Previous research has indicated a link between vitamin D supplements and a reduced risk of autoimmune diseases. Omega-3 supplements have also been shown to have a similar effect. Now, a new study by Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston has underlined these links. According to the trial involving 25,871 adults, with an average age of 67 years, taking vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acid supplements for 5 years reduced the occurrence of autoimmune disease in older individuals by 25–30%, compared with not taking them. Presented the findings at the American College of Rheumatology’s ACR Convergence 2021, senior author of the research, Dr. Karen Costenbader, director of the Lupus Program at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, said: “The reduced incidence of RA and polymyalgia rheumatica are very important for rheumatology. “The more pronounced effect after 2–3 years of use with vitamin D makes sense biologically and supports long-term use.” In the final analysis, the incidence of autoimmune disease was reduced by 25–30% for participants who took vitamin D supplements, omega-3 fatty acid supplements, or both, compared with people who took only placebos. Co-author Prof. JoAnn Manson added: "The findings are exciting because no other preventive therapies are available to reduce the risk of developing these serious health conditions.” *Image by Kirsten ter Borg from Pixabay
People with type-2 diabetes get no benefit from taking omega-3 fish oil supplements, a new study has found. According to researchers from the University of East Anglia, while omega-3 supplements are not harmful for people with type-2 diabetes (this has been a concern previously), they don’t provide any benefit either. This contradicts a common belief that omega-3 can protect against diabetes and even reverse the condition. The study, which involved 58,000 participants, found that people who consumed more omega-3 had the same risk of developing diabetes as individuals who did not. Furthermore, taking omega-3 fish oil did not influence levels of blood glucose, insulin and glycated haemoglobin - all measures of how the body handles sugar. ‘Better to eat fish’ Douglas Twenefour, deputy head of care at Diabetes UK, said: “Eating a healthy, varied diet is incredibly important, and we know that certain foods - including fruits, vegetables, wholegrains, yoghurt and cheese - can help to lower your risk of type 2 diabetes. “While omega-3 fatty acids are crucial for our overall health, it's generally better for people with type 2 diabetes to get their intake by eating at least two portions of oily fish a week, than by taking supplements." The advice from Dr Lee Hooper, who led the research, is to forego the expensive omega-3 supplements and instead buy oily fish and/or spend your money on physical activity, which will have more of a positive impact when it comes to type-2 diabetes.
Our daily diets are bigger killers than smoking and account for one in five deaths around the world. In other words, the food you eat could be sending you to an early grave. But which diets are the worst? Well, according to an influential study in The Lancet, salt – whether it be in bread, processed meals or soy sauce – shortens the most lives. The Global Burden of Disease Study used estimates of different countries’ eating habits to determine which diets were shortening the most lives. Here are the three most dangerous diets: Too much salt - three million deaths Too few whole grains - three million deaths Too little fruit - two million deaths Low levels of seeds, nuts, vegetables, fibre and omega-3 from seafood were the other major killers. Speaking to the BBC, Prof Christopher Murray, the director of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington, said: “We find that diet is one of the dominant drivers of health around the world, it's really quite profound.” Salt is such a big problem because it significantly increases a person’s blood pressure, which in turn increases their chances of heart attacks and strokes. Around 10 million out of the 11 million diet-related deaths were because of cardiovascular disease, highlighting why diets containing too much salt are such a problem.
Do you take supplements containing omega-3 fish oil in the belief they are helping to protect your heart? A new study suggests you could be wasting your money. Researchers from Cochrane analysed trials involving more than 100,000 people and discovered little proof that omega-3 supplements prevented heart disease. In fact, they say the chance of getting any benefits from such supplements is one in 1,000. However, despite this, the researchers still maintain that eating oily fish as part of a healthy diet is beneficial. Indeed, NHS guidelines state that people should try to eat two portions of fish each week, one of which, ideally, should be oily fish such as mackerel, salmon or fresh tuna. This is so they get enough “good” fats. Speaking about the findings of the research, Prof Tim Chico, a cardiologist from Sheffield University, said: “There was a period where people who had suffered a heart attack were prescribed these on the NHS. This stopped some years ago. “Such supplements come with a significant cost, so my advice to anyone buying them in the hope that they reduce the risk of heart disease, I'd advise them to spend their money on vegetables instead.” Dr Lee Hooper, from the University of East Anglia, said: “The most trustworthy studies consistently showed little or no effect of long-chain omega-3 fats on cardiovascular health.” Nevertheless, Dr Carrie Ruxton from the UK’s Health and Food Supplements Information Service said supplements containing omega-3 can still play an important role for people who don’t eat oily fish – especially as omega-3 also benefits the brain, eyes and immune function.
