What diet is best for older adults?

A new study has revealed that a diet rich in protein and low in calories can help older adults with obesity lose more weight while maintaining muscle mass and improving bone density.

Older adults often lose bone density and muscle mass when they concentrate on shedding weight.

This unwanted bone and muscle loss can result in mobility issues and can even increase a person’s risk of injury.

A recent study, which Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, NC, is the lead on, has shown that a high-protein, low-calorie diet can help adults avoid these problems.

Several peer-reviewed journals, which include Journals of Gerontology: Medical Sciences and American Journal of Clinical Nutrition have accepted four research papers from the study for publication.

The researchers randomly selected 96 adults over 65 years of age and assigned them to one of two groups.

They put the first group on a 6-month, low-calorie meal plan that was also high in protein — more than 1 gram (g) of protein per kilogram (kg) of body weight. They assigned the other group to a weight-maintenance plan that included 0.8 g of protein per kg of body weight.

High-protein, low-calorie

Those in the high-protein, low-calorie diet group experienced the most weight loss, but more revealing was that those in this group maintained their muscle mass. They also lost weight on the stomach, hips, thighs, and rear, which can decrease the risk of certain medical conditions, including diabetes and stroke.

Furthermore, the researchers found that the participants in the high-protein group improved their bone quality, and they gained 0.75 points on their Health Aging Index scores, involving longevity and mortality biomarkers.

Consequently, the study asked those in the weight-loss group to use four meal replacements every day and to prepare two meals of lean protein and vegetables each day. The team allowed each participant one healthy snack per day to wrap up a low-calorie, high-protein meal plan. Those in the other group were instructed to maintain their regular diet and usual activities.

Older adults have unique nutritional needs and may need to make changes to their diets as the years go by. Muscle mass can decrease as a natural part of aging, and people do not burn calories at the same rate as they do during their younger years.

Targeting nutrient-dense foods is essential for older adults, and avoidance of high-calorie foods that lack vital nutrients is crucial.

Beneficial foods include fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean meats, seafood, poultry, eggs, legumes, and low-fat dairy. Portion control may also be necessary — for older adults especially — as people may eat more food than they need.

It can be challenging to cook for a smaller family, so experts sometimes suggest cooking ahead and freezing portions to eat later when cooking is less appealing.

The particulars of this latest study seem to mirror the nutritional needs of older adults. However, the authors suggest that the addition of more protein may be the key to avoiding some of the unhealthful pitfalls that can take place when an older adult loses weight.

This study suggests that a diet high in protein and low in calories can give seniors the health benefits of weight loss while keeping the muscle and bone they need for better quality of life as they age.

Alzheimer & Diabetes


Diabetes and Alzheimer’s: What’s the link?

New research has shown that impaired insulin signaling in the brain, often a feature of diabetes, may negatively impact cognition, mood, and metabolism — all of which are common aspects of Alzheimer’s disease.

A new study examines the links between Alzheimer’s and diabetes.

Although the conditions are seemingly independent of each other, earlier studies have found that people with type 2 diabetes are more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease.

However, the mechanisms behind this relationship have remained hidden.

A recent study investigated the impact of blocking insulin receptors and insulin-like growth factor (IGF1) receptors in mouse models.

The work was carried out at the Joslin Diabetes Center, affiliated with Harvard Medical School in Boston, MA. The results reveal that interrupting these similar pathways impaired both learning and memory.

The researchers published their findings in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Insulin receptors and learning

The researchers worked with both the hippocampus and the central amygdala, areas of the brain that help with cognition function, as well as metabolic control.

They looked into how mice with disabled insulin and IGF1 receptors tackled mazes, and the results were revealing.

First, the researchers allowed the mice to explore the maze to familiarize themselves with its layout, and then they blocked a pathway before reintroducing the mice to the labyrinth.

These particular mice failed to analyze the new barricade and instead tried to go through the maze as if it was the way it had always been.

This is the first study that shows a relationship between these disrupted pathways and cognition problems.

Since these two receptors can partially compensate for one another, what we did that was critical was this combined insulin and IGF receptor knockout.

However, it was also important to do it in specific regions, since if it was everywhere it might have impaired brain development. By knocking out both [receptors], we removed not only the primary way they work but the backup system that’s already built in.”

