings in humans who were overfed a diet containing 75% carbohydrates for 24 hours. The subjects in the study were overfed with a high carbohydrate diet twice – once with a diet where the source of carbohydrates was whole wheat and once with a diet that contained simple sugars, primarily high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS). Note that the diets were given in random order with at least three days of recovery in between the overfeeding periods.

There was no difference in people’s metabolic rate over 24 hours between the whole-wheat versus high-fructose corn syrup diets; however, the diet containing HFCS resulted in increased hunger scores the next morning even though people had overeaten the day prior. These increased hunger scores were comparable to the hunger scores reported after a day of fasting. Also, 24-hour urinary free cortisol concentrations were higher the day after the diet containing high-fructose corn syrup. Cortisol is a hormone released by the adrenal glands in response to physiologic stress.

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Aside From Pregnancy, 3-4 Cups of Coffee Per Day Has Likely Health Benefits Interview with:
“Coffee” by Treacle Tart is licensed under CC BY 2.0Robin Poole
Specialty registrar in public health
Academic Unit of Primary Care and Population Sciences
Faculty of Medicine
University of Southampton What is the background for this study?

Response: Worldwide, over two billion cups of coffee are consumed every day. Since such a lot of coffee is consumed it is important to understand whether this is beneficial or harmful to our health. Evidence to date has been mixed and this tends to vary between different outcomes.

Coffee is a complex mixture of many bioactive compounds including caffeine, chlorogenic acids, and diterpenes. Laboratory experiments have previously highlighted the potential for coffee to have anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-fibrotic and anti-cancer effects.

Our research group is interested in liver conditions and we were aware of studies suggesting beneficial associations between drinking coffee and liver disease. We went on to conduct two meta-analyses and concluded that coffee drinking was beneficially associated with both liver cirrhosis and liver cancer.

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People Who Regularly Eat Nuts Have Lower Risk of Heart Disease Interview with:
“Nuts” by fdecomite is licensed under CC BY 2.0
Marta Guasch-Ferre, PhD
Research Fellow
Department of Nutrition. Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health
655 Huntington Ave, Building 2
Boston, Ma, 02115 What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Although previous evidence has shown that frequent nut consumption is associated with reduced cardiovascular risk factors including dyslipidaemia, type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome; as well as with lower risk of coronary heart disease (CHD); most of the previous prospective studies have focused on total nut consumption in relation to the risk of CVD. However, the associations between peanut butter and specific types of nuts, such as peanuts and walnuts, with major cardiovascular events, and specifically the relation with stroke were unclear. Of note, because the nutritional composition of peanuts and walnuts differs from other nuts, it was of particular interest to evaluate the health effects of specific types of nuts. Therefore, our main aim was to look at several types of nuts including total nut consumption, peanuts, walnuts, and tree nuts.

Briefly, in three large prospective cohorts with up to 32 years of follow-up, people who regularly eat nuts, including peanuts, walnuts and tree nuts, have a lower risk of developing cardiovascular disease or coronary heart disease compared to people who never or almost never eat nuts. We found a consistent inverse association between total nut consumption and total cardiovascular disease (14% lower risk for those consuming nuts five or more times per week) and coronary heart disease (20% lower risk).

Also, after looking at individual nut consumption, eating walnuts one or more times per week was associated with a 19 percent lower risk of cardiovascular disease and 21 percent lower risk of coronary heart disease. Participants who ate peanuts or tree nuts two or more times per week had a 15 percent and 23 percent, respectively, lower risk of coronary heart disease compared to those who never consumed nuts.

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AI Study Supports Association of Increased Coffee Consumption With Decreased CVD Risk Interview with:
Coffee being poured Coffee pot pouring cup of coffee.  copyright American Heart Association
Laura Stevens
University of Colorado
Aurora, CO What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

We started with asking ourselves how we could better predict cardiovascular and stroke outcomes.  In an ideal world, we would be able to predict cardiovascular disease (CVD) and stroke with 100% accuracy long before the occurrence of the event.  The challenge here is there are so many potential risk factors, and testing each one using traditional methods would be extremely time consuming, and possibly infeasible.

Therefore, we used artificial intelligence to find potential risk factors that could be important for risk of CVD and stroke.  The results of this analysis pointed to consumption of coffee cups per day and the number of times red meat was consumed per week as being potentially important predictors of CVD.

We then looked into these findings further using traditional statistical analyses to determine that increased coffee consumption and red meat consumption appeared to be associated with decreased risk of CVD.  The study initially used data from the Framingham Heart Study (FHS) original cohort.

The findings from this data were then tested using data from 2 independent studies, the Cardiovascular Heart Study (CHS) and the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities Study (ARIC), which both supported the association of increased coffee consumption with decreased CVD risk.

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