Trending Topics pieces (Article Analyses, Evidence Clips and Other Topics) are published in timely response to recent media and journal articles, position statements, clinical guidelines, etc. Since they are based on the most recent evidence/publications, they may not be consistent with PEN evidence in other PEN content areas. As soon as possible, when this occurs, the PEN content will be reviewed and updated as needed.
Lectins – Are They Damaging to Our Health?
Malnutrition in Infants Fed Plant-based Beverages
Cases (n=34) of protein-energy malnutrition have been described in France among infants who were fed plant-based beverages/drinks (age at diagnosis 8.8 + 3.8 months) (1). These cases were discovered when pediatricians were asked to see these children because of fatigue or a growth deficit. One of these infants died, one-third had malnutrition, 29% (10/34) had a seizure, one suffered from respiratory distress and one had a bone fracture. Among the children who had blood work done, 60% (12/20) had anemia, 55% (11/20) had hypoalbuminemia, and 40% (8/20) had hyponatremia. The children were all fed plant-based drinks, mostly almond, chestnut and rice drinks. Previous reports involved smaller numbers of children (2).
The infants’ health improved after resuming a normal infant diet (which was not described), although one-third of the parents were not happy about the change in diet (1). The parents stated that their main influencers to give the plant-based drinks to their infants were the media (44%) and “alternative medical professionals” (38%). The researchers attributed the malnutrition to the low protein and energy contents of these drinks.
Although it is not possible to state with certainty that the malnutrition was caused by the plant-based drinks, the fact that 30 children (who were assessed) overcame their illnesses when placed on a normal infant diet suggests that this was the case. These cases may represent the health halo, a belief that these drinks are healthier than other choices.
For information on the recommendations for the use of plant-based beverages in infants, see PEN® Practice Question: What are the recommendations for the use of plant-based beverages (e.g. soy, rice, almond, coconut and oat milk/beverage) during the complementary feeding period in infants?
- Lemale J, Salaun JF, Assathiany R, Garcette K, Peretti N, Tounian P. Replacing breastmilk or infant formula with a nondairy drink in infants exposes them to severe nutritional complications. Acta Paediatr. 2018 Jun 20. doi: 10.1111/apa.14437. [Epub ahead of print]. Citation available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=29923219.
- Dietitians of Canada. Trending Topics: Plant-based Beverages – Are They Really Healthier for Young Children? In: Practice Based Evidence in PEN® [PEN]. 2017 Aug 29. Available from: http://www.pennutrition.com/resourcestools.aspx?trcatid=496&trid=26285&sr=plant-based#. Access only by subscription.
The Science and Politics of Nutrition Series - The History of Nutrition Science
The BMJ has launched a series of open access, peer-reviewed articles under the title, Food for Thought - The Science and Politics of Nutrition. The series will cover a variety of controversial nutrition topics where there are uncertainties in the evidence and debate among experts. The articles aim to bring together a wide range of viewpoints and to discuss the areas of consensus and uncertainty as well as how to move forward with research, policy and guidelines for practitioners. The first article of the series describes the history of nutrition science and how this history has formed our current understanding of
diet and health as well as the current controversies that we deal with every day.
Note: This is the first article in the launch of
a series of articles. We will post other appropriate articles in the coming
weeks and months. These articles cover topics ranging from the role of
carbohydrates in chronic disease to the quality of dietary guidelines.
Skinny Teas and Weight Loss
With weight loss teas becoming fairly common due to claims about dramatic weight loss in online advertisements, Clare Collins, a professor in Nutrition and Dietetics at the University of Newcastle in Australia, conducted a literature search to investigate if skinny teas do in fact boost weight loss. She did not find any related studies specific to "slimming teas". In her analysis of 11 research studies related to green tea, black tea and tea mixtures she concluded that "skinny teas might not have any properties to help you lose weight, but they might remind you you’re on a diet". See more information about her findings at: The Conversation.
