Gone are the days of eating white bread. Many people are aware that whole-grain has more nutritional heft than white, fluffy, overly milled breads, but it’s not always easy to pick a good loaf when you’re at the grocery store.
Sometimes, a refined loaf of bread can masquerade as something more nutritious. Patrol the bread aisle and you’ll see terms like whole wheat, multigrain, seven-grain, 12-grain, all-natural, organic and enriched, to name a few. Who wouldn’t throw up their hands trying to decide what to buy?
Dietitian Laura Jeffers, MEd, RD, LD, helps break down which bread is healthier and what you should stay far away from.
Look for ‘100%’ on labels
When browsing the bread aisle at your grocery store, look for the term “100% whole-grain” or “100% whole-wheat” on the package.
“If you’re wondering which is better, either one works,” says Jeffers. “Whole wheat is a whole grain.”
Although different grains offer different benefits, many whole-grain breads are primarily made with wheat. If you’re looking for a nice mix of grains, check your ingredient label. Primary ingredients should be listed first in order of the amount within the loaf (wheat, oats, flax seeds, barley, buckwheat, etc.).
“Be cautious of terms like ‘wheat’ or ‘multigrain’ that don’t mention a percentage,” she warns. “They sound healthy, but they’re probably made with partially or mostly refined white flour. Wheat flour is 75% white flour and only 25% whole-wheat.”
“Enriched” is another clever term that means the maker of the bread has added nutrients to an otherwise nutrient-free white bread. When you see that word on a label, put it down and look for something else.
Unless you find that 100% on the package and whole-wheat listed as the first ingredient on the label, the bread is simply a refined loaf of bread with synthetic nutrients added to replenish those natural nutrients lost in the milling process.
Good bread makes your body happy
The benefits of eating 100% whole-wheat or whole-grain far surpass just the taste. Eating whole-grain foods within an overall healthy diet helps to lower your risk for many diseases, including:
Whole-grains are also rich in protein, fiber, B vitamins and many other nutrients that help to lower blood pressure, reduce gum disease, strengthen the immune system and help control weight. The Whole Grains Council reports that benefits are greatest with at least three servings per day, but every whole grain helps.
Say ‘no’ to substandard bread
Most other bread is made with grains that have been finely milled. The resulting flour is whiter and lighter — in more ways than one.
Not only does this refined flour look whiter and bake fluffier, but it also falls short of many of the nutrients essential to optimum health. Whole-grains begin as a whole grain kernel: bran, germ, endosperm.
The milling process mechanically removes the bran, which is the fiber-rich outer layer of the grain and contains B vitamins and other minerals. Milling also removes the second germ layer, which is rich in Vitamin E and essential fatty acids. In the end, what’s left is the starchy center, which is ground into flour for various baking purposes.
“Refined flour lacks all of those wonderful nutrients and high-starch foods like white bread can quickly raise your blood sugar levels, putting you at risk for diseases like diabetes,” she says. “That’s why you should consider nothing but the best: 100% whole wheat or whole-grain bread.”
I’m often asked for medical advice by friends, family members, even new acquaintances: What about this diet? What should I do about this symptom? What about this medication?
People are usually disappointed when I don’t share their enthusiasm about the latest health fads. Members of my family, in particular, are often underwhelmed by my medical advice.
I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t always do a great job of conveying why I’m skeptical about the newest medical technology, reports of the latest health news and fashions and even people’s symptoms. Mostly it’s because in my experience, so much about health just isn’t that simple.
Most symptoms, after all, aren’t explainable, at least to the level of detail we all seem to want. “What’s causing my symptoms?” friends, family and patients ask me. Is it a virus? Bacteria? Arterial blockage?
In spite of all the science and technology in medicine, what we doctors do is more about making educated guesses. Especially in primary care, it’s often a matter of playing the probabilities more than providing precise diagnostic information.
But prevention is different. We know a lot about it, based on huge bodies of epidemiological research. Most of prevention is fairly straightforward. You’ve heard the advice again and again. In fact, the repetition may make it easy to tune out.
I’ll risk it, though, and tell you again that there really aren’t shortcuts to health. Here’s what you need to do:
Get enough sleep.
Move your body throughout the day.
Eat well — a healthy assortment of foods. Mostly plants, and not too much.
Interact socially. Isolation is not good for the body, soul or mind.
Take some time to reflect on what you are grateful for.
Recently I’ve come across a couple of sources that do a good job of conveying these messages. One is a set of books and ideas about the world’s so-called Blue Zones. If you haven’t heard about them, Blue Zones are the places in the world where people both have the healthiest and longest lives.
People in these communities often live well beyond 100 years:
Nicoya, Costa Rica
Loma Linda, Calif.
In these places, people have preventive medicine baked into their lives, mostly without even having to think about it. Their daily activities involve eating healthful diets rich in local plants, walking most places, and lots of intergenerational social interaction.
Interestingly, folks in these communities generally do drink alcohol. But they limit it to one or two drinks a day. Also, they typically do eat meat — but not very often and in small portions. (Loma Linda may be a bit of an exception, with its large population of Seventh-day Adventists.)
One thing that probably won’t surprise you: Blue Zoners do not eat refined sugars. They skip the convenient packaged foods that we’re trained to eat because they’re cheap and widely available.
Summarizing these themes visually in under two minutes is another gem from the idea lab of Dr. Mike Evans from Toronto. You’ve seen some of his other videos here. I love them. Just watch the one below, and follow his advice. That’s what I’m trying to do in my own life.
John Henning Schumann is a writer and doctor in Tulsa, Okla. He serves as president of the University of Oklahoma, Tulsa. He also hosts Public Radio Tulsa’s Medical Matters. He’s on Twitter: @GlassHospital
The meal timings that increase weight loss, lower blood sugar and fight diabetes.
Starting the day with an energy-boosting breakfast, having a medium-sized lunch and ending with a humble dinner might be the answer to weight loss, research finds.
The study shows that a high-energy breakfast, when added to the meal schedules of obese and type 2 diabetes patients, improves blood glucose levels, and boosts weight loss.
The results revealed that people who ate a high-energy breakfast lost 5 kg (11 pounds) but those in a comparison group put on 1.4 kg (3.1 pounds).
Professor Daniela Jakubowicz, the study’s first author, said:
“The hour of the day — when you eat and how frequently you eat — is more important than what you eat and how many calories you eat.
Our body metabolism changes throughout the day.
A slice of bread consumed at breakfast leads to a lower glucose response and is less fattening than an identical slice of bread consumed in the evening.”
