Advances in Nutrition: An International Review Journal current issue

Perspective: A Definition for Whole-Grain Food Products--Recommendations from the Healthgrain Forum

Whole grains are a key component of a healthy diet, and enabling consumers to easily choose foods with a high whole-grain content is an important step for better prevention of chronic disease. Several definitions exist for whole-grain foods, yet these do not account for the diversity of food products that contain cereals. With the goal of creating a relatively simple whole-grain food definition that aligns with whole-grain intake recommendations and can be applied across all product categories, the Healthgrain Forum, a not-for-profit consortium of academics and industry working with cereal foods, established a working group to gather input from academics and industry to develop guidance on labeling the whole-grain content of foods. The Healthgrain Forum recommends that a food may be labeled as "whole grain" if it contains ≥30% whole-grain ingredients in the overall product and contains more whole grain than refined grain ingredients, both on a dry-weight basis. For the purposes of calculation, added bran and germ are not considered refined-grain ingredients. Additional recommendations are also made on labeling whole-grain content in mixed-cereal foods, such as pizza and ready meals, and a need to meet healthy nutrition criteria. This definition allows easy comparison across product categories because it is based on dry weight and strongly encourages a move from generic whole-grain labels to reporting the actual percentage of whole grain in a product. Although this definition is for guidance only, we hope that it will encourage more countries to adopt regulation around the labeling of whole grains and stimulate greater awareness and consumption of whole grains in the general population.

Perspective: Improving Nutritional Guidelines for Sustainable Health Policies: Current Status and Perspectives

A large body of evidence supports the notion that incorrect or insufficient nutrition contributes to disease development. A pivotal goal is thus to understand what exactly is appropriate and what is inappropriate in food ingestion and the consequent nutritional status and health. The effective application of these concepts requires the translation of scientific information into practical approaches that have a tangible and measurable impact at both individual and population levels. The agenda for the future is expected to support available methodology in nutrition research to personalize guideline recommendations, properly grading the quality of the available evidence, promoting adherence to the well-established evidence hierarchy in nutrition, and enhancing strategies for appropriate vetting and transparent reporting that will solidify the recommendations for health promotion. The final goal is to build a constructive coalition among scientists, policy makers, and communication professionals for sustainable health and nutritional policies. Currently, a strong rationale and available data support a personalized dietary approach according to personal variables, including sex and age, circulating metabolic biomarkers, food quality and intake frequency, lifestyle variables such as physical activity, and environmental variables including one’s microbiome profile. There is a strong and urgent need to develop a successful commitment among all the stakeholders to define novel and sustainable approaches toward the management of the health value of nutrition at individual and population levels. Moving forward requires adherence to well-established principles of evidence evaluation as well as identification of effective tools to obtain better quality evidence. Much remains to be done in the near future.

Perspective: Neuroregenerative Nutrition

Good health while aging depends upon optimal cellular and organ functioning that contribute to the regenerative ability of the body during the lifespan, especially when injuries and diseases occur. Although diet may help in the maintenance of cellular fitness during periods of stability or modest decline in the regenerative function of an organ, this approach is inadequate in an aged system, in which the ability to maintain homeostasis is further challenged by aging and the ensuing suboptimal functioning of the regenerative unit, tissue-specific stem cells. Focused nutritional approaches can be used as an intervention to reduce decline in the body’s regenerative capacity. This article brings together nutrition-associated therapeutic approaches with the fields of aging, immunology, neurodegenerative disease, and cancer to propose ways in which diet and nutrition can work with standard-of-care and integrated medicine to help improve the brain’s function as it ages. The field of regenerative medicine has exploded during the past 2 decades as a result of the discovery of stem cells in nearly every organ system of the body, including the brain, where neural stem cells persist in discrete areas throughout life. This fact, and the uncovering of the genetic basis of plasticity in somatic cells and cancer stem cells, open a door to a world where maintenance and regeneration of organ systems maintain health and extend life expectancy beyond its present limits. An area that has received little attention in regenerative medicine is the influence on regulatory mechanisms and therapeutic potential of nutrition. We propose that a strong relation exists between brain regenerative medicine and nutrition and that nutritional intervention at key times of life could be used to not only maintain optimal functioning of regenerative units as humans age but also play a primary role in therapeutic treatments to combat injury and diseases (in particular, those that occur in the latter one-third of the lifespan).

