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Vitamin K may benefit heart health

Australian researchers have found that people who consume a diet rich in vitamin K have up to a 34 per cent lower risk of health conditions affecting the heart or blood vessels.

The researchers from New Edith Cowan University analysed data from over 50,000 people recorded over a 23-year period. Their analysis showed that people with the highest intakes of vitamin K1 were 21 per cent less likely to be hospitalised with cardiovascular disease related to atherosclerosis (plaque build-up in the arteries). For vitamin K2, the risk of being hospitalised was 14 per cent lower. This lower risk was seen for all types of heart disease related to atherosclerosis, particularly for peripheral artery disease at 34 per cent.

Vitamin K1 comes primarily from green leafy vegetables and vegetable oils while vitamin K2 is found in meat, eggs and fermented foods such as cheese.

ECU researcher and senior author on the study Dr Nicola Bondonno said: “Current dietary guidelines for the consumption of vitamin K are generally only based on the amount of vitamin K1 a person should consume to ensure that their blood can coagulate. However, there is growing evidence that intakes of vitamin K above the current guidelines can afford further protection against the development of other diseases, such as atherosclerosis. Although more research is needed to fully understand the process, we believe that vitamin K works by protecting against the calcium build-up in the major arteries of the body leading to vascular calcification.” The findings were published in the Journal of the American Heart Association.

Did you know?

Eating a hot dog could cost you 36 minutes of healthy life, while choosing to eat a serving of nuts instead could help you gain 26 minutes of extra healthy life. These were just some of the findings revealed in a University of Michigan study. The researchers have developed a Health Nutritional Index, which calculates the net beneficial or detrimental health burden in minutes of healthy life associated with eating certain foods.

Protective benefits of vitamin D highlighted

Consuming higher amounts of vitamin D may help protect against developing young-onset colorectal cancer or precancerous colon polyps, according to a new study.

Scientists from Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health analysed data from 94,205 women. The women were participating in a study which began in 1989 when they were aged between 25 to 42 and were subsequently monitored every two years. The researchers focused on young-onset colorectal cancer, diagnosed before the age of 50, as well as the detection of colorectal polyps, which may be precursors to colorectal cancer.

Analysis showed that higher total vitamin D intake was associated with a significantly reduced risk of early-onset colorectal cancer. The same link was found between higher vitamin D intake and risk of colon polyps detected before the age of 50.

Senior co-author Kimmie Ng, MD, MPH said: “We found that total vitamin D intake of 300 IU per day or more – roughly equivalent to three 8-oz. glasses of milk – was associated with an approximately 50 per cent lower risk of developing young-onset colorectal cancer. Our results further support that vitamin D may be important in younger adults for health and possibly colorectal cancer prevention.” The study was published online in the journal Gastroenterology.

Study highlights effects of Covid-19 on the nervous system

New research published in The Journal of Physiology has found that otherwise healthy young people diagnosed with Covid-19, regardless of their symptom severity, have problems with their nervous system when compared with healthy control subjects. Specifically, the system which oversees the fight-or-flight response, the sympathetic nervous system, seems to be abnormal (overactive in some instances and underactive in others) in those recently diagnosed with Covid-19.

These results are especially important given the emerging evidence of symptoms like racing hearts being reported in conjunction with “long-Covid”.

The impact of this alteration in fight-or-flight response, especially if prolonged, means that many processes within the body could be disrupted or affected. This research team has specifically been looking at the impact on the cardiovascular system – including blood pressure and blood flow – but the sympathetic nervous system is also important in exercise responses, the digestive system, the immune function, and more. Understanding what happens in the body shortly following diagnosis of Covid-19 is an important first step towards understanding the potential long-term consequences of contracting the disease. Importantly, if similar disruption of the flight-or-fight response, like that found here in young individuals, is present in older adults following Covid-19 infection, there may be substantial adverse implications for cardiovascular health.

Eating disorders on the increase in young people

New research has highlighted an increase in eating disorders among young people and children since the pandemic.

The research from Bupa UK revealed that 46 per cent of teens surveyed had altered their eating habits during lockdown while 84 per cent admitted to restricting food for a sense of control. Harriet Finlayson, Specialist Mental Health Nurse Adviser for Bupa UK, said: “Covid-19 may have made eating difficulties worse for some children and young people because of increased anxiety, stress, and a change in their usual routine.”