Professor Jakubowicz and colleagues recruited a group of obese and diabetic patients who were on insulin therapy.
The participants were divided randomly into two groups to take the same number of daily calories but with two different diets.
The meal schedule for the first group was a large breakfast, an average lunch, and a light dinner for three months.
The total amount of daily calories was 1,600, in which breakfast made up 50 percent of this number, lunch 33 percent, and dinner 17 percent.
The other group had six meals designed for diabetes and weight loss, consisting of six meals which were distributed evenly during the day.
This group also consumed 1,600 kcal a day, but breakfast made up 20 percent of the proportion, lunch 25 percent, dinner 25 percent — plus they had three snacks, which each counted for 10 percent of total daily calories.
The study compared the impact of each diet plan on appetite, insulin level, weight loss, and concentration of glucose in the blood (overall glycemia) of participants.
After three months, the high-energy breakfast group lost 5 kg (11 pounds) but those who were in the the six-meal group put on 1.4 kg (3.1 pounds) more weight.
Overall, glucose levels in the first high-energy breakfast group decreased by 38 mg/dl but this was 17 mg/dl for the six-meal group.
The insulin dosage in the high-energy breakfast group reduced by 20.5 units per day, but the other group required 2.2 units per day more insulin.
Moreover, the hunger and cravings for carbs reduced a lot in the high-energy breakfast group, while it was the opposite for the other group.
Professor Jakubowicz, said:
“This study shows that, in obese insulin-treated type 2 diabetes patients, a diet with three meals per day, consisting of a big breakfast, average lunch and small dinner, had many rapid and positive effects compared to the traditional diet with six small meals evenly distributed throughout the day: better weight loss, less hunger and better diabetes control while using less insulin.”
The other improvement was a large decrease in overall glycemia within 2 weeks for the high-energy breakfast group.
This was only due to changes in meal timings, suggesting a correct meal schedule itself can positively affect blood sugar levels.
The study was presented at the Endocrine Society Annual Meeting 2018 in Chicago.
About the author
Mina Dean is a Nutritionist and Food Scientist. She holds a BSc in Human Nutrition and an MSc in Food Science.
The diet helps people control their blood sugar more effectively.
Going on a vegan diet accelerates weight loss and reduces harmful belly fat, new research suggests.
People following a plant-based, vegan diet for 16 weeks lost an average of over 12 pounds, including almost 9 pounds of fat mass and belly fat.
More fibre is the most critical element of the diet, researchers think.
Plant-based diets contain plenty of fibre which helps to boost healthy bacteria in the gut.
The study included 147 overweight people who were randomised to a vegan diet or no change for 16 weeks.
The results revealed that a vegan diet reduced weight significantly.
A vegan diet also helped people control their blood sugar more effectively.
The study’s authors write:
“A 16-week low-fat vegan dietary intervention induced changes in gut microbiota that were related to changes in weight, body composition and insulin sensitivity in overweight adults.”
The diet also increased the health of the gut.
People with a greater abundance of critical healthy bacteria in the gut lost more weight.
Bacteria that a vegan diet boosts include Faecalibacterium prausnitzii and Bacteroides fragilis.
The authors conclude:
“A plant-based diet has been shown to be effective in weight management, and in diabetes prevention and treatment.
We have demonstrated that a plant-based diet elicited changes in gut microbiome that were associated with weight loss, reduction in fat mass and visceral fat volume, and increase in insulin sensitivity.”
Fibre is the key to weight loss and a healthy gut, the authors write:
“The main shift in the gut microbiome composition was due to an increased relative content of short-chain fatty acid producing bacteria that feed on fibre.
Therefore, high dietary fibre content seems to be essential for the changes observed in our study.”
About the author Psychologist, Jeremy Dean, PhD is the founder and author of PsyBlog. He holds a doctorate in psychology from University College London and two other advanced degrees in psychology. He has been writing about scientific research on PsyBlog since 2004. He is also the author of the book “Making Habits, Breaking Habits” (Da Capo, 2003) .
The study was presented at the Annual Meeting of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes (EASD) in Barcelona, Spain (Kahleova et al., 2019).
People might change to a plant-based diet because of concerns about animal welfare, the environment or their own health.
But can you be truly healthy on a diet that excludes both meat and dairy?
The answer is a definite yes — but it takes some effort.
Dr Karl: G’day, Dr Karl here.
Way back in 1925, Donald Watson was just 14 years old and living with his family on a farm in Great Britain. One day, he saw a pig being slaughtered.
The pig was terrified and screaming.
This moved Donald so much that he stopped eating meat, and then eventually avoided dairy as well. A few decades later, in 1944 he invented the word “vegan” — by joining together the first and last syllables of the word “vegetarian”.
People sometimes wonder if you can be truly healthy on a diet that excludes both meat and dairy. The answer is definitely yes — but you have to understand your food much more deeply than the person living on meat-and-three-veg.
There are many reasons for changing to a plant-based diet. Some include concerns about animal suffering and cruelty, or about health, while other reasons relate to the environment.
From a health point-of-view, plant-based diets have been linked to lower risks of obesity and many chronic diseases, such as type II diabetes, heart disease, inflammation and cancer. And the evidence does link colorectal cancer with red and processed meats.
But these benefits don’t come without risk.
Clare Collins, Professor in Nutrition and Dietetics at the University of Newcastle, says there are four essential nutrients that have to be especially considered if you choose to go vegan. They are vitamin B12, iron, calcium and iodine. If you’re not eating meat or dairy products, you’ll struggle to get a decent supply of them.
Let’s start with vitamin B-12. It’s essential for making DNA, fatty acids, red blood cells and some neurotransmitters in the brain.
A deficiency of B12 can cause a fast heart rate, palpitations, bleeding gums, bowel or bladder changes, tiredness, weakness, and light-headedness — which doesn’t make for a healthy lifestyle.
Vitamin B12 is easily found in animal foods such as meat, milk and dairy products.
But vegans can get only traces of vitamin B12 in some algae and plants that have been exposed to bacteria contaminated by soil or insects, and in some mushrooms or fermented soybeans. So vegans really need to consume foods with vitamin B12 specifically added, like fortified non-dairy milks.
The second micronutrient, calcium, is essential for good bone health – as well as for proper function of the heart, muscles and nerves.
Calcium is abundant in milk and milk-based foods. Vegans can get calcium from tofu, some non-dairy milks with added calcium, as well as nuts, legumes, seeds and some breakfast cereals.
But both vegans and vegetarians usually need a higher calcium intake than meat eaters. That’s because vegetarians and vegans usually eat more plant foods containing chemicals that reduce the absorption of calcium into your body.