Interindividual Variability in Biomarkers of Cardiometabolic Health after Consumption of Major Plant-Food Bioactive Compounds and the Determinants Involved

Cardiometabolic disease, comprising cardiovascular diseases, type 2 diabetes, and their associated risk factors including metabolic syndrome and obesity, is the leading cause of death worldwide. Plant foods are rich sources of different groups of bioactive compounds, which might not be essential throughout life but promote health and well-being by reducing the risk of age-related chronic diseases. However, heterogeneity in the responsiveness to bioactive compounds can obscure associations between their intakes and health outcomes, resulting in the hiding of health benefits for specific population groups and thereby limiting our knowledge of the exact role of the different bioactive compounds for health. The heterogeneity in response suggests that some individuals may benefit more than others from the health effects of these bioactive compounds. However, to date, this interindividual variation after habitual intake of plant bioactive compounds has been little explored. The aim of this review is to provide an overview of the existing research that has revealed interindividual variability in the responsiveness to plant-food bioactive compound consumption regarding cardiometabolic outcomes, focusing on polyphenols, caffeine and plant sterols, and the identified potential determinants involved.

The Impact of the Mediterranean Diet on the Cognitive Functioning of Healthy Older Adults: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

Evidence from epidemiologic studies suggests a relation between the Mediterranean diet (MeDi) and cognitive function, but results are inconsistent. Prior reviews have not provided pooled data from meta-analysis of longitudinal studies and randomized controlled trials (RCTs), or they included younger adult participants. This systematic review and meta-analysis examines the impact of the MeDi on the cognitive functioning of healthy older adults. Fifteen cohort studies with 41,492 participants and 2 RCTs with 309 and 162 participants in intervention and control groups, respectively, were included. The primary outcome of interest was cognitive function, divided into domains of memory and executive function. Meta-analysis of cohort studies revealed a significant association between MeDi and older adults’ episodic memory (n = 25,369, r = 0.01, P = 0.03) and global cognition (n = 41,492, r = 0.05, P ≤ 0.001), but not working memory (n = 1487, r = 0.007, P = 0.93) or semantic memory (n = 1487, r = 0.08, P = 0.28). Meta-analysis of RCTs revealed that compared with controls, the MeDi improved delayed recall (n = 429, P = 0.01), working memory (n = 566, P = 0.03), and global cognition (n = 429, P = 0.047), but not episodic memory (n = 566, P = 0.15), immediate recall (n = 566, P = 0.17), paired associates (n = 429, P = 0.20), attention (n = 566, P = 0.69), processing speed (n = 566, P = 0.35), or verbal fluency (n = 566, P = 0.12). The strongest evidence suggests a beneficial effect of the MeDi on older adults’ global cognition. This article discusses the influence of study design and components of the MeDi on cognitive function and considers possible mechanisms.

A Systematic Review of the Effects of Polyols on Gastrointestinal Health and Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Polyols are sugar alcohols found in certain fruits, vegetables, and sugar-free sweeteners. They make up a component of the diet low in fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols, which is gaining popularity in the treatment of patients with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). We conducted a systematic review to evaluate the effects of polyols on the gastrointestinal tract in healthy men and women and in patients with IBS. Utilizing PubMed, Ovid, and Embase databases, we conducted a search on individual polyols and each of these terms: fermentation, absorption, motility, permeability, and gastrointestinal symptoms. Standard protocols for a systematic review were followed. We found a total of 1823 eligible articles, 79 of which were included in the review. Overall, available work has shown that polyol malabsorption generally occurs in a dose-dependent fashion in healthy individuals, and malabsorption increases when polyols are ingested in combination. However, studies in patients with IBS have shown conflicting results pertaining to polyol malabsorption. Polyol ingestion can lead to intestinal dysmotility in patients with IBS. Regarding the microbiome, moderate doses of polyols have been shown to shift the microbiome toward an increase in bifidobacteria in healthy individuals and may therefore be beneficial as prebiotics. However, data are limited regarding polyols and the microbiome in patients with IBS. Polyols can induce dose-dependent symptoms of flatulence, abdominal discomfort, and laxative effects when consumed by both healthy volunteers and patients with IBS. Further research is needed to better understand the effects of specific polyols on gastrointestinal function, sensation, and the microbiome in health and gastrointestinal disorders such as IBS.