Harriet recommends that parents find the right treatment for their child to help them develop healthy, balanced eating patterns in the long-term. She said: “An important part of finding suitable treatment is first speaking to your doctor. They may be able to refer you to specialist eating disorder support for both your child and your family.” She added: “It’s important that your child learns how to cope and manage any triggers that arise in their everyday life. As part of their support network, be mindful that topics around food, body image and dieting may naturally come up in conversation. Where you can, avoid talking about these topics at mealtimes. It’s important that your child finds a coping strategy to ease any discomfort. For example, if you can identify the events, people and situations that trigger negative emotions, you can help to avoid that trigger or prepare a way to handle it in future.”

A high-flavonoid diet may reduce cognitive decline

A new study shows that people who eat a diet that includes at least half a serving per day of foods high in flavonoids, like strawberries, oranges, peppers and apples, may have a 20 per cent lower risk of cognitive decline.

Flavonoids are naturally occurring compounds found in plants and are considered powerful antioxidants. It is thought that having too few antioxidants may play a role in cognitive decline as you age.

The study looked at 49,493 women with an average age of 48 and 27,842 men with an average age of 51. Over 20 years of follow up, people completed several questionnaires about how often they ate various foods and the participants evaluated their own cognitive abilities during the study. After adjusting for factors like age and total caloric intake, people who consumed more flavonoids in their diets reported a lower risk of cognitive decline. The group of highest flavonoid consumers had 20 per cent less risk of self-reported cognitive decline than the people in the lowest group.

Children are consuming more ultraprocessed foods, study reveals

A new study has highlighted a worrying increase in the amount of ultraprocessed foods consumed by children and adolescents. Researchers from the Friedman School of Nutrition Science & Policy at Tufts University analysed the diets of 33,795 US children and adolescents aged between two and 19 from 1999 to 2018. They discovered that the calories the youngsters consumed from ultraprocessed foods increased from 61 per cent to 67 per cent of their total caloric intake during the time period.

The largest spike in calories came from foods such as takeaway and frozen pizza and burgers: from 2.2 per cent to 11.2 per cent of calories. The consumption of packaged sweet snacks and desserts grew from 10.6 per cent to 12.9 per cent. However, calories from sugar-sweetened beverages dropped from 10.8 per cent to 5.3 per cent of overall calories.

“This finding shows the benefits of the concerted campaign over the past few years to reduce overall consumption of sugary drinks,” said senior and corresponding author Fang Fang Zhang. “We need to mobilise the same energy and level of commitment when it comes to other unhealthy ultraprocessed foods such as cakes, cookies, doughnuts and brownies.” The results were published in the journal JAMA.

Eating more plant foods may lower heart disease risk in older women

Eating more plant-based foods is associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease in postmenopausal women, a new study has revealed.

Researchers conducted a long-term study of 123,330 postmenopausal women who followed a specific diet plan called the “Portfolio Diet” and followed up their results after 15 years. The aim of the study was to evaluate the risk factors, prevention and early detection of serious health conditions in postmenopausal women.

The Portfolio Diet includes nuts; plant protein from soy, beans or tofu; viscous soluble fibre from oats, barley, okra, eggplant, oranges, apples and berries; plant sterols from enriched foods and monounsaturated fats found in olive and canola oil and avocados; along with limited consumption of saturated fats and dietary cholesterol.

The researchers found that compared to women who followed the Portfolio Diet less frequently, those with the closest alignment were 11 per cent less likely to develop any type of cardiovascular disease, 14 per cent less likely to develop coronary heart disease and 17 per cent less likely to develop heart failure.

“These results present an important opportunity, as there is still room for people to incorporate more cholesterol-lowering plant foods into their diets,” said John Sievenpiper, M.D., Ph.D., senior author of the study at St. Michael’s Hospital in Ontario, Canada. The findings were published in the Journal of the American Heart Association.

CNM pioneers online natural health diploma courses

Responding to the current worldwide health challenges, the College of Naturopathic Medicine (CNM) is now offering online its internationally recognised diploma and short courses to overwhelming positive response from the public.

CNM graduates and students know:

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