July 3, 2019
(updated December 27, 2019)
Published by LeeF
An adequate consumption of milk and dairy products at different life stages can help prevent various chronic diseases.
For example, there is a positive link between the moderate intake of milk during pregnancy and birth weight, length, and bone mineral content during childhood. In addition, a daily intake of milk and dairy products among elderly people may reduce the risk of frailty and sarcopenia.
These are just some of the conclusions of a systematic review of 14 articles dealing with the role of milk and dairy products in the prevention of chronic diseases. The findings of the review were recently published in Advances in Nutrition, the third most important scientific journal in the world in the field of Nutrition and Dietetics.
The review was conducted by scientists from different Spanish, European, and American universities, and coordinated by Professor Angel Gil of the University of Granada (UGR) and Professor Rosa M. Ortega of the Complutense University of Madrid. The work was funded via the European Union project H-2020 No. 734451 and supported thanks to the collaboration of Spain’s Interprofessional Dairy Organisation (INLAC).
The study reviews worldwide scientific literature on the role of dairy products in health and in the prevention of chronic diseases (cardiovascular, metabolic syndrome, colon or bladder cancer, and type 2 diabetes). It also examines the effects of dairy products on growth, bone mineral density, generation of muscle mass, and during pregnancy or breastfeeding. Milk and dairy products contain multiple nutrients and contribute to meeting the nutritional requirement for protein, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, selenium, vitamin A, riboflavin, vitamin B12, and pantothenic acid. Yet the consumption of dairy products is on the decline, falling short of the level recommended in many countries, as the potential benefits of milk and dairy products are starting to be questioned.
This review, coordinated by the UGR, aims to evaluate and synthesise the scientific evidence on the effect of milk and dairy product consumption in terms of health and prevention of various chronic diseases and all-cause mortality, bearing in mind the importance of maintaining an adequate quality of diet in the different stages of the life cycle. The evidence gathered in the study is based on the findings of meta-analyses and systematic reviews of observational studies, randomized controlled trials, and reviews.
Dairy Products and Chronic Diseases
This review synthesizes the current scientific evidence pertaining to various topics of great interest to the scientific community. All refer to articles dealing with systematic review and/or meta-analysis, based on different types of study design. The topics studied in depth include:
Effect of milk and dairy product consumption during pregnancy and breastfeeding.
Effect of dairy product consumption on the height and bone mineral density of children.
Consumption of milk and dairy products and risk of mortality.
Effect of milk and dairy product consumption on the risk of frailty and sarcopenia, and cognitive performance in older people.
Effect of milk and dairy product consumption in the prevention of osteoporosis and osteoporotic fractures.
Consumption of dairy products in the prevention of metabolic syndrome.
Effect of milk and dairy product consumption on type 2 diabetes.
Effect of milk and dairy product consumption on cardiovascular diseases.
Association between dairy product consumption and the risk of colorectal cancer in adults.
Consumption of milk and dairy products and the risk of prostate cancer and mortality.
Consumption of milk and dairy products and the risk of bladder cancer.
Consumption of milk and dairy products and inflammatory biomarkers.
The role of fortified dairy products in cardio-metabolic health.
The researchers also found that a higher intake of dairy products presents no clear association with a decrease in total osteoporotic fracture or hip fracture risk, but there is an association with decreased vertebral fracture risk.
In the analysis of the differences between high vs. low consumption of dairy products, no association was identified between dairy product consumption and increased risk of mortality. The total intake of low-fat dairy products was associated with a reduced risk of metabolic syndrome, supporting the view that the consumption of dairy products does not increase the risk of cardiovascular disease and could have a slightly protective effect.
Inverse associations were observed between dairy product consumption and ischemic heart disease and myocardial infarction. Current scientific evidence also suggests that the consumption of such products, especially low-fat dairy and yoghurt, may be associated with a lower risk of type 2 diabetes.
It has also been shown that moderate consumption of this food group is associated with a lower risk of colorectal cancer and bladder cancer, while no associations were found for prostate cancer. Nor has the intake of milk or dairy products been shown to demonstrate a proinflammatory effect on overweight or obese individuals, or on those presenting other metabolic abnormalities.
Fortification of dairy products with phytosterols and omega-3 fatty acids appears to constitute a suitable strategy for improving cardiometabolic risk biomarkers.
