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Ultra-Processed Foods Associated with Increased Risk for Depression

The Nurses’ Health Study II found that depressed women were significantly more likely to take in ultra-processed foods and fluids, particularly those flavored with artificial sweeteners. In this study of 31,712 women between the ages 42 to 62, 4840 cases of depression were found, including 2122 cases of severe depression. The depressed women were also more likely to be fatter, more likely to smoke, more likely to suffer from diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol, and less likely to exercise regularly.

Fruit Juice Raises Blood Sugar As Much As Coca-Cola

A serving of 100 percent fruit juice contains the same amount of sugar as a sugared soft drink. Eight ounces of fruit juice contains the same 30 grams of sugar (eight teaspoons) that is found in eight ounces of soda, because that is the concentration at which sugar tastes best in drinks.

Late Meals Associated with Increased Risk for Heart Attacks and Strokes

The French NutriNet-Sante study found that eating dinner late in the evening is associated with increased risk for both heart attacks and strokes. Having a first meal for the day (breakfast or lunch) late in the morning also increased risk. The researchers followed 103,389 people, average age 42.6, for 7.2 years, during which time there were 2036 cases of heart disease, 988 cases of strokes, and 1071 cases of heart attacks, angina and heart stents. The researchers found that each hour of delaying dinner after 5 PM was associated with a 7 percent increased risk for a stroke.

How Does Drinking Coffee Affect You?

More than 75 percent of the U.S. population drinks coffee and about 50 percent report drinking it daily. If you ask people why they drink coffee, you will most often be told that it makes them more alert so that they can do their work more efficiently. A recent study of MRIs of the brains of habitual coffee drinkers found that coffee, but not caffeine alone, increased activity of the parts of the brain regulating vision and executive function.

Vegetarians May Be At Increased Risk for Fractures

Many studies show that vegetarians have a significantly reduced risk for certain cancers and heart attacks, but there is some controversy on the effects of vegetarian diets on bone fractures. Vegetarians may be at increased risk for osteoporosis and bone fractures, although some studies show no increased risk.

Tobacco Company Strategies Used On Processed Foods

The greatest increase in "junk foods" (tasty processed foods with low nutritional value) in our food supply occurred when tobacco companies such as Philip Morris and R.J. Reynolds owned the world’s largest food companies. They used some of the same chemicals and marketing techniques to sell food that they used to sell cigarettes.

No Need to Add Coconut Oil

Don’t believe ads that say coconut oil is healthful because it contains medium chain triglycerides that can raise the good HDL cholesterol a little bit. Medium chain triglycerides are only a small part of the fat in coconut oil. Ninety-two percent of the fat in coconut oil is saturated, which is 50 percent more saturated fat than is in butter, and is far higher than levels in olive, canola and other plant-based oils.

Weight Loss Without “Dieting”

The rate of obesity in the U.S. is worse now than it has ever been: 43 percent are obese, 10 percent are morbidly obese, and childhood obesity rates have tripled from five percent in the early 1970s to more than 19 percent now. If you are trying to lose weight, or to avoid gaining weight, work on: picking the right foods, preparing your foods so you absorb fewer calories, and moving about before and after you eat.

Red Meat Associated with Increased Risk for Diabetes

Eating two servings of meat from mammals per week can increase risk for type II diabetes by 62 percent, and the more meat you eat, the greater your chance of developing diabetes. Replacing meat from mammals ("red meat") with a healthful plant-based diet primarily of vegetables, nuts, seeds, whole grains and beans reduces diabetes risk.

Snacks Can Change a Healthful Diet to an Unhealthful One

A healthful diet can help to prevent diseases and prolong life, but snacking on unhealthful foods can negate your diet efforts even if your regular meals are healthful. Highly-processed, sugar-added snacks can make you hungrier so you eat more food and have higher blood levels of triglycerides that are associated with increased risk for obesity, heart attacks and strokes. The ZOE PREDICT study from London followed the snacking habits of 854 people, and found that 50 percent of those who ate primarily healthful meals did not eat healthful snacks.

