Category Archives: Health

Best To Avoid Over-Processed Foods

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Processed foods typically contain lots of additives, especially sodium (salt) and sugars. Of course, to a certain extent, that’s why they are so tasty. But the more over-processed foods are definitely not so healthy for you. Two recent studies drive that home. The first shows that the more processed food you consume, the greater your chances of early death due to heart disease, cancer, and other causes. The second (small-scale, but a randomized controlled trial) showed that eating highly processed foods tends to lead one to consume more calories.

Below we present two groups of media articles and links for these two studies. Then at the end of this post, we present a group of articles discussing what are and are not highly processed foods.

Over-/Ultra-processed food consumption can lead to early death.

The study relating ultra-processed food consumption to early death involved 44,551 French adults age 45 and older, for two years, with average age 57; almost 73% of the participants were women. Each subject provided 24-hour dietary records every six months, and also completed questionnaires about their health, physical activities and sociodemographics. Using these records, the researchers calculated each participant’s overall dietary intake and consumption of ultraprocessed foods, finding that ultraprocessed foods accounted for more than 14% of the weight of total food consumed and about 29% of total calories. For every 10% increase in the proportion of ultraprocessed foods in a subject’s diet, the risk for all-causes death increased by 14%.

Here are links to media articles about the study:
Avoiding ‘ultraprocessed’ foods may increase lifespan, study says
Consuming Ultraprocessed Food Tied to Higher Mortality
Study: ‘Ultraprocessed’ Foods Are Accelerating Your Risk Of Early Death
New French study explores risks of ultra-processed food

Here are links to the research article abstract:
Association Between Ultraprocessed Food Consumption and Risk of Mortality Among Middle-aged Adults in France
Association Between Ultraprocessed Food Consumption and Risk of Mortality Among Middle-aged Adults in France.

Ultra-processed food diets bulk you up.

Twenty experimental subjects stayed at an NIH center and had meals provided to them. For 14 days they had highly ultra-processed meals, and for 14 days they ate minimally processed foods. The basic meals contained the same amount of sugars, fiber, fat and carbohydrates, but the participants were allowed to eat as much as they liked, by taking extra or fewer helpings. The participants all exercised about the same amount each day throughout the study.

When on the ultra-processed diet, people ate faster, yet consumed about 500 calories more per day (by taking extra helpings) than they did while on the unprocessed diet; this increase in calories was due to higher quantities of carbohydrates and fat but not protein. Consequently, when on the ultra-processed diet, participants gained weight — on average, about 2 pounds. While on the diet of unprocessed foods, they lost an equal amount of weight. The study authors concluded that the ultraprocessed foods caused people to eat too many calories and gain weight.

Here are links to media articles about this study:
Overprocessed foods add 500 calories to your diet every day, causing weight gain
Processed foods lead to weight gain, but it’s about more than calories
New study says processed foods make us crave more calories
Processed food leads people to eat more and put on weight, study finds
First-of-its-kind trial finds processed food causes overeating, but researchers not sure why

Here is the research article:
Ultra-Processed Diets Cause Excess Calorie Intake and Weight Gain: An Inpatient Randomized Controlled Trial of Ad Libitum Food Intake

What are ultra-processed foods?

Here are a number of media articles and articles from health-related organizations, all discussing what should count as “ultra-processed” foods, and how to diminish their proportion in one’s diet:

Eating processed foods
Can Processed Foods Be Part of a Healthy Diet
‘Detox’ from overly processed foods: Why and how to cut back
What is ultra-processed food and how can you eat less of it?
Processed Foods: 5 Reasons to Avoid Them
Not all processed foods are unhealthy

All links have been added to Health > Diet.

Category: Diet, Health

Your Brain On Alcohol

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No definitive smoking gun on alcohol use has yet been presented, but the evidence leans heavily against it. Two very large direct studies and one huge meta study have recently appeared, and they largely point to increased risk of dementia as well as of cardiometabolic disease (includes stroke, coronary heart disease, and diabetes).

Media articles:
No healthy level of alcohol consumption, says major study
There’s no risk-free amount of alcohol, population-level study finds
Alcohol use and burden for 195 countries and territories, 1990–2016: a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2016

Media articles:
Heavy Drinking Tied to Early-Onset Dementia in French Study
Contribution of alcohol use disorders to the burden of dementia in France 2008–13: a nationwide retrospective cohort study.

Media article:
Both long term abstinence and heavy drinking may increase dementia risk
Relation between alcohol consumption in midlife and dementia in late life (Editorial)
Alcohol consumption and risk of dementia: 23 year follow-up of Whitehall II cohort study

All of the links have been added to Alzheimers > Risk Factors and Health > Diet

Mediterranean Diet Appears to Prolog Life in Elderly

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It’s already well-known that the Mediterranean Diet appears to be quite beneficial for heart health, and to aid in resisting atherosclerosis and type 2 diabetes:

Mediterranean diet: A heart-healthy eating plan

What’s to know about the Mediterranean diet?