Current Evidence on Associations of Nutritional Factors with Ovarian Reserve and Timing of Menopause: A Systematic Review

Ovarian aging is thought to be influenced by environmental factors, including nutrition. The aim of this study was to systematically review current evidence on the associations between nutritional factors, ovarian reserve, and age at menopause. PubMed and Scopus were structurally searched until May 2016. Original studies, with either observational or interventional designs, that examined the associations of nutritional factors (serum or dietary nutrients, food groups, and/or dietary patterns) with different ovarian reserve markers and/or timing of menopause were considered eligible. Twenty-six studies met the inclusion criteria: 17 studies on ovarian reserve markers and 9 studies on menopausal age. Significant diversity was observed in nutritional factors examined across studies. In the study of nutritional factors, associations of serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D [25(OH)D] concentration and intakes of soy or soy products with ovarian reserve have been the most investigated. For associations with menopausal age, intakes of total fat, fiber, and soy products have been mainly examined. Significant associations with ovarian reserve markers were found in 4 of 7 studies on serum 25(OH)D, 2 of 6 studies on soy or soy products, 1 of 2 studies on fiber intake, 1 study on serum zinc and copper concentrations, and 1 study on serum antioxidant concentrations. Studies on nutritional factors and menopausal age provided inconsistent findings, some of which suggested modest associations. Although there is some promising evidence on the influential role of nutrition in ovarian aging, a limited number of studies, heterogeneous in their design and study of nutritional factors, makes it difficult to draw definite conclusions. To better understand this issue, examination of associations of dietary intakes or dietary patterns with more precise markers of ovarian reserve, such as anti-mullerian hormone and antral follicle count, with age at menopause is needed. In addition, to explore whether nutritional factors alter the process of ovarian aging, an examination of changes in ovarian reserve markers should be considered.

Dietary Guidelines for Breast Cancer Patients: A Critical Review

Current dietary guidelines for breast cancer patients (BCPs) fail to address adequate dietary intakes of macro- and micronutrients that may improve patients’ nutritional status. This review includes information from the PubMed and Biomed Central databases over the last 15 y concerning dietary guidelines for BCPs and the potential impact of a personalized, nutrient-specific diet on patients’ nutritional status during and after antineoplastic treatment. Results indicated that BCPs should receive a nutritional assessment immediately after diagnosis. In addition, they should be encouraged to pursue and maintain a healthy body weight [body mass index (BMI; in kg/m2) 20–24.9], preserving their lean mass and avoiding an increase in fat mass. Therefore, after nutritional status diagnosis, a conservative energy restriction of 500–1000 kcal/d could be considered in the dietary intervention when appropriate. Based on the reviewed information, we propose a personalized nutrition intervention for BCPs during and after antineoplastic treatment. Specifications in the nutritional therapy should be based on the patients’ nutritional status, dietary habits, schedule, activities, and cultural preferences. BCPs’ daily energy intake should be distributed as follows: <30% fat/d (mainly monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids), ~55% carbohydrates (primarily whole foods such as oats, brown rice, and fruits), and 1.2–1.5 g protein ⋅ kg–1 ⋅ d–1 to avoid sarcopenic obesity. Findings suggest that 5–9 servings/d of fruits (~150 g/serving) and vegetables (~75 g/serving) should be encouraged. Garlic and cruciferous vegetables must also be part of the nutrition therapy. Adequate dietary intakes of food-based macro- and micronutrients rich in β-carotene and vitamins A, E, and C can both prevent deterioration in BCPs’ nutritional status and improve their overall health and prognosis.