Emulsifiers in Processed Foods Associated with Increased Risk for Heart Attacks

The French NutriNet-Santé cohort study has strengthened the association between processed foods and heart attacks. Their results suggest a link between the dietary intake of emulsifiers and an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.

Avoid Diets that Severely Restrict Carbohydrates or Fats

There are healthful and harmful fats and healthful and harmful carbohydrates. It makes no sense to try to restrict either most fats or most carbohydrates. You need soluble fiber and resistant starch carbohydrates to help prevent heart attacks and prolong your life, and you also need monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats to help prevent heart attacks, certain cancers and premature death.

Ultra-Processed Foods Associated with Increased Risk for Some Cancers

A UK-based study followed the amounts of ultra-processed foods consumed by 200,000 middle-aged adults for 10 years (EClinicalMedicine, Jan 31, 2023 31;56:101840). The authors found that eating ultra-processed foods was associated with a higher risk of developing cancer, particularly ovarian cancer, breast cancer and brain cancers.

Why Sugar-Sweetened Drinks are Harmful

About 65 percent of North American adults drink sugar-sweetened beverages every day (NCHS Data Brief, No 270, 2017). Two recent studies show how sugared drinks are associated with liver damage and kidney stones. A study of nearly 100,000 postmenopausal women followed for an average of more than 20 years found that compared to women who had fewer than three sugar-sweetened drinks per month, those who drank one or more sugar-sweetened beverages per day had an 85 percent increased risk for liver cancer and 68 percent increased risk for death from chronic liver disease.

Health Benefits of Eating Fermented Foods

Eating fermented foods is healthful because they contain many short chain fatty acids (SCFAs) that can reduce inflammation and lower high blood pressure, high cholesterol, high insulin and high blood sugar levels. A plant-based diet has lots of soluble fiber and resistant starches that are not absorbed in your upper intestinal tract, but when they reach your colon, healthful bacteria there ferment these fibers and starches to form SCFAs.

Are Plant “Meats” More Healthful than Animal Meats?

The evidence is so strong that eating meats from mammals and processed meats can increase heart attack risk that more than 40 percent of North Americans are trying to reduce their consumption of meat and increase their intake of plant-based foods. But people love the taste and feel of hamburgers and other favorite meats, so the plant-based imitation "meats" such as “Impossible Burger” and “Beyond Meat” continue to gain popularity. We still do not have enough data to know if these plant-based imitations are more healthful than eating meat from animals, but studies that have come in so far look favorable.

Can You Eat Too Much Fruit?

Many scientific studies show that eating sugar-rich whole fruit is healthful, even for people who are diabetic. However, I tried eating an extremely large amount of fruit (15-20 clementines or 10 regular oranges per day), and my previously normal fasting blood triglyceride level rose to levels higher than 460 mg/dL (normal is under 150). Eating that much fruit had raised my blood sugar level so high that it caused the high rise in triglycerides, which increased my risk for heart attacks.

Vegetables – Except Potatoes – Reduce Risk for Diabetes

An analysis of 18 studies from Denmark found that vegetable, but not potato, intake is associated with a lower risk of type 2 diabetes. Studies of 54,793 people, aged 50 to 64, found that 7,695 (14 percent) were diabetic. Those who ate the most vegetables, particularly leafy and cruciferous ones, were least likely to have type 2 diabetes or to be obese. Some of the 18 studies included potatoes in their analysis of vegetable consumption, while others did not. From the studies that included potatoes, participants who ate the most total potatoes had a nine percent greater risk for being diabetic than those who ate the least.

Plant Yogurts Better Than Dairy Yogurts?

North Americans are spending just short of $3 billion per year on plant-based yogurt. A study from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, found that plant-based yogurts may be more healthful than dairy yogurts because they contain less sugar, salt and saturated fats, and more fiber. Almond and oat yogurts had significantly higher concentrations of nutrients than other plant-based or dairy yogurts. Most people eat way too much salt and sugar because food manufacturers know that sugar and salt make their foods taste good, so they add them to all kinds of processed foods.

