OSU Researchers Look At the Benefits of Family Structure

New study at OSU is suggesting that familial structure like regular bed and meal times and limited time on electronic devices may be linked to better emotional health in preschoolers and this may lower chances of obesity.

Researchers evaluated three household routines when children were 3 years old: regular bedtime, regular mealtime and whether or not parents limited television and video watching to an hour or less daily. Then they compared those to parents’ reports of two aspects of children’s self-regulation at that same age. Lastly, they investigated how the routines and self-regulation worked together to impact obesity at age 11, defined based on international criteria.

All three household routines were associated with better emotional self-regulation – a measure based on parents’ responses to questions such as how easily the child becomes frustrated or over-excited. Those children with greater emotional dysregulation were more likely to be obese later.

Observational Study at OSU Suggest Anti-inflammatory Diet to Increase Bone Health in Women

Women with the least-inflammatory diets (based on a scoring system called the Dietary Inflammatory Index) lost less bone density during the six-year follow-up period than their peers with the most-inflammatory diets. This was despite the fact that they started off with lower bone density overall.

Furthermore, diets with low inflammatory potential appeared to correspond to lower risk of hip fracture among one subgroup of the study – post-menopausal white women younger than 63.

Researchers examined data from the landmark Women’s Health Initiative to compare levels of inflammatory elements in the diet to bone mineral density and fractures and found new associations between food and bone health. The study, led by Tonya Orchard, an assistant professor of human nutrition at The Ohio State University, appears in the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research.

The findings suggest that women’s bone health could benefit when they choose a diet higher in beneficial fats, plants and whole grains, said Orchard, who is part of Ohio State’s Food Innovation Center.

However, because the study was observational, it’s not possible to definitively link dietary patterns and bone health and fracture outcomes.

New OSU Research Suggests Stress Matters More Than Diet

This study is the first to show that stress has the potential to cancel out benefits of choosing healthier fats. The study comes from researchers at the Institute for Behavioral Medicine at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.

Unstressed women who ate a biscuits-and-gravy breakfast made mostly with saturated fat fared worse in blood tests looking for precursors to disease than those women who ate an identical breakfast made primarily with monounsaturated sunflower oil.

But when women in the study had a stressful event before the breakfast test, the hardships of the previous day appeared to erase any benefits linked to the healthy fat choice, say researchers from The Ohio State University.

Minor irritants didn’t count as a stressful day. Stressors included having to clean up paint a child spilled all over the floor and struggling to help a parent with dementia who was resisting help.

This study leaves open questions about the connections between stress, fat source and healthier meals higher in fiber and fruits and vegetables and lower in calories, say Ohio State Researchers.

How Elite Endurance Athletes Burn Fat: A Study

Jeff Volek, professor of Human Sciences at the Ohio State University, is lead researcher on a project measuring the diets and fat-burning ability of endurance athletes. In summary, their research found that endurance athletes who eat very few carbohydrates burned more than twice as much fat as high-carb athletes during maximum exertion and prolonged exercise in a new study – the highest fat-burning rates under these conditions ever seen by researchers.

The study, the first to profile elite athletes habitually eating very low-carbohydrate diets, involved 20 ultra-endurance runners age 21-45 who were top competitors in running events of 50 kilometers (31 miles) or more.

The 10 low-carb athletes ate a diet consisting of 10 percent carbs, 19 percent protein and 70 percent fat. Ten high-carb athletes got more than half their calories from carbs, with a ratio of 59 percent carbs, 14 percent protein and 25 percent fat.

In all other respects, the athletes were similar: elite status, age, performance, training history and maximum oxygen capacity.

Volek has been studying the effects of low-carb eating – and ketogenic diets specifically – for years, particularly in the context of obesity and diabetes. But he has always been interested in how such a diet might augment physical performance and recovery. Ketogenic diets are those that reduce carbohydrates enough to allow the body to access its fat stores as the primary source of fuel. Lowering carbs and increasing fat intake leads to the conversion of fat into ketones, molecules that can be used by cells throughout the body, especially the brain, as an alternative to glucose.
The research is published online in the journal Metabolism: Clinical and Experimental.

Ohio State Dietary Expert Looks into Benefits of High Fat Diets for Athletes

Jeff Volek of the Ohio State University Department of Human Science has long been studying low-carbohydrate diets, and focuses on the role of ketogenic diets in athletic performance and recovery.

In a recent New York Times article discussing the long held belief that high-carbohydrate diets are preferable for athletes and new research that suggest high-fat diets might actually be better. If you yourself are an athlete or know one you’ve probably heard the term “carb loading” before. Recently this traditional wisdom has been challenged by scientists like Dr. Volek who was quoted in the article:

“From an evolutionary standpoint, a high-fat performance diet makes sense. Early humans, the hunter-gatherers, who were quite physically active, primarily ate fat. It’s been the main fuel for active humans far longer than carbohydrates have been.”

In agrarian societies carbohydrates were hard to come by and took a lot of energy to gather while not providing as much overall benefit as the protein and fat from meat.
The New York Times article also discusses the fact that exercise scientists have known for a long time that endurance training adapts the trainee’s body to better metabolize fat and use it as fuel.

While the scientific jury is still out on which is better for athletes, fat or carbs, the continued work of Dr. Volek and others should lead to some interesting results and possibly completely change what training athletes eat.