Energy, Protein, Carbohydrate, and Lipid Intakes and Their Effects on Morbidity and Mortality in Critically Ill Adult Patients: A Systematic Review

The guidelines for nutritional support in critically ill adult patients differ in various aspects. The optimal amount of energy and nutritional substrates supplied is important for reducing morbidity and mortality, but unfortunately this is not well known, because the topic is complex and every patient is individual. The aim of this review was to gather recent pertinent information concerning the nutritional support of critically ill patients in the intensive care unit (ICU) with respect to the energy, protein, carbohydrate, and lipid intakes and the effect of their specific utilization on morbidity and mortality. Enteral nutrition (EN) is generally recommended over parenteral nutrition (PN) and is beneficial when administered within 24–48 h after ICU admission. In contrast, early PN does not provide substantial advantages in terms of morbidity and mortality, and the time when it is safe and beneficial remains unclear. The most advantageous recommendation seems to be administration of a hypocaloric (<20 kcal · kg–1 · d–1), high-protein diet (amino acids at doses of ≥2 g · kg–1 · d–1), at least during the first week of critical illness. Another important factor for reducing morbidity is the maintenance of blood glucose concentrations at 120–150 mg/dL, which is accomplished with the use of insulin and lower doses of glucose of 1–2 g · kg–1 · d–1, because this prevents the risk of hypoglycemia and is associated with a better prognosis according to recent studies. A fat emulsion is used as a source of required calories because of insulin resistance in the majority of patients. In addition, lipid oxidation in these patients is ~25% higher than in healthy subjects.

Perspective: What Makes It So Difficult to Mitigate Worldwide Anemia Prevalence?

Anemia can be related to decreased production or increased loss of erythrocytes, or both, leading to many underlying and often overlapping causes. A largely cereal-based diet with plenty of phytates, polyphenols, and other ligands that inhibit intestinal iron absorption predominated in preindustrial Europe and predominates in present-day developing countries alike. In both situations, we find poor hygienic conditions, which frequently lead to anemia of inflammation. The large number of possible causes and their interaction shows why it is so difficult to mitigate anemia prevalence. Diagnostic biomarkers are required to differentiate the different types of anemia and to treat them appropriately. Some of them are well established in adults [e.g., concentrations of serum ferritin, soluble transferrin receptor (sTfR), and serum iron or the ratio of sTfR to log ferritin]. Others, such as serum hepcidin, hold considerable promise, although they are not yet widely used. A particular issue is to establish reference values for biomarkers in infants and children at different ages. The fact that resource-rich postindustrial societies have a very low prevalence of iron-deficiency anemia offers hope that common types of anemia can be eliminated. In contrast, inborn forms of anemia, such as thalassemia, and anemias related to underlying diseases (e.g., bleeding tumors or peptic ulcers, gynecologic blood losses, or renal diseases) require an operational health system to be addressed appropriately.

Perspective: A Historical and Scientific Perspective of Sugar and Its Relation with Obesity and Diabetes

Fructose-containing added sugars, such as sucrose and high-fructose corn syrup, have been experimentally, epidemiologically, and clinically shown to be involved in the current epidemics of obesity and diabetes. Here we track this history of intake of sugar as it relates to these epidemics. Key experimental studies that have identified mechanisms by which fructose causes obesity and diabetes are reviewed, as well as the evidence that the uricase mutation that occurred in the mid-Miocene in ancestral humans acted as a "thrifty gene" that increases our susceptibility for fructose-associated obesity today. We briefly review recent evidence that obesity can also be induced by nondietary sources of fructose, such as from the metabolism of glucose (from high-glycemic carbohydrates) through the polyol pathway. These studies suggest that fructose-induced obesity is driven by engagement of a "fat switch" and provide novel insights into new approaches for the prevention and treatment of these important diseases.