Questionable Claims for Berberine, Weight Loss Supplement

Advertisers are claiming that berberine (an over-the-counter herbal supplement) is “nature’s Ozempic for weight loss," but there is not adequate data to support this claim. The main reason that we are being exposed to such heavy advertising for berberine now is that studies have shown that the newer prescription drugs (Ozempic, Wegovy and others) have been proven scientifically to help overweight people lose excess weight, at least temporarily. However, these prescription drugs are so expensive that most people cannot afford them.

Multi-Vitamins May Help to Slow Memory Loss of Aging

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report that 39 percent of adults ages 60 and older take multi-vitamin pills, spending more than $8 billion on them each year. Highly respected researchers at Harvard and Columbia medical schools conducted a study of more than 3,500 people, ages 60 and older, and found that compared to those who took a placebo, those who took a multi-vitamin pill did significantly better on word recall after one year

WHO Warnings on Artificial Sweeteners

WHO (World Health Organization), the United Nations' health agency, advises that most people should not use non-sugar sweeteners to replace sugar in foods. They report that artificial sweeteners have not been shown to help people lose body fat long-term.

Sugar Added to Foods and Drinks Causes Inflammation

Your immune system helps you by preventing harmful germs from entering your cells. Your immune system responds with these same cells and proteins when cells in your body are injured, to remove damaged tissue and start the healing process. As soon as the germs are destroyed, or tissues heal, your immune system is supposed to stop sending out huge amounts of these cells and proteins. However, if your immune system stays overactive all the time, you develop inflammation in which these same cells and proteins attack and damage your own cells.

Plant-Based Diets Help to Prevent Dementia

A review of 14 studies with a total of 224,049 participants found that the MIND diet ("Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay") is associated with reduced dementia risk for middle-aged and older adults, and with reduced risk for Alzheimer’s disease

Eggs Get More Controversial Headlines

On February 27, 2023, Fox News reported, “Add an egg (or 3) to your daily diet for heart health. Eggs may significantly reduce heart health risk, a recent study finds.” The Fox News report said, "The study found that eating one to three eggs per week could reduce the risk for cardiovascular disease by up to 60 percent. Those who consumed four to seven eggs per week cut their risk for heart disease by 70 percent."

Both Honey and Table Sugar Raise Blood Sugar

A high rise in blood sugar after eating increases risk for obesity, diabetes and heart attacks. Glycemic index (GI), which measures how high blood sugar rises after you eat a food, is almost the same for honey and sugar: 55 for honey and 65 for table sugar, which is not a significant difference. Honey contains two sugars that are mostly-separated (glucose and fructose), while table sugar has the same two sugars but they are bound together to form a double sugar called sucrose. In your body, they end up being absorbed in exactly the same way.

Sugared Drinks Associated with Weight Gain

The largest and most thorough review to date of research on sweetened drinks found that "fruit" drinks and other sweetened drinks are strongly associated with overweight and obesity. The authors reviewed 85 studies, covering more than half a million participants, and found that each increase in servings-per-day of sweetened drinks is associated with a one pound increase per year in body weight in adults, and one half pound in children.

No Amount of Alcohol is Healthful

Low-volume alcohol drinking is not associated with protection against death from all causes. An analysis of 107 studies involving more than 4.8 million participants found no significant reductions in death rates for those who drank fewer than 25 grams of alcohol per day (two standard drinks) compared with lifetime nondrinkers.

Types of Carbohydrates, Not Amount, Associated with Heart Disease and Diabetes

Eating carbohydrates contained in plants is associated with reduced heart attack and stroke risk, while eating sugar added to prepared foods and drinks is associated with increased heart attack and stroke risk. Researchers evaluated data from 110,497 healthy people who did not have heart disease or diabetes and followed them for 9.4 years. They found that increased total carbohydrate intake was not associated with increased risk for heart disease.

Concerns About Artificial Sweeteners

A study that followed 2,149 North Americans and 833 Europeans for three years found that having elevated blood levels of artificial sweeteners such as erythritol was associated with increased risk for heart attacks and for death from a heart attack or stroke. Stanley L. Hazen of the Cleveland Clinic found that after taking the commonly-used artificial sweetener, erythritol, healthy people who did not suffer from heart disease had elevated blood levels of erythritol and increased risk for developing clots, a major cause of heart attacks and strokes.