July 27, 2017
(updated December 12, 2019)
Published by LeeF
Your diet plays an intricate role in your mood. While excess sugar has been linked to depression, certain foods, like dark leafy greens, mushrooms and turmeric, are linked to positive emotions. In the longer term, what you eat, or don’t eat, may also affect your mood by altering your body’s levels of certain vitamins, minerals and fatty acids involved in brain health and mood.
While many people choose to eat a vegetarian or vegan diet for health reasons, this is an important factor to consider, as research suggests doing so may be associated with depression.
Why Might Being Vegetarian Increase Depression Risk?
The association may exist because people with depression may be more likely to change their dietary preferences, or it could be related to higher blood levels of phytoestrogens, particularly among those who eat a lot of soy, or even pesticides, a consequence of consuming a lot of nonorganic produce, the researchers said. But, more likely, it has to do with nutrient levels. Vegetarians tend to have lower intakes of omega-3 fats, vitamin B12 and folate, which could affect depression risk as follows:
Many Americans’ diets are lacking in healthy fats, including the animal-based omega-3 fats EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid). Although omega-3s are most well known for their role in heart health, they also play an integral role in brain health and mental health.
The 2001 book, “The Omega-3 Connection: The Groundbreaking Anti-depression Diet and Brain Program,” by Harvard psychiatrist Dr. Andrew Stoll, was among the first works to bring attention to, and support the use of, omega-3 fats for depression.
There is no set recommended standard dose of omega-3 fats, but some health organizations recommend a daily dose of 250 to 500 milligrams (mg) of EPA and DHA for healthy adults. If you suffer from depression, higher doses may be called for.
In one study, an omega-3 supplement with a dose range of 200 to 2,200 mg of EPA per day was effective against primary depression. Good dietary sources of animal-based omega-3s include anchovies, sardines, mackerel, herring and wild-caught Alaskan salmon.
Vitamin B12 has made headlines for its powerful role in preventing cognitive decline and more serious dementia such as Alzheimer’s disease. Mental fogginess and problems with memory are actually two of the top warning signs that you have vitamin B12 deficiency, indicating its importance for brain health.
However, anxiousness and depression may also occur alongside a B12 deficiency because it depresses the brain chemical serotonin, a neurotransmitter linked to your brain’s pleasure centers, and dopamine, the mood regulator registering memory and mood.
Vegetarians and vegans are especially susceptible to B12 deficiency because it’s derived from animal products like beef, seafood, eggs and dairy products. Vegans are urged to augment their B12 intake by stocking up on nutritional yeast, coconut oil and fortified coconut milk, but even still a strict vegan or even vegetarian diet is not recommended.
Folate helps your body produce mood-regulating neurotransmitters, including serotonin and dopamine. One 2012 study found people who consumed the most folate had a lower risk of depression than those who ate the least. Another study revealed that when stroke survivors took a daily supplement of B vitamins, including folic acid (synthetic folate), vitamin B6 and vitamin B12, their risk of depression was significantly reduced.
This is one deficiency that should be easy for vegetarians and vegans to correct, as folate is found in dark leafy greens like spinach, avocados and other fresh vegetables.
Increased Consumption of Omega-6 Fats May Also Play a Role
According to the featured study, vegetarians are also known to have a higher intake of omega-6 fats, which are also associated with a greater risk of depression. A major source of omega-6 fats for many vegetarians is vegetable oil, which is linked to a host of health problems, including heart attack.
These omega-6 polyunsaturated fats, when taken in large amounts, cannot be burned for fuel. Instead, they’re incorporated into cellular and mitochondrial membranes where they are highly susceptible to oxidative damage, which damages the metabolic machinery. Worse, most of these vegetable oils are highly processed and grown as GMO crops, loaded with toxic herbicide residues like Roundup.
While your body does need some omega-6, most get far too much of it compared to omega-3, and this lopsided ratio can also have adverse health consequences. Further, when heated, vegetable oils tend to oxidize. According to Dr. Fred Kummerow, who researched lipids and heart disease for eight decades before he died a few months ago at 102 years old, oxidized cholesterol is the real culprit that causes heart disease.
By triggering inflammation, they also trigger heart problems as well as, likely, depression. While other factors may also be involved, inflammation can have a profound impact on your mental health. As noted in one 2012 study in the journal Neuropsychopharmacology:
“Elevated biomarkers of inflammation, including inflammatory cytokines and acute-phase proteins, have been found in depressed patients, and administration of inflammatory stimuli has been associated with the development of depressive symptoms.
