Plant-based Diet Reduces Risk of Heart Disease, Observes New Study
Eating more plant-based foods and less animal products lowers the risk of death due to cardiovascular diseases, a new study has concluded. Published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, this new research emphasises the importance of plant-based diet for better heart health and a lower risk of dying from a heart-attack, stroke or other cardiovascular diseases.
 
Researchers used data from the “Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities” study on 12,168 middle-aged adults who were followed from 1987 to 2016. Participants were classified, based on one of four diet indexes; a plant-based diet index, a pro-vegetarian diet index (preference for plant-derived foods but not exclusion of animal foods), a healthy plant-based diet index and less-healthy plant-based diet index. In each category, individuals were given higher or lower scores, based on the intake of the specified quality of plant-based and animal foods. For example, a healthy plant-based diet was characterised by consumption of whole grains, vegetables and plant proteins, whereas an unhealthy plant-based diet had higher consumption of plant sources of food with refined carbohydrates and sugar.
 
Among other factors, researchers also considered the height, weight, BMI (body mass index), sex, age, race as well as participants’ educational attainment and how much they exercised. The goal was to find out how many participants developed cardiovascular diseases and how many died from a direct result of such diseases. It is important to note that the participants were not suffering from heart disease at the start of the study in 1987.
 
Researchers found that greater adherence to a healthy plant-based diet index was associated with 19% lower risk for development of cardiovascular diseases and 11% lower risk for all-cause mortality. Eating a healthy plant-based diet was linked to 16% lower risk of developing cardiovascular disease, while the chance of dying from such conditions was 32% lower, compared to those following other diets. These participants were also 18% to 25% less likely to die within the period of the study. 
 
Those who scored highest for healthy, plant-based diets ate an average of 4.1 to 4.8 servings of fruits and vegetables per day and 0.8 to 0.9 servings of red or processed meat per day. They also ate more nutrient-rich carbohydrates and plant protein, and less of foods containing saturated fat and cholesterol. These group of participants also consumed more polyunsaturated fat, which is found in foods like oily fish. Participants in the less healthy plant-based group ate 2.3 servings of fruit and vegetables per day, and 1.2 servings of red or processed meat. They also consumed more carbohydrates which had less fibre and nutrients than the other group of participants. 
 
Overall, the study concluded that followers of the healthy plant-based diet were less likely to have cardiovascular diseases or die from such diseases or other causes, for that matter. But those who ate the most animal products had a higher risk of cardiovascular diseases and overall death, compared with those who consumed the least. 
 
This is one of the first studies to examine the proportion of plant-based versus animal-based dietary patterns in the general population, noted Dr Casey Rebholz, lead researcher and assistant professor of epidemiology at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Earlier studies have shown heart health benefits from plant-based diets but only in specific populations of people such as vegetarians or vegans. 
 
Dr Rebholz has hopes that future research on plant-based diets would examine whether the quality of plant foods—healthy versus less healthy—impacts cardiovascular disease and death risks.
 
“The American Heart Association recommends eating a mostly plant-based diet, provided the foods you choose are rich in nutrition and low in added sugars, sodium (salt), cholesterol and artery-clogging saturated and trans fats,” said Dr Mariell Jessup, chief science and medical officer of the American Heart Association. Dr Rebholz further added, “While you don’t have to give up foods derived from animals completely, our study does suggest that eating a larger proportion of plant-based foods and a smaller proportion of animal-based foods may help reduce your risk of having a heart attack, stroke or other type of cardiovascular disease.”
 
Although the study has discovered the importance sticking to a plant-based diet for a healthier heart, readers should take note that the research conducted was entirely observational and does not prove cause and effect.
 
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    Meal-timing Strategies for Weight Loss?
    Can meal-timing strategies, such as intermittent fasting or eating earlier in the daytime, help people to lose weight by lowering appetite rather than burning more calories? The answer could be ‘yes’, if a study published in the journal Obesity, the flagship journal of The Obesity Society, is any indication. Apparently, the study is the first to show how meal timing affect 24-hour energy metabolism when food intake and meal frequency are matched. 
     
    The study showed that early time-restricted feeding (eTRF) -- a form of daily intermittent fasting where dinner is eaten in the afternoon—helped to improve people's ability to switch between burning carbohydrates for energy to burning fat for energy, an aspect of metabolism known as metabolic flexibility. 
     
    This will not be a surprise to Indians who are familiar with what Ayurveda prescribes—that between 10am and 2pm your agni or digestive power is at its peak. Some Indian approaches also prescribe finishing dinner before sundown.
     
