Microbial Link Between Western-style Diet and Colon Cancer Risk

Investigators from Brigham and Women’s Hospital with collaborators looked at data from more than 134,000 participants from two U.S.-wide prospective cohort studies. The team analyzed dietary patterns as well as DNA from Escherichia coli strains found in more than 1,000 colorectal tumors. The team looked for bacterial strains carrying a distinct genetic island known as polyketide synthase (pks). Pks encodes an enzyme that has been shown to cause mutations in human cells. Overall, the team found that Western diet was associated with colorectal tumors containing high amounts of pks+ E. coli but not with tumors containing little to no amount of pks+ E. coli.

Brigham and Women’s Hospital. “Microbial link between Western-style diet and incidence of colorectal cancer uncovered.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 27 June 2022. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2022/06/220627124937.htm.

Childhood Obesity Impacts Midlife Cognition

A new study of the impact of childhood fitness and obesity on cognition in middle age, followed over 1200 people who were children in 1985 for over 30 years, has found that better performance on physical tests is related to better cognition later in life and may protect against dementia in later years.

Monash University. “30-year study links childhood obesity and fitness to midlife cognition.” ScienceDaily. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2022/06/220616121556.htm (accessed June 17, 2022)

We’re doomed.


Now that I have your attention…

“Some of the best evidence for the role of exercise in maintaining weight loss comes from the National Weight Control Registry, an online group of over ten thousand men and women who have lost at least thirty pounds and kept it off for at least a year. These folks defy the cynical view that meaningful, sustainable weight loss is impossible. The average Registry member has lost over sixty pounds and kept it off for more than four years. They are truly exceptional…Nearly all of them (98 percent) report changing their diet to lose weight, which makes sense given how diet can affect the reward and satiety systems in our brain and impact how much we eat.”

Pontzer, Herman. Burn (pp. 255-256). Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

It took a while for me to find the manila folder hanging somewhere in one of my file drawers. Surprising because I have a lot less paper files gathering dust in hanging folders. I know it’s here but where? Ah, there it is… Desk 2 south of the tax files, north of my paper life insurance policies. I am participant number 8784.

The National Weight Control Registry (NWCR) was established in 1994 by Rena Wing, Ph.D. from Brown Medical School and James O. Hill, Ph.D. from the University of Colorado. This study is the largest investigation of long-term successful weight loss maintenance. Few individuals succeed at long-term weight loss. The NWCR was developed to identify and investigate the characteristics of individuals who have succeeded at long-term weight loss. The NWCR is tracking over 10,000 individuals who have lost significant amounts of weight and kept it off for long periods of time. http://www.nwcr.ws/

I started sending data to this study in 2007. Most years I get one annual survey. Occasionally I’ve received and completed a number of smaller supplemental surveys. I am 8784 and have kept the weight off for nearly 50 years. Since the Great Melt of 1975 I’ve cycled between 163 and 205 pounds. For the past decade I carried 200-205 pounds on my 5.10 frame. During the first year of the pandemic I dropped 25 pounds (again). Currently I’m holding around 170.

I am exceptional but you can be exceptional too. 8784 signing out.

Diet Quality and Covid-19 Risk/Severity

Poor metabolic health and unhealthy lifestyle behaviors have been associated with higher risk and severity of COVID-19.

A dietary pattern characterized by healthy plant-based foods was associated with lower risk and severity of COVID-19.

We found evidence of a synergistic association of poor diet and increased socioeconomic deprivation with COVID-19 risk that was higher than the sum of the risk associated with each factor alone.

Merino J, Joshi AD, Nguyen LH, et al
Diet quality and risk and severity of COVID-19: a prospective cohort study
Gut 2021;70:2096-2104. — https://gut.bmj.com/content/70/11/2096

In six countries, plant-based diets or pescatarian diets were associated with lower odds of moderate-to-severe COVID-19. These dietary patterns may be considered for protection against severe COVID-19 In 2884 front-line healthcare workers from six countries (France, Germany, Italy, Spain, UK, USA), individuals who reported following plant-based diets and plant-based diets or pescatarian diets that were higher in vegetables, legumes and nuts, and lower in poultry and red and processed meats, had 73% and 59% lower odds of moderate-to-severe COVID-19, respectively.

Kim H, Rebholz CM, Hegde S, et al. Plant-based diets, pescatarian diets and COVID-19 severity: a population-based case–control study in six countries
BMJ Nutrition, Prevention & Health 2021;4:doi: 10.1136/bmjnph-2021-000272 — https://nutrition.bmj.com/content/4/1/257

Eat your vegetables!

MIND Your Diet

MIND diet is associated with better cognitive functioning independently of brain pathology, suggesting that the MIND diet may contribute to cognitive resilience in older adults.

Dhana, Klodian et al. ‘MIND Diet, Common Brain Pathologies, and Cognition in Community-Dwelling Older Adults’. 1 Jan. 2021 : 683 – 692. — https://content.iospress.com/articles/journal-of-alzheimers-disease/jad210107

So, what is the MIND diet?

