Category Archives: Health Benefits

Can Diet Alter Your Gut Bacteria and Thereby Lower Your Risk of Dementia?

The short answer? We don’t know.

Low-carb salad

The gut bacteria (aka microbiome) seem to be able to decrease or increase inflammation that could cause or exacerbate Alzheimer’s dementia. The  microbiome’s effect on inflammation depends on the species of bacteria present, and the amount of those bacteria. At least one study found that Alzheimer’s patients have a greater abundance of the pro-inflammatory species and less of the anti-inflammatory species, compared to other folks.

Researchers with Wake Forest School of Medicine tried to find answers to the questions in the title of this post. (Click for full text.) They studied 17 experimental subjects, average age 64, who had mild cognitive impairment (11) or “cogni/subjective memory complaints” (6). God bless them for submitting to three spinal taps apiece. The experimental diets were 1) Mediterranean-Ketogenic (under 20 g carb/day), or 2) Low-fat American Heart Association diet (under 40 g fat/day). Participants were on each diet for six weeks.

The investigators didn’t find anything useful for those of us trying today to avoid Alzheimer’s or prevent the progression of mild cognitive impairment to dementia. Their bottom line is, “The data suggest that specific gut microbial signatures may depict [characterize] the mild cognitive impairment and that the modified Mediterranean-ketogenic diet can modulate the gut microbiome and metabolites in association with improved Alzheimer’s disease biomarkers in cerebrospinal fluid.”

So we won’t know for several more years, if ever, whether intentional modification of diet will “improve” our gut microbiomes, leading to lower risk of dementia.

What we have known for many year, however, is that the traditional Mediterranean diet is linked to lower risk of Alzhiemer’s dementia.

For more details, see Science Daily:

In a small pilot study, the researchers identified several distinct gut microbiome signatures — the chemicals produced by bacteria — in study participants with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) but not in their counterparts with normal cognition, and found that these bacterial signatures correlated with higher levels of markers of Alzheimer’s disease in the cerebrospinal fluid of the participants with MCI.

Through cross-group dietary intervention, the study also showed that a modified Mediterranean-ketogenic diet produced changes in the gut microbiome and its metabolites that correlated with reduced levels of Alzheimer’s markers in the members of both study groups.

Source: Diet’s effect on gut bacteria could play role in reducing Alzheimer’s risk — ScienceDaily

Steve Parker, M.D.

Click the pic to purchase the world’s first practical ketogenic Mediterranean diet at Amazon.com. E-book versions also available at Smashwords.com.

If you own this book, you already have a ketogenic Mediterranean diet.

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Mediterranean Diet May Prevent Multiple Sclerosis

MRI scan of brain, commonly done to evaluate for MS and demyelination

Multiple sclerosis is a disease of unknown cause characterized by demyelination (loss of the protective coating around nerves) in the brain.

From The Journal of Nutrition:

A Mediterranean diet, including unprocessed red meat, was associated with reduced risk of [first clinical diagnosis of brain demyelination] in this Australian adult population. The addition of unprocessed red meat to a Mediterranean diet may be beneficial for those at high risk of [multiple sclerosis].

Source: Higher Mediterranean Diet Score, Including Unprocessed Red Meat, Is Associated with Reduced Risk of Central Nervous System Demyelination in a Case-Control Study of Australian Adults | The Journal of Nutrition | Oxford Academic

So this has nothing to do with diabetes; just more support for the general healthfulness of the Mediterranean diet.

Steve Parker, M.D.

low-carb mediterranean diet

Click the pic to purchase at Amazon.com. E-book versions also available at Smashwords.com.

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Mediterranean Diet Reduces Need For Diabetes Medications

diabetic mediterranean diet, Steve Parker MD

Pharmacist counting pills

From Diabetes Care:

OBJECTIVE

To examine the effects of two Mediterranean eating plans (Med-EatPlans) versus a low-fat eating plan on the need for glucose-lowering medications.

RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS

From the Prevención con Dieta Mediterránea (PREDIMED) trial, we selected 3,230 participants with type 2 diabetes at baseline. These participants were randomly assigned to one of three eating plans: Med-EatPlan supplemented with extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO), Med-EatPlan supplemented with mixed nuts, or a low-fat eating plan (control). In a subgroup (15%), the allocation was done in small clusters instead of using individual randomization, and the clustering effect was taken into account in the statistical analysis. In multivariable time-to-event survival models, we assessed two outcomes: 1) introduction of the first glucose-lowering medication (oral or injectable) among participants on lifestyle management at enrollment and 2) insulin initiation.

RESULTS

After a median follow-up of 3.2 years, in multivariable analyses adjusting for baseline characteristics and propensity scores, the hazard ratios (HRs) of starting a first glucose-lowering medication were 0.78 (95% CI 0.62–0.98) for Med-EatPlan + EVOO and 0.89 (0.71–1.12) for Med-EatPlan + nuts, compared with the control eating plan. After a median follow-up of 5.1 years, the adjusted HRs of starting insulin treatment were 0.87 (0.68–1.11) for Med-EatPlan + EVOO and 0.89 (0.69–1.14) for Med-EatPlan + nuts compared with the control eating plan.