These chemicals include oxalic acid (found in spinach and beans) and phytic acid (found in soy, grains, nuts and some raw beans).
Surprisingly, vegans can also be deficient in iodine – which is essential for making thyroid hormones, and the developing central nervous system.
Vegans don’t eat the usual sources of iodine – seafood, dairy products and eggs — but they do eat seaweed, and foods that have added iodine such as salt, some breads, and some non-dairy milks.
So why would vegans be prone to iodine deficiency? Well swallowing iodine is only half the battle — like with calcium, some other foods can reduce your absorption of iodine. If you love your Brassicas – things like cabbage, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts — you’re also getting a dose of chemicals in these vegetables that can interfere with the production of the thyroid hormones.
And finally, we come to iron. Most people know that iron can be a problem on a vegetarian or vegan diet. Iron is essential to make the haemoglobin in your red blood cells, which carry oxygen around your body.
It is easy to get enough iron if you eat wholegrain cereals, meats, chicken and fish. And there is iron in some plants — but your body can’t absorb this type of iron as well as it absorbs iron from meat.
You can boost your absorption of plant iron (or ‘non-haem’ iron) by eating vegetables and fruit that are rich in vitamin C. Just don’t have a cuppa at the same time — tea contains chemicals that can reduce your absorption of plant iron even more!
I did say vegans need to understand food much more deeply than meat-eaters!
And if you’ve been a vegan for long time, the list of nutrients you need to keep an eye on gets longer. You also need to watch your vitamin D, omega-3 fats and protein intake.
Finally, vegans have to take even more care with their diet plans if they are pregnant or breastfeeding, or bringing up the children as vegans. In this case, it’s very worthwhile to get the advice of a professional dietician.
So it does take a bit of effort to get all your nutrients from a vegan diet. But take a look around – it’s not like eating meat and animal products is a sure-fire guarantee of healthy eating!
Presenter Dr Karl Kruszelnicki Producer Bernie Hobbs
The food signals the body to start burning fat and stop storing it.
Around 3 servings of yoghurt each day can double weight loss, research finds.
People in the study who ate yoghurt lost twice as much body fat as those that did not.
Yoghurt is rich in calcium, which is thought to aid weight loss.
Calcium signals the body to start burning fat and stop storing it.
Dieters taking calcium lost 81 percent more belly fat.
Belly fat is particularly dangerous, with strong links to heart disease, stroke and some types of cancer.
Professor Michael Zemel, the study’s first author, said:
“Not only did yogurt help the study participants lose more weight–the average weight loss was 13 pounds–they were about twice as effective at maintaining lean muscle mass.
This is a critical issue when dieting — you want to lose fat, not muscle.
Muscle helps burn calories, but it is often compromised during weight loss.”
The study included 34 obese people who were all put on a calorie-restricted diet.
Their diet was restricted by 500 calories each day.
Half of them were given 500mg of calcium per day as a supplement, while the other group were given 1,100mg plus three servings of low-fat yoghurt.
The results showed that those taking the higher dose of calcium lost 22 percent more weight, 61 percent more body fat and 81 percent more belly fat.
Professor Zemel said:
“The moral of the calcium story is to not dump dairy when you’re dieting.
Not only is it critical to keep your calcium levels high so you won’t lose bone density, it will also help you maintain your muscle mass and increase your fat loss.
A diet rich in low fat dairy foods, like yogurt, can help make your weight loss efforts easier.”
About the author Psychologist, Jeremy Dean, PhD is the founder and author of PsyBlog. He holds a doctorate in psychology from University College London and two other advanced degrees in psychology.
He has been writing about scientific research on PsyBlog since 2004. He is also the author of the book “Making Habits, Breaking Habits” (Da Capo, 2003) and several ebooks: Accept Yourself: How to feel a profound sense of warmth and self-compassion The Anxiety Plan: 42 Strategies For Worry, Phobias, OCD and Panic Spark: 17 Steps That Will Boost Your Motivation For Anything Activate: How To Find Joy Again By Changing What You Do
Some people believe that breakfast is the most important meal of the day and that eating breakfast increases weight loss. But is this true? And, if so, which are the best breakfast foods for weight loss?
There is little evidence to support the idea that eating breakfast can increase weight loss. Breakfast is just another meal. That said, eating breakfast can give a person energy for the day. This may reduce the risk of overeating and, in this way, support weight loss efforts.
This article explores the best breakfast foods to eat to aid weight loss. It also discusses breakfast options to suit vegetarian, vegan, and restricted diets. Read on to learn all there is to know about eating breakfast and losing weight.
Breakfast food tips
To get the most out of breakfast, it is best to eat nutrient dense foods. These foods offer more nutritional value per calorie, which may help a person feel fuller longer.
Here are some breakfast food tips that may support weight loss:
Eat fiber-rich foods
People who regularly eat fiber-rich breakfasts may have less visceral fat and inflammation.
People trying to lose weight may benefit from eating fiber-rich foods for breakfast and throughout the day.
A 2015 study found that diets rich in fiber helped people lose more weight and improved symptoms of metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome is a risk factor for diabetes.
Other studies link fiber to better health and more weight loss. For example, a 2012 study found that adolescents who ate more fiber had less visceral fat and less inflammation.
Eat more protein
Eating more protein for breakfast or at any other time of day may support weight loss.
Numerous studies link higher protein diets to more weight loss. A 2014 analysis suggests that protein may help people feel fuller, reducing overeating. People may also burn more calories when they eat protein.
Protein-rich foods are generally rich in other nutrients, allowing a person to get a wide range of nutrients without consuming lots of calories.
Avoid high calorie options
Try to avoid foods that are high in calories and low in nutrients. Reducing calorie intake at breakfast time and throughout the day may help a person lose weight.
To cut down on calories, avoid adding sugar to breakfast foods. A healthy oatmeal breakfast can become a sugar-laden, high calorie meal when a person adds lots of brown sugar. Select cereals that contain less sugar and avoid pancakes and pastries that contain lots of sugar.
Avoid sugary drinks
Be mindful of the role of drinks in calorie content. A glass of orange juice typically contains more than 100 calories but offers little nutritional value. Opt for eating the whole fruit rather than drinking juices.
Eat whole foods
Eating whole foods instead of processed foods may help a person lose weight. Try replacing white bread, pasta, and bagels with whole grain options.
Whole grain offers more nutritional value and may reduce the risk of some types of heart disease. Because whole grains are rich in fiber, they may support weight loss and reduce constipation.
Should you eat breakfast?