The traditional Mediterranean dietary pattern includes mainly whole, minimally processed plant foods including cereal grains, legumes, vegetables, fruit, nuts, and fish with small amounts of meat, milk, and dairy products and a regular modest amount of alcohol.4 The DASH diet emphasizes fruit, vegetables, and low-fat dairy products and includes whole grains, poultry, fish, and nuts, and is reduced in fats, red meat, sweets, and sugar-containing beverages.4 Combining the two diets, the MIND diet emphasizes natural, plant-based foods, specifically promoting an increase in the consumption of berries and green leafy vegetables, with limited intakes of animal-based and high saturated fat foods.

What Are the Components to the MIND Diet? — https://jandonline.org/article/S2212-2672(15)01251-4/fulltext

I became aware of the MIND diet earlier this year. It’s nice to know my dietary pattern has a name.

Showing Cajones in the Obesity Wars

In Mexico obesity reached epidemic proportions after it joined NAFTA with the United States and Canada in the early 1990s, making processed food more easily available. Diets quickly changed as many people, particularly those on lower incomes, replaced largely healthy traditional staples (corn tortilla, frijoles, Jamaica Water) with highly processed alternatives (hotdogs, nuggets, sodas). Sugar consumption soared and waistlines exploded. In the past 20 years the number of obese and overweight people has tripled, with 75% of the population now overweight.

Mexico also has the sixth highest mortality rate from Covid-19, which has spurred the government to escalate its war against obesity.

Mexico’s War on Obesity Sends Global Junk-Food & Sugary-Drink Giants Scrambling — https://wolfstreet.com/2021/04/13/mexicos-war-on-obesity-sends-global-junk-food-sugary-drink-giants-scrambling/#comments

Diet modifications (including more wine and cheese) May Help Reduce Cognitive Decline

Participants also answered questions about their food and alcohol consumption at baseline and through two follow-up assessments. The Food Frequency Questionnaire asked participants about their intake of fresh fruit, dried fruit, raw vegetables and salad, cooked vegetables, oily fish, lean fish, processed meat, poultry, beef, lamb, pork, cheese, bread, cereal, tea and coffee, beer and cider, red wine, white wine and Champaign and liquor.

Here are four of the most significant findings from the study:

Cheese, by far, was shown to be the most protective food against age-related cognitive problems, even late into life;

The daily consumption of alcohol, particularly red wine, was related to improvements in cognitive function;

Weekly consumption of lamb, but not other red meats, was shown to improve long-term cognitive prowess; and

Excessive consumption of salt is bad, but only individuals already at risk for Alzheimer’s Disease may need to watch their intake to avoid cognitive problems over time.

Iowa State University. “Diet modifications — including more wine and cheese — may help reduce cognitive decline, study suggests.” ScienceDaily. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/12/201210145850.htm (accessed December 13, 2020).

Journal Reference

  1. Brandon S. Klinedinst, Scott T. Le, Brittany Larsen, Colleen Pappas, Nathan J. Hoth, Amy Pollpeter, Qian Wang, Yueying Wang, Shan Yu, Li Wang, Karin Allenspach, Jonathan P. Mochel, David A. Bennett, Auriel A. Willette. Genetic Factors of Alzheimer’s Disease Modulate How Diet is Associated with Long-Term Cognitive Trajectories: A UK Biobank Study. Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, 2020; 78 (3): 1245 DOI: 10.3233/JAD-201058

Finally some good news.

Nutrition Matters

By many measures, the population of the United States is the unhealthiest of any high-income country despite spending much more money, as a share of the economy, on health care. The incidence of chronic disease is higher and life expectancy is lower.

Many chronic conditions plaguing Americans, such as obesity, diabetes, and high blood pressure, are avoidable with a prudent diet and lifestyle. Today, more than 42% of American adults have obesity, as do 19.3% of children of age 19 and under. The U.S. has the world’s 12th-highest obesity rate, after Kuwait. (The top 10 are all small Pacific island nations.)

Diet makes a difference. Nearly half of all deaths in the U.S. from heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes are associated with diet, such as the over-consumption of processed meats and sugar-sweetened beverages and insufficient intake of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.

Make America healthy again by paying more attention to nutrition — https://www.statnews.com/2020/11/04/nutrition-make-america-healthy-again/?utm_campaign=rss

Presented without the usual snarky comment from yours truly. Read the full article. You’ll find more links for your reading pleasure.

NAFLD – Why are Life Insurers Taking This Risk at Standard Rates?

Conclusion All NAFLD histological stages were associated with significantly increased overall mortality, and this risk increased progressively with worsening NAFLD histology. Most of this excess mortality was from extrahepatic cancer and cirrhosis, while in contrast, the contributions of cardiovascular disease and HCC were modest.

Mortality in biopsy-confirmed nonalcoholic fatty liver disease: results from a nationwide cohort — https://gut.bmj.com/content/early/2020/10/09/gutjnl-2020-322786?rss=1

Diet. That’s it. That’s my post.