Flavones: Food Sources, Bioavailability, Metabolism, and Bioactivity

Flavones are a class of flavonoids that are a subject of increasing interest because of their biological activities in vitro and in vivo. This article reviews the major sources of flavones and their concentrations in food and beverages, which vary widely between studies. It also covers the roles of flavones in plants, the influence of growing conditions on their concentrations, and their stability during food processing. The absorption and metabolism of flavones are also reviewed, in particular the intestinal absorption of both O- and C-glycosides. Pharmacokinetic studies in both animals and humans are described, comparing differences between species and the effects of glycosylation on bioavailability. Biological activity in animal models and human dietary intervention studies is also reviewed. A better understanding of flavone sources and bioavailability is needed to understand mechanisms of action and nutritional intervention.

A Systematic Examination of the Association between Parental and Child Obesity across Countries

Childhood obesity has become a global epidemic. Parents can have an important influence on their children’s health behaviors and weight status. Many studies have examined the association between parental and childhood weight status. However, much heterogeneity between studies exists, and the parent-child (P-C) association in obesity has varied. The purpose of this systematic examination and meta-analysis was to examine the strength and variation of the P-C association in obesity and to identify factors (e.g., demographic characteristics and country’s economic level) that may influence this association. PubMed was searched for relevant studies published between January 2000 and July 2015. Thirty-two studies from 21 countries met inclusion criteria; 27 reported ORs for the P-C obesity association and were included in a meta-analysis. The meta-analysis showed a strong P-C obesity association (pooled OR: 2.22; 95% CI: 2.09, 2.36), which varied by type of P-C pair (i.e., parents-child, father-child, and mother-child), child age, parent and child weight status, and the country’s economic level. Stronger associations were shown in older children than in younger children (β ± SE: 0.02 ± 0.01), in both parents than in father only (β ± SE: 0.51 ± 0.11) or mother only (β ± SE: 0.38 ± 0.11), in parental obesity (β ± SE: 0.26 ± 0.10) and child obesity (β ± SE: 0.28 ± 0.12) than in parental and child overweight, and in high- than in middle-income countries (β ± SE: 0.23 ± 0.08). Thus, research from multiple countries shows significant P-C associations in weight status, but this association varies by child age, type of P-C pair, weight status, and the country’s economic level. Results suggest that families and parents should be a key target for obesity intervention efforts.

A Systematic Review of Application and Effectiveness of mHealth Interventions for Obesity and Diabetes Treatment and Self-Management

The use of mobile and wireless technologies and wearable devices for improving health care processes and outcomes (mHealth) is promising for health promotion among patients with chronic diseases such as obesity and diabetes. This study comprehensively examined published mHealth intervention studies for obesity and diabetes treatment and management to assess their effectiveness and provide recommendations for future research. We systematically searched PubMed for mHealth-related studies on diabetes and obesity treatment and management published during 2000–2016. Relevant information was extracted and analyzed. Twenty-four studies met inclusion criteria and varied in terms of sample size, ethnicity, gender, and age of the participating patients and length of follow-up. The mHealth interventions were categorized into 3 types: mobile phone text messaging, wearable or portable monitoring devices, and applications running on smartphones. Primary outcomes included weight loss (an average loss ranging from –1.97 kg in 16 wk to –7.1 kg in 5 wk) or maintenance and blood glucose reduction (an average decrease of glycated hemoglobin ranging from –0.4% in 10 mo to –1.9% in 12 mo); main secondary outcomes included behavior changes and patient perceptions such as self-efficacy and acceptability of the intervention programs. More than 50% of studies reported positive effects of interventions based on primary outcomes. The duration or length of intervention ranged from 1 wk to 24 mo. However, most studies included small samples and short intervention periods and did not use rigorous data collection or analytic approaches. Although some studies suggest that mHealth interventions are effective and promising, most are pilot studies or have limitations in their study designs. There is an essential need for future studies that use larger study samples, longer intervention (≥ 6 mo) and follow-up periods (≥ 6 mo), and integrative and personalized innovative mobile technologies to provide comprehensive and sustainable support for patients and health service providers.

