Tag Archives: diet

Alzheimer’s and low Vitamin D: a link confirmed

3d vitamins.New research finds an association between low vitamin D levels and the risk of Alzheimer’s and dementia.

This study followed 1,658 people over the age of 65 who showed no signs of dementia. The results were surprising- it seems that people with low vitamin D levels had a 53% increased risk of developing dementia, and people with extremely deficient levels had a 125% increased risk of developing dementia (in comparison to participants with normal vitamin D levels).

It’s important to note that this research doesn’t imply that low vitamin D levels CAUSE dementia. However, it seems that there is a correlation between the two that warrants further investigation. It’s possible that this research could lead to new dietary recommendations in an attempt to boost vitamin D levels. Could vitamin D supplements prevent or delay the development of Alzheimer’s?

Research in the past has shown that vitamin D could reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s Disease in mice. Alzheimer’s research is actually a great example of the importance of animal models. Because Alzheimer’s is generally a disease that affects people later in life, studies in humans could take years- or decades- to yield useful results. Alzheimer’s mouse models are used in research because researchers can observe changes from one generation to the next in a relatively short period of time.

Read more about the possible correlation between vitamin D and dementia here:


Pregnancy, calories, and consequences

iStock_000014779137SmallNew research stresses the importance of a pregnant woman’s diet, and shows the possible consequences for her offspring. Through mouse studies, it was found that inadequate caloric intake in later stages of pregnancy can cause changes to occur in the sperm of her male offspring.

Epigenetic programming of the offspring’s sperm cells happens later in pregnancy, and when researchers cut caloric intake in half during this time, they found over 100 regions on the sperm that were developed differently than control mice.

In this type of research, animals were really important. In a controlled environment, researchers are able to make all conditions stable and only have one variable (caloric restriction in the last week of the mother’s gestation). This provides very solid evidence, because in humans, there are so many other variables that it would be difficult to determine the impact of the mother’s diet alone on the offspring. We know that the actions of both parents will contribute to the health of the children- there is evidence that a man’s health status can influence the health of his sperm, and in turn, can have consequences on offspring. This type of research wouldn’t have been possible in humans due to the number of variables involved, and it helped increase understanding of intergenerational gene transmission.

Why is this research important? Evidence that a mother’s actions will directly influence the outcome of her children will hopefully prompt more support for pregnant women in areas of the world where food availability is a problem. It also may provide more incentive for women to reconsider food choices during pregnancy. If restricting calories causes these problems, it’s likely that unhealthy eating could also be causing more issues that mothers might realize. Read more about it here:



Pregnancy diets… for prospective fathers?!

If you have kids, you know that as soon as a woman becomes pregnant (or begins to try to conceive), there are lists and lists of recommendations- from avoiding medications to diet changes to exercise suggestions. And the father is left with the trying task of finishing up the sugary, fried and processed foods left in the kitchen… thanks, guys, way to take one for the team. But now, recent research is looking a little more closely at diets of prospective fathers- and it might be a good idea for wanna-be dads to cut out junk food and add veggies high in folate (such as spinach, sprouts and broccoli), just like Mom.

A recent study published in Nature Communications found that folate levels are linked to changes in sperm DNA. Chemical changes in DNA that are known to be associated with the development of cancer were also seen. Studies in mice showed that mouse pups whose fathers lacked folate in their diets had nearly ten times more abnormalities compared to pups whose fathers ate their veggies.

So if you’re ready to start a family, changing your diet towards healthier eating habits certainly wouldn’t hurt- and moms, make sure that Dad joins you!


Mice give us reasons to avoid added sugar

iStock_000014015871XSmallResearchers at the University of Utah found that when mice were fed a diet where 25% of the calories came from added sugar, the mortality rate of female mice doubled.

Let’s consider the equivalent amount of added sugar in our own diets. “Added sugar” means sugar that comes from processed foods, not sugar that is naturally in non-processed foods like fruit. Surprisingly, it doesn’t take much to add those calories- for a person who normally eats a healthy diet, it is the equivalent of adding three cans of sweetened soda a day. Approximately 13-25% of Americans currently consume a diet with at least 25% added sugar.

The mouse experiments lasted for about 8 months, and 35% of the female mice on sugar-added diets died during that time, in comparison to 17% of the female control mice. (The average mouse lifespan is about two years.) While males on sugar-added diets did not show an increase in mortality rates, they were less dominant and produced 25% fewer offspring than males on the control diet.

As more tests are developed to understand the impact of potential toxins in our food and environment, it wouldn’t be surprising if many of the chemicals and additives we encounter every day are scrutinized further. In the meanwhile, limiting extra sugar might not be a bad idea… just saying.



Cancer treatments: Can cutting calories improve effectiveness?

iStock_small pastaNew research suggests that restricting calories may improve the success of certain cancer treatments.

When studying mouse models of human cancer, the mice that were calorie-restricted while receiving cancer treatment lived for much longer than the mice receiving cancer treatments alone!

When we eat, our bodies metabolize the food and then produce energy that assists in protein building. Limiting the production of certain proteins could be beneficial in some cases- specifically, proteins linked to cancer!

This is significant, because not only could this be a relatively easy way for patients to increase their chances of survival, but it could also lead to new research that could identify specific aspects of our diets that may be able to increase cancer cells’ sensitivity to treatment. Check it out!