With interest in intermittent fasting increasing, some people are now opting to skip breakfast altogether. But does skipping breakfast support weight loss?
Not eating breakfast may support weight loss because it means a person goes longer without consuming calories, which may lead to a lower total calorie intake throughout the day.
However, skipping breakfast may not support weight loss for everyone. For some people, skipping breakfast leads to overeating at lunchtime. In this way, skipping breakfast may lead to higher overall calorie consumption, undermining weight loss.
Research around breakfast and weight loss is inconclusive. A 2019 BMJ meta-analysis and systematic review suggests that skipping breakfast may support weight loss. Examining 13 trials, researchers found that not eating breakfast offered modest decreases in weight.
However, the study’s authors also note that the data is not strong. Other factors might account for the difference. Scientists need to do more research to fully understand whether avoiding breakfast is an effective weight loss strategy.
Breakfast foods for vegans
Peanut butter on toast is a healthful breakfast choice for vegans trying to lose weight.
As for all people, it is essential for people who follow a vegan diet to consume sufficient protein. Consuming protein helps people to feel full, which may support weight loss.
Vegan breakfast foods may be a healthful option for anyone wanting to limit meat consumption or add variety to their diet. Also, eating more vegetables increases a person’s fiber and nutrient intake.
Many vegan breakfast options are rich in protein, fiber, and other nutrients. Here are some vegan breakfast foods to try:
vegan scramble (using tofu instead of eggs) and kale, broccoli, or spinach
peanut or almond butter on whole grain toast
oatmeal with blueberries, strawberries, or raspberries and an optional teaspoon of honey
whole grain cereal with soy or almond milk
avocado toast on whole wheat bread, seasoned with lemon juice and sea salt
vegan BLT made from soy bacon, lettuce, tomato, and whole grain buns
rolled oats with peanut butter
smoothie with avocado, banana, frozen berries, and a teaspoon of honey
Breakfast foods for vegetarians
Vegetarians can choose from a wide variety of delicious breakfast foods. Adding dairy products makes it easy to get plenty of protein to support weight loss.
A 2011 study compared the diet of vegetarians to nonvegetarians. Researchers found that vegetarian diets were more nutritionally dense. This may be because vegetarians eat more fruits and vegetables than meat eaters. The study’s authors also suggest that a vegetarian diet may support weight loss.
Here are some vegetarian breakfast ideas:
whole grain cereal with 1% milk
Greek yogurt with berries
plain vanilla yogurt with bananas
two slices of white cheddar cheese with a handful of mixed nuts
hard boiled egg sprinkled with salt
avocado with cottage cheese and hot sauce
poached eggs on whole grain toast
scrambled eggs with hot sauce instead of cheese or salt
Breakfast foods for meat eaters
While meat is high in many nutrients, it is also a high calorie food due to its fat content. Lean meats and poultry contain less fat and calories than red meats, so choosing these types of meat is a good option for meat eaters hoping to lose weight.
Reducing the amount of meat in each meal and replacing it with nutrient-rich, high fiber vegetables may also help.
The following meals can support healthy weight loss:
grilled chicken sandwich with lettuce on whole grain bread
Canadian bacon with yogurt or eggs
turkey sausage scramble with lots of vegetables
Breakfast for people with dietary restrictions
Having allergies or an underlying health condition need not affect a person’s enjoyment of breakfast. There are plenty of alternatives available.
Here are some breakfast options for people with dietary restrictions:
Many people have food allergies or sensitivities to lactose, nuts, and eggs, which many breakfast foods contain. Fortunately, there are many substitute options available:
Lactose intolerance: Lactose free milk and milk substitutes, such as almond milk, can be good options for people with lactose intolerance.
Nut allergies: Lentils, chia seeds, and quinoa can be healthful options for people with nut allergies.
Egg allergies: People who cannot eat eggs should consider lean meats, nut butter, and nuts instead.
For people with celiac disease or a gluten intolerance, finding breakfast options that do not contain gluten is essential.
Many food stores sell gluten free versions of common breakfast items, including:
Another gluten free breakfast idea involves serving high protein foods, such as eggs or lean meats, with wilted spinach and cooked tomatoes.
People with diabetes can eat hard boiled eggs for breakfast to manage their blood sugar levels.
People with diabetes must keep their blood sugar levels consistent. Skipping breakfast may not be healthful for people with diabetes, particularly if they take medication for their condition. People who take medication for their diabetes typically need to consume some carbohydrate to manage their blood sugar levels.
Here are some breakfast options for people with diabetes:
scrambled eggs with wilted spinach
hard boiled eggs
a handful of nuts
lean meats with spinach or kale
Breakfast habits can support weight loss but how this works varies from person to person. Eating breakfast may aid weight loss for some people as they stay fuller for longer, which prevents snacking during the day. For others, skipping breakfast supports weight loss because it leads them to consume fewer calories overall.
Losing weight requires a person to burn fewer calories than they eat. To sustain weight loss, a person must stick to a reduced calorie diet and pair this diet with more activity. To make sustainable dietary changes, it is vital that a person finds healthful foods they enjoy eating.
Highly restrictive diets are often difficult to follow. Instead, incorporate a few treats and find nourishing, low calorie foods that taste good. A dietitian or doctor can help a person develop the right meal plan for their needs
A frighteningly large portion of the calories and sugar North Americans eat comes from ultra-processed foods, which are tinkered with even more than regularly processed foods and may contribute to serious health issues like Type 2 diabetes, according to a new study.
Researchers from Tufts University and the University of Sao Paulo in Brazil found that ultra-processed foods are responsible for almost 60 percent of all the calories North Americans consume and about 90 percent of all added sugars they eat.
“The content of added sugars in ultra-processed foods was eightfold higher than in processed foods and fivefold higher than in unprocessed or minimally processed foods and processed culinary ingredients grouped together,” they write in the study published Wednesday in BMJ Open.
Added sugars should make up only about 10 percent of a person’s total caloric intake, the researchers note – however, they found that more than 80 percent of North Americans typically exceed this recommended limit.
Processed foods generally have added oils and salt. Ultra-processed foods are different because they’re enhanced with other additives, including colors, artificial flavoring and sweeteners, the study says.
Researchers say the top ultra-processed foods that North Americans consume are:
Cakes, cookies and pie
Soft drinks and fruit drinks
For the study, researchers conducted at-home interviews and health examinations with 9,317 people of all ages, who also provided them with information about what they ate for a 24-hour period. The researchers say their study is the first to examine the relationship between ultra-processed foods and sugar intake in the U.S.
Eating excess amounts of added sugars is “most likely” contributing to health issues such as obesity, high blood pressure and coronary heart disease, the study warns.