New research suggests that bowel cancer patients who eat oily fish, such as sardines and mackerel, could reduce their chances of dying from the disease. In fact, the research, which was published in the journal Gut, says that a bowel cancer patient's chance of death could be reduced by as much as 70% simply by upping their consumption of Omega-3 fatty acids (found in oily fish). What's more exciting is that even small amounts seemed to make a difference. For example, while a normal portion of oily fish contains around 1.8g of Omega-3, the researchers found that just 0.3g a day can reduce a bowel cancer patient's chance of death within 10 years by 41%. This means that even a few mouthfuls of oily fish each day, or a couple of portions each week, can make a significant difference. Previous research has shown that Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) suppress tumour growth and restrict blood supply to cancer cells. The researchers said that even though more studies are needed to allow for more firm conclusions to be drawn, there is strong evidence to suggest that Omega-3 fatty acids do indeed impact bowel cancer survival. “If replicated by other studies, our results support the clinical recommendation of increasing marine omega-3 fatty acids among patients with bowel cancer,” said lead researcher Dr Andrew Chan, a gastroenterologist at Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston.
People could reduce their risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease by eating at least one serving of seafood per week, according to new study, which set out to further explore the link between seafood, fatty acids, mercury and dementia. The role of Omega-3 fatty acids in combatting Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia has been lauded by many people for quite some time now. But many sceptics questioned whether the mercury found in fish could cancel out its benefits for protecting against dementia. For the study, researchers surveyed a group of older adults living in the Chicago area. They quizzed them about their diets and, in a subset of almost 300 who died between 2004 and 2013, they carried out brain autopsies to check the levels of mercury present and see if any neurological damage had occurred as a result. The researchers found that while higher levels of mercury were seen in participants who reported eating seafood regularly, they did not appear to have suffered neurological damage as a result. In fact, those participants were found to be less likely to have hallmarks of Alzheimer’s disease. Martha Clare Morris, director of nutrition and nutritional epidemiology at Rush University Medical Centre, who is the lead author of the study, said: "Our hypothesis was that seafood consumption would be associated with less neuropathology, but that if there were higher levels of mercury in the brain, that would work against that. But we didn't find that at all.” The only catch is that the study only observed this benefit among the participants who carried the APOE-4 gene, which is associated with a higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s. Nevertheless, it is possible that eating seafood regularly could also benefit individuals who do not carry the gene. This particular study, however, wasn’t large enough to detect if that is indeed the case.
New research suggests that the impact of dietary fats on our overall health is likely to be affected by the changes they cause in the stomach’s bacteria ecosystem. The findings, which were obtained by studies in mice, show that diets rich in omega-3 fats, such as fish oil, affect the gut’s balance of bacteria differently to diets rich in lard. Senior researcher Professor Fredrik Bäckhed, from the University of Gothenburg’s faculty of Health Sciences, also known as the Sahlgrenska Academy, led the team of European researchers who discovered that changes in gut microbiota are responsible for some of their health benefits. “We wanted to determine whether gut microbes directly contribute to the metabolic differences associated with diets rich in healthy and unhealthy fats,” said first study author Robert Caesar from the University of Gothenburg. And, even though the study was done in mice, he said: “our goal is to identify interventions for optimising metabolic health in humans.” Writing in the journal Cell Metabolism, Bäckhed’s team said they obtained their results by feeding either lard or fish oil to a group of mice for a period of 11 weeks. They then monitored the metabolic health of the study mice and found that dietary fat is a major community structure driver, which in turn affects the composition and diversity of gut microbiota. “We were surprised that the lard and the fish oil diet, despite having the same energy content and the same amount of dietary fibre—which is the primary energy source for the gut bacteria—resulted in fundamentally different gut microbiota communities and that the microbiota per se had such large effects on health,” said Bäckhed. Increased lard consumption promoted the growth of Bilophila, bacteria often linked to gut inflammation. In contrast, the fish oil diet increased the growth of Akkermansia muciniphila, bacteria known to reduce weight gain and improve glucose metabolism in mice. The bottom line is that eating a diet rich in fish oils is, as the study suggests, going to help you lose weight, compared to a diet rich in lard.
When it comes to eating out, many people assume that a nice meal in a restaurant would be considerably healthier than grabbing something at a fast food outlet. However, according to a new study, eating at either establishment can lead to far more calories being consumed than eating a home-prepared meal. Published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, the study found that Americans who ate out, whether at a full-service restaurant or fast food outlet, typically consumed 200 calories more per day than when they ate at home. Study author Ruopeng An said: "These findings reveal that eating at a full-service restaurant is not necessarily healthier than eating at a fast-food outlet. In fact, you may be at higher risk of overeating in a full-service restaurant than when eating fast food." The study analysed the eating habits of some 18,098 Americans using data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) for 2003-2010. Perhaps surprisingly, individuals who ate at full-service restaurants consumed significantly more cholesterol than those who ate at home – up to 58mg per day more in some cases. Despite the increased cholesterol intake, though, people who ate at full-service restaurants also consumed more healthy nutrients, such as omega-3 fatty acids and potassium. The study also revealed that eating out at restaurants increased a person’s daily sodium intake. This is also worrying as many Americans already consume above the upper recommended sodium limit on a daily basis and this poses several health concerns, such as heart disease and hypertension. So the next time you’re in a restaurant and deciding what to eat, think twice before ordering something that is going to have a detrimental effect on your health.