A Mediterranean diet in pregnancy is associated with lower risk of accelerated growth

Image result for A Mediterranean diet in pregnancy is associated with lower risk of accelerated growthThe Mediterranean diet is characterised by a high content of fruits, vegetables, olive oil, legumes and nuts. This healthy diet pattern has been associated with lower obesity and cardiometabolic risk in adults, but few studies have focused on children.

This study, published in the Journal of Pediatrics, aimed at evaluating the association between adherence to a Mediterranean diet during pregnancy and growth patterns and cardiometabolic risk in early infancy.

The study was performed with data of over 2,700 pregnant women from Asturias, Guipúzcoa, Sabadell and Valencia, who are part of the INMA-Childhood and Environment cohort. The women filled in a questionnaire on dietary intake in the first and third trimester of pregnancy. In addition, the diet, weight and height of their offspring were followed-up from birth to age 4 years. Other tests such as blood analysis and blood pressure were also performed at age 4.

The results show that pregnant women with higher adherence to the Mediterranean diet had a 32% lower risk of having children with an accelerated growth pattern, as compared to offspring of women that did not follow such diet.

Sílvia Fernández, ISGlobal researcher and first author of the study, underlines that “mothers with lower adherence to the Mediterranean diet were younger, consumed more calories, and had higher probability of smoking and a lower education and social level,” as compared to those women who did follow the diet.”

“These results support the hypothesis that a healthy diet during pregnancy can have a beneficial effect for child development,” concludes the study coordinator Dora Romaguera, researcher at ISGlobal and CIBEROBN. Regarding the mechanisms that underlie this association, the researcher mentions “possible epigenetic modifications that regulate fetal caridiometabolism, or shared eating patterns between mothers and children, although this deserves further investigation.”

The study did not find a correlation between Mediterranean diet in pregnancy and a reduction in cardiometabolic risk (blood pressure or cholesterol) in early infancy. “The effects on cardiometabolic risk could appear later in childhood,” explains Fernández.


Niki Bezzant: Trying a new diet? Trust your gut instinct

What we do know about any kind of extreme diet is that they are hard to stick to long term. Photo / 123RF

The paleo diet seems to have fallen out of fashion these days, in favour of the more extreme “keto” — short for ketogenic — diet. Some of those who started as paleo people eating meat, vegetables and sweet potato are now avoiding the sweet potato, loading up on fat and testing their pee every day.

Whether keto is ultimately healthy is a conversation for another day. But what keto and paleo dieters alike may want to contemplate is that common phenomenon: unintended consequences.

In the early days of the paleo diet, experts sounded a note of caution, not just because the diet seemed to emphasise unhealthy amounts of meat, but also because of what it eliminated: grains, legumes and dairy. The speculation then was that cutting these things out might cause changes — not necessarily positive — to the gut flora, which could cause consequences which were at that time not researched or known.

Now it seems we might be getting an inkling of what those consequences are. Researchers at Perth’s Edith Cowan University have just completed the first study of the paleo diet’s impact on gut bacteria, and the outcome was not good for fans of the caveman way.

The researchers compared 44 people on the paleo diet with 47 following a traditional Australian diet. They measured the amount of trimethylamine-n-oxide (TMAO) in the participants’ blood. High levels of TMAO, an organic compound produced in the gut, are associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.

They found more than twice the amount of TMAO in the paleo people compared to the regular eaters. They suggest that excluding whole grains — which contain resistant starch and other fermentable fibres known to be good for gut bacteria — might change the bacteria population in a way that enables higher production of TMAO. Potentially larger amounts of meat also creates precursor compounds to TMAO.

The research is yet to be published, so no doubt there’s more to learn here. But what it points to is the idea that when we restrict what we eat, it might have effects beyond what we intend. Going on any diet — paleo and keto included — may well cause weight loss, and may also improve some health markers such as blood pressure, cholesterol levels and blood sugar. They can be healthy ways to eat, especially if people are shifting from a high-processed-food diet.

But we don’t always know what the long-term effects are of cutting out whole food groups. And we might not know that for a while. Will the young women avoiding dairy now, for example, have bone-density problems when they’re in their 60s? Will the keto eaters’ kidneys pack up? Will paleo people be dropping like flies from heart disease or bowel cancer?

What we do know about any kind of extreme diet is that they are hard to stick to long term. And that can lead to harmful yo-yo weight loss and regain, which is bad for body and mind. It’s unsexy, but moderation — for a lifetime — has its benefits.


Watch IPL, get fit. Nutritionist Rujuta Diwekar has a diet plan for you

Yogurt contains natural anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties, which are great for the body and skin.