The best thing to do is to entirely cut out these foods from your diet, the researchers say. That may sound easier said than done – and maybe even impossible, especially when life gets really busy. One way to do this is to avoid replacing water, pasteurized fresh milk and freshly squeezed fruit juices by soft drinks or flavored fruit drinks, said Professor Carlos A. Monteiro, one of the study’s authors.
Preparing at least some fresh foods at home rather than buying a lot of packaged meals will help decrease sugar intake, Monteiro added. And when you do buy packaged foods, be sure to look at the ingredient labels – even items like deli meats often contain sugar.
Consumers don’t even want all this cloying sweetness. Manufacturers made the decision for them.
Consumers’ most common complaint about taste? “Too sweet.”
Americans tend to associate our health problems with sin. It’s hard to find a health story in the press that doesn’t blame greed and lack of willpower for our ongoing epidemics of obesity and diabetes as well as a recent upturn in the rate of heart disease. But the problems stem more from a greedy food industry than from any weakness in consumers. Our supermarket shelves are filled with items made with cheap ingredients, especially sugar and corn syrup, whether people want it or not.
A fascinating new study out of the Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia showed that among 400,000 food reviews on Amazon.com, the primary complaint was that food was too sweet. People used terms like “syrupy, overwhelmingly or cloyingly sweet,” said behavioral geneticist Danielle Reed, who led the research. She and her colleagues used a machine- learning program to sort through the thousands of reviews covering 67,553 products.
The finding was a surprise; she had designed the study to add to her body of work on the way people vary in the perception of bitterness. Genetic differences make some people much more sensitive to bitter tastes than others, and this can affect whether we love or hate vegetables such as broccoli and kale. She was surprised, she said, that on Amazon reviews, consumers rarely complained about bitterness, or saltiness for that matter. They complained about sweetness. Manufacturers may think they are sweetening things to suit a common taste, in which case they are getting it wrong – but the market is full of oversweetened foods, so the manufacturers mostly don’t lose customers to better-tasting competitors.
Or the problem may be that manufacturers are trying to use the cheapest possible ingredients in a way that consumers will still tolerate. Sugar is cheap, and corn syrup even cheaper. In his book “The Omnivore’s Dilemma,” author Michael Pollan recounts the way the introduction of corn syrup in the late 20th century tempted manufacturers add as much as possible to many processed foods and to lure consumers with giant sodas and other supersized products that felt like bargains but came with hidden costs. Later, the medical dogma that fat was deadly lead to an explosion of extremely sweet low-fat products as well.
However we got here, it’s clear that the empty calories are contributing to epidemics of obesity in the U.S. and elsewhere. The food police should rethink chastising consumers and turn their attention on the true culprits who are dishing it out.
By Faye Flam July 10, 2019
Faye Flam is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist.
She has written for the Economist, the New York Times, the Washington Post,
Psychology Today, Science and other publications.
She has a degree in geophysics from the California Institute of Technology.
Health often seems like a numbers game. What’s your blood-sugar level? How many calories are you eating? And are you getting the right percentage of macros (or macronutrients)? The problem is that sometimes we track, count and obsess over numbers that don’t matter very much for our overall health. Or worse, we ignore numbers that do matter.
I was curious about which numbers my fellow dietitians consider the most important. I sought feedback from 20 experts who work in either hospitals or private practice. Here are the data that have the most clinical importance, and the ones they tell their patients to ignore.
The numbers that matter most:
Half your plate. Instead of counting every calorie, dietitians recommend that clients simplify food decisions by using a plate model, where you choose the right proportions of each food. That means filling half your plate with vegetables and some fruit; one quarter with protein-rich foods such as fish, poultry or beans; and the final quarter with whole grains such as quinoa or brown rice. The Healthy Eating Plate from Harvard University is a great example of a plate model.
25 to 35 grams. That’s how much fibre a day we need for optimal health, but most Americans get just 16 grams per day. Getting enough fibre helps lower cholesterol and blood sugar levels, prevents certain cancers, eases constipation and keeps you feeling full for longer, which is helpful for weight management. Get more fibre from vegetables, fruit, beans, nuts, seeds and whole grains (or just follow the healthy-plate model, mentioned above).
7 to 8 hours. Are you getting that much sleep every night? Lack of sleep has short-term consequences, such as poor judgment, increased risk of accidents, bad moods and less ability to retain information. Poor sleep over the long term has been linked to an increased risk of obesity, Type 2 diabetes and heart disease. So, turn off the TV, power down your devices and get the rest your body needs.
150 minutes. That’s the recommendation for how much physical activity (equivalent to 2.5 hours) you should get each week, preferably spread through the week in increments of at least 10 minutes. This level of activity helps combat heart disease, stroke, Type 2 diabetes, obesity, dementia and cancer.
100 mg/dl. Your doctor can test your fasting plasma glucose level to check for Type 2 diabetes (a normal reading is less than 100 mg/dl). Often called a “lifestyle” disease, Type 2 diabetes is largely preventable by eating well and getting enough exercise. If you have diabetes, lifestyle changes can actually help you reverse the diagnosis — but first you need to know your number. A diagnosis of prediabetes is 100 to 125 mg/dl., and a diagnosis of diabetes is 126 mg/dl. or higher.
120/80 mmHg. High blood pressure is known as the silent killer because it often has no obvious symptoms. Left untreated, high blood pressure is a risk factor for having a heart attack or a stroke. That’s why you need to get your blood pressure checked and know whether you are at risk. Normal blood pressure is 120/80 mmHg (millimetres of mercury) or less. Elevated blood pressure is 121 to 129 over 80. High blood pressure is 130 to 139 over 80 to 89.
The numbers that don’t matter very much:
Size 8. Too many people have a diet goal to be a specific size, but the numbers on clothes are inconsistent and arbitrary. A size 4 at one store may fit like a size 8 at a different store, which makes shopping frustrating — and makes your pant or shirt size a very poor measure of your health. If you don’t like the number on your pants, cut the label out. Focus on how you feel, not the number on the clothing tag.
50 years old. Or 86. Or 31, 75 or 27. Age is just a number. You are never too young to need to take care of yourself, or too old to start an exercise program or change what you eat. A healthy lifestyle is important at every age.
1,800 calories. Or whatever number you choose. You don’t need to count every calorie you eat — it’s tedious, often flawed, and it doesn’t help you choose nutrient-dense foods. If you had the choice between 100 calories of broccoli or fries, you’d probably choose the fries, right? But that wouldn’t provide much nourishment and oversimplifies eating into one silly number. If you are a lifelong calorie counter, there’s no need to give it up, but remember that it’s not the most vital number for your overall health.
