Past Week in Nutrition Science (April 22nd–29th)

This is an overview of interesting nutrition research published from Friday, April 22nd, to Friday, April 29th, 2016.

Older Chef with Veggies

Research Reviews

This week, we reviewed two studies. One was about the association between antibiotics and weight gain in children, while the other examined how early weight loss predicts later success.

Review: Antibiotics May Promote Weight Gain In Children.

Article: Antibiotic use and childhood body mass index trajectory.

Summary: This observational study examined the association between antibiotic use in children and the risk of weight gain and obesity.

The study suggested that taking antibiotics may increase the risk of weight gain throughout childhood and adolescence.

Review: Early Weight Loss Predicts Long-Term Success.

Article: Can early weight loss, eating behaviors and socioeconomic factors predict successful weight loss at 12- and 24-months in adolescents with obesity and insulin resistance participating in a randomized controlled trial?

Summary: This observational study examined the association between weight loss success and early weight loss, socioeconomic factors and eating behavior.

It suggested early weight loss predicts weight loss success later on. It also showed that dysfunctional eating, low family income and coming from a broken family makes children less likely to successfully lose weight.

New Research From Around the World

Lots of new papers came to our attention this week. Here are summaries of the most interesting or relevant studies, categorized by subject.

  1. Metabolic Syndrome
  2. Blood Sugar Control and Diabetes
  3. Heart Health
  4. Cancer
  5. Brain and Mental Health
  6. Lung Health
  7. Digestive Health
  8. Muscles and Physical Performance
  9. Pain
  10. Pregnancy and Infant Health
  11. Vitamins, Minerals and Other Nutrients

1. Metabolic Syndrome

Effects of dietary polyphenols on metabolic syndrome features in humans: a systematic review.

Polyphenols are a large group of antioxidants found in most plant-derived foods. A high intake of polyphenol-rich foods has been linked with a variety of health benefits.

This systematic review concluded that a high dietary intake of certain polyphenols may fight components of metabolic syndrome — obesity, poor blood lipid profile, high blood pressure and elevated blood sugar levels.

2. Blood Sugar Control and Diabetes

Fructose acute effects on glucose, insulin, and triglyceride after a solid meal compared with sucralose and sucrose in a randomized crossover study.

This randomized crossover trial examined the effects of fructose on circulating levels of glucose (blood sugar), insulin and triglycerides. For comparison, it also examined the effects of sucralose and sucrose.

The study showed that eating 52 grams of fructose had no effects on triglycerides, compared to 65 grams of sucrose or 0.1 grams of sucralose. However, fructose caused a significantly lower increase in blood sugar and insulin.

3. Heart Health

Associations of serum n-3 and n-6 PUFA and hair mercury with the risk of incident stroke in men: the Kuopio Ischaemic Heart Disease Risk Factor Study (KIHD).

Omega-3 fatty acids, such as EPA and DHA, have been linked with a lower risk of heart disease. Oily fish is a major source of EPA and DHA, but may also be high in mercury, which has been associated with a higher risk of heart disease.

This observational study found that levels of mercury in hair and circulating levels of EPA and DHA were not associated with stroke. However, when mercury levels were above the median, EPA and DHA levels were linked with an increased risk of stroke.

Body-Mass Index in 2.3 Million Adolescents and Cardiovascular Death in Adulthood.

This observational study in 2.3 million Israeli adolescents examined the association between body mass index (BMI) and death from heart disease or other causes.

It found that individuals in the 50th to 74th percentiles of BMI, but within the normal range, were at a higher risk of death from heart disease or all causes during the following 40 years. Being overweight or obese was also linked with risk of death.

The effect of drinking water salinity on blood pressure in young adults of coastal Bangladesh.

This observational study of young Bangladeshi adults linked elevated drinking water salinity to high blood pressure, which is a risk factor for heart disease. When salinity was above 600 mg/L, blood pressure increased by an average of 3 mmHg.

Sugar-sweetened Carbonated Beverage Consumption and Coronary Artery Calcification in Asymptomatic Men and Women.

Atherosclerosis, characterized by the hardening and narrowing of arteries, is a common cause of heart attacks and strokes.

This observational study suggests that a high intake of sugar-sweetened, carbonated beverages may increase the risk of atherosclerosis.

