Recently, a study reported positive changes in healthy
dietary trends for Americans. This unsurprisingly resulted in less disease
burden, proving the power of food as medicine. However, we still have a way to
go. The authors state:
data relating index scores to health outcomes in two large cohorts, we
estimated that the improvements in dietary quality from 1999 to 2012 prevented
1.1 million premature deaths. Also, this improvement in diet quality
resulted in 8.6 percent fewer cardiovascular disease cases,
1.3 percent fewer cancer cases, and 12.6 percent fewer type 2
diabetes cases. Although the steady improvement in dietary quality likely
accounted for substantial reductions in disease burden from 1999 to 2012,
overall dietary quality in the United States remains poor. Policy initiatives
are needed to ensure further improvements.1
Last week I discussed how our obesity epidemic was
more than just about food and exercise. Specifically, I reviewed that there are a
wide array of factors that influence body weight in individuals. These include:
maintaining a healthy
microbiome, choosing high quality organic food, stress
mediation, hormonal balance, digestive health, activity level, genetics, gender
(you can’t change this, but there are dietary and exercise implications),
environmental exposures, neurotransmitter balance, and sleep hygiene. In a guest
blog on Natural Path, which you can
read here, I
also gave 5 quick tips for the confused dieter.
Just today, I was reading some articles that provided
more proof in how our bodies interact with our environment. For example, just
as the work of Dr. Amen suggests, cravings and impulsive eating could be “hard-wired.”
Health Day reports:
children may have difficulty resisting food because of how their brain is
wired, a new study suggests.
small study found that food smells activated the parts of their brains related
to impulsive behavior and obsessive-compulsive disorder, which is characterized
by recurrent thoughts and repetitive behaviors. This did not occur in children
of a normal, healthy weight, researchers reported.
findings suggest that children with obesity are not able to stop eating, said
study author Dr. Pilar Dies-Suarez, head of radiology at the Federico Gomez
Children’s Hospital of Mexico in Mexico City. “Thus, treatment of obesity
must focus on the impulsivity problem,” she said.
In another study, scientists reported that
variances in certain genes could explain cravings in adults by impacting the
amount of “reward” they derive from it:
the first time, we also found that the activation in a part of the brain called
the striatum was increased when those with the variant in FTO looked at
high-calorie foods, but this depended on which variant of the other gene DRD2
they possessed,” research team leader Dr. Tony Goldstone said in an
Obesity Society news release. “The DRD2 variant alters how the dopamine
system works in the brain.” 3
Combine these genetic predispositions with the
addictive properties of junk food,
which are commonly advertised to pressure parents to buy “treats” for their
children, and you have a dangerous combination. In fact, according to a recent
advertisements for children’s packaged foods and beverages frequently targeted
parents with emotional appeals and messaging related to nutrition and health.
Findings are of concern if exposure to such advertisements among parents may
shape their beliefs about the appropriateness of nutritionally questionable
children’s foods and beverages.” 4
But, it doesn’t stop there. One of the coolest
studies on individualized nutrition was released last week.5 Science
new study, led by Eran Segal and Eran Elinav of the Weizmann Institute of
Science in Israel, found that the GI of any given food is not a set value, but
depends on the individual. For all participants, they collected data through
health questionnaires, body measurements, blood tests, glucose monitoring,
stool samples, and a mobile-app used to report lifestyle and food intake (a
total of 46,898 meals were measured). In addition, the volunteers received a
few standardized/identical meals for their breakfasts.
expected, age and body mass index (BMI) were found to be associated with blood
glucose levels after meals. However, the data also revealed that different
people show vastly different responses to the same food, even though their
individual responses did not change from one day to another.
dietary recommendations that one can think of are based on one of these grading
systems; however, what people didn’t highlight, or maybe they didn’t fully
appreciate, is that there are profound differences between individuals–in some
cases, individuals have opposite response to one another, and this is really a
big hole in the literature,” says Segal, of Weizmann’s Department of
Computer Science and Applied Math. 6
Guess where the difference lies? Back to the belly
bugs again, my friends!!
understand why such vast differences exist between people, the researchers
conducted microbiome analyses on stool samples collected from each study participant.
Growing evidence suggests gut bacteria are linked to obesity, glucose
intolerance, and diabetes, and the study demonstrates that specific microbes
indeed correlate with how much blood sugar rises post-meal. By conducting
personalized dietary interventions among 26 additional study participants, the
researchers were able to reduce post-meal blood sugar levels and alter gut
microbiota. Interestingly, although the diets were personalized and thus
greatly different across participants, several of the gut microbiota
alterations were consistent across participants.6
Furthermore, what we
eat effects our good bugs! 7,8 Therefore, it’s a circle. All are
inter-connected factors, and blaming just food intake or just exercise on obesity
or weight gain is short-sighted and very evidently flawed.
1. Improvements In US
Diet Helped Reduce Disease Burden And Lower Premature Deaths, 1999-2012;
Overall Diet Remains Poor. Health Aff. November 2015; 34(11):1916-1922.
2. Haelle T. Could
Obesity Be Wired Into Some Children’s Brains? Health Day. November 24, 2015.
3. Preidt R. Your DNA
May Explain High-Calorie Food Cravings. Health Day. November 5, 2015.
4. Emond JA, Smith ME,
Mathur SJ, Sargent JD, Gilbert-Diamond D. Children’s Food and Beverage Promotion on Television to Parents. Journal
of Pediatrics. November 2015.
5. David Zeevi, Tal Korem, Niv Zmora, David Israeli, Daphna Rothschild,
Adina Weinberger, Orly Ben-Yacov, Dar Lador, Tali Avnit-Sagi, Maya
Lotan-Pompan, Jotham Suez, Jemal Ali Mahdi, Elad Matot, Gal Malka, Noa
Kosower, Michal Rein, Gili Zilberman-Schapira, Lenka Dohnalová, Meirav
Pevsner-Fischer, Rony Bikovsky, Zamir Halpern, Eran Elinav, Eran Segal. Personalized
Nutrition by Prediction of Glycemic Responses. Cell, 2015; 163 (5): 1079
6. Cell Press. “Healthy’ foods differ by individual. ScienceDaily.
November 15, 2015. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/11/151119133230.htm