In a study of 4822 Chinese adults aged 55+ years, researchers found that eating more than 10 grams of nuts a day was positively associated with better mental functioning, including improved thinking, reasoning and memory.
Lead researcher, UniSA’s Dr Ming Li, says the study is the first to report an association between cognition and nut intake in older Chinese adults, providing important insights into increasing mental health issues (including dementia) faced by an ageing population.
“Population aging is one of the most substantial challenges of the twenty-first century. Not only are people living longer, but as they age, they require additional health support which is placing unprecedented pressure on aged-care and health services,” Dr Li says.
“In China, this is a massive issue, as the population is ageing far more rapidly than almost any other country in the world.
“Improved and preventative health care – including dietary modifications – can help address the challenges that an aging population presents.
“By eating more than 10 grams (or two teaspoons) of nuts per day older people could improve their cognitive function by up to 60 per cent– compared to those not eating nuts – effectively warding off what would normally be experienced as a natural two-year cognition decline.”
China has one of the fastest growing aging populations. In 2029, China’s population is projected to peak at 1.44 billion, with the ratio of young to old dramatically imbalanced by the rising ranks of the elderly. By 2050, 330 million Chinese will be over age 65, and 90.4 million will be over age 80, representing the world’s largest population of this most elderly age group.
More broadly, the World Health Organization says that by 2020, the number of people aged 60 years and older will outnumber children younger than five years old.
The UniSA study analysed nine waves of China Health Nutrition Survey data collected over 22 years, finding that 17 per cent of participants were regular consumers of nuts (mostly peanuts). Dr Li says peanuts have specific anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects which can alleviate and reduce cognitive decline.
“Nuts are known to be high in healthy fats, protein and fibre with nutritional properties that can lower cholesterol and improve cognitive health,” Dr Li says.
“While there is no cure for age-related cognition decline and neurogenerative disease, variations in what people eat are delivering improvements for older people.”
The World Health Organization estimates that globally, the number of people living with dementia is at 47 million.
By 2030, this is projected to rise to 75 million and by 2050, global dementia cases are estimated to almost triple. China has the largest population of people with dementia.
“As people age, they naturally experience changes to conceptual reasoning, memory, and processing speed. This is all part of the normal ageing process,” Dr Li says
“But age is also the strongest known risk factor for cognitive disease. If we can find ways to help older people retain their cognitive health and independence for longer – even by modifying their diet – then this absolutely worth the effort.”
This week, Pizza Hut UK unveiled a dedicated vegan menu with a selection of appetizers, main dishes, sides, a dessert, and customizable meals at all of its 253 locations.
The new menu features two starters: Mini Corn on the Cob and Jack ‘N’ Roll baked rolls stuffed with barbecue jackfruit and Violife vegan cheese.
Four pizzas are featured on the dedicated vegan menu, with four crust options: Vegan Veggie, Vegan Margherita, jalapeño-spiced Vegan Hot ‘N’ Spicy Veg, and Vegan BBQ Jack ‘N’ Ch**se—all of which can be ordered as half and half pies.
Customers can also create their own pies using all vegan ingredients and choose vegan individual, sharing, or children’s meals with a combination of the menu items, which now include Cinnamon Bites for dessert and a selection of beverages.
In January, Pizza Hut UK added the vegan Jack ‘n’ Ch**se pizza to the menu for one month to celebrate Veganuary—and kept the option on the menu permanently after achieving a sales goal of 10,000 pies in several weeks.
“We’ve been proudly serving Vegan Pizza with Violife’s Vegan Ch**se since 2017,” Pizza Hut stated when announcing its new menu. “We’ve used your feedback to help design our new Vegan Menu.”
Three kinds of flavour are available, chestnut, red bean and strawberry.
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 Tbsp garlic, chopped
1 Tbsp small chilies – finely crushed
2 cups fresh rice noodles
1 Tbsp dark soy sauce
1/3 cup whole shrimp
1/3 cup squid, cut into squares
1/3 cup fish fillet, sliced
1/3 cup scallops
1/3 cup straw mushroom, each cut into 4 pieces
1/3 cup cherry tomato, quartered
1 Tbsp oyster sauce
3 Tbsp sugar
2 Tbsp fish sauce
1 cup basil leaves (garnish)
Makes 4 servings.
Source: Nipa Thai Restaurant
People in France are being warned to avoid eating poppy seed bread after tests found that it contained morphine and codeine which could cause intoxication, vomiting or nausea.
