[5 min read] Happy meals: The link between diet and depression

diet and depression

Did you know that depression and anxiety are the most common mental health conditions worldwide (1)? While treatment for patients with depression in primary care typically involves medications and therapy, current evidence suggests that nutrition and mental health are highly intertwined.  Continue reading “[5 min read] Happy meals: The link between diet and depression”

[5 min read] Vitamin and mineral supplements: What GPs need to know

supplements

Step into the supplement aisle of your pharmacy and you will see row after row of bottles, capsules, powders, and drinks. The options are endless, but is there really any benefit? Continue reading “[5 min read] Vitamin and mineral supplements: What GPs need to know”

[9 min read] Intuitive eating and weight-related behaviours

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intuitive eating

[Nutrition Research Review] Longitudinal associations between intuitive eating and weight-related behaviours in a population-based sample of young adults. Continue reading “[9 min read] Intuitive eating and weight-related behaviours”

[Online lecture] Gut health and nutrition

gut health

In this online lecture, Dietitian Josh Reed talks about gut health and the management of related conditions in primary care, including how to recognise symptoms and plan treatment recommendations. Continue reading “[Online lecture] Gut health and nutrition”

[7 min read] Ultra-processed food consumption and all-cause mortality

takeaway ultra processed food

[Nutrition Research Review] Ultra-processed food consumption is associated with increased risk of all-cause mortality and cardiovascular mortality in the Moli-sani Study.

Worldwide, the consumption of processed foods is on the rise, leading to a range of health implications. It is well evidenced that a healthier diet is one that is based on whole foods and foods which are minimally processed, as opposed to one that relies heavily on processed foods.

Food processing exists along a continuum from whole foods to minimally processed foods right through to those which are ultra-processed. Ultra-processed foods (UPF) are described in the NOVA Classification, which is a classification tool used to distinguish foods based on the extent and purpose of processing, rather than nutrient content.1 UPF do not contain significant amounts of whole or minimally processed foods, instead being comprised of a combination of substances that are derived from foods and additives. They are hyper-palatable, highly convenient, highly profitable for food manufacturers and displace less processed foods and whole foods in consumers’ diets.1

To understand the health implications of UPF consumption, Bonaccio et al. explored the association between UPF and mortality risk in a large sample of the Italian adult population drawn from the prospective, population-based Moli-sani Study cohort.2 In addition to mortality, the researchers tested which nutritional factors (sugar, saturated fats, dietary cholesterol, sodium and energy content) were potential mediators of this relationship, and which known cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk factors were likely to be on the pathway between UPF and mortality.

Drawing from 24,475 subjects, data from a validated Food Frequency Questionnaire (measuring food intake in the year before enrolment) and the Mediterranean Diet Score (MDS) (measuring adherence to the traditional Mediterranean diet)3 were analysed. Based on the FFQ, the NOVA classification1 was used to identify UPF foods and intake was calculated and divided into quartiles using a weight ratio.

Biomarkers of renal function, glucose metabolism, lipid metabolism and inflammatory markers were tested as possible mediators of the mortality risk associated with UPF consumption. Median follow up was 8.6 years and 1,216 all-cause deaths occurred.

The results of this analysis confirmed the detrimental impact of increasing UPF consumption on CV health. Specifically, results included:

  • Median intake of UPF was 10% (IQR 6.6%-14.6%) of dietary intake as UPF.
  • High consumers of UPF (>14.6% food consumed) were more likely to be women, younger, more educated and reported fewer risk factors and chronic diseases as baseline than people who consumed lower levels of UPF.
  • As UPF intake increased, adherence with the Mediterranean diet and intake of dietary fibre decreased, while energy, fat, sodium, sugar and dietary cholesterol intakes increased.
  • There was a direct linear relationship between a 5% increase in the proportion of UPF in the diet and risk of all-cause and CVD mortality. Higher UPF consumption was associated with a 58% increased risk of CVD mortality and a 52% higher risk of dying from IHD/CV causes, and that this was independent of known risk factors, including adherence to the Mediterranean diet.
  • No direct association was found between BMI and UPF intake.
  • High risk individuals (with CVD or T2DM) were more sensitive to higher UPF intakes in terms of CVD mortality risk.
  • Sugar explained nearly 40% of the association of UPF and IHD/CV mortality. Other studied nutrients only partially accounted for the adverse relationship between UPF and mortality risk, which may indicate that nutrient composition alone is unable to fully explain the increased mortality risk associated with UPF consumption.
  • Biomarkers of renal function were found to be likely mediators of the increased mortality associated with higher UPF consumption. Similarly, all CVD risk factors were significantly associated with the excess of all-cause and CVD mortality risk linked to UPF intake.