40-30-30. Or any other ratio of macronutrients, the umbrella term for carbs, protein and fat. Keeping track of macros is a popular diet, and if it works for you, fantastic! But some dietitians warn that it’s difficult to know the precise macro content of every food you eat, which leads to obsessive use of food diaries and macro-counting apps. This promotes a dieting mentality, rather the concept of enjoying food from a balanced plate. There’s nothing magical about counting macros. It’s just a diet.
Below 25. The body mass index (BMI) is a clinical tool that groups people in categories of normal weight, overweight or obese depending on their height and weight. But BMI doesn’t take age, gender or bone structure into account, and athletes are often classified as overweight because BMI doesn’t distinguish between muscle and fat! So, don’t rely on this number as your primary measure of health.
By CARA ROSENBLOOM The Washington Post Thu., July 5, 2018
Big changes like cutting out all carbs or training for a marathon are great—but you don’t have to remake yourself to have a dramatic impact on your health. Try a few of these baby steps to get you started in the right direction.
Add a fruit or veggie to every meal
Not ready to give up a bad habit yet? Start by creating an easy good-for-you habit instead. “Less than one in three individuals gets even two servings of fruits and vegetables per day,” says Erin Palinski-Wade, RD, CDE, LDN, CPT, author of 2 Day Diabetes Diet. “By adding one serving to each meal, you can get in at least three servings per day and be ahead of the curve. A half of a banana on your breakfast cereal, a small side salad with your sandwich at lunch, and adding 1/2 cup of cooked veggies into your pasta can pack in more fiber, antioxidants, and nutrients—all which have been found to reduce the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and even certain cancers.”
Work on your hips
“If you have a sedentary job, focus on some hip opening exercises to start and end your day,” suggests trainer Jonathan Hertilus, ACE, owner of BFF Bootcamp in Nutley, NJ. “For instance,” says Hertilus, “hip bridges can be done anywhere—even in bed—as soon as you wake up or right before you go to sleep.” Just a few minutes of hip exercises can do wonders to keep your back and core muscles engaged.
Lose a little weight
Setting a goal to lose 40 pounds or more to get out of the “overweight” category can be daunting. So aim for smaller, more attainable goals, which can make a big difference in your overall health. “Small steps can be very powerful,” says Jill Crandall, MD, professor of endocrinology at Albert Einstein College of Medicine and an attending physician at Montefiore Health System.” For people who are at increased risk for type 2 diabetes, which includes many adults who are overweight and have a family history of diabetes, modest changes can reduce the risk of developing diabetes by over 50 percent.” Dr. Crandall suggests focusing on losing about 7 percent of your overall weight—or about 15 pounds for a 200-pound person.
Lighten your load
Cleaning out your purse or backpack could go a long way toward preventing neck, back, and shoulder pain. When you are carrying things, balance your load, and avoid backpacks or purses with more than 10 percent of your body weight,” suggests Robert Hayden, DC, PhD, a chiropractor in Griffin, Georgia.
Be careful with condiments
You might want to take a second to consider before you slather your next salad in ranch dressing. “Ketchup, barbecue sauce, mayo, and salad dressings can all be a major source of calories, sodium, fat, and added sugar,” says Palinski-Wade. “Opt for condiments on the side, rather than on your meal and read those labels!”
Skimp on the sugar—and pump up your probiotics
More and more studies show that sugar wreaks havoc on your health, including slowing your metabolism, impairing brain function, and increasing your risk of heart disease and cancer. But there are other health issues you can keep at bay with a little less sugar and a little more healthy bacteria. “Decreasing intake of sugar and processed food as well as taking probiotics can help decrease yeast infections,” says Jessica Shepherd, MD, MBA, OB/GYN, director of minimally invasive gynecology at University of Illinois at Chicago.
Straighten up your sleep habits
A bad sleep posture could make for more aches and pains when you’re awake. “Most of us don’t really think much about posture while we are asleep—but really, posture while you are asleep is at least as important as when you are awake because the muscles that protect your joints are quite loose while you are asleep,” says Dr. Hayden. “I recommend sleeping in a side posture whenever possible. Make sure your pillow is firm and just high enough to keep your head level with the mattress so that your head is neither pushed up nor down. Use a body pillow to hug, throwing your upper arm and upper knee over the pillow so that the pillow supports the weight of the extremities while you are asleep. This prevents you from inducing torque into the lumbar spine and offloads the weight of the upper extremity from the structures at the base of the neck. This simple approach to rest keeps your body straight and as stress free as possible while you catch those zzzs.”
Drink half your weight in water
We should all be drinking more water, but the old saw about eight glasses of eight ounces of water doesn’t work for everybody. The better formula? “Take your weight in pounds and divide by two, and you will get the number of ounces of water you should drink every day,” says Mitzi Dulan, RD, founder of simplyFUEL. “Start your day with a big glass of ice water. Ice cold water can boost your metabolism slightly because it takes energy for your body to get it to room temperature—drink six glasses of 16 ounces of cold water and burn an extra 100 calories per day.”
Stop the midnight snacking
“Avoid eating after 8 p.m.,” says Dulan. “Often times, late-night eating is really boredom eating. This helps your body focus on burning the fat during the night instead of trying to work to digest the food you just ate before nodding off.”
Shut off your electronics an hour before bedtime
Those last hours before bed may seem like the perfect time to catch up on some work or binge watch a little of your favorite show, but experts say that the light emanating from your screens could be disrupting your sleep. That wavelength of light disrupts melatonin production, and tricks your body into thinking it’s daylight, according to Mark Buchfuhrer, MD, medical director of the Comprehensive Sleep Center at Good Samaritan Hospital in Los Angeles. The fix? Skip the screens and tuck into a good book, do relaxed stretching, or find another way to unwind in the last hour before your bedtime.
Trade refined carbs for whole grains
“Most people eat plenty of grains, but most Americans consume only one serving of whole grains per day,” says Palinski-Wade. “By swapping out a few refined grains for whole grains, you may reduce your waist circumference and reduce the risk of heart disease and diabetes. If you use white bread for a sandwich, switch to rye. If you like rice, opt for brown rice over white rice. A simple switch can add up significantly.”