French health officials are investigating the so-far-unexplained presence of the drugs in poppy seed baguettes and ready-made sandwiches made with poppy seed bread.
Poppy seeds do not normally contain opiates and government investigators suspect that a batch of seeds supplied to bakeries could have been contaminated from the latex sap of the plant, which contains alkaloids.
The investigators are unsure how much of the popular sandwich bread may have been contaminated.
Jean-Claude Alvarez, head of the toxicology department at the Raymond-Poincaré hospital in Garches, near Paris, said a single sandwich made with poppy seed bread could contain as much as four mg of morphine, the equivalent of nearly half a tablet of morphine sulphate which is given to people suffering from cancer.
“I strongly advise people not to eat poppy seed bread until we tell them otherwise,” Dr Alvarez said. “The drugs we have found (in poppy seed bread) are only supposed to be used by people in severe pain, and then on top of that there is the risk of addiction.”
“We must identify the source of the contamination and the companies that were supplied with this batch of seeds,” he said.
Dr Alvarez added that bakery products containing the seeds which originated from a batch believed to have been contaminated have already been recalled.
The problem was discovered after staff at several French companies tested positive for opiates in routine urine tests and were judged unfit to work. The employees concerned were adamant, however, that they had not taken any drugs.
Health officials then discovered that they had all eaten poppy seed bread. Tests confirmed that the seeds contained “particularly high amounts of alkaloids,” Dr Alvarez said.
He warned that the contaminated bread posed a public health risk, as drivers who consumed it were more likely to fall asleep at the wheel and that it could be especially dangerous for pregnant women, nursing mothers and children.
Amid ongoing U.S. measles outbreaks, one of the largest studies to date provides fresh evidence that the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine does not cause autism.
Danish researchers found no link between the MMR vaccine and autism, even when they focused on children at greater risk for developing autism.
“In a study of more than 650,000 Danish children, there was no difference in the risk of autism in vaccinated and unvaccinated children,” said lead researcher Anders Hviid. He is a senior investigator of epidemiology with the Statens Serum Institute in Copenhagen, Denmark.
But Hviid is skeptical the new findings will make much difference among anti-vaccine activists.
“I do not think we can convince the so-called anti-vaxxers,” Hviid said. “I am more concerned about the perhaps larger group of parents who encounter anti-vaccine pseudoscience and propaganda on the internet, and become concerned and uncertain.”
Six measles outbreaks have been reported across the United States in the first two months of 2019, infecting 159 people with the highly contagious virus, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The largest outbreak, taking place in the Portland, Oregon region, has sickened 68 people, the CDC said.
The discredited link between the MMR vaccine and autism dates back two decades to a study published in The Lancet that claimed a handful of children had been diagnosed with autism within four weeks of receiving the vaccination.
That study received wide publicity, but was subsequently retracted by the medical journal after discovery that the research was fraudulent.
Despite repeated studies demonstrating no link between the MMR vaccine and autism, anti-vaccine advocates continue to cite that concern as one basis for their opposition.
Hviid and his colleagues decided to take another large-scale stab at testing the alleged link. They tracked 657,461 children born in Denmark between 1999 and 2010, following them from 1 year old through August 2013.
During that period, just over 6,500 of the children were diagnosed with autism.
The researchers found no increased autism risk among kids who received the MMR vaccine, compared with those who did not.
In addition, the study found no increased risk for autism even in subgroups of kids who naturally are more likely to develop autism, the researchers said. These included children whose siblings have autism, or who scored high on an autism risk assessment.
This addressed one critique of previous studies of the MMR vaccine and autism. Critics had complained that earlier efforts had failed to focus on the effects of the vaccine on kids at increased risk of autism, according to an editorial accompanying the new study.
The new study was published in the Annals of Internal Medicine.
Infectious diseases expert Dr. Amesh Adalja called the new study “a very powerful piece of evidence.” He was not involved with the new report.
“This study, which includes over a decade of data on more than half a million children, goes further than prior studies by looking in high-autism risk subgroups,” said Adalja, a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, in Baltimore.
“That no increased autism risk was found — even in high-risk subgroups — is not surprising,” Adalja continued. “However, the anti-vaccine movement is not influenced by facts, by science or by logic, so I fear that another study demonstrating the safety of MMR vaccination will not sway those whose allegiance is not to reality, but to irrational arbitrary beliefs.”
Hviid noted that the World Health Organization has declared vaccine hesitancy one of the 10 greatest threats to public health.
“Hopefully, our study can play a small part in turning the anti-vaccine tide,” Hviid said.