    “Coordinating meals with circadian rhythms, or your body's internal clock, may be a powerful strategy for reducing appetite and improving metabolic health,” according Eric Ravussin, PhD, one of the study's authors and associate executive director for clinical science at Louisiana State University's Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge.
     
    “We suspect that a majority of people may find meal-timing strategies helpful for losing weight or to maintain their weight since these strategies naturally appear to curb appetite, which may help people eat less,” said Courtney M Peterson, PhD, lead author of the study and an assistant professor in the Department of Nutrition Sciences at the University of Alabama.
     
    However, the study's authors said that the results on fat-burning are preliminary. Whether these strategies help people lose body fat need to be tested and confirmed in a much longer study.
     
    For the Alabama study, researchers recruited 11 adult men and women who were weighty, between November 2014 and August 2016, from among adults in general good health and were 20 years to 45 years old. The candidates had a body mass index (BMI) between 25kg and 35 kg/m2 (inclusive), body weight between 68kg and 100kg, regular bedtime between 9:30 pm and 12am, and for women, a regular menstrual cycle.
     
    Participants tried two different meal-timing strategies in random order: a control schedule where participants ate three meals during a 12-hour period with breakfast at 8:00am and dinner at 8:00pm and an eTRF schedule where participants ate three meals over a six-hour period with breakfast at 8:00am and dinner at 2:00pm. The same amounts and types of foods were consumed on both schedules. Fasting periods for the control schedule included 12 hours per day, while the eTRF schedule involved fasting for 18 hours per day.
     
    Study participants followed the different schedules for four days in a row. On the fourth day, researchers measured the metabolism of participants by placing them in a chamber where researchers measured how many calories, carbohydrates, fat and protein were burned. Researchers also measured the appetite levels of participants every three hours when they were awake, as well as hunger hormones in the morning and evening.
     
    The researchers found that eTRF did lower levels of the hunger hormone. It also increased fat-burning over the 24-hour day. “By testing eTRF, we were able to kill two birds with one stone,” said Dr Peterson. The researchers were able to gain some insight into daily intermittent fasting (time-restricted-feeding), as well as meal timing strategies that involve eating earlier in the daytime to be in sync with circadian rhythms. The researchers believe that these two broader classes of meal-timing strategies may have similar benefits to eTRF.
     
    Apparently, earlier research was not clear about whether meal-timing strategies help with weight loss by helping burn more calories or by lowering appetite. Studies in rodents suggest such strategies burn more calories; but data from human studies were conflicting. Some studies suggested meal-timing strategies increase calories burned, but other reports showed no difference. The previous studies did not directly measure how many calories people burned or were imperfect in other ways.
     
    In this context, it is worth mentioning that there are a variety of successful time-restricted diet strategies. One of the most fascinating ones is by Bert Herring (www.bertherring.com). He suggests extending the daily fast from whatever it is now (it may be only the time you’re asleep) to 19 hours, so you eat only between 5pm and 10pm. If you stick to this plan, your ability to turn away from food during the day increases; your appetite during the eating window decreases; and your calorie intake falls by around 500 calories a day—enough to lose about half a kilo per week.  
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    COMMENTS

    SANDESH PAWAR

    4 months ago

    I have been following intermittent fasting for nearly 2 years. M not obese but I do a lot of strength training.
    Well people tend to make everything complex. This is a very powerful tool however as more reaserches pile on mainly sponsored by food companies things will start deviating.
    Intermittent fasting works only because
    1. You tend to eat atleast one meal less , this keeps you in calorie deficits.
    2. It is not a magic pill that will shrink you even if you eat more that what your body needs.
    I fast even when I am bulking where I eat just 200 to 300 calories more than my maintainance and still put on weight.
    If intermittent fasting was this magical my additional 300 calories should have burnt.
    3. It has long term health benefits . But they are if you follow it for really long term. Like more than 5 years or so. Mainly related to hormonal and around the abuse you body goes through after constant dose of insulin it produces.
    4. All obese are emotional eaters . Eating is an habit for them . They tend to eat because they see food and not because they are hungry.
    Fasting tricks your brain into a habit where you know you are not suppose to eat anything.
    5. Energetic, as there is no food in your system the body produces next to nothing insulin . I usually drink black coffee and the energy I get is unbelievable. I life heavy weight during fasted state and I feel no weakness.
    Tip - you need to start with lesser duration and not go straight to 20 or 22 hour fasting. Start with 14 HRs gradually increase it buy couple of hours before you reach 18 hours. Follow that for months and than increase if you enjoy being fasted.