Take breaks when you’re traveling
Whether you travel by car or plane, taking frequent breaks to walk and stretch is essential. When flying by air, it can reduce your risk of developing a dangerous blood clot in your leg, called a deep vein thrombosis. “I coach our patients who are driving long-distance to get out of the vehicle periodically and walk around it a few laps,” Dr. Hayden says. “Find a bumper that is the right height to put one foot on it. Step back about two feet, square the pelvis, and lean toward the foot that is on the bumper. This has the effect of a hurdler’s stretch, and it will help stretch those gluteals on which you have been sitting as well as the quadriceps and many of the extensor muscles in the back. Always stretch both sides—if you leave one side tight, you may find yourself walking in circles!”
Cut down on the cocktails
Those studies that show red wine’s positive health benefits may encourage us to raise a few more glasses, but there are really good reasons to limit your alcohol intake, including increased risk of high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels, and obesity. Cutting back on the booze can decrease the risk of many different kinds of cancer, including breast cancer, according to Dr. Shepherd. For women, one drink a day seems to be the healthy max, while men can have two.
“Everyone asks me to recommend one exercise that everyone can do to improve their overall health,” says Pat McGuinness, personal trainer at the MAX Challenge in Montclair, NJ, and regional director of programming for New York Sports Clubs. “My answer is always squats! Everyone can do them—modifications are easy—and leg muscles make up more than 60 percent of our total body composition, which means you get more bang for your buck!”
Walk for five minutes every hour at work
Studies have shown that a sedentary lifestyle can wreak havoc on your health. If you can’t get a standing desk to help you limit your time on your seat, make sure you take a five-minute walk break every hour. That can help you minimize the impact of sitting on your health, and ensure you get even more than the doctor-recommended 150 minutes of exercise per week. That can help you reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes, according to Dr. Crandall.
Swap soda for fruit-spiked water
Whether it’s diet or sugar-filled, study after study shows that soda isn’t the best beverage—unless you want to gain weight, increase your risk of developing diabetes, cancer, or heart disease, and reduce your bone density. But you don’t have to sacrifice flavor if you give up your soda. “Infuse water with fruit for a tasty alternative that’s sure to impress and refresh,” says McGuinness.
Health benefits of kimchi include an improved heart health and a healthy digestive system. The wealth  of antioxidants in it exercise healing effects in medical conditions like cancer, diabetes, obesity, atopic dermatitis, and gastric ulcers. This flavonoid and probiotic-rich food delays aging, regulates cholesterol levels, and boosts the immune system.
Nutritional Value Of Kimchi
Kimchi is a low-calorie, high fiber, and nutrient-packed  side dish. It is a storehouse of a range of vitamins such as vitamin A, vitamin B1, vitamin B2, and vitamin C. It is also rich in essential amino acids and minerals such as iron, calcium, and selenium. It has an impressive assortment of powerful antioxidants and provides an additional benefit of probiotics as well in the form of lactobacillus bacteria. It contains numerous helpful components including capsaicin, chlorophyll, carotenoids, flavonoids, and isothiocyanates and has a low amount of fat and sugar.
Health Benefits Of Kimchi
The delectable taste of kimchi, which has been admired globally comes with a super bonus of health benefits attributing to a range of qualitative evidence supported by several pieces of research. The major health benefits have been discussed below.
Kimchi is an excellent food to promote  digestion. It is a source of probiotics attributing to the process of fermentation involved in its preparation. The process of fermentation not only enhances the taste but also creates healthy bacteria, Lactobacillus, which is required by the body to keep a healthy state of intestinal flora. It is made from  cabbage which is already well known for its detoxification qualities and helps the body in getting rid of the wastes and toxins. It aids in cleaning up the intestines and stimulates better assimilation of nutrients in the body. Fiber content present in kimchi also assists in stabilizing the bowel movements and prevents constipation.kimchi
Regular consumption  of kimchi has a beneficial effect on the levels of cholesterol. Garlic, which is used to prepare it is rich in selenium and allicin. Allicin is an eminent component which helps in lowering the cholesterol levels, thereby, reducing the risk of developing cardiac disorders such as strokes and heart attacks. Selenium also exerts a protective effect on the artery walls by preventing the build-up of plaque and decreasing the threat of atherosclerosis. An investigative study  has advocated that fermented kimchi helps in lowering the total cholesterol and LDL (bad) cholesterol along with the concentration of blood glucose in the body.
Kimchi varieties are rich in powerful antioxidants which are natural scavengers. These antioxidants along with phenols and flavonoids present in it exert a protective effect against oxidative damage and shield the body from the harmful effects of oxygen free radicals.
Treats Atopic Dermatitis
The presence of lactobacillus bacteria in kimchi makes it a multi-talented condiment. It extends its therapeutic effects on various skin ailments such as atopic dermatitis which is characterized by increased levels of immunoglobulin E and skin lesions such as edema and hemorrhage. A study  conducted in this regard has shown that healthy bacteria present in fermented kimchi exerts suppressive effects on mite-induced dermatitis and helps in reducing inflammation.
Kimchi is a source of healthy lactobacillus bacteria which the body utilizes for its healthy functioning. This good bacterium also assists in weight loss by controlling the appetite and reducing the blood sugar levels. The fiber content present in it keeps your body full and your hunger satisfied for a longer duration preventing you from overeating. A study  conducted on obese patients has validated the favorable effects of fermented kimchi on the body with respect to body mass index (BMI) and body fat, which helps in reducing the development of factors implicated in metabolic syndrome.
Boosts Immune System
The multi-nutrient packed kimchi is rich in a range of flavonoids and phenolic components. The variety of ingredients including ginger, garlic, and peppers involved in the preparation of kimchee are super protectors which are renowned for their beneficial effect on the immune system. They help in fighting infections and are valuable in curing cold and flu symptoms.
Another valuable benefit provided by kimchi is its anti-aging qualities, which can be attributed to the presence of antioxidants and vitamin C. A study  evaluating the anti-aging activity of kimchee has revealed that it helps in regulating and attenuating the inflammation that speeds up the aging process. The same study also showed promising results with regard to factors like reduced oxidative stress in the cells, inhibition of lipid peroxidation and extended lifespan in the subjects, making kimchi a potent anti-aging component.
Kimchi is a valuable food which helps in reducing the risk of development of various cancers. A study  performed on its samples has validated its anti-cancer properties. Cabbage present in it contains healthy flavonoids which are known to inhibit the growth of cancer cells. Other powerful cancer fighters present in cruciferous vegetables such as cabbage are glucosinolates. Glucosinolates break down to form isothiocyanates which are well-known for their effectiveness against cancerous cell growth.
A study  conducted on high-fat-diet-fed type-2 diabetics who were given kimchi revealed the anti-diabetic properties of this Korean delicacy. The study showed better glucose tolerance and lower levels of fasting glucose after eating a kimchi-containing diet in the diabetics. It also suggested that this Korean delicacy can prove more useful in diabetes if it is eaten with a normal or low-fat diet instead of high-fat food.
