Gluten & Diabetes Risk- not what you think

Gluten & Diabetes Risk- not what you think

Got gluten?  You should.  A recent study suggests that going “gluten-free” may raise your risk for Type 2 diabetes.  The diet, meant for a small population of individuals who have Celiac disease or gluten intolerance, became popular despite lack of evidence that it was healthy for most people.  Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye and barley that gives baked goods their texture.  A small percentage of people with celiac disease may also need to avoid oats due to a protein sensitivity.

According to Dr. Geng Zong from the Harvard University Dept. of Nutrition T.H. Chan School of Public Health, gluten-free foods are often less nutritious because they lack dietary fiber as well as vitamins and minerals. They tend to be more expensive.  His study looked at health effects of a gluten-free diet on subjects that did not medically need to follow one. In a long term longitudinal study, scientists observed that most subjects consumed 12 grams of gluten or less per day.  In those that consumed higher amounts of gluten, the risk of type 2 diabetes over a 30-year span, was lower.  Cereal fiber intake was lower in subjects on a gluten-free diet, which is important to note as it is a protective component for development of type 2 diabetes.  After accounting for the effect of cereal fiber, those in the highest 20% of gluten ingestion experienced a 13% lower risk of diabetes development than those with the lowest intake of gluten (< 4 grams).

In three other large, long term Nurse’s Health studies (NHS and NHS II) and the Health Professionals follow up study, gluten intake was gathered using food frequency questionnaires.  The average gluten intake was between 5.8 to 7.1 grams per day, which came primarily from pretzels, bread, pizza, muffins, cereal and pasta.  Data was observational as subjects self-reported their gluten intake.  In over 4.24 million person years of follow up over 1984-1990 to 2010-2013, 15,947 cases of Type 2 diabetes were identified.  Gluten-free diets were not popular at the time, so information on gluten abstainers was not available.

The bottom line is that if you don’t need a gluten-free diet, don’t follow it.  Include gluten-containing, high fiber, whole grains in your diet daily.  The US Dietary Guidelines advise 20-25 grams of dietary fiber per day for women and 35-38 grams per day for men.  Below is a list of whole grains and their fiber content:

Barley (1/2 cup cooked): 3.1 grams

Bran cereal (3/4 cup): 5.9 grams

Brown rice (1/2 cup cooked): 2 grams

Bulgur (1/2 cup cooked): 4.1 grams

Oatmeal (1/2 cup cooked): 4.1 grams

Rye bread (1 slice): 1.5 grams

Quinoa (1/2 cup cooked): 2.75 grams

Whole wheat bread (1 slice): 3 grams

Whole grain pasta (1/2 cup cooked): 5-6 grams

Reference:

Geng Zong, Ph.D., research fellow, department of nutrition, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Boston; Lauri Wright, Ph.D., R.D.N., spokesperson, Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, and director, doctorate in clinical nutrition program, University of North Florida, Jacksonville; March 9, 2017 presentation, American Heart Association Epidemiology and Prevention/Lifestyle and Cardiometabolic Health 2017 Scientific Sessions, Portland, Ore.

Less means more!

Less means more!

Several studies have shown that being overweight or obese is linked with risk of chronic diseases such as diabetes, cancer and heart disease.  Even a 5-10% reduction in weight can prevent the development and aid in the control of hypertension and diabetes as well as lowering blood cholesterol. 1 Beyond trimming your weight and waistline, there’s an even more important benefit to reducing calorie intake.  New research out of Duke University in Durham suggests that biological aging can be stalled with calorie restriction.  Biological aging, according to the study author Daniel Belsky, is “the gradual and progressive deterioration of systems in the body that occurs with advancing chronological age”.  Belsky believes if biological aging can be slowed, it may help to prevent or delay chronic age-related illnesses and disabilities.2

The scientists at Duke University in Durham evaluated a total of 220 subjects over 2 years-145 who reduced calorie intake by 12% compared with 75 controls who did not limit calorie intake. The average biological age of both groups was close to 38 years.  Readings that included total cholesterol, blood pressure and hemoglobin levels were used to calculate biological age.2

In the calorie-restricted group, biological age increased by an average of .11 years each year compared to .71 years in the control group, over a two year follow up. This was statistically significant according to the researchers.  Previous studies have shown that calorie restriction slows aging in worms, flies and mice.  This was the first human study to test if calorie restriction can reduce measured biological aging in a randomized control study.  The authors believe this study can serve as a model for developing and testing treatment designed to copy the effects of calorie restriction to delay or prevent debilitating diseases.2

In 2014, the Obesity Society put out an official statement to raise awareness of the availability and consumption of energy-dense food contributing to weight gain and obesity.  Foods high in energy include high sugar foods like soda, ice cream and high calorie desserts as well as fried foods, large servings of meat and full fat cheese.  A diet containing foods rich in nutrients such as fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein sources and low-fat dairy products can help support weight management efforts.  The Obesity Society urges companies to test and market products that are lower in calories that will help consumers with weight management. The position paper can be found at: http://www.obesity.org/publications/energy-density-of-foods-influences-satiety-a-total-caloric-intake.htm. 3