CONCLUSIONS

Among participants with type 2 diabetes, a Med-EatPlan + EVOO may delay the introduction of new-onset glucose-lowering medications. The Med-EatPlan did not result in a significantly lower need for insulin.

Source: Effects of a Mediterranean Eating Plan on the Need for Glucose-Lowering Medications in Participants With Type 2 Diabetes: A Subgroup Analysis of the PREDIMED Trial | Diabetes Care

Steve Parker, M.D.

low-carb mediterranean diet

Click the pic to purchase at Amazon.com. E-book versions also available at Smashwords.com.

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Mediterranean Diet and Good Blood Sugar Levels Improve Brain Function in Type 2 Diabetes

MRI scan of brain

From Diabetes Care:

CONCLUSIONS

Both adhering to a Mediterranean diet and effectively managing type 2 diabetes may support optimal cognitive function. Healthy diets, in general, can help improve memory function among adults without type 2 diabetes.

Source: The Mediterranean Diet and 2-Year Change in Cognitive Function by Status of Type 2 Diabetes and Glycemic Control | Diabetes Care

Steve Parker, M.D.

low-carb mediterranean diet

Click the pic to purchase at Amazon.com. E-book versions also available at Smashwords.com.

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Is It the Olive Oil That Make the Mediterranean Diet So Healthy?

I like this Newman’s Own dressing. First ingredient is olive oil blend, unlike most commercial vinaigrettes that first list water or canola oil. In 2019 they changed the formula and I don’t like it as much.

C-reactive protein and interleukin-6 are measurable blood markers of inflammation in our bodies. Inflammation may be the cause of diseases like hypertension, strokes, hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis), and heart attacks. One theory holds that if you can reduce the level of the inflammatory markers, your risk of the aforementioned illnesses will be lower.

Olive oil is a key component of the healthy Mediterranean diet. Could that healthfulness be mediated by anti-inflammatory effects of olive oil?

Fr0m the journal Nutrition:

[Randomized controlled trials] reveal beneficial effects of olive oil by reducing levels of inflammation markers. Olive oil taken on a regular basis can be a good dietary fat alternative, especially to manage IL-6 [interleukin-6]. However, further research is required to clarify the effects of olive oil consumption on inflammation comparing to other fats. Moreover, olive oil daily dosage, different time-length intervention and follow-up periods should be taken into consideration.

Source: Is olive oil good for you? A systematic review and meta-analysis on anti-inflammatory benefits from regular dietary intake – ScienceDirect

These researchers found no consistent effect of olive oil on C-reactive protein (CRP).

Steve Parker, M.D.

Click pic to buy book at Amazon.com. E-book versions also available at Smashwords.com.

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Low-Carb Mediterranean Diet Beats Low-Fat Diet for Reduction of Liver Fat

Excessive fat in the liver can lead to hepatitis and eventually cirrhosis. Don’t be that guy.

From the study abstract:

Methods

In an 18-month weight-loss trial, 278 participants with abdominal obesity/dyslipidemia were randomized to low-fat (LF) or Mediterranean/low-carbohydrate (MED/LC+28g walnuts/day) diets with/without moderate physical activity (PA). HFC and abdominal fat-depots were measured using magnetic-resonance-imaging at baseline, after 6 (sub-study, n=158) and 18-months.

Results

Of 278 participants [age=48yr;88% men; body-mass-index=30.8kg/m2; mean HFC =10.2%,(range:0.01%-50.4%)], retention rate was 86.3%. %HFC substantially decreased after 6 [-6.6% absolute-units (-41% relatively)] and 18-months [-4.0% absolute-units (-29% relatively);p<0.001 vs. baseline]. Reduction of HFC associated with decreases in VAT beyond weight loss. After controlling for VAT loss, decreased %HFC remained independently associated with reductions in serum gamma-glutamyl-transferase and alanine-aminotransferase, circulating chemerin, and HbA1c (p<0.05). While reduction of HFC was similar between PA groups, compared to LF diet, MED/LC induced a greater %HFC decrease (p=0.036) and greater improvements in cardiometabolic risk parameters (p<0.05), even after controlling for VAT changes. Yet, the greater decreases induced by MED/LC compared to LF diets in triglycerides, TG/HDL ratio and cardiovascular risk score were all markedly attenuated when controlling for HFC changes.

Source: The Beneficial effects of Mediterranean diet over low-fat diet may be mediated by decreasing hepatic fat content – Journal of Hepatology

h/t DietDoctor

Hey, I know of  a low-carb Mediterranean diet!

low-carb mediterranean diet

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World Health Organization Recommends Mediterranean Diet to Reduce Dementia Risk

Steve Parker MD, low-carb diet, diabetic diet

Olives, olive oil, and vinegar: classic Mediterranean foods

Two quotes:

In guidelines released Tuesday, WHO issued its first recommendations to reduce the risk of dementia globally. They include regular physical exercise, not using tobacco, drinking less alcohol, maintaining healthy blood pressure and eating a healthy diet — particularly a Mediterranean one.

***

“The Mediterranean diet is the most extensively studied dietary approach, in general as well as in relation to cognitive function,” the report said. “Several systematic reviews of observational studies have concluded that high adherence to the Mediterranean diet is associated with decreased risk of mild cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s Disease, but modest adherence is not.”

Source: New global guidelines to reduce risk of dementia released

Steve Parker, M.D.

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