Yogurt contains natural anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties, which are great for the body and skin.(Shutterstock)

Your grandmom was right. Yogurt, the versatile dairy product, is filled with nutrition and should be part of your daily diet. Moreover, it’s equally useful for the skin and hair. Treat sunburns, acne and improve your immunity with yogurt. Himanshu Chadha, Founder, APS Cosmetoofood, and Nmami Agarwal, Nutritionist and Dietician, tell you how:

* Treat sunburn: Spread yogurt on the affected area, leave it for 20-25 minutes and then wash it off with lukewarm water. Yogurt is rich in zinc and has anti-inflammatory properties. It also contains probiotics that will help restore your skin’s natural barrier.

Yogurt is full of nutrients that are good for your hair. (Images Bazaar)

* Treat acne with yogurt as it contains natural anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties. Rub a dab of the creamy yogurt onto acne-prone areas. Rinse it off after 30 minutes. A regular beauty regime with a yogurt facial mask will help keep skin cleansed, which will also reduce irritating breakouts.

* Yogurt is a great ingredient for a hair conditioner. It has moisturising properties which helps repair dry and damaged hair. Take a cup of yogurt and whip it. Apply it on your scalp, hair and hair ends by massaging it well. Cover your hair with a shower cap and let it rest for 20 minutes, then wash your hair with a mild shampoo.

* Yogurt is full of nutrients that are good for your hair, and so, can help in stopping hair fall. Due to the presence of vitamin B5 and D, yogurt helps nourish the hair follicles. A mixture of pepper and curd used daily for washing the hair helps in reducing hair fall. Curd and amla powder can be mixed together to make a paste that can be applied on the scalp and hair to reduce hair loss.

* Since it is a well-known probiotic food, it helps to flourish the healthy bacteria in your gut which can improve the gastro immune system. Along with this, it aids in digestion by reducing the side effects of the irritant stomach such as diarrhoea, bloating and irritable bowel syndrome.

* Strengthen your bones by adding yogurt to your everyday diet. It will add that daily dose of calcium which your body requires for stronger bones as well as for regulating the bone mineral density. By having a diet in a combination with calcium and vitamin D, it can work as a treatment for osteoporosis.

* Yogurt works perfectly for women. It is often advised for women to consume freshly prepared yogurt in their diet considering they are powerful for fighting against the yeast infections such as Candida which can be a cause of trouble to a lot of women. The bacterium, Lactobacillus acidophilus found in yogurt, kills the yeast infections and improves health in the longer run.

* Consuming probiotic yogurt helps reduce inflammation and improve the overall body immune response to counter with several viral or gut related infections and illness. Moreover, yogurt also helps in increasing the absorption of trace minerals such as magnesium, zinc, and selenium.


Don’t break your diet. Here are 7 ways to eat healthy while travelling

Keep drinking water throughout the flight and avoid alcohol.

Okay, so it may not always be possible to get wholesome food while you’re on the go. But travelling doesn’t mean you completely let go and binge on junk food. With a little planning and effort, you can arm yourself with nutritious snacks. Chaahat Jain, founder, CJ’s Fresh, and chef Sarah Todd show you how:

* Carry a stainless-steel water bottle for water. When dehydrated, especially while flying, we tend to confuse being thirsty with hunger pangs. It’s extremely important to stay hydrated during the flight. Try to drink two litres of water every day and stay away from tea and coffee. Don’t stop once you have landed. It is essential that you keep up the fluid intake over the next few days. Pack some herbal tea bags and ask your flight attendant for some boiling water or simply ask for some freshly sliced lemon and ginger or a fresh chai at the hotel.

Instead of junk food, munch on some almonds, cashews and walnuts. (Shutterstock)

* Take fresh nuts and dried fruits, canned fish, peanut butter, and anything local and healthy. Fresh fruit and vegetables can be cut up in your room and dunked in some hummus or any local dip. Carrots, cucumbers, capsicums, organic yogurt and unsweetened almond milk can be eaten anytime.

* If you need a chocolate fix, buy a couple of bars of 70-85 per cent dark chocolate.

* Limit alcohol intake. It is high on calories and it dehydrates your body.

* Opt for ginger and peppermint tea as it aids digestion and great immune booster. Chamomile helps you calm down and lemon and ginger act as a cleansers and immune boosters.

* Consuming healthy snacks at the right time and in the right proportion is the key to getting the most from your snacking habits. It’s better to eat small portions from a plate or bowl than snack directly out of a box or bag. By snacking directly from the bag, you risk overeating and gaining extra kilos. Serving small portions also gives you better control over the quantity of food you consume.

* Try to choose brown rice over white rice or try to have quinoa, barley or oats if possible.


A new study suggests that while fasting diets might help with weight loss, they could increase your risk of diabetes – and the 5:2 author has responded


There has been conflicting evidence on the long-term effects of intermittent fasting.
  • Intermittent fasting has rapidly grown in popularity in recent years.
  • The jury’s still out in the science world as to the long-term health effects of the regime.
  • A new study on rats suggests that while fasting may help to achieve weight loss, it may also damage the pancreas and affect insulin function, which could lead to diabetes.
  • More investigation is needed into how people may be affected, particularly those with existing metabolic issues, the researchers concluded.
  • Michael Mosley, author of the popular 5:2 fasting diet, has penned a response to the findings.

