Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Searching for the perfect diet: fibers, carbohydrates, fats, oh my!

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We know that many of the chronic diseases are related to poor diet. However, we cannot seem to learn what is considered safe choices for our long-term well-being. Since the 1970s, the prevalence of heart disease seems to follow well-intentioned dietary guidelines. Some scientists have shown that the epidemic of coronary heart disease was caused by refined sugar combined with a low intake of dietary fiber. Others have found that coronary heart disease results from the consumption of saturated fatty acids. This latter viewpoint became a widely accepted mantra for many decades. 

In long-term studies, however, higher mortality is related to high carbohydrate intake and not fat consumption. Low-carb diets appeared to be significantly healthier. Although saturated fat was associated with stroke, dietary fat does not seems to play a role in other cardiovascular disease mortality. Also, the main types of fats should be unsaturated fats from plant sources rather than animal fat. Nevertheless, there is no magic, healthiest diet. In fact, low-fat diets might increase the likelihood of heart attacks and heart disease. 

If that was not confusing enough, a 2018 study shows that fats seem to boost appetite. Mice kept on a high-fat diet exhibited signs of changes in the activity of specific genes, related to reward processing. Connecting food with reward might lead to increased food consumption, which leads to obesity.

Replacing saturated fats with whole grains reduces the blood cholesterol level, which lessens the risk of coronary heart disease. Viscous fiber, found in oats, beans, and fruit, reduces the cholesterol level more than insoluble fiber, the type found in whole wheat. Foods to avoid or consume in moderation are processed and red meat, sugar-sweetened foods and beverages, and refined grains.

A recent discovery that the food you eat is influencing your brain health gives dietary consideration even more importance and urgency. For example, calorie restriction significantly improves blood supply to the brain. In mice, the Ketogenic Diet (high levels of fat and low levels of carbohydrates) leads to positive results in patients with epilepsy, Parkinson’s disease, and autism. Detailed studies have shown that reduced blood glucose levels and lower body weight might have resulted from the improved microbiome in the gut. The most exciting finding has been a reduction of amyloid-beta, a known hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease, from the brain. Thus, Paleo diet, caveman diet, or stone-age diet might protect from Alzheimer disease.

Read the article: The finding was reported in cell metabolism.

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