The American Gut Project is the first crowd-funded, citizen scientist cohort that examined the microbial sequence data of 15,096 samples from >10,000 human participants from the United States, United Kingdom and Australia. The researchers set out to examine the diversity of the industrialized human microbiome, and to look for associations between health, lifestyle and dietary factors. The researchers found that participants who reported consuming ≥30 different types of plant species each week had greater microbial diversity than those who reported consuming only ≤10 types of plant species weekly. Self-categorization of diet as “vegan” or “omnivore” had less of an impact on microbial diversity than quantification of the numbers of plant species consumed. The hypothesized implications of having greater microbial diversity is that more microbial species may be available to act as the fermenters of short-chain fatty acids. Therefore, a diet containing a variety of dietary fibres and resistant starches is likely to contribute to a more diverse microbial community. In addition, the participants who reported eating >30 types of plants per week had a significantly lower abundance of bacteria that carry antibiotic-resistant genes. This observational study cannot conclude causality but provides some food for thought related to dietary practices and future research focused on microbial diversity and health. Posted: 2018-05-18
See Additional Content: Gastrointestinal System – Microbiota Background
Misleading News Headline Regarding Egg Consumption
This trial recently appeared in the news, Nutrition Journal Suggests New Guidelines for Egg Consumption, with the researchers concluding that, "a healthy diet based on population guidelines and including more eggs than currently recommended by some countries may be safely consumed". The PEN® System recently updated this Practice Question: Are interventions to decrease cholesterol intake (e.g. restricting eggs) recommended for the secondary prevention of cardiovascular disease (CVD)? The evidence used to answer the question includes a systematic review that reports earlier results of the trial mentioned above along with five other randomized controlled trials, which found that regular egg consumption had no adverse effects on blood lipid levels. All of these trials were assessed at high risk of bias (primarily for lack of allocation concealment and failure to blind participants/personnel) and they all received funding from egg boards/councils. In contrast to these findings, a high egg intake (i.e. >1 egg/day versus <1 egg/week) has been associated with an increased risk of coronary heart disease in individuals with diabetes. A high dietary cholesterol intake (>200 mg/day) can also increase serum cholesterol levels in some people and there is a lack of harm from restricting dietary cholesterol.
Therefore, the PEN recommendation, based on very low quality evidence, suggests restricting dietary cholesterol to ≤200 mg/day (e.g. by reducing egg consumption to <1 egg/week) to reduce CVD events for adults with diabetes, dyslipidemia or established CVD. For practice guidance, see the updated PEN client handout: Eating Guidelines for People with High Blood Cholesterol.
This recommendation does not apply to adults at low CVD risk. For information on eggs for the general population, see PEN Practice Question: Are interventions to decrease dietary cholesterol intake (e.g. restricting eggs) recommended for the primary prevention of cardiovascular disease (CVD)?
Trending Topic: Recent Research on Vitamin D
Trending Topic - Do New Parents or Parents-to-be Need to be Concerned with Dietary Arsenic Exposure?
Are Your Clients Asking About "Leaky Gut Syndrome"?
There is little human evidence to support the theory that a "leaky gut" is the direct cause of any significant, widespread health problem. Read more at: "Leaky Gut Syndrome", Debunking the Myth of "Leaky Gut Syndrome" and Intestinal Permeability Defects: Is it Time to Treat?
Until more evidence is available on intestinal permeability, dietitians can educate their clients on nutritiously balanced diets based on nutrition assessment and evidence. Clients should be encouraged to be wary of any alternative program/diet that promises “magical results”.
Reposted from January 2017.
Updated Diabetes Clinical Practice Guidelines
The following two clinical practice guidelines (CPGs) have been updated:
- Diabetes Canada: 2018 Clinical Practice Guidelines and Quick Reference Guide
- Diabetes UK: Evidence-based Nutrition Guidelines for the Prevention and Management of Diabetes (March 2018)
The PEN Team is in the process of adding these guidelines to the 13 diabetes knowledge pathways in PEN.
Trending Topics: Plant-based Beverages – Are They Really Healthier for Young Children? (Reposted from Aug 29, 2017)