Researchers at the University of São Paulo, Brazil presented new research on the effects of intermittent fasting at the European Society of Endocrinology annual meeting held in Barcelona, Spain at the weekend.

In their study done on rats, they found that while fasting might achieve weight loss, it may also damage the pancreas and impair the action of the sugar-regulating hormone insulin, which could lead to diabetes.

Looking at adult rats, the study analysed the effects of fasting every other day on body weight, free radical levels (highly reactive chemicals that can cause damage to cells in the body), and insulin function for three months.

They found that while the rats lost weight overall and ate less, the amount of fat around their tummies actually increased. The insulin secreting cells of the pancreas also showed damage, with the presence of increased levels of free radicals and markers of insulin resistance – an “early warning sign of heading towards diabetes” – also observed.

Ana Bonassa, lead author of the study, said: “This is the first study to show that, despite weight loss, intermittent fasting diets may actually damage the pancreas and affect insulin function in normal healthy individuals, which could lead to diabetes and serious health issues.”

The scientists urged people to take “careful consideration” before opting to follow a fasting diet.

Intermittent fasting has rapidly grown in popularity in recent years thanks to regimes such as the 5:2 and the 16:8. Many followers of the regime claim they eat less, lose weight, and have more energy, among many other short-term benefits.

But the jury’s still out as to the long-term effects of the regime in the science world as there has been conflicting evidence on the benefits and disadvantages. Some evidence has even suggested fasting could help to reverse diabetes or reduce your risk of developing it.

The scientists say they now plan to investigate how fasting impairs pancreas and insulin function, and concluded that more research is needed to assess how people may be affected, particularly those with existing metabolic issues.

Bonassa warned: “We should consider that overweight or obese people who opt for intermittent fasting diets may already have insulin resistance, so although this diet may lead to early, rapid weight loss, in the long-term there could be potentially serious damaging effects to their health, such as the development of type-2 diabetes.”

Here’s what the 5:2 author had to say

Michael Mosley, author of the 5:2 – arguably the most well-known intermittent fasting regime – wrote a response to the findings in the Mail on Sunday.

He pointed out that in this study the rats were put on an “absolute fast,” meaning they ate nothing at all every other day during the three-month period. This differs to that of the 5:2, under which followers eat either 500 calories for females/600 for males in a day for two days per week and eat regularly for the other five.

Mosley added that since publishing his 2013 book “The Fast Diet,” he now recommends a “more generous” 800 calories a day as well as eating a healthy Mediterranean-style diet on both fasting and non-fasting days.

Regarding the increase of fat tissue around the rats’ abdomen, he went on: “This is a surprising finding because it contradicts so many other animal and human studies of intermittent fasting. I wasn’t given detail about what the rats ate on non-fast days, but if they were allowed to gorge, that would undoubtedly skew any result.

“I would not, anyway, recommend an absolute fast every other day as you need adequate levels of protein to maintain muscle mass,” he added.

Mosley pointed to examples of other human studies in which men and women who followed the 5:2 principles achieved their goal weight faster, and witnessed improvements in blood pressure and blood fats.

“I would point to a really important randomised controlled trial of 298 type 2 diabetics published a few months ago in The Lancet. Those allocated to an 800-calorie diet every day for 12 weeks not only lost large amounts of abdominal fat but nearly half were able to come off all diabetes medication,” he said.

“Scans of the pancreas and liver showed they were far healthier than at the start of the trial.”


High protein diets like Atkin’s may increase risk of heart failure, finds study

High protein diets, which have gained in popularity as food trends have turned against carbohydrates, may increase the risk of heart failure in older men by as much as 49 per cent, a study has found.

Relatively little research has been conducted on the long-term impact of wolfing down chicken breasts and steak in the name of weight loss, even though it’s central to health-fad bibles like the Atkin’s Diet and a multimillion pound supplement industry.

But a new study by Finnish researchers found that all diets involving excessive protein consumption were associated with an increased risk of heart problems.

Among middle aged and older men, those eating the the most animal protein and dairy had a risk of heart failure 43 and 49 per cent higher, respectively, than those eating the least, they found.

Men who ate the most protein, of all types, had their risk of heart failure increased by a third and those who ate the most plant protein increased it by 17 per cent – although higher plant protein intake was associated with a healthier lifestyle overall.

“As many people seem to take the health benefits of high-protein diets for granted, it is important to make clear the possible risks and benefits of these diets,” said study author Dr Jyrki Virtanen, adjunct professor of nutritional epidemiology at the University of Eastern Finland.

Heart failure means the heart is unable to pump enough blood around the body to keep the tissues and organs healthy, leading to increasingly poor health and eventually death.