Nutrition Conference, Trends and Takeaways

Straight from Nashville, we’re just back from the annual Food and Nutrition Conference and Expo – a meeting highlighting the latest research on how foods affect our health and diseases, such as cancer risk. It’s a conference geared towards dietitians, so it’s also a place where companies showcase their health-related foods.

What were the big food trends and research takeaways related to cancer risk? Here’s a few of the conference highlights.

From the expo hall

several cereals are now incorporating sorghum

several cereals are now incorporating sorghum

– Beans and whole grains are big. This is a crowd that loves these foods – as do we here at AICR – but there appears to be a revival of beans and lentil products making their way into the supermarkets. There were numerous new ideas to cook with lentils, a high protein and high fiber food, including these recipes: Coconut Cream Overnight Oats and Lentils and Lentil Fudge.

The ancient grain sorghum also appears to be increasingly making its way into products. It’s drought-resistant and gluten free, two traits that are making it popular. (Plain, it tastes similar to barley.) Sorghum can be served as a hot breakfast cereal, as a side or salad mixed with vegetables, or in stews and soups, like this Chicken, Leek and Sorghum soup. Continue reading

Focus on the Food – Not Calories – to Lower Cancer, Chronic Disease Risk

Heart disease, cancer and diabetes together cause about 1.3 million deaths each year in the US. A key lifestyle strategy for preventing and/or managing these diseases is getting to and staying a healthy weight. But losing weight – and keeping it off – is hard, and though many people are able to improve their weight, many more struggle to be successful.

Last month an editorial in Open Heart made a strong case that it’s time to stop counting calories and instead, focus on WHAT you eat.

A healthy diet, with plenty of vegetables and healthy fats, has both quick results for better health and long-term benefits for weight, argue the authors. They cite studies looking at how shifting to a healthy diet can lead to immediate positive effect on cardiovascular disease and diabetes. One of their examples is from the PREDIMED study where participants who ate a Mediterranean, plant-based diet with nuts and olive oil, but not calorie restriction, showed lower rates of type 2 diabetes and improved metabolic health.

We also know – from AICR’s evidence-based recommendations – that eating a diet built on plant foods like vegetables, legumes, whole grains and nuts, can reduce risk for many cancers, including colorectal and endometrial.

NAPC Infographic_Sept18UpdateBut survey after survey finds that the vast majority of adults and kids in our country are not eating enough fruits and vegetables. Continue reading

Drinking Water Before Meals May Help You Lose Weight

Does the old weight loss advice to drink water before a meal really help? A new study says it just might. Finding simple, low-cost and effective strategies for weight loss could mean lower cancer risk for thousands of Americans every year because too much body fat is a cause of ten cancers, including colorectal and post-menopausal breast.

The 12 week study, published in Obesity, randomized 84 obese adults into two groups: one group was told to drink 2 cups of water 30 minutes before meals and the other to imagine their stomachs were full 30 minutes before their meals. All participants were given a half hour session on weight management strategies and all received a follow-up phone call later to gauge how closely they were following their plan – either water drinking or stomach imagining. The researchers also sent them text messages reminders and participants completed questionnaires about compliance throughout the study.

Both groups lost weight, but the water drinking group lost, on average, about 3 pounds more than those who imagined full stomachs. About one-third of the water drinkers did so 3 times per day. Even more impressive is that they lost an average of 8 pounds more than those who reported drinking water 0-1 times per day before meals. Continue reading