Sunday, January 21, 2018

Health implications of a vegetarian diet: A review.



            Vegetarianism can help reduce the risk of CVD by 24% and the lowered risk is more common for those who have followed the diet for five years or longer and started practicing a vegetarian diet at a younger age. The risks for CVD is lower due to the lower levels of LDL cholesterol in vegetarians, as well as lower BMI’s and a low blood pressure which results in reduced risk for hypertension. It was also found that whole grain consumption is associated with lower incidence of cardiac disease in addition to legumes having an impact on cardiovascular health, although whole grains have a more positive impact than legumes. The higher intake of fruits and vegetables that is assumed with vegetarianism helps to protect against CVD as well because they provide phytochemicals, antioxidants and fiber to the diet. Nuts also protect against CVD by shielding against inflammation and the oxidation of lipids while providing various vitamins and minerals high in antioxidants. People who practice a vegetarian diet are also at a decreased risk for high blood pressure. With this diet, systolic and diastolic blood pressures are lower. People who practice vegetarianism in some form are also 75% less likely to be treated for hypertension. BG.

Marsh, K., Zeuschner, C., & Saunders, A. (2012). Health implications of a vegetarian diet: A review. American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine6(3), 250-267.

Micronutrient Status in Female University Students: Iron, Zinc, Copper, Selenium, Vitamin B12 and Folate.



            During this study, 308 female students were tested, with the ages ranging from 18-35 years old, which were of childbearing age or menstruating women, this group had a mean age of 22 years old. This study did not include any pregnant women, breastfeeding women, women with eating disorders or who are an elite athlete. The participants were also not allowed to be taking a supplement or vitamin. The mean BMI of the group was 21.5, with 78% of the individuals being at a healthy weight for their age and height and about 20% of the individuals being either overweight or underweight while a small percentage of them were obese.
The females that participated were recruited through internet advertisements, flyers and through word of mouth. They study collected data from the women that included their anthropometrics, behaviors, and basic characteristics. They also took blood to be analyzed for many biomarkers, including iron, B-12, zinc, folate, selenium, copper and homocysteine. The blood tests were taken when the women were at a fasted state which lasted from 10-12 hours. Iron was the main micronutrient wanting to be looked at due to the high prevalence of iron-deficiency anemia in younger women. It was found that 43.9% of individuals had some type of anemia, including iron-deficiency anemia.
The blood was analyzed through software at a hospital called SPSS software. The main finding was that low iron status was prominent in younger women which was seen through the low serum ferritin levels in 33.9% of the women, but the study did disclose that the data could be skewed due to the inability they had to determine inflammation markers, which could cause the blood tests to be different from these results. BG.     
Fayet-Moore, F., Petocz, P., & Samman, S. (2014). Micronutrient Status in Female University Students: Iron, Zinc, Copper, Selenium, Vitamin B12 and Folate. Nutrients, 6(11), 5103–5116. http://doi.org/10.3390/nu6115103

Metabolic profiles of male meat eaters, fish eaters, vegetarians, and vegans from the EPIC-Oxford cohort.



The hypothesis of this study was that men who ate a meat-free diet will have a different metabolic profile then the men who ate meat. This study looks at amino acid intake, metabolites, fat, protein and carbohydrates in males who ate a meat-based diet, fish-based diet, vegetarian diet and a vegan diet. They tested 379 men through a food frequency questionnaire, lifestyle questions, body size questions, previous diseases and blood samples. Through these questions it was found that these men ate between 800-4000 calories a day and none of the men disclosed any diseases through their questionnaires. It was also found that vegan men had the most differences, metabolically, when looking at all other men in this study.
Each diet group had over 90 men in it: there were 95 men who included meat in their diet, 97 who ate a fish-based diet, 91 who were vegetarians and 96 who were vegans. Each questionnaire had 130 food and drink based questions, while 113 of these questions were vegan or vegetarian friendly. They also took alcohol and tobacco (in cigarette form) in to account when conducting this study. In the results it shows that the highest BMI was seen in meat eaters and then in descending order: fish eaters and vegetarians. Vegans had the lowest BMI collectively. Meat eaters had the highest amount of energy intake and then vegetarians, fish eaters and vegans being the ones who consume the least amount of energy. Vegans had the highest intake of carbohydrates, while meat eaters had the lowest intake of this macronutrient. Fat intake varied greatly but alcohol intake was most prevalent in fish eaters. BG.
Schmidt, J. A., Rinaldi, S., Ferrari, P., Carayol, M., Achaintre, D., Scalbert, A., & ... Travis, R. C. (2015). Metabolic profiles of male meat eaters, fish eaters, vegetarians, and vegans from the EPIC-Oxford cohort. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 102(6), 1518-1526. doi:10.3945/ajcn.115.111989

Estimation of dietary iron bioavailability from food iron intake and iron status.