Influence of Diet in Multiple Sclerosis: A Systematic Review

Nutrition is considered to be a possible factor in the pathogenesis of the neurological disease multiple sclerosis (MS). Nutrition intervention studies suggest that diet may be considered as a complementary treatment to control the progression of the disease; a systematic review of the literature on the influence of diet on MS was therefore conducted. The literature search was conducted by using Medlars Online International Literature (MEDLINE) via PubMed and Scopus. Forty-seven articles met the inclusion criteria. The reviewed articles assessed the relations between macro- and micronutrient intakes and MS incidence. The patients involved used alternative therapies (homeopathy), protocolized diets that included particular foods (herbal products such as grape seed extract, ginseng, blueberries, green tea, etc.), or dietary supplements such as vitamin D, carnitine, melatonin, or coenzyme Q10. Current studies suggest that high serum concentrations of vitamin D, a potent immunomodulator, may decrease the risk of MS and the risk of relapse and new lesions, while improving brain lesions and timed tandem walking. Experimental evidence suggests that serum vitamin D concentration is lower during MS relapses than in remission and is associated with a greater degree of disability [Expanded Disability Status Scale (EDSS) score >3]. The findings suggest that circulating vitamin D concentrations can be considered a biomarker of MS and supplemental vitamin D can be used therapeutically. Other studies point to a negative correlation between serum vitamin B-12 concentrations and EDSS score. Vitamin B-12 has fundamental roles in central nervous system function, especially in the methionine synthase–mediated conversion of homocysteine to methionine, which is essential for DNA and RNA synthesis. Therefore, vitamin B-12 deficiency may lead to an increase in the concentration of homocysteine. Further research is clearly necessary to determine whether treatment with vitamin B-12 supplements delays MS progression.

Dietary Factors Promoting Brown and Beige Fat Development and Thermogenesis

Brown adipose tissue (BAT) is a specialized fat tissue that has a high capacity to dissociate cellular respiration from ATP utilization, resulting in the release of stored energy as heat. Adult humans possess a substantial amount of BAT in the form of constitutively active brown fat or inducible beige fat. BAT activity in humans is inversely correlated with adiposity, blood glucose concentrations, and insulin sensitivity; this suggests that strategies aimed at BAT-mediated bioenergetics are an attractive therapeutic target in combating the continuing epidemic of obesity and diabetes. Despite advances in knowledge regarding the developmental lineage and transcriptional regulators of brown and beige adipocytes, our current understanding of environmental modifiers of BAT thermogenesis, such as diet, is limited. In this review, we consolidated the latest research on dietary molecules that may serve to promote BAT thermogenesis. Here, we summarized the thermogenic function of selected phytochemicals (e.g., capsaicin, resveratrol, curcumin, green tea, and berberine), dietary fatty acids (e.g., fish oil and conjugated linoleic acids), and all-trans retinoic acid, a vitamin A metabolite. We also delineated the proposed mechanisms whereby these dietary molecules promote BAT activity and/or browning of white adipose tissue. Characterizing thermogenic dietary factors may offer novel insight into revising nutritional intervention strategies aimed at obesity and diabetes prevention and management.

Mechanisms of Action of Probiotics and the Gastrointestinal Microbiota on Gut Motility and Constipation

Constipation is a common and burdensome gastrointestinal disorder that may result from altered gastrointestinal motility. The effect of probiotics on constipation has been increasingly investigated in both animal and human studies, showing promising results. However, there is still uncertainty regarding the mechanisms of action of probiotics on gut motility and constipation. Several factors are vital to normal gut motility, including immune and nervous system function, bile acid metabolism and mucus secretion, and the gastrointestinal microbiota and fermentation; an imbalance or dysfunction in any of these components may contribute to aberrant gut motility and, consequently, symptoms of constipation. For example, adults with functional constipation have significantly decreased numbers of bifidobacteria (with one study showing a mean difference of 1 log10/g) and lactobacilli (mean difference, 1.4 log10/g) in stool samples, as well as higher breath methane, compared with control subjects. Modifying the gut luminal environment with certain probiotic strains may affect motility and secretion in the gut and, hence, provide a benefit for patients with constipation. Therefore, this review explores the mechanisms through which probiotics may exert an effect on gut motility and constipation. Nevertheless, the majority of current evidence is derived from animal studies, and therefore, further human studies are needed to determine the mechanisms through specific probiotic strains that might be effective in constipation.