Roundup: Mediterranean Diet Ranked No. 1; FDA Warns of High-Risk Antibiotics; and Update on Artificial Sweeteners

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January 4, 2019


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Mediterranean Diet, Focusing on Planted-Based Foods, Wins Top ‘Overall Diet’ Honor for 2019

The so-called Mediterranean diet, which focuses on planted-based foods, whole grains and lean proteins from fish and poultry, has won the best overall diet of 2019, according to a new ranking from U.S. News and World Report.

Last year, the Mediterranean diet tied with the DASH diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension), the government-backed plan aimed at helping followers lower their blood pressure. Both diets are highly touted by physicians and dietitians as heart healthy and ideal for losing weight or maintaining a healthy BMI (body mass index.)

U.S. News and World Report’s annual diet ranking is based on selections made by a panel of nutritionists, dietary consultants, physicians and other experts.

The Mediterranean Diet 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. U.S. News and World Report also said the Mediterranean plan is the easiest diet to follow.

Says U.S. News and World Report: “To be top-rated, a diet had to be safe, relatively easy to follow, nutritious and effective for weight loss. It also had to be stellar at preventing diabetes and heart disease.”

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FDA: Certain Type of Antibiotic Linked to Higher Risk of Aortic Ruptures or Tears

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is warning doctors and patients about an increased risk of tears or ruptures of the aorta from using fluoroquinolone antibiotics.

Ruptures or tears in the aorta, the main artery of the body, are rare but very serious. These tears, called aortic dissections, or ruptures of an aortic aneurysm, can lead to dangerous bleeding or even death. They can occur with fluoroquinolones for systemic use given by mouth or through an injection, the FDA says.

Fluoroquinolone antibiotics are approved to treat certain bacterial infections and have been used for more than 30 years. They work by killing or stopping the growth of bacteria that can cause illness. Without treatment, some infections can spread and lead to serious health problems.

The FDA says that doctors should avoid prescribing fluoroquinolone antibiotics to patients who have an aortic aneurysm, or are at risk for an aortic aneurysm. High-risk patients include those diagnosed with vascular diseases such as peripheral artery disease (PAD), hypertension (high blood pressure), certain genetic conditions such as Marfan syndrome and Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, and elderly patients.

Patients taking these antibiotics who experience sudden, severe and constant pain in the stomach, chest or back, should seek medical attention immediately by going to an emergency room or calling 911, the FDA states.

“We reviewed cases reported to FDA and four published observational studies that showed an increased risk of aortic aneurysm or dissection associated with fluoroquinolone use,” the FDA explained in a news release. “Because multiple studies showed higher rates of about twice the risk of aortic aneurysm rupture and dissection in those taking fluoroquinolones, FDA determined the warnings were warranted to alert health care professionals and patients.”

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There’s No Clear Health Benefit from Artificial Sweeteners, Latest Research Finds

There is no strong evidence to indicate any health benefits by switching from regular sugar to non-sugar artificial sweeteners, indicates a review of published studies released in The BMJ. Moreover, potential harm to one’s health from too much reliance on sugar substitutes cannot be ruled out.

A small number of studies found that weight gain may have been slowed when regular sugar was replaced by sweeteners. However, researchers concluded that there is “no statistically or clinically relevant difference” by switching to artificial sweeteners versus regular sugar. While no health detriments were detected from the regular use of artificial sweeteners, researchers said “potential harms could not be excluded” and further long-term studies are needed to determine the impact of these sweeteners.

The study, led by the University of Freiburg in Germany, stressed that there is a striking lack of research on the long-term health effects of artificial sweeteners when taken over many years — partly because of the difficulty in recruiting people to take part in such studies.

Of the 56 studies reviewed, “most had few participants, were of short duration, and their methodological and reporting quality was limited,” researchers said.

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