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New research shows diet’s importance for preventing depression

You know how it is - no buses in sight, then two come along at once.  It's been a bit similar for good research on diet and depression.  There have been plenty of studies on individual components of diet and mood (e.g. fish, folate, other B vitamins), but very little on the possible psychological effects of diet as a whole.  Then in October's edition of Archives of General Psychiatry, along came:

Recent research: six studies on eating habits, obesity, vitamin D, lifestyle & dementia

Here are half a dozen studies on weight, bite size, vitamin D, dietary supplements, and ways of avoiding dementia.  Andrew et al report on the "Incident cancer burden attributable to excess body mass index in 30 European countries" estimating that about 6% of cancers could be avoided if we could maintain healthier weights (abstracts & links for all six articles mentioned appear further down this page).  Zijlstra and colleagues suggest a possible response!  They randomized subjects to eating with different bite (mouthful) sizes and different chewing times.  They found that " ... greater oral sensory exposure to a product, by eating with small bite sizes rather than with large bite sizes and increasing OPT (oral processing time), significantly decreases food intake."  As Mum might put it "Don't wolf your food!"

Preventing cancer through life style choices

In 2001 the World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) and the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) WCRF/AICR set themselves the task of systematically assessing all good research on diet, physical activity and cancer and publishing a report that would be the largest study of its kind with conclusions that would be best the evidence could demonstrate.  Over 100 scientists from 30 countries were involved.  An expert panel of 21 of these scientists worked for 5 years to produce the report "Food, Nutrition, Physical Activity, and the Prevention of Cancer: a Global Perspective."  The follow-up companion Policy Report "Policy and Action for Cancer Prevention"  was published a little over a month ago and has recommendations for a series of different groups and organizations including government, industry, the media, schools, and work places

How to cut down on saturated fats

The excellent UK Food Standards Agency  has recently launched a campaign (see the TV ad) to encourage people to cut down their intake of saturated fats.  As the FSA points out on their webpage about saturated fats most people in the UK eat about 20% more than the maximum recommended amount.  They list examples of foods that are high in saturated fats, including:

  • fatty cuts of meat and meat products such as sausages and pies
  • butter, ghee and lard
  • cream, soured cream, crème fraîche and ice cream
  • cheese, particularly hard cheese
  • pastries
  • cakes and biscuits
  • some savoury snacks
  • some sweet snacks and chocolate
  • coconut oil, coconut cream and palm oil

The FSA recommend checking food labels for saturated fat content.  More than 5gm of saturated fat per 100gm of the food is a high level, while less than 1.5gm per 100gm is low.  Their ten tips to help reduce your saturated fat intake are:

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