Reduces Gastric Ulcers
Kimchee exerts therapeutic  effects in gastritis and peptic ulcer disease caused by Helicobacter pylori bacteria. A study conducted in this regard has shown that the antagonistic activity of kimchi attributes to the abundance of Lactobacillus bacteria which inhibit the harmful pathogens from connecting to the human gastric cancer cells.
Kimchi is prepared and enjoyed in many varieties. It makes an excellent side dish or pre-meal appetizer. It can also be added to soups, stews or rice dishes. Kimchee serves deliciously well even as a topping on sandwiches or with pancakes.
Various studies  have proven the effectiveness of kimchi in curing avian influenza or bird flu virus and many other viral diseases affecting the poultry.
How To Prepare Kimchi?
Kimchi can be prepared in different ways depending on one’s taste and preference. There are many types available which are made using vegetables including Chinese cabbage, leek, scallion, radish, cucumber, ginseng, garlic, cayenne peppers, and Indian mustard leaves. These vegetables are mixed with desired spices and seasonings and kept for fermentation for specified days under favorable conditions.
Side Effects Of Kimchi
Digestive Health: Excess consumption of kimchi can lead to digestive problems. Research  conducted in this regard has suggested that too much of it may aggravate the risk of developing gastric cancer. Due to fermentation, kimchi is abundant in fiber which may cause gas and bloating issues in susceptible individuals. It is advisable, to begin with adding small quantities of kimchi in the diet in order to assess its effects.
Cardiac Functions & High Blood Pressure: Individuals suffering from high blood pressure should be cautious while eating kimchi because of the presence of high salt concentration, which gets further accentuated during the fermentation process. However, a study  conducted on hypertensive subjects revealed that even under the conditions of hypertension, eating low-sodium kimchi may not exert harmful effects on the blood pressure and cardiac activities. It is always advisable to consult a medical professional before considering it for therapeutic usage.
Kimchi possesses  anti-mutagenic, anti-bacterial, and anti-carcinogenic properties. The American health magazine  has ranked it among the world’s five healthiest foods. The wealth of strong antioxidants and healthy bacteria in kimchi encourages the production of collagen which aids in improving skin elasticity, delaying skin aging, and promoting healthy and youthful skin. Lactobacillus bacteria present in it is valuable for yeast infections. It combats nutrient depletion, builds stamina, and serves as a delicious and nutritious condiment.
New study out of the journal Nitric Oxide links mouthwash use to diabetes.
It sounds like one of those spurious correlations that show up whenever you sift through large piles of data, such as the supposed link between cheese consumption and death from bedsheet strangulation.
But the results of a new epidemiological study linking mouthwash use and diabetes risk are – to all appearances, at least – a real effect, with fascinating implications for our understanding of the complex links between health, athletic performance and the trillions of bacterial cells that inhabit our bodies. A cleaner mouth, it turns out, isn’t always better.
The new study, which appears in the December issue of the journal Nitric Oxide, analyzes data from a longitudinal study of 945 adults in Puerto Rico who were followed over a period of three years. Just less than half of the participants reported using mouthwash regularly, and those who gargled at least twice a day were roughly 50-per-cent more likely to develop prediabetes or diabetes than those who used it less frequently or not at all.
“Most over-the-counter mouthwashes contain antibacterial ingredients,” explains Dr. Kaumudi Joshipura, an epidemiologist at the University of Puerto Rico and Harvard University who led the study, “which could destroy or inhibit oral microbes, some of which may be beneficial for metabolic health.”
This is an idea that’s already familiar to elite endurance athletes. Over the past decade, beet juice has emerged as a powerful and ubiquitous performance enhancer, because it enables muscles to consume less oxygen during exercise. The key component of beet juice is nitrate, which is converted by bacteria in the mouth to nitrite, which is in turn converted to nitric oxide, a powerful signalling molecule with wide-ranging beneficial effects in the body.
Earlier studies had already shown that mouthwash, by killing the bacteria that convert nitrate to nitrite, breaks this chain reaction and negates the immediate performance benefits of beet juice. It also wipes out acute gains in blood pressure and insulin sensitivity. But the new Puerto Rican study is the first to extend these findings to chronic health effects measured outside the laboratory. Since nitric oxide plays a role in determining how muscles use glucose, Joshipura hypothesizes that it is loss of oral bacteria that convert nitrate to nitrite that leads to higher diabetes risk in heavy mouthwash users.
It’s tempting, then, to wonder how we can nurture the “good” nitrate-converting bacteria while suppressing the “bad” oral bacteria that contribute to gum disease, bad breath and tooth decay. But it’s not that simple, says Dr. Anni Vanhatalo, an exercise physiology researcher at the University of Exeter in Britain who studies dietary nitrate but wasn’t involved in the new study.
“It’s about a balance,” she says. “We have around 700 species of bacteria in our mouths, most or all of which have the potential to be pathogenic in large numbers. In that sense there are no ‘good’ or ‘bad’ bacteria.”
That’s similar to our emerging understanding of the complexity of gut bacteria, where greater diversity, rather than any particular superbug, is associated with better health. And chronic mouthwash use, Vanhatalo says, can be likened to the effect of antibiotics on gut bacteria. “Few would contemplate going on antibiotics permanently,” she says, “while more than 20 per cent of Americans use mouthwash daily.”
Where is the ideal balance? Vanhatalo suggests that brushing your teeth with toothpaste twice a day is about right. Joshipura notes that the people in her study who reported using mouthwash just once a day didn’t have any elevated risk of prediabetes or diabetes, but adds that further evidence is needed to make recommendations.
“People with specific oral conditions may need to use mouthwash as prescribed, usually for short duration,” Joshipura says. “However, we are concerned that mouthwash is often used routinely long-term in the absence of specific oral needs, without awareness of potential long-term effects.”
Finally, if all this sounds a little gloomy, it’s worth concluding on a more positive note. The negative effects of blocking nitrate conversion are, in a way, a reminder of all the benefits you can get from nitrate-rich foods – in addition to beets, leafy greens like arugula and spinach are very high in nitrates, as are rhubarb and celery – if you don’t block them.
Alex Hutchinson’s new book, Endure: Mind, Body, and the Curiously Elastic Limits of Human Performance, will be published in February. Follow him on Twitter @sweatscience.
ALEX HUTCHINSON SPECIAL TO THE GLOBE AND MAIL JANUARY 14, 2018