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Nutrition News You Can Use

February 18, 2011 Written by JP       [Font too small?]

Today’s column deals with three distinct nutritional strategies that have the potential to dramatically change your life. Does that sound like the beginning of an over-the-top sales pitch? Maybe so. But the only thing I have to sell right here and now is free information that you can use, if you so choose, to help yourself and others to live more healthfully and peacefully. Whether or not you decide to apply this information will likely depend on how well I “sell” the concepts and your willingness to do what it takes to adopt them. That, in a nutshell, defines natural medicine. It works best when the information provided is accurate, non-manipulative and requires dedication from those who hope to benefit from it.

Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder has a major impact on the lives of countless children, parents and teachers. The most common way to manage children with disruptive tendencies and poor academic performance is to prescribe stimulant-based medications such as Adderall, Concerta and Ritalin. However, there are viable alternatives that may offer a natural approach to addressing this condition. The use of an elimination diet is one approach that is gaining traction in the integrative medical community.

An elimination diet is a strict dietary protocol that aims to avoid foods that may trigger ADHD symptoms in sensitive adults and children. Common culprits include chocolate, citrus fruits, corn, eggs, legumes, milk, soy, tomatoes and wheat. A study appearing in this month’s issue of The Lancet, a prestigious medical journal, provides the latest illustration of how powerful a role food can play in children with ADHD. The trial in question enrolled 100 young children (4 to 8 years of age) in one of two diets: a restricted elimination diet or a “healthy diet” over a 5 week period. Changes in ADHD symptom severity were assessed using an ARS (ADHD Rating Scale) and an abbreviated Conner’s scale (ACS). The children on the restricted diet demonstrated statistically relevant improvements in both ACS and ARS measures. These findings are supported by other recent inquiries that have found a response rate of about 70% in children with ADHD who are placed on elimination diets. (1,2,3)

I’m a big proponent of including plenty of dietary fiber in one’s diet. The latest edition of the journal Archives of Internal Medicine supports my long held point of view. An analysis of nearly 400,000 middle-aged men and women reveals that those who consumed the highest amounts of dietary fiber were 22% less likely to die from all causes over a 9 year follow up period. When the researchers broke down the various causes of mortality, they determined that men incurred 24% protection against cardiovascular mortality and a 56% reduction in deaths caused by infectious or respiratory diseases. These encouraging figures were even more impressive in women: a 34% reduced risk of cardiovascular-related mortality and a 59% protection against infectious and respiratory diseases. And lest you think this is a regional observation, it’s important to note that recent studies that examined the role of fiber intake and mortality in Japan and Netherlands have come to similar conclusions. (4,5,6)

Fiber/Prebiotics Support Healthy Immune Function

Source: Nutr. Hosp. vol.25 no.3  May-June 2010 (link)

Opting for grass-fed dairy and meat as opposed to conventional raised dairy and meat products is an issue that is at the forefront of my nutritional philosophy. Raising cattle and other livestock in this traditional manner is more humane and results in a more nutritious food source. On the nutrient front, newly published research confirms that grass-fed beef contains a healthier ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids. Grass-fed dairy and meat also contain potentially therapeutic substances, including select antioxidants (carotenoids, glutathione, Vitamin E) and conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) which may help protect consumers from a variety of health threats including cancer, cardiovascular disease and obesity. But the real question that begs to be answered is whether the nutrition contained in grass-fed foods is actually put to use by the human body. The January 2011 issue of the British Journal of Nutrition provides the beginning of an answer. Twenty participants were randomly provided with beef and lamb products that were conventionally raised or grass-fed. Over a 4 week period, the volunteers consumed three portions of the respective meats. Blood tests were conducted at baseline and at the end of the trial. The results indicate that the men and women who were given the grass-fed meat exhibited higher levels of of omega-3 fatty acids in their plasma and platelets. The authors of the study concluded that “red meat from grass-fed animals may contribute to dietary intakes of LC n-3 PUFA in populations where red meat is habitually consumed”. (7,8,9)

Adopting a strict elimination diet can be quite daunting for many children and parents. Adding more dietary fiber can likewise require some planning and resolve. Seeking out sources of grass-fed dairy and meat often necessitates some research and budgeting since grass-fed products tend to be more expensive. But, I would urge you to consider the positive side of the equation rather than just the effort involved. Curtailing your consumption of allergenic foods may allow you or your children to avoid powerful stimulants that always carry the risk of side effects. Including more roughage in your diet via whole foods is likely to forestall many of the leading causes of disability, medical expenses and mortality. Using grass-fed sources of nutrition may just allow you to enjoy certain dairy products and red meat in a health conscious way. This is a roundabout way of saying: How you perceive a challenge and the potential gain from meeting it can make all the difference in the world.