References:

1.    Klein, Samuel. Effects of Moderate and Subsequent Progressive Weight Loss on Metabolic Function and Adipose Tissue Biology in Humans with ObesityCell Metabolism, 2016; DOI: 10.1016/j.cmet.2016.02.005

2.    Belsky, Dan W., Huffman, Kim, Pieper, Carl, Shalev, Idan, Kraus, William. Change in the Rate of Biological Aging in Response to Caloric Restriction: CALERIE Biobank Analysis.  J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci glx096. https://doi.org/10.1093/gerona/glx096 Published:22 May 2017

3.     Shu Wen Ng, Barry M. Popkin. The Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation PledgeAmerican Journal of Preventive Medicine, 2014; 47 (4): 520 DOI: 10.1016/j.amepre.2014.05.030

Anti-inflammatory diet explained

Anti-inflammatory diet explained

When most people hear the word “inflammation”, they likely think of pain, redness and swelling with conditions such as arthritis or infection that you can readily observe in the person that is suffering. However, chronic inflammation on the inside of tissues may be invisible, but may be deadly as it’s linked with heart disease, dementia, diabetes and cancer. 1

In a recent study of over 68,200 men and women aged 45 to 83 years that were monitored for 16 years, subjects that ate an anti-inflammatory diet had an 18% lower risk of dying from any cause (including cardiovascular disease and cancer) compared to subjects who did not follow the diet as closely. Participants who smoked but ate an anti-inflammatory diet still reaped some of the benefits in comparison to smokers that did not follow the diet. 2

An anti-inflammatory diet is similar to a Mediterranean diet, which is plant-based and includes foods that help to prevent or reduce cellular inflammation. Fruit, vegetables, whole grain breads and cereals as well as healthy fats like canola oil and nuts are considered anti-inflammatory. Moderate consumption of low-fat cheese, beer and wine are also considered part of an anti-inflammatory diet as well. Processed and unprocessed red meat, organ meat, chips and soda are considered pro-inflammatory. These foods should be limited in our diets as much as possible. 1,2

The main author of the study, associate professor Dr. Joanna Kaluza at Poland’s Warsaw University of Life Sciences notes, “Our dose-response analysis showed that even partial adherence to the anti-inflammatory diet may provide a health benefit,”. 2

Here are simple tips to help follow an anti-inflammatory diet:

  1. Switch from soda to decaffeinated tea or water
  2. Snack on almonds or other nuts in place of chips, candy or cookies
  3. Swap white breads and cereals with 100% whole grain bread, steel cut oats, shredded wheat and other high fiber grains like farro, quinoa or bulgur
  4. Include fruits and vegetables at meals. Choose a variety of seasonal, colorful produce daily like kale, broccoli, berries, apples, melon and spinach.
  5. Add a few servings of fish, beans or lentils in place of red meat or fried meats
  6. Switch from full fat to low-fat dairy products
  7. Drink beer or wine in moderation- 1 drink/day for women, 2 drinks/day for men or less
  8. Use liquid oil such as corn, canola or olive oil in place of butter, lard or shortening

References:

  1. https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/foods-that-fight-inflammation
  2. Kaluza, N. Håkansson, H. R. Harris, N. Orsini, K. Michaëlsson, A. Wolk. Influence of anti-inflammatory diet and smoking on mortality and survival in men and women: two prospective cohort studiesJournal of Internal Medicine, 2018; DOI: 10.1111/joim.12823
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Breakfast quinoa with ginger and cinnamon

Breakfast quinoa with ginger and cinnamon

It’s finally cool enough in Cincinnati to have hot food for breakfast. I love oatmeal, but sometimes want something a little different for breakfast. Have you tried quinoa for breakfast?

I tend to have a lot of quinoa on hand from previous cooking demos.  It’s a favorite grain for me because of its versatility and strong nutritional profile. Quinoa is higher in protein and fiber than other grains, which means it promotes satiety (read FULLNESS). In addition, it’s a decent source of iron- a nutrient that can be deficient, particularly for women and kids. Typically, I have used it for savory dishes with vegetables and beans. Today was different! I made a small batch as a trial, but the recipe can be doubled or tripled to serve more. Below is what transpired.

Ingredients:
1/2 cup dry quinoa
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. brown sugar or maple syrup
1 tsp. ginger paste (Spice World)
1 Tbsp. slivered almonds

Directions:
Cook quinoa according to directions.
While still hot, add cinnamon, ginger paste, brown sugar and slivered almonds. Mix and serve warm.

Makes 2 (1/2 cup) servings. Nutrition facts per serving: 184 calories, 4.1 grams fat, 6.7 grams protein, 30.5 grams carbohydrate, 3.8 grams fiber, 0 mg cholesterol, 3 mg sodium

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