In addition, the Mediterranean Diet has been shown to significantly reduce the risk of dementia:

Mediterranean Diet: Better than ever for your Brain

Mediterranean/MIND Diet Seriously Fights Alzheimer’s/Dementia

Now, a new study has suggested that adopting the Mediterranean Diet, even in old age, can prolog life. Here are two media articles on the study, together with a link to the study abstract:

Adopting Mediterranean diet in old age can prolong life, study suggests

Mediterranean Diet Could Help Older Adults Prolong Life, Study Says

Mediterranean diet and mortality in the elderly: a prospective cohort study and a meta-analysis

All three links have been added to Aging and Health > Diet

Category: Aging, Diet, Health

Diet Soda And Dementia And Stroke

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Just about a year ago, a study examining the associations of drinking artificially sweetened soda drinks made something of a splash. The study found that people consuming at least a can of so-called diet drinks every day were 2.96 times more likely to suffer an ischaemic stroke and 2.89 times more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease than those who drank them less than once a week. The study — like many — could not establish a causal relationship either way, only a definite association. But “the best current evidence suggests that when it comes to reducing your risk of dementia, what is good for your heart is also good for your head.”

Here are four media articles about the work:
Stroke and dementia risk linked to artificial sweeteners, study suggests
Diet sodas may be tied to stroke, dementia risk
Is soda bad for your brain? (And is diet soda worse?)
Diet Soda and Dementia: What You Need to Know
Here is a link to the research publication:
Sugar- and Artificially Sweetened Beverages and the Risks of Incident Stroke and Dementia
And here is a link to a collection of expert researcher reactions to the publication:
expert reaction to artificially-sweetened fizzy drinks, stroke and dementia

The links have all been added to Alzheimers > Risk Factors and Health > Diet.

Japanese Diet May Help Extend Life

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Many articles and studies have extolled the health benefits of the Mediterranean diet (Search for Mediterranean under Health > Diet). Now the “Japanese diet” has entered the field.

Life expectancy in Japan is among the highest in the world, with Japanese women having the longest life expectancy of anyone in the world, with an average age of 87.

The study enrolled 36,624 men Japanese and 42,920 Japanese women between the ages of 45 and 75, and followed them for 15 years. Those participants who closely followed government recommended dietary guidelines were 15% less likely to die over the 15 years, and were 22% less likely to die of stroke during those 15 years,

“Our findings suggest that balanced consumption of energy, grains, vegetables, fruits, meat, fish, eggs, soy products, dairy products, confectionaries, and alcoholic beverages can contribute to longevity by decreasing the risk of death, predominantly from cardiovascular disease, in the Japanese population,” the authors wrote.

Links to articles about the study, together with the study itself, have be published in Health > Diet:
Following a Japanese diet may help you live longer
Japanese Diet Filled High In Grains, Vegetables, And Fish May Lower Heart Disease Risk

Published Research:
Quality of diet and mortality among Japanese men and women: Japan Public Health Center based prospective study

Category: Aging, Announcements, Health

Green For Health

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Old novels would send heroes and heroines (especially) to the country to recover from physical and/or mental maladies. Cliche or not, getting near at least some green is good for your health and longevity. Small studies have pointed at this over the years, but now a massive new 108,000-woman study, based on the Nurse’s Health Study, seriously quantifies this. In particular, the death rate of women living in the greenest areas was 12% lower than women living in the least green areas. Compared to women living in areas with less greenery, the researchers found that women in greener areas had:

  • lower levels of depression
  • 41% lower death rate for kidney disease
  • 34% lower death rate for respiratory disease
  • 13% lower death rate for cancer

The study results don’t say that you should immediately abandon city living and head for the country. But they do suggest that greater amounts of green in the immediate environs of your home will help your health.

Links to articles about the study and the study itself have been posted in both Aging and Health:

Living near nature linked to longer lives, says study
Being Surrounded By Greenery, Plant Life Linked To Lower Mortality Rates In Women
Published research:
Exposure to Greenness and Mortality in a Nationwide Prospective Cohort Study of Women

Additionally, here are links to some earlier articles and studies on the benefits of time spent in nature on physical and mental health:
Stanford researchers find mental health prescription: Nature
Published research:
Nature experience reduces rumination and subgenual prefrontal cortex activation
A systematic review of evidence for the added benefits to health of exposure to natural environments

Category: Announcements, Health

New Links for Physical Exercise, Diet & ChemoBrain

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New links added today:

Health > Diet

Short-term fasting may improve health      …a new study suggests that a diet that replicates some effects of milder deprivation may not only lower your weight but also confer other benefits … following the diet for just 5 days a month improves several measures of health, including reducing the risk of developing cardiovascular disease.

High-Sugar Diet Can Impair Learning And Memory By Altering Gut Bacteria      New research … finds a high-sugar, high-fat diet causes changes in gut bacteria that seem to lead to significant losses in cognitive flexibility…

Health > Physical Exercise

Physical Activity May Help Treat Dementia     New research shows that being physically active not only reduces cognitive decline and improves neuropsychiatric symptoms in patients with dementia but may actually reduce Alzheimer’s disease (AD) biomarkers, including amyloid and tau protein in the brain.

Exercise and Mental Health: Many Reasons to Move     In this review, the potential effects of exercise on the aging process and on mental health are discussed, concerning some of the recent findings on animal and human research. The overwhelming evidence present in the literature today suggests that exercise ensures successful brain functioning.


Rheumatoid Arthritis and Brain Health     Studies show that about 30% of people with RA experience thinking problems such as difficulty paying attention, making decisions, and concentrating.