    Weight loss is simple people tend to make it complex.
    My experience
    If you eat more that what you need (body weight + activity) you will gain weight. That doesn’t mean if you over eat one day you will gain weight. If you manage the amount you over ate the next couple of days it should be fine.

    It doesn’t matter what you eat but how much you eat that makes you overweight. Search “Twinkes Diet” a professor ate nothing but sweets and confectionary for three months , all he made sure was he was eating 300 calories less and boom he lost weight and all his vital health Signs had improved.

    You don’t have to go to a gym or follow a diet. Always think about doing something that is SUSTAINABLE , something you could do rest of your life.

    Intermittent fasting is a one of many tools/options that is sustainable. Moderately increase your activity like getting one stop before you house and walk 15 mins extra.

    Keep a long term view. Think of this as a project or investment. You will need patience . You will fail but you have to only and only figure out what suits you. E.g. feet in groceries on foot and not in a car etc. Intermittent fasting, Adding more proteins than carbohydrates, moderating achohol etc.

    Apologies ,Writing this from a toilet seats on my mobile . I could write an article in this my self 😬

    No Added Benefit from Most New Drugs, Finds Study
    When it comes to healthcare, it turns out that new does not necessarily mean better. According to the findings of a research, published in scientific journal The BMJ, more than half of the new drugs entering the German healthcare system have not shown any new benefit. 
     
    Dr Beate Wieseler and her colleagues at the German health technology assessment agency IQWiG (Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care) say that international drug development processes and policies are responsible for this lapse and must be reformed. 
     
    For the study, IQWiG assessed 216 medicines that were launched in Germany between 2011 and 2017. Most of these were approved by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) for use throughout Europe. Their analysis found that only a quarter of the new drugs brought any significant benefits over the existing treatments. The rest had only minor or no benefits, or the impact of the medicine was unknown. 
     
    The study found that only 54 (25%) drugs were judged to have a considerable or major added benefit. While in 35 (16%), the added benefit was either minor or could not be quantified. For the other 125 (58%) drugs, the available evidence did not prove an added benefit over the standard care in the approved patient population. 
     
    More particularly, the researchers realised that the situation is more shocking in some specialties. For instance, in psychiatry/neurology and diabetes, added benefit was seen in just 6% and 17%, respectively, of assessments. Even in the drugs that did show significant benefit, most of the research could only apply to sub-groups. “For the overall patient population, the current output of drug development may thus be resulting in even less progress than our assessments suggest,” the study reports. 
     
    The study’s authors have said that some within the healthcare industry argue that limited information on a drug at the time of its approval is how things have always been done and it is simply the ‘price to be paid’ to provide patients with early access to new drugs. 
     
    However, to refute this claim, the researchers revisited a study on cancer drugs that were evaluated by EMA and was conducted between 2009 and 2013. The study had found that most drugs had been approved with little evidence of any benefits to cancer patients’ quality of life or survival chances. After following up on the cancer drugs’ success rates, researchers found that little had changed on the effectiveness of the drug.  
     
    The study also reports that drugs almost never undergo post-marketing studies after being initially approved and, even when a drug is found to be ineffective, regulators globally have failed to punish non-compliant manufacturers. “As a consequence, patients’ ability to make informed treatment decisions consonant with their preferences might be compromised, and any healthcare system hoping to call itself ‘patient centred’ is falling short of its ethical obligations,” says the study. 
     
    The study reaffirms that healthcare professionals and patients have the right to impartial and complete information on what is to be expected from a certain treatment, including information on the benefit of alternative treatments or no treatment. But this, as the study reports is not possible with the current information gaps. 
     
    Therefore, the authors have recommended a much stricter drug approval process that demands stronger evidence from long-term studies conducted on large, randomised control groups. Furthermore, ideally even after a drug is approved, research should continue to fill in any and all information gaps that may remain. 
     
    The study also recommends changing the way these drugs are priced and incentivised—vague and unclear results are being rewarded with monetary gain, when actual tangible results should be the only final outcome that produces profit. 
     
    In the longer term, health policy-makers need to take a more proactive approach, the authors suggest. “Rather than waiting for drug companies to decide what to develop, they could define the health system’s needs and implement to ensure the development of the treatments required.”
     
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    COMMENTS

    Ramesh Poapt

    5 months ago

    Good one!

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