This study explores dietary iron levels in men and women and the bioavailability of iron in each gender. The study has 873 participants. There were 495 men and 378 women. All the women who participated were pre-menopausal, not pregnant and not currently breast feeding. The study was done for seven days; this is an appropriate amount of time for an individual’s nutritional status to be evaluated.
The goal of this study was for the authors to predict the prevalence of iron intake and find a specific amount of iron intake that can help to maintain an appropriate iron balance for optimal health. Some iron intake data was used from another study performed by the National Diet and Nutrition Survey. This data collection involved an interview with each person participating and it also had each person who was participating undergo blood and urine tests for a series of seven days (this being a minimum amount for the collection).
They analyzed the data they received through an MEIA kit. The mean iron levels were 13.5mg for women and 9.8 mg for men. They had hypothesized that women would have a 13% absorption rate and men would have a 14% absorption rate, concluding that iron would be more readily absorbed by men. They found that 31% of women had depleted iron stores and the men’s results were too low to get accurate numbers. The research had concluded that women had higher iron levels, higher serum ferritin levels and therefore were able to absorb iron better than men and had more stores available than men. Unfortunately, the authors do not know which gender had a higher percentage of depleted stores due to the lack of data for the males. BG.

Dainty, J. R., Berry, R., Lynch, S. R., Harvey, L. J., & Fairweather-Tait, S. J. (2014). Estimation of dietary iron bioavailability from food iron intake and iron status. Plos One, 9(10), e111824. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0111824  

Monday, December 11, 2017

Gardening, Nutrition, and Community Wellness/Health Benefits

Being a gardening and cultural diversity advocate, I wanted to be assess the influence of gardening in the Navajo (Native American people from South-western United States) population. From prior research and working with this population in person, it is known that the rates of diabetes and obesity in these communities are higher than national rates due to this population incorporating process foods in their diets and not growing their own food as their bodies were accustomed to. A healthy diet rich in fresh fruits and vegetables would aid in prevention and reductions of such rates. Therefore, this project focused on promoting gardening to make vegetables and fruits more convenient and accessible at the comfort of their own home. As previous research in this area has shown, gardeners on average consume two more servings of fruits and vegetables than non-gardeners. Thirty participants were recruited by flyer distribution at chapter houses, senior centers, and community centers, from four Navajo targeted areas: Shiprock, NM; Tsaile, AZ; Lukachukai, AZ, and Hogback, NM. With the involvement of the participants, gardens were built in each home. Once the garden was complete, the participants would independently maintain it, with the addition of monthly check ups. Workshops on gardening techniques were provided so participants would be able to sustain their own garden(s). Each participant had to sign a consent form prior to conducting any gardening activity. An interview and a survey was also conducted with each participant. The survey questioned the participants’ eating habits, focusing on the regularity of fruit and vegetable consumption, the consumption of sodas and other sugary drinks, etc. Two additional surveys were also conducted, one taken midway of the project and the other at the conclusion of the project. The three surveys dispersed throughout the project document changes in the participants’ eating habits. The results have unfortunately been inconclusive as the study is still being conducted. However, Baxter’s research article reveals and confirms the many health benefits of gardening. Garden work is classified as moderately strenuous physically active by it commonly involving: bending, stretching, and kneeling anywhere from half an hour to several hours. This study also showed that gardening on a regular basis relieves stress, improves cognitive function, and may help people who suffer from certain psychological disorders. Therefore, in conclusion, gardening is a great exercise for the mind and body.

References:
-Avitia, S., Mark, C., & Garcia, L. (2016). An Intervention to Promote Navajo Gardening, Nutrition, and Community Wellness. Journal of Health Disparities Research and Practice, 9(5), 86.
-Baxter, P. (2007). Gardening for Good Health. American Gardener, 86(2), 25-29.

