The Mediterranean diet has been shown to bestow countless health benefits to those who consume it, including cardiovascular benefits, mental health benefits, and metabolic health benefits. Metabolic
syndrome is of particular interest to researchers, as there have been significant increases in the various components of the condition (high blood pressure, high sugar levels, excess body weight, and abnormal cholesterol levels) in the recent years which is very likely to be related to dietary changes across all cultures.
A new study in press in the journal Metabolism aimed to examine the relationship between adherence to the Mediterranean diet and metabolic syndrome in Polish adults.
8821 Polish adults (aged 45-69 years) participated in this study. Dietary information was collected via self-reported questionnaire and adherence to the Mediterranean diet was scored using the MedTypeDiet Score system.
Height, weight, waist circumference, and blood pressure measurements were taken for each participant during a physical examination.
Other socio-demographic and lifestyle information was also collected.
Adherence to the Mediterranean diet was the same between men and women.
MetTypeDiet scores were significantly (and negatively) associated with waist circumference, systolic blood pressure, and triglyceride levels.
Those with the highest adherence to the Mediterranean diet were least likely to have metabolic syndrome, obesity, high triglyceride levels, and hypertension.
Moderate wine consumption, low dairy intake, and a high unsaturated/saturated fatty acid ratio were negatively associated with metabolic syndrome.
The results of this study add to the mounting evidence that the Mediterranean diet is beneficial for lowering the risk of metabolic
disease. Specifically, this study found that those with the high adherence to the Mediterranean diet were less likely to have metabolic syndrome, obesity, high triglyceride levels, and hypertension. Looking at individual dietary components, moderate wine consumption, low dairy intake and a higher ratio of unsaturated to saturated fatty acids resulted in a significantly lower risk of developing metabolic syndrome in Polish adults.
Most of the studies on diet effectiveness one reads are focused on the more broad aspect of the diet. Specifically, there are many studies out there on the Mediterranean Diet, the Western Diet, the Paleo Diet, et cetera, however, what is less often studied is specific
aspects within an individual diet, and how that specific aspect may or may not affect the health of the consumer.
A new study published in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine aimed to assess a diet based on the complex recommendations by the American Heart Association (AHA) compared with a more simple diet focused on high-fiber foods on adults with metabolic syndrome.
240 adults in the Worcester, MA area with metabolic syndrome were recruited for this study. Participants had BMIs between 30 and 40 kg/m2 and were between the ages of 21 and 70. Participants were mainly women, white, and well-educated.
Participants were randomly assigned a high-fiber diet or a diet based on AHA recommendations. Caloric intake for meals was determined to be appropriate for weight loss for each participant.
Weight and height was measured at the beginning of the study, and then at 3, 6, and 12 months post diet intervention.
Other information collected at each visit included: use of medications, use of dietary supplements, adherence to the study diets, fasting glucose levels, fasting plasma insulin levels, hemoglobin A1c, lipid profile, high-sensitivity C-reactive protein levels, interleukin-6 levels, tumor necrosis factor-α receptor 2 levels, and blood pressure.
After 12 months, average weight loss for the high-fiber group was 2.1kg, while average weight loss for the AHA group was 2.7kg. These differences were not found to be significant.
8 participants developed diabetes during the study (7 in the high-fiber group and 1 in the AHA group).
Reduction of caloric intake was greater in the AHA group than the high-fiber group.
Blood pressure and all metabolic measurements were similar between the two groups throughout the study, with both groups showing improvements.
The results of this study suggest that following a complex diet based on AHA recommendations is statistically similar to a more simple diet of just increasing the amount of fiber consumed. Technically, the amount of weight lost following the AHA diet was greater than the high-fiber diet, however, the loss was not statistically significant.
It is important to note that the number of calories consumed in the
high-fiber group was higher, so it would make sense that the participants in that group would not lose as much weight. Keeping caloric intake constant between the two groups may have provided a more accurate comparison, but that was not done in this study.
Another caveat to this study is that the participant pool was mostly white women who are well-educated, making generalizations to other groups difficult (if not impossible).
In the end, the authors concluded that the results of this study suggest that a simplified dietary approach (such as increasing the fiber in one’s diet) may be just as beneficial as a more complicated diet regime, making weight loss and improvements in metabolic measurements more accessible and easier to follow for the general population.
The USDA recently released new dietary guidelines, part of which highlight the importance of reducing sugar intake.
One source of excessive sugar intake seen across the globe (and particularly in a Western-style diet) is in sugary drinks, including soft drinks. Soft drinks have been linked to increase abdominal fat, leading to increased risk of obesity, diabetes, and other dietary-based diseases.
A new study published in The Journal of Nutrition: Nutritional Epidemiology examined the relationship between nonalcoholic beverage consumption on waistline measurements and odds of obesity in Spanish adults.
2181 participants were followed for 10 years and were between the ages of 25 and 74. Weight, height, waist circumference, dietary and exercise habits were determined using self-reported questionnaires.
Beverages included in the analysis were: soft drinks (including carbonated soft drinks), fruit juice, whole milk, skim milk, and low-fat milk.
100kcal increase in daily soft drink consumption was associated with 1.1cm increase in waist circumference.
Swapping out the daily 100kcal in soft drinks with 100kcal of whole milk or 100kcal of fruit juice was associated with a 1.3 and 1.1cm decrease in waist circumference, respectively.
Increasing soft drink consumption led to increases in waist circumference compared to abstaining from consuming soft drinks all together.
Increased soft drink consumption was positively associated with an increased risk of obesity.
Overall, this study indicates that daily soft drink consumption is positively associated with the waistlines of Spanish adults. In other words, consuming soft drinks daily led to increased waist circumference and also increased risk of obesity over a 10 year period.
Important to note: there are about 140 kcal in one can of regular soda, so according to this study, it takes less than one can of soft drinks per day to increase waist circumference in adults.
The study did not distinguish between diet and “regular” soft drinks.
The results of this study support the new USDA dietary guidelines and suggest that excess sugar intake, particularly in the form of daily soft drink consumption, should be avoided.