Missed some of the health updates in your news feed this week? Here’s what you need to know:
YOUR BRAIN ON SODA
Here’s some hard-to-swallow news for fans of artificially sweetened drinks: “People who drink diet sodas daily have three times the risk of stroke and dementia compared to people who rarely drink them,” NBC News reports, citing the findings of researchers at the Boston University School of Medicine published in the journal Stroke. While this latest study doesn’t prove that diet drinks cause brain harm, “they support other studies that show people who drink them frequently tend to have poorer health,” NBC News adds. (The researchers did not ask study participants to pinpoint which artificial sweeteners their drinks contained.)
Rather than drinking sugar-sweetened beverages (which come with their own risks) in place of artificially sweetened ones, you’re best off sticking with plain water or unsweetened coffee and tea. Want to jazz things up a bit? Try our fruity Watermelon-Cucumber Agua Fresca recipe.
At the same time as you drop that diet soda, you might want to add some rosemary to your diet. Just a half-teaspoon of the aromatic herb might help improve cognitive function, according to a new video on NutritionFacts.org by Dr. Michael Greger, M.D. This is not the first time rosemary has been linked to improved brain power, and the herb might also help boost longevity, as we reported in a previous Sound Bites. Get your dose of the herb for dinner tonight with this Swiss Chard and Rosemary Pesto Pasta recipe.
A CELIAC DISEASE TRIGGER?
Reovirus, a common and usually harmless virus that infects most Americans beginning in childhood, could be a trigger for celiac disease (an autoimmune disorder that causes severe reactions to gluten-containing foods such as wheat), according to new research findings published in the journal Science. “It’s all about timing,” one of the study authors, Dr. Terence Dermody, who chairs the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Pittsburgh, told NPR. “The idea is that when the virus and gluten are introduced at the same time, the immune system mistakes the gluten-containing food as dangerous,” NPR explains.
The first wave of research was on mice and the authors stress that it will be a long time before a causal link might be established between the virus and celiac disease, but, NPR points out, if it is found to be true that the virus can trigger celiac disease, “then young children who carry the risk genes for celiac could be vaccinated against Reovirus.” If you’re a gluten avoider — by choice or necessity — be sure to check out Clean Plates’ gluten-free recipes and product coverage for tasty ideas like Gluten-Free Carrot Cake.
TRANS FATS CONTINUE TO GET THE BOOT
Add another study to the pile of evidence that avoiding trans fats may help protect your heart: New research published in JAMA Cardiology showed lower instances of heart attacks and strokes in counties in New York where trans fats were banned from restaurants. “The most important message from these data is that they confirm what we predicted — benefit in the reduction of heart attacks and strokes,” the lead author, Dr. Eric J. Brandt, a fellow in cardiovascular medicine at Yale, told The New York Times.
The FDA has ordered food manufacturers to remove partially hydrogenated oils (the main dietary source of artificial trans fats) from products by the middle of 2018 (the end of a three-year compliance period). Until then, we recommend checking food labels both for trans fats, as well as for the phrase “partially hydrogenated,” since right now foods are allowed to carry a zero grams of trans fat label if they contain less than .5 grams of trans fat per serving.
Catch up on other health news here.
Bio: Megan O. Steintrager holds a master’s in journalism from New York University and has been an editor and writer for Epicurious, Gourmet.com, TODAY, Food Network Magazine, and Zagat, among other outlets.
Also published on Medium.