Improving the Nutritional Impact of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program: Perspectives from the Participants

Being involved with the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), both as a participant and as an employee that help/ encouraged elegiable applicants, I support this program and find it important to stay up-to date with as it is a government assistance program set to help low income invdividuals/families receive access to food. SNAP is in fact the largest federal food assistance program in the United States designed to “provide supplemental support to alleviate food insecurity and improve dietary intake.” Currently 1 in 7 Americans (47.6 million people) receive governmental support to purchase any kind of food as long as it is not alcohol, nutritional supplements, heated food or food served to eat on location. In recent years, it has been an ongoing discussion amongst policymakers, public health nutritionists and anti-hunger advocates to be engaged in how to modify SNAP policies to maximize nutritional implications for SNAP recipients. On the other hand, SNAP participants and low-income nonparticipants have not been contributing to this conversation, despite their key stakeholder interests. Therefore, this online study surveyed 387 individuals from Amazon Mechanical Turk, of whom 118 were SNAP beneficiaries and 269 food-insufficient but not enrolled in SNAP (nonparticipants), on their perspectives of proposed strategies to improve the nutritional impact of SNAP. The majority of all respondents (70%) believed the current benefit level was insufficient to afford a healthy diet. Most SNAP participants (76%) and nonparticipants (81%) supported coupling financial incentives for fruits and vegetables with restrictions for sugary beverages to be purchased with SNAP benefits. Participants were asked to choose from two hypothetical scenarios: 1) a SNAP program that combined healthy incentives and restrictions for sugary beverages (SNAP+), or 2) SNAP in its current form. From the whole sample, 67% of SNAP participants and 83% of nonparticipants chose the first scenario (healthier SNAP program). From the ones who initially chose SNAP in its current form, 68% of SNAP participants and 64% of nonparticipants would choose SNAP+ if paired with a 50% increase in profit revenue.  These results show overwhelming support from program participants and food-insufficient nonparticipants that encourages SNAP policies that facilitate the purchase of healthy foods and limit the purchase of unhealthy foods, especially sugary beverages. Therefore, the article concluded that such policies as these deserve to be studied in pilot projects and may help to improve diet-related health disparities in this vulnerable population. This tactic should be used more frequently to be able to voice the opinion of those who are directly influenced by such policy decisions.

Reference: Leung, C. W., Musicus, A., Willett, W. C., & Rimm, E. B. (2016). Improving the Nutritional Impact of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program: Perspectives from the Participants. The FASEB Journal, 30(1 Supplement), 1152-11.

Individual and Community Factors Contribute to a High Prevalence of Nutritional Anemia among Women and Children in Baja California, Mexico

Being Hispanic (most of my family comes/lives in Baja California, Mexico) and noticing anemia running in my family, I was quickly drawn to this article. This article examined the etiology and factors contributing to anemia in women and children as anemia is a public health problem among that population in rural Baja California, Mexico. This article is a cross-sectional study comprised of 118 women (15–49 years of age) and 25 children (24–59 months of age), conducted during the year of 2012. Participants completed a health and dietary survey and underwent anemia testing. A sample of venous blood was collected from anemic participants to determine the etiology. Six random community tiendas (small stores) were chosen to establish the types of foods available for purchase. The results showed a prevalence of anemia for women was 22% and 20% for children. Women from low socioeconomic status households and women enrolled in the government assistance program (Prospera) were significantly more likely to be anemic (OR = 3.48, 95% CI 1.35, 8.98 and OR = 2.49, 95% CI 1.02, 6.09, respectively). Vitamin supplementation was used as a defensive against anemia (OR = 0.12, 95% CI 0.02, 0.94). Iron deficiency anemia was the primary etiology in 100% of children and 80.8% of women, followed by vitamin B-12 deficiency (11.5%), and combined iron and vitamin B-12 deficiency (7.7%). Dietary assessments showed limited consumption of, and access to, iron absorption promoting foods such as citrus fruit and leafy green vegetables. Examination of the tiendas revealed meat and citrus fruit available for purchase at all stores; however, leafy green vegetables were only available at one store. Therefore, the study concluded with recommending an implementation of programs designed to improve nutrition and health literacy, along with ensuring access to nutritious foods, are essential for reducing nutritional anemia within the community. This was interesting to read and identify the reason why some of my family memebers are anemic.

Reference: Moor, M. A., Brodine, S., Garfein, R., Rashidi, H., Fraga, M., Kritz-Silverstein, D., ... & Elder, J. (2016). Individual and Community Factors Contribute to a High Prevalence of Nutritional Anemia among Women and Children in Baja California, Mexico. Advances in Nutrition: An International Review Journal, 7(1), 8A-8A.

-NM