Note: Please check out the “Comments & Updates” section of this blog – at the bottom of the page. You can find the latest research about this topic there!

Be well!

JP

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6 Comments & Updates to “Nutrition News You Can Use”

  1. J Chase Says:

    This is intresting. I thought that the best Omega-3 came from cold-water fish. How much omega-3 do you really get from red meat?

  2. JP Says:

    J Chase,

    Cold water fish are an excellent source of omega-3s. Grass fed dairy and meat are just an adjunct source, not a replacement for fish. To my mind, if you like or need to eat dairy and red meat, the grass fed variety is probably the healthiest way to go.

    Here’s a link to a scientific review which describes the fatty acid composition of grass fed beef:

    http://www.nutritionj.com/content/9/1/10

    Be well!

    JP

  3. JP Says:

    Update 07/15/15:

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24472126

    J Dairy Sci. 2014 Mar;97(3):1828-34.

    Fatty acid profiles, meat quality, and sensory attributes of organic versus conventional dairy beef steers.

    Meat from Holstein and crossbred organic and conventional dairy steers were evaluated and compared for fatty acid profiles, meat quality, sensory attributes, and consumer acceptance. Bull calves (n=49) were randomly assigned to 1 of 3 replicated groups: conventional (CONV), organic (ORG, pasture + concentrate), or grass-fed organic (GRS) and were born at the University of Minnesota West Central Research and Outreach Center (Morris, MN) between March and May 2011. The CONV steers (n=16) were fed a diet that contained 80% concentrate and 20% forage, and ORG steers (n=16) were fed a diet of organic corn, organic corn silage, and organic protein supplement. Furthermore, ORG steers consumed at least 30% of diet dry matter of high-quality organic pasture during the grazing season. The GRS steers (n=17) consumed 100% forage from pasture during the grazing season and high-quality hay or hay silage during the nongrazing season. The ORG steers had fat that was greater in oleic acid (C18:1) than the GRS and CONV steers (47.1, 36.1, and 39.9%, respectively). The GRS steers (21.9%) were lower for monounsaturated fat than the ORG (42.1%) and CONV (40.4%) steers. Furthermore, the GRS steers tended to have greater n-3 fat and had lower n-6 fat than the ORG and CONV steers. Consequently, the GRS (1.4%) steers had a lower n-6-to-n-3 fat ratio than the ORG (12.9%) and CONV (10.0%) steers. The GRS (2.6 kg) steers had steaks that were not different for Warner-Bratzler shear force than ORG (2.3 kg) steaks; however, the GRS steaks tended to have greater shear force than the CONV (2.0 kg) steaks. The 3 steer group had steaks that were not different for color brightness (L*; 0 = black and 100 = white) and yellowness/blueness (b*; positive values = yellow and negative values = blue) values; however, the GRS (10.5) steaks had lower redness/greenness (a*; positive values = red and negative values = green) values than CONV (14.5) steaks. For sensory attributes (0- to 120-point scale), no differences were observed for ORG (71.3) and CONV (69.2) steers for overall consumer liking of the beef; however, the GRS (56.3) steers had the lowest overall liking among beef consumers. The ORG (73.3) steers had greater flavor liking than the GRS (56.8) and CONV (69.2) steers. Conversely, the GRS (6.3) steers had the highest scores for off-flavor (0- to 20-point scale) compared with the ORG (3.9) and CONV (4.1) steers. The results of the current study suggest that a potential market may exist for organic grass-fed dairy steers in the United States, but quality and consistency of the beef needs to be improved.

    Be well!

    JP

  4. JP Says:

    Update 07/15/15:

    http://aje.oxfordjournals.org/content/181/2/83.abstract

    Am J Epidemiol. 2015 Jan 15;181(2):83-91.

    Association between dietary fiber and lower risk of all-cause mortality: a meta-analysis of cohort studies.

