We know that what we eat (or don't eat, as the case may be) can have an enormous impact on our health. Our news reports in brief this week are all devoted to the subject of healthy eating and link in with one of our main stories looking at whether eating junk food really is cheaper. For more guidance adopting a way of eating for the whole family that delivers healthful nutrients in meaningful amounts to support all 12 body systems, take a look at our Food4Health guidelines.

Obesity linked to cancer risk

With an estimated 7.6 million deaths annually, cancer is a leading cause of death worldwide with the number of new cases expected to rise by around 70% over the next 20 years. An umbrella review of 204 systematic reviews and meta-analyses looked at the relationship between obesity measures and the risk of developing or dying from cancer. The study has shown strong evidence linking the risk of developing 11 cancers (oesophageal adenocarcinoma, multiple myeloma, and cancers of the gastric cardia, colon, rectum, biliary tract system, pancreas, breast, endometrium, ovary, and kidney) and obesity. For every increase in weight (kg/m2) the risk of developing cancer ranged from 9% for rectal cancer to 56% for biliary tract cancer.

Gut bacteria affects gut and brain function in IBS patients

A new mouse study has shown that transferring gut bacteria from patients suffering from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) to germ free mice results in altered gut function such as the time it takes for food to travel through the digestive system, gut permeability (leaky gut) and inflammation, and anxiety-like behaviour to develop. The lead author Giada de Palma said, “This is a landmark study because it moves the field beyond a simple association, and towards evidence that changes in the microbiota impact both intestinal and behavioral responses in IBS”. This study shows the association between the health of the gut microbiome, gut function and brain health, which has long been known about by natural health practitioners. IBS is a condition that can be positively impacted by changes in diet, such as eating a low FODMAP diet.

Omega-3 Oils reduce damage caused by air pollution

Fine particles (<2.5um) found in air pollution can enter the body causing inflammation and increase the risk of developing chronic disease. Omega 3 oils (found in algae, flaxseeds, hemp and fish oils) are known to have an anti-inflammatory effect in the body and a recent mouse study has shown that omega-3 fatty acids (OFAs) can reduce the development of health problems related to the exposure to fine particles from air pollution. Dr Jing Kang, at Massachusetts General Hospital, who led the research said, “I can anticipate the same things [that happen in mice] would happen in humans, because many other inflammatory diseases in humans can be treated with OFAs. We feel very confident OFAs can do something very good.” ANH-Intl have written previously about the benefits of omega 3 fatty acids in the diet linked to their anti-inflammatory and neuro-protective properties.

Alzheimer's linked to high blood sugar

High blood sugar has been long been linked to Alzheimer's disease and is the reason why it’s often called type 3 diabetes. A new study has now established a ‘tipping point’ between high blood sugar levels and damage to a vital enzyme linked to the inflammation seen in early stage Alzheimer's. By looking at brain samples from those with and without Alzheimer's Disease, the researchers found that glycation damages an enzyme called MIF (macrophage migration inhibitory factor), which helps protect brain cells against the formation of plaque in the brain during early stages of Alzheimer's. This is yet another reason why we need to limit the amount of sugar and processed food (which is laden with hidden sugars) in our diets and instead choose whole, unprocessed, fresh foods.

Low carbohydrate diet to manage diabetes

An abstract published in the Proceedings of the Nutrition Society has recommended that new guidelines promoting lower carbohydrate diets to reduce blood glucose levels and help manage diabetes should be adopted following new research by London Metropolitan University. Lead author Michelle McKenzie said, "Our findings suggest that a reduced carbohydrate diet can be an effective technique for managing diabetes and new guidelines that promote lower carbohydrate intakes for both the general population, and those with diabetes, should seriously be considered."