A viewpoint article recently published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, calling for an end to the ‘diet debate’ has certainly resonated with me. Promoting, discrediting, or debating any dietary approach to weight loss serves little benefit. Let me explain why.
The scientific jury is now firmly in, with dozens of high-quality, randomised controlled trials showing that no one dieting option is the magic solution for everyone. Despite this, populist fad diet are always emerging – intermittent fasting would be the diet du jour at the moment.
Juicing fruit and vegetables is a popular way to get a get a quick ‘health fix’, but does come with the downside that they are less filling than eating the solid foods in the first place.
Eating more fruit and vegetables is the foundation stone of any healthy diet. One popular way to consume them is through juices. The one clear downside from drinking fruit and vegetables compared to eating them is the loss of fibre and other nutrients found in the skin and pulp. Juices though can be a quick, convenient and tasty way to get some of the health benefits of fruit and vegetables which is certainly better than not eating them at all.
Popular wisdom and well meaning advice recommends that people with the digestive system problem of diverticular disease should avoid small, sharp and hard foods such as nuts, seeds and corn for the risk of inflaming the condition. Research studies now say otherwise, and these foods shouldn't be excluded from the diet, except for when experiencing painful flare ups of the disease.
Diverticular disease is a common disorder of the digestive system with estimates that one-third of people will develop this condition by the age of 60. Many people have small defects in the muscle of the wall lining the large intestine which can allow small pockets or pouches (called diverticula) to form. The condition of having diverticula is called diverticulosis.
A recent review of the research field on body fatness and pre-eclampsia risk has added more evidence for how these two factors are linked together.
Pre-eclampsia is a serious complication of pregnancy seen as high maternal blood pressure, protein in the urine and severe fluid retention. Pre-eclampsia is the most common complication of pregnancy, affecting around five to 10 per cent of all pregnancies in Australia. One to two percent of such cases are severe enough to threaten the lives of both the mother and her unborn child.
The cause of pre-eclampsia is not known for certain, but there appears to be several factors involved. An exaggerated systemic inflammatory response, changes in immune factors, insulin resistance, and changes in the biology of the placenta are just some of a long list of candidates.
There is much we know about how diet and lifestyle can influence the risk of a person developing cancer. Now, for the first time, the effectiveness of cancer prevention guidelines has been applied to cancer survivors with promising results that should make any cancer survivor sit up and take note.
In the most important report ever published on dietary and lifestyle factors and cancer risk, the World Cancer Research Fund and the American Institute of Cancer Research in 2007 issued 8 recommendations on diet, physical activity, and weight management for cancer prevention.
A major new study has called into question the traditional view that family meal times should be enjoyed together around the dinner table if youngsters are to pick up good eating habits. Having children eat the same foods as grown-ups appears a more important guide to kids developing healthy eating habits.
The habit of eating family meals together rubs off as healthier eating habits for children, yet it is not clear what are the key reasons for this. Social bonding, parental pressure (“Eat your veggies or you aren’t allowed to leave the table”), and positive reinforcement of good nutrition messages all are plausible reasons.
Bowel cancer is one form of cancer where diet and lifestyle choices play a big part in determining a person’s risk of being diagnosed with it. Medical researchers have now put some hard numbers to how much this cancer can be prevented by following specific lifestyle recommendations.
Bowel cancer (also called colorectal or colon cancer) is the second biggest killer of Australians from cancer each year. Dietary factors alone are thought to explain almost half of bowel cancer risk, with physical activity (or lack of) around another quarter followed by genetics and family history. Processed meat, obesity (especially fat around the abdomen), smoking and alcohol are the diet and lifestyle factors that are considered to have the most evidence for being linked to colorectal cancer.
The realm of weight loss is one where beliefs and myths abound. It seems everyone from the public to expert dietitians have views and beliefs around the causes of obesity, with these not always being supported by good science.
Coming from a firm scientific evidence footing, an eminent group of 20 respected obesity researchers scoured the Internet, popular media, and the scientific literature to identify prevalent obesity myths as well as facts that are well supported by evidence. Their findings were published in the New England Journal of Medicine on January 31 of 2013.
The research team arrived at a core group of ‘7 myths about obesity’, some of them certainly going against conventional wisdom. Following are a brief description of the 7 myths.
Australians are getting fatter and there’s no dispute over how this increasing weight is affecting our health. Different methods of assessing body fat can give different interpretations of just how much excess weight a person is carrying, but all methods point in the same direction when applied over time.
The most common measure of body fat and associated health risks is body mass index (BMI). BMI was developed as a simple way to compare different groups of people, based on the correlation between height and weight as an indicator of excess body fat.
With rates of obesity in Australia only marginally behind the United States and tracking at the same pace, mathematical and social modelling on the projection of obesity rates in America is sobering reading for Australians.
The most recent statistics on the weight and health of the Australian population paints the grim picture of one in four adults classified as obese (defined as a body mass index above 30 kg/m2). When overweight is added to this, 63% of adult Australians are likely carrying more weight than what is good for them. These rates have been consistently rising for the last three decades and do not appear to show any signs of slowing.