4. Cancer

G. lucidum (Reishi mushroom) for cancer treatment.

The reishi mushroom has been used in Chinese medicine for thousands of years, and test-tube studies suggest it may suppress cancer.

This Cochrane review concluded that supplementing with reishi mushroom extract, alongside a conventional cancer therapy, makes people 1.27 times more likely to respond well to therapy. However, it does not have any effects on its own.

5. Brain and Mental Health

Omega-3 fatty acids for the treatment of dementia.

Omega-3 fatty acids are believed to benefit brain function, potentially improving or delaying dementia.

This Cochrane review concluded that supplementing with omega-3 fats for 6 months had no effects on mental health, cognition, everyday functioning or quality of life in people with moderate Alzheimer’s disease.

6. Lung Health

Urinary Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbon Metabolites and Altered Lung Function in Wuhan, China.

Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) are dietary contaminants formed in cooked foods, such as meat cooked at high temperatures. The breakdown products (metabolites) of PAHs in the body may promote cancer.

However, this observational study suggests that certain PAH metabolites may impair lung function.

7. Digestive Health

β 2-1 Fructan supplementation alters host immune responses in a manner consistent with increased exposure to microbial components: results from a double-blinded, randomised, cross-over study in healthy adults.

Inulin is a soluble fiber that’s sold as a supplement and naturally found in bananas, artichokes, onions, garlic and more. As a prebiotic fiber, it may promote the growth of beneficial bifidobacteria in the colon.

This randomized crossover study showed that supplementing with 15 grams of inulin per day, for 28 days, increased fecal counts of bifidobacteria and levels of short-chain fatty acids. It also increased the levels of lipopolysaccharides.

A prospective cohort study on the association between coffee drinking and risk of non-gallstone-related acute pancreatitis.

Acute pancreatitis (AP) is when the pancreas suddenly becomes inflamed. Severe AP is a serious condition with a high risk of death.

This large observational study in Swedish men and women found no significant association between coffee consumption and non-gallstone-related AP.

8. Muscles and Physical Performance

Intake of Protein Plus Carbohydrate during the First Two Hours after Exhaustive Cycling Improves Performance the following Day.

This randomized controlled trial examined the effects of supplementing with protein and carbs or carbs only on endurance performance in trained cyclists.

Protein and carbs increased endurance the following day, compared to carbs alone.

Compromised Vitamin D Status Negatively Affects Muscular Strength and Power of Collegiate Athletes.

Growing evidence suggests that low levels of vitamin D may impair muscle function.

This observational study is consistent with earlier studies, suggesting that vitamin D insufficiency or deficiency may reduce muscle power.

Ramadan fasting does not adversely affect neuromuscular performances and reaction times in trained karate athletes.

In the Islamic calendar, Ramadan is a month of fasting. It is a type of intermittent fasting characterized by total fasting (no drink or food) from sunrise to sunset.

This study suggests that Ramadan fasting has no adverse effects on muscular function, fatigue or reaction times in elite karate athletes.

9. Pain

Lower Sodium Intake and Risk of Headaches: Results From the Trial of Nonpharmacologic Interventions in the Elderly.

This randomized controlled trial in 975 elderly people with elevated blood pressure showed that eating less dietary sodium significantly decreased the risk of headaches.

10. Pregnancy and Infant Health

Prevalence of vitamin B-12 insufficiency during pregnancy and its effect on offspring birth weight: a systematic review.

This review of observational studies examined the association between vitamin B-12 deficiency during pregnancy and the child’s birth weight.

It indicates that vitamin B12 deficiency or insufficiency is common during pregnancy, but vitamin B12 levels were not consistently associated with birth weight.

Maternal vitamin D concentrations during pregnancy, fetal growth patterns, and risks of adverse birth outcomes.

This observational study found that pregnant women low in vitamin D had a higher risk of a preterm birth or having children with a low birth weight.

11. Vitamins, Minerals and Other Nutrients

Iron supplementation taken daily for improving health in menstruating women.

This Cochrane review concluded that supplementing with iron for at least 5 days a week may reduce the risk of anemia and iron deficiency in menstruating women.

It may also improve iron stores and exercise performance, while reducing fatigue. Yet supplements may also increase the risk of constipation and abdominal pain.


Author: bryan nettles