DASH Diet is Number One Again

U.S. News & World Report’s  Best Diets 2012 was announced earlier this week and the DASH Diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension), which was created by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, finds itself in the top spot for the second year in a row.

Originally developed as a way to lower blood pressure through diet, this eating plan focused on high fiber foods such as whole grains, fruits and vegetables; low fat dairy products, poultry, legumes and nuts (see this list). As a result, it is high in fiber and low in sodium, saturated fat, cholesterol and added sugars.

A typical day on the DASH Diet will find you consuming the following:

  • 7 to 8 servings of whole grains,
  • 4 to 5 servings of vegetables
  • 4 to 5 servings of fruit
  • 2 to 3 servings of low fat dairy
  • 1 to 2 servings of meat, poultry or fish
  • 2 to 3 servings of fats and oils

One a weekly basis, you can also add in:

  • 4 to 5 servings of nuts, seeds or legumes
  • less than 5 servings of sweets

The U.S. News  & World Report’s Best Diets 2012 results were calculated by 22 member of a panel with expertise in obesity, nutrition, diet, food psychology, diabetes and heart disease.  Twenty-five diet plans were considered for the honors. The experts look at the following categories when evaluating the plans: is the plan easy to follow; what type of long term and short term results do they produce; nutritional profile and completeness; safety and effect on heard disease and diabetes.


Omega 3 EPA May Help Search and Destroy Leukemia

As if there weren’t already enough amazing benefits of omega 3 fatty acids found in fish oil, along comes a new study from Penn State researches, published in the recent issue of Blood (Blood 2011 118:6909-6919), with the promise of a possible cure for Leukemia.

Granted, there is much more to learn about this connection, since the studies have only been performed on mice at this time, but the possibilities are exciting. According to researchers, our bodies have the ability to produce a compound from EPA, an omega 3 fatty acid, which actually targets AND kills stem cells of “chronic myelogenous leukemia” or CML for short.

This compound, called “delta-12-protaglandin J3 (or D12-PGJ3), is the only thing that’s been shown to kill leukemia stem cells. In fact, the mice in the study were not only cured, but their biomarkers returned to normal and the leukemia never returned.

Currently, the only approach available for treating leukemia fails to completely cure the patient. It will lower the number of leukemia cells and extend their life, as long as the person keeps receiving therapy, but it will not kill the stem cells or give them any hope of complete recovery. So you can see why this breakthrough is so exciting for researchers and leukemia sufferers alike.

But the excitement doesn’t end there! Apparently leukemia stem cells have a sneaky ability to “hide” from the current form of treatment, frustrating both doctors and patients. Later down the road these hidden stem cells can easily give rise to more leukemia cells, compounding the problem. However, D12-PGJ3 has the ability to search and destroy leukemia cells, so if they are trying to hide the D12-PGJ3 will find them and kill them.

We look forward to more studies into the benefits of D12-PGJ3. Can you imagine a world without leukemia?

High Protein Diets Are Off the Hook

Good news for all of you body builders and dieters out there. Research recently conducted at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge, La has suggested that diets focusing on high protein foods are no more likely to increase body fat than diets low in protein.  Researchers went on to conclude that “calories alone, however, contributed to the increase in body fat.”(JAMA: The Journal of the American Medical Association, 2012; 307 (1): 47 DOI: 10.1001/jama.2011.1918)

The main objective of the study was to “To evaluate the effects of overconsumption of low, normal, and high protein diets on weight gain, energy expenditure, and body composition.”  The scientists studied 25 healthy men and women volunteers between the ages of 18 and 35.  The study started with the first volunteer in June of 2005 and concluded with the last volunteer in October 2007. All study participants were kept in an inpatient metabolic unit for 10 – 12 weeks.

For the first 13 to 25 days, these volunteers were fed a weight-stabilizing diet – in other words, their weight stayed the same. For the remaining 8 weeks, volunteers were overfed one of 3 different diets – low protein (5%), normal protein (15%) or high protein (25%), with the intention of weight gain.

All of the study volunteers, both men and women, gained weight on the 8 week, overfeeding plan.  However, all 3 groups gained similar amounts of body fat. The study authors summarized their findings with this statement, “In summary, weight gain when eating a low protein diet (5 percent of energy from protein) was blunted compared with weight gain when eating a normal protein diet (15 percent of energy from protein) with the same number of extra calories. Calories alone, however, contributed to the increase in body fat. In contrast, protein contributed to the changes in energy expenditure and lean body mass, but not to the increase in body fat.”