Data also have demonstrated that inflammatory cytokines can interact with multiple pathways known to be involved in the development of depression, including monoamine metabolism, neuroendocrine function, synaptic plasticity, and neurocircuits relevant to mood regulation …
Psychosocial stress, diet, obesity, a leaky gut and an imbalance between regulatory and pro-inflammatory T cells also contribute to inflammation and may serve as a focus for preventative strategies relevant to both the development of depression and its recurrence.”
Be Wary of Eating a Diet Too High in Grains and Beans, Devoid of Animal Products
Eating a plant-based diet can certainly be healthy, especially if it’s properly balanced with healthy fats. However, the absence of all animal-based foods can take a toll over time, as certain nutrients cannot be obtained from the plant kingdom — carnosine, carnitine, taurine, vitamin B12 and animal-based omega-3 fats to name just a handful.
As noted by Dr. Steven Gundry, author of “The Plant Paradox” (who was a vegetarian himself for 15 years, during which he said he was “never sicker”), many vegetarians and vegans run into health issues because are not vegetable eaters but rather grain and bean eaters, and grains and beans are very high in inflammatory lectins — plant proteins that cause harm through molecular mimicry.
Surprisingly, lectins such as wheat germ agglutinin (WGA), found in wheat, and galactans, found in beans, even promote fat storage — despite their source being the plant kingdom. Even more surprising, considering the heart health claims allowed for whole wheat, WGA is one of the most efficient ways to induce heart disease in experimental animals. See HERE
I’m not opposed to vegetarianism. I eat very small amounts of animal protein; mostly fish. Occasionally, I’ll have some organic American grass fed certified meat. But meats are not a cornerstone staple in my diet, and I believe most people could benefit from lowering their meat consumption. I don’t believe it should be entirely excluded, however, because animal foods do contain very valuable nutrients your body needs for optimal health. Organic pastured eggs and raw butter are additional source of incredibly healthy nutrients.
If you’re leading a vegetarian or vegan diet for ethical reasons, consider that organic grass fed animals serve a very important role in regenerative agriculture and are an ethical choice, as they’re not abused or mistreated. If, however, you choose to remain strictly vegetarian or vegan, be mindful of the nutrients you may need to supplement in your diet, as well as how to avoid the complications associated with an all-plant diet weighted toward grains and legumes loaded with autoimmune-stimulating lectins.
Can an Online Test Tell You If You’re Depressed?
In related news, if you do a Google search for information about depression on a mobile device, you’ll notice a screening questionnaire called PHQ-9 pop up in the search results. If you click on “check if you’re clinically depressed,” it will take you to a self-assessment that’s supposed to tell you if you’re depressed or not. It sounds like it would be a useful tool, but remember we’ve seen these types of screenings in the past.
WebMD‘s online depression screening was sponsored by drugmaker Eli Lilly, maker of the antidepressant Cymbalta, and directed users to discuss treatment with their doctors. In the case of Google, they recently partnered with the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI).
As noted by PsychCentral, nearly 75 percent of NAMI’s funding comes from drug companies and, while it bills itself as a patient advocacy group, it’s actually more of a front group for the pharmaceutical industry. So be very wary of taking advice about your mental health from an online assessment, especially one put out by Google, which is in the business of capturing user data and has repeatedly been caught infringing on privacy rights.
That being said, when depression goes untreated, it can be both debilitating and life threatening. Depression may interfere with personal and work relationships, reduce work or academic performance and may affect your physical health as well. Depression reduces your ability to care for yourself properly and make adequate decisions about your health, including nutrition and sleep. Imbalances in nutrition, weight fluctuations and poor sleep habits may lead to compromised immune function as well.
It’s estimated that half of people with depression do not get treatment, so this is an important step if you or a loved one is struggling. However, be sure the treatment you seek is appropriate for you — many can be helped without the use of antidepressants. Yoga, exercise and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) are examples of some non-drug-based treatments that have been proven effective at reducing symptoms of depression. Addressing your diet, as mentioned, is also important.
Be Sure to Address Your Diet for Better Mental Health
Consider a small study involving adults diagnosed with IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) and depression that found the probiotic Bifidobacterium longum provided depression relief. At six weeks, 64 percent of the treatment group had reduced depression scores compared to 32 percent of the control group that received a placebo.
Further, you needn’t wait to find out if the featured study’s finding — that a vegetarian diet increases depression risk — is, indeed, a causative one. If you’re a vegetarian or vegan, be sure you make a point to increase the animal-based omega-3s, folate and vitamin B12 in your diet to protect your mental and overall health.
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