Alzheimer’s is not a normal part of aging

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia, which is when a person is experiencing memory loss and other cognition issues that are severe enough to interfere with daily life.

Alzheimer’s, though, is not a normal part of aging, and while most of those who have it are 65 years of age and older, it can affect people who are younger.

Alzheimer’s does not get better over time, and, in most cases, it tends to worsen until the person loses the ability to carry on a conversation or respond to what is happening around them.

There is no cure for the condition, but there are treatments available that can slow down progression and may improve the individual’s overall quality of life.

There are risk factors that scientists have associated with developing Alzheimer’s disease. There are some factors that people cannot control, for example, age, family history, and genetics. People might be able to influence other potential causes, however, including head injuries and heart disease.

Other conditions that can lead to vascular damage, such as high blood pressure and stroke, may also be factors in Alzheimer’s risk.

Diabetes is also a risk factor

Additionally, diabetes is a known risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease. Other studies have shown a connection between insulin pathways and premature cognitive decline, dementia, depression, and anxiety.

Also, studies have helped demonstrate that abnormal receptors are present more often in those who have both Alzheimer’s and type 2 diabetes.

The current study is the first to target specific regions to help determine cause and effect.

Next, the researchers want to look at what happens when they cross the mice they used in this study with mice that are genetically prone to developing Alzheimer’s.

Investigating these connections, they say, may lead to recommendations of lifestyle changes well before a disease process even begins.

With diabetes and obesity, there is resistance in these pathways and, therefore, we think that this could be an important factor as to why people with Alzheimer’s disease and diabetes have a faster-accelerated course or have more Alzheimer’s disease.

How can a vegan diet improve your health?

Dr. Afshin Shawn Adhami M.D
www.VistasolMedicalGroup.com

In a recent study, researchers have compared the effects of a plant-based meal with those of a meal that includes animal-derived products on a person’s health. The study concludes that vegan meals may help a person stay healthy and manage weight gain.

New research shows how plant-based meals contribute to your health.
In the United States, approximately 93.3 million people live with obesity, and over 100 million have diabetes or prediabetes.
A key factor in the development of these metabolic conditions is diet.
According to the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion’s dietary guidelines for 2015-2020, “the typical eating patterns currently consumed by many in the US do not align” with official recommendations.

Their estimates indicate that approximately “three-fourths of the population” does not consume enough vegetables, fruits, dairy products, or oils.
New research conducted by investigators from three international institutions now suggests that following a plant-based diet could have a beneficial impact on many aspects of a person’s health.
More specifically, the study’s findings suggest that following a vegan type diet fosters the presence of certain gut hormones that help to regulate blood pressure.
These hormones also help a person feel fuller sooner, and their action is thus beneficial for weight management.

Promoting good gut hormones

In this study, the research team worked with 60 male participants, of whom 20 had a diagnosis of obesity, 20 had type 2 diabetes, and a further 20 had no health complaints and made up the control group. 
The researchers split the participants randomly so that some of them ate a vegan meal with tofu, while others ate a meal of processed meat and cheese. The researchers matched both meals for the number of calories and macronutrients.
Regardless of whether they had diabetes, obesity, or no health problems at all, the people who ate the vegan meal had a higher level of beneficial gut hormones than the people who ate meat and cheese.

The beneficial gut hormones, the researchers explain, help regulate glucose (simple sugar) levels, insulin production, and energy levels. They also help increase the feeling of satiety, thus contributing to weight management.

According to the investigators, people may feel fuller because plant-based foods are rich in fiber, which can increase satiety but do not add extra calories.

These beneficial gut hormones can help keep weight down, enhance insulin secretion, regulate blood sugar, and keep us feeling full longer. 
The fact that simple meal choices can increase the secretion of these healthy hormones has important implications for those with type 2 diabetes or weight problems. 
In previous research, we found that vegan diets can help people with type 2 diabetes by increasing insulin secretion and improving insulin sensitivity.
The current study strengthens previously uncovered proof of the benefits afforded by plant-based diets, and further shows that it can contribute to weight management. 

This study adds to the mounting evidence that plant-based diets can help manage and prevent type 2 diabetes and obesity.