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Plant-based diet could slow prostate cancer progression

Eating a plant-based diet could significantly reduce the chances of prostate cancer from progressing, new research has revealed.

The University of California study involved more than 2,000 men with an average age of 65 who had localised prostate cancer. The researchers found that men who ate a mostly plant-based diet had a 47 per cent lower risk of their cancer progressing compared to men who consumed the most animal products.

This amounted to eating just one or two more servings per day of healthy foods, particularly vegetables, fruits and whole grains, while eating fewer animal products, like dairy and meat.

“Making small changes in one’s diet each day is beneficial,” said senior author Stacey A. Kenfield, ScD, a UCSF professor of urology and the Helen Diller Family Chair in Population Science for Urologic Cancer. “Greater consumption of plant-based food after a prostate cancer diagnosis has also recently been associated with better quality of life, including sexual function, urinary function and vitality, so it’s a win-win on both levels.”

The findings were reported in JAMA Network Open.

Study highlights benefits of exercise in fat burning

An active lifestyle can change how the body burns saturated and unsaturated fat, a new study has shown.

Researchers from the University of Aberdeen investigated how different types of fat are used by the body, depending on a person’s level of physical fitness. They analysed the effects in two groups: “super healthy” male athletes and males with type 2 diabetes who did little to no exercise. Both groups swapped exercise regimes for eight weeks.

The athletes underwent “deconditioning” where they went from exercising vigorously for at least nine and a half hours per week to none. In contrast, the people with type 2 diabetes underwent endurance training where they exercised for five hours a week. Before and after the lifestyle swap, the volunteers received small amounts of different fats via an intravenous injection and had MRI scans to see how the fat behaved inside their muscle cells.

The results showed the group with type 2 diabetes lost weight, improved their insulin sensitivity and lowered their cholesterol, triglycerides and fasting glucose levels. The team also found that in athletes, saturated fat is used intensely for physical activity as the “preferred source of energy”.

The study was published in Nature Communications.

Diet more effective than medicine for IBS

Dietary treatment was found to be more effective than medication for people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), a new study has demonstrated.

Researchers from the University of Gothenburg compared three treatments – two dietary and one based on medication – during a four-week period. Each group included around 100 participants, with severe or moderate IBS.

The first group was given traditional IBS advice focusing on eating behaviour combined with a low intake of fermentable carbohydrates, known as FODMAPs. The second group followed a diet low in carbohydrates and proportionally high in protein and fat. The third group were prescribed medication.

Of those who followed the traditional IBS dietary advice and the low FODMAP diet, 76 per cent had significantly reduced symptoms. In the group consuming low carbohydrates and high protein and fat, the proportion was 71 per cent, and in the medication group it was 58 per cent. All groups reported a significantly better quality of life, fewer physical symptoms and less anxiety and depression.

After six months, when the participants had partially returned to their previous eating habits, a large proportion still had significant symptom relief: 68 per cent in the traditional dietary advice and low FODMAP group, and 60 per cent in the low-carbohydrate diet group.

The study was published in The Lancet Gastroenterology & Hepatology.