Nutrition News: Fast Health, Fat-Fueled Sports and Another Reason to Drink Coffee

A study finds benefits in intermittent fasting; a high-fat diet may be good for athletes, but not everyone; and if you drink coffee, your arteries may be spick-and-span.

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Hot Black coffee in a white cup on the table.

In this week’s news: A study finds benefits in intermittent fasting; a high-fat diet may be good for athletes, but not everyone; and if you drink coffee, your arteries may be spick-and-span.

Fast Track to a Long, Healthy Life

They’re calling it “interval training for the dinner table.” A University of Florida study suggests that intermittent fasting causes a small increase to SIRT 3, a gene that plays a role in protective cell responses and longevity. Although the benefits of daily fasting — by skipping meals or cutting calories — are established, this new study indicates that even reducing calorie intake and eating only one meal on alternate days, while feasting on all manner of high-calorie foods on the other days, had a positive impact. “The hypothesis is that if the body is intermittently exposed to low levels of oxidative stress, it can build a better response to it,” study co-author Martin Wegman, a student at the UF College of Medicine, said. Insulin levels were also found to decrease in the fast-and-feast scenario. Antioxidant supplements, however, were found to potentially counteract the noted benefits.

Fuel It with Fat?

Fat is continuing to enjoy its glimmering moment in the spotlight. (Ew, apologies for that vivid image.) On its Well blog, The New York Times wonders whether a high-fat diet may more efficiently fuel the exertions of competitive and recreational athletes than the high carbs they currently tend to favor. After considering how the body processes each of the two performance diets, Phys Ed columnist Gretchen Reynolds concludes: “The upshot, based on today’s best science, is that a high-fat, low-carbohydrate diet conceivably could be useful for some athletes, especially if they participate in prolonged, endurance-based activities. But for the rest of us, a balanced diet, with less sugar and perhaps a few more pats of butter, should improve our health and in that way allow us to perform better on the trails and at the gym.”

Your Coffee Cup Runneth Over

It is delicious and wakes you up, but if you need another reason to drink coffee, now there may be one more. South Korean researchers who studied more than 25,000 men and women who underwent routine health exams at work found that those who drank three to five cups of coffee a day were less likely to have calcium deposits in their coronary arteries — a factor in heart health — than those who drank either no coffee or more than three to five cups a day. The authors of the study, published in the journal Heart, say more research is needed to confirm the link and understand why it may exist. Still, it may make you feel better about going back for that second — and third — cup.

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