The important take home message from this research is that higher intakes of UPF are associated with increased all-cause and CVD mortality in this large sample of Mediterranean adults. This finding gives weight to the argument for ongoing public health actions that support all people to have access to, and choose, a diet in line with national dietary guidelines that is based on whole and minimally processed foods, with minimal UPF.

See the full article here.

Anna Millichamp, APD, Bond University

Learn more in the online Professional Diploma of Medical Nutrition Management.


References

  1. Monteiro C, Cannon G, Levy R, Moubarac JC & Jaime P, al A. NOVA. The star shines bright. Position paper 2. World Nutrition. 2016;7:28-38. Accessed 23rd March 2021, URL: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/315378059_NOVA_The_star_shines_bright_Position_paper_2
  2. Bonaccio M, Di Castelnuovo A, Costanzo S, De Curtis A, Persichillo M, Sofi F, Cerletti C, Donati MB, de Gaetano G, Iacoviello L. Ultra-processed food consumption is associated with increased risk of all-cause and cardiovascular mortality in the Moli-sani Study. Am J Clin Nutr. 2021 Feb 2;113(2):446-455. doi: 10.1093/ajcn/nqaa299. PMID: 33333551.
  3. Trichopoulou A, Costacou T, Bamia C, Trichopoulous D. Adherence to a Mediterranean diet and survival in a Greek population. N Engl. J Med. 2003;348:2599-608. Accessed 24th March 2021. URL: https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/nejmoa025039

Read more recent research.

[5 min read] Managing malnutrition in older adults

malnutrition older adults

Well before COVID-19 emerged to become a global public health crisis, the world was already witnessing a much quieter epidemic: malnutrition. Continue reading “[5 min read] Managing malnutrition in older adults”

[Podcast] Dietary patterns in cardiovascular disease management

dietary pattern

Dr Hannah Mayr – Assistant Professor at Bond University and one of the expert presenters of the HealthCert Advanced Certificate of Medical Nutrition Management – delivers an insightful podcast on nutrition and dietary patterns and their role in cardiovascular disease (CVD) prevention and management. Continue reading “[Podcast] Dietary patterns in cardiovascular disease management”

[Podcast] Nutrition: The non-diet approach

non-diet approach

Christina Turner – Assistant Professor at Bond University and one of the expert presenters of the HealthCert Professional Diploma of Medical Nutrition Management – delivers this engaging and interesting podcast about weight-neutral dietetics, also known as the non-diet approach. Continue reading “[Podcast] Nutrition: The non-diet approach”

[5 min read] Can vitamin B3 reduce non-melanoma skin cancer risk?

vitamin B3

Skin cancer has been dubbed Australia’s ‘national cancer’, accounting for four times as many diagnoses as all other cancers put together. Finding ways to prevent skin cancer is a hot topic, and was the subject of a study conducted by a research team at the University of Sydney. As it is known that UV radiation causes DNA damage and also suppresses the innate immune response of the skin, the researchers sought to find compounds that could negate this process – specifically vitamin B3.

Continue reading “[5 min read] Can vitamin B3 reduce non-melanoma skin cancer risk?”

[4 min read] How to naturally boost nitric oxide levels

Nitric oxide is a gas involved in many functions in the body such as blood pressure control, glucose homeostasis, neurotransmission, mitochondrial function, muscle contraction and host defence. It is thought that decreased nitric oxide availability is associated with conditions such as hypertension, congestive heart failure, hypercholesterolaemia, type 2 diabetes and the metabolic syndrome.

Continue reading “[4 min read] How to naturally boost nitric oxide levels”