    Although in vitro and in vivo experiments have suggested that dietary fiber might have beneficial effects on health, results on the association between fiber intake and all-cause mortality in epidemiologic studies have been inconsistent. Therefore, we conducted a meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies to quantitatively assess this association. Pertinent studies were identified by searching articles in PubMed and Web of Knowledge through May 2014 and reviewing the reference lists of the retrieved articles. Study-specific risk estimates were combined using random-effects models. Seventeen prospective studies (1997-2014) that had a total of 67,260 deaths and 982,411 cohort members were included. When comparing persons with dietary fiber intakes in the top tertile with persons whose intakes were in the bottom tertile, we found a statistically significant inverse association between fiber intake and all-cause mortality, with an overall relative risk of 0.84 (95% confidence interval: 0.80, 0.87; I(2) = 41.2%). There was a 10% reduction in risk for per each 10-g/day increase in fiber intake (relative risk = 0.90; 95% confidence interval: 0.86, 0.94; I(2) = 77.2%). The combined estimate was robust across subgroup and sensitivity analyses. No publication bias was detected. A higher dietary fiber intake was associated with a reduced risk of death. These findings suggest that fiber intake may offer a potential public health benefit in reducing all-cause mortality.

    Be well!

    JP

  5. JP Says:

    Update 07/15/15:

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4357187/

    Ann Gen Psychiatry. 2015 Mar 1;14:12.

    The effect of dietary education on ADHD, a randomized controlled clinical trial.

    BACKGROUND: The purpose of this research was to study the effectiveness of the overall dietary intervention rather than a single nutrient on children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

    METHODS: This is a randomized controlled trial conducted at a child psychiatry clinic in Iran. Participants were 106 children and adolescents with ADHD. One group received methylphenidate plus dietary recommendations, while the other group only received methylphenidate. ADHD DSM-IV checklist was used to assess inattentiveness and hyperactivity/impulsivity scores at baseline and at the end of the trial.

    RESULTS: The results revealed no significant difference between the two groups regarding mean age, gender ratio, body mass index, baseline inattentiveness score, and baseline hyperactivity score. Linear regression analysis considering the covariant variables showed that the inattentive score at the end of the trial was significantly associated with the mean change of favorite diet scores.

    CONCLUSION: This is the first clinical trial examining the effect of overall dietary characteristics rather than a single nutrient on the children formally diagnosed with ADHD. According to the results, un-favorite diet had no effects on inattentive or hyperactivity/impulsivity score. Encouraging the children with ADHD to increase their intake of recommended diet markedly improves their attention.

    Be well!

    JP

  6. JP Says:

    Updated 12/29/15:

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4639584/

    J Clin Biochem Nutr. 2015 Nov;57(3):217-22.

    Effect of an isocaloric diet containing fiber-enriched flour on
    anthropometric and biochemical parameters in healthy non-obese
    non-diabetic subjects.

    We studied the effect of soluble fiber-enriched products on
    anthropometric and biochemical variables in 30 healthy non-obese,
    non-diabetic subjects. This was a randomized, controlled crossover,
    single-blind, dietary intervention study performed for 8 weeks.
    Subjects received an isocaloric diet with fiber-enriched products for
    the first 4 weeks and with regular flour products for the following 4
    weeks, or vice versa. Weight, height, measures of fat distribution
    (waist, hip circumference), glucose, insulin and triglycerides were
    measured at baseline, after 4 and 8 weeks of intervention. BMI and
    insulin sensitivity indices were calculated. Weight and BMI decreased
    in the first period of isocaloric diet in both groups, regardless of
    the type of flour consumed (weight p<0.01, p<0.001 respectively; BMI p
    = 0.01, p<0.001 respectively). At the end of the 8 weeks, weight and
    BMI further decreased in the group consuming the fiber-enriched diet
    (p<0.01). Insulin resistance, estimated with the Homeostasis Model
    Assessment index and the Lipid Accumulation Product index, improved in
    all subjects after the fiber-enriched flour diet (p = 0.03, p = 0.02,
    respectively). In conclusion, an isocaloric diet supplemented with
    fiber-enriched products may improve measures of fatness and insulin
    sensitivity in healthy non-obese non-diabetic subjects. We might
    hypothesize a similar effect also in subjects with metabolic
    abnormalities.

    Be well!

    JP

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