Roundup: DASH, Mediterranean Plans Top 'Best Diets' List

Nutrition and medical experts have again placed two diets that focus on the health benefits of fruits and vegetables at the top of their list of best diets.

U.S. News and World Report has released its annual list of the best diets. The selections are made by panel of nutritionists, dietary consultants, physicians and other experts. The DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) and Mediterranean diets tied for first place in the eighth annual ranking.

Launched by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute as a diet to help reduce blood pressure, DASH emphasizes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein and low-fat dairy. DASH also restricts calorie- and fat-laden sweets and red meat. The Mediterranean Diet also spotlights meals low in red meat, sugar and saturated fat, while recommending significant portions of fruits, vegetables and whole grains. It also promotes the “good” fats from olive oil or fish.

“The reality, as frustrated dieters know well, is that dieting is hard, and frankly, most diets don’t work,” states U.S. News and World Report. “Some can even threaten your health.”

U.S. News said its editors and reporters spent months reviewing diet plans and “mining medical journals, government reports and other resources to create in-depth profiles for those that made the cut.”

Last year, DASH and the Mediterranean Diet came in No. 1 and No. 2, respectively, in the U.S. News ranking.

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Diabetes Drug Reverses Alzheimer’s Symptoms in Mice

New research indicates that a drug initially developed to treat diabetes can significantly reduce or reverse memory loss and brain degeneration in mice with a version of Alzheimer’s disease.

The study suggests that medication could one day be used as a breakthrough treatment for Alzheimer’s disease and other memory-related illnesses.

The study, published online this week in Brain Research, was conducted by scientists from Lancaster University in England. They used lab mice to test the effectiveness of a diabetes drug known as a triple receptor in treating Alzheimer’s disease. After the mice were administered the drug, the rodents were then put through a maze test designed to measure their memory. The mice showed improved learning and memory skills.

Results also showed reduced amounts of “amyloid plaques” in the brain of the mice. Amyloid plaques are abnormal clusters of proteins which “stick” to nerve cells. They are linked to the development of Alzheimer’s.

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia, and the number of adults afflicted is expected to rise as the elderly population in the United States increases.

Lead researcher, Professor Christian Holscher of Lancaster University, said this treatment “holds clear promise of being developed into a new treatment for chronic neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease.”

But he added that “further dose-response tests and direct comparisons with other drugs have to be conducted in order to evaluate if this new drugs is superior to previous ones.”

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Teens Who Vape More Likely to Try Cigarettes, Study Finds

Teens who “vape” — or use e-cigarettes — are more than twice as likely to try traditional cigarettes, compared to those who don’t vape, a new survey has found.

The conclusion reached by researchers at the University of California at San Francisco (UCSF) is that young adults who start with electronic forms of smoking are more likely to get hooked on conventional cigarettes. Smoking tobacco is one of the primary risk factors for lung cancer and heart disease.

UCSF researchers, who surveyed 10,384 youths ages 12 to 17 who were nonsmokers at the outset of the study, found that using chewing tobacco, water pipes and snuff also makes a teenager more likely to switch to traditional cigarettes.

The study, published this week in the Journal of the American Medical Association’s online Pediatrics magazine, contradicts the stance by the e-cigarette industry, which promotes electronic vaporizers as a safer alternative to cigarettes. A vaporizer, or “vape,” allows a user to inhale a mixture of liquid nicotine and water vapor.

“Any use of e-cigarettes, hookah, non-cigarette combustible tobacco, or smokeless tobacco was independently associated with cigarette smoking 1 year later. Use of more than 1 product increased the odds of progressing to cigarette use,” the UCSF study concluded.

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