I am currently going through a phase where I am writing about the health of the cat caregiver. It is looking at cat caregiving from the perspective of the cat. It’s important, in my view, that cat owners are as healthy as possible to enable them to discharge their responsibilities when looking after their cat companion. This might sound as if I’m preaching but I am not. Our objective is to be as happy as possible and when you are getting older you can’t be happy if you are ill. And when you get into your late 60s and 70s you are likely to suffer from some sort of chronic illness to which you will be far more predisposed if you are overweight. Keeping one’s weight down is vital I feel.
Today, in The Times, there are a couple of useful article which I have picked up on, one of which is about consuming olive oil to cut the risk of dying from dementia and the other is about the benefits of adopting a vegetarian diet for a few months because it can significantly cut the risk of heart attacks and strokes. Both the articles are based upon studies.
The Infographic sets out the conclusions succinctly, I hope, if you want to get a snapshot of what this is about.
Olive oil and dementia
I’ll add some detail on the olive oil article. As mentioned, olive oil has benefits because of its anti-inflammatory properties. Personally, I would advise buying a high-quality virgin olive oil in the price range of about £7-£10 which sounds expensive but it is so good you can consume it neat and enjoy it. And you can add it to all kinds of foods to improve taste.
The study in question analysed the diets and death records from more than 90,000 Americans over three decades during which 4,749 people died from dementia.
The lead author is Dr. Anne-Julie Tessier from the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health.
Our study reinforces dietary guidelines recommending vegetable oils such as olive oil and suggests that these recommendations not only support heart health but potentially brain health as well. Opting for olive oil, a natural product is a safe choice and may reduce the risk of fatal dementia.Dr. Anne-Julie Tessier
As usual, the research is observational which means that it does prove cause and effect. Her study was presented at Nutrition 2023, which is the annual meeting of the American Society for Nutrition held in Boston.
Note: my last article (see link below) also referred to another study presented at the same meeting. It’s also about improving the health of Americans and people living in developed countries in which, it is said, there is an obesity epidemic leading to an increase in type II diabetes and heart health problems.
Vegetarian diet offering the possibility of a fitter heart
This is a linked health improvement suggestion. That’s because consuming olive oil often goes with a vegetarian diet. In this study it was found that if you convert to a vegetarian diet for say six months or longer, and if you were previously on a meat-based diet, it led to notable improvements in lowering cholesterol and blood sugar levels.
The study was led by the University of Sydney. It concerned pooling information from 20 previous clinical trials in which people went on a vegetarian or vegan diet. All the participants were at risk of heart attacks and strokes. Most of them were taking medication such as statins to reduce cholesterol levels.
As you can see in the Infographic, there were real benefits. The best advantages were found with people suffering from type II diabetes which is mainly caused by obesity.
Vegetarian diets were most effective in [blood sugar] control among people with type II diabetes and led to favourable changes in weight in people at high risk of cardiovascular disease and in those with type II diabetes.Study authors
The scientists stated that vegan diets boosted heart health because they contain lots of vitamins and nutrients which can reduce inflammation and protect the heart.
The study was published in the journal JAMA Network Open. The scientists further suggested that if people in the UK converted to this diet it would save the NHS a fortune!
That’s because NHS hospitals are being clogged up with people with type II diabetes due to obesity. And diabetes causes a range of other health problems which require treatment; often expensive treatments and long-term medications.
Strokes and heart disease including heart attacks kill 160,000 people annually in the UK and account for one in four deaths. There are about 2.3 million people with heart disease in the UK. 5 million people have diabetes.
There is a happy spin-off to going vegetarian. Less meat-eating means less livestock which means less Amazon forest being cut down to make way for arable farmland and it means less methane in the atmosphere from farting cattle! It’ll help save the planet from global warming.
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